Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
E-Mail Forum
Judge Finds City Council Action On Casino Illegal

A superior Court Judge has found that the core of the Viramontes Five acted illegally in approving a Municipal Services Agreement for the proposed Scotts Valley Band of the Pomo Indians’ casino. This issue came up before the City Council was in 2006 when the Scotts Valley Band of the Pomo Indians needed a commitment from a government agency to provide municipal services to their proposed casino on the Richmond Parkway just outside the Richmond City Limits. They needed the agreement to bolster their chances of getting the federal approvals they needed. Contra Costa County, in whose jurisdiction the casino would be, refused to provide a municipal services agreement. So they approached Richmond.


You can see from the vote in the Minutes of the 11/21/2006 City Council meeting (below) that all of the “Viramontes Five” who were on the City Council in 2006 (including Bates and Marquez, now running for re-election) supported it, and I voted against it, along with Mayor McLaughlin and Tony Thurmond.


Not only did Bates, Marquez and Viramontes support it, they also gave away the store, like they did with Chevron, by not at least getting some money for the City in advance. When I saw how the vote was going to go, I at least wanted the City to get something out of it. If they had accepted my amendment, the City would have been $1 million richer – right now. This proves again what amateurs the Viramontes Five are at negotiating with professionals in the real world.


City Council Minutes 11/21/2006


In the matter to approve, in substantially the form presented, the Municipal Services Agreement (MSA) between the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians and the City of Richmond with such changes that the City Manager determines is in the best interests of the City. Janet Schneider, Administrative Chief, stated that staff reviewed the key positions of the Municipal Services Agreement. As a result of the Study Session held last week, Council directed staff to make changes to the draft agreement, which has been incorporated in the current MSA. The following individuals gave comments: Charles T. Smith, Andres Soto, Rev. Charles Day, Lee Jones, Tarnell Abbott, Bob Ellison, Anthony Fuller, Jeff Ritterman, Barbara Becnel, Dr. Henry Clark, Fred Jackson, Ethel Dotson, Kathleen Sullivan, Cochise Potts, and Ann Rufinio. Discussion ensued. A motion was made by Councilmember Rogers, seconded by Councilmember Griffin to approve the contract. Further discussion ensued during which a substitute motion was made by Councilmember Butt, seconded by Councilmember Marquez, that a $1 million payment be made upon execution of this agreement and be taken off the first payment due should the project go forward. Chairman Arnold, Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, stated that he agrees with the policies stipulated in the MSA as currently written. Councilmember Thurmond asked how possible violent impacts will be addressed. Chairman Arnold replied that the group will pay for extra police officers and police patrols; will work together with the City of Richmond, Sheriff’s Department, and the California Highway Patrol. Councilmember Marquez withdrew his second for the substitute motion. The original motion by Councilmember Rogers, seconded by Councilmember Griffin to approve the MSA passed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Bates, Griffin, Marquez, Rogers, Vice Mayor Viramontes, and Mayor Anderson. Noes: Councilmembers Butt, McLaughlin, and Thurmond. Abstentions: None. Absent: None.


Richmond Casino Pact Illegal, Declares Judge

By Richard Brenneman

Thursday August 21, 2008

Berkeley Daily Planet


A Contra Costa County judge dealt a blow to plans for a North Richmond casino Wednesday, saying she intends to strike down an agreement for the City of Richmond to provide police, fire and other services.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga issued a tentative ruling declaring the Municipal Services Agreement (MSA) between the city and the Scotts Valley band of Pomos violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

In November 2006, the Richmond City Council voted to approve an agreement that promises the city $335 million over 20 years, primarily in return for providing police and fire services.

One of the opponents was Councilmember and Mayor-Elect Gayle McLaughlin.

Judge Zuniga said the city failed to follow CEQA provisions for determining the environmental consequences of their action.

In addition to providing police and fire protections, the MSA also calls for several construction projects, including either a new or upgraded fire station as well as the creation of a new left-turn lane on Parr Boulevard and additional traffic lanes on that boulevard, an interchange at the intersection of Richmond Parkway and San Pablo Avenue and a new bike lane.

“These activities have a potential for resulting in either a direct physical change to the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment,” said Zuniga in her two-page finding.

She rejected the city’s contention that they had complied with CEQA by including a provision in the MSA calling for “future compliance with CEQA if required.” Because the MSA is a contract that obligates the city to undertake the agreed actions and doesn’t include a “no-option alternative required by CEQA,” the MSA violates the law.

The action was brought by a coalition of plaintiffs that included the Parchester Village Neighborhood Council, Citizens for Eastshore Parks, the Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Defense Fund and Richmond environmental activist Whitney Dotson.

Oakland attorney Stephan Volker represented the plaintiffs, while the city was represented by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, a San Francisco firm.