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  Rumble in Richmond
April 5, 2011

Back in the day, the Richmond Memorial Auditorium was the venue of choice for professional boxing and wrestling in the Bay Area. While hopefully not as physical, tonight’s hearing on the future of Point Molate promises to provide at least as much drama

Photo One

The sides have been drawn and the battle joined.

The pro-casino side will be heavily defended by the most unlikely coalition, Citizens for Eastshore Parks (CESP), Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund (SPRAWLDEF) and the Sierra Club, which is counting on a $40 million payoff when the casino opens. To hear them tell it, the casino is the biggest environmental benefit we’ve ever seen. CESP’s tag team will include the construction trade unions, who never met a job they didn’t like. Interspersed will be a sprinkling of local pastors, advocates for unemployed persons and non-profit social service providers as well as police and firefighters who see the casino as Richmond’s economic salvation. And don’t forget the never wavering Richmond Chamber of Commerce. See http://www.yesforu.com/testimonials.html for a preview.

Photo Two

The anti-casino forces will be led by Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate, Coalition to Save Point Molate and the Richmond Progressive Alliance. Also weighing in as subtly as possible will be the City of San Pablo and a coalition of Bay Area card rooms. Maybe a few people from Marin. The California Native Plant Society is also in open warfare with the Sierra Club on this one.

Photo Three
Those against will cite the vote on Measure U as expressing the will of the people. Those favoring will say Measure U was poorly worded or that voters didn’t really understand the issues. Jobs and money – that’s what you will hear most from the advocates. Ironically, both sides will tout the environment  as a reason to support their position. The naysayers will list a host of potential downsides, many of which were identified in the EIR – traffic jams, compulsive and habitual gambling, siphoning cash from the community (including from many who can’t afford it), environmental degradation and further sullying of Richmond’s fragile but improving reputation.

If you come, plan to stay a while.