The Oxnard Journal
Press Conference on Casinos
1600 Pacific Avenue,
Oxnard California 93030
April 24, 2001
Today, I speak as president of the Oxnard - Port Hueneme Ministerial Association. We have passed a unanimous resolution opposing the institution of an Indian casino in Oxnard. This is probably the very first resolution that we have ever passed that is unanimous,. We often have serious intellectual philosophical differences and work them out together, because we are friends, but the unanimity here is firm. Please know that this spans the religious spectrum from the most liberal rabbi to the most conservative Evangelical Baptist minister. In between we have Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Mormons, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Church of Religious Science, and Episcopalians.
Do you remember the old song from the classic American play, Music Man, "There's trouble in River City"? There it was a pool hall. Right now, there's trouble in Oxnard, and it is a proposed casino right in our city limits. Paragon Gaming LLC (of Las Vegas, Nevada), (and the use of the word "gaming" a euphemism. It is gambling, a serious business designed to extract money from those least able to afford it.) and the Maidu Indian Tribe propose to open an establishment with a beginning of only (sic) 150,000 square feet featuring 2,000 slot machines and 175 gambling tables. They say that it would be open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That is 24/7 of gambling right in the midst of an area filed with homes, schools, and places of religion.
We recognize that gambling is legal, and that people have right to gamble if they wish. They have many legal options. There is Las Vegas. If they do not wish to drive that far, there is a new huge casino in San Diego County. If that is still too far, there is another one in northern Santa Barbara County. That is certainly close enough.
Interestingly enough, this tribe has no history, no ancestral ties, and no land in trust in out area. Their history is in Plumas County, very far from Oxnard. We do not need to promote gambling this close to the homes of our city of 170,000 people, of which more than two thirds are members of the working class. Gambling addiction is just as hard to control as drug addiction or any of the other forms of substance abuse. The continuing growth of Gamblers Anonymous is sufficient evidence of this reality. While all of us endorse and support the rights and aspirations of Native Americans to economic equality, we do not consider it wise to break one cycle of poverty while creating another.
Those who support this invidious measure see only short term numbers in front of them. The glowing figures in the proposals ignore the long term effects of regressive taxation, and the subsequent erosion of the tax base. The reality is that gambling interests make money because they have the golden opportunity of taking it from those who can least afford to lose it. This the proposal is not only ethically and spiritually disturbing, in the long run it is impractical. In either case, it needs to be cut off at the very beginning.
This is no goose that laid the golden egg. Rather is it a true statement that we need to see that the "Emperor" of localized gambling has no clothes. We who voted for Propositions 5 and 1A, voted for casinos to be able to be built on established reservations, not in the midst of urban centers of more than a quarter of a million.
We address this committee because we believe that you have the ear of the governor, and that you will fulfill your responsibility to give him sound advice on this matter.
Thank you for your consideration.