Please Give the Editor some time to regroup and change the focus of the Journal - we have been so tied up in this Casino non-sense. So take a breath and let's move on together.
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The only way to recount this story is to tell it backwards.
Tonight the Oxnard City Council voted unanimously to reject a proposal of the Maidu Tribe and Paragon Superstores to build a casino and a sovereign nationette within our fair city. The Mayor's motion will be the most sought after document tomorrow, but for tonight I am thinking of what if. What If the Council ignored the recall threats and the will of the majority of local residents who in their soul of souls made a passionate outcry to our five seated council-members to renounce the Casino proposal.
Don't put Oxnard on the map for it's casino. Some great quote came out tonight. I had the privilege to sit at the Press Table and it was more than my Press Pass that allowed me to remain seated therewith. It was first Raul Hernandez who challenged my being seated at the Press Table. Then an Oxnard P.D. check wanted to know if I was worthy of sitting there. The Press Pass proved it. Then Ross Olney saved me from another member of the press who wanted my seat as I was not a recognized press member. The Oxnard Journal got it's seat courtesy of Martin Jones who surrendered the valued chair when he went out to be with the people who sat in the cold darkness in the overflow seating.
At 1202 (0002 hrs) the Mayor made the motion to bed with his sweeping motion. Gary Gillig, the City Attorney verified the motion was within parliamentary parameters. It was. All members voted. Besides being increasingly unpopular with a large swath of neighborhoods who spoke. The three CouncilMEN who thought it a tart idea to invite a Casino into city limits took advantage of the public comments to sway their thinking. It is surmised that the veiled and not so-covered threats of a RECALL moved the CouncilMEN more than the impassioned pleas of the poor citizens who had to rely on God more than Government. God moved hearts, the recall moved hearts, the County Government and the neighboring city of Camarillo moved hearts, the evening in general moved hearts. The cold heartless facades of the Paragon suits versus the flesh and blood of an entire City was a no-win situation for Mammon and his merciless minions. The best news besides Gary Gillig's agreement with the Mayor's motion was the public comment of the Maidu Attorney who at 11:55 (2355 hrs.) withdrew the Maidu's proposal to house a Casino in Oxnard.
VICTORY IN JESUS.
For some, the Casino was a religious crusade. Calvary Chapel compared their lengthy and difficult process to locate their fellowship hall on Eastman to the relative ease of this BIG MONEY group to just plop down their life-changing facility. Calvary Chapel is a life-changing facility, but hoops they had to jump through to get their marvelous chapel built made this whole Paragon/Maidu thing very suspect and suspicious too!
Rabbi Sherwood who rallied many churches together allowed his 3 minute public comment to pass at midnight, so the Council could get to the business of wrapping it all up and putting the Casino to bed. Nighty Night!
Paragon spent 40-thousand to pay the City to send a dozen City Employees on Junkets to see/visit/& absorb as much of the Casinos and the towns they visited. San Pablo in SF Bay area, the Palm Springs area (Chief Art Lopez went there, he's quoted saying such), and even such exotic places as Biloxi, Mississippi were visited. Seabees know Biloxi as Gulfport, the Atlantic home for the Seabees is spittin' distance from Biloxi.
One speaker, who was a Chumash man, spent a good number of his best years in a Nevada Jail. He told the Council, that 80-percent of the Nevada jails were filled with Californians. "I know." he told the council. "Eighty percent of the prison population in Nevada is from California. That's your tourist!" He was referring to the tourism expectations the city had envisioned.
One speaker had it right when she spoke of what a tourist sees when driving through Oxnard. The problem is not what to do about the Casino, but what to do about Oxnard.
The Maidues never spoke or consulted with the territorial birthright-holders, the Chumash. Several Chumash speakers including the Tribes Chairman spoke of the disrespect of the Maidues for not even consulting or speaking with the Chumash. In addition to violating protocol, it was downright disrespectful to present tribe-members and most especially to the ancestors. "Shame on you." was the admonishment of the Chumash who spoke to the Maidu. The Maidu Tribes spokeswoman Lorie James, the Chair of the Greenville Rancheria did her speech and when she sat down behind me, she said, "That was nerve wracking." I could tell her spirit was not in what she was doing.
Near the end of the public comments, before the fateful decision, I surveyed the faces all the proponents. Red faces were on Gillig, who may just be sunburned. Sotelo, who sat madly during the negative comments. His displeasure stood out more than his suit. Holden was beaming as was Pinkhard. Dean sort of sat in on this and of all the three, I felt Dean was the swing vote to actually put this to an end. But it was Holden who first took the dip in the deep end of the pool by saying he as against the proposal. Back-peddling or political reprieve. He just beat Dean to the punch.
Was it the "dangling allure of quick cash"? Or was it just "an incredibly bad idea, just like signing a pre-nuptial agreement with someone you can never divorce? "Ambulances are going to need to use Gonzales Road - they can't get thru now, how are they going to do when all that Casino traffic is there."
The President of the CBC Federal Credit Union came before the Council to inform them that he had just paid hundreds of thousands in city permits and fees to build a new building adjacent to the Casino property. Not ever was there any mention of a Casino in the Factory Outlet Center, but had he known. He would not be building there.
Alan Wingo spoke as Chair of the Wilson Neighborhood and he reported that at their April 30th meeting, the neighborhood voted 3 in favor of the Casino and 52 against.
Wingo also reported that the Colonia voted 100-to-0 against the Casino. The cheers of the outside crowds could be heard within the brick confines of the Council chambers.
Wingo also said, "I guess it would be easier for Paragon, to instead buy off the whole city, they just buy-off three councilmen." -to which an applause followed in the Council chambers, and again in the foyer and hall and exterior seating for Wingo's boldness in challenging the Council.
Jeff Taggert, of EastVillage which is the New Neighborhood over by the former GTE, and Dr Starr's office. Taggert, who represents the area on the INCF, chided the Council for not consulting or even asking the people whom this would most affect. The East Village neighborhood adjacent to the proposed Casino. Jeff also promised that the Recall effort would go full force as it has already started. This startled the three council-members who were favoring the Casino.
There are 33 pages of notes about all the things that were spoken: Pro and Con. Nothing more is more important than the people having a voice and a say in how things get done.
Democracy won Tuesday night in Oxnard, not the power of big business. If the Recall was the reason, or just plain good political sense, the hounds were nipping at the heels of the Council and the Hounds were not willing to gamble Oxnard's future for a roll of the dice and a pay-off from Vegas.
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