Group Urges Citizens to Get the Real Facts on Casino Proposal
Citizens Against Casino Expansion urges community members to voice concerns tonight at public hearing
March 26, 2012 – Airway Heights, Washington –Today, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will host a public hearing at the Sunset Elementary School at 6PM, where concerned citizens can tell the BIA they don’t want the Spokane Tribe of Indians to build their third casino on the West Plains.
Citizens Against Casino Expansion urges residents to get the facts about the detriment this project would cause in our community and to become involved in stopping it. Monday’s public hearing and the public comment period that ends April 16th are a significant chance for community members to participate in the federal process and make their concerns known.
“There’s a lot of misinformation that project supporters are spreading in the community. Our group wants to ensure people have facts,” said Irv Zakheim, founder of Citizens Against Casino Expansion. “The Spokane Tribe is positioning the EIS report as concluding there are no real problems. The truth is their report is missing or misrepresenting significant issues with the project and there are substantial problems citizens deserve to know about.”
The following table outlines some of the most concerning issues with the EIS and the project which Citizens Against Casino Expansion members will be testifying about at tonight’s public hearing:
The draft EIS Claims:
The real facts are:
STEP is “compatible with….policies related to land use in the vicinity of Fairchild Air Force Base”
|Not true. The most significant land use policy, which was developed in 2009 by representatives from the Air Force, the City, the County and others is currently being adopted by all local municipalities is the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS). JLUS specifically prohibits “sensitive land uses” in MIA 3-4, including churches, hotels, hospitals and public assembly facilities. The casino development site is in this MIA 3-4 area and is clearly a violation of the ban on public assembly facilities.|
|Aircraft noise impacts can be mitigated and “transient” aircraft presence is a “rare event.”||The noise readings they took on the site registered at 112 decibels at 145 feet (12 stories). This is so loud the building will shake, and according to the DEIS, “cause human health effects.”
The JLUS identifies 184 average daily flights at Fairchild. These are not a “rare event.” Noise complaints into Fairchild are a huge concern and could impact the number of training flights at the base, which could have significant consequences for its long term viability.
|There are no negative impacts to the City of Spokane||Mayor Condon and the Spokane City Council are so concerned about negative impacts, they have written letters to the BIA and the City Council is voting on a resolution tonight to oppose the project.|
The Spokane Tribe is Saying:
The Real Facts Are:
|There is no impact to Fairchild and there are no encroachment issues||Col. Guemmer stated in his 3/11 guest editorial in the Spokesman Review, “Military aircraft….are restricted to operating northwest of the base…..as more high-occupancy development comes to the area, additional flight path restrictions may be required, which may impact the quantity and/or quality of training for our aircrews.”|
|We can’t worry about future encroachment||In order to protect Fairchild, our region’s number one economic engine and largest employer, we HAVE to be concerned about the future. The Air Force will be deciding where to base the new tankers soon. If Spokane is chosen, it will mean a significant investment in expanding the base and will create new jobs and contracts for area businesses.|
|All of the agencies that participated as cooperating agencies through the EIS process support the project and the EIS findings.||Any federal, state or local agency that had special expertise with respect the environmental issues or jurisdictions around the proposed site were invited to become cooperating agencies. All this means is these agencies supplied information and may have helped prepare environmental analyses about specific aspects of the project. It does not mean they support or agree with the project.|
Opposition to the proposed casino has been growing steadily for months among elected officials, business owners and community members who believe this proposed development is not in the best interest of the community, Fairchild Air Force Base or the State of Washington. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove, Washington Senators Lisa Brown and Michael Baumgartner, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and former Washington Governor Mike Lowry, Greater Spokane Incorporated, Spokane Mayor David Condon and Spokane City Council members Mike Fagan, Nancy McLaughlin, Steve Salvatori and Mike Allen are a few of the current and former elected officials and organizations who have written letters about their many concerns ranging from encroachment on Fairchild Air Force Base to a bad policy precedent. To view copies of these letters, go to: www.citizensagainstcasinos.com/community-and-elected-official-letters/.
DEIS Public Hearing Information:
Where: Sunset Elementary School Gymnasium, 12824 West 12th Avenue, Airway Heights, WA
When: 6 p.m.
Why: To give the public an opportunity to voice their concerns about the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino development
CACE members Irv Zakheim and Mike Senske will be at the public hearing and will be available both before the hearing and during the hearing for interviews with media. To connect with them, call Irv Zakheim at (509) 868-1767.
PROPOSED SPOKANE TRIBE CASINO IS A BAD GAMBLE FOR COMMUNITY
Citizens Against Casino Expansion urges community members to voice concerns during public comment period
March 2, 2012 – Airway Heights, Washington –Today, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed West Plains casino. The report provides details on what Citizens Against Casino Expansion has been saying all along: if allowed to go forward, the Spokane Tribe’s casino proposal would cause unrecoverable harm to the community. A 45-day public comment period begins today and the BIA will hold a public hearing on March 26, 2012 at the Sunset Elementary School Gymnasium, 12824 W. 12th Ave., Airway Heights, WA 99001, where citizens can weigh in and voice concerns about the proposed development.
“The EIS misrepresents the real threats this casino poses to our community, our state and Fairchild Air Force Base. Up until now our concerns have been dismissed by the Tribe and the people they’ve paid to speak for them, but now they can’t hide from the facts. It’s our turn to provide input and I urge residents around the region to submit comments. Tell the BIA we don’t want this casino and the harm it will cause our community,” said Irv Zakheim, founder of Citizens Against Casino Expansion. “It would expand gambling and the problems that come with it, threaten Fairchild Air Force Base, harm our local economy, set a precedent for other Tribes to build off-reservation casinos, and leave local taxpayers holding the bag.”
The EIS claims that any impacts to Fairchild Air Force Base can be mitigated. This is untrue. The 2009 JLUS study outlines sensitive land use around the base specifying certain development should not be allowed in those areas, including hotels, motels and other public assembly venues like a casino. This standard is conspicuously missing from the EIS.
“Almost worse than what’s in the report, is what’s not. This report is inadequate if it’s meant to fully examine the potential harm to our community. It doesn’t examine the issues the community really cares about. It doesn’t speak to how this casino would threaten the character of our community and it doesn’t examine the full costs that the Spokane Tribe could transfer to local taxpayers” said Zakheim. “We don’t want to become Spo-Vegas. We want to attract family wage manufacturing jobs to the West Plains. That is how we’ll build our economy—not through a huge expansion of gaming.”
Additionally, in 2011, the Washington State University Social & Economic Sciences Research Center surveyed 532 residents to learn about gambling practices of Washington State residents, their knowledge of gambling regulation, and their opinions on a range of policy issues. Results concluded that 88 percent of Washingtonians don’t want gambling expanded in our state, and furthermore, 48 percent of respondents said that gambling should be made less available than it currently is. To view the full report, go to http://citizensagainstcasinos.com/primary-concerns/.
Opposition to the proposed casino has been growing steadily for months among elected officials, business owners and community members who believe this proposed development is not in the best interest of the community, Fairchild Air Force Base or the State of Washington. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove, Washington Senators Lisa Brown and Michael Baumgartner, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and former Washington Governor Mike Lowry and Greater Spokane Incorporated are a few of the current and former elected officials and organizations who have written letters about their many concerns ranging from the social ills of gaming to encroachment to a bad policy precedent. To view copies of these letters, go to: www.citizensagainstcasinos.com/community-and-elected-official-letters/.
The federal government generally prohibits Tribes from building off-reservation casinos, as outlined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988. The Spokane Tribe has submitted an application to the Department of Interior to ask for a rarely given “Two-Part Determination” exception. Since IGRA was enacted more than 20 years ago, only five Tribe across the county have been granted such an exception. The Spokane Tribe’s proposal has significant Federal and State hurdles to overcome before it could move forward. Public comment is an important part of the process and legitimate concerns could stop the proposal from advancing. Ultimately, the project could only be approved if the Department of the Interior and Washington State’s Governor sign off on it.
View the full DEIS document and submit comments at: www.citizensagainstcasinos.com.
Leaders Want Boeing’s New Tankers at Fairchild
As you might have seen, an article entitled, “Favoring Fairchild” ran in the Spokesman-Review on January 10. The article described a new campaign that kicked off in early January that aims to bring KC-46A refueling tankers to Fairchild Air Force Base. Competition for the new tankers will be stiff and we need to ensure they come to Spokane first. It would translate into family wage jobs and great investment for our community.
This is the kind of economic development our community needs, but in my opinion, the one thing that could cause decision makers to give the fleet to someone else would be if the Spokane Tribe gets approval to build a casino on the West Plains, right across the street from the Base. This adds to the many reasons why our senators and congresswoman need to speak out publicly about their opposition to the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino.
Fairchild Air Force Base is an asset we need to protect! Encroachment is a huge concern and the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino complex includes a tall hotel tower located directly below the training flight path. This raises major concerns about how this casino complex will impact Fairchild’s future development plans, including this tankers project. As the number one employer in the region, Fairchild provides us with thousands of jobs and now has the ability to provide us with many more through this project. If we lose Fairchild, we won’t get those jobs. Is a new casino worth the risk?
Join us in protecting Fairchild from the threat this casino proposal creates! I urge everyone to call or email the local offices for our senators and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, explaining your concerns and asking them to oppose the casino proposal. We need their help now. Here are key points you can make to them:
- There is growing opposition to the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino on the west plains. This proposal poses a clear threat to the future of Fairchild because of its proximity to the base and it’s location directly under the training flight path.
- Many local officials and organizations have written letters to the BIA expressing concern, including Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove, Washington Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, GSI’s Forward Fairchild group and many others.
- We need our Federal delegation to join us in actively protecting Fairchild from this threat. The campaign for the new tankers is one more clear reason we need action now.
- I ask that you contact BIA and tell them this proposed off-reservation casino would cause clear harm to our community.
Staff in these offices will pass on your messages to the senators and congresswoman. If you have personal relationships with any staffers (or the electeds themselves) please use them!
Senator Maria Cantwell
Phone: (509) 353-2507
Senator Patty Murray
Phone: (509) 624-9515
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers
Phone: (509) 353-2374
If you haven’t read the article, you can view the full article here:http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/jan/10/favoring-fairchild/
FOIA REQUEST REVEALS GROWING BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO THE SPOKANE TRIBE’S PROPOSAL TO BUILD AN OFF-RESERVATION CASINO NEAR FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE
Elected officials and business leaders fear proposed casino could harm Fairchild Air Force Base and fuel an expansion of gaming in Washington State
October 6, 2011 – Airway Heights, Washington – Citizens Against Casino Expansion (CACE), a group of concerned business and community leaders from across the West Plains and Spokane County, has released a collection letters from state-wide elected officials expressing their opposition to the Spokane Tribe’s proposal to build an off-reservation casino near Fairchild Air Force Base on the West Plains. The bulk of the letters were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Opposition to this project has been growing steadily from community members, business owners and now elected officials who believe this proposed development is not in the best interest of the Spokane-area community, Fairchild Air Force Base or the State of Washington.
Major concerns from state-wide elected officials include the potential this could lead to more off-reservation gaming in Washington State, encroach upon the appropriate land use around on Fairchild Air Force Base, and concerns over negative impacts to the greater Spokane region. Numerous additional concerns are included in these letters as well.
Members of CACE are calling on the Spokane County Commissioners to take action. The Commissioners signed a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2010 that in effect, traded their silence on this issue for payments based on projected future casino profits that may or may not ever materialize.
Michael Senske, CACE member, commented, “Two of the three Spokane County Commissioners have in personal conversations with me voiced their opposition to the Spokane Tribe’s proposal to build this casino. They are frustrated because the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the previous commission, and before the Environmental Impact Study has been released, prevents them from voicing their concerns. The community should be outraged that our county elected officials now can’t represent us in this public process. I am calling on the Spokane County Commissioners to find a way to represent the community by participating in the process and bringing forth our concerns with this proposed casino.”
CACE has released 12 letters of opposition from elected officials that have been submitted to the BIA. Elected officials and organizations that signed letters include:
- Washington State Senator Lisa Brown, 3rd District (D)
- Washington State Senator Michael Baumgartner, 6th District (R)
- Washington State Senator Mark Schoesler, 9th District (R)
- Washington State Senator Curtis King, 14th District (R)
- Washington State Senator Brian Hatfield, 19th District (D)
- Washington State Representative Matt Shea, 4th District (R)
- Washington State Representative Charles Ross, 14th District (R)
- Washington State Representative Marko Liias, 21st District (D)
- Washington State Representative Roger Goodman, 45th District (D)
- Washington State Secretary of State Sam Reed
- Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag
- Pend Oreille County Commissioner Diane Wear
- Pend Oreille County Commissioner Laura Merrill
- Pend Oreille County Commissioner John Hankey
- Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove
- Former Washington State Secretary of State Ralph Munro
- Former Washington State Governor Mike Lowry
- Greater Spokane Incorporated
- Michael Padden, Senate Candidate, 4th District (R)
The Spokane Tribe’s proposal still has significant Federal and State hurdles to overcome before it could move forward. The project requires approval by the Department of the Interior and concurrence by Washington State’s Governor.
The next step in the process is a public comment period upon the release of the Environmental Impact Study (EIS). CACE founder Irv Zakheim said, “The BIA won’t say when it will release the EIS, but the FOIA request shows the draft has been submitted to cooperating agencies. When the completed EIS is released, it will trigger a 45 day comment period and a public meeting. I encourage community members to comment. If you don’t want to see more gaming in our community, this is your chance to be heard.”
The Spokane Tribe is a proposing a 145-acre mixed-use development on the West Plains of Spokane County, anchored by a large casino. If approved, this would be the third casino operated by the Spokane Tribe. The Tribe currently operates the Two Rivers and Chewelah Casinos.
Citizens Against Casino Expansion Launches Website
Users can view just-published EIS Scoping Report and other resources
April 20, 2011 – Airway Heights, Washington – Citizens Against Casino Expansion, a group of concerned business and community leaders on the West Plains, has launched a website outlining their concerns for the off-reservation casino proposed by the Spokane Tribe of Indians on Highway 2 and Craig Road. The website features resources for citizens who are opposed to the project and links to the just-published EIS Scoping Report that outlines dozens of potential negative impacts from the proposed casino. The URL is www.citizensagainstcasinos.com.
“This new casino project does not represent economic development. It represents economic and community risk for the West Plains and Spokane,” says Irv Zakheim, a founding member of Citizens Against Casino Expansion (CACE). “This project is bad for the West Plains, bad for the future of Fairchild Airforce Base and could lead to more off-reservation gaming in our state. Our group plans to fight it aggressively and we’re inviting citizens to get involved. The community has a voice in this process and we can tell the BIA we don’t want it.”
“Approving this casino could have significant negative consequences for our state,” says Mike Senske, a West Plains business owner and member of the opposition group. “If the Federal Government begins to grant off-reservation exceptions for reasons of pure economic convenience, we could end up with casinos in our cities across the state. It’s a bad policy precedent.”
The site provides citizens with a variety of informational resources, including access to the 336-page Environmental Impact Study (EIS) scoping meeting report, which summarizes all the possible negative consequences this proposed casino could have that will need to be fully studied in the official Environmental Impact Study itself. The issues identified include a variety of environmental and traffic concerns, a variety of negative impacts the project could have on Fairchild Air Force Base and the surrounding Airway Heights community, crime rates, problem gambling, loss of local business revenue and many more.
The report notes that the public review schedule currently anticipates the draft environmental impact statement will be available in mid-2011 with a 45-day public review period.
Citizens who want more information or want to get involved in fighting this proposal should visit the website atwww.citizensagainstcasinos.com.
EIS Report Now Available to the Public
April 14, 2011
What is the EIS scoping report?
The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) scoping meeting report is a summation of all of the information the BIA received during the scoping process which took place about 18 months ago, back in the fall of 2009. Initiated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the report includes all the possible detriments the proposed casino would bring to our area if it were given permission to move forward, what the range of alternatives to this proposal are, and what the potential impacts that need to be addressed are. The scoping process was intended to let the public be a part of the process to determine what the scope of the analysis should be.
What is included in the report?
Section one included an overview of the project, public involvement including notices, the project website, public meetings and mail, and alternatives identified by the public. This section of the report showed that public comments included a fear of potential expansion of gaming, and that the Spokane Tribe could expand one or both of their two existing casinos. The Spokane Tribe eliminated the idea of expanding their existing casinos as they felt it would not meet the purpose and need for the proposed action.
Section two included additional alternatives such as a reduced casino and mixed use development site, and a non-gaming mixed-use development site. These two options were described as viable, and were never dismissed.
Section three identified issues raised by the public and government agencies during the scoping process. These issues included procedural issues, water and air quality issues, biological resources issues, and many more.
Section four goes on to describe the EIS and public review schedule, saying the current schedule anticipates the draft environmental impact statement will be available in mid-2011 with a 45-day public review period.
The proceeding appendices include the notice of intent, newspaper notices, a list of commenter’s, comments made (letters written, testimonials, etc.), and cooperating agency acceptance letters.
To download and view a PDF of the entire 336-page report, click here:http://www.westplainseis.com/documents/Scoping_Report-Appendices.pdf