‘Green light’ seen in new casino bill


News staff writer

July 29, 2006

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs believe the House Resources Committee has given the “green light” for a casino to be sited in Cascade Locks.

By a vote of 27 to 9 on Wednesday, the bill sponsored by chair Richard Pombo, R-Calif., was approved. House Resolution 4893 prohibits off-reservation casinos, but allows pending projects to be considered under current criteria.

U.S. Reps. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore, supported the legislation. It was strongly opposed by U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., who unsuccessfully lobbied members of the committee to reject the legislation.

Len Bergstein, tribal spokesperson, said federal officials have shown their unwillingness to “change the rules midway” on review of the Warm Springs plan, and those of other tribes.

He said that belief is backed up by the fact that a similar bill proposed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also includes a “grandfather” clause.

HR4893 disallows off-reservation casinos, but grants an exception for projects already in the works by March 7, 2006. Any off-reservation proposal must still meet the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 criteria that it benefits the tribe and is not detrimental to the host community.

“It is very clear that both Houses of Congress have a very clear picture of what Indian gaming should be and the Cascade Locks casino falls within that picture,” said Bergstein.

The Warm Springs are seeking to build a 500,000 square foot casino on 25 acres within the Port of Cascade Locks’ industrial park. Another 35 acres would be leased for parking.

According to Bergstein, HR4893 was a “stake in the heart” of the opposition movement. Bergstein said Friends of the Columbia Gorge and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde can no longer claim that a casino in the Gorge would open the “floodgates” for other tribal gaming centers in and around the Portland-metro area.

“We believe this bill will be on the calendar in September for a full House vote because of its broad bipartisan support,” said Bergstein.

Kevin Gorman, director of Friends, said McCain’s bill has been blocked by nine of his peers from a committee vote — and he expects opposition to mount in the House against Pombo’s version.

“I don’t think there’s a chance of getting either bill passed. I think there’s a real sentiment to end off-reservation casinos,” he said.

Gorman did acknowledge that if HR4893 becomes law, it would grandfather only two tribal applications in Oregon that would be located near Portland. He said, in addition to the Warm Springs proposal, the Klamath Tribes wants to build a casino in Aurora.

However, Gorman said there is also a citizen initiative slated for the ballot in 2008 that would pave the way for private gaming facilities, including one on the grounds of the former Multnomah Greyhound Racing Park in Wood Village.

“If these proposals go through I think you’re still going to see a proliferation of gaming, whether it comes from a tribal or a private establishment,” he said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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