Both sides in casino debate waiting on decision

Jan. 15, 2011

Now the waiting game begins. Again.

With the two-part determination for a proposed casino in Cascade Locks by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs held up by a Department of Interior review there is not much both sides in the debate can do but wait.

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk is reviewing current applicants for the Indian Gaming Regulatory off-reservation exception, which includes the Warm Springs proposal.

Until that review is completed, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar either approves or rejects the project, both sides can only lobby their case to Gov. John Kitzhaber, who would need to give final approval if the project passes federal muster.

Kitzhaber has already made his opposition to the casino well known, dating back to his previous terms as governor, and he does not appear inclined to change his mind.

"No," Kitzhaber spokeswoman Amy Wojcicki said of whether Kitzhaber had changed or is considering softening his opposition. "His position is the same as it always has been."

As they wait for a decision from the Interior, representatives for the Warm Springs have begun reaching out to the new governor's staff for preliminary discussions, but nothing beyond that phase.

"We're waiting to see what the Department of the Interior will decide or when they will decide," casino project spokesman Len Bergstein said. "We're kind of in a holding pattern and the ball is in their court."

If Interior rejects the proposal, the Cascade Locks site would be all but dead and the tribes would have little leverage.

However, if it is approved, they could bring substantial bargaining chips to bear in negotiations with the governor.

That would include a signed-compact, site-specific for Cascade Locks, which includes funds of up to $850 million, depending on casino revenue, for a state scholarship fund as part of a community fund package and the right for some casino employees to unionize.

If Gov. Kitzhaber rejects the Cascade Locks site, there would be no guarantee the state would get a similar deal.

They also could - with substantial cost - build on tribal land overlooking the Columbia on a cliff side just east of Hood River.

No decision is forthcoming though until Echo Hawk completes his review and Salazar decides which way to go on the project.

"When they make a decision then both sides will just have to sit down and have an honest conversation," Bergstein 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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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