It seems, every day the local media report rises in unemployment and more citizens applying for welfare. The job market for our young people is almost non-existent. The proposed Madera North Fork Mono Casino is the only employment bright spot on the horizon.
North Fork tribal leaders have battled government bureaucracy for the past several years in order to build a casino in Madera which could add hundreds of jobs to our community. The casino would bring viable living wage jobs and would bring additional commercial stores and shopping once it was built.
I realize that our Central Valley has an assortment of casinos already in operation, but perceived problems such as large scale habitual gambling and high crime simply have not materialized. If you have had a chance to visit one of our local casinos you will note that they are usually packed with customers night and day.
The casinos have proved to be a benefit to our valley communities by providing job training, long term employment, county monetary assistance, and a safe place to go for entertainment. The North Fork Mono tribe would be able to establish a better living standard as other tribes in the area have done.
Now, anti-casino groups such as Stand Up for California have successfully delayed the progress of the North Fork Rancheria resort and casino project by gaining enough signatures to place an referendum on the November ballot requiring that casinos can only be built on Indian land.
Anti-casino director Cheryl Schmit, who professes to be totally anti-gaming is leading the charge to place the referendum on the ballot. Schmit, in my view, is somewhat of a hypocrite, as she and her organization have, according to a Secretary of State’s Office report, accepted more than $700,000 from two major sources: Table Mountain Rancheria, and the Brigade Management Firm, associated with the Chukchansi Gold Resort. I find it distressing that a self-interest group can successfully pour money into a statewide initiative to stop a local job-building program that has been approved by county supervisors and the U.S. government.
Cheryl Schmit needs to attend one of our local job fairs and see our young people in the hundreds, standing in line for job applications for 10 or 20 job openings. She also should review the welfare and food stamp rolls that exist in our county.
Most of all I pray the voters of California recognize the overall value of the casino to the local economy, and vote against Cheryl Schmit and her Stand Up For California special-interest group.