Drive a hard bargain, put it to the voters

Perhaps before we close the door to the Indian casino in our
area
– as San Benito County leaders have effectively done by voting
against a proposal that was never presented to them – Gilroy
officials should consider another tactic: Fashion a

full house

proposal and present it to the Miwoks and the casino
investors.
Perhaps before we close the door to the Indian casino in our area – as San Benito County leaders have effectively done by voting against a proposal that was never presented to them – Gilroy officials should consider another tactic: Fashion a “full house” proposal and present it to the Miwoks and the casino investors.

This is, after all, a game of poker, and there’s no reason not to put our cards on the table and move our chips “all in.”

There are things besides $27 million police stations and fat pensions for public employees that our Gilroy big-box sales tax boom just hasn’t been directed toward.

So, why not seize control of the game and make our own proposal?

Is there a place we would want the casino located, east side of the freeway near the outlets? What would we like to name the casino, something that markets and capitalizes on Gilroy’s garlic fame? Would we like to have an adjacent miniature golf course? Is there a distinct architectural style we would like?

Cover the basics, then prioritize a list like this:

• A sports park, built and paid for

• A $1 million contribution to the Gilroy Arts and Culture Center

• $100,000 in guaranteed annual funding for the Visitor’s Bureau

• A contract to include local motels in casino marketing and package campaigns

• A shuttle to local motels, downtown Gilroy and the major shopping centers that makes a pit stop at the train station and would run to designated special events, too, like the Gilroy Garlic Festival

• Funding to repair buckled sidewalks citywide and replace the street trees

• Annual funding for Uvas Park Preserve improvements that will keep the fantastic plan for the park moving forward

• Money to build a city-school district shared state-of-the-art gymnasium at the new high school

It’s probably inevitable that a tribal casino will land within shouting distance of Gilroy. With that forecast in mind, it’s shortsighted – and not in the best interest of residents – for elected officials not to fashion a proactively proposal and see if the response warrants further discussion.

Gilroy City Council members should anoint a representative – we would suggest drafting interim Economic Development Director Jane Howard – to lead a fast-working committee to put together a proposal that would drive a hard, and potentially valuable, bargain that keeps the best interests of citizens top of mind. What we don’t need is more money to line city coffers for programs that don’t directly benefit residents.

If the Council can put together a deal worth considering, that proposal should go directly to the voters for a special referendum by mail, paid for,

of course, by the casino interests.

At that point, casino opponents who believe that no casino is a good casino can campaign against the proposal on moral grounds. And those who want to tout the economic development – hundreds of good-paying jobs with benefits, lots of business for ancillary industries – can make their case.

Gilroy should drive a hard bargain, then if a worthwhile proposal emerges, put it on the table and let the voters decide. Time is of the essence.

Are we in or out?

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