Hollister forms casino committee to gather information

Hollister – Mayor Pauline Valdivia established a subcommittee to
investigate the California Valley Miwok tribe’s proposal for a
casino near Hollister before the Hollister City Council will take a
stance on the issue.
Hollister – Mayor Pauline Valdivia established a subcommittee to investigate the California Valley Miwok tribe’s proposal for a casino near Hollister before the Hollister City Council will take a stance on the issue.

Valdivia appointed herself and District 1 Councilman Brad Pike to the subcommittee along with City Manager Clint Quilter.

The task force members will be meeting with the tribe’s investors and state legislators and visiting newer casinos nearby to make sure they can bring all the needed information back to the council before a decision is made, according to Pike.

“I think the right decision will be made, but it will be a while,” Pike said. “I know everybody’s saying ‘tick-tock, it’s time to make a decision,’ but we don’t have a timeline.”

The San Benito County Board of Supervisors and the San Juan Bautista City Council both recently voted unanimously to oppose the casino, leaving the Hollister City Council the only local governing body that hasn’t taken a stance. District 4 Councilman Doug Emerson was the only council member to come out with a personal opinion on the casino Monday night, saying he opposed the project on behalf of his constituents.

Valdivia said she was hoping the casino’s investors would contact the committee soon to set up meetings to review specific plans. During the regular city council meeting that night, California Valley Miwok Project Manager Gary Ramos had told the council the investors would no longer be discussing the project in public venues constrained by speaker time limits.

“We look forward to sitting down with members of the city council’s subcommittee to examine and explore with them what our proposed destination resort and casino can bring to the Hollister community,” Ramos said in an e-mail Tuesday.

The five-member California Valley Miwok tribe has teamed up with investment group Game Won to develop a casino off of Highway 156 near Hollister. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will not negotiate gaming compacts with tribes outside of their indigenous area without overwhelming local support.

And since the tribe has yet to prove its ancestral roots in San Benito County, the supervisors and San Juan council want to show a united opposition.

But the Hollister City Council has said several times it will not be taking a stance until they are more educated on the issue. The task force should help accomplish this, she said, and will be making presentations to the council periodically so they have all the same information as the subcommittee.

Eventually, Valdivia said, Police Chief Jeff Miller and Fire Chief Bill Garringer will join the task force to weigh public safety costs and benefits a casino could bring.

“They’ll be brought in when it’s the appropriate time,” she said. “I just need to get their input.”

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