Monday, July 14, 2008

Tribes In The Media: Television Campaign Launched Against Cowlitz Casino

An article in Washington State's The Columbian newspaper is republished below as part of the ongoing Tribes In The Media series. The June 14th article documents a television campaign launched by opponents of the Cowlitz Tribe's bid for a casino in Clark County, Washington. If the Cowlitz casino is approved by the U.S. Department of Interior, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority would take part in developing and managing the casino.

Grand Ronde’s anti-casino ads trash Bush
By Jeffrey Mize,
The Columbian
June 15, 2008

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde are done with asking the public to call Clark County commissioners and defeat La Center’s mayor.

In their latest advertising blitz opposing the Cowlitz Tribe’s casino plan, owners of Oregon’s top-grossing Indian casino have moved up the chain of command.

Through their proxy, Citizens for a Healthy Clark County, the Grand Ronde government is paying for television commercials saying that “George Bush’s plan for Clark County” would inflict chronic traffic jams, create nasty pollution and bankrupt small businesses.

The commercial ends with photos and phone numbers for Gov. Chris Gregoire, U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Congressman Brian Baird, all Democrats.

“Tell our leaders to stand up to Bush,” the narrator implores. “Oppose the casino. Time is running out.”

Ann Rivers, a spokeswoman for Citizens for a Healthy Clark County, said the commercials are in reaction to the May 30 release of a final Cowlitz casino study.

“The sudden release of the environmental impact statement by the Bush administration really puts the casino on the fast track for approval,” Rivers said.

The commercials ask county residents not to pressure the administration but instead to lobby their congressional delegation and Gov. Gregoire.

“I have seen Brian Baird and Sens. Cantwell and Murray do amazing things,” said Rivers, whose coalition includes North Clark Conservationists, No Ridgefield Casino and Faith and Freedom Network. “Now it’s time for them to do something amazing for their constituents.”

Rivers, as she has in the past, declined to say how much the coalition is spending on its commercials.

She said the campaign will likely last through June 30, which is the end of a 30-day comment period on the final casino study.

The Grand Ronde has previously paid for commercials pressuring county commissioners to repeal their 2004 agreement with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and to not broker a new deal.

Last year, the tribal government paid for campaign mailers targeting La Center Mayor Jim Irish, who was running for re-election.

Irish won re-election with 56.3 percent of the vote.

His opponent, former Councilman Dale Smith, believes the Grand Ronde’s mailers hurt, not helped, his campaign.

The Grand Ronde own Spirit Mountain Casino, about 70 miles southwest of Portland near the Oregon coast.

Two years ago, tribal representatives told federal officials that a Cowlitz casino would “devastate” their economy and cost Spirit Mountain $65 million to $82 million a year in lost revenue.

But the final casino study cites a 2007 analysis by E.D. Hovee & Co., a Vancouver consultant, which predicted that Spirit Mountain could potentially lose $17.3 million in gambling revenue in 2011 — or 13 percent of its current gambling revenue.