Joins Business, Labor, Church and Environmental Groups
With the Measure U non-binding advisory vote on the project just a few days away, the Richmond Chapter of the NAACP voted to endorse the planned Tribal Destination Resort at Point Molate.
The NAACP joins a large list of Richmond churches, business, and labor groups in coming out in favor of building a 4-star destination resort on the closed military base. NAACP’s endorsement recognized the thousands of local jobs to be created by the project, and the work already being done by the project to collaborate with churches and community groups to establish job training and job access programs to meet very high local employment levels.
Estimates in the City-sponsored Environmental Impact Report are that the project will create 4,500 on-site living wage jobs, with a total of 17,000 jobs created in the Contra Costa County area.
The project will be one of the largest economic stimulus projects in the region, and built without reliance on tax money and deficit spending.
Lloyd Madden, NAACP life member, former President of the NAACP-Richmond Branch and former Vice-President of the NAACP California State Conference, Northern California Region, stated that he is pleased to hear that the NAACP supports the Tribal Destination Resort at Pt. Molate.
This announcement from the NAACP, one of the most respected groups with a proven track record over five decades of advancing the social and economic conditions of minorities in America, comes on the heels of an historic Shoreline Protection Agreement uniting the leadership of the region’s major environmental groups with the Guidiville Tribe and Upstream Development. That agreement, which provides guarantees for on-site environmental protections and major acquisitions of off-site parks and open space lands when the project is built, provides mainstream environmental support to the project, including the Sierra Club, Golden Gate Audubon Society and Citizens for East Shore Parks.
The unique project would build high-end two hotels with 1,100 rooms, a performance hall, convention center, shopping, restaurants and nightclubs on 85-acres of the 405-acre Point Molate site, all in a compact, walkable, beautiful setting, with the remaining acreage dedicated as permanent open space trails and ferry service to San Francisco. The entertainment component of the resort includes 124,000 square feet of gaming, a critical facility to finance the development, but a small portion of the project footprint. Unlike comparable casinos, the project has committed to “daylighting” (using natural light to enhance the atmosphere and save energy in the facilities), along with a host of other “green” technologies.
The project is being proposed by Upstream and the Guidiville Band of Indians, who were selected in 2004 by the City to redevelop the site, and will cost over $1 Billion.
Measure U Project Opposition Dominated by Competitors
Until recently, there has been little opposition to the Point Molate Resort. However, with the project moving closer to approvals, no-growth locals have been joined by competitors in the region, namely local card clubs and other casinos. There have been several paid mailers from the card clubs, who have recently been joined by the United Auburn Tribe, which operates a casino outside of Sacramento, alleging that the Point Molate Project won’t create local jobs, won’t pay even minimum wages, and will cost the City money. By simply reviewing the signed agreements posted on the City of Richmond’s website, this reporter was able to refute each of the card clubs’ allegations. In fact, the signed agreements between the City and Upstream provide for 40-percent Richmond hiring, adherence to the City’s Living Wage provisions, and payments from the project to the City approximating $400 million over the first 20 years of operation.
In addition, the local hiring provisions were recently reinforced by the announcement of a signed Project Labor Agreement for Point Molate. Greg Feere, CEO of the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council announced the PLA on October 20, 2010, at a rally attended by hundreds of local workers. The PLA also includes provisions to train and admit Richmond youth into the labor unions, and preferential referral of Richmond residents from union halls to the project.
When asked about the job commitments, BAPAC President Lloyd Madden said… “the Upstream/Guidiville team has already begun working in the community to develop capacity among churches and non-profits to take on the challenge of training residents for careers at the resort. This is not just talk.”
It is well-known that discussions have been underway between the project, City, churches, school district, and Contra Costa College to develop a comprehensive job assessment, training, and accessibility plan for the project. Despite unsubstantiated claims by Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and the card clubs, the Point Molate project creates a wide array of jobs in information technology, engineering, construction, landscape design, accounting, human resources, hospitality and spa services, hotel management, convention meetings, entertainment, gaming, and restaurants. Similar facilities in the US provide an average wage and benefit package that exceeds $20/hour.
When asked, Upstream partner Jim Levine said, “While there are an abundance of gambling options for locals already available, this project will bring tourism to Richmond, with all of the benefits that accrues. However, those who oppose Measure U because the card clubs have misrepresented the job and revenue agreements between us and the City have unfortunately been misinformed of the facts. We had hoped that the City of Richmond would issue an objective analysis of the project economics and job projections as part of the election, but it hasn’t.” BAPAC President Madden said, “We really encourage people to attend one of the project presentations. When residents have the facts, we have seen support of the project reach over 90 percent. However, due to the misinformation being spread by the opponents of the project, it is unlikely that the current Measure U Advisory Vote will be an accurate gauge of the public’s view of the project.”
While a handful of local ministers have voiced opposition to the project, the Richmond Post has reviewed a letter of support for the project signed by 49 church leaders in Richmond.
Although opponents of the project, led by Green Party Mayor Gayle McLaughlin have stated they prefer a non-gaming project that brings “green” jobs to Richmond, they have not yet offered or proposed any specific alternative proposals. At a meeting of FaithWorks on October 20, 2010, Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate spokesperson Andres Soto stated that he had a plan for Point Molate that would generate large job numbers around recreation and historical interpretation. When pressed for details by FaithWorks members who questioned the funding, Mr. Soto stated that the group has a “secret plan” for Point Molate that would be unveiled after the election. Figures indicate that an investment of over $150 million will be needed for environmental cleanup, lead, and asbestos removal, rehabilitation of historic structures, replacing aging infrastructure, improving site access, providing public open space and trails, before even considering money for job training and funds for Richmond.
Levine said: “Given the millions of dollars required for these items, it appears that Soto’s plan may be “secret” because it doesn’t pencil out. Without a financially sustainable plan like ours, the City will be forced to pay for these things themselves and will have to further cut services in other areas of town.”