Monday, 15 July 2024

Brown plans Washington, D.C. trip to discuss casino plan

 

Brown reported earlier this month that he had information that developer Darius Anderson, whose firm Kenwood Investments currently is in negotiations to purchase Konocti Harbor from the UA Local Convalescent Trust Fund, is negotiating with several American Indian tribes to place a casino on the property.


Last week Brown requested that Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff Smith schedule a discussion is the issue at the board's next meeting on Feb. 6.


In a memo to Smith dated Jan. 18, Brown wrote, “While we have had some general discussion with representatives of Kenwood Investments, the specifics of their plans have yet to be outlined. However, they have made it known to us that an Indian casino remains to be part of that larger plan.”


Brown's memo said Konocti Harbor and the county have had an “excellent relationship,” and that he encourages the board “to make a commitment to continue that relationship and assist, to the extend that we can, in any future plans to upgrade the existing facility, regardless of who owns the property so long as those plans do not include a casino.”


Some of the concerns Brown indicated to Smith included traffic that a casino would generate. Konocti Harbor, he said, currently is answerable to the county for traffic under its use permit, which prevents concerts in the outdoor amphitheater from extending beyond 10 p.m. If Konocti were placed in trust in order to facilitate the casino plan, that use permit would become meaningless, Brown said, and traffic and noise could continue around the clock.


He also raises the issue of the “social ills that go with any type of gambling.”


“Gaming has not been positive to our local economy,” Brown wrote. “While it may create a few jobs, it is no secret that the majority of the revenues that casinos realize leave the county and state to outside investors.”


His memo to Smith concludes by saying that Konocti Harbor has value for the community; “however, I don't believe a casino located at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa is in the best interest of those that we serve, and on behalf of my constituents, I respectfully request that this board take a position against such a venture.”


Brown told Lake County News this week that he isn't asking the board for a symbolic action on the issue. “I'm going to ask the board to adopt a resolution on the sixth,” he said. That document, which he and County Administrative Officer are crafting now, would state the county's official position against a casino located at Konocti Harbor.


He said he doesn't plan to stop lobbying against the plan at the county level, and has already begun approaching federal lawmakers.


Accompanying Brown's memo to Smith was a letter to Brown from Congressman Mike Thompson, which referenced a conversation the two men had over the casino plan.


“As I indicated in our conversation, I have a long-standing policy that tribal governments need to work with and secure the approval of any city or county government that would be impacted by the establishment of an Indian casino,” Thompson wrote. “I realize that this can be a lengthy process but community support is an essential element of successful legislation.”


Thompson's district representative Brad Onorato told Lake County News earlier this month that Thompson's office has not yet been contacted about the casino by Kenwood Investments. Onorato said at that time, however, that Thompson would be unlikely to support any such attempt that circumvented the community and its leaders.


Brown said he is planning at trip to Washington, D.C on March 7 to meet with Thompson and Sen. Dianne Feinstein's staff to discuss Konocti Harbor. I


He plans to take with him petitions against the casino plan he began circulating around his district earlier this month. Brown estimates he has collected “a couple thousand” signatures.


Meanwhile, Local 38 of the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters and Journeymen -- which controls Konocti Harbor's owner, the UA Local Convalescent Fund – is being sued by the Department of Labor (DOL). In that case, DOL is accusing Local 38 and its trustees of allegedly diverting more than $36 million in assets of five employee benefit plans to renovate and operate the resort's outdoor amphitheater and indoor showroom, and improve other resort infrastructure.


That case is expected to come to trial later this year.

 

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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