Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lakewood gambling forum: a stacked deck

The president of the Tillicum/Woodbrook neighborhood association is on the record in favor of closing all six of Lakewood's casinos. So why, on December 4, are they hosting a forum on gambling at the Clover Park High School PAC? Well, they've invited the six casino managers, and 50 churches. Panelists will include one casino manager (who appears to only have tentatively accepted), the director of the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling, and a professor from Whatcom county whose organization has recently sued the Nooksack tribe's casino (and lost).

I may show up to bring a little dissonance to their echo chamber. Their announcement is pasted below.

Following are the final confirmed panelists for the Lakewood citywide forum on gambling to be held Tuesday, December 4, 6:30-8:30 PM at the Performing Arts Center of Clover Park High School located at 11023 Gravelly Lake Drive, SW.

Moderator: Peter Callaghan, columnist and reporter with The (Tacoma) News Tribune.


  • John Arbeeny, Lakewood City Councilman
  • Pad Finnigan, Lakewood City Councilman
  • Mike McKenzie, Lakewood Assistant Attorney
  • Craig Mayberry, Lynden, WA - Professor at Whatcom Community College and at Western Washington University. Craig is spokesperson for the North County Alliance (NCCA) of Whatcom County that has a federal lawsuit against the recently opened Nooksack Tribe's casino. Craig believes "solutions to the social injustices (created by gambling) will only come through a grassroots effort by local communities to hold elected officials and government bureaucrats accountable to upholding the civil rights of all individuals, regardless of the amount of campaign contributions."
  • Marueen Greeley, Executive Director of the Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling (formerly Washington Council on Problem Gambling).
  • Gary Hess, Manager, Great American Casino (or possibly Greg Bakamis, former manager now in corporate office). One or the other is confirmed.

The format for the evening:

  • 6:30-6:45 Doors open, seats taken and a presentation of the 2nd Annual Rudy 'Rebel' Baker Award for Outstanding Volunteer Community Service in the Tillicum/Woodbrook Neighborhood. As this forum is sponsored by the Tillicum/Woodbrook Neighborhood Association (TWNA); and as this forum replaces our regular monthly meeting for December, this is the one item of business we want to conduct the evening of the forum - Dec.4.
  • 6:45-7:00 Introductions of Panelists by Peter Callaghan and two-minute statements by each panelist.
  • 7:00-8:20 Interactions between panelists and audience, moderated by Peter Callaghan.
  • 8:30 Adjourn

There is much at stake at this forum. Lakewood leads the state in card tables that, together with other gambling revenues, are slated to generate $2.36 million in taxes for the city next year. And a ban on gambling, supported by one of the largest churches in Lakewood, could mean the end of 800 jobs, "25 police officers, or requiring each city department to cut its budget by 10 percent" (TNT, 10/3/07).

General audience invitations have been sent to all six mini-casinos in Lakewood and to nearly 50 Lakewood churches. The PAC has a 600 seat capacity.

The Planning Advisory Board, that has been charged with the responsibility to study the impact of gambling in Lakewood with recommendations due in January, has also been invited as they have expressed the need for public input.

Thank you for your willingness to be a part of this citywide event, and for promoting it among those like-minded with your position.

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