Opponents raise doubts over Point Molate casino mailer

Richmond residents received a brochure titled

Richmond residents received a brochure titled "The Battle of the Bay" in the mail. The mailer was paid for by Upstream, the developer that intends to build a casino resort at Point Molate. Photo by Veronica Moscoso.

Over the past few weeks, a full color brochure titled “The battle for the bay” turned up in the mailboxes of Richmond residents. The brochure shows two boxing gloves facing each other. “Out of town card rooms vs. Richmond city council” reads the text on the front page, implying that the Richmond city council is in favor of the proposal to build a casino at Point Molate and is fighting with out of town card rooms who oppose its construction. “Winners purse: Jobs & $20,000,000 a year for Richmond,” reads the text at the bottom of the front page. Inside, the brochure states that the casino project would create 12,000 jobs.

But the brochure was not an initiative of the Richmond city council —  in reality Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Vice Mayor Jeff Ritterman and councilmember Tom Butt have all expressed concerns about the building of the casino. The brochure was paid for by Upstream LLC, the developer that intends to build a casino resort at Point Molate. The mailing return address at the back of the brochure is Upstream’s. (Click here for the website version of the brochure.) This ad might have gone to the household recycle bin in many cases, but didn’t go unnoticed by residents who are concerned about the building of a casino.

“The entire messaging that the developer has been using is ‘We will bring jobs.’ The problem that a lot of people have with the message is that the numbers are hyper-inflated,” said Joan Garrett, a member of Citizens for a Sustainable Point Molate, a grassroots organization that opposes the construction of a casino.

Upstream officials readily admit that they are behind the ad and say that it was necessary to combat inaccurate information circulated by their opponents via other brochures. “Over the last six months there was a huge amount of misinformation put out about the project,” said Jim Levine, managing partner of Upstream, referring to other fliers and a TV ad opposing the building of the casino.

Levine specifically mentioned a brochure titled “What happens in Richmond stays in Richmond” mailed by a group called Stop the Mega Casino. This flier, which shows a parody of the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, claims that building a casino in Richmond is not going to bring positive changes or jobs. “If we allow the Pt. Molate Mega Casino, here’s what stays in Richmond: The drug dealing will stay … The crime will stay,” reads the brochure. “The Point Molate Mega casino is money Richmond will never see and jobs Richmond will never get,” it concludes.

“It was clear after we did some investigating that most of it was being put out by a consortium of card clubs,” said Levine. He claimed that the California Grand Casino, a card club in Pacheco, was one of them but didn’t want to mention others. (The California Grand Casino didn’t respond to Richmond Confidential for comment.)

“What happens in Richmond stays in Richmond,” a brochure mailed opposing the Point Molate casino project. Richmond residents had received ads both against and in favor of the casino project. Photo by Veronica Moscoso

A Contra Costa Times article published in May claims that fourteen card clubs are behind the Stop the Mega Casino campaign and were the ones responsible for the brochures and the ads. Levine says that card clubs “historically had no interest in doing anything for Richmond — they are just concerned about their own profits.”

Levine said that the “The battle for the bay” brochure was created to contest the “misinformation” on the fliers created by the card clubs. However, some people are questioning whether the Upstream brochure itself is spreading misinformation.

What got Garrett’s attention was the statement that the casino would create 12,000 jobs. Garrett claims that casino developments the size of the proposed casino at Point Molate generally employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people to work on the site and between 1,600 and 1,800 for construction jobs.

Levine said that Upstream got the 12,000 jobs figure from an independent economic analysis done as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Review. “That’s the independent estimate, that’s not our number,” he said.

Levine mentioned that because of a local hiring requirement, 70 percent of the on-site jobs will be for people from Contra Costa County, and 40 percent of the jobs will go to Richmond residents. “That’s in the county agreements that we signed. That’s over 3,000 on-site jobs for people from the county,” said Levine.

But Garrett said that there are no guarantees that will happen. “Everything is in the fine print,” she said, and explained that the services agreement with Contra Costa County states that employing 70 percent county residents, including 40 percent Richmond residents, is merely a goal, not a rule. “There is no mandate to do so. I can have a goal to climb the Empire State Building and state that that’s my goal but it’s never going to happen,” said Garrett.

The official agreement document does use the word “goal” — it reads: “The Tribe commits to collaborate with the County with a goal to hire a total of 70% of non-management operational employees of the Tribe (including those under the Richmond agreement) from within the County at the opening of the facilities.”

Another of Garrett’s concerns is that even if the casino was to hire the full quota of Richmond and county employees, there is no protection to ensure that those employees will keep those jobs, because the agreement only specifies that local employees be hired “at the opening” of the casino. “They could hire them on a Monday and fire them on a Friday and the terms and conditions of the agreements would have been met,” said Garrett.

Although the proposed casino project has always been controversial, it does have some public support, largely from Richmond residents who think the casino will bring jobs to the city. “We have a lot of supporters and a lot of people that are signing up to help us,” said Levine.

“The city of Richmond does struggle. We do have a high unemployment rate,” said Garrett, but as for the “battle for the bay” brochure, she said, “I find it exploitative.”

4 Comments

  1. lady

    The casino plan is economic racism at its best. “You poor folk have no choice so take this lousy deal to make out-of-towner” fat cats rich.” There are so many better projects for Pt. Molate that would make Richmond proud, with lasting economic benefit, based on good policies and not the very bad business of taking money from good people in a manner that ruins lives. Except the rich out-of-towner businessfolks. Richmond truly deserves better.

  2. Nibs

    Obviously this is a casino-on-casino battle–one corporate interest against the other, neither of which is truly about bettering life in Richmond. (Do any of the principles live here?) Also, 12k jobs?! Right. Even their website tones that down to 4500 (see wwwDOTbattleforthebayDOTnet/signupDOThtml), so right there we’ve got some a serious contradiction.

  3. lady yoda

    Anything career Richmond councilman, Nat Bates is for is suspect. He’s been accused in having his hand in the cookie jar before and he always seems to get “donations”
    flowing his way. Who says Richmond won’t benefit from a
    casino at Molate? At least one council member will–probably a few of the others will also.

  4. swede

    WELL the navy left 15 years ago,and this area can be more than a field for dog walks,dont get me wrong i love dogs but if you look at the website point molate plans there are 6 plans some including waterfront condos and homes and a ferry terminal and THE GREENEST JOB PROJECT IN CALIFORNIA including all new green energy and a police substation and a security camera system so you are not confronted by thugs or thievs like dives OAKS CARD ROOM IN EMERYVILLE OAKLAND NO SAFE AT NITE AS PER THEIR REVIEWS ON THEIR OWN WEBSITE.So chevron is also against this project and the small card rooms but in this economy why not build a stete of the art hotel,ferry terminal,convention center,restaurants,you cant spend all your time at Walmart buying cheap products that are all labeled MADE IN CHINA another subject and reason there are few jobs these days.And maybe the resort should make the employees union like CASHcreek with benefits and orginized so when they are hired monday there is no fear of being fired friday as some people have a conspiracy theory on,i have been to CASH CREEK AND IT IS CLEAN AND NO CRIME THAT I COULS SEE,so the speciel intrest groups and chevron need to stop blocking this predject and let it greate jobs 1000,2000,3000 I DONT CARE HOW MANY I HAVE BEEN OUT OF WORK FOR A YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE,the people against this already have jobs,and are pushing their hidden agenda,follow the money trail and you will see the people against this dont live in RICHMOND AND DONT CARE ABOUT RICHMOND.

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