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Casino and satellite campus key issues

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Posted: Friday, June 10, 2005 10:00 pm

Just because the FBI and the world's mass media spent last week focused on five Lodi men who may be linked to terrorism, local news and public policy-making refused to take a holiday.

Does Lodi want a Native American casino at the intersection of Highway 12 and Interstate 5? Should Delta Community College locate a satellite campus north of the Mokelumne River?

Local voters should not lose focus on these two issues that are sure to affect our community for years.

For the record, we are skeptical of the casino and leery of the possibility that Delta might build on the former site of Victor Fine Foods at Highway 99 and the Mokelumne. Here's why.

Last week a fellow by the name of William Bills came before the county Board of Supervisors and proposed building a casino at Flag City. He claimed to be an adopted member and, in fact, chief of the Winnemucca tribe in Nevada. Later his credentials came into question, but that is just one symptom of what's wrong with the whole tribal gaming deal in California.

The bigger problem is the fact that out-of-state or long-dormant tribes can suddenly use their sovereignty to build casinos that escape zoning laws, taxation and sensible regulation. Does it make sense to invite those troubles into Lodi's backyard?

We're content to be called NIMBYs on this one.

Let's hope the county and city can find the legal means to tie up this dingaling idea while the state moves forward to create an effective regulatory system for tribal gaming in California.

Nevada casinos were pretty shady businesses when they first got going around the time of World War II. And they would be still if it hadn't been for the Nevada Gaming Commission. California needs the same sort of agency.

And that's not to say Lodi will ever be ready for all-night gambling and carousing.

Regarding the Delta satellite campus, we want to begin by applauding the administration for ramping up its planning process. Frankly, we're waiting breathlessly for the new school to open.

And we're also pleased that Delta is looking at several sites.

Our biggest reservation is the idea that a campus located north of the river would need a sewer hook-up. City Manager Blair King is right, it wouldn't be hard to build. But it would immediately become a catalyst for all sorts of development.

Lodi needs room to grow, we agree. We can go east and west for miles, if need be. But we think Lodi should not go north of the Mokelumne and stay unconnected to our neighbors to the south.

Other may see things differently.

The real point is Lodi should keep its eye on these issues and not get totally distracted by the latest skirmish in the international war on terrorism.

-- Lodi News-Sentinel



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