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Allen says he will vote no on compact. Levine calls it a ‘farce.’

After years of supporting the casino in Rohnert Park as a labor leader, Assemblyman Michael Allen says he will vote “no” on a compact with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria when the document comes up for a vote, possibly on Thursday. The compact passed throught the state Senate with ease on Monday on a 34-4 vote.

The reason for Allen’s change of heart?

“In my discussions with leaders and residents of those other cities, a common thread running through the talks was a shared concern about the potential consequences of building a project of this magnitude,” he wrote in a statement he sent us. “The development phase alone will likely have multiple significant environmental impacts on the region’s water supply and air quality. And the cumulative years of construction, along with expected future expansions of the casino, would compound those problems in ways that may be very difficult to mitigate.”

(To see his full explanation, I’ve posted it below.)

But San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine, one of Allen’s opponents in his June 5 race for the 10th Assembly District, says it’s a “farce.” Allen knows that continuing his support for the casino would risk losing the election, Levine says.

Here’s Levine’s statement:

“This is beyond a flip flop – it’s a farce. Lobbying for this casino and promoting it for eight years is not the way to stop it. This casino was brought to you by Michael Allen. He’s just trying to confuse the issue now that he has ensured that the casino legislation will pass. Why doesn’t Allen show leadership and build a coalition to stop the casino? Because his position is just political posturing.”

Of course there’s political posturing going on – by opponents and supporters of the casino. And, yes, these votes are heavily orchestrated. The Legislature wouldn’t be pushing this through on an “urgency” basis if it wasn’t clear that the votes were there to get the compact through.

My guess is the only local legislator who will end up voting yes on this compact is Sen. Mark Leno who represents Rohnert Park and carried the legislation Monday. But he has nothing to lose. He’s not running this year and with redistricting he won’t be representing that part of the North Bay anymore any way.

- Paul Gullixson

Here is Allen’s full opinion piece:

A Question of Balance

By Assemblymember Michael Allen

This week, the Legislature held informational hearings on the proposed tribal gaming compact between the state and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. If the compact is approved by the legislature, signed by the Governor, and received by the Federal government, it would authorize a large, Las Vegas-sized gambling casino and hotel complex with 3,000 slot machines.

The hearings in both the Senate and the Assembly were lively and informative, with supporters and opponents presenting their arguments on a wide array of the issues surrounding the agreement. After listening carefully to the hearings, reading the compact, and engaging in lengthy discussions with members of our community on both sides of this issue, I have decided to oppose this proposed project.

Granted, it’s never an easy choice to vote against a project with the potential to bring many quality jobs to our community. As a former labor leader in the North Bay prior to my election to the Assembly in 2010, I fought hard for projects designed to spur economic activity and create good local jobs.

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have made strong commitments to generous revenue sharing with the City of Rohnert Park, Sonoma County, and disadvantaged California tribes, beyond what is contained in any of the 65 existing compacts between the state and other federally recognized tribes. And the tribe, with their commitment to working men and women – in the form of union card check recognition, the use of union construction labor, and the promise of living wage jobs with health care benefits – is to be commended for seeking to take the high road as an employer.

But as an Assemblymember, I must take a more global approach when matters come before the Legislature with major implications for our communities. Just because a project has many positive components and benefits, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good thing for the larger community. And to my mind, there are too many unknowns, not to mention downsides, which outweigh the benefits of allowing the proposed casino to go forward.

First, traffic in Marin and Sonoma Counties on Highway 101 is already a serious problem. Adding thousands of additional car trips a day to the large casino will make that problem worse.

Casino supporters have highlighted the fact that the compact includes mitigations for the City of Rohnert Park, but I have serious reservations about whether those mitigations will have the desired effect.

I have reached out to city council members and leaders of communities that are near where the casino would be located, and that would be forced to take on the impacts of the project casino while reaping few, if any, of the benefits. I am concerned that Cotati, Petaluma, Santa Rosa and other cities in Marin and Sonoma Counties are offered no protections in the compact – a problem which may stem from the fact that they were not included in the negotiations.

In my discussions with leaders and residents of those other cities, a common thread running through the talks was a shared concern about the potential consequences of building a project of this magnitude. The development phase alone will likely have multiple significant environmental impacts on the region’s water supply and air quality. And the cumulative years of construction, along with expected future expansions of the casino, would compound those problems in ways that may be very difficult to mitigate.

On balance, the choice between supporting and not supporting this compact could prove difficult for many members of the Legislature. We’re all mindful of the fact that the people of this state voted for ballot measures authorizing California governors to negotiate compacts with federally recognized Indian tribes. But when the voters approved those measures, they didn’t know they were voting for a large, Las Vegas-style casino near cities the size of Santa Rosa.

I am sensitive to the fact that the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria seek to support themselves with dignity and independence. But I am equally sensitive to the needs and concerns of the communities that would suffer the consequences of this project, absent pre-existing mitigation agreements with Sonoma County and other cities outside Rohnert Park.

37 Responses to “Allen says he will vote no on compact. Levine calls it a ‘farce.’”

  1. John Reed says:

    Answer: Hell Yeah!

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  2. Richard James Emory says:

    Allen, known now and for all time as the fearless flip-flopper. Would you really vote again for this tower of principle and strength?

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

  3. Sarkyfish says:

    In California we call these people the “gaming disadvantaged.” Some run for our state legislature; others work on newspapers. Kid, we’ll all be back to lunch pails and soup kitchens before we know it.
    A fellow, hungry traveler,

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  4. John Reed says:

    This article is still up? OK. I guess that the PD wants to get maximum mileage out of it.It’s one of those damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenarios. Had Allen voted for the compact, they’d be all over that, and when he voted against it, based on what must have been pretty overwhelming constituent feedback from his new district, then he gets attacked by his opponents.

    I’m sure that his union associates were not happy with that vote, so he can hardly be accused of following the union line straight up. It’s time to move on and get to the real substance of the campaign. Who is best equipped to restore quality jobs to the North Bay and to defend the interests of working people. Easy answer: Michael Allen.

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  5. David J. Spencer says:


    “Has anybody on this post actually been to a Native-American gaming joint?”

    Yeah, me.

    I discovered while traveling through Nevada that I could get a good meal at a really low price at a typical Casino restaurant.

    Thinking I could find the same kind of thing here, I pulled into the parking lot of a Casino not far from here.

    Not two paces from my vehicle I was besieged by panhandlers asking for a hand-out.

    I skedaddled outta there & found a restaurant a few miles further down the road.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  6. Missy says:

    He was FOR IT but now that it’s an election YEAR & he’s up for re-election he’s now against it knowing that it would go through without his vote.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 9

  7. Sarkyfish says:

    Has anybody on this post actually been to a native-American, gaming joint? Have you seen the beater cars outside; the sad buses from San Francisco bearing impoverished, hopeful Asians who depart in dank despair? Have you gone inside with a leaf blower to cut through the cigarette smoke? Have you seen the “gamers” at the tables: the wretched elderly on social security losing their weekly allowance for Macaroni and Cheese; the high school drop outs on fraudulent SSI claims hoping to hit it big? Have you ever wondered why the educated, successfully employed and upwardly mobile never visit these places? Your beloved Gerry Brown might cut the ribbon, but he would never dare go in.

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  8. Richard James Emory says:

    Allen is not a flip flopper, he would be a fine lubricant on a set of ball bearings.

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  9. @Joe H says:

    And Marc Levine was against Target until they wrote him a check. I’d rather have a representative motivated by his constituents desires than cash money from special interests. Levine is a liar and a cheat.

    And before any of you get harping on Allen and unions, its well known that the unions were pissed he voted with the people over their interests on the casino.

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  10. Joe H says:

    Assemblyman Allen is a typical politician who sensed the wind blowing a different direction during an election year.

    With a flip-flop like that, maybe he should be Romney’s running mate?

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  11. Joe H says:

    Gambling is for people who got D’s in math.

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  12. Gloria Anthony says:

    Marc Levine is supported by Amy Dutra and has taken Dutra’s money. He was the deciding vote to bring in a big box store to San Rafael and he supports casinos. How exactly was he expecting to politicize his opponents vote?

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  13. Sarkyfish says:

    Dear Dr. H Christian Gunderson,
    Yes, build a Casino and the jobs will appear; then all the low wage workers will have a warm and smoky place to lose their money. Yep, it’s a perfect prescription for a culture in decline. “Hey mom, where’s the milk?”… “Sorry Junior, I lost the milk money at the Native American, gaming tee-pee promoting economic prosperity for big union paychecks, Gerry Brown, the hack politicians in Sacramento and cultural diversity guilt.”
    Signed, Dr. H. (hubris) Sarkyfish PhD, MA, BA, AA, HS & BS

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  14. Steve Klausner says:

    Allen gets to have his cake and eat it to. well played Assemblyman.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 18

  15. GAJ says:

    As I said earlier, Allen knew darned well his “no” vote was empty.

    It flew through with 64 voting yes and 3 voting no.

    Anyone who thinks his “no” vote was “brave” and “for the people” can’t see the forest for the trees.

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  16. I am the only candidate who said he would support the casino. Sonoma County loss 20,000 jobs the last few years, we have a 10-15% unemployment, underemployment rate, (Marin 7-8%) the casino is not the best solution but it is a start and it will create jobs and put millions into our local area.
    This choice is about putting the people of Sonoma County first above Marin worries about increase traffic and water that they my want down the line.

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  17. None of the above says:

    Both Michael Allen and Marc Levine are complete political tools who don’t give a rats behind for the public at large. I wouldn’t vote for either one if nobody else was running. Sadly this election looks to give us our third incompetent State Assemblyman in a row.

    p.s. My election recommendations for a better Sonoma County – take the PD recommendations and vote otherwise. The status quo has got to go.

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  18. Levine too mean says:

    I think Marc is making an incredible mistake with all the attacks. I watched the forum in Petaluma and nearly everyone in the audience hissed when he essentially accuse Michael Allen of lying….which in fact he wasn’t. It’s too easy to fact check these days and candidates who throw out accusations are simply setting themselves up to look not only unnecessarily mean, but plain foolish.

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  19. I told you so says:

    A gentle reminder to all the folks who vehemently (and successfully) prevented the casino from getting built in the far better location out near Sears Point. I have to laugh when I recall the pleas that the “Cows not Casinos” opponents made about the need to spare the’pristine’environment next to a NASCAR raceway!

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  20. Steveguy says:

    Michael Allen – ” But as an Assemblymember, I must take a more global approach when matters come before the Legislature with major implications for our communities.”

    Global approach ?

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  21. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I am much surprised (pleasantly surprised) that the PD endorsed Michael Allen for office. Maybe the PD has been paying attention to all his hard work for middleclass families in the legislature (not that this is anything new for Micheal). He is a labor candidate and those jobs for the county would be great.

    However, he is right about the traffic and the impact to the surrounding towns. I fail to understand why this casino is being located where it is. The traffic on 101 even with a third lane will be horrendous. I suspect the local stores in the area will suffer because people just won’t want to deal with the traffic to shop. If it were further west, with more access roads, it wouldn’t have been as much of an issue. But located in a high traffic urban area doesn’t seem very wise.

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  22. Hugh Baby's Rose Parade Elephant says:

    Congratulations for Michael Allen for listening to the voters.

    Congratulations are also in order for Marc Levine on his new job as Headline Writer for the Santa Rosa Press Dixiecrat.

    “Hey kid,you dropped something.” What? “Your footsteps.”

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  23. John Reed says:

    This was a tough vote for Michael Allen, because as a former labor leader, he would naturally favor a project that will be built with a PLA, using all good union labor, as well as a pre-agreement to have the 2,000 workers represented by UNITEHERE 2850. He had to listen to the overwhelming majority views of his new district, and vote with his constituents.

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  24. Just a Thought says:

    Allen is on to something here. It is time to just vote NO on Allen and end the agony of one of the worst assemblymen to ever set foot in this county.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 22

  25. Watch Levin Lie says:

    Marc Levine shows his ignorance again. How is it a ‘flip flop’ if Allen hasn’t even voted once, let alone changed his vote? As I understand it, he supported the project as a labor organizer who supports more jobs in the North Bay. As an Assemblyman he listened to the people who are in the district who say they don’t want a casino and is going to vote no. If you ask me this is better than Levine’s own flip flop on Target where he told everyone he was against bringing a big box store to San Rafael it and then switched his vote at the last minute and got a big donation from the family who sold their property to Target in the bargain.

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  26. Reality Check says:

    Of the 4 no votes, all were by Democrats. Two Republicans did not vote. Not a single Republican voted no.

    It’s enough to put a broad smile on the face of any cynic.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  27. @Demosthenes says:

    Marc who? Marc that screwed over the people of Rohnert Park.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 10

  28. Buddy Bear says:

    I love how all of a sudden its a huge deal and/or a flip flop if you vote the way your constituency has been pleading with you to for weeks.

    Can any of you explain to me how it is undemocratic or irresponsible for Assemblymember Allen to vote this way?

    Leadership is voting with and for your people, not in spite of them.

    Thumb up 35 Thumb down 12

  29. Audrey Sanderson says:

    I am very disappointed with Marc Levine. After watching him in two debates I saw a man who was out of his league in terms of intellect, experience and emotional maturity who used every one of his speaking opportunities to attack Mr Allen personally. I know that this is the custom when you have a strong incumbent but I couldn’t help but notice that Levine’s attacks are poor substitutes for ideas and solutions to the problems we have in the district and the state. It was apparent as Assemblyman Allen discussed his many bills such as middle class scholarship act, an organic farming incentive act and real pension reform that the only thing Mr Levine has is his attacks on Michael Allen. I am sorry but that’s not enough for my vote. I am voting for Michael Allen because he doesn’t waste time attacking others, he actually works on solutions.

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  30. GAJ says:

    Classic political “run for cover” move.

    Allen knows darned well the measure will pass with a huge majority so his cynical “change of heart” is nothing more than a calculated move that provides political cover.

    Had the measure been considered a close vote he would definitely have voted for it.

    To believe otherwise is naive.

    This kind of “nudge nudge, wink wink” thing goes on in politics all the time.

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  31. Kirstin says:

    A vote against the compact is the right decision, but Michael Allen is very late to the party, and therefore, his turnaround looks like political expediency.

    Michael Allen IS too close to the unions.

    He also often carries water for political special interests here. For example, his AB1962, currently in process, would delete the current law provision requiring the SMART district to comply with the local design review processes for buildings (stations) it erects.

    A vote for Allen is a vote for political cronyism. It is time for a change.

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  32. TrueBlue says:

    There is only one reason why Allen would vote no on the casino. He knows there are enough votes without his to get it passed. Sonoma County voters overwhelmingly do not want this casino and it is an election year for him.

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  33. Demosthenes says:

    Marc who?

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  34. Marty says:

    this Levine guy gets worse and worse.

    I was happy to hear assemblyman Allen come out against the casino AND Dutra. And now we’ve come to find out that Levine’s campaign has taken money from Dutra!!! Talk about a flip flop, here’s a guy claiming environmental foul with the casino yet takes money from a group that wants to dump asphalt residue into the Petaluma river. To call him out of touch with Sonoma County would be an understatement.

    I am happy to cast my vote for Allen, a man who can vote against something because his constituents ask him to is a leader, not a farce. Levine’s hypocrisy from the casino to Dutra is the real farce.

    my wife Joyce and I will be voting for Michael Allen.

    -Marty Gordon 30 year Petaluma resident.

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  35. Mark Landman says:

    There may be a variety of opinions on this issue, but this seems to me the key fact; Michael Allen was the only local legislator that I know of who reached out to ask for our opinions on the casino. An inclination to listen, combined with an open mind, are exactly the traits I think all of us want in our representatives.

    In particular, the willingness to assess the overall impact of an issue, not simply focusing on items that may benefit a key constituency, strikes me as a true hallmark of leadership. That’s a difficult road to take, and I respect Assemblyman Allen’s resolve to travel it.

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 17

  36. Lisa Maldonado says:

    Marc Levine is the definition of political posturing. He has no ideas, no vision and no experience. His entire campaign consists of trying to attack Michael Allen in order to deflect voters ability to see him for the empty suit he is. Now he sends out a press release whining that Michael has opposed the casino. You can bet if Michael voted yes, Levine would have held a press conference. The fact is that Assemblyman Allen has been very clear and open about his support for the jobs and economic benefits that the casino will bring, but he has also been very clear about the difference between his role as an activist for working families and his duties as a state representative. We in labor lobbied him and every other member to support the casino and we had many discussions trying to persuade him. He told constituents and the Press Democrat that he would decide his vote AFTER he heard from city and county officials and his constituents in the district. Mr Allen voted to represent his constituents and he deserves credit for that. Mr Levine on the other hand is crying like a baby over his lost opportunity to exploit yet another political cause. Marc Levine is an opportunist of the first caliber. Now perhaps the Press Democrat can stop attacking Michael Allen for being “too close to labor unions” and start asking Marc Levine about his even closer relationship to big box developers, real estate interests and scab contractors. A good place to start would be Levine’s flip flop in the Target vote in San Rafael and the large donation he received from the property owners (who sold to Target) right after he changed his vote. How about a press release on that, Marc?

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  37. Political Scientist says:

    I love the way the PD writes article after article about what Michael Allen will do and what his opponent thinks of it, but FAILS to ever mention Jared Huffman (and his opponents), Wes Chesbro (and his opponents) and Mariko Yamada (and her opponents).

    I think the biggest farce here isn’t a representative listening to his constituents, but the paper trying to make sure the election is close.

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