In the nine years since the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria first proposed building a casino and resort near Rohnert Park, the plan has been the subject of a failed City Council recall, an attempt at a countywide referendum and lengthy legal and political battles. It's also been through the Great Recession, the bankruptcy of its backer, Station Casinos of Las Vegas, and the administrative review of three different governors.
But in the end, given the political realities of Indian sovereignty, the outcome is as clear now as it was in 2003. It's going to happen. A major casino including up to 3,000 slot machines, 5,500 parking spaces and a 200-room hotel is going to be built just west of Highway 101.
This was driven home last week when Gov. Jerry Brown approved a gaming compact, the last major hurdle toward the beginning of construction. According to the compact, earnings from the 534,000-square-foot urban complex could exceed $400 million a year.
We've made no secret about our opposition over the years. We don't believe this massive complex, albeit scaled down recently,
It's also hard for us to forget that the Graton Rancheria initially pledged not to pursue gaming, only to change its mind after its federal tribal status was restored in 2000.
Nevertheless, as we have acknowledged, members of the Graton Rancheria, through it all, have strived to be good community partners in offering benefits far in excess of anything that's required of them.