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Rohnert Park casino opponents, supporters press legislators

Opponents of a proposed Las Vegas-style Indian casino adjacent to Rohnert Park, in what may be a last-ditch effort, are pressing state legislators to take note of public opinion and turn the project back.

The gambling agreement, or compact, between the state and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria goes before a state Senate committee today. It is set to go Wednesday to an Assembly committee.

The Stop the Casino 101 coalition of opponents on Monday touted the results of a weekend poll to make the case to Sacramento that sentiment against the casino is "overwhelming."

The automated phone poll of 5,400 Sonoma County residents found 68 percent opposed the casino, Stop the Casino 101 leaders said.

"The casino supporters are trying to convince the legislators that the casino has great public support, which is just nonsense. This was a reality check on that," said Petaluma Councilman Mike Healy, who recorded the poll call.

Meanwhile, union supporters of the $433 million project, which includes a 200-room hotel, are arguing for the project based on its economic boost. The tribe says it would create more than 750 construction jobs.

Lawmakers need to ratify the compact, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed March 30, before the project can go forward. The federal Interior Department also needs to sign off on it, considered a routine step.

The compact needs a two-thirds majority vote of the full Legislature to move forward.

Neither legislative committee is to vote on the compact, but theirs are the first public hearings before it goes to either floor for a vote.

Casino opponents hope the poll results will register with lawmakers.


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