PoliGRAPH

Elk Grove candidate votes for casino deal, tells voters he opposes gambling venue

A recent mailer proclaims that Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Ly opposes the proposed Wilton Rancheria casino project. The City Council, including Ly, unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding with the tribe.
A recent mailer proclaims that Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Ly opposes the proposed Wilton Rancheria casino project. The City Council, including Ly, unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding with the tribe.

In the home stretch of the Elk Grove mayor’s race, Vice Mayor Steve Ly has sent out a mailer that addresses his position on the major casino resort proposed for the south part of the city.

Ly and six other candidates are vying to become Elk Grove’s second elected mayor. He and Planning Commissioner Kevin Spease account for the vast majority of contributions and mailers in the campaign.

At the end of September, Ly and the rest of the Elk Grove City Council unanimously voted for an agreement with the Wilton Rancheria tribe. The deal brings the city $132 million of payments over 20 years to mitigate the impacts of the casino on the community.

The outside of the mailer proclaims Ly’s opposition to the casino project. The inside then goes on to explain why Ly voted for the city’s agreement with the tribe.

Text: The front of the mailer states, “As a father, I oppose the new casino.”

Inside, the mailer says, “As Vice Mayor … the law doesn’t give me or the City Council the power to stop an Indian casino that’s approved by the federal and state governments.”

Beneath: “Frustrating … I share the frustration that many Elk Grove families feel. As a father, I really don’t like the casino project.”

The mailer then states: “Making Lemonade Out of Lemons … I pushed to get over $132 million in lost taxes and community benefits with annual increases for this $400 million project. This includes over $36 million for Police, over $56 million for the general fund, over $12 million for roads, over $2 million for charities, almost $10 million for schools and up to $14 million in fees and community benefits.”

A closing paragraph says, “And I made sure those amounts increase with inflation each year. If I am fortunate enough to become Elk Grove’s next Mayor, I can’t guarantee that we’ll always win. I do guarantee that I’ll always do the very best I can. Steve Ly, Vice Mayor”

At the bottom is a photo of Ly and his family.

Analysis: Ly uses a large font on the front of his mailer to emphasize that he opposes the casino. A voter who doesn’t open the mailer would be left with the impression that Ly is against the casino project, without the added context that he voted for the city’s $132 million agreement with Wilton Rancheria.

While it’s true the City Council does not have the ultimate power to approve or deny the casino, Elk Grove’s agreement will likely help the tribe when federal and state officials consider approving the casino.

The numbers quoted inside the mailer are true, based on a city staff report. The tribe agreed to pay $132 million over 20 years to offset impacts of the proposed casino, with payments providing over $36 million for police, about $12 million for roadway maintenance and about $56 million for the general fund.

Calculated out, the annual $400,000 for the Elk Grove Unified School District with a 2 percent increase per year over 20 years comes out to almost $10 million. An annual $100,000, increasing by 2 percent per year, goes to unspecified charities.

The $14 million in fees and community benefits appears to refer to nonrecurring payments the tribe will pay in five annual installments when construction starts.

PoliGRAPH is The Bee’s political fact checker, rating campaign advertisements and candidate claims as True, Iffy or False.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

  Comments