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Crye pushes tribal mitigation agreement despite objections from Sheriff, D.A., Fire Chief

Illustration of the Redding Rancheria’s proposed new casino.

Despite objections from the county’s Sheriff, Fire Chief and District Attorney, and also without review by legal counsel or risk management staff, Shasta County’s Board of Supervisors voted 4 – 1 to accept a 30-year mitigation agreement with Redding Rancheria on a proposed gaming resort to be developed on 232 acres just south of Redding city limits between Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River.

Ultimate approval for the relocation and expansion of Redding Rancheria’s existing casino and resort on Churn Creek west of State Route 273 rests with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, an arm of the Department of the Interior, a decision yet to be made, explained Lane Rickard, Director of Governmental Affairs for the tribe.

District 1 Supervisor Kevin W. Crye, who represents many City of Redding voters, offered the tribe’s Intergovernmental Agreement for approval after claiming several times that the Redding Rancheria might otherwise walk away from the bargaining table and leave the county with nothing for its efforts.

“If and when the I-5 adjacent property is accepted into trust by the United States for the tribe’s use and enjoyment, Shasta County will no longer have land use authority over the property,” the document states.

Taken at face value, the agreement is not much different from a mitigation offer outlined for A News Cafe in late January by Tracy Edwards, Chief Executive Officer for Redding Rancheria.

However, one item — a Transient Occupancy Tax —- is no longer included, Rickard noted.

The new agreement allows Redding Rancheria to levy a tribal transient occupancy tax (TOT) at the same rate as the county’s TOT, which the tribe will collect on its hotel operations and deposit proceeds into a tribal tax fund, he said.

Since federally designated tribal land is not subject to county, state or federal taxes, the tribe agrees to make non-recurring (one-time) payments in lieu of property taxes and fees, Rickard said.

A total of $1.6 million will be made to the county in three installments with $300,000 due upon breaking ground for the project, a second $300,000 installment paid 180 days prior to he opening date of the new casino resort, and a final payment of $1 million paid no later than 180 days after the casino resort’s opening date, the agreement states.

As part of its California Gaming Compact, Redding Rancheria agreed to establish an impact mitigation fund to assist non-tribal law enforcement, emergency services and other agencies with demonstrated impacts from the tribe’s operation of a gaming facility within Shasta County and adjacent to the City of Redding, the agreement states.

Therefore, Redding Rancheria offered in January and has again offered in this agreement to make one-time payments of $1 million each to the Sheriff’s Department and the County Fire Department at least one year prior to the project’s opening date.

This should allow fire, emergency medical and law enforcement agencies to acquire any additional equipment, staffing or training well in advance of any needed services.

Redding Rancheria is also offering to reimburse law enforcement calls to the casino resort on a recurring basis up to $1,000 per call and fire service calls up to $10,000 per call.

An unspecified amount to mitigate impacts on county roads due to the project will also be offered on a recurring basis as determined by the final environmental impact statement and/or Record of Decision, the agreement states.

“These recurring payments shall commence 12 months after the opening date and annually on that date thereafter,” Rickard stated.

Sheriff/Coroner Michael Johnson, District Attorney Stephanie A. Bridgett and Fire Chief Sean O’Hara each objected to the agreement in turn.

“As Shasta County’s elected District Attorney since 2017, I have attended many meetings with various county CEOs and other elected officials” on various negotiations with Redding Rancheria,” Bridgett said.

“To see this new proposal for the very first time on Monday as I was reviewing the board’s agenda was disheartening,” the District Attorney noted.

“This has been in process for four to six months. Let’s continue with this and work with the tribe to get some real numbers,” Bridgett suggested.

Former Shasta County Schools Superintendent Charlie Menoher objected to a single supervisor (Crye) representing the county on such an important agreement without checking first with other elected officials directly impacted by the agreement.

“Shasta County has a $665 million budget and provides services to 180,000 people. You have no authority to negotiate a good faith agreement on your own,” Menoher told Crye.

“Maybe that’s the problem with government and education. I believe we can do some good,” Crye responded.

Others in the audience criticized Crye for rushing the proposed agreement through in an effort to appease voters in District 1 who are attempting to recall him for several reasons, including being the deciding vote in doing away with the county’s electronic election-counting system.

District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert was the lone dissenting vote, with yes votes from District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman, District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstrom, board chair and District 4 Supervisor Patrick H. Jones and, of course, Crye.

Dist. 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert

Jones’ Second Amendment resolution reconsidered yet again

The next item on the board’s agenda considered a resolution to support the US Constitution’s Second Amendment — the right to bear arms — proposed by Jones was no less controversial, having failed two previous times.

Jones operates a family-owned gun and ammunition store called Jones’ Fort.

“I dedicate this vote to Leonard Moty, my friend,” Jones said with an obvious sneer as he made a motion to pass the resolution.

Moty, a former police chief and District 2 county supervisor who was recalled last year, chaired the county governing board when a similar resolution was first proposed by Jones

With Rickert absent for the afternoon session because of a respiratory illness, the motion passed 4 – 0 despite repeated calls from audience members for Jones to recuse himself due to an alleged conflict of interest.

The board of supervisors also voted 4 – 0 in closed session to release previous internal investigative documents regarding the removal of Eric Magrini –then-Sheriff/Coroner — and the appointment of Michael Johnson — then-Anderson’s Chief of Police — to fill the vacant position, acting County Counsel Matthew McOmber reported following the board’s return to open session.

Editor’s note: Stand by for Part 2 of journalist George Winship’s reporting about the July 25, 2023 board meeting.

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If you appreciate journalist George Winship’s reporting, please consider contributing to A News Cafe. Thank you.

George Winship

George Winship is a long-time Shasta County resident with a wide range of professional and community experience. After earning a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon, he joined the Redding Record Searchlight as an award-winning reporter, and was the paper’s first business editor. He worked as a district field representative for Senator Maurice Johannessen, and later became editor of the Anderson Valley Post. Winship is a former Shasta County Grand Jury member. He owns and operates The Village Wordsmith, where he edits and rewrites clients’ book manuscripts, and works as a researcher and freelance feature writer. He can be reached at gwinship@shasta.com.

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