August 23rd, 2010 5:33 pm | by HANK STERN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Legislature

Casino Backers Drop Lawsuit Against Oregon. But Wait, There's More.

Tags: Oregon, casino

Supporters of putting a casino at the old dog track in east Multnomah County announced this morning they've dropped their lawsuit against the Oregon Secretary of State's Office.

The Good For Oregon Committee had sued over a ruling by elections officials that one of two casino initiatives it proposed for the Nov. 2 ballot failed to gather enough valid signatures. Elections officials ruled that a second initiative did turn in enough valid signatures, but the wisdom had been that the measure that qualified was moot because both initiatives needed voter approval to put a casino in Wood Village.

So the scorecard was that a proposed constitutional amendment, Measure 76, to allow the private casino failed to get enough valid signatures. The companion statutory proposal, Measure 75, for the casino got enough valid signatures.

But now Good For Oregon says it's gotten legal advice from former chief legislative counsel Greg Chaimov—now an attorney at Davis, Wright, Tremaine—that “the prohibition authorizing casinos and the requirement to ban casinos applies to the Legislative Assembly, not to the people.”

Translation, according to Chaimov: “Ballot Measure 75 will become law if the people vote in favor on November 2,” Chaimov said in a news release.

Here's the entire news release from Good For Oregon:
Today the Good For Oregon Committee withdrew their lawsuit against the Secretary of State's Office regarding its determination that Initiative Petition 76 lacked enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. Their decision was prompted by the opinion of one of Oregon's top legal firms indicating that the rejected initiative is likely not necessary to site and operate the proposed casino in Wood Village. If voters pass the committee's initiative Measure 75, and the local Wood Village vote is successful, sponsors say the project would move forward immediately.

“With Measure 75 alone, Oregonians have the power to launch a project that will generate thousands of good construction and permanent jobs and dedicate $150 million in badly needed new revenue to every classroom and county in the state, every year,” said Roger Gray, the chief consultant on the campaign.

At issue is Article XV, section 4(12) of the Oregon Constitution that was added when the voters authorized the Oregon Lottery and Tribal Casinos: “The Legislative Assembly has no power to authorize, and shall prohibit, casinos from operation in the State of Oregon.”

Greg Chaimov, attorney at Davis, Wright, Tremaine and former chief counsel to the Oregon Legislature, said, “the prohibition authorizing casinos and the requirement to ban casinos applies to the Legislative Assembly, not to the people.” Chaimov continues, “Ballot Measure 75 will become law if the people vote in favor on November 2.”

“While we believe that Petition 76 had sufficient signatures to qualify for the ballot, the removal of the petition by the Secretary of State allowed us to review, in depth, our vision to help Oregon recover from this dreadful recession. We have concluded that Ballot Measure 75 is all that is needed for Oregonians to make a material positive impact on the economic crisis of our state,” said Roger Gray.

Moving forward quickly on Measure 75, the campaign has scheduled a press conference for Thursday at the abandoned Multnomah Kennel Club in Wood Village, that once hosted a vibrant dog racing track, where they will roll-out the artist renderings that show how the site will be re-developed.

“Voters deserve to know this entertainment complex is much more than just a casino; it will be a fun destination for Oregonians and tourists alike,” said Gray. “With the community's input, seventy percent of the entertainment complex will provide non-gaming amenities including a movie theater complex, a large hall for concerts and conventions, a resort hotel, bowling lanes, and indoor and outdoor water parks.

Sponsors believe the economic benefits for Oregon will be substantial: thousands of permanent and construction jobs; generation of a minimum of $150 million in annual taxes, primarily benefiting K-12 public schools and every county in the state, and most importantly, the project is attracting investment in Oregon's economy.

“Our conversation with Oregonians will focus on how we can play a role in providing some relief to Oregon's budget crisis,” said Gray. “This will be the tenth casino in the state but will be the only casino that actually pays taxes on revenue and net income and is therefore worthy of consideration by Oregon voters. Plus, this project is attracting investment in Oregon when we need it most and it won't cost taxpayers a dime.”
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