Crowds Pack into Cowlitz Casino Public Meeting - Friday 17th of February 2006

WASHINGTON – As reported by the Columbian: "The cold, unemotional language of the federal bureaucracy ran smack dab into the heated rhetoric of Clark County's casino debate Wednesday night at Prairie High School.

"More than 1,000 people gathered in the auditorium and spilled out into the halls for the first of two public meetings on the Cowlitz Tribe's plan to build the $510 million casino complex.

"No decisions were made. Instead, U.S. Department of Interior officials both local and from Washington, D.C. explained how they will reach a decision and heard from the public.

"The federal officials knew the intense passions underlying the gathering.

"…The project has been in the works for three years already and two or three years more may pass before completion of the bureaucratic process. The meeting still offered supporters and opponents a chance to call out the troops and demonstrate the righteousness of their cause.

"The result was something more impassioned than your average federal hearing but short of a political convention. It was, however, full-fledged political theater with information booths, signs, buttons, stickers and banners. Casino supporters rallied their troops with 300 caps, 500 T-shirts and upwards of 150 pizzas, the uneaten last dozen or so turned over to the high school's busy maintenance staff…"

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