The courting of public opinion in Richmond over the controversial Indian hotel-casino proposal for Point Molate continues unabated.

The card club cabal behind the Stop the Mega Casino coalition says its internal research shows opposition has grown nearly 10 percentage points between December and April.

Last year, 38 percent of the 400 likely voters surveyed strongly opposed it. By the end of March, 49 percent said they didn't like it. (The poll of 400 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 points.)

The card clubs have sent out two anti-casino mailers, erected signs and published e-mail blasts in recent months.

The results of the other poll question released — the club is keeping most of the survey figures confidential — is clearly meant to send a message to would-be candidates in Richmond's mayoral and council elections.

It asked whether the respondent is more likely to vote for a candidate who supports or opposes the casino, and 55 percent say they prefer a candidate who says no.

The poll is neither meaningful nor accurate, counters casino spokesman Jim Levine.

He has done plenty of polling on the issue and says the wording of the questions, the way they are asked and the lead-in information all influence the results.

But Levine concedes that the card clubs' blitz is forcing his organization to defend itself.


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Pro-casino signs — all properly permitted, he said — are popping up around town. And residents will see more of their campaign in coming weeks, he said.

We can hardly wait.

NO cash for you: Richmond Councilman Nat Bates is calling for the city to suspend its public campaign contribution match program.

The city pays candidates up to $25,000 each per election; it paid out $115,000 in 2008.

"The city's financial condition is not healthy (enough) to provide these contributions (when) the city is cutting staff and programs to senior citizen and other worthy groups and organizations," Bates wrote. "With a minimum of three candidates for mayor, together with at least eight candidates for City Council, we could be looking at an expenditure of approximately $330,000, of which we do not have."

Fiscal prudence is admirable.

But who benefits from the elimination of the public campaign subsidy?

Incumbents do. They usually have an easier time raising money than challengers.

AHEM: Two Contra Costa County Assessor candidates — Bob Brooks and John T. Nejedly — have been late paying the property taxes on their homes.

Nejedly, an attorney and member of the Contra Costa Community College District, was a year behind in his taxes in 2007 and 2008.

With a schoolteacher wife, a contractor business and three kids, Nejedly says he had to prioritize between family expenses such as orthodontics and property taxes. It happens.

Brooks was two years late paying his taxes in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

But it was an intentional tax strategy rather than financial woes, he explained.

As a Realtor who receives sales commissions, his income varies widely and he said he pays his property taxes when it is most advantageous for his overall tax liability. (When Brooks decided to run for assessor, he paid his taxes in full, knowing it would likely become a campaign issue.)

Contra Costa Tax Collector Bill Pollacek isn't buying it.

The penalties for late payments start at 10 percent and rise 1.5 percent for every month the bill remains unpaid, an interest rate that far exceeds the value of delays, he said.

"I have never had another Realtor tell me this, and I've been in this office almost 12 years," said Pollacek, who has endorsed incumbent Assessor Gus Kramer. "He can put any spin on it he wants, but Bob Brooks is well-known to my office as a chronic tax delinquent."

Granted, Pollacek is endorsing the incumbent.

But a veteran independent real estate expert agrees with Pollacek.

"I have never heard of a Realtor employing as a consistent strategy the postponement of the payment of their taxes," said Chuck Lamb, a Walnut Creek Realtor, past president of the California Association of Realtors and member of numerous industry groups. "I do know when Realtors get under economic strain, they have to postpone payments or they charge the taxes on lower interest credit cards. But it is not a tax strategy."

GOT POLITICS?: Read the Political Blotter at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

  • Nerds rule, at least in the best mailer of the campaign so far. Check out Contra Costa supervisor candidate Mike McGill's "Anatomy of a Policy Nerd" mailer.

    And finally: Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia has been invited to testify in Congress this week on a bill that dedicates $100 million a year to the restoration of the Bay.

    Actually, a "Jim" Gioia was invited, according to the official Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure letter.

    The supervisor isn't offended. It was probably all those "Js."

    Gioia, who sits on the San Francisco Bay Conservation Commission, will be joined in Washington, D.C., by Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council and Judy Kelly of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership.

    OK. But with a last name like "Gioia," it's the "John" part they foul up?

    Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com or www.ibabuzz.com/politics.