Truth in Watsonville

Tres Lounge and Casino to open in Watsonville At the ole Miramar?

By Emilio, on Aug 19, 2015

Back around 1996 I was the investigator for a court appointed defense attorney in the fatal stabbing of a man at Caesar’s Club here in Watsonville. Caesar’s, continued to have problems and within 4-5 years the club’s beer and wine license was lost after another incident and eventually the owner sold his business/Card Room gambling license in 2011. According to the California Gambling Control Commission a Mr. Kyle Kirkland, currently the President of the California Gaming Association Commission, purchased Caesar’s and has since changed the name to Tres Lounge and Casino. The Gaming Commission prohibits transfer of licenses from the municipality where it was first issued. Mr. Kirkland also owns 2 other card rooms/casinos in California:  Club One Casino in Fresno and the Deuce Lounge in Visalia.

Considering that the population of Fresno is around 500,000 and Visalia’s is around 128,000 what would constitute Mr. Kirkland wanting to open a “Casino” in a poor farming community of 51,000? Card Rooms, which have been in existence in California since the Gold Rush days, have evolved from seedy dive-bar types to “Casinos” much to the credit of tribal gambling. And, according to The Communities for California Cardrooms Coalition in 2008 ninety-one Card Rooms were in existence in comparison to one-hundred and fifty in 1999. But according to the state’s Bureau of Gambling Control prior to 1998: “California’s gambling industry was essentially unregulated. In contrast, today the Bureau conducts extensive background checks.” And, “Any person employed in a gambling establishment as a dealer, secretary, waiter or waitress; floor, security, count-room, cage, collection, surveillance or data-processing personnel; appropriate maintenance personnel; or any person whose employment duties require or authorize access to restricted gambling establishment areas must obtain a work permit. The work permit will be issued by the local jurisdiction or the Commission.”

The new wave Card Room Casinos with restaurants, sports bars and card rooms cater to families, sports fans and card gamblers alike. And as I believe Mr. Kirkland can attest, food and beverages generate the majority of profits in card rooms today. I Googled/Yelped both Club One Casino and the Deuce Lounge owned by Kirkland and found that the majority of comments centered on service and food-there was nothing significant regarding lack of safety and/or crime in or around the premises. Additionally, let’s not disregard the elephant in the room; sports gambling. Hence why some sports bars have more TV’s than a Costco showroom? According to the “first-ever” released “estimate” in January 2015 by the American Gaming Commission, Americans shelled out approximately $3.8 billion in illegal bets on the 2015 Super Bowl between New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. And, that in contrast only approximately $100 million was bet legally.  


Tres Lounge and Casino will benefit Watsonville in more ways than just revenue in the vicinity of $1million or more per year. If my prediction that the old Miramar site will be home to the card room casino proves to be right, it could be the first major step to revitalizing downtown. Now, with that said I would hope that Mr. Kirkland realizes with whom he’s dealing before agreeing to any deal with the city. This is because, in my opinion, some management employees in the city’s Planning and Community Development Department should be placed on a 24-hour protective custody hold… for 12 months.  I mean the TV show “Intervention” comes to mind during some city council meetings. Although, I have to say that on almost every other Tuesday, after a rough night at the card tables, one may be able to stroll downtown from Los Tres to the Civic Plaza… for some comedy relief. Seems like a Win-Win situation to me.


By Emilio, on Apr 2, 2012

1It seems that City Manager Carlos Palacios is reaching out to the firefighters, and other employees regarding his compensation and any other issues and concerns that they may have. He wanting a peace pipe smoke-out type of a sit down may be indicative that there is trouble a-brewing in city hall. And the trouble as in most cases when there is a “family” squabble, it’s usually about Mr. Green or lack thereof.

In a March 26th email to city employees, Palacios referenced the staff as “family” and that, “Recently, a question has been raised about my compensation.  Here are the facts.” He went on to summarize, “In summary, my salary has been reduced by 10%, I contribute an additional 1% towards PERS, and I have voluntarily given up raises of 7% that were included in my contract.”

Granted, Palacios gave up 10% of his pay, but according to his Calendar for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 he rarely worked on Fridays and when he did, it was to attend some type of meetings out of the office. And, almost 5 times per week he blacked out (with a magic marker) time spent on personal or private matters.2

Using the 40 hour work-week formula (52 weeks x 40hrs = 2,080 hrs.), if Palacios earns $200,000.00 (which is about right) per year, his hourly rate is around $96.15. If he doesn’t work on Fridays, which equates to 416 hours annually, he is receiving $39,998.40 for days not worked which is $1.60 shy of $40,000.00. A 10% cut in his pay equates to around $20,000. So, doesn’t it seem he received a $19,998.40 raise instead of a reduction in his salary while working a 4 day work week? How many other members of his staff are working a 4 day work week whose salary was reduced by 10%?

Performance Based Compensation?

Yes, City Manager Palacios also gave up 7% in raises, but does he really expect a raise while the city maintains an unemployment rate hovering at 27% and that we have been leading the county with the highest unemployment rate for most of his tenure? Should a balanced budget alone be the determining factor in his performance evaluation?

What about the creation of jobs? Manabe-Ow? That project isn’t expected to create the promised 2,000 jobs until 20 years from now. We may not even be able to hang anybody in effigy if that plan takes a dump because none of us will be around by then. What about a Wallmart or Costco you ask?

According to the state’s Unemployment Development Department, Watsonville has 6,700 unemployed people in our city which is double the amount of any other municipality in the county. A Costco employs around 200 people per store….do the math…we will need at least 30 type Costcos to get these people employed if the plan is to quickly produce jobs. What about withholding information from your boss or misrepresenting the facts? Is that acceptable performance? When asked about the missing fire truck, the city council was told the truck was being refurbished when in fact the city didn’t even own it.

What about spending over 1.2 million dollars in legal fees alone attempting to build housing near the airport? We not only had to compensate our city attorney and the law firm hired to assist him, but we also had to pay the pilot’s attorneys too after the city lost the appeal.

Is having $18,000 in petty cash floating around for a festival, standard operating, policy, and procedure? How many cities in California do you know that have this much petty cash to pay for the entertainment at their festivals? Ok, you got me there….maybe the city of Bell.

If I wanted a sit down peace pipe smoking session with some irritable adversaries who are questioning my annual compensation, I might consider coming bearing gifts. How about a car or several of them? Palacios and around 8 other city staffers receive car allowances that are costing tax payers around $40,000.00 per year.

I would also consider lifting the Temporary Directive aimed at the firefighters which entails “Member Speech, Expression and Social Networking.” It seems the Ivory Tower does not want the public to know about their (fire fighters) complaints and concerns. This situation may end up in court too.

An open discussion in a Peace, Love, and Macramé type meeting cannot include a muzzle to be used selectively, facts should not be distorted to conceal one’s performance, and transparency should not be treated like a red headed step child; Fire Truck # 4471.


Recent comments