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No big winner in battle over Indian gaming

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  • Harvest McCampbell
    California ka-ching! No big winner yet in the multibillion-dollar battle over Indian gaming Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, June 1, 2003 ... A half
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 1, 2003
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      California ka-ching!
      No big winner yet in the multibillion-dollar battle over Indian
      gaming

      Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, June 1, 2003

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----------




      A half hour north of Santa Rosa on Highway 101, two searchlights
      could be seen combing the night sky above the rural Hopland Valley,
      illuminating the way for drivers eager to hear the ka-ching of slot
      machines.

      It's the kind of glitz that usually signals a grand opening. But
      until recently, the Sho-Ko-Wah Casino's twin beacons shone every
      night, trumping the clouds and stars. Neighbors complained, but the
      casino operators persisted. State and local regulators felt
      powerless, even though the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians had vowed to
      use minimal lighting to preserve the valley's charm. (The lights were
      turned off for the Memorial Day holiday, and casino operators now say
      they will be used only for special occasions.)

      The searchlight flap is just one of many signs of a looming backlash
      against California's latest gold rush: Indian gaming. In the brave
      new world of Native American casinos, local communities across the
      state are butting heads with tribes over issues of sovereignty,
      ethics, regulatory power and Big Money.

      In the latest twist, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Greenbrae, is caught in
      the public furor over a tribe's plans to build a Nevada-style casino
      6 miles east of Novato on Highway 37 near Sears Point. The Federated
      Indians of Graton Rancheria had vowed not to pursue casino gambling.
      The California senator sponsored legislation in 2000 to restore the
      tribe's federal status. She has recused herself from weighing in on
      the casino proposal. Her son, Douglas, has been hired by the tribe as
      a consultant.

      California's tug-of-war over tribal gaming may lead to years of
      litigation - - or compromise and revenue-sharing agreements with cash-
      starved municipalities.

      The logjam has already surfaced in pop culture. In a recent episode
      of TV's animated "South Park" show, the fictitious Three Feathers
      Indian Casino acquired the town of South Park and forced citizens off
      their land to make way for a super highway. (The show ended with a
      negotiated settlement.)

      Even in these slack economic times, Indian gaming is estimated by
      California officials to be a $5 billion-a-year business in the state,
      although tribal lawyers say revenues are closer to $3 billion.

      Indian casinos have evolved in the last decade from low-rent
      enterprises that operated in a legal gray zone to moderate-size
      gambling emporiums. "They're not just a tin shed with a bunch of slot
      machines in them. They're nice places to go," said George Foreman, a
      San Rafael lawyer who represents several tribes.

      California tribes are on a spree to build new casinos, which has
      sparked animosity -- and a touch of hysteria -- about off-reservation
      impacts such as traffic, crime, the environment, and the quality of
      life in nearby communities whose local governments and public schools
      are already stretched thin. Emotions run high when tribes get
      recognized or build casinos under false pretenses.

      Casinos on undeveloped land require new roads, water, electricity and
      sewage treatment plants. Casinos in suburban and rural areas employ
      hundreds of workers but also affect police, fire, hospital and
      ambulance services, along with courts, jails and schools.

      Indian tribes appear to have the cards to build freely on their land,
      even if that means ignoring municipal governments and local
      residents. But it's not quite that simple. Indian sovereignty is
      limited by Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. States have a
      potentially strong hand to shape the balance of power. The last two
      decades of Supreme Court rulings have eroded tribal sovereignty. Two
      unanimous decisions since 2001 imposed limits on tribal judicial and
      executive powers, while expanding state jurisdiction in Indian
      country.

      California has come a long way since March 2000, when 65 percent of
      voters punched their ballots in favor of Proposition 1A, a state
      constitutional amendment that enables tribes to negotiate compacts
      with the state to operate casinos with slot machines and house
      banking. About 20 new casinos have been built in California since
      Prop. 1A's passage. Others are on the drawing board.

      Gov. Gray Davis, who received an estimated $1.75 million in
      contributions from Indian tribes for last year's reelection bid, has
      established himself as the most pro-gambling executive in state
      history. But what has he done to protect local communities from
      gaming's off-site impacts? The poker-faced governor declared months
      ago that he expects the tribes to contribute $1.5 billion in casino
      profits to help balance the deficit -- an idea the tribes shrugged
      off.

      The stampede to build casinos has led to fast-track processing in
      Washington, D.C., of some claims for recognition of new tribes.
      Landless tribes such as the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians are
      attempting to buy property, then persuade federal officials to
      declare it tribal land, so that they, too, can operate a lucrative
      casino. The Lytton Band wants to take over the San Pablo Casino card
      room off Highway 80 and turn it into a full-fledged casino. The
      Scotts Valley Pomo tribe is seeking land for a casino at the port of
      Richmond, just a ferry boat ride away from San Francisco.

      Indian tribes have high-powered lobbyists, lawyers, consultants and
      spin doctors with ties to the political establishment, along with big
      lines of credit from out-of-state gaming interests. There is fierce
      competition between the tribes to build casinos near major population
      centers. Larger tribes with successful casinos are lobbying in
      Sacramento and Washington to block smaller tribes from opening new
      casinos.

      The involvement of out-of-state gaming interests has fanned
      suspicions that some tribes are backed by businesses with ties to
      organized crime. But advocates say tribes have few options for
      financing. Banks are reluctant to lend money to tribes that have
      limited credit and whose land is held in trust by the federal
      government. If a casino goes belly up and a tribe defaults on its
      loan, the bank is left with no collateral.

      The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires a tribe to be the
      owner and prime beneficiary of the casino, and limits fees paid to an
      outside casino manager to 30 percent of net gaming revenues for five
      years.

      Did voters foresee the consequences of tribal gaming on local
      communities? In Sonoma County, a stream of cars leads to the newly
      opened River Rock Casino built by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of
      Pomo Indians in the bucolic Alexander Valley -- a project that
      vintners bitterly oppose.

      When pressed on local issues, tribes are quick to wrap themselves in
      the flag of sovereignty -- declaring that they need not respond to
      the petty concerns of state or municipal governments.

      "Sovereignty was intended to be a protective device to protect
      incursion of local government or cities on Indian land. It was
      benevolent," said Cheryl Schmit, who heads Stand Up for California, a
      nonprofit that is pushing for more concessions from the tribes. "It
      was not to be used as a sword to erode the rights of state or local
      governments or erode the rights of citizens."

      State-tribe compacts, negotiated in 1999 by the governor and 52
      tribes, gave the tribes authority to operate casinos with up to 2,000
      slot machines. The tribes now want to do away with that cap. They
      also want continuing guarantees that non-Indian gambling interests
      won't be able to operate slots in the state. Critics of tribal gaming
      are pressing the governor to demand that tribes be more accountable
      to local communities. Only 28 of the 61 tribes with compacts are
      required to put a tiny portion of their profits in a state trust fund
      to help pay for gaming's impacts. Should the state get a bigger piece
      of the action?

      One option would be to open up all of California to full-service
      gambling --

      at least in those communities that want casinos. If others are
      allowed to own casinos in the state, some say, tribes will have less
      clout and less incentive to be unresponsive to their neighbors. Why
      give the tribes a state monopoly on casino gambling?

      But allowing casinos to proliferate across the state would
      dramatically increase the number of gamblers who lose their shirts,
      savings and paychecks --

      putting even more people on the welfare rolls, where taxpayers would
      have to subsidize them. Legalization of gambling would also require
      passage of yet another state constitutional amendment.

      Like many other states, California itself waded into the gaming
      industry with the creation of a state lottery in 1985 to help raise
      money for education.

      The lottery attracts tens of millions of people, but draws the most
      players when the jackpot is high. People seem to understand that
      their chances of winning a $100 million jackpot are much less than
      one in a million. And even if some folks lose their shirts on $1
      lottery tickets, the state can always fall back on the justification
      that its lottery raises money for public schools.

      Slot machines, on the other hand, are viewed by state regulators as
      inherently more dangerous. Dimly lit gambling casinos with
      disorienting bells and whistles, discounted food and drinks, and few
      windows are designed to snare legions of neophytes, veterans and
      compulsive gamblers.

      For those with spare cash and discipline, an evening at a casino is
      good sport. For retirees on fixed incomes and those scraping by, bad
      slot days can spell disaster.

      Some argue that casinos should be banned for ethical reasons because
      they prey on the weak. But shouldn't people be able to spend their
      money as they see fit?

      There were decent reasons for allowing casino gambling on tribal
      lands in California and giving the tribes a lock on this action. The
      first and foremost:

      to help Native Americans, decimated by western expansion and largely
      rendered homeless in California, restore their cultural heritage and
      become self- sufficient.

      Indian gaming is viewed by some as the best bet for impoverished
      tribes to beat the house. Whether gaming profits will trickle down to
      all rank-and-file tribal members is uncertain. Already, some tribal
      members are walking away from the table with six-figure annual
      incomes.

      "People who live in these cities and towns (near Native American
      casinos) have to realize that the Indians suffered mistreatment for
      more than a hundred years," said Chris Lehane, a consultant who works
      for several tribes across the country and a former press secretary
      for Vice President Al Gore.

      "The Indians have limited economic opportunities, serious health care
      needs,

      real housing requirements," he said. "And the gaming facilities
      represent one real tangible way for these tribes to lift themselves
      out of poverty. Many of the places where these casinos are based or
      potentially based are where the Indians lived for thousands of
      years."

      It's tempting to view tribal gaming as a form of affirmative action --
      giving special privileges to a group of people to redress past
      harms. But tribal lawyers insist that it's a mistaken analogy.

      "Indian tribes are not individuals or groups of individuals, they are
      governments," Foreman said. "As a matter of federal constitutional
      law, Indians are not a racial classification. It's a political
      classification. . . .

      We're not talking about the federal government giving the tribes
      anything. We're talking about something that the tribes already had,
      but which has not yet been taken away from them."

      Did California voters three years ago envision that Native American
      casinos would generate such big bucks? Indian tribes, especially
      those in Southern California near the Los Angeles basin, have amassed
      incredible amounts of money in a short span of time. They are plowing
      their gaming profits into banks, hotel resorts, shopping malls and
      golf courses.

      The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, which operates the Viejas Casino
      east of San Diego, has become a majority shareholder in the Borrego
      Springs National Bank. And the tribe is developing a $43 million
      hotel.

      At rock bottom, tribes are just trying to win in a society that has
      left them powerless and poor for generations. But their intransigence
      in dealing with local communities may leave them dealt out of the
      game. As a tribe's gaming profits multiply, its clout and arrogance
      often seem to mushroom.

      Tribal casinos are certain to grow in size and number, perhaps
      eventually rivaling the gambling palaces in Las Vegas and Reno.
      Federal law forbids states to tax Indian gaming profits, but states
      and tribes may enter into revenue-sharing compacts.

      As compact renegotiations continue, critics of tribal gaming are
      urging the governor to demand that the casinos pay their fair share
      of all the municipal services they use. They also want the tribes to
      comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires
      environmental impact reports on large projects and the mitigation of
      off-site impacts. And they want the compacts to be judicially
      enforceable.

      Whether the naysayers have the political and legal juice to stop the
      slot machines from tumbling is probably not going to be determined by
      the luck of the draw, but by hard-nosed negotiation. And no one knows
      who's holding the trump card.

      E-mail Jim Doyle at jdoyle@....

      From: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?
      file=/chronicle/archive/2003/06/01/IN309837.DTL

      Found on: http://www.pechanga.net/
      http://www.angelfire.com/nv/reservationindian/reznews.html
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Reznews/

      Posted for educational purposes only: The news that is reported is
      not necessarily the viewpoint of Northern CA Native Events and News
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ncanativeeventsandnews/

      Reprinted under the Fair Use Law: Doctrine of international
      copyright law.
      http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html
    • J. Rhoan
      Thanks for sharing this article. I have seen the problems with gaming in some respects as I live among several tribe operated casinos. My own opinion is that
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 1, 2003
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        Thanks  for sharing this article. I have seen the problems with gaming in some respects as I live among several  tribe operated casinos. My own opinion is that casinos in some respects are good, however it is unfortuate that the ones out this way operate in  a different capacity with many  members of these organizations being    excluded, dropped or not included at all;  just so more revenues can be had by corrupt tribal councils.
        I know somewhere out there, some good has come from Indian gaming but so far at least in this neck of the woods, I have not heard about it. What I have heard is disturbing because the tribal  people who are receiving allotments talk about it secretly and fear that if they speak out against any  dishonesty and disenrollment issues they  themselfs will be cut from the tribal roles and left with nothing; no money!
        My own tribe is a good example, though we are not Federally Recognized there are plans to start a casino once this happens.
        Already, I have been told by  several members that since I don't attend cerimony or  tribal outings I'm  not considered part of thier organization; that since  I don't live in the area I'm  considered an outsider; this excuse has been used by other tribal groups who now operate casinos in the Fresno area.
        It amazes me what a few dollars will make  people  do.
        At least in my case I can see  the direction  my organization is headed. The sad part, is its 700 or so members who  will get left out with a large majority not knowing they got cut.
        At any rate an article for you.
         
        Fresno woman shares her passion for helping other American Indians

        Wass fights to get equality in the sharing of gaming revenues.

        STAFF WRITER

        04/10/03 07:00:18
        Laura Wass has experienced success as an interior designer, but her real passion is helping other American Indians to share in the bounty only some are now receiving.       


        Laura Wass is the San Joaquin Valley director of the American Indian Movement.

        Wass, San Joaquin Valley director of the American Indian Movement, said Indians did not voluntarily leave their ancestral lands to live in isolation on unwanted lands.

        She said all of California was once "Indian Country," but now there are inequities among tribes over the issue of gaming revenues.Education of Indians and non-Indians about issues facing American Indians is the main goal of the AIM organization, Wass said.

        When Proposition 5 was passed by voters in 1988 legalizing Nevada-style slot machines in Indian-owned casinos, Wass said there were promises made that non-gaming Indians would receive jobs and training, because most Indians in California will never have gaming.

        "It has not worked," Wass said. "People are not getting the education; they are losing heritage and tradition and now they are being removed from the rolls of tribes, which will turn out to be genocide," she said.

        Many members of gaming tribes who receive huge amounts of monthly income for doing nothing are not prepared to use that money wisely, Wass said, resulting in alcoholism and other problems that lead to wasted lives.

        "I don't necessarily fault the tribes. I fault the federal government for not having something in place, because they have been aware of the situation for a long time," she said.

        Wass said she is considered an enemy by some Indians, particularly those in gaming tribes, but she keeps strong in her convictions that if checks and balances are in place, all will benefit.
        "It can be a very dangerous job, but I hang in there."

        It has taken longer than she hoped, but Wass is also working to start a nonprofit organization, American Indian Legacy Foundation.

        The goal is to provide education and programs such as foster care. She spends about 60 hours a week working on American-Indian issues.

        A career in interior design has allowed Wass to be creative, she said, so over the years she has learned to "read" her clients before presenting them with plans."I work with builders and a lot of commercial. I did most of Woodward Lakes when it was first built," Wass said.

        She enjoys her paid job, but Wass said it isn't nearly as satisfying as her volunteer efforts.

        Fresno resident Alex Tavlian, 11, a student at Nelson Elementary School, met Wass while working on project for Fresno County History Day March 15 at Fresno City College.

        He entered a poster titled "Table Mountain Rancheria: 19th Century Rights/21st Century Responsibilities.
        "It explored the positives and negatives of casino gaming by the Chukchansi-Mono Indians of the Sierra foothills.

        "Laura Wass is a caring and intelligent person," Alex said. "She's out there 24/7 to get the Indians back in their tribes and make them have better lives and fortunes."

        Wass was born near Mount Lassen and is a member of the Mountain Maidu tribe.

        She has lived in Fresno for 23 years and has two grown children.



        Do you Yahoo!?


        Harvest McCampbell <harvest95546@...> wrote:
        California ka-ching!
        No big winner yet in the multibillion-dollar battle over Indian
        gaming

        Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer   Sunday, June 1, 2003  

        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----------




        A half hour north of Santa Rosa on Highway 101, two searchlights
        could be seen combing the night sky above the rural Hopland Valley,
        illuminating the way for drivers eager to hear the ka-ching of slot
        machines.

        It's the kind of glitz that usually signals a grand opening. But
        until recently, the Sho-Ko-Wah Casino's twin beacons shone every
        night, trumping the clouds and stars. Neighbors complained, but the
        casino operators persisted. State and local regulators felt
        powerless, even though the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians had vowed to
        use minimal lighting to preserve the valley's charm. (The lights were
        turned off for the Memorial Day holiday, and casino operators now say
        they will be used only for special occasions.)

        The searchlight flap is just one of many signs of a looming backlash
        against California's latest gold rush: Indian gaming. In the brave
        new world of Native American casinos, local communities across the
        state are butting heads with tribes over issues of sovereignty,
        ethics, regulatory power and Big Money.

        In the latest twist, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Greenbrae, is caught in
        the public furor over a tribe's plans to build a Nevada-style casino
        6 miles east of Novato on Highway 37 near Sears Point. The Federated
        Indians of Graton Rancheria had vowed not to pursue casino gambling.
        The California senator sponsored legislation in 2000 to restore the
        tribe's federal status. She has recused herself from weighing in on
        the casino proposal. Her son, Douglas, has been hired by the tribe as
        a consultant.

        California's tug-of-war over tribal gaming may lead to years of
        litigation - - or compromise and revenue-sharing agreements with cash-
        starved municipalities.

        The logjam has already surfaced in pop culture. In a recent episode
        of TV's animated "South Park" show, the fictitious Three Feathers
        Indian Casino acquired the town of South Park and forced citizens off
        their land to make way for a super highway. (The show ended with a
        negotiated settlement.)

        Even in these slack economic times, Indian gaming is estimated by
        California officials to be a $5 billion-a-year business in the state,
        although tribal lawyers say revenues are closer to $3 billion.

        Indian casinos have evolved in the last decade from low-rent
        enterprises that operated in a legal gray zone to moderate-size
        gambling emporiums. "They're not just a tin shed with a bunch of slot
        machines in them. They're nice places to go," said George Foreman, a
        San Rafael lawyer who represents several tribes.

        California tribes are on a spree to build new casinos, which has
        sparked animosity -- and a touch of hysteria -- about off-reservation
        impacts such as traffic, crime, the environment, and the quality of
        life in nearby communities whose local governments and public schools
        are already stretched thin. Emotions run high when tribes get
        recognized or build casinos under false pretenses.

        Casinos on undeveloped land require new roads, water, electricity and
        sewage treatment plants. Casinos in suburban and rural areas employ
        hundreds of workers but also affect police, fire, hospital and
        ambulance services, along with courts, jails and schools.

        Indian tribes appear to have the cards to build freely on their land,
        even if that means ignoring municipal governments and local
        residents. But it's not quite that simple. Indian sovereignty is
        limited by Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. States have a
        potentially strong hand to shape the balance of power. The last two
        decades of Supreme Court rulings have eroded tribal sovereignty. Two
        unanimous decisions since 2001 imposed limits on tribal judicial and
        executive powers, while expanding state jurisdiction in Indian
        country.

        California has come a long way since March 2000, when 65 percent of
        voters punched their ballots in favor of Proposition 1A, a state
        constitutional amendment that enables tribes to negotiate compacts
        with the state to operate casinos with slot machines and house
        banking. About 20 new casinos have been built in California since
        Prop. 1A's passage. Others are on the drawing board.

        Gov. Gray Davis, who received an estimated $1.75 million in
        contributions from Indian tribes for last year's reelection bid, has
        established himself as the most pro-gambling executive in state
        history. But what has he done to protect local communities from
        gaming's off-site impacts? The poker-faced governor declared months
        ago that he expects the tribes to contribute $1.5 billion in casino
        profits to help balance the deficit -- an idea the tribes shrugged
        off.

        The stampede to build casinos has led to fast-track processing in
        Washington, D.C., of some claims for recognition of new tribes.
        Landless tribes such as the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians are
        attempting to buy property, then persuade federal officials to
        declare it tribal land, so that they, too, can operate a lucrative
        casino. The Lytton Band wants to take over the San Pablo Casino card
        room off Highway 80 and turn it into a full-fledged casino. The
        Scotts Valley Pomo tribe is seeking land for a casino at the port of
        Richmond, just a ferry boat ride away from San Francisco.

        Indian tribes have high-powered lobbyists, lawyers, consultants and
        spin doctors with ties to the political establishment, along with big
        lines of credit from out-of-state gaming interests. There is fierce
        competition between the tribes to build casinos near major population
        centers. Larger tribes with successful casinos are lobbying in
        Sacramento and Washington to block smaller tribes from opening new
        casinos.

        The involvement of out-of-state gaming interests has fanned
        suspicions that some tribes are backed by businesses with ties to
        organized crime. But advocates say tribes have few options for
        financing. Banks are reluctant to lend money to tribes that have
        limited credit and whose land is held in trust by the federal
        government. If a casino goes belly up and a tribe defaults on its
        loan, the bank is left with no collateral.

        The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires a tribe to be the
        owner and prime beneficiary of the casino, and limits fees paid to an
        outside casino manager to 30 percent of net gaming revenues for five
        years.

        Did voters foresee the consequences of tribal gaming on local
        communities? In Sonoma County, a stream of cars leads to the newly
        opened River Rock Casino built by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of
        Pomo Indians in the bucolic Alexander Valley -- a project that
        vintners bitterly oppose.

        When pressed on local issues, tribes are quick to wrap themselves in
        the flag of sovereignty -- declaring that they need not respond to
        the petty concerns of state or municipal governments.

        "Sovereignty was intended to be a protective device to protect
        incursion of local government or cities on Indian land. It was
        benevolent," said Cheryl Schmit, who heads Stand Up for California, a
        nonprofit that is pushing for more concessions from the tribes. "It
        was not to be used as a sword to erode the rights of state or local
        governments or erode the rights of citizens."

        State-tribe compacts, negotiated in 1999 by the governor and 52
        tribes, gave the tribes authority to operate casinos with up to 2,000
        slot machines. The tribes now want to do away with that cap. They
        also want continuing guarantees that non-Indian gambling interests
        won't be able to operate slots in the state. Critics of tribal gaming
        are pressing the governor to demand that tribes be more accountable
        to local communities. Only 28 of the 61 tribes with compacts are
        required to put a tiny portion of their profits in a state trust fund
        to help pay for gaming's impacts. Should the state get a bigger piece
        of the action?

        One option would be to open up all of California to full-service
        gambling --

        at least in those communities that want casinos. If others are
        allowed to own casinos in the state, some say, tribes will have less
        clout and less incentive to be unresponsive to their neighbors. Why
        give the tribes a state monopoly on casino gambling?

        But allowing casinos to proliferate across the state would
        dramatically increase the number of gamblers who lose their shirts,
        savings and paychecks --

        putting even more people on the welfare rolls, where taxpayers would
        have to subsidize them. Legalization of gambling would also require
        passage of yet another state constitutional amendment.

        Like many other states, California itself waded into the gaming
        industry with the creation of a state lottery in 1985 to help raise
        money for education.

        The lottery attracts tens of millions of people, but draws the most
        players when the jackpot is high. People seem to understand that
        their chances of winning a $100 million jackpot are much less than
        one in a million. And even if some folks lose their shirts on $1
        lottery tickets, the state can always fall back on the justification
        that its lottery raises money for public schools.

        Slot machines, on the other hand, are viewed by state regulators as
        inherently more dangerous. Dimly lit gambling casinos with
        disorienting bells and whistles, discounted food and drinks, and few
        windows are designed to snare legions of neophytes, veterans and
        compulsive gamblers.

        For those with spare cash and discipline, an evening at a casino is
        good sport. For retirees on fixed incomes and those scraping by, bad
        slot days can spell disaster.

        Some argue that casinos should be banned for ethical reasons because
        they prey on the weak. But shouldn't people be able to spend their
        money as they see fit?

        There were decent reasons for allowing casino gambling on tribal
        lands in California and giving the tribes a lock on this action. The
        first and foremost:

        to help Native Americans, decimated by western expansion and largely
        rendered homeless in California, restore their cultural heritage and
        become self- sufficient.

        Indian gaming is viewed by some as the best bet for impoverished
        tribes to beat the house. Whether gaming profits will trickle down to
        all rank-and-file tribal members is uncertain. Already, some tribal
        members are walking away from the table with six-figure annual
        incomes.

        "People who live in these cities and towns (near Native American
        casinos) have to realize that the Indians suffered mistreatment for
        more than a hundred years," said Chris Lehane, a consultant who works
        for several tribes across the country and a former press secretary
        for Vice President Al Gore.

        "The Indians have limited economic opportunities, serious health care
        needs,

        real housing requirements," he said. "And the gaming facilities
        represent one real tangible way for these tribes to lift themselves
        out of poverty. Many of the places where these casinos are based or
        potentially based are where the Indians lived for thousands of
        years."

        It's tempting to view tribal gaming as a form of affirmative action --
        giving special privileges to a group of people to redress past
        harms. But tribal lawyers insist that it's a mistaken analogy.

        "Indian tribes are not individuals or groups of individuals, they are
        governments," Foreman said. "As a matter of federal constitutional
        law, Indians are not a racial classification. It's a political
        classification. . . .

        We're not talking about the federal government giving the tribes
        anything. We're talking about something that the tribes already had,
        but which has not yet been taken away from them."

        Did California voters three years ago envision that Native American
        casinos would generate such big bucks? Indian tribes, especially
        those in Southern California near the Los Angeles basin, have amassed
        incredible amounts of money in a short span of time. They are plowing
        their gaming profits into banks, hotel resorts, shopping malls and
        golf courses.

        The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, which operates the Viejas Casino
        east of San Diego, has become a majority shareholder in the Borrego
        Springs National Bank. And the tribe is developing a $43 million
        hotel.

        At rock bottom, tribes are just trying to win in a society that has
        left them powerless and poor for generations. But their intransigence
        in dealing with local communities may leave them dealt out of the
        game. As a tribe's gaming profits multiply, its clout and arrogance
        often seem to mushroom.

        Tribal casinos are certain to grow in size and number, perhaps
        eventually rivaling the gambling palaces in Las Vegas and Reno.
        Federal law forbids states to tax Indian gaming profits, but states
        and tribes may enter into revenue-sharing compacts.

        As compact renegotiations continue, critics of tribal gaming are
        urging the governor to demand that the casinos pay their fair share
        of all the municipal services they use. They also want the tribes to
        comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires
        environmental impact reports on large projects and the mitigation of
        off-site impacts. And they want the compacts to be judicially
        enforceable.

        Whether the naysayers have the political and legal juice to stop the
        slot machines from tumbling is probably not going to be determined by
        the luck of the draw, but by hard-nosed negotiation. And no one knows
        who's holding the trump card.

        E-mail Jim Doyle at jdoyle@....

        From:  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?
        file=/chronicle/archive/2003/06/01/IN309837.DTL

        Found on: http://www.pechanga.net/
        http://www.angelfire.com/nv/reservationindian/reznews.html
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Reznews/

        Posted for educational purposes only: The news that is reported is
        not necessarily the viewpoint of Northern CA Native Events and News
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ncanativeeventsandnews/

        Reprinted under the Fair Use Law: Doctrine of international
        copyright law.
        http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html





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      • ALEX
        I am new here so i have to ask some questions: Are the tribal authorities democratically elected with secret ballots??. Do you consider the republicans to be
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 1, 2003
        • 0 Attachment
          I am new here so i have to ask some questions: Are the tribal
          authorities democratically elected with secret ballots??. Do you
          consider the republicans to be friendlier to the indians and more
          trustworthy than the democrats??

          --- In ncanativeeventsandnews@yahoogroups.com, "Harvest McCampbell"
          <harvest95546@y...> wrote:
          > California ka-ching!
          > No big winner yet in the multibillion-dollar battle over Indian
          > gaming
          >
          > Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, June 1, 2003
          >
          > --------------------------------------------------------------------
          --
          > ----------
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > A half hour north of Santa Rosa on Highway 101, two searchlights
          > could be seen combing the night sky above the rural Hopland Valley,
          > illuminating the way for drivers eager to hear the ka-ching of slot
          > machines.
          >
          > It's the kind of glitz that usually signals a grand opening. But
          > until recently, the Sho-Ko-Wah Casino's twin beacons shone every
          > night, trumping the clouds and stars. Neighbors complained, but the
          > casino operators persisted. State and local regulators felt
          > powerless, even though the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians had vowed
          to
          > use minimal lighting to preserve the valley's charm. (The lights
          were
          > turned off for the Memorial Day holiday, and casino operators now
          say
          > they will be used only for special occasions.)
          >
          > The searchlight flap is just one of many signs of a looming
          backlash
          > against California's latest gold rush: Indian gaming. In the brave
          > new world of Native American casinos, local communities across the
          > state are butting heads with tribes over issues of sovereignty,
          > ethics, regulatory power and Big Money.
          >
          > In the latest twist, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Greenbrae, is caught in
          > the public furor over a tribe's plans to build a Nevada-style
          casino
          > 6 miles east of Novato on Highway 37 near Sears Point. The
          Federated
          > Indians of Graton Rancheria had vowed not to pursue casino
          gambling.
          > The California senator sponsored legislation in 2000 to restore the
          > tribe's federal status. She has recused herself from weighing in on
          > the casino proposal. Her son, Douglas, has been hired by the tribe
          as
          > a consultant.
          >
          > California's tug-of-war over tribal gaming may lead to years of
          > litigation - - or compromise and revenue-sharing agreements with
          cash-
          > starved municipalities.
          >
          > The logjam has already surfaced in pop culture. In a recent episode
          > of TV's animated "South Park" show, the fictitious Three Feathers
          > Indian Casino acquired the town of South Park and forced citizens
          off
          > their land to make way for a super highway. (The show ended with a
          > negotiated settlement.)
          >
          > Even in these slack economic times, Indian gaming is estimated by
          > California officials to be a $5 billion-a-year business in the
          state,
          > although tribal lawyers say revenues are closer to $3 billion.
          >
          > Indian casinos have evolved in the last decade from low-rent
          > enterprises that operated in a legal gray zone to moderate-size
          > gambling emporiums. "They're not just a tin shed with a bunch of
          slot
          > machines in them. They're nice places to go," said George Foreman,
          a
          > San Rafael lawyer who represents several tribes.
          >
          > California tribes are on a spree to build new casinos, which has
          > sparked animosity -- and a touch of hysteria -- about off-
          reservation
          > impacts such as traffic, crime, the environment, and the quality of
          > life in nearby communities whose local governments and public
          schools
          > are already stretched thin. Emotions run high when tribes get
          > recognized or build casinos under false pretenses.
          >
          > Casinos on undeveloped land require new roads, water, electricity
          and
          > sewage treatment plants. Casinos in suburban and rural areas employ
          > hundreds of workers but also affect police, fire, hospital and
          > ambulance services, along with courts, jails and schools.
          >
          > Indian tribes appear to have the cards to build freely on their
          land,
          > even if that means ignoring municipal governments and local
          > residents. But it's not quite that simple. Indian sovereignty is
          > limited by Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. States have a
          > potentially strong hand to shape the balance of power. The last two
          > decades of Supreme Court rulings have eroded tribal sovereignty.
          Two
          > unanimous decisions since 2001 imposed limits on tribal judicial
          and
          > executive powers, while expanding state jurisdiction in Indian
          > country.
          >
          > California has come a long way since March 2000, when 65 percent of
          > voters punched their ballots in favor of Proposition 1A, a state
          > constitutional amendment that enables tribes to negotiate compacts
          > with the state to operate casinos with slot machines and house
          > banking. About 20 new casinos have been built in California since
          > Prop. 1A's passage. Others are on the drawing board.
          >
          > Gov. Gray Davis, who received an estimated $1.75 million in
          > contributions from Indian tribes for last year's reelection bid,
          has
          > established himself as the most pro-gambling executive in state
          > history. But what has he done to protect local communities from
          > gaming's off-site impacts? The poker-faced governor declared months
          > ago that he expects the tribes to contribute $1.5 billion in casino
          > profits to help balance the deficit -- an idea the tribes shrugged
          > off.
          >
          > The stampede to build casinos has led to fast-track processing in
          > Washington, D.C., of some claims for recognition of new tribes.
          > Landless tribes such as the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians are
          > attempting to buy property, then persuade federal officials to
          > declare it tribal land, so that they, too, can operate a lucrative
          > casino. The Lytton Band wants to take over the San Pablo Casino
          card
          > room off Highway 80 and turn it into a full-fledged casino. The
          > Scotts Valley Pomo tribe is seeking land for a casino at the port
          of
          > Richmond, just a ferry boat ride away from San Francisco.
          >
          > Indian tribes have high-powered lobbyists, lawyers, consultants and
          > spin doctors with ties to the political establishment, along with
          big
          > lines of credit from out-of-state gaming interests. There is fierce
          > competition between the tribes to build casinos near major
          population
          > centers. Larger tribes with successful casinos are lobbying in
          > Sacramento and Washington to block smaller tribes from opening new
          > casinos.
          >
          > The involvement of out-of-state gaming interests has fanned
          > suspicions that some tribes are backed by businesses with ties to
          > organized crime. But advocates say tribes have few options for
          > financing. Banks are reluctant to lend money to tribes that have
          > limited credit and whose land is held in trust by the federal
          > government. If a casino goes belly up and a tribe defaults on its
          > loan, the bank is left with no collateral.
          >
          > The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires a tribe to be the
          > owner and prime beneficiary of the casino, and limits fees paid to
          an
          > outside casino manager to 30 percent of net gaming revenues for
          five
          > years.
          >
          > Did voters foresee the consequences of tribal gaming on local
          > communities? In Sonoma County, a stream of cars leads to the newly
          > opened River Rock Casino built by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of
          > Pomo Indians in the bucolic Alexander Valley -- a project that
          > vintners bitterly oppose.
          >
          > When pressed on local issues, tribes are quick to wrap themselves
          in
          > the flag of sovereignty -- declaring that they need not respond to
          > the petty concerns of state or municipal governments.
          >
          > "Sovereignty was intended to be a protective device to protect
          > incursion of local government or cities on Indian land. It was
          > benevolent," said Cheryl Schmit, who heads Stand Up for California,
          a
          > nonprofit that is pushing for more concessions from the tribes. "It
          > was not to be used as a sword to erode the rights of state or local
          > governments or erode the rights of citizens."
          >
          > State-tribe compacts, negotiated in 1999 by the governor and 52
          > tribes, gave the tribes authority to operate casinos with up to
          2,000
          > slot machines. The tribes now want to do away with that cap. They
          > also want continuing guarantees that non-Indian gambling interests
          > won't be able to operate slots in the state. Critics of tribal
          gaming
          > are pressing the governor to demand that tribes be more accountable
          > to local communities. Only 28 of the 61 tribes with compacts are
          > required to put a tiny portion of their profits in a state trust
          fund
          > to help pay for gaming's impacts. Should the state get a bigger
          piece
          > of the action?
          >
          > One option would be to open up all of California to full-service
          > gambling --
          >
          > at least in those communities that want casinos. If others are
          > allowed to own casinos in the state, some say, tribes will have
          less
          > clout and less incentive to be unresponsive to their neighbors. Why
          > give the tribes a state monopoly on casino gambling?
          >
          > But allowing casinos to proliferate across the state would
          > dramatically increase the number of gamblers who lose their shirts,
          > savings and paychecks --
          >
          > putting even more people on the welfare rolls, where taxpayers
          would
          > have to subsidize them. Legalization of gambling would also require
          > passage of yet another state constitutional amendment.
          >
          > Like many other states, California itself waded into the gaming
          > industry with the creation of a state lottery in 1985 to help raise
          > money for education.
          >
          > The lottery attracts tens of millions of people, but draws the most
          > players when the jackpot is high. People seem to understand that
          > their chances of winning a $100 million jackpot are much less than
          > one in a million. And even if some folks lose their shirts on $1
          > lottery tickets, the state can always fall back on the
          justification
          > that its lottery raises money for public schools.
          >
          > Slot machines, on the other hand, are viewed by state regulators as
          > inherently more dangerous. Dimly lit gambling casinos with
          > disorienting bells and whistles, discounted food and drinks, and
          few
          > windows are designed to snare legions of neophytes, veterans and
          > compulsive gamblers.
          >
          > For those with spare cash and discipline, an evening at a casino is
          > good sport. For retirees on fixed incomes and those scraping by,
          bad
          > slot days can spell disaster.
          >
          > Some argue that casinos should be banned for ethical reasons
          because
          > they prey on the weak. But shouldn't people be able to spend their
          > money as they see fit?
          >
          > There were decent reasons for allowing casino gambling on tribal
          > lands in California and giving the tribes a lock on this action.
          The
          > first and foremost:
          >
          > to help Native Americans, decimated by western expansion and
          largely
          > rendered homeless in California, restore their cultural heritage
          and
          > become self- sufficient.
          >
          > Indian gaming is viewed by some as the best bet for impoverished
          > tribes to beat the house. Whether gaming profits will trickle down
          to
          > all rank-and-file tribal members is uncertain. Already, some tribal
          > members are walking away from the table with six-figure annual
          > incomes.
          >
          > "People who live in these cities and towns (near Native American
          > casinos) have to realize that the Indians suffered mistreatment for
          > more than a hundred years," said Chris Lehane, a consultant who
          works
          > for several tribes across the country and a former press secretary
          > for Vice President Al Gore.
          >
          > "The Indians have limited economic opportunities, serious health
          care
          > needs,
          >
          > real housing requirements," he said. "And the gaming facilities
          > represent one real tangible way for these tribes to lift themselves
          > out of poverty. Many of the places where these casinos are based or
          > potentially based are where the Indians lived for thousands of
          > years."
          >
          > It's tempting to view tribal gaming as a form of affirmative
          action --
          > giving special privileges to a group of people to redress past
          > harms. But tribal lawyers insist that it's a mistaken analogy.
          >
          > "Indian tribes are not individuals or groups of individuals, they
          are
          > governments," Foreman said. "As a matter of federal constitutional
          > law, Indians are not a racial classification. It's a political
          > classification. . . .
          >
          > We're not talking about the federal government giving the tribes
          > anything. We're talking about something that the tribes already
          had,
          > but which has not yet been taken away from them."
          >
          > Did California voters three years ago envision that Native American
          > casinos would generate such big bucks? Indian tribes, especially
          > those in Southern California near the Los Angeles basin, have
          amassed
          > incredible amounts of money in a short span of time. They are
          plowing
          > their gaming profits into banks, hotel resorts, shopping malls and
          > golf courses.
          >
          > The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, which operates the Viejas
          Casino
          > east of San Diego, has become a majority shareholder in the Borrego
          > Springs National Bank. And the tribe is developing a $43 million
          > hotel.
          >
          > At rock bottom, tribes are just trying to win in a society that has
          > left them powerless and poor for generations. But their
          intransigence
          > in dealing with local communities may leave them dealt out of the
          > game. As a tribe's gaming profits multiply, its clout and arrogance
          > often seem to mushroom.
          >
          > Tribal casinos are certain to grow in size and number, perhaps
          > eventually rivaling the gambling palaces in Las Vegas and Reno.
          > Federal law forbids states to tax Indian gaming profits, but states
          > and tribes may enter into revenue-sharing compacts.
          >
          > As compact renegotiations continue, critics of tribal gaming are
          > urging the governor to demand that the casinos pay their fair share
          > of all the municipal services they use. They also want the tribes
          to
          > comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, which
          requires
          > environmental impact reports on large projects and the mitigation
          of
          > off-site impacts. And they want the compacts to be judicially
          > enforceable.
          >
          > Whether the naysayers have the political and legal juice to stop
          the
          > slot machines from tumbling is probably not going to be determined
          by
          > the luck of the draw, but by hard-nosed negotiation. And no one
          knows
          > who's holding the trump card.
          >
          > E-mail Jim Doyle at jdoyle@s...
          >
          > From: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?
          > file=/chronicle/archive/2003/06/01/IN309837.DTL
          >
          > Found on: http://www.pechanga.net/
          > http://www.angelfire.com/nv/reservationindian/reznews.html
          > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Reznews/
          >
          > Posted for educational purposes only: The news that is reported is
          > not necessarily the viewpoint of Northern CA Native Events and News
          > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ncanativeeventsandnews/
          >
          > Reprinted under the Fair Use Law: Doctrine of international
          > copyright law.
          > http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html
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