This gamble will hurt all Californians
BY KATHRYN BOWEN, Guest ColumnistLA Daily News
Article Last Updated:06/02/2007 05:02:31 PM PDT
WHOEVER coined the phrase "Ignorance is bliss" must have been talking about the 35 million Californians trusting that their elected officials are actually doing their jobs with respect to gambling casinos run by Indian tribes in our state.
"Bliss" is what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been selling the public while he sells the state down the river by granting the largest expansion of gambling in history to five casino tribes.
In the wake of Californians' support of Proposition 1A, former Gov. Gray Davis negotiated gambling compacts with Indian tribes. Millions of voters succumbed to a brilliant marketing campaign in which casino tribes invested nearly $100 million, equal to a presidential election, to persuade voters to change our state constitution and direct gambling monopolies to Indian tribes.
I was one of those voters.
But here's the bad news. At this moment, our elected representatives in California are about to vote on whether to grant five casino tribes, consisting of just 1,876 people, the ability to expand willy-nilly despite the impact on our communities, families, children and ultimately the financial future of California.
This is just the beginning; 67 additional tribes with gaming compacts are waiting in the wings.
The reality is the revenue promised for the state through gambling expansion will not materialize. The expected income is neither measurable, nor is its collection enforceable.
Thousands of e-mails, letters, phone calls and exhaustive testimony attempting to alert our elected officials of endless issues regarding jurisdiction, regulation, accounting and disastrous social costs have fallen on deaf ears.
The reason for the hearing loss? Could it be the massive unregulated tribal contributions flowing into political campaigns of the majority of our elected officials in our state Capitol?
Tribes poured $429,600 into the campaigns of just 15 Assembly members who held a hearing on problematic regulatory issues with the compacts and will be key in deciding their fate. How impartial can they really be when taking money from the same tribes that will benefit from their vote?
Making matters worse, the Minimum Internal Control Standards, the only federal regulatory leg left to oversee the integrity of the games and to collect the money, has been eliminated from the compacts.