Betting against the house
Four powerful tribes seemingly hold all the cards, but labor still has an ace up its sleeveBy Cosmo Garvin
Here’s the first thing to understand about Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97 on this February’s ballot: The people who put them there are going to spend at least $14 million to convince you to vote “no.”
On the other hand, the people who never wanted them on the ballot, who went to court to try and stop them—they’re going to spend at least $54 million trying to get you to say “yes.”
Confused yet? It gets worse. If approved, each of the four ballot measures would allow large Indian tribes in Southern California to dramatically expand their casino operations. There’s one ballot measure for each tribe: Sycuan, Pechanga, Morongo and Agua Caliente tribes.
The Pechanga and Morongo tribes will get to increase their numbers of slot machines from 2,000 to 7,500. The Sycuan and Agua Caliente groups would get bumped from 2,000 to 5,000. All in all, it represents an increase of 17,000 new slots in California, with a third of all machines in the state under the control of just these four big Southern California tribes.
In political ads bought by the four tribes, the measures are promised to provide up to $9 billion in new revenue to the state. The ads don’t mention that figure counts the revenue over 30 years, or that the independent California Legislative Analyst’s Office is predicting a far lower number. OP: They could use 100 years and that would be a whopping $20 Billion. Still, not true but it sure sounds bigger. The tribes don't mention that if the state gets $9 Billion, the tribes get over $36 billion
NOW, here's WHY our elected officials did a turnaround, from the article:
Even with the budget woes now facing California, it’s a little tough to understand why the Assembly Democrats made a such complete about-face. After all, Núñez has deep ties to the labor movement (he worked as a union organizer before running for office). Supporting the compacts was seen as a betrayal of his old labor buddies.
One possibility is that the Legislature has another, and somewhat touchier, political situation on its hands.
The Assembly speaker and his counterpart in the state Senate, President Pro Tem Don Perata, are trying to get voters to support another controversial ballot measure: Proposition 93. The term-limits measure would reduce the number of years an individual can serve in the Legislature from 14 years to 12 years. But it also would allow the current crop of lawmakers, who would be termed out after this year, to hold onto their jobs for several more terms. OP: AHA!!
Had the Legislature torpedoed the tribes gaming compacts, they might have seen their own political careers cut short as well.
“I think the Legislature was very concerned about the tribes coming in and opposing term limits,” said Bob Stern with the L.A.-based Center for Governmental Studies.
Asked whether there was a connection between Proposition 93 and the gaming compacts, Maviglio insisted, “It’s almost laughable,” and dismissed the idea that the big tribes were interested in sinking the term limits’ measure. “The tribes are pretty busy right now, spending every penny they have against each other.” OP: Uh, Maviglio, NO. The tribes have HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars, this is not EVERYTHING or even nearly everything. It's a pittance. And it will be even less if you give the tribes $36 billion more....
But it’s widely believed that California’s February 5 presidential primary exists, in part, to allow sitting legislators to enjoy the extra time in office afforded by Proposition 93. If the term-limits measure passes in February, termed-out lawmakers will be able to run for their seat again in the June primary.
If legislative leaders would go to the trouble of creating a third election in order to hold onto their seats, is it so hard to imagine that Núñez and his colleagues were doing some similar political triangulation with the gaming compacts?
“It’s all speculation,” Stern acknowledges. “But I think it’s pretty good speculation.”