Tuesday, February 16, 2010

SacBee: Why Are Casino Payments Secret? Let's Quit Going to Tribal Casinos UNTIL we know where the Money is.

The Sacramento Bee has an editorial that all Californians should look at.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly asks that Californians "trust" him. OP: Uh, yeah, we've already apologized to Gray Davis for voting him out. Arnold deserves no trust.

Two years ago this month, the governor promised that if voters approved compacts authorizing significant expansion of four Indian-owned casinos in Southern California, the tribes would pay the state "hundreds of millions of dollars" annually. OP: Remember that one of the tribes, SYCUAN, hadn't even gotten the expansion approved by their tribe! We told you about that HERE

He made the promise in California's official voter pamphlet, and declared that the state would reap "billions in the years ahead to help pay for public safety, education, and other services."

Tribes that benefited from the deals spent $82 million on their campaign. Voters approved the deals, as they have done repeatedly when Indian gambling goes before them. OP: Not before Pechanga spend 50 million more than the other tribes. They didn't believe that votes like them anymore, because of the bad press they generated.

Two years later, as the state is mired in a budget crisis, the public ought to be able to find out how many "hundreds of millions" have been delivered to state coffers. The question is timely now that the Morongo Band of Mission Indians is seeking the right to operate Internet poker in exchange for payments to the state. OP: Our cousin recently wrote a post on the need for open audits. Raise your hands if you believe the tribes would operate with two sets of books!

Morongo is one of the four tribes whose compacts voters ratified in 2008. The deal authorizes Morongo to operate 7,500 lucrative slot machines, up from its past cap of 2,000.

So how much have the four tribes paid the state since the 2008 vote? The California Gambling Control Commission says the information is not public. OP: How much the tribe pays to the PEOPLE of CA, for the monopoly we GAVE them is NOT OUR BUSINESS? We MUST have that right, otherwise, we will have politicians taking money from tribes and not reporting it...

The Schwarzenegger-negotiated compacts exempt information that tribes provide to the state from disclosure under the California Public Records Act. As a result, the amounts that individual tribes pay to the state is secret.

That exemption is bad enough. But surely the public is entitled to know what the aggregate amount is that the four tribes have paid into the state coffers – especially given that the governor told voters in the official voter handbook that the deals would deliver "hundreds of millions" a year.

Schwarzenegger asks us to "trust" him. We rather follow the advice of another governor, Ronald Reagan:

Trust but verify.

And since we can't verify...... how can we trust Arnold? How about this: QUIT going to tribal casinos until we get a clear accounting of their fund payments to US.


Allen L. Lee said...

Every penny received by the state is public. What they are saying is the compacts are unconstitutional under federal law.

Anonymous said...

The state said this part could be kept secret from the people of California. The State accountants know, the people of California don't ....

Allen L. Lee said...

How much money the state receives from tribes is not a trade secret and does not warrant protection.
the information is maintained on behalf of the citizens of California, not the tribes.

“Freedom of Information Act
FOIA applies to every “agency,” “department,” “regulatory commission,” “government controlled corporation,” and “other establishment” in the executive branch of the federal government. This includes cabinet offices, such as the departments of Defense, State, Treasury, …” Interior,” … Justice (including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Prisons); independent regulatory agencies and commissions, “

“The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) is an independent federal regulatory agency within the Department of the Interior.”

"The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to approve any tribal-state compact and may disapprove such a compact only if it violates IGRA, any other provision of federal law, or the trust obligations of the United States to Indians. 25 U.S.C. 2710(d)(8).
New York state
“Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL
The IGRA was not intended to diminish the right of state citizens to monitor, through requests for information, the performance of public servants in state agencies. IGRA does not preempt application of FOIL with respect to records held by the Board with respect to daily inspection reports and patron complaints under tribal-state compacts.

Washington State
“"The information does not, as the Tribes suggest, deal solely with the conduct of tribal government, with no relation to state governmental processes," the court ruled. "The Gambling Commission negotiates, renegotiates and enforces the compacts on behalf of the citizens of Washington. “
“Q: Do freedom of information laws apply to tribal documents and meetings?
A: Generally no, but in certain specific instances, yes. A document that is purely related to Indian tribal governance would not be subject to state or federal freedom of information laws. But journalists seeking information through these laws should not completely abandon hope. Several state courts have allowed state documents relating to gaming compacts with American Indian tribes to be considered public documents. The federal courts have taken a similar approach. "

Anonymous said...

And yet, the state has exempted the information being disclosed..

Allen L. Lee said...

Sounds like Freedom of Information time in court. As I said, the records are kept by the state on behalf of the state's citizens.
I think two violations are here,
Freedom of Information and Article 1 Commerce Clause.

Anonymous said...

They are probably afraid it will void the compact.

PHunter said...

It's becoming more clear that our politicians aren't interested in doing what is right for the people of California.

We need to make a change at all levels and let the new pols know that we can take them out too.

Anonymous said...

Californians are being duped by the Governator and his enablers.

We need to KNOW where our missing money is.

The tribes promised us BILLIONS. Where is it?

Anonymous said...

If we can't trust the tribes to take care of their own people as THEY promised and to help other tribes as THEY promised... how can we trust them to show us the right books?