Schwarzenegger's failed coercion plan to wring dollars from the Rincon Tribe, could lead to California losing Indian Casino dollars. Tribes will follow Pala's lead and look to renegotiate. Should this be the time time for California to get into the gaming business? We could regulate it, tax it and benefit from the dollars the we know tribes are keeping for themselves.
John Myers writes in Capitol Notes:
The final chapter in a fight dating back to the seeds of Rincon's anger in 2005 was written on June 27, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal of a lawsuit won by the tribe. That lawsuit was sparked by the deal former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger offered to renegotiate Rincon's original 1999 casino compact: a percentage of the profits for the general fund.
Rincon successfully argued that such a demand amounted to a tax, something states can't generally assess against tribes under federal law. In particular, the case highlighted the issue of tribal "exclusivity" to Nevada-style casino operations... something Schwarzenegger suggested was worth a cut of the action, but which Rincon argued it already possessed thanks to two voter-approved ballot initiatives.
The real question -- the $364 million question, in fact -- is whether the Rincon decision opens the door for the tribes that did sign those revenue sharing deals to stop sending money to Sacramento.
"I think we need to go in and reevaluate our situation," said Robert Smith, chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians near San Diego. In a phone interview on Wednesday, Smith said his tribe pays $18 million a year to the state's general fund and would like Governor Brown to consider changing that agreement.
While exactly how many of the 15 tribes that pay into the general fund are thinking the same thing isn't known, several sources confirm there are others. One that did so on the record is the United Auburn Indian Community in Placer County, according to tribal attorney Howard Dickstein. Dickstein has also represented Pala and is one of the architects of California's original tribal compacts.
"I think tribes that continue to contribute [money] have serious questions," he said in a phone interview. "It's a new ballgame."
With the actions of tribes like Picayune, Enterprise, Redding and Pechanga, can we really trust they want the best for all Californians? In fact, didn't they swear to us, that their NEGOTIATED compacts with Schwarzenegger were what was BEST for California? They would help balance our budget from deficits? How is that working out for us?