Monday, January 28, 2008

A Little Help Here

I'd like some help from the N&B community. Like many of you, I'm sure, I've been seeing tons of ads both for and against Props 94-97, regarding Indian gaming. I'll admit to some ignorance on this one, and doing some research on the issues hasn't cleared things up for me. As is usually the case with these ballot propositions, there is so much misinformation, hidden special interests, and partisanship floating around that it is nearly impossible to get a clear idea of what the propositions will really do.

So, can anyone out there (objectively) tell me what these props are really going to do? And can anyone give an (informed) opinion on how you think we ought to vote?

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Alice B. (NALSA co-chair) said...

I recommend YES for several reasons.
1. My reason for voting yes, is that this represents the Proposition system at its worst. Under state and federal law, gaming tribes must form a compact with the state, which involes negotiations, followed by California legislative approval, and U.S. Department of Interior approval. All of that happened here in order to expand gambling. Then what happened? Pala tribe, a competitor of Pechanga, wants a bigger piece of the pie and bankrolls the campaign to get this on the ballot.
2. A NO vote will not stop gambling expansion. The negotiation process will just have to start again. Those who advocate a NO vote actually want MORE tax money, which means more gambling.
3. This will not hurt small tribes. The revenues are shared among gaming and nongaming tribes, large and small. Those tv ads showing this line of reasoning are sponsored by two groups. a) non-tribal gaming interests (i.e. competitors), and b) a fringe group of disenrolled Pechanga, who are very, very angry with Pechanga.
The only tribes who are against the propositions are Pala (explained above) and United Auburn, the owners of Thunder Valley. Hardly marginalized poor tribes.

What gets lost in all of this: there are a mere handful of rich tribes in this nation. Not all tribes have gambling, and the vast majority of tribes are extremely poor. This has nothing to do with the Propositions, but I try to dispel the rich tribes myth whenever I can.

1/28/2008 10:52 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

I don't know much about the propositions themselves, but if you look at the fine print on the "Vote No" ads, they are sponsored by Hollywood Park Racetrack, even the ones with other Tribes asking you to vote no.

1/28/2008 10:53 AM  
Blogger MRP said...

On Wednesday, Prof. Frickey's Federal Indian Law class will be discussing the propositions.

1/28/2008 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I'm not so interested in what's best for the tribes (though I wish them no ill will), rather I'm wondering which vote will fill the state's coffers the most, especially since it seems impossible to raise enough revenue in California. Anyone have thoughts on this?

1/28/2008 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Alice said...

YES = $9 Billion directly to the State of California over next 20 years. NO = who knows.

1/28/2008 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, $450 million a year on a $150 billion budget! That'll fix a lot of potholes!

1/28/2008 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, don't knock $450 million. That's more than the law school's entire endowment.

1/28/2008 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue is NOT whether Indian gaming is a good idea, whether some form of compacts will eventually be approved (they will), or whether California residents will encounter more slot machines in the next few years (they definitely will). It's solely about whether Arnold should cut a stricter deal for the state by demanding more of the revenues (right now, the state stands to get about 20% of slot machine revenues). That's what a 'no' vote favors. But I'm not sure anyone really knows the non-partisan answer to whether a better deal would truly be forthcoming (and if they do, they're not telling).

The important thing to remember in all this is that, at the end of the day, the Tribes are going to get what they want. Few people in CA realize this, but the Tribes are perhaps the most powerful, unstoppable influence in CA politics. They operate on a higher plane than everyone else. Other feared interest groups, like CCPOA (prison guards), CTA (teachers unions), CNA (nurses), or the Chamber (of Commerce) all make legislators' designer shoes quiver. The Tribes pay for those shoes. They can spend $5 million on a leg race without batting an eye. No one -- and I mean NO ONE -- will ever win in a political war with the Tribes. (Given our shameful history re: Native Americans, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.)

For geeks raised on Star Trek the Next Generation, they're like the Q Continuum -- an all-powerful deity that isn't bound by the ordinary laws of politics that govern mere mortals.

I wish this state could have an honest conversation about Indian gambling -- about how to make it work for all Native Americans and how to balance legitimate concerns with the pernicious effects of gambling (especially on low-income communities). But that's never going to happen. So, in the meantime, to borrow another Trekkie phrase (I promise I'll stop now): Just vote yes, because resistance is futile.

1/28/2008 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Alice said...

"I wish this state could have an honest conversation about Indian gambling -- about how to make it work for all Native Americans and how to balance legitimate concerns with the pernicious effects of gambling (especially on low-income communities)."

Good point regarding a conversation about the negative effect of gambling upon those who can't afford it. But the other part of what you say - that it is the state of California's business to figure out how to make gambling work for all Native Americans - is just not right. That's the tribes' business. Tribes are legally recognized sovereign entities within the United States, called "domestic dependent nations." It's a strange and limited form of a sovereignty, but sovereignty nonetheless. The way it works, in a nutshell, is that tribes retain whatever sovereignty Congress doesn't take away. One thing that Congress hasn't taken away is power to self-govern. So, outside of tribes' obligations to the fed and state per federal (and sometimes state law if allowed under federal law), what tribes do with their businesses is their business.

It's tricky, politically, when tribes interact heavily with the non-tribal public, as in successful gambling operations. But the state has no entitlement to have a say in the inner workings of tribal decisionmaking anymore than tribes have a say in California decisionmaking (outside of political influence, of course).

1/28/2008 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashley's comment is per gibberish, masquerading under a cover of incorrect facts, with a final layer of phony indignation thrown on for good measure.

First, under IGRA, the federal regulatory law which governs Indian gaming, the tribes do NOT have "sovereignty nonetheless" over gambling operations. In fact, a state is free to prohibit entirely casino-style gambling if it wishes under the law. (And, arguably, Congress couldn't even compel otherwise if it wanted to. See Seminole Tribe v. Florida. If a state wishes to allow gambling, it is free to structure compacts however it wants. (This is essentially what California has been doing.) As a condition of those compacts, it is perfectly free to demand that gambling revenues be distributed among a larger pool of Native Americans, that funds be developed to administer some of the revenues to benefit all Native Americans, or whatever other equitable distribution scheme it wishes. (CA does some version of these already.) That isn't "the tribes own business" -- that's a legitimate condition CA may place on their operations under both federal and constitutional law, irrespective of your rhetoric about sovereignty.

Second, as a political issue, California has a legitimate interest in seeing gambling revenues equitably distributed. Impoverished Native Americans receive welfare like everyone else; Medical like everyone else; and a host of other state social services like everyone else. The state has a legitimate interest in seeing gambling revenues apportioned such that poor tribes are not forced to rely on state services for sustenance. (Which is arguably a greater act of paternalism and infringement on sovereignty than splitting up blackjack revenue.)

Finally, as a moral matter, it is simply unconscionable that, because 500 years ago some tribes had the historical fortune of residing on land that would become the I-5 or I-15 corridor, 80-100 of their descendants are millionaires, while tribes with the historical misfortune of residing in Ukiah or Humboldt continue to live in squalor and poverty. Gambling revenues should be equitably distributed among all Native Americans in California, in order to give them a measure of self-reliance and begin to make-up for the historical tragedy of their near-genocide.

To suggest that addressing that deep moral and political issue intrudes on the "inner workings of tribal decision-making" -- in effect, to say that "stay the hell out, we'll let the rich tribes decide what to give the poor tribes" -- is nothing more than fringe Ayn Rand-style laissez faire masquerading as a liberal political commitment.

Is Garry South your boss?

1/29/2008 1:17 AM  
Blogger Max Power said...

Interesting stuff, thanks everyone. I think I'll be voting Yes--I just hope the money really does get shared in some almost-fair fashion.

1/29/2008 10:23 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Anonymous 1:17, I think you're talking to Alice. When you start a comment with a blanant attack like:

"Ashley's comment is per gibberish, masquerading under a cover of incorrect facts, with a final layer of phony indignation thrown on for good measure. "

If you don't have the courage to put your name on it, the very least you could do is to direct it to the correct target.

1/29/2008 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Alice said...

Wow. If I had known that an anonymous anti-tribal obviously non-Boaltie tool would make a personal attack on me, and then try to justify him/herself with "gibberish", I wouldn't have posted on here in the first place. Lesson learned. I'm not into personal attacks.

1/29/2008 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Alice said...

...and for what it's worth, I do not consider calling the anonymous poster a "tool" a personal attack. Anonymous posters get back what they spew out. signing off.

1/29/2008 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the hallmarks of modern campus politics is a strangely illiberal habit of converting any political disagreement into a "personal attack" that somehow threatens one's very identity.

As far as I can see, the 8:13 poster suggested the prior comment was "gibberish," used "incorrect facts" and employed "indignation."

Would anyone care to explain how ANY of those statements -- in any possible universe -- constitutes a "personal attack"?? Did the commenter call you a dirty name, or insult your mother, or say you were an asshole or, indeed, a "tool"?

Try as I might -- and having re-read the whole exchange now three times -- I just don't see what constitutes a "personal attack" in any of that. Harsh and intemperate language, yes. A bit of a cheap shot, yes. But "personal attack"?

I'll also note that it was followed by three paragraphs of calm substantive argument that, uh, sort of demolished Alice's argument...and a genuine response to that continues to be lacking because -- oh, I forgot -- it's all just a "personal attack."

I'll look forward to seeing Alice in a courtroom one day when the judges calls one of her objections "gibberish" and "incorrect" and she immediately demands he recuse himself for such a "personal attack."

1/29/2008 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the point is that 1:17's post was mean-spirited - he accused her of feigning indignation, he called her well-written statement gibberish, and he compared her to a spin doctor - when Alice was just trying to give her honest and well-informed opinion at the request of a blogger.

1:17 makes valid points, but the way he framed them does makes him seem kinda like a tool. But, maybe that's what he was going for.

I appreciate all the informed and respectful opinions. Thanks for the info!

1/29/2008 9:04 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

The Boalt Dems were kind enough to share with me an electronic version of their guide to the propositions, including their vote endorsements, and explanation.

I have uploaded it here. It is helpful.

1/30/2008 3:37 PM  

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