Tag Archives: Indian Gaming

Field Poll: 93 Losing, Gaming Compacts Winning

The latest Field Poll is out and though the news is not good for Prop 93 supporters or opponents of the gaming compacts, the most important thing may be the number of voters still undecided here on the eve of the election. In the table numbers in Parentheses are early Jan #s and December #s.

Prop/Response Prop 93 Props 94-97
Yes 33 (39 50) 47 (42 39)
No 46 (39 32) 34 (37 33)
Undecided 21 (22 18) 19 (21 28)

And 80% of voters have heard of Prop 93, compared up from 65% earlier in January and from 25% in December.

Interestingly, the recent Field presidential poll also showed a substantial number of voters still undecided. But for 93 to pass and 94-97 to fail, those undecideds will have to break heavily in one direction. And the trendlines are not favorable for 93 supporters and 94-97 opponents.

Kevin Drum: Yes on Prop 93

(Brian’s Disclosure – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Kevin Drum, the progressive blogger extraordinaire at Washington Monthly, yesterday endorsed Proposition 93 in his Political Animal blog. In his brief post he called Prop 93 “one of those rare initiatives I’m in favor of.”

From my point of view, there’s an easy one and a hard one. The easy one is Prop 93, which changes our term limits law. Currently, you’re limited to 14 years: three terms (6 years) in the assembly and two terms (8 years) in the senate. The problem with this is that a limit of three terms in the assembly, for example, means that the Speaker of the Assembly never has more than four years of experience before taking over the top spot. This is dumb. Prop 93 PresserThe point of a term limits law should be to prevent people from making careers out of a single political office, not doing away with experience altogether.

The new law is simpler: it limits service to 12 years total, in either house. This is how I would have written the law in the first place, and it’s a good compromise between limiting legislative service while still allowing politicians to gain enough experience to know how to run things. This is one of those rare initiatives I’m in favor of.

In addition, the campaign organized a press conference at the LGBT Center here in San Francisco with (L->R) Mark Leno (who stands to lose 4 years if Prop 93 is passed) and Asms. Ruskin, along with SF Democratic Party Chair Scott Weiner.

Incidentally, the “tough one” for him was 94-97. He seemed to lean towards yes, based primarily on his feeling that the legislature and the governor should get to run the state.

Reexamining the $9 Billion Gambling Claim

Call it a half-truth, call it an estimated guess, but just don’t call it a certainty. Which $9 Billion? Well, the promised $9 Billion from the gaming compacts, of course.

In our endorsements, we expressed skepticism that all this money will arrive soon, or at all.  Today, the LA Times takes a look at those figures. There is a $3 Billion floor that the three tribes must provide the state within the 22 years of the life of the contract, and a minimum guarantee of $123 million/year. But that is the only guarantee. There is no guarantee of when the casinos get built out, when they begin to give the state any of that money, of how much money we get next year, or the year after (other than the $123mil). So, the connection to the $14.5 Billion?  Minimal. But that doesn’t mean the tribes won’t trumpet the connection:

“Whether it’s $100 million or $500 million,” said Roger Salazar, spokesman for the tribes’ campaign, “it’s all money that can help stave off at least a few of the potential [state budget] cuts that are being considered.”

$100 million. It’s a lot of money, but the statement presupposes that we can’t get more money from the tribes. There are arguments to oppose building additional casinos, in general. They are extensive, and I’ve put them forward myself on occasion. You know, they are regressive taxes, a drain on society, yada yada. But, putting that aside, and the argument about labor rights, and dealing with the reality of the casinos, it’s just not clear that there is enough on the table here for the state.

Now, in a comment to the endorsements, Major Danby argues that perhaps we should have tested this with one smaller expansion and then gone ahead if that was successful, and vote yes on one of the compacts and no on the rest. But this is 15,000 slot machines, without state control of where and when they go in. Is the thought of $100-$500m of manna from the heavens enough for us? It might arrive in spades, it might trickle down. But let’s be honest, California needn’t just settle for these compacts.  

The SF Bay Guardian Endorsements: Obama, Yes on 92, 93, No on 94-97

The San Francisco Bay Guardian has long been considered the voice of progressives in the Bay Area. Publisher Bruce Brugmann has been working to give progressives a voice for a long, long time. (He even supplies the world with transcripts of Sup. Tom Ammiano’s joke of the day voicemail message.) That the “Weekly” papers have now been brought under a larger corporate banner and have moved considerably to the center, their publication has become one of the most important reads for progressives in the state, if not the most important. (Save Calitics of course. 😉 )

With that, I bring you the Bay Guardian’s endorsements. As a good non-partisan paper they made endorsements in all three primaries by endorsing Obama, Ron Paul, and Cynthia McKinney.  On California Propositions, they said yes on 92 & 93, and No on 91, and 94-97.  As for the SF props, Yes on A&B, No on C.

See the flip for more discussion of the SFBG endorsements.

President: Obama, Paul, and McKinney

The SFBG readily acknowledges that Paul and McKinney will not win, and for Paul, that is a good thing. They take fault with his libretarian, anti-tax, “anti-gummint” (jsw’s phrase) stances. However, they point to the importance of having a Republican that is anti-war on the ballot as a point of contrast.  As for the Dem race, well, it reads kinda like the Calitics endorsement. We loved Edwards, but it was not to be. The same for the BG. On Clinton, here’s the money quote:

We are convinced that deep down she has liberal instincts. But that’s what’s so infuriating: since the day she won election to the US Senate, Clinton has been triangulating, shaping her positions, especially on foreign policy, in an effort to put her close to the political center. At a time when she could have shown real courage – during the early votes on funding and authorizing the invasion of Iraq – she took the easy way out, siding with President Bush and refusing to be counted with the antiwar movement. She has refused to distance herself from such terrible Bill Clinton-era policies as welfare reform, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and don’t ask, don’t tell. We just can’t see her as the progressive choice.

Prop 91: No

While we merely stated that Prop 91 had no campaign, the good folks at the Bay Guardian were absolutely correct in pointing out the underlying reasons for not supporting any such measures to restrict gas taxes to roads:

Driving a car is expensive for society, and drivers ought to be paying some of those costs. That should mean extra gas taxes and a reinstatement of the vehicle license fee to previous levels (and extra surcharges for those who drive Hummers and other especially wasteful, dangerous vehicles). That money ought to go to the state General Fund so California doesn’t have to close state parks and slash spending on schools and social services, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing.

Prop 92: Yes

Different place, same story as the Calitics endorsement:

Some teachers fear that Prop. 92 could lead to decreased funds for K-12, and that’s a real concern. … But many of the same concerns were voiced when Prop. 98 was on the ballot, and that measure probably saved public education in California. The progressives on the San Francisco Board of Education all support Prop. 92, and so do we. Vote yes.

Prop 93: Yes  (Brian’s Disclosure)

The Bay Guardian diverged in only one place from the Calitics endorsement, and this was it. They, like Mal Burnstein, oppose term limits in general, especially the “Mark Leno versus Carole Migden bloodbath.”

But it’s sad that the California State Legislature, once a model for the nation, has been so stymied by corruption that the voters don’t trust it and the best we can hope for is a modest improvement in a bad law. Vote yes.

Props. 94-97: No

The Calitics Editorial Board view on these is about the same as the Bay Guardians. Not enough money to the state, not enough labor protection, and too much to too few:

The governor cut this deal too fast and gave away too much. If the tribes want to expand their casinos, we’re open to allowing it – but the state, the workers, and the other tribes deserve a bigger share of the revenue. Vote no on 94-97.

Bush Administration “Mistakes were made” hits California

The Bush Administration’s Dept. of Interior “lost” the indian gaming agreements for three months, according to the SD U-T. So, the federal government didn’t even cast more than a cursory glance at them before they were approved by the federal government. I suppose it’s just one more chit in the incompetency jar for the Bush Administration. No worries, you’ll hardly notice it amongst all the others.  In fact, the Department’s Response was pretty much standard Bush operating procedure:

“Somebody made a mistake; we don’t know who,” said Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a branch of Interior. “This is a very busy office. There was a mistake made and we’re moving on.”

So, I guess it’s all over and done with, right? Oh, except the fact that we are left to deal with this POS in California. But, we’ll just move on, no need to fix the problems, or anything like that. Now, I think i’ve heard the phrase “mistakes were made” before, where was that? Ah, yes. Abu Gonzales.  That ended well.

The Calitics Editorial Board February 5, 2008 Endorsements

First, I want to make sure that everybody is clear that these endorsements come from the Calitics Editorial Board, not the community as a whole. The Calitics Editorial Board consists of Brian Leubitzjsw, Julia Rosen, David Dayen, Lucas O'ConnorRobert in Monterey. We would have liked to endorse as a community, but there are tremendous problems with ballot stuffing that this software just can't deal with. That being said, all are welcome to agree, disagree, flame us, whatever, in the comments. I'll give you our endorsements here, and then briefly discuss them over the flip.  An endorsement required 4 of the 6 votes. Furthermore, this post should not be considered of anybody specifically. Rather, it is the voice of the Editorial Board as a whole. So, without further adieu, here they are:

President: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)

Proposition 91, Transportation Funding: No

Proposition 92, Community Colleges: Yes

Proposition 93, Term Limits Reform: Neutral/No Recommendation

Propositions 94-97, Native American Gambling Referenda: No 

Flip it for more.

President: Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)

It was one of those fantastic things this year, we had a multitude of great candidates. You had a real progressive lion in the form of Chris Dodd who stood proudly for the values of the Constitution. You had Joe Biden who presents a coherent place for America in the new global environment. Kucinich, Richardson, Clinton, Gravel also brought much to the table. And, of course Sen. John Edwards was a very attractive candidate. For many of us, it seemed a tough course to reject Sen. Edwards; his message is so powerful. He is willing to stand tall against corporations and the anti-populists of the country.

However, when it comes to today, and given the current standing of the race, Sen. Obama is our choice. His vision of hope has brought countless young and otherwise new voters to the world of politics. In California, where 15-20% of the state makes decisions for the entire state, that is a particularly strong argument. And while some would say that he lacks experience, we ask them to look back over his political career in Illinois and DC. It is genuinely trying to find someone that really knows the man and will speak ill of him. He is an effective messenger for so many progressive causes.

Some also say that he hasn't spoken of specifics enough; we suggest they look to BarackObama.com and review his positions. They are specific enough for us to oppose him on several issues: “clean” coal, marriage equality, and healthcare, just to name a few. He's not perfect. He's not offering Medicare for all, like every other non-Kucinich candidate, and he is unable to leap tall buildings in a single bound, either.  But, he is a tremendous pioneer and agent of progressive change that can get elected this year. And that's a great step forward.

Prop. 91, Transportation Funding: No

This issue was dealt with in Prop 1A in Nov. 2006, but was not removed from the ballot. It has no supporters, and there is no reason to vote for it.

Prop. 92, Community Colleges: Yes

This is a really tough issue for many of us. Ballot box budgeting is a bad concept in general, but occasionally, it's a good thing. While, it doesn't makes budgeting any easier, there are reasons to vote yes sometimes.

Rules such as the 2/3 requirement to pass a new tax mean that the legislature rarely takes action on big matters and we can't move forward on new programs. That's not a knock of any specific legislator, it's a flaw in our system. And, as we've said before, our entire system needs reform. But, today, we must deal with the world as it is. And in this world, our community colleges are flailing, struggling from consistent underfunding. How are we to be a state of innovation if we have no innovators? How can we succeed if the labor pool can't progress beyond high school due to the prohibitive costs associated with college?

We are aware of the opposing talking points that the tuition fees are only a small part of costs associated with college, but the facts show that when fees jumped from $11 to $26/hour, 300,000 students left California's community colleges. Fees matter. So, we support Prop. 92.

Prop 93, Term limits reform: Neutral/No Position (Brian's Disclosure

Prop 93 changes how term limits work, from 6 years in the Assembly and 8 years in the Senate, to 12 years total in either House. We split on this measure, so we remain neutral.

Props 94-97, Native American Gambling Referenda: No

A No vote on these referenda would overturn the compacts. These compacts do not make any guarantees of revenues to the state, although they toss around huge numbers in their ads, $9 B is the normal number. This number is through 2030, the life of the compact, and the Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that on an annual basis, the income will be no more than $200M for the next few years, ranging up to the mid-hundreds of millions at their height.  That is between 0.2% and say, 0.5% or 0.6% of the annual general fund income, which is currently $100B.  Furthermore, if non-gaming tribes do not receive enough revenue, as dictated by the compacts, the state has to dip into its portion of revenues.

Furthermore, there is the issue of the unions. The tribes are not subject to NLRB standards, and these compacts make no assurances that the workers of this casino will have fair opportunity to organize.

A lot of money will be spent on this, and a lot of communities will be ripped apart. Even if one were to disregard Marc Cooper's story about the troubling incidents in the Pechanga tribe, the issues remain in favor of a No vote.

Initiative News

I have a bunch of things that might have been more appropriate for Quick Hits, but rather than flooding the Quick Hits Section, I’ll do it here. So, here we go:

  • Ted Gullickson of the SF Tenants’ Union, along with similar groups from across the state, has started a new blog, Oppose the Landlord Scheme, to, um, oppose the landlord scheme. Go check it out. Ted and the SFTU are always hard at work to protect and further the rights and interests of tenants.
  • You will soon be seeing signature gatherers for, yet another, parental notification measure.  The last two went down, with Prop 85 (45.8% Yes) garnering an even lower share than Prop 73 (47.2%) did before it. Each version has its own slightly different kicker. This one would require doctors to notify the authorities of children who can’t, for whatever reason, tell their parents of the pregnancy. If they don’t, they can be prosecuted.  Can you imagine the consequences of that? Apparently the drafters of the initiative didn’t bother to think about the actual effects of this law from within their bubble (Great Prop 85 ad).
  • The referenda on the Indian Gaming Compacts have qualified. They will be Props 94 (Pechanga), 95 (Morongo), 96 (Sycuan), and 97 (Agua Caliente). There was a little bit of a debate about these during the E-Board in Anaheim. UNITE-HERE is gearing up to fight these.
  • Asm. Chuck DeVore of Orange County has withdrawn his initiative to relax the rules for building nuclear power plants. Shockingly enough, he couldn’t get the signatures. This initiative would have gone down in flames, so I imagine even power companies wouldn’t want to touch it with a ten-foot pole.
  • Bring it on? Oh, it’s Already Been Brought: 2 Tribes Donate a Million against Casinos

    Two Indian tribes, the United Auburn and Pala tribes, are each donating $500K to the union backed initiative to put the compacts on the ballot.  The money is just about as sure an indicator as possible that we will see the tribal compacts on the ballot next year.  From the Bee:

    Attorney Howard Dickstein said the United Auburn Indian Community and the Pala Band of Mission Indians will contribute $500,000 each to a campaign committee — California Indian Tribes for Fair Play — that will support the signature gathering.

    United Auburn operates the Thunder Valley casino near Sacramento — one of the state’s most successful gambling facilities. Pala runs the Pala Casino Spa & Resort in northern San Diego County, a competitor to the tribes seeking casino expansions.
    Representatives for a hotel and casino workers union — UNITE HERE — and the Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows horse racing tracks announced a petition drive July 27 to force a statewide vote on gambling compacts for the tribes. The agreements would allow the wealthy tribes to add up to 3,000 to 5,500 new slot machines each — potentially dwarfing the largest casinos in Las Vegas.(SacBee 8/10/07)

    You see, I understand that the labor movement has been the key catalyst to the development of a strong middle class in the 20th century, and I know they must be vibrant in the 21st if we are to retain any of those gains. And sure, I know that initiatives also make strange bedfellows, so we get this bizarre Krew. Sure, fine. Whatever. However, I would like to see one thing from UNITE-HERE, which is actually one of my favorite unions. I’d like to see them make a hard push to organize some of the tribal casinos that are out there already. Sure, I know the laws are stacked against what is right, but we need to make those efforts, even if they do not succeed.

    As Andy Stern is so often saying, organizing is the key to success. That’s true of this initiative in February as well.