By Doug Porter
The following analysis of Proposition 48 represents my opinion. The SD Free Press editorial board may or may not agree with me. For all our articles on the upcoming election, check out our 2014 Progressive Voter’s Guide.
It’s funny how people who normally couldn’t be bothered to pick up a gum wrapper off the sidewalk will become environmental activists when it suits their economic interests. In this instance we have “environmental concerns” being voiced by groups who are themselves exempt from the laws.
With Prop 48 we also have people who have worked hard to give the gambling industry a better image funding ads telling people to be afraid about casinos built in their neighborhood.
California, land of opportunity, where there’s a sucker born every minute.
Prop 48 – Indian Gaming Compacts. Referendum.–
Supporters: Yes on Prop. 48. Voters for Central Valley Jobs & Environment – A Coalition Tribes, Labor Orgs, Busns & Environ Grps Yes on Proposition 48
Opponents: No on Prop. 48 – Keep Vegas Style Casinos Out of Neighborhoods – A Project of Stand Up for California, Stand Up for California, Stop Reservation Shopping
Ballotpedia Guide: The details, in plain English
You Might Not Know: Prop 48 is a “veto referendum.” It aims to overturn Assembly Bill 277, a bill approved by the legislature giving the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe permission to build a casino on lands away from their designated reservation.
A Yes vote upholds the legislature’s decision. A No vote overturns the deal.
My Analysis: In addition to potentially opening the door for other off-reservation casinos in the future, AB 277 exempts construction of this project from the California Environmental Quality Act. (Native lands are generally exempt.) Gov. Brown and a majority in both houses of the legislature support the Yes vote. The Democratic party (there are exceptions, like U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein) and much of organized labor stands behind the Yes vote.
The opposition includes all the Bee Newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Diego Union. The Republican party is not actively involved in this issue.
The tribes in question are situated way off the beaten path and would have virtually no chance of building a casino on currently designated tribal lands. The shuttered La Posta casino near Boulevard in east San Diego County gives testament to the fact that people will only drive so far to gamble.
So the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot tribe struck a deal with Gov. Jerry Brown to build a 2,000-slot machine casino on newly acquired land near Madera, about 38 miles away from its reservation in the Sierra foothills.
What Proposition 48 comes down to is an effort by the tribes that already have casinos (currently grossing $7 billion annually) to stop tribes that don’t from competing with them.
The “Haves” built a nearly $7 million war-chest to keep the “Have-Nots” (with $400,000 in the bank) in their place.
There are lots of arguments being made about casinos popping up in people’s neighborhoods, as if we still lived back in the days when they were considered dens of immorality. Frankly I don’t care where casinos get built as long as they conform with existing community plans and the owners are willing to assist in funding the infrastructure needed to support them. That’s why we have the zoning laws and permitting agencies in local government are important. (Unless they get neutered with “Common Sense” reforms by developers and their Tea Party friends.)
Opening up the casino business to Native American tribes has served to open up opportunities for people who have been marginalized and left with scant resources to support themselves.
Having said that, the five dozen casinos around the state, plus the 90 or so card rooms may be teaching a saturation point. Maybe it’s just me, but I find the even the swanky Vegas operations to be fundamentally depressing. I think their time may be over.
I don’t, however, think the State or a bunch of neo-puritans has any business being involved. It’s “ta-da,” a decision that should be left to the “market”. If people are thrilled by watching old folks drag their oxygen tanks through crowded, noisy rooms, good for them.
I say built the damned casino. But you won’t have any of my business.