Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Editorial: Casino special
Will voters go on a pay-to-play ride?
Bee Editorial Staff
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Sunday, October 27, 2002
It just wouldn't be right if California's most corrupt initiative didn't embrace one of the most corrupting forces in state politics: the flood of Indian gambling money that has poured into campaigns over the last decade. But never fear. On that score, Proposition 51, the developer and special-interest tax grab on the ballot next month, hits the jackpot.
Proposition 51 would divert nearly $1 billion a year of tax money the state now spends on health care, public safety and college education to a hodgepodge of transportation projects spelled out for voters in 28,000 words of fine print. Those projects include dozens that would get funded for no other reason than that a developer or special-interest group that benefits from the project was willing to contribute to get Proposition 51 passed.
Among the most brazen is the proposal to pay out $120 million to fund the capital costs of a new intercity rail service from Los Angeles to — where else? — an Indian gambling casino near Palm Springs.
Before Proposition 51 came along, transportation officials were looking at five possible corridors for more intercity rail in Southern California. But they haven't even finished studying the feasibility of those lines or ranking them by cost-effectiveness.
That didn't matter to the pay-for-play crew at the Planning and Conservation League, the sponsor of Proposition 51. They decided to jump in and fund one of those possibilities, a line to the Indian casino — "two trainsets each consisting of at least five cars and one locomotive," the measure pointedly commands. Never mind finding out which of the possible rail lines would serve the most passengers and bring the biggest return for the taxpayer buck. Never mind if the line to the casino would be a financial drain or if the unfunded operating costs for a train would pull transportation dollars from more worthy uses, as transportation experts say they would.
No, the dollars that ring this train's bell are the $500,000 that the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians was willing to contribute to the Proposition 51 campaign to get taxpayers to fund its casino train.
This casino train will have a whistle that goes "ka'ching" — unless, that is, vigilant voters reject this pairing of gambling money with California's most corrupt initiative.
Lobbying can corrupt the political process, but there's no particular reason Indian lobbying is worse than any other lobbying. The implication of this editorial is that Indians are more evil or morally bankrupt than others. It's an update of the old stereotypes that portray them as savages who lack civilized values.
The facts about Indian gaming
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