Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
From the Modesto Bee:
Tribes shouldn't get vote power on government land-use panel
Last Updated: August 21, 2006, 03:30:48 AM PDT
A bill to give 16 Southern California tribes the right to join the Southern California Association of Governments as voting members is moving easily through the Legislature. Assembly Bill 2762, by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, was approved 73-0. The Senate voted 33-1 in favor. It has one more procedural vote in the Assembly before it goes to Gov.Schwarzenegger.
When it gets to the governor's desk, this bill should be vetoed.
Tribes love to remind the public that they are sovereign governments. It's true, but they operate like no other government in this state. Nontribal members have no standing with these governments, no rights to vote for tribal leaders or to share in tribal assets. Tribal governments are free to ignore state law and local regulations. And one more thing, they can hand out political contributions. Over the past decade, tribes have become the biggest political contributors in the state. No wonder so many politicians were in favor of this bad legislation.
To allow such governments to vote on a regional body that decides land-use issues is wrong. It would give voting power to organizations most often formed to promote casino development. The tribes are unaccountable to the people who will be affected by their votes. If you don't like their votes, tough. You have no recourse.
It also would give voting power to a governmental entity that regularly makes very large campaign contributions to other members of the regional board on which it will sit.
This bill poses issues similar to one Schwarzenegger vetoed last year. That bill would have allowed the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians to join a joint powers authority in Yolo County. In his veto message, the governor correctly and precisely pointed out the dangers of such arrangements: "Allowing a tribal government that is not subject to all the federal, state and local laws that protect the public to participate in the exercise of public power, particularly off reservation lands, diminishes public accountability and control."
That's also true of AB2762.
Tribes are big players in this state. Certainly tribal governments should be consulted when regional planning decisions are made. The state, cities, counties and special districts should work cooperatively with tribes on regional planning issues. But because they are unelected and unaccountable to the wider public, tribal governments should not serve as voting members on regional governmental bodies.
It looks like it is up to the governor to keep that from happening.
>> Tribes love to remind the public that they are sovereign governments. It's true, but they operate like no other government in this state. <<
Right, because they're theoretically like a national government more than a state government. Hence the concept of Native "nations."
>> Nontribal members have no standing with these governments, no rights to vote for tribal leaders or to share in tribal assets. <<
Which is basically the situation between citizens of one nation or state and citizens of another.
>> Tribal governments are free to ignore state law and local regulations. <<
Maybe, but they're often restricted by federal regulations that have the same effect.
>> It would give voting power to organizations most often formed to promote casino development. <<
No, most tribes were formed hundreds of years ago to promote the health and welfare of their members. Just as they're trying to do now.
Suppose a tribe was formed to pursue gaming, or a tribe pursued gaming, period. Before it could open a casino, it would have to sign a compact with the state. During the process, the state could negotiate whatever regulations it wanted. So it's misleading to imply tribes want to join the Association to manipulate or cheat the public somehow.
>> The tribes are unaccountable to the people who will be affected by their votes. <<
Again, a misleading argument. The whole point of a regional organization is that governments will be voting for action beyond their immediate jurisdiction. For instance, Los Angeles politicians may vote on matters that affect residents of San Diego and vice versa. Does the Association of Governments somehow make Los Angeles politicians accountable to San Diego voters? No. They're still accountable only to their own voters.
The only difference between a city and a tribe in this context is that state laws will affect the city but not necessarily the tribe. But how is this relevant if a city and a tribe vote on regional matters that affect them both? No matter how they vote, the city won't have jurisdiction over the tribe and vice versa. Voting together on regional issues does nothing to increase the tribe's power at the expense of the city's.
The facts about tribal sovereignty
The facts about Indian gaming
"What the writer conventiently leaves out is that heretofore, historically, Natives had no say in government decisions, local or state or Federal, that affected them."
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