The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 10, 2010
Check your wallet when governors say 'trust me'

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger regularly tells Californians to "trust me."

Schwarzenegger two years ago promised "hundreds of millions of dollars" for the state budget if only voters would support compacts authorizing massive expansion of four Indian-owned casinos in Southern Califrornia.

Writing in the state's official voter pamphlet, the governor vouched for the deals, saying the compacts he helped negotiate would provide "billions" over the years for police, fire and schools.

Tribes that benefited from the deals dumped $82 million into their winning campaign. Foes led by commercial gambling interests spent $50 million opposing the deals.

Voters approved the deals, as they have repeatedly done when Indian gambling goes before them.

Two years after the vote, we at The Swarm assume that we ought to be able to find out how many "hundreds of millions" have been delivered to California.

We thought it was a timely question now that the Morongo Band of Mission Indians is seeking the right to operate Internet poker with other gambling interests.

Schwarzenegger signed a compact with Morongo and the electorate to ratified that deal as part of the 2008 package.

But there's a rub. The Schwarzenegger-negotiated compacts exempt information that the tribes provide to the state from disclosure under the California Public Records Act. As a result, amounts individual tribes pay to the state is secret.

Ok. But isn't the public at least entitled to know what the overall amount is that the four tribes have paid to the state coffers? Voters were, after all, told in a very public way in California's official voter pamphlet that the deals would deliver "hundreds of millions."

Schwarzenegger's Department of Finance referred Swarm questions to the California Gambling Control Commission. The Gambling Control Commission, which is part of Schwarzenegger's administration, declined The Swarm's request for the information, citing secrecy provisions in the compacts negotiated by Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger says "trust" him. Perhaps. We prefer another governor's suggestion: Trust but verify.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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