"The Legislature is preparing for a final vote today on lucrative gambling compacts
for five Southern California tribes after the governor signed side agreements aimed at breaking a nearly yearlong stalemate," reports James Sweeney in the Union Tribune.
"Both the Senate and Assembly were preparing for a committee hearing followed by floor votes on the side deals, memorandums of agreement between four of the five tribes and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"The multibillion-dollar compacts could be ratified by the Assembly before the end of the day. The Senate already has approved them.
"The compacts authorize up to 22,500 additional slot machines for Sycuan of El Cajon, Pechanga of Temecula and three other tribes in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
"The side agreements are an attempt to strengthen state oversight, workers compensation, enforcement of family support orders and problem-gambling programs. All were flagged by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez
, D-Los Angeles, as areas where Schwarzenegger pulled back from standards set in previous compacts."
The tribes are poised for a big victory, but the Morongo Band of Mission Indians is still licking its wounds after Jenny Oropeza's loss to Laura Richardson
Capitol Weekly reports, "The race was an odd one for any number of reasons. Oropeza received nearly $500,000 in support from Indian tribes--with the vast majority of that money coming from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. That number eclipsed the total spending of the Richardson and Oropeza campaigns combined.
"Meanwhile, Richardson ran with the backing of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the same group that led the opposition to Richardson's Assembly campaign. The Federation spent $275,000 rallying voters, making phone calls and sending mail to their members urging them to vote for Richardson.
"Labor's backing of Richardson came only after the tribes announced support of Oropeza, despite the fact that Richardson had lobbied Speaker Fabian Núñez
, D-Los Angeles, to author one of the tribal compacts in the Assembly, according to numerous Capitol sources.
"'I'm sure that this is just one of many races where the two will be on opposite sides of the issues
," said Mary Gutierrez
, spokeswoman for the labor federation. "It's to be expected. But these are our members. We have a relationship with them. Nobody can communicate with them the way we can. Though they have all the money in the world, nothing hits home like a fellow workers coming to your door."
Meanwhile, two more tribes that signed a compact in 2005 aren't getting any attention. The Bee's Peter Hecht reports: "The Los Coyotes tribe and a Northern California partner -- the Big Lagoon Rancheria in Humboldt County -- have been trying to persuade lawmakers to approve a deal to allow them to build side-by-side gambling resorts in Barstow
that would total 200 hotel rooms and more than 2,000 slot machines.
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed gambling compacts with both tribes in 2005, hoping to keep Big Lagoon from opening a casino on a pristine coastal estuary while also giving Los Coyotes an economic opportunity in the depressed Mojave Desert town.
"But despite Schwarzenegger's declaration May 31 that he still stands solidly behind this "unique collaboration," the Barstow casino development is getting nowhere in the Legislature -- which must ratify gambling compacts signed by the governor.
"So Kupsch brought her trailer -- an 8-by-13-foot metal hull with a rusted stove and wooden slats for bunk beds -- to the Capitol.
For 2- 1/2 years, without electricity or running water, Kupsch, her husband and three children lived in the trailer on the Los Coyotes reservation."
"Two federal judges charged with forcing changes to California's troubled, overcrowded prisons expressed doubt Wednesday that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would turn the system around, and indicated a willingness to move toward capping the inmate population
," writes the LAT's Nancy Vogel.
"Such a move could push California's correctional system — the biggest in the nation — to overhaul the way it sentences criminals or even, some say, trigger the early release of thousands of inmates.
"In a federal court hearing, lawyers representing prisoners appealed Wednesday to U.S. District Judges Lawrence Karlton
of Sacramento and Thelton Henderson
of San Francisco to impanel a three-jurist court to impose a cap.
"Schwarzenegger administration attorneys told the judges that recent progress on improving medical and mental healthcare for inmates rendered such a drastic move unnecessary."
CW's Malcolm Maclachlan reports on a labor battle that has turned into a Wikipedia war
"An ongoing dispute in organized labor has spilled onto the pages of Wikipedia in recent weeks. Visitors who typed in the name of J.J. Jelincic
, the president of the California State Employees Association, got a relatively normal-sounding short biography--until a couple sentences in.
"Then they were told: 'Today, CSEA simply provides centralized support services to the affiliates such as printing and accounting, and Jelincic can't quite come to terms with the diminished role of his position, so he spends a lot of time facilitating anti-union activities aimed at SEIU Local 1000. Jelincic is frequently quoted by print media, because he really doesn't have much else to do but write letters to the editor.'
"What followed was far nastier and, according to CSEA spokesman Steve Mehlman, untrue and libelous. Even worse, Mehlman said, somebody used his name to do it. Someone registered as 'Stevemehlman' as a Wikipedia contributor and changed both the CSEA and J.J. Jelincic entries multiple times during May and June."
John Howard reports on the lack of scrutiny of budget trailer bills
"They are negotiated privately, with the public absent. Lobbyists are excluded, too. There are no hearings. The bills get their first public airing when they are brought up on the floors of the Senate and Assembly. There, rank-and-file lawmakers typically learn the contents for the first time, although legislative leaders, their top staffs and even the governor's staff know what's in the bills because they negotiated them.
"The Legislature ordered audits Wednesday of two state operations
, the California Highway Patrol and the Board of Chiropractic Examiners, in response to investigations by The Bee," reports John Hill.
"The audit of the CHP will focus on contracting and purchasing. In the case of the chiropractic board, State Auditor Elaine Howle will look into how the board disciplines licensees.
"The CHP audit is narrower than initially proposed by state Sen. Gloria Romero
, D--Los Angeles, and Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia
, R-Cathedral City.
"It will review numerous internal audits and reports by outside agencies on the CHP. It will look into how the department has used state equipment, including aircraft, in the past two years.
"And it will examine contracting and purchasing procedures since 2004."
"A plan to vastly increase state oversight of the produce industry - a response to last year's outbreak of illness from contaminated spinach that killed three people - ran into a brick wall Wednesday when a key legislative committee balked at approving the new regulations
," writes Brandon Bailey in the Merc News.
"Farming groups and legislators from farming districts opposed the package of three bills, saying it would create onerous rules and an unwieldy bureaucracy. They argued that growers have already adopted new guidelines to reduce the risk of outbreaks like the one involving E. coli bacteria that killed three people and sickened more than 200 last year.
"The author of the legislation, Democratic state Sen. Dean Florez
of Bakersfield, warned against letting the farm industry police itself, saying more deaths or illness could result.
"Florez said it's possible that legis lative leaders could revive the bills later. But advocates on both sides of the debate said the Assembly Agriculture Committee's chilly reception Wednesday showed the bills have virtually no chance this year."
"State Sen. Leland Yee
, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, advanced his fight against the California Horse Racing Board Tuesday
, introducing legislation to reform the agency," reports Aaron Kinney in the Oakland Tribune.
"Yee has been harshly critical of the board, which oversees all of California's horse racing venues, since it voted in March not to grant Bay Meadows race track a two-year waiver from installing an expensive synthetic racing surface.
"Senate Bill 863 would prohibit the seven-member board from having more than three members who are licensed thoroughbred owners. Five horse owners currently serve on the board, according to Yee.
"The bill also would require the board to adopt a code of ethics, along with rules preventing conflicts of interest. In a statement, Yee said the board 'has seriously lacked appropriate balance in membership.'"Rudy Giuliani
makes a quick swing through Sacramento today. He'll be making a quick handshake stop at Ambrosia Cafe in Downtown Sacramento at lunchtime today, before heading to Southern California tomrrow for an "endorsement announcement."
And finally, enquiring minds want to know, what is it with this governor weightlifting in fire zones?
During last year's Twin Pines Fire, the gov paused among the rubble to hoist a barbell, as you can see here
. And yesterday, up in South Lake Tahoe, we see this