Dino Rossi and the BIAW are attempting to make their manufactroversy over the Spokane tribal gaming compact a key issue in their mean-spirited, racist and dishonest campaign against Gov. Chris Gregoire. So they’re probably not all that pleased with state Attorney General Rob McKenna straying from the script in speaking at a recent conference of the Washington Indian Gaming Association.
In responding to complaints about the attacks, McKenna told tribal leaders:
“It was a negotiation,” McKenna said. “It was conducted strictly in the framework of state and federal law and it produced a compact which was adopted strictly within the requirements of the framework of state and federal law. Period. And if anyone ever questions the process I would be happy to tell them that, to the letter, we believe the law was scrupulously followed.”
He also said the compacts themselves were working well, though the actual policies they advanced are open to debate.
There ya go… the Republican AG calling bullshit on Republican legislative leaders’ bullshit demands to investigate the negotiations. Of course, McKenna has a habit of telling audiences what they want to hear, but he’s absolutely right in stating that the compact negotiations were “conducted strictly in the framework of state and federal law,” a framework, by the way, that our local media clearly doesn’t fully understand. For example…
Republicans in the House and Senate … want to know which tribes, if any, requested that the Governor’s Office step in to strike revenue sharing from the tribal compact and if there were promises of campaign support in exchange for the governor’s actions.
But in exchange for revenue sharing the rejected compact would have provided the Spokanes a tenfold increase in the number of allocated slot machines, along with many other goodies, and if you understand federal law you’d understand that the other tribes would all have had the right to take the same exact terms. Um… do the math. 75% of one thousand is a helluva lot more loot than 100% of one hundred.
And, if you understand federal law you’d also understand that no other tribe would have been obligated to accept the terms of the Spokane compact and its revenue sharing provision, so there would have been zero incentive one way or the other for tribal leaders to kill it.
In fact, this was the deal the tribes wanted, as I’ve explained in cogent (if excruciating) detail here and here. I know this because I personally worked to kill this compact, both in front of and behind the scenes, an effort on which I enjoyed the support of members of the Republican legislative caucus… so if you don’t believe my analysis of the revenue sharing compact and its political reception at the time, perhaps you’ll believe the words of Republican state Rep. Bruce Chandler, the ranking minority member of the State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee, in his own goddamn press release:
“The interests of Washington citizens were not represented in these negotiations,” said Chandler, R-Granger. “Voters have made it clear they don’t want what the governor is giving away. We should not accept expanded gambling activities when they have been overwhelmingly opposed by communities.”
Initiative 892, which failed by a 61 to 39 percent state vote in 2004, would have allowed an expansion of gambling in licensed non-tribal gambling establishments. The measure received even less support in Spokane County where it failed 63 to 37 percent.
The compact released Thursday would allow the Spokane Tribe of Indians to install up to 4,700 cash-operated slot machines — the first to be legalized in the state. It would also be the first to allow no-limit betting on table games. Chandler says the effect would reach beyond Spokane casinos.
“When the governor expands gambling for one tribe, other tribes in Washington are allowed to request that their compacts be amended in the same favorable terms,” said Chandler. “This compact will dramatically expand gambling throughout the state. I’m concerned the governor has not fully considered the significant economic and social implications.”
Yes, that’s right… the Republican caucus openly and vocally opposed the revenue sharing compact at the time… the very same folks who are now demanding that Gov. Gregoire be investigated for rejecting the compact. And reporters continue to grant them more credibility on this issue than they grant me?
So there you have it, the Republican state Attorney General on the record saying the compacts are working well, and were negotiated “strictly in the framework of state and federal law,” while the ranking Republican member of the pertinent House committee is contemporaneously on the record as demanding the governor do exactly what his caucus is now attacking the governor for having done.
If there is a controversy, it is entirely manufactured by Rossi and the BIAW… a con job in which our state media has been regrettably complicit.