Techno Gripe

In with the new and out with the old. Screw the taxpayers in the process. The government continues to have a free-for-all with our money,  expecting our unborn grandchildren to foot the bill.

As an IT content manager, I see government waste first-hand, and to be frank, it pisses me off.   I spend hundreds of wasted hours on my numerous websites,  redirecting links that have been moved or removed  — the vast majority of them are tax-funded government websites.

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to find information on government services? I can only hazard to guess that this is done intentionally, but I simply can’t fathom a reason, other than perhaps  to pay back web designers for campaign contributions. In other-words, you work on my campaign  and if I win you can work for the government creating my new identity.

The problem is these wonderful new website guru’s never bother to clean up the mess they have created by actually redirecting former URLs to the proper location. That would be too easy. Many times, they don’t even bother to archive the old information, often the site is simply dumped and they start over from scratch.

Every election there is a new round of candidates, a new set of paybacks and more wasted tax dollars. Data that is created at public expense belongs to us — you and me. Why isn’t that information being archived and preserved for public consumption? If the data is being stored, is it readily and easy obtained by John Q. Public?

I don’t have a problem with a newly elected official creating and maintaining their new online identity for their position, but IT content managers should create a usable archive of data, along with properly executed redirects. It would make my life much nicer, and provide far better usability and public access. I am so sick of hearing about our trillion dollar budget (Budget, now  that is totally laughable.  The  word budget implies  accountability, the numbers are so huge,  they are all but meaningless.).

The only thing that makes sense is that our elected officials don’t believe any of us will live long enough to have to worry about paying back the money. Only time will tell.

Want to know how your tax dollars are being spent for IT projects? Visit the IT Dashboard.

Casino Gaming

Schwarzenegger Sells California Out to Gambling Casinos

Massive tribal contributions flow into political campaign coffers.

Massive tribal contributions flow into political campaign coffers.

by Kathryn Bowen

Whoever coined the phrase “Ignorance is bliss” must have been talking about the 35 million Californians trusting that their governor and their elected officials are actually doing their job with respect to gambling casinos run by Indian tribes in our state.

“Bliss” is what Governor Schwarzenegger has been selling the public while he sells the State down the river by granting the largest expansion of gambling in history to 5 casino tribes.

In the wake of Californian’s support of Prop 1A, former Governor, Gray Davis, negotiated gambling compacts with Indian Tribes. Millions of voters succumbed to a brilliant marketing campaign that casino tribes invested nearly $100 Million into, equal to a presidential election, to persuade voters to change our State constitution and direct gambling monopolies to Indian tribes. I was one of those voters.

Here’s the bad news.

At this moment, your elected representatives in California are just about to vote on whether to grant 5 casino tribes, consisting of just 1,876 people, the ability to expand willy-nilly despite the impact on our communities, families, children and ultimately the financial future of California.

This is just the beginning; 67 additional tribes with gaming compacts are waiting in the wings and the Governor may not inform the public when renegotiations commence with these tribes.

The reality is the revenue promised for the state through gambling expansion will not materialize. The Governor and his advisors know this and should probably buy a new calculator because they know the expected income is neither measurable or enforceable!

Thousands of emails, letters, phone calls and exhaustive testimony attempting to alert our elected officials of endless issues regarding jurisdiction, regulation, accounting and disastrous social costs have fallen on deaf ears.

Hearing Loss

The reason for the hearing loss? Could it be the massive unregulated tribal contributions flowing into political campaigns of the majority of our elected officials in our State Capitol?

In fact, tribes poured $429,600 into the campaigns of just fifteen assembly members who held an “impartial” hearing on problematic regulatory issues with the compacts and will be key in deciding their fate. How impartial can they really be when taking money from the same tribes that will benefit from their vote? By any definition, this is a profound conflict of interest.

Making matters worse, the Minimum Internal Control Standards (MICS), the only federal regulatory leg left to oversee the integrity of the games and to collect the money, has been eliminated from the compacts.

What does this mean? These so-called compacts are really contracts that will cement a permanent partnership between the State of California and loosely regulated gambling casino tribes for the next 25-years, without the ability of the state to audit and collect the money or to ensure fair gaming for the patrons.

Casino tribes have kicked federal regulators off their land claiming sovereignty. What makes the state think its going to be any more successful especially given the fact there are simply not enough enforcement resources?

Moreover, Schwarzenegger privately brokered 25-year, multibillion dollar deals without so much as an economic study to show how expanded gambling will impact the people of California.

Given the fact that 80% percent of gambling revenue comes from households with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, don’t you think you need a study to show what this spread of gambling is going to do to the state?

What kind of representative government balances its budget on the backs of its poorest and most vulnerable citizens? Even Russia and other countries around the world who believed that gambling actually produced economic vitality have come to their senses and banned or closed most of their casinos due to the economic strain caused their economies.

Once again, our elected officials are going for the quick fix approach to fixing the state’s budget problems instead of assessing the long-term effects of really bad policy.

What does California get? We all get to sit by and watch our regional economy redirect billions in disposable income (taxable sales) into “sovereign tribal governments” who are not bound by the U.S. Constitution, remain outside regulatory laws and pay no taxes on their $23 Billion profits.

This massive federal scandal’s tentacles have found their way into every corner of our government through corrupt campaign finance loopholes. From the White House on down to local county governments who are faced with the dilemma of how to stand up to tribes who exploit their ancestral suffering to bully local governments into giving them what they want.

Wake up California! The gaming tribes’ plight no longer has anything to do with civil rights, justice or historical reparations, but rather with self-indulgent gambling expansion under the guise of self-determination.

About the author:

Kathryn Bowen is an expert and activist on government regarding gambling across the country.

Issues include: tribal expansion, tribal sovereignty, tribal sovereign immunity, political corruption due to unlimited funds from casino tribes both in local and state government, civil rights, equal protection issues communities struggle with due to representative government becoming too reliant on big gambling dollars. Member of the legal subcommittee team involving a lawsuit filed by Preservation of Los Olivos (POLO) and Preservation of Santa Ynez (POSY) against the federal government in 2005. This suit was filed as an appeal to the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to accept privately purchased land by the Santa Ynez Band into federal trust status without proper representation of community interests. Writer/Producer of documentary “Big Gambling Dollars and Politics at Work”

Do the math!

I sure hope that someone in Washington D.C. knows how to operate a calculator.

I just spent a couple of minutes to do the math. According to The World Factbook on the CIA’s website the population of the U.S. was 298,444,215 as of June 2006.

Using those figures President Bush’s $2.9 trillion budget equates to $9,717.06 for every man, woman and child in the country. This is huge. Bush plans to spend an additional 100 billion over and above what has already been spent in Iraq. That equates to $3,733.66 for every single person in Iraq. Yet, they continue to sqabble over our tiny little "tax breaks".

I’m quite certain if I started asking around, every single person in this country could think of a way to spend this money that would improve their quality of life.

While $9,717.06 may not seem like a great deal of money, if you add up the numbers, a family of three accounts for $29,151.18, more than many people earn in an entire year. These numbers are huge. Imagine what you could do with that money. Do you think you could afford a new car? Pay for your own health insurance? Take a vacation?

This money will not only come out of our pockets but our children’s pockets and their children’s pockets. Has anything at all changed in this country because of the war in Iraq? You bet… Each day more and more restrictions are being placed on our freedom, more and more threats are received and our government is stealing more and more of our hard earned dollars. What is wrong with this picture?

Call your congressmen and President Bush, demand that they start taking care of business at home and stop sending our wealth overseas.

Check back tomorrow for more on this suject.