Useless Tid-bits

Useless Tid-bits

In a former life I led California homeschoolers in the march for freedom. A group of us diligently fought restrictive legislation that affected Homeschooling or homeschoolers in general.

As you can imagine, we gained quite an education on how our system of government works. I know lots of tid-bits of seemingly useless information but useless is an interesting word because surely everything has worth to someone or else it wouldn’t exist, right?

For instance…did you know that…

  • Each legislator has staff members who are paid out of taxpayer dollars to clip all newspaper clippings, magazine articles, articles both online and in print. Can’t they do their own scrap booking on their own time, just like the rest of us?
  • How you communicate with your legislator matters a great deal, to him or her. Your letters, faxes and E-mails are assigned a certain weight. Such as one letter represents a 1,000 other individuals, one-fax represents 100 people and an E-mail represents 10 others.

While sending a letter might be good for the economy, sending a fax wastes almost as much paper. However, if you send an E-mail to your legislator, you should fully expect it to go un-read and unanswered, except of course by those annoying auto responders. Don’t you just hate to get those? That really has a way of making one feel important and respected!

If you ask me it demonstrates their lack of respect for those of us who voted them into office.

When the amount of E-mail gets overwhelming, they get dumped. Erased. Unread. If these legislators can pay someone to clip newspaper clippings by gosh they can pay someone to print off the letters, read them and compile a summary of those documents.

Where do these arrogant people get off accepting pay for work they haven’t done. It is our duty as tax paying citizens to participate in our government. Our legislators need to start doing their jobs or they won’t have them for long.

I highly recommend getting to know your local politicians and policymakers. Make sure when they are passing legislation that affects your family that he or she can’t quite get you out of their mind. They need to know that we are counting on them to do the right thing, not the easy thing and certainly not a decision that is good for their political career but bad for everyone else.

Who knows you might discover your own useless tid-bits of information.

Be a part of the solution, get involved today. I’ll be adding more details here soon.

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”

Parental rights

California – AB 519 – Parental Rights

Under the conditions stipulated by AB 519, this bill allows a child to petition for reinstatement of parental rights in circumstances where the child would otherwise remain a legal orphan. In order to reinstate parental rights, the juvenile court is required under the bill to find that changed circumstances exist such that the child is no longer likely to be adopted and that reinstatement of parental rights is in the child’s best interest.

Excuse me? Let me get this straight. The State of California has terminated a parents rights and then because the child has remained in foster care for a period of three-years and has not been adopted, [read: costing the state money] they are going to find that being reunited with the parents may well be in the best interest of the child?

Now, don’t get me wrong, this could be a great thing for children and parents who are caught in never-never land but let’s think about this a minute.

If after a period of three years, the state can find that it’s in the best interest of the child to be reunited with his or her parents, perhaps that child should never have been removed from those very same parents in the first place.

Can you imagine how hard it will be for this family to come back together and have any meaningful kind of life together? A great deal can change in the space of three years.

While I commend the author (Assemblyman Leno) for trying to provide a remedy for a bad situation, I would encourage legislators to take another giant step in the right direction; by providing more family services, to keep the family unit together from the start and making it more difficult to terminate parental rights in the first place.

Today foster parents receive services and monies that are not available to the parents of these very same children. Why are foster parents eligible for respite care, when the parents of these very same children do not receive these services. It would be far less costly for the state to help a homeless family, find housing and employment than it is to remove the children and pay a foster care worker to feed, house and cloth them.

I am not a strong proponent of big government, but we all know big government is here and not going anywhere, anytime soon. A family deserves every opportunity, every chance we can give them to become a strong support system for each and every child.

I know too many parents personally who have lost everything, fight the state to keep or get their children back from the foster care system. The costs mount up quickly with attorney fees, court fees, mental assessments, therapy sessions and the like, that even if they do win the fight (and most don’t) to reclaim their children, they often have little left to provide the necessities for their children. This is wrong folks and this much change.

I urge you to support this bill but let’s not stop here. We must see changes in child welfare laws and they can’t be passed soon enough.

For complete details See AB 519