Public Comment

Commentary: Kachinga Tribe Wants a Piece of the Action

By Thomas Gangale
Tuesday January 22, 2008

Ciao. I’m Don Tommaso. I’m the capo of the Kachinga Tribe, and I’m makin’ a special appeal to youse, the voters of California. When youse go to the polls on Feb. 5, please vote yes on Propositions 94, 95, 96, and 97. These propositions would approve agreements that four Indian tribes have negotiated with the State of California to triple the number of Indian-run slot machines in some parts of the state. Ka-CHING! 

Naturally, my tribe, which has certain business relationships with the other four, is positioned to get a piece of the action. So, we who discovered America are doin’ business with those who were already here when we discovered it. It’s workin’ out for everybody, and it’s tax-free, sweetheart. Ka-CHING! Of course, bein’ a benevolent and generous people, we Kachingas share our good fortune with our needy relatives in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and elsewhere in the Badabinga nation. So, don’t screw it up for us. 

Sure, these so-called “amended gamin’ compacts” allow California environmental regulations to be circumvented, so youse won’t have any of those long, boring environmental impact reports to look over, it’ll just be a done deal. Easier for you, cheaper for us. This’ll minimize our start-up costs. Ka-CHING! Remember that Indian who used to cry about the litter on the side of the road? Forget about it! There’s gonna be so much traffic in and out of these joints we’re gonna build that youse’ll probably run over the guy without ever seein’ him. And never mind that a lot of the traffic will be poor mooks who can’t afford to spend a weekend in Nevada. 

Oh, and labor law, we can get around that, too, which’ll minimize our operatin’ expenses. Ka-CHING! That’s because these tribes have what they call “sovereign immunity.” Now, normally I don’t do business with guys who have been given immunity by the feds, but in this case, it’s a beautiful setup. 

Believe it or not, the feds are actually in bed with us on this one. The Bush Administration approved the compacts for the big four gamblin’ tribes without a public hearing, which could preempt the state propositions on the February ballot, so maybe your vote won’t even count. How did we pull this off? Sovereign immunity. There are no political contribution limits placed on Indian tribes. It’s legalized bribery. Ka-CHING! You oughta see how they wine and dine both political parties. I tell you, these guys are untouchable, so we deal through them. 

Now, what the four Indian tribes do with their piece of the action, it’s not my concern. Accordin’ to the gamin’ compacts, they’re supposed to give the state government its fair cut. Yeah, well, who knows for sure? Again, sovereign immunity. The state can’t audit the books, and you know these accountants, occasionally they make innocent mistakes. Ka-CHING! What are you gonna do?  

It’s also not my concern that the dozens of other tribes in California are cut out of the deal that these four tribes made with the state. Let the other tribes take care of their own. Another thing California gamblin’ tribes have figured out is that the fewer the people in the tribe, the bigger cut of the gamblin’ profits each of the tribal members gets. Ka-CHING! So, they’ve been doin’ a lot of downsizin’, as they say in the corporate world. They’re disenrollin’ thousands of their own relatives from tribal rolls. It’s nothin’ personal, it’s just business. 

And what a business! Some Indians are havin’ a hard time adjustin’. I heard one woman complained, “I get forty thousand dollars a month and I think it’s wrong.” Ka-CHING! Keep your mouth shut and get used to it. 

So, vote for these gamblin’ compacts, otherwise there’ll be less money goin’ to the Badabinga nation, less environmental degradation, fewer social problems, better labor practices, and maybe even less corruption in Indian tribal governments and in our state government. Who wants any of that? 

Namaste. (That’s Indian talk.) 


Thomas Gangale is the author of From the Primaries to the Polls: How to Repair America’s Broken Presidential Nomination Process, published by Praeger.