WIGA News Clips May 5-9, 2006 LOCAL New tax, smoking ban haven‟t hurt cash flow The Olympian 5/9/06 The Cowlitz rebuild their culture, verse by verse The Oregonian 5/8/06 La Center makes case for expansion The Columbian 5/8/06 Tribe wants casino option at track The King County Journal 5/6/06 Angel of the Winds is quiet, friendly The Daily Herald 5/5/06 NATIONAL Ex-aide for Rep. Ney pleads guilty in lobbying scandal The Olympian 5/9/06 Tribal Gaming: Better U.S. control sought Detroit Free Press 5/8/06 LOCAL New tax, smoking ban haven’t hurt cash flow State expects $35 million extra in tax revenue; no spike detected in black market BY BRAD SHANNON THE OLYMPIAN People who thought they knew what would happen when Washington‟s cigarette taxes went up were wrong. Nearly a year after Washington raised its cigarette tax to more than $2 a pack and five months after a tough ban on indoor public smoking took effect, sales of legally taxed smokes appear to be up slightly — failing to decline as industry officials had warned and some state officials expected. Typically, consumers react to tax increases by resorting to the Internet‟s black market, crossing state lines or buying at Indian reservations, or by quitting smoking. With the third-highest cigarette tax in the country, the state always has assumed one in three cigarettes smoked was contraband. But state Department of Revenue figures show the sales of legally taxed cigarettes are up slightly for the first three months this year. The number of legal, state-taxed packs of cigarettes sold was nearly 52.5 million packs, compared with almost 52.4 million in the first three months of 2005. Figures for the past nine months since the tax increases also are up when compared with corresponding months in 2004-05. If the trend continues, the state would collect $438.2 million — or $35 million more than expected — for the first year of higher cigarette taxes. The steady taxable sales have confounded experts with the Revenue Department, who say overall smoking typically declines by a percentage point or two, and a switch to Internet sales or other black markets often accompanies higher tax rates. So with an indoor smoking ban giving more people a reason to quit, everyone expected slower sales of legally taxed cigarettes. “It‟s a „we‟re still not sure what it means‟ kind of thing,” Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow said. There are a couple of theories that might explain why state-taxed sales are firm: One is that tougher enforcement against untaxed Internet sales is cutting into the black market. Another is that tribal tax compacts — which the Squaxin Island, Nisqually and 17 other tribes have entered into — require tribes to collect cigarette taxes at about the same rate as nonreservation sales. “That‟s one of the working theories — that a combination of cigarette compacting with the tribes and tougher enforcement of Internet sales are combining to offset any reduction we would otherwise see,” Gowrylow said. “The tougher enforcement is just a working theory. But nobody knows.” Richard Wells, administrator of the Nisqually tribe near Yelm, said his reservation‟s sales have been level since the state tax increase, which led to his tribe raising its rate of taxation as is spelled out in its compact with the state. “We‟re making more money but we‟re selling about the same,” Wells said. Harbor Wholesale, a Tumwater-based grocery distributor that also affixes state tobacco- tax stamps onto packs of smokes, also is seeing a steady rate of taxable sales. Carton after carton of reopened cigarettes made their way down an assembly line one evening last week, as a crew of three fed in the cartons and an automated machine heated the tax stamps and pasted them onto each pack, pushing the cartons down the assembly line for gluing and resealing. Scott Erickson, CEO and co-president of the company that is one of the few in the state to attach tax stamps, said they typically affix up to $300,000 of stamps each day they fire up the machine. The Department of Health, which uses surveys to track smoking rates, has no evidence that smoking is reversing its steady decline, agency spokesman Tim Church said. Surveys each year show a steady decline in smoking rates from 22.4 percent of the adult population in 1999 to 19.2 percent in 2004, Church said. “In that time we‟ve gone from 20th in the country in smoking rates down to ninth,” Church said. “So we‟re making good progress, and our progress has been ahead of national progress. But we‟re always looking at that because things can change. “We‟re hopeful that the numbers are going to continue to go down in Washington. There‟s no reason to think that is not going to continue,” Church added. The state‟s next smoking survey is due out late this year, probably October. Gov. Chris Gregoire said last week before leaving on a trade mission to New Zealand that she does not think Washington‟s cigarette tax increase was enough to have a big effect on smoking rates. If the state‟s effort to identify and block the black market is the reason for greater-than- expected legal sales, state tobacco enforcement agents with the Washington State Liquor Control Board or tax agents at Revenue have not seen the proof yet. In the weeks after Washington added 60 cents a pack to its tax rate last July, the agency‟s tobacco-enforcement agents saw more Washington vehicles swinging into parking lots of outlets in Oregon, where the per-pack tax is $1.18, and at Idaho‟s Coeur d‟Alene and Stateline outlets, where the tax is 57 cents. This coincided with lower sales in Washington outlets near the borders, said Carter Mitchell and Bob Burdick, spokesmen for the liquor agency. But because of other priorities, the agency has not looked recently at the trend. In early 2005, when Washington lawmakers were considering an 80-cent-a-pack increase in the tobacco tax, a spokeswoman for Philip Morris visited the Capitol to warn that higher taxes could spur the black market. The spokeswoman, Jamie Drogin, also warned that terrorists had been implicated in some illicit cigarette trafficking elsewhere in the country — sending an obvious message that the state could nurture enemies by raising the tax. But lawmakers, backed by Democratic majorities in the Legislature and the fierce anti- tobacco position of Gregoire, brushed aside the warnings. They raised the tax to $2.021/2 per pack, among the highest rates in the country. Last week, Philip Morris USA‟s spokesmen refused to back away from their earlier claims. “We believe that excessive increases can provide an incentive for people to travel to neighboring states where excise taxes are lower,” spokesman Bill Phelps said. He added that only in six of 32 states that raised cigarette taxes in 2003-04 did the states meet or exceed revenue projections. As for Washington, he said, “I‟m going to decline to comment. We feel it‟s too early to do so.” If Internet sales are down, it is the result of efforts of attorneys general nationwide to halt sales via credit card. That is the result of major credit card companies agreeing not to allow card use for cigarettes, forcing purchasers to use checks; other efforts with shippers have curtailed deliveries, Gowrylow said. States also have tried to enforce the federal Jenks Act from 1949, which lets state revenue agencies get lists of customers from out-of-state sellers. Washington was the first state to sue over that, and other states followed, Gowrylow said. Washington revenue agents follow up on the lists. “Essentially,” he said, “the first time we see their name on a list, we send them a letter saying „you owe tax. In the future, if we see your name on a list, we‟ll ding you with penalties.‟ ” Gowrylow said he cannot release names of people who have been sent warning letters. But customers at Olympia-area discount cigarette shops said price is affecting how they shop. David Venegas, a 28-year-old musician, said he bought a machine and now rolls his own cigarettes, paying off his machine with his first batch. “I spend $12.89, and I make at least half a carton,” Venegas said last week, picking up a box of paper tubes and a plastic sack of shredded tobacco at Cigarettes, the discount store near Pacific Avenue and Fones Road. By contrast, a carton of Marlboros was selling at a discount for $46.46, once sales tax was added. Clerk Filicia Root said a rolling machine costs about $30, and she‟s seen more sales of “make-your-own” equipment and materials in her two months at the store. Other stores reported sales are steady since the tax increase. At Picasso Brothers in Lacey, manager Nicole Blocker reported “little or no drop” in cigarette sales, balanced by a surge in cigar sales helped by a cut in the cigar tax rate last year. Brad Shannon is political editor for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-753-1688 or email@example.com. The Cowlitz rebuild their culture, verse by verse Identity - Tribal members better known for casino plans rediscover their songs -- and with them, their history Monday, May 08, 2006 KARA BRIGGS The Oregonian TOLEDO, Wash. -- Forty Cowlitz drummers stand in a circle, beating ancient rhythms on hand drums, singing songs new to their mouths. The sound resonates through an old gymnasium in this south-central Washington town. Lester Green, a song leader from the Makah Tribe, leans toward young and old Cowlitz, coaxing them to sing a song that has found its way home. For the past century and a half, the songs -- Cowlitz tribe members themselves -- have been scattered throughout the Northwest. But now, four years after the tribe won its long- sought bid for federal recognition, the songs -- and the people -- are returning. "Our people are thirsting to be a part of the culture," said Mike Iyall, a Cowlitz tribal council member. Several nights a month, Cowlitz members from throughout the Northwest gather to learn the songs, which were lost to the tribe during the past 150 years, after epidemics plagued the people and government policies suppressed culture and dispersed families. The drum circle focuses on the songs, but tribal elders also tell stories of the Cowlitz history and its complex etiquette that members need to know as they venture deeper into reconnecting. The Cowlitz are proud that their traditions survived without a treaty or a reservation. Through these gatherings, they aim to lay a foundation for growth in future generations. "We're rebuilding culture," said Jess Groll, one of the drum group's founders. For years, public attention has focused on the Cowlitz's controversial bid to build what could become one of the Northwest's biggest resort casinos in La Center, Wash., with backing from the gambling-rich Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut. Yet that focus, said Rudolph Ryser, director of the nonprofit Center for World Indigenous Studies in Olympia, might be overshadowing a deeper movement within the tribe of 3,500. Ryser, who is Cowlitz but whose research is little known to his tribe's government, has spent more than 20 years studying how indigenous communities worldwide recover after epidemics, natural disasters and genocide. He said federal recognition signaled something deeply cultural to the Cowlitz. "It said to everyone: Begin the process of remembering." A culture nearly lost Historically, the Cowlitz, perhaps by virtue of their location along what's now the Interstate 5 corridor from South Puget Sound to the Columbia River, were a trading powerhouse. Some dentalium -- a conical shell that some tribes used as money and decoration -- from the Cowlitz might have traveled as far as the Mohegans, Iyall speculated. But in the past 240 years, the Cowlitz were hit harder than many other tribes by having first contact with diseases from other continents. "Imagine it this way," Ryser said. "You are sitting in a reed house with nine other people. It's like a whole library of knowledge sitting there. Now, arbitrarily wipe out three- quarters of the people." Starting with the first outbreak of malaria in North America in 1740, one epidemic after another came up the trade routes of the 30,000-strong Cowlitz. Each wave of sickness, fur trader journals report, killed three in four Cowlitz. By 1855, when treaties were being made with Northwest tribes, there were a few hundred Cowlitz survivors. "We didn't do as well as the people at ground zero in Hiroshima," Iyall said. "The only question in depopulation is, was it 97 percent, 98 percent or 99 percent?" The Cowlitz lost community roles they would have inherited. As a result, songs were forgotten that in an earlier time, someone would have sung to them until they could remember the words. "People literally had to survive, so they integrated into society to live," Groll said. "Yet there is a calling to culture, a responsibility to keeping it, even when that culture is forbidden." From her earliest memories, Ernie Donovan, an 82-year-old Cowlitz elder, recalls social gatherings that followed tribal council meetings. "There have always been family drums and songs," she said. "After general council meetings, they'd sing, and we'd have potlucks." Minutes from these meetings date back to the early 1900s, when Cowlitz would give their last pennies to help leaders travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby for the tribe. For generations, the Cowlitz, like other Northwest tribes that have fought and still fight for recognition, met and strategized. Then, in 1973, the U.S. government settled the Cowlitz land claim, which became a catalyst for the tribe's final successful push for recognition. It's not surprising, Ryser said, if for the first few years after gaining recognition a tribe focuses on its losses. In time, Ryser said, "People say, 'Wait a minute, we have a responsibility for Mount St. Helens, for Mount Rainier, for sacred sites and longhouse sites.' " In the course of decades and centuries, Ryser said, indigenous nations can regain ground, recover language and build the modern universities and libraries that contain some of the knowledge their ancestors held inside. "You can't look at it in the short term and understand it," Ryser said. "You have to look in the long term to see it move in a consistent direction." Songs pour in For Cowlitz community leaders, the drum group was a first step in gathering people and songs together. They put out a call to related tribes for teachers and to the smokehouse leaders from the Pacific Coast and Puget Sound tribes for songs. Cowlitz songs, Groll said, had migrated to other tribes as Cowlitz married and moved away. In tribes that might not have suffered as many losses, the songs passed down. In March, a man from a Puget Sound tribe arrived to sing his Cowlitz grandmother's songs to the group. There were 10 mourning songs, evidence of the many losses suffered. One night, talking about the power of songs to heal, song leader Green burst out laughing. "We didn't have songs to fight germ warfare," he joked, and his lightness spread through the group. Other songs, happier ones, came from a 1920s recording of Cowlitz singers that the Smithsonian Institution gave the tribe. The contemporary drummers, who are learning to project their singing voices like their ancestors did, are practicing in the hope of making the songs their own again. In time, Groll said, there will be more songs. "I perceive that there will be new songs again," he said. Cowlitz means "seeker of spirit," so there will be people who "receive songs as they find their spirit." For now, Donovan is happy to sway silently while listening to the drums beat again. "Right from the heart," she said, "it makes you feel good." Kara Briggs: 503-294-5936; firstname.lastname@example.org La Center makes case for expansion Monday, May 8, 2006 By JEFFREY MIZE, Columbian staff writer La Center has completed a study of its plans to expand west to Interstate 5, what Mayor Jim Irish calls "the river of commerce." A draft environmental impact statement identifies three alternatives for shaping La Center's future. The preferred option would expand the city's urban growth area by 605 percent, from a modest 336 acres to a robust 2,033 acres. La Center is a small city of 2,100 people spread across 585 acres. The city's proposal envisions a community of almost 10,000 people by 2024. The plan predicts the expansion would create 3,190 jobs and help meet a strong regional demand for industrial and commercial land. "Unlike most other cities, La Center does not have any industrial lands," the study says. "This is largely due to the lack of access to the Interstate 5 interchange, which is a valuable resource for attracting this type of business investment." Officials long have discussed the need to expand west to diversify La Center's economy, which relies on four cardrooms as its biggest taxpayers and employers. Irish said the city's bid to go west hasn't attracted opposition from anyone who believes La Center is trying to grow too much too fast. "In fact, we have had very strong support," he said. "La Center has to go out to the junction in order to secure a good economic development plan." Clark County commissioners will make the final decision on whether to expand the city's urban growth area and, if so, by how much. The county is requiring all cities to submit detailed plans before the end of May on how they would provide sewer, water, roads and other services to their expanded growth areas. For La Center, the biggest unresolved issue is sewer. Clark Public Utilities is turning control of the area sewage plant over to the city. The plant, however, is projected to reach its 560,000-gallon-a-day capacity in two years. The city is looking to double the plant's capacity, at a cost of $18.8 million or $20.8 million, depending on the timing of construction and the pace of development. A pump station and sewer line to serve the expanded area would cost an additional $3.9 million to $4.6 million. Looming over the entire discussion is the Cowlitz Tribe's plans for a $510 million casino- hotel complex along the west side of I-5 at Northwest 319th Street. Having the Cowlitz as a partner would provide La Center with needed cash for sewer and would bolster its case for county commissioners to expand its urban growth area. Mayor Irish and Councilman Bill Birdwell have talked about breaking off the casino issue and treating the tribe as though it were just another landowner needing sewer service. A majority of council members, however, appear opposed to any action that could be construed as even tacit support for the tribe's casino plans. Jeffrey Mize covers La Center city government for The Columbian. Reach him at 360-759-8006, or by e- mail at email@example.com. If you go What: Open house on La Center's proposed expansion plans. When: 4 to 7 p.m. May 16. Where: La Center City Hall, 214 E. Fourth St. Cost: Open house is free. Copies of the city's draft environmental impact statement are available for $20 at city hall. Tribe wants casino option at track Muckleshoots apply for trust land status on Emerald Downs site, but officials say no casino planned now 2006-05-06 by Mike Archbold Journal Reporter The Muckleshoot Tribe wants to turn the Emerald Downs race track property it bought in 2002 into federal trust land for possible development of a casino at the site. The tribe said Thursday it has no plans for a casino on the track property but wants to preserve future options. If granted, trust land status could exempt the 184.3-acre site in north Auburn from property taxes and other local and state regulations. The site includes the track property and an additional 20 acres to the west purchased last year, Auburn collects $750,000 a year in property taxes from the horse racing track that is run by Northwest Racing Associates and has a long-term lease for the property. The tribe filed the letter of application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on April 14, one day before a deadline in an amendment to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that might preclude the tribe from seeking trust land off their reservation for gaming purposes. Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis was more than miffed by the news, not so much by the request itself but because the tribe hadn't contacted the city to talk about the application or explore its ramifications. ``I really thought we had better communications with the tribe,'' Lewis said, adding that finding out about the application Wednesday -- nearly three weeks after the filing -- from the city's Washington, D.C., lobbyist was not pleasant. Tribal and city officials meet on a regular basis to discuss matters of mutual interest. The tribe forwarded an e-mail Thursday to elected officials in the area, including Lewis, about initiating the process for federal trust status. Rob Otsea, senior tribal attorney, said the tribe initiated the process to preserve its ability at some future date to pursue development of Emerald Downs property for gaming purposes. He said there were some 20 tribes nationwide who filed the same request to beat the deadline. The proposed April 15 deadline meant the tribe had to ``speak now or forever hold it peace,'' Otsea said. ``It's preserving the opportunity.'' Process could take years What trust land status would mean for the property is complex, and Otsea said he didn't have any definitive answers. He said the tribe indicated when it bought the track property that it probably would seek federal trust status. He said that is the policy for land purchased by the tribe. Otsea said he has no idea how long the process of transferring tribal owned land into federal trust land might take, because it involves off-reservation gaming. Moving gaming operations off reservations has become a controversial topic throughout the country and has prompted amendments to the federal Indian gaming act. The transfer process, however, could take years. What it all means What federal trust land status means, he said, is that the federal government holds the title to the land for the tribe. ``Having lost a lot of property over the years, it provides an additional measure of safety that it won't get lost again,'' he said. Local zoning and land use laws wouldn't apply to the land. The tribe has turned its 90-acre White River Amphitheatre site into federal trust land as well as a proposed site for a new Muckleshoot tribal school. Ron Crockett, president of Northwest Racing Associates, said he was told of the tribe's intention a couple weeks ago. ``I see nothing sinister about the move at all,'' he said. ``I did know that it was coming.'' Bob Leichner, executive secretary of the Washington Horse Racing Commission which regulates horse racing at Emerald Downs, said Thursday he hadn't heard of the tribe's plans. ``I'm not familiar with the process they go through,'' he said. ``Our concern is about horse racing and we have not received any correspondence from them or anyone who would effect horse racing. ``Outside of that, we have no interest until there is an action before the commission.'' Mayor Lewis said he also had no idea of the process involved and had no clear idea what the tribe's plans are for the track land. ``I do know if it goes into trust land status we would no longer receive property taxes,'' he said. He said there needs to be a lot of discussion before anything takes place. When the tribe became landlord of the track in 2002, there was speculation that the tribe might someday purchase the track. The tribe stepped up last year with more than $1 million to increase purses for winning owners during the regular season. This season they have agreed to maintain purses at record levels. Mike Archbold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 253-872-6647. Angel of the Winds is quiet, friendly Special Sections Department It's been just two years since the Stillaguamish Tribe opened the Angel of the Winds just north of Arlington. The popular casino, known as the “World's Friendliest,” continues to draw more and more people. Its popularity could be because three out of four slot machines at the Angel of the Winds are penny slots. It also could be due to the new promotions the casino runs every month. The prizes are ones people love, including Bose stereos, LCD televisions, and barbecue grills. There are cash drawings too. But, the most likely reason is the atmosphere. Angel of the Winds is located in the country and away from traffic. The friendly, stress- free country pace extends to the customers. There's soft lighting and comfortable, luxurious gaming chairs. Fresh air is circulated throughout the casino every six minutes. There are three plasma TVs to enjoy, and self-service drink stations give the customers a relaxed feeling of being at home. Food and drink service is now available at the machines, too. However, being out in the country doesn't mean Angel of the Winds is skipping a beat where gaming is concerned. There are 60 new progressive slots in addition to all the standard favorites. Four new table games have made their debut too. You can play the hot, new Ultimate Texas Hold'em, Emperor Pai Gow, Boston Stud poker and two-card Joker Poker. There's also three-card poker, or players can enjoy Spanish 21 or Lucky Ladies 21. Roulette and blackjack are just $2 every day and $1 craps are daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Slot machine games include Little Green Men, Cash Cow, 99 Bottles of Beer and many others. Players can earn cash back for playing their favorite games by joining the casino's Totem Club. Membership is free and benefits include special invitations, discounts, monthly giveaways and bonuses. Another reason Angel of the Winds Casino is popular with customers is the food - specifically the 99-cent food specials. All day every day there are four great value choices for less than a dollar. These include a set breakfast or strawberry shortcake, the ever-popular shrimp cocktail, or salmon and chips. It's a great way to save money for more gaming fun and still enjoy good food. If the four specials aren't quite what you're looking for, Katie's Kitchen restaurant also serves full breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features a variety of specials. Sunday through Thursday, from 7: 30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., is a late-night special of a full New York steak dinner for only $8.95. An everyday favorite on the Katie's Kitchen menu is the Prime Rib Dip. It's a casino signature sandwich with thinly sliced prime rib generously stacked on a ciabatta roll. It comes with au jus and horseradish sauce. There is a choice of french fries, coleslaw, or potato salad or chips on the side. The price is just $6.95. Katie's Kitchen also has two outstanding breakfast items that are available all day. Chicken Fried steak and eggs comes with an extra large chicken fried steak smothered in sausage gravy, with eggs made to order, potatoes O'Brien and toast for only $5.95. The prime rib steak and eggs also comes with potatoes O'Brien and toast, and is $6.95. Angel of the Winds Casino is located just north of Arlington and has easy access to the freeway. From I-5, take exit 210, 236th Street east for just over a mile. At the T intersection, bear left onto 35th Avenue and the casino is on the left. It's open 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily. Valet parking and a courtesy cart to and from the parking lot are available, plus the casino is wheelchair accessible. For more information, contact the casino at 360)-474-9740 or visit www.angelofthewinds.com. NATIONAL Ex-aide for Rep. Ney pleads guilty in lobbying scandal „They‟re singing for their supper,‟ lawyer for Ohio Republican says By PETE YOST The Associated Press WASHINGTON — A former top aide to Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty Monday in the Jack Abramoff influence peddling scandal, admitting he conspired to corrupt Ney, his staff and other members of Congress with trips, free tickets, meals, jobs for relatives and fundraising events. The criminal investigation of Abramoff‟s lobbying operation has now claimed Abramoff and three former congressional staffers: Neil Volz on Monday, as well as Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon, who both worked for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R- Texas. Abramoff and the three former congressional aides are now government witnesses whose prison terms depend on how cooperative they are with federal prosecutors in the investigation involving lawmakers, their aides and members of the Bush administration. “They‟re singing for their supper,” Ney lawyer Mark Tuohey said. The lawyer said many of the allegations regarding Ney are incorrect and that “the government has been sold a bill of goods by Mr. Abramoff.” Tuohey said Volz was under “extraordinary pressure” to assist the Justice Department probe. Volz said he engaged in a conspiracy, the intent of which was “to influence members of Congress in violation of the law.” In a nine-page document that focused on Ney‟s conduct, Volz enumerated 16 actions he said his old boss took on behalf of Abramoff clients. During the period, from January 2000 through April 2004, Volz said Abramoff and his lobbyists gave Ney and members of his staff trips to Lake George in New York state, New Orleans, the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., in 2003, and a weeklong golfing retreat to the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland, with a second leg to London. Tuohey said the congressman and his staff paid their own expenses on the trips that were inside the United States and that the congressman is “not really” a golfer. Tuohey said Ney‟s reason for going to Scotland was “because of the official business portion” — a meeting with representatives of the Scottish Parliament and a separate meeting with U.S. military officials. A scheduled meeting with some representatives of the British Parliament did not occur. Ney‟s public filing for Scotland occurred two years after the trip, a delay that Ney‟s legal team said stemmed from papers intended for the House clerk being misfiled or mislaid. Volz, 35, worked for Ney from 1995 until early 2002, when he went to work for Abramoff. According to court papers when he was Ney‟s chief of staff, Volz concealed gifts he got from Abramoff and his associates that were in excess of House limits; and that when he went to work for Abramoff, Volz violated the one-year ban on lobbying his old boss. The court papers did not detail the conduct of other congressmen, but it said that Ney, acting with Volz and others, agreed to: • Sponsor legislation to lift a ban against commercial gambling by the Tigua Indian tribe, an Abramoff client in Texas. • Sign a letter opposing creation of a commission to study Indian gambling. • Assist Abramoff in obtaining government property for Abramoff‟s private school in Maryland. Tribal Gaming: Better U.S. control sought May 8, 2006 BY JENNIFER DIXON U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, has introduced legislation in Washington that would double funding for the National Indian Gaming Commission, the federal agency assigned to monitor some 400 tribal casinos and gambling operations nationwide. They make up a nearly $20-billion-a-year industry. The NIGC's budget is now capped at $12 million -- which is less than the $16 million the Michigan Gaming Control Board spent last year to oversee Detroit's three casinos, all nontribal. Rogers also introduced a bill calling for a 2-year moratorium on any new tribal casinos nationwide. He said the lack of state and federal oversight of Michigan's tribal casinos, combined with the amount of money flowing through, "is trouble waiting to happen if it hasn't happened already." The problem, he said, is that "no one is looking." "I'd like to see, from the federal level at least, better oversight," Rogers said last week. State Rep. Fulton Sheen, R-Plainwell, said he supports the proposed moratorium and believes Congress should re-examine the 1988 law that gave the national gaming commission authority to oversee tribal casinos and allowed tribes to strike state casino deals. Sheen said federal and state officials should have more regulatory power and that people who live near where casinos are proposed should have a bigger say over decisions to build them. For now, Sheen said, the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act benefits only one group -- the tribes. "It allows them to do pretty much what they want, with no oversight," he said. In Lansing, the state auditor general is examining the Michigan Gaming Control Board's performance, said Eric Bush, administrative manager. The auditor general's report will go to the Legislature. To reach Mike Rogers, call 202-225-4872 or go to www.mikerogers.house.gov. To find a member of the Michigan Legislature, go to www.house.mi.gov or www.senate.mi.gov. To contact Gov. Jennifer Granholm or Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, go to www.michigan.gov. Contact JENNIFER DIXON at 313-223-4410 or email@example.com.
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