SEPTEMBER 5, 2006 -- PECHANGA INDIAN RESERVATION
Pechanga vows to pursue casino pactsBy: CHRIS BAGLEY - Staff Writer /North County Times
Tribal leaders condemned what they called the influence of a "corrupt" labor union but vowed to continue to push for permission to more than triple the number of gambling machines at their casino just south of Temecula.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians earlier this week signed a compact that would allow the tribe to add as many as 5,500 additional gambling machines to the 2,000 already at the casino. The Pechanga band would be able to put another casino building there or elsewhere on tribal lands.
But the Senate and Assembly's Democratic leaders let the legislative session end Thursday night without a vote on that or a handful of other compacts, saying that Schwarzenegger had introduced them without time for proper review. Republicans accused Democrats of bowing to pressure from labor unions.
Unions including Unite HERE, which represents hotel and restaurant workers, sought to change workers' process for choosing union representation, replacing secret-ballot elections with a system of cards that workers sign and return to organizers.
"The corrupt HERE union has cost Californians billions in new revenue, and millions for the Temecula Valley," Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "We are deeply disappointed by these political games."
Unite HERE Political Director Jack Gribbon didn't return calls seeking comment.
A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, who is running for re-election in a heavily Democratic district, said the Assembly would review the pacts when it reconvenes in January, but stopped short of a commitment to a floor vote.
"We will be able to take some kind of action," spokesman Richard Stapler said.
State Sen. Jim Battin, R-Palm Desert, who is not up for re-election, said he believed Republicans would push for the pacts to be ratified in early January. He said support for the pacts had been broad, that he received pledges from 25 senators to vote for the pacts, but blamed Senate Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, for stifling them.
Battin condemned the card-check system demanded by labor representatives as less rational and less democratic than the secret ballot it would have replaced.
"The result of it is basically a guaranteed union," he said.
The pact would have raised Pechanga's current annual contribution to the state by $13.5 million. The tribe would have also paid the state 15 to 25 percent of the profits from the additional gambling machines ---- more than $100 million a year if all the machines are added ---- and unspecified amounts to Temecula and Riverside County to help cover the costs of roads and public services around the casino.
In the statement released Friday, Macarro pledged to "regroup and chart a course for the next legislative cycle."