It was recently printed in this paper (Capitol Weekly, Feb. 23, “Only in
California”) that certain bills were frivolous. In particular, Assembly Bill
1850 was mentioned.
This bill was written in response to the request of my family and the
Atchison family after our two 15 year-old sons were killed after being
ejected from the trunk of a car they were riding in.
Presently, it is a $35 fine to drive with a human in the trunk of a car. AB
1850 written by Dennis Mountjoy, R-Monrovia, would make it a misdemeanor and
subject to a penalty of two points on the driving record. After our children
were killed, we discovered that a great number of teens ride in trunks due
in large part to the provision for new drivers that they can not have any
other minors in the car for the first year of driving.
Obviously, this bill will not bring back Chris or Scott, but it may save
lives or at least get parents and children talking and become aware of just
how dangerous this game is. I have started a nonprofit foundation to honor
my son and to promote responsible driving by teens.
I would like to comment on the response of Deron Marquez, Chairman, San
Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians to Sacramento Attorney Howard
Dickstein’s opinion piece regarding sovereignty.
There are some true statements in Mr. Marquez’s letter. He states that “we
can only succeed as equals” and that we have the “opportunity to create an
era of mutual understanding and respect.” He also states that “without
sovereignty tribes could not operate government gaming on Indian lands.”
This is all true.
He stated that “without sovereignty we would not be Native Americans,” which
is like saying that because I am a citizen of the United States, the genes I
received from my Italian and Russian ancestors do not exist.
I also take issue with his statement about “government gaming.” Casinos are
a business. The purpose of a business is to make money, not run a
government. The developers and investors who finance Indian casinos are not
even Native American most of the time. Often they are foreign. Executives
hired to run the casino and gaming commissions are not Native American most
of the time either and these people have control over how money is spent,
how employees are treated, casino operation policies and just about every
other related business decision. This is not because Native Americans are
intellectually or otherwise deficient, it is because most tribal members
have never run casinos and have no experience.
Mr. Marquez is correct when he talks about equality but his spin is a little
skewed. All businesses can’t succeed if only some of them have to obey state
and federal laws, if only some of them have to provide civil and legal
protection for their employees and if only some are open to lawsuits if they
violate contracts or other agreements. How exactly does giving special
privleges to some businesses create mutual understanding and respect? If my
business sells an Indian casino $100,000.00 of products but the casino
refuses to pay for them after they are delivered and I cannot sue to recover
my money or products, I don’t think I would be feeling respectful or
You are correct Mr. Marquez, when you state that without sovereignty, Native
Americans could not operate gaming facilities. The reason for this is that
most gaming is illegal in most states. Sovereignty has given you the ability
to operate illegal businesses all over the United States. If your definition
of equality includes being able to ignore laws other people must obey, we
must not be looking at the same dictionary.
Old Saybrook, CT