Perata vs. Nunez: Perata offers olive branch on tribal compacts

Six new tribal gaming compacts are being fast-tracked in the state Senate with the help of Senate Leader Don Perata, a move that takes most of the drama out of Thursday’s expected floor vote on the deals.

Some of Perata’s top lieutenants are carrying the compacts in the Senate, though Perata himself has backed away from earlier signs that he would author one of the compacts himself.

Perata said earlier this year that he might carry the compact for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. But that compact is now being carried by Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch.

Perata spokeswoman Alicia Dlugosh dismissed the authorship issue as insignificant, saying the political status of the compacts is “constantly evolving, constantly changing.”

“He wants to ensure that the compacts as a group move off the Senate floor, and didn’t want to be the lead on any one compact,” says Dlugosh.

The bill that contains the Agua Caliente compact, SB 957, was originally a Perata bill. But under Perata’s name, it was simple a legislative placeholder for the compact. When the compact language was inserted into the bill, the authorship also changed.

Dlugosh said Perata simply introduced his bill as a placeholder, and while he had pledged his full support for the deals, he never promised to author the measure. Perata did tell a reporter back in February that he was going to author the bill, but Dlugosh said that was never definite, and circumstances have changed over the last couple of months.

Last year, Agua Caliente’s compact was approved by the Senate. But unexpectedly strong opposition from labor helped kill the measure on the Assembly floor, laying blame for the deal’s demise at the hand of the speaker.

Last year’s stalemate caused a rift between the two legislative leaders. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez was frustrated that Perata let the compacts out of the Senate and placed them on the speaker’s lap. Perata at the time expressed frustration that members of his caucus were forced to make a tough vote and alienate their labor allies, only to have the deal die in the Assembly.

According to tribal sources, Perata has told them he decided not to author the compact to help deescalate the tensions between himself and Nu

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