November 8, 1995 in Nation/World

Tribal Gambling Comes Up A Loser Voters Also Reject Property Rights Referendum, Canceling Law

Lynda V. Mapes The Associated Press Contributed To Staff writer
 

Washington voters resoundingly rejected Tuesday a tribal gambling initiative which would have allowed slot machine gambling on Indian lands.

Voters also turned down Referendum 48, canceling a law passed by the Legislature in the last session that would have required taxpayers to pay property owners for any loss in property value caused by regulations adopted for the public benefit.

The gambling decision was a huge loss for the Spokane Tribe, which had poured more than $833,000 into the Initiative 651 campaign, breaking state records for campaign contributions from a single source.

Buzz Guttierez of the Spokane Tribe was defiant even as the bad news rolled in, promising to continue the fight.

He told somber supporters gathered in a suite at the Westin Hotel here that “the tribes are fighting for their God-given right to take care of their people, do everything the white people do.

“This fight is about tribal sovereignty … Nothing will ever diminish the heart, the belief and the fight that is in us. We were here in the beginning and we will be here in the end. There is no stopping us.”

Now that they’ve lost at the polls, the tribes hope their right to slots will be upheld by the federal courts, Guttierez said.

A suit is pending over the legality of slots now in use on the Spokane reservation.

Doreen Maloney of the Upper Skagit tribe, which spearheaded a nine-tribe coalition against I-651, said the initiative was rejected because voters didn’t trust it.

“Every time you read this thing, it raised more questions than it answered. Voters were smart enough to see that.”

Another opponent, Don Kaufman of the Spokane Boys and Girls Clubs, said the issue is not gone for good. “This didn’t lose because people are afraid of slots. They just didn’t like this initiative.”

The rejection of the property rights referendum was hailed as “a triumph of common sense over dollars and cents” by John Lamson. The head of the No on 48 campaign spoke as a bluegrass band tuned up to kick off a victory celebration at a hip downtown Seattle club.

“This loony law didn’t address problems in a specific and fair way and it utterly favors special interests that poured money into the campaign.”

Big timber, real estate, and home building interests put more than $1 million into the property rights fight. They outspent the No on 48 campaign 2-1.

From Farm Bureau headquarters in Olympia, Dan Wood of Citizens for Property Rights said the campaign was victorious despite losing at the polls.

“We brought the issue of property rights to the public, and even the other side finally admitted there’s a problem that has to be addressed.

“Five years ago this issue wasn’t even on the radar screen.”

In other statewide voting, a ballot measure to all but wipe out gillnet fishing in Washington waters failed, but another to end the governor’s control of the Department of Fish and Wildlife won voter approval.

Initiative 640 would have banned any method of fishing that isn’t capable of sparing the lives of at least 85 percent of unwanted fish that are caught. Both backers and opponents agreed such a ban would virtually eliminate gillnets in Washington waters.

Voters approved Referendum 45, giving the relatively toothless Fish and Wildlife Commission the power to hire and fire the director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, a power held by the governor since 1987. The commission now advises the fish and wildlife chief.

The referendum, which would take effect July 1, 1996, says the governor must try to keep a balance of sports fishermen, commercial fishermen, hunters, private land owners and environmentalists on the commission.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: TURNOUT LOW A snowy morning and a slushy evening discouraged many voters from going to the polls Tuesday. By midafternoon, county Elections Supervisor Tom Wilbur had labeled Spokane County’s voter turnout “dismal” and estimated it would fall below 50 percent. That would make it one of the lightest-attended general elections in the last 25 years, well below the 67 percent turnout in a similar election in 1991.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Lynda V. Mapes Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This sidebar appeared with the story: TURNOUT LOW A snowy morning and a slushy evening discouraged many voters from going to the polls Tuesday. By midafternoon, county Elections Supervisor Tom Wilbur had labeled Spokane County’s voter turnout “dismal” and estimated it would fall below 50 percent. That would make it one of the lightest-attended general elections in the last 25 years, well below the 67 percent turnout in a similar election in 1991.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Lynda V. Mapes Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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