Indian givers

— The long-running dispute between the Barona Indians and their neighbors over pumping water for the tribe’s golf course apparently demanded a recent firsthand inspection by county supervisor Ron Roberts. On February 20, according to recently filed lobbying reports, Roberts was treated to a $120 round of golf at the Barona Creek Golf Club. San Diego city councilman Jim Madaffer didn’t make out as well; on March 13, he settled for a meal worth $10.48 at the Barona Valley Ranch Sage Café. Political guests of the Viejas tribe did a lot better. On February 20, Assemblyman Tony Mendoza chowed down at Sacramento’s Chops steakhouse to the tune of $62.94. On March 10, Democratic state senator Ron Calderon and staffer Rocky Rushing each netted an $87.67 dinner at Sacramento’s posh Spataro Ristorante. On March 6, assembly speaker-elect Karen Bass partook of a $56.47 dinner at the tribe’s Grove Steakhouse, as did her staffer, Marcus McKinney. On March 26, six staffers to Democratic assemblywoman Lori Saldaña lunched together at the Grove for $35.59 each. … Meanwhile, Sempra Energy, which is busy lobbying for a controversial power line that would run smack through the middle of Anza-Borrego state park, isn’t above spreading around a few gastronomical pleasures of its own, including $199.23 in food and beverages at L.A.’s Staples Center on March 30 for Sheila Futch, a staffer to Assemblywoman Wilmer Amina Carter, and a $160.94 ticket, food, and beverage package at Staples for Ricardo Lara, district director for outgoing speaker Fabian Núñez. And Senator Christine Kehoe, powerful chair of the Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, continued her long love affair with Verizon, sitting down at Sacramento’s Mason’s Restaurant on March 12 for a dinner valued at $40 by the big utility.

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Never was quite sure why there is so much state and county politics in local Indian affairs in light of the Indian Commerce Act (article 1, section 8, clause 3), which delegates responsibility to Congress for most economic activity, at least as a regulary agent.

"Indian" was once used by the white man as an all-purpose adjective signifying "bogus" or "false," owing to the supposedly low morals of the red man. Thus you had "Indian summer," false summer late in the year; "Indian corn" and "Indian tea," cheap substitutes for products the original colonists had known back in England; and "Indian giver," someone who gives you something and then takes it back. But of course Europeans were the real Indian givers, repeatedly promising the Indians reservations by treaty and then stealing them back once valuable farmland or minerals were found. The term has thus inadvertently become an acid commentary on the character of its inventors. I think it's poetic.


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