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Editorials from around Colorado

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The Gazette, Colorado Springs, March 14, on replacing outgoing Interior Secretary Gale Norton:Would the last one out of Department of Interior headquarters please turn off the lights? The sudden resignation of Secretary of Interior Gale Norton is part of an exodus of sorts. In less than a year, we’ve also seen the departure of Deputy Secretary Steven Griles, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Rebecca Watson and Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Craig Manson. It almost seems a Washington version of the Agatha Christie novel, “And Then There Were None” – without as much mystery, perhaps.Norton and her team were probably just burned out, after more than four years of drawing fire for trying to bring balance to public lands polices thrown off kilter by the greening Clinton administration. They did the best they could under the circumstances.Rocky Mountain News, Denver, March 13, on the need for reform for Indian gambling:Public alarm over the possibility of a huge Indian casino project plunked down practically next to Denver could be permanently calmed if a bill just introduced in Congress makes its way into law. That would be a relief to most Coloradans, who have repeatedly made clear that they don’t want gambling to be expanded.Chairman Richard Pombo of the House Resources Committee, who introduced HR 4893 last week, says it will close a loophole in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that allows tribes to acquire land off their reservations, typically close to population centers, for the purpose of putting a casino there.Just such a plan, called the Homecoming Project, was floated in 2004 on behalf of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Tribes of Oklahoma, dangling the carrot of settlement of old Indian land claims to 27 million acres in the state. Gov. Bill Owens refused to enter negotiations on the proposal, observing, “Colorado citizens have overwhelmingly rejected the expansion of gaming on seven consecutive ballot measures.”But bad ideas have a way of coming back, especially when there’s potentially a ton of money involved. There are some 400 tribal casinos nationally, and they took in a total of $18.5 billion in 2004.No one expected that Indian gaming would take off the way it did, let alone the extent to which it would start expanding beyond existing reservation lands. Given these changing circumstances, modifications to the Indian gaming act are very much needed.


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