U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, in town for a drought-related news conference with Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, was asked if her department might bless construction of a casino in Madera despite a statewide vote against it.
This being a fairly parochial matter, Jewell said she was unfamiliar with the particulars.
Her companion being a lawyer, she got a briefing quick.
“I’ll state the case,” Brown said, joining Jewell at the podium. “The case is, we negotiated in good faith and got a compact … and the Legislature voted for it, and the people in a referendum voted ‘No.’ So, the legal question is very simple: What is the authority, and what should the decision be of the Interior Department when a state has not carried through their negotiations all the way in good faith?”
Brown invited Jewell “not to make a legal decision without being fully advised by all your lawyers.”
“Thank you,” said Jewell. “That’s great.”
She went on to give an answer any lawyer would be proud of.
“We have a responsibility to uphold the trust and treaty obligations to our tribes around the country, and occasionally that puts us in a different position than people might take locally or on a statewide basis,” she said. “I don’t know the circumstances here, but that is our obligation.”
Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.