Adam Gray’s awkward amendments

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Meet the Artists... johman@sacbee.com

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A family affair, perhaps. Adam Gray’s latest internet poker bill deals in some and deals out others. Read about the death penalty dilemma, Zika, best-selling author Sam Quinones’ take on high-potency marijuana, the mess that is Sacramento parking, swing-state editorial page assessments of the presidential race, and much more, in The Take.

Take a pass

On Aug. 2, former Rep. Gary Condit, now a Capitol lobbyist, signed on to represent the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, owners of a large casino in Temecula.

Now, Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, has made significant changes to his internet poker legislation, AB 2863, gaining Pechanga’s support but losing several other tribes that had backed Gray’s bill, as detailed first by the Los Angeles Times’ Patrick McGreevy.

Pechanga’s public filing says Condit handles utility and energy issues. Still, it’s all rather awkward; Condit’s daughter, Cadee Condit, and Gray are married.

The bill itself raises bigger issues. The latest iteration would lower the tax rate 10 percent; earlier versions set it at 15 percent. That’s a sweet gift to the moneyed interests that would run the sites, not so much for taxpayers.

Horse racing would skim $57 million annually off the top, before the state gets its cut. That’s another gift to interests. The bill also aces out entities that used to engage in illegal internet poker.

A fundamental question involves California’s ability to monitor internet poker. Gray contends that there would be safeguards. But as we learn regularly, hackers evade firewalls regularly. And it’s not as if the state Department of Justice is especially adept at overseeing existing card rooms. The feds have been forced to step in lately.

You’d think state Attorney General Kamala Harris would be engaged in the discussions over a massive expansion of gambling. Nope. Nor has Gov. Jerry Brown.

We’re sure that none of the above gets discussed when the Gray-Condit clan gathers for Sunday dinners. The talk, we’re sure, is all about utilities and energy.

Take a number: 6,813

The Obama administration announced last week it would end arrangements to house inmates in private prisons. California still has 6,813 inmates in private beds in California and other states, as Foon Rhee explains in the latest Numbers Crunch. Breaking free of private lockups can be hard to do.

Our take

Editorial: Congress needs to get back to work on Zika.

Editorial: Sacramento’s parking is a confusing mess. When Golden 1 Center opens in early October – less than two months from now – chances are it will get even more confusing before it gets better.

Dan Morain: People who vote to end the charade that is California’s death penalty system – I probably will be among them – need to do so with clear eyes. No doubt, many death row inmates received less than perfect trials. But they are on death row for good reason.

Erika D. Smith: Painting a picture of the future of Sacramento.

Sam Quinones, author of “Dream Land”: A question we ought to ask ourselves if legalization is to succeed: What kind of marijuana should we legalize?

Jessica Levinson, among our regular contributors: Donald Trump made a barely coded accusation that minorities would commit voter fraud.

Gerald Haslam, among our regular contributors: We Americans need to continue searching for the best ideas, no matter what their origins, because this nation’s essence is cultural exchange and creativity.

Marcos Breton: What a choice: Ami Bera, a guy who “didn’t know” his dad was laundering money for his campaign against Scott Jones, who refuses to take responsibility for a toxic culture within his Sheriff’s Department.

Elise Torres and Eric Borden: PG&E’s plan to take advantage of the interest in EVs and expand its business to include EV charging stations isn’t about a cleaner, greener future.

Their take

Mercury News: Approve SB 32 by Sen. Fran Pavley. This is no time for the state to abandon its leadership role in controlling the emissions of greenhouse gases.

Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle: Assembly Bill 2492 by Assemblymen Luis Alejo and Eduardo Garcia seeks to expand redevelopment in the worst way.

Miami Herald: A tepid recommendation for Marco Rubio for the GOP nomination in the U.S. Senate race in Florida’s Aug. 30 primary, and a long-shot newcomer for the Democratic slot, Pam Keith.

Dallas Morning News: Halt the execution of Jeff Wood. He is scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas, despite the fact that he never killed anyone. Even prosecutors acknowledge that.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Keeping video from the public only fuels speculation on what it reveals of the fatal shooting of Sylville Smith by police officer Dominique Heaggan.

Takes on that $400 million

L.A. Times: The payment to Iran wasn’t ransom, but it wasn’t a coincidence.

San Diego Union-Tribune: Iran’s actions show it remains fundamentally hostile to the United States. A sign that the White House grasps this reality is badly overdue.

Kansas City Star: President Barack Obama misled Americans about $400 million payment to Iran.

Swing-state takes

Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes: Donald Trump’s accusation of voter fraud in Pennsylvania is offensive.

Detroit News, Michigan, 16: Rather than simply throwing money at students, Hillary Clinton should put together a plan that would smartly invest in private-sector training programs that could help get low-income students on a path to a good, available job.

Charlotte Observer, North Carolina, 15: To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the old Donald Trump’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia, 13: The GOP does indeed have a gigantic problem. But the Republicans opposed to Donald Trump didn’t cause it – they were the ones trying to prevent it.

The Denver Post, Colorado, 9: Donald Trump’s shake-up of his campaign team shows he’s learned nothing. It’s likely a fatal misreading of the electorate.

Las Vegas Sun, Nevada, 6: It’s actually a blessing that Donald Trump doesn’t speak often from a script; his unscripted remarks betray a dark, conspiracy-minded madman who talks fondly of violence and imagines himself sitting in the Oval Office.

Syndicates’ take

Paul Krugman: Obamacare hits a bump.

David Brooks: Is America as great as its athletes?

Kathleen Parker: Finding something nice to say about Donald Trump.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Stuck for something to write about? Editor on your back? That’s not a problem in the Donald Trump era.

Ruben Navarrette: Donald Trump pivots further toward xenophobia.

And finally,

In this 100th year of the national parks, it’s not too late to help celebrate Yosemite. Dorothy Korber tells you why. And Spreck Rosekrans imagines the other Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy.