Gaming (and) the System…

So, the truth is, I always thought that what happened to Breonna Taylor on the night she was killed was a horrifying shame but I wouldn’t have called it a crime. I understand why her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, came out shooting when someone smashed their way into the apartment. I’d say, Second Amendment and all, that’s a right and proper use of a weapon, defending one’s home. Too bad he didn’t know he was running – ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ style – into a fusillade of lead. The cops claimed they were looking for Ms. Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. They said he was part of a drug ring and suspected he was hiding drugs at her house. They said they thought they would find him at her house because she was receiving mail for him and they had verified that with a postal inspector. The judge signed off on the warrant on that basis. It should be noted that no drugs were found at the house. I never really understood why the warrant had to executed in that way – in the middle of the night – but the cops had a warrant and cops are allowed to return fire so, as the initial “investigation” conducted by the Kentucky Attorney General concluded, they couldn’t be criminally charged, right?

Well, one of them was. One of the cops on the raid, Brett Hankison, seems to have gone into full-on panic mode, closed his eyes, and just started pulling the trigger, firing 10 rounds blindly, three of them going into the apartment next door. He didn’t hurt anybody but he sure as heck didn’t do anybody any good, either. He got arrested, then fired from his job. “Okay, good,” I thought. It’s one of the rules of gun safety, you’re supposed to know what you’re shooting at. Still, I’ve never expected cops to just stand still and get shot at without returning fire. It can’t be a surprise that someone got killed with so many bullets flying. I DID notice that Mr. Walker, the man defending his home – technically, it was her home – with the legal, properly licensed gun, survived the encounter unharmed while Ms. Taylor, unarmed, did not.

Fortunately, the Feds stepped in. Less good-ole-boy support, yes? It turns out, the detective who acquired the warrant, Joshua Jaynes, lied to the judge to get it. Jaynes never spoke to a postal inspector. Instead, he indicated he had actually spoken to another cop, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who had ALSO not gotten the information from a postal inspector. But Mattingly insists he told Jaynes both before and after the killings that he had no information Glover was receiving packages at Ms. Taylor’s home. So Jaynes, being the “honorable cop” he is, did what any “honorable cop” might do. He got together with another “honorable cop,” Kelly Goodlett, and came up with a new lie to cover the failure of the first lie.

Now four officers have been charged by the Federal government; the liar Jaynes, his co-conspirator, Kelly Goodlett, Mr. Close-your-eyes-and-shoot, officer Hankison, and the cop overseeing the entire operation – who apparently knew the warrant had been fraudulently obtained – Sgt Kyle Meany. They get charged with violating Mr. Taylor’s civil rights, not murder. Well, except Hankison. He’s charged with reckless endangerment.

I’ll tell you this: I’d say they’re getting off easy. They’ll do a few years in a Federal prison then get on with their lives. Breonna Taylor will be dead forever. Because cops can lie…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s kind of tough for me, watching the First Nations fighting amongst themselves about gaming. I fear the infighting will kill the golden goose, you know? After decades of oppression, the First Nations finally got a break when they began using casinos as revenue sources. They controlled the market because they were the only ones allowed to have casinos, aside from local card rooms. This has been the set-up for something like 20+ years but in 2018, the US Supremely Kangaroo Court eliminated the prohibition against sports betting, leaving the question to each state.

Now three companies, Fan Duel, DraftKings, and BetMGM have decided to enter the mix with their online betting apps. The First Nations, predictably, came out against the idea. They started running ads reminding people that gaming in California is their bailiwick and outsiders would harm the tribes. Not to be outdone, Fan Duel and DraftKings started using other tribes to present their message. Their measure, Prop 27, would include a huge buy-in that the companies claim would help alleviate homelessness, mental illness, and poverty in the First Nations. (They hope you won’t notice that such a huge buy-in also tends to eliminate start-up competition…)

See, for practical reasons, not every tribe can have a casino. That makes the online betting offer more attractive to them. The idea that money from the interlopers would help their tribes is very appealing. To my mind, that idea that the money would ever trickle down to those tribes is laughable. I doubt big gaming is trying to come to California in order to help the poor, you know? In fact, experts say gambling is one of the leading causes of homelessness so, really, if they want to help with that problem, shouldn’t they stay away?

This gets confusing, though. See, the First Nations who DO have gaming aren’t allowed certain games, like dice games or roulette. They want those, too. Oh, AND they don’t want competition from the card rooms around the state. There aren’t that many but competition is competition, right? So the First Nation’s initiative, Proposition 26, tries to give the tribes the ability to get the games they want and sue the card rooms while blocking the card rooms from suing the First Nations. Needless to say, the card rooms tried to block the First Nations initiative and then filed their own initiative in an effort to stave off the tribes. As nearly as I can tell, they have yet to qualify for the ballot.

So we have Prop 26 in which the First Nations try to protect and expand their gaming while eliminating local competition and we have Prop 27 in which Fan Duel, et al, get to come in and undermine ALL local gaming. We may get yet another depending upon the card rooms’ ability to acquire the signatures. Both initiatives have First Nations spokespeople out in front claiming their initiative is better than the other initiative, both claiming the other will harm the tribes the most or help the tribes the most, depending, and promising money, money, money to…well, whomever needs it most in the moment.

I’ll tell you this: The image of a tribal spokesperson telling me this is good for the tribes while competing with an image of a tribal spokesperson telling me this is bad for the tribes is just going to be too confusing to too many voters and the First Nations will be the ones to suffer. I’d say let’s just reject all of them. Keep gaming in California the primary responsibility of the tribes while maintaining the local card rooms – and keep big gaming out of California for as long as we can…

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