Fred Dickey's excellent account of tribal gaming assumed that Gov. Gray Davis would negotiate new compacts that could deliver cash to the state and ensure more environmentally responsible casinos ("Who's Watching the Casinos?" Feb. 16). A section of the compact empowers the state to initiate negotiations for amending provisions that are meant to control off-site environmental impacts of Indian gaming. Since 2000 these provisions have failed to prevent glaring problems of traffic, crime, fire control, water table drawdown, sewage leaking, etc. But it's dismaying that Davis has ignored the outraged appeals from counties, cities and citizens asking for a shred of justice, and prepares to discuss only how much of the gambling bonanza should go into the state's coffers. Let's hope he changes his focus and protects the public safety at the bargaining table.
Maybe those who are watching the casinos are the same ones who watched as untold atrocities were committed against the Indians. The same people who watched while countless treaties were broken. The same people who sat quietly as long as Indians were left to rot in disease, poverty and famine on the reservations. Now any benefits that Indians are reaping from the casinos are long overdue, well earned and not nearly enough to compensate for centuries of genocide, disease, death, destruction and cultural elimination.