A brow furrowed over The Eye this month during a fawning U.S. Senate confirmation hearing for Larry EchoHawk, who was voted in as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of Interior.
The Obama choice will oversee tribal bids for new casino land, including pending applications by two Pomo tribes for Vegas-style casinos in the East Bay — at Point Molate in Richmond and a few miles away along Richmond Parkway.
EchoHawk, a Pawnee who also is Mormon — the church opposes gambling — battled tribal gaming as Idaho attorney general in the early '90s. But he also was a tribal lawyer. Curious, The Eye hoped he'd share his views on the thorny debate over so-called "reservation-shopping."
"I do not feel like I know presently all of the details about how Indian gaming operates," EchoHawk told the Indian Affairs Committee. "I understand I will have some responsibilities in that area, but I look forward to working with you ... to get up to speed "...."
Sen. John McCain, who sits on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, cut him off. "With respect, that's not a very good answer, sir. You should know that this is a huge issue," McCain said. "We see ... tribes go into an area that is off-reservation and purchase that land in order to use it for purposes of Indian gaming. ... It happens all over the country. Now I'm sure you must be aware of that situation. Are you?"
"I am of course aware of Indian gaming laws. You know, it's a part of what I teach, but it's something we cover in one day," replied EchoHawk, who until now taught federal Indian law at Brigham Young University.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., the committee chairman, then suggested EchoHawk get schooled on a $26 billion industry and growing. A week later the committee approved him. The full Senate confirmed him Wednesday.
The Eye supposes EchoHawk must be a quick study.
WHEN'S TEE TIME?: Pittsburg City Manager Marc Grisham doesn't like golf, it seems.
When the City Council recently heard a plan to allow Monterey Golf Management Co. to take over city operations of Delta View Golf Course, Grisham said the applicants should describe their other courses "since I just love golf."
After the item was unanimously approved, Mayor Nancy Parent asked in a roundabout way which council members golf. She said she didn't, as did Vice Mayor Sal Evola.
"Well done," Grisham said.
BETWEEN THE LINES: Mayor Parent's State of the City Address last week contained some subtle messages.
Acknowledging staff members and the extra jobs many of them have taken on, Mayor Parent referred to Joe Sbranti as "Assistant City Manager of ... whatever you do now," and Matt Rodriguez as "Deputy City Manager of ... internal whatever."
For the record, Sbranti is the assistant city manager of development services like public works and engineering, while Rodriguez handles external operations as deputy city manager.
Parent also lauded several projects, including the Trans Bay Cable project which would bring power off Pittsburg grid and ship it to San Francisco. Noting the business enterprise could bring in a lot of revenue, Parent added, "Don't tell the governor."
Paul Burgarino and John Simerman contributed to this column.