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California casino funding questioned

13 July 2007

CALIFORNIA -- As reported by the Press Enterprise: "Hundreds of thousands of dollars set aside to help Inland communities deal with the impacts of Indian casinos went to unrelated projects, such as a rescue ambulance boat and a program for troubled students, according to a state audit released Thursday.

"The Bureau of State Audits faulted local committees, made up of city, county and tribal government officials, which dole out money from a special state-managed pot of gambling dollars meant to address casino impacts such as traffic and crime.

"The committees apparently didn't violate the letter of the law but deviated from its intent in the 2005-06 grants they issued, state Auditor Elaine M. Howle wrote.

"...Under the law, the grants can be used for law enforcement, roads and water supplies, among other projects.

"...In a letter to the state auditor, Riverside County officials said audit staff failed to recognize the links between local uses of the money and casino impacts. For example, money for a school program to help keep at-risk students out of gangs can benefit the casino by reducing gang membership and crime in the area, according to the letter.

"Officials also disagreed with the bureau's conclusion that the county thinks the tribal casino money can be spent on anything..."

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