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Senate Vote Applauded by Tribe

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Members of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians applauded last week's affirmative vote 23-9 to ratify the tribe's Amended Compact.

"I want to thank the California State Senate for its bipartisan support of Senate Bill 957, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians' 2006 Compact Amendment Ratification," said Richard M. Milanovich, chairman of the tribe. "This vote means that we are one step closer to an agreement that would bring some $1.8 billion for California - more money for our healthcare system, our schools, streets and highways, and other important priorities all while preserving the environment and protecting workers' rights as dearly as we defend the tenets of sovereignty."

The bill now moves to the Assembly for consideration.  "We greatly look forward to discussing the merits of this compact amendment with members of the State Assembly," Milanovich added.

For more information on the Amended Compact and all that it brings to California, please check the Tribe's website, www.GoodDealForCalifornia.com.

PUC Sponsors Free Consumer Utility Bill Fair In San Bernardino

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The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced that it is sponsoring a free utility Bill Information Fair for consumers.Thursday, May 3, 2007, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Victory Resource Center, 990 W. Mill St., San Bernardino.

The PUC's Consumer Services Representatives as well as representatives from AT&T, Cingular (the new AT&T), City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department (invited), Southern California Edison (SCE), Southern California Gas Company (SCG), Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, VerizonWireless, Victory Resource Center, Asian American Resource Center, California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) (invited), San Bernardino County Department on Aging and Adult Services (invited) and the Latino Issues Forum (LIF).

To provide a place where consumers can talk in-person with representatives from electricity and natural gas utilities, the city-run water department, and telecommunications companies and consumer groups about services, rates, cell phone use, billing disputes, payment assistance, or to apply for energy and telecommunications discount services, energy conservation programs, special telecommunications equipment or learn about services for seniors and adults.

Consumers should bring their bills - cell phone, landline telephone, water, or energy bills - with them to the Bill Fair.  If they need assistance programming their cell phones, they should bring them too.

Consumers, who qualify based on their household income levels, will be able to sign up for discount programs for low-income consumers as follows:

  • California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) provides a discount on electricity and natural gas bills.
  • California LifeLine (formerly known as Universal Lifeline Telephone Service), provides a discount on basic telephone service.

Income limits for CARE start at $28,600 for one to two people.  The income limits increase as more household members are added.  California LifeLine income limits start at $21,300 for one to two people and increases as more household members are added (in June these income levels may change).  Please visit the PUC's website for the income limits for CARE (http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/energy/care.htm) and California LifeLine (http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/static/telco/public+programs/ults.htm) enrollment.

At the Bill Fair, consumers can also find out about the energy utilities' Low-Income Energy Efficiency programs, which Southern California Edison calls the Energy Management Assistance Program and Southern California Gas Company calls DAP or the Direct Assistance Program.  These programs provide eligible renters and homeowners with free energy saving home improvement devices that are designed to help consumers lower their energy bills. SCE customers who cannot attend the Bill Information Fair can call l-800-477-6620 or visit www.sce.com  to learn more about the program; SCG customers can call 1-800-331-7593 or visit www.socalgas.com  for information.

Consumers may also find out how to receive assistance in paying their bills, through the various programs and services offered from both the utilities and local community agencies.

The California Telephone Access Program - CTAP - can provide information and take applications for free telecommunications equipment for people with certain disabilities.  CTAP is a nonprofit organization funded through a surcharge on telephone bills.

The San Bernardino Municipal Water Department can answer questions about consumer's bills and discuss water conservation with consumers.

Victory Resource Center and the Asian American Resource Center will be on hand to answer questions about their services.

The San Bernardino County Department on Aging and Adult Services can inform consumers about services for senior and adults that enable them to improve or maintain choice, independence and quality of life. 

Lunch for the first 350 people will be provided by the Mesquite Bar-be-que.  Drawings will be held for door prizes.  Consumers must be present to claim their door prize. A local radio station, La Maquina Musical 100.9 will also be present.

This is the third Bill Information Fair sponsored by the PUC.  Others are planned throughout the state this year.

For more information on the PUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.  Latino Issues Forum (LIF) is a statewide public policy and advocacy institute. For more information on LIF, please visit www.lif.org.

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians donates over $1.3 Million

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By Kris Benz

On Friday April 13th, The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians held their 12th Annual Charitable Donations Event at one of their casinos. There were 99 recipients that shared $1,320,000 this year including the African American Chamber of Commerce Palm Springs.

Richard M. Milanovich, Chairman officiated in front of hundreds of people. The Tribal Council presenters were Jeff Grubbe- Vice Chairman, Moraino Patencio - Secretary/Treasurer, Jeanette Prieto-Dodd - Member, and Vincent Gonzales - Member.

Chairman Richard M. Milanovich with Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians gave out more than $1.2 million to a host of charities, civic organizations, police and fire funds and libraries at the Annual Donations Event last year.

The tribe operates two casinos, a resort hotel and spa, a government office, a planning and engineering department, a golf course, the Indian Canyons Park and a host of health and education programs as well as services for its more than 400 tribal members.

Long before the Federal Government imposed its first environmental requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970, tribal members determined in 1959 that they must provide comprehensive stewardship of the land while carefully managing their real estate resources.

Coming in March 2008 there will be a 15 story, 344-room hotel beside the Agua Caliente Casino which will help upgrade an industrial area near the center of the Coachella Valley.

The tribe has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Palm Springs for public safety concerns associated with its Spa Resort Casino though its compact does not require it. The tribes new hotel construction connected to its casino near Rancho Mirage has prompted work on a new MOU with Riverside County.

In 1975, the U.S, Court of Appeals ruled that county and municipal ordinances may not be applied to Indian trust land, and that the primary authority to control the use and development of Reservation trust land lies with each tribe. Previously, Palm Springs had sought to unilaterally impose its own zoning regulations on tribal land around the City.

Tribal control of the use and development of Reservation trust land could have brought great conflict between the Tribe and Palm Springs. However, this did not happen. Instead, this clarification in the law ushered in a new and ongoing spirit of cooperation between the tribe and City Hall. Tribal and City leaders both recognized the value of cooperative planning and development of Reservation trust land.

Organizations that received monies were the Alzheimer's Association, Cathedral City Boys and Girls Club, Desert Academy of the Arts Foundation, FIND Food Bank Inc., Palm Springs Air Museum, Well Institute Critical Care Medicine and many more.

Anthropologists Tackle Racism in National Race Project

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Yolanda Moses
American views about race result from the misconception that differences between people are based on biological races.

The "RACE: Are We So Different?" project, a national program of the American Anthropological Association, hopes to change that.

"Most people (non-academics) think biological race is real," said Yolanda Moses, UC Riverside professor of anthropology.

"We're saying it's not. Human variation is real. And the social construction of race is real. There is only one biological race, because we are all the same species," said Moses, who also is special assistant to the chancellor for excellence and diversity/vice provost, conflict resolution.

Discussions about the RACE project began when Moses was president of the American Anthropological Association in the mid-1990s.

Those discussions bore fruit in January with the opening of a 5,000-square-foot exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota, the launching of a web site that has been nominated for a Webby Award, and the publication of instructional materials for families, undergraduate courses and K-12 teachers. The project received $1 million from the Ford Foundation and $2.8 million from the National Science Foundation.

The interactive exhibit, which is booked at museums around the country through mid-2011, addresses race and racism from the viewpoints of science, history and lived experience. The lived experience portion illustrates how the institutionalization of racism continues to affect education, health and wealth accumulation among different ancestral groups in this country. The belief in the biological hierarchy of race can still be seen in institutions such as banking, education and real estate, both in the buying of homes and wealth accumulation, Moses said.

"The whole idea behind this project is to change the way Americans talk about race," Moses said. "Our goal is make sure teachers get the information they need to change the way they teach in class, for colleagues and co-workers to be able to talk about race in the workplace, and for parents to be able to talk to their children about a subject that is still taboo in our society."

Human biological variation accounts for the physical differences between people, she said, not race. "This information is widely known in academic communities and among scholars, but we were surprised at how widespread the belief in biological races still is among the focus groups that we talked with, across the country, in preparation for the exhibit and the web site."

Skin color is only one of many markers that define who we are as humans, Moses said.

"Skin color is one of the many markers that we can easily see. There are dozens more that we cannot see (because they operate at the genetic level) or choose not to focus on, that are more important than skin color, for example blood type," she said. "Yet, historically for social, economic and political reasons, skin color became the most important marker that people of influence chose to use to differentiate and to rank us here in the United States."

A national advisory board of 25 experts spent five years developing the traveling exhibit and web site. Moses is the chair of that board and one of eight curators of the project. The team is applying for additional funding to produce compact versions of the exhibit that could be displayed in smaller museums, city halls, libraries and in schools around the nation. She noted that there have been inquiries from Brazil, South Africa and France as well.

"It's important for people to understand why racism continues," Moses said. "This is something we created. It is something we can un-create."

Moses said it will take at least another generation to change attitudes about race, even given this bio-cultural approach.

"We're really concerned about young people," she said of the people who worked on the project with her. "Who's going to inherit this culturally pluralistic democracy of ours? Can people get past their differences and find commonalities? That's what we hope to change. Generation Next, the young people who are in high school today, are the most culturally diverse population in the history of this nation. We owe it to them to give them the tools to take our national conversation about race to another level."

SCE Proposes Providing Energy-Saving Compact Fluorescent Bulbs to 1 Million Low-Income Homes

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Southern California Edison (SCE) will ask state regulators for authorization to provide 1 million low-income households with a complimentary set of six compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) to help families reduce lighting costs.

"Achieving California's groundbreaking greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals will require big, bold energy initiatives and strong partnerships between the state, its utilities, and residential and business customers," said Michael R. Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.  "We look forward to reviewing this creative proposal by Edison for just such a partnership."

"This initiative is part of our company's continuing commitment to industry leadership in promoting customer energy-efficiency, purchasing renewable energy, and supporting the emergence of plug-in hybrid technology," said John E. Bryson, SCE chairman.  "We believe our strategies lead the way for our industry, offering significant promise for reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

If approved, SCE would distribute the CFLs with the help of a broad network of community-based organizations that work with the utility to deliver SCE's energy-efficiency services and promote the utility's low-income energy-discount program.  SCE proposes using these community-based organizations, along with others, to identify families that qualify for the million-home initiative, distributing the new bulbs door to door along with a packet of educational information on other ways homeowners can save energy and money.

SCE will propose that the estimated $22 million cost of this program be funded by an increase in the Public Goods Charge component of customers' rates.  If approved, the program would result in a slight rate increase.

Anticipated program benefits:

- The bulbs require only a third of the electricity used by incandescent bulbs and last 10 times as long;

- An average household receiving the bulbs will save up to $72 per year;

- The program will save California 278 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of generation, enough to power more than 35,000 homes;

- Greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by as much as 155,400 tons, equivalent to taking nearly 30,000 cars off the road; and

- Power demand, the amount of electricity the state needs to generate at any point in time, will be reduced by about 24,400 kilowatts.

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BVN National News Wire