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A perfect example of Sacramento politics and the California State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | June 19, 2013

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To read all CSAC-related articles, dating back to May 2012, CLICK HERE.

Yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown’s office made a last-minute announcement regarding a new appointee to the California State Athletic Commission. The 7-member board had just gotten filled up with new members. Here is a look at the terms of each member:

As we have previously outlined, the appointment of Carvelli was fascinating on a political level. He’s a big-time health care lobbyist in the Capitol who has ponied up a lot of cash to both Republican and Democratic politicians. He’s had to deal a lot with Darrell Steinberg, the Godfather of the state Senate. Steinberg and company have used an invisible hand, both behind the scenes and through the Department of Consumer Affairs, to really screw around with the lowly California State Athletic Commission. Carvelli’s appointment was pure politics.

Dean Grafilo is another shining example of California politics at work with CSAC. Grafilo was a representative of the local SEIU in Sacramento, a former chief of staff to Assemblyman Warren Furutani, a legislative aide to Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, and the associate government relations director for the California Medical Association. In other words, there’s nothing in Grafilo’s background that suggested he had a role on CSAC’s board and yet he got appointed. Why? Because Grafilo was appointed the day before DCA & CADEM tried to oust George Dodd at a public meeting in El Monte, California. Grafilo was sent to El Monte to essentially be a go’fer, a hatchet man to tell the other board members to fire George Dodd. When that didn’t happen, Grafilo stayed busy in other various political projects. The culmination of this has now led Grafilo to become the chief of staff for Assemblyman Rob Bonta, an Oakland Democrat.

It’s men like Grafilo, political lifers, who have been sent to control to influence the Athletic Commission. It’s these kinds of politics that have created a non-stop chaotic atmosphere for CSAC meetings. When there is constant turnover and political meddling by the most powerful forces in Sacramento, it’s impossible to maintain stability.

And rather than helping new Executive Officer Andy Foster out with additional staff members in the front office or even giving the man a FAX line, the front office has to deal with political sharks all the time. The political shark he now has to deal with in place of Dean Grafilo is a mover-and-shaker in California politics.

The Governor’s Office dropped this surprise yesterday:

Leslie Lohse, 58, of Glenn, has been appointed to the California State Athletic Commission. Lohse has been chairwoman of the California Tribal Business Alliance since 2004 and tribal council treasurer and assistant administrator for the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians since 1998. She is a member of the Rolling Hills Clinic Board of Directors and member of Tehama County, Girls Inc. Lohse was chair of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Central California Agency Policy Committee, vice president at the National Congress of American Indians, board member of Northern Valley Indian Health, member of the Bay Delta Public Advisory Committee and served on the National Indian Health Services Budget Committee. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Lohse is a Republican.

The California Tribal Business Alliance is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

If you’re a sports fan, the last name looks familiar to you. That’s because she is the mother of veteran baseball pitcher Kyle Lohse, who’s a very wealthy man to say the least.

Lohse views herself as a player in California’s Indian gaming scene. Lohse and the CTBA are opposed to New Jersey’s new online gambling bill. She’s opposed to online gambling in general and does not believe that tribes should be building casinos off their native soil like some tribes are currently doing. Her politics also put her in an interesting position compared to the Fertittas, who manage several tribal casinos in California and have a ton of lobbyists in the state. It’s the Fertittas who are now pushing their Ultimate Poker site in Nevada and online gambling is becoming a red hot issue in California because the bigger tribes want to get in on the action. Read this Press-Enterprise article about Lohse getting into a feud with scandal-plagued Democrat Rod Wheeler of Inglewood.

Here’s a bio snapshot of Lohse from her tax-exempt group:

Leslie Lohse has served as Tribal Council Treasurer of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians of California since 1998. Over this period, she participated in putting together the Paskenta Band’s purchase of over 2,000 acres in Tehama County, the tribe’s aboriginal territory. She was instrumental in getting this land federal government trust status and then completing the construction of a 70,000 square-foot casino that includes three restaurants. Her tribe has successfully negotiated leasing transactions with private investors that have brought two new hotels and a private hunting club to the tribal lands. In the October 2007 the John Daly signature 18-hole, links style championship course was opened to the public.

Leslie has chaired and sat on numerous committees over the years (US Bureau of Indian Affairs Central California Agency Policy Committee, National Tribal Budget Advisory Committee, Pacific Region Representative; Chairperson; National Congress of American Indians Executive Committee, Vice-President; National Caucus of Native American State Legislators, Tribal Representative; CALFED Bay Delta Advisory Committee, Member; CALFED Environmental Justice Subcommittee, Co-Chairperson; and, California Film Commission, Member) and currently serves on the California Native American Heritage Commission, California International Relations Foundation, and Tehama County Girls, Inc..

Under the careful guidance of the Paskenta Tribal Council, the tribe has been able to secure a Small Business Administration 8A Corporation certification. This has enabled the tribe to broaden its economic development portfolio and secure greater job opportunities for the tribal members. The Tribe has also invested in a renewable energy business, which has teamed with a renowned waste management company, to address the need and desire for green energy and improved waste management practices.

At a tribal forum, held in January 2004, on “Threats To Sovereignty” Leslie spoke of “tribal complacency” and tribes allowing themselves “to be defined by what we do instead of who we are” as contributing factors to the diminishing recognition and understanding of sovereignty. On July 13, 2004, Leslie testified before the US House of Representatives Committee on Resources about her tribe’s concerns with “reservation shopping” and how the practice of such would be an additional attack on sovereignty. At a follow-up field hearing held in Sacramento, California on June 6, 2005, Leslie reiterated her tribe’s concerns. Off-reservation gaming continues to be a concern for Leslie because history has shown that when tribes are either “in the way” or “not it the right place,” they can be mislead or forced to enter areas that can lead to their own and other tribes’ diminished sovereignty.

Understanding the need to work cooperatively, Leslie’s tribe continues to commit funding to meet the needs of the Tehama County government and citizens. Over the past 6 years, the tribe has provided $1.5 million to the County’s general fund, $300,000 to the District Attorney’s Office and $300,000 to the Sheriff’s office. Along with this funding, the tribe has contributed safety equipment to local and state agencies, helped fund local women’s and children’s programs and continues to support many of the local schools and numerous charity groups. Leslie and the other council members know that outreach and cooperation are the keys to a respectful and positive relationship between tribal governments and local and state governments.

These are the kinds of individuals who are now involved in making decision of behalf of the state Assembly the state Senate the Department of Consumer Affairs the Athletic Commissions at meetings. What kinds of decisions? Decisions like what to do about youth Pankration.

Topics: CSAC, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 3 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

3 Responses to “A perfect example of Sacramento politics and the California State Athletic Commission”

  1. RST says:

    I’m glad that you’re keeping track of and documenting this Boss. I feel like the dude from the gods must be crazy trying to glean this political jazz. Just like I’m pretty sure 98% of the population. And very intentionally by design. Thats hardcore wizardry.

    “Van Buren Ross Lemons”

    Thats a world I’ve never had access to.

    “the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians of California ”

    Never heard of that one.But sounds like good work if you can get it. I’m thinking of registering my own tribe, The fighteopinionsies. But thats an uphill battle.

  2. Why is Carveli still on Commission he is termed out. And Frierson has been on commission since 2000.

  3. Just sent you a 2003 letter from Rob Lynch and he said John Frierson was appointed by Assembly. Its not 2006. He is done.


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