Gov names his gaming lawyer to gaming commission

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named one of his office’s Indian gaming compact negotiators to the California Gambling Control Commission today.

Stephanie Shimazu, 37, a Democrat from Sacramento, has been the governor’s deputy legal affairs secretary for three years; last summer she was on the negotiating team that hashed out a controversial compact letting the Palm Springs-based Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians — among California’s wealthiest tribes — build a third casino and add thousands of new slot machines. The Assembly killed that plan in August on a 35-23 vote; the tribe and the Schwarzenegger administration intend to bring an amended compact before the Legislature soon.

The Gambling Control Commission is the regulatory body for California’s card rooms and tribal casinos: it does audits; administers the Revenue Sharing Trust fund that redistributes money from gaming tribes to tribes without casinos; field-tests gaming machines to make sure they’re operating correctly, and so on. If confirmed by the Senate, Shimazu will be paid a $123,897 annual salary.

The governor also Tuesday re-appointed Burks Dean Shelton, 70, a Republican from Fair Oaks, as the commission’s chair at a salary of $127,833. Shelton — a former interim police chief for Woodland and Ripon, and earlier, former Gov. Pete Wilson’s law enforcement liaison — has served on the commission since 2004.

Even with Wednesday’s appointments, the five-member commission remains one member short. State law requires that one member be a certified public accountant with auditing experience; another be an attorney and State Bar member with regulatory law experience; another have a background in law enforcement and criminal investigation; another have at least five years of business experience; and the last be from the public at large.

The already-sitting members are John Cruz, an attorney appointed in 2005, and Alexandra Vuksich, appointed in 2006 after serving as the governor’s appointments secretary. So, at a glance, it looks like we’ve got one too many attorneys, and we’re one CPA short.

Shimazu earlier was staff counsel for the Department of Social Services from 2001 to 2003, and deputy legislative counsel for the California Legislative Counsel’s Office from 1999 to 2001. Earlier yet, she was staff counsel for the Department of Corrections from 1997 to 1999 and a Sacramento deputy city attorney from 1995 to 1997.

UPDATE @ 9:30 p.m. Wednesday: Darrel Ng, a spokesman for the governor, informs me the requirements for the commissioners have changed: The business position is now five years business experience or five years governmental experience, and that’s the slot Shimazu is taking.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.