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Washington in brief

DeRosier arrives at National Indian Gaming Commission

National Indian Gaming Commission Chairman Phil Hogen hailed the swearing-in of Norm DesRosier at a small gathering of lobbyists and bureaucrats March 15.

DesRosier, a vice-commissioner, joins Hogen and Vice Chairman Chuck Choney at NIGC. His swearing-in gives the commission a full house and a practical hand on casino floors, something Hogen said it has lacked. The clearly elated chairman praised DesRosier's experience with tribes and their casinos, acquired with the San Carlos Apache and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay. ''Hands-on, knows what you do when somebody says, 'I won a jackpot' ... Norm not only knows the business, but he knows the people. He has a strong relationship with the Indian community ... he's come to know the people, respects the tribal system, and with that perspective we here at the National Indian Gaming Commission can only be stronger. We're so glad to have now a full team, and to have Norm on board with us.''

Interior Department Secretary Dirk Kempthorne selected DesRosier for the post and administered the oath of office. He took the occasion to praise tribes for the benefits and opportunities gaming has brought to their citizens, and pledged to improve law enforcement and education in Indian country.

DesRosier, an occasional witness before Congress at hearings on the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, has urged a careful, considered approach to regulatory change. The NIGC is reconsidering a slate of regulatory changes aimed at Class II gaming that had drawn near-unanimous objection from tribes and the prospect of legal action.

DesRosier left a comfortable career in southern California to work in Washington. In brief remarks at the close of the ceremony, he said he was raised to serve a greater good than money and will bring that attitude with him into public service.

Personnel moves enrich Indian policy mix in Washington

After every national election year, personnel moves on Capitol Hill, within the presidential administration and on the lobbyist corridor of K Street absorb the attention of official Washington. New political arrangements bring new priorities, new loyalties and new talents. And sometimes, of course, people just want a change. The resultant moves are charted in several of the ''insider'' political publications that circulate around the nerve centers of national government.

Not so long ago, tracking Indian-specific personnel moves in Washington would have been tedious stuff. But as the Native presence in Washington has grown, so has the post-election migration of Indian-specific talent. Three such moves have taken their time about surfacing after last year's November elections, but their arrival now bodes well for Indian interests in and around Washington.

Loretta Tuell and Michael Anderson, formerly of Monteau and Peebles, have formed AndersonTuell LLP, a wholly Indian-owned law firm and one of the first Washington law firms with an Indian woman as a founding partner. AndersonTuell will focus on federal Indian law, representing the regulatory, legislative and litigation interests of client tribes before Congress, federal agencies and courts. Both Anderson and Tuell have extensive backgrounds at the Interior Department and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Anderson has practiced Indian law in Colorado and Washington, and Tuell has taught it at American University.

John Tahsuda, former staff director to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, has joined DC Navigators as a vice president in the firm's tribal affairs practice. DC Navigators is an issues-management firm that specializes in advocacy and counsel for Indian clients. In addition to his tenure with the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Tahsuda's extensive background includes representing tribal clients in private law practice, serving as general counsel and legislative director for the National Indian Gaming Association and as acting general counsel for the Oneida Indian Nation of New York. He has also found time to teach courses on Indian law, policy and history at Cornell Law School.

Tom Brierton, formerly senior staff to the Resources Committee in the House of Representatives under then-Chairman Richard Pombo, has started Franklin Creek Consulting in Lovettsville, Va., a quick commute south of Washington. Prior to his years with the principal committee of Indian jurisdiction in the House, Brierton learned the ropes on Capitol Hill as a staffer of Rep. Dennis Hastert, long before the Illinois Republican became Speaker of the House. Brierton has also worked as a lobbyist in Washington from years back. His Republican connections are considerable.

Earmark database posting is delayed

The Office of Management and Budget recently delayed the much-anticipated online posting of a database on earmarks in the federal budget. Accounts vary as to why, but speculation abounds in Washington that moves are afoot to rescue the earmarking system.

Though Congress has yet to agree on a definition of earmarks, it has declared a moratorium on them in the 2007 fiscal year. Notwithstanding the complex definitions set forth in an OMB memo, and further complicated by Congress, earmarks are generally held to be those funds inserted by lawmakers into spending measures without debate, often anonymously, and for the benefit of in-state constituents.

But a number of national programs, Native programs among them, have been threatened by the untidy earmark reform process in Congress.

The stated intent of the OMB database is to establish a baseline that will guide a reduction in the number and cost of earmarks, according to The Hill newspaper.