Giving away our independence

Reading this story will tell you what we already told you with one very disturbing addition.  We  were reminded that if  by some miracle the tribe get’s its land into trust, and finally achieves “real” sovereignty…. the bill says we would have to give it all up for a commercial casino. And promise not to open a ” sovereignty casino” independent of the state. That LIT sovereignty business is a serious weapon and the state is frightened of it because we are the only northeastern tribe that can pretty much do as it pleases without state permission.  Course we didn’t have the leaders to finalize the last step.

So the bill says the tribe must give up it’s sovereignty to get a casino. Now there’s some question as to whether the state can legally  supersede the federal government and order the tribe to do that…but the idea that we would be so desperate to get a casino ( that cannot guarantee  the members a dime), that we would sign away our independence is disgusting.

The Aquinnah gave up nearly everything to obtain recognition.  Their sovereignty is extremely limited and they must get permission from the state to open a casino.

Our 37 year fight for recognition will be in vain if we go down this road because there is no guarantee that members get any money.

And guess who would seal that deal? Cedric Cromwell.



Developers challenge Indian preference in casino bill

Steve Urbon
August 28, 2011 12:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD — Lawyers for casino developers are objecting to the state’s proposed casino gambling legislation’s preference for Native Americans as an unconstitutional breach of the equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, a special deal based on ethnicity.

KG Urban Enterprises, which is proposing a casino at the abandoned NStar plant on Cannon Street, hired attorney Marsha Sajer to look into the matter. She claims “the states have no power to enact a state law preference for tribes” and that only the federal government can deal with tribes as sovereign nations.

The opinion, a copy of which was given to The Standard-Times by KG Urban, signals that a legal battle lies ahead even if the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick enact by the end of September as expected a compromise bill that would authorize three casinos and one slot parlor statewide.

The bill state carves out a narrow opportunity — only in Bristol and Plymouth counties, plus the Cape and Islands, an area called Region C — for tribes to find land, win a local referendum and negotiate a compact with the governor.

Tribes (likely the Mashpee Wampanoag, who are scouting for land) have only until next July to get all of this done.

The casino developers complain that they are being put at an unfair and illegal disadvantage for the first year, because Regions A and B (Boston and Western Massachusetts) can begin their casino projects almost immediately while in Region C everyone has to wait a year, and could be shut out altogether if a tribe wins a no-bid contract.

In setting such tight deadlines, the state’s top political players heeded the request of several SouthCoast lawmakers and gave Native American tribes very limited preferential treatment in a proposed casino bill, said state Rep. Antonio F,D, Cabral, D-New Bedford.

Casino watcher Clyde Barrow at the UMass Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis said that the Mashpee Wampanoag are virtually certain to make the attempt together with their commercial partner, Genting of Malaysia, the largest casino company in the world.

But even with all that backing, the tribe needs Congress to pass legislation allowing that land to be put into trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, something that has never happened before.

Cabral said that if the new state gaming commission doesn’t think the tribe is on track to get congressional approval by next fall, it will go ahead with casino license auctions in Region C.

John Toohey, an equity partner in KG Urban Enterprises, which proposes a casino resort at the Cannon Street NStar site, was upbeat about the prospects despite the tribal angle. “We’ve always looked for an opportunity to bring some of those jobs and open up the waterfront and clean up what would otherwise be a Superfund site for who knows how long.”

Finally, the tribe, having withdrawn from Fall River after the city reverted to its biotech park project where a casino might have been, continues to shop around in Bristol and Plymouth counties, most recently in Raynham, where discussions with racetrack owners reportedly fizzled.

Barrow said he isn’t concerned that a casino or two elsewhere along with a slot parlor will saturate the market before Southeastern Massachusetts can get into the game.

That is because the state must create a gaming commission, which ultimately would accept bids ($85 million minimum) for a commercial casino. And that will take time.

Barrow said, “It will six months to get the gaming commission up and running, hiring staff and employees. They will probably have to hire 100 people or more.

“Then they’re going to have to lay out a detailed process for submitting a bid. And anyone who wants to bid will have to have a referendum in place as part of a bid application. And there are requirements for public review and 30-day waiting periods. I can’t see them actually awarding a license in less than a year.”

Barrow pointed out that if the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe makes make a deal with the governor, and the land can be put in trust, it will remove the possibility that someday the tribe would assert its rights under the Indian Gaming Rights Act and Massachusetts could have an unwanted fourth casino.

State Rep. Robert Koczera, D-New Bedford, called this the tribe’s “window of opportunity,” and he expects them to use it.

“Cedric Cromwell, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoags, was pretty adamant in conversations with me that the tribe has rights and wants rights to land,” Koczera said. “I believe he needs an act of Congress but Congress won’t act anytime soon.”

The proposed legislation, he said, gives the tribe the fair chance it has been looking for. Otherwise, luck will run out next August.