Buying Silence


West Canada Creek 8648883400_05b7c72b4bwestcanada

West Canada Creek 8648883400_05b7c72b4bwestcanada











     NYS  Legislature should not approve the  pact between NYS and the Oneidas  

     The provisional deal (ref.  6, below) of 16 May between the State and the Oneida Nation of Indians, if not literally vote-buying, is arrant influence-peddling. Dead set on adding   commercial casinos to his legacy for New York, Gov. Cuomo has sold  out the rights of several parties for the contracted silence of the Nation about  his proposed “casino amendment.”  Those  non-ONI parties, historically discordant,  differ on why they object to the pact.   They agree it is a bad deal for everyone except the ONI.  Casino promoters elsewhere could also benefit; so might some residents of the proposed ten-county exclusivity area who sensibly  don’t want another casino close to home but myopically  don’t mind it somewhere else.  

     The county governments of Oneida and Madison Counties have acceded to the pact, under duress.  (ref. 2)  The NYS Legislature, the Attorney General  and the Federal Government must also approve it.  There are good grounds why they should not.

     Opposition to all or some terms of the pact has come from the Cayuga Nation (ref. 5); from traditional Iroquois besides Cayugas (ref. 1); from the Conservative Party of NY; from Republican Assembly Member Claudia Tenney (ref. 3) ; and from the towns of Vernon and Verona.  (ref. 5)  For most of these entities, however,   the implications for expanding predatory gambling are not  the crux of their opposition.   

     To the Coalition Against Gambling in New York (CAGNY), a statewide organization, it is obvious that the  pact was crafted  just to prevent  the ONI  from using its money to fight the “casino amendment,”  some outcomes of which could bring  competition to Turning Stone.  CAGNY totally opposes the proposed amendment.  We thus oppose the ONI pact,  which if ratified at all levels would make passage of the amendment more likely than  if the  ONI were against it.  Our dismay with the pact, however,  is  less that it could smooth the path to more casinos in the state than that it gives further evidence our  Governor will stop at nothing  to gain his ends by any means.    

     To paraphrase  Cornelius Murray,  Esq. , attorney for Verona and Vernon, as he spoke  in a press conference on June 4, “This is not about gambling.  It’s about Constitutional law.”  Mr. Murray’s concerns about the law are detailed in his letter to the NYS Attorney General (link in ref. 5).    This is not a “win-win.”  It’s a “win big-lose big.”

     Read further  for brief summary of the proposed terms of the pact is below and for the listed references.

    The pact signed 16 May  

  • settles challenge by state and the two counties to approval of about 13,000 acres to be placed in trust on application by OIN
  • Counties to withdraw tax proceedings against certain lands which OIN owns and claims are exempt from taxation or foreclosure.
  • State and the two counties agree not to challenge an application by ONI to take into trust another 12,000 acres in the two counties, 8,000 of which are not identified.
  • State would give exclusivity for casino gambling in a ten county zone to ONI
  • ONI to pay to state 25% of revenue from slot machines, a quarter of which would go annually to Oneida County.  ONI to pay $3.5 million annually to Madison County.  In payment for back taxes (calculated by some at hundreds of millions) ONI to pay $2.5 million annually for 19.25 years to Oneida County and make a one-time payment of $11 million to Madison County.  Nothing to Vernon or Verona.
  • Transactions on land held in trust exempt fom state and local taxes.  The ONI to levy comparable tax rates but not  turn money over to state.


1.          Utica Phoenix 20 May Doug George Kanentiio

2.           Syracuse Post Standard 23 May Glenn Coin  

3.  New York Post May 29 2013 Op  Op-ed piece by Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney

4.           Utica  Phoenix 5 June Sam Russo

5.          Syracuse Post Standard 6 June  Glenn Coin

6.             Governor’s office, 15 May

Opinions in this piece are those of the writer, Stephen Q. Shafer, and do not necessarily reflect those of any or all other members of CAGNY.  Permission is hereby granted to distribute or reproduce this post in whole or in part as long as the above permalink is cited.

The photo image is from Flickr Creative Commons

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