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. http://tinyurl.com/m7yb4qp Utica Phoenix 20 May Doug George Kanentiio
2. http://tinyurl.com/qzeudz9 Syracuse Post Standard 23 May Glenn Coin
3. New York Post May 29 2013 Op Op-ed piece by Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney
4. http://tinyurl.com/kmtgu74 Utica Phoenix 5 June Sam Russo
5. http://tinyurl.com/kaw3tw2 Syracuse Post Standard 6 June Glenn Coin
6. http://tinyurl.com/kvx2yjn 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