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.