Thursday, October 29, 2009


Officer beaten at tribal burial grounds
Norwich Bulletin
Posted Oct 29, 2009 @ 12:04 AM
Last update Oct 29, 2009 @ 08:38 AM

A Mashantucket tribal police officer was attacked and beaten Wednesday night by a man at the tribe’s burial grounds on Fanning Road in Ledyard.

State police and officers from the Ledyard Police Department responded to the scene about 6:45 p.m. after tribal police told them they had lost contact with the officer after assistance was requested, according to a press release from state police.

Police described the attacker as being either Asian or Hispanic, about 5-feet, 7-inches tall, and wearing a hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

The identify of the officer is being withheld pending further investigation.

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call state police at (860) 848-6565, ext. 5036.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Could this happen to a Mohegan Tribal Police Officer or the Mohegan Tribal Security at a burial ground or some other place on the Mohegan reservation? Are these a sign of the times? What do you think?


Study: Most Mass. gamblers use Conn. casinos
By Brian Hallenbeck

The Day
Published 10/29/2009 12:00 AMUpdated 10/29/2009 02:19 AM0

Massachusetts residents made more than 6 million visits to the Connecticut casinos in 2008, as well as about 1 million visits to slot parlors in Lincoln and Newport, R.I., and less than 10,000 visits to Maine's Hollywood Slots, according to the survey conducted by the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

It is the exodus of gamblers to out-of-state facilities that some Massachusetts lawmakers hope to stem by approving casino gambling. The legislature's Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies is holding the first public hearing today on 16 gambling bills now before the legislature. The session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the State House in Boston.

The survey released this week, titled "Playing the Odds II," was based on interviews with 3,981 New Englanders. It shows that the average "slot machine patron" at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun is a woman, 40 or older, with a high school diploma or associate's degree and an annual family income between $25,000 and $75,000. A secondary group of slot players consists of males with the same demographic profile.

"Both groups willingly travel 60 minutes or more - bypassing Rhode Island's slots parlors - to take advantage of additional gaming options, such as table games, nongaming and entertainment amenities, and because of the more appealing general atmosphere and physical attractiveness of a resort casino," the Center for Policy Analysis said in a press release announcing the survey results.

Bay Staters showed an overwhelming preference for Connecticut's resort casinos, the survey found, with 86 percent of their total gaming visitations dedicated exclusively to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

About three-quarters of the New Englanders who visited Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun reported that they did not visit the Rhode Island slot parlors - Twin River in Lincoln and Newport Grand in Newport - though most residents live closer to those facilities.

More than 1.1 million Massachusetts residents 21 and older visited Foxwoods an average of 3.3 times each, accounting for more than 3.7 million visits, according to the survey. More than 850,000 Bay Staters of legal age visited Mohegan Sun an average of 2.7 times, accounting for nearly 2.3 million visits. Nearly a quarter of Massachusetts' adult residents visited Foxwoods, while nearly a fifth visited Mohegan Sun.

Fifteen percent of those who visited Foxwoods and 22 percent of those who visited Mohegan Sun indicated they did not gamble at the casinos but instead spent money on nongaming amenities, including lodging, dining, shopping, concerts and entertainment, golf and spas

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: What percentage of total income at the Mohegan Sun is generated from the "Bay State"? Is it worth building a new casino in Palmer, for a state that had 2.3 million (2,300,000) visitors from that state? Twenty two percent (22%) didn't gamble at all. How is spending between eleven and twelve percent (11% to 12%) in interest to build a $500 million to $1 Billion ($500,000,000.00 to $1,000,000,000.00) casino worth doing? Didn't the Mohegan Sun just pay that interest rate on borrowing $200 Million ($200,000,000.00)? At ll% to 12% interest how could Palmer ever be profitable? Is it another, Pocono Downs? Is it a worse deal than Pocono Downs? We need to tell our officials (the MTGA, the Mohegan Tribal Council) we don't want Palmer. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Mohegan Sun promotes casino in Mass.

Associated Press Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Mohegan Sun promised thousands of new jobs if it's proposed casino for western Massachusetts is approved, but residents gave the idea mixed reviews over whether it would rejuvenate the area or harm its small town charm.

As Massachusetts lawmakers weigh whether to legalize new forms of gambling, Mohegan Sun held the first of a series of forums Tuesday to promote its proposed casino in Palmer. Mohegan officials showed a video reminding residents of the region's manufacturing heyday and the subsequent loss of major employers.

"This project will not end up in western Massachusetts, folks, unless it has regional support," said Paul Brody, vice president of development for Mohegan Sun.

The project would include 3,000 slot machines, table games and poker, a 600-room hotel and spa, stores and restaurants.

Mohegan Sun, which operates one of two casinos in Connecticut, says the Palmer casino would create about 1,000 construction jobs and 2,500 to 3,000 permanent jobs, generate tax revenue and help tourism.

Angela Miguel, a 32-year-old Palmer resident who works in mall security, said she worries about the traffic impact in a town that still has horse carriage rides. She also expressed concerns that outsiders would take advantage of the small town.

"I think there is going to be a lot of problems with it," Miguel said. "Some people don't even lock their doors still."

But Miguel acknowledged the new jobs and expressed support with reservations.

Norberto Garcia, a 53-year-old police officer in Springfield, had no reservations. He cited the new jobs.

"I'm 100 percent for it," Garcia said.

Bruce Stanforth, a 48-year-old Amherst resident who is a portfolio manager, said he goes to the Connecticut casinos.

"That is tax revenue and business revenue going to a different state that really should be here in Massachusetts," Stanforth said.

Stanforth said he has watched a slow but steady decline of Springfield and other cities in the region. He said he would prefer high tech jobs, but believes a casino could help the area.

Emmaladd Shepherd, co-president of Quaboag Valley Against Casinos, said the Palmer project would hurt local businesses and lead to more problem gambling. She said casinos make 90 percent of their profits off 10 percent of gamblers.

"The money they will be making will be on the backs of our neighbors," Shepherd said.

Shepherd said there is a need for an unbiased study of the effects of casinos.

But Brody said only 1 to 2 percent of the population are problem gamblers. He said Mohegan Sun is a large contributor to treatment programs and provides information on every slot machine to help those with gambling problems.

The first major casino hearing of the legislative session is planned Thursday.

The town of Palmer has considered the casino idea before. Voters approved a nonbinding referendum in the 1990s that called for a casino there.

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Copyright 2008 Associated Press

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Foxwoods Receives Reprieve on Debt

The Hartford Courant

6:03 p.m. EDT, October 26, 2009

The deeply indebted owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino said Monday that they have reached a deal with creditors that appears to offer some temporary relief.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council issued a statement saying that it "has entered into a forbearance agreement with its senior lenders" that extends through Jan. 20.

The Tribe did not say how much debt the forbearance applies to or offer any other terms, and said it would not comment further until discussions with creditors are finished.

The tribe, which does not publicly disclose its finances, has reportedly been trying to renegotiate more than $2.3 billion of debt, a situation that has led credit rating agencies to downgrade the tribe's creditworthiness.

In its statement, the tribe said it "remains committed to working with its lenders to reach consensual resolutions."

Last month the Pequots placed Michael Thomas, Chair of the Tribal Council, on administrative leave "pending the outcome of an internal review." Citing a memo from the six other council members to Thomas, The New London Day has reported the council ousted Thomas because he issued a letter Aug. 19 to the tribal membership in which he described his own plan and stated his own opinions about the financial crisis.

Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, which opened with a hiring spree in May 2008, employ a combined 9,000, down from 11,000 last October. The recession has hurt revenues at both Foxwoods and its nearby rival, Mohegan Sun.
Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant


2 arrested on counterfeiting charges at Mohegan Sun
Norwich Bulletin
Posted Oct 25, 2009 @ 07:20 PM

Mohegan, Conn. — Two men were arrested Sunday at Mohegan Sun after they paid for a meal with what police believe was counterfeit money, police said.

Alexander Pignataro, 21, of 64 Cross Road, Waterford, and Constaninos Belezos, 20, of 98 Greenhill Road, Westwood, Mass., were at the Birches Bar & Grill at about 4:40 a.m. when they left two $20 bills as payment for food, police said.

“It was discovered that both bills had the same serial numbers and appeared to be counterfeit,” a police news release said. The men were traced back to the casino hotel and arrested.

Both are charged with first degree forgery, sixth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny and sixth-degree larceny. They are scheduled to appear Nov. 12 in Norwich Superior Court.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Tribal stipends under scrutiny
By Brian Hallenbeck

The Day

Published 10/25/2009 12:00 AMUpdated 10/25/2009 01:56 AM0
COMMENTS ( 9 ) Lenders interested in distribution of revenues

Times were flush when the Mohegans sought the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs' approval of the tribe's plan for distributing gaming revenues.

After ensuring that the plan provided adequate funding for tribal government and economic development, among other things, the deputy commissioner of Indian Affairs signed off on the plan on July 16, 2001. It calls for 40 to 50 percent of the tribe's net gaming revenues from Mohegan Sun to be distributed to the tribe's adult members on a quarterly basis.

More recently, on Jan. 4, 2008, the office of the secretary of the Department of the Interior approved a Gaming Revenue Allocation Plan submitted by the Mashantucket Pequots. Under the plan, up to 30 percent of the net gaming revenues generated by Foxwoods Resort Casino (including MGM Grand at Foxwoods, which opened in May 2008) are to be distributed to tribal adults "to help advance their personal health, safety and welfare."

The plans, which the BIA requires of tribes that choose to make so-called per capita payments to members, have come under scrutiny in recent weeks, particularly in the case of the Mashantucket Pequots, who are seeking to restructure a debt load of more than $2 billion. Gaming industry analysts and the Mashantuckets' creditors are more interested than ever in how the tribe distributes its gaming revenue.

The creditors were alarmed in late August when Mashantucket Chairman Michael Thomas, addressing tribal members about the "dire financial times" facing the tribe, vowed to protect funding for tribal government and per capita "incentive" payments from further cuts. The pledge, which many within and without Indian Country considered irresponsible, cost Thomas his chairmanship. Placed on administrative leave and facing a tribal council vote to expel him from the council, Thomas announced he would not seek re-election Nov. 1.

"He's not that relevant at the moment," Jane Pedreira, a gaming analyst with Rye, N.Y.-based Clear Sights Research, said last week.

With Thomas out of the picture, the investment world is keen to learn about the tribe's funding of its tribal operations and the payouts its members receive. If they're having trouble finding such information, "it's not for our lack of looking," one investor said.

Plans' percentage breakdowns

Copies of the revenue-allocation plans, which The Day obtained from the BIA through a federal Freedom of Information Act request, detail the percentage breakdown of the tribes' allocation of their net gaming revenues. The Mohegans' 10-page plan specifies that 30 to 40 percent of the tribe's revenue is to be dedicated to tribal-government operations and programs, including investments and education; 5 to 15 percent to the general welfare of tribal members, including investments, health, housing, social services and youth services programs; and 10 to 20 percent to economic development, both gaming and non-gaming related.

The plan also provides for charitable contributions, funding for local government and "any purpose authorized by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act" in amounts "deemed appropriate by the Tribal Council."

The per capita distributions - 40 to 50 percent of the tribe's gaming revenue - "shall be provided to qualified tribal members in equal amounts, unless determined otherwise by the Tribal Council," the plan says. Per capita benefits for minors are placed in trust.

The Mashantuckets' six-page plan specifies that 25 percent of the tribe's revenue is to be allocated to tribal government; 15 percent to the general welfare of tribal members; 25 percent to economic development; 5 percent to charitable contributions and 30 percent to per capita distributions.

Mashantucket per capita payments are paid monthly in amounts that vary based on a tribal member's age. Adult members, of which there are about 450, are divided into three age groups - 18 to 34; 35 to 54; and those considered tribal elders, 55 and above. Fifty percent of the payment for those 18 to 24 is determined by whether they are employed full time, enrolled full time in "a qualified school," in military service or in the ministry.

The plan specifies that the tribe provides full medical care and payment of educational expenses, including tuition, for those under 18.

A spokesman for the Mashantuckets did not respond last week to requests for comment on the subject of revenue allocation plans. Lynn Malerba, the newly elected chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, was traveling much of the week and conveyed answers to questions e-mailed through Chuck Bunnell, the tribe's chief of staff.

Malerba said her tribe does not publicly discuss details of its plan, and characterized the Mohegans' per capita payments as "modest." Reportedly, the payments are about $28,000 a year, a figure Bunnell would neither confirm nor deny. About 800 adult members of the 2,000-member tribe are eligible for the payments.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates Mohegan Sun, released preliminary financial results for its 2009 fiscal year in advance of last week's private sale of $200 million in senior secured notes. The authority said its distribution of casino revenues to the tribe during the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, totaled $72 million, and that it expects to distribute between $59 million and $64 million to the tribe in fiscal 2010.

"Much of the distribution ... funds tribal services and programs," Malerba said. "Our philosophy has been to support cultural preservation, education, health care, elder care and child care above all. Our priority is programs."

The chairwoman said the projected reduction in the authority's distribution to the tribe "is directly tied to decreases in casino revenues, which are an effect of the global economic downturn. … We remain deeply committed to honoring all our financial obligations."

Pequot payments higher

While the Mashantuckets have never disclosed their per capita payments, it's long been believed that they are considerably higher than those paid by the Mohegans. In August, a source who discussed the Mashantuckets' finances with The Day on condition of anonymity said the payments have been reduced in recent years and now range between $90,000 and $120,000 a year. Tribal members who spoke to The Day confirmed that payments are in that range.

Unlike the Mohegans, the Mashantuckets do not register their debt with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and are not obligated to report their financial results. Sources, however, have said the tribe counts on $90 million to $100 million a year in Foxwoods casino revenues to fund tribal government and per capita payments.

Given the Mashantuckets' need to restructure their debt and the prospect that Connecticut's casinos will face increasing competition from virtually every direction in the years ahead, some analysts have questioned whether the tribe can maintain its current level of funding for tribal expenses.

"I personally don't have a problem with the tribe providing support to tribal members if they want to go to college, say, or to get training for better jobs," said Pedreira, the gaming analyst. "But I would object to 'disincentiving' them by paying them for doing nothing. You don't want to undermine them.

"What if Massachusetts (casinos) come in a big way and tribal members aren't prepared for careers? They miss the boat. … I'd rather see them keep it (gaming revenues) for a rainy day fund and to provide for training and education so members can stand on their own two legs. Perhaps in economic times like this you come in and help out."

• 230 tribes operated 425 gaming facilities in 28 states

• Tribal gaming facilities generated about $26.5 billion in gaming revenue

• 73 gaming tribes distributed per capita payments to tribal members

SOURCE: Indian Gaming Industry Report, 2008-09 edition

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Saturday, October 24, 2009


Former Bellows Falls, Vt. chief deals on gambling debt .

The Associated Press
Posted Oct 23, 2009 @ 11:45 AM


BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. — .The former Bellows Falls village police chief has reached a deal with federal prosecutors over charges he embezzled village money to use at Connecticut casinos.

Prosecutors say John Dunfee will formally enter his plea to one count of federal wire fraud at a sentencing hearing early next year.

Court documents say that in June 2007 when Dunfee was interim chief in Bellows Falls he used a village credit card to pay for gambling trips to casinos.

The same documents say he submitted a payment request for $2,300 to village officials claiming he used the money to buy firearms for new officers. Instead he used the money to pay a credit card charge from a casino.

He resigned in September 2007.

Dunfee could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: The article shows that anyone can allegedly get caught up in gambling, in this case a police chief. Are the casinos a problem for people? What can the casinos do about these problems? What do you think?




Sachem Fund tightens up rules as money dwindles
By Claire Bessette

The Day

Published 10/22/2009 12:00 AMUpdated 10/22/2009 03:08 AM0
Norwich - Facing dwindling funds in the future, the Sachem Fund Committee will be stricter with money already allocated, reclaiming some grant money unspent by one recipient and giving several others a Jan. 1 deadline to spend their money.

Nearly $107,000 remains outstanding in grants allocated to various agencies but not yet spent.

"We do need to recapture some of this money if we're going to have another round," committee Chairman and Alderman William Nash said.

The fund, created in 2007 by the city and the Mohegan tribe with each contributing $200,000 per year for five years, has become a victim of the recession. Both entities cut allocations to $50,000 this year, leaving the committee with $100,000 in new money by next spring's next grant round, instead of $400,000. The city's $50,000 allocation this year has earned about $26,000 in interest, giving an expected total of about $126,000 for next spring.

The grant application round will start Feb. 1, with applications due by March 1. The committee will review the applications and make a recommendation to the City Council, which must approve funding, at the first meeting in May.

The committee sent a letter last month to several grant recipients asking for the status of their grants. Based on their responses, the committee voted Wednesday to recall a $40,000 grant to the city Recreation Department that had been awarded to create a recreational boating program. The committee will send Recreation Director Luis DePina a letter inviting him to apply again for this or another program next year.

The committee also voted to give strict deadlines on several grant recipients who hold $66,943 in unspent funds, asking for significant progress on their programs by Jan. 1. The Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Committee retains $10,000 unspent for several intended programs. While committee members agreed the total is not enough for all the group's projects, they said it should be enough to create a new Web site and to publish a brochure.

Others with outstanding grants are:

• Public Works Department, $28,258 for renovation of porch at Buckingham Memorial building.

• City Manager's office, $24,092 for cleanup of 26 Shipping St.

• Public Works Department, $4,379 for neighborhood improvements at Huntington Place.

• Norwich Tourism Office, $213 for summer concert series.

The Day Publishing Company
New London, CT USA
Copyright © 1998 - 2009

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Because of poor management by the MTGA (the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority), the MTGA doesn't have the money to put into the Sachem Fund. Not only is the MTGA hurting it's own members (the Mohegan Tribe) by it's alleged mishandling of management of the Mohegan Sun, now they are hurting the Citizens of Norwich, Connecticut. How does a business that has made Billions of Dollars over the years find itself in this situation? Could it be poor planning? What do you think?


Thursday, October 22, 2009


Mohegan Sun to hold meetings on Palmer casino plans
By Thomas Grillo
Thursday, October 22, 2009 - Added 9h ago

Owners of Mohegan Sun will host a series of community meetings in Western Massachusetts about its plans for a casino resort in Palmer.

“We will answer questions about the project, talk about employment opportunities and vet people’s complaints,” said Paul Brody, Mohegan’s vice president of development.

The first of these meetings is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 27 at the Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel. Other sessions will be scheduled at a later date for suburban Springfield.

Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino hopes to build a $1 billion resort gambling facility near the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer. Mohegan’s Tribal Gaming Authority signed a long-term lease for the 152-acre parcel last year. Mohegan opened an office in downtown Palmer earlier this year to provide information about its proposed casino.

Brody said he does not expect organized opponents of casino gambling to pack the hearings.

“We do get visits from some anti-casino people in our Palmer office who say they don’t want more traffic,” he said. “But they usually say if you do build one, here are my suggestions. We rarely get someone who says they oppose casinos anywhere.”

Beacon Hill lawmakers have scheduled a hearing for next Thursday, Oct. 29 for 17 House and Senate bills that would expand gambling in the Bay State.

This week, two out-of-state developers pitched Crossroads Resort on 200 acres in Milford to local officials. Also, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has downsized its plan for a casino in Middleboro due to tight credit markets.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE; Where is the MTGA (Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority) going to get the funds for this project? Didn't they just borrow another $200 Million? Where are they going to get $1 Billion? Are you kidding me? Is this the best the MTGa can come up with? They had better fix what is wrong at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, before they take on another project. What do you think?

Monday, October 19, 2009


Update: Oneida, Menominee use $38 million in stimulus funds to upgrade Thornberry Creek, finance convention center, hotel expansion

Tribes get about $38 million combined
By Malavika Jagannathan • • September 22, 2009

Northeastern Wisconsin tribes will receive almost $38 million in economic development bonds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act intended to provide low-cost financing for infrastructure projects.

The Oneida Tribe of Indians will use the tax-exempt bonds to refinance some construction projects they have already undertaken and fund several upgrade projects at the Thornberry Creek at Oneida golf course.

The Menominee Nation, which received more than $22.5 million in bonds, will use the funds to pay for a new convention center and hotel expansion, according to assistant tribal attorney John Wilhelmi. The tribe may find other ways to finance this project and may not use the allocation in the end, but it gives them an additional option in a poor borrowing climate, Wilhelmi said.

"It's been a tough couple of years to borrow money and this would help," Wilhelmi said. He added that the legislation also removes previous restrictions on tribes to use tax-exempt bonds, expanding the types of projects that tribes can borrow for.
About 58 tribes will receive about $1 billion in stimulus bond authority, giving them access to low-interest bonds for infrastructure projects intended to speed up economic growth on reservations. Another $1 billion will be awarded in the next round of bonds given out by the Treasury Department next year.

Lance Broberg, the president of the Oneida Airport Hotel Corp. that runs the tribal hospitality entities, said the tribe applied for bonds to refinance the purchase of the Wingate Hotel, the purchase of Thornberry Creek at Oneida and a recent renovation project at the Oneida Casino that included their buffet area.

It received $15 million, which will cover about 80 percent of the purchase price of the Wingate Hotel and Thornberry Creek, and 40 percent of the $4.1 million project at the Oneida Casino that expanded the buffet and high stakes area.

"We received partial funding for all three projects," Broberg said. "It allows us to get these dollars at low interest rates and reduce our debt."

About $1 million of the money will be used to fund ongoing and future improvements at Thornberry Creek, the golf course the tribe purchased last December out of bankruptcy court and reopened earlier this year. That includes improvements to the banquet facility, the course and renovation of its bunkers.

"It's designed to stimulate the hospitality businesses that might be struggling," Broberg said of the bonds. "Anything we can do is going to be good for this business."

Tribes across the nation plan to use the money for various projects such as a corrections facility in South Dakota, low-income housing in Washington and a marina in California.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Good for the Oneidas, Menominee and other tribes that took advantage of the stimulus funds.

We wish all the tribes that received stimulus funds, prosperity and good luck on their endeavors. Did the Mohegans apply for any of these funds? What do you think?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Anti-cancer group breaks ties with Turning Stone, but SU basketball coach Jim Boeheim to continue fundraiser there
by Glenn Coin / The Post-Standard

Thursday September 17, 2009, 11:35 PM

Lauren Long / The Post-Standard

Jennine Yonta and Alan Andrews, both of Syracuse, get a kick out of having their photo taken with members of the Syracuse University men's basketball team during the Basket Ball, a fundraiser for Coaches vs. Cancer, held April 25 at Turning Stone Resort and Casino.

The annual Coaches vs. Cancer gala, one of the most prominent fund-raisers in Central New York, is in jeopardy because the American Cancer Society has decided to sever all ties with the Oneida Indian Nation.

The gala has been held at the nation's Turning Stone Resort and Casino for eight years. This year, it raised $325,000 for the cancer society.

The cancer society announced Thursday it will no longer deal with the Oneida nation because the tribe now produces its own cigarettes. The Post-Standard reported Thursday that the nation last year bought a cigarette factory in Erie County that produced 1.4 million cartons of off-brand cigarettes in 2008.

When Syracuse University men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim, who hosts the event, was told of the cancer society's decision by The Post-Standard, he laughed.

"Jim Boeheim will hold an event at Turning Stone next year, but it will be for somebody else," said Boeheim, a cancer survivor who sits on the national board of Coaches vs. Cancer. "It will be to benefit the kids of Syracuse or city schools."

Lauren Long / The Post-Standard
Jim Boeheim, accompanied by wife Juli, recaps this year's NCAA run with the Syracuse University men's basketball team for an audience of about 700 during the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser, which was held April 25 at Turning Stone Resort and Casino.

» Read our previous coverage
The Cancer Society has been criticized for holding the fund-raiser at Turning Stone because the resort allows smoking and the nation sells more than a million cartons of cigarettes each year without charging state and local taxes. But making their own cigarettes puts the Oneidas in a new league, said Lisa Smith, regional vice president of the society's Central New York branch.

"In our eyes, by purchasing a manufacturing plant they have joined the ranks of Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds," Smith said. "We're facing a tax issue, and manufacturing cigarettes is almost going backwards."

The Oneidas, like other tribes, do not collect excise and sales taxes on cigarette sales. Those taxes discourage young people from taking up smoking and helps pay for health services for the poor, Smith said.

Smith said the Oneida nation is "preemptively evading a law the American Cancer Society has been working to get enforced - a law that would prohibit manufacturers from selling tobacco products to retailers who don't collect sales tax."

Boeheim said he disagreed with the cancer society's decision, but understands it. Turning Stone has been too good a partner to abandon, though, he said. "We raise $150,000 more there than any place else because they pay for the entertainment, they charge us nothing for the facility, and they give us a deal on the food," Boeheim said.

This year's gala and golf tournament raised a combined $600,000, he said. Expenses at Turning Stone amount to about 17 percent, vs. more than 40 percent at other venues, Boeheim said.

Cancer society spokeswoman Amy Delia said the organization has not talked with Boeheim yet about next year's event, generally held the last weekend in April. "We haven't gotten that far yet," she said.

Coaches vs. Cancer is a nationwide collaboration between the cancer society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

The Oneida nation bought the cigarette plant last fall after the state Legislature passed a law designed to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Indian tribes. The law requires manufacturers to certify that wholesalers pay the $27.50-per-carton excise tax before selling the cigarettes to retailers, including Indian tribes.

Contact Glenn Coin at or 470-3251.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Although smoking is not popular anymore, the Oneida Tribe producing their own smokes seems lika a smart business thing to do. The fact that they help by providing their casino and give a good deal to charity should mean something. Are the Oneidas doing a good thing? What do you think?

Sunday, October 4, 2009


NY governor endorses Shinnecock federal acknowledgment
Follows earlier support for withdrawal of ‘commutability guidance’
By Gale Courey Toensing

Story Published: Oct 4, 2009

Story Updated: Oct 2, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. – Gov. David Paterson has written to the secretary of the Interior Department, expressing support for the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s federal acknowledgment, an unprecedented public gesture of tribal support from a state governor.

The Shinnecock Nation was among the first Indian nations in the country to file for federal acknowledgment in 1978 under what were then the BIAs newly established regulations. It was fourth on the list of petitioners waiting to be reviewed.

“To say federal recognition of the Shinnecock is long overdue would be an understatement,” Paterson wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Sept. 22. “It is my understanding that the Shinnecock has included in its petition over 40,000 pates of documentation, demonstrating the attributes of a federally-recognized Indian tribe, including evidence of self-government that dates back to 1641. In fact, throughout New York state history, the government has maintained a government-to-government relationship with the Shinnecock.”

The nation’s journey to federal acknowledgment has been strewn with lawsuits, controversy and delays.

In 2005, a federal judge bypassed the BIA recognition process and ruled that the state-recognized Shinnecock Indians are indeed a federal tribe, but the Interior Department refused to recognize the judge’s ruling despite a law saying tribes can be federally recognized by the BIA process, by Congress or by a federal judge. The nation sued Interior, and last May the parties reached a settlement requiring the BIA to issue a Proposed Finding on the tribe’s petition for federal recognition by Dec. 15.

“I’m hopeful that the Proposed Finding that will be issued this year will find the Shinnecock Indian Nation as a federally recognized Indian tribe,” Paterson said.

In addition to the Dec. 15 deadline for a Proposed Finding, the agreement cuts in half the comment period following the Proposed Finding from a maximum of 360 days to 180 days, though it could be as quick as 90 days. Overall, the agreement ensures that a final decision will be reached in 2010, possibly as early as June.

Shinnecock leaders welcomed Paterson’s endorsement, calling him “a man of principle.”

“New York state Gov. David A. Paterson is a true leader who has demonstrated that he understands the history of the Shinnecock people and our government-to-government relationship with New York state. Gov. Paterson also recognizes that in order for the Shinnecock Indian Nation to have a fair chance at economic opportunity and a better quality of life that the time has come for us to join the ranks of federally recognized tribes. As with other federal tribes, recognition can open a door for us leading to adequate housing, expanded health care, and economic parity for our people. We thank the governor and the state of New York for this support and pledge to work with the state in a spirit of cooperation,” Randy King, chairman of the nation’s three-person board of trustees, said.

The Shinnecock nation has around 1,300 members, more than 600 of whom live on its 1,200-acre reservation next to the Town of Southampton on the ritzy East End of Long Island, according to the nation’s Web site. The nation’s aboriginal territory stretched from what is known today as Easthampton west to Brookhaven.

In addition to federal funding for housing, health and education, federal acknowledgment would give the nation the right to open a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The Shinnecock could begin Class II gaming on its reservation, but the nation has faced local opposition from residents who worry that a casino would create a traffic nightmare in an already overburdened highway infrastructure. The nation is considering instead a full-scale – and much more profitable – Class III gaming operation elsewhere. The Aqueduct Race Track in Queens has been eyed as a potential site, but so far that plan has not moved forward.

In order to conduct gaming beyond its reservation, Shinnecock would likely have to purchase land and ask the Interior to take it into trust. That would require a legislative fix to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Carcieri ruling last February that the Interior secretary does not have the authority to take land into trust for tribes federally recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act passed in 1934.

On Sept. 24, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., introduced legislation in the Senate to amend the 1934 IRA to say the Interior secretary has the authority to take land into trust for all federally recognized tribes. There are indications that opposition to the bill is growing, however.

The Interior Department would also have to undo the Bush-era “commutability guidance memorandum” issued in January 2008 by former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. The memorandum cited “commutability” as a new standard for denying off-reservation trust applications for gaming purposes.

Last May, Paterson wrote to Salazar urging him to reverse the commutability guidance memorandum.

“During his tenure, Secretary Kempthorne took several actions that were not in the best interest of New York state and this specific policy prevented critical economic development that the legislature and governor’s office approved. I am confident Secretary Salazar will be more attuned to the needs of New York’s residents and our Indian nations,” Paterson said about his letter.