Saturday, January 30, 2010


Attempt to restrict tenant's speech outrageous
Published 01/24/2010 12:00 AM

The latest trouble involving the New London Housing Authority sounds too outrageous to be true.

Frank Cirioni, president of the tenants' association at the 38-unit Gordon Court complex off Williams Street, claims he faces eviction for speaking out about housing authority problems.
The 63-year-old former city police officer is president of the tenants' association at Gordon Court, a complex for elderly and handicapped people. And indeed, he has a copy of an Oct. 21, 2009, "notice of termination of rental agreement for failure to comply with obligations" that states, among other things, "Tenant issues should be discussed at the sanctioned tenant's association meetings, and not at any other time and not on the common areas of the property, nor at any tenant's residence."

That is outrageous.

Freedom of speech is a basic right of American citizens. The 1st and 14th amendments of the Constitution outline the people's right to express ideas, information and opinions free of government restrictions.

The official reason for Mr. Cirioni's eviction notice is nonpayment of rent. Two months after receiving the chilling notice that he was in violation of regulations for "speaking negatively about the housing authority to other agencies in the city of New London and writing incorrect information regarding the Gordon Court Association to the residents of Gordon Court," he received notice of the eviction for nonpayment of rent.

According to Mr. Cirioni, he did pay the $107 rent in November, but ran afoul of the housing authority over a $25 late fee he was previously assessed when he once paid his rent late. That fee ballooned in November when the authority tacked on $110 in legal fees and a $25 marshal's fee.

The Dec. 15 eviction notice, Mr. Cirioni concluded, is really about his outspokenness as Gordon Court tenant association president.

And it sure looks that way.

The October notice cites various sections of the housing authority's rental agreement that Mr. Cirioni allegedly violated, including conducting tenants' meetings without the property manager or a member of the housing authority in attendance. It also says he threatened neighbors and authority staff, and that some neighbors complained.

This is interesting, since his fellow renters elected Mr. Cirioni president of their tenants' association for a third term last fall. If he upset someone by discussing complex shortcomings and handing out leaflets, apparently it wasn't a majority of the tenants.

Problems have plagued the New London Housing Authority for decades, leading to its designation since 1998 as a "troubled housing authority" by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The authority is mired in staggering debt; has had three executive directors in less than five years, two of whom were forced out; and is the subject of a class-action lawsuit by tenants at the Thames River Apartments (formerly called the Crystal Avenue high-rise) who are suing for clean, safe living quarters.

The problems are so big they are beyond the ability of the five-member City Council-appointed housing authority alone to fix. But the understandable frustration is no justification for trying to strong-arm tenants into compliant silence.

Individuals have a right to speak up. They have a right to petition their neighbors. And they have a right to complain even when the housing authority isn't there and doesn't like what they have to say.

That right is freedom of speech.


Friday, January 29, 2010


Hope, Hammock partner with Mohegan Sun Racing for 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010

NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider David Hope has signed a major sponsorship agreement with Brian Bozsum and Mohegan Sun Racing for the full 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.

“The talks of a partnership with Hope and Hammock started a few weeks ago after coming to the realization that we would not be able to run with Matt Guidera until Indy of this year due to the unforeseen circumstances that occurred last year,” said Bozsum. “It’s truly an unfortunate situation to be involved with, considering how successful the team was and the friendships that we all forged during the past couple of years."

Bozsum continued, “Mohegan Sun Racing wants to have a continued presence in the NHRA, and David Hope and John Hammock will be able to provide that. My wife and I look forward to the 2010 season with much enthusiasm, and we’re very proud to be associated with David and John. We’ve known John Hammock, Vroom team owner, since we hit the NHRA in 2005 and have always considered him a very good friend. "We’re looking forward to starting the same relationship with David and his family. David seems to have such a great presence at the track and has done some great things to bring awareness to the struggles with breast cancer. Good things happen to good people, and this is a great example of it.

“We’re looking forward to a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship that will not only pay significant dividends on the racetrack but also make the Mohegan Sun/Vroom Racing team one of the top teams in 2010." Hope will debut the Mohegan Sun/Vroom Racing Buell March 11-14 at the 41st annual NHRA Gatornationals season opener for the Pro Stock Motorcycles in Gainesville.

Situated on 240 acres along the Thames River in scenic southeastern Connecticut, Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, is one of the largest and most distinctive and spectacular entertainment, gaming, shopping, and meeting destinations in the United States.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


"We're off to the see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

No this isn't the story of Dorothy. There are no characters seeking brains, hearts or courage. There is however, an Emerald City. There are adults having fun there, an adult amusement park. It is located in Yonkers, New York, just across the border (north) of New York City.

Emerald City is known to New Yorkers as Yonkers Raceway ( a harness track). It is a slot parlor/casino (racino). It is at the Yonkers Road exit on the New York Thruway (Route 87). Travel time from any place in the New York City area should be less than one (1) hour.

Emerald City (racino) opened for business on October 11, 2006. with about 1800 VLT'S (slot machines) at cost estimated to be about $225 Million ($225,000,000.00). Today there are an estimated 5,300 VLT (slot machines). An eighteen (18) year old can pay the slots at the Emerald City. In other states like Connecticut, you must be 21 years old to use the slots.

I recently visited the Emerald City on a Saturday afternoon. We were on the Cross Bronx Expressway, when all of a sudden, traffic jambed up.We got off the Cross Bronx Expressway and went on the Bronx River Parkway (north) to the Yonkers Avenue exit. We then proceeded west on Yonkers Avenue to the racino. The sign telling drivers to turn left was the size on a NO TURN ON RED green sign on the side of the road. We went further and had to turn around.

All the spots near the entrance to the racino were taken. People were waiting for people to leave and get the close spots. There is little transit buses to take the customers to the front door. We got on one, people were standing and sitting , it felt like we were on a subway. I thought, hey this is New York. Oh, well.

The exterior of the building is old. there are about four floors. The first floor is where most of the VLT machines are. The isles are narrow. It seems they jambed every slot machine possible into the space. The interior has raised stepped ceiling in different places with the lighting built into the ceilings. The pillars look like Empire State Buildings. I would estimate that between eighty and ninety percent (80% to 90%) of the slots were in use.

In the middle of the racino, is small band shell, like something you expect to see outside. They had a big screen television hanging down showing an NFL Football game. The chairs with small round tables were on different levels. At the top was a bar. The beige seats were quite comfortable. It was set up really nice. We found two bars on this floor, the bartenders weren't very busy.

At the back of the first floor, is a food court. To me it was more like a cafeteria. You picked what you wanted, took it to a cashier, paid for it, and then sat down at one of the tables. Totally self service. The pizza looked good. The floor was bare cement, I think it was painted gray.. It looked bad. Maybe the racino is going to put down tile or a rug?

In the back of the first floor were doors leading out to stadium seating to watch the harness racing. All the chairs were painted red, and covered with bird crap. I wouldn't sit on the seats, but there were people who were. There were only about four ticket booths open for those who wanted to bet on the horses. It wasn't that busy.

If someone wanted to, they could park in the lot, and just walk in and watch the racing at no charge. They wouldn't even have to go into the building. It might make for an inexpensive day out for some families.

We took the escalator to the second floor. On the second floor was a restaurant that looked out over the race track through glass windows. This is very similar to the dining area at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. There was also a steak restaurant. It looked expensive.

At the top of the escalator is the buffet. The buffet was $21.95 each without a players card and S19.95 with a players card. You are charged tax and gratuity, so you don't have to tip the waiters or waitresses. The walls are decorated in dark wood (looked like walnut)_ with a brown carpeted floor. It was made to look like the Victorian time frame.

It had long tables covered in white table cloths. There were no glass covering over the food. The food was just sitting out on the table. We noticed that the wait staff never took any food away, they just proceeded to add more food to the food trays. They didn't take the pudding, they just kept bring out more, so a customer could get an old one or a new one. They were not being cooled in any fashion. It was a bad scene.

At the Mohegan Sun from time to time, I have seen the wait staff take away food. I did;t understand why, the Emerald City people weren't doing the same.

The vegetables were over cooked, they were soggy.and soft. The meat was over cooked, too.

If you wanted some fresh fruit, all they had was a small bowl to get some out of (melons, and pineapple, a few grapes). The desserts were very limited. The ice cream was really good. The fixings for an ice cream sundae were quite meager. The carving station had some really good tasting meats, and were served very professionally.

We asked the waitress for an ice tea and a cranberry juice. She brought them to use quickly. Later on we asked for two cups of coffee. She came by later and said "I will be right back with your beverages." The only problem is she came back with more ice tea and cranberry juice. She had forgotten what we had wanted. It was not that busy.

Later in the evening, we observed that the buffet had a line, but most of the tables were not being used. Could it be there were not enough wait staff? Maybe they couldn't handle the people. At the Mohegan Sun, the only thing that seems to keep customers from getting tables is that the wait staff just can't clean off the tables fast enough. A REALLY GOOD PROBLEM TO HAVE.

In the front area on the second floor is a small slot area. It seemed more upscale, than the first floor. What I didn't understand is how the racino could have nickel (5 cent machines and on the other side of the isle were one dollar and five dollar ($1.00 and $5.00) machines.

On the top floor, is the Race Book area, very similar to the one at the Mohegan Sun. There was a Two Dollar ($2.00) charge to enter the area. At the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods there is no charge to go into their Race Book areas.

Emerald City plans to build a parking garage in 2010.


The Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casinos in Connecticut have far superior products. However, if a New York City resident or from the neighboring areas, (Eight Million 8,000.000 ) people want to play the slots, this place is ideal for an evening out.

The MTGA (Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority) need to find a way to compete with this racino as well as the Twin Rivers Casino in Rhode Island. We (the Mohegan Tribe) need to be smarter. We need to capture some of this business. How? I don't know. Should we? Yes. What do you think?




New York lawmaker claims tribes owe millions in fees. Wednesday, January 27, 2010 Filed Under: New York Regulation

A New York lawmaker says tribes owe the state $55.9 million in gaming-related fees. Sen. Craig Johnson (D) says the Seneca Nation owes $41 million in security and fingerprinting fees for its two casinos. He says the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe owes $14.2 million and the Oneida Nation owes $739,000.

The state plans to collect the money, a spokesperson for Gov. David Paterson (D) said.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, states can charge tribes for fees related to the regulation of their casinos.


Mashantucket casino dealers vote on union contract on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 Filed Under: Connecticut

Card dealers at the casino owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut will vote on a union contract on Friday.

The contract with the United Auto Workers was negotiated under tribal law. It would address wages, tips, safety and other issues for 2,500 dealers atFoxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

“We’re just very pleased that this experiment had a successful conclusion because it shows that there’s not an inherent conflict between employee rights and tribal sovereignty," UAW secretary-treasurer Elizabeth Bunn told The Boston Globe.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The other day, I went to the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort Casino. I went to see how business was and to try a slice of cheese cake. I heard that Junior's was the best, so I thought I would try it. Junior's, I have been told has it's roots in Brooklyn, New York.

The casinos and parking garages were kind of empty. It really wasn't too busy, when you are in casinos that hold over six thousand slot machines. People seemed to be having fun though.

I sat at the counter at Junior's and ordered some coffee and a piece of plain cheese cake with fresh strawberries on top. The waitress told me that the fresh strawberries would be an extra four dollars. I said okay. The total for just the cheese cake came to about $12.00. I thought, hey your in a casino, people expect to pay more. The cheese cake was really good for what you find in Southeastern Connecticut. However, my companion and I have had better in New York and other places.

The restaurant was clean, bright and quite attractive. The waitress was excellent. Junior's, as well as the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel could be in Las Vegas or anywhere. It doesn't look like an Native American casino.

I thought as I was leaving Foxwoods Resort Casino, that the two casinos in Connecticut are mega facilities. Foxwoods probably is right when it bills itself as the world's largest casino.

As I drove away, I thought of how the slices are precut and you only get a certain portion of the entire pie. I thought, there is only one gambling pie. The Mohegan Sun needs to get a larger slice of the pie. We need to make the pie more attractive. We need it to taste better. We need to out think the competition and make our product better than everyone else. We need to keep our slice of pie from getting smaller.

Is the casino business like a pie? Does the Mohegan Sun need to get a larger piece of the pie? What do you think?

Monday, January 25, 2010



Years ago, long before there was a Mohegan Sun Casino, the only place to really gamble on the East Coast was Atlantic City. In those days, Atlantic City casinos charged customers to park in the casinos parking garages.

Trump Plaza ran an advertisement on television. The ad said bring a toll receipt (bridge, tunnel or road) from the New York City area for that day and you could park at Trump Plaza for free. I thought, let's do it. I got the receipt on the Outer Bridge Crossing. I parked in the Trump Plaza garage. I took the receipt to promotions and got a voucher. I walked around and saw Atlantic City. When I went to leave, I gave the voucher to the parking attendant and off I went. It was a great experience. THE PARKING WAS FREE AS ADVERTISED.

The other day, in New York, I met a couple from Brooklyn, New York. This is their story of what happened to them when they came to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. I couldn't verify the story, however it does seem to have some merit. So here goes.

About ten (10) years ago, the couple came to the Mohegan Sun and got players cards. The wife has since come the Mohegan Sun over the years with her friends. The women play the slots. The husband, although he had gotten a players card, never used it. He plays table games. He was only at the Mohegan Sun that one time ten (10) years ago.

Lately, the woman and her friends have been going to Emerald City (Yonkers Raceway racino). The women use Emerald City because they can get there in less than one hour and can play a few hours and then go home. The husband over the years has been going to Atlantic City. The couple saw an ad on television in New York which said bring your Emerald City players cards to the Mohegan Sun and get $100.00 free play.

The couple drove up to the Mohegan Sun. It was a beautiful sunny day. It took them, they estimated between three and four hours to get to the Mohegan Sun. It had cost them $12.75 in tolls and about $60.00 in gas round trip.

They took their Emerald City players cards to a players club booth. They tried to get the $100.00 each free play (the television promotion). She was told she was a regular, and it was only for new customers. He was told he had a card and couldn't get the free play either. Remember he never even used his Mohegan Sun players card.

Both people vowed never to come back to the Mohegan Sun again. They were angry. Instead of promoting people to the Mohegan Sun, in this instance, the casino drove the people away. Did the attendant do anything wrong? Probably not. The attendant was probably doing what he was told. Was what happened stupid? Do our (Mohegan Sun) customers need to read the fine print?


I don't know, but now these people are probably lost forever. Not smart business. I think the people should have been given something. I don't know what, but they spent between seven and eight hours coming and going, the wear and tear on their vehicle, and about $80.00 and received nothing for it.

He said he will continue gamble at Atlantic City and she will continue to go the Emerald City.

Instead of having a good experience with a casino like I did in Atlantic City, these people had the opposite reaction. It put a bad taste in their mouths.

That brings me to the toll receipts. Why couldn't the Mohegan Sun do something like what Trump Plaza did years before? What about the people who bring their cars to the casino coming from Long Island on the ferries? How come they don't get something for showing their receipts?

I know casinos, can't give everyone free play, but in these difficult times, maybe we should look at things like this (toll receipts).

There is an old saying in business. "Do the right thing, and the customers will tell two other people. Do the wrong thing and they will tell ten people." Is this true? How much damage was done by this experience? They told me, a perfect stanger. Who else did they tell? Who will she tell at Emerald City? Could it have been handled differently? What do you think?


Sunday, January 24, 2010


Uncasville, Connecticut. -----------No this is not the story of a lost soul or soldier.

Is this the story of a missing Mohegan Tribal Councilor? What was he missing from? Was it the Mohegan Tribal Quarterly meeting that was held in January 2010?

Who was it? Was it, the former Tribal Council Chairman, Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum?

Was there an empty chair? Did the Tribal Council Chairwoman Lynn Malerba explain the absence? What was the excuse? Was the excuse personal business?

Was it true, the allegation that Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum was at the New England Patriots game? Could it be he was watching some kind of sporting event?

Does Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum make around an estimated $300,000.00 plus benefits per year? Does that estimated amount break down to about $6,000.00 per week or about $1,000.00 per day plus benefits? Are these estimated amounts accurate?

Could the allegations, that Bruce Bozsum didn't show up because of problems between members of the Tribal Council have any merit? Could there be problems brewing in the Tribal Council?

Aren't there only four (4) quarterly meetings? Aren't there only a possible eight (8) monthly meetings? How often is there a coffee meeting these days? Isn't the Tribal Council voted in to do the will of the Mohegan people? Shouldn't elected government officials show up?


Has Bruce Bozsum fell down on the job? Should there be an investigation?

I don't know what happened. I wasn't there. Do you know? What do you think?


Friday, January 22, 2010


Pennsylvania slot revenue beats Atlantic City

By DONALD WITTKOWSKI Staff Writer Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010

People play the "Indiana Jones" slot machines Thursday at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City. For the first time ever in December, Pennsylvania’s slot revenue surpassed Atlantic City’s — $189 million compared to $179 million, according to newly released figures by the Gaming Industry Observer, a casino newsletter.

ATLANTIC CITY — Pennsylvania now holds bragging rights in the battle with Atlantic City for slots supremacy on the East Coast.

For the first time ever in December, Pennsylvania’s slot revenue surpassed Atlantic City’s — $189 million compared to $179 million, according to newly released figures by the Gaming Industry Observer, a casino newsletter.

“From Pennsylvania’s standpoint, it is a milestone, though it is not unexpected,” newsletter editor Joseph Weinert said of the surging Pennsylvania market.

December’s results mean Pennsylvania is now tops in slots among casino states from Maine to Florida.

The $189 million in slot revenue represented the “win” at Pennsylvania’s nine casinos. Stated another way, it is the amount of money lost by gamblers playing the slot machines.
Weinert estimated that about half of the slot revenue generated by casinos in eastern Pennsylvania would have gone to Atlantic City otherwise.

Pennsylvania also edged Atlantic City’s 11 casinos in the “handle,” the total amount of money wagered on the slots. In December, gamblers fed $2.1 billion into the Pennsylvania slot machines compared to $2 billion in Atlantic City.

Of some consolation to Atlantic City casinos, they still rank higher than Pennsylvania’s slot parlors in total revenue because of winnings from table games. However, Atlantic City’s $1.2 billion table games franchise is in jeopardy because Pennsylvania will introduce blackjack, roulette, craps, poker and other table games later this year.

“Pennsylvania’s going to take a chunk out of Atlantic City’s table games. We expect the brunt of that in 2011, when table games are going full bore,” Weinert said.

Weinert also noted that the start of table games later this year at Delaware’s three racetrack casinos would add even more competition.

Looking ahead in 2010, the Gaming Industry Observer, published by the Linwood-based casino consulting firm Spectrum Gaming Group, is forecasting a 4.6 percent gain, to $7.1 billion, in gross gaming revenue for the 22 casinos in the mid-Atlantic region.

While revenue in the mid-Atlantic area is projected to grow overall, Atlantic City’s casino winnings will slump 4.3 percent to slightly less than $3.8 billion in 2010, according to the newsletter.

Pennsylvania’s revenue will jump 24 percent this year, followed by an 8 percent increase in Delaware and a 5 percent increase at the Empire City casino in Yonkers, N.Y., the newsletter predicts.

“The ongoing expansion of Pennsylvania gaming, including the opening of the Parx Casino last month and the introduction of live table games in the second half of this year, continues to shape the regional competitive landscape,” said Shawn McCloud, director of financial analysis for Spectrum Gaming Group.

The weak economy and rival casinos in surrounding states have combined to drive down Atlantic City’s revenue three straight years. In 2009, total revenue from slot machines and table games declined 13.2 percent to $3.9 billion in the worst year since 1997.

In comparison, Pennsylvania’s total slot revenue jumped 21 percent in 2009 to $1.96 billion, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Thomas D. Carver, executive director of the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, said Atlantic City must respond to the competition by transforming itself into a more attractive tourist hub.

“I think we’re trying to address those items at this time, basically to change Atlantic City and make it a true destination resort,” said Carver, whose agency uses casino revenue for housing projects and economic development. “We have to make the town attractive, welcoming and safe.”

With the Pennsylvania and Atlantic City markets going in opposite directions, it should come as no surprise that Pennsylvania would overtake Atlantic City in slot revenue, Carver said.
“I’ve been concerned since 1993, when I predicted that competition ultimately would arise in the region,” he said.

Atlantic City lost its East Coast casino monopoly when the Foxwoods gaming resort opened in Connecticut in 1992. Competition grew even more intense when Delaware’s racetracks got slots in 1995 and casino gambling came to Pennsylvania in 2006. New York, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Maine and Florida are among other East Coast states that have legalized casino gambling since the 1990s.


Oneida Nation to help launch Native American $1 coinThursday, January 21, 2010Filed Under: National The Oneida Nation of New York will help launch the new 2010 Native American $1 coin at an event next week.
Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and officials from the U.S. Mint and the National Museum of the American Indian will introduce the coin on Monday. The event takes place at 10:30am at the George Gustav Heye Center in downtown New York City.
The theme of the coin is "Government-the Great Tree of Peace." The tails side features an image of the Hiawatha Belt with five arrows bound together, along with the following inscriptions: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, $1, HAUDENOSAUNEE and GREAT LAW OF PEACE.
The heads side features the familiar image of Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who helped explorers Lewis and Clark.
Congress authorized new designs for the coin through the Native American $1 Coin Act of 2008 . The tails side will celebrate the contributions of Native Americans to U.S. society and recognize important Native Americans. Sacagawea will remain on the front of the coin.
The coin will go on sale this Friday at noon through the U.S. Mint website.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Foxwoods lawyer: Pa. delay opens venture to new investors

For The Norwich Bulletin
Posted Jan 16, 2010 @ 11:05 PM

A Foxwoods attorney in Philadelphia says the decision to request an extension to open the casino until December 2012 will depend on the wishes of new investors negotiating with the company.
“Then we’ll make a final determination and prepare a timeline to get it built,” said Stephen A. Cozen, the lawyer who represents the project. Foxwoods is dealing with a number of investors with gaming experience nationwide and internationally, he said.

Before Pennsylvania approved table games for casinos last week, the Foxwoods project had until May 2011 to open a slots parlor with at least 1,500 machines or lose its license. The company has considered a temporary casino to meet the deadline. But a provision imbedded into the legislation allows Foxwoods to apply to the Pennsylvania Gaming Board for an extension until December 2012. The board must approve the application.
Impact of new law

The board, upon application and for good cause shown, may grant an extension for an additional period ending no later than 36 months from the end of the initial one-year period or Dec. 31, 2012, according to the wording of the new law. Foxwoods has already received extensions for two years.

“We are still not sure whether or not we will need the extension,” said Gary D. Armentrout, president of the Foxwoods Development Co., the arm of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe that owns Foxwoods Resort Casino and the MGM Grand at Foxwoods. “We are still evaluating a number of possibilities.

The partners are talking with contractors in the meantime, Armentrout said. “It is just comforting to know that we have that option as the law was silent on the matter before.”

The new change recognizes that the project was held up by forces in the city and the search to find new investors, Cozen said.

“It’s to everyone’s best interest not to put up a temporary structure and have the time to put up something more amenable to success,” he said. “But we have to make that case to the gaming board.”

If the deal with investors closes, the new people will take over the role of developer and operator from Foxwoods Development Co., Cozen said.

“Foxwoods Development Co. is in not in a position to carry out the obligations they had under original agreements,” Cozen said. “But Foxwoods is a partner and have certain rights that will be dealt with and negotiated.”

Copyright 2010 Norwich Bulletin.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Schaghticoke resurrect hopes for recognition BY GEORGE KRIMSKY REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

KENT — The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, encouraged by the change of guard in Washington and the recent fortunes of another tribe, has resurrected its long-standing quest for federal recognition.

Only three months ago, the chances of winning its 15-year fight for sovereignty seemed doomed, sending a sigh of relief through this small town on the western border where the tribe's only reservation is located.

For Kent, Schaghticoke recognition basically means "casino," despite denials from the tribe's leadership."We continue to say that never in our wildest dreams would we propose Kent for gaming," Chief Richard Velky told the Sunday Republican last week. "The infrastructure just isn't there. We would look for another host community."

Bridgeport has been most frequently mentioned.A federal appeals court rejected the Schaghticoke's case last October, but the tribe has now asked the same court to reconsider its decision, primarily on technical grounds.

The tribe has argued that in late 2005 the Bureau of Indian Affairs reversed its earlier favorable ruling for recognition, succumbing to improper political arm-twisting from lobbyists hired by a Kent citizens' group.

Judge Peter C. Dorsey of the U.S. District Court in New Haven rejected the complaint against BIA in 2008, and his ruling was upheld by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

The tribe was represented by a new attorney who specializes in appeals, Richard Emanual of Branford, who went back to the appellate court in November, saying it had misinterpreted a key aspect of the case. He also asked that the full court of nine judges rehear the case, instead of the three-judge panel that issued the ruling three months ago.

The Schaghticoke are heartened by a change of leadership at the Department of the Interior, which governs BIA, and, in Velky's words, "someone in the White House who cares about what happens to Native Americans."


Cowlitz Indian Tribe's casino project has turned into a waiting game

By Greg Garrison / The Daily News Posted: Saturday, January 16, 2010 10:30 pm (2)
Financing for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe's proposed La Center-area casino appears to be on shaky ground as the tribe awaits a key federal decision, and experts say it could be at least four more years before the project gets final approval.

The recession has taken a toll on the project's main financial backer, the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut, which saw operating profits from its gambling interests fall 8 percent in 2009, according to the Hartford Courant newspaper.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority recently reported that November slot revenues were down 11 percent from a year earlier.

Cowlitz tribe spokesman Phil Harju said finances are tight for most businesses right now and he doesn't expect money to be a problem if and when the time comes to start building.
"There's concern all over the country," Harju said. "By the time we're ready to break ground, my guess is the financing will be available."

But tricky hurdles remain for the Cowlitz tribe and its two partners, the Mohegans and another tribe from Northern California, in the push to build a $510 million casino and resort.

The Mohegans are owed $28.7 million for their investment in the Cowlitz project to date, and this year they wrote off $8.6 million of that debt, assuming they may never get it back. (The tribe itself is not in debt. It's owed by David Barnett, a Seattle developer, tribal member and key figure the behind casino plan, and his partner in the project, the Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Indians, which own a casino north of Sacramento.)

In their annual report to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority says the tribe continues to support the Cowlitz project, but it's uncertain it will move forward.

"While certain events ... are generally positive steps in the furtherance of the project, other events ... may ultimately delay or prevent the completion of the project," the report reads.
The Mohegans did, though, make the Cowlitz project a one-year, $10 million loan at 15 percent interest on Sept. 30, according to the Mohegans' SEC filing.

Specifically, the Mohegans cite a February U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as the Carcieri decision. It blocked the U.S. Department of the Interior from placing new lands under Indian jurisdiction for tribes that gained federal recognition after 1934. The Cowlitz waited until 2000 for such recognition.

A bill in Congress that would overturn the decision passed the Senate's Indian Affairs Committee last month. A similar bill on the House side is stalled, and its ultimate fate is unknown.
While a "Carcieri fix" would probably improve their chances of moving their project forward, Cowlitz tribe officials argue the ruling shouldn't even apply to them. Since that court ruling, the tribe has spent time and money to prove that while it wasn't federally-recognized, it did fall under federal jurisdiction in 1934. The Cowlitz is a landless tribe and never has had a reservation.

The waiting game

Once the topic of heated debate, the casino project has fallen into a bit of a lull as interested parties await the Interior Department's decision on putting the 152-acre La Center site under Cowlitz jurisdiction, a designation called "trust" status. The Cowlitz had hoped to break ground this year, but that appears highly unlikely.

Officials in the Interior Department's Office of Indian Gaming still are reviewing the project's final environmental impact study, according to Stanley Speaks, regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. That document was completed in May 2008. Speaks said he hasn't been given a schedule as to when Department of Interior higher-ups will make a decision.
"We have no idea when that all is going to be taken care of," said Speaks, who is based in Portland.

The Supreme Court decision, as well as the change in White House administrations, have contributed to the length of the review, said Nedra Darling, the Interior Department's spokesperson for Indian affairs.

"The (Cowlitz) review is a broader review than normal," Darling said.

The Interior Department's application-review process has had a tendency to drag out for a long time - years in many cases - even before the Carcieri ruling. The waiting can be maddening for both tribes and casino opposition groups, and it isn't always clear why it takes so long, according to a law professor who follows tribal gaming cases.

"Nobody really knows what happens," said Matthew L.M. Fletcher, director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University. "It will sit on somebody's desk for many years at a time before somebody touches it."

Fletcher said the feeling among tribes is that the Obama administration will be more accommodating on indian land trust applications than the Bush administration.
The Cowlitz tribe has tried to remain patient, said Harju. It took the tribe decades to win federal recognition. So time is relative, he said.

But more than a year and a half has passed since the Bureau of Indian Affairs published the casino environmental study, and the tribe still has not learned whether their project will be approved.

"It's frustrating that it's taken us this long," Harju said.

Fletcher said when an application is reviewed for a long period of time, it indicates to him that officials are being cautious because of the potential for lawsuits. Even if the tribe's application gets approved, lawsuits from opponents may mean years of legal battles and delays still lie ahead, he said.

"I would say three to four years minimum, but more likely it'll be longer than that," Fletcher said.

Lawsuits may follow decision

There's no shortage of opposition groups that could line up to contest an approval.
La Center's four non-tribal cardrooms, a Portland-area tribe with casino operations and a Clark County group called Citizens Against Reservation Shopping (CARS) all could potentially file lawsuits.

Fletcher said most tribal casino proposals spawn opposition groups, and those groups typically take legal action. That strategy can be very effective in bleeding money from tribes, he said.
"They're incredibly good at suing and losing," Fletcher said. "But every lawsuit takes time. It's a fantastic delay tactic."

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which operate a casino about 70 miles southwest of Portland, have been among the most vocal groups to oppose the Cowlitz project, which would be a major competitor to the Grand Ronde casino.

Grand Ronde tribal attorney Rob Greene questions whether the Cowlitz tribe has any historical ties to the north Clark County area. Others opposed to the project have made similar arguments, saying the Cowlitz' historical center of activity was in the Cowlitz River Valley.

Greene also said the Cowlitz tribe's failure to work out agreements with Clark County and La Center for utilities, other services and revenue sharing probably is causing federal officials to hesitate. Greene said any decision concerning appeals or lawsuits would be made by the Grand Ronde's tribal council. But he said he wouldn't be surprised if it took legal action, contending the Cowlitz project is "bad for everyone."

Harju, the Cowlitz spokesman, said if the project gets approved, the tribe would not waste anymore time.

"There's a lot of pressure and momentum to get this thing going as soon as possible."
Posted in Local, Local on Saturday, January 16, 2010 10:30 pm Updated: 10:50 pm. Tags:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Tim Giago: No honor in 1890 massacre at Wounded KneeMonday, January 18, 2010Filed Under: Opinion

The United States Army has a flag with battle streamers that it breaks out for important parades and celebrations. One streamer is inscribed, “Pine Ridge 1890 – 1891.”

The battle streamer refers to the campaign that occurred on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota from November 1890 to January 1891.

The Pine Ridge battle steamer boasts the highest number of Medals of Honor ever issued by the Army for any engagement. Twenty Medals of Honor were issued for this single action, more than for D-Day, Battle of the Bulge or for Iwo Jima.

Because so many Medals of Honor were issued for this so-called battle the Lakota have always referred to as a “Massacre,” it would take a veritable act of Congress or action by the President of the United States to remove this streamer from the flags of the U. S. Army.

The question asked by all Native Americans is, “How can Medals of Honor, this Nation’s highest military award, be handed out to 20 troopers for taking part in the most wanton slaughter of innocents in the history of America? More than 200 women and children along with more than 90, mostly unarmed, Lakota warriors were shot to death. Some historians and nearly all Lakota say that the number of people slaughtered on that day of infamy, December 29, 1890, was closer to 350.

In 1990 the 101st Congress passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 153 citing Wounded Knee as a massacre. Army General Nelson Miles often referred to the massacre as “The Big Foot Slaughter (Chief Big Foot).”

The Massacre at Wounded Knee was one of the most shameful, disgraceful and embarrassing episodes to occur in the history of the U. S. Army. The massacre of innocents by the U. S. soldiers at Mai Lai in Vietnam, and the attempted cover-up, was also a black-eye for the U. S. military. There were no Medals of Honor issued for this inhumane slaughter of innocents.

The question begging to be answered on Wounded Knee and the Medals of Honor is: “How in the world can the United States validate awarding Medals of Honor to those soldiers who partook in this shameless slaughter? Were the victims considered to be less than human?”

In 1997 the National Congress of American Indians, the largest Indian organization in America, passed two resolutions asking for the removal of the “offensive battle streamer” and asked that the names of the members of the U. S. Seventh Cavalry (Custer’s old outfit) be stricken from the Medal of Honor Roll and name the so-called action what it was; a massacre, and that the Army flag and its battle streamer be banned from any public functions as long as the Pine Ridge battle streamers are included.

On March 13, 1917, Lt. General Nelson A. Miles said, “Not only the warriors, but the sick Chief Big Foot and a large number of women and children who tried to escape by running and scattering over the prairie were hunted down and killed.” Miles saw it as a massacre of innocent Indian men, women and children, but unlike so many Native Americans, saw no reason to ask for the revocation of the Medals of Honor awarded the killers.

Most of the Seventh Cavalry soldiers killed in the massacre of the Lakota were killed by their own crossfire and died by friendly fire. The Lakota warriors had been disarmed and some of them fought back by taking the weapons from the hands of the soldiers. Long after the first shots were fired troopers of the 7th on horseback tracked down the frightened women and children and slaughtered them with point-blank rifle fire, actions hardly deserving of a Medal of Honor.

This is one horrible mistake that can be easily remedied by Congress and the President of the United States, Barack Obama. It is a stain on the honored battle streamers of the United States Army and a blemish on the medal that so many military personnel have earned through their courage and heroic actions in battle.

There was no heroism in the murder of so many elders and women and children on that cold day at Wounded Knee. It happened on U. S. soil.

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is the publisher of Native Sun News. He was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association, the 1985 recipient of the H. L. Mencken Award, and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991. Giago was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2008.


January 18, 2010
Mashantucket Tribe to start supplying power to casino

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut will start providing its own power to the Foxwoods Resort Casino this summer.

The tribe spent $34 million on system that will convert natural gas into electricity and steam. The system will provide nearly 60 percent of the tribe's electricity needs at Foxwoods and save the tribe an estimated $24 million a year.

"It should pay for itself in three years," Charlene Jones, the chair of the tribe's utilities authority, told The New London Day.

The system is expected to go online in June.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Mashantuckets' banishment laws seen as flawed by tribal court judgeBy Brian Hallenbeck
Publication: The Day
Published 01/06/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 01/06/2010 12:15 PM

Expulsions by elders council are believed to be on the rise

In banishing Christopher Pearson, the former tribal official facing sentencing on federal wire-fraud charges, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Elders Council meted out an ancient form of punishment employed by Indian tribes across the country.

Within weeks of his Nov. 19 conviction in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Pearson was ordered off the Mashantucket reservation, where he owns a home, and to surrender his tribal badge, having "forfeited all rights and privileges of Tribal membership with the exception of services provided by Tribal Health Services."

The elders council also directed the tribe's finance department to cut off Pearson's monthly "incentive" payments — the distributions of Foxwoods Resort Casino revenue that all tribal members in good standing receive.

While the tribe would provide no information about banishments, it's believed that their frequency has increased since the tribe's constitution and by-laws granted the elders council "the authority and responsibility" to impose them.

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council resolutions show that 12 people were banished by the tribal council prior to the establishment of the elders council in 1996. Currently, several people are banished each year, maybe more, according to Thomas Weissmuller, chief judge of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court.

Historically, banishments provided a means of social control. Among many modern, federally recognized tribes, the practice has proved effective in establishing order and safety on tribal lands, Patrice Kunesh, a law professor who was once in-house counsel to the Mashantuckets, wrote in a 2007 law-review article. The practice, she wrote, "has engendered serious strife and contention because, in effect, it pits traditional values and customs against modern notions of fairness and due process."

Weissmuller, in fact, said he recently identified weaknesses in the Mashantuckets' banishment laws and procedures while reviewing them at the request of tribal officials. Those weaknesses, he said, "in combination with the fact that no appeal from banishment may be taken to tribal court," has caused him to recuse himself from all criminal prosecutions involving the banishment of tribal members.

Among the flaws, Weissmuller said, is the fact that the Elders Council Banishment and Exclusion Guidelines are not contained in the tribe's published laws and are not publicly available.
In rare cases, banished tribal members have appealed their sanctions in federal court. In a Connecticut case decided in 2007, Neorck Colebut, a Mashantucket tribal member, claimed the elders council's temporary banishment of him due to "suspicion of possession of illegal drugs on the reservation" violated his rights under the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. After the council reinstated Colebut, the court rejected his motion to reopen the case in a bid to recover lost incentive payments.

In a precedent-setting decision in April, a federal court in Washington state overturned a banishment, finding the Snoqualmie Tribe had denied nine tribal members due process in banishing them and removing them from tribal membership rolls the previous April.
The Mashantucket elders council, in its resolution ordering Pearson's banishment, said his actions had violated specific provisions of its banishment guidelines, namely those regarding "major crimes" and "exploitation." Pearson's conviction on eight counts of wire fraud stemmed from his involvement in a plan to develop a resort on the Honduran island of Roatan. A jury found the former deputy chief operating officer of the tribe guilty of defrauding investors out of $280,000.

U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny is scheduled next Tuesday to hear the prosecution's motion to revoke Pearson's bail and detain him until his sentencing Feb. 5.
The elders council resolution also cites Pearson's status as the defendant in a civil case in Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court in which three tribal members and three nontribal members allege he defrauded them of money they provided for a Roatan land purchase that never materialized. A hearing on the plaintiffs' motion to attach an estate Pearson inherited from his father is scheduled Thursday.

The elders council received information about Pearson's involvement in the federal case on May 7, 2008, and summoned Pearson to a hearing on Aug. 27, 2008, according to the banishment resolution. Following that hearing, the council decided to defer action against Pearson "until all matters were settled in federal court."

Pearson, in a phone interview, confirmed Tuesday he appeared before the council in August. He said he did not appear at the Dec. 2 meeting at which the council voted to banish him. According to the resolution, 26 of the council's 38 active members were present. Twenty-two members voted in favor of banishment; four abstained.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I recently saw the results of a nationwide survey ( the 50 states of the United States). It was about who were the happiest people in the country and the unhappiest. Here are some of the results. I think you will find it interesting.

The number one and two states as far as happiness goes were #1 Louisiana and #2 Hawaii.

It seems Louisiana has New Orleans and maybe the people in the state enjoy liquid libations. Maybe the people of Louisiana just love to have a good time.

Hawaii is like a paradise and who wouldn't love to live there, even though it is quite expensive. The climate is wonderful.

The most unhappy people were in #50 New York and #49 Connecticut. Could it have something to do with all the taxes? It seems both states have found just about every way to take money from the taxpayers. Sometimes it seems like we work for the government. What about the climate? Could someone have a better life elsewhere?

Even with all the problems we have, they don't compare to the problems the people are experiencing in other parts of the world. Think of Haiti. Think of the earth quakes, floods, food shortages and so forth that are happening everywhere. We have it good compared to other places. We should be thankful for what we have. What do you think?

Friday, January 15, 2010


When I was a young boy, going to school, I was taught that two plus two equals four. Is the MTGA (the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, the Tribal Council) trying to make tribal members believe that two plus two equals five?

Here's the deal. Recently the State of Pennsylvania decided to allow the casinos (in the state) to have table games. Up until now the casinos only had slot machines.

The cost of the licensing fee is estimated to be about $16 Million ($16,000,000.00). It is estimated that the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs to get the table games up and running will cost about another $50 Million ($50,000,000.00). The possible time line to have the table games up and running is between six and nine months.


Where is this money coming from? Will the MTGA have to borrow that money? At what interest rate? Will it be about 11% to 12%? Why such a high interest rate? Could it be that the MTGA's credit is bad? Aren't they a CCC- rating? Isn't that level junk bonds?

How long will it take to get a profit from the additional costs putting in the table games? Could it take years? Some tribal members believe that is the case,

Now the MTGA wants to open a hotel at Pocono Downs? Where is that money coming from? At what interest rate? Does the MTGA need a partner to build the hotel? Who is going to profit from this? Could it be the construction companies?

Until now, , I don't think Pocono Downs has ever produced any revenue. Does anyone know?

Do the numbers add up? Is it two plus two equals four or is it two plus tow equals five? Is the Mohegan Tribal Council reaching at straws to find revenues for the tribe? Are they doing desperate things? theWhat do you think?


Wednesday, January 13, 2010



It's true that Rodney Butler, the new chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, bears an almost uncanny resemblance to Barack Obama.

There is the affable and engaging smile, the lanky frame and, yes, the prominent ears.
Some people complained about recent news stories comparing the new Pequot chairman to the new president, saying the tribal leader should hardly be likened to the much accomplished Barack Obama, who, after all, was elected by a far more impressive mandate than the 450 or so eligible adult Pequot voters
I disagree. I think there are remarkable similarities.

Butler not only physically resembles the new president, he seems to be the Pequots' own Obama-like agent of change, the candidate able to successfully suggest to tribal members, in the midst of a wrenching financial crisis, that, yes, they can still make it work.

Butler, in his first forays last week into the public limelight of southeastern Connecticut, by way of some press interviews, appeared poised and confident and said all the right things.
He sounded conciliatory to officials of neighboring communities, who have often had frosty relations with tribal leaders over the years. He also spoke warmly of the tribe as a family and emphasized their accomplishments, including a business that, despite all its recent troubles, still employs 10,000 people.

Of course he was also guarded and smoothly dodged direct questions about tough topics, like the tribe's debt restructuring.

It's not that this was any bravado performance, more simply just good straightforward public relations.

What made it remarkable was that it is the kind of thing his predecessors have been consistently unable or unwilling to do in the past.

Butler, at 32, is curiously a product of the Pequots' prosperity, someone who grew up with some of the advantages of success. He was just 14 years old when Foxwoods opened.
He is an athlete and played football at the University of Connecticut, where he majored in finance. He later went to work for the family business, working as a financial analyst at Foxwoods. He was first elected to the tribal council in 2004, when he was still in his 20s.
He seems to have the makings to be an excellent ambassador for the tribe and a community builder, having already signed on, for instance, as a trustee of the Sea Research Foundation, Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration's nonprofit parent.

Butler was treasurer of the tribe before he was elected chairman last fall, and he was on the council for some of the recent years of overspending, before competition and the recession begat layoffs and budget cuts.

Still, he seems to understand the gravity of the tribe's obligations to its lenders as well as the need to reconcile the tribal membership to the shared sacrifices that surely lie ahead.
He also appears to realize that the tribe, like never before, needs the help of the larger community of southeastern Connecticut.

The job won't be easy. Butler is certainly the first chairman in recent Pequot history to take office when the tribe's business prospects are more bleak than rosy, when the most immediate decisions are not how to expand but rather how to pay for all the previous expansion.
At least, like Obama, he seems optimistic.

Congratulations to the new chairman and the Pequots who elected him.
This is the opinion of David Collins.


Norwich Bulletin
Posted Jan 13, 2010 @ 12:30 AM
Mohegan, Conn. —
The Connecticut Sun’s trade of Lindsay Whalen Tuesday came with mixed emotions within the organization. Whalen, who spent the first six years of her WNBA career with Connecticut, was dealt to Minnesota on Tuesday, along with the second overall pick in April’s college draft, in exchange for former University of Connecticut star Renee Montgomery and the draft’s top pick, expected to be UConn senior Tina Charles.It’s a move that makes the Sun younger, but coach Mike Thibault refutes any claim that UConn players were chosen to drum up local interest.“As a coach, you have to pick the best players out there to help your team win,” he said. “You’re supposed to pick them in the draft, you’re supposed to trade for them, you’re supposed to do all those things to get the best players.”Losing Whalen — the face of the franchise and the runner-up for the league’s MVP award in 2008 — was not an easy decision, the team said. But they think it will be beneficial this year and beyond.Team general manager Chris Sienko called the move “franchise changing.”“We did not make the deal with the expectation of padding our roster with former Connecticut players,” Sienko said, “but rather improve our team with the best players available that could make an immediate impact as well as a long-term impact on the organization.”“This is a great day, because this really begins a new era for us,” Mohegan Sun and team Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Etess said.Etess said the team didn’t officially become the Sun until it traded for the pick that selected Whalen. He said that move was made to deliver the fans a long-awaited championship.
Copyright 2010 Norwich Bulletin.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: The best player and the heart and soul of the team you trade? Maybe it is time we get new management or a coach? If they sent Whalen because she wanted to be near her home, then that's okay, but if they did it to get new blood, then they (management) really messed up. When you go to the games look how many people are wearing the Number 13 (Whalen's number). What do you think?


Senecas confront tobacco roadblock
As Congress threatens mail-order cigarette business, nation puts up a last-ditch fight
By Jerry Zremski
News Washington Bureau Chief
Updated: January 11, 2010, 12:17 AM

WASHINGTON — Congress may be about to put the Seneca Nation's mail-order cigarette industry out of business.

The Senate is expected to soon consider a bill that would bar the U.S. Postal Service — which has been handling an estimated 70 percent of the Senecas' tobacco merchandise — from delivering those cigarettes. The House passed a similar measure last May, and lawmakers and anti-smoking lobbyists talk as if the new legislation could be a done deal before long.

In other words, Albany's long-standing quest to curb the Senecas' sales of tax-free cigarettes may soon end successfully in Washington, leaving the Indian nation's smoke shops as the central remaining venue for its tobacco business.

But the Senecas are putting up a last-ditch fight, contending that the bill threatens 1,000 jobs and unsuccessfully prodding New York's senators to oppose the measure — even though they co-sponsored it.

Then again, that sort of turnabout would not be unprecedented.

Democratic Reps. Brian Higgins of Buffalo and Eric J.J. Massa of Corning recently expressed qualms about the bill, even though they voted for the House version last year.

Those qualms stem in part from the grave concerns of their Seneca constituents.
"An attack on the Seneca Nation is an attack on the economy of Western New York," said J.C. Seneca, a successful tobacco entrepreneur who also is co-chairman of the tribe's Foreign Relations Committee.

Considering its cigarette businesses, casinos and other enterprises, the Seneca Nation represents "a $1.1 billion economic engine" for the area, Seneca said.

"We are in the infancy of our economy," he added. "Let us use [the tobacco trade] to build on, to diversify."

Such aspirant words ring hollow to officials from the State of New York, as well as the anti-smoking lobby, who see the Senecas building their economy on tax evasion and sales of a an addictive carcinogenic product.

Paterson backs PACT

The state backs the proposed federal law — the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act — even though it would provide the state only an estimated $30 million a year in new tax revenue from people who would buy cigarettes at stores rather than from the Senecas by mail.
That's far short of the $220 million the state would get if it could tax the cigarettes that the Senecas currently sell both through the U.S. mail and at their smoke shops, but it's good enough for Gov. David A. Paterson.

"We strongly support the PACT Act," said Morgan Hook, a spokesman for the governor. "Eliminating the ability of cigarette sellers to ship cigarettes to customers by mail is in the interest of the public health."

The House passed its version of the PACT Act by a 397-11 margin last May.
Even though versions of the bill have been kicking around for years, congressional sources said that it was rushed onto the House calendar before the Senecas could wage a big fight — and before some lawmakers understood its ramifications.

That's why Higgins and Massa have changed their tune.

The PACT Act "would eliminate the [Senecas'] mail-order businesses and associated employment," Higgins wrote in a Dec. 14 letter to Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York. "I do not believe that Western New York can afford any more job losses and so this letter is a request for your help in preventing that from happening."
Asked about the letter, Higgins said it stemmed from concerns that a North Carolina senator would add language to the bill to shelter a tobacco seller in that state from the law.\

"I still support the bill," Higgins said. "My point — perhaps unclear in the letter — was, if the Senate is going to amend the bill to protect North Carolina, would they consider amending it to protect New York?"

But Senate sources said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., refused to grant exemptions to North Carolina or any other state. And a spokesman for Sen. Richard M. Burr, the North Carolina Republican who had sought such an exemption, said there would be no such language in the final bill.

Nevertheless, Massa — who sent Gillibrand a Dec. 16 letter urging her to prevent a quick vote on the matter — said he now opposes the PACT Act.

Massa said that his view evolved "as I became more informed" and that he now worries that the bill would infringe on the Seneca Nation's rights established by treaty more than two centuries ago.

"It is my job to uphold federal treaties, and this is one of them," Massa said in an interview. Richard E. Nephew, chairman of the Seneca Nation Legislative Council, echoed that concern. "It all begins with our treaty rights, which we were given by the federal government and which say that we will be undisturbed in our territory," Nephew said. "We've learned to capitalize on that."
Competitive advantage

There's no doubt of that.

About 11.8 million cartons of stamped, legally sanctioned cigarettes flowed through the Seneca reservations in 2008, the state Department of Taxation and Finance reported.

That's about 1,483 cartons of cigarettes for every Native American living on Seneca lands — and that doesn't count the counterfeit or smuggled cigarettes that critics believe pass through Seneca hands on their way to smokers nationwide.

Citing the sovereignty of Indian lands, Seneca merchants refuse to collect state taxes on the cigarettes they sell, giving them a huge advantage over convenience stores and other outlets that sell tobacco products at full price. That has made Seneca smoke shops and mail-order cigarette businesses a huge success.

Seneca cigarette sales peaked at 29.8 million cartons in 2004 and have fallen sharply since then, as credit card companies and shippers such as FedEx, UPS and DHL bowed to state pressure and stopped servicing Seneca cigarette businesses.
What's left is still a thriving business that, the Senecas say, employs 1,000 people — and relies primarily on the Postal Service to deliver its goods.

Asked to detail where those 1,000 jobs are, the tribe declined.

"Do they really expect us to fall for the canard that cigarette tax evasion is an economic-development engine?" said James S. Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

Calvin and other supporters of the federal bill argue that many of the Seneca jobs would simply shift to cigarette sellers who pay taxes — and who do a better job of ensuring that tobacco products don't get sold to minors.

Even though the Seneca businesses require a copy of the customer's ID before shipping out cigarettes, anti-smoking advocates said it's still far easier for kids to borrow a parent's ID and order smokes than it is to buy them face to face. "This bill is all about making sure cigarettes don't get in the hands of kids and that the tax revenue goes to the state," said Russell C. Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.

The Senecas counter by insisting they are diligent on checking IDs and by stressing that they have worked with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to crack down on cigarette trafficking.

In fact, Ronald B. Turk, the ATF's special agent in charge for New York, lauded the Senecas' efforts in a letter last May. "As a result of the Seneca Nation's cooperative efforts with ATF, several investigations into illicit cigarette trafficking have been initiated and are now being prosecuted," Turk wrote. "The assistance provided thus far has been invaluable."
Strange bedfellows

If the Seneca Nation and the ATF seem like strange bedfellows, note this: Supporters of the PACT Act include not only the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, but also Altria, the tobacco giant once known as Philip Morris. Altria is part of the Coalition to Stop Contraband Tobacco, which is lobbying for the bill's passage — a fact that leaves the Senecas arguing that they're in a death struggle with Big Tobacco.

"It's all about money for Philip Morris," said Seneca, who now manufactures his own brand of cigarettes, called Buffalo. "They're losing market share."

While private shippers — who have voluntarily stopped delivering the cigarettes — would still be able to legally ship them under the PACT Act, the Senecas are pressuring Schumer and Gillibrand to try to stop the bill in the Senate. But that argument appears to be getting nowhere.
Congressional aides said Kohl is seeking a way to get the measure passed quickly and to then get the House to simply repass the Senate's slightly different version of the bill.

New York's senators remain steadfast in their support of the PACT Act.

"Sen. Gillibrand supports the legislation because it will end illegal trafficking of cigarettes to minors," said her spokeswoman, Bethany Lesser.

Schumer spokesman Max Young said: "We strongly believe that cigarettes should not be sold in the mail or anywhere else to children or minors."


Mohegan Sun awards $649,855 Wheel of Fortune MegaJackpot
By Staff reports

Story Published: Dec 30, 2009
Story Updated: Dec 28, 2009

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The Mohegan Sun awarded $649,855 Wheel of Fortune Special Edition MegaJackpot Dec. 26.The winner, who asked to remain anonymous, credited his family for getting him to the casino and to the winning machine. “My dad came along and wanted to go to Mohegan Sun. … my wife insisted on playing [the winning machine] because we always win and can sit together at the game,” he said. After investing only $55, the winner said he knew he had won, but wasn’t sure how much. When asked about immediate plans, the winner said he hasn’t decided how to spend his winnings yet, but would be “at work tomorrow.”Exactly one month ago, the Mohegan Sun paid a $364,762 Wheel of Fortune MegaJackpot on a $1 machine, which was the fourth MegaJackpot to be awarded in November at the casino. The run began with a hit on Nov. 18, when the casino paid an incredible $503,808 Wheel of Fortune MegaJackpot on a $1 machine. Then, on Nov. 25, the casino awarded a $224,347 Wheel of Fortune nickels MegaJackpot which was followed just two days later with a $364,762 Wheel of Fortune hit on a $1 machine. The Mohegan Sun has now paid 14 MegaJackpots this year totaling an amazing $3.4 million.The Mohegan Sun is one of two gaming facilities in Connecticut belonging to a 17-state gaming network that includes more than 300 tribal casinos in the nation. Each time a coin is played in a linked machine anywhere in the network, the cumulative jackpot continues to grow until it is won. Since 1996, 161 MegaJackpots have been paid at the casino totaling nearly $112 million.Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribe, is one of the largest, most distinctive entertainment, gaming, shopping and meeting destinations in the United States. Situated on 240 acres along the Thames River in scenic southeastern Connecticut, Mohegan Sun is within easy access of New York, Boston, Hartford and Providence, located 15 minutes from museums, antique shops and waterfront of Mystic Country.The Wheel of Fortune Special Edition progressive has a starting jackpot of $500,000. In order to win the MegaJackpot, five Wheel of Fortune symbols must line up on the machine’s first payline with a maximum bet wagered. Wheel of Fortune was developed by IGT, a global company specializing in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and sales of computerized gaming machines and systems products. All IGT MegaJackpot top awards are paid in annual installments upon verification, except MegaJackpots Instant Winners Jackpots awards, which are paid in their entirety upon verification.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Casinos Won't Recover in 2010: Report
By Jeanine Poggi 01/11/10 - 03:45 PM EST

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The casino sector is unlikely to recover in 2010, according to a new report by Standard & Poor's.

MGM Mirage's(MGM Quote) CityCenter could fuel modest growth in Las Vegas visitation, according to the note by credit analyst Ben Bubeck, it's unclear whether this will translate into a meaningful boost in gaming revenue.

S&P said it expects gaming revenue will be flat to slightly down in 2010, following a 10.6% drop in 2008 and a 12.3% decline for the 10 months ended Oct. 31, 2009.

MGM, which relies heavily on the Las Vegas Strip, has the biggest credit risk, according to S&P. The report said Las Vegas Sands(LVS Quote) and Wynn Resorts(WYNN Quote), which have a more diversified portfolio and significant opportunities in the booming Macau enclave, are less of a risk.

S&P believes the Macau market will grow between 10% and 15% in 2010.
Currently, Pennsylvania is the most relevant market to focus on, according tot he report, especially after it approved table games last week. Penn National Gaming(PENN Quote), for one, operates a casino in the area.

S&P also noted that the expansion in gambling in Pennsylvania has put pressure on nearby Atlantic City. Slot revenue in Atlantic City has declined 10% every year since slot machines came to Pennsylvania in 2006.

Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.



Lawyer embezzled from the Seneca gaming

Timothy Toohey admits to embezzling $200,000

Updated: Sunday, 10 Jan 2010, 6:54 PM ESTPublished : Sunday, 10 Jan 2010, 6:54 PM EST
Zachary Kineke

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Seneca Nation has banished a lawyer who admits to embezzling $200,000 from the gaming corporation.

The Seneca Tribal Council voted on Saturday to expel 62 year old Timothy Toohey of Lewiston from its lands.

Toohey pleaded guilty on Friday to an unlawful agreement to make money off of the Senecas' purchase of 200 acres of land in Lewiston for a golf course.

Friday, January 8, 2010


During the Blizzard of 2009, I went to New York to help my family. I helped with the digging out. In New York we got about 24 to 27 inches of snow. In Connecticut it was estimated about twenty (20) inches.

An Insider, of the Mohegan Tribal government, gave me this interesting story, which I would like to tell you about

The incident happened on Shantok Road, Uncasville, Connecticut.

It is alleged that a Mohegan Public Works Truck, was backing out of a driveway on Shantok Road and hit a car driving on Shantok Road. The house allegedly belonged to one of the sons of a Mohegan Tribal Council member. It has been alleged that the driveway was being plowed by the Mohegan Tribal Public Works truck.

A government official is saying the truck was only turning around in the driveway. One tribal member told me, "If you believe that, I have a bridge in New York to sell you cheap, it's called the "Brooklyn Bridge?"

We are told that the vehicle that was struck by the Public Works truck sustained extensive damage.

Is this true? I don't know. I do believe the incident should be investigated and if this did happen the Tribal Councilor and whoever in Public Works was involved should be dealt with. If it happened, it is an abuse of Power and Mohegan Tribal government funds.

Did this Happen? How much is this costing the Mohegan Tribe? Are there Good Standings proceedings coming from this incident? I hope not. What do you think?

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Seneca Nation of Indians’ three casinos post 1st loss
(January 04, 2010 4:48 PM) -
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier

Gambling woes during this economic crisis have not been limited to casinos operated by publicly-traded companies. Some Indian casinos have been hurt as well.

Case in point: the Seneca Nation of Indians’ three casinos in upstate New York.

Based in Niagara Falls, N.Y., the Seneca Gaming Corp. revealed last week that it had lost $19.37 million in fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2009. This compared to a profit of $102.6 million in the previous year.

This was the first loss reported by the tribal nation since it opened its first casino six years ago.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


When I was a young person, I remember in the 1960"s a show called "Car 54 where are you?" It was about two New York City policeman who seemed to get lost a lot and were supposed to do dumb things.

The Mohegan Tribe seems to have its own version of Car 54. . The car allegedly belonged to the Mohegan Tribal Protective Services (Security). It seems the car has disappeared. It is alleged that is was junked or done away with some how. We checked and could not find it any where on the reservation.

It is alleged that its engine froze up because of lack of motor oil in the motor. It is alleged that who ever did the oil change on the car didn't put the oil filter on tight and the car leaked the oil out of the engine.

It seems that at least once a day, when the car is picked up to be used for a shift, that the fluids in the cars could be checked. If it had been checked maybe this wouldn't have happened?

Is this alleged thing happening acceptable to the Mohegan Tribe? Don't we want our employees and management to take better care of our vehicles? Who is doing the maintenance? Since these are hybrids, (Ford Escapes), aren't they being serviced by Ford Motor Company?

Maybe checking the fluids should be done, at least daily or weekly, on all vehicles owned by the Mohegan Tribe.

Car 54 where are you? What do you think?


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Shinnecock casino prospects rekindle Riverhead land speculation
By Michael Wright
Jan 4, 10 10:32 AM
Editor's Note: This article was published in the December 24 issue of The Southampton Press and the December 23 issue of The East Hampton Press.

The timing of the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s preliminary approval for federal recognition, and the parallel spike in speculation about where a future Shinnecock-sponsored casino might be built, has rekindled the possibility of a Riverhead site.

As a new administration prepares to take over in Riverhead Town, outgoing Supervisor Phil Cardinale says he hopes his successor, Sean Walter, and the new Town Board will keep an open mind if the Shinnecocks were to express further interest in the former Northrop Grumman testing facility in Calverton as a potential site for a casino and resort development.

“I hope that the new board will not preclude any options for the development of the site but will listen carefully to all proposals,” Mr. Cardinale said this week.

The Shinnecocks have spoken with Riverhead lawmakers in the past, although they have more recently set their sights on locations closer to New York City. Still, some within the tribe have said they would prefer to have the proposed gaming facility closer to the Southampton reservation so members could work at the casino.

The 2,900-acre Calverton property has already been divided into several pieces by Riverhead Town, which took it over when the U.S. Navy shut down its fighter plane testing program in 1998. Some 755 acres are in contract to be sold to Riverhead Resorts, which has already made more than $2 million in down payments to the town, for the development of a sprawling convention center, hotel and resort, replete with a 90-acre artificial lake where the testing facilities runways now sit, a project it bills as “a Family Resort Married to Nature.” The rest of the property, on the edge of the pine barrens, has either to be protected as woodlands or is slated for a variety of light-industrial uses.

But the national economic downturn and resultant credit crunch has put the brakes on many similarly ambitious development projects, and is raising doubts about the ability of the Riverhead Resorts operators to close on the $155 million purchase of the land, slated for next year. Mr. Cardinale said this week that the deep pockets of the Shinnecock’s financial backers and stratospheric projections of revenues a casino on eastern Long Island could produce make for an enticing backup plan, either for the town or the Riverhead Resorts developers.

A call to the Riverhead Resorts offices on Monday afternoon was not immediately returned. The Riverhead Resorts proposal is headed by a Scottish businessman, John Niven, town officials said.
Covenants imposed on the property by the Riverhead Town Board specifically preclude a casino there—a clause included with the Shinnecocks in mind, Mr. Cardinale said. But he noted that the clause could be lifted by town lawmakers.

Mr. Walter, who has voiced moral opposition to gaming in general, said he will, nonetheless, keep an open mind in considering the future uses of the property and the potential costs and benefits to the town—financial and otherwise—should the Shinnecocks come calling again. He acknowledged the uncertainty about Riverhead Resorts but noted that the town has never been given any reason to believe there is any doubt about the anticipated 2010 closing on the property by the company.

“They’ve been in contract with us for two years—the question is, can they close at this point?” he said last week. “We have to do our due diligence. But here’s the thing: [the Shinnecocks] have never come to me.”

The tribe’s leaders, consistently reluctant to discuss their casino prospects publicly, have said they expect their looming federal recognition approval, possibly as early as this spring, to spark negotiations with various state and county officials for a desirable location for a future casino.
“I think the state is going to have to sit down and talk at some point—that’s what everybody hopes happens,” said Tom Shields, an attorney for Gateway Casino Resorts, the Detroit-based developers who have financed the Shinnecocks since 2005 and would build the future casino in exchange for a cut of the revenues. “At this point, all the possibilities are possibilities—and, of course, maybe none of them are.”

The tribe has identified the Belmont Park racetrack in Nassau County as a possible location, which would require the permission of the New York State Legislature—a move already proposed by that area’s state assemblyman. Any tribal casino would also require a compact with the governor’s office to allow the sort of high-stakes games that a full-fledged casino offers. Such compacts are generally contingent on large revenue sharing with the state government.
Mr. Walter said similar revenue prospects would have to be offered to Riverhead for the Calverton property to be on the table again.