Tuesday, June 22, 2010


New York tribes vow to fight attempt to collect tobacco taxes
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The New York Legislature passed a bill that requires tribes to collect the state's tobacco tax on their reservations. The bill also raises the state tax by $1.60 to $4.35 a pack.

The plan will go into effect on September 1. Tribal leaders said they would fight any attempt to infringe on their sovereignty.

"This is nothing less than a deliberate effort to sabotage our federal treaty rights and rape our economy to bail out New York State," Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder Sr. said in a statement, The Buffalo News reported.

The state has tried to impose tobacco taxes on reservations in the past. In 1997, protests by tribal members led to a shutdown of the New York Thruway.

Gov. David Paterson (D) led the latest effort even as he said he wants to negotiate with tribes. A provision of the bill apparently authorizes his office to settle current and future lawsuits without legislative approval, the Buffalo paper reported.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from www.indianz.com

Monday, June 21, 2010


Editorial: Casino competition takes toll on Connecticut tribes
Monday, June 21, 2010

"Connecticut's two American Indian-operated casinos have known for more than a decade that competition was coming. They talked about it, strategized for it, and even said they'd welcome it. But all that was before what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke calls "the worst financial crisis in modern history."

Just as Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun casinos were hitting their stride in 2007 the Great Recession set in and has lingered. And just as businesses and individuals around the world have been stung, so have Connecticut's casinos. But the economic hard times have also hastened their competition, as states once cool to legalizing gambling are stampeding to open, and cash in on, their own casinos.

Just how big is that gambling revenue pie and how many states can get a slice of it? Rhode Island and Massachusetts are in a sprint to see which state can legalize Las Vegas-style gambling first (although Rhode Island may have violated its own state and local laws in the rush to get there).

In Massachusetts, meanwhile, some lawmakers are concerned about the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of the hurried legislation.

Then there's the Shinnecock Tribe in Long Island, just across the Sound, recognized last week by the federal government, opening the door for its planned casino enterprise."

ARTICLE TAKEN FROM www.indianz.com Is this a case of the Indians being the wagon train and being surrounded by the other guys? ARE MEMBERS OF THE MOHEGAN TRIBAL COUNCIL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SITUATION THE MOHEGAN SUN IS IN? What do you think?

Friday, June 18, 2010


Unions seek investigation into rejection of Menominee casino
Thursday, June 17, 2010

Two labor unions are calling on the federal government to investigate why the Menominee Nation off-reservation casino in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was rejected.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the tribe's land-into-trust application in the final days of the Bush administration. But the regional office of the BIA supported the casino and memos that supported the casino were kept from the tribe.

The documents, however, were given to the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe under a Freedom of Information Act request. The Potawatomis used the information to bolster their case against the Menominee casino.

The Menominee Nation is in federal court in hopes of overturning a Bush-era policy that led to the rejection.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from www.indianz.com

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Strange things happen in Uncasville, Connecticut. It makes me remember my dad. He has been gone a long time, but what he said rings true to this day.

My dad used to say, "He was a sleep at the switch."

I always felt it had to do with train switch men. They would at first manually turn the switches for trains. Later there were levers put in towers so the switching then was done inside.

If for some reason the switcher fell asleep or was distracted, the train could end up going down the wrong tracks, to some kind of catastrophe. The switch man would be blamed for not doing the right switching.

How about the engineer of the train? Wouldn't he see that the signal at the switch was wrong too? Maybe they would both be at fault.

Shouldn't the public demand the switch man and the engineer do their very best? The situation can never be allowed to happen.

Shouldn't the people who live in the community be protected by the train company? Are the officials of the train company also responsible?

So do we know anyone who is asleep at the switch? What do you think?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Mashantucket man sentenced to 21 months over wire fraud
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Christopher Pearson, a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison after being convicted of wire fraud.

Prosecutors said Pearson, 51, defrauded people out of $280,000 by telling them they were investing in an official tribal development project. He ended up using the money for personal expenditures.

The 21-month sentence, to be followed by three years of supervised release, appears to be the lower end of federal guidelines.

The tribe banished Pearson from the reservation.

FOOTNOTE: Artticle taken from www.indianz.com

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Shinnecock Nation expects phone call on federal recognition
Tuesday, June 15, 201

The Shinnecock Nation of New York has been told to expect a phone call this morning from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The tribe expects to receive a final decision on its federal recognition petition. A preliminary ruling found that the Shinnecock met all seven criteria for acknowledgment as an Indian tribe.

The BIA noted that the tribe has occupied a state-recognized reservation since 1703. The tribe's political and governing system has remained intact since then, the BIA said.

The tribe was one of the first to start the federal recognition process in 1978. The tribe completed its petition over 10 year ago but languished on the BIA's "ready" list.

To settle a court case, the BIA agreed to issue a proposed finding in December 2009. The final determination is now due.

Since 2000, the BIA has recognized just two tribes through its regulatory process. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts won recognition in May 2007.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Congradulations to the Shinnecocks.

Should this happen for other tribes, too? What about Connecticut tribes?

How will this affect the Mohegan Sun Casino, Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods?

What is the Mohegan Tribal Council going to do keep its share of the gaming market? What do you think?

Friday, June 11, 2010



Don't allow your petitioning rights to be eroded

Posted by Ken Davison at 8:14 PM 0 comments

ARTICLE TAKEN FROM www.feathernews.blogspot.com


Menominee Nation casino documents provided to rival tribe
Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Menominee Nation of Wisconsin says documents related to its off-reservation casino bid were provided to a rival tribe.

The Menominees repeatedly asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs for documents that favored the Kenosha casino, attorney Rory Dilweg said. The Forest County Potawatomi Tribe ended up with them instead -- after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

"I find it interesting the federal government chose to give it to them, but not to us," Dilweg told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We asked them for copies and they refused to provide them, saying they were internal and deliberative."

The Potawatomis used the two memos at issue to bolster their opposition to the Kenosha casino. "We followed the FOIA law and were consistent and constant in our requests," spokesperson Ken Walsh told the paper.

The Menominees found out about the documents after filing a lawsuit against the federal government. The tribe says the casino was improperly rejected in the final days of the Bush administration.

The denial was based on a new policy that makes it nearly impossible for tribes to acquire land away from existing reservations. The Obama administration has not taken any steps to address the issue.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Weren't the Menominee Tribe, the tribe the Mohegans of Connecticut were trying to help get a casino? Should the information have been given to a rival tribe? Was the federal government right in doing so?

How come under the Freedom of Information, a Mohegan Tribe member allegedly, couldn't find out about the expense accounts of Elected Officials of the Mohegan Tribal Government? Should the information be released? What do you think?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Mohegans say community center funds not a bailout
By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published 06/09/2010

Chairwoman says $74 million in federal stimulus money makes project possible

Mohegan - For more than a year, the Mohegan Tribe's long-planned community and government center has been a ghostly, shrink-wrapped presence on Crow Hill, a monument to arrested development.

With rust appearing on the building's steel framework and the economic downturn squeezing the Mohegans' casino-fed revenue stream, tribal officials had all but decided they would have to enclose the site in a more permanent way and sit tight. At stake was the $28 million they'd already spent on design and construction. The tribe's "place of its own" would have to wait.

Enter the federal government.

Eager to push out stimulus loans and create jobs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last month that it had approved $74 million in loans for the Mohegans, enough to cover the entire cost of a scaled-down version of the center. Look for the shrink wrap to come undone in July or August and the building to be finished a year later.

For the tribe, the timing of the fed's largesse was "fortuitous," Lynn Malerba, chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said in an interview Tuesday. Not that the money's a gift by any means, she was quick to emphasize.

"It's not about a bailout," she said. "It's about a low-interest loan. We're going to pay every bit of it back - with interest."

Indeed, the aid includes $54 million in loans funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as another $18 million in guaranteed loans and $2 million in nonguaranteed loans, according to tribal officials. All of it is to be paid back over 30 years at an effective interest rate of 2.8 percent.

"Our preference would have been to stop the project, but the USDA financing was available now," Malerba said. "Without a loan at such a low rate we couldn't have done it. We wanted to protect our asset and we were more than 'shovel-ready,' which was required to get these loans.

"The council thought long and hard about it."

The chairwoman addressed some misconceptions that she said have arisen, namely that the tribe's project will create some 1,300 permanent jobs and include an educational center and a health administration center, as the USDA announced in a May 27 press release.

In truth, she said, construction is expected to create 114 direct jobs. Federal officials estimate the project will create 1,239 indirect jobs through vendors and subcontractors in the region. The center will house some 300 tribal-government employees, most of whom now work in the tribe's low-slung offices on Crow Hill Road.

No longer the "Cadillac" depicted in an early rendering, the center is to be completed for $15 million less than the $89 million originally budgeted, Malerba said. It will still have four floors and a lower level, but only the two lower floors and the lower level will be completed at this time. Savings have also been realized on furnishings and landscaping.

The building will house a library and offices for the tribal and elders councils and such tribal-government departments as Health and Human Services, Education, Cultural and Community Programs, Legal, Finance, Court, Administration and Publications. A lower level will include a gym with two basketball courts, locker rooms and a fitness center. The exterior will reflect the style of the tribe's longhouses, with arched roofs and elongated wings.

The center's been a long time coming for a tribe that has long since outgrown the confines of the reservation church, Malerba said, recalling that the plans for the center were first drawn and then shelved in 1999. After years of funding expansion at Mohegan Sun, infrastructure improvements on the reservation and commitments to surrounding communities, the tribe dusted off the plans in 2006-07.

Then came the downturn and in early 2009 the shrink wrap.

Now it's time for the Mohegans to finish something "so near and dear to us," Malerba said.

Who would begrudge us that?"

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: The Feather News at www.feathernews.blog spot.com added the following comment.

There have been no reports that Mohegan tribal members were asked by their government as to whether the new debt should be taken on at this time.


What do you think?

Readers please check out the negative comments, on this article at www.theday.com.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


June 08, 2010 BOSTON — Aquinnah Wampanoag leaders today threatened to build a gaming facility on their Martha's Vineyard reservation land if the Legislature legalizes casinos but the tribe does not get one of the state gambling licenses.

At a press conference in front of the Statehouse, Naomi Carney, chairman of the tribe's gaming commission, said that building a gaming facility on Martha's Vineyard is not the tribe's first choice, but that the tribe has been trying to build a casino for more than a decade and would evoke it's rights under the federal Indian Gaming Act to build if necessary.

Gaming foes, backers converge on Statehouse....Tribes showing cards todayAquinnah Wampanoag push Fall River casinoRelated Links

Read our ongoing casino coverage.....But state officials dispute the Aquinnah tribe’s rights to offer gambling on tribal land saying they waived those rights in their 1987 land deal with the federal government. In a 2004, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled in a zoning dispute that the tribe land falls under the same zoning laws, including the permitting process, as any other property.

Members of the tribe were surrounded by pro-casino forces as tribal leaders unveiled a rival plan to build a 400-room hotel and 250,000 square feet of gaming space on 230 acres in Fall River near Route 195 and Route 24 on the Fall River-Dartmouth-Westport town lines.

It's a deal they first talked about two weeks ago, but that appeared dead in the wake of that city's subsequent deal to sell 300 acres on Route 24 to the Mashpee Wampanoag for a casino, hotels and shopping mall. That plan would force city officials to move a planned biotechnology park slated for that property to another location.

Under the Aquinnah Wampanoag proposal, Fall River would be able to continue with plans for the biotechnology park that had been planned on the 300 acres now under agreement with the Mashpee tribe.

The Aquinnah proposal comes as the state Senate holds a hearing at today on its proposal to bring expanded gambling to Massachusetts. By 1 p.m. when the hearing began Gardner Auditorium at the Statehouse was packed. Most of the spectators word orange pro-casino T-shirts.

The Senate will begin debate on its own legislation, which is different from what was passed by the House in April. That plan calls for two resort casinos and slots at the state's four race tracks.

But the Senate plan, though not completely ironed out, eliminates slots at the tracks and calls for three resort casinos spread out across the state, including one for a "for a qualified Native American tribe."

According to the draft legislation, the tribe would have to enter into a contract with the state regarding the conduct of gambling on tribal lands. "The tribe would then be subject to the same conditions as any other casino license holder, including those related to revenue," the draft legislation states.

Both the Aquinnah and Mashpee tribes are federally recognized, which gives them the authority to provide gambling on their reservations once the state legalizes Las Vegas-style gambling.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Grace: Mohegan chairwoman transitions to tribal chief post
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Lynn Malerba had a "little" announcement for her best friend over dinner recently. She had just been selected as the next chief for life of the Mohegan Tribe.

"She told me so nonchalantly," says Donna Prue. "She lays it on you like it's no big deal. She said it was an honor and she couldn't refuse."

Prue met Malerba at the Hartford Hospital School of Nursing nearly 40 years ago and wondered if anybody could really be that nice.

"When I got to know her, I said, 'Oh my God, she really is that nice,' " Prue remembers.

The two women have been through many of life's milestones together - Malerba says her husband Paul had to pass the "Donna test" before they could get married - and Prue says even though Malerba is the chief, to her she will still be "just Lynn."

Malerba grew up in Uncasville, where streets and schools are named after her tribal ancestors. She and her husband live here today and regularly host Sunday dinner for the family. She says she loves to be part of the tribe's "living history."

On a recent sunny afternoon, she stopped in at the tribe's modest museum on Church Lane and lingered in front of photographs of her mother and aunts and her great grandfather, Burrill Fielding, also known as Chief Matagha.

"This is our place," she says, flashing her fabulous smile."

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Some members of the Mohegan Tribe showed me this article. Here are the questions they asked.

How about working on the financial problems of the Mohegan Tribe, which is what Lynn Malerba was elected to do?

How about fixing things that need doing?

Instead we go out to dinner with friends? Should Malerba have waited to be Chief until she fulfill er her alleged promise of a four year term?

What do you think?


Wampanoag tribes make case for casinos in Massachusetts
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will testify at a hearing today on a bill to legalize casinos in Massachusetts while the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe will unveil plans for its casino.

Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell is set to appear with Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan at the State House in Boston. The tribe wants to build a casino, hotel and a shopping mall on 300 acres in Fall River.

The Aquinnah are also looking at Fall River. The tribe will hold a press conference on the steps of the State House to discuss plans for a 230-acre site in the city.

If Massachusetts lawmakers legalize casinos, both tribes should be able to offer the same types of games. But the Senate version of the gaming bill attempts to limit the state to one tribal compact.

GateHouse News Service 6/8)

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Editorial: Casino revenue won't rescue Connecticut budget
Thursday, June 3, 2010

"In the annals of legalized gambling in Connecticut another milestone has been reached. In their 18 years of operation, the slot machines at the Foxwoods Resort Casino have produced $3 billion in revenue for the state of Connecticut.

As part of the deal worked out under then Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. that allowed legalized gambling at two Indian tribes’ casinos in the state, one-quarter of slot machine revenues goes to Connecticut’s budget.

When the state negotiated the deal, its terms were more favorable than they are today. Foxwoods and a second Indian tribe’s casino, Mohegan Sun, which opened five years later, were the only game in New England and New York. Mohegan Sun has sent $2.3 billion in slot revenues to the state’s coffers.

Foxwoods’ $3 billion milestone may seem large. But, it piled up over 18 years. In comparison, the state government’s operating budget for the coming year is $19 billion. Gambling is not going to rescue Connecticut from its budget problems. And that $3 billion is only a quarter of the casino’s slot machines revenue.

One can only wonder if the $12 billion lost at the casino’s slot machines could have been put to better uses, such as paying the mortgage or the weekly grocery bill."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


A $54 million USDA loan to the Mohegans?
By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published 06/02/2010 12:00

LD Posted - June 2, 2010 07:33 AM

Great job, Collins! Keep ferreting out the inequities! One curious thing I found in the article: The tribe is securing the loans with general obligation bonds. G.O. bonds are considered high quality because they are issued by a municipality which, in turn has the ability to raise taxes in order to insure there is enough money to pay back the loan in case of a shortfall. What such ability does the Mohegan tribe have to ensure the repayment of this loan?

(Report Abuse)

billd Posted - June 2, 2010 07:32 AM

Amazing, no response from Lieberman, lame duck Dodd and Courtney just found out about it. One would think one of them would question what the hell are we thinking knowing what is going on with their constituents. The best part is I am not sure they know who their constituents are!! The tribe is a foreign nation and we the people who are struggling need the money to survive are not being protected, Maybe one of them will wake up and see what a farce sovereignty is and will initiate a bill to END SOVEREIGNTY. A nation within our nation that uses our money when we are in such need. What a joke. Yes David continue to report on these abuses and don't let them slide under the table

(Report Abuse)

ctgirl Posted - June 2, 2010 06:35 AM

I think David Collins needs to find someone or something other than the tribes to write about--not too original and starting to sound like a one note opinion writer. By his reasoning, the State of CT that has some of the wealthiest communities in CT should not receive any federal funding either. Seems to me the taxpayers aren't subsidizing anything since it is a loan repaid with interest! A little misleading but then of course, designed to sell papers.

(Report Abuse)

Roberto Domingo Posted - June 2, 2010 06:32 AM

"Once completed, the new center will provide essential government services and create an estimated 1,279 jobs for this rural community," the press release said.

Thank goodness that our federal government is looking out for the rural areas of this country. Montville has been in the dark ages for so long. Next the feds need to help out the likes of rural Hartford and maybe even Providence Rhode Island. The Mohegan tribe must have some pretty influential friends who lobby for their NEEDS in the US Capital. What an amazing story of the needs of rural America. The best part is that each and every one of us actually get to be part of this by paying for this through our taxes. We should all feel part of the solution now.


EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Mohegan Tribal Members, do we need this? Who is to blame for this mess (bad press)? Could it be the Mohegan Tribal Council? Is it time for a change? Should these people go? What do you think?


A $54 million USDA loan to the Mohegans?
By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published 06/02/2010 12:00

It turns out that, for the purpose of funneling $54 million in federal stimulus money to the sovereign Mohegan Indians, you have to first define the tribe's reservation, which, on a slow day attracts tens of thousands of people, arriving on the tribe's own interstate highway connection, as a rural area.

That's right, it's the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its rural development program, that has agreed to lend the tribe the money to finish its stalled community center project.

"Through our programs, we touch rural America in many ways," the USDA says on its website about the rural development program.

In this case, the USDA is touching rural America by helping to develop, among other things, new executive offices for a tribal government that manages one of the world's largest casinos.

This is not a Tea Party fantasy. It's really true. The USDA announced the $54 million in loans to the Mohegans, money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in a press release last week.

Since then, no one has had a lot to say about the loans.

A Mohegan spokesman said the tribe does not want to comment until a briefing for tribal members, which is scheduled for next week.

The tribal spokesman did say, however, that the project will create construction jobs, not permanent new tribal jobs, as suggested in the USDA press release.

"Once completed, the new center will provide essential government services and create an estimated 1,279 jobs for this rural community," the press release said.

Not true, apparently.

A brief statement from Sen. Chris Dodd, issued when I asked his office for a comment on the loans, also made mention of the new jobs.

"These critical loans will fund the creation of nearly 1,300 jobs for residents of eastern Connecticut," Dodd's statement said.

Well, no.

The office of U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney also responded to questions about the loans with a statement.

It said the congressman first learned about the loans when the USDA made its announcement last Thursday.

"The Mohegan project was one of 145 projects in 37 states supported by the USDA's rural development program," the Courtney statement said. "In the case of the Mohegan Tribe, they applied for the loan as an eligible tribal entity and USDA selected theirs and other projects out of a host of competing applications."

Sen. Joe Lieberman's office did not respond at all.

The loans are strange on a lot of levels, even if you could get over the notion of a rural casino with a glass-walled 39-story hotel tower.

I could understand federal assistance to impoverished tribes in remote areas, where unemployment, inadequate health care and limited education opportunities are chronic problems.

But why should taxpayers subsidize a tribe in the Northeast that is so wealthy that it pays its members a per capita stipend, dividends from its successful gambling franchise.

I did ask a USDA spokesman to explain how the Mohegans qualified for a program meant to support rural areas, and she said Montville, with a population of 18,546 in the 2000 census, falls under the department's defining threshold of 20,000 people for a rural community.

The town's own website, though, currently lists its population at 20,003, not quite so rural.

The interest rate on the Mohegan loans is "market" rate, according to the USDA, currently 4.125 percent. The term is 30 years and the loans will be secured by general obligation bonds issued by the tribe.

So there are good things to say about the assistance, too.

The government might end up making money on the loans and they will at least, in the short term, help create construction jobs.

The loans also benefit one of eastern Connecticut's largest employers at a time when it is coping with harsh recessionary and competitive pressures.

The bad labeling here reminds me of the consequences of Chris Dodd's "VIP" mortgage loans for his home refinancing, which contributed to his political downfall.

It turns out the actual rate and terms of the senator's mortgage loans weren't all that preferential.

It's how they were characterized by the lender that got him into trouble.

This is the opinion of David Collins


Mohegans’ Pa. casino adds table games


The Connecticut tribe that owns Mohegan Sun Casino has installed table games at its Pennsylvania casino as that state prepares to open that style of gambling in July.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs added the first 30 of its incoming 82 tables games on May 26 and the rest will be installed in the coming weeks. The table games include poker, blackjack, craps and roulette. Pocono Downs will be the first in Pennsylvania to operate table games.

The Mohegans purchased the Plains, Pa. casino in 2005. It was Pennsylvania's first casino. It includes 55,000 square feet of gambling space and 2,500 slot machines and electronic table games. The facility also hosts live harness racing for eight months each year.