From: alra@governance.net
Subject: McCain Reservation Shopping Hearing Wednesday -- Lobbying Scandal Too

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
Alliance Against Reservation Shopping
PO Box 400 - Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 - FAX: 360-687-2973
Email: alra@pacifier.com or alra@governance.net
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE - Washington, DC 20003

McCain Reservation Shopping Hearing Wednesday -- Lobbying Scandal Too

*****Critical Hearing Wednesday, February 1st.

You can watch this important hearing by tuning in at 9:30 AM Eastern time or 6:30 AM Pacific Time at:  http://indian.senate.gov/    You’ll find the hearing listed on the home page.  Click on Live Broadcast.   RealOne Player software is available at the website.   Call (202) 224-2251 for help.  

****Hearing Room Change – The McCain hearing will now be held in 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building.  It is a much larger hearing room.   That is a change from the 485 Russell SOB.   

The John McCain (R-AZ) led Senate Indian Affairs Committee calls it Off-Reservation Gaming: The Process for Considering Gaming Applications.

New reservation shopping casinos threaten private property across the country.

If you like the Abramoff lobbying scandal, You’ll Love Reservation Shopping
and the expansion of off-reservation casinos.

Is your community losing political control to reservation shopping tribal casinos?

Are your private property rights being jeopardized by some land grabbing tribes who don’t care about your culture, your history, your families or community? 

Are you interested in selling your county’s political future?  --  the tribes are buying.

Do You Want To Help Put A Stop To This Mess?

Ask both your Senators and your Congressman to support a moratorium on any money for processing new off-reservation casinos for three years.  This is important because if you just say moratorium, then the Interior Department and Bureau of Indian Affairs will continue to process applications up until the end of the moratorium.  Then the flood gates will open.  Don’t let that happen.  Call your Senators and Congressman now.  

*****See the Action Items Below for the contact information.

Threat to Communities:

Do you think you have a say in how your county or community votes and makes decisions?  Perhaps you do.  But if a new off-reservation casino comes to your town you will lose a great deal of local control.   The casino owning tribe is likely to take over your local politics.  

A new land grab is taking place across America.  It involves Indian tribes reservation shopping for a place to make big bucks, often at your expense.  And they don’t have to pay any attention to existing local laws, environmental requirements, schools or pay taxes to the state and local government.  Now some do make contributions.  But often it is well below what they would have to pay in taxes.  

Some tribes are pretty devious if not underhanded about how they are going about getting their new reservations and casinos approved.    Back room deals.  Payoffs.  Sneaking around the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and the Bureau of Land Management (BIA).  These agencies don’t appear to care in the least about local communities.  And the Interior Department is not providing much oversight.

The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was intended to regulate Indian casinos on existing reservations.  But there was a hook.  There were several exceptions that the tribes are now driving a huge casino truck through.

The bulk of the Abramoff Lobbying Scandal can be tied to reservation shopping and the effort by over 200 tribes to site new reservations with casinos wherever they can make big money, even if that is right in the middle of your neighborhood or community.   We have pictures of casinos butting up to neighborhoods near schools.  

Adding to the danger is that these tribes trying set up new reservations are often funded by out of state or foreign investors who don’t care about your community.  These folks have big bucks and will do whatever it takes to win.  

Other tribes like the Mohegans of Connecticut are exporting tribal casinos to several areas of the country.  They are funding the Cowlitz Tribe north of Portland near La Center and the Minominee Tribe in Kenosha, Wisconsin south of Milwaukee.

Adding to that,  some tribes will pay off Congressmen, Senators, and very often local officials.  The Abramoff Scandal is just a prime example.

You can see the local officials wilt before your eyes under the pressure. . .. or the money.

And if the local officials stand up to them, then the tribes band together and try to defeat the elected officials.

Former Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) is one prime example.  He opposed the off-reservation expansion of tribal casinos.  So the tribes in Washington State got together to give huge amounts of money to Gorton’s opponent, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).  She defeated Gorton by just a few thousand votes in 2000.

Was this important?

It led to Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) of Vermont being offered carrots by the Democrats to change his party affiliation that led to the Republicans losing control of the Senate for 2002.

A local example is in Southwest Washington where the Cowlitz Tribe is trying to site the fifth largest casino in America 15 miles north of Portland Oregon.  Only the MGM Grand is bigger in Las Vegas. 

The Cowlitz have 2,500 square miles of territory which was their original aboriginal lands.  It includes several Interstate 5 exit opportunities.  It even includes communities that want a casino. 

Never mind.  The Cowlitz want to go outside their territory to impose their proposed casino on communities that do not want them.

In the process they are intimidating local officials and throwing their weight around with reckless abandon.  They are telling local officials that they must sign deals or else lose out.  It isn’t true but they have so much money and power from their investors, the giant Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, that some elected officials appear to be close to caving in. 

If the Cowlitz are successful in Southwest Washington, no elected official will make a decision that affects the Cowlitz in any way without checking with the Cowlitz first.  Local control will have gone away.  That is the pattern in other parts of the country. 

The entire political future of Clark County, Washington is at risk in this battle.

A similar problem exits in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Minominee Tribe has been trying to build a casino there for years.  Their reservation is 200 miles to the north.  Their big money partners, the Mohegans of Connecticut, are a thousand miles to the east.  An attempt failed a few years ago when it was discovered that there were huge payoffs, corruption and ties to organized crime involved.

Now the Minominee Tribe is back for another try.  They have convinced the local leaders in a small area to accept the casino.

The problem.

None of the other communities close by have any say at all.  Nor do they get any money to compensate them for the social damage caused by the casino in their area.  Gambling addition, substance abuse, and welfare costs can skyrocket with a new tribal casino.  

In Kenosha the Minominee Tribe will help with costs in just Kenosha, not the surrounding communities or down south in Chicago, Illinois or north in Milwaukee where most of the visitors will come from and the social costs will be borne.

So the tribes can buy their way in, control local officials with money or political threats and ultimately you are the loser.

You lose control over your community. You will lose control over your private property.   All the big decisions will have to be approved by the tribe, behind closed doors of course.

If your community is facing the threat of a new Indian reservation with a casino, let us know.  Send us the background.  The more horror stories we make the public aware of, the better chance we have to stop this giant land and power grab.

We’ll send your story out for others to learn from.

Right now the US Congress is considering legislation to reign in the massive expansion of new reservations for casinos.  

Congress is so concerned about the Abramoff Lobbying Scandal that they are rushing lobbying reform.  Some of that is good.  Some is not.  Congress often makes mistakes when it rushes to judgment.

One good thing is that Congress is considering a moratorium on reservation shopping and new off-reservation casino sites by the tribes.  American Land Rights and the Alliance Against Reservation Shopping supports a three-year moratorium.  That means no money can be spent to process casino reservations for three years.

In addition, Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) is proposing a bill to provide local communities with more say as tribes try to engage in reservation shopping.  His discussion draft (on www.landrights.org) would have the legislature vote and allow for a local community vote.  It also would provide for other hoops the tribe and Bureau of Indian Affairs would have to go through.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, has offered up legislation (S 2078 also available at www.landrights.org) to amend the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 and allow communities more say in the process.  Unfortunately, his bill includes a grandfather clause that needs to be taken out.  

The Grandfather clause would allow a whole bunch of Tribes now engaged in the process to move forward.  There must not be any exceptions or grandfather clause.

Another good thing Senator McCain is doing is taking a close look at the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, both appear riddled with corruption and ineptness.  They operate in a closed process, limited public input and care less about what communities have to say.

Communities should not lose control over their future. 

*****Action Items:

-----1.  Plan to watch the McCain Indian Affairs and Reservation Shopping hearing this coming Wednesday, February 1st at 9:30 AM Eastern Time.  That is 6:30 AM Pacific.  You should plan to send Senator McCain your comments.  The e-mail and fax addresses are below.

-----2.  Help us help you.  Get on the e-mail list of the Alliance Against Reservation Shopping.  Just your name, e-mail, fax and address, and we’ll put you on the list and keep you informed about Congressional and Administration actions.  

E-mail it to:  ccushman@pacifier.com and put Reservation Shopping in the subject line.   There is no cost and you can remove yourself from the list at any time.  You have complete control.

-----3.  Call, fax or e-mail your Congressman to urge him or her to support a three-year moratorium on any funding for new tribal gaming facilities and casinos as part of lobbying reform.  Ask that he or she oppose reservation shopping in your area and support House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) in his effort to re-write the law to protect local communities and private property owners.  All Congressmen may be called at (202) 225-3121.

-----4.  Call, fax or e-mail both your Senators to urge them to support a three-year moratorium on any new funding for new tribal casinos and gaming facilities now.  No loopholes or exceptions.  Also ask them to oppose reservation shopping in your area and support Senator McCain in his effort to clean up this mess.  All Senators may be called at (202) 224-3121.

-----5.  Call, fax or e-mail Rep. Richard Pombo’s office to urge him to move his reservation shopping bill as soon as possible and include a three-year moratorium on any funding for processing applications by the tribes.   Call (202) 225-2761.  Fax: (202) 225-5929.  E-mail:  resources.committee@mail.house.gov

-----6.  Call Senator John McCain’s office to urge his staff to add the three-year moratorium including the no funding provision to any lobbying reform legislation and get his reservation shopping bill passed in the Senate.  The bill number is      S 2078.  Call (202) 224-2251.  Fax: (202) 224-5429.  E-mail:  John_mccain@mccain.senate.gov

-----7.  Get your website and contact information listed at www.landrights.org.  We’re adding a special Reservation Shopping section listing the websites of all groups we know about so everyone in the country interested in Reservation Shopping can connect up.  You’ll be able to quickly contact them through the  links at www.landrights.org for groups nationwide interested in Reservation Shopping.    

Be sure to send us your name, address, phone, fax, e-mail and website with a short background about your issue if you can.  

American Land Rights has over 600,000 e-mail addresses and over 900,000 fax numbers.  We’ll reach out and touch a lot of people with your information.

Don’t forget to watch Senator McCain’s hearing on Reservation Shopping on Wednesday morning.  

Please forward this message as widely as possible.

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