02/13/2006
From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Feds Hold Casino Meetings In Vancouver Feb 15th and 16th.  Be There!

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




Feds Hold Casino Meetings In Vancouver Feb 15th and 16th.  Be There!


That is this Wednesday, February 15th and Thursday, February 16th. 

Cowlitz Tribe says this is the most important meeting in their history.  They are trying to overwhelm the meetings.  

If you care about the future of Clark County, you need to be there and be there early so you get a good seat.

*****See Action Items Below:

*****See Columbian Casino article below:

*****See list of questions below:

These meetings will have key Federal Tribal gaming officials so they will also be of great interest to groups outside Vancouver who are concerned with Federal Indian Policy.  If you are interested in networking on the spread of Tribal casinos and Reservation Shopping, youíll get in touch with lots of key Reservation Shopping opponents who share your views at these meetings.

If you are not concerned about the massive spread of Reservation Shopping and Tribal gaming issues, you probably know someone that is.  Please forward this
message as widely as possible.

Itís time for communities to stand up and take back the control over the future of their communities. 

If you cannot come, but want to be in the No Reservation Shopping network, send an e-mail to ccushman@pacifier.com with ďNo Reservation ShoppingĒ in the subject line. 



Make your plans to be there now NOW!

The US Dept. of Interior has set two informational meetings this coming week.  Key officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Natíl. Indian Gaming Commission will be here to answer your questions.  

This is your chance to finally get some answers.  The decision makers will be here.

Donít miss out on your best opportunity to meet the most important people in the future of Clark and Cowlitz Counties as well as other areas concerned about reservation shopping.  

Casino Public Meetings:    (These are huge auditoriums)

Doors open at 5 p.m.

*****The first is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Prairie High School auditorium, 11500 NE 117th Avenue.  For those not familiar with the area, 117th is also SR 503.  Get off at the Padden Parkway exit on I-205 that says to Battle Ground.  Go East to 117th (SR 503) and turn left.  Prairie High School is just north of 99th St. You can also take SR 500 off I-205 and go East.  Keep going and it will turn into SR 503. Continue until you go past 99th St.

Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

*****The second is Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 pm in the auditorium of Fort Vancouver High School, 5700 E 18th Street.   Take the Mill Plain exit of I-5 East from or I-205 go West to Andreson.  Go North on Andreson to 18th.  Turn left on 18th. 

C-TRAN is providing free bus service to and from those meetings for Ridgefield and La Center residents.


You are invited to two public meetings with representatives from: 

The U.S. Department of the Interior 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs 

The National Indian Gaming Commission 

The Office of Indian Gaming Management 

On the stage will be Jim Cason, Acting Assistant Secretary of Interior for Indian Affairs,  George Skibine, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs,  Edith Blackwell, Interior Department Solicitor's Office, Penny Coleman, Counsel, National Indian Gaming Commission,  Maria Wiseman, Interior Department Solicitor's Office, and Stan Speaks, Regional Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Portland..  Mr. Speaks also will have staff there to answer questions, if need be.


From the Vancouver Columbian, Sunday, February 12th.     

      Casino backers, foes gird for meetings this week

      Sunday, February 12, 2006
      By JEFFREY MIZE, Columbian staff writer 

      This week's two meetings on the Cowlitz Tribe's casino project are supposed to be purely informational, a chance to discuss the complicated federal process for reviewing such requests and to answer questions. 

      Even so, supporters and opponents of the $510 million project west of La Center are rallying their forces as though sheer numbers and rhetorical thunder will determine who wins and who loses. 

      "Lest anybody think people out here don't care," said Tom Hunt, a spokesman for Citizens Against Reservation Shopping, a group formed in June to oppose the Cowlitz project. "We want to show them they do care." 

      Cowlitz tribal leaders also want to make an impression on federal officials. 

      John Barnett, Cowlitz chairman, sent a letter to tribe members last month imploring them to turn out in force for a pizza dinner and rally before each meeting and to stay for the proceedings. "Your tribe needs your help," Barnett wrote in a Jan. 24 letter. "These are two of the most critical meetings in our tribe's history. It is crucial that you, your family and your friends attend at least one of these meetings. Attendance at both meetings is even better." 

      Emotions were ratcheted up another notch Friday when Kamie Biehl, founder of Stand Up For Clark County Citizens, announced she was stepping down as group chairwoman after allegedly receiving threats to herself and family. 

      Some of the contentiousness has even trickled back to Washington, D.C. Federal officials, realizing the potential for informational meetings to become caustic free-for-alls, were crafting ground rules late Friday afternoon 

      "We're not going to let individuals monopolize the microphone for an undetermined amount of time," George Skibine, the Interior Department's acting deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development for Indian affairs, said earlier in the week. "We're not going to want the auditorium to become like a political convention." 

      Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., said people will be asked to sign up if they want to speak. After presentations by federal officials, cards will be randomly drawn. Those selected will be given two minutes to ask questions about the federal review process or to make statements about what issues should be considered in that process. 

      "We have done this in other communities, and it has worked very well," Darling said. 

      Officials want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to speak, she said. 

      "We're going to remind people this is not a voting process," she added. 

      If it were a vote, the community might be evenly divided. A scientific poll commissioned by The Columbian in September found that a slight majority of respondents, 51 percent, either strongly or somewhat support the tribe's project. Supporters were most likely to cite jobs and economic gain as to why they back the project; opponents most often zeroed in on opposition to gambling or their belief that gambling is addictive and destructive to communities. 

      David Barnett, son of Cowlitz Chairman John Barnett and the tribe's point man on the casino project, said he expects more than 400 supporters to turn out for the meetings. 

      "The leaders of the opposition seem to think they are the only ones with a voice and who can express concerns," Barnett said. "We have heard from many supporters who are fed up with the rhetoric and the misinformation presented by the opposition, and they want their voices heard." 

      This week's meetings were scheduled after Congressman Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, asked Interior Secretary Gale Norton to hold a forum in Southwest Washington to explain the convoluted federal process. The Cowlitz Tribe has applied for the federal government to take 152 acres along the west side of Interstate 5 into trust, a necessary step for building a casino projected to generate $415 million a year in gambling revenue. 

      Skibine, whom Norton selected to serve as federal point man on the Cowlitz project, will moderate this week's meetings. He will share the stage with a host of federal officials from Washington, D.C., and the Bureau of Indian Affairs' regional office in Portland. 

      The key official will be James Cason, associate deputy secretary of Interior and the person who could decide whether the Cowlitz can build a 134,150-square-foot casino fewer than 20 miles from the lucrative Portland-Vancouver market. 

      Normally, the assistant secretary of Indian affairs would make the decision, but that position is vacant. Cason is handling those duties on a temporary basis until the White House makes a permanent appointment. 

      Since passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, Indian casinos exploded into a $19 billion-a-year industry that as of 2004 brought in almost twice as much gambling revenue as Nevada's casinos, according to the nonprofit National Indian Gaming Association. 

      A landless tribe 

      The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act generally prohibits gambling on lands taken into trust by the federal government after October 1988. The act contains several exceptions to that prohibition, including for a tribe's initial reservation and for the restoration of lands for a restored tribe. 

      The Cowlitz are a landless tribe that received federal recognition in 2002. The tribe is seeking to have the government create its initial reservation west of La Center, but the tribe also could request federal permission for a casino using the restored lands process. 

      The tribe received a boost in that direction from a Nov. 23 opinion written by Penny Coleman, acting general counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission. 

      Coleman concluded the Cowlitz probably were not the dominant tribe in the region. But she said the historical record indicates the tribe used the area for "hunting, fishing, frequent trading expeditions, occasional warfare and, if not permanent settlement, then at least seasonal villages and temporary camps." 

      Opponents say they did not learn the Cowlitz were seeking a restored lands opinion until late in the process and did not have adequate time to submit meaningful comments. 

      Coleman is slated to review that process during this week's two meetings and could face fierce questioning from those who want her opinion discarded, something Skibine said has never happened before. 

      Federal officials also will address the perception that the Cowlitz Tribe "has the inside track and this is a done deal," Skibine said. 

      "We're going to make that point," he said. "I think there's a perception that the regional office of the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) is biased, and I think we are going to clarify that that's not the case." 

      Casino opponents have repeatedly complained about the Portland regional office being unwilling to provide information, which partially prompted Baird to request these meetings. 

      Baird himself will be tied up on congressional business in Washington, DC., and will not attend the two meetings. In an interview last week, Baird said he understands the two events are taking on symbolic importance. 

      "I think that's really to be expected," he said. "There's pent- up demand on both sides really to have someone hear their story, and that's pretty understandable. My hope would be that the first function of the meetings, making sure that everyone has information on the process, doesn't get lost in the other." 

      Baird believes the meetings will help put "a human face" on the community for federal officials. 

      It's also possible, he said, that the reverse will happen: that local residents will get a better understanding of the process and will not see federal officials as unsympathetic bureaucrats. 

      "That would be the ideal outcome," he said. 

      Regardless of the tone of the meetings, federal officials are unlikely to be swayed by fierce advocacy on either side. Skibine said they are used to heated opinions about proposed tribal casinos. 

      "It's pretty much par for the course," he said. "We have some cases where there is a little less public involvement or less interest. But in almost all cases where we have approved gaming since this administration has come in in 2001, it has resulted in a lawsuit challenging the secretary's decision." 

      Which means that Wednesday's and Thursday's meetings could be little more than a prelude to the inevitable court battle, a time for heated words that will mean little to the final outcome. 


      Public meetings 

      What: Federal meetings on the Cowlitz Tribe's proposed casino complex. Two meetings to present information on the federal review process and to answer questions. 

      Who: A host of federal officials, including James Cason, associate deputy secretary of Interior. 

      When, where: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Prairie High School, 11500 N.E. 117th Ave 

      7 p.m. Thursday, Fort Vancouver High School, 5700 E. 18th St. 

      Cost: Free and open to the public. 


      Who's who in the Cowlitz Tribe's casino proposal 

      Some of the people involved at different levels 


      Cowlitz Tribe and its allies 

      * John Barnett: Cowlitz Tribe chairman. John Barnett guided the tribe through its long struggle to win federal recognition, a 25-year battle that ended in success in early 2002. 

      * David Barnett: Cowlitz Tribe member and Seattle developer. Although his father is he tribe's leader, David Barnett is frontman and spokesman on the casino project. 

      * Philip Harju: Cowlitz Tribal Council member and a Thurston County deputy prosecutor. Harju testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee earlier this month and implored lawmakers not to pass a moratorium on new Indian casinos. 

      * Mohegan Tribe: Connecticut tribe that owns the Mohegan Sun and has joined forces with the Cowlitz. The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has agreed to contribute about $3 million and lend another $3.5 million to help the Cowlitz pay for development and land costs. The gaming authority would manage the Cowlitz casino for seven years, in return for 24 percent of the project's net revenues. 

      * Steve Horenstein: Attorney with Miller Nash in Vancouver who represents Salishan-Mohegan, the partnership between David Barnett and the Mohegan gaming authority. Horenstein's decision to represent the casino developer has put him on opposite sides of the issue from casino foe Ed Lynch, even though the two men hold the top leadership spots on the Vancouver National Historic Reserve Trust board of directors. 

      * Suzanne Schaeffer: Attorney with Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C., who represents the Cowlitz Tribe. Schaeffer works out of her home in Charlottesville, Va., and is well-versed in tribal law. She previously spent nine years working for the federal government, including seven years with the Interior Department and two years with the Justice Department. 

      * Stephen Dow Beckham: Lewis & Clark College professor who has researched the Cowlitz Tribe's past in Southwest Washington. His work is disputed by those who claim the tribe's roots lie farther north in Cowlitz and Lewis counties. 

      * John White: Vancouver consultant whose firm, The JD White Co., represents the Cowlitz Tribe and provides public relations advice. 

      * Eric Hovee: Vancouver consultant whose company prepared the socio-economic section of the still-unreleased draft environmental impact statement. Vancouver city officials and others already have blasted Hovee's work, putting them in an uncomfortable position of criticizing a consultant the city itself used on Vancouver Barracks redevelopment and other projects. 

      Casino opponents 

      * Ed Lynch: Founder and chairman of Citizens Against Reservation Shopping. Lynch, a retired construction executive, is a community activist and philanthropist. He maintains the tribe doesn't have significant roots in Clark County and fears its project would be destructive to the community. 

      * Tom Hunt: Former journalist working with Lynch in opposing the tribe's casino plans. Hunt also is a former congressional press secretary who previously formed a public relations company with Tony Bacon, publisher of The Daily Insider. 

      * Scott Campbell: The Columbian's publisher and a member of Lynch's group. Campbell believes a casino would be detrimental to the county, a position that is reflected in the newspaper's editorials. He is following in the footsteps of his late father, Don Campbell, who was instrumental in pushing cardrooms out of downtown Vancouver more than two decades ago. 

      * Kamie Biehl: Founder of Stand Up For Clark County Citizens, the first group formed to oppose the Cowlitz Tribe's project. Biehl said she resigned as the group's chairwoman last week after receiving threats against herself and her family. 

      * Chuck Cushman: Founder and executive director of American Land Rights Association. Cushman, who lives near Battle Ground, made a national name for himself during the 1990s advocating for property owners and opposing environmental regulations. He largely disappeared from the local political scene until resurfacing on the casino issue. 

      * Alvin Alexanderson: Former Oregon assistant attorney general who spent 22 years working for Portland General Electric before moving to a home 2,000 feet away from the casino site five years ago. Anderson has researched the Cowlitz Tribe's past in Southwest Washington and reached different conclusions from those presented by the tribe. He testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee earlier this month. 

      * George Teeny: Owner of the Last Frontier and the New Phoenix in La Center. His mini-casinos rank No. 1 and No. 2 among top-grossing cardrooms in Washington, raking in almost $22.3 million for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2005. 

      * Steve Michels: Owner of the Chips Casino and the Palace in La Center. His mini-casinos rank No. 5 and No. 6 among Washington's cardrooms, earning almost $15.6 million during the most recent 12-month period. 

      * Guy Martin: Attorney with Perkins Coie in Washington, D.C., who represents La Center's nontribal cardrooms. Martin was an assistant Interior secretary in the Carter administration. During the 1990s, he represented several Connecticut towns in their fight against expansion of the Foxwoods casino In this new casino battle, Martin has urged the local governments not to cut deals with the Cowlitz Tribe and to prepare for legal war. 

      * Bradley Beecher: Former state police lieutenant and Mohegan Tribe employee in Connecticut. Beecher and his wife have sent repeated e-mails to The Columbian and other media alleging the Mohegan Sun faces little regulatory oversight in Connecticut and warning the same will happen in Washington if the Cowlitz Tribe builds a casino here. 

      Federal officials 

      * Gale Norton: U.S. Interior secretary. Norton leads the federal department that includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs. However, the assistant secretary of Indian affairs, a position that is presently vacant, will have final decision-making authority on the Cowlitz Tribe's proposal. 

      * James Cason: Associate deputy secretary of Interior. Cason also is handling duties of the assistant secretary of Indian affairs until the White House makes an appointment, which means he may or may not be the person who make the ultimate decision on the Cowlitz Tribe's application. 

      * George Skibine: Director of the Interior Department's Office of Indian Gaming. Skibine also serves as acting deputy assistant secretary of policy and economic development for Indian affairs. He has been designated as the federal government's point man on the Cowlitz Tribe's project and will oversee this week's meetings at Prairie and Fort Vancouver high schools. 

      * Penny Coleman: Acting general counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission. Coleman wrote the Nov. 23 federal opinion concluding the Cowlitz Tribe has historical ties to the casino site and and that the property would qualify as "restored lands" for the tribe. She is likely to face fierce questioning during this week's meetings. 

      * Stan Speaks: Regional director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Portland for more than 20 years. Speaks heads up the local review process for the Cowlitz Tribe's project and will make a recommendation, but the final decision will be made in Washington, D.C. 

      * June Boynton: Regional environmental protection specialist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Portland. Boynton is overseeing the environmental impact process for the Cowlitz Tribe's proposal. The massive draft statement still has not been released to the public. 

      * Brian Baird: Southwest Washington's congressman. Baird has tried to straddle the fence and has sided neither with the tribe nor with constituents adamantly opposed to the project. Instead, the Vancouver Democrat repeatedly has called for an open, transparent process. He succeeded in getting Norton to appoint Skibine as point man on the Cowlitz process and to schedule this week's two meetings. 

      * John McCain: U.S. senator, chairman of the Senate Indians Affairs Committee and likely presidential candidate in 2008. The Arizona Republican generally is considered a friend of the tribes; Mohegan officials say McCain personally urged them to reach out and help other tribes, like the Cowlitz. McCain, however, also has advocated stemming the proliferation of Indian casinos near large metropolitan areas and on lands recently taken into trust by the federal government. 

      * Maria Cantwell: U.S. senator who also serves on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. During a committee hearing earlier this month, the Washington Democrat said the Cowlitz project illustrates the complexities of the federal process. Like Baird, Cantwell has steered a middle course on the tribe's proposal as she prepares to run for re-election this fall. Her likely opponent, Republican Mike McGavick, said he knew little about the project during a campaign stop in Clark County last month. 

      Local officials 

      * Clark County commissioners: The three elected officials who represent all of Clark County. Betty Sue Morris is the only holdover from the previous board that signed an agreement with the Cowlitz Tribe in 2004. The two commissioners who subsequently left office, Craig Pridemore and Judie Stanton, are members of the anti-casino group, Citizens Against Reservation Shopping. 

      * La Center City Council: The five elected officials who represent the city closest to the tribe's project and the one that has the most to lose. La Center received 62 percent of its revenue last year from gambling taxes paid by its four nontribal cardrooms. The council is walking a political tightrope, considering a draft agreement from the Cowlitz that would provide up to $3 million a year to compensate for lost gambling revenue while asking Norton to set aside a November 2005 opinion saying the tribe has historic connections to the casino site. 

      * Vancouver City Council: The seven elected officials who represent the county's largest city. The council largely has been silent on the casino and has not had a work session on the issue, even though the project could have a significant effect on the city because of the need for affordable housing for its employees. Mayor Royce Pollard has met with Cowlitz Chairman John Barnett on several occasions but has been careful to steer a middle course in his few public statements. 

      * Pat McDonnell: Vancouver's city manager. McDonnell sent a blistering letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in November, saying city officials were "exceptionally disappointed in the quality of the analysis" in the draft environmental impact statement. McDonnell warned that the city likely will challenge the legal adequacy of the document unless significant improvements are made, a proverbial shot across the bow in what could be an upcoming battle. 

     
Here are some questions to think about when you go to the meetings:
.
Why do the Cowlitz casino developers 
want to shut out local governments? 

Why is the public always the last to know 
their plans ó even though they could have 
a huge impact on our communities? 

Why wonít the Regional BIA answer our questions? 

Why does its staff make us file Freedom of Information Act requests? 

Why was the Cowlitz Tribe allowed to tie its gaming ordinance
application to its site application? 

Why does the tribe submit its applications secretly? 

Why do the casino developers keep asking local governments to sign joint agreements? 

Why does the federal government act like itís OK that regular citizens donít 
get due process? When is it our turn to know whatís really going on? 

Donít you want to know?


*****Action Items:

-----1.  Please forward this message to your personal e-mail list.

-----2.  Call at least three friends and neighbors to urge them to go to the meetings.

-----3.  Go by the information tables of the casino opponents.  There will be a lot of information you can take and read.

-----4.  Get to the meetings early to get a good seat.

-----5.  If you live outside Clark or Cowlitz Counties, this meeting will affect you too.  Make sure you let your local elected officials know about the meetings.




*****This is a critically important message.  Please forward it as widely as possible.

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