Full term for Sen. John McCoy

Source: The Herald

State Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, is bracingly honest, a virtue that can feel out of place in the glad-handing Legislature. He reduces challenges to their essence, no sugarcoating, no false pledges. It’s a leadership style as jarring as it is invigorating, particularly in an institution of promise-makers.

McCoy, who served in the state House for 11 years and was appointed to the Senate last year, deserves election to a full, four-year term. (His Republican challenger has not actively campaigned.)

McCoy yielded some of his legislative power by seeking the Senate seat that opened after Nick Harper’s resignation in 2013. No longer a committee chair and part of the Democratic minority, McCoy serves as the ranking member on the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee. It’s a role consistent with his wonky passion for green energy, the health of Puget Sound and all-things technology.

On the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, McCoy offers the “no free lunch” gospel. The matter of supplementing K-12 to the tune of $2 billion is compounded by other mandates such as the August state Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing the practice of “psychiatric boarding” in hospital emergency rooms. Add to that the 2013 permanent injunction by a federal district court to remove barriers to fish passage on state-highway culverts, and we’re talking real money. Initiative 1351, aimed at reducing class size, is another log on the fire, McCoy said. It will make getting-to-yes that much more arduous.

The revenue challenge is a problem “bigger than both parties,” he said, and he’s right. Much of the budget can’t be touched, with the alliterative basics — to educate, to medicate and to incarcerate. Some non-regressive tax increase may be required.

McCoy believes the possibility of a transportation-finance package revolves around the political make-up of the Senate. He and other senators didn’t even have the option of voting on a package this past session. McCoy has bird-dogged oil by rail, coal trains and the need for advance notification to communities (a Bakken crude explosion in the Everett tunnel is one of several worse-case scenarios.) He offers an eliminate-at-the-source approach to the fish-consumption standard, which informs acceptable levels of cancer-causing crud flowing into NW waterways. He also concentrates on mental health support to tamp down gun violence. And he concedes that, after the transfer of SPEEA jobs, Boeing was “not being truthful” when the original Boeing tax giveaway was magoozled in a special session.

Judgment and candor are rare qualities in politics. Elect John McCoy.

County Exec. & 44th Rep. candidates meet at forum

Democrat Mike Wilson, candidate for the 44th District Representative race, addresses the crowds at the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Sept. 26.— image credit: Brandon Adam

Democrat Mike Wilson, candidate for the 44th District Representative race, addresses the crowds at the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Sept. 26.
— image credit: Brandon Adam

 

By: Brandon Adam, Marysville Globe

TULALIP — Candidates for the 44th Legislative District Representative and Snohomish County Executive races compared and contrasted their views during the Sept. 26 candidate forum conducted by the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

Snohomish County Executive and Democrat John Lovick faced off against Republican challenger and Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick, after Mill Creek Council member and Republican Mark Harmsworth and Democrat Mike Wilson squared off over the 44th District Representative seat left open by exiting incumbent Mike Hope.

The four subjects addressed by the 44th District candidates covered education, transportation, business and environmental pollution, with each being allowed to offer rebuttals to their opponents’ proposed solutions.

Harmsworth held that transportation, jobs and education are integral parts of the community. He would seek funding for public transportation and improvements in highway traffic.

“I have a job in Bellevue, so my commute varies between thirty minutes and an hour and a half, depending on the color of the rain that day,” Harmsworth said. “So we’re definitely looking to improve things on I-5 and Highway 2.”

Wilson, a government and politics teacher at Cascade High School, touted himself as a moderate and proposed bipartisan solutions accordingly.

“I’ve been able to put resources together and meet people in the middle through tough situations,” Wilson said. “When I go to Olympia, I’ll be that person in the middle.”

The Snohomish County Executive candidates were asked about their positions on Paine Field commercial air service, the Snohomish County Jail and Denney Juvenile Justice Center, the Tulalip Tribes sales tax and the county budget.

Eslick asserted her number-one priority was fiscal responsibility, but also voiced strong opinions about a “complete overhaul” in the criminal justice system, where she said management and leadership were missing, and punishments for crimes were not strict enough.

Lovick, having worked 31 years in law enforcement, defended his role, stating that the executive powers have no say in changes to criminal justice, since the decisions are made on the legislative level.

Election day for the Snohomish County general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4. For more information, log onto http://snohomishcountywa.gov/224/Elections-Voter-Registration.

Washington Ballot Measure Targets Online Gun Sales

By Austin Jenkins, Northwest News Network

This November, Washington voters will decide whether to require background checks for person-to-person gun sales.

Initiative 594 would close what gun control advocates used to call the “gun show loophole.” But these days, much of the unregulated gun trade is happening online.

‘It isn’t going to change anything

 

 

Aman More is a gun enthusiast who collects guns as a hobby. He won’t say exactly how many he owns. But when he buys or sells a firearm, he doesn’t necessarily go to a gun store. He’s just as likely to go online to a website like ARMSLIST — a kind of Craigslist for guns.

More said the on-line marketplace is great for finding hard to find guns.

“I picked this M6 Scout, it’s an over-under. It’s a 22 over 410 that is damn near impossible to find at a gun shop,” Mone said. “So because of ARMSLIST I could find it and find it at a good deal.”

Because More bought this rifle from another individual, no background check was required. Initiative 594 on Washington’s November ballot would change that. If it passes, individuals would have to go to a federally-licensed firearms dealer and pay that person to conduct a background check on the buyer.

More is firmly opposed to I-594. He wants to keep person-to-person gun sales unregulated.

“Making it harder for people like us to access firearms isn’t going to change anything,” he said. “You look at places like Chicago where it’s damn near impossible to get a firearm and the crime rate is insane over there.”

An unregulated market?

But sponsors of I-594 argue criminals are “flocking” to the online marketplace. They point to a recent report by the gun control group Everytown For Gun Safety. It identified 81 people in Washington who posted online ads seeking to buy a gun. The report determined 8 of those 81 were barred from possessing a gun because of a previous conviction.

Zach Silk, campaign manager for I-594, said that report indicates 10 percent of online buyers are prohibited from owning a gun.

“I would suggest that that’s too high a number and we can do more to reduce that,” Silk said. “One of the ways to do that is to make sure that rather than this being a private market that’s completely unregulated, let’s bring those people into the light of day and put them in a dealership.”

By dealership he means a licensed gun dealer. The Everytown For Gun Safety findings have not been independently verified. But the organization said it passed along its findings to law enforcement. Court records indicate federal agents periodically monitor on-line gun listings. And federal prosecutors have charged people for illegal Internet sales.

In Seattle, the U.S. Attorney is currently prosecuting a convicted felon who allegedly arranged to buy and sell guns on Facebook. In 2012, a Washington man was sentenced to prison for illegally selling a gun on ARMSLIST to a Canadian citizen. That buyer then used the gun to murder a woman he had dated.

A dueling measure: I-591

“I have concerns about online gun sales as well,” said Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue. He also read the report by Everytown For Gun Safety, but he had a different takeaway

.

 

Gottlieb said it shows the vast majority of online gun shoppers are not criminals.

“Now if we want to talk about to figure out how to stop those small numbers, I’ll sit down and talk with you,” he said. “But when you want to stop and infringe on everybody else’s rights, that’s the problem.”

Last year, Gottlieb worked behind the scenes with Washington lawmakers on compromise background check legislation. But that effort failed. This year he’s leading the campaign for a dueling gun measure on Washington’s November ballot. Initiative 591 would prohibit the state from adopting a more rigorous background check requirement.

‘Most of them are just gun enthusiasts’

More said that whenever he trades guns on ARMSLIST he takes precautions. He fills out a bill of sale and copies down the buyer’s driver’s license number. He prefers to sell to buyers with a concealed pistol license.

“Of all of the people that I’ve met on ARMSLIST, I haven’t one person come up that didn’t have the paperwork, that didn’t have a CPL,” Mone said. “Most of them are just gun enthusiasts.”

As for the pistol he recently listed on ARMSLIST, More said he sold it – to a candidate for Congress.

But he won’t reveal the name.

“I’ll fucking cut you.” Behind the scenes of the 1491s’ segment on “The Daily Show”

Photo courtesy of Migizi Pensoneau

Photo courtesy of Migizi Pensoneau

Posted by Migizi Pensoneau at the Missoula Independent

Editor’s note: Last night “The Daily Show” aired a segment about Washington’s controversial football team nickname. The segment included the 1491s, a Native American comedy troupe the Indy has profiled and which includes Migizi Pensoneau, who lives in Missoula and contributes regularly to the paper. Migizi wrote the following behind-the-scenes account of the segment and how it came about.

A couple of weeks back, the 1491s got an email from a producer at “The Daily Show” hosted by Jon Stewart. They were recruiting for a panel discussion regarding the Washington Redskins, and the mascot controversy that surrounds the team. And they wanted us—a Native American sketch comedy/video group that tackles everything from Indian Country politics to fart jokes—to weigh in. As a writer, educator, satirist and smart-ass, I was excited about the opportunity. While we love the reach that YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet avenues provide, there’s something bewitching about being on national TV, and on a show we respect.

Less than a week after we got the email, three members of our group—including me—were whisked away to our nation’s capitol for two full days of shooting. The morning after we arrived, a Saturday, we learned more about the premise of the shoot. There would be two panels: pro-Redskins fans (as in, pro-mascot, pro-dressing up as Indian, anti-name changers) and anti-mascot activists, which included the three of us joined by five other indigenous panelists. The plan was to let the first panel make their case: talk about how the mascot honors Natives, that the name “Redskins” only refers to fans of the team and not Native Americans—standard pro-mascot arguments. Then, at a designated point, the host, Jason Jones, would ask, “Would you say all of this stuff directly to a Native American?” To which they’d presumably say, “Yes,” and then Jones would cue us to enter. The panel would be embarrassed, we’d be indignant, they’d be on their way—appropriately uncomfortable—and then we’d get our chance to talk.

Simple.

After a long wait in an adjacent green room, completely cut off visually and aurally from the pro-Redskins panel, we were finally asked in. We entered the room, looked indignant, and there was a wonderfully uncomfortable silence. Jones played the buffoon, eating some wings and drinking a beer. But then, one of the pro-mascot fellas started to defend their position, and everything derailed. This is the part you don’t really see in its full glory on the segment: As some of the anti-mascot activists started in passionately on the issue, pro-mascot panelist Kelli O’Dell, who was previously employed by the Washington Redskins and whose Internet presence is devoted to her support of the team and mascot, started to cry. My ever-dapper 1491s colleague, Bobby Wilson, offered her his own handkerchief. It was an intense situation, but never mean-spirited. O’Dell, though, started to accuse us of ambushing and lying and “how dare you.” (Later, after the shoot but before the episode aired, it would be reported by the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Time, Gawker, Uproxx, Buzzfeed and CBS that she felt in danger and this experience would smear her name.)

Sobbing and accusatory, she and the others left. From there, we took a break to reset the room, and we did our panel. This one went incredibly well and I’m proud to have been a part of it. The producer, crew and Jones were wonderful to us, and we all walked out of there with hugs and smiles. It was 180 degrees from the previous panel, and we were happy about it.

The next morning, football Sunday, the three of us went to FedEx Field as part of the show. “The Daily Show” taped us wandering around the “Redskins Nation” tailgate, though that never made it on air. I, rather naively, thought maybe we’d be able use our presence at the tailgate as a way to showcase our humanity, and let the Washington Team know that there are Native Americans out there who are among them—real people not relegated to the eternal myth of history. Maybe we’d change a mind or two. Or, at least, maybe some ignorant hilarity could be caught on camera. It was worth a try, so with a camera crew following us, one little, two little and a third big Indian struck out into FedEx Field’s Redskin Nation tailgate.

That did not go as I’d hoped.

There were points during that hour-long experience where I actually was afraid for my life. I have never been so blatantly threatened, mocked or jeered. It was so intense, so full of vitriol that none of the footage ended up being used in the segment. I’m a big dude—6’1”, and a lotta meat on the bones. But a blonde little wisp of a girl completely freaked me out as I waited in line for the bathroom. “Is that shirt supposed to be funny?” she asked motioning to my satirical “Caucasians” T-shirt. And then she said, “I’ll fucking cut you.” Actually, she didn’t scare me so much as the wannabe linebackers standing behind her who looked like they wanted to make good on her threat.

On one level, I get it. I’m walking around with an ironic T-shirt on, being a Native in the middle of FedEx Field with a camera crew from “The Daily Show” nearby. But amid the jeers, mocking and threats, did I cry, and accuse them of ambush? No, because I knew what I was getting myself into. It’s “The Daily Show.” I know the format. More than that though, I didn’t back down or break down because I knew in my heart and conscience I was doing the right thing, as silly as the method may have been.

I think back to the tailgate: the man blowing cigar smoke in my face, the man who mockingly yelled, “Thanks for letting us use your name!”, the group who yelled at us to “go the fuck home,” the little waif who threatened to cut me, the dude who blew the train horn on his truck as I walked by the hood. I think of all of that, and I think back to O’Dell crying and trying desperately to get out of the room full of calm Natives. I thought she was crying because she was caught unawares and was afraid. But I realized that was her defense mechanism, and that by overly dramatizing her experience, she continued to trivialize ours. It was privilege in action. And as I realized these things, something else became incredibly clear: She knew she was wrong.

Watch “The Daily Show” segment here:

Will More Coal, Oil Trains Rumble Through Northwest?

By Chris Thomas, Public News Service
PHOTO: Eleven oil-by-rail projects have been proposed for the Northwest since 2012. This car, known as a DOT-111, is the type that carries Bakken crude oil. Photo courtesy U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.


PHOTO: Eleven oil-by-rail projects have been proposed for the Northwest since 2012. This car, known as a DOT-111, is the type that carries Bakken crude oil. Photo courtesy U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

SEATTLE – About two dozen projects have been proposed in the past two years to move the Northwest toward becoming a transportation hub for coal, oil and gas to Asia.

A new Sightline Institute report examines the combination of rail, pipeline and fuel terminal proposals across Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Report author Eric de Place, Sightline’s policy director, said public input is critical as local land-use agencies determine the fate of each project. Regionally, he said, he thinks Native American voices also will be important.
“It’s almost impossible to overstate the potential for the Tribes to derail these plans,” he said. “They have treaty rights with the U.S. government that allow them to, in many cases, put a stop to these plans almost immediately.”
Last week’s meeting of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians included a three-hour workshop on climate change. Last year, the coalition of 72 tribes passed a resolution opposing the transport and export of fossil fuels in the Northwest.
Deborah Parker, a council member of the Tulalip Tribes, said they are prepared to do more.
“Co-Salish Tribes, we’re in 110 percent agreement,” she said. “We do not want to see these oil trains here. Turning our region into a fossil-fuel depository and port of departure? It will not be economically beneficial – not anywhere near the degree that it’ll be economically disastrous.”
For the most part, she said, the tribes haven’t been convinced that the job potential of the coal, oil and gas projects is significant enough to offset the damage to land, fish and wildlife.
Estimates in the Sightline Institute report indicate that Washington’s ambitious plan for reducing carbon pollution can be tossed if all the fuel-transport proposals are approved. De Place said the changes would increase the Northwest’s carbon footprint by three to five times.
“I think it’s fair to say that most people are astonished at the scale of the transformation that this region is about to embark on if fossil-fuel companies get their way, and that decision is all happening within the next couple of years,” he said. “The scale is much, much bigger than most people realize.”
The Sightline Institute report is online at sightline.org.

Senate Passes Sens. Moran and Heitkamp Bill to End IRS’ Unfair Treatment of Indian Tribes

Sep 24,2014 – Senate Passes Sens. Moran and Heitkamp Bill to End IRS’ Unfair Treatment of Indian Tribes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a member of the Committee on Indian Affairs, to end the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) practice of taxing crucial programs and services that aim to support the health and safety of Native families. The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week and next heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“Tribes are sovereign governments that often provide services to their citizens,” Sen. Moran said. “I am pleased Congress has come together to make certain tribal citizens are not unfairly taxed while respecting tribal sovereignty. By clarifying the definition of general welfare programs, this legislation will enhance economic development and the quality of life in Indian Country.”

“As a former attorney general and as a lawyer, I view these Native American treaty rights and trust responsibilities as a contract between the U.S. and our American Indian tribes. Yet for far too long, that contract has been broken. Our legislation takes an important step to repair it,” said Sen. Heitkamp. “This week, the Senate and House took a huge step forward and came together to pass our bipartisan bill which levels the playing field for Native families. It will enable tribal governments to decide which programs best help their communities thrive, just as local and state governments do. For too long, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve heard stories of the IRS questioning a tribal government’s ability to provide school supplies to elementary school children, or levying a tax on a ramp erected for a tribal elder to access her home. This law shows that we respect tribal sovereignty by making sure tribal citizens get the rights they deserve.”

The Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act will fully recognize that Indian tribes – as sovereign nations – are responsible for making certain their government programs and services best fit the needs of their citizens, just as other local governments across the country do. For years, Indian tribes have been taxed for providing health care, education, housing, or legal aid to those in need. Local and state governments throughout the United States frequently offer such services to those who need assistance, but the people receiving help are not taxed by the IRS.

Once signed into law, the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act will:

• Mandate tribal government programs, services and benefits authorized or administered by tribes for tribal citizens, spouses and dependents are excluded from income as a “general welfare exclusion”;
• Clarify that items of cultural significance (e.g., paying someone to lead sacred Indian ceremonies) or cash honoraria provided by tribal governments shall not represent compensation for services and shall be excluded from taxable income;
• Direct the Secretary of Treasury to require education and training of IRS field agents on federal Indian law

Tribes from US, Canada sign bison treaty.

Tribes from US, Canada sign bison treaty.

By Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Native tribes from the U.S. and Canada signed a treaty Tuesday establishing an inter-tribal alliance to restore bison to areas of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains where millions of the animals once roamed.

Leaders of 11 tribes from Montana and Alberta signed the pact during a daylong ceremony on Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation, organizers said.

It marks the first treaty among the tribes and First Nations since a series of agreements governing hunting rights in the 1800s. That was when their ancestors still roamed the border region hunting bison, also called buffalo.

The long-term aim of Tuesday’s “Buffalo Treaty” is to allow the free flow of the animals across the international border and restore the bison’s central role in the food, spirituality and economies of many American Indian tribes and First Nations — a Canadian synonym for native tribes.

Such a sweeping vision could take many years to realize, particularly in the face of potential opposition from the livestock industry. But supporters said they hope to begin immediately restoring a cultural tie with bison largely severed when the species was driven to near-extinction in the late 19th century.

“The idea is, hey, if you see buffalo in your everyday life, a whole bunch of things will come back to you,” said Leroy Little Bear, a member of southern Alberta Blood Tribe who helped lead the signing ceremony.

“Hunting practices, ceremonies, songs — those things revolved around the buffalo. Sacred societies used the buffalo as a totem. All of these things are going to be revised, revitalized, renewed with the presence of buffalo,” said Little Bear, a professor emeritus of Native American studies at the University of Lethbridge.

Bison numbered in the tens of millions across North America before the West was settled. By the 1880s, unchecked commercial hunting to feed the bison hide market reduced the population to about 325 animals in the U.S. and fewer than 1,000 in Canada, according to wildlife officials and bison trade groups in Canada. Around the same time, tribes were relocated to reservations and forced to end their nomadic traditions.

There are about 20,000 wild bison in North America today.

Ranchers and landowners near two Montana reservations over the past several years fought unsuccessfully against the relocation of dozens of Yellowstone National Park bison due to concerns about disease and bison competing with cattle for grass. The tribes involved — the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation and the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre Tribes of the Fort Belknap Reservations — were among those signing Tuesday’s treaty.

Keith Aune, a bison expert with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the agreement has parallels with the 1855 Lame Bull Treaty, a peace deal brokered by the U.S. government that established hunting rights tribes.

“They shared a common hunting ground, and that enabled them to live in the buffalo way,” Aune said. “We’re recreating history, but this time on (the tribes’) terms.”

The treaty signatories collectively control more than 6 million acres of prairie habitat in the U.S. and Canada, an area roughly the size of Vermont, according to Aune’s group.

Among the first sites eyed for bison reintroduction is along the Rocky Mountain Front, which includes Montana’s Blackfeet Reservation bordering Glacier National Park and several smaller First Nation reserves.

“I can’t say how many years. It’s going to be a while and of course there’s such big resistance in Montana against buffalo,” said Ervin Carlson a Blackfeet member and president of the 56-tribe InterTribal buffalo council. “But within our territory, hopefully, someday.”

Source: sfgate

U.S. settlement with Navajo Nation is largest ever for a tribe

The Navajo Nation will receive $554 million from the U.S. to settle claims of mismanaged funds. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, left, talks with tribal presidential candidate Kenneth Maryboy this year. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

The Navajo Nation will receive $554 million from the U.S. to settle claims of mismanaged funds. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, left, talks with tribal presidential candidate Kenneth Maryboy this year. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times

In a historic settlement, the federal government will pay the Navajo Nation more than half a billion dollars to settle claims that it mismanaged reservation funds for more than 60 years, the tribe and the government announced Wednesday.

At $554 million, the settlement is the largest obtained by a single American Indian tribe against the U.S. It caps a drawn-out dispute filed in 2006 with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

The settlement goes a long way toward repairing some of the “wrongs that have been done against the Navajo people,” said Rick Abasta, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation.

But it also serves a more practical purpose, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to address some of the disparities that exist in the [Navajo] Nation,” he said. “This $554 million is like a much-needed cash infusion for the nation.”

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American tribe, with more than 300,000 members and a reservation that spans 27,000 square miles in three states, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. But some tribal members who live in remote areas lack modern amenities — even electricity and running water.

“This landmark resolution ends protracted and burdensome litigation. It will provide important resources to the Navajo Nation. And it fairly and honorably resolves a legal conflict over the accounting and management of tribal resources,” U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement.

Abasta said Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly planned to hold a series of town hall meetings to hear from tribal members as to what should be done with the money.

The lawsuit alleged that from 1946 to 2012, the U.S. government, which served as trustee for the tribe’s natural resources, did not negotiate appropriate deals with entities that were extracting natural resources such as coal, uranium, oil and gas from the Navajo reservation.

In addition, the tribe contended that the U.S. did not properly monitor royalties to ensure that the tribe was appropriately paid. It also contended that the U.S. did not properly invest the proceeds to ensure that the tribe would receive an appropriate return on its money.

The lawsuit, which sought $900 million, did not go to trial. Instead the Obama administration decided to settle out of court, said Andrew L. Sandler, who represented the tribe with partner Samuel J. Buffone.

“There was a lot of government misconduct for a very long time, but the Obama administration and Justice Department stepped up and did the right thing in this case,” Sandler said.

The settlement was negotiated in June and finalized by senior Navajo and U.S. officials in early August, Sandler said. The U.S. has agreed to pay the settlement in the next 30 to 60 days.

About 100 similar cases have been filed by other tribes, Sandler said; many have been settled, but a few remain in litigation. The second-largest single settlement was for $380 million, with the Osage tribe in Oklahoma. The 2011 deal ended 11 years of litigation over claims of mismanagement of tribal assets.

The Navajo Nation plans to host a signing ceremony in Window Rock, Ariz., where administration officials will join tribal members to complete the settlement Friday.

“The trust litigation has been a protracted battle and, in the end, it was a victory for tribal sovereignty,” Shelly, the Navajo Nation president, said in a statement. “After a long, hard-won process, I am pleased that we have finally come to a resolution on this matter to receive fair and just compensation for Navajo Nation.”

Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Casting a Big Shadow in Wisconsin

Hard Rock, Wisconsin, a conceptual drawing

Hard Rock, Wisconsin, a conceptual drawing

By Nancy Smith, Sunshine State News

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has proposed a partnership between its Hard Rock International casinos and the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, a deal that could channel millions of dollars in profits from the Badger State back to Florida.

The proposal to open an $808 million casino complex at a now-shuttered, off-reservation dog track in Kenosha is in the hands of Gov. Scott Walker. The Menominee say they need a cash partner or they can’t get their casino off the ground.

Talks between the Seminoles and Menominee have been going on for more than a year. Frank Fantini, CEO of the Fantini Gaming Report, called Hard Rock “a very big brand, known internationally. The brand has a great reputation … it would give immediate visibility to the casino in Kenosha.”

Even though the Wisconsin Menominee are among the poorest Native American people in the country, winning approval from Gov. Walker is still viewed as dicey. The governor has said he would approve the Kenosha casino only if each of the state’s other 10 tribes blessed the proposition — effectively giving each tribe veto power over the proposal. He also has said a tribe must show that an off-reservation casino would result in “no new net gaming.”

Two of the 11 tribes, both with casinos — the Forest County Potawatomi and the Ho-Chunk — so far have refused to endorse the project, saying the Hard Rock will siphon off too large a share of their profits.

Wisconsin Indian gaming is a $1 billion industry, with $50 million going to the state.

Amy Marsh, an aide at the Wisconsin Capitol, told Sunshine State News, “Gov. Walker has until Feb. 19 to make a decision, but meanwhile the tribes have to work out their differences.”

The Seminoles-Menominee partnership would mark the first time for any out-of-state tribe to manage a casino in Wisconsin.

Hard Rock International CEO Jim Allen claims the site would be a regional draw.

“We believe there are a tremendous amount of people in the state of Wisconsin today who are going to casinos in Illinois,” Allen says. “We think a facility so close to the Illinois border will bring those people back to the state of Wisconsin and bring back those jobs and revenues to the state of Wisconsin.”

Allen says there have been talks with the dissenting tribes about revenue-sharing, the talks have gone well and he’s hopeful his team can get everybody on board.

The agreement between the Menominee and Hard Rock — including the percentage of profits the Florida Seminoles tribe would receive — has been kept under wraps.

“The question is, do we really want that revenue from the casino … being sent to Florida?” asked Richard Monette, a University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor. “That percentage becomes key, and those factors should be public.”

He predicts Hard Rock would expect to receive 30-to-35 percent of the Kenosha casino’s total revenue, and as much as 40 percent. Monette is also director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center.

Not all stakeholders are impressed with the Seminoles or think they should be anywhere near the Wisconsin tribal gaming industry.

The Milwaukee media have given a lot of exposure to public filings from the National Indian Gaming Commission, showing the Seminole Tribe has paid more than $12 million in fines handed down by the federal government since 1997 — more than any other tribe in the nation.

It has, for example, left George Ermert, spokesman for the Potawatomi, expressing “serious concerns” about the Seminoles being involved in Wisconsin’s tribal gaming industry.

“There are some serious issues with leadership,” Ermert told Shereen Siewert of the Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team. “We’re talking about FBI investigations, leaders who have been indicted on charges of conspiracy, embezzlement, money laundering. (Seminole Tribe Chairman) James Billie himself was tossed from office because of the things he did.”

The Seminole Tribe of Florida acquired the Hard Rock corporation for nearly $1 billion in 2007. Hard Rock has 174 venues in 54 countries, including 138 cafes, 17 hotels and seven casinos, according to the company.

The Seminoles operate six casinos in Florida, two of which use the Hard Rock name. Combined, the Florida casinos have about 12,500 slot machines and 340 table games.

The 11 Wisconsin tribes share a percentage of their casino profits. These per capita payments — dispensed evenly to enrolled tribal members — are among the perks of successful Indian gaming ventures.

But of all 11 tribes, the Menominee give the least to individuals — about $75 a year in 2012, for example. The Potawatomi, by comparison, paid each tribal member $80,000 in 2012.

Gannett reports that the Menominee have pledged to spend gaming revenue on human and social services — including college scholarships — if their Kenosha proposal is approved.