Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Agreement . . .

The fighting has to end, once and for all. Negotiating a settlement of disputes with the Oneida Nation is better than having one shoved down our throats by the courts or by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

But is the proposed Agreement between the Oneida Nation and Oneida County the settlement we need?

While several of my friends will disagree with me, I see the Oneida Nation operations as good for the area. There are negatives, of course, like there are with any enterprise, but it seems to be a net positive (and if there are some stats indicating otherwise I certainly want to see them because they should be aired). It is one of our biggest employers - a major job creator, employing many people who otherwise would have moved on to other regions -- people who pay taxes. It is a "class act," with venues on a par with some of the best entertainment, gaming and golfing venues nationwide. It is also our biggest tourist draw, and puts a positive face on the region for the national spotlight.

It is also competent -- refreshing to see in a region where few things seem to be run right.

That competency, however, includes a certain amount of ruthlessness and objectionable weight-throwing -- such as the latest mass advertising campaign to marginalize and paint as "backwards" those who question the proposed agreement. An unfortunate outcome of such tactics is that it invites an emotional "us vs. them" battle that distracts us from making a dispassionate examination of facts

As for the Agreement itself, it seems to be mainly about something that the Nation has plenty of: MONEY. Proponents of the Agreement see Big Money for County and Local Government . . . They can't wait to get their hands on it. . . . "to stabilize taxes." Opponents say it's Not Enough.

Frankly, the whining out of the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill School District about how they are being shortchanged and how they need more money "for the children" is sickening. If the Nation didn't exist, would they be better off? The Nation imposes Zero impact on the school district, yet it employs many people who live in the district, enabling them to pay taxes to the district.

We The People have seen all this before. Big Money for the water deal in Utica did not solve Utica's money problems but created an entity that focuses on its own existence at the expense of regional needs. Big Money for schools created a lot of construction projects, but also bought a lot of distractions, and has not resulted in a better educated population. Big Money for job creation has created a few jobs (especially among bureaucrats), but most of the good jobs continued to leave the state.

This agreement is not like settling a car accident. MONEY SHOULD NOT BE THE KEY FOCUS although money, on issues such as "tax parity," is certainly involved.

What appears to be going on in the Agreement is a mini-version of the act now playing on the national stage: Big Enterprise and Big Government defining their relationships, while the needs of the "every-day" person, the ones who ultimately pay for whatever "deals"are worked out, get overlooked. If the Agreement gets passed, once all the Big Money is spent, what are we left with? What will our lives be like?

The Agreement is woefully inadequate at defining the relationships between the Nation and the rest of us. For that reason, it MUST BE REJECTED.


swimmy said...

First intelligent post I have seen in opposition to the proposed settlement since the it was first announced.

But as you pointed out, money should NOT be the key focus. No one has been able to put a dollar amount on the expense the lawsuits have cost the taxpayers. No one wants to properly account for what the Oneidas allegedly "owe" despite proof showing the amounts to be wholly skewed and grossly inflated without justification and contra to federal case law.

No one is willing to push for the county and state to reduce everyone else's tax burden. I find it ironic that everyone complains about a level playing field and in the same breath complains about being taxed to death. Guess what, cut our taxes and the playing field is leveled without having to infringe on the Oneidas' sovereign status.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that money is the least of it. The principle of one nation with one set of laws and standards for all as set forth by the Supreme Court in this matter should be upheld and defended. The Oneida operation is an entrprisenot a separate nation.The issues present in their wanting citizenship both ways are far more important than money to the integrity of the area, state and nation. Allow the courts and Congress to do waht should have been determined decades ago.Let us not allow a Crumbs Along the Mohawk mentality to determine the fundemental issues present in the dispute.

Anonymous said...

I will agree that the advertising is quite annoying. It is no different than the political election time statements. It will reduce taxes, create jobs, save our children, the future of the economy. But where is the substance? What taxes, how much, what will it do for our children. Maybe my grandchildren don't want a career in dealing cards. No facts, just statements. Pretty poor...Nothing different than election time lack of information,broad statements. Show me the spending plan. What will be done with the money.

swimmy said...

Anonymous1: You're not understanding the idea of the Oneidas' sovereignty. They are a limited sovereignty running a business. They are Congressionally recognized. They have to follow federal law, which they do.

Anonymous2: Maybe your grandchildren don't want to deal cards. Good thing there is more to working for the casino than dealing cards, e.g. programming the slot machines, setting up PR events, managing the finances, and many more job opportunities than the narrow-minded opposition would have you believe. And all higher paying than the cushy government handouts!

Anonymous said...

So what is the spending plan for the money? Did I miss that explanation published in the newspaper. Who was on the negotiating committee? Maybe a lot more people would have understood if it was not so secretive. There needed to be a "sell it" committee. Someone dropped the ball selling this proposal to the people and the rest of the legislators. It turned out to be a take it or leave it. What??

onjeesun said...

Strike. When I first read this post and the comments that followed there was at least one additional comment about taking tollbooths from the thruway and putting them on every road leading to the casino. That post is now gone. Did you purposefully remove this? If so I'd be curious as to why. I certainly hope you are not trying to steer the comments and I have seen you post comments from people who obviuosly don't agree with your take. Just curious what happened with this particular post.

Strikeslip said...

The post about the toll booth was mistakenly posted under the "Being Railroaded" post below and is still there.

onjeesun said...

Indeed it is. Glad to see you're not editing for content. Even though some folks can be quite ignorant sometimes, a good debate often educates everyone who's listening (or reading as the case may be). Keep up the good work!

Strikeslip said...

I'm glad I found it. I remembered having read it too and wondered if I was losing my marbles! :)