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
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.