Week af­ter it was an­nounced, leg­is­la­tors ap­prove set­tle­ment de­signed to end 220 years of strife

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Front Page - By Jo­lene Cleaver jcleaver@ onei­dadis­patch. com @ Dis­patchCleav­er on Twit­ter

UTICA >> On the heels of a Tues­day night, four- hour spe­cial meet­ing to con­sider a pro­posed set­tle­ment among Oneida and Madi­son coun­ties, New York state and the Oneida In­dian Na­tion, the Oneida County Board of Leg­is­la­tors ac­cepted the agree­ment by a 16- 13 mar­gin.

In part of the plan, the Oneida Na­tion agrees to give Madi­son County a one- time pay­ment of $ 11 mil­lion to re­solve tax and land dis­putes. The state will give Madi­son County $ 3.5 mil­lion an­nu­ally from the casino rev­enues, Oneida County will re­ceive a $ 2.5 mil­lion. Be­cause the Casino is lo­cated in Oneida County, the state will be giv­ing an ad­di­tional 25 per­cent of the state’s yearly share of casino rev­enues to Oneida County, a sum

“When more land comes off the tax rolls, who will make up the tax dif­fer­ence?” — John Sch­nei­der, Verona res­i­dent

FROM PAGE 1 that could to­tal around $ 12.5 mil­lion.

The pro­posal, which still needs ap­proval by the U. S. Depart­ment of the In­te­rior, the state Leg­is­la­ture, and the Madi­son County Board of Su­per­vi­sors, states that the Oneida In­dian Na­tion will pay 25 per­cent of the Turn­ing Stone’s net gam­bling ma­chine rev­enues to the state, amount­ing now to around $ 50 mil­lion. In ad­di­tion, the tribe will also be re­quired to place sales taxes on cig­a­rettes and gaso­line, which will be sold at the state min­i­mum or higher. The taxes will be used to fund tribal govern­ment. Also, the state will not al­low any full casi­nos within ten coun­ties of Turn­ing Stone.

Fol­low­ing the pub­lic comment por­tion, leg­is­la­tors shared their own views.

More than 100 peo­ple at­tended the meet­ing and 37 signed up to speak. Views ex­pressed were pre­dom­i­nantly against the deal; how­ever, Oneida Na­tion em­ploy­ees and the Rome Cham­ber of Com­merce and sev­eral oth­ers spoke in sup­port.

Rome Cham­ber Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Guglielmo stated that he sup­ports the deal largely be­cause of rev­enue­shar­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and qual­ity of life im­prove­ments the re­gion might en­joy as the re­sult of the deal.

On the flip side, those op­posed to the deal said there had not been enough time to an­swer all the ques­tions and con­sider all the op­tions.

In one of the more heated com­ments dur­ing the pub­lic comment por­tion of the meet­ing, Jim Zecca, a Utica coun­cilor at large, said he was “ashamed” to be at the meet­ing. He urged the county Leg­is­la­ture to re­ject the plan.

The plan “needs to be fur­ther de­lib­er­ated,” he said. Zecca, who is also the Madi­son County di­rec­tor of solid waste, said the plan should be sub­ject to a pub­lic meet­ing and pub­lic referendum.

An­other con­cern cen- tered on prop­erty com­ing off the tax rolls. Verona res­i­dent John Sch­nei­der said that since Oneida Na­tionowned SavOn gas sta­tions have come into the area, he has counted ap­prox­i­mately 30 other sta­tions that have gone out of busi­ness.

“When more land comes off the tax rolls, who will make up the tax dif­fer­ence?” Sch­nei­der ques­tioned.

As­sem­bly­woman Clau­dia Ten­ney told the story of Melvin Phillips, and said the other big losers are the rule of law and those it is meant to pro­tect — es­pe­cially tra­di­tional Oneida In­di­ans and up­state landown­ers.

Melvin Phillips is a full­blooded Oneida In­dian, rec­og­nized by the Six- Na­tions Iro­quois Con­fed­er­acy as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of one Oneida tribe, the Orchard Hill Band of Onei­das.

Ten­ney told the crowd that for more than 200 years, Phillips’ fam­ily has lived on a plot of land sit­u­ated on Mar­ble Hill Road in Oneida that has re­mained in con­tin­u­ous Oneida con­trol since 1788, when the Onei­das signed a treaty deed­ing all of their land to the state for­ever in ex­change for hunt­ing and fish­ing rights, so long as they stayed on the land.

Phillips’ pos­ses­sion of the land is recorded in past treaties and bound by state law. How­ever, un­der the terms of the pro­posed deal, that land would be­come part of a fed­eral trust that would hold up to 25,000 acres for the Oneida In­dian Na­tion of New York, Ten­ney said.

Speak­ing next was Phillips him­self, who said that the pro­posal was “the worst thing that ever hap­pened in Oneida County.”

“Af­ter 200 years, we’ll be thrown off the land,” he added.

Later, among oth­ers who spoke in fa­vor of the plan, was Kelli Bradley, a Sher­rill res­i­dent who has worked for the Oneida Na­tion for 14 years.

“I know you are think­ing that I am here be­cause the Na­tion ex­pects me to speak in fa­vor of the agree­ment, but that is not ac­cu­rate,” she told the room full of peo­ple. “I am here to speak for my­self, my fam­ily who has resided in this county for over a cen­tury, a home­owner, a tax­payer and a par­ent. I am here to­day to ask you to look at the pos­i­tive things that can come from this agree­ment and to end years of dis­agree­ments and dif­fer­ences that have held us back.”

Bradley later added that she feels ac­cept­ing the deal would put an end to mil­lions of dollars be­ing wasted in le- gal ac­tions ev­ery year.

Leg­is­la­tor David Wood, R- 28, said when he first started serv­ing in pub­lic of­fice 33 years ago, there was a good deal of man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs in the re­gion; how­ever, they all left.

“What other in­dus­try would have come in and pro­vided 5,000 jobs?” he asked.

The tribal en­ter­prises cur­rently pro­vide 4,500 jobs through­out the area.

Wood also wor­ried that if the pro­posal were not ac­cepted that county leg­is­la­tors would be­come ad­ver­saries of the gover­nor. He also pointed out that with any le­gal out­come, there are pos­i­tives. He said that while it’s not a per­fect deal, it is more than what the county cur­rently has.

In re­marks to the board and pub­lic, Leg­is­la­tor Howard Reg­ner, R- 2, asked his fel­low board mem­bers to do their due dili­gence in re­view­ing the plan and noted that it’s “a hard de­ci­sion for all of us.”

At the end of all of the dis­cus­sion, the Leg­is­la­ture voted 16- 13 to ac­cept the pro­posal.

Next, the res­o­lu­tion can be signed by County Ex­ec­u­tive An­thony Pi­cente and a copy will be sent to Al­bany, county leg­isla­tive staff said.

“I commend the Oneida County Leg­is­la­ture for vot­ing to ap­prove the agree­ment with the Oneida In­dian Na­tion. This com­pact treats all par­ties with fair­ness and re­spect, pro­vides the county and the state with a con­sis­tent source of rev­enue for the fu­ture and gives the Oneida Na­tion fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity. By work­ing to­gether, we put to an end the decades of lit­i­ga­tion and vit­riol that have pre­vi­ously strained re­la­tions be­tween the Onei­das, its neigh­bors and the State of New York, and took a huge step to­ward shared pros­per­ity,” said Gover­nor An­drew Cuomo in a re­leased state­ment fol­low­ing the vote.


At left, pres­i­dent of Rome Cham­ber of Com­merce Bill Guglielmo speaks for the pro­posed set­tle­ment with New York state, Madi­son and Oneida coun­ties and the Oneida In­dian Na­tion dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing of the Oneida County Leg­is­la­tors in Utica on...


Dr. James Broad speaks out against the pro­posed set­tle­ment with New York state, Madi­son and Oneida coun­ties and the Oneida In­dian Na­tion dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing of the Oneida County Leg­is­la­tors in Utica on Tues­day.

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