NEW COMPACT NEGOTIATIONS 2001?WHY NEW COMPACT
NEGOTIATIONS 2001?WHY NEW COMPACT NEGOTIATIONS 2001?
Op ed piece in Albuquerque Journal, February
25, 2001, page B3
It’s easy to see why the tribes are anxious to negotiate new
compacts. Why does
the State Legislature seem so desperate to hobble the state with
18-year compacts with the compact-breaking tribes?
The state is winning Attorney General Patricia Madrid’s
lawsuit against the casinos in the Federal District Court of Judge
Bruce Black. The tribes petition to throw out the suit was rejected by
Judge Black, almost insuring that the merits of the State’s case
against the casinos will be ruled on---IF the legislature stays
out of the way.
During the legislative session in 1997, the
casinos were pleading with legislators to vote for the compacts
for days immediately before the end of the session.
After the session they protested that there had been no
real “negotiations,” and that they had been “coerced” into
accepting the 16% revenue sharing.
It feels like déjà vu when George Rivera, Lt Governor of
the Pojoaque Pueblo, asserts that the tribes are now being
“extorted” by the Attorney General when she stated that the
negotiations would have to include back payment of their revenue
“extortion” before the negotiations begins should be a pretty
good warning to the legislators of things to come.
We have the State Attorney General insisting
that the 16% revenue sharing is legal under state law.
Various tribal leaders have been quoted in the media,
stating that under federal law, revenue sharing is “illegal.”
State Representative Roger Madelana reinforced that
position in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on
February 2, 2001. No
one seriously suggests that under federal law the current 16% is
illegal, but that the proposed 8% would be legal.
The casinos just hope that the legislature will ignore the
federal law and swallow the bait of promised millions in revenue
No one in the legislature is SURE whether
revenue sharing is legal or not. Dickering over the details is
lunacy when the basic law of tribal revenue sharing is
fundamentally in question. The
casinos are asking the legislature to play a game with uncertain
rules. The way to
determine the fundamental law regarding revenue sharing is to
allow the Attorney General’s lawsuit to move forward in the
New Mexico is not operating in a vacuum,
Connecticut, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, and Oklahoma
are some of the dozen or so states that are in conflict with
tribes over “gaming” law.
Revenue sharing, tribal land acquisition, off-reservation
gambling and extent of gambling are some of the issues in
remedies in Federal Court are being sought in many of these
states. It is a
certainty that within two to five years the U.S. Supreme Court
will decide the question of revenue sharing legality.
The New Mexico Legislature could negotiate these new
compacts, and find that the Supreme Court decided that revenue
sharing is legal—the tribes just need to work out the percentage
with the state. Wouldn’t the legislature look foolish and wouldn’t the
state be betrayed by throwing out perfectly legal compacts with
16% revenue sharing that had a life span of only five more years,
and instead, being saddled with compacts that paid the state 8%
and New Mexico was stuck with them for 18 years?
Casino gambling is not economic development.
The casinos and the slots at the tracks have kept New
Mexico from participating in the boom that swept the nation in
recent years. Thousands
of New Mexico families have been pushed into economic disaster by
a compulsive parent. Public
opinion polls over the last year indicate that the over 60% of the
public would rather see the courts settle the conflict than have
the legislature negotiate new compacts.
The legislature should resist the frivolous impulse to
“so something.” They
should do nothing to expand the scope or the term of the compacts,
and simply allow the Federal Courts to settle the fundamental
principles of the law.
Dr. Guy C. Clark, executive director
New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling