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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, November 1, 2003

Endgame for tribal casino measure in Maine.

Voters in the state of Maine will be voting on Question 3 on Tuesday, a referendum that will decide the fate of a proposed major tribal casino.

The referendum, backed by the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township and Pleasant Point, and the Penobscot Nation, calls for a US $650 million casino/resort project to be built in the blue-collar town of Sanford in southern Maine. If passed, the measure would give the state of Maine up 25 percent of the casino's slot machine takings for use in funding education and property tax relief. Casino backers say the state would be taking in more than US $100 million annually by 2008.

Pro-casino groups also claim that 10,000 jobs will be created by the casino, either directly or indirectly, with almost half of them located in the immediate area of Sanford. Given Maine's historically weak economy, such a number of new jobs is no small matter.

The ballot measure would also deal with some of the problems that tribes say resulted from the 1980 Maine Tribal Claims Settlement Act. In that settlement, some of Maine's tribes agreed to give up their claim to 60 percent of the state's lands in return for a cash settlement (US $81.5 million), and recognition by the state of Maine of tribal sovereignty over internal matters and of the direct relationship of the settlement tribes with the federal government. An unforeseen result of that settlement was the need for tribes to have to back a statewide referendum just to get the same rights that tribes in the rest of the US have under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The casino referendum is already the most expensive campaign of its type in Maine's history. According to the final financial reports filed before the eleciton, the two sides have spent US $6.8 million to influence voters. Casino bakers have outspent the opponents by a 2-1 margin.

Opponents of the casino argue that it would spoil the idealized world of rugged seacoast and forest that attracts the wealthy summer crowd, and that some commercial interests shrewdly market. The tribes and their backers reply they want to bring jobs and opportunity to the real Maine of poverty and isolation that Indians know too well.

Erin Lehane, campaign manager for Think About It, the pro-casino group, in a recent statement called the opposition, "just another example of the haves not caring for the have-nots."

The upscale catalog clothier L.L. Bean set the tone for the anti-casino effort when its executives said in an e-mail message to employees, "The proposed casino does represent a clear threat to our brand.

"The images of Maine that the casino will be marketing will stand in stark contrast to the Maine values for which our state has become known. The Maine attributes the state seeks to promote will be swamped by the messages from casino advertising portraying roulette wheels, dancing girls and popping champagne bottles."

Lehane and her troops retort that the real Maine has lost 17,000 manufacturing jobs in the last three years, and that laid off mill workers face a year-round fight for survival. The proposed casino, based in the working-class town of Sanford, would provide at least 4,000 jobs, they say, and would launch one of the largest construction projects in state history.


The official position of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and Penobscot Nation can be found here.

The website for casino opponent Casinos No! is here.

The site for pro-casino group Think About It is here.

Via Indian Country Today.

| | Posted by Magpie at 1:39 PM | Get permalink




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