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Tribal Casinos in Ohio

Tribal Casinos in Ohio: Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma disrespects Ohio law and will of Ohio voters.

The City Council of Lima, Ohio is pressing forward to approve two complex legal agreements designed to cede Ohio territory into the sovereign control of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma for the express purpose of opening casinos.

Ohio law prohibits gambling for profit. The “intergovernmental agreement” between Lima and the Eastern Shawnee defines “gaming machines” to be “all machines of any nature or kind which the Tribe allows patrons to play…”

This all began with a false claim by the Eastern Shawnee that they had been unlawfully deprived of title and access rights to more than 11,000 square miles of territory and the filing of a federal suit against the State of Ohio and local communities in 36 counties to reclaim territory.

The federal judge dismissed the case without ruling in the Tribe’s favor. But, the deception had already begun. The Tribe didn’t file the suit to win it. They filed for the sole purpose of finding a local community to “settle the land claim.” The tribe believes this would enable them to pursue casino gambling under a narrow provision of the federal Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act of 1988. Such a claim is highly suspect as to its legality.

The Mayor of Lima has no authority to cede Ohio territory, which is bound by the terms of a duly executed treaty (Treaty of 1831). Furthermore, Lima City Council has shown no regard for state law which prohibits casino gambling for profit and the votes of millions of Ohioans, who have specifically rejected the expansion of gambling in Ohio. Local officials looking only at economic promises and even these are severely restricted to the city of Lima. This entire shady deal is bad for Lima, Allen County and Ohio.

Lima City Council Meeting: Monday, August 20, 2007, 7 pm

Council is expected to vote on July 20th to approve both agreements, subject to the approval by city voters.

Action:

1. Area residents need to attend these meetings and urge Council to walk away from this deal.

2. Council requires citizens to contact the Council Clerk, Sally Clemans (sally.clemans@cityhall.lima.oh.us ) if anyone would like to testify on this issue (max. 5 min).

Mrs. Clemans must be notified by noon of the Thursday prior to the Council meeting.

3. Since these efforts will affect the entire State of Ohio, ALL Ohio citizens should contact Council members, their State legislators, and Governor Strickland.

Why is it a bad idea to place an ordinance to approve these agreements on the local ballot?

• City Council and the Mayor have no intention of telling Lima residents all the downsides to this deal. Furthermore most people will have little if any access to the complex legal documents on which they will be asked to vote.

• If City Council and the Mayor succeed in surrendering this land and the casino does open, the local community will be left to solve the problems created by casino gambling. The tribe reaps in the money -- tax free -- and the local taxpayers get left with the bill. No promises made by the Tribe have to be kept because the Tribe is a sovereign nation and therefore is wholly unaccountable to the city of Lima and local courts of law.

Note:

On Friday, August 17, Mayor Berger made an unexpected announcement that he had stepped back from negotiating with the Eastern Shawnee regarding a final version of the Intergovernmental Agreement. This agreement was expected to be approved by City Council at their meeting on August 20. Citing provisions of the agreement which were not beneficial to the City, Mayor Berger publicly requested that Council members reject the very ordinance he brought to them two weeks prior. On the surface it appears the mayor is exercising caution. However, he has also clearly stated in a letter to Council members, "Should the Eastern Shawnee tribe wish to continue discussions to produce a mutually satisfactory IGA which the Council and the voters of the City could yet consider at a future election, the Administration stands ready to engage in those discussions." Thus, it is quite possible the Mayor is only bluffing.

Concerned Ohioans and particularly residents of Lima and Allen County should continue to contact City Council and the Mayor and express their opinion. The travesty of the "sue and settle" strategy that launched the attempted takeover of Ohio lands by the Eastern Shawnee tribe is still in play. Paid consultants working for the Eastern Shawnee are claiming they have the legal authority to proceed to Washington and open several casinos in Ohio. Any honest reading of the law and federal court decisions proves otherwise, however, in an error of judicial activism, political correctness, and gambling influence in Washington, D.C., the Eastern Shawnee represent a serious threat to undermine legal authority in Ohio.

Please stay tuned for frequent updates.

Related articles / Resources:

August 9, 2007 (draft) Lima Intergovernmental Agreement

January 31, 2007 Land Settlement Agreement

Attorney General's support of federal judge's rejection of Shawnee land claim

Toledo Blade, July 27, 2007

Letter from Mayor David Berger to Lima City Council, August 17, 2007

Related News:More information on the 2008 ballot initiative, MyOhioNow, which would legalize gambling in Ohio.