Casino: in HR or CL, officials say

January 18, 2006

Cascade Locks City Administrator Bob Willoughby believes that casino opponents may be waging the biggest gamble of all in their bid to stop tribal gaming.

He contends the newly formed No Gorge Casino! has begun rehashing arguments that have already been found at fault by a contingent of state and tribal attorneys.

The casino opponent group claims that the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs could be blocked from housing a casino on trust land just east of Hood River.

But Willoughby, who also holds a law degree, said that could be an expensive bet.

He said no legal action has ever stopped a tribe from gaming on land that is exempt from state or federal regulation. And, according to Howard Arnett, tribal attorney, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act contains two provisions that strengthen the tribal right to build south of the Mark O. Hatfield state park.

“None of the opponents who have publicly expressed that opinion about Hood River are members of the Oregon State Bar,” said Willoughby. “They are basically suggesting that Gov. Ted Kulongoski, as a former state attorney general and supreme court justice, is ignorant of the facts — and that’s pretty arrogant.”

He said No Casino could actually do more harm than good in its bid to shut down gaming out of societal and environmental concerns.

“Cascade Locks was approved because the governor and his legal advisors studied the issue and determined that access east of Hood River couldn’t be denied,” said Willoughby.

Last April, Kulongoski signed a compact with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to build a 500,000 square foot casino in Cascade Locks’ industrial park. The governor, after having staffers research the issue, believed the off-reservation site was a better choice than 40 acres of tribal property on the hillside above Hood River.

Not only was there strong opposition toward the project in Hood River, but the access to the tribal land lies over the federally designated Historic Columbia River Highway. And both the trust land and tribes’ newly acquired 175 acres of adjacent property is located within the Scenic Area.

Kulongoski believed the Gorge resources would be better protected by placing the casino in Cascade Locks’ urban center that is exempt from Scenic Area regulations.

In exchange, the tribes agreed to deed the new acreage, not yet given trust status, over to the state.

And allow a conservation easement that prohibited development on its trust parcel.

Kulongoski’s support also factored in an exception allowed under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) of 1988 to grant an off-reservation casino that ended litigation.

For years, the Warm Springs and state officials have been in dispute about ownership of the section of historic highway adjacent to the trust land.

Although the state claims that a tribal member sold a right-of-way decades ago, no deed has ever been produced to back up that claim.

Arnett said the state has the burden of proof to show ownership. Otherwise, he said the disputed length of roadway remains part of the trust land — even though opponents claim otherwise.

And, even if the state does eventually produce a deed, Arnett said it is still not legal to leave the trust parcel without an access.

In fact, Arnett said the Scenic Act itself protects the Warm Springs’ interests. In Section 544o, Subsection 17, under Savings Provisions, the matter is addressed in two clauses.

The first states that the Act shall not “affect or modify any treaty or other right of any Indian tribe.” The second states that the Act does not “alter, establish or affect lands held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior for tribes or individual members of tribes.”

Arnett said any “ambiguity or gray area” in the language of the Act, approved by Congress in 1986, is required by federal law to be “liberally interpreted” by the courts in favor of the tribes.

“Prior to the passage of the Scenic Act we had long discussions with Sen. Hatfield to be sure the tribal rights were protected,” said Arnett.

He said opponents also argue that the Hood River land does not qualify for a casino under IGRA because it has not been actively “governed.”

However, Arnett said, the Warm Springs have chosen to leave the property in open space to be consistent with neighboring parcels.

“We haven’t developed in the Scenic Area — haven’t clear cut or built houses — by choice,” he said.

He said tribes are even protected by federal court rulings from a governor’s refusal to negotiate a gaming compact.

So, if Kulongoski declined to discuss a Class III compact for Hood River, the Warm Springs could take their case directly to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Arnett said a Class II facility, limited to bingo and similar games, could be erected without any involvement from Kulongoski’s office.

He said the BIA is now studying the Hood River site as a reasonable alternative to Cascade Locks.

However, he and Willoughby contend that the Warm Springs have made it clear that they would rather set up a casino operation in a community, such as Cascade Locks, that could also use the economic boost.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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