Meskwaki payment cut sparks resentment toward leaders
Mar 02, 2009 (The Gazette - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Shrinking revenue at the Meskwaki Bingo-Casino-Hotel near Tama is causing growing resentment among tribal members at their leaders' handling of financial matters.
In two referendums Friday, tribe members repudiated the Tribal Council's reduction last year of their monthly casino revenue payments, and six tribe members filed a lawsuit last week seeking an injunction to halt the tribe's purchase of the Pinnacle Bank of Marshalltown.
Members voted 189-101 to reject the Tribal Council's reduction of per capita payments from $1,800 to $1,000 in June, and they voted 221-69 to reject the council's further lowering of the payments to $500 per month in October.
Former Tribal Council member Ray Young Bear -- one of six tribe members who have sought an injunction to halt the bank purchase -- said Sunday he's pleased with the vote on per capita payments but doubts the Tribal Council will act upon it.
The referendums, he said, were prompted by what he called a lack of transparency in tribal leaders' financial dealings.
"People are suffering. Their cars and appliances are being repossessed, and families are visiting food banks. But tribal leaders don't want to show us the books," he said.
Meskwaki officials, in a statement released Friday, said their process in purchasing Pinnacle Bank "was entirely transparent to tribal members," and they challenged Young Bear's assertion that tribal members have "been left in the dark" about tribal finances.
Young Bear and five other Meskwaki -- Glenn Roberts, Vincent Duncan, Dean Whitebreast, Michael Wanatee and Stella Young Bear -- filed suit in Marshall County District Court, seeking more time to circulate petitions calling for a tribal referendum on the purchase of the bank.
The tribe has held several community meetings about its finances, including the bank purchase, Meskwaki officials said. At the most recent of those meetings, two weeks ago, a presentation covered the reasons for purchasing the bank, the price and how it would be paid for, the officials said.
"All of the Tribal Council's actions about the bank project have been published in their meeting minutes since November 2006," said the statement, issued on behalf of the tribe by its attorney general's office.
The petition requesting a referendum on the purchase "failed to meet the requirements of the tribe's election code" and was not rejected by the Tribal Council, according to the statement.
As for the per capita payments, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires tribes engaged in gaming to formulate a Revenue Allocation Plan before distributing per capita payments to individual tribal members, the statement said.
According to the gaming act, the funding of tribal government programs and services and the promotion of economic development takes precedence over per capita distributions.
Tribal leaders hope members "will inform themselves of these federal requirements in order to effectively resolve these internal matters," the statement said.
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lso, I don't think it's fair to be passing judgment yet on the proposed hotel. Remember, it costs a heck of a lot less to build new than to completely restore a downtown landmark hotel. $20-$25 million will NOT be a Super 8 or Days Inn. For comparison purposes, the 117-room Courtyard in Ankeny cost $9 million.
Ingersoll1978 wrote:Personally, I don't think Prairie Meadows is ugly. It's fine for what it is.
Mastermind wrote:I will go out on a limb and say Prairie Meadows is actually in the upper tier of Iowa Casinos. CasinOmaha may be the biggest dump.
Mastermind wrote:I havent been to Winnevegas in a while, but didnt they get a major overhaul recently?
Ingersoll1978 wrote:Hopefully the hotel will be similar to the architecture of Prairie Meadows. Some of these casino hotels look very cheap (as in the quality of exterior materials). It looks appropriate.
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