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Dec 19, 2012 8:41 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Ousted Tribal Leaders Defend Their Moves As Protecting Tribe

Dec 19, 2012 12:30 PM

A division had been growing within the tribal leadership for years by that point. Mr. Gumbs had long been vocal in his position that the tribe needed to be aggressively pursuing the acquisition of large parcels of land in Nassau and Suffolk counties for future gaming sites and non-gaming related economic development projects. Mr. Malik, on the other hand, has seemed focused throughout on securing a single gaming site as close to New York City as possible, as soon as possible, putting planned projects on the eastern half of the island on the back burner to such possibilities as Belmont Raceway and parcels near Citifield stadium in Queens. Members of the Tribal Trustees, most notably Mr. Bess, have fairly openly supported and furthered the developer’s approach within the tribe.

In the summer of 2011, Mr. Gumbs and Mr. Wright—both former trustees who had lost their seats in that year’s April vote—were among the founders of a tribal group calling itself the Coalition for Answers. The group called attention to details of the contract with Gateway, which was up for renewal by the tribe, that they say gave Mr. Malik and his business partner, Marian Ilitch, an unfairly large piece of the expected profits from tribal gaming ventures.

As Mr. Gumbs and Mr. Wright recalled this week, the Coalition for Answers revealed to tribe members that the contract gave Gateway exclusive rights to the management of all three hoped-for Shinnecock-owned casinos at profit percentages well above the standard for partnerships between Native American tribes and non-Native developers.

Following that revelation, tribal members voted at a public meeting to instruct the Trustees—then Mr. King, Mr. Bess and Gerrod Smith—and the Gaming Authority to halt work on the new contract with Gateway. Just days later the new contract was signed anyway: by all three of the Trustees and three of the five members of the Gaming Authority—Donna Collins, Karen Hunter and Joan Williams—but not Mr. Hamp or Mr. Brown.

“Last year, they said the people could not call tribe meetings, or petitions,” Mr. Wright said. “Last year, there was a 173-signature petition, and they said we couldn’t do anything with it. All of a sudden, now Randy [King] can take a petition and say he’s going to honor the ‘will of the people.’”

Again, Mr. Gumbs and Mr. Wright were at the fore of calls that the Trustees were trying to force through a new contract that heavily favored Mr. Malik and called for the tribe to bring in an independent financial advisor with expertise into review the contract.

The vote rejected the contract, by a relatively narrow margin, sending the two parties back to the negotiating table.

In February a new contract was presented in which Mr. Malik gave up his exclusive rights to oversee the development and management of the second and third Shinnecock-owned casinos, if they were ever developed. Instead, the tribe could pursue other possible financing and self-management routes if they thought it would be more favorable to them, with Mr. Malik holding the right of last refusal on any deals they could ink.

When Mr. Hamp and Mr. Brown identified a viable other source of financing for their ventures—multi-national real estate firm Och Ziff—the men say, Mr. Malik set about to sabotage the deal and get rid of those who were attempting to submarine his plans to be the tribe’s sole gaming partner.

The five men point to the appearance of the stolen emails just as a they were preparing to bring the first proposed land acquisition to the tribe’s general membership and the refusal by Mr. King to put the evidence against the men to an independent arbiter as proof that a fix was in on their “due process.”

“If they had all this so-called evidence, then why not bring in the federal mediator like the Tribal Council had asked,” Mr. Gumbs said. “Why not let somebody see what evidence they have, somebody who knows what they are looking at. Because they know it’s all fabricated and distorted.”

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Good evening Lance, You and I have casually meet several times I have meet Randy and some of the Bess family as well. I have been watching this all unfold. I believe you are all trying your best to manage a difficult situation.

I must ask, why would you want to develop a Casino so far from home. It seems to me I read somewhere in the federal regulations that they require you stay within 25 miles of the reservation. It also seems to me that if you locate a new resort casino out east... ...more
Dec 24, 12 8:17 PM appended by joe hampton
In every revolution there is one man with a vision. J.T.K.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Dec 21, 12 8:17 PM