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Dec 15, 2011 5:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shinnecocks Reject Casino Partner Contract

Dec 21, 2011 11:11 AM

Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation voted in a tribal referendum last week, rejecting a request by the tribe’s leaders to sign a new contract with the Detroit casino developer who has been bankrolling their years-long push to open a casino in the New York metropolitan area.

There was no official announcement of the vote totals, beyond the fact that the proposal failed. But a tribal source with firsthand knowledge of the results said the totals were 121 yes, 153 no.

The Tribal Trustees and the casino developer, Gateway Casino Resorts, acknowledged the message sent by the ballot results but emphasized that it does not mean the end of the partnership—which the contracts hint carry multibillion-dollar potential. Rather, the vote means that the two sides will go back to the tribe members, probably repeatedly, in hopes of answering their questions and concerns, and ironing out details in the contracts so that the membership is satisfied and confident that the agreements protect the tribe’s interests.

“While we are, of course, disappointed in the vote to not move forward at this time with revised business agreements, which followed well over a year of negotiations and months of tribal meetings, we do respect the decision of tribal members to have further review and discussions of the new deal points,” a statement issued on Thursday evening by an attorney for Gateway co-owner Michael Malik read. “We look forward to concluding that process. We have stood by the Shinnecock Indian Nation for the last eight years, and will continue to do so and support its quest for economic justice.”

The contracts the Trustees are hoping to sign would formalize a long and potentially lucrative partnership between the tribe and Gateway for increased financial support and guidance in the development and operation of multiple casinos, and includes a promise to pursue the purchase of the current Stony Brook Southampton campus on behalf of the Shinnecocks for use as a Native American university.

The Tribal Trustees said that in the wake of the vote they will resume holding open discussions with the tribe members about their concerns with the contracts with Gateway. The tribe had held two meetings in the last month on the agreements, at which a number of concerns and objections to moving forward with the agreements were raised.

There are approximately 1,500 members of the tribe, with about 650 members living on the tribe’s Shinnecock Neck reservation just outside Southampton Village.

The day before the vote, the Tribal Council—an elected committee of 13 tribe members, which serves as something akin to an advisory panel to the Trustees and the Nation in general—released a statement saying it wanted to have the contract agreements reviewed by independent legal counsel. The agreements were drafted by the five-member tribal Gaming Authority, Mr. Malik and other representatives of Gateway.

The Tribal Council asked the Trustees not to schedule the vote until the rest of the tribe members had a chance to adequately examine the contracts. Some council members also accused the Trustees of trying to mislead the members by the wording of the sole ballot measure on Thursday, which alludes to the tribe “moving forward with the gaming project.”

The partnership with Mr. Malik, who has already spent millions on legal battles and salaries for some two dozen tribe members, has been a subject of suspicion among some members of the tribe and the catalyst for both open and behind-the-scenes discord, even within the Tribal Trustees themselves.

But the current board of Tribal Trustees say that Mr. Malik and Gateway are the best chance for the tribe to realize a lucrative future in gaming and the various other ventures on the tribe’s wish list, including the tribal college and possibly a partnership with Southampton Hospital.

“The membership voted, and we respect the sentiments of the tribe, and we’ll continue the discussions—but we still have to work from point A to point B,” Tribal Trustees Chairman Randy King said this week, acknowledging that shedding the partnership with Gateway was not realistic. “We’ll keep doing our job, which is to ensure the best interests of the tribe. We’re sure that we can reach a point that all members of the tribe are comfortable with.”

Mr. King said that the tribe, anticipating a future of economic security and cultural flourish, has long expressed interest in the college property in hopes of establishing a Native American college. Mr. King said the tribe has held preliminary talks with Southampton Hospital as well, about the possibility of leasing approximately 18 acres of the campus for the construction of a new hospital.

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Congratulations to the Shinnecock tribal members for doing the right thing by voting donw the agreement. The only ones hurt by this outcome are Gateway Casino Resorts and the dozen or so tribal coucnil members who have been receiving a salary for years and profiting on this venture at the cost to tribal membership.
The tribal council needs to better educate themselves on what acceptable management fees and contract terms are before signing on to a new agreement with another casino operator. ...more
By Walt (292), Southampton on Dec 16, 11 6:52 AM
I'm happy and proud of the outcome of the vote. No longer one-sided. The "people" of the Shinnecock Nation have spoken. I'm hopeful that now the Shinnecock Nation can move forward together. I truly believe this had to happen. From this day forth, stick together and stay strong together and remember, the children/next generation of the Shinnecock Nation are watching and are counting on those who can and take part in the decision-making that is going to make a difference in their future. Mamoweenene!!!
By unelana (29), North Wales PA on Dec 16, 11 10:01 AM
It is revealing to read between the lines of Malik's attorney's statement. My translation of the atty's remarks goes something like this:

"Despite hammering away at the Shinnecock tribe for months negotiating the contract, we will respect their decision to vote no, for now, since we have to; but we have only lost the first round in this battle that we will continue to wage. We see the current disappointment as necessary, because eventhough we tried to slip in some new concepts into the ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 16, 11 10:37 AM
CORRECTION**The tribe was asked to agree to allow the tribe's governmental leadership (the Board of Trustees) to enter an enabling act and non-interference agreement that was drafted by the tribe's attorneys. The tribe was also asked if it wanted to go forward with gaming. The answer was "NO".
By Verifiable (1), Southampton on Dec 16, 11 11:38 AM
thank you for clarifying that point. please further clarify where the tribe's economic justice is addressed by gaming and thnks.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 16, 11 2:05 PM
While we can appreciate efforts by those trying to ensure the public record is comprehensive and correct; the individual identifying him/herself as "Verifiable," a user name often used by the citizen activists behind the blog TheVerifiableTruth.com, is NOT affiliated with our blog, The Verifiable Truth.
By Frank Lee (3), Detroit on Dec 16, 11 4:57 PM
2 members liked this comment
How did you happen upon those Shinnecock documents that your site posted? Is that for real?
By LadyLuck (6), Southampton on Dec 17, 11 11:53 AM
We would like to see the Shinnecock trustees provide reports over the past ten years on exactly what amounts of money was paid to specific tribal council members by name. How about being transparent and accountable to your members!
By Walt (292), Southampton on Dec 17, 11 10:19 AM
2 members liked this comment
I thought Tribal Council was a volunteer position, is that not true?
By LadyLuck (6), Southampton on Dec 17, 11 11:53 AM
All over people are happy for the Tribe in this latest go around over their land and the possibilties it all presents.
Does anyone remember the Atty. Bryan Hamlin? Back in the 1950's he saved the land fronting on Montauk Hwy from developers who were putting up small 1500 sq. ft. houses to sell to the general public.... thereby taking away land from the Tribe.
Some slick operator is always looking at the Shinnecock Reservation with greedy eyes. The members of the Tribe have much better ...more
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Dec 17, 11 1:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
I remember Bryan Hamlin-my grandmother was his secretary. He was always a vision for the then underdog and was a great man albietquite the liberal. He also took Arthur Ash to the Meadow Club to play tennis in the 60's and was soundly asked to leave. His grandson, Gary Ireland, is fighting to remove the jetties in East Hampton so the Wainscott and Sagaponack beaches don't disappear
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 17, 11 7:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Any deal with a casino operator who will eventually get more than 30% of the deal is a crook and cannot be trusted. The Shinnecock Indian tribe and the Town of Southampton should work together, maybe a partnership, to build a top of the line resort, marina and entertainment complex. If you bring in the Riverhead-Calverton local governments as a partner you can also have an airport. All of this located at the Grumman location. Billions could be realized and maybe our taxes would come down?. I know ...more
By rrc1049 (63), Bridgehampton on Dec 17, 11 7:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
A marina in Calverton? It looks like you put an awful lot of thought into your proposal. Next.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Dec 17, 11 11:37 PM
3 members liked this comment
Railroad spur/shuttle to the Calverton site most likely.

Marina, not so much.

Are we proposing another canal?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 20, 11 1:16 PM
Gabreski Airport is the place if done right it could be a winner
By 27dan (2854), Southampton on Dec 18, 11 10:10 AM
Danno, that idea is as dead as your avatar.
By clam pie (161), Westhampton on Dec 18, 11 3:33 PM
love that about hamlin, brought arthur ashe, wimbledon winner and us open champ to the meadow club and not good enough for those birds. what a laugh, the last bastion of true prejudice in america. how can they stand themselves?

back to the topic, gambling casinos do not belong here. we are already population dense enough. the water table will not sustain much more use. when we have to truck in water and pay dearly, then it will be clearer. and the greedy will not suffer behind that, ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 18, 11 11:29 AM
Our drinking water comes from deep underground reservoirs - not from the water table. You are entitled your own opinion, not your own facts.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Dec 18, 11 12:56 PM
2 members liked this comment
The water table will not suffer as much from a casino than it has from all the hosuing developments and millionaire mansions built in the hamptons over the past 30 years. I'll bey you are one of those non-native hamptons people who now that you have your piece of the pie don't want anyone else to have theirs. The hamptons were much nicer when it was mostly potatoe farms and fields forever!
By Walt (292), Southampton on Dec 20, 11 11:39 AM
2 members liked this comment
At risk of furthering a pointless tangent, Hamlin helping out the Shinnecocks against a land grab in the 60's is admirable but would not have been necessary if someone in the tribe didn't have a side deal with the builder. Point being, as we have learned this week, not everyone in the tribe thinks alike as has seemed to have been the case from most reporting in recent years.
As far as piling on the Meadow Club about the Arthur Ashe incident, he, or any other black man, whether noted or obscure, ...more
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 19, 11 9:50 AM
And on the subject of golf i will reiterate a posted response to an earlier article on the Shinnecock casino issue.
Forget gambling, build a world class golf course on the land in Hampton Bays. Hire a good mgt company who will hire tribe members, (surely they have the skill sets), and provide health insurance and 401Ks. The neighbors will love it as their property values will go up, and people will come from miles around and pay hundreds of dollars to play a world class public golf course on ...more
By smacw (240), New York on Dec 19, 11 9:55 AM
Great Idea; Of course, you know the shinnecocks do know a lot about taking care of a golf course ... for generations they have taken care of The Shinnecock Golf course... rightly so because that land was theirs before 1890. So a course in Hampton Bays would only be following the precedent set many years ago. And of course there is gambling on the golf course so it's all settled.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Dec 19, 11 7:52 PM
Actually, from about 1640 to 1880 the entire Shinnecock Hills area belonged to the Proprietors. If you dont know who they are...
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 9, 12 12:09 PM
A casino any where out east would be tacky, dangerous to the environment, and an eyesore to our beautiful Hamptons. Give me a break!
By AFB (31), NYC/SH on Dec 19, 11 12:51 PM
Looks like you do not know anything about the newest and very grand Sebonack Golf Course on Peconic Bay. The land once belonged to Mrs. Sabin (veddy wealthy you know). The new owners tore down the beautiful grand house and put up their own version of grand. some very well know personalities belong to the posh place now.
When I think about it that area, from the air, must look like paradise to a golfer. Sebonack, National, Shinnecock and Southampton Golf courses all in a row.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Dec 24, 11 11:28 AM
I think the Brookehaven air port location sounds like the most logical location . No one wants to go to Aqueduct or Belmont its disgusting. If it were up to me I wood put it on William Floyd parkway at the Airport or better yet why not Shoreham and do a bridge to Conn at the north end of the Rd.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Dec 21, 11 4:02 PM