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Meeting Held To Discuss Oneida Nation Agreement

Gino Geruntino, WIBX

The Sherrill City Courthouse was filled to capacity and then some for last night’s meeting regarding the agreement made between the Oneida Nation, Madison and Oneida Counties and the State.

Hosted by former Oneida County Legislator and current City Commissioner, Mike Hennessy, the public meeting focused on several reasons why the agreement should be struck down by Oneida County.

Hennessy says it simply isn’t a good deal for the citizens.

“It’s not about being upset that they’re [The Oneida Nation] getting something that we haven’t got,” Hennessy said. “We just want them to do it the right way. We want everybody not to rush this through. The Governor is getting quickly a reputation of being a bully.”

Among those also attending the meeting were county legislators Chad Davis and Frank Tallerino, who served as panel members discussing the agreement.

Davis, who spoke first, addressed the possible results if it is accepted.

“When people go and pull one-armed bandits… whatever that revenue ends up being, the Governor of the state of New York is going to receive an estimated $50 million,” Davis said. “Of that, we’re going to get 6.25 percent for people to gamble just on certain aspects of gaming up there. For that, we’re going to give up unlimited commercial development on what is going to end up being Indian country, federal trust land.”

Davis worked with Hennessy the last time an agreement was put on the table five years ago, defeating it. He said he believed the county could wait out a legal solution rather than cut a deal.

“What we have here is no longer a free enterprise system,” Davis said. “I’m not someone from Webster’s Dictionary, but if you Google the word ‘fascism,’ we’re not too far off from that based on if this plays out. It’s very sad, because if I’m a businessman or a banker and want to invest in any business, they [The Oneida Indian Nation] can target any business they want to.”

Last week’s announcement gave the Oneida Nation exclusive gaming rights and settles its land claims. The Nation must also provide the state with 25 percent of its net slot machine revenue, which will be dispersed to Oneida and Madison Counties.

A vote on the possible agreement will be held in the Oneida County Legislature next Tuesday.

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