Report on Gentz Chafee meeting on Casino issue
Narragansett Tribal Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas met with Governor Chafee on August 21 in a closed door meeting. The Providence Journal wrote that Thomas said he wanted to talk to the governor about the benefits “we think the state would have if they did gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.”
A Charlestown casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act would be possible if either Congress enacted a “Carcieri fix” to the Supreme Court ruling that blocks the Narragansett from taking additional land into federal trust in Charlestown, or if the Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act were amended to allow gambling on existing tribal land in Charlestown.
After the Chaffee/Tribe meeting was reported, Town of Charlestown representatives requested a meeting with the Governor to confirm his position on a casino in Charlestown. The following is Town Council President Tom Gentz’s* report that he read at the September 10, 2012 Town Council meeting.
“On Friday, September 7, 2012, Joe Larisa, Town of Charlestown Indian Affairs Solicitor, Pat Anderson, Acting Town Administrator, and I met with Governor Chafee. The purpose of the meeting was to confirm the Governor’s continued opposition to any Casino gambling in Charlestown.
I can report that the Governor reiterated that he was opposed to any gambling casino, or other gaming halls in Charlestown.
I asked that Solicitor Larisa request the meeting with the Governor after Tribal leadership met with the Governor on Tuesday, August 21, 2012.
Charlestown Town Councils have consistently opposed any casino in Charlestown for two decades, with Solicitor Larisa assisting the Town over the last decade. The Governor continues to be against the so-called “Carcieri-fix” that died recently in Congress for this term. The proposed act, named for former Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, would allow the Narragansett to secure a federal trust status that exempts property from most state and local taxes and laws. Its passage would open the now closed door to a casino with no local vote.
The Town does hope that the Governor and the Tribe can work together — and I quote from the Providence Journal on August 22, 2012 — “Chafee said he had nothing to announce, (about the meeting with Tribal leaders) but continued to view the gambling discussion as a jigsaw puzzle in which ‘fairness to the tribe was one piece,’ and ‘protection of revenue’ (to the state) was another.”
The Town has and will continue to support the Tribe in its endeavors where appropriate, so long as such support does not adversely affect our residents.”
Publications of some members and candidates of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC), along with past CDTC Chairman James Mageau, have said we don’t need to keep Attorney Larisa or continue to oppose changes in Federal laws that would allow casino development in Charlestown. When this group last had a majority on the Town Council from 1990 to 1992 they came out in support of gambling in Charlestown.
Larisa wrote Charlestown’s arguments in the 2009 Supreme Court case. He organized many of the other states who joined with us by writing amicus briefs in support of our case. The local Democrats who ridicule these efforts, and attack Larisa and the CCA endorsed candidates for working to maintain the protection these laws offer, are totally out of step with Rhode Island’s Democratic Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Representative Langevin who have worked for years in concert with Charlestown and Attorney Larisa to prevent a Charlestown casino.
The CCA endorsed candidates for Town Council and Planning Commission have committed to continue to protect and preserve the federal laws and the Supreme Court decision that prevent a casino in Charlestown. Along with that effort comes the responsibility to treat the Narragansett Tribe as we wish to be treated. These candidates pledge to assure enforcement of existing zoning and oppose intense or other inappropriate land use near tribal land.
* Tom Gentz is a candidate for Charlestown Town Council, you can read Tom’s full biography here
We have full biographies for all the CCA endorsed candidates at our website
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