There was a letter last week from the Chitimacha tribal chairman summarizing the tribe’s decision not to participate in installation of utilities to the new Raintree Elementary School in Raintree Village.
The chairman did an excellent job of outlining the circumstances of the preceding years and of today’s financial predicament.
You will recall, I should hope, that when all this Amelia Belle business came down the pipe, I did a little war dance on parish government for what I thought was an ungentlemanly maneuver, especially in light of the very long and mutually-beneficial relationship we’ve had. I got a little angry feedback and a heckuva lot of support over that.
Speaking solely for myself, I hope parish government is happy now. It’s still true that I can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there were some willy-nilly dealings going on involving location of the Amelia Belle. But I think we all know what happened.
Now, due to declining revenues, Chitimacha’s local revenue sharing has been withdrawn. Parish government itself didn’t get any of our money, they redistributed it.
So the people of Baldwin and Franklin as well as the sheriff’s department (never mind those communities across the Calumet Cut) should be asking a serious question of parish government right now:
How are you going to make up for what we’re losing?
I think that’s a mighty fair question, whether parish government actively solicited the location of the boat or not. As I said before, I am not opposed to competition…I am opposed to being blindsided and having our long, productive and happy relationship with non-tribal local governments amount to so little in terms of trust, respect and honor.
Now, it’s the municipalities and other agencies in the parish that stand to lose as a result.
You all need to understand our position, the position that was handed down to us.
Word reached my ears that when we bowed out of our cooperative agreement with the parish, some higher-ups in the courthouse blurted, "They can’t do that. They have to pay it."
Meaning, I guess, if I buy you breakfast every morning for two months and the third month I don’t, I still owe you by default?
The tribe’s agreement is a voluntary one with provisions for just such an occasion.
The gall to suggest that we "have to" continue that agreement just proves what I said all along:
They honestly expected us to smile and take it, like some stupidly-grinning caricature Indian in F-Troop or something.
Well, we didn’t get this far by being dumb. And we were honorable enough not to react out of spite, only when it came down to sheer necessity.
And the fifth floor still can’t see that they’ve cut off their noses to spite their faces. Or, should I saw, that they’ve cut off the noses of the cities and sheriff’s department, the beneficiaries of local revenue sharing, to spite their own faces.
It was just in the news recently, in fact:
New Jersey gaming regulators on Wednesday removed Columbia Sussex Corp. as the operator of the Tropicana in Atlantic City, leaving in question the company's standing in Nevada, where it owns six hotel-casinos.
The New Jersey Casino Control Commission declined to renew the operating license for Fort Mitchell, Ky.-based Columbia Sussex, saying the company failed to meet the state's strict licensing requirements.
Columbia Sussex is, of course, owner of the Amelia Belle. The story goes on to say:
In a statement, commissioners, who rejected a recommendation by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement to give Columbia Sussex a one-year temporary license, said the company showed, "a lack of business ability, a lack of financial responsibility and lack of good character, honesty and integrity."
Here, then, are the folks your parish government chose to create a business relationship with.
And we are left to wonder yet again, how parish government traded a prosperous, amiable relationship with the tribe for characters that can’t even get along with New Jersey?
I was, however, glad to see members of parish government turned out to wish us well for the private opening of our Mexican restaurant, Loco’s. I made it a point to pass by and give them my personal thanks.
Of course, I could be wrong. Judging by the advertising the Amelia Belle has been running of late, it looks like parish government may be the big winner, after all.
No matter. Such things always come back around. Such folks always earn their comeuppance.