Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mystic Lake Casino owners launch smear campaign

My gripe as I sat watching some television centers around a rather large force in the southwest metro area of Minnesota's Twin Cities. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owner/operator/profiteers of the second largest tribal casino in the nation, Mystic Lake Casino-Hotel.

Their latest efforts center around a smear campaign against local Scott County elected officials who feel that the efforts of the Mdewakanton Tribe to place over 700 acres of land within the borders of neighboring Shakopee and Prior Lake would negatively effect the tax rolls in these two communities. The tribe's defense is that all improvements on the land they wish to place into trust status will be paid for by the tribe and involve no taxpayer money. In the county's defense, they feel that this is 700 acres of land which, if it remains in public hands, will generate property taxes year after year for as long as taxes exist. That's where I stand as well.

The Sioux, of course, have a small fortune to campaign for their cause and have launched a TV advertising campaign on local cable systems. Their only ground to stand on is the fact that the Mdewakanton Tribe purchased 18 million dollars of Scott County bonds [PDF] for a road improvement project in Belle Plaine, MN on U.S. highway 169. The small fact they have left out of their ad campaign is that the county will repay these bonds, with interest, to the tribe making them money from a public project outside of their borders, essentially acting as a low-interest bank. While it saves the county approximately 1-2 million dollars over the rates from a true-to-life bank, the facts aren't being presented in their entirety to the poor folks who are subjected to this advertising on their cable systems and in printed form via flyers in local newspapers.

While the Mdewakanton Sioux are free to present their side of the story, they are using the argument that the development of this land will cost the local communities and county nothing. That much is true. However they are ignoring the argument from elected officials about losing hundreds of acres of highly valuable land. It has local citizens, many of whom are of the 4,600 off-tribe employees of Mystic Lake and Little Six casinos, speaking out too.

I have stated where I stand and everyone else has, too. I only hope that the Mdewakanton Sioux are ultimately denied their additional trust land. While they claim to have no plans to pursue commercial development (they claim to need the 700 acres for future housing of tribe members) on this land, they have been known to waiver from stated plans and doing this would be lucrative to private sector development as a handy way to escape property taxes.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Hey, thanks for the comment~!