Saturday, March 15, 2014

Gov. Jerry Brown Acted Properly in Approving OFF RESERVATION Casino for North Fork Rancheria, Says Judge

Gov. Jerry Brown and the federal government acted properly last year when they approved the compact that allows North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build an "off-reservation" casino and hotel project, a Madera County judge said.
The ruling was finalized Wednesday by Judge Michael Jurkovich, who said the governor has the power to "negotiate and conclude compacts, subject to ratification by the Legislature," under the state Constitution.
"To hold otherwise would make the phrase 'negotiate and conclude' compacts meaningless," Jurkovich wrote in the ruling.
Opponents include Madera-area residents and Stand Up For California, a group challenging "off-reservation gaming." They said the governor's action usurped the power of the state Legislature. The Legislature approved the compact last summer.
The North Fork Rancheria and partner Station Casinos want to build a gaming complex with 2,000 slot machines, 40 table games and a hotel on 305 acres along Highway 99 near Avenue 18 just north of Madera. The proposed site is 36 miles from the rancheria.
The opponents said the North Fork project should not have been approved. The key issue, opponents say, is that the compact was negotiated before the land was taken into trust for the tribe.
But the judge said it makes no difference when those lands become American Indian lands, so long as the process complies with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Attorneys for Stand Up For California also tried to make a distinction between the government's definitions of Indian lands and tribal lands.
But the judge said the two words are "intended to have the same meaning."
Stand Up For California intends to appeal, director Cheryl Schmit said.
See the FRESNO BEE for more.

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