Saying that Gov. Jerry Brown acted in “bad faith” by ending negotiations, a federal judge has ordered the state to return to talks with North Fork Rancheria officials on a gaming compact for a Madera-area casino that state voters rejected last year.
Voters rejected the gaming compact in Proposition 48 last November by a wide margin, and the governor wrote the tribe in January suggesting that entering into further negotiations “would be futile.”
But in a 23-page ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii said federal law requires the governor to negotiate with the tribe and conclude compact negotiations within 60 days. If both sides can’t reach agreement, the judge will appoint a mediator. The state and the tribe will then have 60 days to present a final offer for the mediator’s selection.
The North Fork tribe argued that under federal Indian gambling law, the power rested in the hands of a federal judge to order the governor back to the table and, if necessary, select a mediator to choose between a state-proposed compact and one from the tribe. The complaint was filed after the governor’s office sent a letter to the tribe’s lawyers declining further negotiations.
“The state does not now contend that any of the (Department of the Interior) secretary’s determinations were incorrect, nor does it articulate a basis for its refusal to negotiate regarding the Madera parcel,” the judge said in requiring the governor to negotiate. (Must mean NFR didn't give Jerry enough money)
The 305-acre casino and hotel site is in federal trust for the tribe. The tribe has no land in its North Fork base for a casino and has spent 11 years working with local, state and federal officials to put the Madera-area land in trust, get the compact approved and build a casino.
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