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Mayor & Council (View All)

Special City Council Meeting

Thursday, April 25, 2013

                                                                   April 25, 2013
                                                                        7:00 PM
Jackson County Courthouse Auditorium
10 S. Oakdale, Medford
The special meeting of the Medford City Council was called to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Jackson County Courthouse auditorium on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Acting Mayor Al Densmore; Councilmembers Karen Blair, Daniel Bunn, Chris Corcoran, Eli Matthews, John Michaels
City Manager Eric Swanson; Assistant City Manager Bill Hoke; City Attorney John Huttl; Deputy City Recorder Karen Spoonts
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Dick Gordon and Bob Strosser were absent.
20.    Public Hearing
20.1   A public hearing to receive input from the community on the impacts to the City as a result of the application by the Coquille Tribes that the Department of Interior take land into trust for casino purposes.
Acting Mayor Densmore stated in opening remarks that no decision would be made on the issue; the matter would instead be taken up at the May 2 City Council Meeting. City Manager Swanson gave a brief update to the council on the Coquille Tribe casino application. City Attorney Huttl has been asked for comments by the Department of the Interior about moving the land into trust status to conduct gaming. The City is examining the need of the tribe for land, the purpose of land, the impact on the City, County and State, as well as implications from tax roll removal, conflicts of interest, distances of Tribes’ reservations, and land to be acquired, as well as the specific business to be conducted on the property. These are the guidelines for public commentary. Mr. Densmore stated that a study session was requested by the Coquille Tribe and was held Tuesday, April 23, 2013. He stated that the City would extend the time allotted to the Cow Creek Tribe as an overflow from the study session so as not to have to schedule an additional meeting.
Public hearing opened.
  1. Michael Rondeau, Chief Executive Officer of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe announced that he brought three speakers to educate on three areas of expertise: 1) philanthropy/economics 2) historical record/native histories and 3) legalities. The Cow Creek Tribe’s reputation is stable, and their philosophy is that there is no contract stronger than your word. Dan Courtney is the Tribe’s Chairman; Jessica Bochart, Robert VanNorman, Yvonne Dumont were also referenced as board members.
  1. Cow Creek Tribe Chairman Dan Courtney stated that the Cow Creek Tribe has an ancient history in this area as well as a modern native presence in the Jackson County area. “We feel we are THE local tribe, with the history and presence to prove it.”
  1. The Tribe’s legal counsel, Wayne Shammel, spoke, referring council to a four-page handout. The primary focus of the Tribe’s opposition is that the Coquille Tribe has no legal or ethical basis to their claims. Provided were the locations of the various tribes via map presentation. He also showed the recognized land claims and service districts for the Coquille and Cow Creek Tribes. Commenting on the ethics of the issue, he stated that it’s not okay to go into another tribe’s area for economic purposes.
  1. Dr. Stephen Dow Beckham, Professor Emeritus of History at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon spoke on the historical context of the settling of Native Tribes in the Rogue Valley. He explained the definitions of “restored lands”, which is lands formerly used, occupied, or possessed. He explained the differences between treaties; the tribes in Umpqua and Rogue Valley were from 1853 to 1855, a total of seven. The Coquille treaty negotiations were from 1851 and 1855; neither treaty were ratified and there is no legal standing. He provided further information on languages from the Cow Creek and the languages spoken in this area.
  1. Mr. Shammel spoke again and explained the difference between historical and service territories. He stated the law isn’t applicable in this case, so the land cannot be put into a trust. Legislation requires a trust, and he believes the Coquille are misinterpreting the statue to suite their agenda. The Secretary of the Interior can’t put land from Coos and Curry Counties into a trust, since it’s a service area and not a tribal area, and would violate The Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934. You can’t take land into a trust on a discretionary basis; you can’t step in under a false historical premise; and the legal statue doesn’t apply. Mr. Shammel also stated that casinos are no guarantee of success.  He provided newspaper articles regarding casino developments being closed as well as articles pertaining to the Coquille Tribe in North Bend. He also explained the difference between Class 2 and Class 3 slot machines as not much more than a mere microchip according to manufacturers. He also said slot machines generate 85% of revenue in casinos.  The Cow Creek’s first response to the Coquille Tribe purchasing land was to buy the Coquille Tribe out of this area but they did not want to do that. All tribes are looking at the outcome of this and noted three or four tribes would likely claim their rights as well should the Coquille Tribe be successful. He further commented on a report from ECONorthwest on the fiscal impacts of a Medford casino. Pertaining to the Coquille Tribe comment about adding civil resolutions to an agreement with the City, the City has about 400 pages of civil resolutions. He talked about the donations to Medford which could go away if Coquille moves in. Pertaining to the Coquille Tribe’s comments on the possibility of a natural disaster in North Bend which would destroy their casino, he provided a map of North Bend showing property owned by the Coquille Tribe and where they could move their casino to be out of harm’s way. Lastly he stated that the City needs to object now, to protect your rights; and to ask for more rights before you lose them.
  1. Mr. Rondeau spoke again and stated that these are jurisdictional issues. He said that tribes exercise sovereignty because they are governments. He closed with “We have ancestors that are buried in this valley. We have to protect that.”
  1. Jim Prevatt, spiritual leader for the Shasta Nation, noted that this is their aboriginal land.
  1. Roy Hall, Chairman of the Shasta Nation, noted their area encompasses the Rogue Valley and up to Wolf Creek and have never given up legal title or rights to this land. They consider Coquille as interlopers.
  1. Betty Hall, Shasta descent and the Tribe’s historian, spoke of the reservations in this area and stated that this is their land.
  1. Mr. Densmore informed the speakers that they can submit additional information to council in writing.
  1. Chris Hill, 1630 Spring Street, urged the City of Medford and the Coquille Tribe to have an honest discussion on the quality of life for this area. Casinos, no matter who owns them, do not make quality of life better. She urged the City to take all legal routes to not allow the casino, if necessary.
  1. William Mansfield, P.O. Box 1721, spoke of an article in the paper where a patron tried to strangle someone in the gambling facility. He stated this shows the seamy side of gambling. Mr. Mansfield further stated that during the study session the Coquille Tribe did not talk about the negative social issues that can happen. He requested council stop this casino from entering Medford.
  1. Sara Koca, 1493 Elaine Way, would welcome the Coquille Tribe to this area. She worked for the Coquille Tribe as a training manager and stated the reasons that she would support them.
  1. Joel Marks, 5678 Cherry Lane, agreed with all comments that Mr. Mansfield made. He commented on the remarks that Councilmember Strosser questioned on the Tuesday study session where it was noted that the Coquille casino had about seven incidents per month. He urged council to vote against this as it is a destructive thing for this community.
  1. Paula Brighton, Medford, stated that gambling is a problem in their family and is very devastating. Gambling establishments make money off the backs of the desperate.
  1. Laurie Burkett, Medford, questioned where the fund is coming from to fill the Coquille Tribe coffers; she noted it would come from the people who gamble. Her daughter became addicted to gambling and described the horrors that their family has gone through. She requested council consider the mental health and financial impacts to our city.
  1. Beverly Layer, 2341 Gene Cameron Way agreed with the heartache and problems associated with casinos. She wanted to approach this form a different angle. She requested council oppose the proposal practically speaking, because Medford needs to object to have a position from the beginning to avoid litigation, etc. In litigation, a tribe will get the benefit over a city. She requested council to think carefully. Ms. Layer stated that she called the Bureau of Indian Affairs and they say that the citizens have no voice except through city government.
  1. Mr. Prevatt spoke again, noting that this could set a precedent and the possibility of Indian wars.
  1. Gary Lake, 822 S. Oakdale, representing the United Shasta Alliance, spoke about his part of the nation and stated that the Coquille Tribe does not have any rights in this area. He asked council to not agree to the proposed casino.
  1. Brad Martinkovich, Medford, noted that this is a bedroom community and did not want this casino in the valley; this could open to more casinos here.
  1. Patricia Wolfe, Medford, is apologetic to any Indian nations, as there was much done to them that were wrong. She said it would be a bad thing to allow gambling and the casinos. She would like to see Medford stand up for some values, and to be a shining example to the rest of the country.
  1. Ms. Brighton spoke again, and stated that she worked for a nonprofit who provided food to ACCESS. She mentioned as people have an inability to pay for basic living needs, it puts a strain on ACCESS and other nonprofits. She questioned what other city monies would be drawn from.
Public hearing closed.
Mr. Densmore appreciated everyone who came out for this; that council has heard from legal counsel and will discuss to deliberate on May 2. Councilmember Corcoran noted that this will be on our regular Medford City Council meeting. Mr. Swanson stated that the City will notice this and we will determine whether it will be at the noon or 7 p.m. meeting and the topic will be on the deed of trust process.
30.    Adjournment
There being no further business, this Council meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
The proceedings of the City Council meeting were recorded and are filed in the City Recorder's office. The complete agenda of this meeting is filed in the City Recorder's office.
Karen M. Spoonts, MMC
Deputy City Recorder

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