Monthly Archives: March 2012

Employee meetings

In early April, Chairman Joe Eitrem will be traveling to each Kewadin casino to meet with staff to discuss various questions regarding the Lansing casino project, the upcoming referendum, and any other questions staff may have.

Managers, please make every effort to allow all employees (casino and governmental) time to attend these meetings if they choose.

Meeting schedule:

April 11: Manistique Team Spirits Bar, 10 a.m. -12 p.m.

April 11:  Christmas Casino Meeting Room, 3 -5 p.m.

April 12:  Sault, Whitefish Point Room I0 a.m. -12 p.m., 4 -6 p.m.

April 13:  St. Ignace 10 -12

April 13:  Hessel, Tent 2 -3

If you have any questions, please contact Sheri Wallis at ext. 26332. Thank you!

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Sault Tribe holds Detroit-area informational meetings

Sault Tribe members are invited to informational meetings on the Referendum Election concerning the Lansing Casino Project. Two meetings will be held at the Detroit American Indian Center, 22720 Plymouth Rd. in Redford, Mich., on:

  • Wednesday, April 4, 6 – 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 5, 9 – 11 a.m.

Sault Tribe’s chairman, Joe Eitrem, as well as Sault Tribe board representatives, will be on hand to discuss the referendum election, and answer your questions about the referendum and the Kewadin Lansing Casino Project.

The Detroit American Indian Center is located on Plymouth Rd. .5 miles east of Telegraph Rd. For more information, call 1-800-793-0660, see saulttribe.com, or new blog lansingkewadin.wordpress.com.

Miigwech.

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Joe Eitrem radio interview

Chairman Eitrem speaks with Tom Ewing in a radio interview discussing the Kewadin Lansing casino project.

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Lansing City Council’s approval

Today’s State Journal story on the Lansing City Council’s approval of the casino resolutions.

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March 20, 2012 · 2:36 pm

Sault Tribe Members to Vote on Lansing Casino Project

Sault Tribe’s registered voters will soon find in their mailboxes a referendum election ballot to either approve, or disapprove, the tribe’s proposed Lansingcasino.

Ballots will be mailed to all registered tribal voters on April 12. Tribal voters must complete their ballot and return it byMay 3, 2012, when the vote count will take place. The election will cost roughly $30,000.

            The election was called for by a referendum petition signed by 106 tribal members. The referendum petition regarding Resolution 2012-11:  Approval of Comprehensive Development Agreement with the City of Lansing, Michigan; Authorization to purchase land in Lansing, Michigan using income from the Land Settlement Trust Settlement Trust Fund; Approval of Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Lansing, was accepted by the board March 13, 2012. The resolution puts in action steps for the tribe to pursue a casino in the City ofLansing,

            The ballot asks tribal members to choose whether to approve or not approve board of director’s resolution.

            The ballot language is as follows:          

            EXPLANATION: On January 24, 2012 The Board of Directors approved Resolution 2012-11 which allows the Tribe to try to open a casino in the City of Lansing.  The Resolution authorizes and directs as follows:

  • The Tribe may purchase property in the City of Lansing and the Tribe would try to open a tribal casino on the property;
  • The City of Lansing will receive “limited revenue sharing payments” in exchange for its support and for providing police, fire and utility services;
  • The Tribe will allow the City of Lansing to enforce the above in Federal court’
  • Money from the Self Sufficiency Fund will be used to purchase the property;
  • The amount of money available to fund the next annual elder distributions will not decrease;
  • And 15% of the Tribe’s profit will be set aside for the various elder programs and for a college scholarship program.

 

If you believe the project should move forward VOTE TO APPROVE.  If you believe the project should not move forward, VOTE TO DISAPPROVE.

            Sault Tribe Chairman Joe Eitrem stressed the importance of this vote.  “This is an extremely significant vote,” Eitrem said. “This could be the source of funds we so desperately need to fully fund and restore membership programs that we have had to cut, to replenish the Self Sufficiency Fund, to pay down our debt, and to bring more services to members.” 

Eitrem said he believes tribal members will understand the opportunity that this project presents and will strongly support it.  “Members need to be sure they understand the facts about this project,” he said.  “They need to understand the Lansing project is not, in any way, like Greektown Casino. We are not interested in, and would strongly oppose, another Greektown Casino. The Lansing project is totally different. And if members have questions, I encourage them to contact me or any board member. You can also find accurate information about the project and the referendum on the website.  There is a lot of incorrect information out there, and people need to know the facts.” 

Eitrem said in the next month, he and other board members will be holding additional meetings for tribal members in the U.P. and in theDetroitarea. Members who have additional questions and want more information about the project will be encouraged to attend the meetings.

To date, Eitrem and the Tribe have held 23 informational meetings about the project with members across the U.P. and lower peninsula. Nearly 68 percent of the tribal members who have attended the 23 informational meetings filled out surveys saying they support the project after learning the facts about it.

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Tribal Members may have opportunity to vote on Lansing Project

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians today held a special meeting to consider a referendum petition regarding the pursuit of a casino in the City of Lansing. Pending final validation of the referendum petition, tribal members may have the opportunity to vote on Resolution 2012-11, titled Approval of Comprehensive Development Agreement with the City of Lansing, Michigan; Authorization to purchase land in Lansing, Michigan using income from the Land Settlement Trust Settlement Trust Fund; Approval of Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Lansing, Michigan passed by the Sault Tribe Board of Directors on January 24, 2012.  The agreements put in action steps for the Tribe to pursue a casino in the City of Lansing.

At a special meeting held today, the Tribal Board was presented with the referendum petition, which was deemed valid by the tribe’s legal staff, office of the Executive Assistant to the Board, and the enrollment department.  The board approved sending of the referendum to tribal members for a vote pending a review and concurrence by the board Secretary as stated in the Tribal Code.

A total of 170 signatures were collected, with a total of 106 preliminarily deemed valid.  Language on the ballot is yet to be determined as it is set by the tribe’s Election Committee.  Per Tribal Code, the process of sending and announcing results must take no more than 60 days from the day the Tribal Board approves the referendum.

“This is an extremely significant vote that could go out to our people,” said Tribal Chairman Joe Eitrem.  “It could be devastating to the tribe if members vote against it.  This casino project is unique – it allows us to establish a cash flow to our tribe with insignificant risk on our end, developers who are fronting the costs of the project, and a very willing partner in the City ofLansing.” 

Eitrem said that he believes the Tribe’s members will understand the opportunity that this project presents and will strongly support it, as many did in recent community meetings.  “Sixty eight percent of those attending informational meetings on the proposed Lansing casino project said they support the proposal,” said Eitrem.  This was according to surveys filled out by Sault Tribe members, employees and some community members who were at the meetings which took place in February throughout Michigan.

If members vote to overturn Resolution 2012-11, the Board’s approval of the development agreement with the City ofLansingand Lansing Future, LLC – the developers in this project – will be invalidated.  “If this were to happen, we would have to reconvene with all parties and determine how best to proceed,” said Chairman Eitrem.

If members vote yes on the ballot – to approve Resolution 2012-11, the Board’s approval of the project will remain in effect.

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Tribal members get the facts at community meetings; 68% of those surveyed support project

Sixty eight percent of those attending informational meetings on the proposed Lansing casino project held across the state in the past five weeks said they support the proposal, according to surveys filled out by Sault Tribe members, employees and some community members who were at the meetings.

The Tribe held 19 informational meetings across the state between Jan. 31 and Feb. 29 for members to learn more about the proposed Lansing casino. 

Sault Tribe Chairman Joe Eitrem, who attended all of the meetings, said Tribal members asked many “good and tough questions” about the project. Meetings were held in Sault Ste. Marie, Munising, Marquette, Kinross, Midland, Lansing, SugarIsland, Brimley, St. Ignace, Dearborn, Escanaba, Newberry, Cheboygan,Grand Rapids, and Hessel.  One more meeting is scheduled for Mar. 8 in Naubinway.

“We are grateful to all members who took the time to attend the informational meetings,” Chairman Eitrem said. “Based on the surveys the members who attended filled out a questionnaire, most members said they support the project, some are opposed. We received many good and tough questions from many members, who are right to be concerned and even skeptical about this type of project.”

Eitrem said the meetings were held to make sure tribal members understand that “the Lansing casino is not another Greektown Casino, and that the Tribe assumes no financial risks for the project unless and until it is approved by the federal government.”

“There is really no comparison between the Lansing casino project and what the Tribe went through in Greektown,” Eitrem said. “We have no financial risks in Lansing until the land is taken into trust, while in Greektown we assumed all of the financial risks before, during and after. If we succeed, the Tribe will be 100 percent owners and managers. The casino will be regulated by the Kewadin Casino Gaming Authority and National Indian Gaming commission, not the state of Michigan. We will pay 2.5 percent to the City of Lansing, versus paying nearly 30 percent in taxes and fees to the state, city of Detroit, and Gaming Control Board. Most tribal members who thought Lansing might be another Greektown came away from the meetings understanding Lansing could not be more different, I believe.”

If the plan moves forward, 10 percent of the annual income the Tribe receives from the project will go directly into the Tribe’s Self Sufficiency Fund. This fund supports programs and services that benefit elders and provides resources to explore future economic development opportunities.

Another 3 percent of the annual revenues will be distributed among and deposited in the following funds: the Elder Health Self-Sufficiency Fund, the Elder Employment Self-Sufficiency Fund, the Funeral Assistance Self-Sufficiency fund, and the Education Assistance Self-Sufficiency Fund.

Another 2 percent of the annual income to the Tribe from this project will be deposited into a fund to establish a college scholarship program for tribal members regardless of blood quantum, similar to what the City of Lansingis doing with its 2 percent.

“Many people asked questions about what we are going to do with the money we receive from this casino,” said Eitrem. “We have earmarked, by resolution, where 15 percent of the annual income from Lansingwill go. The rest of the annual income we receive will be used to reinstate membership services that we have had to cut over the years due to budget constraints.”      Eitrem noted that the board also hopes to create new membership services, to bring parity in wages to employees in the seven-county service area, pay off debt and allow for upgrades and renovations at the five northern Kewadin Casinos with income from this project.

While not a scientific sample of the opinions of tribal members, the surveys filled out by members who attended the information meetings indicate a good understanding of the project, Eitrem said. An average of 14 people attended each meeting, 279 total for all meetings. Over 65 percent of those attending support the project.

“After what we went through in Greektown, I and all of the board members were absolutely against getting into another Greektown,” Eitrem said. “Lansingis not another Greektown, and I believe most of the members who attended the informational meetings now understand that, too.”

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