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Comments on Spokane Tribe casino will still be allowed after EIS is released

A Friday regional story noted that Spokane County Commissioners will unwind a 2010 agreement that would have kept them from taking a stance on a proposed Spokane Tribe casino and resort. It won't surprise me if comments posted online suggest the newspaper is working against the Tribe.

For the record, the only opposition to this proposal voiced by The Spokesman Review has been on the editorial page. Which is the page that reflects only the opinion of the publisher, Stacey Cowles.

The reporters/editors/photographers by common agreement don't try to influence the opinions expressed on the editiorial page. We expect readers to know the difference between news stories and editorials.

Here's the update on what's next in the process facing this casino proposal. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is expected to release a final environmental impact statement within the next 45 days.

Once that's finished, 30 days must pass before the BIA can issue its final decision. That decision is the ultimate yes or no that can move the casino plan forward.

According to BIA spokeswoman Nedra Darling, parties are able to make comments before the final decision is made.Those will have to be made to the BIA website in writing or submitted by mail.

Council President Stuckart backs Spokane Tribe’s casino project

UPDATED, with comments from Ben Stuckart.

Though much has been said about the proposed Spokane Tribe's casino and development project in Airway Heights, most of it has been heated opposition.

We caught notice of a strong vote of support by Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, who published an op-ed piece in support of the development in yesterday's Seattle Times.

One of his key points is the value of the project for the community and the tribe:

This $400 million investment in private dollars will result in much-needed new employment for the Spokane region — 3,000 permanent and 2,000 construction jobs, according to an independent environmental and economic analysis conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It will help temper a serious unemployment rate the tribe and overall region are both dealing with.

We asked Stuckart why he offered this piece to the Times. His answer was that he wanted to counter an earlier Times op-ed piece written by former Gov. Mike Lowry. That piece argued that the Spokanes' proposal would set a risky precedent of allowing tribes to establish casinos off their reservation land.

Stuckart said he'll consider offering a Spokane commentary for The Spokesman-Review on the topic.

The question worth asking: Why did Stuckart take this piece to the paper in Seattle? Did he offer it to the SR first? Stay tuned.

To take sides in tribal casino debate, French uses a legal distinction on duties

Today's regional story about a vote at the Airway Heights City Council had a legalistic issue tucked away and not easily elaborated on. The story noted that two Spokane County commissioners — Al French and Todd Mielke — argue that a 2010 county agreement with Airway Heights should not be allowed to stop them from commenting or taking sides on a proposed Spokane Tribe casino on the West Plains.

French is using a distinction that we were not clear about before. He said, based on a Washington attorney general's office review, that one elected body cannot preclude or prevent a later elected body from exercising its legislative duties.

In this case, the county board in 2010 seems to have tied the legislative hands of the current board, according to French.

He draws a distinction between administrative and legislative duties of elected officials. If for instance the 2010 board signed a contract with some other body to pay money for hauling off refuse, that's an administrative action. And such acts can continue for as long as the terms allow.

But legislative options are not subject to that pre-emptive control, French said, citing the AG's opinion.

We've linked a PDF of the letter sent by the AG's office to Spokane County. It's at the bottom of this post.


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