Letter: Seneca Nation had reason to withhold casino money | Letters

In the April editorial, “Senecas should stop hyperboling its casino debt and focus on the future,” The News hits him on the head and gets it completely wrong, in the same sentence. Writing: “There remains to be resolved the separate issue of whether the expansion of the pact was consistent with federal law. But the issue of payments is resolved.

Payments come from the compact extension. If the compact extender doesn’t comply with federal law, neither do the payments. To date, there is still no resolution. That’s why the Seneca are crying foul.

When the Seneca Nation asked the Department of the Interior to review the compact expansion, New York refused. The state had something to lose: disputed payments. Nothing could force the state to proceed with the review, so the extension went unanswered. This review has yet to take place, as the article acknowledges. Thanks for that.

The board also said, “This left the Senecas over $2.2 billion” and “The Senecas are correct that they provided many jobs in the area.” It is impossible to provide jobs, to be a regional economic engine and to pocket all the money. It is money that has gone to thousands of workers, service providers, contractors and vendors; then poured into the area.

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The board casually states, “New York enforced a law that froze their bank accounts.” It was no small feat. Had the Nation not conceded the payment days later, the drastic action would have negatively impacted thousands of lives in Western New York; not only Seneca lives.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ruthless cash grab was an extreme overreach. The Seneca had placed the disputed funds in an escrow account, ready to be paid, if and when the final decision was made. It is always exceptional.

The Buffalo News may consider some Seneca’s claims exaggerated. It is no exaggeration to demand the required federal scrutiny and label the state’s actions as fault.

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