Tribal leader to discuss casino plans

FLINT TWP. — How does a federal circuit court of appeals legal ruling in favor of an Indian-owned casino in Vanderbilt affect the tribe’s plans for a proposed casino here?

That question and more are expected to be addressed by Kurt Perron, president and tribal chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community, who is scheduled as the guest speaker Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the West Flint Business Association (WFBA).

The meeting begins with lunch at noon, followed by Perron’s presentation from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. at the Valley Coney Island on the corner of Miller and Linden Roads. Flint Township Supervisor Karyn Miller will also give a five-minute presentation about township issues.

The WFBA is resuming its monthly business meetings after a summer hiatus.

WFBA is a business networking group that raises funds for annual scholarships.

Last October, the WFBA hosted a similar presentation by former Bay Mills president Jeff Parker, who was replaced by Perron in tribal elections.

Parker spoke about the legal challenges to casino plans but said he expected it to generate about 700 local jobs. He spoke confidently of winning the court battle.

Bay Mills proposes a casino development on 28 acres of land purchased in December 2010 at Lennon and Dutcher roads. Its right to locate a casino on the property hinges on a lawsuit filed by the State of Michigan and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

The lawsuit objected to Bay Mills location of off-reservation casinos and the procedure under which it was built without seeking approval from the state. A federal district court judge ordered the Vanderbilt casino shut down in March 2011 but Bay Mills pursued its case to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In an ruling last month, the higher court overturned the district court ruling, questioning the state’s authority to sue the tribe because of its federallygranted sovereign immunity.

Therefore the district’s court’s injunction against the Vanderbilt community has been vacated and the case sent back to the lower court for findings in keeping with the higher courts ruling.

While viewed as a victory for Bay Mills, the case is not settled. In its ruling the higher court stated that the plaintiffs “could ask the United States to sue Bay Mills since tribes are not immune from suits brought by the federal government.”

It is generally accepted that the outcome of the Vanderbilt law suit will apply to Bay Mills’ Flint township property which was purchased in a similar manner.

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