JACKSON, CA - County supervisor chairman, Richard Forster, unexpectedly voted no yesterday against a compromise proposal submitted by the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians. Last week the supervisors deadlocked 2-2 on the agreement, but Forster pledged support if it excluded the county's lawsuit to stop construction of the casino.
The tribe agreed and resubmitted their proposal this week. However, in yesterday's meeting Forster reversed his support and voted against it making a 2-2 deadlock. Supervisors Richard Escamilla and Theodore Novelli voted in favor, and Supervisors Louis Boitano and Forster voted against. Supervisor Brian Oneto abstained.
Forster explained his position. "A lot of that was public posturing on my part. It was part of a negotiation . What we're doing is retaining all of our rights without giving the tribe any footing."
John Tang, CEO of the Buena Vista Rancheria, said "We're surprised Supervisors Forster and Boitano voted against the ISA after we agreed to their requested changes. We all saw Supervisor Forster's comments in the press that he intended to vote for the agreement. We are not sure what happened between then and now to change his mind, but it's clear that the decision now belongs to an arbitrator."
Arbitration will be binding and expensive. County officials have indicated they may ask voters to increase sales tax to legal costs. The county has already spent $1.4 million in its fight to prevent the casino.
In 2004 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a gaming compact with the Buena Vista Me-Wuk which requires the tribe to negotiate an agreement with Amador County to pay for police and fire services, traffic, and water improvements related to the project. The tribe can install up to 950 slot machines and will pay the state 15 percent of annual slot machine earnings for $200 million or less and 25 percent for over $200 million.
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