Friday, March 20, 2015

Local 'leaders' fuss about Quapaw plans for a casino

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 7:38 AM

QUAPAW LEADER: John Berrey
  • QUAPAW LEADER: John Berrey

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported this morning on harrumphing by various local officials about a request by the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma to put land it has purchased near the Little Rock Port in federal trust.

Once in trust, that land could be developed for a casino, though a lot of hoops would have to be jumped first.  

We reported last year on the Quapaw's purchase of 160 acres south of the port. Tribal Chairman John Berrey talked to us about potential cultural and casino development of the land, to which the tribe has ancestral ties.

A couple of quick remarks on the comments in the D-G story:

County Judge Barry Hyde was quoted:

"I'm concerned about anything that doesn't fit in the local zoning because that flies in the face of what is the people's land," Hyde said. "If they have planned a casino development ... my problem with that is again that violates the intent of our state constitution. If we're now going to begin allowing gambling establishments in Pulaski County, I'd like for that to be controlled by the state, and I'd like to see the city and county officials and people to have a say."

A casino with a restaurant and hotel doesn't fit with an industrial park? It would be an improvement to the neighborhood. I note hotels and restaurants nearby now, by the way. Our Constitution doesn't allow gambling?Aren't those casinos in West Memphis and Hot Springs? Of course they are. Federal law says Indian tribes are allowed to offer gambling on trust land to whatever degree gambling is allowed in the same state. Cha-ching! That means slot machines, blackjack and poker in Arkansas. Parimutuel wagering, too? 

Then there was Mayor Mark Stodola.

As fun as that might be to do in another state, out of town, I have questions about whether or not that's the most appropriate place or use of our property here in the city of Little Rock," 

Our property? He said OUR property? I believe he is talking about Quapaw property. And property outside the city limits at that. I believe he is talking about a successful destination resort operator that has created hundreds of jobs and pours significant sums into state governments where they operate.

I'd expect Hot Springs and West Memphis officials to oppose an Indian development in Little Rock. Beats me why the mayor and county judge would do so. They'd turn down hundreds of jobs, but keep on giving taxpayer money to the Chamber of Commerce to lobby against the people's interest and take credit for operations that were coming to Little Rock with or without them.  That's the state of the city of Little Rock, 2015.

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