By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Negotiations on developing a Class II gaming establishment for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee County will keep rolling on. A protest, filed by Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy and Painttown Rep. Terri Henry, against Res. 190 which approved the negotiations was denied during the regular session of Tribal Council on Thursday, April 8.
The protest was denied by a vote of 10-2 with Rep. McCoy and Rep. Henry being the only dissenting votes. They related the protest was filed due to problems they have with the way the original legislation was passed.
“There’s absolutely nothing in (Res.) 190 that constitutes an emergency,” said Rep. McCoy who said the fact that no dollar amounts were included in the resolution also bothered her. “This project could cost us up to $60 million.”
She also said the way Res. 190 was presented to Tribal Council originally was “unprofessional and disrespectful and absolutely wrong.”
Rep. Henry shared her sentiments, “I am standing on the side of our people. The way it was presented was inherently disrespectful.”
She advocated Thursday for a referendum to be held on the issue, “Let the people decide.”
Rep. Henry was also angry at the way the vote to deny the protest occurred on Thursday. She said several people were in the audience at the Council Chambers to speak on the protest but were denied because the question was called on the move to deny the protest prior to them raising their hands to speak. “What you saw today is the Council Chambers are closed to our people.”
Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachacha voted to deny the protest. “The people in Cherokee County that I’ve spoken to are in full support of this (gaming).”
He said the development process for the Class II establishment is only starting and exact numbers on costs, etc. will be forthcoming. “All they’re doing is negotiating.”
Patrick Lambert, a member of the TBE/TGC Joint Class II Committee, said he fully supports gaming in Cherokee County but stated, “I can’t stand in support of how it’s been pushed through. I’ve got some serious reservations about how this was transacted.”
The denied protest alleged, “despite the arguments for an open discussion, Tribal Council voted to hold the discussion in closed session.”
Reps. McCoy and Henry went on to request that all future gaming discussions be held in open meetings.