Thursday, November 03, 2011

Naive Ignorance: Genesee County Officials Made Agreements with the now-Former Bay Mills Leader, Reportedly the Same Day he was Voted From Office

Naive Ignorance:  One must wonder if the Genesee County officials mentioned in the article referenced in this post had even a clue that the Bay Mills Indians were holding an election this week and that now-former Tribal Chair Jeff Parker was facing a re-election challenge. That Genesee officials report making an agreement with Parker on the very day he was voted out of office hardly seems prudent.

Three words to remember for the future:  Homework & Due Diligence.

For a generation, Parker had tightly ruled the Bay Bills Indian Community.  Now there will be a new regime at the helm.  Did Genesse County officials even anticipate that?  Did they anticipate that any agreements with Parker might well be moot, simply unacceptable or even non-binding under the new regime?

It's understandable that local officials have little to no experience dealing with Indian tribes and Indian issues, but before they leap into discussions with or consider agreements with new leaders, they would be best served to survey their experienced counterparts representing communities in and out of Michigan and to also consult with lawyers and others with such expertise. Although they'll try -- their track record suggests so -- the tribal leaders and those behind the tribe's schemes are likely to refer expert lawyers and consultants for consideration by Township and County officials who would be wise to avoid any such referrals and instead seek out such expertise independently. Historically, the people behind the Bay Mills schemes have referred counsel and consultants sympathetic to their interests and those of their Indian partner.

Presently the Bay Mills owned land in Flint Township does not qualify as "Indian Lands." That is the opinion rendered by the State of Michigan, U.S. Department of Interior, National Indian Gaming Commission and District Court.  The only one who suggested otherwise is now the former Chair of the Bay Mills Indian Community.  The Flint Township property is not sovereign, nor held in trust, nor tax exempt; rather, it is subject to the same codes, regulations, laws, fees and taxes expected of others who own local property.  There is no need for special emergency services agreements or other arrangements at this time for negotiated fees in lieu of taxes.  And given the tribe's track record in Port Huron, it could be 20 years or more before anything like that is required or otherwise needed, so why agree to anything now?

Genesee County Road Commission agrees to road pact with Bay Mills Indian Community

By Ron Fonger
FLINT TWP., Michigan -- No one is certain what will happen to undeveloped land owned by the Bay Mills Indian Community here, but the Genesee County Road Commission has agreed to partner with the tribe on future road improvements in the area.

The Road Commission on Tuesday approved an agreement with Bay Mills than could lead to special funding for roads in the area immediately surrounding the tribe's land at Dutcher and Lennon roads.

Road Commission Manager-Director John Daly said a representative of Bay Mills talked to county road officials last month, suggesting the "acknowledgement of public authority responsibility" agreement.

Tribal leaders had no new information about how the property will be developed and made no requests tied to future road needs... (Complete Story)

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