Supervisors err with air of superiority

County offends and misinforms in announcing suit against the Mechoopda

Dennis Ramirez is the chairman of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria.

Butte County is appealing a federal-court decision that the Mechoopda Tribe can proceed with its casino off Highway 149.

As the chairman of the Mechoopda Tribe, I have made it my highest priority to ensure that our tribe conducts itself with honor and integrity. However, as events continue to unfold concerning the development of our proposed casino on the outskirts of Chico, it has become very clear that the Butte County Board of Supervisors does not hold itself to the same standard.

To my dismay, the county supervisors have decided to appeal a federal court ruling dismissing the county’s challenge to the approval of the location for our casino. Adding insult to injury, Supervisor Connelly insulted the Mechoopda Tribe in a county press release by urging that “Station Casinos find a new location for the tribe.” To suggest that our tribe is unable to make decisions for ourselves is not only paternalistic, but also reminiscent of the times in history when the federal government determined where we could live.

To hear the county supervisors describe our proposed project, one would think we are planning to build the MGM Grand Casino; nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, our plans call for the smallest casino in the region, barely the size of a Safeway store.

I take it quite personally when the county supervisors issue a press release accusing “Station Casinos” of not cooperating with them, yet our tribe is the only tribe in the region that has attempted to establish a memorandum of understanding with the county to mitigate the environmental impacts of our project.

It has been shown time and again that casinos bring money into the local economy. That is done not only through hundreds of living-wage jobs, but also through purchases from local vendors and money spent by visitors to the community.

The Mechoopda Tribe has never had the opportunity to be a prosperous tribe, and many generations of our people have lived in poverty, but we have always taken great pride in how we conduct ourselves. I encourage the county supervisors to do the same and re-evaluate their motivations. This can be a great opportunity to move forward together and do great things for Butte County, but we cannot do that if one of the parties refuses to unclench its fists.