Editorial: Bush right on off-reservation casinos

"Once in a great while, even the Bush administration will present us with a genuine truffle.

This unexpected delight comes by way of Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's denial of a couple of tribal applications for casinos in the Catskills, particularly one by the Mohawks for a gaming facility at Monticello Raceway. A casino the Spitzer administration was fast-tracking. The second application came from the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans of Wisconsin.

This means that for the foreseeable future, the Catskills will remain casino-free, the best possible news for these weary old mountains that have seen enough abuse.

Future generations will see this decision as a critical turning point, a major disaster averted.

In essence, Kempthorne ruled Friday that he wasn't persuaded native tribes should be able to annex property a long way from ancestral reservations, just to put up casinos. Kempthorne, by law, has absolute discretion for approval or denial. His new rule, which will affect tribal applications across the country, is the commuter rule.

That is, if the members of a tribe can easily commute daily to a proposed casino property separate from the reservation, then the application will be viewed far more favorably than if this is not the case. Monticello Raceway is 350 miles from the Mohawks' ancestral lands near the Canadian border. Mohawks are bitterly denouncing the secretary's decision, understandably. While a casino is not in the best interest of the Catskills region, or its small-town way of life, or the flood of second-home residents coming in since 2001, it certainly represents big money opportunities for the tribe and its business partners."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Bush administration gets it right on casinos in the Catskills (The Albany Times-Union 1/8)

More Opinions:
Editorial: A BAD BET ON THE MOHAWKS (The New York Post 1/8)
Editorial: Try again, Governor (The Albany Times-Union 1/8)