Friday, May 23, 2008

Does Governor Paterson Know Something We Don't?

There was some tough talk last month from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, but it's not a sure thing that the state is going to go to court over the Oneida's land into trust decision. The O-D offers up some details:

New York state Gov. David Paterson still hasn’t stated definitively whether the state will file suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior for its decision to place 13,004 acres of Oneida Indian Nation land into federal Indian trust.

The Interior Department issued its decision Tuesday.

Paterson encouraged the parties involved to negotiate.

“When it comes to matter concerning Native Americans the Bush administration has shown a pattern of acting in a manner that is detrimental to the interests of New York, its citizens and even the tribes,” Paterson said in a statement.

The statement continued: “The procedures the Department of the Interior – through the Bureau of Indian Affairs – followed were flawed, and its decision is decidedly harmful to ongoing efforts on the part of interested parties to resolve these matters locally. Unfortunately, any possible negotiations will now be conducted under the specter of the litigation that is sure to follow this decision. I continue to encourage all parties to negotiate.”

Riddle me this. If every politician involved in this mess so desperately wants to "negotiate", from the Mayor of Verona to the Governor of New York and right up to Congressman Arcuri, why haven't there been any negotiations? Every elected official involved has been issuing press release after press release praising themselves for all their hard work and dedication, but somehow they've accomplished absolutely nothing. It's amazing that so many have worked so hard for so long, yet we still don't seem to have any actual, you know, "negotiations" going on.

There's one other thing worthy of note in Gov. Paterson's actual press release, although the O-D's story doesn't mention it. The full text is available from the governor's website, and one particular line in the first paragraph jumped out at me:

Governor David A. Paterson sharply criticized the federal government’s recent decision to put 13,004 acres of land in Madison and Oneida Counties into trust for the Oneida Indian Nation. The land is scattered throughout the two counties, and a move to take all of it into trust would threaten the fiscal solvency of county and local governments. Governor Paterson is now working with federal and local officials and the Oneida Indian Nation to organize negotiations in an effort to reach a settlement that is satisfactory to all parties.

Bolding mine.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the governor of New York just said that Oneida county is facing insolvency if this decision stands. That's a pretty dire prediction, since the likelihood of the DOI's findings being overturned are slim at best. If the governor is correct, and I have no reason to suspect he's lying, the outlook for the area is looking more grim than ever before.