Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.


"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ending poverty should be primary focus

 

A battle of ideas takes shape in the true tradition of democratic dialog, discussion and debate deserving of democracy.

Note: Following my letter are all the letters to the editor on this issue as they were published in The Bemidji Pioneer.


Published March 29, 2012, 12:00 AM

http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/event/article/id/100038347/

Ending poverty should be primary focus

 Common sense tells us paying casino workers or any workers poverty wages is going to result in these workers and their families being drowned in poverty.


Common sense tells us paying casino workers or any workers poverty wages is going to result in these workers and their families being drowned in poverty.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands workers suffering adverse health conditions due to being forced to work in these smoke-filled casinos and as a result suffering heart and lung problems, cancers and complications from diabetes are going to be pushed even further into poverty. There are no two ways about this fact of life: working people in this country who become seriously ill are going to become poor seeing as how health care is an even bigger racket and rip-off than these casinos.

I question whether Jourdain, LaRose or Vizenor give two hoots about those people they claim to represent because if they had just a modicum of concern for people, they would immediately halt smoking in their casinos.

Why not expand beyond the casino industry as Nicole Beaulieu suggested in her letter to the editor (March 21)?

Are there possibilities in doing this?

There are myriad possibilities from cooperatives raising vegetables, beef, hogs, chickens and turkeys to reforestation, and fishing cooperatives to green energy production, home building and renovation, manufacturing slot machines to a joint tribal-state venture that would save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, creating thousands of jobs.

Real wealth creation is in mining and manufacturing. Why are the Indian nations systematically and intentionally excluded from these industries? Racism is the only explanation.

I would note the wise words of one candidate for White Earth Nation Chair, Char Lee-Ovaldson, who writes “…The economy needs to be improved. Poverty and unemployment have stifled our voices and have kept our people in hopelessness too long. We need to build a strong economy.”

Well, we all know what a strong economy is. A strong economy is a diverse economy centered on solving the problems of the people by meeting the needs of the people which means paying people real living wages to accomplish this.

Poverty and unemployment are our common problems.

Jobs for all by strictly enforcing the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance (T.E.R.O.) and Affirmative Action while paying casino workers — and ALL workers — real living wages is the solution.

Will the chairs of the Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth Tribal Councils join me in insisting that the minimum wage be indexed to all cost of living factors and inflation?

Alan L. Maki

Warroad, Minn.




The other letters I was responding to in the order they were published:





Published February 26, 2012, 12:00 AM

White Earth’s casino plan misguided


The Red Lake Nation and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, along with other member tribes of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA), are opposed to efforts by the White Earth Band of Ojibwe to develop an off-reservation casino in the Twin Cities.

Contrary to claims by White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor, the White Earth proposal is not at all consistent with federal law or the intent of federal Indian gaming policy.

 By: Arthur “Archie” LaRose and Floyd Jourdain, JR., Bemidji Pioneer

The Red Lake Nation and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, along with other member tribes of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA), are opposed to efforts by the White Earth Band of Ojibwe to develop an off-reservation casino in the Twin Cities. Contrary to claims by White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor, the White Earth proposal is not at all consistent with federal law or the intent of federal Indian gaming policy.

Several years ago, the Red Lake Nation and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe briefly entertained the notion of participating in a tribal-state joint casino venture driven by White Earth. It quickly became clear that the plan was a one-sided effort by the state to exploit our tribal status for its own financial gain. The tribes stood to gain very little, but the state would have gained a foothold in casino gaming that could ultimately lead to unlimited state-sponsored expansion at great cost to us and every other Minnesota tribe. We saw through the plan and withdrew our participation in the State/White Earth effort.

Today, we agree with the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association (MIGA) view that any effort by any tribe to expand gambling into off-reservation locations is misguided and contrary to the spirit of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the federal law under which Indian gaming is conducted and regulated. IGRA was intended to create jobs and stimulate economic activity on Indian reservations, where traditional approaches to economic development have failed.

White Earth’s proposal is contrary to long-term tribal interests because it compromises sovereignty, diverts tribal revenues to non-tribal purposes, in violation of federal law and the tribal government’s responsibility to its own members, and sets a dangerous precedent for unwarranted revenue-sharing. By positioning itself as a financing partner offering to develop a casino and share proceeds with the State of Minnesota outside the framework of IGRA, the tribe has waived its sovereign status and put itself on the same level as any private-sector developer.

The premise of the White Earth proposal is that it would address “the extreme disparity in revenues generated by tribal casinos.” Since Indian gaming was intended as a tool for economic development on the reservation, it was never envisioned or intended that tribes would benefit equally. IGRA recognized that each tribe would be operating its gaming enterprises on tribal lands with all the benefits and limitations inherent in those locations. Moreover, the proposal as currently written would not remedy revenue disparities; it would merely increase revenue for one tribe, at the expense of others.

The White Earth bill (Article 1, Section 1) asserts a “lack of significant direct revenue to the state of Minnesota” from tribal gaming. In fact, the intent of Indian gaming was to produce revenue for tribes, not states. The suggestion that the state has a right to tribal gaming revenues is simply wrongheaded and totally inconsistent with the stated intent of IGRA.

Further, both federal law and the rulings of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) have reaffirmed that tribes may not divert gaming revenues to states or cities except to pay for benefits or services provided by those entities.

Those who say that the state has not benefited from Indian gaming are simply wrong. Tribal gaming has been a huge economic asset to Minnesota, and it hasn’t cost state taxpayers a dime. The 41,000 jobs, direct and indirect, created by the tribes were created without state assistance.

Finally, the suggestion that the state would bind itself to an exclusivity agreement for thirty years in exchange for 50 percent of the proceeds of a White Earth-owned casino is patently absurd. There is not a single state in the U.S. that, having entered the casino business, has stopped at one casino. What happens to tribal casinos when Minnesota decides it needs another casino, and then another?

MIGA member tribes take no pleasure in opposing White Earth on this matter. However, the tribe’s proposal is so inimical to the interests of the other tribes in Minnesota that we believe we have no alternative.

Arthur “Archie” LaRose is Chairman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Floyd Jourdain, Jr. is Chairman of the Red Lake Nation

                                                                          ####



Published March 01, 2012, 12:00 AM

Claims political, not substantive

The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association exists to protect the status quo in gaming. That’s not a surprise, given that the most influential members of the organization are the tribes with the most successful casinos.


The Minnesota Indian Gaming Association exists to protect the status quo in gaming. That’s not a surprise, given that the most influential members of the organization are the tribes with the most successful casinos.

I have great respect for fellow tribal chairs Arthur “Archie” LaRose (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe chairman) and Floyd Jourdain, Jr. (Red Lake Nation chairman). However, I am disappointed that in their recent article they agreed to defend the policies that have denied meaningful economic opportunities from gaming to all but the few tribes that by accident of geography have locations near the Twin Cities metro area.

The arguments they make are political, not substantive:

They claim that the White Earth Nation’s proposal for a business partnership with the state for a Twin Cities casino would “compromise sovereignty.” That’s false. White Earth is proposing a business partnership with the state of Minnesota. The contractual agreement would apply only to the metro casino – not to any other aspect of tribal affairs. This is not unlike non-casino business arrangements tribes in Minnesota and around the country have made with local and state governments.

They argue that the White Earth proposal is “contrary to the spirit of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).” MIGA wants to reinforce the belief that the courts and Congress were blind to the disparities in gaming revenue. In fact, the spirit of IGRA is that all Native Americans have the opportunity to benefit. What we are proposing is entirely consistent not just with the spirit of IGRA, but with the implementation of the law. There are many examples around the country – including our neighbors in Wisconsin and Michigan – of tribes sharing revenue with state governments. Our proposal would deliver huge economic benefits directly and consistently to White Earth Nation, the state’s largest and poorest tribe. It strengthens the spirit of IGRA – that gaming would be an economic opportunity for all tribes.

Finally, they argue that a partnership with the state would undermine the long-term interests of all tribes. In fact, there are no long-term interests served by imposing the kind of extreme poverty on some tribes that for too long has been our reality. Our long-term interests are in decent housing, good education, quality health care and jobs that pay decent wages.

That is the true spirit of IGRA – the spirit at the heart of MinnesotaWins.

Erma J. Vizenor

Chairwoman, White Earth Nation


                                                                     ####
 


Published March 21, 2012, 12:00 AM

Questions on American Indian poverty must be addressed

The recent opinion by White Earth Chair Erma J. Vizenor responding to the misinformation presented by fellow chairs Jourdain and LaRose, on behalf of MIGA, raises questions needing to be addressed.


The recent opinion by White Earth Chair Erma J. Vizenor responding to the misinformation presented by fellow chairs Jourdain and LaRose, on behalf of MIGA, raises questions needing to be addressed.

Vizenor finally acknowledged what most of us Anishinaabeg have known for years: Casinos have not delivered the “good life” for us all as they were supposedly intended.

While Vizenor addressed poverty, Jourdain and LaRose completely ignored the unemployment creating these disparities. If not for racism, how does one explain the massive unemployment, six to 10 times that of surrounding communities, plaguing our reservations and urban communities? It is clear that some of the main perpetrators of this systematic racism are our own tribal leaders.

Gaming has led to tremendous debt and poverty wage jobs in unhealthy work environments that contribute to the health issues of its workers. Again, this was ignored by chairs Vizenor, Jourdain and LaRose, and more than likely by the other chairs of the MCT due to their special interests with those that refuse to regard our actual needs.

Why should casinos be seen as the only source of income? Why are we so narrow sighted when it comes to diversifying our economic investments? The monopoly of gambling amongst Native Americans amongst tribes seems to be providing an avenue for racist politicians and bureaucrats to maintain their systematic institutionalized racism. They justify it by its means to deprive, and marginalize us to anything but. Yet they always want to attack our interests as if it’s an answer to all of Minnesota’s economic woes, when it barely serves our tribal nations a solution.

Why isn’t Affirmative Action being enforced when it comes to education and employment? Gov. Dayton, here in Bemidji spoke at the BSU’s American Indian Resource Center, promising us he would enforce Affirmative Action. Dayton now proposes billions of dollars in job creation from the Vikings’ stadium, Stillwater bridge, light rail, and downtown Minneapolis renovation. Not one word about enforcing Affirmative Action has been uttered by any politician.

It’s time for Dayton and state legislators to partner with Native Americans in the real economy. Anything less is racism and continued genocide.

I would like to believe Erma Vizenor is sincere in addressing poverty; yet Leech Lake is the only tribe that has called for the enforcement of Affirmative Action by passing a resolution recently to approach these disparities. Yet there is a lot to accomplish.

Nicole Beaulieu

Bemidji


                                                                        ####



Ending poverty should be primary focus

Common sense tells us paying casino workers or any workers poverty wages is going to result in these workers and their families being drowned in poverty. 

Published March 29, 2012, 12:00 AM

Ending poverty should be primary focus

Common sense tells us paying casino workers or any workers poverty wages is going to result in these workers and their families being drowned in poverty.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands workers suffering adverse health conditions due to being forced to work in these smoke-filled casinos and as a result suffering heart and lung problems, cancers and complications from diabetes are going to be pushed even further into poverty. There are no two ways about this fact of life: working people in this country who become seriously ill are going to become poor seeing as how health care is an even bigger racket and rip-off than these casinos.

I question whether Jourdain, LaRose or Vizenor give two hoots about those people they claim to represent because if they had just a modicum of concern for people, they would immediately halt smoking in their casinos.

Why not expand beyond the casino industry as Nicole Beaulieu suggested in her letter to the editor (March 21)?

Are there possibilities in doing this?

There are myriad possibilities from cooperatives raising vegetables, beef, hogs, chickens and turkeys to reforestation, and fishing cooperatives to green energy production, home building and renovation, manufacturing slot machines to a joint tribal-state venture that would save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, creating thousands of jobs.

Real wealth creation is in mining and manufacturing. Why are the Indian nations systematically and intentionally excluded from these industries? Racism is the only explanation.

I would note the wise words of one candidate for White Earth Nation Chair, Char Lee-Ovaldson, who writes “…The economy needs to be improved. Poverty and unemployment have stifled our voices and have kept our people in hopelessness too long. We need to build a strong economy.”

Well, we all know what a strong economy is. A strong economy is a diverse economy centered on solving the problems of the people by meeting the needs of the people which means paying people real living wages to accomplish this.

Poverty and unemployment are our common problems.

Jobs for all by strictly enforcing the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance (TERO) and Affirmative Action while paying casino workers — and ALL workers — real living wages is the solution.

Will the chairs of the Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth Tribal Councils join me in insisting that the minimum wage be indexed to all cost of living factors and inflation?

Alan L. Maki

Warroad, Minnesota

                                                                             ####



My letter as originally submitted for publication before being asked by the Editor to cut it down to less than 400 words per The Bemidji Pioneer's requirement:

Submitted for publication in the Bemidji Pioneer Press; permission to edit is extended by the writer.

I read the three letters about Indian Gaming by Red Lake Chair Floyd Jourdain and Archie LaRose, the opinion of Leech Lake Chair Erma Vizenor and the most recent by Bemidji resident Nicole Beaulieu.

How is it LaRose and Jourdain made no mention of poverty?

Vizenor, to her credit, did mention poverty; albeit very superficially.

But Beaulieu hit the nail on the head with her focus on poverty.

Ending poverty should be our primary focus.

But politicians focus on this campaign rhetoric of “jobs, jobs, jobs;” never so much as insisting that these jobs must be real living wage jobs if poverty is going to be ended.

The Chairs of the Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth Tribal Councils conveniently omit the fact that amidst the tremendous wealth being generated by their casinos, they are paying casino workers poverty wages. Common sense tells us paying workers poverty wages is going to result in these workers and their families being drowned in poverty. Anyone walking to any of the 7 loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos these tribal councils own can readily see there is no reason casino workers can’t be paid real living wages. In fact, Jourdain, LaRose and Vizenor are directly--- along with the local, state and federal governments are directly responsible for thousands of their own tribal members living in poverty because instead of paying casino workers real living wages they are enabling the owners of the slot machines to run away with the profits.

And anyone with an ounce of common sense understands workers suffering adverse health conditions due to being forced to work in these smoke-filled casinos and as a result suffering heart and lung problems, cancers and complications from diabetes are going to be pushed even further into poverty.

I question whether Jourdain, LaRose or Vizenor give two hoots about those people they claim to represent because if they had just a modicum of concern they would immediately halt smoking in their casinos.

It is strange none of the Tribal Chairs mentioned the need to fully enforce T.E.R.O. (Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance) on the reservations and Affirmative Action off the reservation. Obviously if Native Americans don’t have access to good jobs paying real living wages there is going to be massive racist unemployment driving continued shameful racist poverty.

But, here again, these tribal chairs so focused on casinos to the exclusion of building other enterprises as Beaulieu suggests will not entertain anything outside of casinos because they are afraid to have the presence of real living wage jobs which would force them to pay casino workers more.

Beaulieu raises a most important question: Why not expand beyond the casino industry?

Are there possibilities in doing this?

Minnesotans have subsidized Ford’s St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant to the hilt for many years.

Chair Erma Vizenor claims to have a billion dollars in hand for a joint State-Tribal Casino venture. Where she is getting this kind of money we don’t know since she isn’t paying employees of the Shooting Star Casino real living wages.

Everyone agrees jobs--- good paying, living wage jobs--- are what we need to work our way out of this economic mess the crumbling capitalist economy has us all mired in.

Again, back to common sense.

Why wouldn’t Chair Vizenor suggest to Governor Dayton and State Legislators that a joint Tribal-State venture be created to keep the Saint Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant operating building solar and wind generating equipment or the components for light rail? What about manufacturing slot machines? All could be manufactured simultaneously with this plant. Ford engaged in multi-product manufacturing previously with this plant they now want to knock down since they are producing their Rangers in Thailand.

None of the tribes own their own slot machines. The owners of these slot machines take all the profits right off the top leaving the Indian Nations with nothing but a pile of debt. Debt equals poverty for the people of any nations--- Indian Nations not excluded. Common sense tells us it would be beneficial for the tribes to own their own slot machines.

Real wealth creation is in mining and manufacturing.

I wonder why the iron ore mining and taconite processing industry went to China to get bailed out and subsidized when Erma Vizenor apparently has billions of dollars to invest creating jobs here in Minnesota? Minnesota State Legislators and the Mayor of our largest city apparently have billions to invest in a new Vikings’ Stadium that we need like we need a hole in our heads. And NO new Stadium jobs will be created. The present Stadium employs over 1,900 people; Governor Dayton claims a new Vikings’ Stadium will employ 2,000 people--- no net job gain here.

Saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant from the wrecking ball would create at a minimum of over 2,000 jobs that don’t exist at present time and if the project were managed right under public ownership we would be able to create well over 6,000 new jobs--- jobs at real living wages in a safe and healthy smoke-free environment where real wealth is produced and worker’s rights are protected under state and federal labor laws unlike Minnesota’s 44,000 casino workers forced to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages and without any rights.

I would note the wise words of one candidate for White Earth Nation Chair, Char Lee-Ovaldson, who writes in the monthly chronicle of the White Earth Nation, Anishinaabeg Today (Feb. 15, 2012 page 5), “…The economy needs to be improved. Poverty and unemployment have stifled our voices and have kept our people in hopelessness too long. We need to build a strong economy.”

I am asking: If there are billions of dollars available to build a new casino and a Vikings’ Stadium; aren’t these same billions of dollars available to create real living wage jobs with those employed manufacturing what our society really needs? If not, we need an explanation of why not.

Mark Dayton came to me begging for my support while seeking votes running for office; I expect that Governor Dayton will be answering my questions posed here.

Racism hurts and harms the victims the worst but the rest of us are suffering, too, as this racism is blinding our society to real solutions to our problems. Poverty and unemployment are our common problems. Jobs for all by strictly enforcing T.E.R.O. and Affirmative Action while paying casino workers--- and ALL workers--- real living wages is the solution.

Will the Chairs of the Red Lake, Leech Lake and White Earth Tribal Councils join me in insisting that the minimum wage be indexed to all cost of living factors and inflation?

To his credit, Archie LaRose did support a resolution demanding Affirmative Action be enforced in Minnesota but his colleagues Jourdain and Vizenor have not joined him; why not?

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council