No cheeseWisconsin court strikes down tribal compact
The Wisconsin State Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Jim Doyle exceeded his power when he negotiated a compact last year with the Forest County Potawatomi tribe that eased operating restrictions, allowing for new games like roulette and craps, and contained no expiration date, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.
In a 4-3 ruling on Panzer v. Doyle, the court said the Democratic governor's agreement with the Potawatomis-with provisions similar to those he worked out with other tribes last year-went beyond his authority and required input from the Wisconsin State Legislature.
Assembly Speaker John Gard, who filed the lawsuit last year with Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer, said that he's willing to discuss the issue further with the tribe.
"Governor Doyle signed illegal compacts, and that is not in dispute now," Gard told the newspaper. "The question is how do you reach a compromise."
Meantime the tribe, which had agreed as part of the compact to forward the state about $206 million in direct payments between 2003 and 2005, said their operations would continue as usual, and they may not make their regular payment to the state next month.
In a press statement, National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said he was "personally disappointed that the plaintiffs have decided to play politics with over 35,000 jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing, and over one billion dollars in new investments in the state." He added that he hoped "the Governor will continue to work with the tribes to remedy this situation."
"The Wisconsin Supreme Court's Panzer decision presents a difficulty that tribes have faced before-states with divided government systems sometimes have difficulty speaking with a clear voice," Stevens, who also is a member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, said. "The tribes have worked with the State in good faith on the new compacts, but now, unfortunately, the plaintiffs have disrupted those good faith negotiations between the tribes and state."