City Council Neutral Again on Casino Plans

By Paige Browning

The new majority on Spokane’s city council flexed its power Monday night by ditching a 2012 resolution that opposed a possible tribal casino. The 4-3 vote rescinding the resolution makes the council neutral on the Spokane Tribe Economic Project.

The tribe wants to develop a casino resort, convention center, and tribal culture center in Airway Heights. Council President Ben Stuckart said the city should not interfere with the interests of a sovereign nation. “I cannot find in the last 100 years, a single incident where the city of Spokane has opposed another county, another municipality’s, or another country’s economic development,” said Stuckart.
 
The city administration, county commissioners, and chamber of commerce, however, have previously raised concerns that the resort would negatively impact nearby Fairchild Air Force base. The Air Force position is neutral. Mayor David Condon reconfirmed his opposition at his news conference Monday (video). He said, from his perspective, "the city has laid out its concerns of this project, and those are part of the official record... I personally have communicated those concerns with the chairman of their board, Rudy Peone.”

Neither the city nor county have a say in the matter, though. It’s up to the U.S. Department of Interior, and if approved there, Washington’s governor. Tribal Chair Rudy Peone and Vice Chair Carol Evans are waiting for word from the interior. Meanwhile, Evans wants to publicly clarify their relationship with the Kalispell Tribe, who already run an Airway Heights casino.

Evans: “It’s kind of sad that some people think we are at odds and we don’t like each other. In my opinion that’s not true, we’re sister tribes and we do support one another. Maybe on this particular issue we don’t, but in all other issues we do.”
 
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