PCI, commission: Meeting still a go

Published 3:41 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Since the announcement only weeks ago from the Escambia County Commission that they would seek to schedule a meeting with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians over the now months-long dispute over trust lands, both sides of the argument have been working to nail down a date for the sit down.

Tuesday, Escambia County Commissioner for District 4 Brandon Smith, who has been in sole dissension on the commission over its actions towards the tribe, said he had spoken to officials with PCI earlier that day in order to iron out the details.

“We haven’t officially scheduled anything as of yet,” Smith said. “I spoke with Robbie McGhee this morning and we’re trying to work something out.”

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Why such lengths to organize a meeting both sides have said they want to have? During the June county commission meeting, following Chairman David Stokes’ announcement the commission would seek a sit down with the tribe, Stokes also revealed that he planned to attend the meeting with only one other commissioner, David Quarker, whose District 5 territory includes PCI trust land.

McGhee, PCI tribal councilman and governmental relations advisor, said the tribe was not happy with that makeup of the commissioners, instead requesting Quarker and Smith attend the meeting alone.

“The letter came from Stokes with a reply (to the request),” McGhee said. “And they said we they wanted to meet at the courthouse and they wanted their attorneys there. But, this is not a legal matter. Stokes wants to make the determination, but it’s not his determination to make. Quarker and Smith are two individual men. He really thinks he carries the power of the whole commission, I guess.”

Smith said, later the same day, he believed the request would be met by the commission, although a time had still not been mapped out.

“I can understand why they want me and Quarker there,” Smith said. “Because it is our end of the county, but in the end everybody’s voices will be heard.”

Smith said he plans to enter the meeting in an objective manner for the purposes of finding a compromise both sides can be satisfied with.

“When I’m in the meeting with them I’ll be very considerate of their contributions and of the jobs they have created and the work they are planning on doing,” he said. “The only thing left is for   both sides to sit down and see what the other side has to say.”