‘Victims are the citizens’

Published 11:25 am Monday, February 25, 2013

As the Poarch Band of Creek Indians continue to traverse an array of legal filings, the most recent of which filed by Attorney General Luther Strange, legislators who represent the area are stepping in to show their support of the only Native American tribe officially recognized by the state of Alabama.

Alabama Sen. Marc Keahey, D-Grove Hill, said he appreciates what the tribe has contributed to the quality of life of his constituents.

“In my opinion, the victims of the attorney general’s actions of the past week are the citizens and taxpayers of Alabama,” Keahey said. “Nothing about this is normal in terms of common sense and whether or not it’s a waste of time.”

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Keahey said Strange’s lawsuit against PCI, filed last week in an Elmore County Circuit Court, is likely nothing short of a political move for a future run at the governor’s office.

“I think when the attorney general filed the lawsuit in Elmore County claiming a public nuisance, at the end of this year we could probably look back at all the suits filed in the state and this would be the most frivolous suit filed.”

Keahey, who seems to be in agreement with the majority of local residents — at least based on recent posts to social media sites — said Strange could focus his efforts on issues more pressing than gambling — endeavors that would be less costly for state tax payers.

“What makes the citizens victims is this,” Keahey said. “There is a filing fee that must be paid on the front end (of lawsuits). There is a state lawyer being paid tax dollars. The clerk in Elmore County has to spend time and money. It’s costly to taxpayers.”

State Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, also voiced his support for the embattled tribe.

“The Poarch Creek Indians have federal legal jurisdiction,” Baker said. “It’s widely known that the Poarch Creek Indians provide for those counties they are in.”

Baker said an important factor to remember is that PCI is afforded federal sovereignty, a luxury not granted to non-Indian casinos.

“It is more of a federal jurisdiction matter,” he said. “I would say it is fair statement to make that gaming in Alabama has two different types of gaming, Indian gaming and non-Indian gaming. Indian gaming is federally regulated, while non-Indian gaming is state regulated.”

Regardless of where the public may stand on gambling in Alabama, Keahey summed things up: “I think everybody is being open minded except those being blinded by political blindfolds,” he said.