Editorial: Don't force smoking ban at tribal casinos

"If the legislature keeps playing politics with a bill aimed at curtailing smoking at the state's two casinos, Gov. M. Jodi Rell should pledge to veto it as a way of moving the smoking ban forward.

The governor announced last weekend that she has abandoned her previous position of not negotiating the proposed casino smoking ban with the tribes and has begun preliminary discussions with their representatives. This is a position The Day advocated and we applaud the governor's willingness to talk.

But the Mohegan Tribe has told the governor that while it is willing to discuss the smoking issue, it wants Senate Bill 419, An Act Concerning the Establishment of a Committee to Facilitate an Extention of the Ban on Smoking in Public Places, withdrawn while talks are under way.

“We cannot and will not participate in any discussions when there is state legislative action pending that circumvents our tribal compacts and threatens the essence of our tribal sovereignty, seeking to impose inappropriate state control over our sovereign tribal lands,” said Mohegan Tribal Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum.

In other words, the tribe does not want to negotiate with a hammer over its head.

The tribes are willing to discuss extending the state's smoking ban to the casinos, but they want to do it through government-to-government discussions. They don't want to negotiate when the state has a predetermined conclusion. If the governor sits down to talk with them, but the General Assembly has a bill pending that will force the ban, what is the point of talking?"

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Editorial: Call Their Bluff (The New London Day 4/9)