Press-Republican

Opinion

February 2, 2012

In My Opinion: Tribe said to violate contract policy

Take a quick survey of the northeast corner of St. Lawrence County and the northwest corner of Franklin County, and one would see and hear from residents that the only real economic activity that is taking place these days is happening on our reservation.

Much of this activity is directly related to the success of our Akwesasne Mohawk Casino and the activities that spin off from it.

Reservation residents are still buying cars and other high-ticket items. Homes are being built, businesses are expanding and hiring, and people are working. Until now, the tribal government has been doing its best to keep our economy growing and healthy, but this may no longer be the case.

Members of the Akwesasne Mohawk Contractors Association are very troubled at the tribe's apparent and sudden reversal in their support of the Mohawk Preference Construction Policy at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino. This is a policy that was put in place to guarantee that jobs and contracts would be awarded to qualified local Mohawk contractors so that our economy remains strong and vibrant.

Although we initially questioned the tribe's hiring of Encompass, an out-of-state firm not registered to do business in New York, to coordinate the $74 million expansion, we remained optimistic that we would be able to secure good jobs for our Mohawk workforce. Unfortunately for all of us, it is becoming more evident that Encompass does not support our government's Mohawk Preference Construction Policy.

Recently, the Tribal Council indicated that Encompass is exempted from the Mohawk Preference Construction Policy and does not have to comply with it. As they serve as the tribe's representative and their contract is $60 million plus, this lack of enforcement drastically affects the credibility of our tribal laws and is a slap in the face to our Mohawk contractors.

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