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Wednesday, December 03, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Tulalips put off plan for $1,000 payouts
By Emily Heffter
The Tulalip Tribes board of directors voted last week not to pay tribal members a planned $1,000 Thanksgiving bonus.
They cited big bills associated with the new Tulalip Casino.
"We have obligations that we have to take care of first," said state Rep. John McCoy, D-Marysville, a spokesman for the tribe.
Tribal members voted more than a year ago to take a payout of $10,000 each from casino profits. But tribal leaders said this fall that the tribes couldn't afford to make that payment and maintain tribal services. They lowered the amount to $1,000 and said they would send the money by Thanksgiving.
In a statement last week, the tribal board said it will "continue to work diligently towards distributing funds."
Tulalip member Lorna Henry said the board's decision to cancel the bonuses showed there should be more accountability.
"I just think they've probably mismanaged our profits if they're not able to give us (the bonuses) ... which is a relatively small amount of money," she said. "It really does boil down to accountability. There just is none."
Many members were counting on the $1,000 for Christmas, Henry said. "For people who are barely making ends meet or people who are not having any income, that's just a huge blow."
The issue is fueling an effort by a faction of the Tulalip Tribes to oust board Chairman Herman Williams Jr. Members will vote at a Dec. 13 meeting whether to keep him in office.
Meanwhile, the tribes have not resolved a second dispute over money. Cory Duskin, who owns Quilceda Pharmacy with his father, Dale Duskin, says the tribes have not fully paid him for members' medication.
Two months ago, Steve Gobin, the tribes' director of health and human services, said he planned to pay the pharmacy.
"I owe him an apology, and I owe him money," Gobin said at the time.
But though Duskin said the pharmacy has received about $12,000 from the tribes, he is still waiting for about $5,000, plus the apology.
McCoy said the tribes were investigating whether they still owed Duskin money.
McCoy said the casino is "performing as expected" but that higher costs associated with the new building, which opened in June, mean the tribes don't have extra money.
A spreadsheet passed out at last week's tribal meeting showed the casino has grossed about $122 million this year $33 million more than in the same period last year at its old location. But after expenses, including a $32.6 million "operating transfer" to the tribes for their government expenses, it is making about $4.5 million less than last year at this time.
Emily Heffter: 425-783-0624 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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