Ex-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.
Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti
Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally
By David Skolnick
Too much uncertainty and a lack of details led Mahoning County commissioners to reject James A. Traficant Jr.’s plea to immediately endorse his proposed Indian gambling casino in North Jackson.
“We should proceed with a little more caution,” said Commissioner Anthony Traficanti, who used to work for Traficant when the latter was a congressman. “The devil is in the details. We should learn a little more.”
Traficant, who is running as an independent candidate in the 17th Congressional District, spoke Thursday to the commissioners about a proposed Indian gambling casino, hotel, convention center, bank and possibly an indoor amusement park in North Jackson on the corner of Bailey Road and Mahoning Avenue.
Indian gambling casinos aren’t permitted in the Mahoning Valley under state or federal law.
During the 40 minutes that Traficant spoke to and took questions from the commissioners, he never explained his urgency in having en endorsement resolution OK’d Thursday.
It’s been about eight months since Traficant last raised the issue of the proposed Indian casino.
“I need you; I need you to step forward,” he urged the commissioners.
Traficant said he acted as an “agent” for the Itana [Indigenous Tribal Affiliates of Native America] Indian Nation in Provo, Utah, and Munsee Delaware Indian Nation USA in Cambridge, Ohio, which recently bought 20-plus acres of land in North Jackson for $1.
Traficant not only wanted the commissioners to approve a resolution of support Thursday, he also urged them to vote in favor of sending a recommendation to Gov. Ted Strickland asking him to back the proposal.
Even though Commissioner David Ludt, a friend of Traficant’s, and Traficanti, a friend and former longtime Traficant employee, are on the board of commissioners, the commissioners refused to vote on either proposal Thursday.
“We’re going to hold off a while and get more information,” Ludt said.
Traficant didn’t bother to stick around to hear the commissioners’ decision to not support his resolutions.
Commissioner John A. McNally said he learned a lot from Traficant’s presentation, but he still needs more information before he could consider resolutions.
One main issue, McNally said, was there aren’t any federally-recognized tribes in Ohio that can apply for a federal gaming license.
Also, he said, voters passed a state constitutional amendment last year that permits casino gambling in specific locations in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo and nowhere else.
Traficant claims an 1813 treaty between the Munsee tribe and the United States gives that nation “standing” in Ohio.
According to websites about the Munsee Delaware Indians, the tribe has lived in many states over its history, including Ohio.
Also, Jackson Township trustees expressed concern about the proposal at the commissioners’ meeting.
Chuck Booth, the trustees chairman, said he wants to “see a lot more than talk. I’d like to see plans.”
Traficant will discuss the proposal further at Jackson’s trustees meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township hall, 10613 Mahoning Ave.
The commissioners will attend the trustees’ meeting.
Despite the obstacles, Traficant said, “This will happen. These naysayers are insignificant.”