Picente urges lawmakers to reach agreement with Oneida Indian Nation


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - With a vote of rejection last year, lawmakers said the "Partnership Plan" between Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and the Oneida Indian Nation was not good enough for them.

Nine months, later the county executive is challenging those same lawmakers to come up with a better plan.

"It's kind of a call to say we shouldn't let this sit there," Picente said. "Especially in the economic situation we are facing in this community and as a region."

The Partnership Plan would have seen the Oneida Indian Nation pay the county $55 million over the course of ten years. In return, the county would have dropped its lawsuit regarding land into trust.

Former Oneida County Democratic Minority Leader Michael Hennessy was the most vocal in opposing the plan. On Wednesday, he said the best plan now is to wait out the current lawsuits. That's because Hennessy believes if the county wins, a better deal will follow.

"After having no more income, and more importantly, allowing a whole a area to go into land into trust - a much larger area than even the federal government has proposed, (could be received)," Hennessy said.

Current Oneida County Democratic Minority Leader Patricia Hudak said Wednesday that she believes the negotiations should be between the State of New York and the Oneidas - not the county.

Picente says the county can no longer wait because of fiscal problems on the state and federal level. He believes it's important Oneida County take control of its own future, and work with the Oneida Nation, said Picente.

"(The Oneida Nation) It can be a partner in areas just the way companies here are partners where we attract new jobs and new growth to the area," Picente said. "They are moving on with their projects and we are standing still. Now is even more of an opportune time than last year."

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