Thursday, 19 April 2007 01:35

Court of Appeals Issues Long Awaited Decision On Plymouth’s MSA With The Ione Band of Miwok: County

slide9The California State Court’s Third District Court of Appeals late yesterday issued the long awaited decision on the City of Plymouth’s Municipal Services Agreement with the Ione Band of Miwok. The decision pertains to the Amador County suit against the City over the city’s agreement between the tribe and the decision now completely voids the MSA and all its provisions. Accordingly, the decision of the City to enter into the MSA without complying with CEQA is void. For this reason the MSA and its support of the trust application of the Tribe is invalid. We will affirm the judgment granting the writ of mandate and enjoining the implementation of the MSA. In 2004 the City approved the MSA with the tribe.

slide11 This drew a massive public outcry and two lawsuits. One filed against the city by Amador County and another by the group “No Casino In Plymouth”. Subsequently the two suits were joined and in 2005 the Amador County Superior court issued a judgment that ordered the City to set aside its resolution approving the MSA and also enjoined its implementation. The City filed a timely appeal of the local court’s judgment. After a turn over in the Plymouth City Council the new council abandoned its appeal the Tribe then intervened and filed their own notice of appeal with the appeals court. Amador County CAO Terri Daly said this is a huge win for the county in the fight to stop more casinos from being built here. According to the County’s press release, “The California Third District Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision filed yesterday afternoon has ruled in favor of Amador County and held that the Municipal Services Agreement (MSA) between the Ione Band and the City of Plymouth is illegal and void because it violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The case is County of Amador, et al v. City of Plymouth (Ione Band, Intervenor) Case No. C050066. The County filed suit in 2004 against the City to block the MSA on the grounds that the MSA was approved without complying with CEQA.

slide14 The Superior Court ruled in favor of the County, declaring the MSA illegal. The Ione Band intervened and prosecuted the appeal, arguing the MSA was legal and that any illegal portions should be “severed” and the MSA preserved. The unanimous Court of Appeal rejected both claims, voiding the entire agreement. The Court found the MSA “included public works and a road transfer and other activities that are subject to CEQA” and enjoined the MSA’s implementation in its entirety. “This decision by the District Court of Appeals reinforces the County’s stand that a casino plopped in the middle of our rural environment has devastating off-site effects on the surrounding community,” said Louis Boitano, Chairman of the Amador County Board of Supervisors.  “This is a significant win for the citizens of the County, who voted overwhelmingly to block additional Indian casinos in the County.” The County currently hosts one Indian casino, the Jackson Rancheria, and two additional casinos are proposed, including the Ione Band’s proposed project in and near Plymouth.” Plymouth City Administrator Gene Albaugh commented on the decision stating “This is what the city council was hoping for at this point.” Albaugh also states that the City Council will be addressing the decision in the closed session portion of their meeting next Thursday. The Ione Band of Miwok’s Tribal Chairman Matthew Franklin said he is very disappointed with the decision. Franklin stated, “I look forward to doing a strategy and analysis within the next few day and we will have a more complete response then