Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians Unites in Preparation for Tribal Election

United Chukchansi Tribe also takes action to protect casino revenue and ensure Tribe's debt obligations are satisfied by the end of the year

Nov 07, 2013, 16:43 ET from Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians

FRESNO, Calif., Nov. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With four positions on the Tribal Council up for election on December 7, the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians is pleased to announce a strong list of candidates on the ballot that was open to all members of the Tribe. Among the candidates are current Chairman Reggie Lewis, along with former Tribal Chairs Dixie Jackson and Morris Reid. Absentee ballots were mailed to all enrolled members of the Tribe over the age of eighteen.

The Tribal Council also took action this week to ensure that the will of the Tribe's General Council is followed by the court in New York. On September 14, at the Tribe's General Council Meeting, a quorum of over 35% of Tribal members voted to authorize Chairman Lewis and the Tribal Council to take all action necessary to pay the Tribe's debt obligations. As a result, following months of mismanagement that has left the Chukchansi Casino unable to pay vendors on time, the Tribal Council challenged a discretionary distribution of $1 Million Dollars to groups in Madera County. Preserving the $1 Million Dollars will ensure that the Tribe's bondholders are paid before payments to charitable groups.

"We are looking at the long-term future of the Tribe and right now, the Tribal Council has two priorities. First taking care of the needs of all Tribal members, and second, ensuring our debts are paid," said Chairman Lewis. "The casino is on the brink of an economic disaster. We are supposed to have at least $14 Million Dollars in cash on hand at the casino at all times, but we will violate our indenture agreement and the liquidity necessary to keep the casino operating if illegal payments are made to the faction and discretionary payments are made. There is not enough revenue at the casino to pay our debts, so we need to first take the precautionary measures to protect the existing revenue and pay back the money that our bondholders lent us to build our casino and hotel. Charity starts at home, and we need to first ensure Tribal members are taken care of before making payments to groups in Madera County, no matter how worthy and deserving they are."

The upcoming election comes just weeks after a quorum of the Tribe's General Council voted to restore the rights and privileges of membership to members who had been sanctioned. All eligible Tribal Members were encouraged to run for the Tribal Council. This included former Tribal Chairs Dixie Jackson and Morris Reid, who previously challenged the results of the 2012 election, but who now recognizes the Tribal Council and are prepared to join in the Tribe's annual Tribal Council election on December 7, 2013.

"The future looks bright for our Tribe," said Chairman Lewis. "Two former Tribal Chairs are running in the election, and they will each bring a unique perspective and experience to the Tribal Council. The Tribal Council continues to look for new economic development opportunities for the Tribe and the addition of these Tribal leaders will help improve the lives of all Tribal Members."

Under the Tribe's Constitution, all Tribal Members over the age of 18 elect members of the Tribe's Tribal Council, the governing authority, and then the Tribal Council members themselves elect the positions of Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.

"We are pleased that the Tribal Council listened to the will of Tribal members and embraced all candidates in this election," said former Tribal Chairs Dixie Jackson and Morris Reid.

The election will be held December 7, at the Election Committee's polling location at the Tribe's government headquarters at 8080 N. Palm Ave., Suite 106, Fresno, CA. Absentee ballots are being distributed this week to all members over the age of 18 by the independent accounting firm that has supervised the Tribe's past election. The election will be overseen by the independent accounting firm and the Tribe's Election Committee. Please vote either in person on December 7 or by mailing your absentee ballot in the stamped preaddressed envelope as soon as you vote.

The Tribe expects record participation in this years' election after the large attendance at the Tribe's General Council meeting in September which affirmed Reggie Lewis as Chairman of the Tribe.

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians is a federally-recognized Indian Tribe that has lived continuously in California's Central Valley and Sierra Foothills for more than 12,000 years. Today, the Chukchansi Tribe operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on its ancestral territory in Coarsegold, California. The casino employs over 1,200 individuals making it one of the largest employers in Madera County.

SOURCE Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians