From the Petoskey News-Review (H/T Junior; also Indianz):
Standard & Poor’s — an independent global provider of credit ratings — has reduced the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians’ credit rating twice in one week.
Following the tribe’s Aug. 11 announcement that it was attempting to re-negotiate the payment of its $122 million in senior unsecured notes — which were originally issued in 2006 to support the construction of the Odawa Casino Resort — and would therefore be suspending its $6.3 million in interest payments due Aug. 17 to its holders; Standard & Poor’s issued a statement Aug. 12, that it would immediately reduce the tribe’s credit rating from ‘CCC’ to ‘CC’ with a negative outlook.
According to Standard & Poor’s credit rating definitions, available on their Web site — www.standardandpoors.com— a ‘CCC’ credit rating means that a company is currently vulnerable, and ‘CC’ means the company is highly vulnerable.
In its Aug. 12 release, Standard & Poor’s also stated that once the tribe missed its interest payment on Monday, Aug. 17, that its credit rating would be reduced to ‘D,’ which means the company has failed to pay one or more of its financial obligations, and that the global credit-rating provider believes the tribe will fail to pay all, or substantially all of its obligations as they come due.
From the Petoskey News-Review:
The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Casino Resort was quiet this morning, as the resort announced approximately 100 job cuts on Monday.(G. Randall Goss/News-Review)
There was turn of bad luck for some employees at the Odawa Casino Resort on Monday. Faulting the rising cost of gas and subsequent poor attendance, management reported that as many as 100 employees were laid off, including tribal and non-tribal members.
“We were ultimately forced to face the reality of too many employees serving too few customers,” said general manager Sean Barnard.
Although some staff members reported being caught off guard by the reductions in a series of mandatory meetings on Monday, tribal chairman Frank Ettawageshik said that he and other tribal leadership were kept abreast of the reductions.
“We knew about it all along,” he said.
Warren Petoskey, an elder with the tribe, said rumblings about layoffs started last month.
“I heard a rumor three weeks ago that this was coming,” he said. “This morning I got an e-mail that said they laid off 40 percent of their workers.”
Barnard denied reports that as many as 200 workers had lost their jobs in Monday’s cutbacks. He confirmed that 55 full-time employees had been let go, in addition to 45 part-time seasonal positions. Although those who lost their jobs were being put in contact with an official from Michigan Works! for outplacement services, Barnard would not give details on the severance package offered to them. He said specific details were “too personal” to divulge publicly.
“We’ve been reviewing our options,” said Barnard. “We did not rush into this. We’ve been working on this for some time to make the right decision.”
Ettawageshik said that there has been an ongoing process to adjust the size of the staff to meet the appropriate needs of the casino’s customers. According to Ettawageshik, the recent round of layoffs were “a continuation of that adjustment.”
Despite the layoffs, Ettawageshik confirmed the tribe was still posting profits and said there were no major financial concerns heading into the second half of the year.
For the article, see here. An excerpt:
When handing out the latest community proceeds from local Indian gaming, the Emmet County Local Revenue Sharing Board had about $250,000 more to work with than in the previous round.
This spring, the board used a new, more specific framework to allocate money, one which put the largest funding awards in categories such as infrastructure and education.
Local governments appoint the three-member board to allocate gaming dollars twice a year. Under its gaming compact with Michigan, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians must make 2 percent of electronic gaming receipts from its casino available to the community.
The latest payout — about $840,000 — included gaming receipts from July-December 2007, up from $590,000 in the previous round. In June 2007, the tribe opened the Odawa Casino Resort to replace its smaller Victories Casino.
From the Petoskey News Review:
Allied EMS emergency medical technician
Chris Heckman (left) and paramedic Erik Slifka are shown with an ambulance and heart monitor purchased with assistance from the Emmet County Local Revenue Sharing Board.
Revenue-sharing grants have helped Allied acquire seven ambulances as well as assorted equipment for the vehicles through the years. “They’ve been very instrumental in helping us keep our operation going,” said Allied chief executive officer Dave Slifka. (Ryan Bentley/News-Review)
Deciding how the community will share in Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians casino proceeds is not a game of chance.
Under its gaming compact with Michigan, the Odawa tribe is required to provide 2 percent of electronic gaming receipts from its Petoskey casino to nearby communities. The Local Revenue Sharing Board, a three-member appointed panel, is responsible for choosing specifically what projects and resources will receive support, reviewing grant applications twice yearly to decide which requests merit awards.
“We’re servants of the public,” said revenue board chairman Les Atchison. “We’re trying to do the best we can in our judgment to see that the money is put to best use. Frankly, we welcome the suggestions of those who appoint us.”
From its inception in 2000 through the end of 2006, the board awarded about $6 million in grants funded with casino proceeds. Since the tribe’s casino site is in federal trust status and not subject to property taxes, the board paid an additional $540,000 to local governments during those years to make up for tax revenue they would have received if the property was on the tax rolls.
From the Petoskey News Review:
“Four weeks after the various governments reached an understanding of how historic treaty rights apply to tribal members’ inland fishing and hunting activities, many of their officials and staff — about 100 people in all — gathered at the Odawa Hotel in Petoskey to commemorate the new agreement.
“Pipe and flag ceremonies and a gift exchange among governmental leaders were part of the celebration.
“It is a pretty exciting day,” said Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians tribal chairman Frank Ettawageshik.
“While driving to Thursday’s event, Ettawageshik noted that he’d passed through some heavy fog before arriving in clearer conditions — and likened this experience to the years-long discussion and negotiation that led up to the agreement.
“Here we are back in the sunshine at the end of the clouds,” the chairman said.
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians tribal chairman Frank Ettawageshik signs a document commemorating a new consent decree which clarifies the hunting and fishing rights retained by five of Michigan’s Indian tribes in the Treaty of 1836. The LTBB hosted a celebration to commemorate the new agreement Thursday at its Odawa Hotel. (Ryan Bentley/News-Review)