Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hamilton Elected To Tribal Council

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The following installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in today's The Day newspaper on the election of Jonathan Hamilton to the Mohegan Tribal Council and the subsequent election of Council officers.

Bozsum to again head Mohegan Tribal Council
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day
October 19, 2009

Mohegan - Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council from 2005 to 2009, was returned to the office Monday in a vote of the council's nine members.

The election of council officers, held in private, followed a special election in which tribal members chose Jonathan Hamilton to fill a vacancy on the council.

"It's a role that I feel very comfortable in," Bozsum said of the chairmanship in a phone interview later in the day. "I've had the position before, and I said it was something I was looking forward to doing again someday - and today is that day."

The council governs the Uncasville-based tribe and also oversees Mohegan Sun, the tribe's casino.

Bozsum, council vice chairman since 2009, had been acting chairman since August, when former Chairwoman Lynn Malerba resigned from the council to become the tribe's chief for life. Malerba had unseated Bozsum as chairman following the 2009 council elections.

The 50-year-old Bozsum, who is also the tribe's ceremonial pipe carrier, was first elected to the council to fill a vacancy in 2004. He acknowledged that he returns to the chairmanship at a difficult time.

"We're challenged every day with the economy the way it is," he said. "Our goal is to protect everything we have and to keep things going and alive. As a council, we're closely involved with the day-to-day operation of the casino. We make all the final decisions, whether it's marketing, financial dealings … every piece goes through the council."

Last Friday, for example, the council approved the design of a new restaurant scheduled to open at the casino in the spring.

Bozsum said the tribe remains "very committed" to pursuing a casino project in western Massachusetts, where it has optioned property for a smaller version of Mohegan Sun in the town of Palmer in the event Massachusetts approves expanded-gambling legislation.

"It's very important that we stay active," Bozsum said. "It's a very competitive landscape."

He said Massachusetts would be fortunate to have the tribe build a casino in the Bay State, given its "proven record" in operating Mohegan Sun and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a racetrack casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Mohegan Sun and its competition in Connecticut, Foxwoods Resort Casino, face the prospect of additional competition from New York state - where slot machines are being introduced at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City and where Long Island's Shinnecock Indian Nation plans to pursue casinos - and from Rhode Island, where Twin River, a slots parlor in Lincoln, has pushed for the approval of table games.

Amid shrinking revenues and the need to refinance debt, Mohegan Sun laid off more than 350 employees last month.

Bozsum, who lives in Kingston, R.I., said no further cuts are planned at the casino or in tribal government, which was downsized in early 2009. He also noted that construction of the tribe's $74 million government and community center, halted amid the recession in 2009, has resumed. The project is being financed by federal loans.

Hamilton, the newly elected tribal councilor, emerged in balloting concluded Sunday. He and Mike Bozsum, Bruce Bozsum's brother, were vying for the seat vacated by Malerba, although Mike Bozsum said last week he had to withdraw as a candidate because of illness.

Hamilton, of Old Lyme, has been an editor in the tribe's publications office for nearly 12 years and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut School of Law, according to the tribe.

The other members of the tribal council are James Gessner Jr., vice chairman; Allison Johnson, recording secretary; Kathy Regan-Pyne, corresponding secretary; Thayne Hutchins Jr., treasurer; Mark Brown, ambassador; William Quidgeon Jr.; and Cheryl Todd.

Brain Hallenbeck, Bozsum to again head Mohegan Tribal Council, The Day, Oct. 19, 2009, at: http://www.theday.com/article/20101019/NWS01/310199891