Relations between Sonoma County officials and the Indian tribe that has started work on a 3,000-slot machine casino next to Rohnert Park appear to have soured as the two sides approach negotiations about how the tribe will alleviate the project's impacts.
The chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria on Wednesday said county supervisors are "putting out inaccurate and misleading information about our project."
Greg Sarris, in a statement issued through the tribe's attorney, also said statements by at "least one supervisor" have "caused the tribe to question whether the county board is serious about negotiating in a respectful manner on a government to government basis."
The tribe's attorney, John Maier, declined to identify which supervisor.
The tribe and county officials are expected to begin negotiating within weeks in a process they agreed to in a 2004 contract. Supervisors have scheduled a town hall meeting for Thursday in Rohnert Park to get public comment in advance of those talks.
Sarris on Tuesday in an interview with KGO-TV upped the ante on the negotiations, saying that if they go into arbitration — as provided for in the 2004 contract — the county would lose its chance to get any additional money from the tribe.
Supervisors on Wednesday said they wanted to avoid that eventuality.
"I still strongly believe that we need to (negotiate) in a good faith manner and I think the county as a whole is demonstrating that good faith effort," said Supervisor Efren Carrillo.
"My hope and desire is that we not end up in baseball-style arbitration because at that point, I fear, we would not be able to fully mitigate or obtain the full mitigations," he said.
Other supervisors offered varying views on the tribe's stance.