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DULUTH - The lease agreement between the city of Duluth and the Fond du Lac Band is now null and void.
"It's going one step further to take even more rights away from the city," Duluth Mayor Don Ness said.
On Monday, the city received a letter from the Department of Interior saying its agreement with the Fond du Lac Tribe has been canceled.
"Instead of being an even-handed regulatory body, they've decided to be an advocate on behalf of the band's position," said Ness.
The D.O.I issued a statement :
“Our action today ensures that activities on the Band's land comply with federal law. “
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires Indian tribes be the sole proprietary interest in tribal gaming facilities and in this case Fond du Lac is not.
Mayor Ness says the city first received a letter from the D.O.I. a couple of weeks ago after Diver contacted them requesting they cancel the lease.
"The Department of Interior, without ever even contacting us, without a conversation with the city of Duluth, issues a letter and says we're gonna cancel the lease because the band has made that request."
Ness says prior to canceling the lease, the D.O.I. gave him and Diver ten days to meet to discuss the city and the casino's violations.
"She refused," said Ness.
Ness says he then made another attempt to meet with Diver.
"Chairwoman Diver refused saying we agree we were the ones who asked the Department of Interior to take this action therefore I see no reason for us to meet."
Karen Diver released this statement to FOX 21 News:
"The letter states that the city filed a submission in opposition to the lease cancelation and their submission was considered in making the decision."
Although this is not the final decision, the city could ultimately be out $6 million per year.
Ness says the final decision will be made when the issue is heard before the Court of Appeals.