Seneca president: Meeting with Cuomo proven difficult

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- For nearly two weeks, since the governor canceled a meeting with the Seneca Nation, the two sides said they've been attempting to reschedule.

"He's been saying he's going to come to the Seneca Nation," Seneca Nation President Todd Gates said. "We're there. We're not going anywhere."

Gates was hoping that meeting would happen Tuesday but said ultimately Gov. Cuomo wasn't available.

"I have things, I have to do myself, you know, so I can't sit there and twiddle my thumbs. I have a lot of work to do," Gates said.

The Nation said they're no longer obligated to pay a portion of its slot machine revenues to New York anymore, what has amounted to roughly $125 million a year.

"From our end, we don't need the meeting," Gates said. "I mean, we're still in compliance with the compact. Our obligation ended but we would like to help our neighbors and move forward."

The Senecas have indicated they would be willing to negotiate separately with the cities of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Salamanca that rely on the payments. So far, Gates said city leaders have been hesitant to bypass the governor.

"It stresses out everybody," he said. "I try not to be stressed out but when my friends are wanting and needing, we want to help out."

The president meanwhile hasn't been particularly pleased with the governor's insinuations to the media that the Nation has a history of not fulfilling its obligations to the state. He called those comments disrespectful.

"I know my people that I represent in the Seneca Nation, they were mad and it was very offensive to them," Gates said. "If you look at the real history, we have lived up to every one of the agreements that we make and we follow through with him."

The Seneca president said he's still hoping for a meeting in August.

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