City’s decision to end sewer service to Snoqualmie Casino is ‘intentional race discrimination’

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing City of Snoqualmie leaders of “intentional race discrimination” against the Tribe.

The 19-page lawsuit details several instances of discrimination by Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, members of the Snoqualmie City Council and other City leaders—none of whom are American Indians.

At issue is an October 15 decision by the Snoqualmie City Council to discontinue sewer services to the Tribe’s popular Snoqualmie Casino—the largest employer in the Snoqualmie Valley.  The Snoqualmie Casino welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

“Without sewer services, the Casino will be forced to close indefinitely, threatening the Tribe’s ability to offer core governmental programs and services to its Tribal members, jeopardizing business relationships upon which the Tribe depends, and risking the jobs of 1200 employees,” the lawsuit states, adding that the City of Snoqualmie is “trying to choke out the Tribe on the basis of race.”

The decision to end sewer services sometime “before November 30, 2016” comes despite the fact that the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe pays its sewer bills to the City, which is the only entity that can provide sewer services to the Snoqualmie Casino for the foreseeable future.  The Tribe’s lawsuit also takes issue with the City’s billing to the Tribe.

The lawsuit also claims City leaders intentionally interfered with the Tribe’s efforts to “ensure uninterrupted fire and EMT services” after the City Council voted to stop providing those services to the Snoqualmie Casino.  The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has since reached an agreement with Eastside Fire & Rescue.

Uninterrupted sewer service is a basic public health requirement.  The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe filed the lawsuit to ensure that those services cannot be arbitrarily and discriminatorily shut off by the City.