January 16, 2009 –
MAYETTA: Steve Ortiz, tribal chairman, spoke today to a large crowd at the 3rd Annual Living the Dream, Inc. Community Leadership Recognition Luncheon held at the Ramada Inn in Topeka.
Tribal Council members Jim Potter and Carrie O’Toole also attended the event. The purpose of the luncheon was to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King and to recognize community leaders in Topeka who have contributed to King’s vision.
During his presentation, Ortiz said that Prairie Band Potawatomi (PBP) gaming had led to the economic success of the Nation and that, despite what some people think, the tribe does pay taxes and employ a lot of workers. To back his claim, he said that the Nation’s government has around 250 people on its payroll and that approximately 850 people are employed at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort.
Ortiz further said that since gaming began the Nation has been able to make several donations to Topeka groups. “We’ve given over $6 million to approximately 258 organizations and many of them are represented here today.” He concluded by saying that Martin Luther King Day is a day that deserves great recognition. “I went to school in the 1960s and I have witnessed the changes that have been made from the Civil Rights Movement to Barack Obama becoming president of the United States. It just proves to me that dreams do happen.”
Other speakers at the luncheon included Graham Bailey, Vice President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Shawnee County Sheriff Richard Barta, Michael Padilla, Kansas Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau, and Pastor Tobias Schlingensiepen of the First Congregational Church, as well as others who gave shorter presentations.
The luncheon was sponsored by the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce/GO Topeka/Disadvantage Business Enterprise Program and is one of several events scheduled during the Living the Dream Week. Living the Dream, Inc. includes a series of activities and events that was founded in 1985 by Topeka community leader Robert Bugg who was also recognized at the luncheon today.