Federal officials were busy considering conditions at three California tribal casinos last month:
• The San Pasqual tribe’s government has collapsed, which could force closure of the Valley View Casino in Valley Center.
The San Pasqual tribal council-called the business committee-has split and each faction, claiming to be the tribal government, tried to suspend the other and instituted impeachment proceedings against the other. The local representative of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, James Fletcher, last month sent a letter to the tribe with a title designed to get its attention: “The Bureau of Indian Affairs has decided not to recognize the existence of a tribal government for the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.”
Without a government, the tribe can’t legally operate its Valley View Casino, which each month pays an estimated $4,000 to each enrolled member-which is the root of the dispute. Part of the tribal council, led by the vice chairman, has started proceedings to disenroll about 80 members of the 300-member tribe, claiming that they are actually not legitimate descendents of tribal members from the last century, although the BIA ruled in 1994 that they were.
• The Sycuan tribe’s lucrative amended gaming compact for the Sycuan Resort & Casino in El Cajon might need to be yanked because the tribe hasn’t ratified it.
California’s governor, legislature and voters have approved the pact that allows Sycuan to add 3,000 slot machines to 2,000 it already runs. The compact requires an up-front annual payment of at least $18 million for the first 2,000 machines.
Sycuan’s agreement also says the tribal council must ratify the compact to make it active. Those 68 members of the tribe have never done so.
Now citizens groups and a San Diego County supervisor want the U.S. Interior Department to rescind its own approval of the Sycuan compact.
• Safety and other factors merited a visit to the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto, which has been called unsafe after shootings and police tensions on the surrounding reservation.
Tribal Chairman Robert Salgado says he requested the visit “to make clear there was no violence at the casino,” the paper said, after three members of the tribe died in shootouts with Riverside County sheriffs on the reservation.