Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pala's BIG GAMBLE: LA Weekly Covers the Increasingly Sad Story Of Pala's Shame

"Will anyone come out here to the middle of nowhere?" many Pala members wondered when the casino was built in 2001, followed by a sprawling hotel, on loans of more than $200 million. It has since become one of Southern California's most profitable gaming palaces.

Tribe members have benefited: Today, each receives monthly payouts that add up to more than $150,000 per year, as well as free health care and free college. Members who reside on the reservation don't have to pay state income tax. Though some still live in run-down homes, parts of the reservation feel like a posh suburb, as luxury cars cruise past a gleaming sports complex and administration building. Minors receiving payments via a trust often are presented with huge checks when they come of age, so long as they graduate high school.

But with big money has come some big problems: Longtime members have been kicked out, resulting in bitter feuds about who should be considered a member of the tribe, who deserves the payouts and even what it means to be Native American.

While the Pala casino has finally allowed the tribe's members entree to the American dream, it also has turned neighbors against one another — with devastating consequences.

 Critics of the tribe's leadership say it's no coincidence that a huge swath of Pala's members have been dropped from the rolls in recent years. Less money coming in, they say, has caused the leadership to take desperate measures to maintain the status quo — a witch hunt resulting in the removal of about one-sixth of the tribe, for supposedly lacking sufficient Pala blood.
The leaders deny any connection between falling revenue and the disenrollments, but the tribe has been split into a two-tiered society: the haves and the have-nots. The two factions grew up together, went to school together and, in many cases, live practically side by side. The only difference is that some of them get $150,000 per year, and subsidized home loans, and free college.
The others get nothing.

READ THE REST of Pals’s Big Gamble

And read more on the sad state of affairs at the Pala Reservation:

Pala Disenrollments

Pala dispute

Pala disenrolled 162 members


Anonymous said...

Good job LA Weekly for reporting the truth about Pala and Pechanga.

Anonymous said...

Very good article, but it does make me wonder...why do the tribes keep voting in your "chiefs" ? Mark and Robert are both liars and cheats according to all that's reported, so why does the majority of the tribes vote them in? And in the case of Pechanga...why would you vote in a man that doesn't even live ON the reservation?...he too important to live in his "sovereign nation" ?

Anonymous said...

Voting is controlled by the chairmen. The people in charge of the voting and counting the ballots are Robert's in-laws. They are also in charge of putting the names on the ballots, and of checking who should be allowed on the ballots. Some people go in and vote twice, and some ballots are placed in the boxes after they are removed from the voting room and taken into where they are counted. Plus when the tabulations are completed the numbers never add up right. It says on the ballots that every position must be voted on in order for the ballot to count, but the results show that different positions have a different total of votes, they should all have the same total of votes. It also says that the election committee has the right to throw out ballots that they feel are unreadable or have derogatory remarks on them, but the tribe never sees these, only the committee does, which is Robert's in-laws. Sound shady?

Anonymous said...

So it's also in reality a dictatorship?...tribes have always complained about the "white man" holding them down and it's their own fellow members who are the real villains this time!....are any of the dis enrolled going to protest at the Pechaga powwow this weekend?..,

Anonymous said...

Chairman Robert Smith of Pala has his wife's sister in charge of the election committee. Also there are 5 corrupt members on the council that follow Robert and each of them has a family that all vote for each other. So every candidate has 5 families voting for them. Not every member of their own family does vote for them though because they know they are bad for Pala so the council has in laws on the election committee to make up the difference. Also the majority of the tribe voted on 2 term limits several years ago and it passed but Chairman Smith re-worded it and over ruled the tribes vote because he wouldn't have been able to run again. People think just because someone keeps getting re-elected that the tribe approves of the job they are doing not true. It's not that simple to just vote someone out or impeach for that matter it has been tried with consequences for those that sign the petition for impeachment of council members.

Anonymous said...

EVERYONE GO TO PALAWATCH AND READ THE LETTER CHAIRMAN SMITH SENT OUT RECENTLY SAYING IN HIS OWN WORDS UNKNOWLINGLY THAT MARGAIRTA BRITTEN IS FULL-BLOOD AND NOT HALF AS HE'S BEEN CLAIMING TO DISENROLL MEMBERS. See the truth always comes out eventually! I'd like to see him explain this one. He will just say the federal gov't made a mistake like the Pala elders did in the 60's and the BIA did in the 80's who all had Margaita as full blood.

Dan said...

if only Robert Smith could walk in the shoes of us 160+ that he dis enrolled for 2 years he would understand our struggle, but that will never happen because the "Fat cats" of the EC need a little more pampering. So thank you Robert Smith for causing my house to be foreclosed on me and taking my health care away so you can put a little extra gas in your luxury car. Robert Smith is the true definition of an "Indian Giver,Tyrant,Scum" and many other things i will not post. By the way nice job Vandalizing King Freemans store, its on YouTube you jackass..