Wednesday, June 12, 2013

San Diego Reader Has Expansive Story on Pala Corruption and Disenrollment

(h/t PALA WATCH) The Reader gets in depth on the Pala corruption issue.

In the late ’90s, when the idea of a casino was first considered, members viewed it as a source of security for their financially struggling tribe. Back then, the reservation had few opportunities for employment, and many members moved off the reservation to make better lives for themselves. But a small minority wanted nothing to do with the casino, viewing it as an invitation to trouble. They wanted to keep things as they were and not let outsiders in.

“The casino was supposed to be a good thing for our people,” Paul Johnson, a former member of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, explains. “Unfortunately, a small group of people have turned it from something that was supposed to uplift our tribe and used it for their own personal gain.”

On June 1, 2011, eight tribal members were disenrolled by the band’s executive committee, a six-person elected governing body that rules the tribe. A year later, 154 more members were taken off the roll, losing their per capita, health benefits, and housing. In early 2013, two more were cut; these last members are children.

The 164 disenrolled members of the Pala tribe are all descendants of the late Margarita Brittain, whose blood purity was called into question.
The cited cause of tribal disenrollment is a blood-purity dispute. All 164 disenrolled members are relatives of the late Margarita Brittain, a woman whose lineage has long been questioned by tribal members. The Pala Band of Mission Indians’ tribal constitution states that in order to be a member, 1/16 Pala blood is necessary.

The disenrolled give various reasons for their removal; none have anything to do with blood quantum. Among the alleged motivations are greed, power struggles, and old family feuds. But there is one notion all 164 agree on: if the casino had never opened, they would still belong to their tribe. Find the link at Pala Watch


Anonymous said...

This is a pretty good article, hopefully more come out on the subject. We just got word that Kevin Washburn (AS-IA) believes we belong but feels he has no jurisdiction to make the EC reinstate us. It is disheartening and will probably cause more problems with tribal leaders and disenrollments because they will feel they are invincible and no one can stop them I for on am tired of going the legal rout and I was praying hard for a good outcome, now I am praying for something else. I hope that the Pala EC decides to go the right path and fix their evil ways because if not then I hope they are cursed for the same way they have cursed us. Reverse the curse!!!

Anonymous said...

It's time to take another route. Nobody can help us. The legal way is not gonna work. We all hoped somebody would do the right thing and now we know its not gonna happen so what are we willing to do now? They cannot get away with this!

Anonymous said...

well there are two choices keep addressing congress or do something radical witch is probably illegal. if it's something illegal you need to show that you have been trying to have congress the B.I.A. do something and you were ignored and this was in your mind your only way. then put the blame on your congress person that is representing your area for ignoring their authority and responsibility to look in to illegal crimes and civil right violations. Then show how much money has been contribute to them to ignore these crimes.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

The AS-IA's decision comes as no surprise. The BIA doesn't want to interfere with tribal affairs.

Now that we have exhausted administrative remedy the court won't be able to dismiss a complaint against the BIA without reviewing the evidence on its own merits.

And of course there is still an appeal of the suit against the Pala EC.

Don't give up!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Look bia government and judge they known what going on but those evils powerful chairman and chairwoman they paid them tons of money to kept secret but they do for devil workship.where they belong! Who care bez they will get karma! What the bible said we shouldn't worry one day will be sorry and fix right things one day !

Anonymous said...

Hang them by the neck and watch them jerk and beg.

Anonymous said...

The courts can't and won't do anything, is'n that obvious by now. It's time to think of another way. Ya what is the BIA's job they just seem to be bookkeepers of tribal record? They have no real power to do anything. I thought the point of the BIA was to monitor tribes with federal power to make sure they stay on the up and up. So I guess tribes are more powerful then the federal gov't? The can make laws and the gov't has to obey them. That's why the BIA can't interfere because tribal law won't let them. YOUR THE FEDERAL GOV'T THEY BROKE YOUR OWN RULING OF 1989 and now you can't do anything because the corrupt council made a new law that you can't. The BIA is just opening the door wide open for the Smith Regime to do more damage to tribal members and get away with it. Thanks for your "recommendation" what a joke.

Anonymous said...

Washburn even put in the letter that self governance like tribes have the right to make bad decisions and can either fix them or live with them. REALLY??? The tribe didn't make a mistake and it's not self governance! It's 5 people that have takin over the tribe and are speaking for the entire tribe in doing what they please. THE EC IS NOT THE TRIBE THE GENERAL COUNCIL IS!!!!!!! The BIA is letting 5 greedy lying people control the lives of several hundred and calling it the will of the tribe. by the BIA not fixing this they are allowing any and all future council members to have free reign over the tribe and not follow a constitution.

Anonymous said...

It wasn’t a bad decision it was a crime done with planning and malice. This is like saying Bernie Madoff or the bell city council made bad dicisions.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the tone changes. The Honorable Kevin Washburn AS-IA, now is just Washburn. He said he believes you belong but he has no jurisdiction. He deals in facts and the facts are the BIA can only recommend. It is not his fault. Don't blame him.

Even R&R said you have other recourse now. Even though his statement that the courts can't dismiss a complaint against the BIA without reviewing the evidence for their merit is a stretch. Unfortunately, it will likely take many years to get through the court system. So don't give up hope as R&R would say.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

And now those who said I was threatening Kevin Washburn even before he issued his decision might understand my mistrust of the BIA. If any of you have read his statement of jurisdictional determination, you can see the relationship that the BIA has with "the Band."

The BIA considers the Tribal officers to be "the Band." Individual members do not count. Instead all deference is given to the Tribal officers. The Pala EC's interpretation of Tribal law is given deference, even though there is indisputable evidence of deception, and manipulation of that law used to disenroll Tribal members.

Even more than the deference given to the Pala EC in every instance over the appellants arguments, is the insinuation that the appellants don't understand their own laws, or the intent of the laws, as it was explained when they voted upon these laws in General Council meetings.

The enrollment ordinance clearly states: "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Executive Committee of the Pala Band, by adoption of this revised Ordinance, does not intend to alter or change the membership status of individuals whose membership has already been approved and who are currently listed on the membership roll of the Pala Band of Mission Indians..."

The Pala EC says that this portion of the Enrollment Ordinance means that the membership criteria would not be changed. The AS-IA deferred to this interpretation, and found no reason to accept the appellants argument that disenrollment of members was a change in membership status and therefore a violation of the Enrollment Ordinance. I have read it over and over again. How is it possible to interpret membership status as membership criteria?

Something smells very bad at the highest office of the BIA.

Anonymous said...

Washburn is right. Tribal self governance does invovle tribes making decisions good and bad, and living with those consequences. I have heard over the past decade that the "general council" does not care about what they are voting on, that they do not think about the effects of their votes, this thing about power to the EC, the power to make decisions on the tribes behalf, and to adjust things without the GC consent is something that everybody voted on before enrollment. The people who were disenrolled, when enrolled, voted this power in way before the casino, and now they are upset. A wise man once said,

"There are two kinds of evil people.

those who do evil things..

and those who see evil things being done and do nothing to stop them."

Maybe in the next couple of decades, the GC now will have to live with what they are voting into power now, whether it be good or bad, that is how governance works. Most of the disenrolled have a family member still enroled, either stand by and do nothing, or empower your families to force change, through the power of the vote. I know it sucks, but the whole tribe is to be blamed for the centralized power of the EC, including the tribal members who are no longer tribal members.

Anonymous said...

It says the Pala constitution allows the disenrolled to appeal to the BIA and the EC will meet and consider the recommendation. Ya right before the 30 days was even up for the first 8 Robert said at the meeting "to the tribe it's a done deal and they are disenrolled its finished" How is that following the constitution. That sounds personal and like he didnt care what the BIA was going to say to him they were finished. Then he lied to everyone at the meeting and said their appeal wasn't filed on time so one of them hung up their appeal letter that was filed on time and Robert ripped it off the wall because it exposed him as a liar. This was personal to him. The story of Robert threatening king with taking his kids of the rolls is true many people heard it at the meeting then it happened soon after. Personal again.

Anonymous said...

You can't dispute these facts above many people heard them . It was personal.

Anonymous said...

@12:34a.m., The voting was fixed in the first place, so no one really knows what was voted on, Robert had a quorum of his supporters vote this new constitution through, the whole entire tribe did not vote on it. Also it states that there would be no disenrollments of existing members, and it was told to the tribe that the change was geared toward making it possible for the next generation to get enrolled. When the EC wants something done they manipulate everything in their favor. The General Council did not find out about the change until 3 years after the fact, and it was promised that it would not affect the existing members. Had the members known the true actions, and the truth behind the actions, then we would have done something about it. You have the assumption that things are done on the up and up with the EC and that is 100% wrong, every move they make and have made is sneaky with a back door policy.

Anonymous said...

@ June 15, 2013 12:34am.

Where have you been through this endless saga. I have said the exact same as you. All I have received is rocks thrown my way. I can't believe the disenrolled disrespect Kevin Washburn the way they do, yet they praised him as the next messiah when they thought he would help them. Interesting.

As I have said before R&R is only grasping at a thread and just wants to keep the cash coming in for attorneys. That is just my personal take.

As far as the Enrollment Ordinance he cites above, in his 6/14/13 5:10pm,the exact laungage from him says "it does not intend to alter or change membership status..." There is a huge difference between intend and will not.

I grow tired of dealing with these people. There is nothing left to answer.

Keep paying your attorney.

Anonymous said...

Sorry disenrolled. The BIA can't help you,the US Courts can't help you. Unless you advocate anarchy on the rez and violence there is no recourse within your power. I do feel bad but you should not have squandered away your money. Ask Mr Paul Johnson who was so outspoken in the newspaper article how he is doing. I would think he is suffering like everyone else because the money is gone.

Anonymous said...

We are all still here and doing just fine. We will not be going anywhere anytime soon. We Have nothing to lose so of course we are going to continue our fight. If you were a unbiased third party and looked at all the facts, you would see that we all should still be enrolled

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

Perhaps some of the disenrolled weren't such great money managers. After all, most of us have been very poor all our lives, and learning how to manage money takes time. Is that any reason to gloat over our misfortune?

Those who think poorly of the disenrolled should examine their reasons for this opinion. We did not do anything to harm our people. We fight to be reinstated because we feel we have been unjustly disenrolled. Also we have a deep desire to be a part of our tribal community, to connect with our customs and traditions, and to unite our families. If you were to switch places with us, you would feel the same way.

I have not talked to anyone about undertaking further legal action other than the one I am personally involved with. It is my own money I am using, earned through my own labor. I am working for reinstatement for all the disenrolled. No one will be left out if we are victorious.

The Pala EC spent at least five years perparing for disenrollment. They had the cooperation of the BIA and lawyers who are experts in disenrollment to assist them. We got sandbagged by Robert Smtih who lied to our family saying there would be no further disenrollments, then we had 30 days to prepare our appeal.

We have had to let that appeal run its course in order to exhaust administrative remedy, but in the meantime we have learned much, collected a great deal of evidence, refined our arguments, and can at least fight on more even ground.

I think our attorneys are earning their pay. They are working on our behalf, and have helped us a great deal to uncover the facts behind our disenrollment. It is good at least to know the extent of the treachery and deception that has been turned against us.

You single out an individual, but all the disenrollees suffer equally because of the loss of their heritage and benefits. My heart goes out to all my cousins, and I share your pain.

Anonymous said...

I think 12:34am, 5:44pm. and 7:06pm, are the same person trying to upset the disenrolled. You do not need to come on this blog and read the comments, and you should give up your per-cap, turn it away, tell Robert that you don't want it, because you don't need it,and to you being enrolled is not about money. We have the right to fight for our heritage, just as you do, although you are probably from the EC and think that you will never have to fight. We will see. The truth will eventually be revealed and the evil will be done away with. We still have respect for Kevin Washburn, we just feel he disregarded some of our proof, for his own reason, after all, he can't let the BIA look bad. Just like the head of the IRS tried not to let the IRS look bad, but the truth is being revealed.

Anonymous said...

Since when is fighting for your rights considered Greedy?
There is and always will be idiots among us.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That's ok...that idiot has the slots screwed down so tight that there won't be many customers left to steal from so the per cap will be non existent...anybody who thinks the tribes don't "fix" the machines to stop paying out is ignorant. The gaming commission are tribal members so why would they want the machines to pay? cuts into their monthly check if the machines pay! day California will wake up to the stealing going on by these phony "leaders".

Anonymous said...

R&R 10:57pm and everyone else.

Maybe the Executive Committee is gloating but I am not gloating over your misfortune or the fact that you and family were not great money managers. It's a pity that tribal members and countless millions alike don't understand money. What bothers many is the fact that others believe it is like the "bottomless cup of coffee". I don't need to save because it will never stop coming. You can call me hater but look deep into your soul and tell me I am wrong. Be honest when you answer.

As I remember from your posting above, "Perhaps some of the disenrolled weren't such great money managers. After all, most of us have been very poor all our lives, and learning how to manage money takes time."

It doesn't take time to understand if the money will never stop coming.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

To 4:02 pm:

I'll be honest with you. Your sympathy would be more sincere if it were not bound up with criticism. We were not responsible for our disenrollment. There are plenty of people in Pala who are still receiving their benefits, and think it is a bottomless cup of coffee. Direct your criticism towards them; for us, it is too little, too late.

We were responsible for handling our money. I bought a house and got caught in an upside down mortgage from which I could not extricate myself due to my high income. I started a business which had fluctuating income that I could supplement with my per-cap. I can't survive on fluctuating income because the bills come regularly. I made charitable contributions, and saved money. My savings evaporated when I was caught in a bad financial situation with no regular income, a high mortgage payment, and medical expenses that I don't have to explain.

Each of us has his or her own particular situation, and throwing stones is unwarranted.

Anonymous said...

Me as we'll I had substantial savings that's lasted me the better part of of a year after disenrollment. Like RR said it goes by quick when you have payments on things and the income stops flat out. Some of us were living within our means of what we were getting at the time but there are always some in every situation not just natives who receive stipends. You do sound very critical or maybe just jealous if you never benefited from the advantages we were given in life. Also if things in native country were on the up & up and ran right the income and oppertunities should never run out that's the idea, not just from casinos but from using that money to invest in other income streams just like any corperation. Problem is greedy corrupt tribal leaders are taking so much for them and their associates and donating so much to campaigns to have influence and clout this is not happening the money is not going where it should. That's why family that are still enrolled well the smart ones at least are saving and using their money to start other things in their lives because they know its only a matter of time a few years if that before there is gonna be very little left if any trickling down to the very people it's meant to help.

Anonymous said...

Yes too many outsiders like Howard Dickstien are getting involved and corrupting tribal leaders into taking so much for them and the leaders. These tribal leaders started off with good intentions but the involvement of people like Howard Dickstien have made them greedy. Look at Robert Smith years ago he signed several documents in favor of the disenrolled saying the correct and true blood degrees of MB being full blood and others of her children being half blood. Now years later he is going against his own letters and signed documents saying we knew all along they didnt belong. So either he lied then or he is lying now. Or is someone else like Dickstien leading him down this path.

Anonymous said...

In the article Robert Smith says his wife is related to some dis enrolled and knew all along they didn't belong. So that means many people from the past were wrong? In 1913 when they made the base roll for Pala Margarita B is listed as 4/4 and her children as 1/2. In the 60's when the elders made the requirements for enrollment at Pala MB was listed as 4/4. In the 80's when the BIA did and I quote "extensive research" and found Margarita B to be full-blood Cupa they were all wrong or were they all lying??? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE ANSWER HOW THIS MAKES SENSE that through all these years different groups of people different times were all wrong when coming up with the answer of MB blood degree but now one man Robert Smith is correct and knows better than long dead Pala members our elders who made enrollment requirements and the BIA specialists?????

Anonymous said...

Even now the BIA up to highest levels considers Margarita Britten to be full-blood. It's been proven and thrown in his face that MB is full-blood and Robert still won't budge and admit he is wrong. I'm hoping he made a mistake and didn't dis enroll for voting reasons or money like everyone says. Even though the dis enrolled money isn't going to remaining members and is going into to keeping the tribe afloat from all the misappropriation of funds. I don't think even if he wanted to reinstate he couldn't because the tribe can't afford it. It's sad but true. If I was him I would reinstate because now he has no power over the disenrolled they can do and say what they want if they were members he could silence them with threats of treason/disenrollment again.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

The answer is that Robert Smith is using inferior evidence and ignoring the identification of Margarita Brittain's father, Pelegrino Ortega. Pelegrino Ortega was a full blood Cupeno Indian, and there are descendants of his bloodline that are currently enrolled in Pala. There are now two blood degrees for Margarita Brittain. The correct blood degree, determined by the BIA, is 4/4. The incorrect blood degree, 1/2 blood, is used by the Pala EC to keep legitimate members out of the tribe.

The BIA says it is upholding the 1989 Final Decision, and not using the Pala ECs incorrect blood degree determination. This conflict needs to be resolved, but Kevin Washburn has determined that he does not have jurisdiction over enrollment at Pala, and has given deference to the Pala EC's interpretation of Tribal Law, in spite of their proven history of treachery, lies, and deception.

That is where it stands right now. The liars get deference from the highest office of the BIA. The disenrollees get kicked while they are down. It is business as usual in Indian Country. The BIA hates Indians, and the Pala EC hates the disenrollees. It is a portrait in hatred painted in suffering and loss.

Then you have the jokers who say we should have saved our money and then it would have been okay for us to be illegally disenrolled. We will not give up, because we know who we are and we belong. Robert Smith's wife doesn't even know her own blood degree if she says we don't belong. I can tell you for sure that in our family we have always known MB to be full blood. There has never been any doubt.

Anonymous said...

Can someone just finish this worthless human being already and become a hero to the people? A man that deliberately lies, and corrupts to hurt others for personal gain, people won't care except the ones benefiting from his deceit.

Anonymous said...

All I was saying is that before the Articles of Association were changed to the new Constitution, and before the Pala Band of Mission Indians even thought about a Casino, the people who are disenrolled now, were enrolled then. They had the chance then to fight tyranny, to stop the shifting of power to the EC, and to get involved with their tribal government in ways that could have prevented the EC from gaining total control of the tribe, but they did nothing. In fat most of the people who were disenrolled were backing Robert Smith and the EC, and now that they are disenrolled, now they want to criticize and point fingers and claim things are bad and corrupt, what about way back when, when the wheels were starting to turn. In other words, if another family was disenrolled, or a different family was targeted, would the 164 disenrolled have the same critical assessment of the tribal government, or would they have backed the actions of the EC and Robert Smith like they always have. One man King Freeman stood up and started to investigate/bring up corruption, but all of a sudden the 164 disenrolled are now critical, why not be critical when it counted, when you had the power to vote, when you were part of the GC, and when you had the chance to do something. I know it sucks to have lost money, but money does not define your heritage. Get involved with your community, you can still be part of your heritage and proud of your family ties to Kupa.

Anonymous said...

You can't beat rigged elections!

Anonymous said...

MB is 4/4. Everybody knows it. The evidence is overwhelming. Nobody should have been disenrolled. Sooner or later the power will shift and those wrongfully dissenrolled will be re enrolled and unfortunately the ECs children will weep the consequences just as kings relatives are being punished for his actions. It is a never ending cycle.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

To 2:57 pm:

At first it seemed that Robert Smith was doing a good job. He saw the Casino Resort project through to completion, got a new Tribal Hall built, along with the Sports Complex and Fire Department. We started receiving benefits that increased on a regular basis. That never happened before, so there was strong support.

The grasp for power and control didn't really become apparent until we started questioning why our investments never panned out and were consistently reported lost, and why the tribal budget kept escalating, and why we had persons with criminal records serving as tribal officers.

Now examine your criticism of the disenrollees. If we were so supportive of the Pala EC, then why were we disenrolled? Wouldn't the Chairman want to have a loyal group of tribal members to back him up as he dismantled democracy and misappropriated funds?

Also the disenrollees have never been a majority of the tribe. We couldn't swing enough votes to elect a new chairman, or to defeat the vice-chairman who never should have been able to run anyway.

We submitted petitions to bring matters to the General Council. They were quashed by Robert Smith. He controls the General Council meeting agendas, and refuses to put important matters up for discussion. He makes unilateral decisions, delivers phony financial statements, and has a group of supporters that dominate meetings.

This claim that we didn't do enough to stop him belies a belief that we are somehow responsible for the actions of Robert Smith. The criticism we have levied against him is appropriate. We have facts in hand and evidence to support our position. Now you can point the finger at the other members of the tribe because there is nothing we can do about it since we have no standing.

Go criticize them and stop blaming us for getting illegally disenrolled.