Monday, June 1, 2015

Is the Riverside Press Enterprise Protecting Pechanga Tribe's Interests By Trying Not to Make them Look Bad?

We thought that The Riverside Press Enterprise has protected the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians for years, but the most recent story concerning Pechanga's loss of a court case seems to drive the point home.

In fact, I'm not sure that the Press Enterprise would have even DONE the recent story on Pechanga's loss in appeals court, if I hadn't sent them an email informing them.  In fact, when I searched the PE site for PECHANGA, I had to go 16 pages for any crime story to show up, but there were articles about BBQ cook-offs and cakes and buffets.  

There were no stories about former Pechanga chairman Jennie Miranda being removed from the tribe for theft of slot  machines.  If  the Robinson/Riley case was news, certain, the Miranda theft issue should be, especially a former chairman, being disenfranchised.  IF there was no case filed by the DOJ,  on slot machines being sold to Mexico, as we understand it, WHY NOT, shouldn't a good newspaper find out?

The PE wrote nice stories about Pechanga buying Pu'eska mountain because it was sacred, but never once mentioned in the stories that Pechanga had also lied to congress the last time they got land, saying they wouldn't build on that sacred land..you know, the land where the GOLF COURSE is now!  Yes, please don't take a deep divot on the burial ground of our ancestors.

Did anyone read about the SWAT team coming to Pechanga a few weeks ago to take out a young tribal member and friends as suspects in the shooting at a Temecula party in mid-April?  SWAT and helicopters on the Rez isn't newsworthy?  Or was the PE afraid to make their advertiser look bad?

See if you feel the same way we do about the PE. If you take a look at the article on Pechanga's loss in appeals court,  HERE , you will notice they gave a sidebar to Pechanga's attorney Frank Lawrence, who was able to put his spin on display. In comparison, they gave the attorney for Benedict Cosentin,  Andrew Tweitmeyer, two quotes.   Really?

Here's attorney Lawerence's quote, with some rebuttal:

"We respectfully disagree with the Court's opinion. The opinion was not a ruling on the merits and did not find any wrongdoing whatsoever by defendants. The Court accepted the plaintiff's self-serving and unsupported allegations as 'facts' for purposes of its ruling, but no facts have been found yet in the case.   OP:  The appeals court does not find rule on the merits of the case, but whether the decision by the lower court was correct.  They actually DID find that the defendants acted outside their scope.  When he says "self-serving" he want us to think "WRONG".  He is also lying when he says there were no facts. Of course their was, check EXHIBIT I.   I guess the Press Enterprise didn't think to look at any case documents?


"Employee information and gaming regulators' licensing determinations are commonly held confidential. Thus, the Commissioners did not tell their side of the story and the Superior Court agreed with them  OP:  The  commissioners did not tell their side of the story because they mistakenly thought, as did the Superior Court, that sovereignty trumped the NEED to tell their story.  Therefore it was PECHANGA, who failed to present evidence.  Apparently the PRESS ENTERPRISE didn't think to look any deeper.

AS I wrote in the article's comment section: 
The tone the reporter Claverie takes seems one sided. In the Appeals court decision, which is linked HERE> Court Case  Cosentino later asked Ramos why Defendants revoked his license and Ramos responded he could not say because the reasons were personal. PERSONAL? That means they were PROTECTING SOMEONE. And acting outside the scope of their position. WHICH person made it ...PERSONAL? ALSO STATED: Defendants presented no evidence to rebut or deny Cosentino’s claim they revoked his license in retaliation and without cause. WHY NOT? Didn't they HAVE ANY? Their attorney's statement seems to lead us to conclude they do. I think PART II is needed Mr. Claverie.. (OP: Aaron Claverie is the reporter of record)

And goodness gracious, the got a HISTORY PROFESSOR, to proclaim the appeals court got in wrong.  A learned man, no doubt, but not an attorney.  Here's his contribution

On the broader issue of the ruling’s potential repercussions, Clifford Trafzer, a distinguished professor of history at UC Riverside, said it sets a bad precedent for the state. “I think it’s a real threat to tribal sovereignty and that the court got it wrong. The members of the tribal commission were acting on behalf of the tribe,” he said.   OP:  So, he believes that the tribe DID want Mr. Cosentino fired for blowing the whistle on criminal activity?  If the tribe DID, WHY did they fire Stella Fuller, and come out with new rules on how to handle these situation?  I'm guess the professor didn't read any court filings either.

Trafzer (OP:history professor who is going to give his legal opinion, even though he has no law degree) said the ruling specifically oversteps by saying the commissioners exceeded the “scope of their authority” when they revoked Cosentino’s license, allegedly without cause.
“Who decides on that authority? I think the authority should be given to the tribe,” he said.  (OP:  I'm betting if the UCRiverside  chancellor fired HIM without cause, he would be in court in a heartbeat. He wouldn't go to the history department for legal advice. /snark)

Lastly, the Press Enterprise story ends with an attorney who wants you to leave with this:  George Forman, a San Rafael attorney who specializes in tribal affairs, said the issue of authority is a problematic part of the ruling, even if it’s consistent with other rulings by this particular court of appeal, which, he said, has evidenced “ongoing hostility” toward tribal sovereignty.  (OP: Hostility means, RULED AGAINST?  Why no evidence of the hostility, PE?)
“How are tribes to police themselves if the state tells people not to cooperate,” he said. (OP: uh, George, the tribe DID  police themselves, THEY FIRED Stella Fuller for how she handled this matter, and changed their rules on how to handle this situation. AND Cosentino DID cooperate, with the JUSTICE Department, who were investigating  some in the tribe, specifically Stella's OWN FAMILY, according to the pleadings)

Now, Press Enterprise, can we expect to see a follow up to this story, about how it's the PECHANGA tribe's abuse of authority that initiated this setback on tribal sovereignty?  Ask some other tribes how they feel about Pechanga's actions.  





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