The city of Temecula lost it's court case to force Pechanga to pay what it promised. But that didn't keep the city from holding it's State of the City event..uh, OUTSIDE the city on Sovereign Soil of the Temecula Indian Reservation, now usurped by a branch of the tribe.
Anyone looking for signs of tension at Temecula’s 16th annual State of the City presentation on Thursday was likely disappointed.
Litigation that has churned relations between the city and the Pechanga tribe created the possibility for some awkward moments in the casino ballroom where the breakfast event has been held for years. Temecula Mayor Ron Roberts started his speech by thanking the tribe for again hosting the event, but he did not touch on the lawsuit that the city filed against the tribe in October over unpaid gaming impact funds.
Any uncertainty over the status of the relationship evaporated after Roberts’ speech ended. City officials and tribal leaders exchanged handshakes and hugs as they mixed amiably.
When questioned separately, Roberts and a tribal representative said the two sides are mending fences and an agreement is in the works to restore about $4.5 million of the withheld revenues. The revenues are seen as a key source of funds for work aimed at easing congestion at a busy freeway interchange in south Temecula.
The disclosure of a potential funding deal came as Temecula leaders are officially still pondering whether to appeal a federal court ruling that sided with tribe. Roberts said a decision to abandon the litigation has been made, but not formally announced.
"The lawsuit is over," Roberts said in an interview as the crowd thinned at the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce event on Thursday. "We lost, pure and simple. It’s over."
Roberts went on to say that the two sides, possibly on Monday, are expected to separately sign a letter of intent that would restore gaming impact revenues that were withheld when a previous funding agreement unraveled.
Roberts, who has served for years as the council’s liaison to the tribe, said it is important that the pair of neighboring governments repair a rift created by the lawsuit and the sharp-edged comments that followed.
"Things got off kilter for a while, but they’re back on track now," Roberts said.
Roberts failed to mention anything about Pechanga's violation of the civil and human rights of the citizens of Temecula, Pechanga members who resided in the city limits. Better to avoid doing what's right, while collecting money from an entity that practices APARTHEID in their midst. It's easier to say "WE DIDN'T KNOW" than to do what's right.
See Tim O'Leary's article HERE