Editorial Inbox

Correction

In the June 16 City Lights article “Not So Darling,” we incorrectly referred to Nightingale Health Services as Nightingale Home Care. They are two different agencies. We regret the error.

— Editor

Alignment Issues

I was thinking Amen, brother as I read “Bad Sidewalks = Lawsuits?” (News Ticker, June 13) — until I got to the part where the guy from San Ysidro started ranting about the 1%.

My daily commute from my home in La Costa to my job in Carmel Valley takes me through Olivenhain, Rancho Santa Fe, and Fairbanks Ranch. None of these areas even have sidewalks, and the streets are full of potholes. I have the alignment bills to prove it.

David Jankowski
via email

Require Passports

Concerning the June 6 story about the casino (“Can You Find the Big Secret in this Casino?”) — I believe the ruling of the Bureau of Indian Affiars should be enforced by Governor Jerry Brown.

If Robert Smith believes that he is in a sovereign nation, then anybody who leaves that reservation must have a passport when they enter the United States.

In the past, these things were enforced by the army, the cavalry, the members of blue and yellow, the horseback, the guns, the swords. Now, the Indians think they don’t have to own up to anybody. They think they can do anything they want.

Something needs to change.

Randy Goodman
Mira Mesa

Attention to Detail

Determining who is and is not a member of an Indian tribe is a decision that requires meticulous attention to detail. That is why it is critical for me to correct several major inaccuracies in the June 6 cover article, “Can You Find the Big Secret in this Casino?

Decisions regarding tribal membership are always difficult. The individuals who are disenrolled are relatives, friends, and neighbors who we have all grown up with.

As new facts are discovered about key events in the tribe’s history, there are consequences in today’s world. It is unfortunate that mistakes were made a long time ago. But those who blame other people for these mistakes are ignoring the facts. You would not perpetuate a mistake simply because everyone has become accustomed to it, and the Tribal Council has a duty to correct these mistakes.

The most important factual errors in the recent article concern Margarita Brittain, and the blood quantum to be a Pala member. Brittain was not six or seven years old in 1903; she was 46 or 47. Additionally, the blood requirement to receive a land allotment in 1913 for any Native American was 50 percent. This was determined by the federal government, not by the Pala tribe. The blood quantum to enroll as a Pala member was not even established until the 1960s.

The other critical mistake is the characterization of the relationship between disenrollments and per capita distribution. The article incorrectly asserts that because some tribal members were disenrolled that other tribal members will see increases in per capita distribution.

The Pala Tribe follows strict guidelines in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that designate the way the tribal government uses funds. It is irresponsible to suggest that this was the motivation for the Tribal Council’s actions, and only perpetuates the misstatements of those who are ignoring the truth.

Additionally, the Pala General Store was not established in 1867. There was a Pala General Store established in 1897, but it was not owned or operated by the Freeman family. The Pala store that exists today was established much later.

Also, there are nearly 1,000 members of the Pala Tribe, not 800.

There are also several statements that mischaracterize the realities of the situation. The author’s characterization of the Pala casino as a “garish” contrast to the rest of the reservation is misleading. During the past twelve years, we have made many modern improvements. We have a tribal housing program that has constructed beautiful homes for members.

We take pride in caring for our reservation, which includes maintaining our ten-year-old — not brand-new — administration complex.

We have enhanced our tribal cemetery with ornamental fencing and a veterans memorial. The Pala Mission cemetery is equally well-cared for — not overrun with wildflowers. The white picket fence described in the article does not even exist, as the cemetery is surrounded by a stone and concrete wall.

While these corrections might seem like quibbles, how can the reader trust the accuracy of the reporting when such easily verifiable details are reported so inaccurately?

Finally, as it relates to revenge threats against members of the Tribal Council, the threats are real and could easily be found if the editor had thought to verify the information. Despite the threats, no one has hired armed security guards to follow anyone around.

I only correct these details because, as I mentioned, the determination of tribal membership requires great attention to detail, and complete accuracy. Things that seem like minor mistakes have significant consequences down the road. I urge the San Diego Reader and its readers to strive for this same standard.

Robert Smith
Chairman, Pala Band of Mission Indians

Impure Blood

Re the June 6 cover story: “Can You Find the Big Secret in this Casino?

Why not DNA testing? Certainly the tribes have plenty of money for that. Or are the current tribal officials afraid to do it, because their blood might prove to be “impure”? Being adopted at a few days old does not make for a good enough Indian? Sorry for that.

Franklin Rogers
via email

Sex vs. Gender

I would like to sound off about something that really bugs me. You have joined all the other lame brains of the past 20 or 30 years who confuse sex with gender. Sex is a biologic distinction. Gender is a grammatical concept.

He, she, or it are masculine, feminine, or neuter, respectively. That’s grammatical. Sex is a biological distinction. I am a man. My wife is a woman. Her sex is feminine. My sex is masculine.

For some reason, some lame brain in your editorial department doesn’t know the difference. Some time ago I sent you a letter that mentioned somebody’s sex —meaning whether that person was a male or female — and you changed it to gender. Of all the dumb things!

Sex does not mean copulation. Sex means whether a chicken is a hen or a rooster. I wish you’d keep it straight. I get so tired of hearing the word misused all the time.

If I have sex, I’m male. If my wife has sex, she’s female. It doesn’t mean copulation, for Pete’s sake!

Name Withheld
via voicemail

Waiting on Reform

I wanted to say thank you for the coverage on the grand jury transcripts regarding the Sweetwater Union High School District.

After reading these transcripts I am more determined than ever to have this board adopt a resolution for campaign contribution and term limitations. I have been trying for over a year and half, with no avail, to have this board adopt some kind of campaign reform. However, nobody on this board is willing to move forward on the reform except for Ms. Lopez.

I have heard every excuse, such as the proposal has loop holes, and leaves it wide open for special interest groups. However, not one member of the Sweetwater Union High School District Board has stepped forward with suggestions.

The board suggested a committee be formed. So, I volunteered and met with board president Cartmill on May 10, and have heard nothing back from him. He had promised at that time to have an amended proposal to me in a week, and it has already been a month.

One would tend to expect that since the grand jury testimonies have been released, this board would welcome any kind of reform. However, it is clear that the only intentions they have are for themselves.

Maty Adato
Chula Vista

Tip of the Iceberg

I want to thank the Reader for covering the scandal-ridden Sweetwater Union High School District. Having read four volumes of grand jury testimony, the level of hubris demonstrated by the board of trustees and superintendent, both past and present, is unprecedented.

In this country we have a history of electing and then criticizing our leaders. We would be better served if we paid more attention to a candidate’s character before we elected them.

The sense of entitlement and privilege demonstrated in the first volumes leads me to believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg. This district wraps itself in secrecy, requiring a Public Records Art request before disclosing that which should have been made readily available. The present board, with the cooperation of the superintendent, has resisted enacting any reforms to campaign contribution limits. (There presently are none.) The lack of limits on gifts and contributions is the very thing that has four out of five sitting board members under criminal indictment.

Meanwhile, board meetings are a study in dysfunction. The interaction between the board, the superintendent, and the public rivals any Housewives of --- reality show on TV. These meetings are so contentious that fewer than half the meetings are completed, and have to be rescheduled for the following month. The board chooses not to meet more than once a month. So, it may take two or three months for them to get to an agenda item.

That is one hell of a way to run a railroad.

This culture of entitlement and pilferage is not limited to the board and superintendent. In the past few years we heard of a principal accused of building and furnishing a home gym with district property, phantom billings for paving work run through the maintenance department, and food services people choosing vendors and not disclosing ownership interest in those very vendors.

Last year, the chief financial officer awarded a purchase order to remove dirt that should never have been brought onto district property in the first place, and overpaying by at least $200K. When informed of this in time to limit the loss, the board and superintendent chose to ignore it. She also entered into a Profit Participation Agreement with a developer, giving away a third of the net profits coming from the sale of district property without taking it to the board for their approval. If found to be binding on the district it will take millions of dollars out of the classroom. She was handpicked for this job by the present superintendent, who was her direct supervisor.

All this and more was done under the noses of our hapless board of trustees, and seemingly without effective supervision from the superintendents hired by them.

There is some good news, in that the recently hired facilities manager and chief financial officer are extremely professional and have a keen sense of ethics.

Sweetwater is suffering from a gangrenous wound which will require deep cauterization and a prolonged period of recuperation. What is clear is that these misdeeds were known by, and offended, many of the hardworking, honest people within the district.

If you think this has nothing to do with your everyday life, I would like to point out that people choose to live and do business in a community, in no small part, on the perception that their children will get a quality education. And that reflects directly on the value of your property.

To quote Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

I urge all who know of other problems and abuses, particularly bullying and intimidation of staff, to come forward so that we can begin the healing process. We owe that to ourselves and our children.

Kevin O’Neill
Chula Vista

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Comments

Looks like what happens on the reservation no longer stays on the reservation as evidenced by your interesting June 6 cover story, "Can You Find the Big Secret in this Casino?"

My Google search attempt to get some perspective on the issue of tribal membership and disenrollment uncovered this hopefully objective article (Banishment and Disenrollment in Indian Country) by David E. Wilkins, author and Professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota.

http://www.originalpechanga.com/2013/02/tribal-disenrollment-self-decimation-or.html

Sadly, I am going to have to go with greed as the motive for the permanent tribal banishments within the Pala Tribe.

I'd like to know what the person ranting about what is sex and what is gender is talking about. When you're having sex, you're male, unless you're having sex and you're female, but in neither case is sex your gender. Your gender, whatever that may be, is grammatical. Say what? So, if you're copulating, grammaticating, or genderizing, you are probably not doing what you think you are doing and consequently, according to this person, you're not having sex! Huh?

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