In southern California, Wednesday reportedly saw the city council for Ridgecrest narrowly ratify three amendments to the small community’s municipal services agreement with the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe.
Amendments followed objections:
According to a Friday report from The Daily Independent newspaper, the approval is a further step forward in an effort by the federally-recognized tribe to bring a $29 million casino to an off-reservation site near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
The newspaper reported that the amendments were necessitated following objections from numerous residents of the Kern County city that the building of such a 20,000 sq ft gambling facility would lead to an increase in the demand for clean water in the arid region and possibly see the venue used for the cultivation of marijuana.
Provisions designed to address opposition:
The Daily Independent reported that the first amendment to the municipal services agreement has seen the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe agree to waive some of its tribal sovereign immunity by entering into a deal with the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority and make its coming casino subject to this organization’s regulations and fees.
To allay any worries that the tribe intends to grow marijuana in Kern County, the municipal services agreement also now contains a provision that outlaws the cultivation of such a crop at the planned casino.
Finally, The Daily Independent reported that the third amendment specifies that the area’s tribal-city advisory committee is not required to meet before the United States Department of the Interior takes the land for the planned casino into trust on behalf of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe. But, the change further mandates that this group must meet quarterly after such a decision unless both parties specifically cancel the encounter.
Contentious council meeting:
The newspaper reported that the five-member Ridgecrest City Council approved the trio of amendments by three votes to two in a contentious council meeting that saw both casino opponents and supporters make lengthy and impassioned comments.
George Gholson, Chairperson for the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, told those that had assembled for the council meeting that the revised agreement gives Ridgecrest ‘what you guys asked for.’ He declared that his tribe is made up of ordinary people that are trying to do the right thing before refuting claims that members are involved in crime or part of the ‘indie-mafia.’
Gholson reportedly stated…
“We are not thieves [and] we are not thugs. We are trying to do what is right and we get beat down for doing what is right.”