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July 4, 2007


Hello to my Santa Barbara County friends…
(from Elaine Willman, National Chair Citizens Equal Rights Alliance


{After Elaine's letter is the letter by Jon from Santa Barbara County asking about tribal expansion in Oregon.}


Knowing your years of struggle with tribal gambling and tribal land expansion where you live, I did a quiet "gasp" when you said your were considering the Illinois Valley of Oregon - or actually anywhere on the Western side of Oregon State...or the Northeastern part of the Oregon either...actually the whole state of Oregon, is in tribal political "flames" much like we are here in Washington.


The Three Gubernatorial Stooges: Gregoire, WA; Kulongoski, OR; and Scharzenneger (CA) have put the Pacific Coast at serious risk.  You are in a relatively mild area in Santa Barbara County with the Chumash, believe it or not. I say that only because gaming is the primary, and at the present time only, issue escalating tribal activity in your county. Wait until the Chumash decide to get into the energy business, or claim fishing and water rights...which isn't so far fetched as they make progress with co-opting county and state officials.


Gaming is just openers in Washington and Oregon.  The tribes in these two states (9 tribes in OR, and 29 tribes in WA) are what are considered the real tribes...not the California Rancheria casino tribes. 


I surely do not mean to minimize the damage done by the Chumash and other casino tribes in California. Not at all!  I just mean that in Oregon and Washington one has to add issues of water management, rivers, land, energy, fish, tribal taxation of non-tribal persons and businesses, tax-exempt tribal economic development shopping "malls" —and these are all simultaneously escalating, getting ramped up to much higher levels because of the tribes' political and financial clout derived from, yep—gaming. 


No governor is required by IGRA to authorize more than one casino within an Indian reservation boundary. But Gregoire has authorized that each of our gambling tribes (27 out of 29 so far) may have at least 3 Class III casinos, with the tiny Spokane tribe getting FIVE!  We currently have over 30 Class III tribal casinos in Washington, so most of the future tribal casinos will be off-reservation in small communities along our major interstates—all of the victim communities will get quickly economically cannibalized.  But dear Governor Gregoire says she just "hates gambling" but if she doesn't approve tribal requests they'll just do them anyway...and of course, neither Oregon nor Washington state legislatures can rein in these two beastly governors.  The Florence, Oregon group, (PACT) is suing Kulongoski as casino gambling is prohibited in Oregon's Constitution...hasn't stopped Kulongoski in any manner...


The other serious problem we have in both states is outright censorship in local media. Tribes politically and psychologically own the local media. I think you folks have a sense about that as well, don't you there in most areas of California? Casino advertising dollars to newspapers equates to censorship or muzzling of anyone who has an opposing view.


As example, I just recently filed a Formal Complaint electronically, and via Express Mail, on July 1st with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) against the tribe here on the reservation where I live. The Complaint reads like a horror story, and it is. All done behind closed doors, of course.


The tribe here has succeeded with the equivalent of an extortion/blackmail/hush-money agreement with a public utility district far north of our county...that just NAILS all electric customers here in Central Washington and on this reservation - forces us (without any consultation or inclusion in the process) to fund this "settlement agreement" to the tune of $2 - 8 million annually, for 50 years!  And sadly, two things: I'm the only local elected official within 200 miles willing to speak up and oppose this on behalf of our communities here; but the local newspaper just outright censors any questioning, any call for transparency or objection to any tribal whim or dream...so our "concerns" are just "unsubstantiated" according to the local daily newspaper - the Yakima Herald-Republic.


I've had a huge fight with the local editorial board that has been doing major front-page features on the settlement agreement with headlines in huge font:  "POWER PLAY!"  - praising the success of the Yakama tribe's energy activities. Mind you, the entire reservation is already completely and very well served by PacifiCorp electric services and everything the tribe will do is duplicative or will supplant what currently exists, on the backs of, and spread across the utility bills of current PacificCorp customers.


I've been pleading with the Yakima Herald editorial board to get some legitimate questions and other views covered in their paper, and was chastised by the editorial staff for "targeting tribal projects" - too bad that I'm a mere elected official concerned about our constituents here.  So our problems in both Oregon and Washington are twofold: tribal takeovers and media censorship - one assists the other.


You are literally better off staying right where you are in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, fighting vigorously to see that nothing like what we are enduring ever gets that bad in Santa Ynez Valley, than moving into either Oregon or Washington over the next few years. 


You need to send KBC an email:  kbc@klamathbasincrisis.org  She is your counterpart in Tulelake, California (just below the Oregon border). I met her when we both did presentations at a symposium in Joseph, Oregon. She can give you specific information about the tribes:  Coos, Klamath, Yuroks, etc. in that neighborhood. 


Do you folks remember when the Klamath Farmers in Oregon got their water cut off because of the precious sucker fish (not even endangered) that some tribes were whining about...absolutely destroying farmers - their entire lives?  Well KBC was one of those farmers and they are valiant fighters opposing the ongoing nasty triumvirate of: feds, enviros, tribes - going after private landowners with every tool they can in the southeastern Oregon/Northern California area, actually- throughout the Northwestern States of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Some water has been restored to the farmers but is at risk again of being cut off.  The northern Idaho panhandle—waters, rivers, phony reservation boundary expansions—the panhandle’s been essentially handed over to the Nez Perce and Coeur ‘d Alenes. 

Jeeeez, this is a grim tale—I didn't intend it to be, but honest to God - I'd hate to see you folks make a serious financial and geographical commitment only to discover you've jumped from a still manageable "frying pan" into the "deep fryer" of tribal aggression in Oregon and Washington. 


On the other hand, folks in many areas of Oregon and throughout the Northwest could use great fighters like you two!!  So if you don't mind continuing the battle. you'd be dearly beloved and received in any of the otherwise wonderful areas to live in Oregon (it doesn't have an ugly spot, you know!)...


Take care


Elaine Willman, National Chair

Citizens Equal Rights Alliance






My name is Jon and I was referred to you by Elaine (Willman). I'm considering investing in property in Cave Junction and Gold Hill Oregon. My wife, Kathryn and I have been very active in fighting aggressive tribal expansion here in California. We thought Caves Junction and outside of Grants Pass would be okay areas without a strong tribal influence. What are your thoughts?

I would love to talk to you by phone, if possible.

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