To the Editor: Casino deal is ‘null and void’

After a cancerous battle trying to keep Ridgecrest and our proud Navy base safe from the devastating effects of an off-reservation casino at the front gates, our community now has positive confirmation. I just received a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Interior’s office that clearly states, “In December 2018, the Ridgecrest City Council voted unanimously to terminate the purchase and sale agreement between the Successor Agency to the Ridgecrest Redevelopment agency and Global Investment Enterprise Ridgecrest, LLC ... The cancellation of the purchase and sale agreement of the parcel does not, in and of itself, terminate the MOA between the Department and the Tribe, but it does appear to render the performance of the MOA impossible. For this reason, Department views the MOA as null and void.” In short, the DOI could never have taken the land into trust if the Tribe did not first own the land.”

In addition, the MSA agreement clearly states,“If the Tribe is informed by the Secretary of the Interior that United States will not take the land into trust or that the Tribe may not conduct gaming activities thereon, then this agreement shall terminate thirty (30) days after the Tribe is so informed.” The copy of the DOI letter is dated May 17 and logically I would assume that the tribe/developers would have also received their notice before a private citizen. Regardless, we are now at the end of June and the 30 days has now expired. Legally, the MSA is now “null and void” as well. And finally, as stated above, the land sale escrow is also “null and void” because the developers chose not to put up the cash to close the sale in two long years. This was no fault of the city council.

This is in shocking contrast to the recent proclamations that Nigel White has openly stated in both local newspapers proclaiming that this is a done deal when this project is actually dead in the water. Just the latest tactic in the national casino playbook. One last “Hail Mary” pass to try to threaten our councilmembers, scaring them into renewing a dead contract. Mr. White’s latest article in the Daily Independent on June 7 falsely proclaims that the land was indeed taken into trust. In addition, he had the audacity to dramatically appear at a recent council meeting proclaiming victory. This is proof, yet again, and again, and again of the lengths they will go to deceive out citizens. In addition, White’s article references a “Mammoth Mountain” deal back in the 1990s that has nothing to do with our case.

The article goes on to threaten the council and individual council members. White states, “Our legal team is studying years of statements, and actions to determine if the majority of the Council is personally or collectively liable.” The fact is, council members may still represent their own personal opinions and they cannot be bought, threatened, or silenced – period. They were elected to serve, protect and represent this community. And that is just what they are doing. The casino deal is dead!

Mike Neel

Story First Published: 2019-06-21