To the Editor: Says casino is safe, secure

In a letter to the editor, Mike Neel made several prejudiced allegations, one being that the Ridgecrest Entertainment and Casino project poses a threat to the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapon Division.

The approval of the Ridgecrest casino/hotel/entertainment center by the federal government is evidence that this development is no threat to NAWCWD. Further evidence of this is the fact that the Twentynine Palms Casino is located near the largest U.S. Marine Corps base and has posed no such threat.

Equally false is the allegation of “heightened developer threats of litigation to the city and heightened individual councilmember litigation.”

What Mr. Neel failed to mention is that it was he who took legal action against the city and its citizens, an action found by the courts to be frivolous and cost the city more than $20,000 in legal fees.

Second, a Ridgecrest citizen filed a lawsuit against Vice Mayor Wallace Martin, as approved by the California State Attorney General to be meritorious, alleging that Martin violated the law in running for office without living in the city.

The other legal action was taken by a Ridgecrest property owner who demanded that the city comply with its contractual obligation to sell the specific property to the developer for $5.5 million which would also benefit the city and its citizens.

The legal action taken by the tribe was to protect the citizens and the tribe. Instead of filing a lawsuit against the city, the tribe filed for arbitration to request that the current councilmembers honor the Municipal Service Agreement entered into between the city and the tribe in 2016 and cease taking any actions to breach this agreement.

It is public knowledge that members of the city council have collaborated with others to block the development of the entertainment/casino project. We believe such collaboration is a violation of the Brown Act and state law. It is also believed that councilmembers may have operated outside of and in conflict with their elected authority and fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Ridgecrest.

If these actions are found to be true, the elected members could be held personally liable for damages to the tribe, the city and its residents.

In light of the fact that this MSA will provide the city with $31 million in revenue, $5.5 million from the sale of the land, extensive economic development and more than 288 jobs, the tribe is doing all it can to expedite the resolution of the arbitration and minimize the damages to the citizens and the tribe. However, the city has hired an $800-an-hour law firm to defend the city in this arbitration, which will only exacerbate the cost. We are hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and the city council will stop taking actions to breach the MSA agreement.

Jerome Horton

Story First Published: 2019-10-18