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I find it both sad and alarming that other media publications think it is acceptable to print front-page articles that avoid the truth and wax poetic about a lost culture that has been stolen by people, some of whom are not who they claim they are.

I am referring to the chaos being caused by two entities: One, the casino folk who have introduced gambling into our peaceful valley, bringing with it many visitors increasing traffic and crime that we never had before, and media who seem bent on warping reality to suit some unknown fantasy.

A recent article neglected to mention a couple of very critical points that more accurately reflect reality. First, while the article focused on the cultural museum that was the reason for the fee-to-trust application; it doesn’t mention that there was NO cultural museum on the original application. Only when the county vigorously objected to the tribal admin offices and tribal hall being moved to the 6.9-acre parcel because it was zoned Highway Commercial did the plan somehow mysteriously change to a park and cultural museum. At the same time, according to inside sources, it was announced that the whole point of the fee-to-trust application was to avoid paying property taxes that they don’t feel obligated to pay and they don’t want the county telling them what to do with their property.

So to act like the museum and park was the original plan is simply false. Furthermore, once the fee-to-trust is accepted by the BIA, anything at all can be built there including moving the tribal administrative offices and hall over from the property across the highway making room for more gambling enterprises that was the original stated intent. It seems reasonable that this would be the purpose of this exercise in political obfuscation.

While I don’t think anybody would materially object to a cultural museum or a park per se, the general behavior of repeatedly buying valley properties, applying for fee-to-trust status and making false claims about future uses is getting a bit old and irritating. I don’t know if the leadership thinks the community either doesn’t know or notice what is transpiring, but they are sadly mistaken. This is not how one conducts oneself if expecting to become a meaningful part of a community rather than a hostile neighbor. Someone always loses in that scenario and it is usually not the neighborhood bully.

Another important factor of this issue is the simple fact that the “elected” representative of the Valley just doesn’t represent us. Whether she cannot get the votes to support her district or whether it only appears that way is a question for us all. I mentioned last week that traditionally supervisors have respected a given supervisor’s position on an issue in their district, but not so this time. What is different here? Is it that none of the other supervisors wants a casino in their district, so they support anything in the Valley that the casino wants? Is it that while District 1 has a rotting resort that used to have blue roofs that is located next to the freeway and would make a wonderful site for a casino, Salud Carbajal enthusiastically supports the casino in the Santa Ynez Valley because he doesn’t want it in his district? How about all of the jobs that Joni Gray keeps talking about? Yes, the casino provides jobs, many for residents of Joni’s district that have to be bused in to work. Wouldn’t it make more sense to avoid traffic and air pollution that we’re all so worried about to have a casino farther north or doesn’t she want it in her district either?

It is also disturbing that our “representatives” so easily give away our tax dollars that are needed to support the infrastructure like roads, law enforcement, fire, etc. that are used by the casino but they are no longer paying for after fee-to-trust has taken place. We cannot afford to give away our tax money to something that does not contribute in a meaningful way to the surrounding community.

I am distressed to learn that the casino folk have gone to their favorite Washington, D.C., representative Young and talked him into having a committee hearing of some sort on Thursday, Aug. 2, to discuss this fee-to-trust issue. No one from the Valley was invited to attend, much less to discuss the other side of the topic. I hear that we are being referred to as “racists,” a familiar claim when there is nothing else to use for a reason to get your way.

I am appalled that the local people would go this far in their whining to bash the Valley residents with their demands. We are under attack here with our very existence, which is precisely what the casino people have in mind, I think. I am beginning to believe that they would just as soon we all left and gave them this valley. Not a chance! I am afraid that they have chosen the wrong route here and, hopefully, we can derail this misguided attempt to bully the whole valley by using somebody who probably has never even been here. I do hope his staff does some research and finds out what the truth is. I also hope he realizes that no agreement such as this is enforceable under any circumstances. So what is the point?

Under siege

While talking about being under attack, there are other efforts to take away what is ours. I attended a meeting last week at our water district. One of the topics was about how there is a proposal to give over control of all of the water facilities including easements on private property for the waterline that runs through the Santa Ynez riverbed that many of us own. The control would go to Cachuma Operations and Maintenance Board (COMB) that is composed of five water districts, all on the South Coast except for our Santa Ynez Water Conservation District, I.D. #1. This would mean that the majority of power over our water would go to the Santa Barbara side of the mountains rather than to our communities and farms.

This is not OK and if you are not willing to fight for our water supply, you will lose everything. I don’t need to tell you how critical this is to our communities on this side of the mountain. I am hoping that this discussion dies a quick death because it is most certainly NOT a good idea.

My father always said to me, especially during the condemnation hearings for Cachuma dam that went on for nine long years while we fought for the right to the majority of our ranch and our water, that one day we were going to be faced with a huge fight over our water.

Here it is again. Not too long ago we fought off, successfully, an attempt by our local casino folk to take control of our water supplies. Now the South Coast folk think they are going to do the same thing. Don’t think so! I ask you to stay tuned to this, as it would become very serious if allowed to progress. I see it as my job to keep you informed as to what is going to impact you and your life. This is potentially a big one.

You can find this, titled “Strategic Plan,” by going to and click on Board of Trustees, 2012, Board Packets, July 17, pg. 70. There is also the opportunity to comment on the requirements being proposed for irrigated lands in the Santa Maria River watershed. This may not immediately affect you, except in your pocketbook – but if this is approved, it will most likely just be flipped over to the Santa Ynez River watershed and that will most definitely affect you. For more information, please contact Shanta Keeling at (805) 549-3464 or

The comment period ends Aug. 20 and is regarding Domestic Animal Waste Discharge Prohibition. Check it out.