"In February 2007, the Barona Band of Mission Indians
sponsored state legislation entitled Unlawful Entry: Tribal Land
. San Diego County’s board of supervisors, as well as Sheriff Bill Kolender and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, signed on to the California State Senate bill as supporters. The bill would give tribal governments a new tool to control their lands by sending suspect persons letters warning them not to trespass. Violators could face a fine of $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second.
Thinking that troublesome gamblers might be at the bottom of the bill, I called the Barona casino. The “media department” did not call back. But a supervisor on the casino floor, who wished to remain anonymous and knew nothing of the proposed law, said bad actors are routinely thrown out. Tribal members, as well as non-Indians, receive the expulsions, which are often permanent. “I don’t mean it’s an everyday thing, but it’s happened thousands of times, though people can get reinstated by going before our gaming commission,” said the supervisor. “But we don’t keep track of them once they leave here.”
But Unlawful Entry’s appearance coincided with turmoil among California Indians over an increasing tendency of gaming tribes to disenroll members. Gloria Romero, the bill’s author, withdrew the measure in June 2007. Romero represents the 24th district of East Los Angeles. She is the senate’s majority leader and chair of its Public Safety Committee. The biography on her senate website states that, among other things, Romero is “a forceful advocate for California’s most disadvantaged citizens.”
The backpedaling could have been a response to an LA Weekly blast earlier in the month. Romero, claimed the paper, “is an eager recipient of campaign contributions from the Pechangas, the Agua Caliente, the Morongo and other powerful gambling tribes.… Her voting record shows that a reliable 75 percent of the time Romero votes for tribal gambling interests.” The article ends with this flourish: “Don’t think for a moment that our Democrats aren’t up in Sacramento tirelessly fighting for the little guys. Yeah, right.”
Not much has been heard about Unlawful Entry since last summer. But on March 11, according to legislative records, it successfully passed out of the assembly’s Public Safety Committee with five ayes and no nays."
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(The San Diego Reader 7/2)