The Eye on the East Bay
BAY AREA NEWS GROUP
Posted: 03/12/2010 05:02:11 PM PST
Updated: 03/12/2010 05:02:11 PM PST
CASINO CLAIMS: The Eye blinks fast from the heat rising over an Indian tribe's bid to build a billion-dollar casino-resort at Point Molate in Richmond.
The latest salvo: The Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians has threatened to sue gambling watchdog Cheryl Schmit, head of Stand Up for California, for libel. She has been a vocal critic of the casino plan, telling Richmond council members and federal officials alike that it amounts to blatant "reservation shopping" by a tribe hailing from more than 100 miles north.
Guidiville says Schmit knows better. The tribe has filed thousands of pages of documents with federal officials to show it has strong historical and current ties to the Richmond area. In a letter last month, tribal lawyer Little Fawn Boland demanded that Schmit stop and threatened to sue her for libel.
"People spreading lies about the tribe is not something we're willing to tolerate," said Michael Derry, CEO of the tribe's economic development arm. "It's exposing our tribal members to hatred."
Schmit's lawyer fired back last week in a letter, calling the threats a classic bid to muzzle free debate. Schmit said she has no plans to stop and that her claims are well documented. "It was a nice shot over the bow to try to silence me," she said. "They don't want anyone else to try to influence the same decisionmakers they're trying to influence."
The Eye will be watching out for legal blows.
Tom Barnidge, Paul Burgarino, Dominick Calicchio, Janis Mara and John Simerman contributed to this column.