Who knew that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians had significant interest in the quiet little town of Redlands? The tribe, which has a large casino on reservation land North of San Bernardino is taking great interest in the Redlands City Council election, and spending big money too.
County Supervisor and former Tribal Chairman James Ramos has become the single largest donor in the City of Redlands, donating $2,500 to four different candidates even though there are only three seats up for election. Additionally, Ramos has participated directly in fundraising for a Political Action Committee which is targeting former County Supervisor and City Council Candidate Neil Derry.
The California Homeowners Association PAC, which has nothing to do with the actual nonprofit organization with the same name, is operated as a front for independent expenditures by Ramos consultant Gilliard Blanning and Associates. The PAC received nearly $10,000 from San Manuel Tribal members over the last month and spent $25,000 in opposition to Derry.
One must ask what the sudden interest in Redlands City Hall is for San Manuel and a few of its members. It is certainly unusual for a County Supervisor to inject himself in a city council race.
Neil Derry, as a City Council member in San Bernardino represented the area next to the reservation. He vehemently opposed the construction of the Casino in the back yard of his constituents, one of the last decent neighborhoods in the City at the time that valued its foothill views and quiet streets.
Derry certainly made no friends with tribal members, who on average pull in over $100,000 monthly each in gambling revenues with his principled opposition. In 2012, Tribal Chairman James Ramos spent nearly $1.5 million to defeat Derry for County Supervisor.
Apparently the idea of having Derry on the Redlands City Council, where he has been a resident for half a decade, is not sitting well with the new County Supervisor either. Derry has a propensity for speaking his mind and being an independent voice and he has proven fearless of big money interests, like the San Manuel Tribe.
In a town like Redlands which has become noted for its mutual back scratching, a candidate with a history for the opposite could really shake things up. Is this what has Mr. Ramos stirred up? Or is Ramos’ involvement, which he has refused to comment about in the local papers, based upon his settling old scores because Derry opposed his gambling venture over a decade ago?
Redlands residents should ask themselves what kind of representative they want in their city government.
If they want representatives of a Casino telling them who to support, they should look to see how well that is serving their neighbors to the North.