David Schwartz, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun
SAN BERNARDINO – Opponents of a liquor license for the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino say they will not appeal a ruling that allows the gambling hall to serve alcohol in their residential neighborhood.
The decision from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control allows the casino to continue serving beer, wine and hard liquor from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., except when two nearby schools are in session. On those days, alcohol won’t be served until 5 p.m.
While the decision could still be appealed, many opponents said they would not.
“I’ve certainly thought about it, but I don’t have the money to do it,” said Rheba Hewitt, one of the most vocal detractors.
Opponents continue to believe the state should not allow the permanent license to be transferred from the old facility to the new one.
Alcohol, they say, contributes to the number of vagrants, drunk drivers and other people engaging in illicit behavior on their streets. But their opposition during a two-day trial in June was overruled.
Although Hewitt has received a copy of the decision, she hadn’t looked at it yet. “I’m so disgusted I didn’t read it. I knew what it’d say.”
During the hearing at Highland City Hall, residents faced off with a legal team hired by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and a legal team and staff from the Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Residents were without a lawyer.
“We were outgunned,” said Kirk Wilson, an opponent of the license.
“I don’t have the money or the time to fight it any further. I could tell when I went down to the hearing, whatever we said didn’t have much weight compared to the high-powered attorneys and government agencies that didn’t want to step on the tribe’s sovereignty,” he said. “It’s like, why bother fighting it?”
Stephen Solomon, one of the attorneys for the tribe, said, “It was a full and fair trial. The protestant had a right to have a lawyer or not have a lawyer. The judge heard the testimony, he took briefs afterward.”
Solomon, part of a Los Angeles-based firm, said there had been little evidence presented with accusations of prostitution, drug dealing and traffic associated with alcohol served at the casino.
“The tribe stood the test of reality,” he said.
San Bernardino Councilman Neil Derry, who represents the city areas around the casino, said he would not seek the City Council’s approval to fund an appeal.
“There’s certainly not the support to appeal it on the council or from most of the elected officials,” he said.
He put the cost at $50,000 to hire an attorney.
“We could appeal it to the Supreme Court, but none of my residents have that kind of money. Half are retired,” he said.
The protestants have 40 days from Sept. 15 to appeal the decision, said John Carr, spokesman for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Solomon, Saltsman & Jamieson are attorneys practicing in the areas of ABC law, ABC Appeals Board cases, and all related Land Use Matters such as City and County Conditional Use Permits, Variances, Police and Fire permits, Entertainment law, and Gambling Law; as well as Business and Personal Injury litigation. Solomon, Saltsman & Jamieson can be reached at 800 405 4222.”