An ABC hearing was held on August 2nd concerning the casino’s alcohol license. JAC President Glenn Revell and JAC Attorney Ken Williams attended as observers. The following comments were prepared by Mr. Williams. As you read, remember the “protestants” in the ABC matter are divided between Pat Webb and Bill Adams. Mr. Tom Bunton, is from the office of San Diego County Counsel and represents the county’s (and our) interests.
“The Protestants’ presentations were very impressive and convincing. It was a one-two-three punch: (1) Bill Adams on the arbitrary pro-casino conditions and on the very important due process issues (which in my view should have been the show-stopper) not giving notice of the appeal to several hundred of the Protestants; (2) Tom Bunton for the County on the crucial need for transportation improvements and their direct link to the ABC license and on the with withdrawal of Penn as an applicant; and (3) Pat Webb on the fact that the land is not eligible for gaming under IGRA and therefore the casino is a public nuisance that is not eligible for an ABC license. Pat closed stressing the important need for ABC to protect the public by rejecting a license to serve alcohol at the public nuisance/illegal casino. Nice job!
In contrast, Ms. Casey, the ABC counsel, ignored most of the Protestants key arguments and merely claimed that the regulatory requirements were followed. She knows that the regulations are in favor of upholding the Administrative Law Judge’s decision and she wanted to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws victory by saying too much - especially since the ABC will probably defer to her on such issues. She received only one question from the Board about whether a cemetery can be abandoned despite the fact that Pat had already answered that question; by statute, a dedicated cemetery cannot be “abandoned” without a court judgment. But, given Casey’s ambiguous comments, it is not clear that the Board fully understood this point.
Ms. Casey also conceded, as she must, that both the land and the applicant must qualify for the license. But she ignored Pat’s arguments that - as a matter of law - none of the four parcels on which the casino is constructed is a reservation or trust land eligible for gaming under IGRA. This is compounded by the fact that the ALJ would not take official/judicial notice of the record title of the four parcels which - if the land has to qualify (and it does) - should have been part of the administrative record without a request for official/judicial notice.
The only evidence in the record about the land are the hearsay statements in the recitals to the compact between JIV and the State - two parties (as stated by Pat) with a financial interest in promoting the casino. Like any contract, recitals are, at most, agreed assumptions by the parties and are not binding on third parties who had no involvement in the negotiations. Nor are they binding findings of fact by an impartial tribunal. Nor can they trump what is actually in the title record - which was arbitrarily excluded by the ALJ. It is also important to note that the compact was negotiated without public notice or input and without an opportunity for the public to challenge these self-serving recitals.
Ms. Bonnington for the two Applicants also carefully avoided the Protestants’ key arguments. Instead she referred the Board to her briefs and assured them that these issues were addressed there. Unfortunately, although most of Protestants’ arguments are not addressed in her points and authorities, but her assurance may be enough for the Board, who are non-lawyers.
The most troubling aspect of Bonnington’s presentation was her claim that Penn’s subsidiary San Diego Gaming Ventures LLC, is still a co-applicant with a financial interest in the ABC license. As Tom stressed, this claim is directly contrary to Penn’s SEC filing. Bonnington did not offer any evidence to support her contention that Penn is still financially invested in the casino or ABC license. It is also unclear who is paying her fees.”
Your JAC Board remains motivated by your continued and unwavering support! We deeply appreciate the community’s continued fiscal support during the protracted legal battle. We have ongoing legal expenses and appreciate any and all contributions made towards retiring those debts!
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