Tribe’s casino pact with white men suspect

April 28, 2009


A secret, decade-long, eight-phase strategy by a group of local investors – including one notorious individual now under investigation for fraud – outlines plans for construction of a Indian gaming casino in San Luis Obispo County and anticipates huge profits for its principals, confidential documents obtained by CalCoastNews reveal.

Those documents show that Kelly Gearhart, a North County developer with ties to Hurst Financial Inc. (HFI), is a primary partner in the syndicate. Gearhart’s questionable land dealings, bankruptcies, and financial losses have caught the attention of law enforcement.

Gearhart has linked up with attorney Grigger Jones, Chris Molina and Dan Phillips to sign a contract with the Salinan Tribe of San Luis Obispo County to “develop a large community self-sustaining, green energy producing Indian reservation development,” according to the project’s business plan.

Estimated cost of the development, according to the partners’ data, is $409 million.

No specific location for the development has been identified, although four potential sites include one on Los Osos Valley Road and another in the Santa Margarita area, according to records.

The four venture capitalists entered into a 41-page operating agreement in 2007, each retaining a 25 percent interest in the Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta LLC. The agreement stipulates that that the LLC will serve as the financing entity and consultant for the proposed casino.

“The securities represented by this agreement have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, nor registered or qualified under any state security laws,” according to the operating agreement.

The tentative plans include:

Phase 1 – Federal recognition and Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta funding/staffing – $4.3 million.

Phase 2 – Purchase participation in Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta, 15 percent – $10 million.

Phase 3 – Land options, 1,000 acres, and EIR process – $1.5 million

Phase 4 – Gaming construction and exercise land option one – $63.5 million

Phase 5 – Commercial construction and exercise land option two – $215 million

Phase 6 – Water treatment, waste water, and power – $20 million

Phase 7 – Resort and golf course construction – $55 million

Phase 8 – Construction of 100 homes and a 200 acre land option – $51 million

“The first three phases are to be funded immediately to insure the timely payment of federal acknowledgement costs, operation of Pejihota, land acquisition, master planning, and EIR processes. The next phase assumes that the gaming facility is constructed as soon as possible to provide an income stream,” according to the business plan of the Salinan Tribe and Pejihota of San Luis Obispo, LLC.

The LLC members expect to reap 40 percent of all gaming proceeds for a period of seven years with an option to extend for an additional 7 years. For all other developments, the LLC is to receive 50 percent of proceeds for 25 years with a 25 year extension option, according to the business plan of the Salinan Tribe and Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta LLC.

The group projects earnings of approximately $600 million over the next 50 years, according to the group’s records. Currently the group is focusing on phase three, purchasing a large parcel of land, according to the group’s records.

In an apparent attempt to keep their venture cloaked in secrecy, the group has transferred their LLC filing four times during the last few years. On Jan. 16, 2007, Gearhart filed a Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta LLC with the state of Nevada. Nine months later, Jones filed a Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta LLC in California. Jones added “of San Luis Obispo County” to the name and refiled in California on Sept. 19, 2008. In February 2009, Jones filed the Pejihota LLC of Nevada in his name.

According to numerous sources, some members of the LLC and the tribe have boasted they have a politician poised to fast-track their plans. Without a member of Congress pushing for approval, the procedures required to garner federal recognition for an Indian tribe usually take the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs approximately 10 years to process.

The group speculates the process will take one to two years, according to project plans.


Local investors report being bilked out of millions of dollars by HFI and Gearhart. HFI president James Miller and his daughter, Courtney Brard, lured investors with promises of high interest, low loan to value rates, and assurances that funds were placed into secured accounts with payments provided to developers as the work progresses.

In October, Miller and Brard admitted to state regulators their complicity in fraud. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office have also mounted investigations, although no criminal charges have yet been filed against Miller, Brard, or Gearhart.

More than 1,200 investors, primarily seniors, have placed nearly $100 million with Miller for funding construction loans. According to the Department of Real Estate, Miller failed in his contractual agreement to protect investors by funding projects only as work was completed, with progressive payments. Instead, he paid developer Kelly Gearhart in lump sums without any monitoring of the construction.

Also, in some cases Miller used investor monies to pay interest on previous projects in an apparent Ponzi scheme.

Miller loaned Gearhart $27 million to develop his Vista Del Hombre project, located near the airport in Paso Robles. All though Gearhart claimed the property was worth between $100 and $150 million, a bank appraisal values the property at $4.5 million.

Sources allege Miller and Gearhart overvalued the property speculating the proposed casino would drive up values.

Of of the $100 million Miller doled out to local contractors, a local attorney estimates more than $60 million went to Gearhart and his entities. Of that, more than $20 million appears to be unaccounted for.

In February, Gearhart, formerly Atascadero’s Citizen of the Year, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in Ohio claiming $6.5 million in estimated assets and $45.1 million in estimated debts. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows the creditor to start anew.

However, the bankruptcy court is a court of equity where honest men go to discharge honest debts, and trustees do not discharge tainted debts. Currently, attorneys for the bankruptcy court are investigating Gearhart. The bankruptcy filing fails to mention Gearhart’s involvement in the Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta LLC.


Allegations of questionable actions also have surrounded Jones, another former Atascadero Citizen of the Year, for nearly a decade.

In 2006, Atascadero city staff leveled accusations that Jones, at the time a candidate for city council, and co-candidate Bob Kelley had pressured planners to approve amendments to a Gearhart project in Atascadero. Gearhart introduced the pair to city staff as future council members.

Community Development Deputy Director Steve McHarris wrote in an e-mail that Jones and Kelley strong armed his staff to “not only support Gearhart’s request, but waive Planning Commission authority over the change.”

Grigger sat on the Atascadero Planning commission from May 2002 through October 2006. Apart from abstaining on one vote, Jones voted affirmative on every Gearhart project planning request.

“From the research I’ve done, it appears Grigger was pretty much a rubber stamp for Gearhart projects,” ex-mayor Mike Brennler said. “If he had a business relationship with Gearhart, I would be concerned that he divulge that relationship prior to voting on Gearhart projects. I’ve seen no sign of that.”

Miller and Gearhart have both utilized Jones as their attorney on a number of issues. In August 2008, Miller assigned his interest in more than 10 properties to Jones.

Jones and representatives of the Salinan Tribe did not return reguests for comment.

Legal gambling establishments have been plagued by their associations with criminals since the first organized establishments sprung up in Las Vegas. Due to problems with mobster financing, money laundering, and hidden ownerships by financers with questionable character – gambling has turned into a highly regulated industry with stringent oversight.

Even so, gambling is still associated with crime, primarily political corruption.

According to a study by U.S. News and World Report regarding crime rates in communities with casinos and those without, crime rates were substantially higher in communities that permit gambling.

During January of 2008, law enforcement made 75 trips out to the Chumash Casino in Santa Barbara County. Of those, only 17 were for premise checks. The remainder were for crimes including sexual battery, drug possession, burglary, and terrorist threats. These calls resulted in 22 arrests, according to Just the Facts, Ma’am – Casino Crime Stats by William Etling.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

By: paperboy on 5/5/09


There is just one small area of the power plant property that is a burial site and it is protected. I wish you folks luck with the federal government.

By: 4Warn on 5/5/09

I share your frustration BeenThere. There are many who want to see justice and would like to see the crooked have there hides tacked to the barn wall.

I think this is about the nature of the investigation and all the spider webs that need to be tracked to their anchor points. It took the feds 4 years to nail Governor Blagojevich

I just hope that the FEDS (unlike the DAs EFI investigation) grab all the dirty players not just the one or two at the top of the list.

Also here is an intersting link ref problems with Indian casinos as described by the FBI

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 5/5/09

Have been following this thread since the start. The one question I still want to know, (as with all the other stories for last year) when are we going to start seeing some arrest warrents for Kelly, Jay and any others involved? Just thinking out loud.

Also isn't Chris's wife the one who was commenting in the opinion section of the Trib. last week about rabbits being dumped at her place? If so it is funny because she mentions karma befalling the people who dumped the rabbits. Well lets hope a big S##T load of karma dumps on her husband if this is true. She's right what comes around goes around.

By: paperboy on 5/4/09

Wow. This is just too interesting.

Sounds like the folks in Atascadero don't want a casino. Tell you what, if the Salinans are indeed interested in building a casino in SLO County, check out the Morro Bay Power Plant property. Plenty of land (100+ acres) and part of the property is already a sacred site (burial ground next to Morro Creek). It's probably going to close forever in 2015, which gives the tribe time to get their federal thing done.

And MB is already a tourist trap, so you wouldn't be tainting anything that hasn't already been exploited.

Actually, there is a group of business people in MB who get together every Thursday to talk about ways to increase tourism and boost our economy. A casino has come up in just about every conversation we've had.

A casino in this county would not be a totally unwelcome development. But it needs to go in a proper place that's already developed with the infrastructure — motels, restaurants, gas stations, etc… — and Santa Margarita Ranch isn't it.

Nor is ''someplace on LOVR.''

I know a few Salinans and I'm frankly shocked that any of these folks would even be interested in something like this. Sounds to me like Mr. Molina is not what he makes himself out to be.

By: insider on 5/4/09

to Cindy

AMWC are a bunch of insiders "if you'll forgive the pun" that are making decisions that bind every land owner in Atascadero. Watch out the bill is coming.

By: Cindy on 5/4/09

Insider- You have an excellent point and I was on that same wave length after noticing that Grigger appears to be president of the board at AMWC. I came upon an odd and seeming misleading statement on the internet a few months ago issued by AMWC. What caught my attention was AMWC stated that the water isn’t free and that the short falls are paid by the Colony Holding Corporation!I wondered what in the hell they were talking about. Colony Holding Corporation (ie: EG Lewis) was dissolved back in the 1930’s. The statement went on to say that the Atascadero land owners were going to have to start picking up the loss that CHC was paying! huh? So in essence they are saying that the AMWC is charging enough to cover the expenses since AMWC is all thats left of Colony Holding Corporation? The AMWC is here to serve the share holders (Atascadero land owners) and to only charge the land owners back for the expense incurred to deliver water to our properties. I’m interested in the wages and fees that we (the land owners of Atascadero) are paying to the board of directors at AMWC and their associates. I wonder how many of us are paying attention? Its time to attend the stock holder meetings folks.

By: insider on 5/4/09

If people are concerned about Grigger Jones what they should be concerned about is the Atascdero Mutual Water company and the firm hold he has on the policies of that quasi govermental body.

By: 4Warn on 5/4/09

Interesting Post Mo.

Is Robert J. Kelley Jr. same as Councilman Kelley? If so this is scary stuff.

Here is something I found on Google ref Councilman Jerry Clay related to his endorsements for city council in 2004





Did Clay know about this plan to develop an Indian Casino in Atascadero? Inquiring minds want to know.

By: mo on 5/3/09

Salinan9: George Molina held an annual golf tounament called the Mexican, American something golf tournament held at Chalk Mountain Golf course run by Councilman Jerry Clays son Joel. Mike, Matt and Chris Molina all have direct connections to Gearhart. Chris and Gearhart were classmates at Atascadero high.

Mike Molina, owner of Atascadero Door Company is closely linked to Kelly Gearhart as Gearhart purchased alot of his construction materials from Atascadero Door. Chris Molina works at an insurance agency in Atascadero owned by Dan Phillips. Dan Phillips was a name that also showed up on the LLC formed by Grigger Jones. Atascadero City councilman Bob Kelley recieved a large campaign contibution from Kelly Gearhart and placed banners and posters almost exclusively on buildings and property owned by Kelly Gearhart. I wonder how many trips to Vegas Bob Kelley took on Gearharts jet. Check out councilman Bob Kelley under Robert Kelley at

By: skyler on 5/3/09

That U Tube is shocking! CROOKED!!

By: Fedup on 5/3/09

The Atascadero Chamber of Commerce has a track record of electing scum bag crooks as their Man of the Year. What is that saying about birds of a feather? For the last few years I have gone out of my way not to patronize any member of the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce even if it means driving to a different town to do my shopping. There has recently been at least one complaint filed with the state bar against Grigger Jones. I am sure it won't be long before he gets what's coming to him.

By: Cindy on 5/3/09

The below is posted in the blog attached to an article that the Trib wrote back in April.

The article was "Lawsuit accuses ex-Cuesta title manager of real estate fraud". I think we will be hearing from Nanci. She has been investigating Grigger Jones and writing her story for a few years now.

# [@Nyx.AdditionalAuthorInfo@]

Nancimeek wrote on 04/24/2009 06:40:04 AM:

The group Pe Ji Ho Ta on Morro road in Atascadero is listed as having registered owners Robert Jones and Kelly Gearhart. Wasn't Kelly Gearhart and Robert Jones along with the Rottman group instrumental in attemtping to bring in the WalMart? Who owned the property the proposed Walmart was targeted to be built? I know a few years ago while performing discovery on my father's probate we contacted Kelly Gearhart's office several times and were never given a courtesy return call. Colleen Alexander who notarized the document listed in this article has worked for Robert Grigger Jones'as his legal secretary for years.

Recommend (0) Report abuse

# [@Nyx.AdditionalAuthorInfo@]

Nancimeek wrote on 04/23/2009 01:40:38 PM:

FYI if Robert Grigger Jones is not involved with the Kelly Gearhart situation then why did the attorney Greg Coates send me an e mail telling me he couldn't communicate with me and answer questions regarding Robert Jones because of a conflict of interest? Is it because Robert Jones and Kelly Gearhart have worked together and have business dealings? Please e mail me at if you can assist with any information Thanks – Nanci

Recommend (0) Report abuse

# [@Nyx.AdditionalAuthorInfo@]

Nancimeek wrote on 04/23/2009 01:36:38 PM:

How is it Colleen Alexander (who by the way works for the attorney Robert Grigger Jones) could witness as a notary the re-signing of a document already signed? We just filed a criminal complaint with the Atascadero Police Depart against Robert Grigger Jone for fraud and forgery (the forensics reports don't lie) and the 1st Amendment supposedly signed by my father (signatures are fake) doesn't have a notary page or a notary signature and stamp. HMMMMMM something isn't right Jones had the case moved to Hawaii 4 years ago courtesy of Judge Tageman because things were getting a little too hot for him to handle)

we left countless messages over the years for Jones to call us with his secretary Colleen Alexander

Check out the You tube for more on our case.

Feel free to call me (760) 413-5660 to discuss this case.

By: hotdog on 5/3/09

CitizenCane- my money is on you, good call.

By: CitizenCane on 5/3/09

Wolfhound asks Molina "who wrote your damage control speach?"

My money is riding on Grigger. If Grigger didn't outright prepare it, he at least reviewed or approved it. Notice all the language designed to eliminate culpability.

Anyone wanna bet?

By: wolfhound on 5/3/09


From the information gathered it seems like you speak with forked tongue.

Who wrote your damage control speach?

By: Jericho on 5/3/09

As a New member to this site, and very concerned about the over all financial and wheeling and dealing by those who have sinister motives for all involved. I learned last night, two firms are deeply connected this secret deal, Meridian Realty Consultants and REGAL General Contractors Inc., both using the same local address down in SLO, has anyone any background on these firms or who is behind them ? It appears some funny money and more back door deals are in the making and from what I saw many more will be out Millions $. WMAT

By: skyler on 5/3/09

No wonder he named his '61 Impala "La Pirata"

The Pirate

By: CitizenCane on 5/2/09

I was doing a little googeling and looky what I found from the minutes of the Atascadero City Council meeting on Oct 24, 2006

"George Molina stated his opinion that this is all about politics, that he takes offense to the criticism of Mr. Gearhart, and spoke about how Mr. Gearhart has benefited the community."

I also found that Molina and Gearhart benefited heavily from development credits related to Pine Mountain Property.

I used to think that Gearhart was biggest crook in A-Town but maybe this Molina crowd is close second.

What say you Molina?

What say you Grigger Jones?

Maybe ya all best remain silent … as in the right to remain silent.

By: skyler on 5/2/09

Those aren't theories…It's pretty obvious what his interest was in…

By: Truthbeknown on 5/2/09

Stand clear, everyone! The conspiracy theories are flying all over the place.

Hey Cindy, you forgot to mention the worst part about Molina – he's a Raider fan!

By: Cindy on 5/2/09

It should be noted that George Molina served on the Atascadero City Council during the 1980's. He was forced to resign after it came to light that he had been voting on development projects to which he had a "big" conflict of interest. It was actually a scandal at the time.

I recall when Grigger Jones was running for city council against Mike Brennler and Ellen Beraud. George Molina appeared at a meeting and spoke during public comment. He stated "how dare you people attack Grigger Jones, he is a pillar of this community", he went on to tell Grigger to "hang in there" and not feel bad that some people were taking "cheap shots" at him. He then commented on the fact that people used to take "cheap shots" at him (Molina) too. It was all very amusing at the time but far more entertaining today. Molina claimed that while he lived out of town he made a special trip to Atascadero that night just to speak out on the accusations against Grigger! Molina also said he wasn't going to leave Atascadero until the elections because Grigger has his full support! I'm sure this is all in the minutes at city hall. Anyone care to venture what Molina's interest in Griggers election was?

By: skyler on 5/2/09


The trib won't touch anything that might affect their advertising clientielle/money.

In other words, many big money people who lately have been associated with the rampant white collar crime in this county, have been or will be helping them pay their bills. (naturally big business advertises)

And if they do print something on the big money groups, they usually play softball.

They have done some good opinions and reporting, but often seem afraid to step up.

Maybe you should contact Cal Cst and ask about getting a copy of the bus. plan so you have something concrete. Show it to the tibe members, and then call the Trib!

By: hotdog on 5/2/09

Salinan9, you said you have just recently heard of Chris Molina. But he signed his note 'Christopher G. MOlina II

Tribal Public Relations Chair'. I would think a relatively small group should know who their rep is, if he is legit. If you are knowledgeable about the affairs of your Native American group then we seem to have an issue here. Unless, of course, the folks he runs with and their affairs have been kept secret, as the article alleges. Can you shed some light on this 'shadow' group or dealings going on without your knowledge?

By: DashRiprock on 5/1/09

Don't worry about gearhart, he's bankrupt, he can't get fronted any money, not only that, there are no less than 20 burley subcontractors ready to kick his flabby ass if he ever shows his face in this county again.

By: ThomasPaine on 5/1/09

George is Chris's father. I knew them when Chris owned and operated what is now known as Champions Gym in A Town. I don't know about his wheeling and dealing but he was cool enough back then. Can't say the same about his father. A Casino would not be a good thing IMO and Salinan makes many valid points.

By: CitizenCane on 5/1/09

What I find really frightening here is that City Manager McKinney and the Atascadero Community Development Director Fraze knew about Gearheart, Jones and Molinas plan to try and locate the Casino in Atascadero yet not one word to the citizens about it.

Did O'Malley, Clay (Molinas pal)or the Chamber know about it and did they keep mum too?

Crooked, crooked, crooked!

By: hotdog on 5/1/09

Chris Molina-where are you? Many of your comments have been disputed and the thrust of the article seems to be holding sway. Is George your Dad? What say you about all this?

You said Gearhead was no longer involved in the LLC. Why is that? Because his questionable activities became widely known by last summer? Of course he is in deep doo doo now, and hopefully more to come. Did he quit the LLC or did you all kick him out?

And Grigger Jones is a mouthpiece for Hurst (Miller), a known (but as yet not arrested) criminal. I say that because his operating licenses have been revoked because of fraud perpetrated against his clients (according to the DRE and DOC-and over 1200 investors!).

So, an explanation of your involvement with these sorts of characters is warranted if you want to retain any credibility.

By: Bluebird on 5/1/09

Is Christopher G Molina II the son of George C Molina a long time Atascadero good old boy, associate of Gearhart's and a chamber pick for Man of the Year? George C Molina had a useless piece of property adjacent to Stadium Park that he couldn't sell. Access is from Pinal via a steep trail. Partnering with Gearhart they threatened to build 5 houses on the property. (The project would have required council approval.) They were able to muscle the city into doing a very, very lucrative transfer of development credits for them. The city got 25 acres of steep slope open space and Gearhart was able to build about 20 more houses on property he previously could not build. Amazing how these guys just keep showing up with one scheme after another.

By: starvingmexican on 4/30/09

stop taking all the services they are handing out.

We are owed these services Gringo.Get to work and pay some more taxes so that I can get the rest of my family into Calif.

By: sharibaby on 4/30/09

Mr. Molina and Salinan9,

Just how many tribal folk are we talking about? 100 or more? 2000?

What are they doing at present to preserve their culture?

Interesting thread.


I think that this has turned into a blog about the Native American plight, and not the corrupt doings by local developers/attorneys, etc.!! These are the same names that appear over and over and over again in the news of "bad decisions and selfish endeavors – aka screw the people, I want what I want". Grigger Jones, Kelly Gearheart, Hurst, Chris Molina. Good God. Where do they ever find the time to actually do an honest days work. Oh wait – they DON'T.

By: skyler on 4/30/09

Bottom line is casinos make it WORSE for those who supposedly should benefit.

The Money goes to developers and bilks folks who can't afford to lose it.Brings alcoholism, corruption and drugs to the res. There must be a better solution. I do believe Native peoples should have education breaks and restricted small indiv. land grants or some similar program to families that want to work hard get a leg up so they can start subsistance or commercial farming or work hard to build a small business or their own home. Just a thought…more reasonable than casinos. Check out what attorney Grigger's political positions/former jobs have done for him…Get politics out of Indian affairs! Abuse of power…Not an easy task! You two ought to consider representing. You are both intelligent and not looking for a hand out.

Great role models for generations of native people.

By: JorgeEstrada on 4/30/09

Ok, I don't like casinos but as for pay back to the indigenous people this thought occured: If willing, they own and manage the sewer farms, we atleast pay for our being here through a practical application of poetic justice.

Also, as inspired by today's Loc Lib Rag, they can sell the reclaimed water to the vineyards, Sewer Noir? Actually a serious idea, with my funny bottling name.

By: skyler on 4/30/09

Good dialog anyway…the Southwestern tribes I have seen recently are a mess on the res. Navajo Nation is slipping. Good folks there+ and those that are lost. I work in some of these programs so I see it from both sides. Still some good cultural stuff-dances and feast days-passing things on to the next generation, but it is an f'd up place…so is the bronx and skid row…keep up the good dialog. You are both smart and qualified opinions.

By: Jericho on 4/30/09

I'm WMAT ( White Mountain Apache Tribe) I know all too well, the stats from BIA and others. Stop blaming the White man, this is 2009 not 1869. Look at the high rate of FAS= Fetal Alcohol Syndrome with the children ? too many drunks, too many without any education, the 590+ tribes need to stop their whining get educated on there own not on the Gov. IHS stats show we are a Medical mess because we are lazy, drink, fight, uneducated, complainers. The ICWA =Indian Child Welfare Act passed by the " White Man" has saved us from our selves. We need to be responsible for us. Not anyone else, look at the many other races that came here broke, alone NO SUPPORT they made it with out Gov. help, it is called work hard take care of your families and stop looking to get the White Man to come loose his hard earned money on our slot machines. Arizona Tribes are now a mess of Corruption, Drug Abuse, Uneducated youth, unemployed in the 33% range Alcohol abuse at an all time high 77% what I'm trying to say is protect the lands without all the BS and get a Job.

By: Newsome on 4/30/09

Off topic, but,…

The notion of approving casinos to assuage honky guilt for Indian opression is tenuous at best.

By: Jericho on 4/30/09

A very intriguing story, their is only one reason they want to be recognized as a Tribe, FREE Benefits, and Gambling revenues. It might be wiser to just get a good education and a job and not rely on the Gov't to support you, as for those developers involved, I was at a meeting with some of them who wanted to have Tribal involvement all for Gambling down at either SMR or Avila, those involved have been 4 of the developers this site has named in the past. One who has never appeared at his Bankruptcy because if he does he has to answers question Under the Penalty of Perjury, he will never show up. ( RWH ) then you throw in the Bakersfield Congressman involved in this and who is now the subject of a Probe makes this all the more interesting. I personally know several people who have been spoken to by Federal Agents on this matter so expect something to break soon.

By: skyler on 4/30/09

Starving Mexican

If you hate the Americanos..stop taking all the services they are handing out. Just a little hypocritical.

By: starvingmexican on 4/30/09

The historical depiction of indians seeking to preserve their cultural integrity and viability and those assisting them, has continually been inaccurately portrayed.


Senor,you ought to walk in our shoes.Then you would understand why we hate the Americano's.You are getting Casinos and we're getting Taco Bells.

By: bluemule on 4/29/09

It seems that the SLO county Salinan tribe is in some ways not unlike the city of Atascadero – generally made up of good, honest, hardworking people with the greater good in mind, but unfortunately the scum always rises to the top and taints us all.

By: Clemintine on 4/29/09

To Salinan9:

In every tribe there are those who are honorable and those who are dishonorable … and naturally, there are some that walk on the line that separates the two.

Your thoughts make it clear to me that you are one of the honorable.

By: JorgeEstrada on 4/29/09

I too support the recognition of the indigenous people and their historic culture although, in my opinion, there will never be a casino that can remedy their lost legacy.

By: Nameless on 4/29/09


Nice rebuttal. My question to you; Have you talked to CalCoast prior to this publication? Maybe some of the points you bring up could have been resolved. For now, it sounds a little sour on your part.

By: Bluebird on 4/29/09

I wonder if Grigger had the casino in mind when he said, as a council candidate in 2006, that he had dedicated his life to service to his community.

By: Booty_Juice on 4/29/09

I detect a rash appearing.

By: cmolinaII on 4/29/09


On behalf of the Salina Tribe of San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties, I wish to set the record straight in response to the story portrayed by Karen Velie on April 28, 2009 in her blog site, Cal Coast News and again on the Dave Congelton Show. I am a Salinan Indian, and very proud of the fact that my tribe has been here in their ancestral area for over 6,000 years. Since 1991 our tribe has activley been seeking federal acknowledgement, and has filed a notice of intent to seek formal federal recognition. Our purpose in seeking federal recognition is to support the welfare and cultural integrity of the Salinan people. While Kelly Gearhart at one time participated in this process, as of September 15, 2008, he dissolved any relationship he had with the tribe. In addition, the Salinan Tribe has never been associated with Hurst Financial.

The Salinan Tribe is seeking to develop an economically diverse and viable community that will preserve and enhance our cultural values and will be a good neighbor to all peoples residing in San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties. While gaming may be a part of this development, no sites have been chosen, and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate.

We have not sought the assistance of any politician to fast track or side-step the acknowledgement process and any suggestion to the contrary is also inaccurate.

Contrary to the statements of Ms. Velie, we are a very functional family that has been an integral part of the history of this county, from the building of the San Luis Obispo, San Miguel and San Antonio Missions.

Currently the tribe is being assisted in their process by Pe-Ji-Ho-Ta of San Luis Obispo, LLC, consisting of Chris Molina II, the acting general manager, Grigger Jones and Dan Phillips. Chris Molina II as a tribal member is also the tribe's public relations chair.

We have appreciated our association with and councel from Grigger Jones, and find the comments of Ms. Velie against him both inaccurate and distasteful. Unfortunately, the historical depiction of indians seeking to preserve their cultural integrity and viability and those assisting them, has continually been inaccurately portrayed. We want this to stop.

As your neighbors and friends, we of the Salinan Tribe hope you will jion us in our endeavors, and share in our pride and history.

Christopher G. MOlina II

Tribal Public Relations Chair

By: Me on 4/29/09

Sounds like the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce needs to change the way they select the citizen of the year. They have shown some terrible judgment in some of their selections, two of whom are listed in this article.

By: hotdog on 4/29/09

I think Booty is on to something. In case some readers don't know, one of the lovely things illegal immigrants (us) did to the native population as 'whitey' discovered these lands was to give the Indians blankets laced with small pox, something they had no natural defense for. Many died, it was cheaper than bullets.

Now, since much of our population is so dysfunctional and lonely in our barren warrens of asphalt, cement and steel we are getting taken to the cleaners at the casinos. Not a bad pay back. Be better if the Indians got all the dough instead of a bunch of snaggle toothed greedy developers and crooked mouthpieces raked off a huge share first.

Frankly, I would oppose a casino here for the reasons cited in the article. And its just another drug with which to while away the hours (and dollars) until we die-while away those hours on the beach instead and save the dough.

By: Jarvis on 4/29/09

I heard Gearhart got the crap beat out of him in Ohio recently. Does anyone have any information on that?

By: Booty_Juice on 4/29/09

Indian casinos are nothing more than their version of small pox blankets.

By: calvertworthington on 4/29/09

A old friend who's a cop told me that he'd investigated several large-loss embezzlements where suspects admitted gambling away all the stolen cash at indian casinos in SB and the valley. He said that the casino's gave no cooperation with the police and that their 'security' folks 'invoked' tribal status to refuse to provide info. Not the best addition to a community.

By: Vagabond on 4/28/09

The only thing i hate about indian casinos is no rolling the bones (craps) and no firewater.

I also hate the tobacco smoke.

By: rogerfreberg on 4/28/09

Was this the 'anchor' for the much heralded Cal Poly Technology Park?

By: shingh on 4/28/09

Let us not forget there was intervention and support with Kevin McCarthy in this, as well as those developers who donated so much to his campaign all involved in the SMR deal, just two weeks ago the Feds Cracked down on McCarthy's Political Bank and found interesting donations into his accounts. San Joaquin Bank of Bakersfield, CA with Ray Karpe all now the subject of investigations by FBI, IRS, Federal Reserve, OCE, OIG and CID as well as two Congressional Committees one of which McCarthy is a member the Financial Services Sub committee watch the case slowly come to light. Great reporting CalCoast.

By: curlyp on 4/28/09

Too bad Gearhart is involved. I don't have a problem with a Casino in our county. It would bring jobs, tourism to the area.

Gearhart's involvement will taint the project.

Darn I was hoping to suplament my retirement as a dealer

By: Booty_Juice on 4/28/09

This Poon-Tang-TaTa-Ho thang is jus dem boys was tryin to git in on some a dat injun gamblin coin is all.

Yet more examples of the so-called "quality" of top tier north county citizens.