Sunday, April 17, 2011

Random Acts of Vandalism

On March 13th we awoke to discover that one of the (very heavy) metal drawers from a tool box we were temporarily storing in the bed of our pick up truck had been hurled from the truck. It struck and damaged the roll-off container truck we use for our business. We speculate that the culprits were trying to steal the tool box until they realized just how heavy it was and just threw the drawer in frustration. Perhaps their intention was exactly what they accomplished - hard telling.

This morning we discovered that somebody siphoned gas from our son's pick up truck by cutting a hose that attaches to a canister of acetylene, which we needed for a job today. Our gas can was taken as well. We had to wait 2-1/2 hours for a deputy to come and take the report before we could even get the hose replaced, thus putting the kibosh on today's work.

Incident reports to follow as soon as we get them.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Highlights - Post Arrest to Present

As you know since just after the 2007 wildfires Marvin has been in a court battle with the tribe to keep them from running him off his land. Although their claims of pollution and subsequent potential harm to the tribe have been refuted by multiple outside professionals, Environmental Protection Agency, Fire Marshall, and a Hydrogeologist, the back and forth in court continues. Once their claims were proven false the next ploy was to argue jurisdiction: tribal or federal.

In the meantime, while the lawyers and judges do their wrangling, at least three businesses are being unnecessarily negatively impacted: our trucking company, Marvin's trucking company and Automotive Specialists, the towing company that was leasing space from Marvin. Steven and I also rent our home here so I'm sure you can imagine the headaches that come with the day-to-day of negotiating living this way.

Because of the tribal court's actions we, Automotive Specialists, Steven and myself, believed it necessary to hire an attorney and file a civil suit of our own in an effort to have the tribe remove the barricades so we can maintain our respective livelihoods while the courts adjudicate Marvin's case. So far, the court has been unwilling. The tribe tried to have our case thrown out, arguing that it was frivolous and we should be suing Marvin instead of them. The judge disagreed and the next hearing is set for April 18th.

Steven's arrest has been just another nightmare. He was required to appear January 6, 2011. The ADA offered Steven three years probation on the misdemeanor charge of obstructing/resisting a peace officer. First, I have always been of the opinion that Steven did nothing wrong and the three deputies who were dispatched to the "scene" overreacted from showing up en masse in the first place to actually arresting him. The arrest report reads like Steven was an out-of-control madman who may have run them down with a bobcat at any moment. Second, Steven doesn't even have an arrest record, how does he rate three years probation?
View Steve's Arrest Report

As of the January hearing we had had the arrest report for a few days, so our first request for discovery was made then. There were a few items listed in the arrest report we were interested in seeing: photos taken by the tribal security officer while she was waiting for the sheriffs to show up, her initial call to have the sheriff dispatched to the "dispute" and Deputy Boer's statement. Our lawyer has made two more appearances on Steven's behalf, February 23, 2011 and again on March 23, 2011; still no discovery and the judge keeps granting extensions. The next hearing is set for May 25th, which will be well over four months from the initial request for discovery! So the lawyers keep racking up billable hours, the judges keep allowing the state to impede the gathering of timely discovery, and Steven is completely at their mercy. Where is the justice in that?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Story

Revised 3/25/11

We’re Steven and Suzanne Rogers-Dial and we have called Valley Center our home since the summer of 2000. We have started this blog to spread the word about our plight with the The Rincon Tribe, which has placed concrete barricades to block the entrance to the home and property we currently rent. You can read more about our nightmare at our website Please leave your comments!

In the "About Us" section of this website we fill you in how we came to be here in the first place, our involvement in the clean up and our relationship with Marvin, the land owner.
I'd like to share a bit about what has transpired since we've lived here. My first experience with the Tribe was back in February 2010. I was here by myself when they showed up first thing in the morning to enforce one of their "Tribal Court Orders", which gave them "permission" to come on to private property to remove a partially constructed (40-4x8x20 posts set in concrete) billboard that Marvin was in the process of building. A dozen men showed up with a couple of chainsaws and proceeded to cut down the posts and haul them away. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department officers arrived about half way through the deconstruction and informed me that they had been "instructed to uphold the order". Upon learning that we were living here, the Rincon tribal Attorney General informed me that "Mr. Donius was violating Federal and Tribal laws and that, by staying here, so was I and I could count on being sued". Later that day, a Sheriff's deputy came by to take my statement and told us to continue to go about our business unless we were given notice to do otherwise. 

In September the tribe ramped up pressure when the tribal court granted an injunction to basically have Marvin, and anyone else connected to his property, ie. renters, other businesses, etc., removed.  So between September 2nd and October 25th, the only activity "allowed" on Marvin's land was the removal of property. They placed two barricades to narrow the main entrance, one to block another gate, and even placed a 24 hour "guard" at the mouth of the barricades to block the entrance and log the comings and goings for the two month period. 

Next to Marvin, the one hardest hit by the order was Automotive Specialists, the towing company that leased space from Marvin. He was forced to uproot his thriving business, which cost him, at the very least, his two biggest contracts.

On October 25, 2010 before the third barricade was put in across the entrance to block all access, a tribal attorney gave Steven and me "one more opportunity to vacate". Apparently their "authority" didn't encompass removing anybody who didn't leave willingly. We had no intention of walking away and turning our backs on Marvin because their allegations against him (of polluting the ground water) have been proven false yet they continue their strong armed tactits of trying to force him from his land.

After the 25th anyone who still had belongings on Marvin’s property were to call the tribal authorities to have them come and move the barricades. Here's an accounting from just five days later (please refer to panels 5-8 in the photos section for a visual time line).

Saturday 10/30/2010 10:45 AM
Two Mushroom Express drivers and one of Marvin’s space renters came to get their vehicles out of the yard and when they called tribal authorities to move the barricade they were told to come back Monday or Tuesday. Steven also needed to get some of our equipment off of the property to do a job that day. He made one more attempt at contacting the Tribe to move the barricade. They told him nobody was available until Monday or Tuesday. He let them know that he would go ahead and move the barricade at the Automotive Specialists gate and replace it after everybody got their vehicles out.
While Steven was cutting through a link in the chain of Automotive Specialists lock and moving the barricade aside with our Bobcat, a Tribal Law Enforcement security officer was sitting in her truck across the street in Harrah’s parking lot taking pictures and making phone calls. 
By 11:25 Steven had the barricade out of the way the Bobcat parked off to the side and was on his way to get our equipment moved. In the meantime the Mushroom Express drivers were getting their cars out and the space renter was pulling in to get to his boat. He soon found out that he needed help getting his trailer out.
By 11:32 three officers (in three SUVs) arrived from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy TJ Byrne, Deputy Aaron Boer and Deputy Joseph Mendoza.
Steven was in the middle of helping Marvin’s renter with the stuck boat trailer when the three officers from the San Diego County Sheriff’s department arrived on to the scene (in three SUVs). As Steven was walking to get the Bobcat, which was still parked over in the vicinity of the barricade, officer Byrne ordered him to stay put. Steven said he’d be right back and went to help the guy with the stuck trailer.
Upon his return Deputy Byrne arrested Steven for resisting a peace officer. He was handcuffed and escorted to Byrne’s SUV at 11:37.
After they arrested Steven, I started walking toward Deputy Byrne’s SUV to find out what happens next. I was told to “Stay right there or we’ll arrest you, too.”
The sheriffs’ deputies kept repeating that the tribe had a court order and that we did not belong here. Deputy Mendoza told me that “At some point no means no and you’ve been told.”
Deputy Byrne took Steven to the Sheriff’s substation, detained him while they checked his record, rifled through his wallet, took photographs of his identification, firearm safety and gun range cards. While in custody, Byrne implied that there was more to the tribe’s claim than we knew about. When Steven asked what that was Byrne stated that, “I was told not to talk to you about it.” To paraphrase, he said that Marvin had lost the property battle and that it was just a matter of time before the tribe removes us. Steven's court date for his arrest was set for January 6, 2011. More to follow on that.