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Barona Bingo Operators Rejected Again

July 13, 1986

The Barona Indian tribe again rejected American Management and Amusement as the managers of future bingo operations on the reservation Saturday.

At a full tribal meeting, about 60 Indians overwhelmingly voted not to deal with American Management or its investors, and they gave their attorney approval to pursue any further legal action against the firm, tribal members said.

The tribal council closed down bingo April 27 and is suing American Management in U.S. District Court in San Diego for mismanaging its bingo games. The company also has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The vote reaffirmed a previous rejection of American Management's efforts to reopen bingo at Barona. Company executives could not be reached Saturday for comment.

A management proposal by Kathy Thaxton, a former San Diego police officer, to manage the games was not considered at the meeting. Thaxton resigned Wednesday after senior police officers learned she has applied to run the same bingo operation she had investigated as an officer. She presented her proposal Wednesday, hours after resigning.

Indians at the meeting were surprised that Thaxton's proposal was not considered Saturday.

"I was shocked because I would have bet my life that they would have brought her before the tribe," said Catherine Holsbo, a member of the tribe. "We were waiting for the big pitch for Thaxton before the people."

She said the five or six Indians who supported Thaxton on Wednesday failed to raise the subject Saturday.

But according to Robert Banegas, tribal council member, Thaxton's proposal is among 15 to 20 the Indians are considering. Any decision is dependent on the lawsuit's severing of the American Management contract.

"She has a real good proposal, so I don't see why she doesn't have a chance at it," he said, adding that Thaxton would guarantee Indians at least $100,000 a month from the games and give three-fourths of all profits to the tribe.

Thaxton could not be reached for comment.

Banegas said an Indian screening committee will be set up this month to consider possible managers.

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