City retains counsel for tribal arbitration

City retains counsel for tribal arbitrationBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Ridgecrest City Council met in closed session Wednesday to discuss pending litigation with the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe. While details were sparse, City Attorney Keith Lemieux announced the city’s decision to retain outside counsel regarding the matter.

Earlier this month, the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe filed a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association over whether the city is obligated under its Municipal Services Agreement to sell property in the Ridgecrest business park to the tribe’s casino developer.

China Lake Properties – part owner of the land – has demanded the sale of the property, arguing that its 2000 agreement with the city grants CLP the ability to force a sale to an identified buyer in the event that the land is not sold or leased after 10 years.

Lemieux said he was not at liberty to disclose any details beyond his initial announcement, but members of the public still had questions.

During public comment, Scott Miller asked if council formally voted on this decision. He opined that by allowing litigation, members of council would be costing the taxpayers money in court costs.

“Just for the public’s awareness, we’re responding to an arbitration filed against the city,” said Lemieux. “The city did not elect to join the procedure. We’re now required to defend ourselves.”

He also said that the MSA includes provisions for court funds and the city would be reimbursed should the city’s case be successful.

The News Review will publish more details as information becomes available.

Pictured: City Attorney Keith Lemieux makes the announcement that the City Council retain outside legal council amid pending litigation with the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe - Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2019-07-19