The Pain and Joys of Growth
The 1980s would be filled with the roller-coaster emotions of exhilaration and depression, of victory and tragedy.
By June 1980, the Supreme Court had ruled that tribes must collect state cigarette taxes when cigarettes are sold to non-tribal members. At the Tribe's July meeting, John Paul Nichols reported "The State Equalization Board has adopted the position that retail sales of cigarettes are to be phased out. . . . Existing funds are to be carefully budgeted for conversion of the building to a card room." Later in the meeting, a review of the report for the quarter ending June 30th showed "an influx of $60,000 was necessary for the renovation of the building that would be converted to a card room." Art Welmas recommended that all officers go on "half payment of their fees" to help alleviate the pending financial crunch.
By September 1980, planning for the card room, now consistently referred to in the minutes as the casino, had moved into high gear. John Paul and his mother Joann (who managed the Tribal office), met with officials from local and state government to inform them of their plans to open a casino. According to the September 11, 1980, minutes of the Tribe's Business Committee, the meeting had been "called by the Indio Chief of Police concerning the planned card room on the reservation," so those in attendance were "representatives of state and county law enforcement." During the meeting, "State and county said they would support any business which is within the law." But "the City of Indio stated it was not favorable and would try to enforce city laws if possible."
Nevertheless, after hearing John Paul's report the Business Committee continued its planning, convinced of the legality and moral rightness of its position. It set in place its own tax structure, authorized the temporary use of its community building by the Smoke Shop for retail sales, accepted the filing of an application to