Hopland women protest Tribal Council ouster

Former Hopland Tribal Council members Beverly Rodriguez and Wanda D. Balderama say that they were wrongly removed from their seats on the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians Tribal Council.

Rodriguez and Balderama lost their seats during a complicated political controversy, at a time when former tribal Police Chief Martin McCarthy was terminated and the tribal court judge resigned during recent months past.

Rodriguez and Balderama said that in June, they wrote a letter to the Hopland Tribal Council that alleged Trina Vega, chair of the elections committee, was doing “back door” political activities. “She had gone out and campaigned for individuals to be appointed to the council,” the former council members said.

Vega is the mother of Tribal Chairman Roman Carillo Jr. Rodriguez and Balderama contend Carillo has a conflict of interest. Tribal ordinances say so, Rodriguez and Balderama stated.

Rodriguez and Balderama said they filed a case with Hopland Tribal Court regarding alleged conflicts of interest. But the tribal court has been defunct for several months.

Out-of-state tribal judge Susan Townsend left her position and has not been replaced.

“We have no tribal court judge,” Balderama said. “Until you get a tribal court judge you cannot talk to anyone.”

The tribe is also without a general manager, Rodriguez said. “We do not have a general manager either,” Rodriguez said. “I don”t know where that is going.”

Rodriguez and Balderama said they have done research to make their case for violations of tribal ordinances.

They said the response to their allegations is that they had violated tribal members” rights because they wanted to investigate.

On Nov. 1, the Tribal Council called an election for four tribal seats and replaced Balderama and Rodriguez, the women said. The women said elections are to be held on the second Saturday in January.

The women said that they were asked to pay a $200 fee to cover the costs of the November election. A request to personally pay for election costs had never been done before by the tribe, Rodriguez and Balderama said.

Rodriguez and Balderama stated that $3,480 was taken from their last pay check and vacation pay. Rodriguez and Balderama cite a tribal ordinance stating that election costs have to be budgeted from tribal funds.

The Tribal Council did give a $200 refund to Rodriguez and Balderama, they said, but that also included a letter stating new tribal policy that would ban removed council members from running for 10 years.

“When we left the table there was not mention of it,” Balderama said, “It was effective immediately.”

Carillo was unavailable for comment Thursday. There is a meeting of the tribe Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Tribal Center gym.

The former council members said they hope they can raise some of their concerns at the meeting. A letter stating their case has also been sent to some members of the tribe.

Zack Cinek can be reached at udjzc@pacific.net or 468-3521.

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By ZACK CINEK

PUBLISHED: December 11, 2009 at 12:00 a.m. | UPDATED: August 23, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

Hopland women protest Tribal Council ouster

Former Hopland Tribal Council members Beverly Rodriguez and Wanda D. Balderama say that they were wrongly removed from their seats on the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians Tribal Council. Rodriguez and Balderama lost their seats during a complicated political controversy, at a time when former tribal Police Chief Martin McCarthy was terminated and the tribal […]

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