To update you on the attempted California Indian Legal Services (CILS)/Bishop Paiute land grab in my Watterson Road neighborhood …
Nine homes burned in the Fairview Fire in my Bishop neighborhood on July 8.
California Indian Legal Services, stricken with grief over our misfortune, sent a letter to homeowners in the neighborhood on August 1, claiming our burnt-out land wasn’t even ours.
“We write to you today to inform you of what we know will be upsetting and confusing news: that you do not own the real property identified as [insert address here] … this land is Trust property owned by the federal government.”
The letter claims a long-dead Tribal member subdivided and sold off parcels of land without the federal government’s approval.
This letter was penned by Indian Legal Services Directing Attorney Michael Godbe.
The Sheet consulted with Inyo-Mono Title company and learned that Mr. Godbe had failed to consult with Owner Jerry Core before sending out his letters.
Core described the research performed by Indian Legal Services and other agencies as “inept.”
Let’s fast forward to two letters I received, dated September 30 and October 6.
The September 30 letter was from then Chicago Title Insurance Company, my title insurance provider.
“The Company has reviewed the Property’s chain of title and records from the 1940s concerning the transition of the Property from land managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to its present configuration. In 1948, the BIA executed a written order removing all restrictions on sale from the Property expressly for the purpose of subdivision and sale to parties outside of the Paiute tribe. Therefore, it is the Company’s position that CILS is incorrect as to its assertions and title to the Property is vested as insured by the Policy … the Company has determined that this claim falls within the Policy’s insuring provisions, and the Company accepts coverage for this claim.”
Basically, no one in this world accepts coverage and responsibility for anything unless they’re pretty damn sure they’re not gonna have to pay out.
The next week, we received a letter from the aforementioned Mr. Godbe.
If you think Mr. Godbe wanted any part of a “mea culpa” think again.
He hemmed and hawed well into paragraph three, before he writes/whines “Inyo-Mono Title did not provide us with a copy of the 1948 letter removing restrictions when we were first investigating the land title and in communication with them because we had only requested the deeds …”
Okay, so you’re searching for title defect but you don’t explain what you’re searching for and Inyo-Mono Title provides you with what you requested but they’re supposed to read your mind and provide you with something you haven’t asked for?
Take some damn ownership.
He calls it a “miscommunication” between his office and Inyo-Mono Title versus what it actually was – his f&%k up.
That’s what happens when you do selective research.
His letter maintains that the matter is still under investigation because the BIA hasn’t formally clarified the property status, and he says “We regret the misunderstanding and confusion that this situation has caused.”
For the panic this caused to local residents, and the delay it precipitated in owners’ cleaning up their properties (which just began this week), Mr. Godbe deserves to be on the receiving end of his own lawsuit.
But I won’t stoop low enough to wrestle in that swamp.
A follow-up call placed to Mr. Godbe this week went unreturned.
The only other thing I want to talk about this week was a press release I received on Monday regarding a traffic accident in Lone Pine.
According to the CHP report, a speeding driver in a BMW plowed into a pedestrian in a crosswalk at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, October 14, killing the person.
The report did not identify the pedestrian or driver.
But I couldn’t understand why the driver’s name was not released. I also couldn’t understand why the traffic report was not included.
The CHP officer who issued the report would not answer and referred me to his supervisor, who didn’t know the details.
The license plate in a photograph of the BMW was blurred out so it couldn’t be traced that way.
I called the D.A. Nothing had come across his desk. Nothing has come through the courts.
The Sheet finally located the tow driver who also didn’t have a name, but could provide a physical description.
And the press release had let on that the driver was a 72-year old man who hails from Cambria, Calif.
The tow driver described him as approximately 6’2” tall with thin hair on top.
The car was traveling northbound when the accident occurred. According to the tow driver, a spouse/significant other who lives in Bishop drove down to pick this person up.
I certainly have my guess as to who this person is.
And I am appalled at the CHP for withholding the name. It’s public information. The officer who wrote the press release said its standard practice not to release names of those involved in fatal accidents.
I replied by forwarding him a report by Elena Villa of the Bridgeport CHP office providing names in a fatal accident report.
Is this person being coddled because he is wealthy? If so, for shame.
He should be in jail.