1,000-day 2,920-day Indian Casino grievance letter
New Years, January 15, 2015
Dear Sycuan tribal members,
REMEMBER: It was Christmas 2006 when I gave your casino executive a no-strings written offer for Sycuan to use my 20 years of copyrighted Sycuan photography free for all time BEFORE my complaint ever left his department. I made him that offer so the negativity of his department's gross negligence and disrespectful responses did not follow us into the New Year but he allegedly resigned without accepting my offer, your casino employees subsequently refused to discuss the problem and your former chairman refused to resolve the problems so here we are entered into the 9th New Year with our business still unfinished, and the ensuing damages to my business and life compounding.
Further, since I AGREED TO ACCEPT YOUR TRIBAL COUNCIL’S PRICE TO SETTLE ALL PROBLEMS in December of 2008 including legal transfer of my copyrights to the 50,000 or so Sycuan photographs and videos I produced over a 20-year period as a Sycuan contract photographer on a near-exclusive basis I still have not heard back from Chairman Daniel Tucker regarding my acceptance letter despite writing him several follow-up letters asking for his administration’s response. Further, I believe your tribal council’s settlement offer was the result of a former chairwoman working through a new administration to make good on her administration’s agreements with me before her death yet my settlement payment is being withheld without explanation. Why?
And in what "responsible" system of government or business is offering "Sycuan's Price AND Sycuan's (grossly-ambiguous) Terms," take it or leave it, acceptable under these circumstances? It is my opinion, your tribal leadership used its wealth, power, influence and tribal sovereignty to retaliate against me for speaking up for myself and to take unfair advantage of me in their one-sided 'negotiations' to protract and dispose of my grievance without resolution.
IN SUMMARY: My complaint asserts that just after I brought the Sycuan Tribal Council my 100-percent valid grievance in January of 2007, I was immediately retaliated against, that untruths were said against my good name and that I was wrongfully terminated from projects I held for some 15 years; that Chairman Tucker apparently just decided not to honor the contractual agreements I made with your former chairwomen Anna Sandoval and Georgia Tucker, your casino executives, managers, employees, contractors, tribal members and even the contracts I made under his administration. Moreover, it appears Chairman Tucker and new tribal council members continue to bless the pirating of my photographs.
THE ORIGINAL ROOT OF MY GRIEVANCE is that your casino’s Creative Services employees and alleged contractors digitalized and archived hundreds of my best photographs after erasing, altering and separating my legal notices, copyrights and studio credits from my work. Some of these pirated images had nothing to do with Sycuan contracts or Sycuan projects, they were produced on my own free time. And at least one major Sycuan historical book project credited my contemporary Sycuan photographs to another photographer!
Those flagrant contract breaches illustrate the problem: No one at Sycuan can distinguish my property from Sycuan’s anymore and there is no realistic way to unwind these problems because the altered, unlabeled and degraded copies of my work surely span the redundant digital storage disks of many users and company backup archives. Further, every time someone at Sycuan or down the road uses or releases my photographs from their unauthorized archives of my work over the next 70 years until my copyrights expire my family is being CHEATED out of my royalty income, and my professional legacy is severely degraded for all time because my unlabeled work has been passed around and put in the public domain without my legal notice of ownership or permission.
THIS PROFESSIONAL LEGACY IS SUBSTANTIAL: It includes my contractual “sole and exclusive rights,” copyright, to some 50,000 still Sycuan photographs, Sycuan websites and video projects I produced under contract with Sycuan over a 20-year period. My personal investment in this work includes over 2,000 unbilled hours I spent developing my 350 gigabyte Sycuan digital archive on my free time. And 4,500 hours of my personal free time spent creating and developing kumeyaay.info’s 250 gigabyte digital still picture archive, its video documentaries, its multimedia research and historical content, and the valuable GOODWILL associated with the kumeyaay.info brand I created from scratch.
My potential royalties for these large project archives could/should have provided generations of my family with millions of dollars in income over the 70-year life of my copyrights.
WELL, I’M NOT DEAD YET to inform you all the nightmare damage scenarios I warned your tribal council members about through direct discussions with your tribal legal director in 2008 have sadly come to fruition because of CONFLICTS directly related to my unresolved contract dispute with the Sycuan Indian tribe:
- My good name has been effectively blacklisted in the community where my 25-year business was established this has crippled my ability to earn a living in my God-given profession and geographical area though I don’t blame anyone for not hiring my services or associating with me with this crap on my work record even though there is not the slightest shred of evidence I did anything wrong.
- As a direct result of losing my good reputation in the community over my Sycuan complaint, I have had to start over in a new career field making less than 1/10th of my professional rate and sell off my business tools to keep a roof over my head.
- The Well of my Life's Work and Dreams has been poisoned over this complaint I cannot even donate my massive multimedia archives and website to favorable institutions. I know because I wrote several formal letters to institutions trying to gift my massive digital archives away to move on and at least one wrote back stating they could not accept my gift until this Sycuan conflict was resolved.
IN FACT: My evidence documents how the destruction of my good reputation, professional career and Dream was set in motion by your tribal council members in 2007 for how they reacted to and later handled my respectfully asking a Sycuan Casino manager for an explanation (which I still have not received) why it appeared he was rubbing my copyright and credits off my Kumeyaay map poster (again) and printing it into 36-inch posters (again) and depriving my family of income (again).
2004 left 2006 right: Two unauthorized 36-inch map poster prints with my legal COPYRIGHT NOTICES and CONSULTANT CREDITS rubbed out printed from Sycuan’s unauthorized digital archive of my work. I produced the map on my free time and had delivered high-resolution files to your creative services employees for a print advertisement and TV commercial.
I can only imagine how you or anyone else might react when presented with similar hard evidence that strongly suggests people are stealing from you (again), and erasing your name off your property (again), and plagiarizing your income property (again), and depriving your family of income (again) after they were previously noticed verbally and in writing numerous times that doing so are serious breeches of existing contracts and copyright laws.
Moreover, living under this oppressive cloud of injustice the past eight years has negatively impacted every aspect of my Being....
Yes, you may say "It's too bad about Gary, but (insert any excuse you like)" it doesn't change the facts:
You and your children continue to receive unjust enrichment at the expense of my royalty retirement income and my family members for Sycuan's continuing unauthorized use and release of my copyrighted photography from Sycuan's illegitimate digital archive of my commercial photography.
This opinion is pointless for anyone to argue otherwise or to somehow rationalize in their minds that I am the Bad Guy here for speaking up for myself considering my crystal clear contract terms and documentation and Sycuan's subsequent unauthorized media releases of my intellectual property. It is mean and cruel to punish me like this for other people's wrongdoings when one has the intelligence and resources to do the right thing by those who served your people loyally with great honor, dedication and grace.
With the evidence contained in this letter and its on-line availability it is disheartening to see your new chairman and tribal council members still apparently condoning the dishonoring of my Sycuan contractual agreements and ultimately cheating me and generations of my family members out of the equity I built up over my fruitful and positive 20-year career at Sycuan.
BUT IN ANY CASE: The only thing former Chairman Tucker accomplished aside from taking many of my best Sycuan pictures and keeping my settlement offer in Sycuan’s coffers was ultimately destroy a good, hard-working person who was working diligently in Sycuan's and the community's favor despite having the facts and clear and convincing evidence in his hands from the beginning.
In my 2008 meeting with Chairman Tucker and Sycuan Business Committee tribal council members, Chairman Tucker said at the start of the meeting, "Why are we here?". After I summarized the problems, including my wrongful termination claims, he said several times, "That's not how Sycuan Does business." But the evidence strongly suggests that is exactly how Sycuan does business (at least under Danny Tucker's leadership).
But again, how is this "
fair and responsible governance"? (I striked through the "fair" part of Sycuan's mission statement tagline as it was stated when I worked for Sycuan because "fair" appears to have been stricken from your current version sometime in the past few years very interesting...).
Pictured 2007 -- I worked for you 1989-2010 as an independent contractor on a near-exclusive basis and was unfairly terminated for respectfully asking a Sycuan casino manager why it appeared he was rubbing my copyright and credits off my work (again) and printing it into 36-inch posters (again). Moreover, I've seen proof that your have hundreds of my best Sycuan photographs illegitimately digitally archived and are cheating me and my family out of my royalty income.
Pictures don't lie:
I produced my Kumeyaay Nation map on my own free time for kumeyaay.info and it was never billed under a Sycuan project.
2004 left 2006 right: Two unauthorized 36-inch map poster prints with my legal COPYRIGHT NOTICES and CONSULTANT CREDITS rubbed out.
I am not sure how I could NOT have asked your creative manager for an explanation since it was an ongoing issue and I had his personal written assurance it would not happen a second time, but here's the picture of it on the right.