A little more than one month after the death of Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians chairman Richard Milanovich, the tribe is preparing to move on.
Acting Chairman Jeff Grubbe feels confident, largely because of the words of wisdom Milanovich shared with him before his death.
Grubbe says, “He just looked at us with that smile, with those eyes and said, you guys will be fine. I’ll never forget that.”
They were words of encouragement from the man who led the tribe for nearly three decades who Grubbe remembered as the real Chairman of the Board.
And despite recent success by the Agua Caliente Tribe, Grubbe says Milanovich always kept things in perspective.
“He recalled his memories growing up in Section 14 and how hard or how poor the quality of life was for members and forever had that in the back of his mind and wanted to do what was right.”
Grubbe is also proud of the tribe’s history and spent some time teaching us about the humble beginnings.
They’re lessons he’s relying on as Acting Chairman as he gets ready to run for Chairman in a June special election.
That’s when the tribe will decide who will try to fill Richard Milanovich’s shoes.
We also asked Grubbe for updates on some of the Agua Caliente Tribe’s plans for the future, including its plans for the Spa Hotel in downtown Palm Springs.
He says, “We’re weighing all of our options, and looking into the future.”
“We will do what our people want us to do, whether rebuilding or redeveloping the Spa Hotel.”
Grubbe is keeping his cards close to the vest on the future of the Spa Hotel. How about plans for a third casino? He says, “As you know, it’s part of our compact that was amended.” “I don’t know if the timing is right.”
Grubbe points to the economy, saying it’s been difficult the last couple of years in gaming and tourism, the tribe’s central businesses.
So, some of the big plans for the future are on hold. He believes the main thing right now, after the death of Milanovich, is reassuring the community.
“We’re going to be the same tribe we’ve always been and we don’t just think of ourselves, we think of the community as well.”