Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on January 27, 2000 · Page 1
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 1

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, January 27, 2000
Page 1
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Ukiah Daily 'ournal 02000, MediaNews Group 14 pages, Volume 141 Number 251 SO cents lax Included Lifestyle Fun food for Super Bowl Sunday • Page 3 Outlook Today In Brief 2 Jumbte 11 Classifieds .. .11 Lottery 14 Comics 9 Obituaries 14 Crossword .. .10 Sports 7 DaHy Digest . .14 TV listings ... .10 Features 10 Weather 14 Forum .4 Thursday, Jan. 27,2000 Architect sues Hopland tribe over casino design By DAN McKEE The Daily Journal A Redwood City architect has filed a ;$3.87 million civil action against the Tribal Council of the Hopland Band of Porno Indians. In the suit, Bodrell Joer'dan Smith, himself a Native American, claims the council's failure to pay him for design- ing a new casino, bingo hall and hotel drove his 37-year-old firm out of business. The new development would be constructed on tribal land along Highway 175 east of Hopland, currently the site of Sho-Ka-Wah Casino. The proposed 140,000 square-foot, 1,000-machine casino would contain a bingo hall, three restaurants and a mezzanine. Guests could stay at a nearby 100-room hotel featuring meeting facilities and an indoor swimming pool. The planned development also includes a nine-hole golf course that could be expanded to 18 holes. All the new construction would take place north of the existing casino. Smith claims the Tribal Council contracted with his firm in July 1999 for preliminary work on the complex. The work included creating a master plan for the development and a conceptual design for the casino. In September, the council allegedly asked Smith to design the entire project. The contract provided for progress pay- LANGUAGE IMMERSION Cross-cultural, not just bilingual Elementary students 3 years into new program By DEBORAH FINESTONE The Daily Journal N umerous surveys have shown how valuable knowing a second language can be in a competitive job market and a global community. Other surveys have shown that young children absorb information easier. Nokomis Elementary School decided to follow in the footsteps of an education system that combined all these ideas by starting a language immersion program. The program began three years ago in a kindergarten class and today, many of those children are almost fluent in a new language.' The model for immersion programs came out of Quebec and was designed to teach English-speaking children French. Here, it has been adapted to teach English-speaking children Spanish, but teachers say it is also a good way to ease Spanish-speaking children into English. Immersion works by teaching 90 percent of the day's lessons in the non-majority language (in this case Spanish) in kindergarten, 80 percent in first grade, 70 percent in second grade, and so on. The remaining portion of the day is taught in English by a separate teacher. The goal of the program is to have an even split between native English-speakers and native Spanish-speakers, which it did in kindergarten. But as time goes on, some students leave and some new (already bilingual) students take their place. It usually ends up that one-third of students come from English-speaking backgrounds, one-third from Spanish-speaking backgrounds, and one-third from mixed backgrounds, either with one parent speaking each language or parents who were native Spanish- speakers but who now generally speak English at home. What these children did so easily would seem extremely difficult, if not frightening, to an adult. Children from English-speaking families were dropped off their first day of Barbara VaKoncdlw/The Dally Journal Chelsea Brown, Esperanza Alfaro and Caitlin Weissleder, students in Ana's Arroyo's second-grade class, work on computer language exercises to learn Spanish. kindergarten and put in the care of a teacher speaking only Spanish. "I was nervous when (Willie) started, that he would say, 'I don't want to be here, it's scary,'" said Eleanor Cayler of her first-grade son. "But the teacher was very gregarious. He walked right in and there has not been one day of problems." "They start with conversational Spanish, and their young, developing brains pick it up like a sponge," said Chris Weissleder, whose daughter Caitlin is in the second-grade class. A major concerns to parents is that their children's English skills would be hindered, but between social exposure to English and slowly adding the language back into lessons, English skills are close to average by third grade - and the children now also speak Spanish competently. An interesting phenomenon, according to teachers, is that the students don't feel the strain of learning a foreign language. "The kids say, 'we're not learning Spanish!'" said Ana Arroyo, the second-grade teacher. "They're learning content and skills; it feels that natural to them." The content of the class doesn't change just because it's being taught in a foreign language for half the students. The teachers are careful to follow district policies, and communicate with other teachers to make sure the students have the same experiences and lessons. They still study math, science, vocabulary, story comprehension and art, but in Spanish. Unlike in a foreign language class, the students aren't receiving information to internally translate into English. Spanish has become automatic to them. "The children are picking it up with native-like Spanish," Arroyo said. "It's not like a foreign language class. They're hearing it and pick up the intonation, pacing, accents, even some idiomatic expressions. They capture the nuances of the language. They even get the jokes and laugh - that's the higher level. It's just a very natural process." In the classroom, few can help but be impressed seeing students work so well together, See LANGUAGE, Page 14 (Above) Prospective teacher and Ukiah High senior Luplta Jacinto works with students to increase writing skills in the two languages. (Left) Maestra Ana Arroyo works with a group of students on numbers and counting. "The children are picking it up with native-like Spanish. It's not like a foreign language class. They're hearing it and pick up the intonation, pacing, accents, even some idiomatic expressions. They capture the nuances of the language. They even get the jokes and laugh - that's the higher level. It's just a very natural process." ANA ARROYO second-grade teacher ments for various portions of the work, Smith claims in his suit. Smith presented the council with a $729,500 invoice for work completed on the casino in November. Thus far, he claims, he hasn't received a penny. ' The council, he charges, has withheld See CASINO, Page 14 Bed tax fraud case to be refiled By GLENDA ANDERSON The Daily Journal The District Attorney's Office is preparing to refile fraud charges against former property manager Jim Robichaud. The original 50-plus charges were dropped in October after District Attorney Norm Vroman said he didn't have enough evidence to substantiate the felony charges. That was after Judge Joe On- refused to allow Robichaud' to plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges in exchange for dropping the rest of the charges, most of which were felonies. He said the misdemeanor charges wouldn't be enough incentive to convince Robichaud to repay an estimated $300,000 to the county and to individual clients whose properties he managed. Robichaud, in a separate civil case, has agreed to repay the county $122,000 for bed taxes he collected on vacation rentals but never handed over to the county, as required by law. That amount does not include interest or penalties on the tax. Anticipating controversy about dismissing the case, Vroman immediately asked the Attorney General's Office!to take on the case. Without considering the merits of the case, the AG's office declined to be the lead agency, but indicated' Jit might offer to assist the county in the future. . Noting Robichaud was not a trustworthy debtor, county supervisors also sent a letter to the attorney general. Like Judge Orr, they noted, Robichaud had been promising for eight years to pay the county and the property owners he allegedly bilked. ; •; Few of the promises he made have materialized. ' When he dismissed the case in October, Vroman blamed the shortage of evidence on attorneys working for former District Attorney Susan Massini. Paul Hagen, who prepared volumes of evidence on the case, vehemently defended it, saying it was well-documented and noting it included a state-funded $10,000 forensic audit. A separate, county audit several years ago uncovered that Robichaud had withheld more tax money than the county knew about. He apparently did not report many of the rental properties he managed to the county, much less pay the bed tax on them. In some cases, he also allegedly failed to pass on to property owners their share of the rent. Assistant District Attorney Myron Sawicki said this week the $10,000 audit already done was preliminary, and, while the forensic auditor found the case had merit, he also said a more detailed audit needs to be done before proceeding. Such an audit won't come cheap, he said, noting it would likely exceed the cost of the previous audit. Sawicki said he's looking into way.s of funding the audit, including asking the state for help again. "We're asking them either to Set ROBICHAUD, Page 14

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