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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I belong to an online site called nextdoor.com . This site connects neighbors to neighbors within their neighborhood as well as connecting nearby neighborhoods to one another. You can post general messages, want ads, items for sale, event notices, etc. It’s a great site and I urge you to check it out.

The other day this question was posted, “Does anyone know any updates on casino? It seems like it is in a standstill with moving forward with construction.”  It was posted to 41 neighborhoods in my general area on April 26, 2017. It was as if a bomb had gone off. It generated more replies than any other issue I have seen lately. There was not only a great deal of misinformation posted but there were replies like, “Which casino sorry Glendale?”

It’s time to offer an update on the TO casino. As of today, May 6, 2017 the last Arizona District Court minute entry was posted on February 10, 2017, 3 months ago, “MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Judge David G Campbell: Telephone Conference held on 2/8/2017. Plaintiff State of Arizona request a 45 day extension of the response to 263 MOTION for Attorney Fees . Discussion held. Request granted. Response due 3/31/2017 .”

As you can see from this minute entry there are procedures and pre-trial motions that must be adjudicated (settled) before a bench trial before Judge Campbell may begin. It could be months before the case is argued before the judge. In other words, it’s at a standstill.

This case revolves around the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) attempt to get a Class III license from the State of Arizona. Until this case is settled there will be nothing but bingo (and no liquor) at the Desert Diamond Casino located on a county island in the midst of Glendale, just north of the Westgate area. The temporary casino located in the Tohono O’odham’s warehouse facility will continue as the only operation on the site. Those who have visited this casino are quick to point out that it’s not on a par with Talking Stick Casino and Resort. Factually, it will never be a Class A facility unless the TO get their Class III license. Will that occur? Only Judge Campbell will have the answer when he rules on the current case before him.

Here is the comment from a local resident who used to work at this casino, “They also want to build another one up here somewhere (on the Glendale site). I don’t remember exactly but…on the east side (of the site). I think… they are fighting for both now. When it opened they told us one year to the day we would be walking into the new one. Well that passed Dec 20th.”

This resident’s comment sparked a new round of replies, “For me it was just a crappy sneaky deal all around. As I know the facts, it was a Federal land swap. The feds didn’t ask or didn’t want to ask or didn’t care to ask what their plan was for the property and didn’t put casino restrictions on it, right across the street from the high school, and didn’t inform the local government. Everybody dropped the ball letting the tribe do whatever. I don’t know what the Grand plan and or timeframe, but if they turned the entire property into a family friendly resort with pool, water park, rides, par 3 golf, hotel, etc……. I don’t have an issue with the casino.”

Or this comment, “I’m wondering if the City of Glendale was notified. Isn’t that property within the city limits? If so??? I also wonder what land did the Fed’s swap? The issue for me is if all the tribes signed an agreement not to develop a casino in an urban area and this tribe somehow managed to have the land swapped and designated as tribal land they should not be granted a full gambling license. Just my opinion.”

I must offer a little history in answer to these comments. In 2001 the state began negotiations with all Arizona tribes to craft a gaming compact. At the same time (2001-02) the Tohono O’odham were already land shopping in urban areas of Maricopa County. They formed a shell company, Reiner, which purchased the land in Glendale. This purchase was kept secretly while the TO participated in the negotiations and paid for publicity pamphlets asking voters to approve the Gaming Act of 2002. It wasn’t until the TO publicly announced their intention in 2009 (7 years later…7 years a secret closely guarded) to build a casino on a county island within Glendale that the public or Glendale knew of their plans.

It was not a federal land swap per se. The Gila River Act of 1985 allowed the TO to purchase land in Maricopa County because the federal government had flooded their land when it built a new dam. It made the TO’s land unsustainable for agriculture. No one, except the TO, believe that it was legal to purchase land for a casino in an urban area rather than adhering to the intent of this law which was to acquire useable agricultural land to replace lands that were lost to flooding.

Glendale joined in lawsuits with virtually every Tribe in the state to fight the TO casino…until August of 2014. The city sold its soul for 30 pieces of silver. It entered into an agreement with the TO agreeing to withdraw all official opposition to the project, and would adopt a new resolution expressing support for the Tohono O’odhams’ acquisition of the property and for the casino. 

The Tohono O’odhams, in exchange, would pay for any infrastructure improvements needed in the area to accommodate the additional traffic the casino would generate. It would also give Glendale a one-time payment of $500,000, and annual payments of $1.4 million, which would increase by two percent a year.

As a Glendale city councilmember it is my obligation and duty to uphold Glendale policy. If the TO were to come to the city I have a duly sworn obligation to give them a full and fair hearing without bias. This, I would endeavor to do. On a personal level that doesn’t mean I agree with or even like this agreement.  For I do not.

Another resident comment expressed, “They won’t start building until they get a class 3 license. It is supposed to go back to court in May. The state is still fighting the casino. The state needs to give it up and let them build. They are wasting taxpayers money by fighting it.” Many feel this way but they are willing to overlook the deception and extreme breach of ethics by the TO in dealing with the state and its sister Tribes during the gambling compact negotiations and during the effort to gain voter approval for the compact in 2002. These stakeholders believe the TO lied to them by having secretly already purchased land for a casino in an urban area and that is a very difficult bridge to repair. It’s an action that is precedent setting and puts every Valley city in peril for who is to say which city will become the next host to a tribal casino?

One resident offered this link to a study on the economic impact of tribal casinos. It’s a good read:

http://www.uwyo.edu/shogren/gaming%20and%20casino%20economics.htm . Finally, I end with this resident’s comment on casinos, “Casinos are, in my opinion, a tax on people bad at math. You know who you will never see in a casino? Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerburg… or any of the other richest people in the USA. Because they understand math better than most of us.” Maybe it would help if we all got better at math.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 18 years and 19 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

You might have noticed that I have not written any blogs for a month…over this holiday season. It seems that preparing a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas got in the way. By the way, I love Amazon. This year, for the first time, I was able to do all of my Christmas shopping online. It is also a time of year when everyone, even governmental agencies, seems to go on hiatus. Everything seems to take a backseat to celebrating the season. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and may it be all that you hope for.

One noteworthy event occurred on December 20, 2015 when the Tohono O’odham (TO) celebrated the grand opening of its Desert Diamond casino in Glendale. The day it opened I happened to be at the Target/Kohl’s shopping center in Peoria directly north of the casino. As I was approaching one of the stores I overheard a conversation between several women. The first pair of women asked the second pair if they had gone to the new casino. The second pair answered with, “Yes, we did. It’s a rip off. We won’t be going there again.” I wanted to ask the second pair some follow up questions but I didn’t want to intrude on what appeared to be a private conversation albeit able to be heard by passersby.

It’s a good time to note that there are still outstanding issues with the casino. First and foremost, although the effort to fast track a vote on the Keeping the Promise Act in Congress failed, it is not a dead issue and will, in the future, come up for that all important vote before Congress.

In the meantime the TO and the State of Arizona (namely the Department of Gaming which regulates the voter approved Gaming Compact of 2002) are still in court. To date the state has not granted a liquor license for the TO facility and it appears that the TO are not likely to obtain one in the near future. In addition the TO have only bingo slot machines (Class II) on site as the state has not approved Class III gaming at the facility. If you are looking for table games such as poker you will be sorely disappointed. Until these issues are resolved legally what you see at the facility is what you get. It’s not very impressive.

Another negative is the attractiveness of the facility itself. It was planned and built as a warehouse but is being used as the site of the temporary casino. It cannot be described as a first class facility and looks as if it were built for its intended purpose, a warehouse. It’s certainly no Talking Stick and the site surrounding the casino has not been landscaped. So if you like looking at dirt, there’s plenty to see.

I, and many others, still remain hopeful a successful congressional vote or a successful legal decision in favor of the state will put the final nail in this casino coffin. For all of those who are waiting for dollars to roll into governmental coffers…forget it. The TO, as with all other tribal gaming facilities, are not required to pay any federal, state, regional or local taxes. It is also important to be mindful that if a traffic accident or any other unsavory event befalls you on the TO’s reservation you are subject to their law and their interpretation of such.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Please note: Tom McCarthy very recently passed away. Tom had been a voice in Glendale for many years and was well known in our community. He was a first rate attorney and long-time advocate for downtown Glendale. He was a gentleman and most certainly, a scholar. He will be missed. My condolences to his wife, Diane McCarthy. Your family and Tom will be in my prayers as well as those of many Glendale residents. I am so sorry for your loss, Diane.

It has been 17 years and 317 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

I had planned to post this blog yesterday afternoon but then Paris. It just didn’t seem appropriate. Many people share their speculations with me. Lately, rumors and speculation abound about  Councilmembers Chavira and Aldama and yes, sadly…disgraced former Councilmember Sherwood.

There are no hard facts in this blog but rather a compilation of rumors and speculation melded together from a variety of sources. Let’s begin with the Sahuaro district. At this moment things have quieted down but don’t expect it to last for very long. Sherwood claims he will run for his Sahuaro seat again. That may be problematical for him. He has lost a great deal of support and previous donors to his campaign coffers are fading into the political mist. The fire union is frantically looking for someone to run against newly elected Sahuaro district Councilmember Ray Malnar. Don’t be surprised if a Phoenix Deputy Fire Chief, Larry Contreras, whose move into the Sahuaro district was publicly announced by Chavira, becomes their candidate of choice.

In the Yucca district voters will choose a councilmember on November 8, 2016. Expect events to heat up there as well. Rumors have it that current Councilmember Chavira will not run for reelection. Instead, there is speculation that the Tohono O’odham will hire him for a position perhaps as Marketing & Communications Director or Public Safety Director (he seems qualified for neither). It appears that Sammy’s support of the casino may have paid off for him big time. A competing camp believes that under the mentorship of Ruben Gallego, newly elected U.S. Congressman representing Arizona’s 7th District , Chavira may run for the State Legislature providing the fire union some representation in that body.

All of these rumors led me to do some speculating of my own. Now, imagine this scenario, Chavira and Aldama are very close…buddies. We know that Aldama wants to run for mayor so badly it hurts. Everything he does as a councilmember seems to be specifically designed for that goal. Right now Aldama is on a different election cycle. If he were to run for mayor he would have to resign from his council seat and he would no longer enjoy the power of incumbency to assist him. But what if he could stand for reelection in the same cycle as the mayor? With a little shuffling it could happen. Imagine his buddy, Chavira, giving Aldama a heads up that he is not running again way before he announces that publicly. Aldama, as Ocotillo district Councilmember, claims his residency in the Ocotillo district as required by law. But he has a perfectly good home in the Yucca district (where everyone believes he lives) and he could pull a nominating packet to run for the Yucca district council seat right now. If he were to win the seat it would put him up for reelection in 2020, the very same time the next race for Glendale’s mayor would take place.

If you live in the Yucca district and have always harbored the desire to run for city council, get ready. Without Chavria running, the seat will be wide open (even if Aldama decides to run for this seat). The next election is exactly a year from now. Call the Glendale city clerk and ask when nominating packets can be pulled.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. If even a smidgeon becomes reality it will be a strange Glendale indeed. For political junkies it makes for interesting conversation.

Lastly, food for thought: People tend to gravitate to and associate with like-minded people. Over the coming months take note of just where Mark Burdick in his run for mayor is getting his support…Frisoni, Aldama, Chavira…hmmm…

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 17 years and 307 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On November 3, 2015 the voters of the Sahuaro district dealt a political death blow to Councilmember Gary Sherwood by voting for Ray Malnar to replace him. The unofficial vote total has Ray Malnar winning with 53.61%. There is no doubt that Sherwood caused his own demise. How?

Sherwood was elected in November of 2012. For three years his actions and votes have raised questions. One of the major centerpieces of his campaign was his strong opposition to the Tohono O’odham casino in Glendale. As a result of his position the anti-casino forces paid for independent expenditures supporting his run. He also ran pledging fiscal conservatism in managing the city’s arena. It didn’t take him long to renege on both elements of his platform.

Within a year of his first term he reversed his position on the casino and became its strongest advocate. When asked why, his answers were consistently vague and seemed to center around learning “new information.” When queried on what information and from whom, he never offered a clear and convincing explanation. There was also the nagging assumption by many that he had swapped his positive vote of support for the casino with Councilmember Chavira’s positive vote of support for the IceArizona arena management deal.

Sherwood ran supporting his constituency’s opposition to continuing the practice of exorbitant financial payments to operate the city’s arena. Inexplicitly he advocated for the IceArizona management deal at a cost of $15 million a year. His actions in connection to this support gave rise to an alleged complaint (eventually dismissed) to the Arizona Attorney General’s office regarding his divulging of executive session information. He seemed to have developed a pattern of deliberately supporting big money interests over the voices of his constituents. It was a pattern soon to be repeated.

In the matter of Becker Billboards Sherwood was a prime advocate for their interests while he once again ignored his constituency. It left a bitter taste with his constituents and now they were becoming alarmed about his lack of support for their views. His failure to connect with his constituency became an issue of contention with the proposal to sell the Foothills Branch Library. He failed to notify them of meetings on the issue usually until the day before a scheduled public meeting. He bragged about a luncheon meeting he had arranged with the Kathleen Goeppinger, President of Midwestern University, proposed buyer of the library.

He seemed to be very proud when he declared in a council workshop meeting he had met privately with one candidate under consideration as Glendale’s new city manager, Brenda Fischer. Many people were astounded that he would have done such a thing. He was her strong advocate and after she was hired he seemed to receive preferential treatment not only from Fischer but from her inner circle, including soon-to-be Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni. It was seemingly obvious that Sherwood and his coalition of councilmembers had the ear of Fischer and her inner circle while those who opposed Sherwood and his positions were frozen out.

Sherwood appeared to be needy…he wanted to be recognized as a “major player,” locally and regionally.  He seemed to revel in the attention he received from Anthony LeBlanc, et.al, when they were seeking approval of their arena contract. After the management contract was signed he was observed lurking about at Coyote Town Hall meetings trying to catch LeBlanc’s attention until he was recognized and praised. Did he know observers reported members of IceArizona not only ignored him after securing the contract but apparently they ridiculed him as well?

When it came to Becker billboards that stakeholder group had contributed significantly to Sherwood’s campaign and so, he seemed to reciprocate by advocating for them. Again, Sherwood seemed to ignore his constituency’s overwhelming opposition to the billboards in favor of those who generously contributed to his campaign coffers. Then there are the countless recitations by many on the 4th floor of city hall who heard Sherwood’s declarations that he was the “real” mayor of Glendale. Many city employees thought he was arrogant and dismissive of them.

The nail in the proverbial coffin was his apparent belief that he was above the law. He accumulated at least 6 driving citations in a relatively short time period and then failed to follow through in fulfilling his responsibilities for those actions eventually leading to a state-wide warrant for Failure to Appear. This issue was resolved only after it was publicly reported that he was caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. In a recent press release he admitted to using city funds to rent a vehicle while driving on a suspended license and pledged to reimburse the city.

After all of his purported foibles, who wanted Sherwood to remain in office? The largest supporter of keeping Sherwood in office was Phoenix Firefighters Local 493 Fire PAC Committee (responding to the bidding of its sister Glendale union) having contributed $14,000 to an Independent PAC called Citizens for Safety and Education run by a long time fire union activist, Mike Colletto. Between October 2 and October 14, 2015 the independent committee spent $11,412.96 advocating for Sherwood’s retention. By the way, per usual, Sherwood was late in filing his latest campaign expense report. He raised nearly $40,000 ($39,810.30). Of note, that’s twice the amount that his opponent, Ray Malnar, raised ($18, 800). Sherwood’s big money contributors were: Mark Becker – $3,000 on 9/9/15; the Tohono O’odham – $6,250 on 10/8/15; Nick Wood (an attorney for IceArizona) – $1,500 on 10/8/15; Jason and Jordan Rose (Becker billboards was/is a client) – $1,000 on 10/17/15; and members of the Molera Alvarez political consulting group – $1,000 on 10/21/15 and 10/22/15. Let’s not forget PAC contributions, much of it union money, totaling $28,000:

  • Arizona Pipe Trades               $10,000                             9/11/15
  • IBEW Local 640                        1,000                              9/15/15
  • Republic Services, Inc.                 500                              9/15/15
  • Iron Workers Local 75               2,000                              9/16/15
  • Phoenix Firefighters
  • Local 493 Fire PAC                    1,000                               9/16/15
  • Surprise PRO Firefighters
  • PAC                                         2,000 (cumulative)            9/16/15
  • United West Valley
  • Firefighters                               2,500 (cumulative)           9/16/15
  • Pinnacle West PAC                        500                              9/21/15
  • Gilbert Firefighters                    4,000 (cumulative)           10/14/15
  • United Mesa
  • Firefighters                               4,500 (cumulative)           10/14/15

Why has Gary Sherwood become the first councilmember ever successfully recalled in Glendale’s history? Despite the tremendous fire union financial and manpower support as well as the financial support of “big money” interests, Sherwood ignored the voices of his constituency and demonstrated that he was apparently more willing to support the interests of those who contributed generously to his campaigns. You can be sure Sherwood will place the blame on “outside interests” such as casino opponents but Sherwood was the architect of his own political demise by making choices that seemingly benefitted him in the short term while ignoring long term consequences. He died politically by a thousand, tiny cuts self inflicted as he made choices that seemed to benefit only himself. Sherwood has no one to blame but Sherwood. He made his choices and has been made accountable for them by his district’s voters. In commenting on his loss Sherwood said he plans to run again in November of 2016. Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Sometimes…every once in awhile…the good guys do win…

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

 

It has been 17 years and 301 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Once again the Glendale Star’s bias is showing. An October 23, 2015 story by Carolyn Dryer, editor, bemoans the fact that it looks like House Resolution 308, the Keep the Promise Act introduced by Representative Trent Franks, will soon come up for a successful vote in the Congressional House of Representatives. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_9a937bea-79d8-11e5-b35d-6b9c5634463d.html .

The House has essentially passed the same bill two times previously with bipartisan support.  It is said, “the third time’s a charm.” Let’s hope so. Once the House passes the bill it moves to the Senate. A Republican majority provides a strong chance that it will pass there as well.

One should note that the Glendale Star was obviously provided a copy of a letter by Representative Raul Grijalva, an opponent of the bill, sent to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. Grijalva’s letter is quoted extensively as he requests procedures designed to delay or kill the bill.

The Star also attempted to gain an interview with the House Majority Leader and is quoted as saying, “I realize we are not a national network probing for the truth, but we are a media outlet that is trying to educate our readers.” Unfortunately, there are two glaring errors in their statement. The Star appears to be a long, long way from “probing for the truth.” Oh wait, it’s probably their version of the truth. They also represent themselves as “trying to educate our readers.” That, too, appears to be fudging. If there really was a genuine attempt to educate the reader, the article would have been more balanced with statements from casino opponents as well as proponents. Instead it’s just another vehicle of support for the Tohono O’odham.

Don’t you find it interesting that the Star wrote a blistering editorial condemning Councilmember Sherwood’s actions flaunting the law yet seems to look the other way when it comes to the Tohono O’odham’s flaunting of the law and their casino?

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 17 years and 271 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

NOTE: You may have noted that I haven’t posted blogs lately. More trips to California on personal business interfered. In addition, on one of my usual forays into the koi pond to trim pond plants I fell not once, but twice. It was the second fall that put me out of commission for I broke my fall into the water with a hand. Luckily, due to the strong bones I inherited, I didn’t break anything but I did do damage to my wrist and arm. It was just enough damage to incapacitate me for a few more days…sigh. My invincibility gene was malfunctioning that day.

Recently Judge Campbell, tasked with making local judicial decisions on all things Tohono O’odham casino related, issued another decision. The Tohono O’odham (TO) filed a motion to compel the state to issue it a Class III gaming license. Currently the TO have the right to install Class II (bingo type) gaming equipment but to use Class III equipment it needs state approval. It is generally believed that Class II gaming is not as lucrative as Class III.

Judge Campbell noted the court “has never held, as the (tribe) argues, that the State’s allegations of fraud… lack merit.” This may be the crux of the entire legal situation. Ned Norris, Jr., previous Chairman of the Tohono O’odham, has never once denied or refuted the charges of deception leveled against he and his Tribe allegedly committed against the State of Arizona, the Governor and the voters. Fraud and misrepresentation appeared to be woven into every decision made by the Tohono O’odham. They bought land in Glendale on a county island and kept it secret for 7 years. They funded and actively participated in the campaign to convince Arizona voters to approve the State Compact. They betrayed their sister tribes and the people of the state of Arizona. They had a plan which they shared with no one while advocating for the state gaming compact.

Many who oppose the casino believe as Judge Campbell noted that there is merit to the state’s allegations of fraud. During the campaign to convince voters to approve the State Gaming Compact in 2002:

  • Not once did the TO reveal that they had been secretly land shopping for a new casino site in Maricopa County and even considered a land purchase in Buckeye.
  • Not once did the TO reveal that they had secretly acquired land in Glendale for a casino using a shell company.
  • Not once did the TO reveal that they secretly held land for a new casino for 7 years.
  • Not once did the TO reveal that they planned to violate the promise to voters to limit the number of casinos in Maricopa County.
  • Not once did the TO reveal to its sister tribes its plans for a new casino in Maricopa County.

In 2009 the Tohono O’odham publicly announced its plans and shock waves rippled throughout the state. Their action, if ultimately successful, will blow the state gaming compact apart as  new precedent is set. If and when the compact is finally trampled on by the TO, the specter of new casinos (Indian and non-Indian) on other county islands looms large. Is it any wonder that other Valley Metro cities are concerned and have voiced their disapproval of the TO’s actions? They don’t want a casino in their neighborhoods any more than the people of west Glendale want a casino in their neighborhood.

Judge Campbell has demonstrated that the Tohono O’odham can’t win ‘em all. Allegations of fraud and misrepresentation may be the undoing of the TO and may turn out to be the most important point of law still untested.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 17 years and 241 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

One would have to be blind not to see the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) casino construction in Glendale north of Glendale Avenue and west of 91st Avenue. Technically it is on a county island but in reality it is surrounded by the City of Glendale. It IS in Glendale.

The Tohono O’odham are throwing up the structure as fast as they possibly can. They are taking a huge gamble, which seems apropos as they are in that business…gambling. Still unresolved is a decision from the 9th Circuit Court; there is still federal legislation, the Keep the Promise Act of 2015, waiting for a vote; and the state’s decision to withhold a gaming license is in the legal system as well. Any one of these three actions could bring the casino to a permanent, grinding halt.

In a recent Glendale Star editorial, Carolyn Dryer, editor, says, “They (TO) have paid their dues. It is time to give them a gaming license and allow them to open their doors.” That opinion should come as no surprise to anyone. Ms. Dryer attended, as a private citizen, one of former Councilmember Norma Alvarez’ pro-casino meetings held at her home. From the very start the Star has never been unbiased in its coverage of the casino issue and has used its bully pulpit to advance the goals of the Tohono O’odham at every opportunity.

What dues has the TO paid? They lied to the voters of the state gaming compact. They lied to their sister tribes never revealing their intent to build a casino in Maricopa County, hundreds of miles away from their reservation in Southern Arizona. They lied to everyone by keeping secret for years their purchase of land in Glendale.

I have never supported the casino and still do not. I believe it sets a precedent that ignores the voter approved gaming compact of 2002 and it will break open the gaming market in Maricopa County. We will see casinos being built in other communities throughout the Valley. Even worse, I am offended by the lies and subterfuge used by the TO in acquiring the land secretly and its failure to reveal that fact at the very time the first state gaming compact was under consideration by voters. Those voters had a right to know that the TO had plans to build another casino in Maricopa County and did not intend to live up to the promises their Chairman, Ned Norris, Jr., made in selling the compact.

What is really disconcerting is the building will be crap. Yes, I said crap. It’s intended to be a future warehouse, for God’s sake. The ceiling will be exposed with lights hanging by wires from the ceiling beams. How’s that for classy and upscale? It certainly won’t be any Talking Stick but of course, that is all that the West Valley merits. It’s just another promise made and broken by the TO. This building has one purpose and that is to rake in money for the tribe. The TO could have built a big barn and stuffed cattle…errr… hoards of gamblers, into it and it would have served just as well as their warehouse casino.

Oh, but this is only temporary. Do you ever wonder what the TO’s definition of temporary is? Is it a year? 5 years? 10 years? It doesn’t matter what the TO tell you for it will be just another promise broken.

Many people are just plain tired about the ongoing saga and hope for final resolution. The silent majority of Glendale residents want the casino stopped permanently. It’s time for Senators McCain and Flake to bring the Keep the Promise Act of 2015 to a vote. Their rationale is that there is always a more pressing issue and it’s not the right time. There will never be a right time…it’s time for Congress to vote this issue up or down.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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It has been 17 years and 119 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

For the past few days the Tohono O’odham (TO) have seen news that they can only characterize as awful. On April 24, 2015 the Congressional Budget Office issued a report on cost outcomes to the federal government if the TO is not allowed to build its casino in Glendale. Here is the link: http://www.cbo.gov/publication/50136 . Those who have represented that is an exact cost figure are deliberately misleading people in an attempt to pressure them to drop their opposition to the casino. Now despite the recent outrageous headlines of stopping the casino will cost US taxpayers a billion dollars here are direct quotes from that report:

“Based on information from the Tohono O’odham Nation, CBO expects that if H.R. 308 were enacted, the tribe would pursue litigation against the federal government to recover its financial losses caused by the prohibition on gambling. Whether the tribe would prevail in such litigation and when those proceedings might be concluded are both uncertain. The basis for any judicial determination of the tribe’s financial losses is also uncertain. CBO estimates that possible compensation payments from the government could range from nothing to more than $1 billion; however, we have no basis for estimating the outcome of the future litigation.”

 “That decision is now under appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Although the tribe has been successful in litigation thus far and construction of its resort and casino is underway, it may be more difficult for the tribe to prevail in a claim brought after enactment of H.R. 308 because of the types of claims available to it and the facts of this particular situation. The outcome of such litigation is uncertain.”

“Regulatory taking claims are often unsuccessful and usually do not lead to significant economic awards when (as in this case) the taking does not fully diminish the economic value of the property;”

What should disturb everyone is the fact that the TO’s estimated annual income from this proposed casino at $100 million dollars a year or one billion dollars over 10 years. You can hear the sucking sound now as dollars subject to sales tax from nearby businesses vanishes. It’s no more than dollar displacement. People only have so many discretionary dollars. If those dollars are consumed by the TO casino then those dollars are not spent elsewhere in the community and the multiplier effect of each and every dollar is lost.

The second bomb to drop is a poll released by the Sonoran Alliance on April 28, 2015. Here is the link: http://sonoranalliance.com/2015/04/28/new-poll-support-for-glendale-casino-collapses/ . Here is the conclusion drawn from the survey. “Based on the survey results there is overwhelming support from voters to oppose new gaming in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Once voters become aware of the various issues surrounding the conduct of those involved with this proposed casino, opposition grows by 18% to a clear majority in opposition. This survey shows that most of Arizona’s elected officials are acting with large support for their activities in trying to stop this casino.”

The third bomb dropped today, April 30, 2015, was with an article by Bill Theobald of the Republic Washington Bureau entitled Senate committee passes bill to block casino near Glendale. He reports, The Senate Indian Affairs Committee passed by voice vote legislation sponsored by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain (and Sen. Jeff Flake)…” Last month the House Natural Resources Committee passed the same legislation. That means that both bills can now be voted up or down by the full House and the full Senate.

Senator McCain, commenting on the Keep the Promise Act of 2015, said in part, “the law doesn’t allow a tribe to ‘air drop’ a casino onto land in a metro area that’s not part of its traditional tribal lands.” He also said, “building another casino in the Phoenix area violates the intent of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. ‘I know what the intent of Congress was because I wrote the bill’.” Arizona’s Congressional representatives are not the only legislators hearing complaints from their constituents on this issue. Many other states are facing the same issue of, as McCain puts it, “air dropping” casinos. Consequently there is a lot more support for this legislation than is perceived. It becomes precedent setting and may allow other legislators to stop reservation shopping in their states.

The desperation of the Tohono O’odham becomes more palpable every day. That’s why the press conference after the state announced that it would not grant the TO a gaming license. It is amusing that several headlines and the Op Ed piece in the April 30, 2015 edition of the Glendale Star scream support for the proposed casino. It’s no secret that the paper’s editor, Carolyn Dryer, is a supporter of the casino. In fact, several years ago she attended a pro-casino meeting hosted by former Ocotillo councilmember Norma Alvarez not as the paper’s representative but as a private citizen. Bias oozes from every article on the casino and objective reportage especially on this issue has become a stranger to it.

Ned Norris Jr., Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, vows to fight to the bitter end and he remains adamantly defiant. Councilmember Chavira and Vice Mayor Hugh were good puppets as they reiterated the same, tired arguments of other tribes’ attempts to kill competition. They all conveniently ignore that this action began in secret while the TO pushed Arizona voters to approve the state gaming compact. They conveniently ignore the fact that the tribe kept the purchase of land within Glendale’s boundaries secret from the city for 7 years. They conveniently ignore the fact that the TO deliberately withheld their plan for this casino from its sister tribes for 7 years. As stated by the Arizona Gaming Director, fraud was committed by the Tohono O’odham.

Many supporters of the casino ignore these facts, plead ignorance of them or simply shrug their shoulders while trotting out arguments of a down trodden tribe deserving of this casino no matter how it is acquired. Whatever the casino supporters’ reasoning they should check their moral compasses. Perhaps their tolerance for dishonesty evaporates and is solely dependent upon their perception that their ox is being gored.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 17 years and 117 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On Monday, April 27, 2015 in the Opinion section of the Arizona Republic pro and con casino op-ed pieces were published.  Mayor Jim Lane of Scottsdale presented the current anti casino position. In it he supports the position taken by Governor Doug Ducey and the state Gaming Director. The state’s position is that the Tohono O’odham (TO) should not benefit from the fraud they committed against the voters of Arizona and they will not issue a gaming permit to the TO. That is the state’s right. If the TO do not agree with the state’s decision they can and most probably will take the state to court.

Councilmember Ian Hugh (Cactus district) presented the pro casino position. He offered two arguments. His first was that this issue is a matter of local control. Oh really? What about the federal Department of the Interior granting the TO reservation status on land within Glendale, technically a county island, that they purchased with a straw company and held secret for 7 years? What about the Bureau of Indian Affairs that has yet to approve TO gaming on their reservation parcel? What about the State of Arizona’s ability to grant or deny a gaming license for this new temporary gaming facility per the 2002 voter approved state gaming compact with all of the tribes’ (including Ned Norris Jr. representing the TO) publicly pledging to build no more casinos in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area?

Glendale has been in the middle of a maelstrom not of its making since the TO made its announcement in 2009. By the way, there was no courtesy head’s up to Glendale. No introductory meeting expressing the sentiment that they would like to locate within Glendale and asking what needs to be accomplished on their side to make it happen. No, the TO rode rough shod over the city basically sending the signal that it didn’t matter what Glendale thought about their plans. There has never been local control. Asking for recognition to represent that this council is representing “the interests of the Arizonans we represent” is ludicrous.

Hugh’s second argument is just as silly. He refers to “the tremendous public support for the casino resort.” This has been the most divisive issue in Glendale’s history. There is just as much “tremendous public support” against the casino. Just ask the residents most impacted by this casino project – those who live closest to the proposed casino.  They are the ones who will deal with increased and obstructive traffic 24/7. They are the ones who will have to deal with increased crimes of opportunity in their neighborhoods, especially burglary and theft. The following links are articles related to increased crime as a result of a casino courtesy of one of my blog readers, Bill Eikost:

http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/rural-indian-casinos-bring-traffic-crime-as-well-as-jobs/article_6c033a00-73b0-11e0-b43d-001cc4c002e0.html  http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/09/25/as-native-american-casinos-proliferate-the-social-costs-of-the-gambling-boom-are-ignored/ http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/10/30/studies-casinos-bring-jobs-but-also-crime-bankruptcy-and-even-suicide/

Ask the residents of Glendale, the rate payers for water services who, at sometime in their futures, can expect their water bills to go up to pay for the fixes and upgrades to the water and sanitation systems that will be needed to provide service for the intense development on the TO site.

To add fuel to the fire, for the past few days the pro casino side has been shilling a Congressional Budget Report and claiming that it would definitively and absolutely cost US taxpayers a billion dollars to deny this casino to the TO. Not true. It’s a scare tactic designed to frighten or anger people.  One can read the real story about this billion dollar claim in an article published today, April 28, 2015 by Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. Here is the link: http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2015/04/28/report-legislation-blocking-west-valley-casino-could-cost-taxpayers-1-billion/ . Here is the link to the Congressional Budget Report courtesy of one of my blog readers, Legend: http://www.cbo.gov/publication/50136 .

As further signs of pro casino desperation the TO with a little help from their buddies, the companies currently constructing the temporary casino, ran a full page ad in the Arizona Republic today designed to go after Senators McCain and Flake and Representatives Franks and Gosar and their legislation, H.R. 308 and S. 152, the Keep the Promise Act of 2015. Their dire headline is that these legislators want to put 1,300 Arizonans out of work. First, not all of the construction workers on the site are Arizonans, much less live in Glendale or the west Valley.  Secondly, these are temporary jobs. When the construction is completed or stopped these jobs vanish.  And of course, they had to throw in that the mean old, Indian tribes that have established casinos want to protect their market share and are willing to kill babies to protect it…some exaggeration here…but not much.

Add to all of this exaggeration and hyperbole two resolutions on tonight’s Glendale city council meeting agenda: a police mutual aid and a fire mutual aid agreement between the city and the TO up for approval or disapproval. Of particular interest is a stipulation within the agreement protecting the TO’s sovereign immunity. If the TO’s hired personnel screw up in delivering police or fire service to a Glendale resident, there is no means of suing the tribe due to their preservation of their claim of sovereign immunity.  Does that then preserve the onus of liability on Glendale? The training of officers and fire personnel on a reservation may not be of the same caliber as that of municipal employees.

These agreements may not even be legal. It could be that an agreement between a US municipality and a sovereign nation (the TO is a sovereign nation and is not subject to federal, state, county or municipal laws) may not be worth the paper upon which it is written. It probably has the same amount of validity as if the municipality of El Paso, Texas, entered into a mutual aid agreement with the country of Mexico. It’s more for show and is a direct salvo to the state’s declaration that it will not issue a gaming license to the TO. If someone sues we’d find out how valid these agreements really are.

All of this signals desperation and anger on the part of the Tohono O’odham. The realization that the state will not grant them a gaming license has them attempting to convince the public to pressure the state. It will not work. Their plan to open their temporary casino later this year has evaporated and if the Congressional legislation passes it is dead.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 17 years and 113 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Today, April 24, 2015 at 11 AM the Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Committee turned in Recall of Councilmember Sherwood petitions to the Glendale City Clerk Pam Hanna. The minimum required number of signatures is 2,752. The City Clerk based upon a cursory scan acknowledged 4,055 signatures. The committee had until the middle of June to complete the task.  Note that the committee turned in its signatures with 7 weeks to spare. Kudos to the three people who spear headed this effort: Anna Lee, Chairperson of the committee; Connie Kiser and Laura Hirsch.

What happens next? The Glendale City Clerk has 10 business days (2 weeks) to validate signatures. That also allows time for the City Attorney’s Office to find some technicality to invalidate all of the petitions. They have done it before and you can count on them to try to find something again. If the petitions make it through the city gauntlet the petitions move to the County Recorder’s Elections Department for further signature validation. The Recorder’s Office has 60 days. I suspect this time the petitions will make it through both processes. Look for the city council to call for a recall election date sometime after mid-September of 2015.

The ball then moves to Sherwood’s court. He will be offered the opportunity to offer a public statement on the recall or resign. Sherwood has already stated that he will fight to the bitter end. That is his right. Will he be able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat? Not this time.

During the April 14, 2015 city council meeting the Insight Technology contracts were on the agenda for approval. It was the height of irony that Interim City Manager Dick Bowers was absent and at that time, still Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni (she has since resigned) whose husband is a VP at the company, was tasked with the introduction of both Insight agenda items. Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff, as each item was presented, asked the City Clerk if Frisoni had filed a Disclosure Statement. To which the City Clerk responded that Frisoni had not. It was a strategy by Tolmachoff to get that fact on the record. Hmmm.

Earlier in the week Tohono O’odham (TO) Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. held a press conference in reaction to the news that the state Gaming Department will not issue a gaming license to the tribe in order to open its temporary casino in Glendale later this year. He did not serve his tribe well in TV news coverage the following day. He seemed positively rabid. Outrage oozed out of every pore. It’s a wonder there was no foaming at the mouth.  I wonder how he likes it when the tables are turned. He went back on his word at the time all of the state’s tribes were seeking voter approval of a state gaming compact. Now the state will not grant the tribe a license claiming fraud on the tribe’s part. What goes around comes around. Norris insists they will continue with the temporary casino’s construction. The TO does so at its peril. This issue is sure to end up in court with an uncertain decision looming and at some point the Keep the Promise Act of 2015 will see a Congressional vote with the promise of stopping the casino permanently. It’s a shame really. The TO is willing to bet over $200 million dollars on what many view as a losing proposition. If they lose that’s $200M that could have been used for all kinds of services for its tribal members.

**GeonGracie….I need a better email address to reply.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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