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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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

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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.

Final official election tallies for the Glendale Ocotillo district seat show Jamie Aldama winning by 18 votes. This district proves the old adage that every vote counts. It seems fitting as Alvarez won her seat four years ago by a similar slim margin.

Ocotillo district has a majority Hispanic population and the two final candidates were Hispanic. The split in support among Hispanics for the two candidates should send a strong signal to Aldama that he will have to work hard to retain his seat four years from now. Make no mistake, in many ways Aldama is merely a slicker, more polished version of Alvarez. The striking difference is that Aldama blows with the wind. His performance on the Planning Commission showed that he will wait until the last minute to see which side of an issue seems to be prevailing and then vote in that direction. He is not a man of strong convictions.

There remains concern among some Ocotillo voters about his manipulation of his residency requirements. The house he owns is in the Yucca district and is apparently being rented although it appears he has not registered the house as a rental with the City of Glendale. He is currently renting the house in which he now living in the Ocotillo district. The perception is that his action smacks of political expediency. It may be perfectly legal but it creates a sense of impropriety.

Norma, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Even as a loser Alvarez possesses no sense of grace or dignity. Darrel Jackson’s story in the November 20, 2014 edition of the Glendale Star ably describes Alvarez’ reaction to the loss of her council seat. Her whining never ceases to amaze. She never got it. Alvarez seemed to believe that she was the only advocate in the city for truth, justice and the American way. She pointed fingers at everyone and everything on her way out. Her negativism and lack of positive contributions to the city and her district tipped the balance in favor of Aldama. Alvarez indiscriminately hurled accusations of City Hall corruption but her favorite theme during her four years was her perception of disrespect by anybody and everybody. She forgot that when she was first elected both former Councilmember Phil Lieberman and I befriended her. In fact, there were instances when I delivered her council book to her, went to her home to bring her up to speed on issues and even chauffeured her to and from council sessions. When she and I disagreed on what was a minor issue, she declared I was no longer a “friend.” Frankly her pronouncement was a relief. I moved forward and never regretted her action.

Her actions did not contribute to her public persona as a councilmember. She never once stood up for the pledge of allegiance at city council meetings. She could have. She wasn’t so disabled that she was unable to stand for the pledge. Her deliberate decisions to refuse to attend city events based upon personal feelings was noted and caused ill will among many. Alvarez might have been a stronger voice had she done her homework and used more fact and less emotional rhetoric.

In three weeks new councilmembers will be seated. We wish them well. Make no mistake. They will be under a microscope and their views and votes will be the subject of much blog discussion.

There are coalitions forming that will become more evident as the Glendale mayor’s race shapes up in two years, 2016. Watch out for Councilmember Ian Hugh. While he has been very close to Mayor Jerry Weiers he has also been working quietly to form his own coalition. During this last council race rumor has it that he met with Lauren Tolmachoff and Bart Turner, quietly supporting their council races. Look for a majority voting coalition of Hugh, Tolmachoff, Turner and Aldama. All share the same positions on issues such as the casino and the arena management agreement. Hugh, as Glendale’s downtown homeboy, shares aspirations to become the next mayor as does Councilmember Gary Sherwood. Sherwood has major obstacles to overcome. He is still facing the results of an investigation by the Attorney Generals’ office for alleged violations of the state Open Meeting Law as well as a recall election that should materialize next year. Vice Mayor Knaack is about to retire as councilmember and a year away from that job may be just the ticket to persuade her to run for mayor. We may find that Yvonne Knaack, Jerry Weiers, Ian Hugh and Gary Sherwood all make a run for Glendale’s mayorship in 2016.

Lastly, as Councilmembers Yvonne Knaack and Manny Martinez retire, they deserve our thanks and gratitude for what is often a thankless job. While you may not have agreed with all of their decisions and their votes it is right that you acknowledge that they demonstrated their love of Glendale and made their decisions in what they believed was in the best interest of Glendale. Their dedication to Glendale has been evident in countless ways and it has been recognized by many. So, to Yvonne and Manny…thank you.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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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