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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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“They looked us in the face and lied.” Those are the words of Diane Enos, President of the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community when she testified, under oath, on July 23, 2014 before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Her words are blunt and unequivocal. It is an expression of utter frustration and betrayal perpetrated by Tohono O’odham (TO) on virtually every Tribe in the state. What other lies may be on the horizon?

Here is one. What about the 6,000 construction jobs promised by the TO in its effort to sell the casino to an unsuspecting public? Large casino construction projects across the country generally average about 2,000 jobs. In California the Graton Rancheria Tribe constructed an $800 million entertainment and gaming destination. It resulted in 750 construction jobs. Mike Sunnucks in a July 28, 2014 story for the Phoenix Business Journal quotes Libby Francisco, COO of of the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise as saying, “…the first construction phase will employ 3,500 workers…” If my math is correct, that is a little over half of the construction jobs promised by the TO. So much for their promise of 6,000 construction jobs. Might this be lie #2?

The Tohono O’odham do not have approval to place gaming on their newly designated reservation but that has not deterred them from hiring construction companies. Sunnucks says, “The Tohono O’odham Nation has picked Hunt Construction Group and Penta Building Group…” as their contractors. These companies will, in turn, hire sub-contractors for electrical, plumbing, concrete work, etc. These subs will put out a call to hire for this project. Men and women will come from all over the country and be hired. It will not matter where the workers come from as long as they can do the work at the hourly wage that Hunt and Penta’s sub-contractors will offer.

My family members are or were union members. Some are still actively employed and others are retired. All their work lives at one time or another, for short periods of time and sometimes for a year or better, they have worked out-of-state on large, mega construction projects. They go where the work is and the competition for these jobs is fierce.

Arizona’s unions have been most vocal in their support of the proposed TO casino as visions of local, union construction jobs dance in their heads. If these unions have a behind-closed-doors, back-slapping “understanding” with the TO about using local, union labor exclusively they better get it in writing and insist on a waiver of the Nation’s claim to sovereign immunity. Without a waiver they cannot sue for breach of contract. The TO will not be directly hiring any of the construction workers. The sub-contractors hired by Hunt Construction and Penta Building Group will do the hiring and they will decide based upon what works to maximize their bottom line. Might this be lie #3?

There is more to come, such as the wages paid for permanent jobs, but I’ll save that for another blog. You may consider the Tohono O’odham’s word as suspect and many do. It certainly should be on the minds of the Glendale city council for just like the Tribes throughout the state they may learn, painfully, that any promises, understandings, compacts or contracts are not worth the paper they are written on without a waiver of sovereign immunity. The TO could promise anyone anything and not deliver on their promise – just as they did to their sister Tribes – and then use their shield of immunity.  Remember President Enos’ words, “They looked us in the face and lied.” Who wants to take that chance?

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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Today, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, a special city council meeting has been called. It is a voting meeting. It appears that council will be asked to vote on an action related to Congressman Trent Franks’ bill HR 1410. I encourage anyone with an interest in the proposed Tohono O’odham casino project to attend. Since it is a public meeting the public will have the opportunity to speak to the issue. The meeting is at 1:30 PM. It will be at City Hall. The meeting notice does not indicate where but I would go to Council Chambers.  If you cannot attend, I urge you to contact your City Councilmember:

  • jweiers@glendaleaz.com
  • yknaack@glendaleaz.com
  • mmartinez@glendaleaz.com
  • ihugh@glendaleaz.com
  • nalvarez@glendaleaz.com
  • gsherwood@glendaleaz.com
  • schavira@glendaleaz.com

Here is a link to the meeting notice: http://www.glendaleaz.com/Clerk/agendasandminutes/Meetings/Agendas/071514-S01.pdf .

I have also posted verbatim the Council Communication:

Meeting Date: 7/15/2014
Meeting Type: Voting
Title: DISCUSSION, UPDATE AND POSSIBLE ACTION RELATED TO PROPERTY LOCATED AT APPROXIMATELY 91ST AND NORTHERN AVENUES AND THE TOHONO O’ODHAM NATION’S APPLICATION FOR TRANSFER OF THE LAND INTO TRUST FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE TOHONO O’ODHAM NATION
Staff Contact: Brent Stoddard, Intergovernmental Programs Director

 Purpose and Recommended Action

Pursuant to direction from City Council, staff is being requested to update the Council on federal actions, legislation and hearings related to the property located at approximately 91st and Northern Avenues.

Background

On Wednesday, July 9, 2014, Glendale was notified by the Clerk of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that the Committee would be holding a hearing on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington D.C. titled “Indian Gaming: The Next 25 Years.” The Committee also invited Mayor Weiers to attend and testify at the Committee hearing.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is also the Committee that House of Representatives Bill 1410 “Keep the Promise Act of 2013” has been referred to. H.R. 1410 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Trent Franks in April 2013. The bill passed the House in September 2013 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The Committee has taken no action on the legislation.

The City Council, at its March 25, 2014 Council meeting, adopted Resolution No. 4783 opposing House of Representatives Bill 1410 “Keep the Promise Act of 2013” and directed the City Clerk to send the resolution to the members of the Arizona Federal delegation.

The City Council, at its March 18, 2014 Workshop, gave staff direction to bring forward a resolution setting forth the City’s official position relating to H.R. 1410. The City Council also discussed and gave direction that the City of Glendale was not changing or waiving its position relating to Resolution New Series 4246, executed on April 7, 2009, opposing the Tohono O’odham Nation’s application to the Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to have land taken into trust and an approval of gaming on the land located at approximately 91st and Northern Avenues.

Previous Related Council Action

At the City Council Workshop held on October 15, 2013 and the Workshop of March 18, 2014, the City Council discussed the direction related to property located at approximately 91st and Northern Avenues and the Tohono O’odham Nation’s application for transfer of property into trust for the benefit of the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Attachments

None

Lately I have been in a “take no prisoners mode.” Think of Peter Finch as Mr. Beale in the film, Network, when he screams, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!” I am thoroughly disgusted with the lies and subterfuge offered on various Glendale issues masked in a guise of altruism and high-mindedness. Rather than advancing issues that serve the best interests of our community opinions and actions have degenerated into advocacy of personal agendas. Yes, I know “we all do it” and “it’s done all the time,” usually accompanied by an admonishment to be “realistic.” It’s time to call “a spade,” “a spade” and not the PC description of, “a hand-held implement with a sharp-edged, rectangular, metal blade and a long handle used to loosen or break up the upper strata of the earth.”

The Glendale Star is a perfect example. Newspapers once had the reputation of objectivity in their reportage. Like many other time honored values news objectivity has fallen by the wayside.  When it comes to the proposed Tohono O’odham casino the Glendale Star obviously supports it. It is no secret that its Editor, Carolyn Dryer, attended an Alvarez hosted pro-casino meeting as a like-minded individual. There were also TO representatives in attendance. Her editorial choices seem to clearly reflect her bias.

There is a referendum petition in circulation designed to put the recent council vote to reject US Representative Trent Franks’ HB 1410 on Glendale’s fall ballot. By the way, if HB 1410 successfully passes in the US Senate the TO’s proposed casino will die a righteous death. The defeat or passage of HB 1410 is more critical than the public realizes. Make no mistake. If HB 1410 passes there is sure to be more litigation.

The referendum effort is being led by Glendale resident Gary Hirsch, a former city council candidate. Mr. Hirsch’s position is well known as one of the Glendale citizen plaintiffs in a previous lawsuit against the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) proposed casino.

On April 24, 2014 the Glendale Star Editor Dryer published an opinion piece on the casino referendum issue written by Mike Kenny, its Web Editor. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/. Mr. Kenny’s opinion piece is a puff piece signifying “nothing.” I guess if one cannot speak to the issue the next best course of action is to denigrate it.  He refers to the referendum effort and characterizes it as achieving “nothing.” He goes on to say, “Oh, and it’s (council vote) a non-stance that likely has zero implications. It’s highly doubtful our nation’s Senate – if this bill is ever heard – will take into account the opinion of a city that can barely decide what its opinion is.” Really? If that were the case why did Councilmember Alvarez and her minions work so hard to bring it to a council vote? They believe that rejection of HB 1410 by the city in which the proposed casino would be sited would indeed send a strong signal.

What about other personal agendas on this issue? Those councilmembers who hold a pro-casino position appear to have done so for purely personal reasons not because they believe it is in the best interest of Glendale (although they will proclaim so loudly and often). Councilmember Alvarez seems to be in “pay-back” mode. It’s her way of sticking it to councilmembers who she perceives as having “disrespected” her when she first came on board. It’s purely personal and the TO have taken advantage of her vindictiveness. Councilmember Chavira owes Alvarez and the TO big time for their support and endorsement of his candidacy. It appears that their bill has come due and he is making good on his debt. Councilmember Hugh’s pro-casino stance is in contradiction to his usual fiscal conservatism. It’s been heard his wife is driving his pro-casino stance. Water cooler opinion has it that Councilmember Sherwood who ran as an anti-casino council candidate lusts to become Glendale’s next mayor and is expecting substantial financial support from the TO in his run for that office.

So much for decision making in the best interests of already beleaguered city. After all, it’s just politics. Isn’t it time for Glendale residents to say, “They’re mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore?”

© 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.

What exactly is in Representative Trent Franks’ bill, H.R. 1410? In the world of Congress it is short and sweet. Here is a link to the text of the bill: http://www.keepingthepromiseaz.com/.

H.R. 1410 specifically cites the 2002 voter approved state Gaming Compact which expires in 2027.The bill states that there was a promise to Arizona voters that there would be no new casinos in the state, especially within the Phoenix metropolitan area, other than those specifically granted within the Compact. It requires that there be no new casinos in Maricopa and Pima Counties. This stipulation covers the period from April 9, 2013 to January 1, 2027. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

This bill enjoys bipartisan support not only among the Arizona delegation but in Congress as well. It has passed the House of Representatives and has moved to the Senate. Its fate is unknown. It will be voted up or down or ignored in this session. If no action occurs it dies and will have to be reintroduced in the next session of Congress. If the midterm elections prove to be wildly successful for the Republicans there is a good chance for its successful passage.

The Tohono O’odham (TO) and their supporters are positively hyperventilating over this bill. If passed the TO simply cannot build in Glendale – certainly not until 2027 when the Gaming Compact is up for renewal by voters.

What many fail to realize is that the proposed casino is not in the hands of Glendale. We all await a decision from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court followed by a final clarifying decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Then there is the Supreme Court decision on the case of Michigan vs. Bay City on the issue of Tribal sovereign immunity. Don’t for a second believe that these decisions won’t be appealed – for they will. We are still years away from a final outcome.

Why all the posturing by the TO and their supporters right now? Could it be because the Gila River Indian Community and their sister tribes have ramped up their profile of late by advertising on TV and underwriting a letter of support by Mayor Weiers? They must be chagrinned to see the Gila River Indian Community award a grant to Glendale that is 10 times larger than the $40,000+ they awarded a month ago.

The drama will continue with both sides posturing and vying for the hearts and minds of Glendale residents. Yet the ultimate decision rests elsewhere.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those 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, democracy, 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 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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