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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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From the Associated Press by Sundin Thanawala and reprinted by the Arizona Republic on October 12, 2014. This article was too relevant to ignore and so it is offered below with a few interspersed comments: The article, California tribe’s casino plan to go before voters, is from San Francisco.

 “A Native American tribe’s plan for a Las Vegas-style casino in Central Valley (make that Glendale) nearly 40 miles (change that to 100 miles) from its reservation has drawn opposition from other casino-owning tribes in the state.

“The voters now will weigh in on whether the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians (insert Tohono O’odham) are ‘reservation shopping,’ as their critics contend, or taking land that was part of their historical territory, as the tribes maintains.

“A referendum on the November ballot asks voters to approve or reject a deal signed by the governor and passed by the state Legislature that would allow the North Fork Rancheria to build a casino with up to 2,000 slot machines ( change to nearly 1,100 slot machines), on a 305-acre (132 acres) plot of land along a major highway (the Loop 101 Freeway) about 30 miles (5 miles) northwest of Fresno (Phoenix).

“With a yes vote, the project would clear its last major hurdle to entering the state’s Indian gambling market, where 58 tribes (21 tribes) are currently running 59 (28) casinos, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“Critics of the proposal say the tribes is trying to get closer to an urban market that can bring in more gamblers.”

“ ‘This move by North Fork, if it goes forward, will incentivize tribes in rural areas to move to more-lucrative locations,’ said Cheryl Schmit, director of the group Stand Up For California.

“Representatives of the 2,000-member North Fork tribe counter that their existing land is for housing and does not allow gambling and that they went through a lengthy vetting process to get approval for the new land.

“ ‘We’re getting back to the historical land that serves as a reservation for our tribes in the 1850’s,’ said Charles Banks-Altekruse, a spokesman for the tribe, which is being supported by Las Vegas-based Station Casinos.

“Additionally, tribal officials say, the project would create more than 4,500 (change to 6,000) jobs and pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy.

“Opposition to North Fork’s proposal is coming from other casino-owning tribes, including Table Mountain Rancheria (Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) whose casino is about 25 miles (20 miles) from the proposed site of the North Fork facility (Tohono O’odham’s Glendale site).

“The campaign against the project is also being funded by New York-based Brigade Capital Management, an investment firm that backs the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, another Indian casino near the site of the proposed North Fork casino.

“Under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes can build casinos on reservations that existed before Oct. 17, 1988, but not on lands taken into trust after that date (except in Arizona). The law allows the Interior secretary to make an exception in cases where the off-reservations acquisition is in the tribe’s best interest (not proven for Tohono O’odham) and does not hurt the surrounding community (which it will).”

These situations are eerily similar with one major exception. The referendum was not blocked in California and so the voters will have the final say. Not so in Glendale. Glendale has blocked the referendum petitions and the matter is now a court case and a judge will decide whether Glendale voters can determine their own fate.

© 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.

Councilmember Gary Sherwood has done it again. On September 17, 2014 he appeared before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on Senate Bill 2670. The bill, if approved by the Senate, would have the effect of stopping the Tohono O’odham from building a casino in Glendale.

Please note that the panel members were not sworn in. It is the usual practice in any Congressional hearing and one wonders why it was not done this time. In his oral testimony Sherwood said, “We have talked to many business leaders in this area including leaders of two professional sports teams and major hospitality developments and they all support this West Valley project.”

It appears that his statement is not true. In fact, the Cardinals have sent a letter to the Chair of the Committee, Senator Jon Tester, as well as the Vice Chair Senator Barrasso, Senator John McCain, Senator Jeff Flake, Mayor Jerry Weiers and all members of the Glendale City Council, categorically stating that they do not support the casino project.  The Arizona Coyotes released a public statement indicating that they have never expressed support for the casino project.

Looks like Sherwood was shooting from the hip…err…his lips…again. Sherwood is on a personal path of self destruction with a history of public statements that have all but destroyed his credibility. No wonder the people of the Sahuaro district, which he represents, seem all too willing to sign a recall petition against him.

On a separate but another questionable note, a blog reader contacted me and asked if Jamie Aldama has the home he owns in the Yucca district registered as a rental property with the City of Glendale and if he is paying monthly rental property tax to the city. I have no answer and the city maintains no online listing of rental properties. I suggest the Ocotillo voters go to the source and ask Mr. Aldama. It begs yet another question. Why is Jamie Aldama still sitting on the citizen’s Planning and Zoning Commission representing the Yucca district if he doesn’t live there and is running as a candidate for the Ocotillo council seat? Councilmember Chavira (Yucca district) should have replaced him when Aldama announced for Ocotillo. Why didn’t he? Perhaps he was just lazy and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a replacement or perhaps he thought he was giving Aldama greater credibility as an Ocotillo district candidate with Planning and Zoning credentials. There’s no love lost between Chavira and Alvarez. She supported him a lot…I mean tons… in his run for his council seat only to be double crossed by him when Chavira voted for the arena management agreement. Alvarez was counting on him to be the fourth vote that would kill the deal. This kind of politics is certainly not for the faint hearted.

© 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.

September 17, 2014 the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing on Senate Bill 2670 introduced by Senators McCain and Flake. I have offered the direct testimonies of the  panelists, Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn; Governor of the Gila River Indian Community Gregory Mendoza; Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers; Glendale Councilmember Gary Sherwood and Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. Each of the panelists was asked questions by Senators McCain and Tester.

I have never heard so many non-responsive answers in my life. It’s as if the questioner and the person answering were on parallel universes. Isn’t that the mark of a true politician? If so, they all passed the test. The only person to answer a question directly was the Attorney for the Gila River Indian Community, Allison Benney (my apology if I have slaughtered her name).

Sherwood, in his answers to Senators McCain and Tester, pumps out a great deal of misinformation. His reference to one 30 minute conversation between Glendale staff and the TO…wrong. His estimate of jobs created…wrong. There was one very telling revelation however. The city’s position on the referendum petitions submitted in opposition to the TO/Glendale Settlement Agreement et. al., relies exclusively on the argument that council votes were administrative not legislative. Gary Sherwood, went off script (which he does quite frequently). At the 43 minute, 46 second mark of the hearing he refers to the council votes as legislation (in a convoluted way). In his mind, he recognized that those council votes were legislative… Oh Oh. I hope the attorneys take note.

I also stand corrected on the amount of annual revenue the Tohono O’odham (TO) earn from their 3 casinos. I had used $38 million. Well, you can nearly double that. The figure that Senator McCain used was $68.2 million. No matter the number…no matter whether that is net revenue or gross revenue that is still a lot of money. Again, what have the TO been spending all of that revenue on? Too bad no one is allowed to audit their books…they are a sovereign nation, you know.

Chairman Norris downright refused to verify or disqualify the annual revenue figure Senator McCain used. He kinda, sorta answered Chairman Tester’s question. The only relevant fact he could come up with was the $5 million dollar scholarship fund before he began ranting about the use of the Border Patrol agents’ use of TO roads.

Miss Binney, on the other hand, offered some startling testimony when she said they had hand written notes in their possession describing discussion of a possible closure of the 3 TO casinos in Southern Arizona and a move to rebuild and reopen them in the Phoenix area.

The last portion of testimony from the hearing is below:

Chairman Tester: “Thank you, Chairman Norris, for your testimony. Thank you all for your testimonies. Senator McCain.”

Senator McCain: “Thank you, Chairman. Ah, Chairman Norris, would you like to, for the record, supply the, ah, the amount of money, the revenue that your casinos have gained for the tribe on an annual basis?”

Chairman Norris: “I’ll be happy to give that some consideration but I will not do that without the express umm, umm, authorization of my legislative council.”

Senator McCain: “So, what ah, tell us how impoverished you are. I will provide for the record, Mr. Chairman, hearings that Senator Inouye and I had, including that with Attorneys General, especially in states that came and testified before our committee, where their great concerns were what would happen, is happening exactly now. That was one of the reasons why we had great difficulty getting the support of Governors and Attorneys General because they said, ‘if we don’t look out we’re going to have Indian gaming operations in the middle of our towns and cities.’ So, I would be glad to provide the record of hearings and the conclusions and statements that Senator Inouye and I made at the time of the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, um, which clearly was designed to prevent a non-contiguous, middle-of-a-metropolitan area, Indian gaming operation for which the people have, ah, maybe their elected representatives have, maybe some like Mr. Sherwood who changed their mind over time. Umm, but they have not been able to make their will known as far as a very significant impact in not only Glendale but in the entire West Side. So, Mr. Sherwood, out of curiosity I think you used to be very much opposed. You even wrote articles in opposition to this. What changed your mind?

Councilmember Sherwood: “Ah, thank you for the question, ah, Chair and Senator McCain. Umm, when I campaigned I had campaigned against this proposed based on information I had and I had read deal…quite a bit of information on it. Umm, the thing that was distressing to me though, that in the very beginning there was a half hour conversation when the city first found out about it in April of 2009 and that was the only conversation the previous administration had and I was, was always quite upset by the fact that we didn’t have the dialogue. We weren’t very doin’ very good in the courts. So when umm, we ah, after the new council got seated in January ’13 and we, ah, took care of the hockey situation we turned our attention to the casino issue which again, had been laboring for five years and started havin’ that informal dialogue and learned quite a bit more about the project from the fact that it could benefit us umm, in many more ways than what the gaming compact even called out for. So, those informal discussions led into, ah, formal fact finding in the November time frame which led to negotiations in March. Umm, and, and having gone through that and having voted on this a couple months ago to approve the project and to ah, equivocally set ourselves against this legislation (43:46) umm, and the benefits, certainly after talkin’ to other developers, I mean we’ve had several developers come to us uh, since this casino project was announced wanting to develop on Glendale, on land in Glendale city proper.”

Senator McCain: Well, thank you. Chairman Norris, I have before me information that, ah, I’m not sure where it came from but it alleges that your annual revenue from gaming is  $68,200,000. Is that in the ballpark?”

Chairman Norris: “Chairman, Senator McCain, as I stated before without the authorization of my legislative council I’m not at this point, ah, able to disclose, to agree or disagree with your information.”

Senator McCain: “So you refuse to tell this committee who is expected to support your effort to establish a casino and you won’t even tell me whether this is a correct or incorrect number, $68,200,000?

Chairman Norris: “Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, the courts have already made that determination on whether or not the Nation is within its legal right to be able to establish…and our current compact also authorizes it as well.”

Senator McCain: “I asked…that’s not in response to the question I asked Mr. Chairman. You refuse to give, to authenticate or disagree with roughly $68,200,000 in revenue for a year, ah, for your Nation?”

Chairman Norris: “Mr. Chairman…”

Senator McCain: “Is that correct? You do not wish to give that information? Either agree or disagree. “

Chairman Norris: “Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, I am not agreeing or disagreeing. What I’m saying…”

Senator McCain: “Actually what you’ve done is refuse to answer questions before this committee. I’m not sure why you came. Ah, Mr. Mendoza, is there a concern, Chairman Mendoza, President Mendoza, is there a concern that there may be other loopholes such as this exploited and using this precedent to other casinos that would be established in the Valley?”

Governor Mendoza: “Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, uh, thank you for that question. You know, umm, I’ve been hearing about this particular bill and it would create that particular precedence and in my mind, no. The act has been very consistent with Congressional precedents and umm, if you’ll allow me, I will allow my attorney here to offer some specifics. Miss Benney.”

Miss Benney: “Yes, thank you Senator McCain. So the concern that you have is a legitimate concern in that Tohono O’odham if they’re able to build this Glendale casino can actually shut down their other three casinos in the Tucson area and move them up to the Phoenix area basically using the same legal theory. That’s why the East Valley mayors are so concerned because they think the same thing that is happening in Glendale can happen in the East Valley and I think it was Congressman Gossar last time brought it back that showed 200 county islands in other parts of the Phoenix Valley where the same thing can happen. But more importantly, in the negotiations and during litigation, umm, hand written notes have come out from Tohono O’odham’s representatives basically indicating that they would do such a thing. They’re aware that they have that legal ability if they’re successful in Glendale to shut down the other three casinos and move them up to the Phoenix area. That’s one of the biggest concerns of the East Valley mayors.”

Senator McCain: “Well, Mayor Weiers, you find yourself in the minority here. Maybe you can tell us how that happened going from the majority to the minority on this issue. I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with a $26 million dollar commitment over several years.”

Mayor Weiers: “Chairman, Senator McCain, I don’t actually know how I find myself in that position. I, you know, I’ve been ah, on one line of one thought, ah, ever since this issue came up when I was a state legislator. I know in our campaign, ah, that people have ran their campaigns, ah, stating certain views and certain beliefs and I guess I never really expected people to change their opinion but, ah, I don’t know exactly how we find ourselves here. You know the same facts, the same truths that were there two years ago are the same facts and truths today. Nothing’s changed. People’s opinions have changed and how they’ve changed their minds because of those truths and facts I don’t know. Sir, I really don’t know if that’s the question that maybe I should be asked but I’m not exactly sure how we came to that position.”

Senator McCain: “Thank you. Mr. Chairman, it bears repeating to all the witnesses in response to some of the statements. The Constitution calls for the Congress to have a special responsibility as far as Native Americans are concerned. It’s written in the Constitution. So although some may view this hearing and our action as being unwarranted interference it is a specific Constitutional responsibility of the Congress of the United States. Umm, so Mr. Chairman, this is a very busy week. We’ll be leaving tomorrow for quite awhile and you were kind enough to hold this hearing for me and I take that as a very special favor that you granted me and I wanted to express openly and repeatedly my appreciation for you doing this. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

Chairman Tester: “Well, thank you for those kind words, Senator McCain. We always appreciate your commitment to the Senate and to this committee and we thank you for your leadership on a number of issues including this one. I, um, have a few questions here. I’ll start with Governor Mendoza. Ah, Governor, when it comes to tribal gaming in Arizona being successful, could you talk about the kinda success Gila River has enjoyed, ah, because of gaming.

Governor Mendoza: “Thank you for that question, ah, Senator. You know Gila River does enjoy the benefits from our casinos. Ah, we’ve been able to fully fund for our students to go to college, any college in the world. We’ve been able to provide funding for our public safety, police, fire, umm, our emergency management program. We’ve been able to provide programs for our elders, our youth, housing, you name it. We’ve been able to do a lot for our community and again, we’re very thankful and blessed.”

Chairman Tester: “Well, I commend you on your commitment to your people and education, ah, is one of my priorities. You reference, when it comes to the expansion of gaming, you reference a commitment made by the Tribes in 2002 that there be no additional gaming facilities in the Phoenix area. In the current gaming compacts there’s specific limitation on the Tohono O’odhams from building a fourth facility in the Tucson area. If the parties thought enough to put a Tucson limitation expressly in the compact why wouldn’t the state include such a limitation around Phoenix? Any insight into that?”

Governor Mendoza: “Thank you Senator Tester. You know, Senator Tester, I’m not an attorney. I’ll allow my attorney to answer that.”

Chairman Tester: “Well Allison, I think it’s a good point that you’re not an attorney. I’m not either. So, Allison, since you are, have at it.”

Miss Binney: “So, I think there’s some, there’s a little bit of confusion. So in Arizona it’s different than in most other states. Most other states the governors can go and just negotiate a compact directly with the Tribes and enter into it. In Arizona that’s not the case. The governor had to get authority from the voters to enter into compacts and so the voters voted on a model compact that I actually have the Proposition that the voters had here. So Tohono O’odham does say here, like nowhere in the model compact or the compact does it say Tohono O’odham can’t go into Phoenix. I mean, number one there was no need to say that in the compact because no one ever thought that would happen; but two, in all the negotiations which are a key part of what this bill is trying to address Tohono O’odham specifically said their fourth casino would be in the Tucson area or in a rural area. They never once indicated that they would somehow go a hundred miles up to the Phoenix area. But I will say the Proposition that has the model compact that the voters actually saw when they voted to give the governor authority, there’s a chart in there and in the chart it shows the number of casinos that the Tribes in Arizona were authorized to build under the old compact and the number of casinos that the Tribes would be authorized to build under the new compact, the model compact that the voters were voting on. In the Phoenix area Tribes, all are shown as giving up a right to an additional facility that they had under the old compact. Tohono O’odham, because they’re not a Phoenix area Tribe, kept the same number of casinos, the right to build the same number of casinos. So Gila River is shown as giving up an additional casino, right to an additional casino. Salt River gave up the right to an additional casino. Ak Chin gave up the right to an additional casino. Fort McDowell gave up a right to an additional casino and so did Pasqua Yaqui. Tohono O’odham didn’t have to give up the right to an additional casino ‘cause they weren’t in the Phoenix area. So in our view, it is in the compact. Why else would these charts be in here showing that the Phoenix Tribes gave up rights to casinos and Tohono O’odham didn’t if it wasn’t intended that the whole goal of the compact was to limit the number of facilities in the Phoenix area?”

Chairman Tester: “Okay. Umm, if you don’t mind Allison, I wanna ask you another question. Umm, since you are an attorney and since you know the law and I say this in the most friendly way. When I talk to Chairman Norris and I think was referenced in one of your testimonies. Maybe it might have been Washburn’s testimony about breaking ground on a facility already. So ground has been broken. If we are to pass this bill would there be a takings issue?”

Miss Binney: “No and I thought it was interesting that Assistant Secretary Washburn didn’t address this issue at all. Because he was aware of it and Senator McCain asked him about it last time. And the fundamental reason why is because this bill just provides a temporary restriction on gaming activities on certain lands. That’s what IGRA does. The Indian Regulatory Gaming Act was passed to restrict gaming on Tribal lands. So, if this bill is a taking so is the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act and that’s been around for 25 years and that’s been upheld again and again and again.”

Chairman Tester: “So, in one point you’re talking about policy that prevents gaming activities to happen with IGRA. This is an actual, physical construction. You don’t see that there’s any difference there? And I ask this because I don’t know.”

Miss Binney: “Yeah, no. We, actually, when it came up in the last hearing, Senator McCain asked it, we actually went and did a thorough analysis because I will say, last Congress there was some legitimate concerns raised by Tohono O’odham and we addressed them in this new bill. But we looked at it and the other reason it’s not a takings is ‘cause Congress does these types of bills fairly frequently actually restricting gaming on lands and they can build a resort; they can build a new sports stadium. They can do economic activity…”

Chairman Tester: “Thank you. That’s fine. Thank you, Allison. Uh, Chairman Norris, ah, you’ve got a similar question that I just asked Governor Mendoza. You’ve got gaming facilities, umm, can you discuss what benefits you’ve got from these gaming facilities and while you’re in that vein could you also discuss unmet needs that are still out there by your Tribe?”

Chairman Norris: “Mr. Chairman, ah, I, too, am not an attorney. I am the elected chairman of my Nation and have an obligation to speak for my people.”

Chairman Tester: “Yes.”

Chairman Norris: “So I will do so. There are still third world conditions that exist in my tribal community and many tribal communities nationwide. The Nation has had an enormous amount of benefit in comparison to where we were at prior to gaming. We have been able to construct different facilities that were only dreams facilities, that we were needing within our communities to be able to provide the necessary services. We have been able to create a government of employees that are, that are able to provide the necessary services that many of our Nation’s members require. We have been able to provide scholarships to our, to our members. Prior to gaming we had probably less than 300 members that acquired masters, associates and doctors degrees and some law degrees. Today we have graduated more Tohono O’odham with those types of degrees this many years later and my council continues to allocate some $5 million dollars towards scholarship programs to our Nation. So we have had an enormous amount of benefit from the results of gaming but we still have those third world conditions that continue to exist. As far as unmet needs, Mr. Chairman, we know today that we have 500 families that are homeless on the Nation. We know today that there are many people within our communities that do need housing. We know today that much of the roads that are within our Tribal communities are being used and misused by the U.S. Border Patrol because of the influx of Border agents on our Nation, have really done wear and tear on our roads, and primarily BIA are on our roads. And so there’s a need for us to work hand in hand with the Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs to try and address the roads conditions that are so needing to be addressed, to be able to deliver the services, to be able to enter and to exit our Tribal communities nationwide. We have a reservation that is 2.1 million acres square. We have some 2.9 million acres in size. We have some 80 villages within that geographical area. The reservation is vast. The villages are remote. We’ve got homes that do not have running water. We’ve got homes that do not have electricity. So there’s a serious amount of unmet needs on my Tribal community.”

Chairman Tester: “Ah, thank you, Chairman. Mayor Weiers, umm, you’re a former state legislator. You’ve worked with city government as mayor and I think you understand the actual text of laws and contracts and the weight that carries with the weight that carries with those contracts and that text. In this case there was a specific limitation, correct me if I’m wrong, on TO developments around Tucson but not Phoenix. Umm, with that said, if this limitation on gaming around the Phoenix area was important, why was it not included in the contract or Prop 202?

Mayor Weiers: “Chairman Tester, all I can tell you is, is, is the knowledge that I have of talking to one of the authors, Senator McCain, and he had told me, point blank, that, uh, there was never, ever any intention in their mind that this would ever be an issue. And I don’t believe personally, quite honestly, that the average person, a non attorney person, would ever thought something like this. You know, uh, I guess that’s why we have attorneys to sit around and think of ways to get around stuff. But ah, I don’t believe anybody ever believed that this was going to be an issue and, and it is an issue. And, and quite honestly all this bill is trying to is just, let’s do what everybody said and thought we were gonna do and then when that compact’s over, renegotiate. Chances are we’ll probably end up with more casinos in the Valley. Most certainly.”

Chairman Tester: “Thanks, Mayor. Ah, Councilman Sherwood, ah, your testimony discusses the impacts that the agreement with TO would have on the city of Glendale. Ah, positive impacts. Umm, could you talk about those benefits of this development and while you’re on that, if there’s downside that comes to mind, could you talk about that too?”

Councilmember Sherwood: “Ah, thank you, Chair. Well, right off the bat, I can’t see of any downside in the negotiations, ah, in the settlement agreement that we concluded with the Tohono O’odhams in August. Ah, they’re covering existing infrastructure, new infrastructure, umm, water, umm, it’s not costin’ the city a penny. I mean, how often do you get a development where you don’t have to give in to anything? Umm, in terms of the development, we were hurt pretty hard with the down turn of our sports and entertainment. There was 8 funded projects that were to occur, south of the University of Phoenix Stadium where our Arizona Cardinals play. Umm, one of ‘em, umm, was Mr. Bidwill’s, ah, CB 101 Project before he started building. Those either went into litigation afterwards or the developers pulled back. Those are slowly comin’ back but not nearly the pace that was expected. So, our sports and entertainment area which has two professional sports teams, large entertainment area along with some retail, umm, was hurt vastly by that. And so when we have the mega events, like when we have the Super Bowl next February, umm, we don’t have anything to keep people in the area. So they go off into Scottsdale and Phoenix. Umm, a project like this resort will, umm, entice other development. In fact within, within weeks of us signing that agreement we had two major developers; one that had done a large scale project in Phoenix come through and they were only interested in us now because of this project and they were lookin’ at land within the city of Glendale to develop that would, ah, be real close to the sports and entertainment area. So, yes, we’re lookin’ at a lot of, ah, development activity that will directly benefit our city coffers and then again, on the deal that was referenced earlier about the $26 million or so, umm, that we get directly into the General Fund from the Tohono O’odhams. In fact we’ve already received a check for $500,000, ten days after the agreement was signed. Umm, that helps the city that has struggled as has been widely reported, umm, because of our past deals with some of the sporting facilities we have. It’s sorely helped our community.”

Chairman Tester: “Okay. Talk about jobs. How many jobs?”

Councilmember Sherwood: “The jobs, in terms of the operations, you’re gonna see 3,000 jobs, 1,500 of ‘em probably indirect. Ah, 15 direct in terms of construction jobs. It’s right now scheduled for three phases, the casino and then the attached resort and then probably year later, another resort based on how things are movin’ along. So you’re talkin’ thousands of construction jobs, ah, over this project that’s gonna take place over the next four years. But in terms of actual jobs, umm, in the West Valley, I’d say about 3,000.”

Chairman Tester: “Well, once again, I want to thank all of you for, ah, makin’ the trek to Washington, D.C. I know it’s not easy and some of you made it twice and I thank you for that. And I mean that. This is obviously an emotional issue it’s ah, it’s ah, an important issue. Umm, note that the hearing will remain open for two weeks and I encourage all stakeholders to submit written statements for the record. I’m gonna’ say that again. Ah, this hearing record will remain open for two weeks and, ah, if you’re a stakeholder on this issue I would encourage you to write written statements, ah, for the record. With that thank you all and this hearing is closed.”

© 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.

On April 24,2014 there is a report that petition signatures are being collected calling for a referendum on the city council’s vote to repudiate US House of Representatives Trent Franks’ bill, HB 1410. If passed it would create law that would stop the Tohono O’odham’s effort to build its proposed casino. I support this effort. As the crow flies, I live a scant mile from the proposed casino site. Neighborhoods that will be directly affected by the impact do not want the casino. In my informal poll 50% of the respondents do not support negotiating with the Tohono O’odham and 50% of the respondents do. I believe this is the most divisive issue in Glendale’s history.

Our national and local economies are still abysmal. Unemployment is still way, way too high. Every politician worth his or her salt is running on a platform of job creation. Is it any wonder that the Tohono O’odham (TO) inordinately exaggerate and emphasize job creation associated with the proposed casino as a major means of garnering public support for its plan? Of course not but they do so in a rather Pinocchio-esque form. Remember the job creation numbers come from a Tribe that kept its land purchase secret for 7 years. That alone should make people think twice about their assurances of job creation. It’s time to take a realistic look at the TO promised job creation numbers.

Of course the proposed casino will create jobs both temporary and permanent. The disagreement occurs over TO touted numbers versus reality. The TO has consistently claimed the creation of 6,000 construction jobs and another 3,000 permanent jobs. Their numbers are highly inflated and that is understandable given their history of truth telling and their zealousness to build this casino at all costs.

Let’s look at some other Tribal casino projects. In Lansing, Michigan the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians is constructing a $245 million, 125,000 square foot casino. The tribe says the number of construction jobs is a little over 700 with 1,500 permanent jobs. That is reality, not myth.

In California the Graton Rancheria Tribe is constructing an $800 million entertainment and gaming destination. It has created 750 construction jobs and expects 2,000 permanent jobs. That is reality, not myth.

It’s time for the TO to explain exactly how they arrived at a figure of 6,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs. How many jobs in what industries? What methodology did they use to arrive at those numbers? If they used a research study that they commissioned then the numbers can be considered highly suspect. It’s too bad that someone like Elliot Pollack hasn’t done independent research on jobs gained versus jobs lost.

As for permanent jobs a more realistic assumption is in the 1,500 to 2,000 range. Of course, we all know because the TO has made it abundantly clear that 25% of those jobs must go to Native Americans.  There is absolutely no way to determine how many jobs will go to Glendale residents. It is reasonable to assume that many jobs will go to residents from the surrounding Metro area. While that’s a great prospect for other cities, it’s not so good for Glendale who will bear the brunt of costs associated with a casino in the town while losing out on the benefits of the “multiplier effect.”

The great majority of jobs at casinos can regularly be found on the Forbes list of worst paying jobs in America – including that of ‘gaming dealer.’ According to the 2007 National Compensation Survey compiled by the US Dept of Labor’s Division of Labor Statistics the median hourly wage for gaming service employees is estimated at $6.34 per hour with annual median earnings of $13,179. That is $2,000 above the 2014 Federal poverty level.

The unions are fully on board and have been one of the most public advocates for the proposed TO casino as visions of union construction jobs dance in their heads. Wait…Arizona is a right-to-work state. If the unions have a behind-closed-doors, back-slapping “understanding” with the TO about using union labor exclusively they better get it in writing. They might want to get the TO to waive sovereign immunity with regard to any contracts and possible breaches. They should never forget the lesson of the TO’s secret land purchase. They also need to look at what happened to union labor used on the Graton Rancheria Tribe’s casino construction. Initially union labor was used but was quickly replaced with out-of-state construction workers, largely non-union. Sometimes it pays to be careful what you wish for as the California unions on the Graton Rancheria project painfully learned.

The proposed TO casino will create temporary construction jobs and permanent jobs, as will other industries which do not require reservation or sovereign status and can develop according to Glendale’s existent General Plan for that area while generating new construction and sales tax. With the exception of the cluster services associated with gambling, studies consistently reveal that new businesses tend not to locate in areas allowing legalized gambling and pre-existing businesses will face added pressures that push them toward illiquidity and even bankruptcy. The proposed casino will act as a disincentive to other businesses that would otherwise locate in western Glendale resulting in the loss of future, good-paying jobs.

The benefits of economic development is overstated by the TO and its proponents who never account for jobs lost from businesses that fail or choose not to locate in west Glendale due to the all-encompassing predatory nature of casino capitalism.

That’s reality.

© 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.

Over the past week you may have noted there were no blog posts. I took a much needed vacation. I enjoyed it very much, thank you, and came back renewed and reinvigorated.

In public statements with regard to his candidacy for the Cholla district council seat Mr. Petrone said he has “lived in the Cholla district 40 years.” While that may be factually accurate, it is fair to ask if he ever attempted to move out of Glendale. The answer to that question would be “yes.” In a Maricopa County Recorded document dated 2006 Petrone attempted to buy 8368 West Spur Drive in Peoria from Desert Highlands Residential Properties LLC. The deal died when Petrone failed to make any payments on the property. This may not be such a big deal to some readers. I’m sure there are those who signed a contract to buy a home and then backed out or perhaps he intended it to become an investment property. But a case could be made that Mr. Petrone was not that enamored with Glendale and may have been ready to move on. Perhaps he never got over the $500+ lien the City of Glendale placed upon his property for failing to pay a City of Glendale Utility Bill in August, 1990 (Here is the link: http://156.42.40.50/UnOfficialDocs2/pdf/19900561670.pdf). Again, for some this may not be a big deal. I know in the 45 years I have lived in Glendale I have had lapses of memory two or three times and forgotten to pay my bill. That is something that many of us have done inadvertently…but for 99% of us never to the tune of $500.

All of the information contained in this blog is in the public realm and can readily be found on various websites.  The Maricopa County Recorder’s website (link is: http://recorder.maricopa.gov/recdocdata/GetRecDataPaging.aspx?biz1=&biz2=&fn1=Robert&mn1=&ln1=Petrone&fn2=&mn2=&ln2=&begdt=1/1/1974&enddt=4/1/2014&doc1=&doc2=&doc3=&doc4=&doc5=. Beware…there are at least 4 pages of documents. Well over 80 entries); the Arizona Superior Court website under Civil cases (link is: http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/CivilCourtCases/caseSearchResults.asp?lastName=Petrone&FirstName=Robert&bName=. There are 14 cases from 1998 to 2008); and the Maricopa County Assessor’s website (link is: http://mcassessor.maricopa.gov/?s=233-03-003) for verification of home ownership information. Type in Robert Petrone on any of these websites and see what you come up with.

According the Maricopa County Assessor’s website Nicholas Bigelow owns (a link to the deed is on the site) and has been paying the property tax on the current home in which Mr. Petrone lives. It may have some relationship to the fact that Petrone’s wife’s previous last name was Bigelow.

In August of 2013 CBS5 TV did a story on Petrone. Here is the link: http://www.kpho.com/story/23261106/glendale-city-council-candidate-looks-to-win-publics-trust . They reported, “CBS5 did some digging and found a long history of financial problems in Petrone’s past, dating back to 2003, including not paying credit cards, bounced checks and thousands of dollars in unpaid debt. CBS5 uncovered more than 20 civil and criminal cases in Valley justice courts, all connected to Petrone or his landscaping business.” When questioned by a reporter, Mr. Petrone admitted his financial setbacks and said that he had overcome them and went on to say, “I managed to survive and get back on the right track. It’s a pretty good reference to fall back on.” Well-l-l-l, maybe not so. On the Superior Court website and the County Recorder’s website there are pages and pages of documents, including civil cases, associated with Mr. Petrone. In all fairness, it appears over time, he satisfied many of the judgments against him but apparently not all. There are quite a few Renewal of Judgments: a 2008 Renewal for Greenwood Trust Company; two Renewals in 2010 – one with Midland Credit Management Company and one with Palisades Collection; one in 2011 with Unifund CCR Partners; and one, last year, in 2013 with Capital One Bank. Apparently these judgments have not been satisfied by Mr. Petrone and are still on the Superior Court’s books. There were no recorded documents on the County Recorder’s website that showed that these judgments have been released as paid.

How can one expect a man with a history of financial mismanagement of his own affairs to handle the city’s financial affairs? With a city council that already has shown itself impaired when it comes to financial decision making, Petrone’s financial judgments could serve to worsen the situation. It is a serious question that deserves careful consideration by the voters in the upcoming election.

Mr. Petrone then goes on to say that he is at a point in his life when he can work for a councilmember’s salary of $35,000 a year. Really? Based upon his financial history perhaps Mr. Petrone needs this salary more than he would lead the voters to believe.

Then there is the issue of the proposed casino. Mr. Petrone has indicated that he is anti-casino but there are those who think his statements on this issue are not convincing and at the very least, self serving. Some believe that he is electioneer pandering and could very well do a Councilmember Sherwood flip-flop on the issue.

Mr. Petrone carries some weighty baggage that should give voters pause in their consideration of support for him. Two of the biggest issues facing Glendale are the proposed casino and Glendale’s financial issues.  There may be better candidates out there that merit your vote and your support. Current Councilmember Martinez may want to seriously rethink his endorsement of Petrone and pull it. After all, one is judged by the company one keeps.

In a little over a month,, by May 28, 2014, all candidates must submit their nominating petition signatures to get on the fall ballot. Over the course of the next 6 months this blog will take a long, hard look at all of the Glendale councilmember candidates. When one runs for public office, one becomes a public figure and past actions, opinions and comments are grist for voters’ decisions.

© 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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