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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

March 18, 2014 was a “two-fer” in terms of council workshops. The morning session focused on the budget: General Fund budget balancing; Employee medical benefits; and fire staffing. The afternoon city council workshop also had 3 items of discussion: the Becker billboard request; a possible archery range at Heroes Park at 83rd and Bethany; and the Tohono O’odham casino.

I am going to discuss only one of those items here and now – the proposed Tohono O’odham (TO) casino. All of the other items will be covered in a subsequent blog.

In a prior meeting Vice Mayor Knaack requested an assessment of the impact of the proposed casino on the city and during the day’s discussion reminded staff of her original request that: staff (City Attorney Michael Bailey) bring back an assessment of the impact (fiscal and otherwise) of this proposed casino on Glendale; and that staff meet not only with the TO but with the tribes in opposition to the casino. Was Bailey too busy with his tablet and smart phone to pay attention because he fulfilled none of Vice Mayor Knaack’s request? He simply regurgitated former City Attorney Craig Tindall’s well-researched legal opinion on the matter. His actions could be construed as those of someone who is lazy and ill informed. He did not provide this council with Knaack’s original request: that of an assessment of the impact on the city.

Somehow or other the council discussion, at Councilmember Alvarez’ instigation (in person no less), moved to negotiating directly with the TO and opposing Franks’ bill. Chavira and Hugh immediately expressed their support. Mayor Weiers and Councilmembers Martinez and Knaack voiced their dissent. None of this was a vote, as council does not vote at workshop, but gives direction to staff through a majority support to move forward to investigate, plan and bring back information to be voted on in a council meeting.

Four councilmembers (a majority) gave direction to initiate negotiations with the TO and to express the city’s opposition to Congressional Representative Trent Franks’ bill, HR 1410. To what end no one knows because there are still lawsuits to be settled that will determine the proposed casino’s fate.

Councilmember Martinez, in opposition, quoted from a very eloquent article written by former Governor Rhodes of the Gila River Indian Community in the Arizona Republic on October 20, 2010.. The former Governor said, “There’s no literal translation in English that does justice to the tribal word, ‘himdag.’ As Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, himdag guides my every decision, my every action. Himdag, as passed down by our elders across hundreds of years, teaches us to respect for all things, including the value of a promise, abiding by the law and concern for the welfare of others.

Respect as a guiding principle feels old-fashioned in the 21st century, but it exists all the same – even when our community is compelled to sign its name to a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Interior.

You may have read about that lawsuit filed Spt. 16. You may have also read about Glendale’s lawsuit to stop the casino, filed this week. Out of respect, I believe that I must explain the reasons why my community to pointedly disagrees with Washington and with a southern Arizona sister tribe’s plan to build a casino on land they secretly bought in Glendale, 160 miles from their reservation headquarters.

My explanation can be summed up in a single sentence. We believe the TO Nation, with the assistance of the federal government, has disrespected the rule of law, the balance so carefully struck among Indian gaming tribes, our community, Glendale and every Arizonan.

At the crux of our lawsuit is clear evidence that the proper procedure for creating an Indian casino has been sidestepped. I’ll leave the legal wrangling to the lawyers, bit in the 21 months since our sister tribe surprised us with plans to build a casino on our aboriginal lands, our community has learned more than we would care to about legal loopholes, PR spin and shading the truth. The surprises have continues to come, and so have the disappointments especially where our sister tribe is concerned.

In the past, my community and the TO Nation have lived side by side and mutually benefited from our entwined cultures and interests. There’s no better example than the Indian gaming compacts ratified by Arizona voters in 2002. Proposition 202, supported by 17 tribes statewide, including the Gila River and TO communities, created a sound but delicate balance, a promise, that kept casinos out of urban neighborhoods, gave much needed revenue to the state and created an economic engine to lift every tribal community.

To see that balance upset and that promise broken – and to see one tribe use secrecy and legal maneuvering to benefit at the expense of every other tribe and our state – is difficult to comprehend, let alone stand for in silence.

Thus the Gila River Indian Community has taken our case to federal court. Our first goal is to force the federal government to apply federal gaming laws evenly. Never before has a tribe been allowed to “shop” for reservation land half a state away from its homeland, then open a casino on the newly created “pocket reservation.” That not only flies in the face of federal gaming law, but in the face of every Arizona’s vote for Proposition 202.

As for our sister tribe, I know our disagreement is temporary. Himdag has a place of supreme importance in their culture, too. I would like to believe that their leadership will rediscover their way soon enough. I believe we can achieve more together than apart and that greed should never be allowed to trump respect for all things.”

The deciding supporter of Alvarez’ plea was Councilmember Gary Sherwood. Mr. Sherwood can not have it both ways despite the rambling, confusing and often contradictory reasons for his decision. On one hand he says he still supports City Council Resolution 4246 that stated that the city is officially opposed to the TO casino.  It’s important to quote part of that resolution, “Whereas, the City believes that the Tohono O’odham Nation’s assertions and the basis upon which it makes these assertions are incorrect, poor public policy, in violation of the governmental rights, privileges, and authority of the State of Arizona, the County of Maricopa, and the City of Glendale, and are contrary to the best interests of the Citizens of the State of Arizona, the County of Maricopa, and the city of Glendale; and Whereas, the City of Glendale, consistent with the Indian tribes voicing opposition to the Tohono O’odham Nation’s application, opposes off-reservation gaming, including this current effort by the Tohono O’odham Nation to establish gaming on the Proposed Reservation Land, as contrary to the terms of Proposition 202 as presented to the people of the State of Arizona in 2002 and supported by, among other, the Tohono O’odham Nation.” Here is the link to Bailey’s (really Tindall’s legal opinion): http://www.glendaleaz.com/Clerk/agendasandminutes/Workshops/Agendas/031814-W03.pdf .

On the other hand, Sherwood then launched into a monologue stating, in essence, the TO casino will create “synergy” with Westgate and drive more business there. In a pig’s eye and he knows it. Subsidized food, drink and room rates at the TO proposed casino will undercut every restaurant, bar and hotel in the Westgate area. Despite his statement that he still supports opposition to the proposed casino and it will be “contrary to the best interest of the City of Glendale and of the citizens of the State of Arizona” he then supported moving forward with negotiations with the TO and opposition to Franks’ bill.  On one hand he says he opposes the casino because it earns not a penny of revenue for Glendale yet on the other, he is prepared to negotiate and facilitate their eventual presence.  His position is illogical yet he became the fourth councilmember needed to achieve consensus and direction.

Why? Sometimes things become clearer with perspective. Think back to the arena deal vote. Sherwood knew Weiers, Hugh and Alvarez were opposed to the arena deal and Martinez and Knaack already supported him and the deal. The vote was split, 3 to 3. He discovered those 5 members could not be dissuaded. Whether one agreed with or opposed their positions they had the principles of their conviction and could not be moved. He desperately needed that 4th vote of approval for the arena deal.

Who was left? Newly elected Sam Chavira — of course. Whispers of this scenario have circulated for months. If Chavira voted for the arena deal, in return Sherwood would support the casino. Is it true? I don’t know but it makes perfect sense and certainly seems to fit the known facts. Did each sell their souls? For what? Political back scratching? To be recognized in public hockey town halls as the saviors of the Coyotes? Reelection financial support from hockey and TO stakeholders with deep pockets?

But at whose expense? The citizens of Glendale locked into unsustainable arena debt of an estimated $27 million a year with a council unwilling to make the budget cuts that make the arena deal feasible? The Westgate area business owners who will suffer from unfair competition? The residents of West Glendale whose property values will decline with the advent of a casino while crime and traffic increases? The Westgate business owners who will suffer from unfair competition?  The Indian tribes who joined the State Compact in good faith? The voters of the State of Arizona presented with a plan to limit casino locations?

These politicians were just that –typical politicians, exemplifying the worst of the offices they hold. Sherwood delivered an irresponsible and dangerous signal to casino friends and foes alike. His flip flop on one of his campaign promises should be remembered when he runs for reelection. Given this, expect him flip flop again and to support the hated billboards proposed for North Glendale.  After all, he confessed that all of the fuss over the billboards was “baffling” to him and he was “pro-business.” There is no statesmanship here.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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Tribes say “Thank You”…and so do I

Posted by Joyce Clark on September 26, 2013
Posted in Casino  | Tagged With: , , , , , | 3 Comments

On Sunday, September 22, 2013 there was a full page newspaper ad by 7 Arizona Tribes thanking members of the Arizona delegation for their bipartisan support of H.R. 1410, The Keep the Promise Act. Many no longer get the newspaper so I have taken the liberty of relaying their comments in full. As they say “Thank You” – so do I as well as the many Yucca district residents that would be directly and adversely affected.thank you

THANK YOU

An open letter to members of the Arizona House delegation and members of the U.S. House of Representatives

In 2002, the voters of Arizona approved Proposition 202, the Indian Gaming and Self-Reliance Act. The campaign to approve that measure, supported and funded by 17 Indian Tribes from all over the state, made a promise to Arizona residents. We told the voters that Indian casinos would remain restricted to traditional tribal lands and that no additional casinos would open in metropolitan Phoenix.

ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2013, THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TOOK A HUGE STEP TOWARD REAFFIRMING THAT PROMISE WHEN A BIPARTISAN SUPERMAJORITY PASSED H.R. 1410, THE KEEP THE PROMISE ACT.

Jointly sponsored by Arizona Congressional Representatives Trent Franks, Ed Pastor, Ann Kirkpatrick, Paul Gosar, David Schweikert and Matt Salmon in collaboration with Representatives Jared Huffman, John Conyers and Dan Kildee, The Keep The Promise Act was made necessary when one tribe – the Tohono O’odham – decided to contradict the promise made to voters by pursuing a tribal casino development in Glendale, near neighborhoods, schools, homes and places of worship.

We want to express our deep gratitude for the leadership shown by Reps. Franks, Pastor, Kirkpatrick, Gosar, Schweikert and Salmon on this issue. Their effort sets new precedents for bipartisan cooperation, as these representatives worked together tirelessly to hold every Arizona tribe accountable to the promises made to voters a decade ago: To keep casinos out of neighborhoods and to preserve the balance of Indian gaming that has existed for many years, to the benefit of Tribes and Arizona residents.

Now, thanks to the leadership of the members listed above, The Keep The Promise Ace will move on to the U.S. Senate, where we have every expectation of the same level of bipartisan support. That is why H.R. 1410 matters so much and why our Tribes and many other Valley cities will continue to support its immediate passage.

Respectfully,

CHAIRWOMAN SHERRY CORDOVA

Cocopah Tribe

PRESIDENT RUBEN BALDERAS

Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation

PRESIDENT KEENY ESCALANTI

Fort Yuma-Quechan Tribe

GOV. GREGORY MENDOZA

Gila River Indian Community

CHAIRWOMAN SHERRY COUNTS

Hualapai Tribe

GOVERNOR ARLEN P. QUETAWKI, SR

Pueblo of the Zuni

PRESIDENT DIANE ENOS

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

Ned Norris Jr Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman

Ned Norris Jr.

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to list most, but certainly not all, of the reasons why a casino in Glendale is not a good idea. Last week Councilmember Alvarez had a meeting with 20 of her most avid supporters. She invited the Tohono O’odham’s Ned Norris Jr. to present another pitch in support of a casino in Glendale. The attendees heard nothing new and it was an opportunity for Norris to reiterate the TO’s position.

Norma Alvarez

Norma Alvarez

I am disturbed by her action. As a Councilmember one of the duties expected is that once a City Council position on an issue is adopted, one’s responsibility is to advocate FOR the city’s position. If a councilmember disagrees with that position, it must be revealed with the disclaimer that it is one’s personal position and not that of the city’s. It is also not allowable to use city resources in support of one’s personal position. If her Council Assistant was in attendance or if her Council Assistant used city time to order and/or pick up the refreshments it would be an express violation of city policy. To use one’s office and position to invite residents to a meeting to advocate against an adopted city position is morally and ethically reprehensible. There is also the propriety of advocacy for an opponent’s position when the city remains in active litigation.

 65 percent of businesses are hurt by the proximity of gambling. Decreases meals and room taxes away from other, traditional sources (shifts tax revenue away from hotels and restaurants in Westgate)

Visitors and residents spend money on gambling that would be spent on other local goods and services

Shifts workers currently in one industry to the gambling industry. Takes workers from other industries and moves them into the casino industry

Social costs increase related to increased crime and pathological gambling

Most patrons come from within 30 miles and participation declines exponentially as distance increases.

Traffic impacts experienced at all times of day. Casino traffic is not seasonal because the number of trips to and from casinos is relatively consistent from month to month. Casinos operate 24 hours per day; there is no peak travel period to and from casinos

Five years after a casino opens, robbery in the community goes up 136 percent, aggravated assault is up 91 percent, auto theft is up 78 percent, burglary is up 50 percent, larceny is up 38 percent, rape is up 21 percent and murder is up 12 percent, compared to neighboring communities.  Crime is low shortly after a casino opens, and grows over time, costing the average adult $75 per year

Each slot machine costs the surrounding community one job per year

Business and personal bankruptcies increase between 18 and 42 percent, while ‘impulse’ business transactions in the area decline by 65 percent.”

Every slot machine takes $60,000 out of the local, consumer economy

Gamblers spend 10 percent less on food; 25 percent less on clothing and 35 percent less on savings

For every one job that the casino creates, one is lost in the 35-mile feeder market

The Tohono O’odham ignored their promise to their fellow Tribal leaders to keep another casino out of the Phoenix Metropolitan area

It destroys the state-wide voter approved gaming compact and will cause casinos to be built in many other Arizona cities

All of these issues will directly and severely impact the 10,000 Glendale residents living the closest to the proposed casino

All of these reasons have been cited and attributed to the original researchers on the subject in my previous posts about the casino.

greed 1Opponents have said the Tribes that oppose this casino in Glendale are doing so purely out of greed, to protect their market share. Yet the Tohono O’odham wants to site this casino in Glendale for exactly the same reason, pure greed, for it would open a very lucrative market far, far away from their Tribal lands in southern Arizona.

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On May 13, 2013 the Rose Law Group Reporter posted the following article. I do not usually re-post entire articles but in this case many of you may not see it. This opinion piece was written by those, in addition to Glendale residents, most affected by the Tohono O’odham proposed casino, the Tribal leaders. Read their words. They relied upon the words of their brother and sister TO Tribal leaders.

(Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents leadership of the Arizona House and Senate in lawsuit against the Glendale casino.)

[OP-ED] Tribal leaders say Tohono O’odham’s has ‘ill ambition’ for casino

Posted By Phil Riske / May 13, 2013

By Diane Enos, Gregory Mendoza, Sherry Counts, Arlen P. Quetawki, Sherry Cordova and Clinton M. Pattea | The Arizona Republic

New federal legislation introduced by Arizona congressional Reps. Trent Franks, Ed Pastor and Ann Kirkpatrick that would keep compacts intact deserves a fair look.

The complexity of the issue has been captured by The Arizona Republic in its editorials and in recent news articles that have delved into the history of the voter-approved Proposition 202 to shed light on how a proposed casino in Glendale has much broader implications.

Arizonans who in 2002 voted “yes” on Proposition 202 did so based on the 17 Arizona tribes’ promise that Indian casinos would be kept out of neighborhoods and, as penned by then-Gov. Jane Dee Hull, “Voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 202 ensures that no new casinos will be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area and only one in the Tucson area for at least 23 years.”

These commitments were accepted and promoted by 17 Arizona tribes, including the Tohono O’odham Nation, and Arizona. We worked for nearly two years to negotiate a tribal-state plan for limited Indian gaming that was accepted by community leaders, business leaders and elected officials, who in turn publicly advocated for what ultimately became Prop. 202.

At the time, none of the participating 17 tribes expressed disagreement with the framework, which is why a proposed casino in Glendale is a plain violation of the commitments made to Arizona voters in 2002.

As leaders of Arizona tribes, we expect honest transactions from federal, state and local officials and set the same expectations of ourselves and of fellow tribes. It is for these reasons that we support this new, bipartisan legislation.

The Keep the Promise Act will protect the integrity of our work during the gaming-compact negotiations.

It will safeguard the trust of elected officials, business leaders, our own communities and the Arizona voters when they said “yes” to Prop. 202.

Without it, an explosion of new neighborhood casinos — in Glendale and beyond — could be on the horizon because if the promises made through Prop. 202 are broken, the door is opened for other off-reservation casinos.

To that end, it is no secret that the Tohono O’odham Nation now says it never pledged to restrict the number of casinos in the Phoenix area or to keep them out of neighborhoods. It asserts the right to develop multiple casinos on county islands near Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale or anywhere else in the Valley.

Such ill ambition is detrimental to Prop. 202, destroys the good work of 16 tribes and cultivates an atmosphere of distrust.

This is why there is an urgent need for the Keep the Promise Act. It will protect the collective vision of “limited and balanced gaming” in Arizona that was carefully engineered by tribal and state leaders, and approved by voters.

Actively support House Resolution 1410, the Keep the Promise Act, and urge your legislators to do the same.

Diane Enos is president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Gregory Mendoza is governor of the Gila River Indian Community. Sherry Counts is chairwoman of the Hualapai Tribe. Arlen P. Quetawki is governor of the Pueblo of Zuni. Sherry Cordova is chairwoman of the Cocopah Indian Tribe. Clinton M. Pattea is president of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

 

Trent Franks

Congressman
Trent Franks

Lately, Councilmember Alvarez has been pushing the Tohono O’odham agenda before Glendale City Council-to no avail. A majority of them are not biting. Perhaps it’s because they accept that the city is still in litigation with them and one does not fraternize with the opposing party of a lawsuit. That obviously does not bother Councilmember Alvarez. On May 2, 2013, our favorite non-newspaper, the Glendale Star, published Alvarez’ Letter to the Editor entitled Franks supports East Valley interests over will of West Valley voters…again. You can read the entire Letter to the Editor with this link http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/article_36e063a8-b1ba-11e2-912b-001a4bcf887a.html

I dare to venture that my recent series of blogs about the casino may have prompted the TO to try to get out in front in an casino 1attempt to neutralize my comments. They certainly have been pushing on Councilmember Alvarez of late to try to get their message out, first at council meetings and now with this Letter to the Editor. The TO poured thousands of dollars into the recent election campaigns of Alvarez’ chosen candidates and now it’s time for her to carry their water.

Did she write the piece? That’s for you to judge and as you do so, reflect on her public comments at council meetings which have not been nearly as polished. If I were a betting person, I would bet that her Letter to the Editor was ghosted by one of the lovely ladies at TriAdvocates, a consultancy firm hired by the Tohono O’odham. It certainly provides TriAdvocates something to do for their $180,000 annual retainer.

Alvarez berated Congressman Trent Franks for doing what he should be doing for his West Valley constituency and that is protecting their interests as well as those of the State of Arizona by introducing H.R. 1410. He is also protecting the interests of a majority of the Tribal nations in this state that have publicly opposed the actions of the Tohono O’odham.

Alvarez cites the “overwhelming support for the project in this community, with polls consistently showing more than two-thirds of West Valley voters are in favor of the casino…”

polling 1Really? I could write questions for a poll right now that would demonstrate that two-thirds of West Valley voters are NOT in favor of the casino. Conveniently two factors are ignored. One is that a poll can be written and utilized to back up any point of view. In most cases, they are meaningless. Secondly, I know that a majority of those Glendale residents immediately impacted by the casino do not support it. The further away one is from it and especially if one lives in another town or city the resistance to this casino diminishes. For those who live in Sun City, for example, the casino is merely a convenience with less travel time. What does someone in Peoria care if it costs Glendale millions of dollars to support a casino? It’s not in their backyard and they will not bear the costs.

Alvarez then goes on to say, “The West Valley should currently be enjoying the 3,000 permanent jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars per year this project will bring to our community.”

If you had read any of my previous blogs, the professors and researchers I cited make very clear that the jobs created by a casino will be in man moneypart, “displacement” jobs. In other words, instead of someone working at a Denny’s that person will take a job at a casino. Keep in mind, 25% of the jobs will go to Native Americans. There is nothing wrong with that but now those alleged 3,000 jobs becomes 2,250. In my blogs I offered factual information that the number of jobs that will be created is vastly over stated. As for the hundreds of millions of dollars per year that will come to Glendale my question is from what? It can’t be from taxes because the TO will pay no tax of any size, shape or description to anyone. Perhaps Alvarez is referring to the 8% of the state-mandated 12% tribes must allocate through grants to non-profits? If so, it would take years and years and years to even come close to her “hundreds of millions of dollars per year.” So much for offering factual information.

Lastly Alvarez says, “Making matters worse is that H.R. 1410 seeks to re-write the voter-approved Arizona Gaming Compact, a document that was written and signed by 17 sovereign nations and the State of Arizona.”

Ned Norris Jr Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman

Tohono O’odham Chairman
Ned Norris Jr.

This statement earns a Woo Hoo for today. Prior to bringing the compact to voters all of the state tribes spent several years negotiating and approving among themselves the framework of a compact. It was a gentleman’s/gentlewoman’s agreement among the tribes. Did the TO agree with fingers crossed behind their backs? It appears so. It raises the question of, if you will renege on a promise to your fellow Tribes who else will you renege on?

That framework was then negotiated with the State resulting in Proposition 202 that the voters of the state approved. In an attempt to persuade voters to approve the compact it was clearly stated that the number of casinos in the Phoenix Metro area was limited to seven. That is the number of casinos that exists today without the proposed TO casino. Franks’ bill seeks to do the very thing the TO refuse to do and that is protect the intent of the Arizona Gaming Compact.

No, Councilmember Alvarez, your attack on Congressman Franks is misguided and seemingly managed by your “friends” who do not live in Glendale. The Congressman is to be commended for protecting our interests and we do live in Glendale.

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sup ct 2I preface this recitation of the legal timeline of litigation regarding the casino by saying, that IT DOES NOT MATTER how any of these suits was decided- for or against either side – because in every case the decision was appealed to a higher court. In some remaining cases further appeals of lower court decisions will occur. Any outstanding legal decisions, mark my words, will also be appealed. I believe that the final decision will rest with the United States Supreme Court. I do not know which of the issues will make its way there but one of them will. It will be several years before this issue is decided in its finality. Quite frankly, it does not matter if you and I are for or against the casino. It does not matter if the Tohono O’odham promises a million jobs. None of that matters. What will matter is some highly technical legal issue that will be the determinant of a final decision.

  • 2001  The land in question is annexed by Glendale; later that year annexation repealed and abandoned by Glendale
  • prop 2022002  Voters of state approve Proposition 202, the gaming compact; members of the Tohono O’odham actively and publicly advocated for its passage
  • 2003  The Tribe, under a shell company, Rainer Resources, Inc. buys the 134 acre parcel within Glendale’s borders
  • 2009  The Tribe announces plans to build casino with a major, state-wide Press Release and on the same day visits Glendale City Hall to announce they are coming;  In July the Tribe sues Glendale over its claim of annexation of land
  • 2010  In March the Tribe sues Bureau of Indian Affairs to compel it to take land into trust for reservation; In July the Bureau of Indian Affairs approves taking 54 of 134 acres into trust provisionally for a reservation pending outcome of other litigation and gaming approval; In September Glendale sues stating the TO needs state officers’ approval and the Gila River Tribe sues because the Department of the Interior acted improperly in deciding land could be annexed by the TO
  • judge 12011  In May Judge Campbell rules that the TO can not build a casino until all legal actions exhausted; In July a state law allowing Glendale to block TO land through annexation is struck down upon appeal; In August The National Indian Gaming Commission rejects a casino ordinance for the Tohono O’odham Nation; In September  U.S. Rep. Trent Franks offers a bill to stop what he called an “illegal” Indian casino proposed near Glendale
  • 2012  In April the 9th Circuit Court to decide two legal issues initiated by the Gila River Tribe and the State of Arizona; In June US House of Representative  passes Rep. Franks’ bill; however, the bill does not make it through the Senate and the 9th Circuit upholds one suit in favor of the TO land into trust decision; other suit still pending their decision
  • bill2013  The Gila River Tribe files suit contending the TO violated the voter approved state gambling compact; In April oral arguments heard; The decision is pending; U. S. Representative Trent introduces another bill to stop new casinos from being established after 2013

 

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casino 1Having read my previous post on the casino you should have a pretty good idea as to where the proposed casino will be sited and what people and properties will be impacted. Let’s go back in history to see what was occurring regarding the whole issue of Tribal gaming in the early 2000’s.

Long before the casino was a gleam in the eyes of the Tohono O’odham, in the mid-1990’s the land (approximately 135 acres) was owned by Jerry Kowalsky. Mr. Kowalsky and his group purchased the land in order to establish Icon Movie Studio. In tandem with submitting his plan he also started the procedure to annex the land. His plan was not approved by council. The dream died. Land that had been annexed was later deannexed by the city. His plan for a movie studio, some say, was never welcomed by the mayor. It was rumored at the time that she did not like the gentleman and did not believe he has the financing in place. Well, we all know now what a good judge of character and financial ability she turned out to be – witness Ellman and Moyes, both of whom promised much and delivered little. I supported Mr. Kowalsky’s plan. I believed it would be a catalyst to bring jobs and to cause support businesses  to locate there. Do you remember a movie, The Passion of Christ, produced by Icon Studios? It made a bazillion dollars. So much for Icon and its financial capabilities.

Ned Norris Jr Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman

Ned Norris Jr.
Tohono O’odham
Nation Chairman

DianeEnos Pres Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

Diane Enos
President
Salt River
Pima-
Maricopa
Indian Community

It is widely known that since the spring of 2001 at the very latest, the Tohono O’odham was looking at West Valley locations for a possible casino site. they originally looked in the Buckeye area but their consultants advised them it was too far out and needed to be closer and in fact, suggested Glendale.While they were land shopping the talk of the state was a tribal gaming compact scheduled to go before the voters of the state in the election of 2002 known as Proposition 202. In the years previous all of the tribes in the state had met and worked collectively to hammer out the parameters of the proposed compact before bringing it to the state and the voters. The Tohono O’odham were heavily engaged in the inter-tribal discussions to hammer out this framework. Lately in court, the Tohono O’odham has been saying that they were unaware of any discussion to keep casinos out of metropolitan areas. Yet governors and legal counsel representing the tribes have flatly stated that the TO’s involvement in the process was full and robust.  In fact, Ned Norris, Jr. currently President of the TO Nation, actively and publicly stumped for passage of Prop 202 knowing full well its provisions and implications. The TO also contributed substantial funding for the publicity campaign used to persuade voters. All the while they were meeting secretly among one another to acquire land in the Phoenix metropolitan area. No wonder they wanted to retain their 4 casino allocation. They never planned to build the 4th casino in the Gila Bend area-they were too busy planning for the Phoenix area.

The following comes directly from the publicity pamphlet entitled, Yes on 202: The 17-Tribe Indian Self-Reliance Initiative, Answers to Common Questions, published and mailed to every registered voter in the state in the spring of 2001:

prop 202

According to the Prop 202 voter education pamphlet issued by the Arizona Secretary of State: “Voting “yes” on Proposition 202 ensures that no new casinos will be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area and only one in the Tucson area for at least 23 years.”

Gregory Mendoza President of Gila River Indian Community

Gregory Mendoza
President
Gila River
Indian Community

In Congressional hearings on the issue held last year Gila River Indian Community Governor Gregory Mendoza stated, “No new casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area was a requirement made clear to all 17 tribes involved in the compact negotiations. It was a key commitment and without it there would never have been acceptance or the passage of Prop 202.”

The voter-approved Proposition 202 was rooted in three key elements:

  • Indian casinos would be kept out of neighborhoods;
  • Each tribe agreed to a specific casino allocation; some even gave up rights to additional casinos in order to limit the number within the state; and
  • Then Governor Jane Dee Hull in the Prop 202 voter education pamphlet issued by the Arizona Secretary of State, echoed the same with, “Voting ‘’yes” on Proposition 202 ensures that no new casinos will be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area and only one in the Tucson area for at least 23 years.” This was a lynch-pin issue for the Governor. Without it she was not willing to advocate for or sign a compact.

In December 2002 the Tohono O’odham and the state executed the voter approved compact and in February 2003 the United States Secretary of the Interior approved the compact. All the while Rainer Resources, Inc., a Delaware company with a Seattle mailing address acting as a Tohono O’odham shell company, secretly sought land in the Phoenix Metropolitan area for a casino.

In August of 2003, the TO under the guise of its shell company bought the land, knowing that it was within Glendale’s boundaries. Back in the 70’s there were “land wars” and each city staked out territory for future annexation. Glendale’s recognized western boundaries were set at Northern Avenue as its north boundary and Camelback Road as its south boundary. Any unincorporated land between those two boundaries could only be annexed into Glendale. The TO knew that for it had been policy and formally recognized for at least 30 years.

All that I have related regarding the TO’s actions can be found in the most recent court filing of April 14, 2013 and can be accessed by using this link: http://www.azcentral.com/ic/community/pdf/glendale-casino-case-court-filingx.pdf

bush

President
George W.
Bush

In 2003 there was absolute silence and the TO waited. Why? For a more favorable President and administration to assist them with their agena. They needed an administration to interpret the law favorably. George W. Bush, a Republican, was President at the time and his administration would not have supported the TO’s stealth move. So, they continued to wait until times and administrations became more favorable. In 2008, Barack Obama, a Democrat, was elected as the nation’s President. Good times for the TO had arrived. The tribe had waited 6 years. It was now 2008 and their time had come and they would not be denied.  Van Jones, President Obama’s former Green Jobs Czar, said this about Native Americans, “No more broken treaties. No more broken treaties. Give them the wealth. Give them the wealth. Give them dignity. Give them the respect they deserve. No justice on stolen land. We owe them a debt.”

obama

President
Barack
Obama

Almost immediately upon Obama’s inauguration, in late January of 2009, the TO literally descended upon Glendale’s City Hall and announced that they were coming…take it or leave it, like it or lump it. On January 28, 2009, the Tribe met with city staff and informed them that they had  transferred the land into its own name and had filed an application asking the Secretary of the Interior take the proposed casino site into trust so that it could be used for gaming. On the following day, the TO issued a press release with their intention to build a “Las Vegas-style” casino on the site. Two months later, city staff, having requested more specific information from the TO for their next meeting, met with the Tribe. The Tribe declined to provide any information until they had successfully secured reservation status. They knew they were now in the “cat-bird’s” seat and cooperation was not necessary to secure their objective.

So far, I have not broached the subject of the casino and its siting. Next up will be the casino and its implications for an urbanized area.

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