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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Apparently Governor Doug Ducey has no problem throwing the City of Glendale under the bus. Recently he offered a settlement to the Tohono O’odham. Here is a link to Howard Fischer’s Capitol Times story: http://tucson.com/news/local/tohono-o-odham-say-proposed-casino-deal-not-likely-acceptable/article_da14a03a-e2b5-5fde-aa95-87519314c89c.html . In return for the state’s recognition of the Glendale casino as well as the state’s allowance of full Class III gaming at the Glendale casino the Governor wants the tribe in essence to promise not to build any other casinos in the metropolitan areas of  Phoenix and to limit gaming to the TO tribal land that existed in 2003. Gee, as a Glendale resident, I want to say, “Thank you, Governor.” The deal, in order to obtain buy-in from the other tribes, gives the tribes an increase gaming operations which means increased revenue for them.

The Tohono O’odham (TO) is reluctant to agree. They are betting that Judge Campbell, who is scheduled to hear arguments in mid-December on the TO’s lawsuit to compel the state to grant it Class III gaming, will rule in their favor. The TO assumes it will win this lawsuit and get Class III gaming in Glendale. The TO’s anticipated win of this current law suit allows them to retain the legal option to open casinos elsewhere in the Phoenix metro area.

A little refresher on history is needed. In 2002, the voters of the state approved a Gaming Compact between all tribes and the state for the purpose of gaming regulation at tribal casinos. The 2002 deal gave the tribes the exclusive right to conduct casino gaming in Arizona and was sold to voters on the promise that gambling would be restricted to existing reservations and that there would be no new casinos in the Phoenix area.

In the meantime, the TO, while actively encouraging voters to support the 2002 gaming compact, were already planning on breaching it. Prior to 2002 they were secretly and actively seeking land for the purpose of planting a casino in Maricopa County. Their original consideration was to purchase land in or around Buckeye. Buckeye dodged the bullet when the TO’s consultant opined that the site was too distant from the major urban centers of Phoenix. They settled on a county island in Glendale, close to city’s newly announced (in 2002) Westgate site as an entertainment district. They bought the land under a shell company and for seven years they kept it secret while Glendale invested millions of dollars into the development of Westgate. On the day in 2009, when they made their public announcement of their intent to build a casino in Glendale, they marched into city hall and in essence told the city they were coming and there was not a darned thing it could do about it.

For years, Glendale and the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa tribe and the Gila River tribe brought lawsuits against the Tohono O’odham. It has only been lately that Glendale’s city council dropped its opposition to the TO casino in return for 30 pieces of silver.

Here is the Arizona Republic’s latest editorial on the issue: http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/editorial/2016/11/30/tribal-gaming-settlement/94698276/ .

Everyone , to this day, believes the TO’s West Valley casino was a breach of the spirit of the 2002 agreement with voters that created the plan for limited tribal gaming. The tribes believe the TO breached their trust. Over the past 8 years the TO has created controversy, innumerable legal battles, enormous cost and a great deal of distrust regarding its word to its sister tribes and the voters of the state.

The TO’s response has been to say that it wants to consider all proposals using the Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA). Here’s the rub. The Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community resigned from the AIGA in May, 2016, saying, “actions of the Tohono O’odham Nation to secretly develop a casino in direct opposition to the promises made by AIGA and other tribes has destroyed AIGA’s unity and undermined the principles of the organization.” Obviously the TO’s suggestion is not going to happen but it certainly provides the TO with convenient cover.

What to make of this latest volley? It is clear that no one on this planet trusts the Tohono O’odham’s word.  The only reason the state is willing to grant the long-coveted Class III gambling license is because Governor Ducey wants a signed, legal document  (promise) from the TO that they will not build any more casinos in the greater Phoenix metro area. The TO’s word is worth nothing and their signature on a contract may not be worth much more (do you see future law suits?).

In the meantime the TO wants its cake and to eat it too. They are cocky. They’ve won nearly every law suit. They have convinced themselves they will win this latest one. If they do, they will get their Class III gaming without having to promise anyone that they will not build more casinos in Maricopa County. Uh, oh, watch out Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, et. al. A Tohono O’odham casino planted in your town may be in your future! Can anyone say, “Las Vegas?”

© Joyce Clark, 2016        

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

On September 17, 2014 the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs took testimony on S. 2670, a bill introduced by Senators McCain and Flake. It is designed to prevent the Tohono O’odham from building a casino in Glendale until 2027 when the current state-Indian gaming compact expires.

Because there is a lot of testimony I have broken it into segments. This portion is the testimony of Governor Gregory Mendoza, Chairman of the Gila River Indian Community and Mayor of Glendale Jerry Weiers. It is evident from Mendoza’s testimony that the 16 other tribes that are part of the gaming compact feel betrayed and are very bitter about the actions of the Tohono O’odham (TO). The reason that Governor Mendoza of the Gila River Indian Community and President Diane Enos of the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have taken the lead in opposing the TO’s project is that these two tribes have the resources to do so. They have the support of the other Arizona tribes.

Mayor Jerry Weiers highlighted Proposition 202, the Arizona Gaming Compact, and distributed to members of the committee copies of the original publicity pamphlet distributed to voters in 2002. What is ironical is that the pamphlet used, that promised no new casinos in the Phoenix Metropolitan area was paid for by the Tohono O’odham.

Both men spoke of possible consequences should the TO prevail. Governor Mendoza spoke of the harm that will befall rural tribes and Mayor Weiers spoke of action that could be taken by the Arizona legislature to open up the entire state to non-Indian gaming.

The actions of the Tohono O’odham stink on so many levels:

  • They don’t care that they have destroyed the deep-seated, long-term trust they enjoyed with their sister Arizona tribes.
  • They don’t care that they broke their word and their commitment to keep new casinos out of the Phoenix Metropolitan area.
  • They don’t care if they destroy, single-handedly, the voter approved state gaming compact.
  • They don’t care if their casino is across the street from a high school and becomes a magnet for curious teenagers.
  • They don’t care if they destroy the fabric of neighborhoods with greater 24/7 traffic and spill over crime.
  • They don’t care if the state legislature opens the state up to non-Indian gaming.
  • They don’t care if rural Indian tribes suffer.

Their actions are nothing short of Machiavellian, “the ends justify the means.” Their only concern appears to be enriching themselves at the expense of all around them. They have 3 casinos in the Tucson area estimated to earn $36 million annually. I guess that’s just not enough for them. If they succeed in building the casino the unintended consequences will be felt for many years to come. But that’s OK – as long as they get what they want.

Below is the verbatim transcript of the testimonies of Governor Mendoza and Mayor Weiers:

Governor Mendoza: “Good afternoon Chairman Tester, members of the committee. Thank you for holding this hearing and inviting me to speak in support of the Keep the Promise Act. I want to start by saying that it pains me to advocate against a sister tribe. But this is not a dispute with the Tohono O’odham people, only with the leadership of the Tohono O’odham Nation whose actions jeopardize every tribe in Arizona. Contrary to what Tohono O’odham claims, this is not a fight about market share. It’s about preventing fraud upon tribes, local governments and voters. Tohono O’odham likes to talk about the promises made between their tribe and the federal government in 1986 but this bill is about protecting the promise made to my community and to other tribal governments.

“Our tribes relied upon the actions of Tohono O’odham when we gave up our rights in 2002. While we agreed the Tohono O’odham should get replacement lands under the 1986 law we also strongly believed that Tohono O’odham must abide by the promise and commitments they made to us. In 2002 Arizona tribes had to get approval for our compact from the voters. In order to get this approval we promised the voters that the number of casinos in the Phoenix metro area would not increase until 2027.

“At the same time that Tohono O’odham helped us to win voter approval they also were secretly plotting to build a casino in Phoenix. That casino will be located right across the street from a high school and it’s near homes and churches. This is exactly what we promised the voters would not happen. Tribes like mine gave up rights to build additional casinos. We also agreed to limit on the number of gaming machines allocated to us. We did this in order to get voter approval and to preserve the tribal monopoly on gaming in Arizona and assure that rural tribes benefit from gaming.

“Tohono O’odham doesn’t deny making promises nor do they deny knowing that their sister tribes gave up rights in order to limit the number of casinos in Phoenix. They don’t deny that the compact negotiations would have been vastly different if everyone knew of their plans. Instead they say they’re winning in the courts. There remains a dispute because they refuse to waive their sovereign immunity for claims of fraud. We do not want to attack another tribe’s immunity. That is why the bill merely provides for a temporary restriction on additional casinos in the Phoenix area until the end of the existing compacts. At that point all parties can come together at the table and bargain in good faith. Hopefully my community will be able to regain the rights we gave away.

“The Gila River Indian Community will weather the storm but most tribes in Arizona are not as fortunate. Rural tribes will suffer the most from Tohono O’odham’s fraud. There are six rural tribes that utilize gaming compacts to lease gaming machines to urban tribes. Leasing these machines allows them to benefit from gaming even though their markets can’t support a casino. Each year these tribes receive more than $30 million dollars to provide basic services to their members and the structure of the gaming compacts create markets for a few rural tribes to operate small casinos.

“If gaming happens in Glendale the state legislature will likely eliminate that tribal monopoly. If this happens urban tribes will have no reason to lease gaming machines from rural tribes. Patrons will stop traveling to reservations for gaming and instead visit non-tribal casinos in cities. We have come to Congress because you’re the only entity that can provide swift action to preserve the promises made in 2002. Interior indicates it cannot resolve this matter because Congress through the 1986 law mandates that they take the land into trust for the Tohono O’odham.

“This bill does not set bad precedent. It is common for Congress to pass bills that limit tribal gaming. In this Congress alone, two bills have been enacted placing land into trust for a tribe but prohibiting gaming on those lands. The bill narrowly restricts gaming on the land until 2027 but does not eliminate the uses of the land and there are a number of non-gaming activities that Tohono O’odham could conduct. For all of these reasons I ask that you pass this bill. Thank you.”

Chairman Tester: “Thank you, Governor. Uh, Welcome Mayor Weiers and I would ask you to try to keep it to five minutes because the Senator has another meeting to get to and I want to get to him for questions.”

Mayor Weiers: “I’ll do the best that I can, Sir. Thank you very much. Good afternoon, Chairman Tester, Vice Chairman Brasher and members of the Committee. My name is Jerry Weiers. I am the Mayor of Glendale, a city of 232,000 and the 72nd largest city in the country.

“Before becoming mayor I served eight years in the Arizona legislature. I am here today to discuss my personal views on a casino proposed to be built in my city. I am required to state that my views today do not represent the majority of the body of the council and my views are not the official position of the council.

“Like Senator McCain I supported Arizona Proposition 202, the ballot initiative which gave tribes the exclusive right to conduct gaming. One key aspect of that campaign was the clear promise, repeatedly made to voters by tribes and state officials, that there would be no additional casinos in the Phoenix metro area. When Governor Hull concluded compact negotiations in 2002 with the seventeen tribes she publicly announced that under the compact that there would be, and I quote, ‘no additional casinos in the metropolitan Phoenix area.’ Now here’s a voter pamphlet from the 2002 initiative campaign. It was widely distributed by the seventeen tribes. The pamphlet told voters that under the compact and I quote, ‘There will be no facilities in Phoenix.’ If you look at page six, which I’ve got highlighted here, ah, major funding for this pamphlet was provided by the Tohono O’odham Nation, that I will respectfully refer to as the TO.

“Understandably the public was blind sided when the TO announced in January of 2009 that it was going to open a Las Vegas style casino on a 54 acre parcel within our city. At that time I was serving in the Arizona legislature and I met with TO Chairman Norris and I expressed my grave concerns with gambling within our city. The council immediately passed a resolution opposing the casino because it would harm our residents and our way of life.

“Recently the city council voted 4 to 3 repeal the 2009 resolution opposing that casino. But this was done only after the Interior Department had already decided to grant a casino reservation on that parcel. We had no real choice. We could continue to fight and hope for action from this body or give up. It’s frustrating to be a city of our size and have no voice on gambling pushed by a tribal government that’s more than a hundred miles away. The public has no right to object to gambling because of the narrow exception in the 1988 Indian Regulatory Gaming Act the TO is using, and gives Interior absolutely no authority to stop gambling even if it knows the adverse impact to nearby neighborhoods, churches and a public school across the street.

“Since the Interior has no authority to stop gambling it has no reason to ask the public for comments or investigate adverse impacts. This is the polar opposite to the two part exception in IGRA which is typically used for off reservation casinos. It requires that the Interior prepare for an environmental impact statement and investigate in great detail adverse impacts that a casino may cause. What’s more, for gambling to be allowed, the Secretary must determine on the record, and I quote, ‘would not be detrimental to the surrounding community.’ And most importantly, the state’s governor has the right to veto any casino project regardless of the Secretary’s decision.

“But in our case, the public has no say. The state legislature has no say. Our governor has no say and the Interior has no authority to stop it. For us this means the largest tribal casino in the history of the state may operate on a 54 acre island in the middle of the Phoenix metro area without anyone investigating and addressing the adverse environmental and social impacts it will cause and without any federal, state or local official deciding that it can safely operate in the public’s interest.

“What’s more, my city may not be the last. Our sister cities realize that unless Congress acts, they may be next. Under the 1986 Gila Bend Act, TO claims that it can create new reservation land on more than 6,000 acres. They also claim the right to operate a total of four new casinos in the Phoenix metro area. If Congress does not act the entire Phoenix metropolitan area must be prepared for more off reservation casinos. That is why many mayors and city councilmembers have signed a letter asking the Congress to enact the Keep the Promise Act.

“As a former state legislator I know that if gambling happens in Glendale there will be a strong effort in the state legislature to authorize non-Indian gaming in all of Arizona and that will have a devastating effect on all the tribes. I urge this committee to move the Keep the Promise Act. The bill is about preserving the promises made by tribes to voters protecting Phoenix metro cities from having unwanted gambling within their borders. Thank you, Mr. Tester. I’ll be happy to answer any questions.”

Chairman Tester: “Thank you Mayor Weiers.

© 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 August 14, 2014 two referendum petition packets were taken out for the purpose of obtaining Glendale residents’ signatures. If successful, the two actions taken by the Glendale City Council at its meeting on August 12, 2014 will be decided in an election by the people…as it should be. Glendale’s City Attorney, Michael Bailey, said publicly that neither council vote is referable. In other words, no one can take out a petition to try to overturn the council votes. The Tribal attorneys believe it is referable. When the signed petitions are turned in expect Glendale to reject them. Expect a law suit resulting in yet another judicial decision about Glendale’s ultimate fate.

Here is the text of the first referendum action. It seeks to overturn the council’s vote welcoming a reservation and casino within Glendale: “The Tohono O’Odham casino, targeted for a Glendale neighborhood near homes, schools, daycares and houses of worship, will destroy neighborhoods and create severe budget stress for the nearly bankrupt City, overburdening Glendale’s public safety, street and infrastructure. This petition seeks to refer the August 12, 2014 Glendale City Council vote to agree to the creation of a 121-acre Indian reservation at 91st and Northern avenues. A “no” vote on this referral will overturn the Council’s decision to support a reservation and a casino and respect the NO casino promise, protecting City residents and the Glendale’s budget and core services.”

The second referendum petition seeks to overturn the council approved agreement between the City of Glendale and the Tohono O’odham: “The Tohono O’Odham casino, targeted for a Glendale neighborhood near homes, schools, daycares and house of worship, will destroy neighborhoods and create severe budget stress for the nearly bankrupt City, overburdening Glendale’s public safety, streets and infrastructure. This petition seeks to refer the August 12, 2014 Glendale City Council vote to sign a settlement agreement with the Tohono O’odham Nation in support of the Tribe’s neighborhood casino. A “no” vote on this referral will overturn the Council’s pro-casino decision and respect the NO casino promise, protecting City residents and the Glendale’s budget and core services.”

The pro casino people have already begun their campaign of ridicule and denigration of the referendum petition effort saying, “it’s all about money…the other Tribes do not want the competition of another casino.” Of course it’s about the money. Everyone has their hand in the money pot…the Tohono O’odham, the City of Glendale and the other Tribes.

To accept that their referendum effort is ONLY about “the money” is simplistic, self-serving and makes for great PR but misses the mark. There is a greater imperative for the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and all of the Tribes across the state supporting efforts of these two lead Tribes.

As President of the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Diane Enos, said, “They looked us in the face and lied.”  She is referring to the Tohono O’odham, a member of the coalition of Tribes that negotiated the gaming compact with the state. The TO actively and publicly worked to get voters of the state to approve the compact while deliberately keeping from its Sister Tribes its ultimate plan to put a casino in the Phoenix Metro Area. In fact, it contributed a great deal of money to publicize and to advance the compact with the state’s voters.

The Tohono O’odham lied to its Sister Tribes. It betrayed them. Why? For the money. The Tohono O’odham lied to the State and to every voter who approved the gaming compact. Why? For the money. But somehow for the pro casino supporters that’s supposed to be OK?

Why is the TO’s action simply ignored by the pro casino supporters? For the money.  For all of the Tribes throughout Arizona it is a matter of honor, respect and trust…all of which the TO deliberately chose to betray. That is the real reason the Tribes are driven to oppose the Tohono O’odham’s plans.

If an opportunity to vote on the Tohono O’odham’s casino plans do make it to a Glendale ballot that is what the voters of Glendale should remember. “They looked us in the face and lied.”

© 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.

“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

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.

The Glendale City Council meeting of March 25, 2014 was reminiscent of many meetings I attended. It was one of those marathon sessions, lasting well over 4 hours, attracting many public speakers. The council approved a contingency fund transfer of over $6 million for the arena management fee and accepted staff’s recommendation that retirees will now pay the full liability for their medical insurance. Curiously current city personnel will remain heavily subsided by the city (read, you, the taxpayer).

However, the two big issues were billboards along the Loop 101 and Bell Road and the resolution to officially rescind city support for U.S. Representative Trent Franks’ legislation, HR 1410.

One could see a sea of yellow t-shirts in support of allowing billboards adjacent to the Loop 101 and Bell Road. Jordan Rose of the Rose Law Group delivered a strong, and very, very long presentation on behalf of Becker Boards. Yet speakers against the proposal outnumbered those supporting 2 to 1. It was assumed by many that it was a done deal and would win approval. After all, Councilmember Sherwood had publicly announced that he had the four votes needed for its passage. Can you say, “blind-sided?” The ultimate vote was 5 to 2 against. Only Councilmembers Sherwood and Alvarez voted in favor of Becker Billboards.

Sherwood’s advocacy for the billboards may be more easily understood as one of the speakers questioned his support in terms of the campaign contributions he had received from the stakeholders. A quick pass of his campaign finance reports reveals at least $1,960 received from members of the Rose Law Group and another $1,720 received from members of the Becker family. Approximately 1/5 of his total campaign contributions came from these two entities.  

As a side note, seeing the large campaign contributions from fire unions, fire PACs and union firefighters in Sherwood’s campaign filings has piqued my interest. Look for a future blog that details how much money these fire union entities poured into Glendale’s last election cycle in 2012 and to whom. I suspect it will surprise us all except for the fire unions who probably know to the penny.

Councilmember Alvarez, on the other hand, cast a spite vote in favor of the billboards. After all, if her district must suffer their blight, why shouldn’t North Glendale suffer too?

The other hot issue was a vote by a majority of council to reject Representative Trent Franks legislation (HB 1410) to prohibit casino construction in the Phoenix Metro area after August of 2013. Council’s vote on this issue was much closer this time, 4 to 3, with Councilmembers Alvarez, Hugh, Chavira and Sherwood (perhaps as payback to Chavira) voting in the affirmative. The result of this congressional bill would be to stop the Tohono O’odham in their tracks. You can be sure it will result in another court battle. In the meantime court decisions are not yet settled in the 9th Circuit Court and in the Supreme Court.

Plain and simple, the Glendale City Council should not have done this. It is a slap in the face of a supportive bipartisan congressional coalition made up of the likes of Franks (R), McCain (R), Pastor (D) and others—virtually the entire Arizona Congressional delegation is in support of Franks’ legislation. The State of Arizona has a law on the books—the voter approved Gaming Compact of 2002. Since when can a city council pick and choose which laws it will uphold? It is a premature action that can result in futility should the court cases be resolved against the Tohono O’odham or Franks’ bill become law.

Mayor Weiers read a letter from Representative Franks expressing his disappointment with this council’s action and his pledge to continue to move this legislation forward. The Mayor also expressed concern that should the Tohono O’odham prevail the State Legislature will move to allow gambling state-wide, no holds barred. Many neighborhoods, state-wide, not just in the Phoenix Metro area, may become victims of new casino construction, not just by state tribes but by gaming interests throughout the country.

I, the former Yucca district councilmember, along with many, many Glendale residents, especially in the district affected, the Yucca district, urge the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River-Pima-Maricopa Indian Communities to stay the course. Continue to fight this deception perpetrated by the Tohono O’odham on you, its sister tribes.

I urge Representative Franks to also stay the course. The 4 current councilmembers who voted to pass this resolution do not represent the majority — Glendale residents opposed to this intrusion. They are misguided–swayed by the promises made to them by the Tohono O’odham. Yet how can we trust a tribe that used deception to buy the land and keep it a secret for 7 years? How can other tribes trust the tribe that used deception and secretly was planning to build a casino while advocating for a state compact that promised no new casinos in the Phoenix Metro area? Anyone who relies upon the Tohono O’odham’s word after having seen their deceptions is a fool. It looks like we’ve got at least 4 fools on the Glendale City Council. Sigh…

© 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 September 11, 2013 the Glendale Republic ran an article by Caitlin McGlade entitled Glendale softens harsh casino tone. It makes me angry to see the AzRepulsive begin its not so subtle media infomercial in an effort to sway public opinion in support of the Tohono O’odham (TO) Tribe’s ambitions.  In my latest unscientific blog poll I asked the question, Is the Arizona Republic’s reporting fair and balanced? Of the 50 respondents, 40 (80%) said, “No” and 10 (20%) said, “Yes.” 4 out of 5 people no longer believe that its coverage is fair and balanced and recognize that its reporting is slanted.

I stand with Congressman Trent Franks, the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (and all of the tribes in the state supporting them). I do not support a casino in Glendale and I believe a dialogue with the TO only becomes necessary if all legal avenues are closed and the Tribe prevails. It sends the wrong message.

I am not going to repeat all of the reasons why planting a casino in Glendale should not happen. Instead, in April of 2013 I authored a 5 part blog series on the effects of a casino. If you have not read them, please take the time to go back and check them out:

  •    April 11, 2013      Casino, to be or not to be, Part 1
  •    April 15, 2013      Casino…promise made, promise broken, Part 2
  •    April 16, 2013      Casino…good, bad or indifferent?, Part 3
  •    April 22, 2013       A casino is a casino…no matter where it is, Part 4
  •    April 24, 2013      Casino…it’s lose, lose for everyone, Part 5

What truly dumbfounds me is that one of the major rationales for keeping the Coyotes hockey team at Glendale’s Jobing.com Arena is that it generates more people and therefore more sales tax to the businesses (and the city) in Westgate. Yet Councilmember Sherwood apparently believes that the casino will do no harm to Westgate and says, “There’s not enough right now to keep people here. The casino just offers another thing for folks to do if they’re in town.” Is he nuts? Even Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett who has supported the casino from the start acknowledges, “In the short term, it (the casino) will probably hurt Westgate…” Sherwood is speaking from both sides of his mouth. On the one hand keeping the hockey team is good for Westgate and on the other the casino is good for Westgate as “another thing for folks to do.” We know that the casino will siphon discretionary dollars away from Westgate. Councilmember Sherwood, you can’t have it both ways.

Vice Mayor Knaack is performing her usual wringing of hands routine and practicing “kumbaya” with her comment, “We can’t keep on and on and on with this.” She just wants everyone to get along. Whatever happened to sticking to one’s principles? Is this another example like her avowal that she supports the downtown merchants as she votes approval for a liquor license they opposed?

Councilmember Martinez gets it with, “How do casinos attract their clients? Cheap booze, cheap food and the cost of the rooms are minimal. Here (at Westgate) we have hotels and restaurants paying taxes and helping us pay off our debts to the arena and everything else and the tribe comes in with a clean hand and they don’t have to pay anything.” Bravo Councilmember Martinez. You do get it and you are sticking to your principles.

The Gila River Indian Community said, “…any dialogue between the city and the TO would have no bearing on the Gila River’s position.” Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Diane Enos said it best in this statement, “If the commitments to keep tribal casinos out of neighborhoods made by all 17 Arizona tribes during Prop. 202 negotiations were being kept, cities like Glendale wouldn’t find themselves in these circumstances, vulnerable to broaching risky developments like this off-reservation casino, exasperated further by the current economic climate in Glendale.” Bravo President Enos. You get it too. I wonder what the Republic’s position would be if the Tribes pulled their considerable advertising dollars?

Let’s at least acknowledge that the TO and its supporters are preying on Glendale’s weakened financial position and using it as leverage to further their cause. Before its indebtedness became a cause célèbre leaders in Glendale stood on principle. How much gold are our elected officials willing to sell out for? Glendale must stay the course.

PS: In the September 12, 2013 edition of the Arizona Republic the story ran again. Only this time the comments from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community are omitted while keeping the TO’s comments intact. Way to go Arizona Republic!

©Joyce Clark, 2013

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newsOn August 1, 2013 The Glendale Star’s editor, Carolyn Dryer, delivered a commentary entitled Stop the waste; let Nation build resort/casino. As commentary obviously this is her position as well as that of the Glendale Star. One would expect no other position by the Glendale Star and Ms. Dryer considering that she has advocated for the position of Councilmember Alvarez (an avid supporter of the Tohono O’odham [TO]). Ms. Dryer even attended a meeting on the subject (along with other supporters) hosted by Alvarez at her home. That same meeting had as an attendee a Tohono O’odham hired consultant. I’m not sure why Ms. Dryer simply didn’t let TO Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. write her commentary – after all it is the TO party line almost word for word. She questions the motives of the plaintiffs — the City of Glendale, the State of Arizona and the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community (supported by the way, by virtually every other Indian Nation in the state).  She implies that all of these parties are motivated by greed. Oh really? The City of Glendale seeks to maintain local control of its land (a county island within its municipal boundaries); the State seeks to maintain the integrity of states’ rights within its own borders; and the Indian tribes seek to protect the 2002 state-wide, voter approved State Gaming Act. Blatant greed falls on the shoulders of the Tohono O’odham. Their many deceptions give testimony to their willingness to sacrifice the Gaming Act to satisfy their desire for more revenue. gambling 3She then dismisses the risk to Indian gaming in this state if the Tohono O’odham prevails. It has been acknowledged by many over the years that if the TO succeed it destroys a carefully crafted state gaming compact and opens the flood gates for gaming to be sited anywhere — perhaps even near your neighborhood. Ms. Dryer then delivers what she believes is her coup de grace…job creation. Again, this is the TO party line. The Tohono O’odham have said repeatedly there will be 6,000 construction jobs. The Maryland Live! Casino is a 332,500 square foot facility (twice the size of the proposed TO casino) and anticipates creating 2,750 construction-related jobs (half that number would be approximately 1,400 jobs and reflects a much more realistic number for a TO facility much smaller). In an effort to “sell” the benefits of the TO casino the numbers have been inflated. It is a subtle form of deception, no doubt, but not unexpected. Problems throughout the country related to casino construction have surfaced. There is no guarantee by the TO that only local construction companies or workers will be used. Here is an example that demonstrates the out-of-state use of construction workers – a Press Release from a coalition of unions in California issued on January 15, 2013, “ROHNERT PARK, CA: Graton Rancheria’s (my note: a coalition of Indian tribes) promises to Sonoma County union workers have been dashed by lay-offs of local union members as out-of-area workers are being brought in to take their places. Sonoma County union construction workers report that workers are being brought in from “Nevada and the L.A. area” and even as far away as Alabama to work on the Graton Rancheria casino/hotel project in Rohnert Park. It is amazing that the supporters of the casino still don’t get it. In their lust for job creation they are willing to accept a host of problems that are the baggage that a casino brings to a community, especially one with 10,000 homes and apartments adjacent to it. The sacrifice of our community is not worth the promises made.

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In the May 13, 2013 edition of the Arizona Republic there is an Opinion piece written by Doug Maceachern. He doesn’t pull any punches in characterizing Ned Norris Jr.’s actions regarding putting a casino in Glendale. I find it fascinating that the Arizona Republic, whose bias is clearly in favor of the Tohono O’odham, allowed his opinion piece to see the printed light-of day.

Ned Norris Jr Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman

Chairman Ned Norris Jr.

DianeEnos Pres Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

Diane Enos
Chairperson Salt River Pima
Maricopa Community

Maceachern states what many have thought or said quietly among themselves and that is Ned Norris Jr., Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, deceived and cheated his sister Tribes. Only recently have the Gila River Community and the Salt River-Maricopa-Pima Community been willing to state the very same thing publicly.

No matter what way this is sliced, Norris, as the spokesperson for the TO, spoke publicly and often in favor of the Gaming Compact proposition approved by voters in 2002. All the while, he and a select few TO were secretly planning to acquire land in the Phoenix area. In fact, their secret notes from 2002 indicate that their consultant advised them a site in Buckeye was too far away (Buckeye dodged the bullet). Norris and crew must have been rejoicing (secretly).

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “white man speak with fork-ed tongue.” This time the tables are turned. Norris and the Tohono O’odham spoke with fork-ed tongue—not only to the white men but even worse, to their brothers and sisters of all of the Arizona Tribes. Before the proposed compact ever was presented to the voters all of the tribes negotiated among themselves for several years. Not once did Norris or the TO reps bring this issue forward to the sister Tribes. Not once when Norris spoke publicly did he disagree with the proposed compact or clarify what this proposal meant to the TO. Not once did Norris say we reserve the right to buy land, place it in trust and build a casino on it in the Phoenix metro area.

Never, ever again will the Tribes trust what Norris and the TO say. Their bond of trust is broken irrevocably. Why should Glendale or any other Valley community trust them? They shouldn’t. What happens when the TO buys more land in the Valley – in Phoenix, or Gilbert, or Paradise Valley – and turns it into more trust land for the purposes of putting a casino in their communities??? It could happen.

Here is the article in its entirety:

Arizona Republic, May 19, 2013

Opinions

Tohono leader’s victim act bit much by Doug Maceachern

Like egoists throughout eternity, Ned Norris Jr., chairman of southern Arizona’s Tohono O’odham Nation, wants things both ways.

In fact, if there were three ways to have it, Norris would want it three ways. Or four.

It looks likely that Norris will get his casino near Glendale, And Norris is gloating.  And playing victim.

It’s a real juggling act. And Norris is an adept juggler, especially of words. That fellow who gave us “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” has nothing on Ned Norris.

On May 7, U.S. District Judge David Campbell became the latest in a long line of federal judges to rule in the Tohono O’odham’s favor.

The gaming compacts signed in 2002 and 2003 – the ones promoted prior to the November 2002 elections as line-in-the-sand assurances that gaming in the Phoenix area would be limited to existing casinos on existing tribal lands — simply do not say anything about forbidding the constructions of an eighth tribal casino. Or a ninth. Or more.

It has been observed many times since Norris’ astonishing announcement a few years ago of his well-laid plans to build a casino palace in Glendale. Who knew?

Who knew in 2002 that the tribal compacts said zip about limiting the number of casinos in the Valley?

As Campbell wrote: “Written agreements matter.”

“Parties who reach an accord, particularly on a matter as important and complicated as tribal gaming, carefully document their agreement in writing.”

If that sounded like an insult to the compact authors, it shouldn’t be. As noted, who knew?

Who knew tribal leaders whose land extends to the Mexican border would suddenly announce that (A) they secretly owned land near Glendale; (B) they were in negotiations with the Interior Department to have the land magically transformed into trust land; and (C) there wasn’t a damned thing anyone could do to stop them from building a compact-approved new Tohono O’odham casino on their own trust land.

It comes down to this. The writers of the compacts simply did not anticipate new tribal trust land popping up out of thin air in the middle of the urban metropolis.

State compact negotiators focused on limiting the number of casinos by limiting the number of casinos allocated to each tribe. It seemed rational. The Phoenix-area tribes already had maxed out on the number of casinos they could operate. Ipso facto, no new casinos, at least for the 20-year life span of the compacts. Right?

Wrong. The Tohono O’odhams had not maxed out on their allocation. They will be able to put at least one casino, and possibly more, wherever the tribe has trust land. And recent history tells us that can be anywhere.

It’s a clever thing Ned Norris has pulled off. Even his most bitter opponents in their intertribal struggle over gambling-market share have acknowledged the infuriating cleverness of it all.

But now, Norris is pouring salt in the wounds of his opponents, playing the sensitive, unfairly attacked, wounded soul. It’s a bit much.

Norris is bent out of shape over the name of a bill sponsored in Congress by U.S. Rep. Trent Franks that is designed to block construction of his new casino. It’s called the “Keep the Promise Act of 2013,” a clear reference to the “no-new-casinos promise” made repeatedly during the 2002 campaign to give then-Gov. Jane Dee Hull authority to negotiate compacts.

“The title of this legislation suggests that I and my people are liars and cheats,” said Norris, who added that he found it “deeply offensive.”

Well. Cheeky.

Cheeky, first and foremost, to drag his people into the debate. Notes unearthed during the course of a lawsuit filed by Phoenix-area tribes against Ned’s Gambit clearly depict tribal leaders going to great lengths to keep the scheme hush-hush from all but a small circle.

But cheeky, too, to pretend to be “deeply offended.”

Norris is acting in the role of a predatory CEO out to take market share from his competitors. He is Gordon Gekko made real.

In the process, Norris has stigmatized the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community — his chief competitors in the market-share fight – as “wealthy interest in the Phoenix area.”

In olden days, before the lure of Sun City West matrons running slots in a Norris-built casino, those “wealthy interests” would be his brothers and sisters. How money does change it all.

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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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