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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

It has been 17 years and 241 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

One would have to be blind not to see the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) casino construction in Glendale north of Glendale Avenue and west of 91st Avenue. Technically it is on a county island but in reality it is surrounded by the City of Glendale. It IS in Glendale.

The Tohono O’odham are throwing up the structure as fast as they possibly can. They are taking a huge gamble, which seems apropos as they are in that business…gambling. Still unresolved is a decision from the 9th Circuit Court; there is still federal legislation, the Keep the Promise Act of 2015, waiting for a vote; and the state’s decision to withhold a gaming license is in the legal system as well. Any one of these three actions could bring the casino to a permanent, grinding halt.

In a recent Glendale Star editorial, Carolyn Dryer, editor, says, “They (TO) have paid their dues. It is time to give them a gaming license and allow them to open their doors.” That opinion should come as no surprise to anyone. Ms. Dryer attended, as a private citizen, one of former Councilmember Norma Alvarez’ pro-casino meetings held at her home. From the very start the Star has never been unbiased in its coverage of the casino issue and has used its bully pulpit to advance the goals of the Tohono O’odham at every opportunity.

What dues has the TO paid? They lied to the voters of the state gaming compact. They lied to their sister tribes never revealing their intent to build a casino in Maricopa County, hundreds of miles away from their reservation in Southern Arizona. They lied to everyone by keeping secret for years their purchase of land in Glendale.

I have never supported the casino and still do not. I believe it sets a precedent that ignores the voter approved gaming compact of 2002 and it will break open the gaming market in Maricopa County. We will see casinos being built in other communities throughout the Valley. Even worse, I am offended by the lies and subterfuge used by the TO in acquiring the land secretly and its failure to reveal that fact at the very time the first state gaming compact was under consideration by voters. Those voters had a right to know that the TO had plans to build another casino in Maricopa County and did not intend to live up to the promises their Chairman, Ned Norris, Jr., made in selling the compact.

What is really disconcerting is the building will be crap. Yes, I said crap. It’s intended to be a future warehouse, for God’s sake. The ceiling will be exposed with lights hanging by wires from the ceiling beams. How’s that for classy and upscale? It certainly won’t be any Talking Stick but of course, that is all that the West Valley merits. It’s just another promise made and broken by the TO. This building has one purpose and that is to rake in money for the tribe. The TO could have built a big barn and stuffed cattle…errr… hoards of gamblers, into it and it would have served just as well as their warehouse casino.

Oh, but this is only temporary. Do you ever wonder what the TO’s definition of temporary is? Is it a year? 5 years? 10 years? It doesn’t matter what the TO tell you for it will be just another promise broken.

Many people are just plain tired about the ongoing saga and hope for final resolution. The silent majority of Glendale residents want the casino stopped permanently. It’s time for Senators McCain and Flake to bring the Keep the Promise Act of 2015 to a vote. Their rationale is that there is always a more pressing issue and it’s not the right time. There will never be a right time…it’s time for Congress to vote this issue up or down.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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It has been 17 years and 109 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

In the Arizona Republic of April 17, 2015 Peter Corbett has reported in a story entitled State vows to block casino in W. Valley, the state is prepared to block the Tohono O’odham casino from opening in Glendale this fall. Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/glendale/2015/04/16/arizona-gaming-agency-will-block-valley-casino-opening/25915541/ .

Arizona’s Department of Gaming director, Daniel Bergin, recently sent a letter to the Tohono O’odham (TO) in which he claimed “fraud perpetrated by (the tribe) upon the state, Arizona gaming tribes and the state’s voters.” On that basis he could not allow the casino to open.  He went on to say, “…the (gaming agency) would exceed its authority if it were to proceed with certification…” The agency’s position is supported by Governor Doug Ducey. Ducey in a letter to the agency directed it to deny a gaming license and said that the TO was forcing the issue by construction of the temporary casino now.

I, and many, many Glendale residents, especially those within the Yucca district, site of the temporary casino, applaud the actions of the state Gaming Director and the Governor. The only reasons Glendale succumbed to the siren song of the TO, is that Councilmember Gary Sherwood flip flopped on his anti casino election stance and then 4 members of council took the TO’s thirty pieces of silver. A majority of this council changed the course of an entire city. It’s fair to expect that the TO will challenge the state’s action in court in a process guaranteed to go on for months if not another year. That is sure to guarantee that the temporary casino cannot and will not open this fall. Chairman of the TO, Ned Norris Jr., as expected declared his outrage at what he called the state’s “untenable position.”

Don’t forget that more action waits in the wings. The Keep the Promise Act of 2015 introduced by Senators McCain and Flake will see a vote up or down this year. The general assumption is the legislation will pass through Congress and stop the casino for once and for all.

It’s time to shut the doors on a Tohono O’odham casino, temporary or otherwise, in Glendale. It is ironic that a tribe that promotes gambling, itself gambled. It looks like the house will win and they will lose.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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.

photo aOn September 12, 2014 two political action committees, No More Bad Deals for Glendale and Respect the Promise turned in approximately 15,000 petition signatures collected in 28 days for each of two referendum petitions. These petitions seek to overturn the city council votes of August 12, 2014 approving a settlement agreement with the Tohono O’odham and supporting the TO’s reservation status by requesting an election.

The approximately 15,000 petition signatures turned in is greater than the 10,914 Glendale citizens who exercised their right to vote in the recent Primary Election. That’s disconcerting. You would think that the number of petition signatures collected would send a strong message to this city council that Glendale residents want to weigh in on this issue by virtue of an election.

The Glendale City Clerk has 20 business days to do something, anything with the petitions before she turns them over to the Secretary of State. She is not an independent agent. She will be told what to do. Now it gets interesting. Wanna-be mayor, Councilmember Gary Sherwood was in attendance for the delivery of the petitions to the City Clerk. He could be heard muttering, the council votes of August 12th are not referable and these petitions are no more than toilet paper. You can be sure the “gang of four” (Sherwood, Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira) as the majority on council will give direction to the City Manager and City Attorney to reject these petitions. The City Attorney and his minions are burning the midnight oil to find Arizona case law that supports the city’s act of rejection. What does “not referable” mean? The city will take the position that the council votes were not legislation per se. Therefore the petitions which seek to refer those council actions to Glendale residents are not valid and thereby rejected by the city. Their position will be that those council votes were not legislative action and only legislation can be referred to the voters.

Make no mistake. Both groups, No More Bad Deals for Glendale and Respect the Promise are prepared to go to the legal mat on this issue of referability. If and when the city rejects the petitions on those grounds expect both groups to file suit. Isn’t it ironic that Alvarez and her merry band of pro casino councilmembers have complained bitterly about the money spent by the city on legal action when its position was in opposition to the casino and reservation? Will they decide not to spend money to defend the city’s position of petition rejection now that the city supports the casino and reservation? I guess the spending of taxpayer money on legal action depends on whose ox is being gored.

Alvarez, nearly every time she casts a “no” vote on a major city issue, can be heard pontificating that it is an issue upon which Glendale residents should vote. This time she has been amazingly silent in advocating that view when it comes to the casino and reservation. What, Norma, when it’s an issue you personally do not like it merits a vote of the people but when it is an issue that you do like, forget the people?

For those of you following this saga, this Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM, Eastern time (11:30 AM in Arizona) the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a legislative hearing on Senate Bill 2670, Keep the Promise Act of 2014, introduced by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake. Here is the link to the site where it can be viewed live, online:  http://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-s-2670-keep-promise-act-2014 . If this link doesn’t work please copy and paste the link into your browser.

It appears that the bill could be marked up and passed out of committee for a full Senate vote. If that is the case and the bill is approved in the Senate there would be a House and Senate Conference Committee meeting to make sure the House version and Senate version of the bill are in agreement. It would then go to the President to sign or veto. If the bill were to be successful the Tohono O’odham, despite their ground breaking, would not be able to build a casino in Glendale or any other portion of the Phoenix Metro area.

On another note, to date the Attorney General’s Office is still investigating the alleged Open Meeting Law violation by Councilmembers Sherwood, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira. If the complaint had no merit we would have received that opinion by now. The fact that it is taking so long would lead one to assume that there is merit to the allegations. If that turns out to be the case, look for some kind of major sanction against Councilmember Sherwood and perhaps a minor sanction for the three others. I wouldn’t be surprised if the AG’s Office required another vote on the original IceArizona/City of Glendale Management Agreement. This, too, could prove interesting dependent upon which candidates win council seats at the General Election in November.

It looks like Councilmember Hugh has met with Lauren Tomachoff and Bart Turner. Tolmachoff is a candidate for the Cholla district seat and Turner is a candidate for the Barrel district seat. It seems Councilmember Hugh is busy trying to build his own coalition. It appears that he fancies a run against current Mayor Jerry Weiers. Hey, Jerry, watch out! It looks like they are starting to line up for a run against you…Sherwood and now, Ian Hugh. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Councilmember Knaack (retiring in January, 2015) decide on a run for mayor. Being part of a clearly dysfunctional council is no fun but perhaps becoming mayor is.

A lot is riding on this Attorney General Office’s investigation. It could kill any mayoral ambitions of both Sherwood and Knaack. It’s rather difficult to win the support of the Glendale electorate if you have been found to have violated the law. Just when you thought Glendale’s problems were cooling down, they’ve heated up again. As President Truman once said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I wonder if the Glendale city council loves the kitchen heat now.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

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

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