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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in the blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On February 1, 2017 the Arizona Republic had a front page, above the fold story (meaning really important) on Phoenix’s lobbyists’ rule. Its lobbyist registration ordinance is not worth the paper it’s written on. Here is the link to the story: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2017/01/31/phoenix-council-letterhead-revealed-toothless-lobbying-rules/96549540/ . The Republic story reports, “Phoenix’s law states that lobbyists must register and disclose their clients if they are paid to contact the mayor or council members to influence official decisions. Lobbyists must also report campaign contributions and money they spend on meals, gifts or other expenses that benefit elected city leaders, according to the ordinance.” One of many problems with Phoenix’s law is there are no penalties associated with any failure to follow their law.

The article goes on to say, A high-profile Phoenix law firm did not properly register as a lobbyist with the city for two years, and recently filed falsely dated documents that made it appear the firm had followed the law, according to the Phoenix city attorney.

But the city of Phoenix can’t do anything to penalize the firm or others that do not comply with its lobbyist regulations. That’s because the law is toothless and there is no way to enforce it, city officials said they realized last week.” It’s up to the Phoenix City Council to reform its lobbyist law.

If you are relying on the state to keep an eagle eye on lobbyists and their expenditures, forget it. Justin Price, for the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting states, “Less than 14 percent of the roughly $333,000 spent to lobby Arizona lawmakers in the first half of 2015 identified who the money was spent on, continuing a trend of scant disclosure going back years.

“Since 2010, the portion of lobbying records that include beneficiaries has averaged about 12.5 percent. This is according to data maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office and includes lobbying records for the first half of each year, which typically includes Arizona’s annual legislative session.

Lobbyists are required to report their expenditures in quarterly expense reports submitted to the secretary of state. But loopholes and minimal regulatory oversight leave room for lobbyists to spend without reporting who benefited, ultimately leaving the public in the dark about who is influencing the people they have elected to craft Arizona’s laws, budget and taxes. For 2015, lobbying records include a beneficiary for $1 out of every $8 spent.” Here is the link to Mr. Price’s research: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/11/23/arizona-lobbying-records-little-disclosure/76068724/ .

Lobbying can be and is done by consulting firms and zoning attorneys advocating for a land project or the same entities may represent industries/interests seeking a specific law or project for which they are trying to attain passage for their client. Glendale, the state’s 6th largest city, has no lobbyist laws and it is way overdue.  It’s not just a matter of registering lobbyists who operate in Glendale, it’s also a matter of developing rules regarding the city’s hiring of lobbyists. In 2011, the city had a stable of lobbyists: Husk Partners, Inc.; Hyek and Fixx, Inc.; Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc.; and Policy AZ. They were hired while Ed Beasley was Glendale’s City Manager and paid a boatload of money to lobby on behalf of the city.

There is little to no transparency when it comes to lobbyists, what they do, how much they spend and which lawmakers receive their benefit. It’s not a problem just for Glendale and Phoenix but for the state as well. The state’s lobbyist laws are as meaningless as those of Phoenix.

It’s time for us, the citizens of the state, to know who is paying whom and who is supplying trips, gifts, meals and campaign contributions to all lawmakers…state, county and local.

© Joyce Clark, 2017        

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.

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.

As Arizona voters go to the polls this Tuesday, November 8, 2016 to decide the issue of recreational marijuana use it may be useful to consider some of the unintended consequences. The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA ) first preliminary report on Colorado’s passage of recreational marijuana has recently been issued. Here is the link to the report:http://www.rmhidta.org/html/FINAL%20Legalization%20of%20MJ%20in%20Colorado%20the%20Impact.pd . Here are some of the statistics offered in its Executive Summary:

·       Colorado Driving Fatalities: From 2006 to 2011, traffic fatalities decreased in Colorado 16 percent, but fatalities involving drivers testing positive for marijuana increased 114 percent.

·       Colorado Youth Marijuana Use: In 2011, the national average for youth 12 to 17 years old considered “current” marijuana users was 7.64 percent which was the highest average since 1981. The Colorado average percent was 10.72.

·       Colorado Adult Marijuana Use: In 2011, the national average for young adults ages 18 to 25 considered current marijuana users was at 18.7 percent. The Colorado average was 27.26 percent.

·       Colorado Emergency Room – Marijuana Admissions: From 2005 through 2008 there was an average of 741 visits per year to the emergency room in Colorado for marijuana-related incidents involving youth. That number increased to 800 visits per year between 2009 and 2011.

·       Colorado Marijuana-Related Exposure Cases: From 2005 through 2008, the yearly average number of marijuana-related exposures for children ages 0 to 5 years was 4. For 2009 through 2012, that number increased 200 percent to an average of 12 per year.

·       Diversion of Colorado Marijuana (General): From 2005 to 2008, compared to 2009 to 2012, interdiction seizures involving Colorado marijuana quadrupled from an average per year of 52 to 242. During the same period, the average number of pounds of Colorado marijuana seized per year increased 77 percent from an average of 2,220 to 3,937 pounds. A total of 7,008 pounds was seized in 2012.

·       Diversion of Colorado Marijuana (Postal Packages): In 2010, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service seized 15 packages with Colorado marijuana destined for other states. Seizures steadily increased through 2012 when 158 parcels were seized. From 2010 to 2012 Colorado marijuana seized by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service increased from 57 to 262 pounds.

There is no doubt Colorado’s political, social and economic sectors are changing as a result of its recreational use. Socially, the adjoining states of Oklahoma and Nebraska have filed lawsuits against Colorado because drivers with marijuana in their systems are impacting law enforcement resources in these neighboring states.

Increased use by teenagers has increased educational and disciplinary problems in high schools as well as a rise in the expulsion rate. The strategy used by marijuana sellers to create very enticing edible marijuana products that look like candy or cookies have proven to be highly attractive to younger children causing more emergency room visits.

Denver’s homeless population has exploded placing a greater burden on the area non-profits that service this population.

Politically, Colorado is experiencing regulatory confusion surrounding public consumption in the form of the maximum amount allowable in edibles as well as enforcement as it pertains to what amount in the blood stream constitutes impairment.

Economically, local governments have received almost $6 million dollars in revenues from the industry in 2014 and 2015. But at what price to those very same local governments? Communities are experiencing increased costs in law enforcement and increased gang-related crime activity. Companies are realizing a demonstrated loss of worker productivity. In fact, some Colorado companies have begun recruiting employees from out of state as many prospective Colorado employees can no longer pass drug tests for employment. Local governments and companies are beginning to question their cost-benefits related to recreational marijuana use.

Tourists are flocking to the state for the express purpose of purchasing and using recreational marijuana but those tourist dollars have been diverted from traditional tourism activities.

Since recreational use was legalized drug trafficking has increased with more seizures of marijuana smuggled into the state for legal sale as well as the export of Colorado grown marijuana to other regions of the country.

Sometimes it is prudent to be wary about what we wish for. Arizona’s residents have approved of medical marijuana use and that was a compassionate decision. Do we really want to see recreational marijuana shops using graphic images of lollipops and candy on their store fronts acting as a magnet for our children? It is occurring in Colorado. Do we really expect huge sums of revenue…only to be consumed in greater law enforcement costs and the creation of yet another new state agency to oversee its use? Arizona already has a high school dropout rate that is embarrassing. Do we really want to add another factor sure to depress that rate even further?

Beware of unintended consequences. It is a economic, social and medical force that Arizona is simply not prepared to deal with.

© 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.

casino 1Since California voters approved Las Vegas-style gambling on Indian lands more than a dozen years ago, it has grown to a $6.9 billion industry, with about 70 tribes operating casinos. Some of the Tribes in California operate in the same fashion as the Tohono O’odham have in Arizona.

In the early 1900s the federal government authorized the purchase of lands called “Rancherias” throughout the state of California. In 1958 Congress terminated the federal trust status of some of the California Rancherias – Graton Rancheria. In the 1970s after a series of lawsuits by terminated Tribes, the federal government reversed itself by settling these lawsuits with a series of stipulations. One of those stipulations required the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the seventeen California Tribes that had been terminated. However since Graton Rancheria had not participated in any of the lawsuits it was not entitled to removal of its termination status. In 1999 federal legislation was passed to restore federal recognition to this Tribe. Subsequent to that action California voters approved gambling on Indian lands just prior to Arizona’s similar action of 2002.

SanManuel1 house adjacent

Residence adjacent to San Manuel
Tribal casino. Note the wrought iron
protection.

Sonoma County, California is facing an unprecedented situation:  the prospect of five to six tribal casinos stretching along the 101 corridor, all of them in or adjacent to Sonoma County cities. How does Sonoma County compare to Maricopa County? Sonoma County (1,768 sq.mi.) is about 1/5 the size of Maricopa County (9,224 sq.mi.). Its population (488,116) is about 10% of Maricopa County (3.88 million). Yet this county, 1/5 the size of Maricopa County is facing the prospect of 6 Tribal casinos. The entire allocation for Maricopa County per the state Gaming Act is 7, all of which must be outside incorporated cities and on reservation land. If, as a result of the Tohono O’odham’s successful attempt to site a casino within Glendale and the destruction of the 2002 Arizona Gaming Act, the floodgates will open and just as in Sonoma County, we could see a rash of casinos springing up within cities throughout Maricopa County.

Here is a link to a July 17, 2013 article that fleshes out Sonoma County’s problems: http://www.newyorkinjurynews.com/2013/07/19/Casino-Row-Sonoma-COunty-Facing-Multiple-Tribal-Casinos-All-in-Cities_201307199800.html. The Graton Rancheria casino, under construction, in Phase I will be 450,000 S.F. and have 3,000 slot machines and 200 table games. In comparison the proposed TO casino will be 150,000 S.F. and have 1,089 slot machines and 75 table games.

What about the scads of construction jobs promised by the TO? The TO, in an effort to sell its proposed casino promises 6,000 construction jobs.  Yet the number of construction jobs generated by even larger casino projects nationally averages about 2,000 construction workers. While seeking permission to move forward with their proposed casino, the Graton Rancheria promised Sonoma County union workers that they would be first in line for construction jobs. Since that empty promise, out-of-area workers are being brought in. 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. So much for reducing Sonoma County’s 6.5% unemployment rate. You can learn more about the casino situation in California by using these links: www.stopthecasino101.com and  http://www.pechanga.net/category/issue-tag/graton-rancheria.

If the TO prevails is this Arizona’s future? Will we see casinos everywhere once the state Gaming Compact is destroyed? Will we see construction jobs promised but not delivered as out-of-state workers and tribal workers (a percentage of the jobs must go to tribal members) are used? Are we prepared to suffer job displacement and the loss of local businesses unable to compete for disposable income? In previous blogs I outlined the social and economic impacts of casinos and they are not healthy. In the name of “enhancing revenue streams” are we willing to accept further degradation of our societal values? I am not. I hope you are not, as well.

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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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