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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

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

I belong to an online site called nextdoor.com . This site connects neighbors to neighbors within their neighborhood as well as connecting nearby neighborhoods to one another. You can post general messages, want ads, items for sale, event notices, etc. It’s a great site and I urge you to check it out.

The other day this question was posted, “Does anyone know any updates on casino? It seems like it is in a standstill with moving forward with construction.”  It was posted to 41 neighborhoods in my general area on April 26, 2017. It was as if a bomb had gone off. It generated more replies than any other issue I have seen lately. There was not only a great deal of misinformation posted but there were replies like, “Which casino sorry Glendale?”

It’s time to offer an update on the TO casino. As of today, May 6, 2017 the last Arizona District Court minute entry was posted on February 10, 2017, 3 months ago, “MINUTE ENTRY for proceedings held before Judge David G Campbell: Telephone Conference held on 2/8/2017. Plaintiff State of Arizona request a 45 day extension of the response to 263 MOTION for Attorney Fees . Discussion held. Request granted. Response due 3/31/2017 .”

As you can see from this minute entry there are procedures and pre-trial motions that must be adjudicated (settled) before a bench trial before Judge Campbell may begin. It could be months before the case is argued before the judge. In other words, it’s at a standstill.

This case revolves around the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) attempt to get a Class III license from the State of Arizona. Until this case is settled there will be nothing but bingo (and no liquor) at the Desert Diamond Casino located on a county island in the midst of Glendale, just north of the Westgate area. The temporary casino located in the Tohono O’odham’s warehouse facility will continue as the only operation on the site. Those who have visited this casino are quick to point out that it’s not on a par with Talking Stick Casino and Resort. Factually, it will never be a Class A facility unless the TO get their Class III license. Will that occur? Only Judge Campbell will have the answer when he rules on the current case before him.

Here is the comment from a local resident who used to work at this casino, “They also want to build another one up here somewhere (on the Glendale site). I don’t remember exactly but…on the east side (of the site). I think… they are fighting for both now. When it opened they told us one year to the day we would be walking into the new one. Well that passed Dec 20th.”

This resident’s comment sparked a new round of replies, “For me it was just a crappy sneaky deal all around. As I know the facts, it was a Federal land swap. The feds didn’t ask or didn’t want to ask or didn’t care to ask what their plan was for the property and didn’t put casino restrictions on it, right across the street from the high school, and didn’t inform the local government. Everybody dropped the ball letting the tribe do whatever. I don’t know what the Grand plan and or timeframe, but if they turned the entire property into a family friendly resort with pool, water park, rides, par 3 golf, hotel, etc……. I don’t have an issue with the casino.”

Or this comment, “I’m wondering if the City of Glendale was notified. Isn’t that property within the city limits? If so??? I also wonder what land did the Fed’s swap? The issue for me is if all the tribes signed an agreement not to develop a casino in an urban area and this tribe somehow managed to have the land swapped and designated as tribal land they should not be granted a full gambling license. Just my opinion.”

I must offer a little history in answer to these comments. In 2001 the state began negotiations with all Arizona tribes to craft a gaming compact. At the same time (2001-02) the Tohono O’odham were already land shopping in urban areas of Maricopa County. They formed a shell company, Reiner, which purchased the land in Glendale. This purchase was kept secretly while the TO participated in the negotiations and paid for publicity pamphlets asking voters to approve the Gaming Act of 2002. It wasn’t until the TO publicly announced their intention in 2009 (7 years later…7 years a secret closely guarded) to build a casino on a county island within Glendale that the public or Glendale knew of their plans.

It was not a federal land swap per se. The Gila River Act of 1985 allowed the TO to purchase land in Maricopa County because the federal government had flooded their land when it built a new dam. It made the TO’s land unsustainable for agriculture. No one, except the TO, believe that it was legal to purchase land for a casino in an urban area rather than adhering to the intent of this law which was to acquire useable agricultural land to replace lands that were lost to flooding.

Glendale joined in lawsuits with virtually every Tribe in the state to fight the TO casino…until August of 2014. The city sold its soul for 30 pieces of silver. It entered into an agreement with the TO agreeing to withdraw all official opposition to the project, and would adopt a new resolution expressing support for the Tohono O’odhams’ acquisition of the property and for the casino. 

The Tohono O’odhams, in exchange, would pay for any infrastructure improvements needed in the area to accommodate the additional traffic the casino would generate. It would also give Glendale a one-time payment of $500,000, and annual payments of $1.4 million, which would increase by two percent a year.

As a Glendale city councilmember it is my obligation and duty to uphold Glendale policy. If the TO were to come to the city I have a duly sworn obligation to give them a full and fair hearing without bias. This, I would endeavor to do. On a personal level that doesn’t mean I agree with or even like this agreement.  For I do not.

Another resident comment expressed, “They won’t start building until they get a class 3 license. It is supposed to go back to court in May. The state is still fighting the casino. The state needs to give it up and let them build. They are wasting taxpayers money by fighting it.” Many feel this way but they are willing to overlook the deception and extreme breach of ethics by the TO in dealing with the state and its sister Tribes during the gambling compact negotiations and during the effort to gain voter approval for the compact in 2002. These stakeholders believe the TO lied to them by having secretly already purchased land for a casino in an urban area and that is a very difficult bridge to repair. It’s an action that is precedent setting and puts every Valley city in peril for who is to say which city will become the next host to a tribal casino?

One resident offered this link to a study on the economic impact of tribal casinos. It’s a good read:

http://www.uwyo.edu/shogren/gaming%20and%20casino%20economics.htm . Finally, I end with this resident’s comment on casinos, “Casinos are, in my opinion, a tax on people bad at math. You know who you will never see in a casino? Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Charles Koch, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerburg… or any of the other richest people in the USA. Because they understand math better than most of us.” Maybe it would help if we all got better at math.

© 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.

It has been 17 years and 113 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

Today, April 24, 2015 at 11 AM the Recall Councilman Gary Sherwood Committee turned in Recall of Councilmember Sherwood petitions to the Glendale City Clerk Pam Hanna. The minimum required number of signatures is 2,752. The City Clerk based upon a cursory scan acknowledged 4,055 signatures. The committee had until the middle of June to complete the task.  Note that the committee turned in its signatures with 7 weeks to spare. Kudos to the three people who spear headed this effort: Anna Lee, Chairperson of the committee; Connie Kiser and Laura Hirsch.

What happens next? The Glendale City Clerk has 10 business days (2 weeks) to validate signatures. That also allows time for the City Attorney’s Office to find some technicality to invalidate all of the petitions. They have done it before and you can count on them to try to find something again. If the petitions make it through the city gauntlet the petitions move to the County Recorder’s Elections Department for further signature validation. The Recorder’s Office has 60 days. I suspect this time the petitions will make it through both processes. Look for the city council to call for a recall election date sometime after mid-September of 2015.

The ball then moves to Sherwood’s court. He will be offered the opportunity to offer a public statement on the recall or resign. Sherwood has already stated that he will fight to the bitter end. That is his right. Will he be able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat? Not this time.

During the April 14, 2015 city council meeting the Insight Technology contracts were on the agenda for approval. It was the height of irony that Interim City Manager Dick Bowers was absent and at that time, still Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni (she has since resigned) whose husband is a VP at the company, was tasked with the introduction of both Insight agenda items. Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff, as each item was presented, asked the City Clerk if Frisoni had filed a Disclosure Statement. To which the City Clerk responded that Frisoni had not. It was a strategy by Tolmachoff to get that fact on the record. Hmmm.

Earlier in the week Tohono O’odham (TO) Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. held a press conference in reaction to the news that the state Gaming Department will not issue a gaming license to the tribe in order to open its temporary casino in Glendale later this year. He did not serve his tribe well in TV news coverage the following day. He seemed positively rabid. Outrage oozed out of every pore. It’s a wonder there was no foaming at the mouth.  I wonder how he likes it when the tables are turned. He went back on his word at the time all of the state’s tribes were seeking voter approval of a state gaming compact. Now the state will not grant the tribe a license claiming fraud on the tribe’s part. What goes around comes around. Norris insists they will continue with the temporary casino’s construction. The TO does so at its peril. This issue is sure to end up in court with an uncertain decision looming and at some point the Keep the Promise Act of 2015 will see a Congressional vote with the promise of stopping the casino permanently. It’s a shame really. The TO is willing to bet over $200 million dollars on what many view as a losing proposition. If they lose that’s $200M that could have been used for all kinds of services for its tribal members.

**GeonGracie….I need a better email address to reply.

© 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.

I belong to a neighborhood website that encompasses my area as well as about a dozen other subdivisions adjacent to Westgate and the Tohono O’odham temporary casino (currently under construction). A few days ago a conversational thread began on the site reflecting residents’ opinions regarding the effects of a casino near all of us. About 7 people have posted their opinions to date. I feel compelled to dispel some of their assumptions.

A local realtor in the Westgreen Estates subdivision said, “I do not recall any values going down as a result of a casino being built.” It’s one of the first questions you hear when someone wants to build a casino somewhere near you. That question is what’s it going to do to my property value?

There is now enough data from other areas of the country and their experiences with a casino to prove property values are impacted negatively from a nearby casino. From American Attitudes on Development comes, “A nuclear power plant, while the least-favored type of power plant, would still be preferable to a landfill, a casino, or an aggregate quarry.” A Foxboro, Maine resident and realtor for 23 years offered this in an op-ed in the Foxboro Sun Chronicle, March 11, 2012. Foxborough was facing the prospect of a casino in its community. Based on his 23 years of real estate experience he said, A casino is controversial. Anything controversial will cause some home buyers to exclude Foxboro and surrounding towns. This potential reduction in buyers will negatively affect the price and resale of homes here.” He went on to say, “A casino will change the demographics and feel of the town. The casino developer is setting aside funds to deal with the increased need in law enforcement the casino will bring. Many families moved to Foxboro because of the community feel. Any significant change in crime, drug abuse, alcohol abuse and, domestic violence, or any other demographics will change the feel and fabric of Foxboro and surrounding towns.”  A 2013 study by economists belonging to the National Association of Realtors concluded that, “the impact of casinos was ‘unambiguously negative’ on a housing market.”

I can hear the outrage from casino supporters now but the fact remains, while they support the casino, few property owners (including casino supporters) actually want to live near this casino. Most people understand that, at the very least, a casino operates 24/7 and will lead to an increase in crime, traffic congestion, drunken drivers, trash, tour buses and road noise – and that these things will be ultimately reflected in a reduction in property values.

None of the local resident responses asked about a casino and its effect on crime rates. Yet it is another area of concern. The following is an Abstract entitled Casinos, Crime and Community Costs by Earl L. Grinols and David B. Mustard, originally published in 1996 but this excerpt is from the Review of Economics and Statistics (February 2006). The authors say,“Casinos increased all crimes except murder, the crime with the least obvious connection to casinos. Most offenses showed that the impact of casinos on crime increased over time, a pattern very consistent with the theories of how casinos affect crime. The crime-ameliorating effects of casinos through increased employment opportunities and wages for low-skilled people will be concentrated shortly after opening. Between 5.5% and 30% of the different crimes in casino counties can be attributed to casinos.

“According to the study, five years after a casino opens, robbery in the community goes up 136 percent, aggravated assault is up 91 percent, auto theft is up 78 percent, burglary is up 50 percent, larceny is up 38 percent, rape is up 21 percent and murder is up 12 percent, compared to neighboring communities. Crime-lowering effects, like additional police and the new jobs represented by a casino are overwhelmed by rising crime increased by the presence of the casino, according to the study.”

Locals responding on this thread believed that traffic would be manageable. A resident of Westgreen Estates subdivision said, “We have enough open space to adapt to any increase traffic (sic).” A Rovey Farm subdivision resident said, “A quick drive around the other casinos in the valley will show you what kind of traffic to expect. (Not much).”

The Connecticut South Western Regional Planning Agency issued a Casino Traffic Impact Study in 2009.  “The purpose of this study was to estimate the possible traffic and air quality impacts of the development of a casino in Bridgeport.” The study concluded, “the development of a casino would have a significant impact on traffic congestion in southwestern Connecticut. Casino traffic is not seasonal because the number of trips to and from casinos is relatively consistent from month to month. Casinos operate 24 hours per day; there is no peak travel period to and from casinos thus traffic impacts of casinos may be experienced at all times of day.”

The increased traffic in the area will not just be due to the number of visitors to the casino. Add to that, traffic from employees as well as vendors and suppliers making deliveries with their semis at all hours of the day and night. Many transportation agencies in many states where casinos have located have done similar studies. All of these transportation studies recommend new transportation infrastructure whose costs are borne by you – the taxpayers. Increased traffic in our area will not be the result of an occasional Cardinals football game. Instead imagine that kind of traffic every day of the year, 24/7.

Yet other studies demonstrate sales tax revenue moving from other, traditional sources to a casino. In essence there is a shifting of sales tax revenue away from hotels and restaurants such as in Westgate, toward gambling facilities. Visitors and residents spend money on gambling that would otherwise be spent on other goods and services. This effect is known as “substitution.” There is also a shift of workers currently in one industry to the gambling industry. This is known as “displacement.”  This new development will take workers from other industries and move them into the casino industry. A New Hampshire study also offered, “For a standard casino, most patrons come from within 30 miles and participation declines exponentially as distance increases.”

So, respondents from Provence, Rovey Farm and Westgreen Estates, to the thread of discussion about casino impacts, be careful what you wish for. Then again, if you don’t mind a reduction in your property value, increased crime and increased traffic congestion, continue to welcome this casino that will most assuredly change the long treasured fabric of our community.

© 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.

On March 7, 2015 the Glendale Republic ran an op-ed by Mayor of Scottsdale Jim Lane, Mayor of Fountain Hills Linda Kavanaugh, Mayor of Apache Junction John Insalaco and Mayor of Litchfield Park Thomas Schoaf. It was in juxtaposition to another op-ed by Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. Norris’ and the tribe’s ad campaign slogan has always been one of “keeping the promise.” Yes, they have kept their promise — to screw everyone – the state, the voters, Valley cities, sister tribes and the people of Glendale. Many readers no longer get the Republic so I offer these 4 mayors’ remarks below:

Don’t reward years of deceit with Glendale mega-casino

“As mayors of Valley cities, we believe the potential Glendale casino represents no cause for celebration. From the Tohono O’odham Nation’s secret plan to put a casino in the Valley to their breaking faith with the voters of Arizona who in 2002 narrowly approved the current tribal gaming compacts, the path to the construction of this casino has been pockmarked by deceit.

“We do not make such a statement lightly, but no other explanation seems to fit the facts. It’s because of this history of deception, coupled with the serious ramifications this casino likely will have on every Valley city, that we, as mayors, jointly urge the Arizona Congressional delegation, led by U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, to immediately force action on the Keep the Promise Act of 2015, which will prevent the Tohono O’odham Nation from moving forward with its gaming facility near homes, schools, places of worship and child-care centers.

“While federal court actions still have the potential to stop this project, time is of the essence for Congress, which absolutely can prevent this monument to greed. As you read this, the Nation is actively building a temporary casino structure in Glendale, while publicly saying they intend to open the casino before the end of the year.

“Even so, a moment spent exploring history is vital to understanding why so many Valley leaders and residents have declared this casino – with its 1,100 slot machines and 1,000 seat bingo hall – such a bad idea. Our opposition traces back to the 2002 election and the years of compact negotiation preceding that vote. Throughout that process, Tohono O’odham and other Arizona tribes promised that these compacts would preserve the balance of tribal gaming statewide, and that the casinos would be restricted to traditional tribal lands. The Phoenix metro area, the tribes promised, would get no additional casinos. None.

Records show that, even as the Tohono O’odham was making that promise and helping bankroll a $20 million campaign, they were actively seeking land in Glendale. Tohono O’odham negotiators misled state negotiators and other tribes regarding its true intentions for its fourth casino. To allow the tribe to open that casino in the Valley would be to reward deception.

“In a 2014 policy decision, the federal government allowed the Tohono O’odham Nation the ability to build as many as four casinos on county islands throughout the Valley. This the Nations can do without consulting with impacted communities or being subject to any Maricopa County zoning requirements. Given that the tribe already has sited a casino near a school, nothing can effectively stop them from putting one of its next three casinos in your neighborhood, near your child’s school or beside your church or synagogue. After all, the Nation is headquartered in southern Arizona. They simply do business in the Valley, giving them little reason to invest in our communities and to preserve our quality of life.

“Should these properties be given a green light, you can be sure the massive gaming corporations who run Vegas and America’s horse tracks again will target Arizona for expansion. With the promise of gaming restricted to traditional reservations in tatters, the Legislature would have no reason to keep out big gambling.

“The Keep the Promise Act of 2015 will stop that ugly breach of an important vow; at least until the gaming compacts expire in 2027. This legislation is fair. It merely ensures that tribes act in good faith and it’s good policy for our state. Failing to act would be to reward years of deceit by one tribe at the expense of the citizens of Arizona.”

The Tohono O’odham brags about the support it has, namely Glendale, Peoria, Tolleson and Surprise. The Glendale city council did an abrupt about face welcoming the casino when received its thirty pieces of silver for its betrayal of its resident’s wishes to stop it. Peoria, Tolleson and Surprise hope to gain economic crumbs from a casino on the west side of the Valley. They are all complicit in the deceptions of the Tohono O’odham. Make no mistake. These mayors in their op-ed were right on the mark when they said it’s all about greed. For the sake of the almighty dollar the Tohono O’odham have proven they will knife anyone in the back who stands in their way. They have destroyed their reputation as well as the trust of their sister tribes. There’s an old saying, “what goes around, comes around.” The Tohono O’odham will learn that lesson soon enough.

© 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.

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