A word of advice. When you get older, say 70 on up, avoid getting sick at all costs. Wear a mask or go into isolation to save yourself. I speak from experience. Two weeks ago I caught a cold. You know how it goes. You begin to feel better, almost human, and you resume your schedule with gusto. Then you learn your lesson as it comes back, ten times worse. That is exactly what happened last week. Mercifully I was saved from an untimely death by my doctor’s prescription of a really heavy duty antibiotic.

There’s been a lot of activity regarding the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) proposed casino during the week of October 23, 2013. Where to begin? At the council workshop meeting of October 15, 2013 an agenda item was discussion of starting a dialogue with the TO. In a previous blog I described various councilmembers’ positions on the issue. They did not go as far as opening exclusive dialogue with the TO. Rather council majority asked for an assessment from staff of the consequences to Glendale IF the casino were to be built. This assessment was to include gathering factual information from the TO. Good luck to them on that action. Historically the TO have never been very forthright about their plans. A majority of council gave this direction despite newly hired City Attorney Michael Bailey’s admonition to wait until two outstanding casino issues were resolved.

Then at the regular council meeting of October 22, 2013 council passed as part of its Consent Agenda (no discussion occurred and all items were passed in a single vote) Item 14, a resolution of support to accept a $45,000 grant from the TO for use by the Glendale Youth Project. The Glendale Youth Project is a worthy cause and it is not the issue. The issue is the acceptance of any TO grant. How can this council legally or morally accept money from a group that it has opposed and litigated against and continues, as city policy, to oppose? It boggles the mind. Council is repeatedly and short sightedly sending the wrong signal to our friends and supporters – the State Legislature, our Congressional Delegation and all of the Arizona Tribes opposed to machinations of the TO’s gambit to build a casino in the Phoenix Metropolitan area.

On October 26, 2013 the Glendale Republic ran two viewpoint submissions. The pro-casino faction consisted of Bob Barrett, Mayor of Peoria; Adolfo Gamez, Mayor of Tolleson; and Sharon Wolcott, Mayor of Surprise. I find it ironic that not one of these three communities will host or have to pay a dime for the development of the TO casino and continue to believe the TO hype that somehow this project will benefit their communities.  They embarrassingly trotted out their “East Valley Envy” for all to see. The anti-casino viewpoint was signed by Jim Lane, Mayor of Scottsdale; Mark Mitchell, Mayor of Tempe; Jerry Weiers, Mayor of Glendale; Thomas L. Schoaf, Mayor of Litchfield Park; and John Lewis, Mayor of Gilbert. They get it. They understand the broader picture and the ramifications to the entire Valley should the TO succeed. It’s too bad that some of the West Valley cities are greedily willing to chase a mythical pot of gold at the expense of Glendale.

In the October 27, 2013 edition of the AzEconomy Section of the Republic there is an article about Steve Ellman’s Phoenix-like rise from financial death. Ellman was the former owner of Westgate (until 2011) and co-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes (until 2006).  Here is the link: http://www.azcentral.com/business/news/articles/20131026ellman-glendale-coyotes-tribe-deal.html . Part of the story recounted Ellman’s efforts back in 2009 to obtain a $100M investment from the TO. The major city players at that time would have been Ed Beasley, Julie Frisoni, Craig Tindall and Art Lynch. I had heard about such a proposal – not in detail — years ago but dismissed it for a variety of reasons. It was disturbing then and is disturbing now to read it. Ellman was lobbying for a deal that certainly would have benefitted him but not necessarily the City of Glendale. $10M a year for 10 years would have been invested by the TO in the arena AND Westgate. How much would have gone to the arena? Not much. A token amount would have gone toward naming rights but the lion’s share would have been used by Ellman for Westgate. In return for this largesse (read bribe) Glendale would have been required to support the TO’s plan for the casino. The article quotes Ellman as saying, “the deal between the tribe and Glendale ‘would have allowed ME (caps mine) to stay in (sic) the team…and stay in Westgate’.” This unsavory deal was always about Ellman.

The TO continue to press their plan for a casino and we can count on more pressure until the Secretary of the Interior makes his final determination about reservation status and until Representative Trent Franks’ bill is settled one way or another.

If you would like more information about the impact of a casino in Glendale please visit this site: www.keepingthepromiseaz.com . The site recently added information about available county islands within other Valley cities that could become targets for a casino if the TO prevail and break the state compact.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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