On November 9, 2013 I received the following letter from Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers. The letter and the mailing were underwritten by Keeping the Promise: No Casinos in Neighborhoods. It is a coalition of Indian Tribes opposed to the proposed casino. You may have seen the TV ads this group is running. I’m glad to see that they have stepped up their efforts to educate the public about the negative impacts of a casino in Glendale.  Kudos to Mayor Weiers and Keeping the Promise for clarifying a majority of council’s latest directive. The public should know that Glendale has not capitulated and a majority of council has asked that the impacts of the proposed casino in Glendale be reviewed and that the results be made public.  This fact finding effort does not mean that Glendale supports the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) proposed casino. Over the past 10 months I have offered a great deal of information in refute of the TO’s claims about the positive impacts of a casino in Glendale. If you look through my blog archives you will find at least a dozen casino articles. In support of the Mayor’s and Keeping the Promise’s latest effort, I offer the entire letter for your information:

Dear Fellow Glendale Resident:

The City of Glendale means the world to me. It’s been home to my family for more than 14 years and I’m proud to serve you as your Mayor. I believe you elected me for one very simple reason: To do what’s right for our City. To me, doing what’s right for Glendale means acting without regard for politics or popularity and always keeping focused on our City’s economic well-being, the safety of our residents and the future of our children and families.

That’s why I oppose the off-reservation casino proposal put forward by the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The Nation’s proposal – to build a massive casino at 91st Avenue and Northern – is an issue I have been studying and dealing with since the Tribe unveiled its plan back in 2009. Then, I was in the Arizona Legislature, where I sponsored legislation meant to hold the Nation accountable to the gaming compacts approved by Arizona’s Tribes and voters back in 2002. Today, as your Mayor, I continue to receive input on this issue from neighbors and stakeholders that gives me pause about the impact of this Casino on our City.

What concerns me?

I fear that Tohono O’odham Nation’s revenue and job projection, which have been exposed as wildly optimistic by a number of analyses, will fall far short of reality, creating an unsuccessful “while elephant” that siphons off police, fire and other resources from a City that is already struggling to meet our public safety and infrastructure needs.

Just as importantly, I worry about the impact of the Casino and its accompanying resort and restaurants on the surrounding small businesses in  the area. Dollars spent on gambling or entertainment on the newly christened reservation generate no tax revenue for Glendale – and will inevitably come at the expense of Glendale businesses that have worked hard to make a go of it during a fierce economic downturn.

My other concern has to do with the Tribe itself – an entity that bought its land in secret and did nothing to inform or partner with the City on the Casino until after it was unveiled. In the years since, the Tribe has fought Glendale at every turn, costing our City more than $3 million in legal fees and thousands of man-hours as we have sought to protect our residents and businesses from the encroachment of a Casino located near schools, day care facilities, churches and homes.

Recently, you may have heard that the City Council has agreed to open a dialogue with the Nation. Let me be clear on the aim of this exchange of information. It does not represent support of the Tribe’s project. Instead, it’s a fact-finding conversation, one meant to ascertain the potential benefits and harms that come with having a casino on sovereign land located in this City we all call home. I see this conversation as a positive, since it will bring to the table all concerned for a settling of the facts – which have been sorely lacking during the years of hype and hyperbole.

Rest assured, I will report back to you as the facts come out, to let you know the truth about this controversial project.

In your service,

Jerry Weiers

Mayor, City of Glendale

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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