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
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