The City Council meeting of November 26, 2013 had a raucous start, much like council meetings of old. The notion of putting citizen comments at the start of every meeting may come back to bite this council as they experienced their first hour long marathon of citizen commentary. I am not including the public commentary on the night of the Coyotes’ vote as that was to be expected. No, this time it was the opening salvo of a regular, assumed-to-be ho hum council meeting. It was anything but not just because of citizen commentary but because of all of the very serious issues that were up for a vote (more about those issues over the course of the next few blogs).

A majority of council did not comment about citizen commentary at the start of every meeting. Councilmember Sherwood did and made clear that he does not like it. It’s almost as if he considers citizen comments to be irrelevant and just an irritation that prevents him from performing what he considers to be the real business of council. His sentiment was arrogant to say the least. Then Councilmember Alvarez, who is wedded to citizen comments first, just had to rebut Sherwood’s remarks by saying, “When we were elected we were (sic) committed to be here.” How ironic as this is the councilmember who holds the record for her non-attendance at scads of meetings. She even has had the temerity when calling in to council meetings to hang up before the meeting’s conclusion and thus missed those all important citizen comments.

It looks like the Keeping the Promise anti casino group has seared the nerves of the casino supporters with their running of a TV ad and underwriting the costs of an anti casino letter penned by Mayor Weiers. They had their usual suspects…er, supporters out in force to speak on the TO’s behalf before the council. The usual mouthpieces have decided to become visible once again…Ken Jones and Arthur Thruston to name but two. Due to their advanced age they needed time to rest and recharge before becoming public gadflies again. Can you believe that Ken Jones was advocating for yet another public vote? This time his target is the casino. You’d think he would have learned that one needs to be careful what one wishes for. His last effort fizzled out like water dousing a fire. He also opined that the people of Glendale do not need Keeping the Promise running our city and buying city officials. Oh really? Guess he figures it’s okay when the Tohono O’odham appear as if they are buying city officials like Alvarez. He never took the time to complain about Alvarez and her antics with the Tohono O’odham.

Thruston, bless his heart, simply relies on picking and choosing his facts. Those that he doesn’t like, he ignores. He trots down to the podium with a handful of newspaper clippings and pontificates on issues culled from the newspapers (and of course, their, ahem, totally unbiased reportage). He fancies himself as a raconteur in the vein of a modern day Will Rodgers who once said, “you know everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.”                       

What engendered all of the citizen commentary was Item 12 of the Consent Resolution agenda accepting a grant of over $400,000 from the Gila River Tribe for the purchase of a fire truck. Yet, there was no comment from the citizens when council voted to accept a Tohono O’odham grant of $40,000+ to fund the Glendale Youth Project on October 22, 2013 – a scant month ago. In fact, Alvarez voted to accept that grant voicing praise and voted to reject tonight’s grant. Could her bias be showing? What’s changed? The acceptance of a grant from an anti casino Tribe. That’s the only difference. What was even more astounding were the citizen accusations that Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Martinez are shilling for the casino opposition.  When Councilmember Alvarez engages in the same activity it’s not considered shilling. Strange, isn’t it? There’s an old saying, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Alvarez would be well served to rein in her troops or she may find her glass two story home (second story improvement not recorded nor additional property tax paid) shattered in all of the cross fire. It’s merely an observation.

Another action of note is Councilmember Sherwood’s reversal of position on the casino. When he ran last year he was opposed to the casino. He even met and collaborated with now Mayor Weiers, I and candidate Gary Hirsch, all of whom shared the same anti casino position. The anti casino Tribes even did an independent political mailing expressing their support for Sherwood because he ran on a platform of opposition to the casino. Now, inexplicitly or perhaps not so inexplicitly, he has reversed his stance. He, along with Councilmembers Hugh and Chavira, wrote to the Department of the Interior saying don’t pay attention to Glendale’s opposition to a Tohono O’odham casino. Why has the champion of Westgate abandoned it? Remember all of his talk about the necessity of the Coyotes as an anchor for Westgate because the team would attract traffic to Westgate and keep it viable?  Does he really believe that the casino will help Westgate? Nah. Rumor has it that he was contacted by the pro casino forces right after his election and they may have assured him that if he moved to the dark side they would assist in bank rolling his next election. Was that just too good a deal for Sherwood to pass up? You decide.

So, who is keeping the promise to Glendale’s residents? The promise that a casino does not belong in Glendale, will cost our taxpayers for the supporting infrastructure and will destroy a pledge made by all of the tribes (including the Tohono O’odham) when seeking voter support for the 2002 voter approved Gaming Compact. It’s no longer Sherwood. If he could change his position on this issue so readily, how can we believe what his stance is on other issues? It appears that his guiding principle has become one of pragmatism but what has happened to one’s word being one’s bond?

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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