It has been 18 years and 70 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

On Sunday morning, February 14, 2016, Fox 10 presented its weekly show Newsmaker Sunday. Here is the link: . Guess who is one of the sponsors of this show? You would be correct if you said Desert Diamond Casino. So we already know how this show is going to go. John Hook is the moderator and his guests were none other than Councilmember Sammy Chavira and Trina Parvello, Director of Public Relations, Desert Diamond Casino. Hook, as will be seen, obviously had a difficult interview on his hands. Neither spokesperson appeared to be the brightest bulbs in the pack.

Hook asked Ms. Parvello how the Tohono O’odham Nation finally prevailed. Ms. Parvello attributed their success to “tribal leadership; the right to build a casino at that location and community support.” To many people it was tribal leadership based upon deceit; there was no “right” to build in Glendale under the state compact and majority community support came from Peoria and Avondale rather than Glendale.

Mr. Hook then asked Sammy if he supported the casino all along. Sammy said, “Oh yes sir. Even well before I was elected I supported the efforts of the Tohono O’odham Nation and uh…” Sammy certainly did support the TO and they repaid him with a boat load of campaign mailers.

When Hook asked Sammy how many jobs the casino created he said, I’m going to defer to my expert on that (referring to Ms. Parvello).”  Her response was, “…up to 600 jobs…”  

Hook asked Sammy what people in Glendale were worried about with reference to the casino. Sammy replied, “From my perspective it all started with misinformation. And it all, uh, started with, uh, the Nation not having their say, their time in the light to give their part of the story. And, uh, it wasn’t until, ah, 18 court cases later and I wish you were a baseball player because if you were you’d be batting a thousand. And the thing is, even with all that, you’re right. It was part of a bureaucracy. It was part of people thinking that, uh, that, uh, it wasn’t something that the Nation should do.” How’s that for being a responsive answer?

Chavira was asked what was the reason that all of those powerful politicians did not want a casino in Glendale. His response was, “Well, like I say, all of the above; politics, self interest. The longer a fight lasts the more billable hours you have depending on which side you’re on. But at the end of the day, the ones who suffered were the citizens. Ah, I mean just from jobs, from the economic impact we’re having not only in Glendale but in the whole West Valley. What people seem to forget is that the casino is already a sovereign nation and it’s on unincorporated land surrounded three sides by the City of Glendale and on the north side by the City of Peoria.” The mind freezes as one listens to him. I guess we can blame this entire issue on the lawyers. How Sammy can cite the great economic impact to Glendale now and later in the interview admit there is no way to gauge its impact is mind boggling.

Hook asked Sammy if the NFL was skittish about the casino and if the NFL supported it. Chavira responded, “I can tell you I heard nothing from the NFL on that issue. Me, personally, I didn’t hear anything. Trina, did you hear any concern from them?” Ms. Parvello neatly sidestepped the entire issue by saying, “…they are supportive of the community…” As for Sammy the NFL probably never even heard of him much less communicated anything to him.

Hook asked Chavira if people opposed the casino because it threatened the integrity of the neighborhood. Sammy responded, “Yes, it ran the gamut. It ran (sic) the integrity of the neighborhood, being across the school, uh, a street from the high school. Um, such things as it would bring crime, unsavory people and um…”

Hook asked Chavira if he had heard anything from his constituents. Sammy said, “Ok, well, I haven’t received anything negative from any of my constituents.” Could it be because Sammy has been unreachable and invisible to his constituency?

Hook asked Ms. Parvello if the Nation contributes to the larger community. She responded that the Nation has a strong responsibility to the community. However she failed to mention that it is mandated through the state compact that a percentage of their net must go to the non-profits and communities throughout the state. It is distributed through a grant application process.

Sammy was asked how much does Glendale benefit from having the casino in terms of dollars. He responded, “Well, right now because of the Nation being an entity that’s a sovereign nation, um, they don’t get taxed. But at the end of the day what happened, the agreement was to receive a payment from them annually. For how many years, Trina?”  She said, “Throughout the life of the compact.”  You would think Sammy would have prepared for this interview by obtaining some facts and figures instead of continually punting to Ms. Parvello.

Hook again asked for clarification about the financial benefit to Glendale and Sammy melts down by saying, “So what we’re doing now is that we’ve moved forward with our partnership. But at the end of the day, um, where we’re at today is…sorry, I lost my train of thought.”

Hook responds with that’s ok but will there be money going to the city? Sammy, in an attempt to recover says, “Oh. Absolutely. I’m, I’m, let me apologize for that. The money we will be receiving…Let me take you back to the liquor license. Liquor is, is, is taxed, is taxed by the state before it even goes to the, uh, store. Well, at the end of the day, now we’re having an opportunity. We’re avoiding an opportunity to make money by not letting us have that liquor license. So right there, we, I don’t think we’ll have a metric to measure the economic impact the casino is gonna have on the entire West Valley.” Can you figure out what Sammy said?

Ms. Parvello was asked how many jobs would be created at final build out and her answer was, “1500.”  Hmmm…that’s a far cry from the figure of 6,000 jobs the TO has used routinely.

Thank God this show runs at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM on Sunday mornings. The viewership is probably 3 people. I bet John Hook wishes this is one of the interviews that could be erased forever. So much for the Fox slogan of “fair and unbiased.”

“At the end of the day,” sorry Sammy. We “lost our train of thought.”

© Joyce Clark, 2016


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