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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Yesterday’s blog entitled “Please delete this email after you read it” regarding Councilmember Gary Sherwood’s email resulting in an allegation of violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law created quite a bit of controversy rippling through the Coyotes world, Glendale’s political world and even the journalistic world. I suppose the reaction from the Coyotes world is the most predictable.  As anyone would expect, the Coyotes fans are fiercely loyal and anything that raises the specter of the disappearance of their team from Glendale sends them into overdrive. Their first reaction is to kill the messenger. In this case that includes not only me but Mayor Weiers, the Glendale Star and the Arizona Republic.  They denigrated Mayor Weiers for outing actions that may prove to be illegal. They gnashed their teeth over my blog and the newspapers’ articles because they perceived the information as yet another hit on their beloved team.

What they fail to recognize is that while the 4 councilmembers’ actions preceded a vote on the Coyotes deal, those actions could have preceded any council vote on any issue.  The troubling issue for many people is not the outcome of the vote but rather the actions that preceded and led up to the vote. The allegation is not about the Coyotes. The allegation is about improper behavior by 4 councilmembers. An investigation by the AG’s Office will surely answer the question, did they collude behind closed doors prior to the vote? Did they conduct city business secretly to assure a positive vote? Why speak to the issue of a possible Open Meeting Law violation when instead fans can deride the messengers? Why is it alright to dismiss possible illegal behavior because it is associated with a vote on the Coyotes deal? It’s a case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the Glendale political world is also predictable. It was learned that when the email first came to light, Vice Mayor Knaack denied attending the meeting. However, that would never do and would not last long. It would have had Sherwood and Knaack as adversaries; something they can ill afford right now. Today, the explanation given is that Sherwood and Knaack were in the same car when they received a cell phone call from Woods. Two things are questionable about this scenario. Where was Sammy? After all, Sherwood in his email says, “Sammy is already on board as he was with us last night.” Even if you can swallow this car explanation, it doesn’t make the allegation go away. The Open Meeting Law says, “Splintering the quorum can be done by meeting in person, by telephone, electronically, or through other means to discuss a topic that is or may be presented to the public body for a decision.” Note that they are not denying the basis of the allegation. Are they trying to muddy the waters by responding to minutia such as where they were when the meeting of the 3 and Woods took place? It’s another case of situational ethics.

The reaction from the print world can only be described as fascinating. Yesterday afternoon, July 21, I received a phone call from Paul Giblin, an Arizona Republic reporter. He proceeded to express his offense that I dared to say that I had scooped reporter Peter Corbett and the Arizona Republic.  He opined that my writing was done on the back of Peter Corbett who had made the FOIA request. He said that my journalistic standards were not as high as that of the Arizona Republic’s, and ended by saying; enjoy writing your little blog.

Later that day, I learned that Darrell Jackson of the Glendale Star had made the same kind of FOIA request. Who made the first request?  Update: July 23, 2014. I learned today that Darrell Jackson made the original FOIA request over 2 weeks ago. Did Peter Corbett do his story on the back of Darrell Jackson? Isn’t it weirdly coincidental that 2 reporters made the same FOIA request? Even more interesting is who tipped them off to the Sherwood email and why? What was the source’s motive for doing so? Situational ethics once again.

As for journalistic standards…hah…that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Arizona Republic readers have complained about the perceived bias in this paper’s stories for years; to the point that it has become legendary.   Paul Giblin’s outrage is much ado about nothing. More situational ethics.

© Joyce Clark,

2014 FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

I have written about the proposed Tohono O’odham (TO) casino and its impact on Glendale too many times to count. The other day a thought occurred to me. We all know that Glendale is in a financial mess. Its debt burden has prevented the construction of so many much needed facilities such as a western branch library and has caused the cuts in service to residents’ quality of life.

We often hear Councilmember Alvarez complain about service cuts and the on-going lessening of basic infrastructure maintenance. Yet she is all too willing to support the construction of the proposed casino in the name of jobs. Realistically the job numbers touted by the TO are highly inflated and everyone seems to ignore the stipulation that 25% of them must go to Native Americans.

Has anyone considered the financial impacts to a city already struggling financially? I think not.

Several years ago senior Glendale staff presented a cursory assessment of the financial effects of the casino. It was made clear that a new water treatment facility would be required to service the intense demand for water that would be created by the casino and its ancillary uses.  The construction of such a water facility is upwards of $70 million. Who would pay for it? Certainly not the Tohono O’odham. The persons paying the construction bill would be water ratepayers through an increase in water rates.

Then there is the issue of public safety. While a TO reservation would have its own tribal police to handle issues within the reservation it would be Glendale’s police and fire that would respond outside the reservation boundaries. At the very least, Glendale taxpayers would have to bear the costs of an increase in personnel and could experience delayed response times.

Lastly there are transportation costs. Streets adjacent to the reservation may need improvement to handle the increased traffic that will occur 24/7. There may be a need for upgraded traffic signals, signage and upgrades to the city’s Intelligent Traffic System.

For all of those who support the coming of the TO casino, do you still want the casino if it means that you have to pay more for your water provided by the city?  For all of those who support the coming of the TO casino, do you still want the casino if it means that public safety response times get longer as Glendale’s public safety personnel deal with a major traffic accident on adjacent streets or respond to a heart attack victim on the reservation? For all of those who support the coming of the TO casino, do you still want the casino if it means that instead of resurfacing or improving your street the money is used to improve or maintain streets to accommodate the increased traffic adjacent to the reservation?

You know, of course, that because of reservation status, the TO pay no taxes of any kind – no federal taxes, no state taxes, no county taxes and no Glendale taxes. If you were counting on increased sales tax revenue from the casino to offset these new financial burdens to the city’s General Fund, you can forget it. It’s not going to happen.

There are those like Councilmember Sherwood that believe Glendale can negotiate reimbursement for its added financial burden to support the casino from the TO. Do you really think the TO will shell out $70 million for a new water treatment facility or pay the ongoing costs of an increase in public safety personnel or pay millions for new or upgraded street improvements?

Even if a deal is struck, how can you trust people who violated agreements and the trust of their sister Tribes or kept secret its purchase of land for 7 years? If they renege on any kind of agreement with Glendale how will those who have complained about the costs of law suits feel about yet another law suit to get the TO to honor an agreement with Glendale?  

Please don’t regurgitate that the TO are required to give a small portion (8%) of their revenue to non-profits throughout the state. That presupposes that the TO will give their entire portion to non-profits in Glendale and ignore those in the Tucson area (site of their real reservation). Not going to happen. None of that money can go to Glendale’s General Fund to offset the new financial demands created by the proposed casino.

For every action there is an equal reaction. It’s the age old law of unintended consequences. While you may support the proposed casino because it will “create jobs,” are you willing to place further financial burdens on a city already under financial stress? Are you willing “to put your money where your mouth is” and to pay more for your water, deal with longer public safety response times and watch your streets deteriorate even further? I’m not.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Caitlin McGlade had a story in the Arizona Republic of May 28, 2014 entitled Glendale to collect less than projected on Coyotes Accord. I found the spin by stakeholders fascinating. For instance, Monty Jones, of Global Spectrum and general manager of the arena, had the following to say about the non-hockey events booked into the arena this year, “it had a successful year.” Wow. They set the bar so low that no one can see it. Seven non-hockey, revenue earning events is embarrassing when the anticipated number of non-hockey, revenue producing events was in the 20’s. Jones went on to say, “The company hopes to book more events next year.” I hope to win the Pulitzer Prize next year but it isn’t going to happen. So far, it’s not looking so good for Mr. Jones, et.al., with 5 non-hockey, revenue producing events booked in the arena for next year.

Parking revenues continue to be a problem for IceArizona and the city with cheaper parking available at the Cardinals’ stadium and another 3,000 free spaces throughout Westgate. Who would have guessed? After all the ink on the management agreement was barely dry when  the Cardinals announced that they would undercut the Coyotes parking charge and the Westgate manager announced that there would be no change in their policy of keeping spaces free during hockey games.

The article went on to say Councilmember Sherwood’s solution was, “that the city consider blocking off a road to make it more difficult to access those lots (stadium lots) during arena events. Councilmember Martinez seemed to think it’s an idea worth considering and said of blocking access, “(it) probably crossed most of our minds.” Those minds would be the four councilmembers who voted for the arena management agreement: Sherwood, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira.

Sherwood’s cock-a-mammy idea of using governmental authority to directly impact a private business in competition with the city is akin to asking for a law suit. What are they thinking? Are they thinking?

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

One of the comments I received on my latest Tindall blog was in the form of questions. “If it (referring to Tindall’s advice) were legal advice given to the City, wouldn’t it be provided to the entire City Council? Does a subset of people on the City Council (fewer than would qualify as quorum) qualify as ‘The City’?” They are interesting questions raising a subject I have been thinking about for quite some time. One of the most precious commodities in local government is arguably, the power accrued from knowledge. There is an old saying, “that knowledge is power” and in government is it golden.

From the time I took my seat as a councilmember in 2000, Dr. Martin Vanacour, City Manager at that time, managed by the precept, what one councilmember knew, all councilmembers should know. Whenever I asked for further information on an issue or raised questions, my questions and the answers I received were always copied to all councilmembers and I received the same when other councilmembers asked. That practice was always followed under subsequent city managers until my retirement in 2013. That was the ethical thing to do.

So what has happened to the ethics quotient in City Hall lately? What caused an email request for legal advice to be sent by 3 councilmembers and former City Attorney Craig Tindall’s return response solely and exclusively sent to those 3 councilmembers? To refresh your memory about this specific email, here it is: Tindall email 3 correctedAn investigative cause of concern may turn out to be the legal advice he provided without benefit of a separate agreement permitting him to do so per his Severance Agreement. Legally it may prove troublesome to him at some point.

The greater issue that should be of concern to all Glendale city councilmembers, as well as to that of Glendale’s management, is one of morality and ethics. The three councilmembers that solicited Mr. Tindall’s legal advice were well aware of the terms of his Severance Agreement. I am sure those terms were discussed in at least one council Executive Session. They cannot plead ignorance. If they attempt to do so, shame on them. It is their responsibility to know and understand the terms of agreements such as these. Ignorance, if proffered, is no excuse.

Mr. Tindall was employed by the city for many years. He should have known better than to respond to only 3 councilmembers and not the entire council. During his tenure habit and practice dictated that he share with all of council. Was he advancing the agenda of the pro IceArizona councilmembers? A few months later he became General Counsel to IceArizona.

There is another underlying serious concern and that is, why were three of the four councilmembers who supported the IceArizona Management Agreement, asking Tindall about that very same agreement? They should have properly directed their question(s) to Dick Bowers, Interim City Manager or Nick DiPiazza, Acting City Attorney. Did they hope to gain some advantage over those councilmembers who did not support the IceArizona agreement? In any event, their motivation in seeking exclusive legal advice, not shared with others on the council, is suspect.

There is a separate, ongoing issue regarding ethics and that is the reluctance of senior staff to share all information with the entire council, whether it be helpful or detrimental to their agenda. There is a natural tension between senior management and the council about information sharing. It appears when it is information that furthers staff’s agenda they are all too willing to share but if it is information that does not, it is not shared readily or sometimes, at all, with council. There remains a culture of secrecy at the senior staff level, a walling-off of information that should be shared. It is all too apparent when a councilmember publicly asks for information that a senior staffer believes to be detrimental to his/her agenda. The request for information is stone-walled and a councilmember will frequently and publicly state that his/her previous request still has not been met. It is often obvious what staff’s position is on an issue simply by the way councilmembers’ questions are answered or ignored. It is senior staff’s duty to provide information on an issue, positive and negative, in a fair and impartial manner. It is council’s duty to make a policy decision based upon the provision of such information. It is not senior management’s prerogative to make a pre-determined decision on an issue and then manipulate the manner in which it is presented to council.

Over the years I occasionally asked for copies of a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request made by a member of the public. Sometimes staff would provide copies of FOIA requests when they thought it might be of particular interest to council. None of the copies provided ever contained redactions (blacking out of information). Lately that is no longer the habit and practice of senior management. Copies of FOIA requests have been provided with redactions. So much for transparency. It is not appropriate and the practice should stop immediately. Councilmembers must be fully informed about any situation and redaction of information does not serve them well.

Information is the coin of City Hall’s realm and councilmembers are not receiving their share. We are poorer as a result of this unethical practice.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Lately I have been in a “take no prisoners mode.” Think of Peter Finch as Mr. Beale in the film, Network, when he screams, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!” I am thoroughly disgusted with the lies and subterfuge offered on various Glendale issues masked in a guise of altruism and high-mindedness. Rather than advancing issues that serve the best interests of our community opinions and actions have degenerated into advocacy of personal agendas. Yes, I know “we all do it” and “it’s done all the time,” usually accompanied by an admonishment to be “realistic.” It’s time to call “a spade,” “a spade” and not the PC description of, “a hand-held implement with a sharp-edged, rectangular, metal blade and a long handle used to loosen or break up the upper strata of the earth.”

The Glendale Star is a perfect example. Newspapers once had the reputation of objectivity in their reportage. Like many other time honored values news objectivity has fallen by the wayside.  When it comes to the proposed Tohono O’odham casino the Glendale Star obviously supports it. It is no secret that its Editor, Carolyn Dryer, attended an Alvarez hosted pro-casino meeting as a like-minded individual. There were also TO representatives in attendance. Her editorial choices seem to clearly reflect her bias.

There is a referendum petition in circulation designed to put the recent council vote to reject US Representative Trent Franks’ HB 1410 on Glendale’s fall ballot. By the way, if HB 1410 successfully passes in the US Senate the TO’s proposed casino will die a righteous death. The defeat or passage of HB 1410 is more critical than the public realizes. Make no mistake. If HB 1410 passes there is sure to be more litigation.

The referendum effort is being led by Glendale resident Gary Hirsch, a former city council candidate. Mr. Hirsch’s position is well known as one of the Glendale citizen plaintiffs in a previous lawsuit against the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) proposed casino.

On April 24, 2014 the Glendale Star Editor Dryer published an opinion piece on the casino referendum issue written by Mike Kenny, its Web Editor. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/. Mr. Kenny’s opinion piece is a puff piece signifying “nothing.” I guess if one cannot speak to the issue the next best course of action is to denigrate it.  He refers to the referendum effort and characterizes it as achieving “nothing.” He goes on to say, “Oh, and it’s (council vote) a non-stance that likely has zero implications. It’s highly doubtful our nation’s Senate – if this bill is ever heard – will take into account the opinion of a city that can barely decide what its opinion is.” Really? If that were the case why did Councilmember Alvarez and her minions work so hard to bring it to a council vote? They believe that rejection of HB 1410 by the city in which the proposed casino would be sited would indeed send a strong signal.

What about other personal agendas on this issue? Those councilmembers who hold a pro-casino position appear to have done so for purely personal reasons not because they believe it is in the best interest of Glendale (although they will proclaim so loudly and often). Councilmember Alvarez seems to be in “pay-back” mode. It’s her way of sticking it to councilmembers who she perceives as having “disrespected” her when she first came on board. It’s purely personal and the TO have taken advantage of her vindictiveness. Councilmember Chavira owes Alvarez and the TO big time for their support and endorsement of his candidacy. It appears that their bill has come due and he is making good on his debt. Councilmember Hugh’s pro-casino stance is in contradiction to his usual fiscal conservatism. It’s been heard his wife is driving his pro-casino stance. Water cooler opinion has it that Councilmember Sherwood who ran as an anti-casino council candidate lusts to become Glendale’s next mayor and is expecting substantial financial support from the TO in his run for that office.

So much for decision making in the best interests of already beleaguered city. After all, it’s just politics. Isn’t it time for Glendale residents to say, “They’re mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore?”

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Recently the Arizona Republic started a new item, West Valley Sound Off. They are contacting West Valley elected to get their positions on issues of the day. Their first foray question was, “Do you support the development of this proposed casino? Why or why not?” Those from Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, El Mirage, Litchfield Park, Peoria, Surprise, Tolleson and Youngtown declined to answer. Not so with our brave, intrepid leaders in Glendale. Three of them did respond.

Councilmember Manny Martinez has consistently opposed the casino since it was first proposed in 2009. He gets it. He said, “I do not support the proposed Tohono O’odham reservation and casino. I am very concerned for Westgate’s well-being if the casino is opened. How do casinos attract customers? Cheap booze, cheap food, and the cost of rooms are minimal. At Westgate, we have hotels and restaurants that pay taxes and help us pay off our debts. If the reservation and casino come in, as a sovereign nation, they would pay no federal, state, county or city taxes. Governor William R. Rhodes of the Gila River Indian Community said, ‘We believe the Tohono O’odham Nation, with the assistance of the federal government, has disrespected the rule of law, the balance so carefully struck among Indian gaming tribes, our community, Glendale and every Arizonan.”

Then we have words, signifying nothing, from Councilmember Chavira. He doesn’t get it and he is not representing the majority sentiment of the residents of West Glendale and the Yucca district, who will feel the direct impacts of the proposed casino. He mimics the same, old, tired rhetoric that the Tohono O’odham have used ad nausea, “Yes, I do support the development of the proposed West Valley casino and resort. The benefits of the development will be significant not only for Glendale, but for the entire West Valley. Positive economic impacts such as job creation and an additional tourist attraction in our sports and entertainment district are among the benefits.” I’m sure he knows, uhmmm, well, perhaps he knows…that 25% of the jobs must be filled with Native Americans.

Lastly, Councilmember Sherwood responded. This is a guy who, less than two years ago, ran on a platform of opposition to the casino. Now, not so much. He did a flip-flop at a very recent council meeting voting with Councilmembers Hugh, Alvarez and Chavira to reject U.S. Representative Franks’ HB 1410 and to begin negotiations with the Tohono O’odham (TO). Many suspect his affirmative vote was pay back to Chavira for Chavira’s vote in support of the arena management deal. “Neither – I will support the project if the Tohono O’odham Nation can be treated as close to a private entity as possible and having some form of revenue stream into the city’s general fund. Additionally, infrastructure including any street improvements, public-safety agreements, et al. would have to be included and enforceable in federal courts. Thus far, in fact-finding sessions, the Nation appears to be very amenable to this. Businesses such as Westgate, Renaissance Hotel, Coyotes and Tanger Outlets, to name a few, are also in support of proposed project. The sports and entertainment district could very well capitalize on a project of this size if it meets the city’s criteria.” He appears to be back-pedaling as he straddles a very narrow  fence, by adding his list of caveats. His declaration that,” Westgate, Renaissance Hotel, Coyotes and Tanger Outlets…are also in support” is downright laughable. There has never been a declaration of public support for the proposed casino from these entities. Have you seen it? I haven’t. Remember when the possibility of losing the Coyotes as an anchor tenant at the arena loomed? Bar and restaurant owners were beside themselves and declared without 40 nights of hockey games they couldn’t make it. They are not going to support a casino that will draw customers away from them knowing that potential consumers will spend disposable income on gambling, subsidized meals and booze and cheap room rates. If they are so willing to commit financial suicide, let’s see them do it publicly. Not one representative of these entities went to the last council meeting when TO negotiations was on the agenda and expressed public support of the project. Sherwood had no public letters of support from these entities that he could read into the record that evening. It’s time for Sherwood to cease making declarations that may not be accurate. Just because he said it, doesn’t make it true.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

March 18, 2014 was a “two-fer” in terms of council workshops. The morning session focused on the budget: General Fund budget balancing; Employee medical benefits; and fire staffing. The afternoon city council workshop also had 3 items of discussion: the Becker billboard request; a possible archery range at Heroes Park at 83rd and Bethany; and the Tohono O’odham casino.

I am going to discuss only one of those items here and now – the proposed Tohono O’odham (TO) casino. All of the other items will be covered in a subsequent blog.

In a prior meeting Vice Mayor Knaack requested an assessment of the impact of the proposed casino on the city and during the day’s discussion reminded staff of her original request that: staff (City Attorney Michael Bailey) bring back an assessment of the impact (fiscal and otherwise) of this proposed casino on Glendale; and that staff meet not only with the TO but with the tribes in opposition to the casino. Was Bailey too busy with his tablet and smart phone to pay attention because he fulfilled none of Vice Mayor Knaack’s request? He simply regurgitated former City Attorney Craig Tindall’s well-researched legal opinion on the matter. His actions could be construed as those of someone who is lazy and ill informed. He did not provide this council with Knaack’s original request: that of an assessment of the impact on the city.

Somehow or other the council discussion, at Councilmember Alvarez’ instigation (in person no less), moved to negotiating directly with the TO and opposing Franks’ bill. Chavira and Hugh immediately expressed their support. Mayor Weiers and Councilmembers Martinez and Knaack voiced their dissent. None of this was a vote, as council does not vote at workshop, but gives direction to staff through a majority support to move forward to investigate, plan and bring back information to be voted on in a council meeting.

Four councilmembers (a majority) gave direction to initiate negotiations with the TO and to express the city’s opposition to Congressional Representative Trent Franks’ bill, HR 1410. To what end no one knows because there are still lawsuits to be settled that will determine the proposed casino’s fate.

Councilmember Martinez, in opposition, quoted from a very eloquent article written by former Governor Rhodes of the Gila River Indian Community in the Arizona Republic on October 20, 2010.. The former Governor said, “There’s no literal translation in English that does justice to the tribal word, ‘himdag.’ As Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, himdag guides my every decision, my every action. Himdag, as passed down by our elders across hundreds of years, teaches us to respect for all things, including the value of a promise, abiding by the law and concern for the welfare of others.

Respect as a guiding principle feels old-fashioned in the 21st century, but it exists all the same – even when our community is compelled to sign its name to a lawsuit against the United States Department of the Interior.

You may have read about that lawsuit filed Spt. 16. You may have also read about Glendale’s lawsuit to stop the casino, filed this week. Out of respect, I believe that I must explain the reasons why my community to pointedly disagrees with Washington and with a southern Arizona sister tribe’s plan to build a casino on land they secretly bought in Glendale, 160 miles from their reservation headquarters.

My explanation can be summed up in a single sentence. We believe the TO Nation, with the assistance of the federal government, has disrespected the rule of law, the balance so carefully struck among Indian gaming tribes, our community, Glendale and every Arizonan.

At the crux of our lawsuit is clear evidence that the proper procedure for creating an Indian casino has been sidestepped. I’ll leave the legal wrangling to the lawyers, bit in the 21 months since our sister tribe surprised us with plans to build a casino on our aboriginal lands, our community has learned more than we would care to about legal loopholes, PR spin and shading the truth. The surprises have continues to come, and so have the disappointments especially where our sister tribe is concerned.

In the past, my community and the TO Nation have lived side by side and mutually benefited from our entwined cultures and interests. There’s no better example than the Indian gaming compacts ratified by Arizona voters in 2002. Proposition 202, supported by 17 tribes statewide, including the Gila River and TO communities, created a sound but delicate balance, a promise, that kept casinos out of urban neighborhoods, gave much needed revenue to the state and created an economic engine to lift every tribal community.

To see that balance upset and that promise broken – and to see one tribe use secrecy and legal maneuvering to benefit at the expense of every other tribe and our state – is difficult to comprehend, let alone stand for in silence.

Thus the Gila River Indian Community has taken our case to federal court. Our first goal is to force the federal government to apply federal gaming laws evenly. Never before has a tribe been allowed to “shop” for reservation land half a state away from its homeland, then open a casino on the newly created “pocket reservation.” That not only flies in the face of federal gaming law, but in the face of every Arizona’s vote for Proposition 202.

As for our sister tribe, I know our disagreement is temporary. Himdag has a place of supreme importance in their culture, too. I would like to believe that their leadership will rediscover their way soon enough. I believe we can achieve more together than apart and that greed should never be allowed to trump respect for all things.”

The deciding supporter of Alvarez’ plea was Councilmember Gary Sherwood. Mr. Sherwood can not have it both ways despite the rambling, confusing and often contradictory reasons for his decision. On one hand he says he still supports City Council Resolution 4246 that stated that the city is officially opposed to the TO casino.  It’s important to quote part of that resolution, “Whereas, the City believes that the Tohono O’odham Nation’s assertions and the basis upon which it makes these assertions are incorrect, poor public policy, in violation of the governmental rights, privileges, and authority of the State of Arizona, the County of Maricopa, and the City of Glendale, and are contrary to the best interests of the Citizens of the State of Arizona, the County of Maricopa, and the city of Glendale; and Whereas, the City of Glendale, consistent with the Indian tribes voicing opposition to the Tohono O’odham Nation’s application, opposes off-reservation gaming, including this current effort by the Tohono O’odham Nation to establish gaming on the Proposed Reservation Land, as contrary to the terms of Proposition 202 as presented to the people of the State of Arizona in 2002 and supported by, among other, the Tohono O’odham Nation.” Here is the link to Bailey’s (really Tindall’s legal opinion): http://www.glendaleaz.com/Clerk/agendasandminutes/Workshops/Agendas/031814-W03.pdf .

On the other hand, Sherwood then launched into a monologue stating, in essence, the TO casino will create “synergy” with Westgate and drive more business there. In a pig’s eye and he knows it. Subsidized food, drink and room rates at the TO proposed casino will undercut every restaurant, bar and hotel in the Westgate area. Despite his statement that he still supports opposition to the proposed casino and it will be “contrary to the best interest of the City of Glendale and of the citizens of the State of Arizona” he then supported moving forward with negotiations with the TO and opposition to Franks’ bill.  On one hand he says he opposes the casino because it earns not a penny of revenue for Glendale yet on the other, he is prepared to negotiate and facilitate their eventual presence.  His position is illogical yet he became the fourth councilmember needed to achieve consensus and direction.

Why? Sometimes things become clearer with perspective. Think back to the arena deal vote. Sherwood knew Weiers, Hugh and Alvarez were opposed to the arena deal and Martinez and Knaack already supported him and the deal. The vote was split, 3 to 3. He discovered those 5 members could not be dissuaded. Whether one agreed with or opposed their positions they had the principles of their conviction and could not be moved. He desperately needed that 4th vote of approval for the arena deal.

Who was left? Newly elected Sam Chavira — of course. Whispers of this scenario have circulated for months. If Chavira voted for the arena deal, in return Sherwood would support the casino. Is it true? I don’t know but it makes perfect sense and certainly seems to fit the known facts. Did each sell their souls? For what? Political back scratching? To be recognized in public hockey town halls as the saviors of the Coyotes? Reelection financial support from hockey and TO stakeholders with deep pockets?

But at whose expense? The citizens of Glendale locked into unsustainable arena debt of an estimated $27 million a year with a council unwilling to make the budget cuts that make the arena deal feasible? The Westgate area business owners who will suffer from unfair competition? The residents of West Glendale whose property values will decline with the advent of a casino while crime and traffic increases? The Westgate business owners who will suffer from unfair competition?  The Indian tribes who joined the State Compact in good faith? The voters of the State of Arizona presented with a plan to limit casino locations?

These politicians were just that –typical politicians, exemplifying the worst of the offices they hold. Sherwood delivered an irresponsible and dangerous signal to casino friends and foes alike. His flip flop on one of his campaign promises should be remembered when he runs for reelection. Given this, expect him flip flop again and to support the hated billboards proposed for North Glendale.  After all, he confessed that all of the fuss over the billboards was “baffling” to him and he was “pro-business.” There is no statesmanship here.

© Joyce Clark, 2014

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Well, well, well…guess who pulled a city council nomination packet to run again in her district?? Yep…none other than Jaba, er, Councilmember Norma Alvarez. Others have used the nickname repeatedly.  Warranted? You decide. She pulled her nomination packet Wednesday, November 27, 2013. It was the day before Thanksgiving perhaps to fly under the media’s radar screen??

norma and jaba 2

This is the woman who vowed not to run again and told voters during her election campaign that she would be a one-term councilmember. This is the same woman who said after the results of the external audit her work was done and she would resign. This is the same woman, when asked directly by the media recently, waffled for all she’s worth. Your first hint should have been the new hairdo, clothes and her presence at events she couldn’t be bothered with in her previous 3 years.

Let’s hope Jaime Aldalma, an announced candidate for the same Ocotillo district seat, or perhaps some other candidates will give Alvarez a run for her money, er, that’s the Democratic Party’s and the Tohono O’odham’s money. Alvarez has not earned a seat on council with either her actions or her words.

Trading votes?

Sources have speculated endlessly about the reason for Chavira’s vote in support of the new Coyotes ownership deal of $15 million dollars a year. Chavira made it clear when he ran that he did not support the deal and thought there were more prudent ways to manage the city’s arena and money  – such as one of the Beacon bidders. Gary Sherwood ran on a platform that included his opposition to the proposed Tohono O’odham casino. Lately he appears to have flip-flopped. The speculation is that they traded votes. Sherwood may have gotten Chavira to support the Coyotes deal in return for his support of the Tohono O’odham casino. We’ve all seen stranger things happen.
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 SherwoodChavira photo

These are just some of the tidbits that come my way continually.  Fact or Fiction? You decide.

© Joyce Clark, 2013

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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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Mayor Weiers has called for an Executive Session at 5 PM today, September 24, 2013 according to Paul Giblin’s story in the Arizona Republic. When the half million dollar external audit was finalized it included a legal analysis. While the audit was released to the public, the legal analysis was discussed in a previous Esession but was not released publicly. Councilmembers Sherwood and Martinez confirmed its “authenticity” to the Republic after it obtained a copy. This Esession is to provide Weiers an opportunity to remind councilmembers what information discussed during an Esession is and is not permissible to reveal.

Weiers’ problem is more than councilmembers talking “out of school” about Esession material. It signals his greater problem – a leadership vacuum. Each councilmember is vying for that position. In their eyes, what better way to achieve that goal than getting one’s name in front of the public as often as possible?  Sherwood led the charge on the Coyotes deal. He was out there publicly and often as long as it was a news story. Complaints were made by Alvarez citing conflicts of interest by some councilmembers. Then Alvarez and Hugh released Esession information about the Beacon bids and they became the next set of targets. Sherwood and Martinez confirmed the legal analysis portion of the external audit. These people are off the reservation. Can Weiers get them back on? They’ve already learned that they will suffer no consequences, at least from the Attorney General’s Office. After all, don’t forget that the City Attorney’s clients are each and every councilmember. He is charged with representing them and defending their interests. The letters he sent to the AG’s office were designed to do exactly that. Is it any wonder that the AG found no reason to charge any of them? Councilmembers, under Council Guidelines, can publicly censure one another but don’t look for that to occur either.

Today’s Esession will turn out to be an exercise in futility. Every time Alvarez doesn’t like a majority council position on an issue, leaks will occur. Every time one of them believes that leaking will enhance their position, leaks will continue. Weiers’ attempt to get them back on the reservation will only happen when he stops “leading from behind” and gets out in front of the issues before the others try to do so. Right now councilmembers are off the reservation and will only get back on when they are roped in.

©Joyce Clark, 2013

FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Lawwho have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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