20140812_193537The August 12, 2014 meeting of the Glendale City Council was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know the inevitable outcome; you know it will be extremely painful; but you are utterly powerless to stop it. All you can do is watch it unfold. This is the first council meeting I attended since leaving office over a year and a half ago. People have been telling me for months that the animosity among councilmembers was evident. I thought OK, there were times when our council meetings were not happy affairs. Little did I know that the atmosphere reeked of councilmember nastiness and disrespect. It was palpable fueled by the absolute arrogance of the council majority (Sherwood, Hugh, Alvarez and Chavira). The meeting was not unusual as council sped through proclamations and the consent agenda. The last two items were casino related. One was council approval of the draft agreement between the Tohono O’odham and Glendale. The other was the first official groveling of the city council with a resolution supporting the construction of the casino.  All hell broke loose. The draft agreement was introduced and recited by Michael Bailey, Glendale’s City Attorney. Mayor Weiers opened the public comment portion. There were 22 speakers to the item. 15 citizens spoke in opposition to the draft agreement and 7 spoke in favor of the draft agreement. The speakers’ comments in opposition to the proposed casino revolved around these general themes: casinos produce greater crime in the adjacent area; they create a greater rate of gambling addiction and subsequent bankruptcies and home foreclosures. The two major themes were comments about the rush to get this agreement done and the fact that it simply wasn’t a good deal for Glendale. There were some memorable comments to share (my apology if I butcher someone’s name). John Burnell of the Sahuaro district related that a family member, as a gambling addict, maxxed out credit cards and lied to keep it secret. The husband had to take two jobs and it took him over two years to get the family’s finances back on track. Barbara Roberts acknowledged the casino job creation but said, “Yes, we need jobs but what kind of jobs?” Timothy Green of Goodyear said, “Casinos only succeed on the backs of losers.” A rather profound statement. Ron Kolb, Ocotillo district said, “The West Side will never be the same.” Dr. Ron Rockwell, pastor of a Yucca district church very near the casino site, said, “You no longer care about the moral and spiritual culture of this community.” Randy Miller, candidate for the Barrel district council seat, called out Councilmember Alvarez and her continual homage about the importance of listening to the people…yeah, Norma, right. It seems to be a principle of hers only when convenient. Those speakers in support of the casino were arrogant and boastful. John Mendlelberg, former Mayor of Surprise, said, “You must concede.” Reverend Maupin of Phoenix, said, “You lost the war. You should be grateful for whatever you are getting.” He accused Councilmember Martinez of being a liar and a racist. Robert Quizneros of the Ocotillo district complained about the audacity of “the other side’s hiring of attorneys and lobbyists” to defeat the casino. A special “shout out” to Lauren Tolmachoff, candidate for the Cholla district council seat. It appears that she has become a one-trick pony as she reiterated her support for the casino in the name of jobs. Hey, Lauren, don’t you know about “job displacement?” Several pro-casino speakers kept referring to, “it’s their (TO) land.” Well, yes it is after a purchase kept secret for 7 years and its newly minted designation as a reservation. It’s all about a reservation WITHIN Glendale. I defy anyone to identify any city in the State of Arizona that has a reservation within its boundaries. Then it was time for the Councilmembers to speak prior to their vote. Alvarez’ remarks were priceless in their ignorance. She made memorable comments such as, “what’s the difference between a lottery ticket and a casino?” Or, “We have casinos in Scottsdale.” Or, “They (Tohono O’odham) are going to provide a service.” That one caused audible audience derision.  And lastly, “Make us responsible for what we’re doing.” Trust me, we will.   Councilmember Sherwood, self-proclaimed negotiator and leader, was strangely silent all evening except for his monologue prior to his affirmative vote. His comments deserve a special blog and its coming. Councilmember Martinez offered a series of amendments to the draft and that’s when all hell broke loose. Councilmembers Alvarez and Chavira, repeatedly and often, yelled out while Councilmember Martinez was trying to speak, “Call for the question!” Their obvious intent was to silence Councilmember Martinez’ efforts. What were they afraid of? They knew they had the votes to defeat any amendment. Chavira was literally in a rage because of Martinez’ efforts. He lept out of his seat and it looked as if he was about to confront Mayor Weiers physically. Wow, Sammy. Finally we see the true persona and your reaction when crossed and you don’t get your way. The lack of control he exhibited demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a councilmember and cannot conduct himself in a manner required by the office he holds. Martinez offered 4 amendments: raising the TO payment to $20 million or 3% of the Class III net; offsite infrastructure costs to be paid by the TO up front; a waiver of sovereign immunity especially with regard to fraud and other bad acts; and payments to continue beyond 2026. Each was rejected. The vote was as everyone expected. The majority of 4 – Sherwood, Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira voting to approve the agreement and Weiers, Martinez and Knaack voting against. What was unexpected to the degree it manifested itself, was the vituperativeness and nastiness. At one point a citizen called Martinez a liar and a racist. Mayor Weiers should have stopped the speaker immediately and requested a police officer escort the person from the building. There is no doubt that Mayor Weiers lost control of the meeting during the first casino agenda item. His failure fueled the majority’s contempt and rage. Kudos go to Bonnie Steiger, a Glendale resident and faithful attendee at council meetings for 28 years. She is everyone’s Grandmother. She was so disgusted with council’s behavior that she said their lack of respect for the very office they hold merited the removal of all of them. Lastly, I offer two interesting items for your attention. One is the Coyotes publicly announced today that they had accepted a deal for arena naming rights. Are you ready for this? It will be called the Gila River Arena. Hooray for the Gila River. Although it may require Glendale approval, Glendale may only reject for very narrow reasons and the new naming rights do not fit the criteria. Can you say embarrassing, Glendale?? Or perhaps the majority of 4 will figure out a way to kill the deal. The second item is that just before 5 PM, yesterday, August 12, 2014 a group filed paperwork with the Glendale City Clerk’s office for a Political Action Committee for the purpose of recalling Councilmember Gary Sherwood. Things are heating up in Glendale. As I said at the beginning of this blog, this meeting was definitely a train wreck but the pain is yet to be borne by all of the people of Glendale. © 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. 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