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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

photo aOn September 12, 2014 two political action committees, No More Bad Deals for Glendale and Respect the Promise turned in approximately 15,000 petition signatures collected in 28 days for each of two referendum petitions. These petitions seek to overturn the city council votes of August 12, 2014 approving a settlement agreement with the Tohono O’odham and supporting the TO’s reservation status by requesting an election.

The approximately 15,000 petition signatures turned in is greater than the 10,914 Glendale citizens who exercised their right to vote in the recent Primary Election. That’s disconcerting. You would think that the number of petition signatures collected would send a strong message to this city council that Glendale residents want to weigh in on this issue by virtue of an election.

The Glendale City Clerk has 20 business days to do something, anything with the petitions before she turns them over to the Secretary of State. She is not an independent agent. She will be told what to do. Now it gets interesting. Wanna-be mayor, Councilmember Gary Sherwood was in attendance for the delivery of the petitions to the City Clerk. He could be heard muttering, the council votes of August 12th are not referable and these petitions are no more than toilet paper. You can be sure the “gang of four” (Sherwood, Alvarez, Hugh and Chavira) as the majority on council will give direction to the City Manager and City Attorney to reject these petitions. The City Attorney and his minions are burning the midnight oil to find Arizona case law that supports the city’s act of rejection. What does “not referable” mean? The city will take the position that the council votes were not legislation per se. Therefore the petitions which seek to refer those council actions to Glendale residents are not valid and thereby rejected by the city. Their position will be that those council votes were not legislative action and only legislation can be referred to the voters.

Make no mistake. Both groups, No More Bad Deals for Glendale and Respect the Promise are prepared to go to the legal mat on this issue of referability. If and when the city rejects the petitions on those grounds expect both groups to file suit. Isn’t it ironic that Alvarez and her merry band of pro casino councilmembers have complained bitterly about the money spent by the city on legal action when its position was in opposition to the casino and reservation? Will they decide not to spend money to defend the city’s position of petition rejection now that the city supports the casino and reservation? I guess the spending of taxpayer money on legal action depends on whose ox is being gored.

Alvarez, nearly every time she casts a “no” vote on a major city issue, can be heard pontificating that it is an issue upon which Glendale residents should vote. This time she has been amazingly silent in advocating that view when it comes to the casino and reservation. What, Norma, when it’s an issue you personally do not like it merits a vote of the people but when it is an issue that you do like, forget the people?

For those of you following this saga, this Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM, Eastern time (11:30 AM in Arizona) the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a legislative hearing on Senate Bill 2670, Keep the Promise Act of 2014, introduced by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake. Here is the link to the site where it can be viewed live, online:  http://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-s-2670-keep-promise-act-2014 . If this link doesn’t work please copy and paste the link into your browser.

It appears that the bill could be marked up and passed out of committee for a full Senate vote. If that is the case and the bill is approved in the Senate there would be a House and Senate Conference Committee meeting to make sure the House version and Senate version of the bill are in agreement. It would then go to the President to sign or veto. If the bill were to be successful the Tohono O’odham, despite their ground breaking, would not be able to build a casino in Glendale or any other portion of the Phoenix Metro area.

On another note, to date the Attorney General’s Office is still investigating the alleged Open Meeting Law violation by Councilmembers Sherwood, Knaack, Martinez and Chavira. If the complaint had no merit we would have received that opinion by now. The fact that it is taking so long would lead one to assume that there is merit to the allegations. If that turns out to be the case, look for some kind of major sanction against Councilmember Sherwood and perhaps a minor sanction for the three others. I wouldn’t be surprised if the AG’s Office required another vote on the original IceArizona/City of Glendale Management Agreement. This, too, could prove interesting dependent upon which candidates win council seats at the General Election in November.

It looks like Councilmember Hugh has met with Lauren Tomachoff and Bart Turner. Tolmachoff is a candidate for the Cholla district seat and Turner is a candidate for the Barrel district seat. It seems Councilmember Hugh is busy trying to build his own coalition. It appears that he fancies a run against current Mayor Jerry Weiers. Hey, Jerry, watch out! It looks like they are starting to line up for a run against you…Sherwood and now, Ian Hugh. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see Councilmember Knaack (retiring in January, 2015) decide on a run for mayor. Being part of a clearly dysfunctional council is no fun but perhaps becoming mayor is.

A lot is riding on this Attorney General Office’s investigation. It could kill any mayoral ambitions of both Sherwood and Knaack. It’s rather difficult to win the support of the Glendale electorate if you have been found to have violated the law. Just when you thought Glendale’s problems were cooling down, they’ve heated up again. As President Truman once said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I wonder if the Glendale city council loves the kitchen heat now.

© 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.

On Tuesday, July 15, 2014 the Glendale city council held a special meeting. It was posted the required 24 hours in advance of the meeting but other than knowing that the topic would be the casino, the posting was generic. Let me make clear I oppose the proposed casino. I have from the first moment in 2009 when the Tohono O’odham (TO) announced they were coming until this day and beyond.

We now know why this special voting meeting was called. There was evident panic in the pro-casino ranks of Councilmembers Alvarez, Hugh, Sherwood and Chavira. The public cover (read excuse) they used for calling the meeting was that the Department of the Interior recently approved taking TO land into trust (blessing it as a reservation). What really has them steamed is that Mayor Weiers has been invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about off-reservation gaming on July 23, 2014. It was a blatant, back room  attempt to make him toe the city line and support the proposed casino. That was the “gang of four’s” real agenda. There is another element that needs to be considered. The Primary Election. There is every possibility that the majority in favor of the casino could become the minority, especially if Alvarez loses her council seat (a distinct possibility).

There should be some real concern among the public about the orchestration of this special meeting. The four majority vote councilmembers obviously got together and orchestrated this charade. Everyone should be asking, just how much conversation was there between them and was any portion a violation of the state’s Open Meeting Law? They, to a person, repeated each other and called for a new council resolution rescinding Council Resolution 4246 and asking for a declaration of support for gaming on the reservation land.  They obviously were all on the same page and had decided in advance exactly what the strategy and outcome were to be.

It was evident that the four, as a majority, called for the meeting without consultation with the minority. There was obviously a deliberate lack of communication with the 3 minority voting councilmembers. Obviously they were not included in any discussion about this special meeting. In fact, Mayor Weiers stated that he was on vacation and no one bothered to check his schedule for his availability. Vice Mayor Knaack made it clear her attendance was “under protest” and Councilmember Martinez called the meeting “inappropriate.”

Mayor Weiers has the legal right to oppose the proposed casino before this Senate Committee as long as he makes it clear that his comments are personal and do not reflect the city’s newly adopted position.  I sincerely hope that he takes this opportunity to express in the strongest terms possible, the many reasons why this casino is not good for Glendale.

Mayor Weiers made it clear that he was not happy with the process that was occurring and he stated unequivocally that “what is happening is wrong.” He said the entire process was rushed and it was — but now we know why. He reminded everyone that council has a history of making bad decisions when it is rushed.

Vice Mayor Knaack agreed that the entire process was rushed and could have waited until council reconvened in August. Ahhh, but then the majority pro-casino contingent would not have had the opportunity to try to muzzle Mayor Weiers before he testifies before that Senate Committee. She believes that a casino within Glendale will destroy the voter approved Arizona gaming compact passed in 2002 and it will.

Councilmember Martinez said that the council actions could jeopardize any leverage the city might have with regard to negotiations with the TO. Vice Mayor Knaack expressed the same concern and asked, “Will the action today impact the city’s ability to negotiate the best deal possible with the TO?” That finally stopped “the four” and they acceded to going into Executive Session. Apparently whatever they learned from the City Attorney in that E Session was not persuasive enough to dissuade any of the predestined, determined and blind action of the four.

Two comments were made of note. Arthur Thruston, a Glendale Gadfly, said there was nothing wrong with the manner in which the TO had purchased the land. As a reminder, it was purchased by a shell corporation of the TO back in 2002 and kept secret for 7 years, until 2009. Thruston likened it to Intel or any other large corporation buying land before announcing their new location. OMG…Thruston needs to get real. It is not typical for a corporation to wait 7 years between its purchase and announcement.

Councilmember Sherwood again reiterated that all of the businesses in Westgate are just hunky dory at the prospect of the proposed casino. He used the analogy of a hamburger stand on a corner saying, when another hamburger stand locates nearby it creates synergy and each stand will have more business. That’s fine as far as it goes. What if both stands produced hamburgers that tasted equally well but the new stand sold its burgers for less – a lot less? Did it ever occur to him that if both hamburger stands produced hamburgers of equal quality and taste the public would always choose the cheaper product? Voila! Does that make the situation the Westgate area businesses face from the proposed casino clearer?

Predictably Resolution 4828 New Series passed by a vote of 4 to 3.  It has 3 elements: repeal of Council Resolution 4246; support for gaming on the TO land; and direction that this resolution is sent to the entire Congressional delegation. Alvarez, Hugh, Sherwood and Chavira in the affirmative. Weiers, Knaack and Martinez in the negative. Alvarez has finally paid back the TO for their independent expenditures on her behalf. Now they will owe her more in this election.

The seminal question is this: How can anyone possibly trust anything the TO agrees to in its negotiation with Glendale? They kept secret purchase of the land in Glendale for 7 years. They back stabbed their sister Tribes by flagrantly violating the Arizona gaming compact. If you are not dissuaded by their past actions, I have bridge in Brooklyn to sell to you.

This action by council has stirred me to act. I am writing a letter to the entire Congressional delegation repudiating this council’s Resolution. I encourage any reader who is dismayed by this council’s recent policy decision to take the time to write as well.  A trickle of opposition, when joined with one another, becomes a stream and eventually a mighty river. It’s time for Arizona’s delegation to learn there is a mighty river of opposition to the proposed casino.

© 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.

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