It has been 17 years and 241 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

One would have to be blind not to see the Tohono O’odham’s (TO) casino construction in Glendale north of Glendale Avenue and west of 91st Avenue. Technically it is on a county island but in reality it is surrounded by the City of Glendale. It IS in Glendale.

The Tohono O’odham are throwing up the structure as fast as they possibly can. They are taking a huge gamble, which seems apropos as they are in that business…gambling. Still unresolved is a decision from the 9th Circuit Court; there is still federal legislation, the Keep the Promise Act of 2015, waiting for a vote; and the state’s decision to withhold a gaming license is in the legal system as well. Any one of these three actions could bring the casino to a permanent, grinding halt.

In a recent Glendale Star editorial, Carolyn Dryer, editor, says, “They (TO) have paid their dues. It is time to give them a gaming license and allow them to open their doors.” That opinion should come as no surprise to anyone. Ms. Dryer attended, as a private citizen, one of former Councilmember Norma Alvarez’ pro-casino meetings held at her home. From the very start the Star has never been unbiased in its coverage of the casino issue and has used its bully pulpit to advance the goals of the Tohono O’odham at every opportunity.

What dues has the TO paid? They lied to the voters of the state gaming compact. They lied to their sister tribes never revealing their intent to build a casino in Maricopa County, hundreds of miles away from their reservation in Southern Arizona. They lied to everyone by keeping secret for years their purchase of land in Glendale.

I have never supported the casino and still do not. I believe it sets a precedent that ignores the voter approved gaming compact of 2002 and it will break open the gaming market in Maricopa County. We will see casinos being built in other communities throughout the Valley. Even worse, I am offended by the lies and subterfuge used by the TO in acquiring the land secretly and its failure to reveal that fact at the very time the first state gaming compact was under consideration by voters. Those voters had a right to know that the TO had plans to build another casino in Maricopa County and did not intend to live up to the promises their Chairman, Ned Norris, Jr., made in selling the compact.

What is really disconcerting is the building will be crap. Yes, I said crap. It’s intended to be a future warehouse, for God’s sake. The ceiling will be exposed with lights hanging by wires from the ceiling beams. How’s that for classy and upscale? It certainly won’t be any Talking Stick but of course, that is all that the West Valley merits. It’s just another promise made and broken by the TO. This building has one purpose and that is to rake in money for the tribe. The TO could have built a big barn and stuffed cattle…errr… hoards of gamblers, into it and it would have served just as well as their warehouse casino.

Oh, but this is only temporary. Do you ever wonder what the TO’s definition of temporary is? Is it a year? 5 years? 10 years? It doesn’t matter what the TO tell you for it will be just another promise broken.

Many people are just plain tired about the ongoing saga and hope for final resolution. The silent majority of Glendale residents want the casino stopped permanently. It’s time for Senators McCain and Flake to bring the Keep the Promise Act of 2015 to a vote. Their rationale is that there is always a more pressing issue and it’s not the right time. There will never be a right time…it’s time for Congress to vote this issue up or down.

© Joyce Clark, 2015


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