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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"


Trent Franks

Trent Franks

Lately, Councilmember Alvarez has been pushing the Tohono O’odham agenda before Glendale City Council-to no avail. A majority of them are not biting. Perhaps it’s because they accept that the city is still in litigation with them and one does not fraternize with the opposing party of a lawsuit. That obviously does not bother Councilmember Alvarez. On May 2, 2013, our favorite non-newspaper, the Glendale Star, published Alvarez’ Letter to the Editor entitled Franks supports East Valley interests over will of West Valley voters…again. You can read the entire Letter to the Editor with this link http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/article_36e063a8-b1ba-11e2-912b-001a4bcf887a.html

I dare to venture that my recent series of blogs about the casino may have prompted the TO to try to get out in front in an casino 1attempt to neutralize my comments. They certainly have been pushing on Councilmember Alvarez of late to try to get their message out, first at council meetings and now with this Letter to the Editor. The TO poured thousands of dollars into the recent election campaigns of Alvarez’ chosen candidates and now it’s time for her to carry their water.

Did she write the piece? That’s for you to judge and as you do so, reflect on her public comments at council meetings which have not been nearly as polished. If I were a betting person, I would bet that her Letter to the Editor was ghosted by one of the lovely ladies at TriAdvocates, a consultancy firm hired by the Tohono O’odham. It certainly provides TriAdvocates something to do for their $180,000 annual retainer.

Alvarez berated Congressman Trent Franks for doing what he should be doing for his West Valley constituency and that is protecting their interests as well as those of the State of Arizona by introducing H.R. 1410. He is also protecting the interests of a majority of the Tribal nations in this state that have publicly opposed the actions of the Tohono O’odham.

Alvarez cites the “overwhelming support for the project in this community, with polls consistently showing more than two-thirds of West Valley voters are in favor of the casino…”

polling 1Really? I could write questions for a poll right now that would demonstrate that two-thirds of West Valley voters are NOT in favor of the casino. Conveniently two factors are ignored. One is that a poll can be written and utilized to back up any point of view. In most cases, they are meaningless. Secondly, I know that a majority of those Glendale residents immediately impacted by the casino do not support it. The further away one is from it and especially if one lives in another town or city the resistance to this casino diminishes. For those who live in Sun City, for example, the casino is merely a convenience with less travel time. What does someone in Peoria care if it costs Glendale millions of dollars to support a casino? It’s not in their backyard and they will not bear the costs.

Alvarez then goes on to say, “The West Valley should currently be enjoying the 3,000 permanent jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars per year this project will bring to our community.”

If you had read any of my previous blogs, the professors and researchers I cited make very clear that the jobs created by a casino will be in man moneypart, “displacement” jobs. In other words, instead of someone working at a Denny’s that person will take a job at a casino. Keep in mind, 25% of the jobs will go to Native Americans. There is nothing wrong with that but now those alleged 3,000 jobs becomes 2,250. In my blogs I offered factual information that the number of jobs that will be created is vastly over stated. As for the hundreds of millions of dollars per year that will come to Glendale my question is from what? It can’t be from taxes because the TO will pay no tax of any size, shape or description to anyone. Perhaps Alvarez is referring to the 8% of the state-mandated 12% tribes must allocate through grants to non-profits? If so, it would take years and years and years to even come close to her “hundreds of millions of dollars per year.” So much for offering factual information.

Lastly Alvarez says, “Making matters worse is that H.R. 1410 seeks to re-write the voter-approved Arizona Gaming Compact, a document that was written and signed by 17 sovereign nations and the State of Arizona.”

Ned Norris Jr Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman

Tohono O’odham Chairman
Ned Norris Jr.

This statement earns a Woo Hoo for today. Prior to bringing the compact to voters all of the state tribes spent several years negotiating and approving among themselves the framework of a compact. It was a gentleman’s/gentlewoman’s agreement among the tribes. Did the TO agree with fingers crossed behind their backs? It appears so. It raises the question of, if you will renege on a promise to your fellow Tribes who else will you renege on?

That framework was then negotiated with the State resulting in Proposition 202 that the voters of the state approved. In an attempt to persuade voters to approve the compact it was clearly stated that the number of casinos in the Phoenix Metro area was limited to seven. That is the number of casinos that exists today without the proposed TO casino. Franks’ bill seeks to do the very thing the TO refuse to do and that is protect the intent of the Arizona Gaming Compact.

No, Councilmember Alvarez, your attack on Congressman Franks is misguided and seemingly managed by your “friends” who do not live in Glendale. The Congressman is to be commended for protecting our interests and we do live in Glendale.


Casino…good, bad or indifferent? Part 3

Posted by Joyce Clark on April 16, 2013
Posted in Casino  | Tagged With: , , , , | 1 Comment

We know the proposed site of the casino. We know about the state voter approved gaming compact and how the Tohono O’odham acquired the land.  Is a casino is healthy for an urbanized area?

There is one disclaimer however. I am not commenting on the casino as a social justice issue. For this discussion this issue is not about the white man having treated Indians badly over several hundred years. It’s not about owing Tribes for past wrongs. Today’s society has crafted many solutions for ameliorating social injustice. What this is about is whether a casino, whether owned by Las Vegas interests, Atlantic City interests or the Tribes, is a good thing within a major city. Glendale is a major city with a population of nearly a quarter of a million people. It is the fourth largest city in the state. It definitely qualifies as an urban area within the Phoenix metropolitan area.

threaten 2How is crime related to a casino? Does crime go up, go down or stay the same? The following is an Abstract entitled Casinos, Crime and Community Costs by Earl L. Grinols and David B. Mustard, originally published in 1996 but this excerpt is from the Review of Economics and Statistics (February 2006). The authors say, “We examine the relationship between casinos and crime using county-level data for the United States between 1977 and 1996. Casinos were nonexistent outside Nevada before 1978, and expanded to many other states during our sample period. Most factors that reduce crime occur before or shortly after a casino opens, whereas those that increase crime, including problem and pathological gambling, occur over time. The results suggest that the effect on crime is low shortly after a casino opens, and grows over time. Roughly 8% of crime in casino counties in 1996 was attributable to casinos, costing the average adult $75 per year.

“Casinos increased all crimes except murder, the crime with the least obvious connection to casinos. Most offenses showed that the impact of casinos on crime increased over time, a pattern very consistent with the theories of how casinos affect crime. The crime-ameliorating effects of casinos through increased employment opportunities and wages for low-skilled people will be concentrated shortly after opening. Between 5.5% and 30% of the different crimes in casino counties can be attributed to casinos.

“This translates into a social crime cost associated with casinos of $75 per adult in 1996. This figure does not include other social costs related to casinos, such as crime in neighboring counties, direct regulatory costs, costs related to employment and lost productivity, and social service and welfare costs. Overall, 8.6% of property crime and 12.6% of violent crime in counties with casinos was due to the presence of the casino.

crime 1“According to the study, five years after a casino opens, robbery in the community goes up 136 percent, aggravated assault is up 91 percent, auto theft is up 78 percent, burglary is up 50 percent, larceny is up 38 percent, rape is up 21 percent and murder is up 12 percent, compared to neighboring communities.

“Crime-lowering effects, like additional police and the new jobs represented by a casino are overwhelmed by rising crime increased by the presence of the casino, according to the study.”

Since this study was published in 1996 many pro casino interests have attempted to debunk it. Be that as it may, this is a definitive study that has been repeatedly cited by many reputable public policy groups in attempting to determine the benefits and negatives of a casino.

The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies in its April, 2010 report entitled Impact of Expanded Gambling in New westgate 1Hampshire concluded in part, that negative impacts could be substantial:

  •      Decrease in meals and room taxes away from other, traditional sources (a shifting of tax revenue away from hotels and    restaurants such as Westgate, toward gambling facilities)
  •      Visitors and residents spend money on gambling that would be spent on other goods and services (known as “substitution”)
  • The state will have increased expenses related to expansion of personnel to accommodate the new facility
  • Creates an atmosphere of increased competition for state investments and subsidies
  • Shifts workers currently in one industry to the gambling industry (known as “displacement”). This new development may take workers from other industries and moves them into the casino industry
  • Social costs increase related to increased crime and pathological gambling
  • Significant potential political influence from a single industry

This New Hampshire study also offered, “For a standard casino, most patrons come from within 30 miles and participation declines exponentially as distance increases. These markets do not conform to state or other political boundaries.”

casino 1Another issue identified by the study said, “In casino markets like Las Vegas and Atlantic City 8-10% of casino patrons are ‘problem gamblers” (National Opinion Research Center, 2000). A person is not going to have a problem unless they have access to gambling. Proximity to a casino impacts propensity to gamble. Proximity to a casino (e.g. within 50 miles) increases the risk of pathological problems (National Opinion Research Center, 2000). Problem gambling will impact communities closest to the gambling venue and decrease the further away you are.”

In addition, “An analysis by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission shows that scratch ticket sales have declined in the last six months of 2012 in the region of New Hampshire closest to the Oxford County casino.”

This New Hampshire study raises issues not previously discussed publicly such as a diminishment of state lottery sales in the geographic region closest to a casino or that pathological gambling increases in the geographic area closest to the casino.

roads 2What about the issue of traffic? The Connecticut South Western Regional Planning Agency issued a Casino Traffic Impact Study in 2009.  “The purpose of this study was to estimate the possible traffic and air quality impacts of the development of a casino in Bridgeport.” The study concluded, “that the development of a casino would have a significant impact on traffic congestion in southwestern Connecticut. Casino traffic is not seasonal because the number of trips to and from casinos is relatively consistent from month to month. Casinos operate 24 hours per day; there is no peak travel period to and from casinos thus traffic impacts of casinos may be experienced at all times of day.” Many transportation agencies in many states where casinos have located have done similar studies. All recommend new transportation infrastructure whose costs are borne by taxpayers.

roads 1The increased traffic in the area will not just be due to the number of visitors to the casino. Add to that, traffic from employees as well as vendors and suppliers making deliveries with their semis at all hours of the day and night. In Glendale a traffic impact analysis study was done for Westgate and the University of Phoenix Stadium. As a result of those studies, additional traffic mitigation was created and paid for by the developers of those projects. There is no mechanism to compel the Tohono O’odham to enhance road infrastructure in the area. As a sovereign nation there is no local, state or federal mechanism to compel another nation (think of it as another country) to reimburse the costs of enhanced transportation infrastructure to and from their site.

constructionIn return for the problems created by a casino in an urban area, supporters of the casino continually use the mantra of (1) it will pump up business in the adjoining local area. They say that customers will leave the casino environment and move to Westgate to eat and to shop.  I doubt the restaurants and hotels, or Tanger Outlet Mall in Westgate would agree with that notion. More likely, customers with limited disposable income will make choices and it will be one or the other – Westgate or the casino – not both; and (2) it will bring jobs – temporary construction jobs and later, permanent jobs servicing the casino. Keep in mind, 25% of the jobs created, whether temporary construction jobs or permanent service jobs later, are reserved for Native Americans. At Talking Stick Casino, “Chanen Construction, which has worked with Casino Arizona for 14 years, divided the enormous job of sheet-rocking the interior and exterior into 10 different bid packages. This resulted in five firms getting the work, instead of one, which is the norm. But Chanen wanted ‘to maximize opportunities for different project participants,’ the company told McGraw-Hill Construction in a profile of Talking Stick published last fall. ‘We have a process where we let tribal members who own businesses participate as subcontractors, so we want to make the packages in smaller bites so more participation could occur’.”

The Tohono O’odham has said repeatedly there will be 6,000 construction jobs. The Maryland Live! Casino is a 332,500 square foot facility (twice the size of the proposed TO casino) and anticipates creating 2,750 construction-related jobs (half that number would be approximately 1,400 jobs and reportedly a much more realistic number for this facility). In an effort to “sell” the benefits of the casino, it is quite possible numbers have been inflated. It is a subtle form of deception, no doubt, but not unexpected considering the TO’s actions with regard to Proposition 202.

Problems throughout the country related to casino construction have surfaced. Here is but one example – a Press Release from a coalition of unions in California issued on January 15, 2013, “ROHNERT PARK, CA: Graton Rancheria’s (my note: a coalition of Indian tribes) promises to Sonoma County union workers have been dashed by lay-offs of local union members as out-of-area workers are being brought in to take their places. Sonoma County union construction workers report that workers are being brought in from “Nevada and the L.A. area” and even as far away as Alabama to work on the Graton Rancheria casino/hotel project in Rohnert Park.

Reports started as early as November, as a local member of the Carpenters Union raised the first alarm about locals being replaced by out-of-area workers.   Now the complaints are coming from a union cement worker who believes that approximately 70% of the casino workforce is made up of the out-of-towners.”

Those who think the casino is the answer to Glendale’s problems, will dismiss the arguments made in this blog and take this as an opportunity to respond in the negative. As long as comments are respectful of one another and deal with the issue at hand, they will be posted as responses to this blog.

In the next blog we will look at the legal issues and a basket full of attorneys involved in the casino issue.


casino 1Having read my previous post on the casino you should have a pretty good idea as to where the proposed casino will be sited and what people and properties will be impacted. Let’s go back in history to see what was occurring regarding the whole issue of Tribal gaming in the early 2000’s.

Long before the casino was a gleam in the eyes of the Tohono O’odham, in the mid-1990’s the land (approximately 135 acres) was owned by Jerry Kowalsky. Mr. Kowalsky and his group purchased the land in order to establish Icon Movie Studio. In tandem with submitting his plan he also started the procedure to annex the land. His plan was not approved by council. The dream died. Land that had been annexed was later deannexed by the city. His plan for a movie studio, some say, was never welcomed by the mayor. It was rumored at the time that she did not like the gentleman and did not believe he has the financing in place. Well, we all know now what a good judge of character and financial ability she turned out to be – witness Ellman and Moyes, both of whom promised much and delivered little. I supported Mr. Kowalsky’s plan. I believed it would be a catalyst to bring jobs and to cause support businesses  to locate there. Do you remember a movie, The Passion of Christ, produced by Icon Studios? It made a bazillion dollars. So much for Icon and its financial capabilities.

Ned Norris Jr Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman

Ned Norris Jr.
Tohono O’odham
Nation Chairman

DianeEnos Pres Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

Diane Enos
Salt River
Indian Community

It is widely known that since the spring of 2001 at the very latest, the Tohono O’odham was looking at West Valley locations for a possible casino site. they originally looked in the Buckeye area but their consultants advised them it was too far out and needed to be closer and in fact, suggested Glendale.While they were land shopping the talk of the state was a tribal gaming compact scheduled to go before the voters of the state in the election of 2002 known as Proposition 202. In the years previous all of the tribes in the state had met and worked collectively to hammer out the parameters of the proposed compact before bringing it to the state and the voters. The Tohono O’odham were heavily engaged in the inter-tribal discussions to hammer out this framework. Lately in court, the Tohono O’odham has been saying that they were unaware of any discussion to keep casinos out of metropolitan areas. Yet governors and legal counsel representing the tribes have flatly stated that the TO’s involvement in the process was full and robust.  In fact, Ned Norris, Jr. currently President of the TO Nation, actively and publicly stumped for passage of Prop 202 knowing full well its provisions and implications. The TO also contributed substantial funding for the publicity campaign used to persuade voters. All the while they were meeting secretly among one another to acquire land in the Phoenix metropolitan area. No wonder they wanted to retain their 4 casino allocation. They never planned to build the 4th casino in the Gila Bend area-they were too busy planning for the Phoenix area.

The following comes directly from the publicity pamphlet entitled, Yes on 202: The 17-Tribe Indian Self-Reliance Initiative, Answers to Common Questions, published and mailed to every registered voter in the state in the spring of 2001:

prop 202

According to the Prop 202 voter education pamphlet issued by the Arizona Secretary of State: “Voting “yes” on Proposition 202 ensures that no new casinos will be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area and only one in the Tucson area for at least 23 years.”

Gregory Mendoza President of Gila River Indian Community

Gregory Mendoza
Gila River
Indian Community

In Congressional hearings on the issue held last year Gila River Indian Community Governor Gregory Mendoza stated, “No new casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area was a requirement made clear to all 17 tribes involved in the compact negotiations. It was a key commitment and without it there would never have been acceptance or the passage of Prop 202.”

The voter-approved Proposition 202 was rooted in three key elements:

  • Indian casinos would be kept out of neighborhoods;
  • Each tribe agreed to a specific casino allocation; some even gave up rights to additional casinos in order to limit the number within the state; and
  • Then Governor Jane Dee Hull in the Prop 202 voter education pamphlet issued by the Arizona Secretary of State, echoed the same with, “Voting ‘’yes” on Proposition 202 ensures that no new casinos will be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area and only one in the Tucson area for at least 23 years.” This was a lynch-pin issue for the Governor. Without it she was not willing to advocate for or sign a compact.

In December 2002 the Tohono O’odham and the state executed the voter approved compact and in February 2003 the United States Secretary of the Interior approved the compact. All the while Rainer Resources, Inc., a Delaware company with a Seattle mailing address acting as a Tohono O’odham shell company, secretly sought land in the Phoenix Metropolitan area for a casino.

In August of 2003, the TO under the guise of its shell company bought the land, knowing that it was within Glendale’s boundaries. Back in the 70’s there were “land wars” and each city staked out territory for future annexation. Glendale’s recognized western boundaries were set at Northern Avenue as its north boundary and Camelback Road as its south boundary. Any unincorporated land between those two boundaries could only be annexed into Glendale. The TO knew that for it had been policy and formally recognized for at least 30 years.

All that I have related regarding the TO’s actions can be found in the most recent court filing of April 14, 2013 and can be accessed by using this link: http://www.azcentral.com/ic/community/pdf/glendale-casino-case-court-filingx.pdf


George W.

In 2003 there was absolute silence and the TO waited. Why? For a more favorable President and administration to assist them with their agena. They needed an administration to interpret the law favorably. George W. Bush, a Republican, was President at the time and his administration would not have supported the TO’s stealth move. So, they continued to wait until times and administrations became more favorable. In 2008, Barack Obama, a Democrat, was elected as the nation’s President. Good times for the TO had arrived. The tribe had waited 6 years. It was now 2008 and their time had come and they would not be denied.  Van Jones, President Obama’s former Green Jobs Czar, said this about Native Americans, “No more broken treaties. No more broken treaties. Give them the wealth. Give them the wealth. Give them dignity. Give them the respect they deserve. No justice on stolen land. We owe them a debt.”



Almost immediately upon Obama’s inauguration, in late January of 2009, the TO literally descended upon Glendale’s City Hall and announced that they were coming…take it or leave it, like it or lump it. On January 28, 2009, the Tribe met with city staff and informed them that they had  transferred the land into its own name and had filed an application asking the Secretary of the Interior take the proposed casino site into trust so that it could be used for gaming. On the following day, the TO issued a press release with their intention to build a “Las Vegas-style” casino on the site. Two months later, city staff, having requested more specific information from the TO for their next meeting, met with the Tribe. The Tribe declined to provide any information until they had successfully secured reservation status. They knew they were now in the “cat-bird’s” seat and cooperation was not necessary to secure their objective.

So far, I have not broached the subject of the casino and its siting. Next up will be the casino and its implications for an urbanized area.