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


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