On April 24,2014 there is a report that petition signatures are being collected calling for a referendum on the city council’s vote to repudiate US House of Representatives Trent Franks’ bill, HB 1410. If passed it would create law that would stop the Tohono O’odham’s effort to build its proposed casino. I support this effort. As the crow flies, I live a scant mile from the proposed casino site. Neighborhoods that will be directly affected by the impact do not want the casino. In my informal poll 50% of the respondents do not support negotiating with the Tohono O’odham and 50% of the respondents do. I believe this is the most divisive issue in Glendale’s history.

Our national and local economies are still abysmal. Unemployment is still way, way too high. Every politician worth his or her salt is running on a platform of job creation. Is it any wonder that the Tohono O’odham (TO) inordinately exaggerate and emphasize job creation associated with the proposed casino as a major means of garnering public support for its plan? Of course not but they do so in a rather Pinocchio-esque form. Remember the job creation numbers come from a Tribe that kept its land purchase secret for 7 years. That alone should make people think twice about their assurances of job creation. It’s time to take a realistic look at the TO promised job creation numbers.

Of course the proposed casino will create jobs both temporary and permanent. The disagreement occurs over TO touted numbers versus reality. The TO has consistently claimed the creation of 6,000 construction jobs and another 3,000 permanent jobs. Their numbers are highly inflated and that is understandable given their history of truth telling and their zealousness to build this casino at all costs.

Let’s look at some other Tribal casino projects. In Lansing, Michigan the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians is constructing a $245 million, 125,000 square foot casino. The tribe says the number of construction jobs is a little over 700 with 1,500 permanent jobs. That is reality, not myth.

In California the Graton Rancheria Tribe is constructing an $800 million entertainment and gaming destination. It has created 750 construction jobs and expects 2,000 permanent jobs. That is reality, not myth.

It’s time for the TO to explain exactly how they arrived at a figure of 6,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs. How many jobs in what industries? What methodology did they use to arrive at those numbers? If they used a research study that they commissioned then the numbers can be considered highly suspect. It’s too bad that someone like Elliot Pollack hasn’t done independent research on jobs gained versus jobs lost.

As for permanent jobs a more realistic assumption is in the 1,500 to 2,000 range. Of course, we all know because the TO has made it abundantly clear that 25% of those jobs must go to Native Americans.  There is absolutely no way to determine how many jobs will go to Glendale residents. It is reasonable to assume that many jobs will go to residents from the surrounding Metro area. While that’s a great prospect for other cities, it’s not so good for Glendale who will bear the brunt of costs associated with a casino in the town while losing out on the benefits of the “multiplier effect.”

The great majority of jobs at casinos can regularly be found on the Forbes list of worst paying jobs in America – including that of ‘gaming dealer.’ According to the 2007 National Compensation Survey compiled by the US Dept of Labor’s Division of Labor Statistics the median hourly wage for gaming service employees is estimated at $6.34 per hour with annual median earnings of $13,179. That is $2,000 above the 2014 Federal poverty level.

The unions are fully on board and have been one of the most public advocates for the proposed TO casino as visions of union construction jobs dance in their heads. Wait…Arizona is a right-to-work state. If the unions have a behind-closed-doors, back-slapping “understanding” with the TO about using union labor exclusively they better get it in writing. They might want to get the TO to waive sovereign immunity with regard to any contracts and possible breaches. They should never forget the lesson of the TO’s secret land purchase. They also need to look at what happened to union labor used on the Graton Rancheria Tribe’s casino construction. Initially union labor was used but was quickly replaced with out-of-state construction workers, largely non-union. Sometimes it pays to be careful what you wish for as the California unions on the Graton Rancheria project painfully learned.

The proposed TO casino will create temporary construction jobs and permanent jobs, as will other industries which do not require reservation or sovereign status and can develop according to Glendale’s existent General Plan for that area while generating new construction and sales tax. With the exception of the cluster services associated with gambling, studies consistently reveal that new businesses tend not to locate in areas allowing legalized gambling and pre-existing businesses will face added pressures that push them toward illiquidity and even bankruptcy. The proposed casino will act as a disincentive to other businesses that would otherwise locate in western Glendale resulting in the loss of future, good-paying jobs.

The benefits of economic development is overstated by the TO and its proponents who never account for jobs lost from businesses that fail or choose not to locate in west Glendale due to the all-encompassing predatory nature of casino capitalism.

That’s reality.

© Joyce Clark

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