Casino

This past Sunday, October 20th, in the pages of the Arizona Republic “Valley and State” section, cub reporter Caitlin McGlade summarized arguments pro and con concerning the future of Indian Gaming on Tohono O’odham reservation land — property surrounded by Glendale, Arizona and adjacent to the Westgate sports district at 95th Ave and Northern.

For those of us following this saga closely, little new was offered. Significantly, Glendale city council now offers up mixed signals over construction of the proposed casino/resort. Opposition by city officials toward allowing an un-taxed business entity near the Glendale subsidized hockey arena, seems to be weakenig. The continuous fiscal drain of an expensive legal campaign waged across multiple years is reason enough for dissension among council members. Many residents have long favored the $600 million casino/resort project with its demand for thousands of temporary construction jobs and its promise of numerous long term service employment wages for the citizens of the West Valley.

Meanwhile, Glendale Sports Complex remains an economic asterisk due to its glamorous appeal minus substantial return on investment. A steady draw of tax dollars toward the city funded arena and subsidized National Hockey League team, has fueled cutbacks to city safety personnel and necessitated diminished city services; notably curtailment of library hours. While the Indian run casino/resort would not provide direct tax dollars into Glendale coffers, neither would the city bare any construction costs. Some would argue that a multi-million dollar resort facility would draw visitors to Glendale, who might not otherwise venture into the West Valley. Such guests might also spend money at neighboring Westgate shops and entertainment venues.

Before Jerry Weirs was elected Glendale Mayor in 2012, former Mayor Elaine Scruggs accused Weir’s of working against Arizona cities, in his role as an Arizona Legislator from District 12. Mayor Weirs recently co-signed an AZ Republic op-ed, along with several other Maricopa county mayors, opposed to the West Valley casino, taking cover behind “Keeping the Promise“, a anti-gambling coalition expressing an overtly religious viewpoint. KtP believes the Tohono O’odham implicitly agreed not to pursue building a Maricopa County based casino.

These misguided assumptions derive from Arizona gaming compact requirements limiting Indian run casinos to locations on land with reservation standing. What KtP fails to grasp, the Tohono O’odham property in the West Valley has been awarded reservation status, as replacement land. This fact destroys the KtP narrative, so they simply choose to ignore it.

All court judgments to date have ruled in favor of the Southern Arizona tribe, finding no basis for consideration of specious arguments like those held by KtP. This has not deterred KtP zealots from seeking new advocates for their discredited agenda, such as Mayor Weirs.

McGlade produced one golden nugget, when she states:

“The arguments for and against the casino in Glendale have mainly hinged on whether its presence would help or hurt nearby shops and restaurants at Westgate.”

So we ask:

  • When will an end to the battle against this casino allow city officials to focus on the upcoming Super Bowl, as sharply requested recently by NFL league officials?
  • When will Glendale staunch the legal bleeding of taxpayer dollars and cease fighting a losing cause against the Tohono O’odham?
  • Whwn will a $600 Million construction project paid for by the TO tribe bring jobs to Glendale and the West Valley?

That folks is the crux of the matter. When will Glendale end their narrow focus on a pet project, the Sports Complex at Westgate, which has stubbornly refused to yield net revenue for the city? While spawning ruin for those financially vested in its success, the citizens of Glendale have paid greater sales tax than any surrounding West Valley community and have been saddled with shrinking numbers of safety personnel and shorter library hours.

Glendale residents are owed greater consideration by their elected officials, and a solution to the flow of taxpayer dollars into the money pit which is the Westgate Sports Complex. Enough already.

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