Mayors urge U.S. Senate to pass law keeping more casinos out of Phoenix area
Published: October 18, 2013 at 8:43 am
Mayors Jim Lane, Scottsdale; Mark Mitchell, Tempe; Jerry Weiers, Glendale; Thomas L. Schoaf, Litchfield Park; John Lewis, Gilbert
As mayors of our respective cities, we have pledged to protect the best interests of our communities and believe that the recent passage of H.R. 1410, the Keeping the Promise Act, by the U.S. House of Representatives, is a significant step in the right direction. We urge our Arizona senators to take a leadership role on this issue as it makes its way to the Senate.
The Keep the Promise Act is federal legislation introduced by a bi-partisan group of Arizona’s congressional representatives that will prohibit additional tribal casinos being built on county islands in cities located in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
It is a topic of grave concern in our respective cities to the degree that some of us recently passed city resolutions in support and to publicly express our strong opposition to the construction of tribal casinos in our communities because it is contrary to our cities’ best interests.
The facts are simple. In 2002, residents in our cities supported Proposition 202 based on the clear promise from 17 Arizona tribes that:
1.) Tribal casinos would be kept out of our neighborhoods, and
2.) No additional casinos would be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
During the long campaign for Prop. 202, none of the participating 17 tribes expressed any disagreement with these promises.
However, we now have discovered that in 2001, well before the vote, one tribe, the Tohono O’odham Nation, was taking steps to open a casino in the Phoenix area and never intended to follow the Prop. 202 promises.
Today they say that there was never a promise to restrict the number of casinos in the Phoenix area, even though these promises were reported in numerous news articles throughout Arizona, printed in voter education materials produced and paid for by the 17 Arizona tribes, including the Tohono O’odham Nation, repeated on TV and radio news shows, and clearly stated in public testimony before the Arizona Legislature by the executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association.
The Tohono O’odham Nation, whose reservation borders Mexico, now claims it can open multiple casinos on county islands anywhere in the Phoenix metropolitan area that it chooses, specifically, county islands in our respective cities. In fact, there are many county islands in our respective cities that could be the target of such development in the future, regardless of local opposition by leaders or by residents.
As elected leaders there is no greater responsibility than to be transparent with voters and to adhere to the decision of the majority. Prop. 202 was passed on the basis that there would be “no additional casinos in Phoenix metro area.”
This is why we strongly urge the Senate to promptly adopt H.R. 1410, the Keep the Promise Act. Its passage will clarify this very important public policy issue — clarity that only Congress can provide. We encourage our constituents to learn more about this important matter facing our cities by visiting www.keepingthepromiseaz.com.