Mayors Bob Barrett of Peoria, Adolfo Gamez of Tolleson and Sharon Wolcott of Surprise As mayors of our respective cities we work every day to help create the best possible environment for our citizens to succeed. We also recognize that as neighbors there are unique opportunities in which our cities can work together for the benefit of the entire West Valley.
The Tohono O’odham Nation’s planned West Valley resort and casino is an excellent example of one of these opportunities. The potential it brings — thousands of new jobs, permanent positive economic development, and exciting entertainment opportunities, all at no cost to taxpayers — are why it enjoys overwhelming public support. It is why our respective councils voted unanimously to support this project.
It is also why members of the Glendale City Council recently moved to begin discussions with the Tohono O’odham Nation and work together on this project. We applaud the foresight and independence of those council members for standing up and supporting substantive dialog.
Since this project was first announced there have been countless attempts to delay its construction. Wealthy East Valley tribes have spent millions of dollars on exotic lobbying efforts and lawsuits, all in a self-serving attempt to slow progress and deny positive economic opportunity in the West Valley. Each and every time — more than a dozen and counting — they have been roundly denied.
Having run out of legal maneuvers, and lacking public and community support, the well-heeled East Valley tribes have embarked on a new effort. They are trying to change federal law to protect their market share. Despite having failed at this attempt once before, they and their allies are scurrying down the same reckless path again with H.R. 1410, a job-destroying bill that would halt the West Valley resort and the opportunities it would bring to our region.
In a recent dispatch in this newspaper, opposing tribes engaged East Valley mayors to try to thwart positive development in the West Valley. These mayors certainly understand the overwhelmingly positive impacts casino resorts have brought to their communities, so their unquestioning support is somewhat understandable.
However, their knowing use of misleading arguments that have repeatedly been rejected in the courts is not. To regurgitate the same tired lies to try to validate dangerous legislation that would hurt the entire West Valley is wrong.
We have already come out against this dangerous bill, as have many others across Arizona, and urge our U.S. senators to join us in opposing this job-killing legislation. If H.R. 1410 were passed into law, it would be a tremendous setback for our region’s economy.
The only people who would benefit from this bill live on the other side of the Valley. Little wonder they are so unconcerned with the consequences to the citizens of the West Valley.
The Tohono O’odham Nation has followed the rules every step of the way. They have committed to job creation and new entertainment opportunities similar to those that thrive in the East Valley. That is why support for this project continues to grow.
In the future we would hope that the mayors in the East Valley would focus more on their communities, rather than supporting desperate and dangerous attempts to deprive our residents of the same benefits they currently enjoy.
— Bob Barrett is mayor of Peoria. Adolfo Gamez is mayor of Tolleson. Sharon Wolcott is mayor of Surprise.