As elected leaders of multiple West Valley communities, we want to cut through the over-heated rhetoric surrounding the Tohono O’odham Nation’s proposed West Valley Resort casino, which will benefit our region and all of Arizona tremendously.
At various points over the past five years, each of us have had the opportunity to examine the facts. In so doing, we have found that the project represents an enormous economic opportunity for our region. It will create thousands of jobs, spur hundreds of millions of dollars in positive economic impact each year, and have a beneficial impact on the West Valley tax base. There is no doubt this facility will also serve as an anchor, spurring additional investment and development in the region.
For years now we have heard the arguments presented by the opponents of the project, primarily two East Valley tribes concerned with preserving the market share of their casinos. Their claims simply don’t hold up under scrutiny, as demonstrated by over a dozen rulings by courts and federal agencies in favor of the Nation. Objective, knowledgeable parties have reviewed the claims, counterclaims, accusations, and rhetoric, and their unanimous conclusion is the Tohono O’odham Nation has acted truthfully, honorably and legally in every respect.
The City of Glendale also did its due diligence over many months and we are encouraged but not surprised that the city moved to join in support of the casino project. There is now no formal opposition in the West Valley, reflecting the groundswell of community and business support demonstrated by multiple polls and which more importantly we hear from our constituents every day.
With West Valley cities united in support and repeated rulings from the courts and the U.S. Executive Branch in favor of the project, the two opposing tribes have dumped millions of dollars into a lobbying campaign to get Congress to rewrite existing law to halt the Nation’s project. The opposition’s latest bill, H.R. 1410, is now in the U.S. Senate. If passed, it would be a disaster for our communities and the families, who would lose out on thousands of new jobs.
Having failed to gain traction in the West Valley, the two tribes are now trying to manufacture opposition on the other side of the Valley, which has seen the biggest economic benefit from their casinos.
We encourage our friends and colleagues in the East Valley to look closely at the facts and not be taken in by the opposition’s accusations. The sky-is-falling, casinos-in-every-neighborhood arguments they are shopping around now are the same erroneous claims that they presented to us years ago. Their arguments were as false then as they are today – under no circumstances does the West Valley Resort trigger an expansion of gaming in Arizona. Multiple federal court decisions have confirmed everything the Nation has told us all along, the project is entirely consistent with the State’s framework for limited gaming, and the Nation’s right to just compensation for federal actions which destroyed lands and livelihoods.
In a recent U.S. Senate hearing, Senator John McCain reaffirmed that the U.S. government acted appropriately in considering all community input, and that the Nation has followed the rules to the letter. Senator McCain also reiterated that this issue should be resolved through a meeting of the minds among local parties. As a result of our diligence, study and careful analysis, we believe we have reached an understanding and agreement consistent with the senator’s mandate. Congressional action now would only undermine that agreement.
We applaud the senator’s continued commitment to resolving this issue through constructive communication and encourage him and other members of Congress to stand strong against the aggressive, misguided lobbying campaign for H.R. 1410
Politics can be a tough business. But politics should not get so perverse that a job creating economic engine that will give real people real jobs and real hope can be stalled or diverted by emotionally charged rhetoric without a factual foundation.
– Bob Barrett, mayor of Peoria; Adolfo F. Gámez, mayor of Tolleson; Sharon Wolcott, mayor of Surprise; Ron Aames, vice mayor of Peoria; Linda Laborin, vice mayor of Tolleson; Norma Alvarez, councilmember, city of Glendale; Jim Biundo, councilmember, city of Surprise; Samuel Chavira, councilmember, city of Glendale; Roy Delgado, councilmember, city of El Mirage; Jon Edwards, councilmember, city of Peoria; Kathie Farr, councilmember, city of Tolleson; Ian Hugh, councilmember, city of Glendale; Carlo Leone, councilmember, city of Peoria; Albert P. Mendoza, councilmember, city of Tolleson; Michael Nowakowski, councilman, city of Phoenix; Bill Patena, councilmember, city of Peoria; Gary Sherwood, councilmember, city of Glendale; John Williams, councilmember, city of Surprise; Robert Meza, state senator, District 30; Rachel Villanueva, councilmember, city of Surprise