Glendale Group Says it Submitted More Than 13K Signatures Against the Casino
A group calling itself "Glendale Citizens for Voice and Choice" reportedly turned in more than 13,000 signatures on a "petition protesting the way the Glendale City Council approved the gaming Casino at 91st Avenue and Northern without notice to the citizenry."
We reached out to Timothy Schwartz, a spokesman for the group, and he mentioned on the phone that group members agreed not to talk to the media beyond a press conference held about noon.
"I'm sure you'll see us on the news tonight and you can report from that," he said. When we tried to press him about the purpose of the petitions, he twice said he was "with someone" and politely hung up.
It's unclear whether the signatures really are intended to force a referendum on or simply declare organized opposition to the Glendale City Council vote in August to support the Tohono O'odham Nation's casino.
Glendale officials aren't ready to clarify.
"At this point it would be premature to make comment," says Joe Hengemuehler, Glendale's senior marketing and communications manager. "The city will accept the petitions, which begins the process. We'll evaluate what's turned in. And then, when it is appropriate, we will comment. But not until then."
Schwartz complained that the council "discussed [the casino] on a Thursday to be voted on the following Monday. There was no notice given to Glendale residents. Four council members made this hurried decision without regard to the 'will of the people.'"
Well, the truth is that officials from the Tohono O'odham Nation met for several months with Glendale city officials regarding the proposed casino. Further, this issue has been hotly debate, re-debated, and litigated in state and federal courts for more than five years.
Schwartz claims in the same press release that Glendale residents were "outraged by this coercive action," but when the item was discussed during the City Council meeting, the room was packed with supporters of the project. Opponents scarcely were represented.
Somehow, the casino supporters -- many of them union workers for various construction trades -- managed to figure out when the casino was on the agenda and show up for the meeting.
Schwartz also contends in his statement that "with very limited time, they collected thousands of petition signatures to place the measure on the ballot so Glendale residents can decide this very important issue for themselves."
But do Glendale residents have a right to decide anything regarding this project?
Arizona courts already have determined that the project is not within Glendale city limits. And effort to overturn that decision was shot down when the Arizona Supreme Court refused to hear the case -- effectively allowing the appellate decision that the project was not inside Glendale to stand.
The project is not in Glendale. It's on a pocket of land in Maricopa County -- a pocket that, with a glorious irony, Glendale created by stubbornly refusing to incorporate a huge swath of land that it strip annexed in the late 1970s.
Hengemuehler said the clerk is counting the signatures.
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