Senator Russell Pearce, best known for his immigrant-loathing views, is taking on the Tohono O'odham Nation, an Indian tribe that plans to open a resort-style casino in the West Valley.
Pearce and state Senate-hopeful Scott Bundgaard, now joined by about a dozen Arizona lawmakers, have filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior. They join the City of Glendale and the Gila River Indian Community in trying to derail the casino project.
We're sure Pearce has his usual moralistic reasons for trying to stop the casino. Just like with the Mormon legislator's bashing of Latinos, which is hurting Arizona economically, he cares nothing about any economic boon the casino could bring.
More ridiculous than a Mesa senator and other lawmakers trying to inject themselves in this ongoing legal battle is that Glendale is paying the Rose Law Firm to handle the lawmakers' suit, according to one of the firm's attorney.
Picking up the tab for a Pearce & Co. lawsuit is unbelievable considering that taxpayers are already shelling out money to pay for Glendale's own lawsuit filed against the feds in September.
Initially, the Yellow Sheet reported that Jordan Rose (of the Rose Law Firm) refused to say who was picking up the tab, citing attorney-client privilege. But, at a press conference this morning, when the lawmakers were questioned about who was paying the bill, the law firm revealed that Glendale was providing the financial support.
New Times called Glendale City Attorney Craig Tindall to ask about legal expenses, but he was not immediately available.
Pearce and the other Republican lawmakers involved want to turn the legal battle between the Tohono O'odham Nation and Glendale into a states versus the federal government issue.
Tohono O'odham leaders say the lawmakers move is a "politically motivated and crass attempt to further delay" the development of The West Valley Resort, the creation of 6,000 construction jobs, and more than 3,000 permanent jobs, plus the infusion of an estimated $300 million economic impact to Arizona.
The Interior Department is at the center of the lawsuits because it approved in July the Nation's application to place into trust the land it owns near 95th and Northern avenues. Placing land into trust means that it becomes an Indian reservation. In this case, it would become an extension of the Tohono O'odham Nation reservation lands in southern and central Arizona.
Read more about why Congress approved a law in 1986 giving the Nation the right to transform a pocket of unincorporated Maricopa County land in the West Valley into an Indian reservation.
Ned Norris Jr., chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, said in a statement: "It is unfortunate these individuals are ignoring the opportunity for a community dialogue about how to make this project a success for the West Valley. Instead, they are doing everything they can to prevent job creation, economic activity and tourism promotion at a time when our state most desperately needs it."
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.