Glendale Casino

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The Glendale city council voted to support a potential casino right next door. Previously, the council had been against the casino. Councilman Gary Sherwood discusses his change of mind that led to the council’s change on the issue.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to Arizona Horizon, I'm Ted Simons. The Glendale City Council voted yesterday to support a potential Indian casino on land adjacent to the city. Here to talk about why the council had a change of heart on the issue is the man who changed his vote and made the switch possible. Councilman Gary Sherwood. Thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

Gary Sherwood: Good evening.

Ted Simons: What exactly did the council vote on yesterday?

Gary Sherwood: Really just a resolution, um there's a Indian Affairs - There's a senate committee meeting next month that was requested by Senator Flake and McCain. They had a lot of pressure to call on this. It's three or four different issues, but one of them is the Glendale issue. And prior to that we had a couple resolutions that said that, A, we were not supportive of taking that land into trust. And then we had a more recent one that said we didn't support the 1410 bill. And so what we wanted to do since the mayor was the only one who could speak on this, was we wanted to make sure that they understood that we were in support of this project now.

Ted Simons: The mayor is though, is not in support of project.

Gary Sherwood: He is not.

Ted Simons: And he will be speaking in Washington at the hearing?

Gary Sherwood: He will be testifying in front of the committee, he was the only one to request it to do so.

Ted Simons: So is there any indication of how he's going to present something he's not necessarily in favor of?

Gary Sherwood: Well he would have to state the city's official position, which we quantified last night. And then if he's going to offer a personal opinion, then he has to state that he's in the minority and then he can state his opinion.

Ted Simons: What is the city's official opinion?

Gary Sherwood: That we're in support of this and that we're asking the, respectfully asking the, subcommittee to allow us to finish our process, which will take place in the first part of August. We've done the fact finding, we've pretty much completed negotiations. And we go dark in July in terms of meetings. So we probably would have voted on this this month. So this will come up in the next three or four weeks and then we'll have our official position out there depending on how it's voted on.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and you mentioned the couple of the previous votes and previous counsel actions, battleship apparently was moving in that particular direction, slow but it was getting there, but you did change your vote, you shifted. Why?

Gary Sherwood: Well, I thought it was a shame that we had gone nearly four and a half years without any communication at all with the Tohono O'odham. You know I understand that once we found out that they had purchased that land under a shell corporation, maybe there needed to be a six-month cooling off period. But we weren't winning any battles you know with the courts. And the other thing is you know we have an arena and a stadium out there when we have these mega events like the Super Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, we don't have anything to hold people there and a casino that could get up there in 16 months and provide that. I mean there was a lot of development that was already funded and preliminary plat approved just prior to the downturn south of the stadium, and that would have gone a long ways in terms of holding people. But you know that's going come back much slower and so a casino can really inspire development in that area.

Ted Simons: Was there a moment, was there an aha moment? Was there something in particular that got you to change your mind?

Gary Sherwood: Well, some private meetings with the chairman of the Tohono O'Odhams and you know and I said there's certain things that we're going want for that, even though it's not our land, so it's kind of silly, kind of we're demanding things that we have no control over. But again, they wanted to see this not stay in the courts for another three or four years so they were willing to bend, as well. And in those discussions found out hey they were very amenable to pretty much acting like a private entity. You know that they would give up sovereignty for our MOUs of various contracts and you know give us pretty much a lot of what we were asking for.

Ted Simons: Other tribes have released a statement saying you, in particular, you flip-flopped on this issue. And one of your councilmembers says that the city now, because of this position, has lost all leverage in those negotiations. How do you respond to that?

Gary Sherwood: Well number one, yeah, I did change my position but because I learned a lot more and got educated. And if you can't do that as an elected official or if you can't even do that in a private enterprise then you're not doing yourself justice. So as I learned more and as I saw that we could gain something by this, then why not? And then in terms of losing our negotiating power what power did we have? I mean in face some of their council, some of their -- they have 24 members of their council that they are having to put this in front of after we do our vote. They are saying why do anything with Glendale now? We're pretty much in the driver's seat. So again the people we have been negotiating with, including Chairman Norris, they see the fruits of what we've been doing and their not going, I mean we're going continue on and it's going to be a nice partnership.

Ted Simons: Critics of the move say that the city will lose hotel business; the city will lose entertainment business. Again, valid concern?

Gary Sherwood: Not at all. In fact, all the businesses in that area, the owner of Westgate, the sports teams, the Tangor, they all want that. It's like when you put up a hamburger stand up, a extra hamburger stand up in a corner and the one stand is fearful of losing business. It actually becomes more of an attraction because now people have a choice. So no, all the businesses in the area support this, they want it. The Renaissance, the Glendale Renaissance, you would think that would be one entity that would have a concern. They are very much in favor of it.

Ted Simons: Well if all these people are in favor of it, why spend 5 years of fighting this thing? $3.5 million of legal fees, what was it all for?

Gary Sherwood: I could probably answer that by stating that same question. You know, I mean there were people that were just dug in and they weren't willing to discuss this. So, you know last August and September we had a few meetings, a few of us, with the tribal nation, and learned what they were willing to do. And then we opened it up the day before Thanksgiving. I think we had our first -- not the council but we had our staff visit Arizona, and it did a fact-find, they had several more meetings on that. Then it went into negotiations and from that where we are at today, where were very close to coming up with some documented MOU or something that will secure this agreement.

Ted Simons: How much has this issue divided the city?

Gary Sherwood: You know you're either for it or against it. It's one of those emotional issues. It was somewhat like the arena deal that we did. We've been a very divisive council, anyways. We're a 4-3 council it's just a different 4-3 depending on what the subject is. So but in terms of the town I think once you start, you know again, most everything's been in E-session type, so we really haven't been able to release a lot of details. I think once that starts getting out there and the project actually comes into being, people warm up to it. I mean there's been some extensive polling done. And depending on what district you're in it's been running either 80-20 or 70-30 in favor of it. So, and those are some expensive polls, so they you know have the 3.5%, 4% error rate.

Ted Simons: All right, well very good. Thank you so much for joining us and clarifying your change on the - But what's next now? What happens again now, something once you guys get back in session?

Gary Sherwood: Once we get back in session, we'll work something for the first week of August, and then we'll have a voting meeting in the second week. And then there are some legal hurdles that they need to clear but they feel pretty comfortable with that.

Ted Simons: And make the position official in August?

Gary Sherwood: Yup.

Ted Simons: All right, good to have you here.

Gary Sherwood:Councilman, City of Glendale;

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