Dick Bowers, Glendale's New City Manager, to City Officials: Drop Lawsuits, Establish Positive Relationship With Tohono O'odham Nation
After years of ongoing opposition to the Tohono O'odham Nation's plan to build a resort-style casino, the new Glendale City Manager suggests the city drop legal opposition and develop a "more positive" relationship with the tribe.
Acting City Manager Dick Bowers authored a memo on April 26 to the City Council telling its members "it will be wise to establish a more positive relationship with the Tohono O'odham Nation as a potentially significant element in the Glendale visitor scene."
Bowers memo marks a significant change in Glendale's attitude and approach.
The previous mayor and city manager -- Elaine Scruggs and Ed Beasley, respectively -- were staunch opponents of the casino from the moment it was announced.
Bowers continued in his memo that "if the casino never gets built, the relationship will be positive. If it is built, the relationships will be an imperative."
City officials in neighboring communities -- Peoria and Tolleson -- have long supported the Tohono O'odham Nation's plan. On May 7, the City Council voted to officially oppose a bill proposed by Congressman Trent Franks aimed at prohibiting the West Valley casino.
Bowers' memo also noted what is no doubt painfully obvious to city officials:
The City has failed in two courts to secure a favorable conclusion to reverse a federal decision designating the land near 95th and Northern avenues as Tohono O'odham Nation tribal land. ... Glendale has spent a sizeable sum for attorneys and staff time throughout the legal process."
In late 2011, the Arizona Supreme Court ordered the City of Glendale to pay legal fees incurred by the Nation during court battles related to the city's opposition of its casino. At the time, the legal fees were $85,497.96.
Since then, city officials have reported the total tab upwards of $3 million. We've got a call into the City of Glendale for details.
About a week after Bowers wrote his memo, the Nation won another victory in federal court. U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell shot down the Nation's rabid opponents by ruling that their casino plan is in compliance with the state's gaming compacts.
"I also believe we should reframe this as a business issue with a difference of opinions and avoid any negative connotations," Bowers wrote.