Arizona Residents Want to Overturn Council Casino Vote

Several residents of the Arizona town of Glendale want to overturn a decision by their city council that withdrew the city’s opposition to a casino proposed by the Tohono O'odham Nation. They are gathering signatures to put it to a vote of the people.

Opponents of the Tohono O’odham Nation’s proposed casino on the outskirts of Glendale, Arizona want to overturn that city council’s recent vote to make peace with the tribe and endorse the 0 million project.

The tribe purchased 54 acres on the city’s boundaries with money that was paid to it by the federal government in compensation for land lost to a federal dam project in the 1960s.

The anti-casino forces are trying to qualify an initiative for the ballot to retract the council’s vote and want to recall a councilmember, Gary Shepherd, who changed his vote from opposing the casino to supporting it.

Anna Lee, who is trying to qualify the recall, told the Arizona Republic, “He flip-flopped so badly we had to do something He doesn’t represent us anymore.” Besides being a Glendale resident, Lee is also a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, one of several gaming tribes that oppose the competing casino in what they consider to be their territory.

Some city officials believe that the vote cannot be the subject of a referendum because it is an administrative action, which state law says is not subject to a referendum. So far, however, the city attorney has not taken a position.

Opponents have about a month to collect the necessary 7,000 or so signatures, whether or not the measure turns out to be legal.

In return for dropping its opposition to the tribe the city will be paid $26 million over the next two decades. Critics say that it is a small sum considering that the casino will bring in as much as $25 million a month.