Petitions filed to block Glendale casino deal

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Developers already broke ground on a new casino in Glendale, but opponents say it's not too late to stop it.

Two different petitions trying to block the casino deal, each with more than 15,000 signatures, were turned in on Friday.

The Tohono O'odham Nation already broke ground on the new casino in the West Valley and ever since, opposition to the casino has been out in force, collecting signatures by the thousands.

Twenty boxes were carted down the street, straight into City Hall and into the city clerk's office. Opponents are demanding the casino go to a public vote.

"When you have this many citizens within only 30 days signing these petitions, I think the will of the people is very clear. They want their chance to vote on this," he continued.

The boxes contained thousands of signatures from people who oppose the new casino for one of two reasons.

Some feel the taxpayers got a raw deal on the agreement between the city and the tribe, saying the city deserved more bang for its buck.

"You take the settlement agreement, which frankly is as weak as circus lemonade," said Gary Hirsch with Neighbors for a better Glendale. "They're going to get a very raw deal."

Others signed because they disagree with the decision to establish an Indian reservation within the city planning limits.

"It is egregious to the taxpayers and citizens of Glendale," Hirsch said.

One of the three Glendale City Council members who voted in support of the casino said all these boxes won't mean a thing.

"They don't really mean anything because as they were told even when they took out the petition, these are non-referable items," said Councilman Gary Sherwood.

He said the casino is not eligible for another vote and is a done deal, one he says the majority of the public supports.

"In a lot of cases, where people were somewhat mixed on it, now see it as good for the city and the West Valley," Sherwood said.

So now, it's up to the city attorney's office to weigh in on whether the casino deal can be taken to a public vote.

Meanwhile, the clerk's office will be busy counting and validating the 30,000 signatures from people trying to stop another shovel from going in the ground for the Glendale casino.

The opponents say they believe this is a referable issue. They want a vote and they're ready to take it to court if necessary.

Time will tell if the city attorney's office agrees.

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