The more things change the more they stay the same.  Except this time around the Federal Government was trying to give some new land to a Native American Tribe and the local governments were trying to block it.

The Tohono O’odham Nation, a tribe native to Arizona, was granted the right to buy land and use that to replace land that was previously damaged by flood.  Once the Nation bought the land, in order to complete the process, the Federal Government would be required to bring that land into the national reservation lands.  First important point is that this new land is NOT** contiguous with the Nation’s original reservation which is 100 miles away.  Second important point is that the Nation wants to build a business center that has a casino, shops and restaurants.

Well the land in question is actually in Glendale, AZ, which explains all the hubbub. A suburb of Phoenix with a population of 226,721*, the city has spent the last two years fighting the building project and therefore the placement of the land into the Federal Reservation Trust.  In order to do this, the City got together with the State Legislator and fast tracked House Bill 2534 back in February of this year.  This state law would allow Glendale to simply annex the land in question.

Here’s the third important point.  The Nation bought the land in Glendale, I believe, from private owners with their own money and then asked the Federal Government to make it part of their reservation (because the Feds had owed the nation new land since 1982).  The Feds said yes and then the City and the State having been trying to get in the way ever since.  Since when do supposed conservatives believe: 1) they can dictate to someone what they can and cannot build on their privately held property (within reason and according to local community zoning, etc), and 2) it was okay for government to be so powerful that they could just annex that land to prevent the private owner from building on the land?

Let’s not pussyfoot around the issues.  The City of Glendale has other shops and restaurants that will bring in tax revenue and if the Nation builds there, those new businesses will provide competition to Glendale’s businesses AND no revenue to the City.  Fearing a loss of business to the new casino the Gila Indian River Community joined with Glendale to oppose the building project.

Today a Federal District Court Judge said that the express purpose of HB 2534 was to supersede the federal law and thus was struck down.  Of course, our Don Quixote of Pointless Legal Endeavors, State Attorney General Tom Horne has already declared that the State and City of Glendale would appeal.

I don’ t like to gamble (at least not with money) and I don’t necessarily like casinos, but I like the willingness of the State and the City of Glendale being so willing to violate their own supposed principles in order to get their way in a matter concerning profits.  Once again they’re for small government until it can’t accomplish what they want to do, then they’re the worst big government interventionists you can imagine.

*as of 2010
**[updated to say “NOT contiguous with…” 7/7/11]

  1. alopecia says:

    I read about this some time ago in the LA Dog Trainer, I think (I know I read about it, I’m simply too lazy to find out where).

    The City of Glendale and the State of Arizona should abandon their appeal and make peace with the Tohono O’odham. If the city asks nicely enough, maybe the tribe could be persuaded to share a small percentage of its profits. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to strong-arm extra money out of the tribal casinos in California and got slapped down in federal court for his troubles; Arizona won’t fare any better, appealing this decision.

    • drangedinaz says:

      Yeah, the fact that AZ will definitely lose because there is no way in hell the Feds are going to let a local govt try to take advantage of the tribe. And AZ will continue to pay for these lawsuits when we are already broke. Idiots.

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