Resolution approved urging governor to OK Kenosha casino
At tonight’s Common Council meeting, an agenda item included a resolution sponsored by Alderperson Patrick Juliana and co-sponsored by Alderpersons Michael Orth, Jan Michalski, Curt Wilson, Tod Ohnstad, Scott Gordon, Eric Haugaard, Jesse Downing, and Rocco LaMacchia to urge the governor to approve the casino proposed for the city of Kenosha. The resolution was approved by a vote of 12 to 2.
Alderpersons Kevin Mathewson and David Bogdala voted against the resolution. Mathewson said that he didn’t feel that a “nasty letter should be sent to the governor.” Bogdala said that he voted against it because his constituents are opposed to the casino at Dairyland.
The resolution had been amended to include that copies be sent to the members of the Kenosha County Board, the members of the Legislative Commission, and state representatives in addition to the governor. Also, a meeting with the governor was requested as part of the resolution.
Alderperson Steve Bostrom made a motion early on to refer the item to the Legislative Commission, just like other items have been referred to the appropriate committees. He mentioned two examples: the South Port Beach House issue being referred to the Parks Commission, and the issue this evening regarding disciplinary hearings being referred back to the Licensing & Permit Committee. Alderperson Anthony Kennedy wanted to know if the city even had such a commission. It was found that, yes, the commission does exist by city ordinance, and it is made up of the Common Council president, and the chairpersons of the following committees: the Finance Committee, the Public Works Committee, the Public Safety & Welfare Committee, the Storm Water Utility, the Licensing & Permit Committee, and the Board of Park Commissioners.
Juliana stated that he called Peter Barca, and he is the one who recommended that this resolution be written. “He’s a decent guy. He’s on top of his game. He said that he needs all the firepower he can get. It’s all about jobs, money, and moving Wisconsin forward. We’ve gone from being an industrial town to a bedroom community, and we’re hurting. We want to send a message to the governor that Kenosha voted for it twice. We want all to know our sentiments.” He mentioned Representative Barca, Senator Bob Wirch, Representatives Tod Ohnstad, Samantha Kerkman, and Corey Mason.
Alderperson G. John Ruffolo said that he also talked to Barca, and Ruffolo stated that Barca told him that it was not a pressing issue. He instead urged having a discussion with the governor, across the aisle, before sending a “nasty resolution.” He thought that sending it to the Legislative Commission was a good idea.
Mathewson said that he was told that he doesn’t need to agree with everyone, but that he needed to respect the position someone holds. He said, “Sending a nasty letter to the governor won’t help our case. It needs to be cleaned up, and we need to be respectful to his office. We want to bring jobs to Kenosha, not send a nasty letter to the governor.”
Michalski didn’t think the resolution was being disrespectful to the governor or his office. He said that he felt that this was a time-sensitive issue. The government has a deadline, allowing other Indian tribes to veto. “How long will it take to get the Legislative Commission together? We need to all get together and vote for it unanimously for the benefit of the city of Kenosha.”
Bostrom also urged a meeting with the governor, rather “than sticking a finger in his eye. What would be better? Sending an insulting letter or sitting down with the person?”
Kennedy wanted to know when the mayor has a meeting with the chairpersons of these committees, “Is that a de facto group, his focus group?” Ed Antaramian, city attorney, said that that could be construed as a negative quorum of the Legislative Committee, and he would be concerned about it.” Kennedy felt that resolutions “take the pulse of the Council. They are merely opinions of the Council,” he said. “Now, the governor is adding the input of other tribes at this late hour. He has changed the rules while the game is still going on. He’s the one that gave us a poke in the eye.” Regarding the referral, Kennedy said that he wanted it done today. “I want the casino in Kenosha. Now, asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of the Interior, these are just more hurdles put in place by the governor. No other tribal casinos had to go through this process. Screw that,” he said.
Ruffolo again stated that he still thought that the resolution should go to the Legislative Commission. “I think the governor know how the city feels. A meeting with the governor would be more fruitful.”
Juliana’s point was that all committee chairpersons already showed that they are in favor of the resolution by co-sponsoring it. There was only one exception, and that was the Finance chairperson. “His district voted against it. All the rest are already co-sponsors. Referring it to the committee would be redundant. I’m not in agreement with it.”
Alderperson Daniel Prozanski, chairperson of the Finance Committee, said that he was in favor of the resolution, but not co-sponsorship. He stated that he did vote in favor of casinos. “We can send the resolution and go talk to the governor,” he suggested.
The roll call vote on the motion to refer the resolution to the Legislative Commission failed by a vote of 4 to 10. Those voting for the motion were Alderpersons Ruffolo, Mathewson, Bostrom, and Bogdala.
Kennedy then made an amendment to the resolution, adding the copying of the resolution to the other legislators, the Legislative Committee, and the Kenosha County Board. Ruffolo wanted the addition of the meeting with the governor. The roll call vote on these amendments passed by a vote of 12 to 2. Those voting against were Mathewson and Bogdala.
Alderperson Scott Gordon urged passage of the resolution. “Kenosha needs the 4,000 job, the route for the trolley to go, hotel rooms filled. We shouldn’t be held hostage because Kenosha was the center of the strong recall vote.”
The roll call vote on the amended resolution again passed by a vote of 12 to 2. The same two alderpersons voted against (Mathewson and Bogdala).
Governor Scott Walker recently stated his position not to approve another Indian casino in the state without 100 percent approval from all tribal nations in Wisconsin. Thus, the reason for the proposed resolution.