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City Council Approves Casino Plan 11-6

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City of Kenosha Rendering

The Kenosha City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement for a proposed Menominee Tribe casino on Kenosha’s west side on Monday night. Alderpersons voted 11-6 at a three hour meeting in front of a large crowd. The Yes votes were alders Bill Siel, Rocco LaMacchia, Brandi Ferree, Keith Rosenberg, Anthony Kennedy, Rollin Pizzala, Ruth Dyson, Curt Wilson, Dan Prozanski, Jack Rose and David Bogdala. The No votes were Eric Haugaard, Jan Michalski, Holly Kangas, Kelly MacKay, David Mau and Dominic Ruffalo.

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During public comments, some citizens were opposed based on the social impact, including increased crime and gambling addiction. Others voiced concern about property values and taxes and hurting downtown businesses. Some alderpersons and citizens said they were uncomfortable with the lack of transparency and public input. The alderman of the district where the casino will be, Dominic Ruffalo, stated that he requested information but never received it, such as a traffic study.

Many of those in support cited the jobs the project will bring to the area. Members of construction unions and representatives of the Menominee Tribe also spoke in favor of the plan. There was support for the possibility of a concert venue, restaurant and hotel. The Menominee Tribe has verbally agreed to make the casino a Hard Rock Cafe, so that corporation from Florida would operate as the developer and manager.

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However, critics pointed out that the contract doesn’t require the Hard Rock portion. They said we might end up with just a warehouse with slot machines, without the Hard Rock or hotel. Alderwoman Holly Kangas said Hard Rock has a history of not following through on promises and gave an example where it happened in another city. Alderman Kelly MacKay said we should be supporting our local musicians and venues instead of a large corporation from out of town, as well as being concerned about the social impact. Alderman Dave Mau disapproved of the government sanctioning a vice through a big corporation, and favoring one business over another.

The Potawatomi Tribe also opposed it. The tribe claims Kenosha as part of their ancestral land. Tribe spokesman George Ermert said they’re against a company “…from Florida with no connection to Wisconsin coming into our state and taking millions of dollars and bringing it back to Florida.”

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The project is proposed on 60 acres of city land just west of I-94 and south of 60th Street (Hwy K). Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Menominee tribe can buy off-reservation land and put it in a Federal trust to operate casinos there. Trust land and reservation land are basically the same in the eyes of the law, according to Potawatomi Nation tribal historic preservation officer Kelli Mosteller, Ph.D. She is also the Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program. The land will be under the control of the tribe and the federal government. “The city, county and state don’t have [much] say over trust land.”

The property will be exempt from local taxes, however the City negotiated payments of around 3% from the “net win” gaming revenue. Hard Rock expects $250 million in revenue. Even if there’s not enough revenue from gaming, the contract still requires a minimum payment of $100,000 for the first 2 years, and gradually increases to $2.5 million by year 9.

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Critics referenced what the contract says the money is for: “The City requires additional financial resources to provide for the increased demand for a complete range of municipal services. There will be additional burdens on the city infrastructure; there will be economic, social and other impacts stemming from the effect of gaming activities”. Finance Chair Dan Prozanski praised the potential financial gains for the city, as did Mayor John Antaramian. Alderman Anthony Kennedy said he believes the casino will “improve the quality of life” for his constituents.

Alderman Dave Bogdala passed an amendment to the contract to prevent any city elected official from taking a job with the casino. However, Alderman Dave Mau asked the city attorney if the amendment didn’t actually prevent corruption because Hard Rock is not in the contract, so an elected official could indeed take a job at Hard Rock. City Attorney Matt Knight replied that was correct.

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The last public vote for a casino was 20 years ago in 2004. Governor Tony Evers also needs to approve the plan moving forward. The Kenosha County Board will also hold a vote on January 16th, but the tribe has stated that the casino can still happen even if the County votes No.

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  1. It removes the land from the tax rolls..coyy and county.
    That county loses the taxes forever on 60 acres is not a good thing. I don’t know how the city can act on this removal without county approval. Evers gets to approve for the State portion just as county should. The loss of these county taxes increases the taxes of all others in the city and county..re the money city gets for police and fire, well what if sheriff needs to go? Or fire depts outside the city. Who pays them? 100,000 isn’t enough. The better deal would be that this property be assessed just as if it were on the tax rolls. Land value plus improvements. I would be more willing to go with this.sorry, as it is.no

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    1. I clarified the article. The contract requires $100k payment for the first 2 years, but increases up to $2.5 million by year 9.

      1. But still does not distribute directly to all the taxing bodies. What school districts will lose on this-.gateway? Etc…Bad deal if taxation is cut for a flat rate. THERE IS A REASON WE HAVE MIL RATES,BUDGETS AND ELECTED APPROVALS.

      2. And this goes to the city. How had do u think county will have to push/beg to get their $ for their work. Sorry, I don’t trust city to be timely. Or responsive ( blm crap).

        Have those who voted yes ever been to the neighborhoods around a casino..or do they get off the highway, to a parking lot to the slots?

        Any hotel built here, hard rock or not, needs our building stds, just like those down the block…geeesh

      3. I was raised in Kenosha for a many years. Now living in San Antonio. I still keep my ties in Kenosha pretty close. What I’m reading is nonsense. The words might sound nice about having a casino( more jobs, construction perks and much more nonsense) but I feel most of everyone has forgotten how Dairyland greyhound track was a bust. The same words were said about the dog track. It was a total waste and an eye sore for many years. It didn’t supply more jobs or anything. And what’s the crime rate in Kenosha? Last I heard it’s still about 200% higher than it was back in 2012. Is the county ready to invite more criminals and drugs to the area. How about more murders! My take is , you wanna gamble , go to Milwaukee or Vegas. And as for Employment if it does happen in which I pray it doesn’t , but most of the employees won’t be from Kenosha if that’s the motivator. They will be from Illinois and Milwaukee area. And I’m sure the corporates in Florida will relocate some of their managers to run the show. As for Hard Rock Cafe.. really , does anyone really think Hard Rock cafe will be in the middle of a county location. Just be educated on where Hard Rock Cafes are located . They surely aren’t populated in he boonies. lol
        Make Kenosha great again. It used to be one of the top 100 cities to raise a family now it’s just…Well I hope good decisions are made. Not just for the city but for its citizens and not someone else’s pockets!

        1. Keep the casino out of our backyards-period! Kenosha needs and deserves better leadership. The casino is crutch with much baggage!

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      1. So the city has put up with no taxes and YOU let them. How ridiculous is that? are you?
        And, if they are willing to sell to the rez, then they could have sold to another taxable organization and added the monies to your bucket, reducing your own taxes.
        You have illustrated the stupidity of government and the electors who let them do it.
        You will notice that the sign on prioperty sez LAND FOR SALE.. it doesnt say, TAX FREE LAND for sale! geeesch again

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  2. I am looking at the map.i see at least two properties not in this, so those have lost value even now. What is the city going to do for them?

  3. City Administrator isn’t an elected position, so let’s see how long it is before John Morrissey becomes head of security for the casino.

    1. Mau wanted to add Hard Rock to the amendment to help prevent corruption but Dave Bogdola and others refused. They must be protecting the people they know will be getting jobs with Hard Rock. Nice BS move. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. People like Bogdola have lost touch with what is right and wrong because they only want more power.

      1. The whole city board should resign as well as the mayor. Why don’t they put the casino downtown? Step down Kenosha city counsel.

    2. What you say is very true. Additionally, Morrissey and/or any other city employee can secure a private contract with the Menominee or the Hard Rock to provide “consulting services.” That is not prohibited by the Amendment since such a contract is not “employment.”

      The amendment was an insult to the intelligence of Kenosha citizens. Everyone in the council chambers knew it had no force, but they all pretended that it did. They are still pretending.

      This is shameful.

  4. Anthony Kennedy believes the casino will improve the lives of his constituents…….
    😆😅🤣😂If that doesnt tell you everything you need to know about that big pile of turd, I dont know what does.
    These casinos TARGET your constituents.
    Can you believe the stupidity of an elected Kenosha official? YES I CAN!

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    1. Kennedy is a con man and not very good at it. This was another attempt on his part to be one of the “good’ol’ boys.” He thought he would be accepted into their club if he sold out his constituents for crumbs off the table—-AGAIN.

      Sorry, Anthony, they will never let you be one of them. Remember, you are stupid, and not worthy of any respect—from anyone. You are their useful idiot and will never be anything more than that, no matter often you lick their boots.

      1. Also, Kennedy is a person of color. The power structure of Kenosha will never allow a person of color to become a full member of their cabal. Kennedy is too stupid to understand that. That is why he tries over and over to gain their approval when they will never give it. It is sad to see.

        They wrote these song lyrics about Kennedy:

        Have you heard about the lonesome loser?
        Beaten by the queen of hearts every time
        Have you heard about the lonesome loser?
        He’s a loser, but he still keeps on tryin’

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        1. I have not been witness to anything against Kennedy or others for this reason, in so far as the council and admin goes.

          1. David:

            i respect the fact that you are also not one of them. But, I guarantee that they still respect you, despite the fact that you are a force for good. They respect you because you engage in critical thinking and are intelligent. (It also helps that you are a white guy. ) You CHOOSE to not join their cabal. Kudos to you!

            But if the day ever comes where you decide to join the dark side, you will be fully accepted. You will be given a full share of the pad and invitations to all their gatherings. At those gatherings and in your off-stage interactions you will be allowed to see the racism in their hearts.

            I suggest that you are too quick to defend them.

        2. In Kennedy’s case, it’s not about race, it’s about stupidity and behavior. Then there’s HIS racism where he constantly plays the race card and blame game to defend the indefensible.

  5. It is bad enough that residential doesnt want to live near the wooooosh of the interstate or a county highway, but now, you add the property of another ‘country’ to their boundary where they have NO SAYSO and there are not Smart Growth Plans and a few peiople sitting in a board meeting making a decisioon where any similar private property would take yhears to develop. As Bear about theoir dealings with Kenosha. How long did they go back and forth with the city? and at what cost. THis is a kill shot to the community. Whatdoya thing will be the smoking rules in this casino? will you walk into a wall of smoke or will they be following the Kenosha Rules, because they want to? Puhlease. Those that said YES, are traitors to us.

    1. This land will now become an Indian reservation and they don’t follow our laws. Smoking and drinking will be allowed 24 hours a day anywhere the Indians want. The city just gave the land away to the tribe for a monopoly casino (only one allowed in Kenosha County). Wait for it but the Indians will be going after all of the illegal gambling machines in all of the bars next. They will shut them down and force everyone to go to their Indian casino. Our politicians sold out all of the small business owners in Kenosha. Every politician who voted for this can’t be trusted, especially Bogdala – the biggest traitor of all. He told everyone for years that he was against this but now he flipped – he must be getting something for his vote.

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      1. It would be good to have the laws of the Indian Tribes be posted here. This would give all of us better understanding the battles we will face in having any laws enforced against them. Would we even be able to find out what kind of “state laws” are violated compared to the Indian Laws? Would the Casino owners even be required to reveal any such violation (sexual harassment, robberies, violent acts, bribery to local officials to “look away” or anything else? This is like a whole different ball game of rules. Maybe when people will see what the Indian Tribes are NOT held accountable for (kind of like the Covid 19 vaccine manufacturers) they will think twice before supporting it.

  6. For a lame duck Mayor, Antaramian sure is determined to ram this deal through before he vacates office. He must be setting himself up or one last “favor” . Sketchy as always.

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    1. Yes, I agree, the mayor will get his share from this as he retires. Shame on him and what he has done to the people of Kenosha.

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  7. This is such the example of a property putting their least desirable to the farthest reaches of their own property. Why not put it next to another undesirable property, like the airport. If it is such a great thing then put it at the lakefront, on prime land. If it is so great an addition to Keno, then out it next to the Mayor’s house, or to Johnny’s, where he can just walk to his new job…haha…

    1. From my understanding, Johnny has all that acreage by his property leased out to someone in Illinois for a very very low payment in taxes. Until he decides to rezone that property, which he will when he can make big bucks off it, he’s going to keep it zoned Agricultural. He’s going to work his way around taking all the other smaller farmers lands ( or work with the Steve Mills /Bear Realty to do it for him) so that nobody touches his property.

      I saw him the other day using this big machine to stand on ( I wonder if Pleasant Prairie paid for that machine or if we paid to have him rent it) to take down Christmas lights from that nice new house that was built a couple years ago next to Jr.’s house. Nobody looks like they live there. What happened? My understanding is it was built for his daughter, but then everything came out about SB Jr and nobody moved in. Did Pleasant Prairie buy that house and now since it’s maybe owned by a municipality, no taxes are having to be paid on it (not sure how that works with buildings).?

  8. Absolutely disgusting, signing away prime land that would have been sold years ago if not for being held for this textbook example of a petri dish.

  9. Regardless of how I feel about the casino, contract and project overall;

    I will say that Kelly MacKay’s vote of ‘no’ on this and his rationale ring a little self serving. As someone who not only owns and operates a performance venue that would be competing, he also has acted and made money as a promoter for local talent and concert events.

    I think it would have been prudent and the right thing to do to recuse himself so as to avoid the conflict of interest he clearly stated were his reasons.

  10. Giant sucking sound of retiree social securities going into the casino coffers. Drive through any Reservation that has a casino and see the glorious beauty that the funds have provided (sarcasm). Casinos are a vampire on local economies.

    1. One thing for sure….once people settle in out at the I94 location it’s not like they will be driving into Kenosha for a night cap.

    1. You first! Let us know how that goes for ya 😂! I agree with you, but I have heard horror stories about what the IRS does to families who don’t pay their taxes.

  11. If this casino ends up looking like the Hard Rock casino in Hammond IN, all alderman should be recalled. The Hammond location makes a Uline warehouse look like the Bellagio in Vegas.

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