Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Tribe In The Media: Menominee Asks Feds To Suspend Off-Rez Casino Review

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This installment of the Tribe In The Media is an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stating that the Menominee Tribe is requesting the federal government to suspend their review of the Menominee's off-reservation casino application. The Mohegan Tribe would manage the casino if it ever gets approved and built.

Menominee to U.S.: Suspend casino review
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
October 22, 2008

In a letter sent today to U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the Menominee Indian tribe has asked that he temporarily suspend consideration of the tribe's application for a Kenosha casino and entertainment center.

"We are taking this extraordinary step because it has come to our attention that, in what are now the final days of the Bush Administration, Secretary Kempthorne's office is responding to political pressure and is about to issue a hasty, arbitrary and capricious end-of-term disapproval of our long-pending application," Lisa S. Waukau, chairman of the Menominee Tribe, wrote in a letter to George Skibine, assistant secretary for Indian affairs at the Department of the Interior.

Waukau wrote that the tribe wanted its application to be given fair and impartial consideration, "and we are now confident that we cannot receive such consideration from Secretary Kempthorne."

Evan Zeppos, a spokesman for the tribe, said members of the tribe had received indications that the application would be rejected after a series of discussions with Bureau of Indian Affairs officials. The BIA is part of the Department of Interior. Those discussions occurred within the past 10 days.

Kempthorne could not be reached for comment.

Kempthorne has never been a fan of off-reservation casinos. This year, he has killed at least 11 such applications.

The Kenosha casino, now estimated to cost $1 billion, would be built at the site of the Dairyland Greyhound Track, just off I-94 in Kenosha County. Casino-entertainment proponents say the complex would create 3,000 jobs and billions of dollars in new revenue. The Mohegan tribe tribe is the financial muscle and partners in the Menominee's efforts to build the casino complex.

In a separate press release, Zeppos said that, if Kempthorne rejects the Menominee application, "we are nonetheless prepared for other outcomes."

"The tribe has a number of avenues at its disposal to fight an illegal and inappropriate rejection and is strongly committed to pursuing them."

The project was first proposed nearly five years ago. Even if Kempthorne approves the project, the casino must still be approved by Gov. Jim Doyle.