By Doug Hissom Special to Published Jul 11, 2007 at 5:02 AM

The Kenosha casino wars continue. This week the Menominee tribe -- which wants to build the casino, with the help of a tribe in Connecticut -- formed its own front group, “Casino Competition for Wisconsin,” countering an already-active campaign by the Potawatomi tribe of Milwaukee, which is opposed to the project.

The Potawatomi already have a vibrant casino and are spending millions to expand it and seem to be content to argue that the Kenosha casino would send money out of the state to Connecticut, hence its front group name, “No East Coast Gaming.”

Supplying a fact sheet, the Menominee cite three studies by the Potawatomi that find there’s plenty of money to go around for another casino, even if it is in the Potawatomi’s backyard, since it has a casino in Milwaukee. One study cited shows that a new casino would triple the job creation, triple the direct and indirect spending in the region and triple the amount of wages and salaries (a lot of threes, indeed).

“We have come today to our Menominee ancestral lands, site of the Potawatomi Bingo Casino, to once again ask Potawatomi to let competition flourish,” said Menominee Tribal Chair Lisa Waukau at a press conference announcing the group. “We also want to draw public attention through Casino Competition for Wisconsin to the unfair -- and unnecessary -- fight Potawatomi is waging to dodge competition and preserve its monopoly. Their anti-competition efforts will hurt the economy of Milwaukee, of the region and of the state.”

Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford stuck to the Potawatomi party line in issuing its response, calling the Menominee effort an attempt to “desperately distract the public from the controversy and impropriety associated with the Kenosha casino proposal,” adding that the new efforts “expose a campaign of misinformation as they fail to mention the Connecticut Mohegan.”

Backing the Menominee were the executives of Racine and Kenosha Counties and Milwaukee trade and construction union leaders, who stand to get the jobs when the thing gets built. The whole concept needs to be approved by several agencies and the governor’s office before anything can happen, hurdles that are considered long shots to overcome.

Reports are that gamblers lose about $350 million annually in the Milwaukee's Potawatomi Bingo Casino compared with about $33 million in the Menominee's remote northern Wisconsin casino.

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Budget Bill Volleys from the Big City: It could be a longer hot summer in meeting rooms in the state Legislature as lawmakers from the Senate and Assembly appear miles apart in their views of how the state should be run for the next two years.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is particular upset with what the GOP-led Assembly is suggesting.

“The Assembly Republicans are sticking it to Milwaukee,” he said, hacking up a chestnut GOP line from year’s past. “Assembly Republicans have cut our shared revenue payment by $32.7 million, deleted the $21 million for school choice property tax relief while expanding the taxpayer funded program, and eliminated the school safety funding waiver, meaning Milwaukeeans will have to pay more for putting police in schools.

“In addition to wiping out $53 million in property tax relief and demanding that Milwaukeeans pay more of their property taxes for School Choice, the Assembly Republicans decided that Milwaukee kids don’t need summer jobs and our families and community don’t need a School of Public Health.”

He also expressed dismay that the Assembly canceled the residency requirement for Milwaukee Public School teachers, perhaps in honor of MPS teacher’s union chief Sam Carmen’s retirement.

The GOP Plan would also end health care programs for the low-income among us, ban straight-party ticket voting, eliminate the rainy-day fund (a strong point of contention with the GOP when it ran the Capitol and wanted Dems to put money in the fund).

And to top it off, the anti-smoking crowd is upset that there’s no exorbitant cigarette tax in the plan as was proposed by Gov. Doyle.

New Cable Snews Channel: It’s taken eight years when we were first told it would only take a year or two, but WisconsinEye, 24-hour coverage of state government and issues, is ready for viewing -- if you have digital cable.

Time-Warner and Charter will carry the channel, 163 on Time-Warner, 200 on Charter. It will reach roughly 500,000 homes. It can also be picked up on the Web at

Coverage started this week with the Assembly in its full glory for budget debates.

"We're very happy this historic day has finally arrived,” said WisconsinEye President Chris Long in a statement.

WisconsinEye is private, but has a contract with the state. Its chairman is former Republican Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow and board members include former local TV personalities Jill Geisler and Melodie Wilson.

Growth Club Declares Victory: When we last found the strangely ubiquitous Wisconsin Club for Growth it was running clever adds about “pigs for rent” against a PR firm hired by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Transit Authority.

The Club argued that it wasn't right for a quasi-state agency to hire lobbyists to lobby for a car rental tax increase which would go to pay for a much-needed commuter train from Kenosha to Milwaukee. While it probably had nothing to do with the persuasiveness of its argument and more to do with the fact that the Club is run by prominent Republicans, the Club has “declared victory” after the GOP-led Assembly left the tax increase out of its budget proposal.

The Transit Authority voted to try and increase the relatively unused car rental tax from $2 to $15 to help get the train line moving. No other local community or leader has really suggested any other plan to pay for the train right now.

Barbara Lawton Does Live Earth: Former Veep Al Gore wasn’t the only one partying on Live Earth day, a series of concerts held on all the continents to highlight the global warming phenomena. Wisconsin’s own Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton took a headliner’s role in a Door County show as part of the event.

“Global climate change will remain a permanent and powerful force shaping the economic landscape both here in Wisconsin and worldwide,” the Lawton said. “Wisconsin will meet this challenge by choosing to pursue a long-term strategy to protect our environment, secure our economy, and create good, clean jobs.”

Lawton cited a recent 2007 study by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that climate disruption is a reality, and that human activities are largely responsible for increasing concentrations of global warming pollution. The study conducted by over 600 scientists from 40 countries reported the level of greenhouse gases in the world’s atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, are at their highest levels in over 650,000 years.

The report is available at

“The science is in,” said Lawton. “It’s time to recast the challenge of global warming as an opportunity to create jobs and economic growth.”

There were over 6,000 events held in the Live Earth campaign. The Door County was at the Woodwalk Gallery and Art Barn in Egg Harbor.

Doug Hissom Special to
Doug Hissom has covered local and state politics for 20 years. Over the course of that time he was publisher, editor, news editor, managing editor and senior writer at the Shepherd Express weekly paper in Milwaukee. He also covered education and environmental issues extensively. He ran the UWM Post in the mid-1980s, winning a Society of Professional Journalists award as best non-daily college newspaper.

An avid outdoors person he regularly takes extended paddling trips in the wilderness, preferring the hinterlands of northern Canada and Alaska. After a bet with a bunch of sailors, he paddled across Lake Michigan in a canoe.

He lives in Bay View.