Sources close to the bid for a Kenosha casino at Dairyland Greyhound Park expect Gov. Jim Doyle to veto a bill that would give the state Legislature oversight in the process.
Doyle has received letters supporting the proposed $808 million project from Kenosha County Executive Allan Kehl, Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, a number of labor unions from throughout southeastern Wisconsin, and even Kenosha teachers, represented by the Kenosha Education Association.
The KEA letter expressed concern about what would happen if legislative support is added to the list of hurdles. "Those delays would have a harmful effect on local economic development and related opportunities to create jobs and provide other economic benefits to our community and others," said the letter, signed by several KEA leaders.
The Milwaukee Building Trades Council, comprised of the bulk of Milwaukee area trade unions, has also endorsed the Kenosha project and called for the veto.
Lobbying against a veto are the Forest County Potawatomi, which operate a lucrative casino in Milwaukee. They have been running ads urging Doyle to sign the measure. The Potawatomi oppose the Kenosha casino involving the rival Menominee tribe. (Listen to the ad.)
Doyle's office has indicated a veto is coming.
Menominee spokesman Evan Zeppos said, "This legislation is a piece of junk pushed by the disciples of Jack Abramoff. The bill is being pushed only by a secret group funded by phantom backers and one the of the wealthiest tribes that is trying to protect its casino monopoly. The governor's veto will send it to the legislative garbage can, which is where it belongs. We are cautiously optimistic that a veto would stand, despite the big bucks campaign by the Potawatomi and 'Enough!'"
Potawatomi spokesman Ken Walsh defended the bill, saying, "The legislation gives Milwaukee a voice on off-reservation casino proposals being spearheaded by a Connecticut tribe with no connections to Wisconsin and a millionaire, well-connected developer without an once of Native American blood."
Walsh also cited support for the bill from approximately 20 Milwaukee-based community organizations, as well as "yes" votes from Milwaukee-area Sens. Lena Taylor, Jeff Plale and Tim Carpenter.
"Milwaukee is rallying behind this legislation because there is an increasing concern about the Connecticut Tribe's plans for their off-reservation casino in Kenosha that ends up transferring jobs out of Milwaukee and out of state," Walsh said.
Meanwhile, a pre-recorded telephone message has been circulating throughout Kenosha by "Enough," the group that wants the bill to become law. The message asks citizens to write or call Doyle and ask him to allow the bill, which would give the state Legislature oversight on any future casinos, such as Dairyland project.
Bill supporters had earlier expressed optimism that Republicans and some Milwaukee Democrats in the state Legislature would be able to cobble together enough votes to override Doyle's expected veto. But state Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser of Kenosha has said he expects a large enough group of Democrats will support the governor's veto to prevent such an override.