By Dennis Shook, for   Published Jun 02, 2006 at 5:27 AM
The failure of the state Legislature Wednesday to override Gov. Jim Doyle's veto of their oversight of casino sitings makes the odds much better that Kenosha will someday get a casino, proponents say.

The plan by Kenosha developer Dennis Troha and the Menominee Nation to build an $808 million gaming facility at Dairyland Greyhound Park is currently pending approval by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Troha and others expect that could come as early as later this year.

The state Assembly voted 54-43 against the override, far short of the two-thirds vote that is needed to reverse a veto.

"The bipartisan vote also deals a crushing blow to the Forest County Potawatomi, who dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads" to override the bill, said Kenosha project spokesman Evan Zeppos. "Perhaps most telling is the fact that the Potawatomi's aggressive effort failed to get even the Milwaukee delegation to vote their way."

Zeppos called for a détente between the two tribes, saying, "We have been saddened that the Potawatomi, whose off-reservation Milwaukee casino has made them one of the richest tribes in the state, have used those riches to try to hurt a fellow tribe, particularly one as poor as the Menominee."

Jeff Crawford, attorney general for the Forest County Potawatomi Community, said he expects the issue of legislative oversight to be reintroduced in the next legislative session.

"Without legislative oversight, Milwaukee has been left powerless to voice concerns" on the Kenosha casino, he said.

Crawford said the process is flawed when the Connecticut-based Mohegan tribe, which would run the casino for the first few years, and a "non-Native American millionaire developer" like Troha can cause economic harm to the Milwaukee casino.

State Rep. Jim Kreuser, D-Kenosha, said he was discouraged by personal attacks on Kenoshans by the public relations firm representing the Potawatomi, run by former Gov. Martin Schreiber.

"They not only had on a full-court press, they had extra people on the court," Kreuser said of the effort by the Potawatomi.

Kreuser said the Republicans were using the matter as a wedge issue against Doyle, but he noted that state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Burlington, joined Democrats in voting against the override.

Kreuser, the state Assembly's minority leader, said the project is important to economic development in Kenosha and will be the first casino to allow the workers to organize into labor unions.