Not taking “no” for an answer: Tribal leaders join legislators in urging Walker to reconsider casino decision

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MADISON (WITI) -- They're not going to take "no" for an answer. Even as Governor Scott Walker says he won't reconsider his decision to reject the Menominee Tribe's proposed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, tribal leaders joined a bipartisan group of legislators in Madison Thursday morning, January 29th to ask that the Governor change his mind. This, one day after the group of legislators issued a letter to Governor Walker.

"We were not treated with the respect deserved of a sovereign nation -- the original peoples of Wisconsin," Menominee Tribe Vice Chair Crystal Chapman-Chevalier said.

Despite their frustration, Menominee tribal leaders say they won't give up on their dream to open an $800 million casino in Kenosha.

"We are doing everything we can to keep this project alive because Wisconsin needs it," Chapman-Chevalier said.

Ten lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) signed a letter to Governor Walker asked that he revisit his decision to reject the casino.

Walker says the Potawatomi Tribe's compact could leave the state responsible for the Potawatomi's losses if a Kenosha casino were approved. The Potawatomi Tribe operates a casino in Milwaukee.

"It`s been proved repeatedly through the outside counsel we engaged in and others that if we approved the casino in Kenosha, it would cost us about $100 million right now. It would cost us two to three times more than that in the future. I can`t have a hole that size in the state budget without somewhere to fill it," Governor Walker said.

Governor Walker wasn't available for comment Thursday, but his office directed reporters to a memo from Secretary Mike Huebsch dated January 20th. That memo warns that "if the proposed Kenosha casino is approved, the Potawatomi will likely withhold future revenue-sharing payments and seek a refund of all past lump sum and revenue-sharing payments."

"The Governor is totally wrong and misleading the people of this state when he says any taxpayer money is at risk. That is totally not the case," Rep. Barca said.

The Menominee Tribe has promised to reimburse the state for any payments it would have to make the Potawatomi. Hard Rock International pledged a $250 million bond to ensure the Menominee Tribe could keep that promise. Supporters insist they've cleared every hurdle.

"I think it`s just a monumental, breathtaking lack of leadership on the part of the Governor that he couldn`t pull the parties together and get this done," Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman said.

FOX6 News has reached out to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs -- asking whether they've been directly informed of Governor Walker's decision to reject the casino. We have not yet heard back.

Representatives from the Menominee Tribe were in Washington, D.C. Thursday to meet with members of the Bureau. Chapman-Chevalier says a number of options are on the table going forward, but she wouldn't get into specifics.

A petition has been launched at, encouraging Governor Walker to re-consider his decision.

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  • Disgusted

    God help us if this incompetent college dropout gets to the White House. What is not to understand this is not about protecting tax payers and all about protecting his pocketbook called Potawatomi. He seems to know how a bond works for his arena but not for the kenosha project. This is all about Potawatomi and Iowa.

  • Mike Karnow

    Go protest on the steps of the capitol. Seems to be all the rage these days, but he won’t listen. While you’re there, thank a teacher. I wouldn’t want that job, and I feel what he did to them wasn’t right.

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