EARLIER THIS WEEK Gov. Scott Walker issued an update on his consideration of the Menominee casino proposal in Kenosha and related discussions with the Forest County Potawatomi.
The governor said he had signed an agreement with the Potawatomi for the state to essentially guarantee the tribe would not lose money from its Milwaukee operations if the Kenosha casino becomes reality. That agreement could leave taxpayers on the hook for millions, potentially.
But at the same time, in a filing with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Walker’s lawyer argued the governor does not have the authority under Wisconsin’s constitution to obligate the state to pay the costs outlined in the amended agreement. Doing that would require legislative action, the lawyer said, so Walker likely overstepped his powers by signing it.
HUH? PERHAPS THAT all makes sense to any lawyers in the room, but it’s a mystery to everybody else. If the governor thinks he lacks authority to execute an agreement, why did he sign it? If the governor wants the agreement to stand, why have his counsel argue against it in the federal filing?
Most of all, if Walker believes executing the agreement would require legislative concurrence, why not ask the very friendly Republican-controlled legislature to get it done? For four years this governor has gotten whatever he asked for from a legislature dominated by his party, and after the 2014 election Republican majorities are even bigger. Does anybody believe legislators would refuse the governor?
A skeptic might wonder: Is that a little political dance music we hear playing in the background? If the BIA buys the argument put forth by Walker’s lawyer and denies the agreement, could the governor turn his palms up and say, “Hey, I tried. Obama said no.”
That could be a convenient way around the casino issue, if the governor wants a way out without coming off the bad guy.
OUR TAKE REMAINS the same as it has been for many years: Say yes to the casino, say yes to the investment, say yes to the jobs, say yes to the entire entertainment complex.
In Kenosha and Beloit.
Both sites are naturals, showcased at the borders on the highways carrying hundreds of thousands of tourists into the Badger State. If any other developer proposed operations of this scale and potential, state officials would roll out the red carpet and throw in millions of dollars worth of incentives.
The governor has tiptoed around the casino issue long enough. Both Kenosha and Beloit deserve straight answers. Is this governor for or against developing casino complexes at the main gateways linking Chicago to Wisconsin?