‘We are 100% minority owned, but you rejected us with no explanation’: Potawatomi casino proposal voted down again by Waukegan aldermen

Chicago Tribune 3 weeks ago

The Waukegan City Council on Monday granted a requested second vote on a rejected Potawatomi casino proposal, but the outcome was the same — the Wisconsin-based group was soundly defeated in its bid to become a contender for a new casino at Fountain Square.

The council voted 6-3 Monday against forwarding the Potawatomi Waukegan Casino proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board. Three other proposals that were approved last week were sent to the board for certification Monday morning, according to Mayor Sam Cunningham.

Potawatomi requested a rehearing and a new vote after claiming the city violated the Open Meetings Act by not allowing public comment when the initial vote was taken, and that a consultant’s report included flawed information about the Potawatomi proposal.

On Monday night, the council did vote to allow Potawatomi a second vote based on its request.

But Potawatomi picked up just one vote Monday over the initial 7-2 vote against its package on Oct. 17, when proposals from Full House Resorts, North Point Casino and Rivers Casino were approved by the council and sent to the gaming board for further vetting and consideration.

Prior to Monday’s vote, Potawatomi filed a lawsuit in Lake County Circuit Court claiming that Waukegan violated the Open Meetings Act on Thursday, and that city consultant C.H. Johnson’s report on the Potawatomi proposal included serious inaccuracies.

Nonetheless, after allowing Forest County Potawatomi Community Attorney General Jeff Crawford and other supporters to make their case to the council during public comment time on the agenda, Potawatami was again shot down when the vote was called.

After the vote, Crawford said the Potawatomi Community lawsuit against the city will move forward. But on Tuesday, Potawatomi spokesman George Ermert said the lawsuit was withdrawn because the city had complied with its main request by taking another vote.

Ermert said the Potawatomi casino group is evaluating the situation, and it is not known whether or not a new lawsuit will be filed.

The withdrawn suit had sought a halt in the casino selection process due to the city’s rejection, which Potawatomi representatives have pinned primarily on a consultant’s report that was also questioned by some council members.

Ald. Lynn Florian, 8th, said before the Thursday vote that the information in the report showed that both Potawatomi and Rivers scored well throughout the reports on important issues such as revenue and jobs, but that didn’t seem to be reflected in the rankings, which brought applause from many in attendance.

On Monday, Crawford told the council one of the alleged errors was especially significant, stating that the casino had offered $5.6 million for the Fountain Square property. Crawford said the group had clarified that its offer was $12 million because its initial proposal was apparently misunderstood, and the $5.6 million offer listed in the report was never made.

He also said Potawatomi was a community, not a corporation, and has a “20-year track record” of revitalizing brownfields in Wisconsin in conjunction with casino operations, and had made an offer to help facilitate redevelopment efforts in the city’s downtown.

“The consultant said we were qualified, yet you rejected us with no explanation,” Crawford said. “We are 100% minority owned, but you rejected us with no explanation.”

Ald. Gregory Moisio, 3rd, came to Potawatomi’s defense prior to the vote, stating that the group’s clarified offer of $12 million was the offer all along.

“It was never five (million dollars); it was 12 (million dollars),” Moisio said. “Their proposal was misrepresented.”

Florian said she agreed with Moisio’s statement, and that the vote should be redone,“and let the chips fall where they may, no pun intended.”

The only change in the vote was that Florian voted in favor of Potawatomi on Monday.

Other council members voted the same way as they did Thursday, with Mosio and Edith Newsome, 5th, voting in favor along with Florian. Voting against Potawatomi were Sylvia Sims Bolton, 1st; Patrick Seger, 2nd; Roudell Kirkwood, 4th; Keith Turner, 6th; Felix Rivera, 7th; and Ann Taylor, 9th.

Moisio said the city already forwarded three proposals to the Gaming Board, and it might as well send the fourth to let that board address the situation.

Otherwise, Moisio, referring to possible lawsuits, said the city “can start writing checks to lawyers. They argue for a living."


Source link
Read also:
Chicago Tribune › 3 weeks ago
In a lawsuit filed Monday in Lake County Circuit Court, the casino group argues that on the night of Oct. 17, when the city council voted on the four casino proposals, there was no opportunity for public comment, even though there was at least one...
Chicago Tribune › 1 month ago
After the meeting, Mayor Sam Cunningham said the city had no specific problems with Potawatomi, but he felt its last-place rankings in a consultant’s report played into the vote.
New York Post › Finance › 2 weeks ago
In the Financial District, two financial firms — one women-owned, the other minority-owned — are merging and expanding. Now the nation’s No. 1 women-owned and minority-owned investment bank — rebranded as Siebert Williams Shank & Co. — is the...
Washington Times › 1 month ago
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is pushing two options for a Chicago casino. One calls for a casino owned by both the city and the state, the other calls for a privately-owned casino.
Chicago Tribune › 1 month ago
Elected officials in Waukegan and its neighboring communities began to line up behind their preferred casino proposals during a public hearing Wednesday evening.
Chicago Tribune › Opinions › 3 weeks ago
For Waukegan, the easy part of the casino-vetting process is behind city officials. The tough part begins after state gaming regulators pore over the competing proposals and refer them back to the city.
Chicago Tribune › 2 weeks ago
Waukegan, like many communities, wants the straight dope through resident feedback on cannabis sales before agreeing to dispensaries in the city.
Chicago Tribune › 1 week ago
“There are several generations of (Waukegan) kids who safely traveled to and from school each day because of Richard," said Waukegan Board of Education member Jeff McBride.
Chicago Tribune › 1 month ago
Whether those actions will make any difference in the end result might depend on how much weight aldermen give to a Chicago-based consultant’s report, posted on the city’s website last week, that gave the highest rankings to two of the proposals...
Forbes › Finance › 1 month ago
The Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency and the National Association of Investment Companies are creating a $1.4 million fund aimed at aggregating and deploying a total of $1 billion of growth capital to put into minority-owned...
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google
OR