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January 28, 2015

Walker rejects Kenosha casino project

Artist's rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

Artist’s rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

The Menominee Tribe’s proposed off-reservation casino in Kenosha has been rejected by Governor Scott Walker.

The governor told the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Department of Interior Friday morning about his non-concurrence with the project. In a statement, Walker said “after a comprehensive review of the potential economic impact of the proposed Kenosha casino project, the risk to the state’s taxpayers is too great.”

The governor cited continued concerns about a previously negotiated compact with the Forest County Potawatomi, which operates a casino in Milwaukee. The tribe has indicated the state may owe them up to $100 million if the Kenosha project were to be approved, which Walker said would result in a huge hole in state finances.

The Menominee Tribe this week had signed a new compact with the state to address those potential financial losses. However, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch had warned that the state could still face litigation if the project were to be approved.

The Menominee Tribe release a statement blaming the decision on the influence of the Potawatomi and Governor Walker’s presidential aspirations. Officials said they would be meeting with their partners at Hard Rock International in the coming days to explore their options.

Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford released a statement, saying they “agree with (the governor’s) determination that this project is not in the best interest of Wisconsin.”

Kenosha-area lawmakers respond to the governor’s decision

McCarthy’s younger brother dies Wednesday at 47

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

Earlier today, Mike McCarthy’s season ending press conference was cancelled and the Green Bay Packers public relations staff said it was a personal matter involving the coaching staff.

It turns out, the personal matter was for McCarthy himself.  He had just received news that his younger brother, Joe McCarthy III, had died while playing racquetball at a local gym.

Joe McCarthy was taken by ambulance to a local hospital in McCandless, Pennsylvania, where he was pronounced dead.

Mike McCarthy flew immediately to Pittsburgh to be with his family.

Joe McCarthy ran his own law firm in the Pittsburgh area.  He attended Penn State and Duquesne School of Law.

Lawmakers propose 70 mph speed limit for Wisconsin (VIDEO)

(Graphic: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

(Graphic: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Republican state lawmakers are hoping to fast track legislation that would increase Wisconsin’s maximum highway speed limit to 70 miles an hour.

The bill from state Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) and state Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) would allow traffic safety engineers at the Department of Transportation to increase speed limits on state highways to the 70 mph mark, if they feel it would be safe to do so. Tittl says those who deal with highway safety should be making that determination, instead of having lawmakers mandate where it should be changed.

Critics have raised concerns previously that a higher speed limit could make highways less safe. LeMahieu says that has not been the case in other states that have adopted the change, pointing to statistics that show highway traffic deaths declined in Iowa and Illinois after they increased speed limits.

Wisconsin is the only state in the Midwest to still have a maximum speed limit of 65 mph in place. Neighboring states have all gone to a 70 mph standard in recent years, and there are concerns the Badger State could get left behind if it doesn’t make the switch. Tittl says he would like to see the legislation acted on quickly this spring, so new speed limits could be in place in time for the summer tourism season.

A similar push last session failed to get out of the Senate’s Transportation Committee. LeMahieu and Tittl says there are new members on that panel and they are optimistic about its chances this session.

Deadline for Kenosha casino decision one month away

Artist's rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

Artist’s rendering of the Kenosha casino project.

Time is running out for the state to complete its review of a proposed Kenosha casino, with the deadline for a decision on the project just a month away on February 19.

The Menominee Tribe wants to build an $800 million off-reservation casino on the site of the former Dairyland Greyhound Park. Federal officials have already signed-off on the plan, but Governor Scott Walker still has to approve it before construction can move forward. Walker has been reviewing the proposal for almost 18 months.

One of the biggest hurdles facing the project is opposition from the Forest County Potawatomi. The tribe operates an off-reservation casino in Milwaukee, about 50 miles away from the Kenosha site.  Tribal officials argue the Kenosha casino would siphon away their customers.

The Potawatomi’s gaming compact with the state is another concern. The tribe argues that, if the Kenosha facility is approved, the state may owe them as much as $100 million from fees that have already been paid. Governor Walker has warned that could have a big impact on the state’s finances, noting that the tribe is already withholding about $25 million in payments to the state and further losses could create a “substantial hole” in the state budget he’s working on.

The Potawatomi and Walker administration recently asked federal officials to amend the tribe’s gaming compact with language that would have made state government liable for losses at the Milwaukee casino. The Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the request earlier this month.

Politics may also be playing a role in the decision-making process, with pressure mounting on the governor from anti-gambling groups as he considers a 2016 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Speaking to reporters last week, Walker denied political considerations were at play. Walker said “if that was the case, I would have made a decision in that regard a long time ago.”

Walker has said previously that a decision is likely to come very close to the deadline.

Packers Nation shocked with OT loss in Seattle (AUDIO)

Aaron Rodgers - UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Aaron Rodgers – UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Sunday’s 28-22 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks is clearly one of the worst playoff losses in Green Bay Packers history.  It may not top the list, but it’s close.

The Packers dominated play for most of the game, but left the door open just enough for the Seahawks to pull off a 12-point comeback in the final two minutes to force overtime and eventually pull out the win.

While the Packers were busy crushing the spirits of the Seahawks, they were missing opportunities to put the Seahawks away.  They settled for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns early on, yet still led 16-0 at halftime and 19-7 with just under four minutes to play.

Seattle fans were starting to slowly trickle towards the exits, only to miss a comeback of the ages.

Nothing went right for Russell Wilson until the fourth quarter.  He had thrown four interceptions as the Seahawks offense was suffocating against the Packers defense.  [Read more…]