Ho-chunk Eyes Plan B: Growth Around Dejope
Development Got Plan Commission Approval Four Years Ago
Wisconsin State Journal :: FRONT :: A1
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Lesley Rogers Barrett County reporter
The Ho-Chunk Nation might revive plans to develop land around its
DeJope Bingo Hall in the wake of Tuesday's casino referendum defeat.
The Black River Falls-based tribe wanted to open a casino at DeJope
on Madison's Southeast Side, but voters turned down a referendum
by a nearly 2-1 ratio.
Now the tribe is out at least $1 million in campaign costs and
still has to come up with a $30 million payment to the state this
year under a statewide compact signed last April.
To recoup at least some of the money, Ho-Chunk Nation attorney
Michelle Greendeer said, the tribe might move forward with proposals
approved four years ago by the Madison Plan Commission. Those plans
call for a restaurant, hotel and conference center, retail strip
and small amphitheater on the nearly 50 acres owned by the tribe
"We stand by our July 2000 plans," Greendeer said. "The city of
Madison can only benefit from our role of tourism."
Last month, other Ho-Chunk officials said those plans were shelved
for at least five years.
The majority of the development would be on land that the tribe
owns but that doesn't have federal-trust status. Trust land isn't
subject to property taxes or city development oversight.
Ho-Chunk attorney Rebecca Weise said the tribe might also continue
to look for another casino site in the state, but it will be difficult
because a casino must be on trust land.
The tribe has been seeking a fourth casino site for more than
10 years. La Crosse voters defeated a Ho-Chunk casino referendum
in 1995 and again in 2000.
Ho-Chunk leaders have said they won't try again in Madison.
The tribe, which has no reservation, has limited trust land, which
has been used for casinos in Lake Delton, Nekoosa and Black River
Falls, plus the DeJope Bingo Hall, which is built on 4.6 acres of
It's a long process to attain trust status for more land, so even
if a community wanted a Ho-Chunk casino, the tribe would have to
acquire land that could be deemed sovereign.
"We'll just keep going with our options now," Weise said.
The compact gives Gov. Jim Doyle the authority to approve a fourth
site, but Doyle spokesman Josh Morby said finding a site will be
up to the Ho-Chunk and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
If DeJope had become a casino, the tribe would have given Madison
and Dane County about $3.5 million a year each from DeJope casino
profits, which were expected to reach $100 million a year.
Ho-Chunk Legislator John Dall said the tribe will work on making
its payment of $30 million to the state this year, despite the lack
of DeJope revenues.
"We still have a gaming compact with the state of Wisconsin. That's
what we have to throw our focus into now," Dall said. "We don't
have to worry about the $7 million anymore. Neither does Dane County
Unions blast Cieslewicz
They resent casino criticism
By Judith Davidoff,
The Capital Times
February 21, 2004
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's campaign against a casino at the DeJope
bingo hall in the final weeks before voters shot down the idea Tuesday
has left a bitter taste with members of the building trades, who
were strong supporters of the casino.
Scott Vaughn, executive director of the Building and Construction
Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin, said the mayor refused
to meet with him to discuss union support of the casino, showed
bad faith in campaigning against the city's agreement with Ho-Chunk,
and ignored the fact that the membership of the South Central Federation
of Labor endorsed the casino by a 4 to 1 margin.
"We were really disappointed with this attitude toward labor,"
said Vaughn, whose group represents 14 different unions and about
Mayoral spokesman Melanie Conklin said she does not remember seeing
an appointment request from Vaughn, but was unable to confirm that
late Friday. She did say that the mayor is booking appointments
into March, but would normally make time for at least a phone interview
if someone expressed urgency.
Conklin also said that she doesn't see a link between the mayor's
opposition to the casino and either the trades council's diversity
program or its attempt to secure good compensation for its members
"The mayor is not just the mayor of organized labor," she said.
"He had to take a broad perspective, and when he weighed the benefits
and costs of a casino he didn't feel this was good for the city."
Dane County residents voted 2 to 1 against turning the DeJope
bingo hall into a casino.
Aside from the Ho-Chunk Nation, the strongest support for the
casino came from area unions, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk
and some social service agencies.
Under the agreements negotiated by Ho-Chunk with the city and
county, the city and the county each would have received about $3.5
million annually from casino revenues.
Some of these revenues, at least on the county side, would have
been diverted to union members since the county had agreed to reopen
union contracts if it received a new revenue source of more than
Vaughn said Ho-Chunk had signed a project labor agreement agreeing
to pay a minimum level of salary and benefits for future construction
work at DeJope.
Santiago Rosas, executive director of the Construction Labor Management
Council of Greater Wisconsin, and a City Council member, said his
organization and Vaughn's group had also been working hard to recruit
Ho-Chunk members into a labor-backed program aimed at increasing
the diversity of women and minorities in the trades.
Cieslewicz's stance on the casino read like a snub on both these
fronts, Rosas said.
"The mayor really undermined not only the diversity initiatives,
but also closed the door" on the union's attempts to secure high
paying jobs for their members, he said.
Mark Herrmann, business representative for Local 695 of the Teamsters
Union, and president of the Building and Construction Trades Council
of South Central Wisconsin, said Cieslewicz's opposition to the
agreement he negotiated with Ho-Chunk sent a bad message.
"It's almost like the mayor was saying he was in favor of the
money, but not the jobs," Herrmann said.
Vaughn said his door is still open to the mayor if Cieslewicz
wishes to engage the building trades.
"He can come back and start working with us tomorrow," he said.
But, said Vaughn, if Cieslewicz continues to ignore the needs
of the trades, "it makes it impossible for labor, and not just construction,
to support him."
City, Ho-Chunk should partner
By Bert G. Zipperer
(2002 Madison pro-democracy mayoral candidate)
The Capital Times, 2-6-04
Since we have legally allowed Wisconsin to promote gambling (through
the state lottery), we cannot deny it to our neighbors, the American
Indian nations. It is their right, as members of a sovereign nation,
to determine whether or not to pursue a casino.
Putting a casino at DeJope will not promote urban sprawl. The
Ho-Chunk own about 45 acres that are "landlocked" by major highways
on two sides and city land on the other two sides. This is one of
the most limited developments on the edge of Madison, in terms of
the land available to the Ho-Chunk.
Our city government and local businesses could partner with the
Ho-Chunk in ways that would benefit everyone. Transportation links
and joint business promotion should be on the public agenda, rather
than the fear campaign about "social costs."
I do not believe the Ho-Chunk casino should be debated on how
much financial gain is in it for the city or the county. Let's not
assume a casino is an alternative for fair taxation at the local
and state levels. We in Wisconsin need to institute fair, progressively
based taxation in order to ensure high-quality public services for
all Wisconsin residents.
Meanwhile, the Ho-Chunk have the right to make a decision about
how to use their sovereign lands.
All of us in Dane County live on former Ho-Chunk lands that were
involuntarily surrendered to the United States only 172 years ago
- in 1832. Madison is on Ho-Chunk land. The Ho-Chunk are not encroaching
on Madison lands.
I am disturbed that we fail to recognize our local Ho-Chunk heritage
in Madison. After the casino is approved, perhaps we can learn to
live as equals and as partners, benefiting from each other and learning
to be good neighbors on this land - the original land of the Ho-Chunk
Bert Zipperer is a former Madison alderman and mayoral candidate.