Friday, April 11, 2008

The cloudy stench of unethical politics is damaging Kenosha

One right after the next, Kenosha’s elite citizens are pleading guilty to unlawful activities surrounding the Kenosha Casino.

The latest, Former Kenosha County Executive Allan Kehl will be pleading guilty to federal charges.

Because Allan Kehl was an elected official at the time that he received the illegal finances, I am more than a little curious whether he will receive prison time. My guess is that he will. The federal government does not take lighting the idea of money exchanging hands.

Allan Kehl was the fourth person to plead guilty in this casino deal.

Still, the rumor mill is running rampant as to who is next. I am fully confident that more of Kenosha’s finest will go down for this.

Even as the rumor mill abounds, this whole mess is heart wrenching for your average Kenosha resident.

Even though Kenosha is now a city with almost 100,000 residents, we still have the small hometown feeling.

These are people we all know.

We see them at church festivals, we see them at little league baseball games, we see them at the grocery store, and we see them at charity fundraisers.

The people wrapped up in this casino mess are the most elite and longstanding names in Kenosha’s history.

These same people have run Kenosha for many years.

For those who do not know, an inner circle has run Kenosha for a number of years. You needed to have the right connections to the inner circle in order to advance in Kenosha. This is not 100% true, but having the right connections was the easiest way to move forward in Kenosha.

Have you ever noticed that even though Kenosha leadership does change every once in a while, the names never seem to change?

For example, State Senator Bob Wirch was a former state representative. County Executive Allan Kehl was our former Kenosha county sheriff. Retiring Mayor John Antaramian, was a former state assemblyman. Current state representative Jim Kreuser is running for Kenosha County Executive, and he looks likely to win.

Therefore, the job titles change, but rarely do the last names change.

This, of course, does not mean that every person deciding to make a change and run for a different office is necessarily doing anything wrong. It just means that if you make it into the inner circle, you most definitely have a leg up on your competition.

This is why last week’s election is so stunning.

Last week a whole gaggle of new names ran for office, especially for those running for alderman. Many of the names that folks have seen on the ballot for 10-20+ years either left or were voted out. Eight new faces start next week; this is almost half of the city council. In addition, we have a new mayor after 16 years.

Interestingly enough, even with all of this going on, some in Kenosha are still living in a state of denial. They tell themselves and us that everything is fine.

Kenosha News-

Casino spokesman Evan Zeppos noted that officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs have stated the legal matters would not weigh into their continuing review of the proposal, as long as the individuals implicated were no longer involved with the casino.

The problem is- we do not know if all those involved with the casino’s underhanded dealings are still involved with the casino project!

How many more Kenosha politicians were “rewarded” for their support of the casino deal?

Tuesday's plea agreement notes that the payments from Troha to Kehl were intended, at least in part, to reward Kehl for his performance as county executive, as it related to Troha's efforts to develop a tribal casino in Kenosha.

There was a ton of support from Kenosha politicians for the casino project. The casino project even garnered support from our state representative Jim Kreuser and state senator Bob Wirch- both of which have received major campaign donations from Dennis Troha and others involved with the casino, including the management from the Dairyland Greyhound Park. (For those who do not know, it is the Dairyland Greyhound site that the new casino was to be built)

Listed as top contributors to Senator Bob Wirch as of 2004, when the casino referendum was on the ballot, was the Troha Family, John Erickson and 4 other Dairlyland Greyhound Park employees.

Here is the link

Also listed as the top contributors to State Representative Jim Kreuser as of 2004 was a couple more Dairyland Greyhound Park employees.

Here is the link

This is not to suggest that any of these guys have done anything wrong. They are just campaign donations and clearly they were recorded like they should have been.

Clearly, there is a pattern here. A pattern that many in Kenosha are just now discovering.

How deep into Kenosha’s elected officials does this criminal activity run?

Kenosha residents are angry and frustrated with these convictions. We are being called “Little Chicago” and we do not like it.

Our reputation as decent hardworking people has been severely damaged by the indictments and convictions of our most prominent citizens and now elected officials.

Worse yet, we have been lead to believe that there are more indictments to come.

We are in a position right now of not knowing whom to trust.

This casino project has dictated the direction Kenosha is taking for many years.

When do we begin to clear out all of the politicians that have so badly damaged our reputation?

Yes, Kenosha has made it very clear, in two separate referendums, that they want a casino. However, we want a casino deal done legally and ethically.

The federal government needs to step it up and do what they are going to do.

It is time for Kenosha to get out from under this cloudy stench of unethical politics.

We have to be able to clean house and start all over again and do this the right way. We cannot do that while the threat of more indictments is hanging over our heads.

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