UPDATE: Lansing casino controversy
|By Berl Schwartz and Andy Balaskovitz|
Rossman-McKinney resigns from LEDC board
Wednesday, Feb. 22 – Public relations executive Kelly Rossman-McKinney resigned from the Lansing Economic Development Corp. board today following a request by Mayor Virg Bernero, who claims she has a “conflict of interest” in the proposed Lansing casino.
“I have never been motivated by anything less than the city’s best interest in my service to the Lansing Economic Development Corp. board. So after thoughtful review of my business connections, I decided to recuse myself from a vote on the casino issue in the appropriate public setting,” Rossman said in a statement. “The mayor has made wildly speculative comments about my motivations, but I believe most people understand those comments to be more a reflection of his desperation to build a casino than of my intentions. I look forward to serving the city in the future.”
Rossman-McKinney recused herself today when the board voted on aspects of the proposed casino that the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Bernero administration want to build next to the Lansing Center.
The "irony" is Rossman-McKinney ended up voting for the administration proposal, Rossman-McKinney said in an interview recorded today for tonight's City Pulse radio show. Tune in to "City Pulse on the Air" on the IMPACT 89FM at 7 tonight to hear the interview.
Bernero said in a telephone interview that Rossman-McKinney disclosed at this morning’s EDC board meeting that she had worked for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe. Rossman-McKinney said a previous company of hers, Rossman Martin & Associates, had represented the tribe and also the Greektown casino that the tribe operated until it went bankrupt.
Rossman-McKinney also said that was eight years ago, before she formed The Rossman Group, a company she dissolved to become partners with John Truscott in TruscottRossman, her current firm.
Bernero also said TruscottRossman was “rejected” by the tribe to represent it currently and that it was also “approached by the Greektown casino.”
It was “quite a revelation,” Bernero said of today’s meeting, which he said he attended.
He said “being considered and rejected could be sour grapes,” referring to 39 questions she posed today about the casino proposal.
He also called the disclosures “astounding” given Rossman-McKinney’s position of “demanding full disclosure” by officials and investors on the casino proposal. “She doesn’t practice it,” adding she “practically delivered an interrogatory” to City Attorney Brig Smith at this morning’s EDC meeting.
According to media reports, the EDC board voted 6-0 this morning to support a development agreement between the city, the tribe and the casino developers, Lansing Future LLC. The board’s vote also allows the EDC to proceed with selling a parcel of property at the northwest corner of Cedar Street and Michigan Avenue to be used as a temporary casino, which the EDC owns, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Rossman-McKinney said Truscott had an informal conversation with Bill Martines, one of the principals in Lansng Future LCC.
Rossman-McKinney said, “I really don’t believe I have a conflict.” However, she said she realized in conversations yesterday with EDC officials that her experience with the tribe and the Greektown casino could be perceived as such.
Bernero and Rossman-McKinney had a dust-up after he canceled a city contract with her. Rossman-McKinney he did so because she helped Councilwoman Carol Wood, a political enemy of Bernero, with her mother's funeral after she was murdered. Bernero spokesman Randy Hannan denied there was any connection.
Then a month ago, Rossman-McKinney told City Pulse she was "stunned" when the mayor referred to a casino opponent a "piece of crap" at his annual preview breakfast for his 2012 State of the City Address.