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Wednesday, Feb. 22 — Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero called on public relations executive Kelly Rossman-McKinney to resign today from the Lansing Economic Development Corp. Board for having a “conflict of interest” over the proposed Lansing casino.
Rossman-McKinney denied she has a conflict but as a mayoral appointee would “submit my resignation at his request.”
Bernero said in a telephone interview that Rossman-McKinney disclosed at this morning’s EDC meeting that she had worked for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, which has joined the administration in proposing a casino for downtown Lansing. The EDC must vote on aspects of the plan.
Rossman-McKinney said in a telephone interview that she told the board this morning she would recuse herself from decisions on the casino because 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 said that occurred eight years ago, when she was still partners with Roger Martin. Rossman-McKinney is a partner in TruscottRossman with John Truscott.
Rossman-McKinney told City Pulse soon after the casino proposed was announced that she had had no conflict. She said in the story she was “stunned” when she heard the mayor refer publicly to an Indian opponent of the casino plan as “Chief Chicken Little.
Bernero cited as a conflict the previous representation. He 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.
Rossman-McKinney said Truscott had had an informal conversation with Bill Martines, one of the principals in the casino’s investment group.
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.
She said she has recused herself before in her role on the EDC board. She cited her representation of the Eyde brothers, whose project to renovate the Knapp’s Building downtown is before the EDC.
“I don’t have any business relationship that would call my integrity into question on this issue,” she said of the casino proposal.
She said she was “pressing for more information” on the proposal. “I’ve always sought transparency — always.”