Zoeller says East Chicago meetings should be public

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller responded to the East Chicago City Council meeting in executive session and discussing the distribution of casino revenue.

Zoeller's office and the city of East Chicago are plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit against Second Century Inc., a company that earned $16 million in casino revenue over the last decade. The casino was allegedly meant to provide economic development in East Chicago but it has yet to reveal who received the grants it dispensed or how the money has been used.

"Transparency and accountability is what the citizens of East Chicago need and deserve in any discussion of how casino revenue would be used to develop the economy in their community," Zoeller said.

"It concerns us any time such important issues are debated without the public having the opportunity to attend or provide input. In my own separate proposal for creating a new local development agreement through a trusteeship, my office and I have spoken in public meetings to the East Chicago City Council and to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. Citizens are more likely to have trust and confidence in their government if the public's business is conducted in public."

In February, Zoeller reached out to the East Chicago City Council to propose setting up a trusteeship for money generated through a local development agreement. The trusteeship would take the over $8 million in funds held up in escrow and allow the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to assume responsibility for the money. Throughout the process, Zoeller has remained firm that the city council not enter into a settlement with Second Century Inc.

"As the Indiana Gaming Commission considers proposals for a new local development agreement that could potentially direct millions of dollars from the two separate funds, I am insistent that no casino revenue be directed to the for-profit Second Century," Zoeller said.

"The Legislature is close to passing Senate Bill 325 that would require transparency in local development agreements and prohibit steering such funds to for-profit companies, and I support that bill becoming law."

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