Governor Rick Snyder and state Attorney General Bill Schuette have told a northern Michigan Indian tribe they will do whatever is necessary to stop a casino from being built in downtown Lansing. The proposed casino would go up just a few blocks from the state Capitol.
The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians already operates five casinos in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The proposed casino in downtown Lansing sits on a parcel that is not currently considered tribal property. The governor and the attorney general say that means the land cannot be used for a tribal casino.
"The way they are trying to do it just will not work. If they want to try to get the law changed, that's something they could do, but, otherwise we would be forced to go to court because the way they want to do this is just plain illegal," says John Sellek, a spokesman for the attorney general.
"We're aware of their opinion. We respect it, and we respectfully disagree," says tribal spokesman Roger Martin. He says the legal argument is a new one, but he says the project complies with the law. "We intend to vigorously pursue what we believe is our right for this project. We're very confident in the legal theory that we have."
Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero also backs the project. Bernero says he "respectfully disagrees" with Governor Snyder. Bernero was Snyder's adversary in the 2010 race for governor.