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Furthermore …

Only officials winning on rolls of dice with casino revenue

An Indianapolis Star investigation reveals state and regional officials taking huge gambles with casino revenue, with huge losses to show for them. The FBI is now investigating one of those risky deals – a $400,000 economic development grant awarded to a project involving the Greendale mayor and city attorney.

Since 2006, revenue from the Lawrenceburg casino has been awarded – with little oversight – by a committee of state and local officials. A $10 million grant awarded to help lure the southeastern Indiana Honda plant is a notable success story for the regional economic development program, but it seems to be the exception. Millions more went to questionable startup deals that have produced few or no jobs.

The project beneficiaries appear to include well-connected public officials and company executives. In the case of the proposed Carbon Motors plant in Connersville, thousands of dollars were spent on travel and entertaining, including $1,300 for a four-day stay at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. No expense description is given for the two largest travel expenses – one for $22,537 and a second for $30,320. The $7 million grant awarded to Carbon Motors produced no jobs.

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who created the grant program, blames the Carbon Motors’ failure on the U.S. Department of Energy, but state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, points blame at the economic development program.

“The whole situation is inappropriate and ripe for inappropriate behavior on people’s parts,” Kenley told the Star. “Obviously, they have more money than they know how to spend and people are trying to find ways to spend it that benefit themselves.”