Judge knocks down Duluth's casino case

A judge rejected Duluth's challenge to a ruling that its agreement over a casino violated federal law. The decision is a win for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in the protracted dispute over gambling revenue.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found that the National Indian Gaming Commission "did not exceed the scope of [its] authority" when it issued in 2011 a notice of violation, informing the band that its longtime agreement with the city, which established the Fond-du-Luth Casino, violated the requirement that the band have the "sole proprietary interest" in the gaming operation.

Duluth's lawsuit was "the latest step in a long saga," as Kollar-Kotelly put it. Under an agreement with the city, the band paid "rent," a slice of casino revenue, that totaled $75 million between 1994 and 2009. In 2009, the band quit paying.

Duluth is weighing whether to appeal, said Gunnar Johnson, city attorney. "The old saying: It's hard to fight city hall? Well, it's even harder to fight the federal government," he said Friday.

Two other lawsuits remain in play.

Jenna Ross @ByJenna


Donor gives $100,000

for homeless shelter

Efforts to create a homeless shelter in downtown Bemidji — one that will take in people with chemical dependency issues — got a big boost last week as an anonymous donor chipped in $100,000. The nonprofit Nameless Coalition for the Homeless had previously raised $40,000 over the course of a year and a half, said coalition member Reed Olson.

Other shelters in town aren't equipped to handle clients with alcoholism, said Olson, who is also a member of the City Council. The community has lost several people over the past few years to alcohol and weather-related deaths, he said.

"We're trying to get at least emergency winter shelter for people experiencing chronic homelessness and chemical dependency," Olson said. He hopes they will be able to accommodate 20 to 30 people the next two winters.

Pam louwagie @pamlouwagie

Grand Marais

Former county attorney suspended from law

Former Cook County attorney Timothy Scannell has been suspended indefinitely from practicing law in an order filed by the state Supreme Court.

Scannell was convicted last summer on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct related to his relationship with a 17-year-old girl. He blamed his conduct on post-traumatic stress disorder after he was shot and wounded at the county courthouse in Grand Marais in 2011. A defendant whom he had prosecuted for having sex with a 15-year-old fired the gun.

Scannell agreed the appropriate discipline was an indefinite suspension with no right to petition for reinstatement for three years, the order said.

pam louwagie @pamlouwagie