(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) (WGGB)–Springfield’s casino consultant is denying charges of a conflict of interest in representing the city,”Obviously we don’t see a conflict of interest, we would not have applied and responded to the RFP if we thought there was a conflict,” says Cezar Froelich, chairman of the firm of Shefsky and Froelich.
Controversy has arisen over the fact that the firm has represented MGM and Penn National Gaming, two of the casino operators vying for a Springfield casino,”I definitely want to see a new consultant hired, we need this to be an open and transparent process,” says City Councilor John Lysak.
Councilor Lysak has written a letter to the city’s attorney asking for all communication between the city and the casino consultant over the firm’s work for MGM and Penn National Gaming.
The consultant told us in a phone interview that there is no conflict of interest,”We have an ethics officer in the firm and we checked with him before we applied to the RFP both relative to Illinois law and Massachusetts law and came to the conclusion there was no conflict of a technical or legal nature and this is a relatively normal occurrence in the legal community,” according to Cezar Froelich, Chairman of the firm of Shefsky and Froelich.
City Attorney Edward Pikula defends the hiring of the consultant firm for Springfield saying the city wants to get the best firm for this job.
Mayor Sarno says the city is sending a letter to the state gaming commission asking them for input on the consultant connection to casino operators.
The mayor says the city needs to fight fire with fire,”This is a very complex negotiation, the casino operators have a lot of firepower, we want to make sure the city of Springfield has that same firepower,” says Sarno.
Meanwhile City Councilor Lysak says whatever the ethics commission or gaming commission says, the selection process smells,”It may not be a conflict of interest according to the state ethics commission or Ed Pikula but for your average citizen it doesn’t look right,” says Lysak.
Pikula says in the city of Detroit, Shefsky and Froelich represented the city as well where 11 casinos were competing and the consultant had ties to half of those operators . Pikula says there was no problem in Illinois and he doesn’t think there will be one in Massachusetts.