BREAKING: Board Questions Kim Robinson’s Aruba Trip

“When you are providing services to poor people, nobody should be taking a trip to a carribean island. The timing of the trip coinciding with Mary Cossey’s 50th birthday appears to be deliberate” Gary Common Council Member LaVetta Sparks-Wade

Gary Chief of Staff Dayna Bennett poses for a photo in Aruba

July 12, 2017-The Calumet Township Board questioned a request for reimbursement by Calumet Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson at a February meeting. In documents obtained by Gary Common Council Member LaVetta Sparks-Wade, long time Township Board Member Attorney Clorius Lay questions whether the expenditures are legal and justified:

Councillor Sparks-Wade says she was given a tip to look at the Township meeting minutes. “I requested the documents . . .I wasn’t really looking for anything” Sparks-Wade told the Gazette. The stated purpose of the trip was to attend a conference entitled “Counseling and Treating People of Colour, an International Perspective.” According to the conference website, the event was held from November 28, 2016 through December 2, 2016. Photographs and other information shared via social media makes clear that the delegation also planned to celebrate the birthday of Freeman-Wilson confidant Mary Cossey. On December 2, the last day of the conference, Cossey posted to social media site Facebook “I never knew 50 would be so much fun. I welcome me to the 50 club. Lolol” Sparks-Wade points to the timing of the trip as even more reason for suspicion. “When you are providing services to poor people, nobody should be taking a trip to a carribean island. The timing of the trip coinciding with Mary Cossey’s 50th birthday appears to be deliberate” Sparks-Wade stated.

Screenshot of Mary Cossey Dec. 2, 2016 Facebook post

Indeed, the trip came at a time when Griffith was suing to exit Calumet Township primarily because of the extremely high administrative costs associated with running the township. In a lawsuit, Griffith and Calumet Township are arguing over whether Kimberly Robinson has reduced administrative costs to less than 12 times the statewide average. Robinson has laid off employees and forced other employees to take furlough days to reduce costs and avoid the Griffith exit from the Township. Griffith Council President Rick Ryfa stated “this just provides yet another example of the how the Township is so broken that it cannot be fixed. Our best bet is to just part ways.”

Calumet Township has suffered from abuse and mismanagement for years. Former Trustee Mary Elgin recently entered a guilty to plea to wire fraud in Federal Court. Prior to Elgin, Calumet Township Trustee Dozier Allen served time in prison for defrauding the Township. Kimberly Robinson’s Mother Wanda Joshua also was convicted and served prison time as a result of the Dozier Allen scandal.

During the trip, numerous members of the international delegation, which included Mayor Karen Freeman, shared pictures of the group and its members. All of the photos showed the group in various restaurants, bars and recreational activities. None showed anyone attending a conference. For her part, Mayor Freeman-Wilson was silent on social media during the time frame November 28, 2016 and December 2, 2016. In addition to Freeman-Wilson, Dayna Bennett, Mary Cossey, Kimberly Robinson and Sarita Smith, Calumet Township Attorney Rinzer Williams attended the trip. The Gazette has no information on who paid for Williams’ trip to the conference or what purpose taking your attorney to a conference would serve. Williams is also attorney to the Gary Common Council and has at least one other contract with the City of Gary and another with Lake County.

Please let us know in the comments. Do you think a trip to Aruba is a legitimate expense for a local elected official? We hope to follow up with more information if there is enough interest.

Watch LaVetta Sparks-Wade and Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington discuss Kimberly Robinson’s Aruba Trip in a Facebook video:


  1. This is typical Lake county gov crap. At least these two are bringing to the people’s attention. Thanks NWI Gazette for following the money for us. True journalism.

  2. Its terrible these peoe get paid too go on trips .while others suffer.and they cut us. The people out of help for the poor yes ithink its time someone stepped up and moved the township too crown point in ill bet the system needs all new people whom .never wete in office in lake Co Or Gary Fanily or friends.lake co please stop all these .high an mighty people from takin Our money Please

  3. This is a sad story, but informative for the people in the region. The Aruba trip was personal not professional. If you as an elected official are not going to honestly serve the people don’t take the job. I will not help reelect any of the elected officials that went on this trip. Township needs to be held accountable for paying high salaries for minimal work hours performed. It looks bad every township official from Gary in the last thirty years have been involved in a scandal. I don’t blame Griffith for requesting to break ties. NMH

  4. A trip to Aruba? Make them pay their own way. This is not a legitimate business trip. Enough with corruption in Lake Coy ty. This is a disgusting insult to taxpayers.

  5. How many times does the Calumet Township trustees need to go to prison BEFORE they realize that they are there to serve the public—NOT THEMSELVES???

    A trip to Aruba–REALLY, Kimberly Robinson?

  6. Kim ROBinson is a shameful pitiful excuse of a human. Throw her in prison and throw away the key! She is trash! It is so wrong to hurt and steal from people like that. It’s the tax payers money!!! Shame shame shame!!!

  7. This depraved gadget, this miserable, feckless, irresponsible, selfish snake in the grass needs to have her considerable backside handed to her for stealing from the taxpayers who pay her salary and fund her already bloated pension fund. Fire her. Now!

    Who ARE these people who think nothing of taking a catastrophic dump upon the people they were elected to SERVE, and on a regular basis, no less! And why Aruba? Why not Indianapolis? Was she there to investigate the brutal murder of Natalee Holloway? I think not.

    More than likely, Robinson went to Aruba solely because she knows her days are numbered here, (she finally looked up the meaning of the word “trustee” and realized she lacked that qualification), so she went looking for a “night” job on the beaches of San Nicholas.

  8. I think it very wrong for her to have taken the trip. She should not be reimbursed and should lose her job.
    I think the suggestion Of Mr. McAllister is offensive.

  9. This is typical of the majority of elected officials, they serve themselves first, secondly; family members; and thirdly personal friends. It would be refreshing to have elected officials that serve their constituents first. We are currently dealing with lawless elected officials leader in Lake County Indiana.

  10. If I’m not mistaken Mary Cossey is a boss at Indiana American Water. No wonder why our water and waist water bills are so high. They all need to be fired!

  11. I’m a former Gary resident with family who still live in Gary, so I am still very much interested in the well being of the city. That being said, even if it’s not illegal, it’s pretty poor judgment given the financial state of the City and Township. Did they not have conferences of this sort in the states? How will they govern differently now that they have obtained this knowledge?

  12. Please I worked at Township for almost four years. Them going on trips and/or misusing funds is nothing new. With all the illegal things that go on there, especially the second and third floors, I’m shocked they haven’t been raided again. I am so happy to hear that the board, along with Mrs. Sparks- Wade and Mr. Washington all calling them out for this sort of behavior. I’m just ready for a new trustee already

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