Aruba Conference Had Nothing to Do With Being Mayor or Township Trustee

“The conference motto “A Holistic Learning Experience with Culture as the Mediator” conveys the pivotal role of cultural beliefs and practices in health, treatment and prevention.”   Executive Summary, Conference for Treating and Counseling People of Color, an International Perspective

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

July 14, 2017-Conference materials posted online by the organizers of the Aruba conference which was attended by Calumet Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson and her Chief Deputy and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and her Chief of Staff make clear that the focus of the conference was for health professionals. The four travelled to Aruba in December 2016 and the trip came to light only after Gary Council Member LaVetta Sparks-Wade and Lake County Council Member Jamal Washington reviewed meeting minutes showing the Township Board refusing to rubber stamp reimbursement for the trip.  Despite that refusal, all of the costs of the trip have been paid out of government funds.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson defended her use of government funds for the trip stating that the funds were paid by the federal government (we have requested records on this and hope to have more on it soon).    The trip coincided with the 50th birthday of Freeman-Wilson confidante Mary Cossey, who also attended.  The obvious question is was this a conference which coincided with the birthday or a birthday that coincided with a conference?  The meeting materials may shed light on that question.

You can read the full meeting materials here:

According to information from the organizer of the event, “The idea for this landmark event grew from the. . .  the need for health practitioners to incorporate culturally specific treatment and healing practices into their work with people of color.”  Not one of those who utilized public funds to attend the conference are “health practitioners” so we looked further for information which would indicate that the conference was directed toward a Mayor, Township Trustee or their deputies.  “The general foci categories for workshops and plenary sessions are health, mental health,substance abuse, AIDS, violence and education. Specific topics have included traditional healing practices, gender specific treatment strategies, leadership skills in the legislative process, policy development, quality assurance, program development, internationally recognized model programs, research and spirituality”

There is little, if anything, in the conference materials which would suggest that a Mayor or Township Trustee would benefit from attendance.

This is part 3 of a series on the taxpayer funded junket to Aruba taken by Calumet Township Trustee Kimberly Robinson and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.  Please see:

<a href=””>Part 2:  Lawyer, Hairdresser, Others Went on Aruba Trip with Mayor, Township Trustee</a>

<a href=””>Part 1: BREAKING: Board Questions Kim Robinson’s Aruba Trip</a>


  1. Mary Cossey is not qualified for any of the positions she has held. The position she has now is a direct result of the relationship she has with the mayor. Her multiple lawsuits for failure to pay creditors is indicative of her character. Failed business attempts & a poor credit rating shows her incompetence….

  2. No surprise in any of this!
    These kind of dealings are why Griffith wants out of Calumet Township.
    At this point in time I am starting to wonder if the township governmental model is still needed in Indiana?
    Maybe in the real rural areas of the state but in areas of overlapping town and city borders not so much!

    • The first “Dumpster Days” are July 7-9 in the 6th District. The dumpsters will be at Melton School, 4581 Fillmore St. Residents can throw away their unwanted items for free, but no hazardous waste is allowed.
      If you have a Calumet Township address, you were not welcome. Made clear by an off the clock City of Gary employee just driving by, he proudly showed me his embroidered shirt. Also informed me he was not racist, don’t know where that came from. The event was so well publicized people next door to decrepit school didn’t know they could utilize these seven dumpster to clean up. Think two were filled up. What a Waste.

  3. So Let me get this straight. Mary Cossey is on the ghost payroll for the city of Gary and a Boss for Indiana American water? This has to be a conflict of interest right? I advise everyone to call the mayors office and American water to voice your opinion on this matter. Like you all I’m tired of the corruption in our city and it’s time to put a stop to it.

  4. Well ibeen in gary where the city clerk her daughter Dozier Allen Mary Elgen and Our GreatSheriff get away with anything.??let my black grandsons look at the white people wrong or walk down the street they police come quick.bull Crap????yes we need new people from another city.or state not near gary.Tell me why Gary has nothing cause Benard Carter Cant put these people behind bars in Crown point in.Stoppaying they way out and stop letting them use abuse the money for trips.if its not in indiana its not going too pay for anything for it with ur own money.????Gary needs help Please Give us ur help.Put these trashy people out of our city

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