Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The properties noted as #201, #202 & #203 in the graphic below combined with parcels controlled by Freda Alibri, #180, form the better part of almost 1 square block in an area predominately controlled by various Ilitch enterprises and located behind the Ilitch-owned Fox Theater. Speculative reports have suggested the area behind the Fox Theater could possibly be the site of a new hockey arena to replace Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
An entity recorded as Cass Avenue Development -- but not registered with the Michigan DL&EG -- holds title to at least 8 parcels (see below) in downtown Detroit near the historic Detroit Masonic Temple. The parcels encompass nearly two square blocks. (see map)
Is Cass Avenue Development a d/b/a for Ilitch-controlled Cass Avenue, LLC; although no entity by that name is registered as such with the DL&EG.
It has been reported that Ilitch Holdings, Inc. (Olympia Entertainment) has been in negotiations to take over the management of Detroit's Masonic Temple Theater, currently under management of Nederlander Co. LLC.
MAP of properties controlled by Cass Avenue Development.
Dennis K [Keffalinos] was paid $1,600,000 for the .17 acre parcel on Grand River. That's $234/sq. ft., not a bad price. (Price reported by Verifiable on this forum, which I verified from the seller.) What is amazing is that the Ilitch entity took no steps to prevent the public from seeing the purchase price, such as filing a Valuation Affidavit. Unbelievable. That [apparent] slip-up will cost them a fortune when negotiating future purchases and may sink an arena behind the Fox if they have much more land to acquire.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
So seeing the latest Miss Barstow news as an opportunity to turn around the bad PR the dusty desert town got a few years back, Barstow's city leaders decided to invite Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez to town for a PR tour. Lopez followed up his visit with a column: Truth and beauties at the Crossroads of Opportunity.
Interesting that as a part of the visit, Lopez was invited to attend the morning coffee klatsch with local influence brokers held at Leonard Purdy's Barstow Tire and Brake. It's been reported to TVT that Leonardy Purdy is the "Tony Soprano" of Barstow and that Barstow Tire and Brake is Purdy's (or Barstow's) version of the "Bada Bing!" club -- the place where the "Boss" and his boys gather to exchange gossip, hatch their plans and get their marching orders.
Lopez writes in his LA Times column:
There's plenty of backroom politics in Barstow, and more than a few critics of the mayor and council's plan for the casino, the awarding of big contracts and whatnot, so I'd have ample material to work with.It even appears that Barstow's "Boss" attempted to schmooze the LA Times's Lopez and set himself up with few "chits" by offering Lopez the favor of some discounted tires:
But I'm going to delay a decision for now.
At Monday night's City Council meeting, I did get a feel for Barstow's small-town charm when Mayor Dale honored the state champion cross-country team from Barstow High and declared Dec. 17 Raquel Beezley day.
The next morning, for my big tour, I joined the mayor and the beauty queen at Leonard Purdy's Barstow Tire & Brake, where local movers and shakers start each day with coffee and gossip. Or, as a sign says, "Will trade coffee for fish stories."
Even before Leonard Purdy said he could beat L.A. prices on the tires I've been shopping for, I had to admit that Barstow was winning me over.
You better hurry back to Barstow Mr. Lopez if you really want those tires because if you wait too long, some of your new Barstow buddies might be in custody. Oh, and don't hold you breath on the Walmart Distribution Center, new home construction by the thousands or the scheme for side-by-side Indian casinos ... Barstow's Mayor has been promising those windfalls for the last seven years and none of those milestones are anywhere in Barstow's near future.
Monday, December 17, 2007
BY MITCHELL FREEDMAN
Tribal Trustees of the Shinnecock Indian tribe Monday charged that Southampton Town was committing "cultural genocide" by insisting that the residentially-zoned land should be used only to build houses.
The charge by tribal trustees, during an interview on the reservation, comes a few days before a federal court was to accept the wording of a permanent injunction barring the Shinnecock from developing a casino on nearly 80 acres of land in Hampton Bays.
Southampton won its lawsuit to block the tribe from building a casino.
Trustee Frederick C. Bess said Monday that generations of Shinnecocks have taken part in weddings, dances and other community rituals on the tribe's Westwoods property.
"They can't tell us if we're breaking the law or not," he said. "Do we have to get a permit to build a bonfire?"
Trustee Lance Gumbs said that the traditional uses of the land would not be stopped. "We are going to continue to do them," he said. "If we have to go to jail, we will."
The Tribal Trustees also complained that the proposed injunction drawn up by the town contains language opposing any federal recognition of the tribe. They say such a clause would make it difficult to gain that status, which would allow the tribe to apply for special federal aid programs.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco ruled in October that the Shinnecock Tribe did not have the right to build a casino on the Westwoods land, where its members have hunted, celebrated and conducted different ceremonies for generations.
The land, off Newtown Road, is several miles from the Shinnecock Indian Reservation on Shinnecock Bay.
After ruling in favor of the town, Judge Bianco ordered the two sides to come up with the wording for a permanent injunction to bar casino construction by Dec. 12. When they failed to reach an agreement on the language, he extended the deadline to Thursday.
Town Board member Linda Kabot, who will become supervisor, had scheduled a meeting with the Tribal Trustees last week, but canceled it.
Kabot said the Shinnecocks wanted to include language in the court order that spelled out the tribe's pre-existing uses of the land, uses which did not conform to existing zoning. "It was over-reaching," she said.
Kabot said that there are no town regulations that deal with tribal ceremonies or similar cultural events. "We only cover big activities like the Hampton Classic," she said.
Shields, once again, brought along two members of the Los Coyotes tribe but there has been no appearance by leaders of the Big Lagoon Rancheria in Barstow for months -- one news story indicated Big Lagoon was no longer involved with the Barstow casino effort although Shields has attempted to suggest otherwise.
A news article published in November reported that Saubel, who terminated the tribe's agreement with BarWest referred to BarWest principal Michael J. Malik, Sr. as "the Devil." Saubel and her nephew Kevin Siva were noticeably absent from the Barstow City Council meeting.
Further, Shields was forced to admit that a draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) required by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on the two casinos BarWest has proposed had made no progress at the Department of Interior.
According to the District Attorney's Web site:
San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos campaigned on the issue of restoring public integrity to San Bernardino County. Within the first four months after being elected, Mr. Ramos fulfilled his promise to the electorate and created the Public Integrity Unit.Several years ago, following complaints that Mayor Dale had lead the Barstow City Council into various Brown Act violations related to the BarWest casino scheme, the District Attorney required Barstow's City Attorney to conduct a public workshop on ethics and California's Brown Act for the Mayor and members of the Council.
The unit, which is comprised of two attorneys, three investigators and a secretary, handles complaints involving those people holding public office. Some types of issues might involve: The illegal use of campaign funds; residency violations; and, open meeting/Brown Act violations. The Unit will be responsible for monitoring City Councils, elected Boards and Commissions.
In September, Mayor Dale and a delegation of three of the four members of Barstow's City Council scheduled a secret meeting in Sacramento with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's aide to discuss plans for BarWest casinos in Barstow. When rumors of that meeting began to surface, Mayor Dale and Barstow's City Attorney Yvette Abich attempted to cure that obvious violation of the Brown Act's opening meeting rules by disclosing and providing a veiled report on the meeting after-the-fact.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Web site also indicates:
To insure open government, it is our expectation that there be strict compliance with the Brown Act. Our goal here will be compliance and not prosecution. Complaints and violations will be brought to the attention of an agency alleged to have violated the act. They will be monitored for compliance. Only aggravating circumstances or repeat offenses will result in prosecution. We also have the authority to file civil actions to prevent or nullify actions done in violation of the Act, and we will do so in appropriate cases.
Desert Dispatch archives on "Brown Act" related stories:
City manager's loss due to his integrity - 12.10.07
Council accused of violating Brown Act over casino meeting - 9.18.07
Who watches the watchdogs? - 9.18.07
Editorial: Getting to the hat of the matter - 12.07.06
Meetings spark debate - 8.10.05
Activist details alleged Brown Act violations - 5.09.05
Public needs to know facts about development of Indain casinos 5.05.05
Keeping the word 'casino' off council agenda may have been violation - 7.31.03
Brown Act violation claimed by city councilwoman - 4.11.01
During the week of September 3, 2007, Barstow's Mayor Lawrence Dale and Councilmembers Steve Curran, Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre and Tim Silva traveled to Sacramento for the Annual California League of Cities Conference. On September 6, all four members of the City Council met with Governor Schwarzenegger's aide Cynthia Bryant to discuss Barstow's desire to host an Indian casino. Barstow's City Attorney has already attempted to cure that Brown Act violation.
TVT has learned that during trip to Sacramento, the City's contractor Bureau Veritas reportedly hosted a dinner meeting with the same four members of the City Council. There has not been any formal disclosure of that meeting. Following that dinner meeting, and after controversy erupted about the Mayor's attempts to award a $15 million sewer treatment facility contract to Micromedia Filtration, Inc., without conducting a formal open review of experienced bidders, Mayor Dale executed an agreement with Bureau Veritas to "screen" firms that would be awarded the contract.
The Sacramento dinner meeting with Bureau Veritas appears to have been yet another violation of California's Brown Act and raises serious ethics questions. One must wonder what other meetings took place that week that have yet to be made public.
Barstow's former City Manager Hector Rodriguez raised concerns this Fall about Mayor Dale's attempt to ensure that the Mayor's preferred candidate Micromedia Filtration, Inc. be awarded the $15 million contract. Shortly thereafter, Rodriguez would leave his job at the City. Upon Rodriguez's departure the Desert Dispatch reported the Mayor as saying:
“I did not direct the City Manager to create an RFP that would eliminate potential bidders for the wastewater facility upgrade project,” Dale wrote in an e-mail. “In fact, the City’s consultant Bureau Veritas is now moving forward with an RFP process that will be advertised with all potential bidders.”
What motivates Barstow's Mayor to play such hard-ball and and undertake such risky behaviors in order to strip this important contract from one provider (HDR Engineering Inc.) and award a $15 million contract to neo-phyte Micromedia Filtration, Inc., a firm with little track record of experience? Was the Office of Congressman Buck McKeon aware of any of this prior to submittal of a new $500,000 earmark for funds that would be directed to the Barstow sewer treatment plant upgrades and possibly into Micromedia Filtration's bank account?
Analysts have numerous other reasons to have MotorCity Casino on their watch list.
The tax rate MGM Grand Detroit L.L.C. pays to the state and city of Detroit has rolled back to 19 percent from 24 percent now that its permanent casino and hotel are fully operational.
Casino revenue was up 14.8 percent to $46.8 million in November, compared with November 2006. By comparison, MotorCity Casino showed a 3.7 percent decline to $38.3 million, and Greektown Casino L.L.C. reported a 1.3 percent increase to $28.1 million.
MGCB: 2007 Casino Revenues
Barstow Council to hear first casino update since stories that Los Coyotes terminated Michael Malik and BarWest
A casino update had been previously scheduled for the 12.03.07 City Council meeting but was pulled from the agenda at the last minute by Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale.
Government Report: City Council to discuss casino projects, new city manager
FROM STAFF REPORTS
BARSTOW— At 7:30 p.m. on Monday the Barstow City Council will meet to hear an update about casino projects proposed for the city and to discuss strategies to hire an interim and permanent city manager.
The spokeswoman for the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians, Katherine Siva Saubel sent a letter to Michael Malik at BarWest terminating the tribe's agreement with Barwest back in September. And in addition, Saubel referred to Malik in a subsequent news story published 11.01.07 as "the Devil."
Documents recorded 10.01.07 with the County of San Bernardino indicate BarWest quit claimed property to a partnership (PGMC Investors) that includes the father of City Councilman Steve Curran. Previously PGMC transferred title on another parcel to BarWest LLC which BarWest combined with other properties in its portfolio and then subsequently divided into new parcels.
The Council meeting tonight can be watched live on line (using Windows Media Player) at 7:30 pm pacific time or at any time there after by logging in at http://barstow.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2
Friday, December 14, 2007
- Official press releases posted on the Ilitch Holdings, Inc. Web site indicate something different:
"Part of the Ilitch Holdings’ family of businesses, the company’s primary business interests in the food, sports and entertainment industries include – Little Caesars Pizza, the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Champion Foods, Uptown Entertainment, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, MotorCity Casino and a variety of venues within these entities."
- Official Press Releases available in the "Media Room" on the Ilitch Holdings, Inc.. Web site (there are several) even have the MotorCity Casino logo among the various Ilitch brands incorporated into the Ilitch Holdings, Inc. masthead (see graphic above) including an official press release issued on behalf of Ilitch Childrens Chairities.
- Then there's the matter of IH Gaming, Inc. formed in 1997 and apparently still active which would appear to stand for Ilitch Holdings Gaming.
- John Kotlar, both resident agent and Vice President of Tax Affairs for Ilitch Holdings, Inc., and also resident agent for Detroit Tigers, Inc., is also the resident agent for IH Gaming, Inc.; CCM Merger, Inc. (parent of Detroit Entertainment LLC of which MotorCity Casino is a d/b/a), Atwater Casino Group LLC; Z.R.X. LLC; and various other entities formed or aquired as part of the Ilitch ownership in casino ventures over the years. And it is noted that those entities have registered official addresses with the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Growth at the headquarters of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., 2211 WOODWARD AVE, DETROIT MI 48201. Kotlar's official bio on the Ilitch Holdings Web site fails to mention his involvement with these Ilitch owned gambling entities.
- Marian Ilitch, reportedly the sole owner and perhaps Chairwoman of MotorCity Casino which is a d/b/a for Detroit Entertainment LLC is also the Vice Chairwoman of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. She and her husband Mike Ilitch co-founded Little Caesars Pizza and co-own the Detroit Red Wings.
- And finally a recent Free Press story indicated that Ilitch Holdings, Inc. CEO and President Christopher Ilitch is a member of the MotorCity Casino Management Committee. Christopher Ilitch's official bio on the Ilitch Holdings, Inc. Web site fails to mention his official involvement with MotorCity Casino.
They can say all they want that there's no mingling of business interests -- that the Casino operations are distinct and separate from Ilitch Holdings, Inc. -- but there are red flags all over the place that suggest something different.
Just because an Ilitch or an Ilitch representative says something doesn't mean it's so. What it means is that's what they want you to -- or need you to -- believe.
To suggest that MotorCity Casino (Detroit Entertainment LLC/CCM Merger Inc) is distinct from and not a part of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. is questionable at best.
...Behind the venture is Marian Ilitch, who heads Detroit Entertainment L.L.C., a distinct corporate venture from Ilitch Holdings Inc., of which she is vice-chairwoman and her husband, Mike, is chairman.
During the grand opening, Marian Ilitch shared her thoughts on life at home with two distinct companies, on the delays of opening the hotel, and her role in the casino design.
What is it like for you at home, when you have a company that has to stay separate from your husband's?
It's not difficult, it really isn't. I don't do any of the baseball stuff, it's his bag, it's over there. I go to the ball games, but I don't go to the press conferences. He doesn't go to mine either. It's easy to separate it. We've been together a long time, Mike and I, so we can take jabs at each other. I tell him I'll leave baseball alone as long as they don't cross Woodward looking for money.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
MotorCity Casino's November revenues rank as the third worst peforming month of the year.
It's significant to recognize that two of the three lowest performing months during 2007 (October & November) were reported after MotorCity Casino opened its expanded gaming floor (25% larger) in June. The lowest monthly revenues were reported in May 2007; just prior to the opening of the expanded gaming floor.
SOURCE: Michgian Gaming Control Board
BY JOHN GALLAGHER and HEATHER NEWMAN
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
Is there too much room at the inns?
Since the MGM Grand Detroit hotel opened in early October, bookings have been running below the metro Detroit average of about 55% occupancy, raising fears whether all of downtown's new hotels will find enough customers.
George Boyer, president and chief operating officer of MGM Grand Detroit, reported the soft hotel occupancy results during an otherwise upbeat report Tuesday to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.
MGM's casino revenues for November were up $6 million, or nearly 15%, from the same month in 2006, when the MGM was in a temporary location. The take of $46.8 million was down from MGM Grand's debut month of October, when the celebratory opening resulted in $54.9 million in revenue, but that was expected.
Boyer did not give an exact figure for MGM Grand's hotel occupancy. Occupancy figures for the new MotorCity Casino hotel, which opened late last month, were not available, either.
Robin Boyle, a professor of urban planning at Wayne State University and co-chair of the Urban Land Institute, a real estate education association, said he wasn't surprised at the soft occupancy levels.
"To get momentum for the new hotels is going to take quite a lot of concerted efforts from all the different players, and I think that is coming together," he said. "The trouble is, these things take time, and perhaps the delivery of hotel rooms is a little bit ahead of getting this message out."
Downtown Detroit is in the process of nearly doubling its inventory of hotel rooms, with the MGM Grand and MotorCity Casino hotels and the old Hotel Pontchartrain having reopened as a Sheraton.
Also, the renovated Westin Book Cadillac, the Doubletree Fort Shelby, and the Greektown Casino hotel are all expected to open in fall 2008 or shortly after. The six hotels together offer about 2,000 rooms to the downtown market.
Leaders of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau say the new hotel rooms are key to fulfilling the city's hopes of growing its convention business.
"When you basically double the inventory of hotel rooms anywhere, it's going to take a little bit of time to balance things out," Michael O'Callaghan, executive vice president of the convention bureau, said Tuesday. "You have to create a new customer base. But I'm confident that all three casino hotels have all done their due diligence. They know that in the long run they'll all do just fine."
Some of the new hotels may be doing better than others. Scott Stinebaugh, director of marketing for the Westin Book Cadillac, said his hotel, which is to open in October 2008, already is fully booked for the January 2009 North American International Auto Show.
In other casino news, MotorCity and Greektown casinos reported revenue increases in November. Greektown's $2.5-million revenue jump followed the recent opening of its mammoth new parking garage.
MotorCity had $38.3 million in November revenues. That was up from October's $37.7 million, before it moved to its new location.
The total take for the three casinos in November declined to $113.2 million, down about $5 million from October's record combined take.
But the figure was up from the November 2006 take of $108.3 million.
Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or email@example.com.
Find this article at:
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The Red Wings, an Original Six member of the National Hockey League, are owned by Detroit entrepreneurs Michael and Marian Ilitch. Other Ilitch-owned companies include: Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc., Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, Champion Foods, Olympia Development, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Little Caesar Pizza Kit Fundraising Program and Uptown Entertainment.http://redwings.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=346072
Promotional video of Olympia Entertainment a division or subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. that manages Detroit's Fox Theater, Cobo Arena, Comerica Park, Joe Louis Arena, Hockeytown Cafe and other area entertainment venues.
Monday, December 10, 2007
"I would like to thank our leadership team for their commitment to Detroit and this region," said Detroit Renaissance President Doug Rothwell. "Their expert counsel and guidance help us to effectively navigate the Road to Renaissance and our efforts to transform the economy of Southeast Michigan."
The following directors were also elected to the Detroit Renaissance Executive Committee:
- Dave Bing, The Bing Group;
Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan;
Anthony F. Earley, Jr., DTE Energy;
Alfred R. Glancy III, Unico Investment Company;
Chris Ilitch, Ilitch Holdings, Inc.;
Tom LaSorda, Chrysler;
Richard Manoogian, Masco Corporation;
Tom Ogden, Comerica Inc.;
Cindy Pasky, Strategic Staffing Solutions;
Roger Penske, Penske Corporation;
Sandra Pierce, Charter One Bank;
Richard F. Russell, Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company;
Doug Steenland, Northwest Airlines;
Gail Torreano, ATT;
Alan E. Schwartz, Honigman, Miller, Schwartz & Cohn; and,
G. Richard Wagoner, Jr., General Motors Corporation
Ilitch, 78, established Little Caesar's Pizza and owns the Red Wings
By Jim Salisbury
PHILADELPHIA -- Meddlesome owners can drive general managers a little crazy. But there isn't a GM in baseball who wouldn't welcome this kind of meddling.
It was just before Thanksgiving. Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was catching up on the coverage of baseball's hot stove season and couldn't help but notice that the Florida Marlins were taking offers on slugging third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
Ilitch called Dave Dombrowski, his team's president and GM, and asked whether the Tigers were interested.
Of course, Dombrowski said, the Tigers had interest. (Who wouldn't want a 24-year-old who has averaged 31 homers and 115 RBI the last four seasons?)
But that interest was tempered by the large price tag the Marlins had put on Cabrera. They wanted big prospects in return, and Cabrera figured to make more than $10 million in arbitration this winter, a sizable paycheck with the Tigers' payroll already approaching $110 million.
None of this bothered Ilitch.
"If there's something you can do, maybe we push our situation and see if we can make it work," Ilitch told Dombrowski.
That was code for: Go get Miguel Cabrera. Go get a World Series championship -- now.
And so Dombrowski, who had previously thought his wintertime wheeling and dealing was complete, showed up at the winter meetings Monday and immediately initiated talks with the Marlins.
The Tigers also sought lefthanded pitcher Dontrelle Willis in the deal. They presented a staggering package of six prospects, including two of the best in baseball, lefty Andrew Miller, 22, and center fielder Cameron Maybin, 20.
By late Tuesday afternoon, the deal was agreed upon and the Tigers had the look of a powerhouse club ready to get back to the World Series for the second time in three years.
"We made this trade to win now," Dombrowski said.
Tigers fans were so pleased with the deal that they purchased nearly $1.3 million worth of tickets on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Detroit News.
The excitement started with a phone call from the owner, the blessing to give up two prospects whose combined draft price tag was about $7 million, and a willingness to hike the 2008 payroll to close to $130 million.
"Not to say that we didn't have interest, but Mike Ilitch calling and saying, 'Why don't you see if you can be open-minded to that, if there's something we can work out?' kind of inched it along a little bit," Dombrowski said.
Ilitch, the founder of the Little Caesar's Pizza empire, also owns the Detroit Red Wings. He has already hoisted the Stanley Cup. At age 78, he clearly believes it's time to put a World Series ring on his finger.
Now he owns a baseball team capable of getting him one.
Willis joins Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson in a solid rotation that will benefit from plenty of offensive support.
The Tigers were second in the AL in runs (887) and slugging (.458) last season. With Cabrera likely to hit fifth behind Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez, they could be even more explosive in 2008.
"If you don't pitch well, they'll let you know," Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
"I bet there are some lefthanded pitchers that aren't too excited in the American League," said Boston manager Terry Francona, taking a look at the big right-handed bats of Sheffield, Ordonez and Cabrera in the middle of the Tigers' order.
"The American League has got a lot of good teams. And when you go through cities like Detroit, if your pitching is not in line, they cannot just beat you; they can beat you up and hurt you for about a week because they just maul you. There's no letup."
After 12 straight losing seasons, the Tigers won 95 games in 2006 and got to the World Series, where they lost to St. Louis. Last season, the Tigers did not make the playoffs. To get back there, they will have to contend with Cleveland, the defending AL Central champion, and even AL East stalwarts Boston and the New York Yankees, who annually contend for the division and wild-card titles.
AL teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Angels are so good that a team must act boldly, like the Tigers did, if they want to get to the playoffs. Hence, the Tigers' decision to give up top prospects, hike their payroll, and go for it now.
Trying to keep up with the Red Sox and Yankees is one reason the American League is superior to the National League.
"They have set the bar high," said Lou Piniella, who manages the NL's Chicago Cubs. "I think these American League teams say to themselves, 'Boy, if we want to get where they are, we've got to improve.' You've got to get after it. That's exactly what Detroit did."
And it all started with ownership.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Ilitch Consigliere fined and under investigation by California's FPPC; investigations warranted elsewhere
Late last year (10.24.06), California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) fined BarWest L.L.C. (a casino syndicate controlled by Michael J. Malik and Mrs. Marian Ilitch) on two counts of failing to comply with California's political reform laws. Malik had failed to report that his Detroit-based BarWest L.L.C. made a contribution of $26,600 in October 2004 to the San Joaquin County GOP Committee. As it was, then-GOP Congressman Richard Pombo, who also happened to be chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee that oversees Indian gaming matters, was from San Joaquin County.
Malik paid a fine of $6,500.
As that 2004-2006 investigation was coming to a conclusion, Michael Malik was again making other contributions to the campaign committees of individual members of the California legislature (primarily between July 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006) and failing to report those contributions as required under California's political reform laws.
In fact, it appears Malik may have contribute $25,000 or more to 15 or more political committees during that time and failed to report those contributions as a major donor under California law.
TVT understands the FPPC has been conducting an investigation for the better part of 2007 into Malik's failure to report these contributions and other matters involving payments by BarWest LLC, Michael Malik and lobbyists Malik employed in California.
One must consider that if Mr. Malik blatantly violated political campaign laws in California, it's possible he has also been violating political reform laws and lobbying disclosures in Michigan, New York, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
Certainly if California's FPPC finds Malik and his associates violated laws once again in California, it would be responsible for authorities in other states and Washington, D.C. where Malik is involved with political contributions and lobbying payments to investigate his giving practices.
Malik has partnered with Marian Ilitch and the Ilitch family on various casino syndications and development projects over the last 15 years. However, Malik failed to win approval for a gaming license in Michigan in 1999 and was forced to transfer his shares in Detroit's MotorCity Casino to Marian Ilitch. Since then, throughout their various partnerships, Malik appears to have played the role of political "bag-man" or "bad cop" to Marian Ilitch's "good cop."
Some suggest Malik plays the role of Marian Ilitch's "Consigliere." It has been reported that there is a doorway that connects Malik's office to Marian Ilitch's office providing him with direct access into her private domain.
A business venture that involves Michael Malik and the Bay Mills Indian Community, a federally funded enterprise involved in the research and manufacturing of plastic parts and devices, is rumored to be under investigation by the FBI. It would seem appropriate for the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to revisit Mr. Malik's close association and affiliation with Marian Ilitch and the Ilitch Family.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Certainly if these allegations are true, this isn't the first time in the Mayor's seven year tenure in office that he has attempted to manipulate outcomes in order that his friends might receieve favorable treatment and even millions in financial gain. Clearly he's perfected that behavior in his quest to win a casino for his Detroit friends behind BarWest LLC.
A memo dated Oct. 30, written by Rodriguez and addressed to the council, accuses Mayor Lawrence Dale of interfering with the process, wanting to directly award the $15 million contract to Micromedia Filtration, Inc., instead of reviewing bids from other firms. Rodriguez wrote that he’d been given direction to award the contract to Micromedia in a meeting held on Oct. 18 with Dale and council member Steve Curran. Dale and Curran disputed Rodriguez’ allegations.
“The Mayor told me that the Council’s direction to me in this matter had been to write a (Request for Proposals) that would result in a contract award to Micromedia by effectively eliminating other potential bidders,” Rodriguez wrote in the memo.
One must wonder what he gets in return for such rewards to his friends because he doesn't report any campaign contributions or gifts from such individuals as required by California's political reform laws. Is his Railroad Foundation or other "charitable" affiliate benefiting?
Mayor Lawrence Dale has a history of closed doors and backroom secret deals. He's calendared an unprecdented number of closed sessions and previously unscheduled meetings.
When a previous independent Council majority voted against him on various matters, Mayor Dale was relentless behind the scenes trying to undue nearly every one of their decisions.
Mayor Dale often attempts to squash public debate and reigns over Barstow with an iron fist. Anyone who crosses the Mayor will eventually be a victim of his covert attacks and relentless need for revenge. Hector Rodriguez is the latest example.
Previously Congressman Buck McKeon had carried a an ear-mark to secure half a million dollars in new money for this project that would ulltimately be awarded to Micromedia Filtration, Inc.
You may want to review these related posts:
- Barstow's Mayor driven to change wastewater treatment facility consultant mid-stream despite opposition, in-experience, ethics and common sense
- Plot to give balance of wastewater contract to another consultant coincides with introduction of Rep. McKeon's half-a-million-dollar earmark
- Rep. McKeon secures $500,000 for Barstow sewer improvement project
- Barstow Council gambles on young wastewater firm
- Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale shotdown in first attempt at scheme to switch wastewater consultants mid-stream
Motown entertainment complex plans fall through
Berry Gordy's group couldn't raise money to build $28M facility north of the Fox Theatre.
Robert Snell / The Detroit News
...Hockey arena a possibility?
The three Woodward properties faced foreclosure April 1, 2008, because Motown Center owed about $14,000 in unpaid property taxes dating to 2005, according to the Wayne County Treasurer's office.
The back taxes were paid Nov. 29, days after The Detroit News first called Heidelberg-Yopp, asking about the delinquency.
The Woodward land could be combined with the other parcels owned by the Economic Development Corp. and the city, and sold to a developer, Papapanos said.
The city and the Detroit Economic Development Corp. own about half of the land within the first four blocks north of I-75, between Woodward and Park.
But the cost of acquiring other parcels and offering the space for one development has been too expensive, said Brian Holdwick, the growth corporation's vice president of business and financial services.
The city has marketed some of its land to prospective developers, perhaps for a mixed-use development, Holdwick said. The nearly four-block area has been called an ideal spot for a new Detroit Red Wings hockey arena according to one development expert. But Ilitch Holdings spokeswoman Karen Cullen declined to discuss specific locations for a new arena.
One development official suspects the land would give Mike and Marian Ilitch, owners of the Red Wings, an option other than building behind the Fox Theatre, where the family empire has acquired a wide swath of land.
"Ilitch always has two or three areas (in mind) to stay ahead of the speculators," said Patrick Dorn, executive director of the Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corp. "You can't get a better, sweeter spot for an arena," than the Motown Center land and surrounding properties.
Cullen acknowledges the company is considering more than one location. She was unaware of the Motown Center property, but wouldn't rule it out.
"In the broadest sense, I don't want to get into various sites," she said. "We haven't made a decision on the arena and are still considering all of our options, both whether to renovate (Joe Louis Arena) or build new."
James Canning, spokesman for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, has not heard of any city effort to offer the land to Ilitch for a new hockey arena.
"It's a great parcel of land and our development guys will go out and market it," Canning said.
Though the Motown project won't be built, Canning said: "We have an awesome Motown museum (on West Grand Boulevard). The community needs to continue to embrace that location."
You can reach Robert Snell at (313) 222-2028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Tigers lottery? MLB eases up, a bit, on gambling
By Bill Shea
Feeling like a little game of chance at Comerica Park?
Two kiosks at the stadium this past season sold $5 scratch-off Michigan Lottery tickets emblazoned with the Detroit Tigers logo. Prizes varied up to $100,000, and included team merchandise and even season tickets.
Legalized gambling, once unthinkable in relation to Major League Baseball, has gradually gained limited acceptance in the game as a source of revenue. The same Major League Baseball that once banned Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle for being associated with casinos has cautiously embraced advertising and sponsorships from various legalized gambling outlets — provided the casinos or lotteries don't permit betting on games.
Betting at games and betting on games is the crucial difference.
But those who keep tabs on the business side of the game agree that baseball is more tolerant of some forms of legalized gambling, especially when there is money to be made for teams and American culture has come to increasingly accept casinos and lotteries.
"Baseball will continue to change the configuration of its rules as their business practices shift and change. Their views on things that may have been taboo in the past change," said Maury Brown, president of Portland, Ore.-based Business of Sports Network, which includes a Web site devoted to the business side of baseball. "There's definitely a softening of (prohibitions against legalized gambling) in baseball."
New York-based lottery ticket maker Scientific Games Inc. spent more than six years trying to persuade baseball to sign a deal to allow team logos on state lottery scratch-offs, said Steve Saferin, vice president and president of properties. The company has licensing deals with Ford Motor Co., Chrysler L.L.C. and a variety of popular culture icons such as the TV show "American Idol."
"Lotteries now are in all but seven states and are viewed by a lot of people as a legitimate way to raise money for good causes," he said.
Finally, in 2006 the team owners unanimously approved a five-year deal.
The commissioner's office and the team owners' primary concern was the question of permitting any form of gambling in connection with the game, Saferin said. The memory of Pete Rose's lifetime banishment in 1989 for betting on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds is still very much alive.
"A scratch-off lottery ticket is about as far from betting on teams as you could get," Saferin said, noting that the National Basketball Association and National Hockey Association already had deals with Scientific Games.
"The league decided this is a legitimate way for teams to generate incremental revenue. It got easier the past three years because a lot of other people had embraced the lottery category, including sports. It was difficult. They've come to the realization that their position needs to be more finely tuned. The real problem is sports betting. This is not sports betting."
Commissioner Bud Selig wanted a unanimous vote from the owners to OK the lottery tickets deal, Saferin said. The approval from owners was also to change MLB's bylaws that forbid team logos on lottery tickets.
Scientific Games rolled out the MLB tickets last year with a Boston Red Sox instant game. This year, 22 teams participated and Scientific Games printed about 175 million tickets since games began.
The Tigers-themed scratch-off tickets were a success this year, lottery officials said.
Since going on sale April 2, about $10 million worth of the scratch-off Tigers lottery tickets have been sold, the state said, which is about 10 percent higher than average $5 tickets sales. Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons scratch-offs have also been sold in the past.
The lottery reported fiscal year 2007 annual sales of $2.3 billion.
Each team receives a cut of the money that Scientific Games paid MLB for the rights to the team logos. Neither MLB nor Scientific Games would say how much the deal is worth, but it's believed to be in the millions of dollars. Teams also got money from local marketing Scientific Games did in each market, Saferin said.
Susan Goodenow, Major League Baseball's vice president of business public relations, declined to comment on the lottery tickets.
Rob Matwick, Tigers vice president of communications, said the team has had an advertising relationship with the lottery for several years, but the scratch-off promotion was through Major League Baseball.
A veteran of more than 20 years in baseball, Matwick said he's seen a shift in attitude about some forms of gambling.
"From an advertising and sponsorship standpoint, it's less restrictive than it used to be," he said. MotorCity Casino and MGM Grand Casino each advertise at Comerica Park. That's allowed because neither offers sports wagering.
"There are still prohibitions that are still in place that have to do with casinos," Matwick said, noting casinos are not permitted to show such things as playing cards or slot machines in stadium advertising.
MotorCity Casino is owned by Marian Ilitch, wife of Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Baseball forbids its team owners from having a stake in casinos, but the Ilitches say she was never an owner, and baseball agrees — a position with its share of critics, including ex-Commissioner Fay Vincent.
Mike Dietz, president and director of Dietz Trott Sports & Entertainment in Bingham Farms, spent 17 years with Ilitch Holdings Inc., which includes the Tigers and Red Wings. He believes money from legal gambling is a natural source of revenue for sports leagues. Baseball reached a record $6 billion in revenue last year, thanks in part to gambling-related advertising and sponsorships.
"Everything costs more — to field a team, to give fans what they want. There are a lot of bills to pay and a lot of reasons to be open-minded about new sources of revenue," he said. There's only so many (sponsors) and so many are cutting back."
So what does the future hold for baseball and legalized gambling?
Business of Sports Network's Brown thinks it will be driven by profits.
"Are we going to see video poker at the ball park? I don't know. In 20 years, it wouldn't surprise me," he said. "Baseball has gotten wise and smart about how to extract revenue out of things other than baseball. It's a much more sophisticated league."
And perhaps another sign of shifting attitudes: Baseball's 2008 winter meeting will be held in Las Vegas.
Bill Shea: (313) 446-1626, email@example.com
Tiger lottery facts:
- New York-based Scientific Games Inc. spent more than six years persuading Major League Baseball to allow team logos on state lottery scratch-off tickets. Other lottery games from Scientific include scratch-offs featuring Chevy, Dodge, Jeep, Lincoln, NASCAR, NBA, NHL, "American Idol," Hershey's and TV Guide.
- Point-of-sale and broadcast advertising for the Detroit Tigers instant game was done by Troy-based ad agency Simons Michelson Zieve Inc., which has done lottery work since 2005.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Los Coyotes tribal leader calls Barwest's Mike Malik "devil;" says he has "seduced" younger tribal leaders
Mike Malik and Mrs. Marian Ilitch are the principals behind the Detroit-based casino syndication BarWest LLC. Malik and Ilitch have proposed building several off-reservation casinos for tribes from opposite ends of California on a site that Barwest owns in Barstow, California.
"Saubel said there is a council-only meeting today to discuss the casino efforts--a meeting she was not invited to be but plans to attend anyway. A full tribal council meeting is set for mid-November. Saubel claimed the Malik has 'seduced' the younger member of the tribe and called him 'the devil himself.'
" 'I was 83 when we started this. I'm 87 now,' Saubel said. 'I think he's just waiting for me to keel over.' "
Ilitch and her husband Mike Ilitch are the co-founders of the Little Caesars Pizza franchise. The family also owns the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, MotorCity Casino, Detroit's Fox Theater and other sports, entertainment and restaurant operations.
Malik and the Ilitches are behind stalled proposals to build unorthodox off-reservation casinos in Port Huron, Michigan; Barstow, Califorina; and in The Hamptons on New York's Long Island. (see also: Detroit Free Press exposes Malik/Ilitch casino enterprises)
Members of the Bay Mills Indian Community have expressed concerns about Malik's involvement in their casino ventures as well as a business venture involving the research and manufacturing of various plastics products. Rumors have circulated among Bay Mills members to suggest the FBI is investigating the plastics venture.
In 1999 the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) failed to grant Michael Malik a gaming license and he was forced to transfer his interests in Detroit's MotorCity Casino to Marian Ilitch before the casino could open its doors to the public.
Last year, following a two-year investigation, California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) fined Malik's Barwest LLC on two counts for failing to report a $26,600 contribution Malik made to the San Joaquin County GOP Committee in 2004 -- Malik paid a $6,500 fine; and TVT has learned the FPPC is investigating numerous unreported political contributions and questionable lobbying payments Barwest's Malik made in 2006.
Friday, November 30, 2007
State Senator Serphin Maltese clarified that both he and other local elected officials, such as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, are committed to have racing continue at Aqueduct.
The senator briefly commented on recent reports of a Shinnecock Indian group proposing to bring a casino to the Aqueduct site by saying that their offer wasn’t considered to be realistic.
“That’s not expected to happen,” he said. “Quite honestly, there was a great deal of opposition [to that]. Nobody knew what it would do. We were very apprehensive about the fact that other casinos [in] the surrounding areas have deteriorated [because of] their problems with prostitution, homelessness, vagrancy and vandalism.”
Maltese expressed his wish that a casino group in good financial standing step forth to offer their services to run Video Lottery Terminal operations.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Ilitch, a member of the MotorCity Casino management committee was apparently representing his mother Marian Ilitch who is said to own 100% of MotorCity Casino.
Marian Ilitch reportedly borrowed $1 billion in 2005 to: acquire the gambling hall from MGM Mirage/Mandalay Resort Group and other minor investors; to cover the costs of the $300 million casino expansion; and to begin repaying certain other of these debts. At the time MotorCity Casino was valued at $1 billion.http://prn.newscom.com/cgi-bin/pub/s?f=PRN/prnpub&p1=20071129/CLTH037&xtag=PRN-prnphotos-67306&redir=preview&tr=1&row=1
By HEATHER NEWMAN
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Today's opening of the MotorCity Casino Hotel went off as the rest of the project has: stylishly late.
The hotel’s opening at Grand River and the Lodge was delayed from Nov. 1 until today to allow for the final deliveries of assorted items throughout the building. Then the opening was delayed from its original 3 p.m. start time for almost an hour as dignitaries waited for Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to arrive... (Original Story)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
And now, it appears MotorCity Casino has been marketing its new hotel property to other NHL teams when they are in town to play the Red Wings. The Detroit Free Press reports today that:
One has to wonder if the Ilitch family's MotorCity Casino will play host to the likes of Rick Tocchet and Mrs. Wayne Gretzky (Janet Jones) or other's involved in the illegal sports gambling ring when they're in town on NHL related business.
"It's not a coincidence that two of the hotel's confirmed guests are the Minnesota Wild and Ottawa Senators hockey teams."
"Vice president of hotel operations Asaad Farag and executive chef Mike Russell both left less than two months before the hotel was originally scheduled to open Nov. 1. The opening was pushed back to allow additional deliveries and training time, executives said.
"Neither of the men is talking about their departures, but having to work that closely [with MotorCity Casino owner Marian Ilitch and COO Rhonda Cohen] on every detail may have grated on them, especially when both men had very high-profile positions elsewhere (in Farag's case, directing a five-star hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, and other hotel openings; in Russell's case, winning multiple national and international culinary Olympics medals).
"Cohen said simply, 'Sometimes, let's face it, wrong fit. It happens.' "
"Also unlike the MGM, MotorCity has elected to unveil its permanent facility in stages instead of a massive grand opening. In June, the new high rollers area and poker room opened to the public. Wednesday is the hotel’s debut. At the end of the year, the new Iridescence restaurant and a lounge will open on the tower’s top floor. And by the end of March next year, the rest of the renovated gaming areas, convention and banquet space and the concert area will be open."
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Google News: Indian Gaming
NEWS: Bay Mills Indian Community & Casino Proposals
NEWS: Shinnecock Indian Nation (Gateway Casino Resorts) Casino Proposals
NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation
NEWS: Los Coyotes Indian Tribe
NEWS: Los Coyotes / Barwest Barstow Casino Proposals
NEWS: Michael J. Malik, Sr.
NEWS: Marian Ilitch
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