Saturday, March 03, 2007

Federal Register - BIA & Big Lagoon Tribe appeal Coastal Commission ruling on 5-acre acquisition

Federal Register: February 21, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 34)

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Federal Consistency Appeal by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Big Lagoon Rancheria From an Objection by the California Coastal Commission

AGENCY: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (Commerce).

ACTION: Notice of appeal and request for comments.

SUMMARY: This announcement provides notice that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Big Lagoon Rancheria (Tribe) have jointly filed an administrative appeal with the Department of Commerce asking that the Secretary override the California Coastal Commission's (Commission) objection to BIA's proposed acquisition of approximately 5 acres of land in Humboldt County, California, into trust status for the Tribe. The land is currently owned in fee by the Tribe and is located in the Big Lagoon area, approximately a quarter mile from the current boundary of the Big Lagoon Rancheria trust property, at the southwest intersection of Highway 101 and Big Lagoon Park Road, south of Big Lagoon, Humboldt County, California. The legal description of the land is parcel APN 517-281-004 in Lot 4 as shown on Tract No. 420, on file in the Office of the Humboldt County Recorder in Book 21 of Maps, pages 18 and 19.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Last minute political contributions to Senator who authors SB 157 reveal Casino Syndicator skyrocketed to the top of her donor list in late October

State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) and casino syndicator Michael J. Malik Sr., were able to conceal the true significance of his campaign contributions until after their January 31st news conference announcing Wiggins would sponsor SB 157.

A complete cumulative review (2005-2006) of contributions to "Friends of Pat Wiggins" adds further clarity to the first-term Senator's overnight romance with the Detroit casino syndicators. Disclosures indicate the Wiggins committee received a total of 606 contributions at an average of $616.

Prior to October 2006, there is no record of support for Wiggins by principals behind Detroit-based Barwest Gaming LLC. Likewise, last year when Barwest was desperate for friends in the legislature, then Assemblywoman Wiggins failed to come forward and publicly declare her support for Barwest's proposal to build twin Indian Casino Resorts in Barstow

That all changed after October 21, 2006, the date Michael J. Malik, Sr., day-to-day managing principal behind Barwest Gaming LLC passed along two checks to Wiggins: (1) from his personal Trust Account and (2) from MJM Enterprises & Development his solely owned company.

Although both contributions are reported as received on Saturday October 21, 2006, online disclosures indicate the Wiggins Committee reported the contribution noted above as (1) in its report of 10/26/06 and withheld reporting the contribution noted above as (2) until its January 31, 2007 post election filing; although both contributions are tagged to the 2006 General Election cycle.

One can only speculate why it is that Malik wrote two checks; or why he didn't write the second check on a Barwest LLC account since that's the company registered to do business in California; or why he failed to provide the same back up detail for both contributions; or why Wiggins' Committee didn't report both contributions at the same time; or why Wiggins pegged one of the Malik contributions from "Detroit, MI" and the other from "CA" when both Malik and MJM Enterprises & Development are based in Detroit.

Regardless of the unanswered questions, we know that with those two checks, ($4,000 total) Malik established his position atop Wiggins' 606 contributors as follows:

Malik Ranks #1
among Wiggins' Out-of-state Donors

Malik Ranks #2
among overall individual donors to Wiggins' campaign

Malik Ranks #11
among all donors to Wiggins' campaign

A little more than two weeks after Malik's checks showed up Patricia Wiggins won election to the Senate.

A little more than 90 days (January 31, 2007) after Malik made the political contributions, Senator Wiggins announced that she had agreed to author SB 157, a bill apparently no other new legislator was willing to carry.

Comprehensive campaign finance reports for the Fall election were due on the same day the announcement was made. The parties involved were assured their staged "news" regarding SB 157 would be out on the news wires long before anyone could analyze the campaign finance reports and track any money trail.

But if you were wondering what might have compelled Senator Wiggins to sign on when no one else would, perhaps this sheds a little light.

Compare 40-mile radius competition-free zone provided in Barstow Casino agreements

Links to maps (compliments of Google Earth and MLive) with visual overlays representative of the 40-mile radius (80-mile wide) "COMPETITION-FREE Zone" negotiated by Detroit-based Barwest LLC that would surround Barstow as provided for in yet to be ratified gaming compacts for the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Bands of Indians.

  1. Twin circles: 40-mile radius around Barwest Casinos site and the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation. (static smaller pictures) Google Earth
  2. Proposed 80-mile wide competition-free zone (5,044 square miles) around the Barwest Casinos site in Barstow, CA provided for in the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Indians pending gaming compacts. (static larger picture) Google Earth
  3. A 40-mile radius circle around the Los Coyotes Reservation in northeast San Diego County representative of the competition-free zone in the Barstow compacts. There are approximately 20 casinos open or in development within 40-miles of the Los Coyotes Reservation -- they compete every day; the newest set to open in March less than 10 miles from the Los Coyotes Reservation -- still others are expanding or planning plans to open new casinos. (static larger picture) Google Earth
  4. LATEST ! Link to MLive Search semi-interactive map of Southern California and Humblodt County casinos. (semi-interactive: street, satellite or hybrid maps) MLive. LATEST!

    This MLive "collection" of placemarkers can be saved to your own computer for future reference or mapping.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Casino developer may have mislead Schwarzenegger's negotiator to get approvals for twin casinos

Dan Kolkey may have been duped by Barwest's half-truths and illusions but this should take all that mystery and confusion away

From the very beginning, Barwest LLC demanded secretness and exclusivity. A city employ explained that prior to June 2003, there had been 15 months of top-secret negotiations and that he, a city employee, had signed a confidentiality agreement with the Detroit developer. And when they could no longer moved foward in secret, Barwest demanded and got an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with the City of Barstow (June 2, 2003). There is not one reference in that exclusive agreement to the Los Coyotes Band of Indians nor in the "rationale" provided to the Barstow City Council at the time they were to consider approval of the agreement. That ENA between the Detroit Developer and the City of Barstow was extended in September 2003 and again March 1, 2004 without reference to the Los Coyotes Tribe.

In March 2004, a Desert Dispatch columnist reported that Barwest Principal Michael J. Malik and his attorney Lance Boldrey had threatened to walk away from Barstow if the City engaged in discussions with any other prospective tribes or partners. Overtime you can see a pattern of threats and heavy handed leverage.

By June 2004, pressure was building on the City Council to resist yet a third extension of the Barwest ENA and other sideshows were secretly playing out behind the scenes but wouldn't be disclosed for almost a year:

(1) in March 2004 Governor Schwarzenegger had informed Barwest, Los Coyotes Leaders and Mayor Lawrence Dale that he would not approve a Los Coyotes project;

(2) An original introduction to Big Lagoon Rancheria Chairman Virgil Moorehead in April/May 2004 was not productive;

(3) Los Coyotes leaders were becoming increasingly disenchanted with Barwest; and in fact, would formally split with Barwest a month or two later (August 2004); and

(4) Mayor Dale was facing re-election.

Fearing their original 2-3 year capital "investment" might be flushed away, Barwest conjured up a little scheme that:

(a) guaranteed Barwest exclusive casino development rights to Barstow, regardless of tribe, via a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) between Barwest and the City; and

(b) invoked the Governor's name and manufactured a "do or die" sense of urgency in order to convince a majority on the City Council to approve, what amounted to a bogus Municipal Services Agreement (MSA) with the Los Coyotes Tribe for a project Barwest and the Mayor knew was already "Dead on Arrival."

It wasn't a binding contract they sought with the MSA but simply a placeholder for Barwest and a barrier of entry into the Barstow market for anyone else over the following nine months. Barwest and local politicians needed to buy some time: Barwest needed time to regroup after the Governor rejected their plans for Los Coyotes and after Los Coyotes rejected Barwest as its business partner; and local politicians were looking to get through their re-election campaign with little noise and controversy. [Officials seek to dispel rumors; Desert Dispatch 10.02.04]

Understand, Barwest presently controls at least 100 acres in Barstow, maybe more (at one time Barwest's officials indicated hoped to acquire 200+ acres). Barwest has access to thousands of acres of BLM land directly adjacent to its 100+ acres. Neither tribe owns or controls any land in Barstow today (that's the purpose of the federal fee to trust process). The original Los Coyotes casino project approved by the Barstow City Council expressly limited the tribe to a 20 acre development. But now, the project has more than doubled: there are two casinos (twin full-service spa casino resorts) to be developed on almost 50 acres (250% larger); with nearly three times the number of the slot machines and gaming tables originally anticipated in the Los Coyotes proposal. Sound like someone hit a jackpot?

With this in mind, read the following post which substitutes Barwest's name for Los Coyotes name where it would be factually correct to get a true picture of who's pushing things in Barstow.

The following dialogue between Senators and Daniel Kolkey, Governor Schwarzenegger's former lead gaming compact negotiator is excerpted from transcripts of a March 28, 2006 Senate Governmental Organization Committee hearing, Sacramento, Calif.

SENATOR FLOREZ: So, Los Coyotes without Big Lagoon wouldn’t be a valid use of State policy then?


So, there lies one issue. So, you have Big Lagoon that normally wouldn’t be eligible is eligible now—excuse me, Los Coyotes—because of Big Lagoon. Is that correct?

The project is eligible under the Governor’s policy because it facilitates Big Lagoon’s relocation.

So, in essence, what came first then—Big Lagoon or Los Coyotes? Why would Los Coyotes even be on the topic if the Governor’s policy itself wouldn’t allow for that?

Well, number one, the only way for us to facilitate the relocation of Big Lagoon was to find a site in Barstow. Barstow & BARWEST had already identified this site near outlet malls as part of its plan for renovation of the city. And they had an exclusive agreement with Los Coyotes BARWEST.
So, the only way that we could facilitate the Big Lagoon relocation was through the site identified by the City of Barstow with Los Coyotes BARWEST. And these were the facts that the State was dealing with then. Let me just say that having gotten Los Coyotes’ BARWEST's agreement to do this, we felt it was a matter of, really, honor and fair dealing that we stick with Los Coyotes BARWEST throughout this. In other words, they BARWEST facilitated this relocation. As a matter of honor and fair dealing, we were going to stick with BARWEST, Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon as a unified project and not try and find, if we could, some other site in Barstow. This was the site that Barstow had picked. Los Coyotes BARWEST facilitated it, and this accomplished, through a relocation and consolidation, really, of two casino projects, the Governor’s policy of avoiding the environmental impact on the coast. [BARWEST is rewarded with two casinos for taking the Big Lagoon problem off Kolkey's lap.]

Okay. Senator Battin?

Mr. Kolkey, I have a couple of questions I don’t understand. So, the City of Barstow got to decide where California was going to allow a casino project?

No—I wouldn’t put it that way. What we have here is we wanted to relocate the casino project that Big Lagoon had on the coast.

But through Los Coyotes’ BARWEST's agreement with Barstow, that somehow became an exclusive. You could not have put Big Lagoon there without Los Coyotes?

We would have needed a site, and one of the things that the Governor’s proclamation has made clear is that in relocating any tribal casino under the Section 20 authority, is we want support by the local jurisdiction and the local community. We’re not going to relocate a casino against the wishes of the local jurisdiction or the local community. And so, if the local jurisdiction says, Here’s where we would like to have a casino, then we’re going to accommodate that local jurisdiction. We’re not going to force something on the local jurisdiction, so we were going to do it where Barstow wanted to do it.

So, if I understood a recent news article that I just read, is that the City of Barstow has actually not. . . . the city council could not take a position on the referendum that is in front of the city right now; whether or not they support having the casino there.

Well, that local initiative is actually quite different from support of the Big Lagoon-Los Coyotes unified casino project. That is a local initiative that seeks support of casinos in Barstow but at a different site and not the site at the outlet malls that the City of Barstow had identified.

The city council of Barstow, then, has passed and made a deal with Los Coyotes BARWEST?

The City of Barstow has a . . .

Exclusive, you said.

They had at the time we were negotiating an exclusive agreement [with BARWEST not Los Coyotes as Kolkey suggests over and over].
This was in 2004. They had an exclusive agreement with Los Coyotes BARWEST. They also have an MOU MSA with Los Coyotes ...

[Yes, there had been an MSA for a project that had already been aborted long before the Barstow City Council awarded the agreement - in March 2004 the Governor had rejected that proposal. Barwest and Mayor Dale failed to reveal they were no longer pregnant with the Los Coyotes Casino when they asked the City Council to seal the deal with an MSA they knew would not ever be valid. Then weeks before the November 2004 election it was discovered Mayor Dale had never executed the bogus agreement.

It wasn't until almost a year later when Barwest announced it would give birth to twin Casino resorts that the players confessed what had gone on behind the scenes the year before].

click for: complete transcripts

Environmental advocate Erin Brockovich applauds unity of Hinkley residents

Famed environmental advocate Erin Brockovich applauded the resolve and unity of the people of Hinkley's who have picked up where she left off ... and called the Board of Supervisors' decision a risky "compromise" after hearing the result from Tuesday's meeting.

read more | digg story

BIA to hold EIS hearing on Hannahville Tribe's Casino Plans for Romulus, MI

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) will hold a routine benign scoping hearing March 8 regarding plans by the Hannahville Tribe of Potawatomi Indians proposed off-reservation casino in Romulus, Mich...450 miles away from the reservation...Tribe wants 24 acres placed in trust; 9.8 acres for casino & hotel…Romulus is about 20-30 minutes from downtown Detroit where there are three large commercial casinos (MGM Grand, MotorCity and Greektown) with major expansions underway...BIA is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed project...If the BIA agrees to the casino, the state governor has to concur using a Federal two-part determination...plans for Romulus have been previously tied to plans in Port Huron; this Hannahville Tribe plan is not...Romulus voters gave the OK to the city government to pursue casino developments in 2004... Little progress has been made but city officials say they recognize the process is a long trek, not a sprint.

read more | digg story

Gambling & Casinos Influence for California


National Institute on Money in State Politics

National Institute on Money in State Politics

National Institute on Money in State Politics

Senator 113k. Rep 75k. Getting to build a casino, PRICELESS

Both politicians received money, nearly $200,000 total, from The Ilitch Family and Malik for the first time after they introduced bills to approve a casino for the Bay Mills Indians in Port Huron. Can anyone say graft?

read more digg story

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Amador County blogger backs "Casino Center" idea for tribes

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Casino center is a solution

My fellow Amadorians, indigenous tribes, (Jackson Rancheria Band of Mi-Wok, Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk, Ione Band of MiWok,) board of supervisors, I believe the time has come for some forward thinking solutions regarding Indian gaming in Amador County before irreparable harm is imparted on our special county.

Due to the unique nature of Amador County and all its inhabitants, flora and fauna, the ultimate Indian casino mitigation would be to divide a 100-plus acre tract of industrial land adjacent to and west of the new Martell shopping center between the three tribes. The site to be known as the "casino center" would become home to three world class gaming resorts, Native American Cultural Center, transportation hub and site of a state of the art emergency response center to include tribal law enforcement, fire/paramedic with heli-port capabilities.

The social and environmental advantages of this proposal are truly superior to current casino off-site mitigation proposals. The economic and logistical advantages to the tribes are also truly superior to current proposals. By being a part of the "casino center" the full range of mitigation costs, as well as resort operational costs are reduced and would create substantially less impacts on the environment.

With many years of gaming experience, the Jackson Rancheria of Mi-Wok Indians are included in the "casino center" proposal. When the time comes for the Jackson Rancheria to reinvent its current facility, the facility can become a non-gaming resort/spa with a new casino to be built at the "casino center."

To site casinos off a tribe's Rancheria is nothing new and somewhat frowned upon, a case in point to consider is the Big Lagoon area of Humboldt County. The proposal being pitched once again is to build the tribe's casino in Barstow. If one visits the two sites, it becomes abundantly apparent why the proposal makes sense.

We the people, the tribes and an act of Congress can make the "casino center" happen for Amador County.

- John Guthrie, Plymouth

Gov. Spitzer plans new racing bid format

February 27, 2007

Governor wins support of Bruno, Silver for revamped review process of offers to run state franchise

By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau
Click byline for more stories by writer.

ALBANY -- Gov. Eliot Spitzer plans to announce a new public review process to consider bids for the state horse racing franchise.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, R-Brunswick, supported the additional analysis. Bruno said it may make sense to have all bids worked into one ideal proposal.

The remarks follow last week's report by the nine-member Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of Racing, which included three members each appointed by Bruno, Silver and Gov. George Pataki.

The committee recommended Excelsior Racing Associates as the preferred bidder. That group includes New York Yankees executive Steve Swindal, casino developer Richard Fields and former racing and wagering board chairman Jerry Bilinski.

"There will be a process that will be open, that will permit full public review of what has occurred, and we will get quickly to the right decision," said Spitzer. "It will be a process that will let the right questions be asked. It is a major industry that should be jump-started in this state.'

Bruno said the report will be subject to public hearings, but Spitzer said a hearing may be too formal a process. "There will be a public opportunity for everybody to be asked questions and to participate," the governor said.

Bruno said he is open to all the bidders -- a total of four, including current franchise holder New York Racing Association.

"I believe you can mix and match the best of what people have to offer to see if we can improve on whatever's there," he said. "Having the best racing in the world is really what's important."

Silver said Spitzer is expected to talk to all the bidders.

"He's going to have to live with the next franchisee," he said. "I support him making the determination."

Saratoga Springs Mayor Valerie Keehn, a member of the ad hoc committee, said the Legislature and Spitzer should take Excelsior's bid seriously.

"I'm hoping and expecting . . . not starting the whole process over again, to build on our foundation," she said. . .

Gov. Spitzer lobbying Interior Secretary on Catskills casino

as reported in the Albany Times Union:

"...Earlier Monday, Spitzer met briefly with U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in Washington, D.C., at the National Governors Association meetings, and is trying to set up a more formal meeting Wednesday with the secretary. Spitzer is lobbying for federal approval of the St. Regis Mohawk Council's application to place 30 acres at Monticello Raceway into trust for a Catskills casino.

" 'This is an issue I will continue to deal with aggressively,' Spitzer said.

"Meanwhile, health groups, including the American Cancer Society, wrote to Spitzer urging him to renegotiate with the Mohawks to make sure the tribe honors the state ban on smoking in work areas. The tribe only agreed to make some sections of the gaming floor smoke-free."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Casino developer's fear of competition drives them to push for Barstow

Fear of competition is what drives Detroit-based Barwest’s Quest for Twin Casinos in Barstow

"The wealthy tribes have opposed this primarily for economic reasons," said Tom Shields, Michigan-based representative for BarWest Gaming and a spokesman for the San Diego-based Los Coyotes Indians. He insists it’s this fear of competition in others that motivates their opposition to his client’s plan to relocate tribes to Barstow so his client Barwest can build and manage the Las Vegas-style casinos for the tribes.

According to Sigmund Freud, projection is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one "projects" one's own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings

It’s ironic that Barwest & partners try to pin the fear of competition on the shoulders of those who oppose their plan for Barstow. A closer look at circumstances would indicate it’s Barwest’s fear of competition that drives their desire to be in Barstow.

In a preliminary deal Shield’s clients struck with staff in the Governor’s office, they’ve been granted extra special unprecedented protections from likely competitors: they would have an 80-mile wide virtual cone of protection centered over Barstow and spreading out for more than 5,044 square miles to keep any competition at least 45 minutes to an hour away on the western side of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains.

The truth is, Barwest fears competition. Those behind the Barwest syndication are certainly aware that if they were to develop a casino on the Los Coyotes’ San Diego reservation it would have at least 18-20 estalished competitors within a 40-mile radius; the newest San Diego casino would be less than 10 miles from the Los Coyotes Reservation and a Harrah’s managed casino approximately 15-20 minutes away.

At a Senate Hearing on the Big Lagoon compact last spring, Virgil Moorehead, one of Barwest’s Indian partner, said they’d asked for a 66-mile radius zone -- 132-miles wide (an area equal to 13,682 square miles). Dan Kolkey, the Governor’s negotiator indicated at the same hearing that Barwest had pushed him for an even broader zone around Barstow virtually guaranteeing gaming would not creep over the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountain ranges but Kolkey said he refused.

As it is now, the Detroit Developer’s generous competition-free zone, an area equal to 5,044 square miles, extends into Kern and Los Angeles Counties as well as San Bernardino County and could include Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead Resort areas high up in the San Bernardino Mountains/Angeles Forest.

Southern California’s tribes compete head-to-head every day in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties for guests with multiple neighboring properties located 15-30 minutes away. So-called “fear of competition” has not kept existing casinos from undergoing major expansions or new Southern California casinos from springing up.

Fear of competition is what drives Barwest to Barstow.

Take a look at this map below and you can see who has the exclusive competition-free market – a Detroit casino syndication and tribes who have no history in the Barstow area. Why have they been given such generous advantages? Why them? Why not another less fortunate Indian tribe, a tribe even more remote?

click to see larger version:

U.S. Supreme Court stands by 'little old lady;' denies Ilitch Casino its $0.05 Cents

U.S. Supreme Court
denies Ilitch Casino’s Appeal

As her attorneys explained A “little old lady” from Troy, Michigan and her girlfriends took a chartered bus trip to MotorCity Casino back in 2001. After playing the nickel slots, the grandmother of nine spotted a nickel token in the tray of an unattended machine and tried to play it.

But before she could do so, security officers surrounded her, took her away to a backroom, demanded to see her identification, questioned and photographed her, held her against her will, refused to let her join the group she’d come with and then evicted her from the casino.

She said they also confiscated her $9 meal ticket; the buffet lunch is one of things that attract the senior citizens to these day trips.

In 2003, a federal jury unanimously awarded the woman $270 – and five cents -- in general damages and $875,000 in punitive damages. The award had been upheld by a federal court of appeals earlier.

Aggressive attorney’s for Ilitch casino units decided to push their appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In October 2006, after both sides had submitted written briefs, and rebuttals the U.S. Supreme Court denied the Ilitch Team’s appeal upholding the original jury’s position in favor of the now 77-year-old woman.

An Ilitch casino spokesman tried to explain their position when he said, "Because it's not your money, you're taking something that doesn't belong to you. He explained their position is that it's owned by the person who bet it or by Mrs. Ilitch’s casino.

Casinos nationwide frown on "slot walking," the art of finding abandoned credit on slot machines or tokens in the hopper that haven't been played.

Last summer, attorneys for both sides submitted briefs and counter arguments. And the Supreme Court Justices made their position known in October; upholding jury’s original decision.



Present: Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Stevens, Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Justice Souter, Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito.

The Chief Justice said:

I have the honor to announce, on behalf of the Court, that the October 2005 Term of the Supreme Court of the United States is now closed, and the October 2006 Term is now convened.

Today’s orders of the Court have been duly entered and certified, and filed with the Clerk, and they will not be otherwise announced.

No. 06–38. Detroit Entertainment, L.L.C., dba MotorCity Casino, et al., Petitioners v. Stella Romanski. Motion of Greektown Casino, LLC, et al., for leave to file a brief as amici curiae granted. Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied.

Monday, February 26, 2007

PR flack denies Michael Malik's suddenly a top contributor to Senator authoring SB 157, a bill to approve client's Casinos

The Verifiable Truth: Malik, Hollywood Park, Commerce Club round up cash for Sen Wiggins sponsor of SB 157 -- multiple identical comment "cut & paste" posts to The Verifiable Truth, Tom Shields, spokesman for Motor City casino syndicators, and a guy who relies heavily on "projection" as a psychological defense mechanism, provided this comment:

"The lies, misinformation and misrepresentations on this blog are too numerous to mention and don't deserve the time it would take to respond. Someone has obviously spent a lot of time and money in an attempt to malign the character of the people being attacked here. It's no wonder the author is anonymous.

"If you want the truth and the facts about the Barstow Casino resort project, the Shinnecock Tribe or the Port Huron Casino Resort won't find them here. Go to or contact me at We won't hide behind some anonymous blog."

Tom Shields
February 16, 2007 4:53:00 PM CST

Don't be surprised if Tom tries to tell us that, "this is just some vast right-wing conspiracy."

We gave Shields' comments and representations careful consideration and we weren't sure if Tom Shields is implying:

    (a) the fabrication of disclosure documents required under California's Political Reform Act revealing that Michael Malik, Malik's MJM Enterprises Development Co., several of the largest commercial casinos in California (and a few other special interests) circled the wagons around Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa); and ponied up $30,000 on 10/21/06 just two weeks before election day - three months and ten days before she "announced " publicly that she would carry SB 157; or

    (b) the fabrication, and paid distribution of a press release detailing a January 31st press conference in Sacramento staged to announce Senator Wiggins had been compelled to join two previous sponsors and co-author legislation, SB 157 -- legislation that nobody else apparently wants to touch . SB 157 champions legislative approvals for twin Indian casino resorts in Barstow; a development plan bankrolled and advanced by Shields' clients who have by contract exclusive rights to develop and manage the future twin Indian casinos project or in little known fact, any other such development in the City of Barstow; or

    (c) both

If Tom Shields has information to prove that false or manufactured campaign disclosures have been filed by Senator Wiggins or those representing they've contributed to her committees, he should report that to the FPPC/CA Attorney General Jerry Brown ASAP; else he be found culpable or an accomplice.

If someone other than Tom Shields manufactured and paid for the distribution of a so-called "news" release or if someone other than Tom Shields "staged" a Sacramento press conference with bad actors -- people who falsely represented themselves as leaders of his client's adopted Indian Tribes or as those with whom Shields and his clients have been able to develop "buy-in" -- we counsel Tom Shields to immediately:

    (a) put out an authorized release renouncing the January 31st event as a sham, and releasing Senator Wiggins, Senator Roy Ashburn and Assemblywoman Patti Berg from any commitments that were represented,

    (b) demand an investigation by Capitol Police to find out who it was that used the Capitol for such an event and represented to the Capitol press corps they were affiliated with Shields' clients and associates,

    (c) immediately demand credit due and take action against PRNewswire for falsely distributing a "news" release that represented it was from Shields' Indian Tribes and using Shields' PRNewswire account.

Other TVT posts that disturbed Shields enough to leave his “cut & paste” shallow boilerplate protests:

Barstow Casino Billboard - picture's worth a thousand words

A picture's worth a thousand words ...

Indian Casinos? ... or Detroit Gaming Syndicate's Casinos?

If you had any question before ... this picture should leave little doubt about what's really going on in Barstow, CA.

Location: Barwest LLC casino site, Lenwood Rd., Barstow, CA

Date: April 4, 2005 (sign erected approximately April 1, 2005)

News of the Detroit-backed project was first reported in the Desert Dispatch June 3, 2003:

Casino proposed for Barstow

Detroit Red Wings owner would team with Los Coyotes Indian tribe

"One of the people behind Little Caesar's Pizza and similar casino ventures in Michigan announced plans Monday to bring an Indian casino and more than 2,600 jobs to Barstow."

"Marian Ilitch, a Michigan businesswoman who, with her husband, owns ventures that include Little Caesar Enterprises and the Detroit Red Wings, a National Hockey League team, said her organization BarWest LLC is working with the Los Coyotes Band of the Cahuilla American Indian tribe to build a Las Vegas-style casino in Barstow. "

But when the billboard was erected two years later, there was no "Indian Casino" nor "Indian gaming" reference; nor mention that it was the "Los Coyotes Tribe's" casino.

Two months before the sign was erected The Desert Dispatch reported principals behind Barwest had introduced Big Lagoon Chairman Virigil Moorehead to the Barstow City Council members in secret closed-door meetings and informed them there would be a second casino in the project but when the sign was erected, no reference to Big Lagoon Rancheria or dual casinos were on the billboard. Absolutely no reference to "Indian" or "Native American" is found anywhere on the sign.

Some time later, apparently acknowledging the Freudian slip up and failure to include the minor detail that these were to be Indian casinos for a specific tribe(s), Barwest had a second version of this sign produced and erected in its place.

Note: This post pushed Tom Shields’ buttons enough that he left his “cut & paste” shallow boilerplate protest in a comment below. Here are some of the other posts that got Shields’ attention as well ...

Publicist shines spotlight on Senator Stabenow & Rep. Miller after his clients invested $200,000 in their campaigns

In the today's (02.14.07) Port Huron Times Herald Story, "Stabenow to support area casino project" it is reported:

The deal still requires congressional approval, but several attempts to obtain it have been blocked. [Senator Debbie] Stabenow introduced a measure five years ago that was stymied by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Tom Shields, a spokesman for casino developer Mike Malik, said he has been told Reid, who became Senate majority leader last month, has dropped his opposition. Shields also noted Stabenow, who won a second term in 2006, has gained political clout with the Democratic takeover of Congress.

"We've appreciated her support from day one," he said. "With the new Congress, we hope she can bring final approval to the land claim."

He also praised U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, for her efforts to push the project through the House.

It's no suprise that Shields seizes the moment to heap praise and shine the spotlight on Senator Stabenow and Rep. Miller. Shields is publicist for Mike & Marian Ilitch as well as Michael Malik. The Ilitch Family and Malik invested heavily in Stabenow and Miller. In fact, Stabenow benefited from $113,000 the Ilitch Family directed toward her re-election -- They directed more money to Stabenow than to any other candidate's re-election.

Miller received $75,000 from the Family -- she was #2 on their list of political benefciaries. In fact, The Ilitch Family and Malik contributed nearly 50% of all the funds Miller's "special" political committee raised (80% of all the non-PAC contributions she raised). Detroit is outside of Miller's district (Michigan's 1oth).

Both politicians received money, nearly $200,000 total, from The Ilitch Family and Malik for the first time after they introduced bills to approve a casino for the Bay Mills Indians in Port Huron.

If Shields has confidence that Sen. Harry Reid's not going to block their plans; perhaps it is because his clients have directed at least $22,000 to Reid since he last blocked Stabenow's bill.

Shields' spin sounds good at first pass, but in fact his reasoning and analysis are flawed.

Yes it's true that the Democrats took over the Senate and yes it's true Stabenow got a couple new assignments. BUT ... Stabenow was ranked #93rd most powerful among her colleagues (#39 among Democrats) in October 2006 by after serving six years in the Senate. did not expect much movement for her even if Democrats took control. After all, only 1/3rd of the Senate was up for re-election and that resulted in 10 new members (10%). Maybe Stabenow moves up to #80th most powerful member, not a lot of clout to push through an "off-reservation" bill giving the Bay Mills Tribe a third casino 350 miles from its reservation in Port Huron. There are too many national implications to such a gift.

Unfortunately, the precdents set by such an action for Indian Country far outweigh the economic development needs of Port Huron. Malik and company are cruel when they dangle the casino carrot in front of a struggling community knowing the odds are likely too much to overcome.

Too many across the U.S. oppose a move like this, including communities who don't want gambling and fear the precedent this sets, are working against this scheme, and dozens of others just like it around the country.

NOTE: This post pushed enough buttons with Tom Shields that he left his “cut & paste” boilerplate protest in comments below. Here are other posts that prompted his comment as well...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly drops opposition to "off-reservation" casino

Senator Reid reportedly softens on Indian gaming expansions, land claims settlement and drops opposition to “off-reservation” casino

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the powerful congressional leader who counts among his friends many of Las Vegas’ most successful captains of gaming, has reportedly dropped his opposition to plans for off-reservation gaming, according to reports last week in the Port Huron Times Herald.

Tom Shields, president of GOP-focused Marketing Resource Group and spokesman for Detroit casino syndication interests backing numerous Indian tribes with plans for "off-reservation" casinos, tells the Port Huron Times Herald, Senator Reid no longer plans to block a third Bay Mills Indian casino to be developed in Port Huron, Michigan; 350 miles from the Bay Mills Tribe’s existing Reservation. If true, this would be a dramatic shift of position for the Nevada Senator.

Reporters and political opponents of Reid have previously suggested his opposition to the Bay Mills scheme stemmed from his relationship with disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

FEC records indicate the Ilitch Family and an associate have contributed $22,000 to Senator Reid's committees since 2002 when he blocked Stabenow's bill.

Port Huron Time Herald, 02.14.07

The deal still requires congressional approval, but several attempts to obtain it have been blocked. Stabenow introduced a measure five years ago that was stymied by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Tom Shields, a spokesman for casino developer Mike Malik, said he has been told Reid, who became Senate majority leader last month, has dropped his opposition. Shields also noted Stabenow, who won a second term in 2006, has gained political clout with the Democratic takeover of Congress.”

The Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan is once again seeking Congressional approval for an off-reservation casino.

The tribe wants to settle its land claim at Charlotte Beach for gaming rights at Port Huron. But the proposal ran into opposition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, some members of Congress and some Michigan tribes.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), the new Senate majority leader, has since dropped his objections, according to the casino developer. That has Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) renewing her support for legislation to approve the project.

The Bay Mills tribe already has two operating casinos with more than 1,250 gaming machines at its northern shoreline reservation on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. An Act of Congress among other approvals is needed for the Tribe to establish a third casino and resort property in Port Huron. Detroit interests would develop and manage the property and any tangential resort properties

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Shields hints his clients are hopeful that Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI.) might introduce a bill during the 110th Congress to win congressional approval of the scheme which involves the Tribe abandoning its land claims to approximately 110 acres in an area known as Charlotte Beach, Michigan.

If Stabenow does introduce a bill it would be at least the seventh time in almost eight years that such a bill has surfaced on Capitol Hill. No bills have made it out of committee to be voted on by either chamber of Congress.

The Ilitch Family and an associate contributed more than $113,000 toward Senator Stabenow's re-election.

Background on Tom Shields and his clients

Shields is the spokesman for various casino syndications involving Marian Ilitch (she and her husband Mike Ilitch co-founded Little Caesars Pizza; the family also owns the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and MotorCity Casino among other interests) and her partner Michael J. Malik, Sr.. The pair has been behind various bids for a Bay Mills casino in a more urban setting since 1994 when they pursued plans along with Harrah's to put a Bay Mills casino in downtown Detroit.

Shields, a well known Michigan GOP strategist, has been political advisor to former Michigan Governor John Engler and Congresswoman Candice Miller among others.

It was Engler who opened the door to a possible Port Huron casino for the Bay Mills Tribe, when, in the closing months of his administration, Engler did a flip-flop on his long held stance against off-reservation gaming and signed a settlement agreement with the Tribe regarding the Charlotte Beach land claims. Within weeks, Stabenow introduced S. 2986 but Reid reportedly blocked it from moving out of committee following an October 2002 Indian Affairs Committee hearing.

Since then, documents filed with the Federal Election Commission indicate the Ilitch Family and Malik contributed more than $113,000 toward Stabenow’s re-election efforts and $22,000 to several of Reid’s political committees.

Several months after the introduction of S. 2986, freshman Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI 10th), barely a month into her first term, introduced a similar bill H.R. 831 in the House of Representatives. Needless to say, both bills died, never making it out of committee.

Shields’ website indicates he represents the Bay Mills Indian Community; Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan, Gun Lake Tribe; the Los Coyotes band of Cahuilla Indians and the Smith River Indians of Big Lagoon Rancheria; Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians; Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the Shinnecock Indian Nation. He represents these Ilitch Family gaming affiliations as well: Atwater Entertainment; Barwest Gaming; Gateway Casino Resorts LLC; Hawaii Entertainment LLC; Ilitch Holdings and MotorCity Casino.

Where there's smoke, there's fire: Attorney attempts to clean up FPPC mess created when he failed to report $63,805 arrangement with lobbyist

Several weeks ago, The Verifiable Truth (TVT) began breaking reports exposing lobbying disclosures discrepancies and violations involving the Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon Indian Tribes, several lobbying firms and “silent” parties bankrolling and directing the lobbying effort.

Immediately, Michael Yaki, a Bay area attorney retained by Detroit casino syndicators to represent the Los Coyotes Indian Tribe attempted to “clean up” a year’s worth of fraudulent lobbying disclosures he filed, under penalty of perjury, as the Tribe’s representative. Amended filings indicate Yaki failed to report almost 30% of what was really spent by (or under cover of) the Los Coyotes Tribe on lobbying -- failed to report close to $65,000 paid to lobbyist R. Keith Olberg (a former Assemblyman and candidate for statewide constitutional office).

Yaki simply took lobbying reports filed by Governmental Advocates, Inc. and Capitol Ventures, Roseville and amended a years worth of his filings for Los Coyotes with data to match what was reported by the two lobbying firms and swiftly submitted them as amended disclosures. That just further complicated the mess.

Now, when the total lobbying fees reported by so-called partners the Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes Indians are added up and compared with the total fee income reportedly received by the two lobbying firms, things still don’t add up!

2005/2006 Legislative Session Lobbying Payments


Two Barwest Tribes report Paying Lobbyists


Two Lobbying Firms report Receiving Payments of


unreported by lobbyists


The tribes say they’ve paid two lobbying firms collectively $70,216 more than the lobbying firms have reported receiving in payment disclosures.

The truth is, despite Yaki’s “clean up” attempt, his Indian clients most likely didn’t pay anything to either lobbying firm; some “intermediaries” have been paying the bills and hiding behind the tribe. Neither attorney Yaki nor any other representative of Los Coyotes ever authorized Capitol Ventures, Roseville to represent the Los Coyotes Indians. So who did?

Either the tribe’s attorney Mr. Yaki was negligent and failed to report it had engaged and was paying Capitol Ventures, Roseville for nearly a year; OR the lobbying firm has been employed by others whose interests' are certainly being represented and yet neither the lobbying firm nor the lobbying firm’s employer have reported their relationship.

California’s political reform laws are meant to bring politics out of smoke filled rooms and expose who’s behind various political activities; who the real parties are attempting to influence public policy; where the true source of money trails from. These parties discussed here are playing games trying to avoid disclosure.

The parties involved here know better: they’re seasoned political operatives, former political candidates, lobbyists, experienced FPPC filers, White House appointees and lawyers. Mr. Yaki has been involved in previous FPPC findings involving his donors' improper disclosures/failures to disclose. J. Richard Eichman, CPA, who files reports on behalf of the Big Lagoon Rancheria has been filing FPPC disclosures for more than 12 years. This incidence and the numerous other reporting violations that continue to arise are cause enough for some more thorough and comprehensive investigation of lobbying and political activity by the FPPC and Attorney General. A group of professionals with this much experience hardly make unintended "mistakes" with this level of frequency.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

February 23, 2007

Tribes get powerful backing
Perata, Ducheny get behind bill for slot increase

Jake Henshaw
Desert Sun Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO - Two of the Senate's most powerful figures will carry the bills for Palm Springs-area gaming tribes which are seeking to increase their slot machine allowances by up to 2,500 slots each.

The revised compacts, struck with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of the last legislative session with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of Palm Springs and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians of Cabazon, would flow hundreds of millions of dollars into state coffers.

Senate leader Don Perata, D-Oakland, told The Desert Sun Thursday he will be the author of the gambling agreement, known as a compact, for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

''I carried the Agua (bill) last year and I'm going to carry it again this year,'' Perata said in an interview

He added that Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, will be the author of the compact bill for the Morongo Band.

Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Montebello, also will author a bill for the Morongo compact.

Ducheny couldn't be reached for comment because she was traveling back to her district.

Sens. Lou Correa, D-Pacoima, and Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, will be authors of the compact for the San Manuel Band of San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Perata added.

Agua Caliente and Morongo tribal representatives declined to comment.

It also wasn't immediately clear who would be the authors of compacts legislation for the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation.

Together, these five amended compacts are the largest ones pending approval, increasing the number of authorized slot machines from the current maximum of 2,000 per tribe to either 5,000 or 7,500.


The Associated Press

Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, was the formal author of Assembly Bill 2399 last year, which would have added slots machines to the casino owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Richard Milanovich is the tribal chairman of that tribe.

Terms of the deal
Here are some highlights of the gaming compact revision negotiated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Total value: Up to $1.8 billion to the state's General Fund through 2030

Slots: 5,000, up from current 2,000

Casinos: 3, up from 2 today. No immediate plans to build a thrid casino.

General Fund input from tribe: $23.4 million immediately, up to $81.9 million a year at deal's maturity.

Rates: Every new slot added beyond that to 3,000 would reap a 15 percent return on net win for the state. That makes the blended rate 12.5 percent, nearly 4 percent more than the 8.9 percent business tax rate

More online

Tribes find legislative support for bills

There also are four other new compacts pending that would authorize between 99 and 2,250 slot machines per tribe.

Today is the deadline for the introduction of bills this year, and Calderon already has introduced the Assembly Bill 266 on the Morongo compact.

A number of placeholder bills, which can be amended later, also have been introduced and allow lawmakers to delay making final decisions on legislation by the deadline.

Perata was not the formal author of Assembly Bill 2399 last year for the Agua Caliente compact - that was Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, with Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta, as principal coauthor.

But as the Senate leader, Perata controls the flow of legislation and last year allowed AB 2399 to reach the Senate floor where it passed.

It later failed to pass the Assembly, and no other compact bills were taken up in either house for a vote at the end of the 2006 session, when the ratification language was amended into bills.

The Democratic authors this year may help this year since Democrats are the majority in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Perata said hearings on the compacts could begin as soon as next week, though that couldn't be confirmed Thursday.

''The compacts are done and they are waiting'' for action, Perata said. ''We are just going to move them through.''

The compacts stalled last year because of labor and horse racing issues, with unions wanting revisions of collective bargaining provisions and track owners seeking compensation for losses they blame on tribal casinos.

Labor and track representatives have said they don't oppose the compacts if their own needs are met, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, has said the compacts should be renegotiated.

He also has raised other issues, including the state's ability to garnishee the wages for child support from deadbeat parents employed by casinos and the ability to audit tribal books.

The tribes and the governor have refused to reopen them beyond last year's negotiations, instead urging legislative approval. The governor is expecting to receive $500 million for his 2007-08 budget from the expanded gambling operations authorized by the compacts.

Perata stressed that the Legislature ''can't modify those compacts. We can only vote up or down.

''If people feel strong enough that the labor provision should be changed, then they have to vote 'No,','' he added.

But he predicted mostly success in the Senate.

''I think most of them look like they will have sufficient votes because they are only majority vote bills,'' Perata said.

Link: Original Desert Sun Article

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Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... 03.17.97

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