Friday, May 18, 2007

Gov. Schwarzenegger no longer battling tribes; new era of mutually beneficial partnerships

May 18, 2007

Arnold Schwarzenegger softens stance on gaming

by: Shadi Rahimi

AP Photo/Rich Redroncelli -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is featured in an ad campaign launched by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians of California. The purpose of the campaign is to gain support for gaming compacts that will share sizeable revenues with the state of California in order to improve education, provide quality health care and help balance the budget.

SAN FRANCISCO - A new television ad campaign launched by one of California's richest gaming tribes in May features Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has also made TIME Magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people.

The Republican governor's image in an ad paid for by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino on its reservation near Palm Springs, may be confusing for those familiar with his initial attitude toward gaming tribes.

During his gubernatorial campaign in 2003, Schwarzenegger slammed the state's gaming tribes for not ''paying their fair share.'' While campaigning against gaming propositions in 2004, Schwarzenegger even said, ''The Indians are ripping us off.''

But he's softened his tone while signing about 20 new or renegotiated compacts over two years with a handful of gaming tribes who will hand over a good portion of their profits - the latest series of which Schwarzenegger said will allow him to balance his proposed budget for next year.

Such agreements with gaming tribes points to Schwarzenegger's emerging political style: a Republican who puts the ''conserve'' back into conservative, as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. suggested in a recent article about the governor in TIME.

Schwarzenegger, who landed on TIME's 100 list of ''Leaders and Revolutionaries,'' is ''a national leader for his efforts to restore Teddy Roosevelt's conservation tradition to the GOP,'' said Kennedy, who is related to Schwarzenegger by marriage.

Since taking office in 2003, Schwarzenegger has been working to improve the state's air, water, landscapes, energy supplies and climate, Kennedy said, by putting millions of dollars into habitat restoration, fisheries management and pollution reduction and adopting ''the most aggressive greenhouse-gas-reduction policies on earth.''

Why? He is a true fiscal conservative who views environmental injury as deficit spending, Kennedy said. ''Schwarzenegger believes that good economic policy, over the long term, is always the same as good environmental policy,'' he said.

That fiscal conservativeness has also influenced 59-year-old Schwarzenegger's relations with California gaming tribes over the past several years.

Indian casinos mean billions for the state. In 2004, Schwarzenegger negotiated new gaming compacts with five southern California tribes: the Pala Band of Mission Indians, the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the United Auburn Indian Community.

The tribes will pay $1 billion to the state, to be financed by a bond repaid over 18 years, which Schwarzenegger said he ''will dedicate to desperately needed transportation projects.'' They will also make payments to the state over the term of their compact expected to total $700 million.

''This is a fair deal for the tribes and for the state. It solidifies a partnership based on their exclusive gaming rights,'' Schwarzenegger said at a signing ceremony near the state capitol. ''I am hopeful that more tribes will join us.''

Such agreements helped contribute to the defeat of a ballot initiative endorsed by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, a $100-million-plus campaign that failed because ''it was missing a key element - tribal unity,'' said CNIGA chairman Anthony Miranda during a State of the Tribal Nations Address in 2005.

Proposition 70, introduced by the Agua Caliente Band in Palm Springs and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, said tribal enterprises should give the state approximately the same percentage of tax paid by other corporations (8.84 percent).

Instead, Schwarzenegger negotiated compacts in 2005 authorizing two tribes to establish a casino in the southern California city of Barstow in exchange for 16 - 25 percent of their revenue.

That amount, to be paid by the Big Lagoon Rancheria of Humboldt County and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in San Diego County, is estimated to be between $23 million and $31 million during their first seven years of operation, according to a release.

And last year, during a heated re-election campaign, Schwarzenegger amended existing gaming agreements with the Morongo and four other southern California tribes - including the Agua Caliente and San Manuel bands - allowing them to add about 22,500 slot machines.

In return, the tribes would give the state an estimated $500 million a year of their earnings. If the compacts are approved by the Assembly, the expansion would represent a 50 percent increase in the number of slot machines operated by California's 57 Indian casinos, boosting the number to about 70,000.

The compacts were approved by the state Senate in April, but face an uphill battle in the Assembly, where Democrats want tribes to allow casino workers to unionize.

Also awaiting approval is a sixth agreement allowing the state's largest and poorest tribe, the Yurok, to build a casino on its reservation along the California/Oregon border. Most of the state's casinos are located in southern California, in San Diego and Riverside counties. But northern California is host to the largest casinos - Cache Creek in Yolo County and Thunder Valley in Placer County.

''I urge the Assembly to quickly adopt these compacts,'' Schwarzenegger said in a statement. ''Every additional day of delay costs the state millions of dollars for critical services that Californians rely upon.''

Such diplomacy is a far cry from his tone toward tribal gaming just several years ago.

Throughout his 2003 election campaign, Schwarzenegger called California's 104 federally recognized tribes ''powerful special interests,'' adding, ''They pay off the Congress. They make billions and they don't pay their fair share.'' Referring to Proposition 70, Schwarzenegger told Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton, ''It is tremendous greed,'' adding, ''They want to rip off the people.''

A 30-second ad placed by the 1,000-member Morongo Tribe that is running statewide shows clips of an eagle taking flight, Schwarzenegger with a serious expression and photographs of ethnically diverse people.

An announcer says, ''California and California Indian tribes, together we soar. Governor Schwarzenegger and California Indian tribes have reached historic agreements that bring California hundreds of millions of dollars a year to help balance the budget, improve education and provide quality health care for those who need it most.''

The ad ends by urging people to contact their legislators, telling them to approve the compacts: ''California's future depends on it,'' the announcer says.

View the ads at .

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Since 2004, two dozen Members of Congress spent $5 million from campaign contributions on legal defense


Campaign funds going to legal fees

By Ken Dilanian, USA TODAY

Two dozen current and former members of Congress caught up in criminal investigations or ethics inquiries spent more than $5 million in campaign funds on legal fees during the last 27 months covered by campaign-finance records.

The spending reflects a spate of scandals that were a factor in the Democratic takeover of Congress last year and, for some lawmakers, remain a problem. Eight current members have been publicly identified as being under investigation.

While campaign donations may not be spent for personal use, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has ruled that fighting to stay out of jail is a legitimate political activity as long as the allegations of wrongdoing relate to conduct in office.

The biggest spender still in Congress is Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, records show. His campaign paid $905,800 to law firms in the last two-year campaign cycle and the first three months of this year, records show. The Justice Department has been investigating his relationships with lobbyists and companies.

Lewis' office did not respond to phone messages.

Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., whose house recently was searched by the FBI, spent $149,200 during that 27-month period. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., whose wife's insurance business also was searched by federal agents recently, paid $101,800.

Renzi, under scrutiny for a land deal, said he has been the victim of "leaked stories, conjecture and false attacks." Doolittle, whose wife consulted for convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, proclaimed his innocence and criticized the search.

"Since you've started to see the Justice Department become much more active, the members have sought serious legal help," said Kent Cooper, of PoliticalMoneyLine, a non-partisan group that tracks money in politics.

Among Democrats, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who declined to comment, spent $91,900 from December through March. Federal investigators have been looking into a real estate deal.

Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., under investigation over bribery allegations, has a separate legal defense fund governed by House rules that has raised $136,000, according to the latest filing.

Even those who have left Congress are allowed to use their campaign funds to pay legal bills, according to the FEC.

Former congressman Mark Foley, R-Fla, who left in September after it emerged that he had been making sexual advances to congressional pages, paid his lawyers $253,768 from his campaign fund since December, FEC records show.

Campaigns don't have to disclose the specific purpose of legal payments, so it's not always possible to distinguish standard legal bills from criminal defense fees. But routine election compliance typically costs no more than $12,000 a year, said attorney Karl Sandstrom, a former FEC vice chairman who advises campaigns on compliance issues.

Taxpayers & secret slush fund financing Detroit Mayor's high flying lifestyle

originally posted 05.17.07 by Judicial Watch at

Detroit Mayor Has Nonprofit Slush Fund

A secret nonprofit created by Detroit’s controversial mayor to supposedly conduct voter education and community improvements paid almost $9,000 for his stay at a lavish California resort.

Created by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the Kilpatrick Civic Fund was established as a tax-exempt organization to pay for voter education and other civic-minded activities. The fund gets about half a million dollars annually, donors’ identities are not always made public and lots of the money comes from organized labor as “
political contributions.”

The mayor evidently uses a lot of the cash as his personal slush fund. Just recently, the nonprofit picked up the $8,600 tab for two rooms at a world-famous California spa and resort called La Costa. Kilpatrick, his wife and kids and a nanny evidently were on a crucial west-coast fundraising trip.

The mayor says his so-called nonprofit, which is operated by his sister, regularly pays his hefty travel and lodging fees. Many politicians are beginning to use such nonprofits as a way to circumvent laws that limit giving to political campaigns.

But there is no place in government for a secretive fund that raises money from special interests and can be loosely spent, according to a Detroit newspaper editorial that calls for the dismantling of Kilpatrick’s fund. It goes on to point out that this is not the first time Kilpatrick is under a cloud of suspicion for not drawing a sharp line between spending on public duties and spending on
personal luxuries.

Indeed, the mayor of a poor and struggling U.S. city has expensive taste that is often financed by taxpayers. During the first 33 months of his term, Kilpatrick charged more than $210,000 on his city-issued credit card for travel, meals and entertainment. He also used $25,000 of city funds to lease a fancy sports utility vehicle for his wife at a time when Detroit’s $230 million budget deficit forced him to eliminate 3,000 city jobs and cut bus service.

The scandals and subsequent sharp decline in approval ratings led a major
news magazine to list Kilpatrick as one of the worst big-city mayors in the United States. The mayor responded with a controversial advertisement comparing the media criticism of him to violent lynch mobs.

Mashpee circumstances with Pombo sound awfully similar to Long Island tribe's

from a previous post at

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
House Resources Chairman

POMBO PASSED A BILL HELPING ABRAMOFF CLIENT, RECEIVED MONEY IN RETURN: In 2004, Pombo ushered a bill through his committee helping the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians tribe — an Abramoff client — gain federal recognition and special benefits, which was approved in Sept. 2004. “Members of the tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians, have donated at least $20,000 to Pombo’s political group since he was named Committee on Resources Chairman on Jan. 8, 2003. Tribe members gave an additional $12,000 to his re-election campaign earlier this year. The first Mashpee donation - $12,000 from six members of the tribe to Pombo’s leadership political action committee, Rich PAC - came Sept. 29, 2003. That same day, Abramoff gave $5,000 to the fund. Abramoff also gave $2,000 to Pombo’s re-election campaign days after he was named resources committee chairman.” [Lodi News Sentinel,
If you think those circumstances sound awfully familiar ... check these out -- same game; slightly different players:
It warrants mentioning, Mrs. Marian Ilitch the owner of MotorCity Casino and one of her original founding partners Michael J. Malik, Sr. have been bankrolling the efforts to bring about Federal Recognition of the Shinnecock Indians in New York and a subsquent Indian casino resort for the tribe on Long Island; and another former MotorCity Casino founder Herb Strather is behind similar plans for the Mashpee with the objective of opening a Mashpee Indian Casino on Cape Cod. Malik and Strather were forced to sell their original ownership interests when it became apparent that the Michigan Gaming Control Board would disqualify them from licensing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Payments by tribe gave lobbying firm one of New York's Top 10 contracts

In 2005, Mercury Public Affairs had one of the top ten lobbying contracts in the State of New York with it's $240,000+ fee charged to the Shinnecock Nation Gaming Authority according to a report published by the New York State Temporary Commission on Lobbying.

In the same company various unions, Trial Lawyers Association, New York Yankees Partnership, Wellchoice and the Trustees of Columbia University.

Detroit casino syndicators selfishly pimp the environment on one coast but not the other

In California where they seek approvals for twin casino resorts in Barstow, Detroit casino syndicators argue it wouldn’t be prudent to build a casino resort on the shoreline of what’s said to be an environmentally sensitive and significant lagoon; but in New York they’re bankrolling plans that would develop a larger casino resort on the shores of the Great Peconic Bay – part of the Long Island Sound ecosystem.

Detroit casino syndicators lead by Mrs. Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr. are bankrolling plans for twin casino sites in Barstow by arguing, among other things, that even a modest Big Lagoon Rancheria Casino on the tribe’s existing reservation in Humboldt County would disturb the ecosystem of the Big Lagoon. They have said it “would potentially result in significant adverse impacts to off-Reservation lands and resources…” including the Big Lagoon Subdivision on the southern end of the Big Lagoon – two primary neighborhoods: (1) the 76 cabins/cottages dating to 1929 that constitute the Big Lagoon Park Colony; and (2) 33-newer homes in the Big Lagoon Estates.

They say the Big Lagoon has long been recognized as an important and environmentally sensitive natural habitat area – although they fail to explain it was used at one time as a bombing target practice range by the military and remains on the Defense Department’s pending cleanup sites lists; it’s surrounded by active timberlands downstream from a significant sawmill that was in operation for the better part of the 20th Century. Despite these facts, Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that the area is “pristine” and referred to the Big Lagoon as an “untouched natural resource.”

The lagoon, separated from the Pacific Ocean by a narrow sand spit, is said to be a natural habitat for many special-status plant and animal species. The heavily wooded Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area (a 1000-acre unit of the California State Park system), Humboldt Lagoons State Park, and Big Lagoon County Park surround the lagoon. The lagoon itself is a State Wildlife Area managed by the California Department of Fish & Game. There's never any mention of an additional 16+ acres the tribe also owns along the shoreline that's not yet held in Trust by the U.S. Government.
And while all That sounds rather noble and altruistic; and it might even be enough to persuade you that environmental protection was a sincere objective on their part; consider the following...

In New York these same Detroit gambling interests are bankrolling a billion dollar lawsuit and singing quite a different tune; ultimately intended to win approvals for the Shinnecock Indian Nation to develop a casino & hotel resort off-reservation lands on Long Island’s East End (that’s on the outskirts of the posh resort area called "The Hamptons"). That property sits along the shore of the Great Peconic Bay National Estuary and is within the fragile and unique Long Island Pine Barrens – Peconic River Complex. And development in the surrounding area today is low density residential similar to the Big Lagoon Subdivision.

The Great Peconic Bay is the body of water between the North Fork and the South Fork of Long Island. It is bordered on the West by Flanders Bay and on the east by the Little Peconic Bay. The dividing line between the Great and Little Peconic Bays is Robins Island. The Shinnecock Canal provides access from the Great Peconic Bay to Shinnecock Bay.

The Nature Conservancy has named the East End of Long Island one of the "Last Great Places of the Western Hemisphere." The Peconic Bay system is recognized as one of 28 nationally significant estuaries and has been named as one of the nation's "Aquatic Great Places." The Pine Barrens is not only a unique and fragile ecosystem but a critical watershed supplying Eastern Long Island's sole water supply.

Peconic Estuary Program
Nature Conservancy - Peconic Estuary
Pine Barrens Society
New York State Central Pine Barrens
Saving the Last Great Places of Long Island

Mercury Public Affairs clients worked against a Seneca casino in Buffalo (NY)

Another case of a Mercury Public Affairs client seeking to block the expansion of a tribe's gaming opportunities.

  • Blocking Tribal Casinos in Buffalo, NY and Oregon
  • Mercury represents the Buffalo Niagra Partnership: a business group seeking to turn around the economic fortunes of Erie County, New York.

    The Partnership opposes a Seneca Indian Nation casino in Buffalo. Here's their stated position:

    "The Buffalo Niagara Partnership opposes a Seneca casino anywhere within the Buffalo central business district and remains skeptical of the benefit of a second Seneca casino anywhere in Erie County."

    Mercury previously was involved in efforts to block a casino bid by the Warm Springs Indians of Oregon.

  • Promoting an Indian Casino in The Hamptons (Long Island)
  • On the other hand, Mercury Public Affairs has been retained to lobby for the Shinnecock Indian Nation's Gaming Authority in New York and in 2005 & 2006 was paid $240,000 per year for representation.

    Four partners at Mercury Public Affairs (Kieran V. Mahoney; Kirill Goncharenko; Gregory E. Strimple & Michael F. McKeon) joined other Shinnecock Indian Nation advocates and contributed $13,000 to Congressman Richard Pombo's RICH PAC on December 7, 2005. Pombo at the time was chair of the House Resources Committee overseeing Indian Affairs and Indian Gaming matters. The Mercury partners made few other federal contributions in 2005-06.

    There are no records filed with the Secretary of the U.S. Senate to suggest Mercury Public Affairs represented the Shinnecock Indians nor any other affiliates of the Shinnecock financial backers in D.C.; although Mahoney and Goncharenko were registered as lobbyists in D.C. for other clients.

Mercury Public Affairs: Campaign aide today, lobbyist tomorrow

Key Spokesmen May Serve Two Masters.

Want to know Senate candidate Jeanine Pirro's position on casino gambling or importing prescription drugs from Canada? You might find yourself talking to one of her two top campaign aides, Kieran Mahoney or Michael McKeon, who are employees of a firm, Mercury Public Affairs, [a unit of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications, which is a subisidiary of the international communications conglomerate Omnicom Group Inc]. Mercury is registered with the state of New York as a lobbyist for the Shinnecock Nation Gaming Authority and the drug company Pfizer... (Full Story)

Mercury Public Affairs promotes a Casino in The Hamptons but worked to block the Warm Springs Tribe in Oregon

Mercury Public Affairs, the same group hired to help Michael Malik, Marian Ilitch and The Shinnecock Indian Nation to get approvals in New York to build a casino on Long Island in the posh resort area known as The Hamptons; worked to kill plans by the Warm Springs Indian Tribe to build Oregon's first off-reservation casino at Cascade Locks in the Columbia River Gorge.

It was through those circumstances that the Secretary of Interior made clear that tribes would need to have the newly acquired lands taken into trust prior to pursuing a compact with the respective state for off-reservation gaming.

The Malik/Ililtch casino syndication Barwest LLC has been bucking that direction by trying to get the California Legislature to ratify gaming compacts with the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Indian Tribe before either has completed the fee to trust land transfer process for parcels in Barstow, Califonria. Barstow is hundreds of miles from either Tribe's existing reservation and outside their acknowledged ancestral homelands.

Partners in Mercury Public Affairs joined Malik in making substantial contributions to the political committee of former Rep. Richard Pombo; although neither Mercury Public Affairs nor its partners were registered as lobbyists for the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Washington D.C.

Casino advisory vote set on Cape Cod


Middleboro OKs referendum on casino


MIDDLEBORO — Voters will have the chance to say whether they want a casino in town, but the question will be nonbinding and it has yet to be determined when it will appear on a ballot.

The Middleboro Board of Selectmen voted unanimously last night to present the referendum as soon as possible.

"I think that we can only benefit as a town from that," said Terry Tolosko, a town resident and casino opponent, one of dozens who packed into the selectmen's meeting room. "If people hear the negatives and they hear the positives, let them decide."

Middleboro residents began demanding information from town officials after news spread that a financial backer for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe purchased 125 acres from the town at an auction last month.

The tribe, which is expected to be officially recognized by the federal government May 23 and eligible to put land into trust for gaming purposes, has expressed its interest in building a large-scale casino in Middleboro.

In addition to the 125 acres off Precinct Street, the tribe has taken out an option to buy 200 more acres adjacent to the property.

The tribe is not set on building the casino in Middleboro, however, spokesman Scott Ferson has said.

But Middleboro Town Manager John Healey said last week the town plans to start negotiating with the tribe.

The selectmen also voted last night to meet with tribal leaders next week.

Though the five-member board supports the casino, Selectman Adam Bond told his fellow selectmen last night that to exclude the population of Middleboro from "the single most earth-shattering change in the town in an awfully long time" would be to "simply throw away our obligation to the people who put us in here."

Bond, who was the first to bring up the referendum, originally asked that a special election be held in three months, but he amended his motion when it became unclear whether that would be possible.

The town clerk indicated to other town officials yesterday that a referendum question can appear on the ballot only at the annual town election, the officials said.

Middleboro held its annual election in April.

But another election may be coming this summer, if residents have anything to say about it.

Petitions are circulating around town to recall three of the five selectmen, according to several residents.

Alleged financial mismanagement is part of the reason residents are looking to recall chairwoman Marsha Brunelle and Selectmen Wayne Perkins and Steven Spataro, former Selectman Steve Morris said.

The last straw came when the selectmen directed the town manager to assess the tribe's interest in a casino without talking to residents, Morris said.

"I'm more upset about the process than anything," he said after last night's meeting. "We've never had a hearing, we've never had a discussion, we didn't get it tonight either."

Members of the public were not allowed to make any comments during the referendum talks.

Opponents of the casino, however, have formed their own group in which to talk.

News and information are posted on the group's Web site,

Stephanie Vosk can be reached at

Gaming chairman expresses concern over rules


Lack of standards could cost millions

By James P. Sweeney

SACRAMENTO – The chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission yesterday warned that the absence of federal standards in Indian casinos could attract crime and cost tribes untold millions of dollars.

The future without the internal operating rules, which were invalidated by federal courts, “will be a time of some uncertainty and doubt,” Chairman Philip Hogen said in remarks prepared for the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee.

“Operations without effective internal controls and oversight will, once again, become obvious targets for the unscrupulous,” Hogen predicted. “Those tribes . . . will lose millions of dollars and often not realize that it has happened until years later.”

Federal courts invalidated what are known as “minimum internal control standards.” The guidelines set standards for the security at casinos, including cash handling, cage and credit operations, internal audits, surveillance and the games – from technical requirements to how often decks of cards should be changed.

Since the ruling became final last year, Hogen has been on a crusade to persuade Congress to restore the commission's authority to impose and enforce the rules for all Indian casinos.

In California, the loss of the federal standards has become a sticking point blocking ratification of five new tribal agreements, or compacts, that promise 22,500 more slots and another major gambling expansion in Southern California.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger negotiated the pending deals last year with Sycuan of El Cajon, Pechanga of Temecula and three other big gaming tribes. The agreements would run for 23 years and pay the state a larger cut of gaming revenues, up to 25 percent from some machines.

But Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, a Fremont Democrat who chairs the Governmental Organization Committee, has questioned the state's ability to regulate the casinos and assure the state's share of revenues without the federal standards in place.

Torrico sparred repeatedly with an attorney for the governor and the chairman of the California Gambling Control Commission.

Sylvia Cates, deputy legal affairs secretary for the governor, and Dean Shelton, the state commission chairman, both said California's compacts require operating rules similar and, in some cases, identical to the federal standards.

Moreover, most tribes have adopted rules at least equal to the federal rules, Cates said.

The state has requested $1.7 million and 14 added positions in the new budget to expand its field presence and begin the transition from federal to state enforcement of the rules.

But, if the state has ample oversight authority, Torrico asked, why is it pushing tribes to accept a new administrative regulation that would require all gaming tribes to comply with standards at least as stringent as the federal rules? Why also, he asked, has the governor implored Congress to restore the federal rules?

“My goal is to ratify these compacts,” Torrico said at the end of the hearing. “But none of the compacts will be ratified until this issue and the others I have mentioned before are addressed fully.”

Find this article at:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The tangled web of Dennis J. Whittlesey and Ilitch agent Tom Shields

Dennis J. Whittlesey joins Dickinson Wright from the Washington, D.C. office Jackson Kelly PLLC. His areas of practice emphasis are Indian law, Indian gaming law, civil litigation and environmental law. Mr. Whittlesey has more than 25 years of experience in developing economic projects, including casinos, for Indian tribes in the United States and Canada. He has served as Special Counsel for Gaming to the cities of Detroit, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Battle Creek, Michigan; Lima, Ohio and Barstow, California, as well as a number of counties in California, Illinois and Michigan.

Note: ironically Tom Shields (Marketing Resource Group; Lansing, Michigan), longtime PR/Political strategists for Marian Ilitch, the Ilitch Family and Michael J. Malik, Sr. has represented casino proponents in a number of the cases where Mr. Whittlesey has been recommended or brought in to represent the local government's interests in negotiations with casino proponents.

Shields' clients end up covering costs of Whittlesey's services via reimbursement to the local governmental agency intended to cover fees billed under Whittlesey's retainer arrangments.

Mr. Whittlesey received J.D. and LL.M. degrees from Georgetown University Law Center, and a B.A. degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Oklahoma, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Tax Court and U.S. Claims Court. He is a member of the International Association of Gaming Attorneys and a past Chairman of the Young Lawyers Association of The Federal Bar Association. He has been named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" from 2005 to the present for his work in Indian law and Indian gaming law.

Dickson Wright attorneys have represented casino syndcation partners Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr. on various matters prior to Whittlesey joining the firm.

Documentary breaks the stereotypes of "wealthy" gaming tribes

Who are the Native Americans behind one of the largest Casino Resorts in California?

Find out in "Reserved Wealth"- an insider's look at the life and history of San Diego County's Barona Indian Reservation, home to the Kumeyaay tribe.

Filmmaker Kevin VanWanseele returns to his reservation and discovers how the enormous amount of wealth has changed the culture of the Kumeyaay so little.

How has this tribe maintained control of its multi million-dollar industry? Can this small tribe survive the pitfalls of new wealth?

This film also explores the years of genocide, slavery, and marginalization these people have had to overcome.

"Reserved Wealth" is the story of a people beaten down only to emerge as one of the wealthiest and most generous tribes in America.

For more info:

"Reserved Wealth"

Additional chapters of the documentary:
  • Other Big Lagoons of significance

    Big Lagoon, Humboldt County, California, USA

    The 20-acre Big Lagoon Rancheria sits on the southern edge of the Big Lagoon near the city of Trinidad, in Humboldt County, California.

    Not be confused with these other more frequently referenced “Big Lagoon” locations:

    The Big Lagoon in Humboldt County includes 1,470 acres of open water and marsh; it is one of three lagoons in the Humboldt Lagoons State Park. This Big Lagoon is separated from the Pacific Ocean by a narrow sand spit. The heavily wooded Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area (a 1000-acre unit of the California State Park system), and the Big Lagoon County Park (overnight camp sites, picnic grounds, boat launch, etc.) surround this lagoon. The lagoon itself is a State Wildlife Area managed by the California Department of Fish & Game.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has oversight for this Big Lagoon as it is a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS); a onetime bombing target practice range (including the Rancheria’s lands) for military practice maneuvers.

    These “Big Lagoon” references are generally associated with the Big Lagoon in Humboldt County:

    · Big Lagoon 203 Dam

    · Big Lagoon County Park

    · Big Lagoon Indian Reservation

    · Big Lagoon Marsh (partially under public stewardship)

    · Big Lagoon Spit

    · Big Lagoon Park Company (Big Lagoon Colony)

    · Big Lagoon Estates

    · Big Lagoon Mill (Sawmill)

    · Big Lagoon Subdivisions

    · Big Lagoon Bombing Target Range

    Ilitch gets $700,000 to demolish historic Madison-Lennox Hotel

    previously published in the Detroit MetroTimes:

    ...Now, fast forward another year, and we find that the master plan is paying off, as the Detroit Downtown Development (or is that Demolition?) Authority is loaning the Ilitches $700,000 to demolish the Madison-Lenox so a parking lot can be built.

    ...Although few are willing to go public and combat the Ilitches on the issue, it is particularly galling to those working to restore other structures to see the city loaning the Ilitch family $700,000 to destroy buildings, especially when the only thing replacing it is a parking lot … oh, wait, correct that, “ a landscaped, lighted and paved parking lot.” Much better.

    ...According to Ann Arbor builder Fred Beal, who walked through the Madison-Lenox two summers ago with developer Jon Carlson, the $700,000 the Ilitches are getting to demolish the building could go a long way toward stabilizing and preserving the entire structure with windows and a roof, as well as getting started on basic improvements.

    Carlson was enamored with the building, and was convinced it could be restored. His subsequent calls to Olympia following the inspection, however, were never returned. Carlson tells me he still wants to show Olympia how it could use historical tax credits and other financing tools to preserve the building...

    Detroit architect Douglas Mcintosh of Mcintosh & Poris, the incoming president of Preservation Wayne, notes that “if you crunch the numbers, even in the long run, it’s absolutely astounding how foolish it is to tear down the Madison-Lenox and replace it with surface parking.” Mcintosh says he would welcome the opportunity to sit down with the Ilitch organization and make his case.

    It’s a sad commentary when a city which purports to be desperate for hotel space, which is welcoming a skeptical Super Bowl crowd here in 2006, would plow this building under and replace it with a surface lot.

    It’s even sadder when $700,000 in public funding is loaned to a resource-rich organization like Olympia Development to accomplish this act.

    And a parking lot awaits. Et tu, Little Caesar?

    You may also want to review these posts:

    Despite Nation Trust support, Ilitch defied activists and preservationists with demolition of Madison-Lenox Hotel

    as posted 1.26.04 in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Web-azine Preservation ONLINE:

    Hotel Huggers To Meet in Detroit

    Story by Margaret Foster

    More than 200 people are expected to gather in freezing downtown Detroit on Wednesday night to show their support for the Madison-Lenox Hotel, whose owners want to tear it down for an 85-car parking lot.

    Playing on the term "building huggers," several preservation groups have organized a "hug" on Jan. 28. The Madison, a seven-story hotel built in 1900, is connected via a dining room to the eight-story Lenox, built in 1903.

    "The hug is not a protest," says Jim Turner, one of the event's organizers and one of Detroit's seven historic district commissioners. "It's an effort to show city officials that buildings still have value. We're showing our love for the city and for the efforts to save a unique part of the city."

    Some city departments back owner Illitch Holdings' plan to destroy the hotel, which has been vacant since the early 1990s, perhaps as part of Detroit's effort to "clean up" downtown before the 2006 Super Bowl. In August 2002, the city's Downtown Development Authority promised to loan Illitch $700,000 toward demolition and another $340,000 later. Detroit's buildings and safety engineering department erroneously granted Illitch a demolition permit before the historic district commission could consider it.

    "Even though [Illitch is] a private corporation, they still have to obey the ordinances and statutes of the city," Turner says. "The city departments have to obey those ordinances as well."

    The city's historic district commission voted 7-0 on Jan. 15 to deny permission to demolish the Madison-Lennox because Illitch has not given any reason for the building's demolition. Illitch could appeal that decision, however.

    "They have not provided any justification at all why the building should be demolished," says Turner, who serves on the commission. "They've had two and a half years to present a plan to the historic commission, and they've chosen not to present a plan."

    Estimates for the renovation of the Madison-Lenox range from $3 million to $7 million, Turner says.

    See Also: Detroit Begins Demolishing Madison-Lenox Hotel

    EMPORIS Buildings: Madison-Lenox Hotel

    Note: In a complete surprise move, the City of Detroit's buildings and safety engineering department ordered the Madison-Lenox demolished 5.18.05 despite a unanimous decision by the City Historic Perservation Committee to the contrary. Preservationists got a judge to grant a temporary restraining order but demolition crews kept working. In 2004, the National Trust included the Madison-Lenox Hotel in its annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Ilitch Holdings paved the hotel site for an 85-car parking lot.

    Speaking for the voiceless (Metro Times Detroit)

    ... we are reminded of another taxpayer subsidy that flows to Ilitch in comments by Jack Lessenberry in the metrotimes:

    Speaking for the voiceless:

    "a bankrupt city ... paying Mike Ilitch $400,000 a year for maintaining the stadium. (In fairness, let’s note this outrage started while Dennis Archer was still mayor.) Maintaining the stadium evidently doesn’t mean taking care of it, since as a helicopter ride is quick to reveal, the grass is turning yellow and the place is falling apart. The pizza baron did cut his fee in half recently, after lots of other contractors proposed to take better care of the stadium for less money. What the city really does for its Little Caesar is prevent anyone else from using Tiger Stadium. Ilitch’s fear always has been that somebody might put a minor league team in there, giving Detroiters interesting baseball at a fraction of the price. Not to worry; with just a little more maintenance, the most important spot in the history of Detroit sports may be ready for the wrecking ball."

    John Doolittle, a D.C. lobbyist, a Detroit casino developer and a New York Indian Tribe

    According to records filed with the Secretary of the U.S. Senate, Rick Alcalde’s lobbying firm Potomac Partners DC represents “MJM Enterprises” (aka MJM Enterprises Development Company), “a gaming development corporation,” on Gaming and Indian Affairs matters; specifically lobbying on “Bay Mills Tribe land claim settlement and Shinnecock Federal Tribe recognition.”

    Shortly after forming Potomac Partners DC in 2005, Alcalde hired rookie lobbyist Daniel Feliz to represent MJM Enterprises (Bay Mills and Shinnecock tribal matters) and also the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Feliz is the son of Rep. John Doolittle's long time California political advisor John Feliz. Doolittle was then a member of the House Appropriations Committee. The elder Feliz was also a fund raiser and political campaign manager for former Rep. Richard Pombo and various Pombo affiliated committees -- Pombo was then chairman of the House Resources Committee. Another Feliz son, James Feliz (a student at University of the Pacific) was involved in the controversial recruitment of paid precinct walkers for the Pombo Campaign as reported in Roll Call last year.

    Under a separate arrangement (outside of Potomac Partners), Blue Water Resorts retained young Daniel Feliz. Blue Water Resorts is affiliated with MJM Enterprises principal Michael J. Malik, Sr. and presumably involved with the Bay Mills Indian Tribe's plans to build a Port Huron Casino near the Blue Water International Border Crossing.

    Blue Water Resorts retained Wheat Government Relations at the same time it engaged the younger Mr. Feliz.

    In 2004 & 2005, controversial D.C. lobbyist Richard Kessler (president of the Ripon Society) was retained by Wheat Government Relations (also a lobbying firm) for representation on Indian Affairs and Indian Gaming matters.

    Prior to engaging Alcalde & young Dan Feliz, Wheat Government Relations had primary lobbying responsibilities for Bay Mills & Shinnecock Indians as well as Blue Water Resorts. However, it is clear now that Wheat Government Relations was simply passing through lobbying fees to the Kessler firm at the time; enabling Kessler to avoid registering a direct relationship with the Bay Mills & Shinnecock tribes or their true financial partners. Curiously, Kessler noted on lobbying registration dislosures that his firm had been retained specifically to lobby on issues regarding a "Bay Mills/Shinnecock land swap."

    Before MJM Enterprises was represented by Potomac Partners, controversial lobbyist turned PAC treasurer Barbara Bonfiglio had signed MJM Enterprises as a client of Williams & Jensen. Bonfiglio's other clients included Rep. Pombo, Rep. Jerry Lewis (then chair of House Appropriations), Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum and others. Both Bonfiglio and Richard Alcalde and their clients have come under fire because they created jobs and consulting gigs for Rep. Lewis' step-daughter Julie Willis-Leon, a Las Vegas resident, at the same time their clients had business before the House Appropriations Committee.

    All in the shadow of convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Big Lagoon Subdivision is beautiful but 'untouched' and 'pristine?'

    Click to view 25 more photo(s) of Big Lagoon.
    Big Lagoon Subdivision: nearly 100 residences in two neighborhoods on the southern shores of the Big Lagoon and along the Pacific Ocean

    Humboldt County

    Regional Information

    Subarea: Big Lagoon Subdivisions

    Area: Northwest County

    Today: Hidden away in this former logging company town and surrounding neighborhoods are 100 residences, part of an exclusive enclave, and facilities for the recreation-minded. Located at the center of town is B.L. State Park, a unique place with the lagoon adjacent to the ocean and a public boat ramp.

    Scenes of Big Lagoon Subdivisions

    Prosecutor seeks to keep those arrested in Shinnecock drug raid in jail for now; ringleader held without bail


    High bail set for Shinnecock raid arrestees


    The charges against 18 people accused of illegal drug sales or weapons possession -- all of them arrested during or after a massive raid on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation and in four houses scattered across the east end -- entered a new phase Wednesday morning as more than a dozen of them were arraigned by Judge C. Randall Hinrichs in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead.

    Many had been in jail since the April 19 raid, but Wednesday they faced grand jury charges which, in several cases, were more serious than the original charges contained in the warrants used during the raid.

    As the defendants came before Hinrichs, one at a time and each wearing dark green prison uniforms, assistant district attorney Elizabeth Creighton of the narcotics bureau asked for high bail -- $300,000 for many -- and said that, if the defendants could actually post it, she would first seek a separate hearing to determine the source of the bail money.

    Several of the defendants had not yet had the opportunity to meet with their attorneys, and many of the attorneys simply reserved the right to have a bail hearing at a later date.

    John A. Miles, 35, of 156 Hampton Ave., Mastic, described by Creighton as "the major supplier of cocaine to the Shinnecock reservation," was ordered held without bail. The prosecution had asked that Miles be held in $2 million bail, saying he had nine prior convictions, including several felonies.

    Miles' mother and sister were in court watching the proceeding, and did not speak in the courtroom. But, in the hallway outside, Sheila Miles said her son was being falsely charged by people seeking to hide their own guilt. "That's my son in there," she said. "He's being falsely accused...he's a good person. He helps everybody."

    His sister, Verna, said that Miles had spent time in jail in the past, but said he was being punished because of his old reputation. "He did his time. Now he takes care of his children," she said.

    Creighton told judge Hinrichs that Miles and another defendant, Terrill Latney, 27, of 2 Bogota Road, Mastic Beach, regularly supplied cocaine to Awan Gumbs who, in turn, distributed it to others on the reservation. Awan Gumbs is the son of tribal trustee Lance Gumbs. He was among the 18 arrested.

    As the defendants were arraigned, a large pile of boxes -- transcripts of the seven months of wiretaps that led up to the raids -- were stacked on a rolling cart on the side of the courtroom. Occasionally, one of the defense attorneys would pick up two or three of them and wheel them out of the building after their client's bail hearing took place.

    GOP appropriations replacement under fire

    posted at


    Former Hooker Sidekick To Control Federal Purse Strings

    It's good times for Republicans who love cheap hookers and shady land deals. Congressional Republicans are promoting ethically challenged fatcat politician Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) to the powerful committee that controls federal spending!

    The highly coveted Appropriations Committee seat opened up last month when fellow Californian Rep. John Doolittle stepped down after the FBI raided his home in an attempt to learn more about his relationship with corrupt super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

    Calvert's involvement in several land dealsin his home state has raised the ire of a grand jury—and sane Republicans. Also raising eyebrows: a 2004 trip to Saudi Arabia Calvert took with disgraced ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham, a different convicted felon wrapped up in the Cunningham's bribery scandal, and a Saudi-American real estate developer whose father reportedly had close ties to Osama Bin Laden. Questions about Calvert's judgment first arose in 1993, though, following a run-in with police during which he tried to explain he was "just talkingwith a methadone-addled prostitute in the passenger seat of his car while covering his unzipped fly with his hands.

    More sane Republicans are not so psyched about this impending new era of leadership. Conservative blog RedState has posted an "open declaration of war" on Republican leaders for their decision to elevate Calvert. For his part, Calvert's denied any wrongdoing, but RedState has concluded that House Republicans won't ditch their old business-as-usual ways without a muscular display of grassroots displeasure and is encouraging bloggers turn up the heat on the Republicans who supported Calvert's promotion: "We must scalp one member. That member's name is Ken Calvert."

    Pechanga Band of Indians spending big to advocate for approval of compacts

    as posted at

    The Pechanga Band of LuiseƱo Indians of California has spent more than $90,000 to lobby California lawmakers to approve new gaming compacts.

    The tribe spent about $19,000 on concert tickets, basketball tickets, hotel rooms and meals for lawmakers, staff and consultants, The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Some of the attention went to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat who opposes the compacts, and Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, a key Democrat who is now backing the compacts.

    The tribe also $25,000 to the California Democratic Party. But some party leaders are working with disenrolled Pechangas to put Indian civil rights issues on the party agenda.

    Former members of the tribe and Steve Haze, vice chairman of the Fresno County Democratic Central Committee, have been generating opposition to the compacts. Haze said the tribe shouldn't be allowed to expand its gaming operation if it doesn't respect the civil rights of its members.

    Get the Story:

    Supreme Court ruled against Ilitch eminent domain scheme


    By Bill Sizemore

    In a case known as Detroit Wayne County Stadium Authority v. Alibri, one Frida Alibri, was coerced under threat of condemnation into selling her property, so a sports stadium [Mike Ilitch's Comerica Park] could be built.

    As part of the deal, Ms. Alibri was promised that the property would not be sold later to a private party. Notwithstanding the promises made, after the transaction closed, ownership indeed was transferred to a private party [Mike Ilitch]. Consequently, Frida Alibri sued to get her property back.

    The case went back and forth. The trial court decided that Alibri should get her property back. The appeals court, however, agreed with the Stadium Authority, saying it could keep the property. Ultimately, the Supreme Court decided that the taking was not a legitimate one after all, and Frida Alibri got her property back.

    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Ilitch land scam focus of national report examining abuses of eminent domain

    Public Power, Private Gain
    A Five-Year, State-By-State Report Examining The Abuse Of Eminent Domain

    By Dana Berliner

    In the late 1990s, Detroit decided to build two new stadiums, one each for the Lions football team and the Tigers baseball team. The stadiums would be adjacent to each other along Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. Land acquisition costs were split between the teams and the City, with the state chipping in an additional $25 million to the effort. The plan called for the stadiums themselves to be jointly owned by the City and the respective teams, with the teams retaining a majority interest.

    Over the course of a few months in 1996, the Detroit/Wayne County Stadium Authority reached settlements that gave it title to all but 24 of the properties on the stadium site. The authority then condemned those 24 remaining properties, which comprised about a quarter of the total land for the project, and paid the owners figures equal to what it had originally offered them. Most of the remaining owners did not challenge the government.s authority to take the property, but were not happy with the amount of money offered. The owners asked for millions of dollars more, but the jury disagreed.

    Only two owners actually challenged the power of the stadium authority to take the property. Freda Alibri and her family owned and operated Prime Parking LLC on a one-acre lot on Woodward Avenue. The Alibris. property was across the street from both of the new stadiums, and the stadium authority claimed it needed the Alibris. lot for stadium parking. Under the threat of condemnation, the Alibris agreed to sell.

    What the authority did not tell the Alibris was that the $264,551 it used to buy their land had actually been loaned to the authority by Mike Ilitch, who owns both the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings hockey franchise. From the time the City chose the Woodward Avenue site for the Lions and Tigers stadiums.

    Ilitch had been quietly acquiring land across the street in hopes of someday building a new hockey arena adjacent to the sports complex. Once the Alibris learned of the loan from Ilitch to the stadium authority, and the fact that the authority was planning to transfer title to the Alibris. land as repayment of the Ilitch loan, the family sued to get their land back.

    In August 2000, a judge ruled that at the time the stadium authority sought the Alibris. property, it did not have the power to condemn it. That power was the only reason the Alibris sold. Since there was no power, the sale was invalidated. The judge ordered the stadium authority to transfer the land back to the Alibris.

    On appeal, however, the decision was reversed. The appeals court found that the trial court should have looked at the case as an agreement to purchase, rather than as a condemnation. Since the Alibris agreed to sell, and they did not show the existence of fraud, they were bound to honor that agreement.

    One other owner was luckier. The stadium authority also filed a condemnation action against a building owned by Joseph Maday. The Womans Exchange Building is separated from the rest of the project area by a church. The authority had no current plans for Maday's property and no idea what it would do with it.

    The judge rejected the condemnation, ruling that the taking was unnecessary.

    You may want to review these posts:
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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 Mapping Social Networks

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    certainly must reads!

    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

    The Verifiable Truth