Friday, June 01, 2007

Michigan Resource Links - Gaming, Ilitch, MotorCity Casino, Mike Malik, Bay Mills Tribe


  • Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB)
  • The Detroit Casinos (MGCB)
  • Native Amercian Casinos (MGCB)
  • Tribal-State Gaming Compacts (MGCB)
  • - by "Michigan Gaming Law" (MGLaw)
  • Comprehensive list of links (MGLaw)
  • Timeline - Gaming in MI (MGLaw)
  • Key Document Archive - (MGLaw)
  • MI Casino Disclosure (SOS)
  • MI Business Entity Search (DL&EG )
  • MI Lobbying Disclosure (SOS)
  • MI Elections past & present (SOS)
  • MI Campaign Finance Disclosure (SOS)
  • MI Various County (City, Townships, etc) Tax Records

  • This is a sampling of those non-subscriber references and resources used by editors of

    Governor has been led to believe tribe made sacrifices in agreeing to share its previously authorized casino site

    In announcing Gaming Compact deadline extensions, Governor Schwarzenegger again suggests Los Coyotes has been given consideration because the tribe sacrificed something in agreeing to “share” its previously approved, but not yet transferred into trust, Barstow site with the Big Lagoon Rancheria Indians.

    Press releases issued by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on 9/9/05 and 5/31/07 as well as preambles to the Tribal-State Compacts the Governor signed in 2005 for both the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians consistently explain that:

    “The Los Coyotes Band already entered into a municipal services agreement with the City of Barstow in October 2004 in order to construct a casino on parcels identified and agreed by the City. The Tribe has also agreed to share its site with the Big Lagoon Rancheria as part of a unified casino project.”

    The Governor’s negotiators have consistently acknowledged that the Los Coyotes Band fails to meet the Governor’s own standards requiring an Independent Public Policy to benefit the state, but suggest that the Los Coyotes are sacrificing half the project they originally proposed and the City Council approved for Barstow; but that’s not so.

    According to a 9/3/03 story published in the Desert Dispatch, Barstow's hometown daily newspaper,

    Tom Shields, a spokesman for Michigan-based Barwest LLC, said at Tuesday's Redevelopment Agency meeting that the company is buying a 47-acre site there for the casino and hotel. The Los Coyotes Band of Indians from San Diego County and Barwest will try to get the federal government to take a portion of the land ‘into trust’ so it can be used for gaming.”

    Ten months later, the Los Coyotes Band’s Municipal Services Agreement (MSA) approved by the Barstow City Council on July 1, 2004 and executed by Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale on 10/11/04 states,

    The Tribe will request that the United States take into trust for its benefit land not to exceed twenty contiguous acres, absent written agreement of the City, from the parcel(s) identified in Exhibit A appended hereto (‘Trust Lands’).”

    However, the Compacts signed by the Governor September 9, 2005 for the Los Coyotes Band of Indians and the Big Lagoon Rancheria identify a 23-acre parcel and a 25-acre parcel respectively.

    Los Coyotes did not share or sacrifice anything. And the Detroit developer Barwest which owns the 48 acres in Barstow and holds the exclusive rights to develop and manage any Barstow casino(s) resort(s) has now more than doubled the size of its original proposal for a Los Coyotes project – from 20-acres to 48 acres; almost 2.5 times the original project Los Coyotes sought independently and which had been approved by the City Council in 2004.

    Further, the original Los Coyotes proposal sought approvals for 1,500 slots and 25 table games. Under terms of the two Compacts the tribes will be granted approvals for up to 4,500 slots (2,250 each) and plan to operate a total of 48 table games and 20 poker tables.

    Los Coyotes will end up with not only a larger casino site but 1.5 times the number of gaming devices it originally sought.

    And Barwest, the entity that holds agreements as the exclusive casino resort Developer and Manager will be paid to develop a project 2.5 times that originally sought by Los Coyotes; with nearly three times the number of slots and gaming tables; and has secret contractual side agreements to sell up to another 100 acres or more it has already acquired in Barstow to the two tribes after the original 23 and 25 acre parcels are taken into trust but before the casinos open. By the time the casinos open, the tribes will likely control a 125-150 acre mega resort. The Big Lagoon Rancheria in Humboldt County is only 20 acres total.

    As manager of the dual casinos and resorts, Barwest under terms monitored by the National Indian Gaming Commission will receive up to 30% of teach tribe's casino resort earnings (currently anticipated at 2.5 - 3 times the original Los Coyotes proposal); certainly a jbig ackpot for Barwest.

    Neither the Los Coyotes Band of Indians nor the Detroit casino developer/manager have sacrificed anything here; instead, both organizations will realize significant unanticipated windfalls as will the Big Lagoon Rancheria.

    As a reminder … public disclosures by Los Coyotes' leaders, Barstow officials and detailed in memoranda written by Barwest's Michigan attorneys indicate the Los Coyotes Indians terminated their arrangement with Barwest late in the summer of 2004, after Governor Schwarzenegger turned down the Tribe’s original proposal. The relentless Detroit casino developer/manager Barwest then pursued a partnership with Big Lagoon whereby the tribe would relocate its planed casino to land owned by Barwest in Barstow; and subsequently later demanded the Los Coyotes Band of Indians abandon its new development partner and return to a Barwest partnership early in 2005 or face lawsuits.

    These compacts were nothing short of a reward to Detroit-based Barwest for agreeing to take on the Big Lagoon Rancheria circumstances when no one else had been willing or able. Barwest neverr truly considered casinos on either tribe's reservation but from the beginning had its mind made up on Barstow.

    Wife of Lobbyist returns to position in Governor's Office

    Delette (Knonenberg) Olberg, 40, of Roseville, has been appointed chief deputy appointments secretary in the Office of the Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; an appointment that does not require Senate confirmation. (Press Release)

    She most recently served as chief-of-staff for Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, a position she had previously held before being appointed director of scheduling for the Office of Governor Schwarzenegger in January 2006.

    Her experience also includes five years as membership coordinator for the Chemical Industry Council of California. She at one time was director of law and government affairs for AT&T.

    Delette Olberg is the wife of former conservative GOP Assemblyman R. Keith Olberg.

    Mr. Olberg is a lobbyist for the Detroit gaming syndication Barwest LLC and involved with several controversial political action committees including the 527-group Economic Freedom Fund, a conservative 527 committee of which Olberg is president. Employing Olberg via Barwest LLC are Mrs. Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr.

    Mr. Olberg reports Barwest LLC and its affiliates paid him $250,000 in 2006.

    Delette Knonenberg Olberg

    Since Mar 23, 2007

    Chief Deputy Appointments Secretary, Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; annual compensation of $118,00

    2006 – 2007

    Chief of Staff, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee; GOP caucus payroll, $99,000 per year

    Jan 2006

    Director of Scheduling, Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; annual compensation of $110,004

    2004 -- 2005

    Chief of Staff, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee

    2002 – 2003

    Director of member services and GOP consultants, Assembly Republican Caucus

    2001 -- 2002

    Director of energy and technology, California Manufacturers and Technology Association

    2000 – 2001

    Chief of Staff, Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher

    1995 – 2000

    Chief of Staff, Assemblyman Keith Olberg

    (Delette Knonenberg)

    Unknown 5 year period

    Membership Coordinator, Chemical Industry Council of California


    Director of law and government affairs, AT&T

    Thursday, May 31, 2007

    Schwarzenegger issues press release, documents on gaming compact extensions


    Gov. Schwarzenegger Announces Extension for Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes Gaming Compacts

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced an agreement between his Administration, Big Lagoon Rancheria of Humboldt County and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in San Diego County to extend the date the compacts must take effect and the date the land the casino will be built upon must be taken into trust by the federal government.

    "This unique collaboration saves pristine coastline and protects the state’s biggest estuary. Today’s agreement gives the Legislature until the end of this year’s session to approve this balanced solution to a dilemma that has spanned more than a decade," said Gov. Schwarzenegger.

    "One must see the land surrounding this potential casino site to understand that Big Lagoon is a place of statewide environmental significance," said Ruth Coleman, director of State Parks. "It is an extremely fragile wetland and placing a casino there would impact three nearby state parks and damage the lagoon's unique ecosystem. We applaud the tribes for protecting this land and urge the Legislature to approve their efforts."

    The original compacts authorize the Big Lagoon Rancheria of Humboldt County and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in San Diego County to establish a single, unified casino project in the City of Barstow on a piece of property identified by the City. The City sought to have a casino located in Barstow and had previously entered into an exclusive arrangement with the Los Coyotes Band to allow for the construction of a casino. As a condition of its compact with the state, the Los Coyotes Band agreed to share its site in Barstow with the Big Lagoon Rancheria and forgo the right to conduct gaming on its tribal lands in San Diego County.

    Big Lagoon Rancheria, in exchange for the right to locate its gaming operations in Barstow, agreed to refrain from building a casino or any other commercial development on its tribal lands along the coast of northern California. The Big Lagoon Rancheria's lands are adjacent to park land and Big Lagoon, one of the few remaining naturally functioning coastal lagoons in the state.
    The lagoon is managed by the Department of Fish and Game as an ecological preserve and is part of a fragile coastal ecosystem supporting a diverse species population that includes three species listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Big Lagoon Rancheria has long sought to locate a casino along the shore of the lagoon on its tribal lands and has been in litigation with the State over its federal right to seek a gaming compact on those lands for over six years.

    Big Lagoon Rancheria is a functioning seasonal lagoon that provides critical coastal wetlands for fish and wildlife species. Big Lagoon is home for thousands of migratory birds in the Pacific Flyway and Roosevelt elk and black tailed deer can frequently be found foraging along the Lagoon’s periphery. Fish species that depend on the lagoon include Chinook salmon and listed coho salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout.

    "The Big Lagoon Wildlife Area is managed in its natural state for the preservation of the Big Lagoon and its surrounding flora and fauna. Lagoons are an incubator of life and represent an incredible coming together of species from land, air and fresh and saltwater environments," said L. Ryan Broddrick, director of the Department of Fish and Game. "The area’s protection from development is a high priority for the Department of Fish and Game as we endeavor to protect the Public Trust resources for their use and enjoyment today and for future generations."

    Link to additional background about the terms of the compacts.

    Link to extension agreements with
    Big Lagoon Rancheria of Humboldt County and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in San Diego County.

    Novak hears confirmed rumors Rep. Lewis could retire in 2008, Calif races could be key focus

    posted 5.30.07 by Robert Novak at

    Novak suggests California could be a major focus in Congressional races in 2008 with one possible pickup and a series of potential retirements currently being discussed (in some cases just rumored), there could be a large freshman class coming out of the Golden State next year.

    • District 4: Rep. John Doolittle (R) is being scrutinized by the Justice Department. Despite his firm protestations of innocence, there is no question that Republicans view him as a liability and do not want to lose his heavily GOP seat because of accusations of impropriety. He barely won re-election last year.

    • District 11: Republicans feel confident that they can unseat freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney (D), who defeated Rep. Richard Pombo (R) last year 43 to 37 percent in a Republican district under unusual circumstances. Pombo had to campaign under an ethical cloud and amid a strongly anti-Republican mood. Former state Assemblyman Dean Andal (R), who announced his candidacy this month, has represented about half of the area in one capacity or another for some time, and would be formidable against McNerney. Another possible candidate is Assemblyman Guy Houston (R). Both are conservatives.

    • District 24: Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) decided to retire last cycle for health reasons, only to change his mind at the last minute and run. California Republicans continue to wonder what his '08 plans will be. The congressman may not be sure himself.

    • District 41: Both on Capitol Hill and in California, Republicans say that Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) is unlikely to seek re-election. This despite the fact that Lewis is not currently the target of an inquiry, and there have been no new developments in the ethical allegations against him. Lewis won last year with two-thirds of the vote against a token Democrat. Lewis has not tipped his hand at all, yet talk of potential Republican replacements already abounds. Conservative GOP San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus is said to be interested.
    Republicans do not want to see either Lewis or Doolittle resign, because they do not want to spend money now on a special election. The money issue will also loom in the general election of 2008, but unless that election goes as badly for the GOP as last year's, Republicans can take heart in the fact that none of California's congressional districts is considered competitive. If there is anywhere you would prefer to have retirements, this is the state.

    Ken Calvert (R) and Gary Miller (R) are also facing ethical questions -- respectively over earmarks and a federal tax dispute -- but they are perceived to be in better shape than Lewis or Doolittle. Still, as the 2006 election cycle demonstrated, this can always change with little notice.

    Schwarzenegger, tribes sign Barstow casino extension

    as posted 5.31.07 by the Sacramento Bee's CapitolAlert

    By Shane Goldmacher -

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and two Indian tribes signed an agreement Thursday, extending the deadline for their bid to create an off-reservation casino in Barstow.

    Schwarzenegger, the Big Lagoon Rancheria of Humboldt County and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in San Diego County signed an agreement - on the day the tribes' compacts were set to expire - to keep the plans for a casino alive.

    The new deadline for the proposal is the end of the legislative session in September.

    The Desert Dispatch has more details, including the explanation that today "marked a deadline for land south of the Barstow Outlets mall to be taken into trust by the federal government, made into reservation land, and deemed eligible for gaming for a proposed casino resort."

    Here's the governor's office's explanation:
    "The original compacts authorize the Big Lagoon Rancheria of Humboldt County and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in San Diego County to establish a single, unified casino project in the City of Barstow on a piece of property identified by the City. The City sought to have a casino located in Barstow and had previously entered into an exclusive arrangement with the Los Coyotes Band to allow for the construction of a casino. As a condition of its compact with the state, the Los Coyotes Band agreed to share its site in Barstow with the Big Lagoon Rancheria and forgo the right to conduct gaming on its tribal lands in San Diego County.

    "Big Lagoon Rancheria, in exchange for the right to locate its gaming operations in Barstow, agreed to refrain from building a casino or any other commercial development on its tribal lands along the coast of northern California."

    You may also want to review these posts:

    KQED's Myers understands circumstances of Big Lagoon's failed deadlines and recognizes Tribe's in triple overtime

    as posted 5.31.07 by KQED's JohnMyers at Capitol Notes:

    The plan for side-by-side casinos in Barstow could have gone belly up today, as a legal settlement crucial to the proposal was set to expire.

    But this afternoon, that settlement was extended -- even though the casino projects in question still face an uphill battle in the Legislature.

    As we reported earlier this week, the proposal for casinos owned by the Humboldt County's Big Lagoon Rancheria and San Diego County's Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians remains in limbo at the state Capitol. Neither tribe believes they can open a gambling facility on their respective reservations, and signed an agreement with Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005 to open casinos in Barstow.

    That agreement ended a legal battle in the case of Big Lagoon, where the state has argued that the tribe's coastal reservation is too environmentally fragile for a casino.

    But the court settlement was set to expire today. And late last week, Big Lagoon chairman Virgil Moorehead sounded reluctant to keep waiting on the Barstow project.

    Now, he's decided to give it one more shot-- an extension of the settlement that will expire on September 17. If the Legislature fails to ratify the two tribes' formal gaming compact by then, Big Lagoon is likely to resume its efforts to build a casino up north... while Los Coyotes would probably have to go back to the drawing board.

    Cliched as it may be, the extension of the settlement is a high-stakes gamble. Several powerful Indian gaming tribes in southern California oppose the Barstow plan, arguing that it sets a bad precedent of off-reservation gaming. And the proposal currently sits in the Senate, and doesn't appear to be moving.

    In fact, the chairman of the committee that oversees Indian gaming was emphatic last week that the Barstow project isn't on his immediate radar.

    "We probably will see that particular compact coming up maybe early next session, but not this session," said Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter).

    If that's the case, today's announcement won't do much good. But others at the Capitol say a deal may still develop... hence, the need for extra time to make such a deal happen.

    NOTE: John Myers is the only reporter to cover this story in the last week who understands the complexity of the situation.

    Big Lagoon Rancheria has failed to have Barstow land owned by its Detroit backers transferred into Trust with the Department of Interior by May 31 -- a deadline provision in the Gaming Compact the tribe negotiated with Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005. As such, the Compact, which has failed to win ratification from the Legislature the last two years, would be considered null and void at this point.

    And under provisions in the companion "Settlement Agreement" between the State and Big Lagoon Rancheria that was intended to restrict future development on the tribe's Humboldt County reservation; if the Compact (section 14.2) is deemed null and void for failure to meet such deadlines, then the terms of the Settlement Agreement (section M.18.f) are no longer enforceable.

    If in fact the Governor has agreed to any extension of the May 31 deadline, it is purely to keep the Settlement Agreement active because as both Virgil Moorehead and Barwest's Tom Shields have acknowledged there is little chance the Tribe will complete the Fee to Trust transfer of the land prior to September 17, the apparent date of the extension. There has been nothing from the Governor's Office to validate what Barwest is spinning publicly.

    Schwarzenegger aide Andrea Hoch doesn’t have a clue!

    Andrea Hoch, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Legal Affairs Secretary, a member of the California State Bar; and a graduate of Stanford University and the McGeorge School of Law; doesn’t appear to have a clue what she’s talking about when it comes to gaming compacts her predecessors negotiated with Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians.

    With all due respect, she didn’t take the job with the Governor until October 17, 2005; several months after the conclusion of compact negotiations. However, either Hoch has set out to intentionally mislead the legislature on this matter or ghost writers have done Hoch, the Governor and the legislature a grave disservice.

    In a follow up letter Hoch signed and sent on June 14, 2006 to former Assemblyman Jerome Horton (then chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee) in advance of an Assembly GO Committee Hearing on the pair of gaming compacts; Hoch makes some very serious factual errors and perpetuates some of the same half-truths frequently used by Barwest’s attorneys and PR people. Among numerous misstatements and blatant errors she uses as cornerstones to arguments explaining reasons for the Governor’s approval of the two gaming compacts,

    Andrea Hoch writes:

    In 2004, the City of Barstow approached the State, seeking a tribal casino on behalf of the Los Coyotes Band pursuant to section 20 of IGRA. At that time, the City of Barstow had an exclusive negotiation agreement with the Los Coyotes Band and had identified a particular site for the Casino.FICTION

    FACT: The City of Barstow has never had an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with the Los Coyotes Indians nor any other Indian Tribe. It was the Detroit casino syndicators, Barwest LLC, that demanded an exclusive negotiating agreement with the City of Barstow; an agreement that made no reference to the Los Coyotes Indian Tribe or any other tribe.

    By June 2004, Los Coyotes Tribal Leaders had grown disenchanted with Barwest and soon thereafter would abandon Barwest for another developer; and there was mounting pubic pressure on the City Council to resist a fourth re-authorization of the ENA with Barwest. Barwest threatened to abandon the City of Barstow if the City talked with any other developers; to appease Barwest, the City awarded a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) granting Barwest exclusive rights to develop any casino resort regardless of Tribe.

    Mayor Dale slipped through a vote on the DDA with minimal advance public disclosure and no record of public debate or dialogue prior to the Council’s vote. A year later when inquiries were made of the City about such an agreement (and a public records request for a copy of the agreement was denied by the new City Attorney who was told by senior staff that no such agreement existed), key City Officials publicly denied the existence of such an agreement and Barwest remained silent. Barwest and city official were exposed and a red-faced city attorney was embarrassed, when several weeks later a copy of the enforceable DDA was “leaked” publicly.

    Andrea Hoch reports:

    “… the State brokered an arrangement whereby the Los Coyotes Band agreed to share its casino site with Big Lagoon, which allowed the site to serve the clear, independent public policy of preserving the Big Lagoon from commercial development. The arrangement allows the Los Coyotes Band and Big Lagoon to share the identified parcel (now split in two) on which a unified casino project, comprised of two adjacent gaming facilities, would be developed. FICTION

    FACT: The Los Coyotes Band has no land in Barstow. Barwest owns 110 acres or more in Barstow some of which it intends to convey to one or more tribes in the future. On July 1, 2004 the Barstow City Council approved a casino site for the Los Coyotes Band of Indians not to exceed 20 acres carved out of a 48 acre parcel controlled by Barwest.

    Specifically the original agreement (MSA) Hoch references between the Los Coyotes Tribe and the City of Barstow reads:

    Section 1. Land to be Taken into Trust

    The Tribe will request that the United States take into trust for its benefit land not to exceed twenty contiguous acres, absent written agreement of the City, from the parcel(s) identified in Exhibit A appended hereto (“Trust Lands”). The Tribe agrees that it will not seek other or additional parcels within the City to be taken into trust unless and until this Agreement is amended as provided herein to authorize additional trust land acquisition(s). (From MSA the Barstow City Council approved July 1, 2004)

    Los Coyotes is not sharing nor splitting the 20-acre site identified by the Barstow City Council.

    In fact, the Los Coyotes Tribe goes from a Council authorized 20-acre development footprint to a 24+ acre footprint which is 20-25% larger than what the City Council had originally identified.

    Rather, than two casinos on the Los Coyotes 20-acre parcel the City Council identified as a Los Coyotes’ site, Barwest will now have exclusive rights to develop and manage two casinos on its 48-acres (a mega resort project almost 2.5 x larger than originally envisioned); and additional surrounding resort compatible commercial projects on perhaps hundreds more acres.

    Neither Los Coyotes nor Barwest have made any true sacrifices as implied by Hoch’s argument; quite the contrary! Both Los Coyotes and Barwest are BIG WINNERS with the addition of Big Lagoon. All they’ve sacrificed is the time and patience it took them to convince Big Lagoon to get on board.

    For the first five years of operation Barwest LLC's "take" of operating revenue will be approximately 30% per year. The original Los Coyotes proposal called for 1,000-1,500 slot machines. Now, the combined compacts allow for upwards of 4,500 machines (at least a 300% increase) and "poor" Barwest LLC now stands to gain 30% of operating revenues generated from a 4,500 slots dual casinos resort; a very substantial difference. AND the Los Coyotes Tribe goes from a casino with a max of 1,500 slots to a casino with upwards of 2,250 slots (150% increase over its original Barstow plan).

    Hoch indicates, as has Dan Kolkey previously, that Los Coyotes is only included in the Barstow proposal because that tribe already had agreements with the City and was willing to make some sacrifices to accomodate Big Lagoon. Absent any sacrifices, Los Coyotes is only included because it had a previous MSA with the City of Barstow.

    So why is it that if for some reason Big Lagoon Rancheria meets all Federal and State approvals but the Los Coyotes Band of Indians does not; Barwest has the right to substitute another tribe in the Los Coyotes position. Given this rational by the Governor's team, it would seem reasonable that if Los Coyotes is turned down and Big Lagoon is approved, then there would only be a Big Lagoon casino resort. Barwest's ability to substitue a second tribe for Los Coyotes rewards only Barwest LLC and means that a second tribe would be forced to contract with Barwest LLC in order to develop its Barstow casino resort.

    In the same way that these parties brought embarrassment and shame upon the reputation of Barstow’s then-new City Attorney when they withheld information and she originally affirmed there had never been a DDA between Barwest and the City of Barstow; perhaps these guys have used Ms. Hoch, the Governor’s Legal Affairs Secretary in the same manner. Ms. Hoch is the only one who can set the record straight on how it is that she came to make such gross errors and untrue representations to the legislature.

    You may want to review these subsequent posts as well:

    • Casino developer’s representations biased; consultants “specialization” challenged

    Mich. Supreme Court affirms casino deal


    David Eggert
    Associated Press

    LANSING — A state Supreme Court ruling issued Wednesday eliminates another hurdle in the path of a southcentral Michigan tribe's quest to open a casino near Battle Creek and validates Gov. Jennifer Granholm decision to let a northern Michigan tribe open another casino in exchange for state government getting more gaming revenue.

    For nearly eight years, the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi has been fighting a series of legal challenges to its proposed casino at the intersection of I-94 and 11-Mile Road in Emmett Township.

    With the court's affirmation of the compact, the tribe has only one more challenge remaining. Citizens Exposing Truth About Casinos, or CETAC, is challenging in federal District Court the tribe's ability to claim the land in Emmett Township as an initial reservation.

    Donna Halinski (Marketing Resource Group), spokeswoman for the tribe, said oral arguments were heard on that challenge a few weeks ago, but there is no indication when a ruling could be issued.

    The court's decision also upheld a renegotiated deal with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. The compact received no approval from the Legislature after it was amended in 2003.

    Justice Michael Cavanagh, writing for the majority, said original compacts negotiated in 1998 by then-Gov. John Engler had a clause allowing a governor to act for the state in making amendments.

    During talks with the Odawa tribe, which runs a casino in Petoskey, Granholm agreed to let it build another one in Mackinaw City in exchange for the tribe giving a higher percentage of its revenue to the state. The tribe has not opened the second casino, which would require a vote of the local community.

    Laura Spurr, tribal chairwoman of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi, said she was confident her tribe would win the compact challenge.

    "It's unfortunate the continued delays caused by TOMAC (Taxpayers of Michigan Against Casinos) along with CETAC have delayed the creation of thousands of new jobs and hundreds of business opportunities just in Michigan," she said in a press release.

    "We are pleased the court has preserved the right of the tribes to create much-needed jobs and economic development across the state."

    Odawa Tribal Chairman Frank Ettawageshik said the case was not about opening another casino but rather the process of approving compact amendments.

    "We were confident we would prevail," he said in a phone interview.

    The tribe will not try to open a second casino in the "immediate future," he said, and is focusing on the grand opening of a new Petoskey facility in July.

    An anti-gambling group in 1999 challenged the validity of some of Michigan's tribal gaming deals because legislators endorsed them in a resolution, an easier task than passing a bill.

    TOMAC later said not getting legislative approval of the Odawa amendments violated the separation of powers doctrine in the state Constitution.

    A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with a Grand Rapids law firm representing the anti-gambling group.

    Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said the administration was confident all along that its actions were constitutional.

    The case directly involves the Odawa tribe but has been closely watched because it could have implications for future attempts to change other tribal agreements.

    Chief Justice Clifford Taylor, Maura Corrigan, Marilyn Kelly and Robert Young Jr. joined the majority opinion, which reversed a decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

    Stephen Markman and Elizabeth Weaver dissented, arguing that the compacts should have been passed by legislation.

    Michigan has 20 casinos, including 17 run by American Indian tribes and three Detroit casinos.

    David Eggert can be reached at

    Despite spin, Tribe's chairman sought extension after failing to meet Governor's gaming agreement deadline


    Tribes, governor agree to extension keeping hope of Barstow casino alive
    Today's deadline is extended to September

    Staff Writer

    BARSTOW - Despite the expiration of a federal deadline for the off-reservation casino project in Barstow, an agreement reached between the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will prolong the life of the compact for more than three months.

    Today marked a deadline for land south of the Barstow Outlets mall to be taken into trust by the federal government, made into reservation land, and deemed eligible for gaming for a proposed casino resort involving two California tribes and a Michigan developer.

    Virgil Moorehead, chairperson for Big Lagoon, said that he agreed to extend the land into trust deadline with the state until September 17 and keep fighting for a casino in Barstow for a few more months.

    "The land into trust isn't going to happen, we know that," Moorehead said. "We've decided to give the state and the legislature more time."

    David Miller, a spokesman for compact sponsor State Senator Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, said the extension gives the compact a bit of breathing room. The compact, reintroduced into the legislature by a bill sponsored by Wiggins, currently awaits an informational hearing in the Senate Government Organization Committee. Miller said that hearing might not occur until other casino compacts before the legislature clear the Assembly.

    Moorehead, however, is growing weary of the process. After fighting for a casino for the Big Lagoon for nearly six years, the prospect of future delays and extend deadlines frustrates him. Moorehead said the tribe had the option to walk away from the whole project when the land into trust deadline approached but agreed to the extension, making it clear this would be the last.

    "If it doesn't make it by September 17, there's no deal," he said.

    After the September deadline, Moorehead said he would pull the plug on the Barstow project and begin negotiating for a casino on the tribe's reservation on an environmentally sensitive lagoon in Humboldt County. Government officials and environmental groups across the state do not want to damage the area with a casino and offered land in Barstow as an alternative.

    The Governor added Big Lagoon to ongoing negotiations with the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians, whose reservation land in rural San Diego County could not support a casino, for an off-reservation casino. By law, every Indian tribe in the state is allowed to operate a casino.

    Wiggins re-introduced the compact into the legislature in February and it has since sat waiting for a hearing in the Government Organization committee. Senator Dean Florez, D-Shafter, the chairman of the committee, said he has delayed a hearing on the compact until the completion of the land in trust process.

    The process, which normally takes two years, is in its 18th month, said Tom Shields, a spokesman for the casino project. He expects to have a draft of the document, similar to an environmental impact report, ready by the end of summer.

    NOTE: Apparently the May 31, 2007 deadline to take the land in Barstow currently owned by Detroit casino syndicators into trust for the tribes has been extended through September 17; however, both Virgil Moorehead and Tom Shields indicate here that they won't have the land transferred into trust by that date either.

    Tribal leader backpedals on threat to abandon Barstow


    Big Lagoon Rancheria signs Barstow extension

    Jessie Faulkner
    Eureka Times Standard

    BIG LAGOON -- Holding on to the hope that the state Legislature will take action, the Big Lagoon Rancheria announced Wednesday that it has signed an extension to its gaming compact.

    This means that the state Legislature has until Sept. 17 -- the last day of the legislative session -- to ratify the tribe's gaming compact. Sen. Patricia Wiggins is sponsoring Senate Bill 157.

    ”We're just trying to get it through the legislature,” Big Lagoon Rancheria Chairman Virgil Moorehead said.

    Under provisions of the compact, Big Lagoon Rancheria will open a casino on the outskirts of Barstow -- the first such agreement to allow gaming away from tribal lands. When signed in September 2005, the compact was hailed as a proactive move to protect the sensitive Big Lagoon environment.

    However, that fact has not won out -- at least so far -- against lobbying from larger gaming tribes objecting to provisions dedicating a higher percentage of gaming revenue to the state and making it easier for employees to unionize.

    Moorehead noted that the Rancheria has some agreements with labor unions who are lobbying on behalf of the tribe's gaming compact. While Moorehead said the Rancheria has been assured that the Governor fully supports the compact, he noted there's been little lobbying effort from that office.

    The immediate goal is to get a committee hearing for the compact -- a necessary step before the measure can advance to the Senate floor. Thus far, no hearing date has been scheduled, according to a spokesperson for the Governmental Organization Committee.

    David Miller, Wiggins' press secretary, said there has been an indication from legislative sources that it may be best to wait until the Assembly approves the five gaming compacts currently under consideration before scheduling a hearing on Big Lagoon's agreement.

    ”That could be as early as a couple of weeks,” Miller said.

    Unlike most state legislation, gaming compacts are considered similar to memorandums of understanding and are not subject to the May 31 deadline for passing legislation out of committee.

    Jessie Faulkner can be reached at 441-0517 or

    NOTE: This story fails to recognize that the Gaming Compact agreement had a built in May 31, 2007 deadline which the tribe and it's Detroit backers have failed to meet and will not complete by September 17, 2007 (the new extension) either:
      "If the 25 Acre Parcel is not taken into trust and determined eligible for Class III Gaming pursuant to section 20(b)(1)(A) of IGRA prior to May 31, 2007, the Compact shall be deemed null and void unless the Tribe and the State agree in writing to extend the date."

    Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    Mayor doing damage control for gaming syndicators says casino deal not yet a bust

    The Eureka Times Standard reported "Big Lagoon's Barstow casino project a bust?" on May 20th following an interview with Big Lagoon tribal Chair Virgil Moorehead.

    Moorehead had indicated that if the tribe didn't have a hearing before the CA Senate Committee overseeing Indian Gaming by May 24, he would abandon plans for a Barstow casino and resurect the tribe's plans for a modest casino at home on their Humboldt County Reservation. It appears that was another in growing list of idle threats the tribe's chairman has made over the last five years.

    Attempting once again to quiet rumors that the casino project had hit a fatal milestone, Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale reports a conversation he has had with representatives of the Detroit casino syndicators (Barwest). The statement they prepared for him is flawed, but listen for yourself.

    Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale fronting for Detroit casino syndicators
    attempts to quiet headlines suggesting dual off-reservation casinos deal is a bust

    The tribe has a gaming agreement signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger two years ago which the legislature has refused to ratify since. An Assembly committee voted to deny ratification to the agreement in June 2006.

    The agreement includes a May 31st deadline that the tribe has failed to meet by which the Interior Department was to have taken land in Barstow owned by Detroit Casino syndicators into trust for the tribe's proposed casino. Current Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is not likely to approve any such move during his tenure.

    An extension of the May 31st deadline through August 2007 buys nothing as the tribe will still not have the land in Barstow taken into trust by that time.

    Through Barstow's Mayor, the Detroit casino syndicators are suggesting that Governor Schwarzenegger has agreed to make modifiactions to the agreement he signed with the tribe in 2005. Subsquently the Governor has approved and is backing other gaming compacts that are anticipated to bring $500 million in new and much needed revenue each year to the state; the Big Lagoon tribe and its Detroit backers have worked to block those agreements.

    Barstow gaming compacts aren't fair, equitable or justifed when other tribes are held back

    These three San Diego County tribes, like others throughtout California have only been authorized to conduct modest gaming operations and such activity has been restricted to their existing reservations.

    Rather than no casino at all, leaders of these three tribes (some facing greater hardship and challenge than Indians at the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Reservations) have opt'ed to develop modest on-reservation casinos with less than 350 slot machines in order to improve economic circumstance for their people. Other tribes throughout California are doing the same thing. In limiting the number of gaming devices, these tribes continue to participate in the rewards of California's Revenue Sharing Trust Fund (RSTF); each tribe gets $1.1 million per year through that program funded by the tribes with larger casinos.

    But the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians want the legislature to grant them some favored status and approve unprecedented and unorthodox agreements that would allow them to develop casinos, seven times larger, off their reservations at a location thought to be more lucrative because it has through traffic of 60,000,000 cars per year. Granting such privilege to these two tribes isn't fair or equitable; nor justified.

    When Acalde left the Federalist Group

    posted previously at - "K Street grows and grows:"

    "...Several other firms that responded to The Hill's request reported an increase, which lobbyists attributed to a variety of factors, such as new synergies with sister law practices, the hiring of additional lobbyists or, perhaps most important, a growing recognition among businesses that they need a voice in Washington.

    Legislation and federal regulations 'can have a significant monetary impact on a company's operation,' said Drew Maloney, a partner at the all-Republican Federalist Group.

    'More companies are recognizing a political and government risk to doing business,' said Maloney, who was a legislative director to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) before becoming a

    Maloney's firm reported revenues of $6.2 million. That is down about $200,000 from the latter half of 2004, but the numbers are skewed because lobbyist Rick Alcalde, whose business neared $1 million in value, left to start his own firm..."

    Washington Post: Eight Members of Congress officially under investigation


    House Members Under Investigation

    Six House Republicans and two Democrats recently under investigation by federal authorities:
    • Ken Calvert of California, 8th term. The FBI agent reviewed copies of Calvert's financial disclosure reports after a newspaper reported he steered federal money for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles from property he sold for a large profit.

    • John Doolittle of California, 9th term. The FBI in April searched his Oakton, Va., home, where his wife Julie, ran a bookkeeping and event-planning business. Among her clients was now-jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

    • Jerry Lewis of California, 15th term. Prosecutors are examining Lewis' dealings with lobbyists and contractors during the time he chaired the House Appropriations Committee.

    • Gary Miller of California, 5th term. Federal agents have looked into land deals involving Miller.

    • Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, 3rd term. Authorities are investigating whether Murphy's legislative aides performed campaign work on government time.

    • Rick Renzi of Arizona, 3rd term. FBI agents raided his wife's insurance business amid reports that Renzi paid substantial back taxes to settle charges that his businesses improperly paid for his first congressional campaign.


    • William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, 9th term. FBI agents, pursuing a bribery probe, raided Jefferson's congressional office and his home, where they found $90,000 in a freezer.

    • Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, 13th term. Mollohan stepped down from the House ethics committee after federal agents began a probe of federal funds he helped steer to nonprofit groups he founded.

    Compacts for non-gaming tribes being considered in California present inequities

    Several compacts for currently non-gaming tribes are under consideration by the California legislature. This chart compares the membership and authorized slot machines for three of those new proposals (Yurok, Big Lagoon Rancheria, Los Coyotes Band of Indians).

    Race is on ... status of Detroit casino expansions


    Casinos Race to Open New Digs

    Joel J. Smith
    The Detroit News

    DETROIT -- In the race to open Detroit's first permanent casino, hotel and entertainment complex, the locally owned MotorCity Casino seems to have gained the edge over its closest competitor, MGM Grand Detroit.

    MotorCity Casino, owned by Marian Ilitch, will swing the doors open on its enlarged gaming space June 7. MotorCity also has moved up the date on the ribbon-cutting for its 400-room deluxe hotel to September from late in the year.

    Ilitch, vice chairwoman of Ilitch Holdings and wife of Little Caesars Pizza magnate Mike Ilitch, vowed at the casino's groundbreaking in 2005 that MotorCity would be the first of the city's three permanent casinos up and running. The entertainment, banquet and meeting rooms in the $275 million complex will open in the fourth quarter.

    As the towering hotels of both MotorCity and MGM became part of Detroit's skyline, speculation has been rife about which of the multimillion-dollar permanent casino and entertainment complexes would open first. (Full Story)

    MotorCity Casino
    New, expanded gaming area opens June 7; 17-story, 400-room hotel is slated to open in September.
    Cost: $275 million
    Project: Includes 100,000 square feet of gaming space, restaurants, convention/banquet space, 1,200-seat entertainment center and parking for 4,400 vehicles

    Greektown Casino
    Opens: September 2008
    Cost: $200 million
    Project: 30-story, 400-room hotel, an additional 30,000 square feet of gaming space, a ballroom, 1,200-seat entertainment center and a 3,200-car parking structure

    MGM Grand Detroit
    Late 2007
    Cost: $765 million
    Project: MGM's art-deco-inspired complex will house a 17-story, 400-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of gaming space, meeting rooms, entertainment venue, restaurants and a 5,000-car garage.

    Barstow casino deal has days to live


    INDIAN GAMING: The governor's agreement must be OK'd by Thursday. The Big Lagoon tribe is hopeful.

    The Press-Enterprise

    A Northern California tribe's troubled bid to build a casino in Barstow will die this week unless Gov. Schwarzenegger and the tribe reach an agreement to extend the bid.

    The Big Lagoon Rancheria, which sits in environmentally sensitive sequoia territory, agreed in August 2005 to abandon plans to build a casino on its reservation in Humboldt County. The tribe also agreed to drop a legal battle with the state over those plans.

    In exchange, the governor signed a two-casino proposal for Big Lagoon and the impoverished Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla & Cupeno Indians of San Diego County to build in Barstow. Big Lagoon's agreement, however, expires Thursday if it doesn't have legislative and federal approval.

    The Legislature has yet to approve the proposal in the face of strong opposition from powerful Southern California gaming tribes. Without a time extension, the deal is almost certainly dead.

    Also, the U.S. Interior Department would have to approve turning a parcel of Barstow land into Big Lagoon reservation land by Thursday.

    Members of the Big Lagoon tribe are weighing their options but might agree to extend their agreement with the state through mid-September if Schwarzenegger offers, said Jason Barnett, a spokesman for the tribe.

    A spokeswoman for the governor said Tuesday she didn't have anything new to report about the Big Lagoon deal.

    Barnett and the governor's spokeswoman, Sabrina Lockhart, said they expected to have some news later in the week.

    "Obviously, things are taking longer than both sides anticipated it taking when they signed it," Barnett said, noting that the tribe still would like a casino in Barstow.

    "I think we're optimistic that where there's a will there's a way."

    Even if the Big Lagoon tribe and the governor's office agree to extend their accord, the casino proposal for San Bernardino County still faces difficulties in the Legislature. Lawmakers rejected the proposal last year, despite pleas by the tribes to let them pursue the opportunity for economic development.

    Several Inland tribes testified against the proposal, saying it's wrong for tribes to travel hundreds of miles from their reservations to open casinos. Federal law prohibits so-called off-reservation gaming except in rare cases.

    Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes representatives have argued that their opponents are actually contesting a pair of casinos along the route to Las Vegas because they might pose competition for Inland casinos.

    They have accused those tribes of exerting excessive influence over lawmakers through campaign contributions.

    Reach Michelle DeArmond at 951-368-9441 or

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    Google News: Indian Gaming

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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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