Saturday, September 01, 2007

Barstow Museum's monument recognizes four Native American groups with ancestral ties to greater Barstow

A large permanent entry monument representative of an "open-book" marks the entrance to the Mojave River Valley Museum, located at 270 Virginia Way (just off Barstow Rd.) in Barstow, California. The monument represents that four Native American groups with ancestral ties in the greater Barstow area: Ute, Mojave, Chemehuevi & Paiute Indians.

Mojave River Valley Museum Monument



You are now traveling the Old Mojave Trail, a natural riverbed highway. First used by Ute, Mojave, Chemehuevi & Paiute Indians on the move.
    1776 - Padre Garces; Missionary, Explorer, Martyr
    1826 - Jedediah Smith of Salt Lake City, Hunter, Trapper
    1829 - William Wolfskill of New Mexico; First of the Annual Caravan Traders Bound for the Coast
    1844 - Capt. John C. Fremont; Pathfinder & Mapmaker
    1848 - Mormon Battalion disbanded in Los Angeles & bound for Utah
    1849 - First Wagons of the Gold Seekers
Thereafter used continually by Mormons, Immigrants, Fortune Seekers, Firefighters, Military Expeditions and Sight-Seeing Tourists

Official Web site of San Bernardino County names five tribes with historical ties to the region

as presented on the "History" page of San Bernardino County's official Web site:

San Bernardino County History
Paleo-Indian sites dating from c. 10,000 BC show that the San Bernardino county area has been inhabited for at least 12,000 years. Artifacts in the Calico area suggest much earlier human occupation, but this has not been confirmed. In the past three thousand years various Indian tribes flourished in the area: the Gabrielenos occupied the West Valley; the Serranos lived in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains; the Vanyumes lived along the Mojave River; the Mohave lived along the Colorado River; and in the 1500s the Chemehuevi moved into the Mojave Desert...

There is no mention of the Big Lagoon Rancheria (Humboldt County) or the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians(San Diego County); nor of the Cahuilla or Cupeno Indians who have ancestral lands primarily in modern day Riverside and San Diego Counties generally to the south of San Bernardino County and the coastal side of the San Bernardino Mountains range.

Liars Poker

from a piece published 8.31.07 by Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey entitled "Liar's Poker" regarding disgraced tribal Chairman Glenn Marshall and the Mashpee Wampanoag's grand billion-dollar-plus casino plans for Middleborough, Massachusetts (Cape Cod):

"This has always been less about sovereignty than about the rush by the tribe and its deep-pocketed financial backers, just as elsewhere around the country, to cash in on the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, one of the worst pieces of legislation ever to come out of Congress."

Strather and schemes behind the Mashpee casino plans

posted 7.28.08 by the Great Gadfly at Cape Cod Today:

"Within the past decade a shadowy figure from Detroit named Herb Strather became closely associated with Glenn Marshall. Strather is a multi millionaire gambling and real estate developer who refers to himself as philanthropist. He poured money, many millions of dollars, into the tribe's campaign for federal recognition. Using Strather's money and contacts Marshall energized the recognition effort and achieved the success that for decades had been so elusive. Only in the past two or three years did the Strather presence become well known. It became clear that Herb Strather had become a partner in the tribe's future and that meant only one thing, a Wampanoag gambling casino. When federal recognition was announced to the assembled tribe at the council headquarters Strather was present and was a jubilant figure among the tribal council members.

"Now he is identified as a minority stockholder. Three new names have come to the fore in Wampanoag culture; Len Wolman, Sol Kerzner and Scott Ferson. Wolman and Kerzner are partners in casino/resort enterprises in Dubai, the Bahamas, Atlantic City and Connecticut. Together with Starwood Capital, a real estate venture firm and presumably the Wampanoag tribe they have formed an entity called Trading Cove Associates. Wolman and Kerzener are both South African, although Wolman now lives in Connecticut. Scott Ferson is identified as the official spokesman for the Wampanoag tribe. He is employed by the lobbying firm Liberty Square Group, with offices in Boston and Washington, D.C.

"Ferson said that Liberty Square Group has a contract with the tribe. When asked if the tribal council, or the tribal membership or only Glenn Marshall were parties to that contract he failed to answer. A recent telephone conversation with Ferson shed light into some of the dark corners of the Wampanoag story. Ferson said that Liberty Square group has a contract with the tribe. When asked if the tribal council, or the tribal membership or only Glenn Marshall were parties to that contract he failed to answer. When asked if there is a resolution executed by the entire tribal council to retain his firm's services he failed to answer. He said that his firm had become involved some time ago because of Herb Strather and other "investors" whom he did not identify. Ferson confirmed that Strather is still an investor/stockholder, but with a minority position. He did not spell out who owns how much of what stock or what the exact percentage of ownership or future profits are held by the Wampanoag tribe. In fact, no one seems to know, according to Amelia Bingham. Ferson also admitted that Liberty Square Group, while being contracted by the tribe, is actually paid by the 'investors'. He would not specify which investors or how much Liberty Square Group is being paid."

A one-time partner of Marian Ilitch & Mike Malik, had previous bribery conviction; bankrolled current plan for Cape Cod casino


Casino investor Strather has criminal past

By Stephanie Vosk

Gambling tycoon Sol Kerzner isn't the only Mashpee Wampanoag casino investor with a charge of bribery on his record.

Detroit casino developer Herb Strather, the tribe's first and most visible investor, was arrested on a bribery charge in 1977 for trying to buy off a police officer in Michigan, according to a 1997 report in the Detroit Free Press.

Strather bankrolled the Wampanoag's effort to gain federal recognition, which cost millions of dollars. In exchange, Strather has said he would be given a portion of the development rights on a Wampanoag casino.

In 1997, two years before Strather started giving money to the Mashpee tribe, Strather told the Detroit Free Press that he was pulled over after drinking to celebrate a big real estate deal in 1977, and had an outstanding ticket on his record. When Strather offered the policeman a pair of new shoes if he let him pay the ticket the next day, he was arrested.

Strather paid a $500 fine and did community service for the misdemeanor, the Free Press reported.

The Times could not reach Strather for comment yesterday. Scott Ferson, the Wampanoag's spokesman, said yesterday that tribal leaders are aware of an arrest on Strather's record, though not of the specifics.

Shortly after federal officials granted the Mashpee Wampanoag preliminary federal recognition in March 2006, Strather told the Times he had given the tribe approximately $15 million, about two-thirds of which financed the tribe's quest for federal recognition.

Last spring, after the tribe officially received federal recognition, the tribe announced that Kerzner and his partner Len Wolman had signed on as the lead investors for a resort casino. Strather has since faded into the background of the tribe's quest to build a casino.

Kerzner and Wolman were the prime investors for the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut and Twin River gaming facility in Rhode Island.

Wolman said recently that he had a business relationship with Strather in Detroit prior to becoming involved with the Wampanoag.

Applicants for Indian casino licenses are intensely scrutinized by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Others involved in the casino business, including investors, do not go through such stringent checks, if any, Ferson said.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council plans to establish a gaming authority which will apply for, and if granted, hold the license for a casino, he said.
The tribe never intended for Strather to hold the license, according to Ferson.

It's the licensees who have to be clean, he said. Bureau of Indian Affairs officials do not allow anyone with a felony conviction to be involved in casino operations.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council has been in damage control mode for the past week following revelations that tribal council chairman Glenn Marshall was convicted of rape, a felony charge, in 1981. Marshall, 57, was also found to have lied about his military record when testifying before Congress. He resigned Monday.

"This is why the government has regulations on gaming," Ferson said of Marshall's conviction. "When the tribe applied for a license, that would have been known."

Kerzner, who was charged in 1986 of trying to bribe a South African government official in exchange for exclusive gaming rights, was never convicted. The charge was dismissed in 1997. He has since received at least one license from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to operate Mohegan Sun in Connecticut for a time. Kerzner has also secured commercial licenses in several states and abroad.

Strather, however, has had trouble getting a license.

In the 1990s, Atwater Entertainment, of which Strather was a founding partner, poured money into supporting a referendum question to allow casinos in Detroit. The grass-roots effort came after the Michigan governor ruled against allowing casinos in Detroit .

The referendum passed, and one of three licenses was subsequently given to Atwater for what would become the MotorCity Casino.

Nelson Westrin, former executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, told the Times in 2001 that state investigators place any investor holding more than a 1-percent interest in a casino through a thorough background check.

The Detroit News reported at the time that Strather and his partner had experienced financial difficulties over their 25-year business relationship. They paid taxes late, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development cited a real estate company they owned for several violations, the News reported.

Strather subsequently sold his interests in the casino, which opened in 1999.

John Page, deputy director of enforcement for the Michigan Gaming Control Board, would not release any details yesterday of Strather's involvement in Detroit casinos other than he was a license applicant and later sold his share.

Stephanie Vosk can be reached at

Barstow unlikely to get casino this year


Barstow unlikely to get casino this year

BARSTOW, California -- As reported: "Barstow appears unlikely to get state approval this year to build a casino, according to the city's lobbyist.

"Nick Medeiros, a lobbyist hired by the city of Barstow, said Thursday it is doubtful the state senate will approve the compacts for the Los Coyotes/Big Lagoon dual casino project before the legislative session closes on Sept. 11.

"'We're running out of time. It's unlikely that the compacts could be moved out of committee and be approved by both houses of the legislature before the end of session. It's probably not going to happen,' he said.

"...However, Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale said that Medeiros' statement was an 'independent observation" and did not reflect the city's opinion. Dale said that there is still time this year for the compacts to pass.'

"...Sabrina Lockhart, spokeswoman for the governor's office, agreed it's too soon to dismiss the compacts as dead..."

Friday, August 31, 2007

Desert Dispatch reports current and former Councilmembers not happy with Barstow Mayor's unauthorized letter


Council members unhappy about mayor’s casino letter

By JASON SMITH, staff writer

BARSTOW — Some City Council members are upset about a letter Mayor Lawrence Dale wrote to the federal government accusing the Chemehuevi Indian tribe of attempting to "torpedo" the passage of the Barstow casino compacts.

Dale wrote a letter on Aug. 20 to Clay Gregory, director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Sacramento office, accusing the tribe of providing "misinformation" to the bureau and "continued meddling in the City’s affairs." Dale wrote his letter in response to an Aug. 8 letter the Chemehuevi tribe submitted to the federal government regarding the proposal of the Los Coyotes/Big Lagoon tribes to build a casino in Barstow. In that letter, the Chemehuevi accused the two other tribes of lacking ancestral ties to the area and of "reservation shopping."

Council member Joe Gomez made a presentation to the City Council on Tuesday complaining that Dale’s letter appeared to represent the entire council because it was written with the city’s letterhead.

"The mayor wrote a letter representing the city of Barstow and the entire council, and he can’t be doing that," Gomez said.

Council member Steve Curran also disagreed with Dale’s decision to send the letter, but did not return calls for comment.

Former council member Helen Runyon, a 16-year council veteran who was defeated in her 2006 re-election bid, also disagreed with the mayor’s action.

"He wrote it trying to be Mr. Big Shot. He should not have used the stationary," she said.
She said she sees the council as growing more divided.

"There’s always a 3-to-2 vote on what the mayor wants; he should stop trying to be the city manager," Runyon said.

Dale disputed that he was trying to suggest that the council supported his position.
"That letter I wrote was signed by me on my stationary as it comes from the desk of Mayor Lawrence Dale. It represents only my opinion," Dale said.

According to council member Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, the mayor wanted the letter to be signed by the entire council but did not want to wait until the next scheduled meeting. The Sept. 3 meeting of the council was canceled due to the Labor Day holiday.

Hackbarth-McIntyre said that she agreed with the mayor’s position and would have signed the letter. She said that the city was working with the Chemehuevi on their plans to bring a casino to Barstow but that progress with the tribe had slowed.

"When they (the Chemehuevi tribe) get a compact with the governor, they can move forward in their negotiations with the city," she said.

Despite the disagreement among council members, Hackbarth-McIntyre said that she didn’t see the council as overly divisive.

"I think there a few issues on which we have our own opinions, but we’re all pretty much in the same direction on most issues," she said.

Former council member Gloria Darling, who stepped down due to health concerns, said she thinks the council is more divided than it was when she was a member in 2006. She said that in past years the council always strove to reach a unanimous decision because they knew state and federal agencies were keeping a close watch on Barstow politics due to the casino application.

"I think we have an aggressive council, and we don’t seem to agree on most things now," she said.

Despite the disagreements, she said that council members are trying to represent their constituents fairly.

"I do truly believe that all members of the council are trying to do the best for the city."

"Cheat Sheet" on Native American ancestral claims for Barstow's Mayor

Open letter to Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale

August 31, 2007

Mayor Lawrence Dale
City of Barstow
Barstow, CA 92311
    RE: Your Recent Assault on the Ancestral Heritage of Local Native American Tribes
Dear Lawrence,

California's Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) and the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) are responsible for determining what Native American tribes have ancestral claims to Barstow.

Not You!

Not your friends at Detroit-based Barwest LLC!

And not their hired "experts" from Missoula, Montana!

It certainly must be embarassing to realize that after seven years as the Mayor of Barstow and now as president of SANBAG you didn't know this.

You really should familiarize yourself with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the CEQA Guidelines available from the the Governor's Office of Research and Planning; and certainly the City of Barstow's General Plan. It might be best to get some counsel on these matters from someone other than Barwest's Michigan lawyers.

Your friends at TVT

P.S. Let us know if you find the Big Lagoon Rancheria or the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians on these lists.
* * *

Here's a little "cheat sheet" paragraph you may want to cut and tape on the inside cover of your day planner.

Barstow General Plan/Technical Report
IV.2 Cultural Resources Management Plan
Preface – Native American Concerns
(pages IV.2.6 – IV.2.7)

"Therefore, any project must involve consultation with and involvement from local and regional Native American cultural entities as listed by the Native American Heritage Commission. The local Barstow office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains a listing of representatives of Native American groups who claim an association with the Barstow area; specifically the Serrano, Kaaiisu, Fort Mojave, and Chemehuevi."

Barstow Mayor's rationale for caustic BIA letter is unsupported.

At a special meeting of the Barstow City Council on August 28, 2007, Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale gave the following as rationale for writing a rather caustic letter August 20, 2007 to Clay Gregory at the Sacramento office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) regarding the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe:
Mayor Dale said,
"It was in response to a letter the Chemehuevi Tribe had written to AES chastising the City of Barstow."

"The Chemehuevi had made accusations about our city and about what our city had done."
TVT has obtained and reviewed the August 8th letter from the Chemehuevi tribal Chairman Charles Wood to Doug Edwards, a consultant employed by Analytical Environmental Services (AES), a firm managing studies for the BIA regarding Barwest's dual casino plan for Barstow. It should be noted that the Chairman wrote the letter at the invitation of Edwards.

There is nothing remotely resembling accusations (defined as charges of wrongdoing) about the City of Barstow nor anything that appears to chastise (defined as to critize severely; rebuke) the City of Barstow.

The Chemehuevi Chairman's letter primarily addresses matters of ancestral claims/rights; and the Native American Heritage Commission and Native American consultations relative to the work being done by AES.

The Chemehuevi Chairman makes no mention of the "City of Barstow" in the body of the his letter; and nearly all references to "Barstow" are used in context of the geographic place. There are several references to sections of the "Barstow General Plan" and one reference to a letter sent by the group TASIN to the "Barstow City Council."

Given these facts, how did Mayor Dale come to create the subject of his letter to the BIA: "The Chemehuevi Tribe's Recent Assault on Barstow;" and how was it he came to the belief that the Chairman's letter chastised and makes accusations about the City of Barstow?

If Mayor Dale truly believes the Chairman's letter makes "accusations" and "chastises" the City of Barstow; we challenge him to publicly quote specific sections of the letter that support his accusations.

Absent any other explanation one must conclude that Mayor Dale has manufactured representations that aren't supported in Chairman Wood's letter to AES simply as a "stalking horse" to provide him with the cover he needed to make the caustic politically motivated attack meant to damage the Chemehuevi and advantage his friends behind Detroit-based Barwest LLC.

If you would like a copy of the Chemehuevi tribal chairman's letter or Mayor Dale's letter, please contact TVT at

Barstow Mayor thinks he pulled one over on his Council colleagues and the general public

On August 22, Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale wrote what some have characterized as a vitriolic letter to Clay Gregory at the Sacramento office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs which was an unauthorized and unwarranted attack on the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe.

At a special meeting of the Barstow City Council on August 28, 2007, Councilman Joe Gomez and members of the public chastised the Mayor for, among other things, sending the letter without first getting City Council review and approval. Those critical of the Mayor’s action feel Mayor Dale's track record may be what costs Barstow any chance to establish Indian gaming.

This was part of Dale’s defiant response:
    "The letter that was written, was written under my signature; not under this Council’s signature. It was not written by the City of Barstow."

Is that so?

TVT has reviewed the Dale letter and is astonished that Mayor Dale would make such a boldface lie to his four Council colleagues and the public when he knew the letter was going to be made available for public inspection.

You be the judge ... Consider these following details.

The first paragraph of Mayor Dale’s letter begins as follows:
    "The City of Barstow submits this letter in response to the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe's August 8, 2007 letter to Analytical Environmental Services…"

The second sentence begins as follows:
    "The City of Barstow suspects that the Chemehuevi Tribe’s August 8 letter is …"

Routinely throughout the letter Dale makes other representations that he is speaking for the City of Barstow and useswe” where he would have usedI” if the letter was intended to represent it was coming from him personally rather than in his official capacity as Mayor or from the Council or the City of Barstow.

And then he begins the closing paragraph of his three page letter to the BIA as follows:
    "For these reasons, the City of Barstow respectfully requests that your review be focused on the criteria that are legally relevant…"

You be the judge. Is Mayor Dale being truthful when he attempted to convince his Council colleagues that the letter was not written by the Mayor in his official capacity representing the Council or the official position of the City of Barstow?

Should the Barstow City Council censure Mayor Dale for this action? How can the Council be sure Dale hasn’t abused his role as Mayor by engaging in these kinds of actions or practices on other matters? What exposure does the Council/City have if it knowingly allows Dale to get away with this behavior without a reprimand?

What would compel Dale to make such public representations when the preponderance of evidence suggests otherwise?

You may obtain copies of letter from TVT by writing us at

Thomas Edison Inn may no longer be residents' preferred site for a Port Huron casino


City residents had no choice in possible casino's location

In response to TalkBackcaller Linda's comment about the location of the proposed casino, I was living in Wisconsin in 2001 when the vote took place. Also, Linda pointed out the voters voted for a casino at a specific location.

I would argue this proves my point - the people of Port Huron had no choice regarding a location. One wonders what the outcome of the vote would have been if the citizens had been given a choice between the Thomas Edison Inn location and a location next to McMorran Place.

The point of my previous letter to the editor was the community of Port Huron should have a choice as to where a casino is located. Oddly, in the Times Herald's forum regarding that letter no one has yet commented on this, one way or another. Instead the location continues to be debated. This debate is moot, if you never get to make the decision.

This is one-shot deal, folks. The people of Port Huron should try to get the most benefits out of having a casino in their community. It's not a "done deal," yet. But it will be if you don't act!

If you believe the decision should be made by the community, then please contact Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. Only they may be able to give the citizens of Port Huron the choice.
Port Huron Township

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Giuliani scored with the Tigers; the Yankees didn't

Giuliani scored big bucks off the owners of the Detroit Tigers but his presence in Detroit sent the New York Yankees home without scoring a point.

At a fundraiser for his presidential campaign this week, Marian Ilitch, her husband Mike Ilitch and an associate who heads up various casino syndicates for Mrs. Ilitch, Michael Malik, hosted a presidential campaign fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani at their Fox Theater headquarters in Downtown Detroit and some 150 of their family, friends and associates paid $2,300 to meet the former New York Mayor.

Afterwards Marian Ilitch walked Giuliani across the street to Comerica Park where her family's Tigers were playing the Yankees. Rudy may have scored $345,000 for his presidential campaign but the Tigers shut-out the Yankees 16-to-0.

The Detroit Free Press reporters Giuliani had a similar effect on the Yankees when he attended a game between the Angels and Yankees after a recent L.A. fundraiser. That day the Angels scored 18 runs to the Yankees 9 runs.

Sacramento lobbyist says Compacts are dead; people in Barstow & Detroit insist deals are still on life support

An article published this afternoon in the Desert Dispatch indicates a Sacramento-based lobbyist for both the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the City of Barstow says the Barwest Compacts are dead at this time. But for the second year in a row, the same few people in Barstow and Detroit are trying to cover up the Barwest failures and want people to believe the Barwest Compacts are still on life support.

The truth is, legislative leaders indicated the Barwest Compacts were DOA (Dead On Arrival) back in 2005. An Assembly Committee voted the compacts down after an official hearing in 2006; and in 2007 Barwest failed to even get a hearing on the fatally flawed Compacts. The future for the Barwest Compacts gets dimmer each passing year.
Mayor Dale and Tom Shields are working for people who stubbornly refuse to back a plan that could get approved in the legislature.

As my grandmother often said, "...And people in Hell want ice water!"


City's lobbyist: Casino project probably dead

By JASON SMITH, staff writer

BARSTOW — Barstow appears unlikely to get state approval this year to build a casino, according to the city’s lobbyist.

Nick Medeiros, a lobbyist hired by the city of Barstow, said Thursday it is doubtful the state senate will approve the compacts for the Los Coyotes/Big Lagoon dual casino project before the legislative session closes on Sept. 11.

"We’re running out of time. It’s unlikely that the compacts could be moved out of committee and be approved by both houses of the legislature before the end of session. It’s probably not going to happen," he said.

In a Aug. 22 letter to Patricia Morris, assistant to the city manager, Medeiros delivered the bad news to the city.

"The Barstow gaming compacts appear dead for this year. The incredible power of the gaming tribes and their unlimited financial resources coupled with a lack of interest on the part of the governor have doomed this most worthy project," he wrote.

'There’s always hope'

However, Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale said that Medeiros’ statement was an "independent observation" and did not reflect the city’s opinion. Dale said that there is still time this year for the compacts to pass.

"We have not closed the door on it, and I don’t feel the governor has closed the door on it," he said.

City Council members will lobby state legislators on the issue next week, when council members will attend the League of Cities Convention in Sacramento, he said.

He blamed other tribes that already have casinos for the lack of progress.

"It’s no secret that the big tribes are fighting us and fighting us hard," he said.

Tom Shields, spokesman for the casino’s developer, BarWest LLC, said that the fight would continue to pass the compact.

"It’s not dead. The legislature just passed the budget, we have three more weeks in session, and we will focus all our attention on convincing the legislature to pass the Barstow compacts," Shields said. (
Full Story)

Mayor's unauthorized letter to BIA could hurt Barstow's chances to establish Indian gaming

At the behest of a competing Detroit-based casino syndicate, Barstow Mayor sent unauthorized letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) attacking ancestral claims of a local Indian tribe with which the City of Barstow has previously entered into a contractual agreement to build a casino resort in Barstow.

Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale was chastised by colleagues and residents alike, during a special City Council meeting he scheduled this past week on other matters, for working against the City’s efforts to bring Indian gaming to Barstow; a concept reportedly endorsed by more than 75% of the local community and by various formal votes of the Barstow City Council in the last two years.

Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale chastised for unauthorized actions
that many believe may hurt city's chance to establish Indian gaming

TVT has obtained copies of letters referenced at a special afternoon meeting of the Barstow City Council held August 28, 2007. Mayor Dale without Council approval sent an unauthorized letter to Clay Gregory, the director of the Sacramento office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs using his title as "Mayor" and on city letterhead attacking the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe and making many representations on behalf of the City of Barstow.

The City Council has an agreement with the Chemehuevi Tribe that allows the tribe to develop a casino resort in Barstow.

At the Council meeting, Dale said he wrote the letter in response to a letter the Chemehuevi tribal chairman Charles Wood had written to a consultant managing an Environmental Impact Study that the BIA is conducting on another proposed dual Indian casino project identified for Barstow – a project that Detroit-based Barwest LLC has advanced. The chairman reportedly was encouraged to write the letter by the consultant managing the study.

Dale defended his action and the unauthorized letter he sent to the BIA by saying, “The Chemehuevi had made accusations about our city and about what our city had done.”

TVT has reviewed a copy of the letter from the Chemehuevi tribal chairman which Dale says prompted his letter to the BIA. There is absolutely nothing in the Chairman's letter representing accusations about the City of Barstow or actions taken by the City. The letter primarily addresses matters of ancestral heritage in the greater Barstow area and raises questions about a list of tribes maintained by California’s Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) which are required to be included in early consultations on land use matters in the Barstow area under state law.

What would prompt Dale to provide such an unsupported explanation?

It's curious that there are no literal accusations in the Chemehuevi letter; but from Mayor Lawrence Dale’s perspective some sort of exposure is implied that required his urgent and unvetted response.

Oddly enough Dale’s letter to the BIA is more political attack intended to advantage his friends in Detroit rather than a letter that would foster the City Council’s objective to bring Indian gaming to Barstow. He addresses no "accusations" in letter; rather he makes uneducated and vicious accusations about the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe.

Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale isn't being honest with himself or the public. Mayor Dale's actions may cost Barstow the chance to establish Indian gaming; perhaps that's been the objective all along.

Moody's announces Ilitch owned holding company for MotorCity Casino still has a negative credit ratings outlook

Although Motor City Casino recently opened its new casino facility, the Ilitch owned holding company (CCM Merger, Inc.) continues to be leveraged beyond its B1 "corporate credit and probability of default rating" which gives analysts continued cause to maintain the negative outlook originally assigned one year ago.

Global Credit Research

New York -- Moody's affirmed CCM Merger, Inc.'s (CCM") ratings and negative outlook. CCM has a B1 corporate family and probability of default rating, a Ba3 (LGD-3, 35%) senior secured bank loan rating, and B3 (LGD-5, 88%) unsecured senior note rating.

The negative outlook considers that although the company recently opened the casino portion of its $300 million expansion project and reported second quarter 2007 performance in terms of market share and revenue growth, leverage at this point is still higher then what was expected when the initial rating was assigned in July 2005. The negative outlook was assigned in July 2006 in response to CCM's lower than expected operating results which highlighted its vulnerability to aggressive promotional activity by its two primary competitors despite the historical strength and positive long-term outlook for the Detroit gaming market. CCM's ratings could be lowered in the next 6-months if the recent opening of its expanded casino and the new hotel scheduled to open this November do not have enough of a positive impact to enable the company to reduce leverage to at or below 5.5x over the next two years, a level considered more appropriate for a B1 corporate family rating with CCM's asset profile.

The B1 corporate family rating continues to acknowledge the favorable demographics, population density and limited competition that characterize the Detroit gaming market, and that the MotorCity Casino is one of only three commercial casinos that are permitted to operate in Detroit.

Moody's prior rating action on CCM occurred on Sep. 28, 2006 when probability of default ratings and loss given default assessments were assigned to the company as part of the general roll-out of the loss given default product.

CCM Merger, Inc. is a holding company whose primary operating subsidiary is Detroit Entertainment, LLC doing business as MotorCity Casino. All revenues and operating cash flows are derived from this subsidiary. The company does not publicly disclose financial data.

New York
Glenn B. Eckert
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Keith Foley
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

TPMmuckraker reports on Congressional investigations targeting four of casino syndicator's "friends"

in its "Today's Must Read" post, TPMmuckraker reports the following "friends" of Detroit casino syndicator Michael J. Malik (and the Ilitch Family) are under investigation for ethics violations and other wrongdoings:

1. Congressman Don Young (R-AK 1st)
TPMmuckracker: Young's Scandals from Abramoff to Zachares

See these related posts at

2. Congressman John Doolittle (R-CA )
TPMmuckraker: The Doolittle Investgations

See these related posts at

3. Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ )
TPMmuckraker: Rick Renzi Under Investigation

See these related posts at

4. Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA )
TPMmuckraker: Lewis is under investigation

See these related posts at

TPMmuckracker keeps a running tally of investigations and prosecutions of both Democrats and Republicans on their Grand Ole Docket.

Or click on any of the "labels" (categories) below for a compendium of posts at (TVT) for that category.

Still no word on Ilitch takeover of Detroit's Masonic Theaters


Will Ilitch Holdings take over Masonic?
Company has had talks, but there's no deal yet


Ilitch Holdings, which owns the Tigers, Red Wings, Fox Theatre, Motor City Casino and chunks of undeveloped Detroit real estate, has an eye on the landmark Masonic Temple. "We have had conversations but there's nothing imminent," Ilitch spokeswoman Karen Cullen said, responding to reports that a deal is near. "There is nothing finalized or signed."

Phone calls to Masonic Temple Association president William Betz were not returned Tuesday afternoon. The Masonic Temple Association owns the building, noted for its 4,444-seat Masonic Temple Theatre. The building also houses the 1,500-seat Scottish Rite Theatre.

Reportedly, Ilitch Holdings is looking at a long-term agreement to operate, but not buy, the building and its theaters.

As an entertainment venue Masonic Temple Theatre has great potential, given the right show. When the Nederlander Co. brought in the musical "Wicked" to Masonic from May 31, 2006, to June 18, 2006, it sold more than $1.6 million in tickets a week, outgrossing any show on Broadway or on tour.

But how many such shows are there? "There's no shortage of venues. There's plenty of shortage of product. There are only so many shows the market can support," says Alan Lichtenstein, executive director of Nederlander Co. LLC in Detroit, the firm that brings touring Broadway shows to the Fisher Theatre and, until last year, to Masonic.

For shows and concerts Masonic would compete, just in Detroit, with the Fisher, the Fillmore Detroit (the new name of the State Theatre), the Detroit Opera House and the Ilitches' own Fox Theatre.

"Wicked" was the last show the Nederlanders produced at Masonic. The company's main Detroit venue is the Fisher Theatre. From this year on the firm also has a deal to bring shows to the Detroit Opera House, including "The Lion King" in November and the eventual return of "Wicked."

"What else is there to go into Masonic? I don't know," says Lichtenstein. "The issue is what it costs to operate the building. Can the revenue of the theater pay the cost of the entire building? It's not an office building; it's not a residential building. ... It's unique. It's a big clubhouse."

Nearly all of the Masonic organizations once headquartered there have moved to the suburbs, he notes.

Lichtenstein's office is in Masonic's basement, but he plans to move to the Fisher.

Contact MARTIN F. KOHN at 313-222-6517 or

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Barstow's Mayor isn't familiar with his City's General Plan; nor is he a scholar of Native American history or culture

Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale isn't a local historian nor scholar of Native Americans despite recent representations.

And it appears that Mayor Dale has failed to study and familiarize himself with his city's General Plan too.

Recently Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale, in his official capacity, has mistakenly written,
"To the contrary, the Barstow General Plan lists 15 tribal groups, including the Cahuilla and Cupeno, as having ties to Barstow"

Mayor Dale misrepresents the truth for the benefit of Detroit casino syndicators.

First, the Barstow General plan does not provide a list of 15 different tribes that have ancestral claims to the modern-day Barstow area as Dale seems to imply. The General Plan mentions various Native American groups throughout its 54-page technical report on cultural resources management, but in no way does that report indicate each of those tribes had ancestral connections to Barstow.

The Barstow General Plan does, however, recognize that the California Native American Heritage Commission maintains a list of those tribes that have ancestral claims in the Barstow area. The General Plan also acknowledges that the Barstow office of the Bureau of Land Management recognizes four tribes specifically as having ancestral claims in Barstow.

Perhaps Lawrence Dale should familiarize himself with those official lists.

Barstow General Plan/Technical Report
IV.2 Cultural Resources Management Plan
Preface – Native American Concerns

(pages IV.2.6 – IV.2.7)

"Therefore, any project must involve consultation with and involvement from local and regional Native American cultural entities as listed by the Native American Heritage Commission. The local Barstow office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maintains a listing of representatives of Native American groups who claim an association with the Barstow area; specifically the Serrano, Kaaiisu, Fort Mojave, and Chemehuevi."

Contrary to Mayor Dale’s representations, the Barstow General Plan does not represent that the Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians have ancestral claims in the modern-day Barstow area. The General Plan’s Technical Report section provides a discussion that simply mentions the Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians were believed to have had relationships with the Serrano Indians (San Manuel Tribe). The Serrano are referenced for discussion because they are a Native American group most like the less understood Vanyume Indians who had ancestral lands including modern-day Barstow – but there are no representations that the Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians had ancestral lands in Barstow.

Barstow General Plan/Technical Report
IV.2 Cultural Resources Management Plan
Cultural/Historical Overview - Ethnography

(page IV.2.27)

"Since little is known about the Vanyume, and most existing information, though not universally accepted, suggests certain affinities to the Serrano, relevant behavioral information with applicability to the Vanyume was extrapolated from the Serrano..."

"Coalitions with other Serrano clans were based on reciprocal ceremonial, marital and economic relationships. They also established alliances with similarly organized Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, Gabrielino, and Cupeno (Strong, 1929; Bean, 1972)."

Ironically, that very same section of the Barstow General Plan that mentions relationships between the Serrano and various other Indians, includes the following two references that seem to support representations by the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe that its ancestors included modern-day Barstow among their rightful homelands.

Barstow General Plan/Technical Report
IV.2 Cultural Resources Management Plan
Cultural/Historical Overview - Ethnography

(page IV.2.26 & IV.2.28)

"The Vanyume became extinct through missionization in the 1770s, with the Chemehuevi, Mojave, Serrano, and possibly Chumash moving into their area after contact (Greenwood and McIntyre, 1979:28); Forbes, 1963; and, Barker and Schlanger, 1974)."

"It is reported that during the 17th and 18th centuries, the central portion of the Mojave was abandoned by the Mojave Indians and the area was occupied by the Chemehuevi." IV.2.28

It seems that at the suggestion of those behind Detroit-based casino developer Barwest LLC, Mayor Dale disregards any such claims by the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe or any others; even when those claims are supported by language in his city's General Plan.

What or whom would compel Lawrence Dale to use the office bestowed upon him by the people of Barstow to make the false representations he has made about that city's history and its General Plan documents.

Blogger has written comprehensive history of Hockey in Detroit

posted 8.28.07 at

History of Hockey Town

By Ann Knapp

In Hockey Town, there's only one team to root for -- the Detroit Red Wings. The team currently resides just a luxury sedan or limo ride away at Joe Louis Arena, located in downtown Detroit. Here are some team historical highlights...

Angry Detroit casino syndicators tied to those behind CA casino referendum

as posted 8.28.07 at

Big fight looms on California gaming referendum

The fight over four new gaming compacts could get even uglier, The Los Angeles Times reports.

A union and a racetrack owner are gathering signatures for a petition to put the compacts to a public vote. But the four tribes are countering with a campaign to convince people not to sign, or to withdraw their names from the petition.

"We're not looking for confrontation, we're just looking to inform the voters of California. . . . People should have the option to withdraw their names," Jacob Mejia, a spokesperson for the four tribes, told The Times.

The Unite-Here union and the racetrack owner are receiving financial support from the United Auburn Indian Community and the Pala Band of Mission Indians. The tribes say the new compacts will hurt smaller casinos.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Pechanga Band of LuiseƱo Indians, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation signed the compacts to add more slot machines to their facilities.

Get the Story:
Indian gambling battle brewing (The Los Angeles Times 8/28)
Username:, Password: indianzcom
It's worth noting that Unite-Here political director Jack Gribbon headed the failed 2007 lobbying fight to have the California legislature turn-down the four Compacts negotiated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. And now the four compacts are targeted by the Unite-Here backed referendum.

Barwest LLC, a Detroit-based casino syndication headed by Michael J. Malik and Mrs. Marian Ilitch (she and husband Mike Ilitch co-founded Little Caesars Pizza; the family owns the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, MotorCity Casino, etc.) supported that lobbying effort.

A lobbyist for Barwest LLC reported in January 2007 that they had partnered with Gribbon to try and achieve their mutual objectives. During 2006, Michael Malik, with other past ties to horse racing, joined with racetrack owners and labor PACs in contributing to several California legislators who they'd hoped would champion their causes.

Two gaming compacts for off-reservation casinos championed by Barwest LLC (they would develop and manage proposed projects) have failed to win support in the California legislature in each of the last two annual legislative sessions.

Spokespeople for Barwest LLC, angry as of late, have blamed the political influence of California's successful gaming tribes for their failures despite the fact that Barwest's unorthodox projects have not been endorsed by any other Indian tribes in California (gaming or non-gaming); with the exception of their two intended partners the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians.

Barwest LLC was fined in 2006 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for two counts of violating California's political reform laws when principals of the entity failed to report a $26,600 contribution they made to the San Joaquin County GOP Committee in 2004.

It is also worth noting that the United Auburn Indian Community began a partnership with Las Vegas-based Station Casinos, Inc. dating back to at least 2000. Station California LLC has managed the tribe's Thunder Valley Casino Resort and shared in the profits.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mashpee casino planned for Middleborough would allow much larger buildout


Casino foes fear Massachusetts casino will grow

MASSACHUSETTS -- As reported by the Boston Herald: "Proposed $1 billion casino by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Middleboro, already facing mounting concerns over its impact, could wind up being just the first installment of a much larger buildout, industry experts and critics suggest.

"The tribe has said repeatedly it wants to replicate Mohegan Sun, which has been held up as a 'model.'

"But the Wampanoag's $1 billion proposal, despite what seems to be its enormous size, falls far short of that goal, experts say.

"The proposed Middleboro casino would have to triple in size before it rivaled, let alone overtook, the Connecticut gambling resort, said Clyde Barrow, a gambling industry expert and professor at the University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth.

"...Scott Ferson, a spokesman for the tribe, said there are no plans to expand beyond the proposal that has been laid out, which includes a 1,500-room hotel, shops and restaurants, and 150,000 square feet of gambling space, and a golf course..."

Boston Herald: Trends show Mashpees’ $1B plan may grow

Barstow's Mayor driven to change wastewater treatment facility consultant mid-stream despite opposition, in-experience, ethics and common sense

excerpted from a 8.27.08 story written by Jason Smith and published in the Desert Dispatch, "Council meets to consider wastewater contract, again:"

"BARSTOW — The City Council will meet in special session Tuesday at 3 p.m. to discuss a contract to build a wastewater treatment facility.

"According to the meeting’s agenda, city staff is concerned with negotiating with MicroMedia Filtration Inc. to build the facility because the contract was awarded by a council vote and not a competitive bidding process as is normally done. In a July 18 meeting, the council voted 3-2 to cancel the city’s previous contract with consultant HDR, Inc. causing a loss of about $1.7 million already spent on engineering drawings..."

You may want to review these additional posts:

Tribes once again poised for failure to meet Governor Schwarzenegger's extension of previous casino gaming deadlines

Last May, Governor Schwarzenegger granted the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians and their Detroit-based casino backers an extension of the original deadlines he had set for them to have completed the federal land-into-trust process for Barstow, and the deadline to win legislative ratification of the Barstow Compacts.

Schwarzenegger granted a mid-September (through the close of the 2007 legislative session) extension of the deadline.

A lobbyist for the Big Lagoon Rancheria tribe has reported that the effort to have the Compacts ratified by the legislature has failed -- is now dead -- for the second year in a row.

The tribes will also fail for a second time to meet the deadline set by Schwarzenegger for the Tribe, through the Department of Interior, to complete a transfer of land in Barstow, currently owned by Detroit-based Barwest LLC, into trust for the Tribe . The federal fee-to-trust process is necessary if the tribes wish to establish gaming on the Barstow properties.

Tribe's lobbyist reports Barstow gaming Compacts are dead; blames Governor Schwarzenegger

With almost a month left in California's 2007 legislative session, a lobbyist for the Big Lagoon Rancheria has reported that for the second year in a row, the tribe has failed to win legislative ratification of a gaming Compact it negotiated with the Governor's office in 2005. He blames established gaming tribes and Governor Schwarzenegger for the failure without considering flaws, shortcomings of his client's unorthodox plan.

Nick Medeiros, a Sacramento lobbyist for both the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the City of Barstow, who previously worked on the failed effort by Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik to legalize gambling in the Hawaiian Islands, has reported:

"The Barstow gaming compacts appear dead for this year. "

"The incredible power of the gaming tribes and their unlimited financial resources coupled with a lack of interest on the part of the Governor doomed this most worthy project. A meeting with leadership in both houses is on the horizon to see if we can't get this project going in the right direction."

Nick Medeiros
Lobbyist, Big Lagoon Rancheria

This is the second year in a row that the Legislature has refused to ratify these unorthodox off-reservation gaming Compacts. The agreements with the Big Lagoon Rancheria and a quasi-partner, the Los Coyotes Band of Indians were negotiated by aides to Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005. Medeiros indicates that Schwarzenegger has grown increasingly disinterested with each subsequent failure.

In 2006, Barwest, the developer and manager of the planned casinos mega-resort could count just six members of the entire California Legislature who publicly declared their support for the scheme.

In 2007, only three members of the Legislature publicly declared their support.

If history's any indication, they'll be lucky to find anyone willing to author such a bill in the 2008 Session.

Medeiros' notion that a meeting with legislative leaders just might be the antidote to kick-start the proposals for a third go-around is nothing short of Pollyanna given some in legislative leadership identified the scheme as DOA when it was first revealed in 2005.

Tom Shields is so desperate he's manufacturing conspiracy theories to shift blame for Barstow failures somewhere else

Those of you who have been so helpful in providing tips and resources for (TVT), and as such form the foundation of TVT, will find it humorous or perhaps even pathetic to know that Ilitch spokesman and political operative Tom Shields is so desperate to find someone to blame for Ilitch's failure to produce a casino in Barstow the last six years that he's manufactured a big conspiracy theory that ties together the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians located in San Bernardino County, California; a Barstow citizen activist who TVT has featured on this blog once or twice; and that "full-time anonymous blogger" TVT.

This is an all too frequent strategy for Shields when he has no where else to turn. Shields can't admit his clients' shortcomings or failures.

1. San Manuel Band of Indians
It is no secret the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians opposes the unorthodox scheme that Marian Ilitch and Mike Malik have tried to push through for a mega gambling resort in Barstow with at least two Indian casinos. That tribe has made no bones about its opposition to Detroit Developers attempting to relocate two adopted tribes from opposite ends of California to a site in the Mojave Desert where the San Manuel Band of Indians ancestors have endured and made their homelands over the centuries.

The San Manuel Band of Indians is one of fourteen tribes in the greater Southern California region who publicly oppose the Ilitch/Malik scheme for Barstow. The only Southern California tribe that supports the scheme is the one that Ilitch/Malik wants to transplant in Barstow, the Los Coyotes Band of Indians from San Diego County.

In fact, TVT is unaware of any endorsement of the Ilitch/Malik Barstow casino scheme by any other tribes or tribal organizations in California.

2. Barstow Citizen Activist Larry Halstead
Perhaps the loudest opponent of the Ilitch/Malik Barstow casino scheme is a local Barstow activist, Larry Halstead. Apparently Halstead is the chair of the local Democratic Club and he ran for Barstow City Council in 2006. It's quite obvious he wasn't one of the candidates that Ilitch/Malik backed with their $200,000 Barstow campaign budget in 2006. Rather, Halstead raised money from alternative sources and from what TVT has gathered the San Manuel Band of Indians contributed to his campaign. Needless to say, Halstead did not win his race for City Council given his modest campaign budget.

Rather than address the numerous questions and concerns Mr. Halstead has raised about the Ilitch/Malik Barstow casino scheme, their spokesman Tom Shields has desperately taken to making personal attacks on Halstead. It's mostly based on hearsay. Because the San Manuel Tribe gave Halstead a campaign contribution, Shields has now stretched that acknowledged truth to accuse Mr. Halstead of being on the tribe's "payroll."

TVT encourages Mr. Shields to document his claims with something other than his manufactured rumors! Perhaps Mr. Shields should first reveal who the anonymous donors to his $200,000 campaign fund really are. And then explain why 98% of his $200,000 budget had to come from people who don't live or work in the remote Mojave Desert community.

And then Shields -- in back-handed admission of the effectiveness and impact that the citizen activists behind TVT are having in exposing the unethical practices, corruption, lies, half-truths and sobering realities behind the various Ilitch/Malik schemes -- is making allegations about TVT that just aren't true no matter how you look at the situation.

Larry Halstead appears to reference TVT at various City Council meetings. So no doubt that's where the pathetic Shields came up with his hollow theories connecting the San Manuel Tribe, Halstead and TVT. Please...more than 14,400 people have visited TVT and scores have made reference to or hyperlinked their Web pages to TVT. Focusing on Larry Halstead and the tribe from Southern California is underestimating the force you're dealing with!

Someone ought to tell Shields he needs to re-examine his qualifications for his day job!

Tom Shields is simply a liar. Shields falsely insists that TVT, "a full-time anonymous blogger," was hired and funded by the San Manuel Tribe. This is just another manufactured attack to avoid answering the many reasonable quesitons and verifiable concerns raised by TVT or citizen activists around the country.

Tom Shields may have had a $200,000 budget in Barstow and he collects hundreds of thousands (likely a million or more) each year from the Ilitch familyand the various Ilitch Holdings Inc. subsidiaries, affiliates and partners (someone should let Marian know she's paying far too much); but neither TVT nor any of the volunteer citizen activists in New York, Michigan and California or elsewhere who form the foundation of the TVT network are being paid to do what we do. Each of us is motivated by the pure fact that Tom Shields and his clients are just bad people and its time for these bullies to be exposed. They've exploited, threatened and used people in New York, Michigan, California and Washington D.C.; to advance their personal ventures at any cost, for much too long.

Mike Malik and his band of bullies blew the Barstow deal
The 1st amendment rights we enjoy in a free and open society coupled with the power of the internet have empowered and enabled TVT. It's the dawn of a new era that will make it difficult for ruthless people like Mike Malik and his band of bullies to conduct business as usual.

Next time you hear Tom Shields or anyone else whose part of the Ilitch/Malik network spout off, ask them to produce the documented proof that backs up what they claim. And when they turn to personal attacks, tune them out. Their personal attacks are a desperate acknowledgment that the claims made by those they attack are likely the truth.

The Ilitch/Malik Team's failure to conduct business in public; failure to invite, engage and negotiate in good faith with those who have other interests and concerns; and failure to develop and maintain trust and confidence among the public and policy makers are at the core of the Ilitch/Malik Team's downfall.

The Ilitch/Malik Barstow casino scheme failed because it simply was a flawed highly unorthodox plan.

Ilitch went outside of Detroit to hire agency for MotorCity Casino branding overhaul

excerpted from a 8.27.07 Crain's column by Tim Smith, "Respect Detroit's creative community:"

"...MotorCity Casino recently completed an ambitious rebranding initiative that will help it welcome its new hotel and casino complex this fall. The casino, which has significant ownership from the same Ilitch empire that gives us valuable Detroit brands such as Little Caesars, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, chose to go outside the market to New York to have the branding work conceptualized, produced and implemented..."

... And Marian Ilitch says with her "local ownership" of MotorCity Casino, Detroit can be sure MotorCity's money/business stays in Detroit?

Wouldn't be the first time Marian's handlers provided her with a soundbite that might sound good at the time she says it, or to naive people who don't know any better, but just isn't true! tsk! tsk! tsk!

Detroiters hoping Ilitches will adopt their neighborhood too


Hope for Cass Corridor
Ilitch takeover of Masonic Temple may spur development of decaying area

Robert Snell and Louis Aguilar / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Ilitch Holdings Inc.-- the billion-dollar family empire of sports, entertainment, pizza and real estate in downtown Detroit -- hopes to venture into a long-abandoned stretch of the city: the Cass Corridor.

Ilitch's Olympia Entertainment is negotiating to take control of the iconic Masonic Temple, a city landmark mired in so much debt its owners, the Masons, face losing the building. The deal could be announced within a week to 10 days, said Bill Betz, president of the Masonic Temple Association, which would continue to own the 16-story landmark.

An Ilitch-run Masonic could be an energizing development for an area trapped in poverty and decay, according to city, business and neighborhood officials. It is the one spot left in the city core that could most benefit from a business titan who revived the Fox Theatre area 20 years ago, they say.

A Masonic deal could be transformational, Betz said.

"In five years -- the whole neighborhood -- you won't recognize it," he said.

Security and money from entrepreneurs willing to back projects near an Ilitch endeavor will likely follow the Little Caesars Pizza owner into "the Corridor," developers and city officials said.

Ilitch Holdings spokeswoman Karen Cullen would only say "discussions are continuing."

For now, though, much of the Cass Corridor looks forgotten and mean. Across from the Masonic is Cass Avenue Park, where on a recent afternoon a group of bare-shirted men with grocery carts full of personal belongings sat in a circle, sharing a bottle wrapped in a paper bag.

'Lots of things happen'
The Ilitches would not be the first major players to enter the Corridor, specifically the southern part, defined by Cass Avenue between the 1-75 service drive and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Other influential developers have purchased blighted properties with intentions to restore them to housing and small businesses, adding to the few already there. There's a dog day care center and renovated housing that advertises DSL access.

"Obviously a lot needs to be turned around down there," said George Jackson, president of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the quasi-public city agency promoting Detroit development. "But it's the logical place for growth if you want what's happening in Midtown to merge with all the growth that's going on downtown.

"With the Ilitches jumping in there, it becomes very interesting. Because when they set up shop in an area, lots of things happen."

One thing that could happen is the Masonic becomes a solid, steady venue for entertainment again.

But only after the Ilitches pay off the Masonic's outstanding bills, Betz said.

The Masonic association's debt grew in recent years as other Masonic organizations relocated from the Gothic-style building to the suburbs and entertainment bookings plummeted.

The association, which would still own the building under the deal that's being negotiated, owes about $242,000 in delinquent property taxes and unpaid water and sewer bills, and faces possible foreclosure in March.

There are parallels between the Masonic venture and Ilitch's work over the past 20 years that created a sprawling sports and entertainment district along Woodward just south of Cass Corridor across I-75. And while the company has similar deals with Cobo Center, Joe Louis Arena and Comerica Park, all of which they do not own, the company essentially controls all commercial business at those locations and reaps the revenue.

Slide worsened in 1980s
In the 1970s, the Cass Corridor was filled with Appalachian families and still had an area called Chinatown, said Patrick Dorn, executive director of the Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corporation, which rehabilitates and builds affordable housing nearby.

Those with enough money left and the neighborhood started to decay once property owners started selling to negligent owners, Dorn said. The slide worsened in the 1980s when the city made the area home to social service providers such as homeless shelters.

"That was the finishing touch," Dorn said.

"Whenever you have isolationism where there's nobody there, except people you wouldn't want to meet in the dark, you're not going to be the first one to put money in."

The neighborhood is exceedingly poor, especially compared to the rest of the city. Median household income is $8,317, far below the city's median household income of $29,526, according to the U.S. Census.

It is the second poorest census tract in the city, and arguably the poorest populated area.

Joel Landy, a 30-year resident of the Cass Corridor, says he's been a part of more than $20 million in investments there and he intends to invest at least that much in the near future. He owns more than 45 properties ranging from small storefronts to multiple housing units to empty lots.

On a recent drive through Cass Corridor, Landy pointed out brothels and drug havens as well as restored buildings and new retailers.

"It looks pretty tough but there's so much opportunity and many beautiful buildings. I welcome the Ilitches because they've been a great force. I just hope they look around the area and notice what else needs to be done in the area," Landy said.

Other prominent developers such as Dwight Belyue have also recently purchased properties in Cass Corridor the past few years. "You know, when the Ilitches set up shop in the Fox, that area didn't look all that different from Cass Corridor," Belyue said, who owns the Belmar Development Group. He and Seattle developer Mike Dunne bought three apartment complexes on the corner of Cass and the I-75 service drive that were known crack and prostitute dens.

Betz, the Masonic president, said a deal to transfer management of the Masonic is imminent, though he refuses to identify Ilitch by name despite a Ilitch Holdings representative confirming the company is in negotiations.

"All the pieces of the puzzle, I believe, are in place," Betz said.

The temple has two theaters, which seat 4,400 people and about 1,550, respectively. A third theater sits unfinished on the temple's seventh floor.

There also are two massive ballrooms that host weddings and meetings, and a vacant 10-story office tower that could house lofts or apartments, Betz said.

You can reach Robert Snell at (313) 222-2028 or

TVT has welcomed more than 178,000 unique vistors

TVT, founded in December 2006, has averaged more than 20,000 visitors annually. It is produced with the support of scores of individuals from coast-to-coast, each a volunteer citizen activist/jounalist, who review tips and compile the verifiable details and documents that are the hallmark of our content.

Since our first post, more than 178,000 visitors have accessed the details compiled uniquely at TVT.

The citizen activists behind TVT wish to extened a big "THANK YOU" to all those who have provided "tips" -- contributed pictures, documents, link suggestions, leads, reports, insight and comments. Your trust and confidence in TVT has allowed us to create a comprehensive resource that thousands of others -- including bloggers, journalists, Members of Congress and other local citizen activists around the country -- have come to rely upon.

We invite feedback and constructive comment and want you to know you are welcome to do that here in "comments" or by contacting us directly and confidentially via

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NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation

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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

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