Saturday, September 08, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: SB 157 has been gutted indicating the Barwest gaming Compacts for Barstow are DEAD!

As of September 7, 2007, SB 157 "An act to add Sections 12012.53 and 12012.54 to the Government Code, relating to gaming" has been gutted by its author Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) and is now "An act to amend Sections 23356.1, 23399.6, and 25503.9 of the Business and Professions Code, relating to alcoholic beverages."

That would seem to imply that the efforts to ratify two separate gaming compacts for the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the Los Coyotes Band of Indians are dead for this session as a lobbyist for both the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the City of Barstow reported in late August.

For the second year in a row, the principals behind Detroit-based Barwest LLC have failed, despite their propoganda machine's claims, to gather any real support for either of the Compacts in the state legsialture. In 2006, an Assembly Committee actually voted down the two Compacts. And with Big Lagoon chairman Virgil Moorehead threatening to return to pursuits to build a casino on his Humboldt County reservation; it would seem the Compact for the Los Coyotes tribe is no longer valid.

For at least the second time since 2001, Barwest is back to square one -- the first time being in 2004 when Governor Schwarzenegger denied a stand alone casino for Barwest and the Los Coyotes tribe in Barstow.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sen. Wiggins top donors again include Detroit Casino Syndicator previously fined for violating Calif political reform laws

Michael J. Malik, Sr., a Detroit-based casino syndicator is among the largest individual contributors to California State Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) 2010 Campaign Re-Election Committee this year. Malik is one of only two individuals to contribute $2,000 to Wiggin's re-election committee; and he is the top out of state donor to Wiggins Committee overall -- PAC and non-PAC.

In 2006 Malik's company Barwest LLC, a Detroit casino syndicate, was fined on two counts of violating California's political reform laws. Malik paid a $6,500 fine for failing to report a $26,600 contribution to then Congressman Richard Pombo's County GOP Committee. It was only when California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) approached Malik almost a year later that he disclosed having made the contribution.

It has been rumored that officials at the City of Barstow are concerned because Malik's political and lobbying practices are under investigation again by the FPPC (as are those of his partners and lobbyists). TVT has also learned that among the issues are two contributions Malik made to Sen. Wiggins campaign in the Fall of 2006 which he again failed to report to the FPPC and which exceeded the aggregate amount he could contribute to Wiggins in the last election cycle. Malik was the top out of state donor to Wiggins 2006 campaign.

After making those contributions to Wiggins in October 2006, Wiggins agreed to sponsor SB 157, a bill that if passed would have ratified Indian gaming agreements for two casinos in Barstow which Malik has contracts to build and manage.

Contact regarding current investigations: Ron Rector, Barstow Redevelopment Director/Economic Development Director (760) 255-5106, Or contact Mayor Lawrence Dale at (760) 252-5800 or (760) 255-5195,

MotorCity Casino loses executive chef

Top MotorCity Casino chef heads to Chicago
Michael Russell has been named executive chef of Chicago’s McCormick Place

Certified Master Chef Michael Russell, executive chef of MotorCity Casino for more than eight years, has been named executive chef of Chicago’s McCormick Place, the largest convention complex in North America.

Russell, 61, resigned his MotorCity Casino job two weeks ago “under very good terms,” he said today.

(Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press)
Certified Master Chef Michael D. Russell stands inside the entrance to the VIP area as Motor City Casino gives a sneak peek at its new facilities back on May 29, 2007.

Earlier this week, a MotorCity Casino spokeswoman confirmed that Russell had left to “pursue other opportunities.” She said a successor has been chosen and an announcement would be made soon.

Russell’s resignation comes just two months before MotorCity is scheduled to open its new 18-story, 400-room hotel topped by an opulent new edition of the casino’s fine-dining Iridescence restaurant.

He had been responsible for all food services at MotorCity, including banquets and the hotel’s in-room dining operations.

Leaving now, Russell said, “gave them the opportunity to find a replacement before everything opened up.”

In Chicago, he will oversee all of McCormick’s food services, which amount to $36 million a year.

His family will continue living at their home in Rochester and he will commute back here periodically.

Russell is one of only 61 American Culinary Federation certified master chefs in the United States. Well-known in Michigan’s culinary community, he said he has no intention of abandoning the state forever.

“I was born here, grew up here and had my whole career here,” he said. “But this was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. It’s kind of the next step in my career.”

He begins his new position in two weeks; in the meantime he’s taking “a much needed, relaxing vacation” that includes fishing, some travel and flying his radio-controlled airplane.

Marian Ilitch's casino partnership fined for violating California's political reform laws, rumored to be under investigation again.

Marian Ilitch (owner of Detroit's MotorCity Casino and whose family owns Little Caesars Pizza, Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers) is one of two principals (her partner is Michael J. Malik, Sr.) in a detroit-based casino syndicate (Barwest, L.L.C.) that has plans to develop two off-reservation Indian casinos in Barstow, CA.

Last year (2006), following an investigation spanning two years, the Ilitch partnership was fined by California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) on two counts of violating California's political reform laws. Late in the 2004 Presidential Election the Ilitch partnership contributed $26,600 to then-Congressman Richard Pombo's County GOP Committee and failed to report the contribution to California's Secretary of State as required by law. The Ilitch partnership was fined $6,500.

And now, it's rumored that top officials at the City of Barstow are concerned because Ilitch's partners and lobbyists are under investigation by the FPPC for a variety of additional lobbying and political contribution violations.

This week the Ilitch partnership launched a politically motivated advertising campaign in California trying to push leaders in California's legislature to approve gaming Compacts that the legislature rejected in 2006 and which lobbyists have failed to advance again in 2007.

In Spring 2006, the Ilitch organization formed a local political committee and spent nearly $200,000 on campaign activity in the City of Barstow but the committee's campaign manager Tom Shields (Ilitch Family spokesman) is still claiming a debt of more than $147,000 (75% of the committee's total expenditures) -- money Shields reports having paid to various vendors -- now owed to him by the Barstow Committee he created.

(page 3, Major Donor Reporting Violations, Barwest LLC)

Contact regarding current investigations: Ron Rector, Barstow Redevelopment Director/Economic Development Director (760) 255-5106, Or contact Mayor Lawrence Dale at (760) 252-5800 or (760) 255-5195,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Los Coyotes says it's reopened negotiations with Governor Schwarzenegger's office for stand alone Barstow casino project

as posted 9.05.07 by John Myers at KQED's blog, CapitolNotes:

"Meantime, the vice-chairman of San Diego's Los Coyotes, Shane Chapparosa, told reporters that his tribe has now begun separate negotiations with the governor's office for a solo Barstow casino. The governor's office won't confirm whether that's the case."

But consider the following:

  • Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger previously turned down a proposal to build a stand alone Los Coyotes tribal casino in Barstow in Spring 2004.

  • Further, Governor Schwarzenegger's negotiator told a Senate Governmental Organization committee hearing in April 2006 that Los Coyotes would not qualify for a stand alone agreement based on the Governor's May 2005 proclomation for gaming.

  • The Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs currently has an Environmental Impact Study underway for the larger joint casino site. Presumably that process would need to start all over.

  • Governor Schwarzenegger's office has previously had a "confidentiality" policy with tribes it's negotiating with banning them from making statement like Chapparosa made at yesterday's press conference in Sacramento.

Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes prepared to part company; Los Coyotes reports new negotiations with Governor for solo Barstow casino

as posted 9.05.07 by John Myers at KQED's blog, CapitolNotes:

Final Push For Barstow Casino Project

The two Indian tribes that have been lobbying for several years to build side by side casinos in Barstow are giving it one more shot in the final days of the 2007 session of the Legislature. And if the project remains in limbo next week, the two tribes now say they'll go their separate ways.

We've reported several times on the efforts of the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians and the Big Lagoon Rancheria to open casinos in the desert town -- even though the tribes hail from hundreds of miles away.

Los Coyotes' reservation is in rural San Diego County; Big Lagoon's is on the coast up in Humboldt County.

At a news conference this morning at the state Capitol, the tribes announced an 11th hour media campaign, with a TV ad (online here) that they say will be broadcast in Sacramento, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles over the next few days.

But there's no indication that the casino deals will be ratified before legislators adjourn for the year early next week. While the two tribes signed formal casino compacts with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005, those compacts have been in limbo in the Legislature ever since.

Critics say the projects might set a precedent for tribal casinos on non-tribal land. And several politically powerful tribes in southern California say that's why they oppose the casino deal -- even though Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon accuse those tribes of being more concerned about casino competition in the region.

And if the Barstow agreement isn't acted on by September 17, the two tribes say they will go their separate ways -- Big Lagoon back to a casino on their coastal reservation, and Los Coyotes to a new Barstow casino project solely of their own.

You may remember that in May, Big Lagoon agreed to wait a little longer before going back to a Humboldt casino project. That project would sit smack dab in the middle of what everyone says is an environmentally sensitive region. The tribe was persuaded by the Schwarzenegger administration to drop their legal battle for a Humboldt casino... in exchange for one in Barstow.

So what's happened since late May?

"A lot's happened," said Big Lagoon chairman Virgil Moorehead, alluding to the ratification of amended casino deals for some of the tribes opposing his project. "Our [compact] got pushed down, kind of to the bottom of the barrel. Why did it get pushed down to the bottom of the barrel? Because these tribes don't want us down there... A lot has happened [since May], but not for us."

Moorehead also said he thinks Schwarzenegger hasn't done enough to cajole legislators into ratifying the deal, an accusation the governor's office disputes. Meantime, the vice-chairman of San Diego's Los Coyotes, Shane Chapparosa, told reporters that his tribe has now begun separate negotiations with the governor's office for a solo Barstow casino. The governor's office won't confirm whether that's the case.

Regardless, the two tribes' quest to be part of the club of gambling tribes may be about to start a brand new chapter.

NOTE: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger previously turned down a proposal to build a stand alone Los Coyotes tribal casino in Barstow in Spring 2004. Further, Governor Schwarzenegger's negotiator told a Senate Governmental Organization committee hearing in April 2006 that Los Coyotes would not qualify for a stand alone agreement based on the Governor's May 2005 proclomation for gaming.

San Manuel Gaming Compact poised for legislative approval

as posted 9.06.07 at the Sacramento Bee's CapitolAlert:

San Manuel signs side agreement - compact could move as soon as today

By Shane Goldmacher - Capitol Alert

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, whose Indian gambling compact stalled earlier this year in the Legislature, signed a "letter of agreement" on Wednesday with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and expects lawmakers to begin moving the measure as soon as today.

Jerry Paresa, director of governmental affairs for San Manuel, said he believed that the tribe had struck a deal with Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and the Assembly Democrats, who have blocked passage of the compact, which would allow the San Bernardino County tribe to add up to 5,500 new slot machines at its casinos.

"Yes, that's our hope," Paresa said.

The "letter of agreement," or LOA, is similar to the memoranda of agreement four other gambling tribes signed earlier this year to win passage of their compacts in the Assembly.

In the agreement, the San Manuel tribe agrees to provide an annual financial audit to the state. The LOA, however, does not address the issues of problem gambling and child and spousal support, which were in the MOAs of the other tribes.

Paresa said the letter of agreement was expected to be amended into Assembly Bill 1212, authored by Nunez, and moved out of the Senate as soon as today.

"We've been working with the Assembly Democrats and the Assembly in general at least since January," said Paresa. "I believe all parties have been on the same page all along."

Tussling over labor and other provisions slowed progress for the five compacts, which were first signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in August 2006. But San Manuel's workers have already been unionized.

Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Nunez, said, "San Manuel has a collective bargaining agreement, so they have addressed our labor concerns. If the LOA, as part of the total package, addresses the other issues we had with other tribes, it will likely be enough to get our support."

Sen. Dean Florez, who is the chair of the Governmental Organization committee, which held hearings on the compacts earlier this year, said the Senate was prepared to grant rule waivers and move the San Manuel bill today, saying the new letter added little to a compact the Senate approved months ago.

"At the end of the day, it doesn't really add anything from a strength point of view to what the Senate passed," Florez said. "I don't think a letter makes the Senate less comfortable." The Senate passed the compacts earlier this year.

The compacts for the four other tribes - the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians - would allow the tribes to add 17,000 more slots, and are currently the target of a referendum campaign to repeal the measures.

Who's behind the political ads launched by Detroit-based Barwest in California this week and what's their true motivation?

Given the lobbyist representing both the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the City of Barstow reported the last week of August that the Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes gaming compacts were officially dead, it begs the question, who's funding the advertising campaign that was launched on Wednesday seemingly to push for approvals of the two gaming compacts and what's their real motivation.

Is this purely a way for Detroit gambling interests and their Las Vegas partners to help lay the ground work for signature gathering by Labor Unions and Race Track owners to referenda the four gaming compacts that were approved by the legislature this year without having to report the expense as a campaign contribution?

The Detroit Gambling syndicators (Mrs. Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr.) behind the Barstow gaming compacts were fined on two counts in 2006 for earlier violations of California's political reform laws when they failed to report a $26,600 contribution they made late in the 2004 Presidential Election to then Congressman Richard Pombo's County GOP Committee. It is rumored that the same individuals are under investigation yet again by the FPPC for similar charges.

Tribes launch ad campaign to push Barstow casino; ignore fact that Prop 5 allows on-reservation casinos not off-reservation


Tribes launch TV campaign for Barstow casinos

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer San Bernardino County Sun

Two California Indian tribes launched an 11th-hour media campaign Wednesday with a televised ad they hope will prompt state Legislators to ratify their gaming compacts so they could build casinos in Barstow.

Big Lagoon Rancheria of Humboldt County and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians in San Diego County negotiated gaming compacts with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2005, but the compacts have remained in limbo ever since.

No hearings on the compacts have been scheduled in Sacramento.

"My family was used as the face of Indian poverty in the campaign to pass Proposition 5," said Los Coyotes tribal member Francine Kupsch, referring to a 1998 televised ad that featured her and her children sitting in their trailer on the reservation, reading a book by oil lamp light. "But a decade later, the wealthy tribes are using their gambling dollars to keep poor tribes like Los Coyotes from having the same opportunity to succeed."

With only a week to go before the 2007 Legislative session ends, the clock is ticking.

Both tribes are hoping a public rallying cry will draw attention to their cause.

If not, the tribes are likely to go their separate ways, with Big Lagoon considering a casino or hotel somewhere on their 20-acre reservation off the Pacific Coast and Los Coyotes continuing its push for a Barstow casino.

Both tribes want to open a joint casino - the Barstow Casinos and Resort - that could pull an estimated 60 million cars traveling to and from Las Vegas to the casino, a venture that could mean millions of dollars in new revenue to Barstow and about 1,700 full-time jobs.

An ad posted on YouTube on Wednesday and expected to run on cable television in the next several days in Sacramento, the Bay Area and in Los Angeles shows a snippet of the 1998 televised ad featuring Kupsch and the message for California voters to "Stand up to the greedy tribes" and to "Call your legislative leaders" to support the tribal fairness bill.

Some gaming tribes including the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians are fighting the move by Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes to build casinos in Barstow, calling it an encroachment on Serrano ancestral lands.

But Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon believe San Manuel and other gaming tribes are more concerned about competition.

San Manuel spokesman Jacob Coin said that while he had not yet seen the YouTube ad or was aware of the news conference the tribes held at the state Capitol, San Manuel's position was still status quo.

Moving so they can have a better market location is just not what we promised the voters would happen," Coin said, referring to Big Lagoon Rancheria, whose reservation lies more than 700 miles northwest of Barstow.

San Manuel also hit a roadblock getting its amended compact ratified this year when the tribe refused to sign a side agreement that would make the compact more palatable to some Assemblymembers.

The compact would allow the tribe to add 7,500 more slot machines to its casino near Highland and would generate $45 million a year in state revenue to start.

Big Lagoon spokesman Jason Barnett said the lack of progress Big Lagoon and Los Coyotes have made in Sacramento in the last two years is an "unfortunate commentary on how much power the big tribes have in Sacramento."

"We've been locked out of the game for months. We can't even get an informational hearing, let alone an up or down vote," Barnett said.

Contact staff writer Joe Nelson at (909) 386-3874 or via e-mail at

Barstow Mayor's behavior's inappropriate toward Chairman of City's tribal partner

Letters to the editor, September 4, 2007

Chemehuevi leader mistreated by mayor

I agree with Mrs. Julie Clemmer’s letter (”Larry Halstead admits to payment by San Manuel Indian Tribe,” Aug. 24) urging anyone that has a computer, or can view the city council meeting of August 6, should do so. Not for the vindictive reasons Mrs. Clemmer would like you to, but to view how our Mayor Lawrence Dale treated another elected representative with lack of respect and with outright disdain, because they have an opposite view to his.

Chairman Wood, as a representative of the Chemehuevi Nation Indian Tribe, tried to give to our city council some information concerning the progress of the two casino compacts now in front of our state legislators, along with information concerning the Chemehuevi and their right to build in Barstow. Some of this information was sent to the mayor in writing. As you can see in the meeting, it was apparent that he did not share this with other members of the council. He then rudely and abruptly cut off Chairman Wood with the excuse that he had gone over his three minute time limit.

This is the man who heads the Chemehuevi Indian Nation. The head of a Tribe that has a contract/MSA with the city of Barstow to build a casino here. Apparently not one of the two the mayor supports, but still, one that has an agreement to build here. What harm would it have been to give the Chairman one more minute to finish his statements?

The only other point that I would touch on is when Mrs. Clemmer claims those of us who want to see Barstow end up with a casino needed to resort to “trickery” in the form of Measure H.

The truth is Ms. Clemmer and her friends from Detroit are professionals at trickery. Yes, they spent more than $200,000 on their campaign to bury Measure H. That was $200,000 mostly from people who don’t live or vote in Barstow. In fact, they have yet to reveal where 75 percent of that money is coming from.

Anonymous sources outside of Barstow were the ones who funded the bulk of the $200,000 campaign to stop Measure H and preserve the Barwest monopoly — a plan that was dead on arrival at least two years ago.

Well Ms. Clemmer, the proponents of Measure H, which I was one, wanted to give priority to the Chemehuevi casino project and to further their chances of succeeding in Barstow. What’s wrong with that? You are continuing to back the failed Bar West casino plans and their tribes.

Only time will tell who was right. It certainly does not look good for BarWest, but again it never did.
Unfortunately, the citizens of Barstow will be the ones to lose out for believing in the lies and the twisted tactics that your organization and Bar West used about Measure H and Barstow’s odds for a casino. You made a big deal about where we got the funds to defend our campaign against the BarWest tidal wave and all the while you were taking hundreds of thousands through the back door and worse yet, failing to disclose where it’s coming from.

Measure H may not have been a perfect venue, but it would have opened the doors to competition rather than stand with the Las Vegas-backed developer Bar West that you, the mayor and your cronies have continued to support even when all signs indicate BarWest is Bad for Barstow.

If Barstow fails in its attempt to land an Indian casino, we can thank people like Mayor Dale, Julie Clemmer, Tim Silva, Paul Luellig and the others who allowed BarWest to hold a monopoly over Barstow and refused to consider proposals that could get approved — people who believed they were personally going to be enriched by BarWest.
Manuel Gurule

Clock running out on previously rejected gaming Compacts


Time is running out for Barstow compact
Jessie Faulkner/The Times-Standard

Patience and extensive lobbying have not moved the Big Lagoon Rancheria's gaming compact any closer to ratification.

On Wednesday, Rancheria Chairman Virgil Moorehead, representatives from the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians, state Sen. Patricia Wiggins, city of Barstow officials and others gathered in Sacramento to launch a media campaign designed to get the attention of legislative leaders.

Under the gaming compact, signed by the governor on Sept. 9, 2005, both the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes would be allowed to open casinos in Barstow. The arrangement, the first to allow construction of an Indian casino away from tribal lands, would prevent construction of a casino along the shores of Big Lagoon.

Both tribal entities have applications before the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to bring the Barstow land into trust.

The gaming compact is the settlement agreement of Big Lagoon's bad-faith negotiating lawsuit against the state. If the gaming compact is not ratified by Sept. 17, Big Lagoon's chairman has pledged to go back to court.

The campaign will begin today with television ads airing on cable television in Sacramento, Oakland and Los Angeles, according to Big Lagoon spokesman Jason Barnett.

Organizers are hoping the campaign will prompt residents to urge Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata to bring the gaming compact -- Wiggins' Senate Bill 157 -- to the legislative floor for action.

"This is a legislative leadership issue," Barnett said. "If (they) wanted it on floor, they could make it happen."

To date, the bill has not made it out of the rules committee.

"This is the last opportunity we have to avoid development on an environmentally sensitive habitat in Humboldt County,” said Wiggins, who represents the North Coast, in a release. “If the Legislature doesn't ratify these compacts, the Big Lagoon Rancheria will have the sovereign right to negotiate for gaming rights on their tribal land."

During the 2006 legislative session, a bill to ratify the gaming compact -- then sponsored by former state Sen. Wesley Chesbro -- was voted down in the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization, but with the proviso that the item could be brought back.

The primary stumbling block both during both legislative sessions has been opposition from other gaming tribes opposed to the compact's more liberal labor language and the higher-percentage of casino revenues earmarked for the state.

"We're running out of time,” Barnett said, “we're running out of options."

If the gaming compact is not ratified, Moorehead has pledged to build a casino on the tribal land at Big Lagoon. The first step in that process may be alleging that the state negotiated in bad faith.

Jessie Faulkner can be reached at 441-0517 or

Doolittle aides questioned about Abramoff connections


Aides testify before jury
Rep. John Doolittle's staff questioned over lobbyist connections.

By David Whitney - Bee Washington Bureau

Rep. John Doolittle's office has confirmed that two staff aides testified under subpoena Wednesday before a federal grand jury investigating the congressman's connections to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Alisha Perkins, who has worked for six years as the congressman's scheduler, testified before the grand jury Wednesday morning, said the congressman's press aide, Gordon Hinkle.

Hinkle said Perkins was served a grand jury subpoena about the same time as was Ron Rogers, the congressman's chief of staff, and his deputy chief of staff, Dan Blankenburg.

Blankenburg also appeared before the grand jury Wednesday and later issued a statement.

"This morning I testified before the federal grand jury," he said. "Overall, it was a very uneventful experience. I was questioned primarily about the operations of our office. To me, the process represents a necessary and promising step toward the truth."

The scheduler is one of the most important administrative jobs in a congressional office. Perkins would have known who was trying to reach the congressman by telephone or in person.

Unlike Blankenburg, who started working for the congressman in 2005, and Rogers, who joined the office only in May, Perkins' work in the office dates back long enough that she would have been there when Abramoff and his associates, most notably Kevin Ring, were seeking to meet with the Roseville Republican. Ring, according to billing records from Abramoff's lobbying firm, frequently was in Doolittle's office meeting with him or his staff. Ring used to work for Doolittle and, after joining Abramoff's firm, was the lead in handling lobbying for several of Abramoff's clients, including the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and some Indian tribes.

Ring abruptly resigned from his lobbying job on April 13, the same day FBI agents searched the Doolittles' home in Oakton, Va., raising speculation that he was in negotiations with the Justice Department over his fate. His attorney has repeatedly declined to comment. Ring invoked his Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination in 2005 rather than answer questions from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

In a statement Tuesday, Doolittle said he hopes that the testimony of his staff will bring quick closure to the investigation that has been going on for three years. He has denied any wrongdoing, but said prosecutors believe Abramoff paid his wife, Julie, for work she didn't do in an effort to reward him for help he provided to the lobbyist.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Despite lobbyists admitting defeat; Barwest launches ad campaign in last ditch effort


Casino backers try last minute effort to pass compacts

By JASON SMITH, staff writer

With about a week left in the 2007 legislative session, supporters of one proposed off-reservation Indian casino in Barstow are trying one final push to get the state legislature’s approval before the agreements expire.

State senators, Mayor Lawrence Dale, and representatives of the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Indian tribes met in Sacramento on Wednesday to announce a renewed effort to lobby legislators to pass the compacts with the tribes to build a casino in Barstow. The compacts, signed by the governor on Sept. 9, 2005, will expire if not passed by Sept. 17.

The supporters have created a 30-second television commercial that will air in the districts of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, D-Los Angeles, and state Senate President Don Perata, D-Oakland, and in Sacramento. The commercial features Francine Kupsch of the Los Coyotes tribe, who originally starred in a 1998 ad used to support Proposition 5, which expanded Indian gaming in California. The ad blames “rich tribes who own casinos” for the stalling the compacts in the legislature and urges viewers to call the offices of Nuñez and Perata.

“We’ll be taking the issue directly to the public,” said Tom Shields, spokesman for the casino’s developer, BarWest LLC.

The tribes and BarWest will pay for the commercial, which will be broadcast during the next week.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this,” he said.

Alicia Tross, spokeswoman for Senator Perata’s office, said she doesn’t think the efforts will be successful.

“There is just no time left in this session to move the compact,” she said.

She said that the senate has a rule that compacts must sit at the senate desk before being taken up for a vote.

Steven Maziglio, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez’s office, said that the speaker has not decided whether or not to support the compact because the compacts have not reached the Assembly floor.

Shields said that although the deadline will be tight, there is still hope to pass the compacts this year. He said last year at this time the compacts for the TASIN tribes, the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations tribes, passed in one afternoon at the end of the legislative session.

“In Sacramento, where there’s a will there’s a way,” he said.

Nick Medeiros, a lobbyist hired by the city of Barstow, recently wrote a letter to the city of Barstow calling passage of the compacts “doubtful this year. In order for the Barstow casino development to proceed the compacts would have to be approved by Sept. 17 and land for the project would have to be put into federal trust, a lengthy process that is still underway.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or

Desert Dispatch Editor still Clueless; head buried in the Mojave Desert sand!

NOTE: This struggling daily newspaper has taken tens of thousands from Detroit gambling syndicators who seek to maintain their grip on the Barstow gambling franchise. TVT has been told be various sources that The editor of this paper has never met with Chemehuevi tribal leaders.
EDITORIAL: The casino project stall leads to misplaced blame

Although there’s still a chance the compacts for the proposed Los Coyote/Big Lagoon Rancheria off-reservation casino in Barstow to be approved by the state legislature, it seems very unlikely it will happen by the end of their 2007 session Sept. 11.

This is the second year in a row the compacts have not been able to get through the legislative process for approval. They actually made it further last year than this year. The compacts expire Sept. 17, and while the governor and the tribes could just draft up a new version of the compacts with new deadlines, we’ve come to conclude the state legislature is simply not going to allow it to happen. (And before the competing Chemehuevi celebrate, we don’t believe a tribe that already has a casino will ever be allowed an off-reservation casino either, so they haven’t "won" anything other than the pleasure of being used by San Manuel to eliminate a potential competing development — we hope the Chemehuevi at least got something out of it)

We think local Barstow leaders realize it’s pretty much over, too, which is why there’s again a sudden buzz of angry bickering between different factions about he future of the projects, and of course, the laying of blame.

It would be easy to lay a lot of blame on the local level. Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale stubbornly resisted a referendum for Barstow residents to simply vote on whether they supported Indian casinos in general. This opened the door for opponents in Sacramento to question whether the community actually supported the project and created an opportunity for project-killing Measure H to be deceptively marketed as a pro-casino initiative. And speaking of Measure H, promoter Manuel Gurule to this day still apparently refuses to accept that the point of Measure H was to kill the Los Coyotes/Big Lagoon project, even though most voters saw through it. For most of us, such deceptive tactics would cause us to rethink our allies.

But really, blaming Dale or Gurule assumes that they ever had the ability to influence the outcome of this fight in Sacramento, and we don’t believe that they ever did. This isn’t an insult to the influence of these men, but an acknowledgment of the limited influence of our region in this particular area.

Clearly, the powerful gaming tribes were calling the shots here, but even so, they’re behaving no differently from most other businesses, governments, and lobbying organizations by protecting their own interests. By blaming the tribes for the failure of the project to pass, we’re blaming the symptoms, not the disease.

The tribes are powerful because they throw around money, and here’s the important part — people take it. Tribes give millions of dollars to state legislators’ campaigns and political parties to influence decisions. We have a tendency to blame the tribes, the corporations, and the lobbyists for these corrupt tactics, but if it works, then why shouldn’t they use them?

The blame lays squarely on the politicians who take the money and then look for weaselly ways to justify their votes — and the complicated laws behind Indian gaming always allow a technical justification for any decision that just happens to also support the status quo.

Billionaire Detroit Casino Syndicators with ties to Las Vegas have launched California ad campaign against established gaming tribes

Detroit Funded Ad Campaign

This advertisement is funded by Billionaire Detroit Casino Syndicators who are exploiting Native American interests and trying to get a foot in the lucrative California gaming market.

Last Fall, the California Fair Political Practices Commission fined the promoters behind this advertising campaign for two counts of violating California's Political Reform Laws when they failed to report a $26,6000 contribution they made to the San Joaquin County GOP Committee in 2004.

Mrs. Marian Ilitch (founder of Little Caesars Pizza; family also owns Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings) has previously partnered with Mandalay Resort Group and MGM Mirage. Her casino syndicate partner Michael Malik has partnered with Harrah's. The Michigan Gaming Control Board refused to grant her partner Michael Malik a gaming license in Michigan so now they're trying to break into the California market.

Together they're trying to push an unorthodox proposal to relocate two tribes from opposite ends of the state to a location in Barstow where they plan to develop and manage side-by-side off-reservation Indian Casinos for tribes that have no ancestral ties to the Barstow area.

Ilitch, Malik and their Las Vegas friends have spent millions trying to convince the California legislature to approve their Barstow scheme. They failed the last two years to win any legisaltive support so now they're joining with Labor Unions and Horse Racing Tracks in an attempt to beat up California's homegrown gaming tribes.

Several weeks ago their own lobbyist has already reported that their plans for Barstow casinos are dead in this year's legislature (the second year in a row Ilitch's team has failed to win support).

PRESS RELEASE: Detroit Billionaires failed at lobbying so launch political ad campaign in California to push gaming scheme

Tribes Fronting for Detroit Billionaires Launch Media Campaign to Urge Passage of Barstow Compacts
Legislators, Environmental & Tribal Leaders Appeal to Legislative Leadership

DETROIT, Michigan.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tribal leaders from the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians and Big Lagoon Rancheria today unveiled a media campaign, funded by Detroit billionaires, urging legislative leaders to ratify the Barstow compacts. (Note: the television advertisement unveiled to the news media may be viewed at
Last Fall, the California Fair Political Practices Commission fined the promoters behind this advertising campaign for two counts of violating California's Political Reform Laws when they failed to report a $26,6000 contribution they made to the San Joaquin County GOP Committee in 2004.
While compacts for the richest California tribes have been passed by the State Assembly and Senate, there have been no hearings or any consideration of the Barstow compacts. With compacts set to expire on September 17th and only days remaining in the legislative session, the Tribes were left with no option but to make their case directly to Californians.

"My family was used as the face of Indian poverty in the campaign to pass Proposition 5," said Francine Kupsch, Los Coyotes tribal member. "But a decade later, the wealthy tribes are using their gambling dollars to keep poor tribes like the Los Coyotes from having the same opportunity to succeed." [Prop 5 did not approve of off-reservation casinos like those promoted by Detroit billioaire Marian Ilitch].

Opposition from the state’s richest gaming tribes has been a roadblock to the legislature’s timely consideration of the Barstow compacts, preventing even an informational hearing on this issue from occurring. Given the upcoming deadlines, direct action is needed from Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.

"Now is the time for our state’s legislative leadership to stand up and fight for all Indian tribes," said Virgil Moorehead, Chairman of Big Lagoon Rancheria. "The future of our people is truly in the hands of Speaker Nuñez and President Pro Tem Perata. Without your leadership, the environment at Big Lagoon will be jeopardized."

Big Lagoon Rancheria’s homeland is located along the environmentally sensitive Big Lagoon and is one of two remaining naturally functioning coastal lagoons left in California. The lagoon has long been recognized as an important natural habitat area, and the State of California has asserted it has a legitimate interest in protecting it. It was the State of California who asked the Tribe to consider moving its proposed gaming facility elsewhere. As part of the compact agreement, Big Lagoon Rancheria agreed to forgo commercial development at the lagoon.

"This is the last opportunity we have to avoid development on an environmentally sensitive habitat in Humboldt County," said Senator Wiggins." If the legislature doesn’t ratify these compacts, the Big Lagoon Rancheria will have the sovereign right to negotiate for gaming rights on their tribal land."

Signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in September 2005, the Barstow compacts are a model for tribal-state gaming agreements in California. The agreements include: significant revenue sharing for the State of California; provisions for labor unions to organize and bargain collectively; mechanisms for independent audits of casino revenues; and systems to enforcement payments of child support. These provisions have been hailed by legislators, labor unions and good government advocates as positive benefits for the State of California.

The City of Barstow has approved Municipal Services Agreements with both tribes that are expected to generate millions of dollars of revenue for the desert community. The compacts will also generate hundreds of good-paying permanent jobs.

"The compacts represent a tremendous partnership that meets the needs of the Tribes, the community of Barstow and the State of California and we hope legislative leaders will do the right thing to pass the compacts immediately," said Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale.

The Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon have submitted land-into-trust applications to the federal government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs is currently preparing a draft environmental impact statement to identify potential environmental impacts of the project. California lawmakers must pass legislation to approve the compacts, the final state step in proceeding with jointly developing the casino resort.

(Note to news media: High Definition versions of the commercial are available. Please contact Toby Allen at 517-372-4400 or to request a copy.)
Last Fall, the California Fair Political Practices Commission fined the promoters behind this advertising campaign for two counts of violating California's Political Reform Laws when they failed to report a $26,6000 contribution they made to the San Joaquin County GOP Committee in 2004.

The Barstow Casinos and Resort are designed to capture some of the market of an estimated 60 million cars that travel through the community on their way to and from Las Vegas each year. The projects will support approximately 900 construction jobs and 1,700 full time positions at the casinos. It is expected that the Los Coyotes and Big Lagoon tribes will contribute to the local community government yearly and generate millions of dollars in new revenue for the Barstow economy. The Barstow community has lagged behind the state in economic development with more than 35 percent of the residents on public assistance. More than 2,000 local residents signed postcards addressed to the Governor asking him to negotiate the compacts. More information is available at

Sunday, September 02, 2007

NAHC urges complaint to state Attorney General regarding Barstow’s CEQA-related practices

California’s Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) has urged the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe to file a formal complaint with California Attorney General Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr. demanding an immediate investigation into the CEQA-related practices of the City of Barstow.

The environmental review process underway for a dual casino project to be built in Barstow by Detroit-based developer Barwest LLC has triggered awareness that local tribes routinely identified by California’s Native American Heritage Commission as having ancestral ties to the Barstow area may have been purposefully excluded from the environmental review process on that project and others since at least March 1, 2005.

In a letter dated August 13, 2007 to the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe; Dave Singleton, NAHC analyst expresses, “…the Commission is concerned that state law may have been violated if the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe was not given full and reasonable opportunity to comment on and express concerns on either a project planned under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or Government Code 65352.3,5 (SB 18). If consultation was not provided under either of these two acts of the California Legislature by the City of Barstow or its agent; then the tribe in our opinion has a right to file a complaint with the California Attorney General and the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO).”

He concludes the letter by stating, “I am of the opinion that Waiting ten (10) months from the time the City of Barstow and/or its agent receive a Native American consultation list form (sic) the Native American Heritage Commission to offer the opportunity for the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe to consult on this important project may indeed be a violation of the spirit and/or the letter of the CEQA Guidelines and Government Code §65252.3 (sic).”

California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC)
The NAHC is the state commission responsible for advocating preservation and protection of Native American human remains and cultural resources. NAHC maintains confidential records concerning places of special religious or social significance to Native Americans, including graves and cemeteries and other cultural places. The NAHC reviews CEQA documents to provide recommendations to lead agencies about consulting with tribes to mitigate potential project impacts to these sites.

The NAHC is responsible for maintaining a list of California tribes and contacts for each respective tribe; and is responsible for identifying which tribes have ancestral lands or cultural places within a particular local government’s jurisdiction.

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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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