Saturday, September 22, 2007

Malik's Harsens Island scheme set for public hearing Oct. 10


Public gets say about condos
Harsens Island project hearing set for Oct. 10

Times Herald

CLAY TWP.-Area residents will have the opportunity to comment on a proposed condominium development on Harsens Island during a public hearing next month.

The Clay Township Planning Commission will have a public hearing Oct. 10 on the $170 million, 380-acre housing development. Grande Pointe Development paid the township $10,000 in planning and consultant fees to review the development proposal, said township Clerk Michael Pellerito.

Grande Pointe Development is managed by former Clay Township resident and casino investor Michael Malik. The company applied in March for a permit to build "cluster housing" on the former Boys & Girls Club property. In cluster housing, several residential units are grouped together and large open spaces are left between the groups of units.

The company presented its plans to the planning commission this summer, said Dorothy Deboyer, chairwoman of the commission. Members of the public will be able to share their views and ask the company questions during the public hearing, Deboyer said.
Deboyer said the commission will not make a decision to approve or reject the proposal on Oct. 10.

The commission will discuss the project and the information presented at the hearing. At a later date, members will decide whether to recommend the proposal be approved as is by the township board; recommend it be approved with conditions; or deny the project.

It's unknown when that decision will be made.

"(The commission is) going to be listening to the public's thoughts and concerns, and they're going to be considering the information of the zoning ordinance," she said.

Deboyer said according to township ordinance, the project's cluster housing is allowed within a residential area. It wasn't clear if a zoning change would be necessary when the proposal was submitted March 30.

The company was charged $10,000 for the site plan review because of the size and scope of the project, she said. The township pays Community Planning and Management in Clinton Township to be a planning consultant.

"When you have a plan as large as this, the fees are going to be high," Deboyer said.

The proposal includes a request that the St. Clair County Road Commission abandon North Channel Drive on the island.

The company has not submitted a written request for a road abandonment, said Greg Owens, director of internal services and board secretary with the road commission.

After submitting the request, the company then would have to collect the signatures of seven township landowners, according to state law on abandonment procedures.

The county would have to determine if the loss of the road would infringe on public access to a lake or stream. There also would have to be a public hearing before making a final decision on the road.

Contact Nicole Gerring at (810) 989-6270 or

MGCB may be forced to close Detroit's casinos Oct. 1


Gaming board stumped by potential state shutdown

Joel J. Smith / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The Michigan Gaming Control Board postponed a decision today on whether or not to order the three Detroit casinos closed on Oct. 1 if the lack of a new state budget forces a shutdown of government services.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for 2 p.m. Thursday to discuss the possible casino closures again.

The four-member board was reluctant to vote on the issue because the casinos produce nearly $1 million a day in tax revenue for the state and city of Detroit as well as paying all costs of the gaming board.

Gaming board employees regulate the casinos and are at the casinos 24 hours a day to make sure things are run according to state law.

"I'm been told to prepare for a complete shutdown of the casinos," said Richard S. Kalm, executive director of the agency. "We have to be prepared if the state shuts down government."

Kalm submitted a proposed resolution to the board asking them for the authority to order the casino licenses suspended in the event the governor sends the agency personnel home amid the budget dispute.

Damian Kassab, chairman of the board, said that while reluctant to approve such an order, the board has little choice in the matter if his employees can't conduct their normal oversight of casino operations.

He submitted a resolution, but couldn't muster a second from any of the three other board members.

They called for a 20 minute recess, then came back and scheduled the next meeting for Thursday.

Attorneys for the three casinos attended today's meeting, vigorously opposed to any shutdown of the casinos. They argued that the casinos had nothing to do with the budget dispute in Lansing and they were becoming unnecessary victims in the ordeal.

They hinted they might seek a court remedy if the gaming board ordered the gambling halls to close.

But Kassab said he's hopeful a budget solution can still be worked out and will make the casino issue moot.

"Hopefully we won't have to meet next week," he said.

You can reach Joel J. Smith at (313) 222-2556 or

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ilitch falls 55 spots on Forbes 400 List; MotorCity Casino credit ratings fell, Tigers fail to make playoffs

Mike Ilitch, the 78-year old co-founder of Little Caesars Pizza has dropped 55 spots from #242, where he was tied with Oprah Winfrey, to #297 on Forbes' 2007 List of Richest Americans. While Ilitch's networth went from $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion it wasn't enough to hold his 2006 position on the list -- the highest he's ever been on Forbes annual ranking of richest Americans.

According to Forbes:

Ilitch "played shortstop for pro baseball's Detroit Tigers farm team. Opened first Little Caesars pizza joint in 1959 after injury ended career; 40 stores by 1967. Based franchise on Ray Kroc's McDonald's: cheap ingredients, fast service, drive-up windows. Business lagged early 1990s; ditched frozen cheese, refurbished stores. Today sales exceed $1.5 billion. Bought Tigers franchise in 1992; team played in World Series last fall. Also owns pro hockey's Detroit Red Wings. Wife, Marian, owns Detroit's MotorCity casino."

Among other challenges, Standard & Poor's and Moody's dropped the credit ratings of Detroit's MotorCity Casino because the parent company CCM Merger, Inc. was leveraged above and beyond what was originally projected when investors gave Marian Ilitch nearly $1 billion to purchase, renovate and expand the Detroit casino property. In dropping the credit ratings, Moody's decreased the likelihood that investors would recoup their investments in the event of default.

In addition, although the Detroit Tigers made the World Series during the 2006 MLB season; it doesn't appear the Tigers will even make the play-offs in 2007.

2007 Forbes 400 List; nine from Michigan included

Breaking News: Forbes names Michigan billionaires

(AP) - The ranking of American billionaires as estimated by Forbes magazine in Michigan. Listings include rank, name, age where known, wealth in billions of dollars and source of the money.

A number of billionaires share the same rank because Forbes reported their wealth as being identical with each other.

68. William Davidson, 84, $4.5 billion, glass
89. Richard DeVos, 81, $3.6 billion, Alticor
130. Ronda Stryker, 53, $2.9 billion, Stryker Corp.
149. Roger Penske, 70, $2.7 billion, cars
220. Jon Stryker, 49, $2.1 billion, Stryker Corp.
239. Frederik G.H. Meijer and family, 87, $2 billion, supermarkets
271. A. Alfred Taubman, 83, $1.8 billion, real estate
297. Michael Ilitch, 78, $1.6 billion, pizza
380. John Brown, 73, $1.3 billion, Stryker Corp.

Councilmembers question Ilitch lease on Cobo Center, Joe Louis Arena


Cobo expansion plans under way

David Josar / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The director of Cobo Center told a city council committee this morning that the Detroit Auto Dealers Association is expected to give his staff a presentation soon on a proposed 30,000-square-foot expansion.

Director Tom Tuskey said he is unsure of the details but that he will give council the information as soon as he meets with the dealers group, which puts on the annual North American International Auto Show in Cobo.

"They want a modest expansion. They have some conceptional plans but they have yet to present them," said Tuskey, who appeared before council to give an update on the long-term lease Olympia Arenas has for Joe Louis Arena, the Cobo parking garage and Cobo meeting areas. "It could be as early as next week or a little after that."

Tuskey noted that several other plans are being touted to boost the size of Cobo.

For example, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, since last December, has been shopping a $968 million plan to buy and expand Cobo to ensure Detroit keeps its signature auto show.

"This is a Detroit facility," Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said. "Let's keep the horse before the cart."

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Monica Conyers asked whether it was "fraud" that Olympia Arenas, one of the companies controlled by the Ilitch family, has what is essentially a 60-year lease on Joe Louis Arena, Cobo and the parking garage.

An opinion by the legal department found the agreement is binding. They also said an earlier determination that the company had to give notice whether they wanted out of the lease this summer was wrong.

City lawyers determined that while the deal was inked in 1978, the terms of the contract didn't come into play until 1980, when a permanent occupancy permit was issued for the facility.

"This seems wrong to me," Conyers said.

Speculation has ramped up in recent months over whether the Red Wings, which play in Joe Louis Arena, would stay there or build a new facility behind the Fox Theatre and Hockeytown Cafe, which are also owned by the Ilitch family.

The team has not made a decision on what to do.

The deal was made before the Ilitches owned the team.

You can reach David Josar at (313) 222-2073 or

MGCB moves to Detroit, former GM headquarters building


Cadillac Place, which is the old GM building, now houses state of
Michigan offices, but the facility has a 10 percent vacancy rate.

Gaming board moves to Detroit

Many of the 50 state employees expected to give up jobs because of economy and commute.

Joel J. Smith / The Detroit News

The state is transferring some 50 employees now housed at the Michigan Gaming Control Board headquarters in East Lansing some 90 miles away to the state's office building in Detroit -- a move some say will force most of those veteran workers to quit their jobs.

The switch will help fill empty office space at Cadillac Place, the former General Motors Corp. headquarters building leased by the state since 2001, after the automaker's move to its new quarters in the Renaissance Center.

Many of the affected gaming board employees are unhappy about the move, saying it will be impossible to sell their Lansing-area homes in the current poor economic climate and that it is cost-prohibitive to even consider the long commute between Lansing and Detroit.

The shift will be made by April 30 or sooner, state officials said this week.

"It is a major move for the employees," said Liz Boyd, press secretary to Gov. Jennifer Granholm. "But it's important to know that these are very tough times in state government."

Some employees upset over the pending move already are looking for work closer to home.

Matthew Clark, a financial analyst with the board, will start at a new job on Monday with the Michigan Treasury Department in Lansing.

"I love my job," Clark said. But, "there is no way I can afford to commute to Detroit. I can't sell my house in this market. The housing market is really poor around here. There are 'For Sale' signs posted all over the place. Houses just aren't moving."

General fund to get a boost
The move will give the state a cash infusion.

The gaming board currently leases two floors in the Abbott Center in East Lansing for $582,000 a year from a private landlord. That money comes out of the funds collected from the three Detroit casinos and 18 Indian casinos in the state. No money for operating the gaming board comes from the state's general fund.

With the board's move to Cadillac Place, the $582,000 in rent now can be paid to the state, according to officials with the state's Department of Management and Budget office, which is coordinating the move. They admit it's a way for the state to get its hands on money that is restricted for use only by the gaming board.

The state, which is trying to resolve a $1.8 billion budget deficit, will put the money into its general fund.

Move hits key employees
The gaming board already occupies a satellite office in Cadillac Place for those who work closely with the three Detroit casinos. But the administration and others, who deal with casino suppliers and Indian casinos mostly in northern Michigan, are housed in the East Lansing offices.

Richard S. Kalm, executive director of the board, said he is concerned about the impact of the move on employees. For his part, the move will make Kalm's commute shorter because he lives in Romeo in Macomb County.

"I don't want to lose anybody," Kalm said. "But I do know that some of our people already have taken other jobs. It's not pleasant. I'm not excited about it. But this decision was made and since I head the agency it is my job to get it done.

"I'm going to try to minimize the impact on personnel and keep this place running efficiently."

Kalm was not involved in the decision to relocate the headquarters.

He said his biggest concern is the human factor and the impact on long-term employees, some of whom have been with the agency since it opened in 1997.

The move involves key and experienced employees in such areas as administration, investigation, financial analysts and recordkeeping.

The relocation also involves support staff such as clerical and secretarial workers.

Space available in Detroit
Some gaming board employees argue the personal economics of relocating to Metro Detroit just don't make sense.

Many employees have spouses already working in the Lansing area and can't move their household.

Those who chose to commute would pay city of Detroit income taxes, parking and extra fuel costs. The commute also would mean time away from families.

A straw vote by employees indicated that most felt they would leave rather than take the transfer, workers said.

Some of the workers believe that Gov. Granholm ordered the move to help the financially ailing city of Detroit.

But Edward Woods III, a spokesman for the Michigan's Department of Management and Budget, said it is a win-win solution for the state, getting it out of a private lease and utilizing empty space in Cadillac Place.

He said that the 1.3-million-square-foot office building in Detroit's New Center area is more than 10 percent vacant; the gaming board move will lower the vacancy rate to 9.5 percent.

"It's a major impact on the employees," Woods said.

"It is a challenge to sell a house with these market conditions. I'm sympathetic to their concerns.

"But it's their choice if they want to make the move."

You can reach Joel J. Smith at (313) 222-2556 or

Harsens Island; a half-way-point in a new system of toll-bridges between Canada and the Michigan mainland?

Harsens Island News has reported that the proposed Harsens Island Crossing (a new toll-bridge that would connect Algonac, Michigan, with Harsens Island) may serve another purpose; there's an additional proposal that suggests connecting Walpole Island, Canada with Harsens Island, Michigan, over the St. Clair River.

The Harsens Island Crossing is proposed by Matty Moroun's Detroit International Bridge Co. (Ambassador Bridge). Moroun's home in Grosse Pointe Shores is next door to a home owned by Detroit casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr. Malik has proposed a large, 380-acre, residential community to be developed on Harsens Island centered around a man-made lagoon with access to the north Channel of the St. Clair River.

Forbes reports MGM Mirage owner biggest gainer on 2007 List of Richest Americans

The biggest gainer on Forbes 2007 Richest
Americans List was Kirk Kerkorian, who padded his fortune by $9 billion as shares of his MGM Mirage (nyse: MGM - news - people ) casino outfit rose 135% over the past year. The 90-year old Kerkorian enters the top 10 at lucky #7.

According to Forbes:

Kerkorian is the "Son of Armenian immigrant fruit farmer dropped out of school in eighth grade. Trained U.S., British fighter pilots during WWII. Flew surplus Air Force planes across Atlantic after war before building charter flights company Trans International Airlines; sold for $104 million profit 1966. Acquired Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas 1967, built International Hotel 1969. Sold both properties to Hilton Hotels 1970. Went Hollywood: made billions buying and selling movie studio MGM, 3 times since 1969. Back to Vegas: nabbed Steve Wynn's Mirage Resorts for $6.4 billion 2000, then Mandalay Bay Resorts for $7.9 billion 4 years later. Today MGM Mirage owns more than half the hotel rooms on Las Vegas Strip; shares up 140% in past 12 months. Attempted to personally buy Bellagio casino, unfinished 76-acre resort complex CityCenter from MGM Mirage this spring; pulled out after company struck deal with Kerzner International to develop 40 acres of land on Strip. In August sold half of CityCenter, 9.5% chunk of MGM to Middle East investment firm Dubai World for $5 billion. Spent 20 frustrating months fighting to reshape General Motors; believed to have sold entire stake last November."

Barstow spends at least $96,000 on lobbyists


Lobbyists advocate for city’s interests beyond Barstow

By JASON SMITH, staff writer

BARSTOW — When a citizen needs help, they call the city. When the city seeks federal or state help, they hire a lobbyist.

The city contracts with lobbyists “to protect and advocate for city interests,” said city spokesman John Rader. The city budgeted $96,000 for lobbyists in 2007 — $36,000 at the state level and $60,000 for efforts in Washington.

Each year city staff compiles a list of projects for which the city seeks federal and state support. The list is considered by the City Council in early January and given to the city’s lobbyists: Nick Medeiros in Sacramento and the law firm of Del Smith in Washington, D.C.

Meetings are then held with Barstow’s federal and state government representatives to put in funding requests and discuss legislation which could affect the city. In addition to the lobbyists, the city pays $9,000 each year in dues to the California League of Cities and California Redevelopment Association, which also lobbies for its members.

According to Patricia Morris, assistant to the city manager, the lobbyists are important advocates for the city’s interests. This year’s priorities include federal funding requests for improving Lenwood Road and the wastewater facility upgrade as well as securing approval for the Los Coyotes/Big Lagoon dual casino project.

“The city hires them because in the real world, you need them,” Morris said.

She said that the lobbyists monitor Washington, D.C., and Sacramento lawmaking bodies for bills that may affect Barstow. Lobbyists help write letters expressing the city’s opinion about the proposed laws and sometimes hand deliver the letters to lawmakers.

“Personal relationships are very influential in the outcomes of events,” Morris said.

She said that over the years, the influence of Barstow’s lobbyists has been instrumental in securing the city’s Enterprise Zone, preventing the closure of the Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, and bringing the Veterans Home of California — Barstow to the city.

The Barstow veterans’ home, built in 1997, was the first facility built in California in over 100 years and many cities were competing it, Morris said. She said Medeiros was instrumental in attending committee hearings in Sacramento and making the case for Barstow.

Medeiros has been the city’s lobbyist in Sacramento for almost two decades. His other clients include the Big Lagoon Rancheria tribe and the city of Glendora, Calif. He did not respond to calls seeking comment for this article.

Some groups are concerned that city and county lobbying efforts are a misuse of public funds. Annie Patnaude, spokeswoman for the non-partisan organization Americans for Prosperity, said her group opposes public entities spending taxpayer dollars to lobby other public entities. She said local government lobbying of the federal government has increased 193 percent from $20.3 million in 1998 to $59.5 million in 2006. According to records from the California Secretary of State, California cities and counties spent over $40 million last year in their lobbying efforts.

One effort that has been problematic for Barstow’s lobbyists is trying to get the Big Lagoon/Los Coyotes casino proposal approved by federal and state authorities. In addition to the city’s lobbying efforts, the casino’s developer BarWest LLC, and the two tribes employ lobbyists to garner legislative support for the project. City spokesman John Rader said that though the city supports the project, private developers pay the city’s expenses when staff goes out to lobby for the casino.

At Monday’s city council meeting, the council approved paying for travel expenses for city Economic Development Manager Ron Rector to meet with state officials about the Big Lagoon/Los Coyotes casino. The trip was under $1,000 and was budgeted under the city manager’s budget for advocacy travel, Rader said.

“Per City Council direction, the city will be seeking reimbursement for the trip from BarWest,” he said.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe won't pull casino plans

as posted 9.21.07 at

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe won't pull casino plans

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts will forge ahead with plans to build its own casino.

A spokesperson for the tribe disputed a report that said the tribe was interested in bidding on a commercial license. Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is proposing up to three casinos in the state.

The exact locations of the state casinos have not been specified. But the tribe says it will build in the town of Middleboro no matter what the state does.

Meanwhile, the Aquinnah Wampanaog Tribe says it is definitely interested in bidding on a commercial license. But Chairman Donald Widdiss said he wants the tribe to be given preferential treatment in the process.

Get the Story:
Tribe still focused on Middleboro (The New Bedford Standard-Times 9/21) Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe eyes state license

as posted 9.20.07 at
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe eyes state license

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts is interested in bidding on one of the three casinos being proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

The tribe has already started the land-into-trust process to acquire an initial reservation where gaming can take place. But going through state process could put the tribe closer to its goal.

The Deval administration's three casino plan envisions one in southeastern Massachusetts, where the Mashpees are based. But tribe's chosen site is in Middleboro whereas the governor favors New Bedford.

The federal process will take at least 18 months. Patrick's proposal still needs legislative approval.

Get the Story:
Mashpee tribe eyes state license (The Boston Globe 9/20)
Username:, Password: indianz
Race for a casino only just beginning: Tribe has 3 competitors for one license in region (GateHouse News Service 9/20)
Patrick's casino plan ups the ante in town (The Boston Globe 9/20)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Los Coyotes should dump Barwest and find a partner that wants to capitalize on the tribe's ties to Warner Springs Ranch

Development of a casino resort on the San Diego reservation makes historical sense and guarantees progress will come to the Los Coyotes homelands

The people of the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians should abandon the scheme by Detroit-based Malik/Ilitch to relocate a casino to Barstow and look for a financial partner who wants to help them develop commerce on their San Diego reservation where tribe members can work and benefit from the things the gaming facility will bring to their lands (electricity, water, sewers, roads, etc).

A partnership with the Warner Springs Ranch Resort seems to be a natural fit! Even if that means acquiring contiguous lands more suitable to development and converting the property to trust lands.

After all the legendary hot springs at the Warner Springs Ranch -- once known as the Agua Caliente Village or the ancient Cupa Village -- were, as explained at Wikipedia, at the heart of the Cupeno Indians' homelands. In fact, 17 of the adobe casitas (or cottages) still in use by guests at the Warner Springs Ranch Resort were homes to Cupeno Indians until 1903.

The National Parks Service ( provides this historical account of the ancient Cupa Village now known as Warner Springs Ranch:

"Cupa, also called Warner Springs Ranch or Agua Caliente Village, is located north of Interstate 8 and east of Lake Henshaw on State Highway 79 near Warner Springs, California. The historic 200-acre Cupeno Indian village site is now abandoned, but there remains evidence of its historical importance. A number of recently abandoned residences above the old village do not disturb the site itself. Settling ponds and swimming pools constructed on Agua Caliente Creek at the old resort are now in a state of disrepair. The beautiful valley of Agua Caliente in which the village was situated lies at an altitude of 3,000 feet, and is home for many kinds of wildlife, native shrubs, grass, and evergreen oak trees"... (Full Historical Essay)

Detroit-based casino developer convicted of bribing a police officer among Gov. Deval Patrick's donors

posted 9.18.07 at the Scotto Bloggo:

Only in Massachusetts...

...The question of casino gambling is hardly new to Massachusetts, but when confronted with the inevitability of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe building a casino in Middleboro, the Massachusetts government quickly hustled in to get a cut of the action. Massachusetts either gets a significant piece of the action or Massachusetts won't allow it. Overnight, Governor Deval Patrick went from having no opinion about legalizing casino gambling to supporting the legalizing licensing of three casinos in the state. Coincidentally, Detroit casino developer Herb Strather, a key financier of the Wampanoag tribe's activities and a convicted briber, was a maximum donor to Patrick's campaign last year...

Detroit casino developer Herb Strather, the Mashpee Wampanoag 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 was previously one of the founders of MotorCity Casino and a partner of Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr.

Governor's office indicates Barstow compacts are "null and void;" Senator "can't imagine" reconsidertion of the failed deals


Big Lagoon tribe, Los Coyotes band may revive talks with on another anyway

By James P. Sweeney

SACRAMENTO – Blocked by powerful tribal opponents, gambling agreements that authorized the Los Coyotes band of San Diego County and another tribe to build large, off-reservation casinos in Barstow have expired.

The passing of a midnight Monday deadline to have land eligible for the joint project rendered the compacts “null and void,” said a spokeswoman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who negotiated the deals.

However, the bid by Los Coyotes and the Big Lagoon tribe of Humboldt County to build side-by-side casinos along a popular route to Las Vegas may not be dead.

"Within the next few weeks we'll meet with Big Lagoon and Barstow and try to get a meeting with the governor's office . . . to see what options are open," said Shane Chapparosa, vice chairman of Los Coyotes.

Jason Barnett, a spokesman for Big Lagoon, said "the compacts have expired but that doesn't necessarily mean we're at the end here."

The administration also said Barstow remains its preferred alternative to a casino on Big Lagoon's environmentally sensitive reservation along the Northern California coast.

The compacts never developed much traction after they were signed two years ago. They were conceived as a compromise after the Big Lagoon tribe sued the state, seeking a compact to develop its coastal property.

Without a compact, the Big Lagoon tribe may ask the court to push ahead with the litigation.

The off-reservation casino proposals were always controversial. The Big Lagoon reservation is 700 miles from Barstow.

Some of the state's most successful gaming tribes urged state legislators not to ratify the agreements, even though they recently approved a compact with an off-reservation casino for the Sycuan band of El Cajon.

State Sen. Dean Florez, a Bakersfield Democrat who is chairman of the committee that screens gaming compacts, said California voters never intended for Indian gaming to be hundreds of miles from a tribe's reservation.

"Gaming was to be conducted on Indian lands – period," Florez said in an e-mail. "At this point, I don't believe the two-casino compact proposal is viable and I can't imagine the administration making a strong case as to why it should be reconsidered."

Schwarzenegger official said the Governor would negotiate off-reservation gaming Compacts with tribes that meet terms set out in 2005

Governor's aide does not rule out Compact negotiations with the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe

A letter dated September 17, 2007 from the director of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) indicates the Governor will negotiate with any tribe which seeks to establish gaming in Barstow, CA and which meets the terms outlined in his May 2005 Proclamation on Indian Gaming.

A report put forth by Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale following a September 6, 2007 meeting with Cynthia Bryant, the director of the Governor's OPR, misconstrued what Bryant had said and attempted to suggest the Governor would not negotiate with the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe or others.

Bryant makes it clear in her letter that the Governor would negotiate with the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe or other tribes seeking off-reservation gaming Compacts provided they meet terms set forth by the Governor in 2005.

Meeting in Governor Schwarzenegger's office violated Brown Act

What or who compelled Cynthia Bryant, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's director of the Office of Planning and Research to meet behind closed doors with four of five Barstow City Council members (including Mayor Lawrence Dale), Barstow's City Manager and Barstow's Director of Economic Development in Sacramento on September 6, 2007?

Bryant's participation in the meeting raises questions about other possible Brown Act violations that may have occured in the Governor's office. Is it possible the Governor's Office of Planning and Research isn't familiar with provisions of the Brown Act?

The closed-door meeting in the Governor's office was clearly understood to be a violation of the Brown Act as now acknowledged by Barstow's Mayor Lawrence Dale, City Councilwoman Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre and Barstow's City Attorney at this past Monday night's City Council meeting.

It is now clear that item #31 on the September 17, 2007 City Council meeting agenda (a report on the 9/6/07 meeting with Bryant) was meant to "cure" the Brown Act violation that had occurred more than ten days earlier in Sacramento. However, the published agenda item failed to acknowledge the Brown Act violation. The published item also failed to clearly acknowledge that the Mayor and three of four other council members were present at the meeting with Director Bryant.

Also concerning, the City's official report apparently "misconstrued" what Director Bryant had said at the meeting. Bryant was compelled to fax a letter from the Governor's Office on Monday, 9/17/07 clarifying what she said at the meeting. Apparently Bryant requested that the Mayor read her letter at the Council meeting to make things clear.

At Monday's City Council meeting, apparently no one requested the Mayor or three members of the City Council who participated in the Brown Act violation to disclose what was said or represented by City Officials at the meeting in the Governor's office or at any other meetings that took place the week of September 3, 2007 in Sacramento with a majority of the Council present or in back-to-back "serial " meetings. While the meeting in the Governor's office has been reported in the press as a meeting where the four members of the Council simply received information; that representation has yet to be verified with each of those present.

No one asked publicly what was said by City officials at the meeting; or what may have been conveyed by those present to Bryant or other policy makers after the meeting.

No one asked if the Council members present had reached any sort of concensus or had conveyed their feelings or position to Bryant during or following the meeting.

No one asked if any of those present represented any "official" position of the City nor what that might have been.

No one asked who if anyone else other than the six officials from Barstow and Bryant were present during the closed-door meeting (other administration officials, lobbyists, Barwest representatives, tribal leaders, etc).

And given Mayor Dale's recent unauthorized letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and his portrayal of personal opinions as official city positions, these sorts of questions are most appropriate and the answers are quite relevant to determining exactly what, if any, more serious violations of the Brown Act may have occurred.

Editor apologizes and recognizes City's Brown Act violation; raises questions about what else has been going on

as posted 9.18.07 at the Desert Dispatch blog "The Editor's Desk:"

Who watches the watchdogs?

It looks like I owe Manuel “Gil” Gurule an apology.

He called me at the end of last week about the casino happenings (and lack thereof) in Sacramento. His intention was to point out to me that the meetings between the governor’s staff and four City Council members may have been a Brown Act violation. The Brown Act is California’s public meeting law, which is intended to make sure that local governmental meetings and decisions (with some exceptions) happen in a public forum, with the community appropriately notified.

I blame casino outrage fatigue for not listening, though it’s really a lousy excuse. City Council members aren’t supposed to gather in large enough numbers to define a quorum — three or more in this case — without public notification of the meeting. Their meeting in Sacramento is most likely a Brown Act violation, though they amended the situation by reporting out the content of the meeting at the subsequent City Council meeting Monday.

I was dismissive of Mr. Gurule’s call, because I’ve grown tired of folks on both sides finding ways to pick pick pick at their opponents and trying to get the newspaper involved. I’ve also been made increasingly aware by our readership that most folks out there don’t care about the squabbling, just the results.

But while this particular Brown Act violation was fairly mild — they were just there to receive information, it appears, not to plan anything — there are potential serious repercussions when this happens. What other meetings could have taken place in Sacramento without our knowledge?

Could there have been strategy sessions to deal with opposition to one project?

Could they have discussed dumping the city’s agreement with one tribe or the other? These are all potential discussion subjects that are obligated to happen in public.

So I apologize for letting my frustration with the nature of this debate cloud my perception about what is happening in Sacramento. Gurule was absolutely right to be concerned and I appreciate his call, in retrospect.

Council accused of violating Brown Act over casino meeting


Citizen files legal complaint; council reveals details of gathering

JASON SMITH, staff writer

BARSTOW — At its Monday meeting, the City Council disclosed that members held a closed-door meeting earlier this month about the Big Lagoon/Los Coyotes casino compacts, leading some to believe that the council violated California’s open meeting law.

While attending the League of California Cities Conference on Sept. 6., four council members met with Cynthia Bryant, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, who handles Indian gaming issues, to discuss the issues holding back the Barstow casino compacts. City Manager Hector Rodriguez and the city’s Economic Development Manager Ron Rector also attended the meeting. No agenda was posted prior to the meeting as is normally done when more than two council members are present.

Barstow resident and frequent critic of the council, Larry Halstead, announced at the Monday’s council meeting that he had filed a complaint with the Public Integrity Unit of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office. He accused council members of “corruption” and was upset at what he called city lobbying for a private developer.

"We paid you guys to lobby on behalf of your special interests, that’s what this was," Halstead said.

The Brown Act, the section of state law which governs how government agencies hold public meetings, states that no more than two council members can gather together outside of a scheduled meeting. Three or more council members at the same meeting would constitute a voting majority and is not allowed under the law except when the event is previously placed on a public agenda or under special circumstances.

Council member Joe Gomez, the only member not to attend the conference, said he was disappointed that the council decided to meet as a group.

Gomez said he chose not to attend the conference because he had attended similar events in the past and said he felt the event was "a waste of taxpayer money." He accused the Mayor Lawrence Dale of leading the council into violating the Brown Act.

"You clearly led this council, which consists of several new members, to violate the Brown act. … You met without posting a meeting. You met behind closed doors and this clearly violates the Brown Act," he said.

Council member Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre defended the council’s actions saying that the meeting was not pre-planned and was the result of a last-minute scheduling change

"We had 20 minutes to drop everything to see her,"Hackbarth-McIntyre said.

She said that due to the complexity of the issue and differences of opinions among council members, she felt it was important that all members had the same information.

"There was no vote. We just received information. It was very important for all of us to hear what was discussed by Ms. Bryant," she said.

Hackbarth-McIntyre said that council members were aware they would have to disclose what was discussed.

"We’re here tonight to let everyone else know what was said and done to cure what went on in that meeting," she said.

City Attorney Yvette Abich said at Monday’s council meeting that the Sacramento meeting should have been handled differently.

"Should an agenda have been posted? Yes. But it wasn’t. But the Brown Act has a mechanism to cure situations like this," she said.

She pointed out that the Brown Act has a provision that allows for closed door meetings to be disclosed after the fact, "curing" the violation.

Frank Vanella, Deputy District Attorney with the Public Integrity Unit acknowledged that Larry Halstead’s written complaint of the council’s actions had been received and said his office will review the allegations to determine if further investigation is needed.

He said that assuming the violation was not intentional than a warning would be the most likely penalty that council members would receive. He said that though his office did not keep statistics over Brown Act complaints for individual cities, violations were a common occurrence mostly done by officials unfamiliar with the law.

"There’s a history of Brown Act complaints in almost every city and every board," he said.

Mashpee Wampanoag make $250,000 payment to Middleborough


Gaming News
Massachusetts tribe makes payment

MIDDLEBORO, Massachusetts -- As reported by the South of Boston Enterprise: "The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe presented a $250,000 check to selectmen Monday night as the first payment in the casino host agreement the tribe signed with the town.

"Newly named tribal Chairman Shawn Hendricks, who introduced himself to selectmen, reassured the board that he wanted to 'let everyone know we will continue on our course.'

"...Hendricks told selectmen he 'will not jump to any quick decisions,' referring to Gov. Deval Patrick's announcement Monday to support legalized gambling in three locations in the state, including southeastern Massachusetts.

"...The contract, signed by the town and the tribe and approved by a historic, outdoor town meeting in July, called for the first payment within 90 days, but the tribe made the payment within six weeks..."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Big Lagoon intends to return to development on its Reservation; public urges council to move on


Tribes update council on casino plans
Big Lagoon may build back home; land into trust process to continue

By JASON SMITH, staff writer
BARSTOW — Big Lagoon could be breaking out the bulldozers back at their Northern California home instead of in town.

After Monday night’s expiration of an agreement allowing a casino to be built in Barstow, the tribe will begin site preparation work to possibly build a casino on their Humbolt county reservation, according to a representative for the tribe.

This action does not necessarily mean that the tribe has abandoned its Barstow plans, but Big Lagoon seeks to begin negotiating with the governor’s office for an agreement to build on their reservation, said Lance Boldrey, an attorney with BarWest LLC., speaking for the tribe.

The Big Lagoon tribe along with the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians have proposed developing a dual off-reservation casino near the outlet malls in Barstow, but the proposal has stalled in the state legislature.

Representatives from BarWest LLC., developer of the project, as well as the members of the Los Coyotes tribe were at Monday’s City Council meeting to tell the public about their plans to continue with the casino project despite the expiration of the agreements.

Boldrey said that the project’s proponents will focus on securing the future site of the casino into a federal trust, a necessary step before an off-reservation casino is approved, but said the expiration of the compacts, agreements between the tribes and the governor, could complicate the process.

"The process is more difficult today because the compacts have not passed and Federal officials will want to make sure that casino development is in the best interest for the community," Boldrey said.

Representatives of the Los Coyotes tribe said that despite the defeat, they will still proceed with their plans.

"We intend to make the commitment to move forward," said Kevin Siva, tribal council member of the Los Coyotes tribe.

His aunt, the tribe’s 87-year-old chairwoman, Catherine Siva Saubel, addressed the council in her native Cahuilla language and then switched to English. She stressed the tribe’s need to continue with the casino’s development.

"We are still in Barstow because we need each other," she said. "Economically we depend on that. For us I have a home with no running water no electricity. The same things here with people around. We’re both in the same boat."

Members of the Chemehuevi Indian tribe, which also is proposing to build a casino in Barstow, were also present at the meeting. They stressed the tribe’s local connection to the Barstow area.

"This connection is important, it’s cultural, it’s your tribe," said Phil Wyman, former state assemblyman and now a lobbyist for the tribe.

Wyman said that those ties to the area will give the tribe more political clout to navigate the lengthy legal process to develop a casino.

"This tribe, the Chemehuevi tribe, can come together get a compact and bring some prosperity here. … I want everybody in Barstow to be the winner, I don’t give a damn about the people in Michigan," he said.

Some members of the public fed up with the length of the development process have suggested that the council focus on bringing any casino to Barstow rather than picking a particular tribe’s proposal.

"I don’t care what tribe it is, what developer it is. I want a casino. And if you guys can’t produce, you should let somebody else try the job," said Pat Aleman, speaking to the council.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or

Gov. Deval Patrick outlines plans for casinos; $450M for roads, tax relief vowed


Gaming News
Massachusetts governor releases casino plans

BOSTON, Massachusetts -- As reported by the Worchester Telegram: "Gov. Deval L. Patrick yesterday laid out his plans to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts, proposing three resort-style gambling casinos and promising to dedicate up to $450 million in annual state revenues to rebuilding roads and bridges and local property tax relief.

"The governor said he would limit the casinos to one in Southeastern Massachusetts, one in Western Massachusetts and one in Boston or north of Boston. He said he expected they would create more than 20,000 jobs and billions in state tax revenue.

"Half the revenues, he said, would be dedicated to direct property tax credits to low- and moderate-income homeowners while he argued that economic expansion from casinos would help pay for health care programs and better public safety.

"The plan, if adopted by the Legislature as proposed, would mean no casinos would be built in Central Massachusetts. So far, however, House leaders are saying they are not convinced casinos should be allowed in Massachusetts..."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Barwest Compacts expire; future direction unclear


Casino agreements expire; tribes unsure of next step

By JASON SMITH, staff writer

BARSTOW — The agreements between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and two Indian tribes to allow an off-reservation casino to be built in Barstow expired at midnight on Monday leaving the future of the project in doubt.

The Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes Indian tribes had signed casino compacts with the governor’s office on Sept. 9, 2005, but those agreements would have had to have been ratified by both houses of the state legislature by Sept. 17. in order for the project to go forward. The legislature has since adjourned for the 2007 regular session.

Tom Shields, spokesman for the casino’s developer BarWest, LLC., said that despite the expiration, the tribes still hope to continue with the project

"Both tribes are still interested in pursuing Barstow,"he said.

He said the tribes and BarWest thanked the unions, environmental groups and city officials for their lobbying efforts for the project but said more efforts were needed.

"It’s really up to the governor to get the Barstow compacts passed by the legislature. While we appreciate everyone’s support, passing the compacts was never a top priority. In order to get them approved, the governor needs to do more," he said.

Shields said that compacts could be renegotiated and the developers will now focus on the lengthy process of putting the land into federal trust. He called the support of the Big Lagoon tribe a crucial part of the project, but acknowledged that the tribe has not determined how it will proceed.

Jason Barnett, spokesman for the Big Lagoon Rancheria tribe, said that the tribe is considering all its options and will meet with the governor’s office before deciding whether or not to abandon its Barstow plans.

"The tribes’ focus may shift back to Humbolt but we are not ruling out Barstow in any way. We are waiting to hear from the Governor,"he said.

In May, the tribes’ chairman, Virgil Moorehead said that the Sept. 17 deadline would be its last for the Barstow project and the tribe would pursue building a casino on its Humbolt county reservation, an environmentally sensitive lagoon. The tribe was previously involved in a lawsuit with the governor’s office about developing a casino on the reservation and the Barstow project was created as part of a legal settlement.

Sabrina Lockhart, spokeswoman with Governor Schwarzenegger’s office, said that the expiration of the compacts does not necessarily mean that the lawsuit will continue. She said that a clause in the settlement contract gives the Big Lagoon tribe the option to attempt to renegotiate a new compact in the case that the old compact expires.

She declined to comment on the status of the ongoing negotiations but said the "governor stands committed to negotiate in good faith with the tribes" in order to develop a casino in Barstow.

Barstow City Manager Hector Rodriguez said that despite the failure of the compacts the city still supports the development of a casino and particularly supports the BarWest project.

"The casinos are alive and well. The city will be looking at all options to bring a casino to Barstow," he said.

Rodriguez said he would like to see a "more defined strategic plan" created to focus the city’s efforts to lobby for casino development. He said that although the city has already signed agreements with the tribes, the city could do more to support their efforts.
The city needs to advocate in a stronger manner for the casinos. We need to be more proactive in lobbying for any project to bring a casino to Barstow.

Another tribe, the Chemehuevi of Lake Havasu, also have an agreement with the City of Barstow to try to bring an off-reservation casino to Barstow. Rodriguez said that the city could do more to support the Chemehuevi tribe in their efforts to develop a casino in Barstow as well, but that the tribe would need to receive an amended compact with the governor to include the option to build a casino in Barstow.

Representatives of the Chemehuevi tribe did not return calls seeking comment, but have said in the past that the expiration of the Big Lagoon/Los Coyotes compacts could allow them to proceed with their own plans. The Chemehuevis have a application before the Bureau of Indian affairs to place land in to trust, but the application is still pending due to an ongoing environmental review.

Gary Garrison, public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said that the expiration of the Big Lagoon/Los Coyotes compacts will not have any effect on the land into trust process. He said that time to complete the process varies, but recent applications have been taking as many as three years. Garrison said the process was complicated because “the Secretary of the Interior, (Dirk Kempthorne) doesn’t want to encourage off-reservation gaming, thinking instead it should be kept on the reservation.”

The federal land into trust process turns the land affected into sovereign Indian territory, necessary for gaming to legally take place on the land.

Garrison said that the land into trust applications of all three tribes are still undergoing environmental review and after this is completed, members of the public will have the opportunity to comment. After public comment, the application will be reviewed by the regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Secretary of the Interior would have final say, Garrison said.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or

Little Caesar's plan for veterans' franchises wins recognition from Secretary Nicholson

Contact: Kathryn Oldham of Little Caesars, +1-248-885-1194; Katie Henry of Fishman Public Relations, +1-847-945-1300, ext. 237

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of his service to Veterans, Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will present Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. founder Michael Ilitch with the Secretary's Award, the highest tribute given to a private citizen by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The ceremony, which will take place today in the nation's capitol at the Department of Veterans Affairs at 2:30 p.m. ET, recognizes Mr. Ilitch's industry-leading support of Veterans through the Little Caesars Veterans Program.

"Michael Ilitch has demonstrated great patriotism by providing business opportunities to honorably discharged Veterans through the Little Caesars Veterans Program," said Nicholson. "This award, the highest honor my office can bestow, represents the VA's appreciation of a Detroit business leader who is making a difference for U.S. military Veterans as they transition to civilian life or make a career change."

Launched on Veterans Day (November 9) 2006, the program provides honorably discharged, service-disabled Veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees a benefit of up to $68,000. Honorably discharged, non service- disabled Veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees are eligible for a benefit of $10,000. Ilitch, a former Marine, has made giving back part of the way Little Caesars has done business since shortly after opening the first store in 1959.

"Veterans and their families have made significant sacrifices for our country, and I feel that it's important to acknowledge that, and to thank them for their service," said Michael Ilitch, founder and chairman, Little Caesars. "As I thought about the businesses I own, I thought what better way to say thank you to the men and women who have given so much for our nation than to provide them with a business opportunity: becoming a Little Caesars franchisee. I'm very honored that the program, and the people who created it, are being recognized with this prestigious award."

The entrepreneurial spirit is the backbone of the American way of life, and an important part of our economy. Michael Ilitch and his wife, Marian, grew their first business from one pizza store into an international chain, and the success of that business enabled them to purchase businesses in the sports and entertainment industries, including the 2006 American League Champion Detroit Tigers and the 10-time Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.

Now Mr. Ilitch is reaching out to Veterans, providing them with an opportunity to become entrepreneurs so that they can develop independent business, provide jobs for others and contribute to a vibrant U.S. economy. The Ilitches are committed to the philosophy that private enterprise and civic involvement are the real strength of the American way of life.

Interest remains high in the Little Caesars Veterans Program. Currently, more than 1,100 inquiries have been made about the program and 15 veterans have been approved to become Little Caesars franchisees. The first Little Caesars store was opened under the program by Veteran Martin Lorenz on July 31, 2007, in Ft. Meyers, Florida. Four more Veterans are expected to open stores under the program by the end of 2007.

Past recipients of the Secretary's Award include singers Toby Keith and Wayne Newton, actress Bo Derek, and NASCAR driver Richard Petty.

About Little Caesars
Little Caesars Pizza founders Michael and Marian Ilitch opened their first restaurant in Garden City, Michigan in 1959. Today, Little Caesars is the largest carry-out chain in the world with restaurants on five continents. Little Caesars is growing in prime markets across the country, and is offering strong franchisee candidates an opportunity for independence with a proven system. In addition, Little Caesars offers strong brand awareness with one of the most recognized characters in the country, Little Caesar, that appeals to both adults and children.

Little Caesars is an Ilitch-owned company along with, the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, Champion Foods, Uptown Entertainment, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program, and a variety of venues within these entities.

For more information about prime franchising opportunities with Little Caesars or the Little Caesars Veterans Program, visit

SOURCE: Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Did Mayor Dale set up another Brown Act violation? And worse yet, is he violating the Governor's code of confidentiality?

Did Barstow Mayor Lawernce Dale lead his council colleagues and city staff into a Brown Act violation when he arranged a meeting for City leaders with Governor Schwarzenegger's aide Cynthia Bryant while supposedly at a League of Cities Conference in Sacramento?

While on a boondoggle to Sacramento, the Mayor and various other Barstow city officials took advantage of being in Sacramento to lobby various state officials for the Barwest gaming compacts which parties had been told a week or two earlier were virtually dead for the 2007 legislative session.

Now, by nature of an agenda item (#31) on the Council's Monday night agenda (9/17/07) , it appears as though the Mayor is attempting to "cure" a Brown Act violation before anyone can inform the District Attorney or Attorney General of the Council's illegal actions.

Further, the item appears to be yet another of the BarWest propoganda machine's missives put forth by Mayor Dale aiming to protect his political hind end.

Given the confidential nature of discussions between the Governor's office and those seeking gaming compacts either the Mayor is blatanltly violating rules preferred by the Governor's office or manufacturing his version of the truth. Violating the Governor's code of confidentiality doesn't seem like the way to win the Governor's support.

Read the agenda item carefully and then put the meeting reported in context with other reports that were made in the media and by TVT at the end of the legislative session.

Recall that the day after this meeting apparently took place things changed significantly. Senator Patricia Wiggins, the author of SB 157 (the vehicle by which the Barwest gaming Compacts were to have cruised through the approval process), gutted the bill -- she abandoned any hopes of getting the Compacts through the legislature more than 10 days before the Compacts' deadline extensions were set to expire.

It's also interesting that rather than publish the agenda on Thursday, it was posted after it was feasible to contact the Governor's office on Friday for a response or reaction to the Mayor's characterization of the meeting.

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