Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Did earmarks guarantee exclusive casino development rights for Young's pal?

Why would BarWest LLC, a Detroit-based gaming entity with plans to build casinos in Barstow, CA, front nearly $6,000 in travel costs to fly Rep. Don Young (AK-1) in a private jet?

Did gambling man Michael Malik guarantee himself exclusive rights to casino development in Barstow by using his influence with Rep. Don Young to help Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale secure funding for his pet railroad projects?

BarWest LLC was formed 2.03.03 by Michigan casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr. and his billionaire partner Mrs. Marian Ilitch. She owns Detroit’s MotorCity Casino, the Detroit Red Wings and Little Caesars Pizza. They are behind plans to build Indian casinos in Barstow; Port Huron, MI; and Long Island, NY.

Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale was first elected in 2000. Dale was a life-long employee of BNSF Railroad. Even as a retiree, Dale works tirelessly "lobbying" on BNSF's behalf. Dale’s had two priorities during his nearly eight years in office: (1) create a rail transportation and distribution hub in Barstow and (2) secure local, state and federal approval of BarWest's plans to develop casinos and a resort in Barstow.

Dale has dedicated significant resources attracting local, state and federal funding to pay for the construction of a railroad bridge crossing over Lenwood Road in Barstow -- his efforts were even lauded in a BNSF employee newsletter. The project would help further his vision for a regional rail and distribution hub.

And Dale’s taken extreme measures to shutdown other developers and ensure that he can guarantee BarWest exclusive rights to any casino development in Barstow. It’s clear by Dale’s actions that he is getting some additional incentive to stick exclusively with BarWest (Malik/Ilitch).

Malik and members of the Ilitch family were among Young’s top donors during the 2005/06 election cycle. They have personally contributed more than $23,000 to Young (and his Midnight Sun PAC) and helped raise thousands more in additional funds from their associates. They've contributed more than $95,000 to the Republican Congressional Committees and at least $50,000 to the Republican National Committee.

In January 2005, Barwest paid $6,000 to fly Young around in a private jet; and then again in 2005, Malik paid another $4,000 to fly Young around in the private jet again.

And in June 2005, Michigan bar and restaurant owners raised $10,000 for Young's campaign fund. Did Malik fly Young to Michigan for the fundraiser?

Michael Malik (MJM Enterprises) retains Richard Alcalde (Potomac Partners D.C.) as his lobbyist. Alcalde has been identified as one of Young’s “A-Team” lobbyists.

Alcalde is embroiled in an investigation into circumstances surrounding a $10 million 2005 earmark for a Florida road project that was shepherded by Young. Reportedly Alcalde leveraged his relationship with Young and mutual interests shared by several clients to secure the $10 million earmark.

Since 2005, Malik and a partner (Shinnecock Indian Nation) have paid Alcalde $960,000

Young was chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee through 2006. In order to bypass traditional congressional casino approvals, Young attempted to bury a minor $100,000 earmark for a Port Huron transportation study into the 2005 federal highway spending bill; and then slipped subtext into that earmark intended to grant Malik approvals he needed for his Port Huron casino scheme. That language was removed in the final spending bill.

However, the final version of the 2005 federal highway spending bill did include a $1.2 million earmark for construction of Mayor Dale’s Lenwood Road grade separation project. And the spending bill also included a $992,000 earmark for preparation of a study on a proposed Los Angeles to Las Vegas high speed rail project (MagLev) that would go right through Barstow.

In addition to representing Malik's interests, Alcalde is also the lobbyist for American Magline Group, an entity that is behind the MagLev high speed rail project. Since 2001, American Magline Group has paid Alcalde’s firms $950,000.

The Barstow rail station is halfway between L.A. and Las Vegas. A city publication explains that in 2002, Dale signed a cooperative agreement with Magline pledging financial support and cooperation for the MagLev project; and Dale's resume notes he is the public member of various MagLev agencies.

Originally planned to make minimal stops between L.A. and Las Vegas, Dale secured commitments to ensure Barstow is a destination along the high speed train route. Dale's counting on the high speed train bringing people from the Los Angeles area to the BarWest Casino Resort that he and Malik have planned for Barstow.

Consider that the players were able to leverage their resources and relationships to secure at least $2 million in federal funding; and create other long term win:win outcomes for Alcalde, Dale, Malik, Young, BarWest, BNSF and American Magline Group.

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Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? Forbes.com 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 newsday.com 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire RGTonline.com 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners MichiganDaily.com 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute detnews.com 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller freep.com 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit rgtonline.com 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged freep.com 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer desertdispatch.com 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project LasVegasSun.com 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow signonSanDiego.com 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles detnews.com 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 Michigan.gov 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino detnews.com 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch detnews.com 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests gamblingmagazine.com 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E detnews.com 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 detnews.com 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... crainsdetroit.com 03.17.97

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