Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Young used a generic highway earmark as vehicle to slip through approval of Michigan Indian casino

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) was chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee through 2006.

Under Young's leadership, a $100,000 earmark for a Port Huron transportation study was inserted into a bill (H.R. 3550) that would eventually become the 2005 federal highway spending bill. The earmark was actually intended to quietly slip through congressional approval of a Port Huron Indian casino backed by Michael Malik, members of Detroit's Ilitch family, so-called "A-Team" lobbyists close to Young (Richard Alcalde, Billy Evans, Williams & Jensen) and the Bay Mills Indian Community.

Here's an excerpt from the bill that was reported out favorably by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chaired by Young:

To authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes:

SEC. 1209. (e) Port Huron, Michigan –

(1) Traffic study- There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary $100,000 for a traffic study to be conducted in Port Huron, Michigan, in connection with economic development that may result from the implementation of the agreement of the State of Michigan resolving a title dispute concerning certain property, executed on August 23, 2002, and filed with the Michigan department of State on September 20, 2002.

(2) Ratification of agreement- The agreement is hereby ratified.

(3) Treatment of certain lands- The alternative lands described in the agreement shall be treated as meeting the requirements of section 20(b)(1)(B)(i) of Public Law 100-497 (25 U.S.C. 2719(b)(1)(B)(i)).

(4) Trust- The Secretary of the Interior shall take the alternative lands into trust for the benefit of the non-State party within 60 days of the non-State party's acquisition of the land described in section 4 of the agreement.

(5) Extinguishment of claim- Upon implementation, the claim to the lands of the non-State party described in section 1 of the agreement is hereby extinguished.

Note: the language is carefully crafted so that there was no reference to IGRA, the Bay Mills Indian Community, Charlotte Beach Land Claims, casino development or other key words that would be a tip-off to those who might be tracking or interested in the approval of an off-reservation casino in Port Huron.

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