Saturday, February 02, 2008

Judge says "no" to Shinnecock casino, "yes" to other uses on Long Island site


Judge: No to more limits on LI land where tribe sought casino

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) _ After barring the Shinnecock Indian Nation from building a casino on disputed land in the Hamptons, a federal judge has rebuffed a local government's request to impose further limits on the tribe's activities there.

The Shinnecocks had said Southampton Town's proposal could prevent tribal ceremonies and even the gathering of firewood on the Hampton Bays site, although the town disputed those claims.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco said Friday that the court should not become "the ultimate zoning board" in the dispute.

Bianco nixed the tribe's casino plan in October, saying documents proved the tribe's aboriginal title to the parcel had extinguished in the 17th century.

He also noted that the Shinnecocks are not federally recognized as a sovereign tribe, and the parcel is not federally recognized as Indian land. To operate a casino under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, tribes must meet requirements that include federal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Southampton then asked the judge to bar any use of the land that doesn't meet town zoning laws and other rules.

Tribe trustees said the town's proposal could rule out such activities as the Shinnecocks' annual Fourth of July picnic. Members feared that if the town succeeded, they could end up being held in contempt of court "if they held a wedding," said the tribe's lawyer, Christopher Lunding.

The town's lawyer, Michael Cohen, told the court Friday that Southampton wasn't trying to stop traditional Shinnecock activities.

"It's making an issue where, really, none exists," he said later.

To the judge, the issue was the possibility that the town's request could entangle the federal court in future spats over local zoning.

"Why should that come before me when this case was about a casino?" he said.

No casino on Shinnecock Tribe's Westwoods property


No casino for Shinnecocks, but yes to other things


The federal court decision that barred the Shinnecock Indian Nation from building a casino should not be interpreted by the Town of Southampton as a license to prohibit any activity on the Hampton Bays parcel, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco made the ruling during a conference in Central Islip to address the language that will be incorporated into his judgment on the lawsuit, which was decided in October.

The Town of Southampton sued the Shinnecocks in 2003 to stop them from building a casino on an 80-acre tract of land known as Westwoods. The tribe claimed that sovereignty made them immune from town zoning regulations, but Bianco disagreed and issued an injunction stopping the casino.

But, in their proposed draft of the judgment, the town's attorneys wanted the judge's injunction to apply to any use of the land that did not comply with town zoning laws and other regulations.

Tribe trustees said that could prohibit them -- under the punishment of a federal contempt order -- from doing things they have done for "generations" there, including gathering firewood and holding tribal ceremonies, such as their annual Fourth of July picnic.

The Shinnecocks' attorney, Christopher Lunding of Manhattan, said his clients don't want to worry "about being held in contempt if they held a wedding."

But the town's attorney, Michael Cohen of Jericho, called the tribe's interpretation of the town's proposal "absolutely ridiculous." In court he said the town's intent is not to prohibit common tribal activities on the land, but rather to have a judgment that would prevent the Shinnecocks from developing a major project on the site other than a casino.

"I'm not aware of any basis whatsoever for the tribe to feel that the activities in which they previously engaged in Westwoods are any more or less suggestible to prosecution today that they were before," Cohen said later. "What are they worried about? It's making an issue where, really, none exists."

Tribal trustee Randy King called the town proposal "spiteful."

"We've been a better steward to the land than they have," said King. "This trial was about gaming at Westwoods and the town overreached."

Despite the town's assurances, Bianco said with such a broadly-defined judgment, nothing would keep the town from bringing the tribe to federal court every time it perceived a zoning violation of any sort. Bianco said the court should not act as "the ultimate zoning board," and rather that the town should handle any violations through the usual channels.

"Why should that come before me when this case was about a casino?" he said.

Friday, February 01, 2008

UPDATE: Posts set context and detail schemes, conflict$ behind Detroiters' off-reservation casino proposal

This compendium of relevant posts was compiled to help set context and detail scheming, conflicts, etc. behind Ilitch/Malik backed casino plans for the Bay Mills tribe over the last decade:


Developer/Casino Interests not Indian’s driving casino scheme

Courts Denied Land Claims

Road to Port Huron

Congressional goings on

Political Ca$h and Lobbying Fee$

Debbie Stabenow

Candice Miller

Carl Levin

Harry Reid

Michigan Resource Links - Gaming, Ilitch, MotorCity Casino, Mike Malik, Bay Mills Tribe

originally posted 8.04.07
updated 8.08.07; 8.18.07; 2.01.08

House Natural Resources Committee hearing scheduled Feb. 6 for two Michigan casino schemes

The Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a "full markup" hearing on Wednesday, February 6 (2:00 pm eastern). The hearing is scheduled to be WebCast live. Two precedent setting bills that would allow for off-reservation Indian casinos in Michigan will be reportedly be among those considered:

  • H.R. 2176 (Stupak): To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community. The bill would allow the tribe to develop an off-reservation casino some 350+ miles by automobile from its existing reservation. (Google map). The tribe already has two casinos located on its Brimley, Michigan reservtion.

  • H.R. 4115 (Dingell): To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The bill would allow the tribe to develop an off-reservation casino some 355+ miles by automobile from its existing reservation. (Google map). The tribe operates the five Kewadin casinos and is majority shareholder in Detroit's Greektown Casino.

The committee hearing can be viewed on live simultaneous WebCast at Click on the site's "view live WebCast" button in the left hand column or try the button we've provided below:

Supporters of the Port Huron bill claim they have secured the votes of Rep. Nick Rahall (WV-3rd) chairman of the House Resources Committee and GOP Rep. Don Young (AK), ranking GOP member of the committee.

originally posted 1.27.08

Former partners Mike Malik and Tom Celani tied to tribes pushing off-reservation casino proposals in Congress next week

The House Natural Resouces Committee is reportedly set to hear two bills, H.R. 2176 and H.R. 4115, on February 6th that would allow for off-reservation casinos in the greater Detroit area -- off-reservation Indian casino proposals for Port Huron and Romulus respectively.

H.R. 2176 is regarding the Bay Mills Indian Community and H.R. 4115 the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. The Bay Mills Indian Community already has two casinos on its Brimley, Michigan reservation.. The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is majority owner in Detroit's Greektown commercial casino as well as the five Kewadin casinos.

Both H.R. 2176 and H.R. 4115 are said to bring about land claims settlements that both tribes have alleged to the same 110-acres of property in the Charlotte Beach subdivision on the St. Marys River east of Barbeau, Michigan on the Upper Peninsula.

Michael J. Malik, Sr. and Tom Celani (official bio) were one-time casino investment partners. They brought the realization of a Little River Band of Ottawa Indians casino resort to Manistee, Michigan; and they were behind the effort to bring commercial gaming to Detroit. Also partnered with the pair was Mrs. Marian Ilitch, now sole proprietor of Detroit's MotorCity Casino. Both Celani and Malik were founders of MotorCity Casino although Malik wasn't licenseable by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) and was forced to sell his interest in MotorCity casino before the gambling hall opened its doors. Celani later sold his interest in MotorCity Casino to partner Marian Ilitch when she also bought majority shareholder MGM Mirage/Mandalay Resorts. Celani has gone on to manage casinos in various states across the country including the Cal-Neva Lodge, owned at one-time by Frank Sinatra, and was a major shareholder in SODAK Gaming, Inc.

Both Celani and Malik at one-time purchased land in the Charlotte Beach subdivision.

Now Malik is behind the Bay Mills Indian Community's effort to bring commercial gaming to Port Huron --Marian Ilitch is a staunch supporter of that proposal. Malik has pushed that agenda unsuccesfully for more than a decade. Some believe that Celani was a one-time partner in Malik's efforts with the Bay Mills tribe. And now, as it was announced yesterday, Celani is a partner and president of the Sault Tribe's Greektown Casino in Detroit.

Both tribes have reservations on Michigan's Upper Peninsula which are located more than 350 miles by automobile from their proposed off-reservation casino sites. Both Port Huron and Romulus are in the greater Detroit area.

Casino investor Celani to partner with Sault tribe


New investor to be president of Greektown Casino operations

By Daniel Duggan

Former MotorCity Casino investor Tom Celani announced plans to acquire a 22 percent stake in the Greektown Casino.

Upon approval by the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Celani would become president of casino operations.

“I’m excited to be involved in the operations here,” he said during a press conference. “In fact, that’s something that we negotiated. I wanted to be involved, not just sitting on the sidelines.”

The move is aimed at improving management of the casino and bolstering its financial situation, said Tom Miller, chairman of the Greektown Management Board and an elected member of the board of directors for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, a majority owner of the casino.

“This is something the tribe has been seeking for a long time,” he said. “Finally, we found someone who is a perfect fit, with expertise and a history in the area.”

With Celani’s 22 percent stake, the tribe now owns 75 percent of the casino operations.

Ted Gatzaros, one of the founders of Greektown who sold his stake in 2000, recently acquired a 1 percent stake in the casino. The remaining shares are owned by Marvin Beatty.

Miller said there are no other investors expected to be involved in the near future.

Celani, 51, of Bloomfield Hills, has significant gaming experience among his many professional endeavors.

In 1995, he partnered with a Michigan tribe to develop Little River Casino Resort in Manistee. He also has developed and managed casinos in California and Oklahoma as well as commercial casinos in Nevada and Colorado.

Celani was an owner of MotorCity Casino from 2000 to 2005 before selling his stake when co-owner Mandalay Bay merged with MGM.

He also owns Farmington Hills-based MotorCity Harley-Davidson and Bloomfield Hills-based MotorCity Power Sports, and is president of Novi-based Luna Entertainment. Celani is also proprietor of TC Vineyards Inc. in Napa Valley, Calif.

A stepped-up marketing effort at the casino is on the agenda for Celani. He also wants the casino to be involved with more corporate partnerships and to be more involved with the effort to expand Cobo Center.

“I’ll get engaged with the politics because the casino needs to play a role in that,” he said.

Asked if the casino should help pay for the project, he said “I’d never close the door on that.”

“The expansion is important to all three casinos and they should be involved,” he said.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tom Celani buys stake in Greektown, will become president of casino operations


Detroit businessman buys stake in Greektown Casino

Robert Snell / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- A Bloomfield Township gambling executive who helped bankroll the successful statewide ballot initiative that led to Detroit's three casinos will become a new minority investor in Greektown Casino, according to a press release from the casino.

Tom Celani, a former MotorCity Casino investor, bought a 22-percent stake in the casino, an investment one gaming analyst said would cost approximately $200 million.

The move is expected to be approved by the Michigan Gaming Control Board since Celani already has a gaming license. Celani, who also will be named president of casino operations, is expected to use his local expertise to help Greektown better compete with the other two casinos and oversee an expanded casino and new hotel opening this fall.

"If it is 22 percent, that is a big chunk and will strengthen the financial capability of the casino's owners," said Jake Miklojcik, a gaming expert and president of Lansing-based Michigan Consultants. "And it brings in some additional southeast Michigan moxie and management."

Celani's expertise could be most noticeably felt in the type of amenities offered at the casino and with enhanced advertising, he added.

Celani's involvement comes at a time when Greektown continues to trail the other two casinos in revenue and market share.

Michigan's wagering tax brought in $160 million in 2007, yet Greektown Casino's revenue trailed those of MGM Grand Detroit Casino and MotorCity Casino, according to the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

MGM Grand Detroit Casino extended its market leadership last year with revenues of $513 million compared to $480 million for MotorCity Casino. Greektown Casino's market share fell to 25.6 percent and its revenue dropped 1.1 percent to $345 million.

The city's three state-licensed casinos took in $1.335 billion in 2007 as revenue growth slowed to 2.4 percent, Michigan regulators said.

Greektown is in the midst of a massive expansion.

The casino opened a new 2,900-space parking garage in November and will unveil a 39-story, 400-room luxury hotel this fall.

Celani, 52, is head of Novi-based Luna Entertainment, and oversees a sprawling empire that includes residential and commercial ventures and casino development and management in several states.

A Luna company developed the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee and he also owns Motor City Harley-Davidson in Farmington Hills and is an investor in MJR Theaters.

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Receiver says regardless, concert promoter was running a Bernie Madoff-like ponzi scheme


Concert promoter fallout hits investors, creditors worldwide

South Florida Business Journal - by Paul Brinkmann

The assets of former entertainment mogul Jack Utsick are being tracked and recovered around the globe, two years after the SEC sued him for securities fraud.

The $300 million case against Utsick, of Miami Beach, and his Worldwide Entertainment involves thousands of creditors and investors, including hundreds of airline pilots.

The remaining companies, now in receivership with Fort Lauderdale attorney Michael Goldberg, also have ownership interest in stadiums and concert venues around the world. (See: Goldberg v. Malik)

Goldberg, of Akerman Senterfitt, spent the last two years trying to analyze the finances and recover money for creditors in the case. Goldberg recently wrote a letter to investors, saying his analysis of Worldwide's books was complete.

"Although we do not have evidence of whether it was intended to be a Ponzi scheme, Worldwide falls into the textbook definition of a Ponzi scheme," he wrote in the January letter. (Ponzi schemes pay out with money from new investments, not with actual profit from operations.)

Utsick and Worldwide were once listed as the third-largest entertainment promoter in the world by Billboard magazine. Utsick arranged events for the likes of Shania Twain, Elton John, Aerosmith and Riverdance.

The SEC said in 2006 the entire company could be a Ponzi scheme.

Utsick's attorney, David Chase of Fort Lauderdale, said he and his client have declined public comment on the case. A message left at Utsick's Miami Beach phone number was not returned.

The demise of Worldwide has proved tragic for some airline pilots who invested their retirement funds, said Louis Smith, a retired pilot and owner of, a Georgia-based Web site and financial planning company for pilots.

Utsick is a former pilot who actively pitched his colleagues with unregistered security offers.

"It's sad, it really is," Smith said. "It was depressing when I learned about how many people this happened to. I know one pilot who apparently invested $1 million in this."

Smith said he asked Utsick for financial statements of his operations in 2005, but was sent a future concert schedule and photos of Utsick with Mick Jagger, Fergie and other celebrities instead.

Goldberg filed six new lawsuits this month in U.S. District Court, seeking to nullify fraudulent payments made to investors and to sell property involved in the case - a $950,000 home on Middle River Terrace in Fort Lauderdale.

In the five recent recovery actions, Goldberg is seeking $388,663 paid to five investors around the U.S., including two Florida residents. They are only the latest in such recoveries attempted in the case.

"The law allows me to recover profit paid out to the investors," Goldberg said. "In a scheme like this, it's like a game of musical chairs: Some of the investors are sitting on big comfy chairs when the music stops, [and] you try to bring back that money into the case to pay out all the creditors evenly."

Last year, Goldberg obtained ownership of the landmark Wuhlheide Amphitheater in eastern Berlin, out of a lease arrangement Utsick had with the city. He plans to sell that for the benefit of creditors in the case.

The SEC said Utsick had used some investor money to buy two multimillion-dollar condos in Miami Beach and to fund a lavish lifestyle. Goldberg has since obtained the condos, he said.

The targets of the SEC lawsuit also included American Enterprises and Entertainment Funds, along with their principals, Robert Yeager and Donna Yeager. As part of the settlement, none of the defendants admitted or denied the SEC's allegations. However, they agreed not to participate in business activities related to the case against them. Goldberg's receivership was a result of the SEC case.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bay Mills tribe modifies casino agreement with Blue Water Resorts LLC

According to the Bay Mills News, the Bay Mills Indian Community's Executive Council met on Monday, Sept. 24, 2007 for a regularly scheduled meeting. Among its business, the council also approved a motion to change the terms of their contract with Blue Water Resorts, LLC (a casino development and management company controlled by Michael J. Malik, Sr.) from a "management contract" to a "consulting contract."

The MGCB denied Mike Malik a license, what makes anyone think he can get licensed by the NIGC?

The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) refused to grant Michael Malik a license as a partner of MotorCity Casino in 1999. He has failed to win any other license from the MGCB since. Malik has never been licensed to manage a casino and given his past history isn't likely to receive a license.

Malik claims his Blue Water Resorts LLC would have a multi-million dollar management contract for a Bay Mills Casino in Port Huron and would be paid 30% of net-win revenues for seven years . If the MGCB wouldn't license Malik, what makes anyone think that the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) would approve a management contract under Malik's control?

This suggests that Malik is fronting for some other interests (maybe Marian Ilitch, Las Vegas players, Kerzner & Wolman, etc.) who will step in and purchase the management contract from Malik before he has to go before the NIGC.

It wouldn't be politically expedient today for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, reportedly a staunch opponent of any Port Huron casino, to see that Marian Ilitch, the proprietor of the Detroit's MotorCity Casino, is bankrolling the Port Huron casino proposal today; but if history repeats itself, Malik could avoid scrutiny by the NIGC by selling the Blue Water Resorts LLC mangement contract to Marian Ilitch or some other entity controlled by Ilitch Holdings, Inc. when and if he ever gets the many approvals needed to build a Bay Mills Indian Community casino in Port Huron.

The question is ... who is Michael Malik fronting for in Port Huron -- Ilitch or someone else -- and what implications does that secret have for Port Huron?

It was revealed this past year that Michael Malik's former MotorCity Casino partner Herb Strather (he also failed to receive a license from the MGCB back in 1999) has been fronting in Massachusetts for big time casino operators Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located 355 miles from Romulus, MI

According to Google, the existing reservation of the The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians (Sault Ste Marie, MI) is located approximately 355 miles away from the proposed site of its off-reservation casino in Romulus (H.R. 4115). The Romulus site is outside the tribe's traditional ancestral territory.

Bay Mills Indian Community is located 350+ miles from Port Huron, MI

According to Google, the existing reservation of the Bay Mills Indian Community (Brimley, MI) is located some 351 miles away from the proposed site of a Port Huron casino on property where the Thomas Edison Inn is currently located (H.R. 2176). The Port Huron site is outside the tribe's traditional ancestral territory.

Time for an updated advisory vote on Port Huron casino schemes?

In a June 26, 2001 advisory vote, City of Port Huron voters said they supported plans for a casino to be developed on the site of the Thomas Edison Inn. Now Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm has renegotiated terms of an agreement -- previously negotiated by former Governor John Engler -- with the Bay Mills Indian Community regarding the tribe's proposed Port Huron casino resort. Among other changes, the agreement would give the tribe the option of building a casino on an alternative site in Port Huron. The Bay Mills Indian Community currently has two casinos on its Brimley, Michigan reservation.

Given that the last advisory vote was held nearly seven years ago and that the new plans would allow the Bay Mills Indian Community to develop a casino on an alternative site; wouldn't it be advisable for proponents of the casino to allow voters to weigh in on the modified plans in another advisory vote that could be added to one of Port Huron's upcoming 2008 ballots?

Further, does it might make sense to extend the advisory ballot measure to voters throughout St. Clair County who will be impacted by the proposed casino?

Gannett news outlet acknowledges impact of

as published in Gannett's Port Huron Times Herald 1.27.08:

Article published Jan 27, 2008
Casino foes are well-heeled

...The Verifiable Truth
The Verifiable Truth, a 14-month-old Web site, is relentless in its criticism of casino developers Mike Malik and Marian Ilitch.

Aides to Malik said they suspect the site is the work of lobbying firms and wealthy Indian tribes that wish to block potential competition from poorer tribes. They suggested the site is too professionally done and is privy to too much insider information to be the work of an unpaid grassroots group.

In an e-mail, Web site spokesman Frank Lee wrote: "There are no lobbying firms associated with TVT. TVT has not received funding from any tribe. The Ilitch/Malik machine will say anything in order to create a boogeyman to blame for its own circumstances."

Lee also described The Verifiable Truth as "a collection of citizen volunteers from around the country who have seen the Ilitch/Malik machine at work and who wish to ensure that the public has all the information that the Ilitch/Malik machine fails to disclose, share or effectively supresses."

It's difficult to ascertain the truth. Frank Lee apparently is an pseudonym, and the people who run the site have not revealed their real names or affiliations.

Foes of the Port Huron Casino?


Casino foes are well-heeled

Saginaw Chippewa
The Saginaw Chippewa casino at Mount Pleasant is the largest and most profitable gaming facility in Michigan, and a casino in Port Huron would offer potential competition.

The tribe also accuses the Bay Mills Chippewa of "reservation shopping" on its ancestral lands. The Saginaw tribe's membership includes descendants of the Blackwater River band, which had a 1,287-acre reservation from 1807 to 1836 in what is now Port Huron. Bay Mills is based on the shores of Lake Superior.

The Saginaw tribe has spent liberally to block a Port Huron casino, including more than $14 million to Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican lobbyist who is serving a seven-year term in federal prison. One of his major assignments was fighting the Port Huron casino on Capitol Hill.

Other Indian Tribes
At least nine of Michigan's 12 federally recognized tribes are opposed to the Port Huron casino.

George Bennett, a member of the Grand Traverse band's tribal council, said the legitimacy of the Charlotte Beach land claims has never been upheld in court despite state and federal cases. In testimony at a 2004 congressional hearing, he also described the Engler-Bay Mills deal as an end run around the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

He also argued that the deal circumvents a 15-year-old compact that prohibits an off-reservation casino unless all 12 tribes sign off on it. "The Michigan tribes pledged not to engage in a form of economic warfare that would ultimately injure all of them," he testified. "They promised not to engage in an endless game of attempting to leapfrog over one another in moving closer to major population centers while cutting off revenues to their less aggressive brethren."

Ietan Consulting Group
Specializing in Indian law and lobbying, Ietan represents 30 tribes including the Saginaw Chippewa. Its co-founders are Wilson Pipestem, a Stanford Law graduate and member of the Otoe-Missouria tribe of Oklahoma, and Larry Rosenthal, a Flint native who worked for more than 11 years as an aide to U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint.

While on Kildee's staff, Rosenthal was an architect of the Congressional Native American Caucus, a bipartisan group that includes 99 of the House of Representatives's 435 members.

Ietan's lobbying team also includes Aurene Martin, a member of the Wisconsin Oneida tribe and formerly a high-ranking official with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She testified on the agency's behalf at congressional hearings on the Port Huron casino in 2002 and 2004. In both instances, she explained why the department could not support the project.

MGM Mirage
With annual revenues in excess of $7 billion, the Las Vegas-based corporation is Nevada's biggest employer and one of the world's most profitable gaming companies. Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and his Tracinda Corp. are the majority owners.

The corporation has invested more than $800 million in MGM Grand Detroit, the most profitable of Detroit's three casinos. MGM views Port Huron as potential competition and spent $180,000 last year to lobby against it. Its lobbyists include Kai Anderson, former deputy chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The Verifiable Truth
The Verifiable Truth, a 14-month-old Web site, is relentless in its criticism of casino developers Mike Malik and Marian Ilitch.

Aides to Malik said they suspect the site is the work of lobbying firms and wealthy Indian tribes that wish to block potential competition from poorer tribes. They suggested the site is too professionally done and is privy to too much insider information to be the work of an unpaid grassroots group.

In an e-mail, Web site spokesman Frank Lee wrote: "There are no lobbying firms associated with TVT. TVT has not received funding from any tribe. The Ilitch/Malik machine will say anything in order to create a boogeyman to blame for its own circumstances."

Lee also described The Verifiable Truth as "a collection of citizen volunteers from around the country who have seen the Ilitch/Malik machine at work and who wish to ensure that the public has all the information that the Ilitch/Malik machine fails to disclose, share or effectively supresses."

It's difficult to ascertain the truth. Frank Lee apparently is an pseudonym, and the people who run the site have not revealed their real names or affiliations.

City of Detroit
For the past five years, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been an implacable opponent of the Port Huron proposal. In a November letter to the House Natural Resources Committee, he noted casino gambling has generated about 9,000 jobs in Detroit.

"These jobs meet the original goal that the people of the State of Michigan endorsed when the casinos were approved (in 1994) - economic self-sufficiency for Detroit," he wrote. "Any expansion of off-reservation gaming will not only compromise the economic strides that we've made, but will also contradict the will and intent of Michigan voters."

Kilpatrick reportedly has been promised the opening spot during testimony Feb. 6 when the committee expects to vote on a bill that would pave the way for a Port Huron casino to open as early as 2009. Kilpatrick is facing a perjury investigation, and it's unknown if his growing troubles will affect his plans to testify before Congress.

Congressional Opposition
In the past six years, several Port Huron casino bills have appeared in the House while only one has been introduced in the Senate. The latter was blocked in 2002 by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., now the Senate majority leader and arguably the most powerful individual on Capitol Hill. Nevada's three House members also oppose Port Huron.

Detroit's two representatives, John Conyers and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, are fierce opponents. Kilpatrick is the mayor's mother and chairwoman of the influential Congressional Black Caucus. In November, she succeeded in delaying a scheduled vote on the Port Huron project.

Other opponents include former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, an Abramoff friend who single-handedly spiked a Port Huron bill in 2005, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, who questions the morality of casino gambling. Michigan's congressional delegation includes 15 House members - nine Republicans and six Democrats. Most either oppose the Port Huron casino or are lukewarm to it.

A key player is Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint, who has taken a neutral position on the latest Port Huron bill. Kildee is co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus and a long-time ally of the Saginaw Chippewa. His neutrality is a switch from his past opposition.

- Compiled by Mike Connell

Boldrey apparently obtained a conflict-of-interest waiver from Governor Granholm allowing him to represent casino promoter

When did Lance Boldrey, a Michigan attorney with the firm Dykema Gossett and one-time counselor for Indian affairs matters in the administration of former Governor John Engler receive the conflict-of-interest waiver noted in today's Port Huron Times Herald article, "Casino fight turns fierce, ugly?" Lance Boldrey drafted the original Bay Mills land-settlement agreement as a legal adviser to Gov. John Engler. After Engler left office, Boldrey took a job with Dykema-Gossett, a prominent Detroit law firm.

In his new role, Boldrey is advising casino developer Mike Malik, who's positioned to make tens of millions of dollars in management fees if Bay Mills opens a Port Huron casino.

Under the Michigan Bar's code of ethics, Boldrey would be allowed to advise Malik only if he first obtained a waiver from Engler's successor, Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Liz Boyd, the governor's press secretary, confirmed that Boldrey indeed has obtained such a waiver.

Port Huron casino fight turns fierce, ugly


Casino fight turns fierce, ugly
Officials, lawyers deny conflicts of interest in battle

Times Herald

In 10 days, a congressional committee is expected to vote on legislation meant to clear the path for a tribal casino in Port Huron.

The hearing, scheduled for Feb. 6 before the House Natural Resources Committee, is the latest battleground in a prolonged fight where the stakes - potentially hundreds of millions of dollars - are incredibly high, and where the behind-the-scenes brawling can seem incredibly vicious.

As an illustration of the metaphorical knife fighting, the case of Aurene Martin is instructive.

A member of the Wisconsin Oneida tribe, she majored in history, culture and Italian at universities in Madison, Wis., and Bologna, Italy. She returned home, earned a law degree in Madison in 1993 and then went to work in the public sector for a decade.

Friends and colleagues describe her as a soft-spoken intellectual, a person of the highest ethics and integrity. Last year, her peers voted her to a list of the nation's leading experts on Indian law.

“She’s a genuinely nice person, too,” added Wilson Pipestem, a co-founder of Ietan Consulting, the lobbying firm where Martin now works.

Feeling blindsided
Compare this person to the one described by an ex-mayor of Port Huron and a local labor leader, who remember feeling ambushed by Martin at a 2004 congressional hearing on the proposed casino.

“We were under the impression that she was going to speak in favor of the Port Huron casino. Definitely,” said B. Mark Neal, the former mayor.

Richard Cummings, president of the Michigan Machinists and a founding member of the Thomas Edison Casino Advisory Committee, said he also expected an Interior Department endorsement.

“I just thought it was a foregone conclusion, dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s,” he recalled.

Martin, then the principal deputy assistant secretary for Indian affairs, thanked the Natural Resources Committee for inviting her to testify and then said, “As discussed in our written testimony, the department is not currently able to support the bills as they are written.”

Neal and Cummings remember listening with astonishment as Martin offered a litany of objections to proposed casinos in Port Huron and Romulus.

“I remember walking out of there wondering, ‘Where did that come from?’” Neal said.

Staying consistent
A central question is whether Cummings and Neal, who had been invited to the 2004 hearing to testify in support of the casino, had been misled by lobbyists on their side of the battlelines.

Larry Rosenthal, the other co-founder of Ietan Consulting, said the Interior Department has been consistent in its objections to the Port Huron proposal. He said it’s preposterous to think the Bureau of Indian Affairs, an agency within the Interior Department, was ready to endorse the casino.

“Who told them Interior would support it?” he asked. “Who is this unnamed person?”

In fact, Martin’s testimony in 2004 echoed many of the comments she had made two years earlier while testifying at a similar hearing before a Senate committee.

In a telephone interview, Martin said she does not question the Port Huron men’s memories or sincerity, but she also said they were wrong. Interior Department officials did not support the casino, she said, and her testimony merely reflected the position of her colleagues at the agency.

“I understand they felt blindsided,” she said of Cummings and Neal. “People can take things from conversations that they want to take. That’s one thing. Or they can be spun by their own people. … I don’t know what happened there. I’m not sure why they thought they were going to get a positive report.”

Inside information
Jeff Parker, the leader of the Bay Mills Indian Community, also testified at the 2004 hearing. His tribe and its 1,300 members would own the Port Huron casino if Congress approves its agreement with the state of Michigan.

Martin now works as a registered lobbyist for the Saginaw Chippewa, a rival tribe that has spent freely, including $14 million to disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, on political efforts such as its quest to block a Port Huron casino.

“She had access to all the inside information that we shared with the (Bureau of Indian Affairs),” Parker said of Martin.

That might appear to pose an ethical dilemma, but Interior Department officials who reviewed the matter last week at the Times Herald’s request said Martin did nothing wrong.

“What I can tell you is there is an exemption from any post-employment restrictions for anyone who is working for a federally recognized tribe,” said Tina Kreisher, director of communications for the Interior Department. “No recusal was needed. … There was no need for any kind of waiver since she is working for a federally recognized tribe.”

In short, Martin violated no agency rules. She broke no federal laws.

Inquiry clears staff
Three months after the 2004 hearing, Martin resigned from the agency amid another controversy.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., sharply criticized her decision to acknowledge the Schaghticoke band as a federally recognized tribe.

According to, a Web site that covers Indian-related issues, Connecticut officials feared that Frederick DeLuca, co-founder of the Subway restaurant chain, and other wealthy investors seeking a casino had asked Martin to bend the rules.

Earl Devaney, the Interior Department’s inspector general and a Bush administration appointee, investigated the matter. He found no evidence of wrongdoing by Martin or anyone else at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“Although the Schaghticoke recognition decision was highly controversial, we found that (Martin and her colleagues) conducted themselves in keeping with the requirements of the administrative process," he concluded.
Memo gets leaked
A year later, Martin found herself back in the headlines as the result of an internal memorandum sent to the Saginaw tribe on Sept. 27, 2005.

At the time, Martin worked as an Indian law specialist for Holland & Knight, one of the world's 15 largest law firms. She co-wrote the memo with Rosenthal, the Ietan lobbyist. They detailed plans for the tribe to distribute more than $300,000 in political donations in the upcoming year.

While such memos are not unusual in Washington, they rarely become public. This one did. Supporters of a maverick Saginaw Chippewa leader posted the memo on a Web site, where it was picked up by The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress.

The long list of recommended contributions included $5,000 to Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C., who Martin and Rosenthal described as "helpful" on blocking casinos in Romulus and Port Huron, and $2,000 to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, who "has been very helpful" on the same front.

Martin later would leave Holland & Knight to join Rosenthal at Ietan.

Bar rules are strict
Parker's concern about Martin having access to confidential information that he said Bay Mills shared with the Bureau of Indian Affairs raises another ethical question: Is it proper for her to lobby for the Saginaw Chippewa, a tribe that is implacably opposed to Bay Mills' casino plans?

Martin is a member of the D.C. and Wisconsin bar associations. In a telephone interview, a legal ethics adviser for the District of Columbia Bar made it clear he would not comment on any particular person or situation.

The adviser, Saul Singer, did offer a general overview of the bar association's rules. "The confidentiality rule is very broad," he said. "The obligation to keep client's secrets is very broad."

If the rules are strict, they also may be moot in this matter.

"I was never acting as their attorney," Martin said of Bay Mills, "or as an attorney for the United States."

'This is so unfair'
Rosenthal, a Flint native, worked as an aide to U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint, for more than 11 years. During that time, he helped create the influential Congressional Native American Caucus, a bipartisan group that now includes 99 of the House's 435 members.

Rosenthal said he's well aware that casino infighting gets ugly, but he also said a newspaper article about Martin's role in the Port Huron casino effort is unjustified and unfair.

"She hasn't done one thing wrong," he said. "You talked to ethics experts (at the Interior Department). They told you she hasn't done anything. This is so unfair."

Career springboards
If Martin used a government job as a springboard to better-paying positions in the private sector, so have members of Port Huron's lobbying team.

For example, lawyer Lance Boldrey drafted the original Bay Mills land-settlement agreement as a legal adviser to Gov. John Engler. After Engler left office, Boldrey took a job with Dykema-Gossett, a prominent Detroit law firm.

In his new role, Boldrey is advising casino developer Mike Malik, who's positioned to make tens of millions of dollars in management fees if Bay Mills opens a Port Huron casino.

Under the Michigan Bar's code of ethics, Boldrey would be allowed to advise Malik only if he first obtained a waiver from Engler's successor, Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Liz Boyd, the governor's press secretary, confirmed that Boldrey indeed has obtained such a waiver.

Note: apparently there was more to this article, including assertions made about TVT, in print format but the staff at the Port Huron Times Herald has failed to translate the entire article when posting on the Web.

Port Huron casino promoter fined for breaking California's political reform laws; denied a casino license in Michigan

Michael J. Malik, Sr., the promoter behind the Bay Mills casino proposal for Port Huron, Michigan, was fined in 2006 for breaking California's political reform laws by failing to report a $26,500 casino-related contribution in 2004; and it's believed that Malik has been under investigation in California since Spring 2007 for breaking similar laws in 2006.

California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) fined BarWest L.L.C. (a casino syndicate controlled by Michael J. Malik and Mrs. Marian Ilitch) on two counts of failing to comply with California's political reform laws.

Malik had failed to report that his Detroit-based BarWest L.L.C. made a contribution of $26,600 in October 2004 to the San Joaquin County GOP Committee. As it was, then-GOP Congressman Richard Pombo, who also happened to be chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee that oversees Indian gaming matters, was from San Joaquin County. Malik paid a fine of $6,500.

As that 2004-2006 investigation was coming to a conclusion, Michael Malik was again making other contributions to the campaign committees of individual members of the California legislature (primarily between July 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006) and failing once again to report those contributions as required under California's political reform laws. In fact, it appears Malik may have contribute $25,000 or more to 15 or more political committees during that time and failed to report those contributions as a major donor under California law.

TVT understands the FPPC has been conducting an investigation for the better part of 2007 into Malik's failure to report these contributions and other matters involving payments by BarWest LLC, Michael Malik and lobbyists (Capitol Ventures, Roseville; Governmental Advocates, Inc.) Malik employed in California.

One must consider that if Mr. Malik blatantly violated political campaign laws in California, it's possible he has also been violating political reform laws and lobbying disclosures in Michigan, New York, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

Certainly if California's FPPC finds Malik and his associates violated laws once again in California, it would be responsible for authorities in other states and Washington, D.C. where Malik is involved with political contributions and lobbying payments to investigate his giving practices.

Mike Malik has partnered with Marian Ilitch and the Ilitch family on various casino syndications and development projects over the last 15 years. However, Malik failed to win approval for a gaming license in Michigan in 1999 and was forced to transfer his shares in Detroit's MotorCity Casino to Marian Ilitch. Since then, throughout their various partnerships, Malik appears to have played the role of political "bag-man" or "bad cop" to Marian Ilitch's "good cop."

Some suggest Mike Malik plays the role of Marian Ilitch's "Consigliere." It has been reported that there is a doorway that connects Malik's office to Marian Ilitch's office providing him with direct access into her private domain.

A business venture that involves Michael Malik and the Bay Mills Indian Community, a federally funded enterprise involved in the research and manufacturing of plastic parts and devices, is rumored to be under investigation by the FBI.

It would seem appropriate for the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) to revisit Mr. Malik's close association and affiliation with Marian Ilitch and the Ilitch Family.

Who's behind the off-reservation casino proposed for Port Huron?


Casino support includes regional political leaders

People of Port Huron
In a referendum 6½ years ago, 54.2% of Port Huron voters approved the idea of locating a tribal casino within the city limits. The advisory vote had been urged by Don Reynolds, co- owner of the Thomas Edison Inn, and Richard Cummings, then the president of the local AFL-CIO labor council. They saw a casino as a way to create jobs in a struggling city with a double-digit unemployment rate. They also observed that Port Huron remains the only community on the U.S.-Canadian border where a casino exists on the Canadian side without competition on the American shore.

Following the 2001 referendum, the casino won the endorsement of the Port Huron City Council, the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners and the local legislative delegation. No organized local opposition has emerged.

Bay Mills Indian Community
Although it is one of Michigan's oldest federally recognized tribes, Bay Mills has only about 1,300 members. Many of its original members broke away in the 1970s to form the Sault Chippewa, now Michigan's largest tribe with about 31,000 members. Bay Mills is based at Brimley, a town in Chippewa County in the eastern Upper Peninsula. The tribe operates two casinos near Lake Superior.

In August 2002, Bay Mills and Republican Gov. John Engler agreed to settle a dispute that dates to the 1850s when Michigan Gov. Kinsley Bingham promised the tribe a 110-acre parcel at Charlotte Beach on the St. Mary River. Despite that pledge, the property was seized by local officials for back taxes and sold off.

The deal with Engler called for Bay Mills to abandon its claim to the 110 acres, where dozens of families own homes, in exchange for the 12½-acre Edison Inn property in Port Huron. The Edison parcel in effect would become a mini-reservation, land held in trust for the tribe by the Interior Department. The land-settlement agreement still requires congressional approval. A bill that would do that sits in the House Natural Resources Committee, where a vote is scheduled for Feb. 6.

Blue Water Resorts
Blue Water Resorts LLC is led by casino developer Mike Malik, a former Algonac city councilman. He first tried to develop a casino in Port Huron in 1993, when city voters narrowly rejected his plan to convert the old Sears store on Michigan Avenue into a gaming facility that would have been owned by Bay Mills and operated by Harrah's.

In 1995, Malik and Tom Celani bankrolled the campaign in support of Proposal E, the statewide ballot proposal that led to three commercial casinos in Detroit. Malik and another partner, billionaire Marian Ilitch, won the rights to develop one of those casinos. When Malik was disqualified from being licensed as a casino proprietor, reportedly because of tax problems, he sold his interest in the MotorCity Casino to Ilitch.

Malik and Ilitch have worked together on other casino proposals in the Upper Peninsula, Hawaii, California and Long Island. Ilitch has said she supports the Port Huron casino but has no financial interest in it.

Thus far, Malik has spent millions of dollars in lobbying, legal, architectural and other fees. It's a roll of the dice. If the Port Huron proposal fails, he loses the money. If the casino opens, Blue Water Resorts stands to receive 30% of net-win revenues for seven years through a management contract with Bay Mills. Depending on how successful the casino is, Malik's seven-year share could be in the neighborhood of a half-billion dollars.

Lobbyist Alan Wheat
The lobbying firm founded a decade ago by Alan Wheat, a former Missouri congressman, leads a large team hired by Bay Mills and Malik to secure a Port Huron casino. Wheat, who served as deputy director of President Clinton's re-election campaign in 1996, is well-connected in Washington. Federal lobbying reports indicate his firm has been paid more than $1 million since 2002 to lobby for the casino.

Congressional supporters
In 2002, the original legislation to allow a Port Huron casino was introduced in the Senate by Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and in the House by David Bonior, D-Mount Clemens. Stabenow has remained a staunch ally of the Port Huron proposal, while Bonior gave up his position as the No. 2 Democrat in the House to make an unsuccessful run for governor in the 2002 elections.

Bonior's seat was claimed by Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, who has championed the Port Huron proposal even though she is not a fan of casino gambling. Echoing Bonior, she justifies the project using economic and fair-trade arguments: Gambling already exists in the larger community, and Port Huron should be allowed to compete with the two gaming facilities on the Canadian side of the St. Clair River.

Sen. Carl Levin, a former Detroit city councilman, took no position on the Port Huron casino for many years. Last July, he came out in support of the project. Levin, D-Detroit, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is one of the most powerful figures on Capitol Hill. Without his endorsement, the project had virtually no chance of success.

The bill that would allow a Port Huron casino was introduced eight months ago by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, whose Upper Peninsula district include Bay Mills' tribal lands. Miller and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., co-sponsored Stupak bill. Kennedy's support is seen as critical because he and Rep. Dale Kildee of Flint are co-chairmen of the 99-member Congressional Native American Caucus.

Others who have spoken in favor of a Port Huron casino are Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee. Their position has been that Miller knows what is best for her district.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm
Until two months ago, it was widely assumed that the governor would not endorse the Port Huron casino.

From 1994 until 1998, when she was elected attorney general, Granholm worked as the top legal adviser to Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara, the boss of Michigan's most powerful political machine. In that role, she worked closely with Bernard Kilpatrick, who was McNamara's chief of staff. His wife and son, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, are outspoken opponents of the Port Huron casino.

Granholm came out in favor of the Port Huron casino after modifying the Engler agreement. Aides said her support is based on two factors - the millions a casino would pump into the coffers of the cash-strapped state government and her desire to use tourism as an engine to drive Port Huron's moribund economy. The new deal also gives Bay Mills the option of locating the casino at a 19.6-acre site at the foot of Court Street in Desmond Landing.

Sault Chippewa
When Engler and Bay Mills struck their agreement in August 2002, the Sault immediately condemned the deal as reservation shopping. The tribe also noted its own claim to Charlotte Beach.

The Sault changed its position four months later. On his final day in office, Engler reached a similar settlement with the tribe, which owns the Greektown Casino in Detroit. The Sault agreed to give up its Charlotte Beach claim in exchange for a casino in either Romulus, Flint or southern Monroe County.

The Sault chose a site near Metro Airport in Romulus. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, a powerful lawmaker who has served in Congress since 1955, is sponsoring legislation for the Romulus casino. His bill also is scheduled for a Feb. 6 vote.

It is widely believed that MGM Mirage and Detroit lobbyists are far more worried about the prospect of a casino in Romulus than in Port Huron.

- Compiled by Mike Connell

TVT has welcomed more than 178,000 unique vistors

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

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

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

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

Google News: Indian Gaming

NEWS: Bay Mills Indian Community & Casino Proposals

NEWS: Shinnecock Indian Nation (Gateway Casino Resorts) Casino Proposals

NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation

NEWS: Los Coyotes Indian Tribe

NEWS: Los Coyotes / Barwest Barstow Casino Proposals

NEWS: Michael J. Malik, Sr.

NEWS: Marian Ilitch Mapping Social Networks

Play with the interactive tool here or visit

TIP: Search for multiple entries in the database simultaneously by separating their names with the word and

certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... 03.17.97

The Verifiable Truth