Saturday, June 28, 2008

Alaska's Rep. Don Young a leader in Michigan Indian casino fight


Rep. Don Young shows up in Michigan fight over Indian casinos. The debate is over land swaps for casinos, according to The link to Young is a bit of alphabet soup, but it's quick.

Disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, now serving time for fraud and tax evasion, once represented the Indian tribes fighting for the land swap. Developer Mike Malik worked on one of the casino deals. He hired Washington lobbyist Richard Alcade, who also worked for developer Daniel Aronoff. They've both been linked in news accounts to the $10 million Coconut Road earmark in Florida, promoted by Alaska's Don Young.

Here's the bottom line: Young is the ranking Republican on the Natural Resources Committee and supported the casino bills when they were passed by the committee in February. Malik contributed $4,600 -- the limit -- to Young's re-election committee March 31. Alcalde and an associate Dan Feliz also wrote checks to Young on March 31 -- as did several of Young's "A List-ers."

See the list of those who contributed 3.31.08 to Young's re-election committee.

No gambling license for Ilitch casino partner

Casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr., identified as one of those who originally backed Detroit's MotorCity Casino (Detroit Entertainment, LLC), was disqualified from receiving a gaming license by the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) in 1999 and forced to relinquish his interests in MotorCity Casino prior to the gaming hall opening its doors to the public.

News reports at the time suggest Michael Malik sold or transferred any interest to Mrs. Marian Ilitch, now the sole owner of MotorCity Casino. Any such details have never been made public. Since then, Malik has shared office space with Ilitch among the executive suite of offices at Ilitch Holdings, Inc. and the pair have partnered on various other casino proposals in Michigan and throughout the U.S.

Records used by the MGCB to determine qualifications have been sealed and deliberations over licensing have been kept confidential so it's unclear exactly why the MGCB declined to license Malik. Records and deliberations regarding ownerships transfers are also sealed and confidential. However, the following MGCB licensing guidelines have been published:

"The gaming board [MGCB] does not license an applicant convicted of any felony; a misdemeanor involving gambling, theft, dishonesty or fraud; or those who are 'unsuitable' due to questions of 'integrity, moral character or reputation.' "

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

Ilitch family bag man a classic case of Freud's "projection"

Whenever scrappy Detroit-based casino syndicator Michael J. Malik or his hired guns speak, one must consider filtering what's said with Freud's theory of psychological "projection."

In a story posted 6.26.08 in the Port Huron Times Herald regarding Malik's failure to get congressional approval of his scheme (H.R. 2176) to build an off-reservation Indian casino in Port Huron, Michigan, Mike Connell writes:

Casino developer Mike Malik blamed the setback on "the actions of people who hired Abramoff to stop us originally and who have continued to expand on Abramoff's tactics. They were successful. They did it in ways that someone should investigate."

According to Sigmund Freud, "projection" is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one "projects" one's own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings onto someone else.

Others describe "projection" as:
  • "A defense mechanism in which the individual attributes to other people impulses and traits that he himself has but cannot accept. It is especially likely to occur when the person lacks insight into his own impulses and traits."

  • "The individual perceives in others the motive he denies having himself. Thus the cheat is sure that everyone else is dishonest."

  • "An individual who possesses malicious characteristics, but who is unwilling to perceive himself as an antagonist, convinces himself that his opponent feels and would act the same way."
To bring up Abramoff's name is a mere smokescreen that Malik uses in an attempt to deflect any consideration of his own questionable and tainted actions.

Recall that among other things, Malik was once arrested for beating up the 12-year-old son of a girlfriend, was found guilty in California of violating that state's political reform laws and was denied a license by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Malik is the partner of MotorCity Casino owner Mrs. Marian Ilitch. Malik and Ilitch are pursuing approvals to build Indian casinos off existing reservation lands in California and New York. Marian Ilitch and her family have also backed Malik's failed plans for Port Huron. Some have described Malik as the Ilitch family's "bag man."

Friday, June 27, 2008

These D.C. lobbyists behind the Malik/Ilitch backed Port Huron Casino

According to the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records the following Washington D.C. lobbying firms have been retained by the Bay Mills Indian Community and its partners. Most of these firms were retained to push H.R. 2176 and plans for the Bay Mills Indian Community (backed by casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr. and members of Detroit's Ilitch family) to build an off-reservation casino in Port Huron, Michigan:

@ Akerman Senterfitt
Joe Findaro

@ Alexander J. Beckles, LLC
Alexander J. Beckles

@ Cornerstone Government Affairs, LLC
John Crumbliss
Daniel Fleming
Geoff Gonella
Campbell Kaufman
John Keast
Louie Perry
James Richards
Mark Rokala
Amy Ford Souders
Timothy Sanders

@ Drinker Biddle & Reath
Virginia Boylan

@ Franklin Creek Consulting
Tom Brierton

@ Ghazal & Associates, LLC
Jay C. Ghazal

@ Patton Boggs LLP
Lawrence Roberts
Thomas McReynolds
Heather Sibbison

@ Potomac Partners DC
Rick Alcalde
Dan Feliz (Daniel Feliz)

@ Wheat Government Relations
Alan Wheat
Amanda Fein
Annie Minguez
Julie Shroyer

@ Zell & Cox Law, P.C.
Patricia M. Zell

Casino syndicator Michael Malik and Mrs. Marian Ilitch (she owns Detroit’s MotorCity Casino; her husband Mike Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers; they own the Detroit Red Wings and Little Caesars Pizza) have been behind efforts to develop a casino with the Bay Mills tribe for more than a decade.

Known lobbying “clients” include: Bay Mills Indian Community, MJM Enterprises or MJM Enterprises & Development (Malik), Blue Water Resorts (Malik) and Wheat Government Relations.

Originally posted 6.10.08 and revised on 6.21.08.

Another D.C. lobbyist for Bay Mills tribe reveals himself

Just days before the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on controversial plans for two off-reservation Indian casinos in Michigan; yet another Capitol Hill lobbyist reveals he's been working on behalf of the Bay Mills Indian Community.

Joe Findaro, a lobbyist/attorney of counsel with the D.C. office of Akerman Senterfitt and a former Department of Interior official, filed federal lobbying disclosure registration on 6.24.08 indicating he's been lobbying on behalf of the Bay Mills Indian Community since at least 6.01.08.

Among Findaro's other clients: Full House Resorts; Kalispel Tribe of Indians; Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians; Shinnecock Indian Nation; Station Casinos.

Both the Bay Mills Indian Community and Shinnecock Indian Nation are pursuing plans for Indian casinos off current reservation lands with the backing of Detroit casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr. and his partner Mrs. Marian Ilitch, owner of Detroit's MotorCity Casino, Little Caesars Pizza and the Detroit Red Wings NHL franchise.

You may want to also review these related posts:

Columnist: Malik battered but not out


Commentary: Cliff Schrader, WGRT-FM 102.3 was a member of the Thomas Edison Inn Casino Committee

Casino backer got battered; don't count him out just yet

I cannot tell you the number of times I heard in the past two months that Port Huron's casino was a done deal. Everyone -- from the movers and shakers to the kid cutting my grass -- said the gambling facility, a potential catalyst for a massive $500 million development in downtown Port Huron, was a certainty.

The hopes and dreams of Port Huron and the entire Blue Water Area took one terrible hit Wednesday. In a shocking 298-l21 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives soundly rejected our casino dream.

We had come so far since those heady days of June 2001. Thomas Edison Inn owner Don Reynolds and labor leader Dick Cummings led the Port Huron Casino Committee. The group raised this community's support of the proposed casino development. It's been a long march -- seven years of endless minefields and a cost tens of millions of dollars from casino developer Mike Malik.

A bright, hard-working guy, Malik easily can run with the big dogs in Washington. Yet, he relates to the guys fishing off the docks.

It was Malik's vision and incredible drive that marshaled our forces in a fight against overwhelming odds. Without him, Port Huron never would have been a player in the casino game.

Never in these seven years did I hear the words, "It's a done deal," leave Malik's lips. He knows the Detroit and Washington crowds all too well.

The post-game analysis gives a pretty good picture of what happened and how Washington works. At the beginning of the day, the expectation was the vote would be close, but Port Huron's casino bill had enough hard votes to pass -- and enough soft ones to add a cushion of 20 to 30 votes.

The tables, however, were turning. In the past several days, with almost unlimited money, our opposition brought in a ringer.

Washington sources believe an old buddy of jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, ex-House Speaker Tom Delay, was dragged out of Texas to work his magic on the House Republican members. Delay was able to convince about 30 House members to switch from supporting us to voting against us -- a 60-vote swing side to Detroit's side.

As U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, said Wednesday, "In a dark corner of a Maryland prison, Jack Abramoff is smiling right now."

The opposition used a clever tactical move. It had a large number its supporters, mainly Republican, vote quickly at the start of the balloting, thereby running up the no vote very quickly. The impression was the bill was headed for a landslide defeat.

With about 168 no votes cast, our side started to release members who had committed to supporting us, but didn't want to support a losing cause. The result was a crushing 298-121 loss with an incredible 177-vote spread. The opposition pretty much had their way with us.

I suggest you wait a few days before you mourn because there is one thing I have learned: Malik made a lifelong career as the fighting underdog. He never easily gives up the bone.

Editorial: Congress right in blocking new casinos


Congress right in blocking new casinos
Allowing new gaming houses in Port Huron, Romulus is a bad idea

The Detroit News

The decision by Congress to deny two new Indian casinos in southeastern Michigan will help assure the health of the state's gaming industry.

Romulus and Port Huron each wanted casinos in a proposal that would have swapped Indian land in the Upper Peninsula for "reservations" in those two communities. That needed congressional approval, which the House of Representatives denied this week.

That's good news for the city of Detroit, which relies heavily on the tax revenue from its three casinos.

Detroit got those gaming houses in exchange for giving up state revenue-sharing dollars and part of its city income tax.

Threatening the revenue from the Detroit casinos by saturating the surrounding market would be unfair.

In addition, because they would be operated by Indian tribes that are subject to less regulation and taxation, the Romulus and Port Huron casinos would have had an unfair competitive advantage.

Detroit, with the blessing of the state, has required its three casinos to build expensive new hotels of 400 rooms each. The proposed Indian casinos wouldn't have had that burden.

The Greektown casino downtown is already in bankruptcy, and revenue has stagnated at the other two casinos. That should be a warning that the market might not support an expansion of gaming.

Losing one of the downtown casinos would have a terrible impact on both the city and the state, which also gets a sizeable amount of revenue.

Other regions that have allowed gaming to expand unchecked have seen the windfall from casinos wither.

The House made the right decision. Gaming works best for the region and the state when the casinos are concentrated downtown.

Find this article at:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

History of bills introduced in Congress to approve Port Huron Indian Casino

106th Congress (1999-2000)
H.R. 3412 - Charlotte Beach Land Claims Settlement Act. (introduced 11.16.99 by B. Stupak MI-1; no cosponsors).

107th Congress (2001-02)
H.R. 1634 - To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. (introduced 4.26.01 by B. Stupak MI-1; no co-sponsors)

H.R. 2495 - To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. (introduced 7.12.01 by B. Stupak MI-1; no co-sponsors)

H.R. 5459 - To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community. (introduced 9.25.02 by D. Bonior MI-10; co-sponsor D. Young AK-1)

S. 2986 - Bay Mills Indian Community Land Claim Settlement Act. (introduced 9.20.02 by D. Stabenow MI; no co-sponsors). A hearing before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee was held . On 11.19.02, Stabenow attempted to bypass the Indian Affairs Committee by taking the bill directly to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Sen. H. Reid (NV) opposed the effort. (remarks by Reid and Stabenow)

108th Congress (2003-04)
H.R. 831 - To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community. (introduced 2.13.03 by C. Miller MI-10; co-sponsor D. Young AK-1)

H.R. 3550 – To authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes. (introduced 11.20.03 by D. Young AK-1; 145 co-sponsors):
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.
109th Congress (2005-06)
No new bills introduced specifically to settle Charlotte Beach land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community.

110th Congress (2007-08)
H.R. 2176 – To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community. (introduced 5.03.07 by B. Stupak MI-1; co-sponsors C. Miller MI-10, and P. Kennedy RI-1). While not a co-sponsor, D. Young (AK-1) lead the fight for passage of the bill in the House Natural Resources Committee and on the floor of the House.

Extended member of Ilitch family attacks City of Detroit

Michael Malik, a casino syndicator and real estate developer, attacked and blamed the City of Detroit in the wake of congressional defeat of a plan he had championed that would have allowed him to build an off-reservation casino in Port Huron, just 60 miles from downtown Detroit. More than a decade ago, Malik had proposed the same casino plan for downtown Detroit.

An article published 6.26.08 in the Port Huron Times Herald reports Malik as saying:

"The city of Detroit believes they are the only group in the state that deserves to have everything their way. They believe all benefits should be their benefits, and that all development should be their development. They always want help, but they never offer help."
Malik is Mrs. Marian Ilitch's casino and development partner. His business offices sit among the suite of executive offices at Ilitch Holdings, Inc. in Detroit's Fox Theater Building. There is reportedly a door connecting Malik's personal office with Marian Ilitch's personal office.

Malik was a one-time partner in Detroit's MotorCity Casino, now owned solely by Marian Ilitch. In 1999, Malik was forced to relinquish his interests in MotorCity Casino when the Michigan Gaming Control Board refused to grant him a gaming license. He reportedly transferred his shares to Marian Ilitch. Since then, he's been working side-by-side with Ilitch on various development and casino management projects.

Malik and Ilitch are also pursuing casino development projects in California, Hawaii and New York. Members of the Ilitch family had backed Malik's plans for the Port Huron casino but because Marian Ilitch owns Detroit's MotorCity Casino, regulations prohibit her from having a direct financial interest in any other Michigan casino. There is little, however, prohibiting other members of her family or affiliates of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., from having a financial interest in such a project.

The Ilitch family owns Little Caesars Pizza, the Fox Theater, the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings. The family manages city owned properties like Comerica Park and Joe Louis Arena. The family owns significant undeveloped or abandoned real estate in downtown Detroit. Olympia Entertainment and Olympia Development are two Ilitch affiliates that have pursued various development projects in Detroit. The Ilitch family has yet to announce any development plans for its large downtown real estate holdings.

One must wonder if Malik's sentiments are held by his partners at Ilitch Holdings, Inc.

Delusional Mike Malik blames Abramoff for House defeat of his Port Huron casino scheme


All bets are off
Bill to bring casino to Port Huron falls in House


Corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff may be locked in a prison cell, but he still received credit Wednesday for the crushing defeat of the Port Huron and Romulus casino bills.

The House rejected the combined measures by a surprisingly lopsided vote of 298 to 121.

Casino developer Mike Malik blamed the setback on "the actions of people who hired Abramoff to stop us originally and who have continued to expand on Abramoff's tactics. They were successful. They did it in ways that someone should investigate."

Abramoff, a former lobbyist who was at the center of a massive Washington corruption scandal, helped block earlier Port Huron bills on behalf of the Saginaw Chippewa, who paid him more than $14million. He now is serving a 70-month term in federal prison.

Uncertain future

Malik, a former Algonac councilman, has worked closely with Detroit businesswoman Marian Ilitch on casino developments. He has been trying to open a casino in Port Huron for more than 15 years.

The Saginaw Chippewa and casino giant MGM Mirage have spent freely to block him. The Saginaw Chippewa operate the state's largest casino in Mount Pleasant, while Malik said MGM's Grand Detroit casino hotel earned a record $50 million last month alone.

"They're not going to let their prized golden goose get hurt," he said. "They're drinking champagne at MGM tonight while the people in Port Huron cannot even afford to drink a pop."

The Port Huron bill would have paved the way for the Bay Mills Chippewa of the Upper Peninsula to open a casino at either Desmond Landing or the Thomas Edison Inn.

"I don't know where we go from here," said Malik, who was hired by Bay Mills to shepherd the project. "The other side has outright lied at every turn. ... It's a great loss to the state of Michigan and the city of Port Huron. There are and were great plans to hire thousands of people. Everybody should be outraged."

Tomion: 'I feel naïve'

City Manager Karl Tomion shared Malik's sense of outrage and disappointment.

"I have to confess I just didn't see this coming," he said. "I knew there were Detroit and Nevada interests that were spending millions of dollars on false information, but I thought our cause was so just we would prevail. I feel naïve."

Detroit's political leaders, including embattled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his mother, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, led the fight against Port Huron.

Tomion expressed dismay with their efforts, noting Port Huron and St. Clair County voters overwhelmingly supported a statewide referendum 15 years ago that let Detroit compete with a casino across the border in Windsor. Port Huron was looking for a similar opportunity to compete with two gaming facilities across the river in Point Edward and Sarnia.

"For them to work so hard against us is very disappointing when we're in exactly the same position as they were," Tomion said. "I'm disappointed in our political process. Whatever happened to doing what is right?"

Malik echoed that criticism. "The city of Detroit believes they are the only group in the state that deserves to have everything their way. They believe all benefits should be their benefits, and that all development should be their development. They always want help, but they never offer help."

He also singled out Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, as leading behind-the-scenes effort to defeat the bills.

"Mike Rogers worked harder against our cause than anyone else," he said. "Why does Mike Rogers from Brighton and East Lansing care so much about Port Huron? Why is he so aligned to MGM and Ietan (a lobbying firm)? He is the biggest hypocrite on Capitol Hill."

Miller fights for city

Malik and Tomion praised Rep. Candice Miller for her staunch support of the casino effort.

"I think it's important to note how hard Candice Miller and her staff worked," Tomion said. "They have been with us every step of the way."

In the floor debate, Miller gave an eloquent 8½-minute speech in which she addressed many of the opposition's arguments.

"I think it's important to note these bills are supported by every elected official who represents the city of Port Huron," she said, listing herself, both U.S. senators, the past two governors, the legislative delegation, the county board and the city council.

City voters gave their blessing, she noted, as did civic groups, labor unions, educational leaders and "every law enforcement official" in the county, including the sheriff, the prosecutor and police chiefs.

In a passionate appeal, she said "our beautiful state" has the nation's highest unemployment rate, lowest income growth, highest foreclosure rate and highest exodus of young people. Port Huron, she noted, has a jobless rate of 14% to 16%, making it one of the bleakest spots in North America for job-seekers.

She pointed to a photograph of Point Edward's casino and noted it was only 282 yards across the river from Port Huron. "And if you were a very good golfer, maybe not me, but a good golfer could hit a golf ball and hit that Canadian casino facility right now where 80% of the revenues comes from America," she said. "Those dollars should be spent in an American casino to create American jobs."

Big money prevails

Dick Cummings, president of the Michigan Machinists union and a leader of casino efforts, said he believed the floor debate was won convincingly by Miller and others who spoke in favor of the bills, including Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.; Don Young, R-Alaska; Bart Stupak, D-Menominee; Dale Kildee, D-Flint; and John Dingell, D-Dearborn.

"If you truly watched the debate, our side was above board and honest," he said. "It's pretty obvious that the people down there in Congress went with the big money and don't care much about Hometown U.S.A."

Cummings expressed surprise the margin of defeat was so large -- 177 votes.

"I was cautiously optimistic because we had the right arguments on our side," he said. "It was the difference between right and wrong, and wrong won."

Cliff Schrader, a Times Herald columnist and a member of the Thomas Edison Inn Casino Advisory Committee, said it seemed clear House members had made up their minds before the debate even began.

"It's clear this community has been tossed under the bus by Washington," he said. "I think it's over. It's very disheartening."

City can't surrender

Mayor Brian Moeller shared the disappointment of other local leaders, but said the community cannot surrender.

"We need to have something that's a major draw, whether it's a casino or something else," he said. "Tourism is our hope for the future, especially with the price of gas what it is. People from the metropolitan area are going to be looking for shorter trips. They won't be going to Mackinaw City as often as they used to. We have to have something major to draw them here, whether it's a water park, a large aquarium or something else."

He suggested the city might explore possibilities such as reconstructing Fort St. Joseph, built by the French in 1686, or Fort Gratiot, built as an American frontier post during the War of 1812.

"We have a beautiful river and lake," he said. "We have great sporting opportunities with the fishing and boating. If we can find one thing we can cash in on, I think people will come. It would seem we've hit a dead end as far as the casino goes, but we need to keep looking."

Harsens Island Marina project has no public support


Harsens Island residents oppose development


About 145 people attended a public hearing on Tuesday at Algonac High School to talk about a marina permit for a proposed 348-unit cluster housing development on the former Boys Club property on Harsens Island.
The developers, Grande Pointe Development and Lucky 7 Development LLC, applied May 1 for a marina operating permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

About 25 people spoke at the hearing, said Alice Szulborski, who lives near the proposed development and attended the meeting. An official with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality could not be reached for comment.

"Not one person spoke up in favor of it," she said. "If there was someone in favor of it sitting there, I don't know. No one spoke up."

Many island residents concerned about the effect on the island oppose the development.

Timothy Stoepker, a lawyer with Dickinson Wright PLLC in Grand Rapids, gave a presentation for the developer during the hearing.

"Normally people who oppose are the ones who show up," he said. "People who are in support of change do not show up. Typically in land use matters, no one supports change. It's rare."

On Feb. 27, the Clay Township Planning Commission rejected a special land-use request that would have allowed construction of the project. Grande Pointe and Lucky 7, managed and owned by former Clay Township resident Michael Malik, filed an appeal of the decision March 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Gary Fletcher, a Port Huron lawyer representing the developers, did not attend Tuesday's meeting -- which did not address the planning commission decision. He said the developers and the township will submit briefs for the appeal in the next 60 days.

Developers need a permit from the DEQ to construct and operate a marina with 344 slips for the use of property owners and an additional 18 slips for day use. They propose to dredge out a marina basin on the former Boys Club property that would connect with the North Channel of the St. Clair River.

Developers also propose moving the existing riverfront road.

Szulborski, who said she has been visiting Harsens Island for about 60 years and has lived there year-round the past 15 years, said the project doesn't fit DEQ criteria for a marina operating permit.

She said it unreasonably affects the public trust "because they plan on taking out the road and the waterfront property on the other side of the road, which they don't own.

"The egress and ingress also is going to be on public property," she said

She said a new marina in the area also will increase boat congestion on the North Channel and the development does not fit in with surrounding residences.

"I'm not against developing the area," she said. "I'm not against homes being put there. I am against a 60-acre lagoon being dug there. I am against my road being taken out."

But Stoepker said the project should receive a permit.

"From our position this project meets all the requirements under the applicable statute for approval and under the applicable rules," he said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What does Marian Ilitch see in Mike Malik?

What does Marian Ilitch see in Mike Malik (Michael J. Malik, Sr.) other than millions of dollars of her family's money being flushed down the drain?

For more than a decade Malik's found some way to convince Marian Ilitch to invest millions in her family's fortune on his various casino schemes. O.K. so she's now the owner of Detroit's MotorCity Casino -- presumably an opportunity originally brought to her by Malik and his associates -- but Malik has failed in every effort to develop a new casino since then:
  • Failed to legalize gambling in Hawaii and build a proposed casino resort on Oahu;

  • Failed multiple times to get state or federal approvals for various schemes to build Indian casinos in Barstow, California;

  • Failed to make any meaningful progress on a scheme to build an Indian casino in the posh Hamptons resort on New York's Long Island; and today,

  • Failed for the seventh time in ten years to win congressional approvals for a scheme manufactured for the opportunity to build an off-reservation casino in Port Huron, Michigan.
In fact, the only success Malik has with casino resort projects dates back to the 1990s when he worked with a partner, Tom Celani. On the other hand, Celani has gone on to greatly expand his interests in casino and resort projects across the U.S.

Where does Rep. Bart Stupak come up with this stuff?

An article published 6.25.08 in the Detroit News announcing the sound defeat of bills that would have paved the way for an expansion of off-reservation Indian casinos in Michigan reads:

"Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, said non-Indian homeowners at Charlotte Beach have seen their property values assessed at 90 percent below value because of the legal cloud over the land. "
Rep. Stupak should surface the basis for his comments. And he should report when it was that he received such "facts."

Could it have been during the brief period back in the late 1990s when the Bay Mills Indian Community filed court action on their so-called land claims? Because those claims were subsequently tossed out by both state and federal courts seemingly clearing the sky of any "clouds" over title to local land. And there seems to be no public record of concerned property owners since then. Documents filed for local real estate transactions don't support Stupak's representations either.

During congressional hearings in recent years on the matter there were never any Charlotte Beach landowners who testified. Nor did anyone representing any collection of property owners appear.

There has been no grassroots advocacy on behalf of the "agrieved" property owners in the 110-acre Charlotte Beach subdivision located on Michigan's eastern Upper Penninsula, with one exception: Detroit casino syndicator Michael Malik.

But in fact, Malik, the businessman who has a financial interest in advancing the settlement scheme has acquired and sold land in Charlotte Beach at a profit. What would have compelled a businessman like Malik to buy Charlotte Beach land at a price greater than what the previous owner had paid just several years prior; and then enabled Malik to turn around and sell it to someone else at a profit a short time later. Hhhmmmmm?

Shame on Stupak's staff, they should really do a better job arming their boss with facts they've gathered independently.

Rep. Stupak should get current and come clean about his representations and what he would imply are "facts." Relying soley on what casino syndicator Mike Malik and his battalion of attorneys and lobbyists have represented isn't smart. And certainly relying on a factoid someone tossed in his lap nearly ten years ago isn't smart either.

See the following posts for more details:

Port Huron casino scheme defeated in House of Representatives

A bill, H.R. 2176, that would have paved the way for Michael Malik and the Bay Mills Indian Community to build an off-reservation casino in Port Huron, Michigan was defeated soundly today in the U.S. House of Representatives (121 to 298).

Malik and the Bay Mills tribe have been trying to site an off-reservation casino in the greater Detroit area for more than a decade. Their plans have been backed by members of Detroit's high-profile Ilitch family. Mrs. Marian Ilitch owns Detroit's MotorCity Casino.

Malik had originally been a partner in MotorCity Casino but the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) refused to grant a gaming license to Malik. He was forced to divest himself of interests in MotorCity Casino before the gambling hall could open its doors. Malik and members of the Ilitch family have also partnered on other Indian casino schemes in California and New York. Although apparently not employed today by Ilitch Holdings, Inc., or any of its affiliates, Malik's business office is within the suite of executive offices at Ilitch Holdings in Detroit's Fox Theater Building.

Over the last decade, at least six other bills similar to H.R. 2176 have been introduced, but failed to win approvals, in Congress. This was the first time such a bill moved out of committee and was submitted to a vote of the full House.

House rules outlining today's floor debate on off-reservation casinos narrowly pass

An update posted at the Port Huron Times Herald regarding the status of today's anticipated vote on H.R. 2176 in the U.S House of Representatives:

The U.S. House has passed the rules outlining the debate about the casino bills [H.R. 2176 & H.R. 4115] up for vote today. The rules passed 207-204, and the legislation that would pave the way for casinos in Port Huron and Romulus is to be discussed this afternoon. Earlier reports on CSPAN that the legislation had been ratified were incorrect.

H.R. 2176 is a bill that paves the way for Michael Malik and the Bay Mills Indian Community to build an off-reservation Indian casino in Port Huron, Michigan. H.R. 4115 paves the way for the Sault Ste. Marie tribe (owners of Detroit's commercial Greektown Casino, a facility currently in bankruptcy) to build an off-reservation Indian casino in either Romulus or Flint, Michigan.

If passed in the House of Represenatives today the bills move to the Senate where the process starts all over. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) opposes the bill. Previously GOP presidential candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has opposed similar attempts by these tribes and their financial backers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Controversial schemes for off-reservation casinos in Michigan set for vote on House floor


Pelosi to grant vote on Indian gaming bill benefiting Rep. Dingell’s district

By Susan Crabtree

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is giving Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) a full House vote Wednesday on a nettlesome Indian gaming bill he’s been pushing for years as a surefire way to help out his cash-strapped district.

Dingell and his allies tried — albeit unsuccessfully — to insert it into various legislative vehicles despite an onslaught of complaints from high-profile opponents and others, such as convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who were stalwartly against congressional intervention in the issue.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), then the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs panel investigating Abramoff’s Indian gambling lobbying scandal, was infuriated by an effort to parachute the language into an early version of the 2005 highway bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), at Dingell’s urging, had placed the language deep within the massive transportation measure as early as 2003.

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), the House Natural Resources chairman, also objected. Both he, and especially McCain, were incensed that Dingell and Young were bypassing their committees of jurisdiction, as well as what they regarded as the normal Department of the Interior approval of Indian issues involving casino interests.

In fact, to make the Indian land settlement claim language even less noticeable, Young and Dingell collaborated on language that would make it appear transportation-related.

According to draft language offered by Dingell, the provisions would appropriate $100,000 for two traffic studies to be conducted in Port Huron and Romulus, Mich., in connection with “economic development” that may result from the resolution of two tribes’ land-settlement claims. Language embedded in the provision approved them and directed the secretary of the Interior to take the land into trust.

Critics, including powerful Detroit Democratic Reps. John Conyers Jr. and Carolyn Kilpatrick, sniffed out the language, and drove their point home by arguing that the deals the bills cut for the Bay Mills and Sault Ste. Marie tribes would side step the careful federal consideration that is usually required and set a dangerous Congressional precedent for other tribes around the country. Conyers and Kilpatrick are concerned that the new nearby casinos would draw customers and revenue away from Detroit while generating no tax revenue for the state because Indian gaming operations aren’t taxed.

Casino developers negotiated with the tribes and lawmakers, and the cities of Romulus, in Dingell’s district, and Port Huron, in Rep. Candice Miller’s (R-Mich.), which were selected because they were close enough to Detroit to attract tourists and visitors.

The lawmakers welcomed the economic lift the gaming business would bring to the sagging rust-belt economies of their districts and went to work to get congressional approval. That was nearly a decade ago.

Pombo was the first to object publicly, and McCain stepped in when he heard a return to the earlier shenanigans could take place during the closed-door conference on the 2005 transportation bill.

“I have been informed that other conferees may seek to include in the conference report a provision relating to Indian gaming in Michigan,” McCain wrote in a 2005 letter to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, which was overseeing the highway bill. “I have been informed that other conferees may seek to include in the conference report a provision relating to Indian gaming in Michigan. Such inclusion would not only circumvent the normal administrative process by which Indian gaming operations are assessed, but also circumvent the regular legislative process for considering exceptions to this process.”

“I appreciate your assistance in keeping such a non-germane issue out of the highway bill,” he continued.

Even though it’s three years later and Democrats now control the majorities in both chambers of Congress, Young — now the ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee — and Dingell are continuing to work together to push the measure over a final finish line. Mike Malik, a casino developer, recently hired Rick Alcalde, one of Young’s “A-List” lobbyists whom interns were told to put through to aides whenever he called, according to a memo crafted by interns.

Even if it passes, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), whose district is home to MGM and other Vegas money, strongly opposes the measure and could prevent it from ever making it to the floor.

MGM owns the largest casino in Detroit and its lobbying against the legislation has been fierce.

The Sault Ste. Marie tribe owns six casinos, one of which — Greektown — pulled in more than $341 million in 2007. The Bay Mills tribe also owns a casino, but it pulls in far less than the Sault Ste. Marie.

Earlier this week, House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Young, its ranking member, sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter promoting the measure and trying to poke holes in their critics’ arguments. Two governors specifically chose these sites to settle tribal claims that are more than a hundred years old, they wrote, and both Michigan senators also support it.

It’s difficult to figure out whether Pelosi’s allowance of a more transparent vote on the House floor will make a difference in whether the legislation passes. Both sides are whipping hard, although Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leaders are staying out of the hunt. The leadership also offered Conyers an amendment, which he could fashion as a poison bill to the underlying bill.

The issue is even dividing the usually solid Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Twenty-two CBC members had signed a previous letter Conyers had circulated opposing the legislation, while 11 members lent their names to a Dingell letter supporting it.

“We didn’t want there to be a perception that the CBC was of one mind on this,” said one Democratic aide.

Rep. John Conyers: No special deals for tribal casinos


No special deals for tribal casinos

I would like to add a few points concerning the upcoming vote in Congress on legalizing off-reservation casinos in Romulus and Port Huron ("Legislators, tribes divided over casinos; At issue: Romulus, Port Huron sites," June 22):

The validity of the land claims the bills purport to "settle" is questionable. The Bay Mills Indian Community filed its claim in federal and Michigan courts, and lost in both. The Sault Ste. Marie tribe has never bothered to pursue the established legal paths available for settling such claims.

The settlements are for land hundreds of miles from the tribes' reservations. Under the established procedures for considering permitting a tribe to build an off-reservation casino, distance from the reservation is a major factor weighing against approval, because the detriment to the tribe is more likely to outweigh any benefits.

Other important factors under the established procedure are the potential environmental problems and the potential detrimental effects on the surrounding community. The deals the bills cut for the Bay Mills and Sault Ste. Marie tribes would circumvent every part of the careful consideration that is usually required.

In 1993, the two tribes signed a compact with other Michigan tribes in which the signatories agreed to share revenues from any off-reservation gaming facility. The bills pending in Congress allow Bay Mills and Sault Ste. Marie to sidestep that compact.

Michigan voters approved a referendum in 2004 to limit the spread of casinos in their state. These bills would legalize new casinos in defiance of the express wishes of Michigan voters.

Opposition to the bills extends far beyond Detroit's local elected officials and its congressional representatives. It includes more than 60 Indian tribes in Michigan and across the country, all of whom have their own interest in being able to build casinos on their own lands, but who are unified in their opposition to this effort to circumvent the law and the free-for-all it could unleash.

The bills are also opposed by the NAACP, which is concerned that both these bills raise serious questions regarding procedural fairness, due process and respect for the role of states and local governments, as well the voters in our country.

The House Judiciary Committee, which shares jurisdiction over these bills with the Natural Resources Committee, voted unanimously to oppose them.

I believe that by passing the bills favoring the narrow interests of the Bay Mills and Sault Ste. Marie tribes and their private-sector allies, Congress would set a dangerous precedent for sidestepping the established review process for land claims and create a shortcut for the opening of casinos in any corner of the country. The tribes should be allowed to pursue their claims through the normal procedures, including approval by Michigan voters, but not by special deals in Lansing and Washington.

John Conyers Jr.
U.S. House Judiciary Committee

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lobbyist Rick Alcalde is at the center of earmark controversy involving Rep. Don Young

as reported 5.02.08 by Senior Editor Susan Crabtree of The Hill:

"The earmark has been tainted by controversy. Lobbyist Rick Alcalde represented both FGSU [Florida Gulf State University] as well as the company owned by Daniel Aronoff, a real estate developer who owned 4,000 acres along Coconut Road and helped organize a fundraiser for Young during one of his visits to the area in 2005. Both entities requested the Coconut Road earmark." ... "Young flew to FGSU for a town hall meeting in 2005 on a chartered plane owned by a Michigan company; the owner told the Naples Daily News that the Aronoffs were among his biggest clients." ... "After the town hall, Young went directly to a fundraiser at the Hyatt Coconut Point, which Aronoff helped organize." ... "Young said Mack invited him to the town hall meeting." ... "Young also posted documents and photos on his website in an effort to demonstrate that Mack was deeply involved in the earmark. In one letter in March 2006 to FGSU’s president, Mack supported it."
Detroit-based casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr. is another client of Alcalde's. Malik and his partner Mrs. Marian Ilitch are backing Indian casino proposals in California, Michigan and New York that have come or will come before the House Natural Resources Committee -- a committee once chaired by Rep. Young. Young is currently ranking member on the Natural Resources Committee.

Like Aronoff, Malik and Ilitch are from Michigan; have raised a substantial amount of money for Young; have flown Young around in private/chartered aircraft; and have Young's backing of a controversial off-reservation casino bill (H.R. 2176) that could bring millions to the Detroit casino syndicators.

Malik retained the services of Alcalde after Malik's previous lobbyist, Barbara Bonfiglio, came under intense scrutiny, left her firm abruptly (Williams & Jensen) and went into hiding. Alcalde and Bonfiglio had ties to Rep. Jerry Lewis (former chair of the House Appropriations Committee), former Rep. Richard Pombo, Tom DeLay, Young and others.

Shinnecock make claims of big economic windfall from proposed Long Island casino

From the Weblog of Legislator Wayne Horsley 5.14.08:

Shinnecock Indian Nation Claims Gaming Could Equal 10,200 Jobs, $838 Million in Local Employment, and $4.2 Billion in New Revenue

Hauppauge, New York – Today, Suffolk County Legislator Wayne R. Horsley announced the findings of a series of economic reports presented by the Shinnecock Indian Nation Gaming Authority and the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis to the Legislature’s Economic Development committee.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation reports revealed a staggering influx of new jobs and revenues would result to the local economy if a Native American gaming establishment were built on Long Island. The research demonstrated that 10, 200 in new jobs, $445 million in new local employment salaries, and over $2.5 billion in new revenue to local and state governments would result. Horsley noted that though a controversial topic in the past, such a proposal merits at least cursory examination as the local economy continues to soften.

“As the local economy continues to soften, we thought it would be worth while to examine the economic benefits of a gaming establishment here on Long Island. After all, we currently contribute to the staggering $234 million in estimated out-of-state gaming funds enjoyed by Connecticut State residents. So the question is why not take a hard look at what the benefits would be if we stopped riding the ferry and started spending our money here on Long Island. In our economy.”

The Shinnecock Nation detailed the employment impact of a sizable gaming establishment: 303 in wholesale and warehouse employment, 654 in retail trade employment, 113 new information service positions, 347 in finance and real estate employment, 369 in professional, scientific, and technical services employment, 453 in management and administrative support jobs, a whopping 820 new education, health care and social assistance positions, and 529 careers in arts, recreation and other services.

A grand total of 3, 817 in non-gaming employment would be produced as a secondary benefit of a Shinnecock Indian Nation gaming establishment. Local purchases made by the gaming establishment would also result in $581 million in new revenue to existing local businesses.

Horsley concluded by saying of the Shinnecock Indian Nation Proposal, “There is no shovel in the ground, and there remains many, many obstacles to such a proposal. So NIMBY’s needn’t be alarmed. However, as our sales tax revenue continues to soften and the local economy dwindles it seems only logical that our committee examine any proposal that may bring as much as $4.2 billion to the Long Island economy.”

Horsley's Official Press Release

This proposal by the Shinnecock Indian Nationa to build a casino in The Hamptons on New York's Long Island is backed by Detroit-based Gateway Casino Resorts -- an enterprise created by casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr. and Mrs. Marian Ilitch. She is the wife of Mike Ilitch who owns the Detroit Tigers. She owns Detroit's MotorCity Casino. Mike and Marian Ilitch are co-founders of Little Caesars Pizza and they also own the Detroit Red Wings.

The so-called findings of the economic analysis mentioned in Horsley's blog suggest the casino resort project being proposed by Gateway (Ilitch/Malik) and the Shinnecock tribe would be much larger than previously disclosed.

Report in Suffolk Life on news related to the study.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Michigan legislators, tribes divided over casinos in state backed by Ilitch

Excerpt from a 6.22.08 article, written by Todd Spangler and published in the Detroit News:

Michigan legislators, tribes divided over casinos in state

...Michael Malik, the developer who has been working with Bay Mills for years on the Port Huron project, is an associate of Marian Ilitch, who owns MotorCity Casino. The Port Huron project is clearly getting Ilitch family support, if not direct involvement -- since that wouldn't be allowed under Detroit's agreement with MotorCity.

Malik has hired Washington lobbyist Richard Alcalde, who also works for Daniel Aronoff, a Birmingham developer. Newspaper reports have linked Aronoff and Alcalde to the controversial $10-million Coconut Road earmark in Florida -- promoted by Alaska Republican Don Young -- which may benefit one of Aronoff's developments.

Young is the ranking Republican on the Natural Resources Committee and supported the casino bills when they were passed by the committee in February. Malik contributed $4,600 -- the limit -- to Young's re-election committee on March 31. (Full Story)

UAW other labor organizations back off-reservation casino scheme

A press release distributed 6.20.08 by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians reads:

In a letter sent today to members of the U.S. House, the UAW said it "strongly supports" H.R. 4115 and H.R. 2176 because the legislation would create jobs, keep gaming revenues in the United States, and provide a much needed economic boost to the communities where the new casinos would open. The UAW also noted that the bills are consistent with state law in Michigan and with past land claim settlements approved by Congress for other tribes.

"For all of the foregoing reasons, the UAW strongly supports H.R. 2176 and H.R. 4115," the union said in its letter. "We urge you to vote for these bills when they are considered by the House and to oppose any weakening amendments."

H.R. 2176
H.R. 4115

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

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