Friday, July 04, 2008

Does Rep. Young's A-Team include detroit casino syndicator Mike Malik?

Rep. Don Young's leadership PAC is called "Midnight Sun." Young has raised as much as $200,000 in past election cycles through this little known PAC.

Many of Young's "A List-ers" traditionally use the Midnight Sun PAC to direct money to Young.

Daniel Aronoff, the Michigan developer at the center of Young's Coconut Road earmark scandal, has previously joined "A-List-ers" in contributing to Midnight Sun.

This time around Young has raised only $34,500 for Midnight Sun. That money has come from fourteen individuals including some of Young's "A-List-ers" (Randy DeLay, Jack Ferguson, C.J. Zane) and also Detroit casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr.

Malik contributed $3,000 to Midnight Sun PAC on 8.15.07.

On 3.31.08, Malik also gave maximum contributions totaling $4,600 to Young's political campaign committee. Joining Malik in making contributions on 3.31.08 were "A-List-ers" Richard Alcalde (and his associate Dan Feliz) and Jack Ferguson. Alcalde and Feliz are lobbyists for Malik.

Since 1999, Young has helped shepherd bills that would pave the way for Malik to build and manage off-reservation Indian casinos. One such bill, H.R. 2176, was heard and approved by the House Natural Resources Committee in February. Young is ranking member of the committee. Young took H.R. 2176 to the floor of the House and fought hard for its passage but his colleagues overwhelmingly rejected Malik's casino bill on 6.25.08.

Team Ilitch packaged Hawaii gambling initiative as "grassroots;" failed to disclose lobbying payments

Excerpted from a story, "Gambling Still Hot Issue," published 2.06.02 in the Honolulu Advertiser:

...Holomua Hawai'i, a group that includes investors in a Detroit casino called MotorCity, said the petition signatures had been collected in three weeks last April and represent growing grassroots support for gambling...

The major investors in the plan are Marian Illitch and Mike Malik, partners in the Detroit casino. Illitch's family owns the Detroit Tigers baseball team and Detroit Red Wings hockey team, as well as the Little Caesars pizza chain and other businesses. Malik is a developer and longtime consultant for Michigan casinos owned by Indian tribes.

In a video produced by Holomua Hawai'i, economists and others argue that gambling would create jobs, provide more government revenue, and revive the state's ailing tourism-dependent economy.

Holomua Hawai'i, named after the Hawaiian word for progress, is packaged as a grassroots effort, but it is in fact the creation of a Michigan public relations and political consulting firm hired by Illitch and Malik to promote the casino plan. The firm, Marketing Resource Group [owned by Tom Shields], spent nearly $11,000 lobbying lawmakers between January and April last year, records show.

But the company now risks a fine because it failed to file a lobbying expenditure report for the rest of the year, which was due at the state Ethics Commission on Thursday. Donna Halinski, a consultant with the firm, conceded that it had paid people to gather the petition...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Federal Earmark: Lenwood Road Grade Separation, Barstow, CA

NOTE: This project benefits the City of Barstow and provide corporate welfare for BNSF Railway and Wal-Mart which has plans to build a 1 million square foot Distribution Center located 1/4 of a mile from the project site.

2008 Federal Funding Request: $2.5 Million

2005 Federal Funding Appropriation: $1.2 Million

Estimated Total Project Cost: $19 Million

The project is to provide grade separation between Lenwood Road and the BN&SF rail tracks. Lenwood Road is one of the few road crossings over the Mojave River between Lenwood, just west of the City of Barstow and State Highway 58. It is utilized by a disproportionate volume of truck traffic due to this crossing being a “chokepoint” for travel.

This grade separation is part of the Alameda Rail Corridor (East) project that has examined the consequences of additional frequency and train length impacts on local communities.

Lenwood Road is a major truck traffic connection between State Highway 58 to the north of the Mojave River and the community of Lenwood to the south. State Highway 58 carries significant levels of truck traffic from other states via I-15 and Las Vegas and from I40 and points east. Main Street, otherwise known as National Trails Highway (NTH or Route 66) provides access to Barstow and Victorville.

Although there are very good highway linkages between the freeways and State Highway 58, Barstow is a logical stopping point for many truck drivers, either for changing drivers or for mandatory rest stops. Lenwood Road is a route of choice for these trucks.

Significant safety issues that will be mitigated upon completion can further support Lenwood Road grade separation project. The distance between the at-grade crossing and the traffic signal at Main Street is relatively short. Any signal delay, created by maintenance or by an accident may easily cause a “backup” of southbound traffic to the crossing. Although the crossing is “gated”, the potential for error in blocked traffic, leaving a trailer on the tracks with no room to maneuver is high. The reduction in traffic congestion and improvements to air quality may be quantified to demonstrate a high benefit cost ratio for this project.

Project Description: Provide grade separation between Lenwood Road and the BN&SF rail tracks. Funding is requested are to re-implement the environmental documentation through S&E (Plans, Specifications and Estimates).

Rick Alcade, Rep. Don Young's "A Team" Lobbyist

In April, the U.S. Senate asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a $10 million expenditure for a highway interchange in Florida [Coconut Road earmark] promoted by Alaska Rep. Don Young (R), the former chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Then U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to request a federal criminal investigation into the matter which “shifted $10 million from a road widening project in southwest Florida to a study of an interchange that promised to benefit one of Young’s campaign donors,” Michigan developer Daniel Aronoff. Around this time, Young collected $40,000 in contributions from a variety of interests tied to Aronoff, including lobbyist Richard "Rick" Alcade, who “worked on behalf of Aronoff’s real estate firm, the Landon Companies.”

In 2005, Rick Alcalde (Potomac Partners, D.C.) represented both Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and Aronoff’s Landon Companies. Landon Companies, a real estate company, has paid Alcalde’s firms (first Ogilvy Government Relations, then Potomac Partners) a combined $600,000 since 2003. FGCU has paid Potomac Partners $140,000 since 2005. Aronoff affiliates apparently fronted costs for Young including fundraising and travel aboard private planes.

In 2005, Alcade specifically lobbied Young on the highway bill.

Alcalde reports contributing $8,500 to Young's campaign committee. His clients have contributed much more.

Alcalde and his associate Daniel Feliz continue to represent Florida Gulf Coast University and Aronoff's interests in Washington, D.C.

Young's "An Intern's Survival Guide" includes Alcalde among a group of nine "A-Team" lobbyists who should get direct access to Young staffers whenever they call Young's office.

Rep. Don Young's "A Team"

A "Survival Guide" given to interns in the Capitol Hill offices of Rep. Don Young (R-AK) indicates these A List lobbyists should immediately be connected to any member of the staff they ask to speak with:

-- Rick Alcalde of Potomac Partners, whose clients included real estate developer Daniel Aronoff. Young's Coconut Road interchange earmark, now under federal investigation, would have given access to undeveloped land in Florida owned by Aronoff’s company.

-- Randy DeLay, a lobbyist for STAR Solutions, a coalition of road building, design and engineering firms.

-- Colin Chapman, Young's chief of staff until 2003, who lobbies for the American Trucking Assn. and Doyon Ltd., an Alaska Native corporation.

-- Billy Lee Evans, a former Democratic congressman from Georgia who lobbied against a proposed wind farm off Cape Cod — the same wind farm that Young tried to kill.

-- Jack Ferguson, long-time treasurer of Young's Midnight Sun Political Action Committee and a lobbyist for railroads, airlines, trucking companies among others.

-- Mike Henry, a former Young staffer who lobbies for transportation and energy companies and a liquor trade association.

-- Duncan Smith, a former Young aide who works for the big lobbying firm Blank Rome and has among his clients Native corporations and the Knik Arm Bridge & Toll Authority.

-- C.J. Zane, another former chief of staff for Young who also works for Blank Rome. Among his many clients are cruise lines, fishing interests and Native corporations.

-- Jay Dickey, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas, who represents construction interests and other companies in his home state.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Lobbyists and their clients doled out $17k to Rep. Young on March 31st

According to details available at, these individuals made contributions to Rep. Don Young on 3.31.08:

Richard Alcalde/Rick Alcalde (lobbyist) - $1,500
Scott Baugh (attorney and lobbyist, Platinum Advisors LLC) - $1,000
Jay H. Brown (Las Vegas attorney)- $2,000
Daniel Feliz/Dan Feliz (rookie lobbyist) - $500
Jack Ferguson (lobbyist and one time aide to Rep. Young & Sen. Stevens) - $1,000
Arthur Hackney (Young's AK political consultant; was paid $500k by Young's campaign in 2006) - $500
James W. Holton (attorney, former chair of the Florida Transportation Commission) - $2,300
Michael Malik (Detroit casino syndicator) - $4,600
Alexander Odishelidze (advocate) - $2,000
Jack Victory (lobbyist, one time aide to Rep. DeLay & Rep. Pombo) - $2,000

Acalde and Feliz are registered lobbyists for Malik -- together they shelled out $6,600. Malik and his partners (members of Detroit's Ilitch Family) have previously shelled out combined contributions ranking them among Young's top donors. So how are these other political contributors related?

The Hill reports that Alcalde is one of Rep. Young's "A List" lobbyists. The newspaper indicates Young is in the middle of the Rep. Young's notorious "Coconut Road" earmark. The Senate voted to direct the Justice Department to initiate an investigation of the matter.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Great Lakes residents urged to fight plans for Harsens Island marina development


Great Lakes residents must fight island plan

On June 24, there was a public hearing held at Algonac High School for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on a "proposed" $170 million marina cluster housing development on Harsens Island. This development requires an "approved" marine operating permit as it involves "vast dredging" into the St. Clair River and 370 acres, along with removal of acres of protected wetlands and the removal/rerouting of a major county road, North Channel Drive.

The Clay Township Planning Commission already denied the plan, along with the community. The developers are appealing their case in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Without a doubt, this development will cause irreparable damage to the ecosystem of our Great Lakes Region. This small community has been fighting alone for nearly 20 years to save our environment. Everyone who lives in the Great Lakes Region should be concerned about it.

The public should be aware of who is financially backing and would gain the most for this proposed development. I'm sure Michael Malik, who has worked closely on casino developments with Detroit businesswoman Marian Ilitch, would encourage everyone to visit the DEQ Web site and view their proposed development permit No. 07-74-0161.

The DEQ is open to public statement and e-mails on this development until July 4. The DEQ Web site is Type in the permit number to view the Grande Pointe Development LLC and Lucky 7 Development LLC plans. Send e-mails to

Harsens Island, June 27

Sunday, June 29, 2008

C-SPAN archived debate on bill for Michigan casinos which failed to win passage in U.S. House

An archive of video segments and corresponding transcripts that record the 6.25.08 floor debate in the U.S. House of Represenatives relative to H.R. 2176 are posted at C-SPAN's Congressional Chronicle.

Debate begins with introductory comments by Nick Rahall (D-WV), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee.

C-SPAN provides video recordings of the primary arguments delivered by:

Don Young (R-AK)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Steve King (R-IA)
Shelley Berkley (D-NV)
Dale Kildee (D-MI)
Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI)
John Dingell (D-MI)
Charles Dent (R-PA)
Bart Stupak (D-MI)
Candice Miller (R-MI)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)

Following floor debate, a formal vote of the full House of Representatives was ordered and H.R. 2176 failed passage by a significant margin, more than 2-to-1 (Yeas - 121: Nays - 298).

H.R. 2176 was intended to pave the way for two Michigan Indian tribes (Bay Mills Indian Community and Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) to build casinos in the greater Detroit area (Port Huron and Romulus or Flint respectively).
Posted 6.26.08 by blogger Rep. Charlie Dent (R - PA 15th) at The Hill's Congress Blog:

Tribal Casino Expansion Only About Money

Tribal casino expansion is out of control. This week we voted on a bill, HR 2176, that would create Indian governmental entities—tribal casinos—on lands that are more than 300 miles from the homelands of these tribes. Creating a far-flung string of casinos on lands with no connection to a tribe’s heritage was not the intent of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

Establishing these off-reservation casinos has absolutely nothing to do with the preservation of Indian culture. It is about money, pure and simple. Twenty years ago, before IGRA, there were no tribal casinos in this country. Now there are more than 400, and tribal gambling is currently a $19 billion a year business.

That is why I have introduced HR 2562, the Limitation of Tribal Gambling to Existing Tribal Lands Act of 2007, which would preclude new casino development on lands that are taken into trust as part of a settlement of a land claim. That bill was inspired by the efforts of a tribe located more than 900 miles from Pennsylvania to force home- and business owners in my District off their properties just so yet another tribal casino could be built.

IGRA was designed so that Indian tribes could be self-sustaining, not so that business interests could create gambling empires. It’s time to protect property rights and rein in this abuse.

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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

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