Friday, November 04, 2011

Citizens for a Better Way, a Group Fronting for Detroit Casino Syndicators in Hawaii, Establishes Digital Media Channels With Poor Result

Citizens for a Better Way is a so-called "grassroots" citizens group organized in Honolulu by lobbyist John Radcliffe, Liz Watanabe and others fronting for the interests of Detroit Casino Syndicators (Michael Malik and Marian Ilitch) who are taking renewed steps push legalized gambling in Hawaii. The Detroiters' goal: win approvals to develop and operate a Waikiki Casino.

Earlier this year, the professional lobbyists retained by the Detroiters, set up a website at, and a Facebook page to promote their agenda. In September they created a YouTube Channel, CFBWHawaii.
The website features:
  • Template to capture email addresses and contact details of interested parties, 
  • News room and archive, 
  • Three videos featuring the Detroiters' paid advocates and produced using a public affairs roundtable discussion format plus schedules detailing when those videos will air on local cable television channels, and 
  • Revised 2010 Impact Study prepared by Jacob Miklojcik, the same Michigan consultant who created their 2000 Impact Study.  

The newsroom features reprints of letter-to-the-editor and op-eds that have been published promoting the Detroiters' agenda.  It's interesting to note that among the authors are those who've been previously paid to represent Detroiters' interests.

CFBW on Facebook
The real difference between the 2000 and 2010 studies: the earlier study considered two Oahu casinos and the latest study considers one Oahu casino. Miklojcik produced similar studies in the 1990s that helped the Detroiters win voter approvals needed to legalize gambling and establish casinos in Detroit. The projections were optimistic and by all accounts implied that legalized gambling would be the jackpot that would help turn Detroit's circumstances around.

Detroit's Las Vegas-style casinos opened their doors more than ten years ago; and yet, in recent months Forbes ranked Detroit the #1 Most Dangerous City in America and workers at Marian Ilitch's MotorCity Casino were forced to start paying healthcare expenses or face job losses.  Detroit's casinos haven't been the blessing local taxpayers had hoped for.

CFBWHawaii on YouTube
The Facebook page was created in April, and the website promotes the Facebook page with a button/link, at this point it could be considered a failure with just 13 fans or users who "Like" the CFBW Facebook page and relatively little regular engagement among that handful of fans, with the exception of one male, Lawrence Ujimori.

On average, the videos posted to CFBW's YouTube channel are being watched on average, once daily, and that's likely by those who are paid to advocate for the Detroiters' interests or people who land their by chance.

As an exercise in organic grassroots social media, the so-called citizens group has failed to get any traction or attract an engaged constituency who would support their gambling agenda. Absent some significant change in circumstances, they'll be using paid advertising and manufacturing the appearances of "grassroots" support should Radcliffe's lobbying efforts require that during the 2012 legislative cycle.

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