Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Don't be Fooled by Silence: Clan Ilitch likely Supports (Perhaps Funding) New International Trade Crossing (NITC) Effort

That Tom Shields is out front on behalf of, and viciously attacking opponents of, the proposed New International Trade Crossing (NITC) and that Mike Malik, Mike & Marian Ilitch, and the Ilitch brands are conspicuously absent is not insignificant. They are either very involved behind the scenes helping to bankroll the efforts to approve NITC or they're asserting to Matty Moroun and the people at Ambassador Bridge that they're not involved (albeit with fingers crossed behind their backs) while their agent Shields' is an attack dog for the pro-NITC cause.

NITC:  Which Way Ilitch?
Bridge Battle Posts at HuffingtonPost.com

Tom Shields is the president of Lansing, Michigan-based Marketing Resource Group.  A large segment of his business is earned representing affiliates/partners of Michael J. Malik, Sr., and/or Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian Ilitch (Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesar's pizza, MotorCity Casino, etc.).

If one sees Shields' name associated with any business coalition, political committee or a client that's not one of the premium brands mentioned above, odds are still pretty good that he's there because Malik and the Ilitches want him to be.  When Shields refuses to reveal to a reporter who it is that's bankrolling a coalition or committee he's pimping for, odds are good Malik & the Ilitches are funding all or part of the effort.  And even if Malik or the Ilitches don't have any direct interest in the coalition, political committee or client Shields claims to be representing, you can bet he has their blessing; otherwise, he wouldn't take the assignment.

So with that in mind, consider that Shields' is the spokesman for a coalition baking the New International Trade Crossing (a proposed second bridge connecting Detroit with Windsor, Canada).  That bridge is at the center of a multi-million dollar, no holds barred, war raging in Michigan and beyond. (Read more at Huffington Post).

Typically, Shields' has refused to disclose who is funding the political, lobbying and advertising battles for the pro-NITC group although he's published a list of more than 100 individuals and organizations that "endorse" NITC. If those funding his coalition are on that list, why wouldn't he just point to that list? Take a look at that list.  Then consider who's not on the list but would have interests in such an international connection.

You'll note that Michael Malik, Mike & Marian Ilitch, Christopher Ilitch, plus any of their venerable brands are conspicuously absent from the list; as are any of Detroit's three commercial gambling halls including the Las Vegas-owned MGM Grand Detroit.  Yet, Shields is the mouthpiece for the "coaltion" backing the proposed government funded bridge.  Hmmmm....

If Ilitch or gambling money isn't backing the pro-NITC group, you can bet that Shields has their blessing.  Otherwise he'd have turned down the role.

If Ilitch and company brands or Las Vegas gambling interests are bankrolling the pro-NITC effort, there are many reasons political, marketing, etc. that they would want to keep that on the down low. That they've "secretly" funded Shields' campaigns and coalitions previously shouldn't surprise anyone that they could likely be bankrolling this pro-NITC effort now.

But perhaps they're not providing funding, or publicly endorsing but simply loaning Shields out to the cause.  Maybe there's a conflict of interest on their part.

Consider that TVT has previously linked Michael Malik (and the Ilitches) with Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of Detroit's existing Ambassador International Bridge -- the decades old privately owned toll-bridge. And it's Moroun, along with the Koch brothers and others who are funding the multi-million dollar battle against the proposed NITC which would be built in large part with government funding.

Among other things, Moroun and Michael Malik have been Grosse Pointe neighbors.  Malik owns property across Lake St. Clair on Harsens Island. Malik had dusted off and re-introduced development plans for Harsens Island a year or two ago that included a large man-made lagoon (marina) with access to the North Channel plus several hundred residential units (single family estate lots, attached garden homes and high-rise condominiums) surrounding the lagoon.  The Ilitch's daughter Denise and her ex-husband originally owned the Harsens Island property and coincidentally, or maybe not, Moroun was also talking about a new Harsens Island bridge at the same time.

That Tom Shields would be playing such a high-profile role in such a contentious and expensive battle over the NITC, suggests he's doing it with the Malik/Ilitch blessing or even more so, at their request.

Regardless, someone should be asking these obvious questions.

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Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? Forbes.com 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 newsday.com 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire RGTonline.com 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners MichiganDaily.com 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute detnews.com 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller freep.com 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit rgtonline.com 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged freep.com 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer desertdispatch.com 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project LasVegasSun.com 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow signonSanDiego.com 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles detnews.com 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 Michigan.gov 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino detnews.com 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch detnews.com 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests gamblingmagazine.com 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E detnews.com 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 detnews.com 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... crainsdetroit.com 03.17.97

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