Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Governor Granholm and Michigan Legislators Sign Away Workers' Rights by approving "Compact" for new casino in West Michigan

Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm signs onto another "Compact" with the Gun Lake Band which is fronting for the Kansas City mob and the Fertitta family empire of Station Casinos; Granholm signs away workers' rights without batting one of her hollywood eyelashes and without one iota of concern for human rights.

Michigan State Representative Barbara Farrah is leading the legislative drive to approve this new casino venture that has been distorted in every aspect by local media... which has pushed the lie that jobs will be paying on average--- $40,000.00 a year.

Representative Farrah has long been known to be closely associated with organized crime figures, big-business, and the insurance industry so it comes as no surprise to anyone that she is now the voice of the Kansas City mob in this new casino venture which will, again, see profits placed before the rights of working people.

Below is an article which appeared in the Grand Rapids Press, historically a right-wing, racist, anti-labor, Republican rag which has never failed to come to the defense of employers and the military-financial-industrial complex... and now in defense of all the corruption associated with casino capitalism.

It is no coincidence the Fertitta family has bank-rolled some of the most corrupt and reactionary politicians in this country.

Not only is this casino venture where the State of Michigan is an actual partner a threat to workers' rights; this compact will also have very detrimental effects on democracy as this dirty money will be used to finance the political campaigns of politicians who are only concerned about money and corporate profits and what they can get from the funds that will be "skimmed" by the "silent partners" in this corrupt deal, cheating both the Gun Lake Band members and the State of Michigan from needed revenues.

The Fertitta Family has a long history of being partnered with those involved in "skimming" casino funds and the murderous and corrupt dealings associated with "skimming" casinos.

The Kalamazoo Michigan Chamber of Commerce has pushed for this casino knowing that low wages paid to these more than 1,800 casino workers will push wages down in the area. It is very interesting the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce has issued a statement claiming widespread public support for this casino with the full and complete knowledge the public has not received the real facts concerning: 1.] Wages; 2.] Working conditions; 3.] exactly who the Gun Lake Band is fronting for.

Click on the link below to see the statement from the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce and note for yourself what facts are omitted:


The Anderson Economic Group also did a study for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce which does not use actual wages which will be paid, nor make any reference or comment concerning the impact of 1,800 workers employed in a smoke-filled work place:


I find it very interesting that no concern has been demonstrated for the rights of, and conditions of employment, by the more than 1,800 workers who will be employed in this casino.

Even the religious community, social justice organizations, and both the Michigan AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations and their affiliates have also remained silent at a time they could have the greatest impact.

The connections between organized crime and the Teamsters Union with previous ventures of the Fertitta Family might provide a clue as to "why?"

It is also interesting to note that the Michigan Building and Construction trades unions have allowed their members to be employed in other casino construction projects in Michigan... including those now underway in Petoskey and Escanaba even though the union members who are employed on these construction projects rely upon the general contractors to enforce health and safety regulations... something unheard of. Also, business agents are not allowed on the construction sites to enforce contracts. There is a similarity in these construction jobs where workers are paying union dues but not getting the full protections of collective bargained agreements which appear to be remarkably similar to the way organized crime "skims" casino profits.

WE can conclude that the way these "Compacts" are approved not only denies casino workers their rights, but, enables the political process to be corrupted, construction workers placed at risk, and the ripping off of Michigan tax-payers.

I challenge anyone to demonstrate where this present "Compact" with the Gun Lake Band fronting for the Fertitta Family is in the best interest of working people, the local community, or, the State of Michigan... in fact, when all facts are considered this "Compact' is a bad deal for workers, a bad deal for the local community, and a bad deal for the State of Michigan; which leads one to wonder why in the world would Governor Granholm sign such a bad deal and what would make legislators give this "Compact" their stamp of approval?

There is only one conclusion: Dirty money has created a dirty deal; and, if dirty money is demonstrating its corrupt influence at this early stage of the project, what might we anticipate from this "Compact" in the years to come? A question no one seems to want to address or answer.

Native American newspapers have also refused to address the issues of workers rights and working conditions in these casinos. They also are the recipients of casino advertising revenues, as is evidenced from this article which concerns itself with the logo for the Gun Lake Casino; but has never considered the issue of workers' rights or working conditions:


Note: My response to the Grand Rapids Press article which is riddled with lie after lie was sent to Michigan State Representatives and others... at the bottom I provide the complete list. Not one single member of the Michigan Legislature has raised any question of workers' rights and the conditions under which working people will be employed in this casino.

Note: Communications between myself and the Governor's legal counsel in all of this will be provided upon request; these communications have already been made available to the Michigan AFL-CIO and the editor of the Grand Valley Labor News as well as the editor of the Grand Rapids Press. All members of the Michigan Legislature have received these communications.

Barbara Farrah has refused to acknowledge the issue of workers' rights; human rights apply to the rights of working people, including casino workers.

My response to the Grand Rapids Press article published in its entirety.

Note: The Grand Rapids Press refused to publish my response even though it was sent to both Mr. Knape and Grand Rapids Press Editor, Mr. Lloyd.

Mr. Knape,

Interesting how you, as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Press and your Republican editor, continue to peddle the lie of $40,000.00 a year jobs in order to use the plight of unemployed people to suck them in on this casino venture in Gun Lake. But, your newspaper stands to make big money in advertising revenues off this casino, right? So, I guess we can’t expect the most objective reporting from you when millions of dollars in advertising revenue and corporate profits are at stake.

I assume you are related to the Knape family which has long exploited working people by paying poverty wages in West Michigan. Your editor sure knows who to assign a story like this to.

You show me a casino any place in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Iowa where casino workers make that kind of money “on average.” Why don’t you publish the facts; list all the employment positions that will be open and what the positions will pay? Come on Mr. Knape, what is preventing you from doing this? Absolutely nothing; except you don’t want people to know the truth--- especially not those people who are unemployed and you have them all worked up looking forward to $40,000.00 a year jobs. I suppose the next thing you are going to tell us is that this pay will be contingent on hard work and loyalty to management.

You probably don’t even make 40k a year peddling these lies for the rag you work for.

You completely evade the issue surrounding the lack of very basic labor and human rights in these casinos; never bothering to even question or raise this issue with band officials or state public officials in spite of me having sent to you and the Grand Rapids Press the exchanges between myself and the Governor’s legal counsel on this matter--- John Wernet.

You completely evade the health issue of so many workers employed in what will be a smoke-filled casino. Wait until these workers start dropping of heart, lung, and cancers at a rate of more than 8 to one in the general population and these people have to contend with home foreclosures to pay their medical bills after they get fired for not showing up for work regularly due to these second-hand smoke related illnesses.

Jobs: with no security at poverty wages in a smoke-filled casino operation… not your lies of $40,000.00 a year jobs is what awaits those who will be working in this Gun Lake Casino.

I challenge you to show me the pay stubs and W-2 forms along with the payroll records of one single casino in the State of Michigan where the average pay for hourly employees in these casinos is $40,000.00 a year. This is a brazen and outright lie you are peddling which should cause any thinking person to question the truthfulness of anything they read in your Republican rag which passes itself off as a “newspaper.”

When discussing the lives of some 1,800 workers who will be employed in this casino, who, even according to Mr. John Wermet--- Governor Granholm’s legal counsel on this matter--- employees will have not one single right in the workplace. Under this circumstance your reporting becomes even more atrocious.

I spent three weeks meeting with people in the area where this casino is going to be built… and when I showed the people the correspondence I had with Mr. Wermet, they all said they felt like they were being played for suckers and fools. But, that is what the casino industry is all about, isn’t it… playing everyone from the tax-payers to the patrons and employees for suckers and fools.

I intend to post this on my blog for all to see, along with the list of people, unions, and organizations this has been sent to listed in the “Cc.”

Mr. Knape, all I can say is: Shame on your lack of integrity, morals, and ethics in reporting.

Perhaps you should ask these Gun Lake tribal officials fronting for the mobsters who will really be operating this casino if they would like to sit down with me and negotiate a contract covering all the hourly employees since they are in such a generous mood; and, allow the employees to vote on the contract before the casino opens as a test of what kind of voice at work the employees will have and what kind of democracy there will be in this fabulous place of employment.

Grand Rapids Press article:

Gun Lake casino clears hurdle with House

Friday, July 20, 2007

By Chris Knape

The Grand Rapids Press

LANSING -- The state House appears game for a Wayland casino.

Members of the House, led by Rep. Barbara Farrah, D-Southgate, introduced a resolution Thursday that could lead to legislative approval of a Wayland Township casino.

The resolution essentially would give the House's blessing to a revenue-sharing compact agreed to by the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi and Gov. Jennifer Granholm in March.

With 57 co-sponsors and a majority of members present needed for passage, the resolution has more than enough support to win approval in the 110-member House. However, no area House members have signed on to support it.

Farrah said the resolution is not a pro-gaming measure.

"We don't decide if there is going to be gaming or not," she said. "We need to do the compact for the state of Michigan to make sure we have the revenue and regulation."

The proposed compact calls for the tribe to pay 8 percent of the take from electronic games such as slot machines to the state for its first $150 million in gross revenue. The share scales up to 10 percent if the gross exceeds $150 million, and to 12 percent if the gross is more than $300 million.

In exchange, the tribe receives the exclusive right to operate a casino within a nine-county region surrounding it. An exception in the compact would allow for a different tribe's first casino to be built in the nine-county region while preserving revenue-sharing payments.

It's unclear when the resolution might make it to the House floor. Farrah is chairwoman of the House committee where the resolution is likely to be referred.

The state Senate, which has yet to introduce such a resolution, would need to approve a similar one.

The Legislature's approval of the compact is one of the last hurdles that must be cleared by the tribe before it goes ahead with what could be a $200 million a casino off the Bradley exit of U.S. 131 in Allegan County.

The facility is expected to employ 1,800 people, with average compensation of $40,000 a year, according to the tribe.

The Gun Lake Band is the only one of Michigan's 12 federally recognized tribes not to have a gaming compact with the state.

"After six years of playing by the rules, the tribe is still asking for the same thing -- fairness," said John Shagonaby, vice chairman of the Gun Lake tribe. "The compact will also ensure thousands of good-paying jobs and millions of dollars in new revenue for local and state government, as well as the business community."

On July 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., is expected to receive the final written documents in a suit by casino opponents that seeks to prevent having land for the casino put into trust as the Gun Lake Band's reservation. Oral arguments and a final ruling on the case could come later this year or early next year.

Two similar suits involving casinos in New Buffalo and near Battle Creek have failed. The Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi's casino in New Buffalo is slated to open in August. Work on the Huron Band's casino near Battle Creek is expected to get under way soon.

Farrah said there was no point in waiting for the case -- which she believes the tribe will win -- to be decided before introducing the resolution.

"The process is moving. We need to move with the process," she said.

Send e-mail to the author: cknape@grpress.com

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing,

Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk


The following have received all information on this "Compact," the names and e-mail addresses pretty much explain who each party is--- if you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

'cknape@grpress.com'; 'miaflcio@voyager.net'; 'gdubovich@usw.org'

'GVLNpaper@aol.com'; 'editor@indiancountry.com'; 'mnaflcio@qwest.net'; 'mlloyd@grpress.com'; 'GVLNpaper@aol.com'; 'pulse@grpress.com'; 'localnews@grpress.com'; 'mradigan@grpress.com'; 'creister@grpress.com'; 'pshellenbarger@grpress.com'; 'bvanochten@grpess.com'; 'jbauer@grpress.com'; 'ncrawley@grpress.com'; 'chair@pdwm.org'; 'lamarlemmonsjr@house.mi.gov'; 'jackbrandenburg@house.mi.gov'; 'edclemente@house.mi.gov'; 'bertjohnson@house.mi.gov'; 'andycoulouris@house.mi.gov'; 'edwardgaffney@house.mi.gov'; 'tomcasperson@house.mi.gov'; 'jeffmayes@house.mi.gov'; 'fredmiller@house.mi.gov'; 'tompearce@house.mi.gov'; 'timmelton@house.mi.gov'; 'terrybrown@house.mi.gov'; 'andymeisner@house.mi.gov'; 'stevenlindberg@house.mi.gov'; 'mikenofs@house.mi.gov'; 'barbbyrum@house.mi.gov'; 'virgilsmith@house.mi.gov'; 'franamos@house.mi.gov'; 'kimmeltzer@house.mi.gov'; 'representativesak@house.mi.gov'; 'stevetobocman@house.mi.gov'; 'davidpalsrok@house.mi.gov'; 'joanbauer@house.mi.gov'; 'craigderoche@house.mi.gov'; 'pambyrnes@house.mi.gov'; 'kevinelsenheimer@house.mi.gov'; 'billhuizenga@house.mi.gov'; 'rickshaffer@house.mi.gov'; 'matthewgillard@house.mi.gov'; 'judyemmons@house.mi.gov'; 'johnespinoza@house.mi.gov'; 'fultonsheen@house.mi.gov'; 'kennethhorn@house.mi.gov'; 'arlanbmeekhof@house.mi.gov'; 'tonyaschuitmaker@house.mi.gov'; 'glennsteil@house.mi.gov'; 'richardball@house.mi.gov'; 'briancalley@house.mi.gov'; 'repbrianpalmer@house.mi.gov'; 'marshacheeks@house.mi.gov'; 'barbarafarrah@house.mi.gov'; 'rephildenbrand@house.mi.gov'; 'ginopolidori@house.mi.gov'; 'bobconstan@house.mi.gov'; 'mikelahti@house.mi.gov'; 'hoon-yunghopgood@house.mi.gov'; 'rickjones@house.mi.gov'; 'frankaccavitti@house.mi.gov'; 'kathleenlaw@house.mi.gov'; 'andydillon@house.mi.gov'; 'colemanayoungii@house.mi.gov'; 'johnproos@house.mi.gov'; 'shanellejackson@house.mi.gov'; 'dspade@house.mi.gov'; 'darwinbooher@house.mi.gov'; 'howardwalker@house.mi.gov'; 'almasmith@house.mi.gov'; 'stevebieda@house.mi.gov'; 'johngarfield@house.mi.gov'; 'jackhoogendyk@house.mi.gov'; 'mikesimpson@house.mi.gov'; 'bettiecookscott@house.mi.gov'; 'paulopsommer@house.mi.gov'; 'davidrobertson@house.mi.gov'; 'martyknollenberg@house.mi.gov'; 'chrisward@house.mi.gov'; 'robertjones@house.mi.gov'; 'markmeadows@house.mi.gov'; 'lorencewenke@house.mi.gov'; 'paulcondino@house.mi.gov'; 'billcaul@house.mi.gov'; 'phillippavlov@house.mi.gov'; 'johnmoolenaar@house.mi.gov'; 'kathyangerer@house.mi.gov'; 'aldovagnozzi@house.mi.gov'; 'brucecaswell@house.mi.gov'; 'martingriffin@house.mi.gov'; 'nealnitz@house.mi.gov'; 'jimmarleau@house.mi.gov'; 'davidlaw@house.mi.gov'; 'johnstahl@house.mi.gov'; 'lisawojno@house.mi.gov'; 'georgecushingberry@house.mi.gov'; 'kevingreen@house.mi.gov'; 'phillajoy@house.mi.gov'; 'richardleblanc@house.mi.gov'; 'rebekahwarren@house.mi.gov'; 'johnstakoe@house.mi.gov'; 'KateEbli@house.mi.gov'; 'garymcdowell@house.mi.gov'; 'dougbennett@house.mi.gov'; 'robertdean@house.mi.gov'; 'maryvalentine@house.mi.gov'; 'morrishood3rd@house.mi.gov'; 'marccorriveau@house.mi.gov'; 'joelsheltrown@house.mi.gov'; 'mariedonigan@house.mi.gov'; 'tedhammon@house.mi.gov'; 'johnpastor@house.mi.gov'; 'gabeleland@house.mi.gov'; 'goeffhansen@house.mi.gov'; 'leegonzales@house.mi.gov'; 'richardhammel@house.mi.gov'; 'toryrocca@house.mi.gov'; 'chuckmoss@house.mi.gov'; 'brendaclack@house.mi.gov'; 'joehune@house.mi.gov'; 'daveagema@house.mi.gov'; 'danielacciavatti@house.mi.gov'; 'timmoore@house.mi.gov'; 'swilliams@metrodetroitaflcio.org'; 'divers@metrodetroitaflcio.org'; 'thill@metrodetroitaflcio.org'; 'info@mostimportantdecade.com'

This is another Associated Press article announcing that the House Committee has approved this "Compact." Please note: no comments on this article were allowed.

House starts clearing the way for Gun Lake casino

Posted by The Associated Press July 24, 2007 14:49PM

Categories: Breaking News

LANSING (AP) -- A deal letting an American Indian casino open in southwestern Michigan won initial backing Tuesday in the Legislature.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee voted 6-0 to approve a compact negotiated between Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake tribe. Two lawmakers passed instead of voting yes or no.

Under the compact, the state would receive 8 percent of the casino's take from slot machines for the first $150 million, 10 percent between $150 million and $300 million and 12 percent in excess of $300 million.

The tribe plans to build a casino in Allegan County's Wayland Township, about 20 miles south of Grand Rapids. It would employ about 1,800 people and have about 2,500 electronic gambling machines and 80 gaming tables.

Supporters of the compact, which needs legislative approval, stressed it would create jobs and said it's better for state government than existing compacts because the Gun Lake tribe would have to make revenue-sharing payments unless a non-tribal casino opens within a surrounding nine-county area.

Other tribes with casinos -- including the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which runs one of the nation's largest tribal casinos in Mount Pleasant -- stopped making payments when Detroit casinos opened in the late 1990s. The casinos were considered a violation of their deals with the state because the compacts applied to new casino competition coming from anywhere in the state, not just threats in the area where one tribal casino was located.

Opponents of the compact said the casino would be an economic drain, unfairly competing with existing entertainment venues, increasing crime and harming families.

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The Associated Press has also refused to acknowledge the problems associated with this "Compact." So, add to the other problems associated with the lack of workers' rights and what I have previously cited, the problem of fairness in the media covering this issue.


This how the vote went in the Regulatory Reform Committee of the Michigan House Chaired by Democrat Barbara Farrah who has been pushing this casino project without any concern for the rights of working people (the Democrats are the majority):

The votes you requested are below. The minutes are not up online yet but should be available later today. They will be located at


to report HR 158 with recommendation.


YEAS: Reps. Farrah, Virgil Smith, Wojno, Palsrok, Gaffney, Ward. (6/9)

NAYS: None. (0/9)

PASS: Reps. Scott, Marleau. (2/9)

to report HCR 39 with recommendation.


YEAS: Reps. Farrah, Virgil Smith, Wojno, Palsrok, Gaffney, Ward. (6/9)

NAYS: None. (0/9)

PASS: Reps. Scott, Marleau. (2/9)

Rep. Meadows was absent

For further commentary see: