Originally published 24 March 1999
in Long Beach Press-Telegram
Dispute: City Attorney departs saying state law was violated in setting up of gambling enterprise.
GARDENS - Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said Wednesday he wants
to review Hawaiian Gardens' card-club development plan to determine whether
state law restrictions on public-fund use is being ignored.
Redevelopment Agency has been involved with Irving Moskowitz for the past
few years in an effort to build a multimillion dollar card club - and the
city's tab has reached about the halfway mark of a potential $20 million
bill, according to former City Attorney Julia Sylva.
That could spell
problems for the city, according to Sylva, contending that state law - specifically,
Assembly Bill 2063, known as the Isenberg Bill - prohibits a redevelopment
agency from providing direct assistance to a gambling enterprise.
a telephone interview, Lowenthal said he's still gathering information on
the card-club issue to determine if the state should take action. "I'm going
to be very interested in this," said the chairman of the Assembly's Housing
and Community Development Committee.
Lowenthal added that should the
material appear to merit action, he will have the issue reviewed by the state
Attorney General's office. City records show that the Isenberg Bill was one
of the issues Moskowitz attorney Beryl Weiner and Sylva sparred over last
Sylva indicated in an Oct. 21 letter to Weiner that while state
law does not invalidate development contracts in place prior to April 1,
1996, the city's Redevelopment Agency "did not specifically have a contract
or agreement" before that time.
Moskowitz's original development agreement
was for a major food and drug retail development, and later amended for a
commercial development. However, Sylva emphasized in the Oct. 21 letter that
the city's agreement did not specify a card club until May 27, 1997. Weiner
said the city residents' two-thirds vote of approval on Nov. 21, 1995 on
a gambling ordinance, known as Measure A, makes the development agreement
He labeled Sylva's move as a personal vendetta against Moskowitz. "It has nothing to do with the law," the attorney added.
council members are aware of the potential legal problem, Sylva said, adding
that the issue had been brought up repeatedly, formally and informally.
Administrator Anthony Lopez said copies of the Oct. 21 letter were given
to the council, but said no action was taken. He added that the issue needs
to be researched by Sylva's replacement.
Deputy Attorney General Ron
Diedrich, of the state Department of Justice's Division of Gaming Control,
said that Isenberg Bill issues are reviewed when processing a license application.
"That would be taken into consideration on whether a gambling license would be issued," he said.
Copyright 1999, Long Beach Press-Telegram For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.