Looting Hawaiian Gardens
Press Conference Statement by Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Jerry Goldstein
by Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Jerry Goldstein
Originally published 10 July 2000
in general release

Were here today to mark the release of the report of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on its investigation of Irving Moskowitzs dealings with Hawaiian Gardens, a tiny city on the southeastern edge of Los Angeles County.

The report was only released late last week, so we havent had time to absorb its details. But we have noted - and we hope youll note - that it confirms what weve said all along: that Hawaiian Gardens got the short end of the stick in its dealings with Moskowitz. He, a rich man, bamboozled a poor, unsophisticated city into financing the lions share - $12 Million - of his casino on Hawaiian Gardens best piece of developable land.

It is inconceivable, in light of this report, that state gambling officials could dream of issuing Moskowitz a license to operate the Casino. Indeed, Attorney General Bill Lockyer should immediately deny Moskowitz the license and then to help Hawaiian Gardens recover the $12 millions it plowed into the casino. The project has driven Hawaiian Gardens deeply into debt.

With Moskowitz removed from the scene, Hawaiian Gardens can award the casino license to its choice of straight-dealing bidders and start to recover its civic dignity. Money alone wont mend the lives of those whove suffered from opposing Moskowitz - or those, particularly young people, whove suffered from social neglect as Hawaiian Gardens government turned its focus from its duty to the casino.

The coalition is committed to working for that healing. We Jewish activists have been pained to see Moskowitz present himself as representing the Jewish people.

Ironically, it wasnt Moskowitzs casino dealings that brought us to Hawaiian Gardens. We got involved because of the enormous bingo Moskowitz runs through the Moskowitz Foundation, to comply with state laws limiting bingo to non-profit organizations. We objected to his use of the millions of dollars in bingo proceeds to fund the anti-democratic, anti-peace efforts of extremist Jewish settlers in Israel.

Then we learned that Moskowitz had been using bingo proceeds to get control of Hawaiian Gardens' government; and we met the victims of Moskowitzs "philanthropic tyranny." Having obtained control, Moskowitz stopped donating bingo profits to the city.

We remain concerned about the mostly immigrant bingo workers. The Moskowitz Foundation takes advantage of the law, intended to help legitimate charities, which requires bingo workers to be volunteers. The Moskowitz bingo workers toil only for tips. At least some of them do. We recently found, and sent the attorney general, a W-2 income tax form, showing that one bingo worker was paid, illegally, by Moskowitzs security company.

We hope JLAC will go on to investigate the bingo. But even better would be the attorney general acting immediately to revoke Moskowitzs bingo license. Then Hawaiian Gardens could bid out the lucrative game to an operator who promised to share the wealth with the struggling city.

Its too soon to know whether the report will spark any criminal prosecutions. The report calls for such investigations.there is no question that it is a stinging moral indictment of Moskowitzs reign of intimidation over Hawaiian Gardens.



READ THE OTHER STATEMENTS FROM THE JLAC PRESS CONFERENCE

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak | Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Jerry Goldstein | Walter McKinney | Mina K. Meyer | Sharon Raphael

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