Looting Hawaiian Gardens
Casino Hearing Set
by Joe Segura, Staff Writer
Originally published 25 August 2000
in Long Beach Press-Telegram

HAWAIIAN GARDENS The Legislature's Joint Legislative Audit Committee will hold an evidence-gathering hearing Sept. 18 into Hawaiian Gardens' financial dealings with the city's card casino.

Committee Chairman Scott Wildman, D-Glendale, said the committee might not only dig into the city's dealings with casino owner Irving Moskowitz, but might also examine a recent bond deal. "That will be an issue I will like to touch on during the meeting on the 18th," Wildman said Wednesday.

Mayor Leonard Chaidez said City Hall's welcome mat will not be out on that date.

"We think it would be a futile attempt to have a hearing here," he said.

Wildman's staff issued a report in July asserting that the casino appeared to be financed illegally with public redevelopment money. The report suggested Moskowitz return $12 million to the city, and called on the state attorney general to help the city recover the money.

Chaidez and city administrators spent Monday and Tuesday in Sacramento attempting to persuade committee members that the Wildman staff report didn't merit continued consideration. They said the report was biased, inaccurate and incomplete, since a number of people involved in the project were not interviewed.

"It showed only one side of the argument," the mayor said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, committee members were told the report had prompted investors to raise concerns about the city's issuance of $4.7 million in bonds, which had been authorized by the city's redevelopment agency in May. The agency used the money to relocate businesses from the casino site on Carson Street and for legal costs for Moskowitz attorney Beryl Weiner, who also represented the redevelopment agency on eminent domain issues.

Chaidez said only the committee chairman can call for additional work on the investigation, and noted that Wildman's tenure in the role ends Sept. 1. However, Wildman countered that he'll continue the probe as a member of the committee.

The new committee chairman, elected Tuesday, will be Assemblyman Fred Keeley, D-Boulder Creek, who was a key member of the Assembly Insurance Committee that focused on the controversial practices of former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush.

Copyright 2000, Long Beach Press-Telegram. For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

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