Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem
Letters to the Editor
May 20, 2001
I take exception to Charles Greenberg's article on legislation to restrict bingo operations (Sunday Forum, May 13). We know there is a segment of the Jewish community that is against Dr. Irving Moskowitz in any endeavor because of his contributions to certain causes in Israel. Others have complained because he would no longer fund projects in which they could make money.
Each one of these groups that is complaining about Dr. Moskowitz's operations has its own agenda. It is not necessarily altruistic and Mr. Greenberg is no exception.
Mr. Greenberg might do well to pay attention to his own city of Long Beach. You know, the one that prides itself in its diversity, the same city that installed what we in Hawaiian Gardens refer to as the gates of hate on Pioneer Boulevard at the entrance to El Dorado. The gates were intended to keep residents from Hawaiian Gardens out of their community. They did not want any Latinos driving through. Their excuse was too much crime entering their community. Yet, it was found the crime came from within that community; and they still refuse to take them down because, in the words of the city manager, ``we want to send a message.''
The people of Hawaiian Gardens have benefited from the bingo club (funerals paid for those who could not afford the expense, Pop Warner, Little League, soccer, to mention but a few that have benefited from the charitable foundations funded by the bingo club).
One needs to ask themselves why only one side seems to ever get reported.
As for the bill by Richard Polanco, he is practically owned by the Indian casinos, and does not want them having too much competition. He would do well to clean his own house before looking in others' homes. As for Mr. Greenberg, maybe he should take a closer look at the gates of hate, since he is a planning commissioner.
Mr. Greenberg's claim that the doctor was able to persuade the Redevelopment Agency to hire his lawyer is hogwash. It was the people on the Redevelopment Agency at the time, namely Kathleen Navejas and Lupe Cabrera, who now are against the doctor's dealings, who asked the attorney to represent the RDA. He told them at the time there might be a conflict of interest since he represented Dr. Moskowitz; however, a waiver of a conflict of interest document was signed stating there would be no problem.
He helped draw up the Disposition and Development Agreement regarding the casino which they all agreed to and signed. They could have chosen someone other than Beryl Weiner, but did not.
In a contract city such as ours the city councilmembers are also Redevelopment Agency members, in essence they wear two hats. It was only after the doctor would no longer fund Ms. Navejas' pet projects that she turned against him. Because of Dr. Moskowitz's projects and his generosity through the years, Hawaiian Gardens is now able to fully fund its services for our citizens as well as continue to add services.
For the first time in many years we are financially solvent. That fact seems to gall others outside our city. We are making progress in making our community a better place in which to live and that seems to bother some people. We no longer have amateurs trying to be professionals, but people who are professional in their attitude and work helping to make this city a place we can all be proud to call home.
June 4, 2001: Response
As one of the Hawaiian Gardens councilmembers who was there at the time, I must flatly contradict the assertions of John Heckerman ("Bingo," Letters, May 20).
I did not "turn against" casino developer Irving Moskowitz because he stopped funding projects I sponsored that helped at-risk youth. He stopped funding those projects Ö and funded a recall election against me Ö after I urged that we open the casino development to competitive bidding because other casino operators could offer the city a far better deal.
Hawaiian Gardens' multi-million dollar debt from the casino demonstrates the correctness of my position.
Similarly, our City Council did not, as Heckerman asserts, voluntarily choose to support the Moskowitz version of the casino development agreement (the DDA) in 1993.
Documents and other evidence have since shown that the Moskowitz organization slipped in their version at the last minute and pressured elected officials to support it. It has cost Hawaiian Gardens dearly.
Lastly, the 1994 redevelopment agency did not, as Heckerman asserts, ask Moskowitz's law firm Selvin & Weiner & Weinberger to represent the agency on matters on which the firm already represented Moskowitz. Indeed, as recently emerging evidence demonstrates, the agency never properly voted for that representation, which has cost taxpayers almost $1 million.
Click here to read the article by Charles Greenberg