Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem
Letter from Temple Israel, Long
Attorney General Bill Lockyer
Dear Attorney General Lockyer:
We write on behalf of our congregation of 700 families in Long Beach, California. Temple Israel is the largest and oldest congregation in the area.
We are greatly concerned about the pending approval of a card casino license for Dr. Irving Moskowitz in Hawaiian Gardens. Over the past several months we have been watching the revelation of the long history between the City of Hawaiian Gardens, the Hawaiian Gardens Redevelopment Agency, and Dr. Moskowitz and his lawyers. This tragic story, told most recently through various news articles and perhaps most completely by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee's Staff Report, compels the conclusion that Dr. Moskowitz is not a suitable applicant for a permanent casino license.
Among other issues, we understand that the Legislative Counsel has also determined that payment of $12 million to finance the card casino by the Hawaiian Gardens Redevelopment Agency violated Health and Safety Code 3346.5 (the Isenberg Amendments).
As lengthy as the JLAC report is, it does not even touch issues surrounding the Bingo Club, which has been operated by Dr. Moskowitz for years. Although charitable bingo was set up to benefit small nonprofit organizations, Dr. Moskowitz has subverted the spirit and letter of the law by turning his bingo operation into a multi-million dollar moneymaker by which he has financed right wing activities in Israel and particularly Jerusalem. Equally important, under the excuse that he cannot legally pay his bingo workers, the Bingo Club uses primarily, if not exclusively, poor Latino workers as staff without pay, working for whatever tips they can gleen from patrons.
Further, Dr. Moskowitz has injected himself into the political blood of Hawaiian Gardens - financing local campaigns with huge sums against which no local voice of reason can stand. Falling victims to his tactics have been local councilmembers and, at his insistence, even a city attorney who dared to oppose him.
The report of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee cites numerous violations of the letter and spirit of laws connected with Dr. Moskowitz's interactions with the City of Hawaiian Gardens and its Redevelopment Agency. As you are aware, under Business and Professions Code 19842A, a finding of suitability must be made. No license is to be granted to "unsuitable persons." In other words, the California Gambling Control Commission, which we understand receives recommendations from you, must find that Dr. Moskowitz is a suitable applicant for a permanent license and meets the definition under 19848A that Dr. Moskowitz is "[a] person of good character, honesty and integrity" and "[a] person whose prior activities.... reputation, habits and associations do not pose a threat to the public interest of this state or to the effective regulation and control of controlled gambling or create or enhance the dangers of unsuitable, unfair or illegal practices, methods or activities in the conduct of controlled gambling or in the carrying on of the business and financial arrangements incidents thereto."
As committed Jews and concerned citizens, we cannot remain quiet. Dr. Moskowitz is unfit to be granted a permanent casino license given the highly questionable if not unlawful activity in Hawaiian Gardens. At a minimum, as the State's law enforcement official, we respectfully urge that the projected hearing before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on Hawaiian Gardens take place and that the claims made in the JLAC report be thoroughly and competently investigated. All this must necessarily occur before there is enough clarity to consider recommending a permanent license.
We urge you to protect this tiny municipality, the interests of its citizens and the state.
Jan Stein, President
Marc Coleman, Chair
cc: Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal