report on the Gambling Commission's December 18th hearing on
Moskowitz's license application
Part One: We present our case to the Commission
The long awaited hearing of the California Gambling Control
Commission on Irving Moskowitz's gambling license application
took place yesterday, December 18th. We believe that the speakers
for our Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem
made a very effective presentation of our arguments against
giving Moskowitz a permanent license to run his Hawaiian Gardens
Casino. So many of our allies -- and people we hadn't even known
about - signed up to testify against granting the license that
the Commission continued the hearing until January 9th.
We'll give you the list of speakers and highlights of what they
said in a moment. But first we want to share with you information
we publicly disclosed for the first time at the hearing.
disclose secret Moskowitz dealings.
During our summary yesterday of the submission we previously
filed with the Commission, we disclosed that we have documents
proving that Irving Moskowitz was secretly negotiating with
two southern California card clubs, offering them the opportunity
to become substantial shareholders in his Hawaiian Gardens casino.
We stated that we also have state gambling license applications
Moskowitz filed at the time he was negotiating with these card
clubs, on which he failed to disclose this effort to acquire
these new business associates. That violates a key element of
state licensing law. In fact, the documents show that Moskowitz
was proposing this deal to the other casinos in exchange for
their help in getting a state gambling license!
We had highlighted this secret deal in our written submission
to the Commission and were very heartened to see that the commissioners
listened attentively to our testimony about it, which was presented
by Jane Hunter.
Our Coalition speakers.
(There was not time for all of our speakers to make their presentations;
those who did not will testify at the hearing's continuation
on January 9th.)
Honorary Chair Ed Asner
focused his remarks on the urgent need for Israeli-Palestinian
peace, saying the Coalition members were the "white hats"
in the quest for peace, while Moskowitz was the "black
hat," and should not be granted a license.
Honorary Chair Wallace Albertson
emphasized Moskowitz's disregard for the needs of Hawaiian Gardens
residents, especially the health needs of the young. She called
the commissioners' attention to his use of the hospital for
stomach stapling rather than delivering babies or providing
Coalition Co-director Rabbi Haim Dov
Beliak introduced our organization and outlined our
case against granting Moskowitz the privilege of a gambling
license. He emphasized Moskowitz's abuse of Hawaiian Gardens,
which gave him two gambling monopolies. (Moskowitz runs a bingo
in Hawaiian Gardens which he uses primarily to fund virulently
anti-peace Israeli settler groups.)
Coalition Co-director Jane Hunter
summarized the written submission we filed with the Gambling
Control Commission in November. In addition to the secret options
agreement, she spoke of: the improper siting of the casino;
Moskowitz's distortion of the initiative election that authorized
his casino; Moskowitz's corruption of Hawaiian Gardens; Moskowitz's
failure to disclose significant litigation and a business that
may have been an undeclared bingo; his hiring of two infamous
managers, Ron Sarabi and Eric Chen, who have previously been
accused of political money laundering and embezzlement. Hawaiian
Gardens Casino employees have accused the two of making them
pay to work and loan sharking.
Former Hawaiian Gardens Police Chief
Walter McKinney told of how Moskowitz's control of
the city and his campaign for the casino sapped the "sparkle
in the eye" of residents. He recounted the irony of the
often-arrested street gang members Moskowitz paid to campaign
for the casino ballot initiative wearing "Yes on Measure
A - Save Our Police!" t-shirts. After the casino was approved
Moskowitz forced the police force it was to save to disband.
Ray Rosas, former director
of Hawaiian Gardens multi-program social services agency, told
of how Moskowitz hired street gang members to campaign for the
casino ballot initiative and how, when he refused to support
the casino measure, Moskowitz cut off the bingo funds which
had supported his agency. The agency was forced to close and,
noted Rosas, Moskowitz has not replaced the services it provided
to the needy Hawaiian Gardens population.
the Coalition's attorney, noted that Moskowitz himself had not
attended the hearing and challenged the commissioners to determine
"who is the real Irving Moskowitz" and whether that
Irving Moskowitz has the requisite good character for a gambling
Allies and others speaking against
giving Moskowitz a license included:
Ron Silverman, who, with
his wife Linda, operated the snack bar at Moskowitz's bingo
for almost ten years - until Moskowitz summarily "fired"
the couple and refused to give them back a large deposit.
Louie Lu, a former dealer
at Moskowitz's casino, who is suing Moskowitz and his casino
managers for forcing Lu to pay for his job with a large percentage
of his tips. Lu showed the commissioners a complaint against
Moskowitz by the National Labor Relations Board prompted by
Arthur Stern, representing
Americans for Peace Now, stressed the importance of containing
Moskowitz's efforts to block peace agreements. He wished for
the continued prosperity of the casino and bingo - under different
ownership - and replacement of the Moskowitz-controlled Hawaiian
Jose Sigala, representing
former Senate Majority Leader Richard Polanco, called the commissioners'
attention to several illegal aspects of Moskowitz's casino development,
including a $3.5 million loan Moskowitz forced Hawaiian Gardens
to take from him at prime interest rates to finance the casino.
Former Assemblymember Scott Wildman
summarized the findings of an investigation into Moskowitz's
activities in Hawaiian Gardens that he headed as chair of the
Joint Legislative Audit Committee. He noted the investigation's
conclusions regarding the impermissible use of public funds
to finance the casino.
Part Two: Moskowitz representatives
did not attend the California Gambling Control Commission's
December 18th hearing on his own application for a gambling
license. And, while we're hardly dispassionate, we do not believe
that the representatives the controversial settler-funder sent
in his stead presented a convincing case for granting the license.
Moreover, the only independent witness who testified for Moskowitz
spewed extremism, telling the commissioners the Palestinians
were "just Philistines" without a history.
is in Hawaiian Gardens, a tiny, majority-Latino, Los Angeles
County city, which Moskowitz controls for the benefit of his
casino and a bingo hall. In Jerusalem, he uses profits from
those operations to thwart Israeli-Palestinian peace by buying
strategically placed Palestinian real estate for Jewish settlers
and supporting militantly anti-peace organizations.
casino license application is the first in the Gambling Control
Commission's three-year existence to generate significant public
opposition. Our report on the opposition to Moskowitz's license
is above in Part One, and news coverage of the hearing is at
In the account of the Moskowitz side's presentation that follows,
we have put our analytical comments in italics.
attorney Robert J. Sullivan led off the testimony, saying that
the commissioners should not base their decision on political
or religious considerations. We believe Sullivan took this
tack because he expected us to attack Moskowitz's politics.
However, when our turn came, we presented very specific evidence
showing Moskowitz's failure to meet the legal criteria for a
license. And when we did refer to Moskowitz's political activities
we emphasized his constitutional right to engage in them, but
pointed out how they have resulted in violence. Sullivan
said that Moskowitz's casino is beneficial for Hawaiian Gardens.
followed by a representative of Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee
Baca and a representative of the county deputy sheriff's association,
both of whom said that the casino was very good for Hawaiian
Gardens, that it had provided good jobs for local people and,
thus, lowered the crime rate. We have heard from local people
and can see from the casino's website www.hawaiiangardenscasino.net,
that it provides mostly minimum-wage, go-nowhere jobs. The Sheriff's
Department got a lucrative contract to police Hawaiian Gardens
when Moskowitz forced the city to disband its much-loved police
Gardens City Attorney John Cavanaugh told the commissioners
that Moskowitz has "complied 100 percent" with his
obligations under the 1993 contract called a "DDA"
that he signed with the city's Community Redevelopment Agency
(CRA) and had "diligently reimbursed" the CRA for
all the costs required by the DDA. Cavanaugh did not mention
that the DDA was a Moskowitz-authored sweetheart deal which
put the CRA millions of dollars in debt - or that the DDA contains
language Moskowitz can use to stop paying the casino taxes on
which the city is now totally dependent.
local speakers took the microphone to tell the commissioners
how much the city relied on Moskowitz's casino. Kathy Frazier,
the director of schools for the local ABC School District, voiced
appreciation for the casino and programs she said it made possible.
Frazier did not say she officially represented the district,
whose objections to having the casino next door to one of its
schools were thwarted by the Moskowitz operation, as we explained
to the commissioners. A representative of a senior citizens'
program which Moskowitz supports voiced appreciation for the
Gardens Mayor Betty Schultze and Deputy Mayor Leonard Chaidez,
both longtime Moskowitz stalwarts, echoed others' comments about
the city's appreciation of the casino and the revenue it provides.
Readers can see just how hollow these arguments ring by clicking
to read our report, Gambling on Extremism, How Irving Moskowitz
took over a small town to bankroll Israel's anti-peace settlers.
(PDF) and click
here to visit the "Looting Hawaiian Gardens" section
of our website.
Mayor Chaidez said to the commissions: "We beg your indulgence
and your positive vote." In our presentation we recalled
that, after his 1999 election to the City Council, the council
settled for $219,219 a wrongful termination suit Chaidez filed
when he was fired from his short stint as city manager. We noted
that the matter never appeared on a Council agenda.
midst of the local speakers, the Moskowitz side put on Rabbi
Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President National Council of
Young Israel New York. Lerner spoke of his personal knowledge
of Moskowitz, saying the applicant was a fine and worthy person.
Moskowitz has given Young Israel $2.4 million from the Hawaiian
Gardens bingo. (Please see www.stopmoskowitz.org/gallery.shtml
) In their book "Murder in the Name of God," Michael
Karpin and Ina Friedman write that in the early 1990s Young
Israel led other US-based Orthodox groups in the increasingly
vituperative opposition to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's peacemaking
which, some analysts believe, created the climate for Rabin's
to observers, the 30 or so Hawaiian Gardens seniors who comprised
most of the pro-Moskowitz section arrived together and moved
to and from the auditorium as an escorted group. By contrast,
approximately 20 organizations (including our Coalition for
Justice) sent speakers opposing the license. Only one person
who was not on the Moskowitz side's prepared list of speakers
came forward to speak for Moskowitz -- and that man, Max Kessler,
was so politically extreme that he may well have canceled out
Moskowitz's lawyers' claims that the settler-backer's politics
should not sway the commissioners' votes.
Max Kessler asserted
that there's "no such thing as Palestinian history. They're
just Philistines." He continued: "The Arabs gambled
in 1948 and 1967. They wanted all the land. Sometimes you win
and sometimes you lose. The point is the Arabs had a chance
for this land in 1948 - they gambled and they lost." He
added: "The land Moskowitz buys [to thwart Palestinian
aspirations in Jerusalem] is Jewish land that was stolen."
Kessler then told the commissioners: "I want you to be
on the side of God, the return of the Jewish people is above
and beyond history."
He concluded saying of Coalition Co-director Rabbi Haim Dov
Beliak: "There's a word for people like the so-called Rabbi
Beliak - informers
they are like the Tories of the American
Revolution," implying, to some who heard him, that Beliak
should be harmed. The Los Angeles Weekly reported in May 2001
that, in a counter-demonstration against Jewish peace groups,
Kessler carried a sign that said "Arabs=9/11" and
chanted "Death to Arabs! Death to Jewish Traitors!"
The Moskowitz organization did not dissociate applicant Irving
Moskowitz from Kessler's statements.
The Moskowitz side
will have an opportunity to present more speakers and also to
rebut our testimony when the hearing continues on January 9th.
We also expect to be able to complete our testimony.
We hope you'll continue
to visit our website for details as they become available and
also to support us with your donations and encouraging emails.