Originally published 06 November 1999
in Long Beach Press-Telegram
Card club: Deal may violate law approved in 1996.
GARDENS A state legislative committee has launched a probe into business
deals between the city of Hawaiian Gardens and card-club developer Irving
Assemblyman Scott Wildman, chairman of the Joint Legislative
Audit Committee, has ordered city officials to provide documents on their
dealings with Moskowitz over the past 10 years.
The committee's probe
is focusing on "possible noncompliance" with a state law that prohibits any
form of direct assistance to a gambling business. The law, known as the Isenberg
Bill, went into effect April 1, 1996.
The city's Redevelopment Agency
has been involved with Moskowitz for the past few years in an effort to build
a multi-million-dollar card club.
Among other things, the city recently
agreed to borrow $4 million from Moskowitz to pay for improvements on and
off the card club property, at 11971 Carson St., about a block east of Pioneer
The city will make the improvements and repay the loan
from projected earnings from the card club, City Administrator Anthony Lopez
Moskowitz' attorney Beryl Weiner said the improvements
were spelled out in the city's original development agreement for the project.
However, the project was stalled for years because former City Attorney Julia
Sylva argued that the original development pact with Moskowitz was for a
major food and drug retail center.
That agreement was later amended
to allow a commercial development, Sylva said. She said the city's agreement
did not specify a card club until May 1997, more than a year after the Isenberg
Bill went into effect.
On Thursday, Weiner disagreed, saying the development
agreement was amended in August 1995, when voters approved a card-club ordinance.
Wildman committee wants a number of documents that might shed light on other
dealings between City Hall and Moskowitz. Among them: The application for,
and renewal of, the permit for the city's Bingo Club, which Moskowitz also
owns. The city's response to a 1996 lawsuit filed by the ABC Unified School
District-against the city and card club developer. Information since 1988
on present and past city employees who also were on Moskowitz' payroll.
probe comes as a review is pending in Sacramento on Moskowitz's application
for a permanent gambling license. He has a temporary license, and the second
of three phases of the card club is expected to open at the end of this month.
Copyright 1999, Long Beach Press-Telegram. For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.