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LOTTERY: All Bets Are Off for Students : All Bets Are Off for Lottery Players at Cerritos College

October 24, 1985|RALPH CIPRIANO | Times Staff Writer

CERRITOS — The California Lottery became an instant loser at Cerritos College after school administrators canceled the sale of tickets at the student bookstore after just two weeks.

The administrators halted lottery ticket sales on Oct. 15, a day after three college trustees voiced opposition to gambling. The trustees also complained that they had not been consulted when administrators approved the sale of the lottery tickets last summer.

The cancellation has prompted one trustee to say he will sue the college to reverse the decision. Trustee Robert Epple, a Bellflower lawyer who supports the sale of lottery tickets at the bookstore, said the cancellation of ticket sales violates state education law.

Meanwhile, the student Senate has accused the trustees of "immoral and possibly illegal" actions and demanded that the decision be reversed.

Officials at the college of 17,500 students, however, said they acted properly in terminating the sale of lottery tickets. Board members said they did not know whether the decision would be reconsidered.

At an Oct. 14 board meeting, three of the board's six members said they were so opposed to the lottery that they would be in favor of refusing the college's share of lottery receipts--an estimated $300,000 for fiscal 1985-86 that would be sent to them by the state. Two of the three trustees, however, have since recanted on giving up the money. The third could not be reached for comment.

"Philosophically and morally I'm opposed to gambling," said Harold Tredway, a retired Downey lawyer and college board member, who said the lottery takes money from the poor and encourages "an attitude of something for nothing."

But Tredway said that while he opposes selling lottery tickets on the campus, he would not turn down thousands of dollars in revenue as he had previously advocated. That, he said, would be "fiscally irresponsible."

'Emotional Mistake'

Trustee Ada Steenhoek, also from Downey, said the idea of rejecting the money "was an emotional mistake. It would be an absolute fiscal irresponsibility for me to state that we wouldn't use the (lottery) funds." She added she still opposes selling lottery tickets because the college "is there to give an education and not to gamble."

The other anti-lottery board member, Dale Hardeman of Downey, could not be reached for comment.

Ticket sales at the campus bookstore began on Oct. 3, as a way to raise money for the Associated Students of Cerritos College, which runs the bookstore and incurred a $41,000 deficit in fiscal 1984-85, said student body President David Mittleman.

During the first hour of sales, the store sold 500 tickets, and another 1,000 by the end of the first day, said store director Alan Beaulieu.

"I don't know if we would go as far as to say it was a carnival atmosphere here, but it was pretty exciting," Beaulieu said. "When we had our first $100 winner, the place came apart."

Return for Credit

After eight days of sales, 4,900 tickets had been sold, of which 5%, or $245, goes to the student government, Beaulieu said. He added that he still has 4,500 lottery tickets locked in a safe that he plans to return to the state for credit.

Student government officials and Epple contend the administrators' decision to cancel the lottery-ticket sales may have been illegal because it was done a day after the board split 3 to 3 on a vote to continue the lottery ticket sales.

A seventh board member, Richard Goul of Cerritos, resigned last summer, and his unexpired two-year term will be filled in the Nov. 5 election. Also up for election on Nov. 5 are three four-year trustee positions held by Steenhoek and Epple, who are seeking reelection, and president Hazel Scotto, who is not.

A proposal to continue the sales was made by Tredway, who opposed the ticket sales but said he called for the vote as a strategy move when he realized he did not have enough votes to cancel the sales. Tredway then argued that since the motion failed sales should be discontinued.

Required No Action

Board member Epple, however, said that state education law required that no action be taken without the support of a majority of board members. He said that he would file a lawsuit against the college and President-Supt. Wilford Michael this week in Norwalk Superior Court, seeking to overturn the decision.

Michael, who ordered the ticket sales halted, is out of town on business and could not be reached for comment.

Walter Magnuson, assistant superintendent for business services, said that the administrators' decision to cancel the ticket sales was legal because it was made independently of the board's vote.

"We administratively started it (ticket sales) and we can administratively discontinue it," he said, conceding that the board's vote was "bound to affect" the administrators' decision.

Not Aware of Objections

He added that when he and other school officials originally approved the sale of the lottery tickets earlier this year, they did not realize that board members objected to the proposal.

"We don't ask for board approval for selling IBM personal computers in the bookstore," he said. "It was a creative idea to promote additional traffic in the bookstore."

In a letter to the trustees demanding an immediate reversal, the Student Senate complained the trustees' vote was "a shady practice at best" that deprived student government of needed revenue.

The letter has not yet been reviewed by trustees, board president Scotto said.

Officials at Compton College, Long Beach City College, and Cal State University at Long Beach said lottery tickets had not been offered on their campuses.

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