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Loss of Raiders May Not Be a Loss at All

August 29, 1987

Call off the voting. It's only August, but it's already clear who has won the 1987 Manucher Ghorbanifar Award, a sort of Cy Young for con men.

The winner is . . . Al Davis.

Last year's winner of this award, which goes annually to the entrepreneur who does the best job of snookering public officials was old Manucher himself (see the Congressional Record, the Iran- contra hearings, the front pages of The Los Angeles Times, etc.) He set tough standards, but Al Davis makes Manucher look like Francis of Assisi.

In a country where people are sleeping in the streets, where the educational system is in disarray (and pimps make more than school teachers) and where hospital beds cost $200 a day, it is an obscenity that the city fathers of Irwindale think it's a neat idea to gift-wrap $150 million and more for Al Davis--with a lease that gives them no chance to recover their investment.

How did we arrive at a situation where it is considered good government to build huge stadiums at public expense for private operators? What are the priorities of people who never attend school board meetings to ask why their children can't read, but who bring themselves to high-pitched outrage over the loss of a football team?

The key question is not why did the Coliseum Commission become so intransigent recently; the question is why was the Coliseum Commission so eager to be taken hostage by Al Davis five years ago?

Why did the Commission make a gift-loan of $4 million to Davis? Why did the Commission accept a lease with so many holes you could fly the Spruce Goose through it--if the Spruce Goose could fly? Why did it agree to only a 10-year lease, guaranteeing that Davis would use the exit clause to extract an even sweeter deal? Is it true, as county supervisor Pete Schabarum says, that the Raiders have used the Coliseum rent-free for the last five years? If so, what's the loss when the Raiders flee?


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