A Superior Court judge told Irwindale officials Monday he will hold them in contempt if they do not call off a Nov. 3 bond issue election needed to help finance the Los Angeles Raiders' move to the city.
Irwindale attorney Michael Montgomery later said "the election is off" and that a special election will be called at a later date.
The $10-million bond measure is a necessary part of the city's plan to move the Raiders out of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and into a new stadium in Irwindale.
Clarifying terms of a preliminary injunction he issued last week, Judge Ricardo Torres said that Irwindale must file an environmental impact report before the city can take any of the steps called for in its Aug. 20 agreement with the team.
Specifically, he declared, Irwindale cannot negotiate a definitive, final agreement with the Raiders, cannot re-market $90 million of existing bonds on Nov. 4 as scheduled and cannot negotiate with Los Angeles County officials to obtain a parking site for the stadium.
The judge's strongly worded admonitions, clearly putting the Irwindale-Raiders deal on hold indefinitely, came as the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal of a damage award to the Coliseum Commission and the Raiders in their civil suit against the National Football League. The award was made to punish the league for its attempts to block the Raiders' move from Oakland to Los Angeles in the early 1980s.
Attorneys involved in the case said Monday this means that the Coliseum Commission, facing the loss of the Raiders, will receive $21 million in damages, probably by the end of this month.
An award of $35 million to the Raiders in the same suit must be adjusted first by a lower court, and the team probably will not get its money right away, but it will get the readjusted amount, plus interest, soon, they added.
The Coliseum Commission, once it gets the $21 million, will then have sufficient money on hand to do the kind of seating reconfiguration that the Raiders wanted before deciding to move to Irwindale. The commission owes about $3 million to its attorneys, but otherwise the money is uncommitted.
The Raiders' team owner, Al Davis, has declared that he will not stay at the Coliseum or resume negotiations with the Coliseum Commission under any circumstances.
But the recent preliminary injunction issued by Torres, and growing uncertainties regarding financing and parking at Irwindale, may throw Davis' moving plans into jeopardy. Some Los Angeles officials remain hopeful he may yet, if the Irwindale deal collapses, come to terms with the Coliseum.
At the court hearing on Monday, Torres quickly dismissed the arguments of Irwindale attorney Montgomery. Montgomery urged that the city be allowed to go ahead with plans for the Raiders stadium while the environmental impact report is being prepared, and that it be permitted to hold the $10-million bond election but not certify the results until later.
The judge said the law is clear: Nothing can be done until the California Environmental Quality Act is complied with.
There was disagreement among Irwindale and Raiders representatives present in the courtroom on how long it will take to do the environmental impact report.
Raiders senior executive John Herrera said he had been told it would take two to six months. Montgomery said he felt it would take one to two months. And Irwindale redevelopment consultant Fred Lyte said it would take only 30 days.
The environmental consultant who has been commissioned to do the report, W. J. Lockman, estimated last week that it would take about six months.
The original Irwindale-Raiders agreement said the city had to complete arrangements for financing, parking and other details by Nov. 4. But the agreement indicated that the deadline would be waived in the event of litigation. The Raiders have shown no inclination to enforce the Nov. 4 deadline nor have they threatened to back out of the deal and walk away with a $10-million cash advance given them by Irwindale.