IRWINDALE — Just as city officials were sounding optimistic again about landing the Raiders, one of Irwindale's key negotiators left--for the second time.
Xavier Hermosillo, who was fired as public relations consultant in May, 1988, and then rehired earlier this year at $100 an hour, has left again, for undisclosed reasons. His departure has left Raiders executives skeptical about Irwindale's ability to put together a stadium project for the team.
Irwindale officials were not available for comment late last week. Hermosillo said Tuesday that he and attorney R. Zaiden Corrado, also hired by the city to work on the stadium project, mutually agreed to end his contract.
"Some may interpret my departure as a dismissal," he said, "but I have not been fired. I chose to leave because of philosophical differences that arose."
Just days before Hermosillo's departure two weeks ago, a San Diego-based conglomerate reportedly expressed interested in financing the stadium project, and Irwindale officials scheduled a Nov. 7 meeting with the Raiders to discuss plans for acquiring a site west of the San Gabriel River Freeway. One source close to the project who asked not to be identified said Hermosillo was the one responsible for finding the conglomerate.
Now, with Hermosillo gone and still no concrete plan within reach, the Raiders' patience is waning.
"There have been so many personnel changes, it's hard to keep up with," Raiders senior executive John Herrera said Wednesday. "We go into a meeting and have to ask, who's involved now? It's another example of the revolving door. It makes things difficult because of the lack of continuity."
But, Corrado said, if Irwindale failed and the Raiders went to Oakland or Sacramento--two cities also trying to lure them--it wouldn't be the city's fault.
"It has to be a partnership to make the dream a reality," Corrado said. "We've asked for face-to-face discussions with Mr. (Al) Davis in the spirit of cooperation. Mr. Davis has refused to meet with us."
Hopes to move forward with stadium plans were set back a few months ago when the Koll Co., a Newport Beach-based development firm considering the stadium project, announced that it and its partner, Ohbayashi America Corp., were no longer interested. The decision came about the same time that Oakland and Sacramento were beefing up their offers to sponsor the team.
Hermosillo's departure leaves only one of the three signers of the 2-year-old, $115-million deal with Davis: City Atty. and Manager Charles Martin. Frederick Lyte, the redevelopment consultant who played a major part in the city's transformation into a prosperous business center, was fired earlier this year after a falling out with then-Mayor Patricio Miranda.
The city is in the midst of a legal dispute with Lyte over the nearly $1 million he received as commissions on redevelopment projects. Although the city approved the payments 12 years ago when it first hired Lyte, it now claims that the contract violated conflict-of-interest laws, and is suing to recover the money.
Wednesday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge threw out a cross-complaint filed by Lyte seeking $10 million in punitive damages from the city.
But Herrera said he hasn't given up on Irwindale, at least not yet.
"I don't want to throw cold water on anything they may have," he said.