YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Ban of Certain Sponsors Rejected


MONTEREY PARK — Despite warnings from local residents and alcohol awareness groups about the dangers of subliminal advertising, the Monterey Park City Council has rejected a proposal to ban sponsorship of city events by alcohol, gambling and tobacco companies.

The ban was urged by Mayor Sam Kiang, who had objected to a Bell Gardens casino's desire to be one of the sponsors of the recent Chinese New Year parade and festival in Alhambra and Monterey Park. Wary of the ensuing controversy, the casino, the Bicycle Club, stayed out of the event.

Kiang's stand won praise from some school officials and parents, but sparked protests from business leaders and council members who said it was unfair to exclude sponsors on moral grounds.

At a meeting last week, Kiang was the only council member to vote in favor of the ban, which would have affected any city-sponsored event where minors might be present. He initially did not mind the presence of alcohol companies as sponsors, but he later favored prohibiting them along with tobacco companies and gambling casinos.

The four other council members gave varying reasons for killing the proposal, including a refusal to discriminate against businesses and a concern that the city could be sued over the constitutionality of such a law.

"I don't think a float going by from a card club is going to make little kids think of gambling," Councilman Fred Balderrama said. "We voted for Lotto. People gamble every day. I don't know why we're even discussing this."

Balderrama had threatened to boycott the parade after learning that Kiang and Alhambra Mayor Mary Louise Bunker wanted to exclude the Bicycle Club, a member of the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce.

During Monday's meeting, Balderrama threw onto the council dais a long scroll of paper that he said was a list faxed to him that day from an alcoholic beverage company, describing its efforts to educate the public on alcohol abuse.

Others said it would be hypocritical for the city to pass such a law.

"The Boys and Girls Club, in their auction, had a trip to Las Vegas," Councilwoman Betty Couch said. "We tax all the alcohol and tobacco companies to the hilt. The Bicycle Club and other clubs must get a lot of participation from the residents of this community. If they want to give something back, why not?"

The 4-1 vote to kill Kiang's proposal came despite pleas from nine speakers who urged adoption of the ban. Only one person, representing the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce, spoke against the ban.

Los Angeles Times Articles