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Richard Blasts Rose Tournament 'Bigotry' : Parade: Councilman demands that independent counsel be hired to audit contracts and to monitor affirmative action policies.

April 29, 1993|DIANA S. KIM | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

PASADENA — After a six-week absence from the City Council chambers, Councilman Isaac Richard returned Tuesday night to a cheering audience when he made pointed attacks on the Tournament of Roses, accusing it of "shameful bigotry and racism" and a history of excluding minorities and women from its "elitest, whitest" ranks.

The high-profile council member returned from an undisclosed desert treatment facility for what he called a "chemical imbalance" in the wake of an unidentified woman's accusation that Richard had sexually assaulted her. According to police reports, Richard had admitted having a drug dependency problem, which he denies.

Richard aimed his inflammatory remarks at the tournament, fellow council members and city staff during the council's discussion on city contracts and affirmative action policies concerning the Tournament of Roses Assn. He charged that all were aiding in what he described as the exclusionary practices of the 104-year-old tournament.

Richard said Robert Cheney, a former president of the association, had bet $500 with him in front of witnesses that there would "never be a black or a brown executive committee member" at the tournament.

Cheney, who is said to be out of town, could not be reached for comment.

"This organization angers me with its arrogance and uppityness in the way it trashed upstanding citizens in our community with its letter," said Richard, referring to a response written by the tournament's president, Delmer D. Beckhart, to a report by a citizens' ad hoc committee that is lobbying the tournament to implement changes.

The committee's allegations were "replete with inaccuracies, half-truths, innuendoes and outright lies," Beckhart had testily responded in his letter. The committee had threatened to send the report--outlining a purportedly long history of exclusion--to the corporate sponsors of the flower-bedecked floats that parade down Colorado Boulevard on New Year's Day.

The committee's report charges that, because the tournament is the recipient of city tax benefits, contributions and resources, it should be required to abide by city laws requiring affirmative action on the part of contractors. This year, for example, the city subsidized the parade and game with $468,000 in city services.

Richard demanded that the council hire an independent counsel to audit all contracts and monitor affirmative action hiring policies by the tournament.

Mayor Rick Cole, while maintaining that the tournament clearly needs to move forward to represent the diversity of Pasadena, cautioned against destroying the city's relationship with the organization, which has played a "fundamental role" in the city's image and economy for 104 years, he said.

"I think there is enough goodwill in the community to marshal (the change) quickly before the next Tournament of Roses," Cole said.

The City Council did not support Richard's demands but asked the finance and affirmative action staff members to return to the May 11 meeting with contracts, audits and other materials on the issue.

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