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Councilman Ousted From Rose Bowl Committee : Dispute: City Council votes to remove Isaac Richard from the stadium's governing board because of threats he reportedly made during a disagreement over free football tickets.

September 23, 1993|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

PASADENA — Citing police reports concerning City Councilman Isaac Richard's conduct at a recent football game at the Rose Bowl, his colleagues voted unanimously Tuesday to remove him from the stadium's governing board.

On Sept. 4, before the UCLA-UC Berkeley game, the often volatile Richard threatened Rose Bowl Interim Director David Jacobs during a shouting match, according to the police reports. The reports also said that during the game, Richard threatened Councilman Chris Holden and left threatening messages with Mayor Rick Cole's answering service. All this was over being denied free football tickets, a perquisite of council members, according to a city manager's memorandum and police reports.

Holden subsequently obtained a temporary restraining order against Richard.

Richard had used his Rose Bowl board identification card to attend the Sept. 4 football game after he was denied free tickets as part of a City Council censure three months ago for allegedly cursing a roomful of city officials.

"This is difficult and serious decision to remove a member of a commission, although it is not unprecedented," Cole said.

Cole and Councilwoman Katie Nack requested the move to avoid repetition of the Sept. 4 incidents. With Richard absent, Cole suggested that the reports on the incidents spoke for themselves. The mayor said Richard had been notified by registered mail of the proposed action.

Cole suggested that, rather than "poison the waters in the community," a vote be taken without discussion. The council then voted 6 to 0 to remove him.

"I think it indicates to the community a very important statement about what our values are about conduct and behavior," Cole said of the vote.

Richard could not reached for comment. His attorney, Chris Sutton, said the action was a continuation of the council's attempts to penalize Richard and his constituents for political differences.

"In every other city, politicians chalk differences up to experience," the lawyer said. "Only in Pasadena do the City Council members seek to punish someone they disagree with."

Sutton said the council can censure Richard, but cannot penalize him for using profanity while exercising his constitutional right to free speech. The attorney said Richard plans to take legal action against the council over the sanctions, which include the loss of his complimentary Rose Bowl tickets and his travel budget.

Richard's censure three months ago was his second since he became a council member in April, 1991.

Richard, who is African-American, has maintained that by depriving him of the tickets, the council is, in effect, excluding many of his constituents, many of whom are African-American, from the Rose Bowl press boxes.

Councilman Bill Crowfoot said that although he voted against the previous censure, Richard had clearly abused his privilege as a Rose Bowl board member and that he had no choice but to vote to remove him from the board.

According to police reports, the Sept. 4 disputes were touched off when a secretary mistakenly telephoned Richard and told him his football tickets had arrived at the stadium.

Jacobs, the Rose Bowl director, called Richard to advise him that the city attorney had told him not to issue the tickets. Jacobssaid Richard demanded the tickets and said he "would come packing" to the stadium, which Jacobs interpreted to mean carrying a gun. Jacobs called the police, who were at the stadium when Richard arrived. At the councilman's insistence, police searched both Jacobs and Richard. Neither was armed.

During the game, Richard got into a shouting match with fellow Councilman Holden in the press box. Holden has told The Times that Richard tried to provoke a fight.

After the game, Richard called Cole, who was out of the city, and allegedly left insulting messages and a chorus of "we want tickets" from a group of children on the mayor's answering service. Cole filed a police report and told officers it was not the first time such messages had been left.

The city attorney's office has said the complaints will be handed over to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office to avoid a conflict of interest.

In related action, the council tentatively approved a plan to change the format of the Rose Bowl board in about six to eight weeks.

The new nine-member panel would set policy rather than advise the council. It would be composed of one member appointed by each of the seven council members, a representative of UCLA--which plays all home games in the stadium--and another from the Tournament of Roses.

In the current system, under which the nine-member board was created, the mayor nominated two members at large from people recommended by the other six council members. The council appointed one member based on business and financial experience. UCLA, the Tournament of Roses board and the city manager each nominated one member. Council members from Districts 1 and 6 each nominated one member and jointly nominated one additional member from geographic areas affected by the use of the stadium.

Council members also appointed Police Chief Jerry Oliver as sergeant-at-arms with the power to remove from the chamber at the direction of the mayor members of the public or council who become disruptive .

An armed police officer was present at the council meeting Tuesday.

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