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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review
/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Racing Officials Alter Stance, Are Inspecting Stable Areas

May 09, 2000|JOE MOZINGO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

POMONA — After first indicating they should not take a "proactive role," California Horse Racing Board officials announced Monday that they would conduct their own assessment of the working and living conditions in the stable areas of California's racetracks.

Board officials disclosed that they accompanied health inspectors to the Pomona Fairplex last week to determine if workers were still living in the so-called backstretch after being ordered to leave in March. The small equipment rooms, called tack rooms, were not built for human habitation.

The inspectors found last Thursday that people were still living in at least seven of the rooms, according to a press release from the horse racing board.

The equine manager of Fairplex, George Bradvica, said those people are in the process of leaving. Since the initial inspections in March, which were prompted by an inquiry from The Times, he said the track has provided a communal kitchen for the workers and that many of them have moved into an adjacent trailer park.

Horse racing officials also plan to visit other tracks, including Santa Anita, where county health inspectors concluded that the restrooms were unsanitary and the tack rooms were not up to code to house people.

"Our plan is to visit all of the racing facilities in California, either with local authorities or on our own," Roy Minami, assistant executive director of the board, said in the press release.

The Times last month documented persistent labor and housing problems in the backstretches throughout the state. It found that employees lack such basic protections as overtime pay and state housing standards. Some employees also complained they were not being paid minimum wage.

The state labor commissioner launched an investigation into those claims last week. But the following day, at a horse racing board meeting, Chairman Robert Tourtelot said the board should not take a "proactive role" in the issue.

On Thursday, three legislative committees will hold a joint hearing in Sacramento about conditions in the stable areas.

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