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Officials Dispute Report on Card Club Subsidy

September 08, 2000

HAWAIIAN GARDENS — City officials are blasting a state legislative report that accused the city of illegally spending redevelopment money to subsidize a card club and are demanding a halt to the report's distribution.

In a recent letter to the former chairman of the state audit committee, the Hawaiian Gardens city attorney charged that the report was not authorized by that committee and was replete with confidential information.

City Atty. John Cavanaugh also demanded that the committee's former chairman, Assemblyman Scott Wildman (D-Los Angeles), immediately return all city documents used in drafting the report.

Wildman, who relinquished the chairmanship last week but has named himself head of a subcommittee to investigate the card club issue, has rejected the city's request and has scheduled a public hearing on the matter in two weeks.

The dispute is the latest flare-up over the Hawaiian Gardens Card Club and its controversial owner, Irving Moskowitz, who is an influential figure in city.

The city and Moskowitz were harshly criticized in the report issued in July by Wildman's office. The report accused Moskowitz and the city of conspiring to violate a 1996 law that prohibits the use of redevelopment money for gaming enterprises.

Wildman's staff said the city has spent $4 million in redevelopment funds to purchase the land and pay for infrastructure improvements for the casino, which opened in 1997. The city is poised to spend another $8 million for legal fees and lawsuit settlements resulting from the relocation of several businesses at the site, Wildman's staff said.

Moskowitz and the city denied that such spending is illegal, saying the city reached an agreement to develop the casino before the 1996 law took effect.

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