Bills to Block Raiders’ Move OKd by Panel
A legislative attempt to block the Los Angeles Raiders from moving to a new Irwindale stadium gained ground Wednesday when the Assembly Ways and Means Committee approved two bills that would strike at the heart of the proposed financing plan.
Meanwhile, in a related action, Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Mike Roos (D-Los Angeles) announced that the state auditor general will subpoena certain Irwindale documents to determine if the city exceeded a constitutional limit on state spending by giving the Raiders $10 million in public funds.
Roos and Chief Deputy Auditor Kurt Sjoberg contended that city officials have refused to provide full access to all records, although some documents have been provided.
Irwindale city spokesman Xavier Hermosillo said this was “a total fabrication.”
Hermosillo said a sizable auditor general’s team came to Irwindale Wednesday and received full cooperation but “went far beyond what they had told us would be the scope of their work.”
“They went further and further back in time,” he said. “We didn’t have the records available. So we asked them to come back tomorrow. . . . They left in a huff, and the next thing we heard was that they were issuing a subpoena. We hadn’t felt they were working under proper authority, but we were complying anyway.”
The two bills would prohibit local governments from incurring debts to build professional spectator sports facilities and bar using state or local revenues to pay off the principal or interest on bonds to finance construction of such facilities.
Sponsored by Roos, a leading critic of the Raiders proposed move from the Los Angeles Coliseum to Irwindale, the legislation received 12-5 and 14-4 bipartisan votes, respectively.
Next stop for both measures is the Assembly floor. Roos agreed to wait for fiscal impact analyses before he takes them up for floor votes, however, in response to a request by Assembly Republican Caucus Chairman Dennis Brown of Signal Hill.
“With more cities seeking professional sports teams,” Roos said, “team owners are encouraging bidding wars between cities for the best deal they can extract from the taxpayers.”
Assemblyman Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia), whose district includes Irwindale, charged that Roos is “trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.”
“I would not be in this fight if it was a privately financed deal,” Roos replied. “I just don’t see why we have to use public tax dollars to attract professional sports teams.”
Hermosillo charged that Roos hopes to “rehabilitate” his name by trying to stop the Raiders from moving to the small San Gabriel Valley city.
Hermosillo apparently referred to an FBI investigation of the political dealings of former fireworks magnate W. Patrick Moriarty, including allegations Roos doubled his investment in a Moriarty condominium project at a time when he was pushing a bill helpful to Moriarty’s fireworks firm.
The highly publicized probe resulted in Moriarty’s conviction on several corruption charges, but no charges were filed against Roos.
Asked about Hermosillo’s comment, Roos replied, “This is a $175-million giveaway and a bad deal for the taxpayers.”
The proposed move of the Raiders from the Coliseum to Irwindale already is in the courts.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has issued a restraining order prohibiting Irwindale officials from proceeding with stadium negotiations until an environmental impact report on the project is completed.