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New Bill to Stop Raiders Move Gains in Assembly

Times Staff Writer

Another bill designed to block the Los Angeles Raiders from moving out of the Coliseum into a proposed new Irwindale stadium was narrowly approved Wednesday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The legislation would authorize district attorneys to file lawsuits against cities or special districts to determine if they have exceeded voter-imposed spending limits set back in 1979. The bill’s author, Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Roos (D-Los Angeles), charged that Irwindale gave Raiders owner Al Davis $10 million to lure him away from Los Angeles at a time when the city’s budget was just $4 million.

A 6-4 vote sent the measure to the lower-house floor.

Irwindale city officials do not admit that they have exceeded the spending limit. But, if they have, they argue that any excess spending to get the Raiders could be ratified by the local electorate in the future.

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Civil Actions

In a statement, Roos said the bill’s purpose is “to provide an alternative procedure to compel enforcement of the Gann spending limit by allowing local district attorneys to file civil actions against local jurisdictions which exceed their Gann limits.”

The constitutional spending limit restricts annual spending by state and local governments to a formula that takes into account changes in population and the cost of living.

“This is crazy,” scoffed Assemblyman Phillip Isenberg (D-Sacramento), one of the “no” votes on the committee. “This is a really stupid idea.”

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It also took a personal visit by Roos to the hearing room and some arm twisting to get Assemblyman Tim Leslie (R-Carmichael) to switch his vote from “no” to “yes” to achieve the bare six-vote majority on the 10-member panel.

Meanwhile, the state and Irwindale are already locked in a related lawsuit over a state auditor’s request to look at city financial records. As a result, Irwindale officials have been blocked, at least temporarily, from proceeding with the stadium deal until the issue is resolved.

The audit idea was also pushed by Roos, who contends that Irwindale wants to build a $175-million stadium and “give it” to the Raiders for a discount price of only $80 million.

Roos has another pending bill on the Assembly floor that would require the title of the stadium to be held by the city, which could then lease it to the Raiders. In that way, the stadium would remain in public hands, and Raiders owner Davis would not benefit from ownership.

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