Responding to his colleagues' decision last week to remove him from the Rose Bowl's governing body, City Councilman Isaac Richard declared it the latest in a series of attempts to penalize him for challenging the city's relationship with the Tournament of Roses.
"Basically, I am being punished for my leadership on the Tournament of Roses issue," Richard said.
Richard, one of two African-Americans on the City Council, has been the panel's most vocal critic of the city's relationship with the tournament, a mainstay of the Pasadena establishment and the organizer of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl football game on New Year's Day.
The organization has few minority members. Richard said his removal from the tournament's board is the latest effort to prevent him from challenging what he termed its de facto discrimination and the city's "subsidies" and endorsement of the tournament's practices.
A recent report by a City Council-appointed advisory panel, led by former state Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, found the city was owed almost $500,000 by the tournament.
Mayor Rick Cole, who requested Richard's removal from the board, said it was Richard's behavior that led to him losing his board seat.
Cole and six other council members voted Tuesday to remove Richard from the Rose Bowl Operating Co. Board based upon a city manager's report and police reports involving Richard's conduct in a dispute over tickets for a recent UCLA football game.
Richard was absent from the council meeting.
"Isaac's behavior speaks for itself," Cole said. "It has been our sad duty to deal with it over and over again. I have consistently defended his First Amendment right, but raging threats, abuse and vulgar derision of people have no place in local government."
The dispute at the Sept. 4 UCLA-Cal game stemmed from a council vote three months earlier to censure Richard for allegedly cursing a roomful of city officials. One condition of the censure--the second against Richard since he became a council member in April, 1991--was the loss of free football tickets, a perquisite for council members.
"You can't make a law against the way people speak," Richard said, acknowledging that he often uses profanity when he is angry.
Before the football game, Richard threatened interim Rose Bowl Director David Jacobs during a telephone conversation in which Jacobs told the councilman he could not issue him tickets, police reports said.
Later in the evening, according to authorities, Richard used his Rose Bowl board identification card to enter the stadium and got into a shouting match with Councilman Chris Holden. Afterward, police reports said, Richard left annoying messages on Cole's answering service.
Councilman Bill Crowfoot, who previously refused to censure Richard, said he voted to oust Richard from the Rose Bowl board because he used his board identification to get into the stadium after being denied the free tickets.
"Clearly this privilege (being on the board) was abused," he said.
Holden subsequently obtained a restraining order against Richard and told The Times he thought the councilman was trying to provoke a fight at the stadium.
On Thursday, Richard maintained that he never threatened Holden and that Jacobs had challenged him to a fight. According to a police report, Jacobs acknowledged that he issued such a challenge.
Richard said he criticized Holden, who is black, for sitting in the press box while whites were sitting in most of the other seats in the complimentary area.
"African-Americans and Latinos make up most of this city, yet we don't have access to the press box," Richard said Thursday. "That's pure and simple racism."
Rose Bowl officials said that, although the city will continue to withhold Richard's two complimentary tickets to stadium events, the councilman's field representative can still get available free tickets in the bowl for Richard's northwest Pasadena constituents. Richard said he regularly donates such tickets, sometimes as many as 40.
Along with Richard's removal from the Rose Bowl board, his colleagues on Tuesday approved a tentative plan to reformat the nine-member board in six to eight weeks to include representatives appointed by each of seven council members, along with a representative of UCLA and the tournament.
Richard said he will challenge what he calls an attempt to "whiten-up the board" and move power away from his district, which presently has a hand in choosing two representatives on the board.