Southeast : Both Sides Raise Stakes as Casino Vote Nears in Hawaiian Gardens

In the waning days of the guerrilla-style political war over a proposed Hawaiian Gardens casino, supporters and opponents are accusing each other of dismissing voters’ interests in the name of the dollar.

Proponents say the card club represents the community’s only hope of climbing out of its $1.5-million budget deficit.

Led by Irving Moskowitz, a physician who would own the proposed club, they warn that a vote against Measure A would result in layoffs and cuts in services, including the 9-month-old Police Department.

Opponents, including Councilwoman Kathleen Navejas, who initially championed the poker club, and two campaign committees funded by nearby casinos in other cities, say the casino would lead to gambling addiction and crime.


Both sides say they have asked investigators from the secretary of state’s office to monitor Tuesday’s vote. In recent weeks, campaign workers from both camps have charged their opponents with tearing down posters and buying votes.

With the vote now days away, the charges have reached a fever pitch. Opponents obtained a campaign finance document from the casino supporters showing that the campaign had paid a number of city employees for work in support of the club.

City employees are permitted to work for political campaigns as long as they do so on their own time, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Casino supporters charged that an opposition flyer falsely claims that various elected officials are against the club. The flyer claimed that Supervisor Gloria Molina opposes the club. However, a Molina spokesman said the supervisor, who generally opposes card casinos, has not staked out a position against the Hawaiian Gardens proposal.

Navejas said those opposed to the casino were “within our rights” to list Molina and others in the flyer because they oppose gambling in general.