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Donald Sterling Censured by L.A. Council, Donation Pledge to UCLA Rejected

Sterling
Donald Sterling.

In the wake of the NBA banning Donald Sterling from the professional basketball league for life, both UCLA and the Los Angeles City Council separately took formal steps on April 29 to distance themselves from the beleaguered Clippers owners.

Earlier in the day, council members unanimously voted to censure Sterling and denounced racist remarks that were attributed to him.

UCLA later announced the school would reject a $3 million donation pledge Sterling recently made to the university for kidney research. As part of the rejection, UCLA is returning an initial $425,000 payment Sterling made to the university’s Division of Nephrology. Future payments will also be rejected.

University officials stated the donation pledge was rejected because “the racially charged comments he made in a recorded telephone conversation were ‘divisive and hurtful.’”

“Mr. Sterling’s divisive and hurtful comments demonstrate that he does not share UCLA’s core values as a public university that fosters diversity, inclusion and respect,” according to UCLA.

University officials said they have been receiving inquiries about an advertisement that appeared in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, “falsely suggesting that it was UCLA publicly thanking him for the gift.”

“The ad was placed by Mr. Sterling, not the university,” according to UCLA.

Meanwhile, at Los Angeles City Hall, the City Council officially moved to censure Sterling in light of a proposal presented to council members by District 8 representative Bernard C. Parks.

Specifically, the council approved a motion denouncing Sterling’s statements that surfaced last weekend and demanded he apologize to Angelenos and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, an “iconic, national figure” who was a target of some of the remarks.

Council President Herb Wesson noted he personally would not want the proposed apology, and suspects Johnson also would not.

With Los Angeles a city that prides itself on its diversity, “this is the worst city in the world for this to be happening,” Councilman Paul Koretz said.

He added the team should be thought of as separate from Sterling.

“I’m a big Clippers fan,” he said. “They always, somehow when they put together a great team, find a way never to get too far. This is sadly the worst example of that.”

Parks said during a morning news conference that the city has a “long-standing tradition” of fighting against racial discrimination.

The motion reflects the city’s desire to “condemn the statements made by Mr. Sterling and clearly separate itself from those statements,” Parks said.

Prior to the vote, Parks told his colleagues that the issue is “very delicate” for the city of Los Angeles.

“We have seen several explosions in the city when insensitivities have come about,” he said.

Parks’ motion called the remarks “very offensive,” and said they are “completely inconsistent with United States Human Rights Laws, the long- standing positions of the City Council, the diversity of our community, the fan base of the Clippers and the very high percentage of minorities who worked for and are working for the National Basketball Association.”

“These comments, actions and statements have no place in today’s society,” the motion states.

The motion calls on the council to “condemn” the statements allegedly made by Sterling and demand “a personal apology to the entire Los Angeles community.”

It also calls on the Los Angeles NAACP to revoke its nomination of Sterling for a humanitarian award and asks the Los Angeles Times to consider pulling Sterling’s weekly ads promoting “his commercial real estate empire and alleged civic activities.”

Wesson amended the motion to include asking NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to visit Los Angeles to talk to the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as to address the community.

On Monday, Wesson sent a letter to Silver, asking him to fund a third-party inquiry into whether the Clippers, under Sterling’s leadership, violated laws aimed at shielding employees from racial discrimination.

“As an owner, Mr. Sterling has exercised absolute control over his franchise,” Wesson wrote in a letter to Silver, dated April 27. “It has now become imperative to look into how his attitudes on race have governed his leadership of his franchise.”

After the council’s vote, several members joined a news conference by Garcetti and current and former NBA players outside City Hall to hail the league’s decision to ban Sterling for life. They also urged fans to continue supporting Clippers players.

The team is scheduled to take on the Golden State Warriors at 7:30 p.m. on April 29 in Game 5 of their best-of-7 playoff series at Staples Center. The series is tied 2-2.

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