What were you doing to ensure that the opposition’s resolution, eventually on the June 1958 ballot as “Proposition B,” didn’t thwart the city’s contract and Walter O’Malley’s efforts to privately build Dodger Stadium?
“We weren’t moving fast but we were trying to move along, so we would be ready when all the legal challenges were finished. We were also a little nervous as was Roger Arnebergh, the City Attorney, who had worked out all the details regarding the contract to make sure the city met its obligations. Arnebergh was still dealing with the Referendum and lawsuits, which even went as high as the California State Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court (which refused to hear the case).”
Was the election as close as it turned out?
“It was closer than expected. O’Malley and I always said that had the Dodgers not won the day game in Chicago, 1-0 (on June 1, 1958), we would not have won. It is one of the most important (Dodger) victories ever. I don’t think it’s ever gotten its due. Vin Scully did not say how to vote, but he told people to go out and vote. I thought Scully was accepted by the City of L.A. immediately upon the Dodgers’ arrival and the fact he told people to vote was helpful. And to this day, everybody adores and sets Vin Scully on a pedestal. He has been always accepted by this community as a trusted spokesperson.”
If “Prop B” failed, what would have happened?
“I just felt there was enough goodwill between the City and the Dodgers and we could convince the City that it was good business for L.A. We would just have to find another way to get that stadium built. I don’t believe I would have ever given up after what we’d been through.”
When you first saw Walter O’Malley’s plans for Dodger Stadium, what did you think about his and architect Capt. Emil Praeger’s modern design?
“Loved it. I thought the contour of the land was well used. That impressed me a lot that he used what he had. I liked that part of it the most. I was very worried about the roads, because I thought we’ll never have enough money and will it work? I thought they were close to freeways and that would provide good access. I loved the plans from day one. And then when prominent Hollywood director Mervyn LeRoy made the (stadium) model it was a beautifully done job because the Hollywood artist knew how to do it. It was made from architect’s plans before the stadium was built. The model became useful to show people that this was going to become a great asset for the city. I continued to look at it as a good business proposition for the city and a lot of new jobs for them were created in the building of Dodger Stadium and many more new jobs when the stadium was in operation.”
All of the roadblocks that came in the form of the Proposition, legal challenges and the eventual dismissal by the U.S. Supreme Court, must have taken a toll on both you and Walter O’Malley. How did you find the strength to stay the course and eventually succeed?
“We sweated that out. If you are an elected public official, you’ve got to take the good and the bad. It also took a toll on City Attorney Roger Arnebergh. I didn’t think the Dodger issue would be so controversial when I said, ‘Let’s Bring Major League Baseball to L.A.’ I always enjoyed being an elected public official of the City of Los Angeles and I tried to be responsive to the people of the city. I had a wonderful husband who gave me incredible strength and support. People who knew Gene and me said if we had gone into a computer program, we would have come out perfectly suited for each other. When things were tough, he was always there. He was a good listener. I knew that even if I were not re-elected for City Council, I had a very good life ahead of me.”