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Interviews and Profiles


In addition to my interview and profile of newly-named LA Times publisher Austin Beutner, over the past decade I've sat down with and profiled quite a few people who have held or grown into large roles in LA's political and cultural scene.

It was in observing the fallout from this interview with Paul Krekorian that first put me in touch with the profound problems in the Northeast Valley and how it became a dumping ground for the rest of the City and parts of Supervisor Mike Antonovich's district as well.

This interview of Music Center CFO Stephen Rountree featured LA Opera at its lowest financial ebb.  But this one of Christopher Koelsch caught the company nearly fully rebounded.

There was an early and unusually saccharine proflling of State Assembly Mike Gatto when he was a candidate for that office.

Mitch Englander seemed (and still seems) destined to rule the northwest Valley for all twelve and then some.  That'll get him to 2023. And after that?

People inevitably move on, termed out or kicked upstairs, or....Richard Alarcon has ironically told me he thought housing was a civil rightEd Reyes and I spoke of planning, the LA River, and planning LA River development. And Hillary consultant Mike Trujillo has reminisced with me about the early days of the LA political blogosphere.

I've interviewed one-time mayoral candidate and now Public Works Commission president Kevin James many times, mostly on background but also as an appointee.

I seem to sit down with Jose Huizar once every five or six years. The first time Monica Garcia grew nervous about what I might write so I didn't write anything but stowed the memory. The second time, I did write it. For what it's worth, I've not seen anyone lay out the facts of the Huizar-Godoy promotion tango the way I have.

In addition to these, I have two books full of essays on LA's recent history.

The first, Days Change at Night; LA's Decade of Decline, 2003-2013, marking the time from the grand gala opening of the Disney Hall (which I attended and reviewed for the old LA Alternative Press) to the eve of Garcetti's election as Mayor, features representative chroniclings from every year through that span.

The more recent book, LA at Intermission: A City Mingling Towards Identity is mostly about Mayor Eric Garcetti and his administration, including where I first met LA's mayor, how telling it was when I did, the flavors of his political life, and the many problems that beset the first nine months of his mayoralty — problems you couldn't and still can't read about anywhere else.

In support of these interviews, there have been literally a couple hundred others. For a while, when the great exodus began, I was in the habit of debriefing writers and editors who were leaving the LA Times and LA Daily News. I interviewed every challenger candidate for mayor in 2009 especially because other media would not. Deputy mayors, chiefs of staff, commissioners great and small, &c. A lot of DWP chieftans, and there have been a lot. Political consultants and city lobbyists. There have been plenty of academics in the mix; I've not necessarily admired all their work, but the ones I have admired include Char Miller and Kathleen Bawn.

As contempt has routinely come my way for things I have written, I have returned fire accordingly and not held much back. Sometimes an exchange you might have with an editor or public figure over what is right and what is wrong with an approach produces information that may be gleaned in no other way.

Things being what they are in LA, I can recall literally hundreds of angry exchanges over various elements of the foregoing work. I have also found people to be very reticent about telling me that any of this has ever been useful to them — and yet I keep seeing it appear elsewhere, which tells me not only that it has but also that it is the kind of material that people not only like to keep to themselves but sometimes pass off as their own. That's fine with me, as I am the kind of writer who values people who value being informed, and not the kind of writer anyway who wants to see himself honored or recognized or certificated or worst of all nominated for a press club award — though I do note with concern over-healthy unacknowledged borrowings.

But if you find something useful, being so very different from those base-born others, you need not be fearful to show your appreciation or acknowledgement.

The Beutner Profile


Here's my interview/profile from three years ago to the newly-named Publisher and CEO of the LA Times, Austin Beutner. Here also is a piece I did on Beutner's DWP when he was acting GM there. Mayor Garcetti's top political problem now is that his office won't be able to spam LA with anti-DWP agitprop through the LA Times anymore because now the paper's publisher knows more about how the agency really works than the Mayor does, and reporters and editorialists will certainly have to answer to that. And after that — what does the Mayor have to make us feel good about him?

Sanctimonious Nonsense

The protagonists in the lawsuit between Amazon and Hachette want their authors to take sides, and some publicity-seeking scribes are dutifully lining up. This is amusing to me because as I see it, since the time of Homer and Hesiod, the real presences among the authors we know have always been on their own side, and have only hoped that anyone who is enough of a candy-ass to make a living off of publishing another human's work, be it early Platonists, pharisees, or Penguin Classics, not dick them around very much while they are actually still among the living.

The Morning After

On August 8, 1974, I visited the Statue of Liberty, for the first and only time of my life. I knew nothing about NYC and had to go back to JFK that night to get my bags, to go back to Manhattan. [The remarkable thing about NYC back then was, you could actually go from JFK to Manhattan, back to JFK, and then back to Manhattan all on the same day, all in reasonable time, and for under $50, and we had no all-controlling devices to tell us how to do it].

LA Citizens

It's very hard to be a true citizen of Los Angeles. To be one necessarily means you have to be in touch with the situations that the people with whom you are dealing on a daily basis left behind, which means to be in touch with the current affairs of literally dozens of nations. There should be a Guardian in LA, but instead we have a kind of PR-newswire media establishment.

We also have a completely vacuous political structure, one that celebrates and celebrates our diversity perpetually, without finding fault with a single crime of state or fault of appeasement; one that denounces little other than the obvious, but is far quicker to denounce any local providing more intelligence than the expressed interests of their immediate donors and their own staffers.

Almost all of these staffers are too young and too untested to know LA as anything other than a "melting pot."  At least London (which is nearly as shockingly diverse as Los Angeles) appreciates its own role in the stakes of world affairs, and tries to cover real bases, especially through The Guardian, with correspondents around the globe and which many groups grudgingly support.  LA LA does not even try to cover real bases to inform its own day-to-day operations.

Walking among the Whackamoled

After Kashkari homeless week, California's Democrats soon came with knives out, indicating very much about deeply into the Democratic nerve center the Republican multimillionaire struck. He's just scratching the surface: in the various Democratic-sanctioned homeless housing boondoggles around LA, the developers at the agencies make between $175-$200K a year, the contractors far far more, the units are built at the same cost per square foot as luxury condos, the Police are told by politicians to enforce laws differently even within the same jurisdictions, the charitable donors find their way into political folds too...and ultimately the homeless are not only still homeless, but also used as a way for unscrupulous agencies to make money, and they are used as a redevelopment tool as well. If it was a stunt, it was a good one, a start of a much-needed political conversation, and one where California Democrats are very vulnerable, as now too many people in the know are aware of how homeless whackamole works.

Acting Out, Sans Papa Greenwood

It is well known among LA's self-realized brahmin that UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor Carol Stogsdill, she of the peroxide tresses with the Ozark roots, is indeed quite a proud if petty and vindictive little darlin'.  This was on display in fact just a month ago, if not overtly stated, when she gleefully gave the news to her old LA Times' stairmaster Larry Gordon that UCLA was returning a gift from Donald Sterling to the university's kidney research efforts.

The border of his sanctuary


























LA dashboard, Guadalupe, phony rose, dried palms, scattered prayer cards, Spanish Bible open to salmos 78 and 79, Griffith Park Boulevard, 7.23.14.

The Alarcón Verdict

I am saddened that this ignorant jury could not find it in themselves to step outside of our equally ignorant civic laws and administer real justice to a man standing a purely political trial at the hands of a politically craven District Attorney.