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FoxNews and short memories


JM, We Are Hip Hop, 4.30.08

FoxNews is attempting to throw shade on Councilwoman Janice Hahn, detailing the story of former gang members employed by organizations who do gang work in the City of Los Angeles. Under special scrutiny are relationships involving South LA gangs that faced a horrendous episode in 2005 and 2006.

An especially high level of violence erupted in the Watts projects between the PJ Crips and their sometime rivals the Grape Street Crips in 2005. Hahn worked hard and sometimes fearlessly to help broker a ceasefire between the two gangs and a third gang, the Bounty Hunters, in early 2006, just before an injunction was issued against Grape Street Crips. Two cops who have been reassigned from the gang unit in South LA alleged that Hahn has been used by the gangs.

More recently, a gang member went on to work for a not-for-profit gang interventionist program tangentially supported by Hahn but was charged with rape on a seven-year-old cold case after police collected his DNA during a housing protest.

Michael Krikorian detailed the sorrowful proceedings between the gangs in question two years ago in a fine series of articles, including War and Peace in Watts (July 14, 2005), Unlivable Terms (February 8, 2006), and Death of a Peace Loving Playboy (September 13, 2006).

° ° ° ° °

Those stories seem untouchable now, a scant two years later. To really explore how far local journalism on gangs has deteriorated in the last two years, compare any one of those Krikorian stories to the top story at the former fishwrap of record tonight on the LAPD and gangs. It reads like a brochure for the Mayor and the LAPD. Soon the former fishwrap of record will come with yellow happy faces at the end of each sentence.

City at Noon; Fixie bikes, and the fix is in


JM, Los Angeles (Sunset, Echo Park), 4.30.08

You wondered about it: what gives with the weird bikes? Fixie bikes have one gear and no brakes. This story was right under LA's nose, but it's in The Christian Science Monitor, an old-skool paper that still frets more about content than clicks.

Locally, however, success is described by other measures. Look at what former fishwrap of record editor Russ Stanton has to say about the Times blog Top of the Ticket:

When Top of The Ticket made its debut in June 11, 2007, it was but one of an estimated 100 million blogs on the crowded Internet landscape. Since then, the boys have posted more than 1,900 items, which have drawn more than 6,650 citations from other websites and more than 32,000 comments from readers. It is now ranked in the Top 500 (No. 469 as of a few minutes ago) of all blogs on the Internet.

Yesterday morning, Top of the Ticket surpassed 1.73 million page views in April, breaking the previous latimes.com monthly blogging record set in February by, who else? Don and Andy.

It's this kind of creative thinking that will keep us a must-read in print and online.


Yes. In the way you can't help looking at a disaster. But that's what happens when you define success as being linked by Drudge.

Morning Eye-Opener


JM, Under the 10, 4.29.08

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

Cooler. Those of you who can't stand April, it's almost gone, all of it.

The Chief makes it evident he backs the statistical conclusion that no racial profiling has occurred by an LAPD officer under his watch.

Writer Rodger Jacobs is looking for Wurlitzer's Quake, an old LA novel that flew under most radar. If you don't know Quake, now's your chance to get acquainted. But good luck finding it.

Speaking of books, most of the blogposts I saw on the Festival of Books only confirmed my distaste for the event. I guess I've been calling it a "sewer of commerce" for four years now. But that sounds too angry. All I really want to say about it is that it's not for me. For a few years, I tried to find something I liked. I went to the poet's tent on a tip from a friend, simply because a friend told me that the poets at least were the least nakedly commercial of all. But this year I couldn't even do that, and I think it's now the white-male goofy-shirtness of it all that's getting to me, just as much as the crass commercialism. I'd rather stay home and read Zuma or Rodger any day.

If you hadn't noticed, there are some thoughts on the Ramos Gin Fizz up at The Cocktail Circuit. I'll confess, I hadn't had one before the research began, and the research was prompted by discussions in comments here and at MayorSam.

What's going to make or break the decision of someone considering a run against a weakened Mayor?

Glendale, Caruso-fied



JM, Underwear store, 4.29.08



click images to enlarge




JM, Lago Caruso, 4.29.08



JM, self-portrait with workmen, 4.29.08



Americana at Brand opens this weekend.

City at Noon: Deal or No Deal spreads to LAPL

The City's Deal or No Deal Budget asks the Los Angeles Public Library to trim the book budget and cut 35 staff positions, and close regionals on Sundays. It has provoked the library to redouble its "Save LAPL" efforts.

Here's the webpage: savelapl.org. As though all the libraries are all going away with the proposed budget. This is just the kind of fearmongering the Mayor has invited into our politics, and it's the kind he lived by himself when he rammed Prop S through the unsuspecting electorate as an emergency measure.

Nobody asked me but:
  • 35 staff positions would represent half of a position per branch and a couple at Central, which could be very easily accomplished without the system suffering.
  • Keeping regionals open Sundays is a luxury; and Central is always open in a pinch. A good compromise would be to keep half the regionals open on Sunday, or to rotate a closure day other than Sunday.
  • Trimming the book budget is disappointing, but what patrons really want at more branches is more and more reliable Internet terminals.

Sure, it's a psychic blow to our sense of civitas to trim library services and expenditures on dead tree text. But the Mayor's budget increase---yes, it's an increase---all goes to cops and screws everyone else. The Mayor thinks that cops keep peace more than libraries do; the Libraries should tell the Mayor more directly what they think of the Mayor's budget, rather than foisting yet more scare tactics on we the people, who are already fatigued from them.

Morning Eye-Opener


JM, City Hall, 4.24.08

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

It cools way down today, to 80, and tomorrow, you'll actually want a sweater.

Good news for gerontologists: LA's senior population is growing and the County already has the highest concentration of seniors in the nation, the Daily News reports. The senior population here could double in two decades. Plan your blog accordingly.

Water fees were raised in the South Bay too--Daily Breeze.

Off Vine, the homely Hollywood restaurant-in-a-house that served formidable French country fare, was gutted by fire yesterday.

Wondering aloud: Why does CityWatch bill itself as "an insider look at City Hall" when all the articles (justifiably) talk about the mere lip-service City Hall pays to the communities that comprise Los Angeles? Isn't the special virtue of CityWatch that it's written mostly by outsiders?

It's the first time since 2004, if you can believe that, that the Lakers have survived the first round of the playoffs. They swept Denver, and likely face Utah next.

City Disgraces: Grand detour; the No Deal Budget; More Unsafe Waters

Grand Avenue detoured again. Now honorary developer Related says they'll get in the ground in February 2009. The Times has the story up and top of the site, but Mark Lacter says the Downtown News's Anna Scott had the scoop. The Feb start is contingent securing a construction loan early next year; in short, the Feb start date is pie in the sky.

The Deal or No Deal budget
posturings have begun, with unions insisting they need all the money they get, the Daily News reports. Disappointing is the website www.savecityservices.com which is like a City worker suggestion box. The problem is, the workers aren't very imaginative, and when a business does something like this in earnest, they link the savings to a promotional prize or cut of the dollars saved. But the whole principle of the site is also disappointing, as workers should not be obliged to solve the problems that politicians are paid to.

Down south they have sharks, but we just have sewage closing beaches, the Daily Breeze notes. Ick.


City at Noon: Deal or No Deal

"Deal or No Deal" is the best description yet of the task that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has presented to City Council (and today, the first cut by the Budget and Finance Committee) in evaluating our City's next budget.

The game show "has attracted attention from mathematicians, statisticians, and economists as a natural decision-making experiment." As "contestants are less risk averse or even risk seeking when they have seen their expected winnings tumble" so too can we expect City Departments to seek more risk for more return when trying to deal with the cut-based uncertainties posed by the Mayor's office, with its supplementary pocketful of bond miracles that will get taken off the board as reality sets in.

Watch the "contestants"---the GMs of Animal Reg, Cultural Affairs, Public Works, Personnel, and many others for poignant examples as they lean on their communications and media relations teams to get their risk-embracing messages out. The only unfortunate element of this budgetary madness is that there are no show sponsors other than homeowners, parcel owners, and taxpayers to fund the easy money show that could just as easily deliver the City a worst-case---lots of money, blown, for fewer services than before---as a "win" where Antonio gets his 1,000 cops and all the departments get their money too, but underperform anyway.

Derby Week

DRF.com, the Daily Racing Form, wants you to know that Past Performances will be available to download at the site for free on Wednesday, April 30.


Kentucky Derby Past Performances will be available to download at DRF.com on Wednesday, April 30, while Oaks PPs will be available on April 29. Kentucky Derby and Oaks PPs are free to download, giving you the opportunity to start handicapping these major races days ahead of time.


If you haven't been following along since War Pass's win of the Breeder's Cup Juvenile, anyway. Big Brown is going to end up the favorite, and with fairly good reason. The way Colonel John rocketed precisely when he needed to to win the Santa Anita Derby certainly will win some hearts---that race looked like a buffalo stampede down the stretch. I'm leaning towards Pyro...but...let's wait for the workouts and post positions before saying anything rash.

Post positions will be announced Wednesday also. Here's an early look at the contenders. I'm beginning to not like these Derby fields where twenty horses have become a given.

Morning Eye-Opener


JM, Matching green, 4.26.08

Still hot but slightly cooler today, dropping much more tomorrow.

g Wi-fi is in libraries, why not trains? Metrolink hedges, the Daily News says.

g This DN item also helpfully informs: after you shoot a would-be robber, call 1-800-LAW-FULL.

g Ellen Vukovich looks into the future and sees Wendy Greuel as Controller, and Agent Orange agreeing to an EIR to try to wait out the community. She suggests the community find a Councilperson strong enough to do the community's bidding, rather than the developer's. Smart of Ron Kaye to invite a guest opinion in at his nascent blog.

g The Times focuses on problems in Crenshaw District. You wonder why there's a budget deficit? "Los Angeles leaders gambled on a check-bouncing, politically connected developer to shepherd the project. And after $15 million in government subsidies and more than $30 million in private investment, taxpayers -- and the community -- have lost." Wait until they start digging into East LA graft, which would make this look like peanuts if they had the will to do so. Even worse than developers who bounce checks are developers who don't.

g Could Mexican-American relations have had a worse two weeks? It started with the Absolut ad agency's reconquista map. Anti-kidnapping units were found to be kidnapping tourists themselves. A Mexican official visiting Washington stole Blackberries from the White House. And the final immense bloodbath in teejay, San Diego's sister city, where the dead were laid out on a maquiladora road. Things are not well within the already schizo relationship between the two countries that are more different to each other than any that share a 1,000 mile-plus border in the world.

g And don't forget, just last year your downtown crew thought it was a good idea to give Grand Avenue $60 million in tax breaks even as it was declaring its fiscal emergency.

Villaraigosa fiddled all through the writer's strike, but to get his cops, he'll try every accounting trick possible, including delaying payment into a key pension plan, Zahniser says.

Salsipuedes Beach


JM, Hermosa, 9.5.07

Hi. Don't forget The Rules for comments. No slurs, no direct insults of other commentators. Sometimes I let profanity slip but never vulgarity (and if you wonder what the difference between vulgarity and profanity is, email me).

After a scant three weeks of street-hassle, the blog's getting great traffic for a three-week-old blog, and the comments are still one of the best parts of the site. So don't get carried away, and I won't get carried away with deleting. I love to read all the comments here and elsewhere, and so do others. Make it comfortable for as many others as possible.

Postcards from the edge of...Los Feliz


JM, Vermont Car Wash, 4.27.o8

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

The Car Wash Workers Organizing Committee, a United Steelworkers adjunct with some SEIU support, pickets Vermont Hand Wash at Hollywood and Prospect Sunday morning. The bulk of the picketers don't work for the car wash. "No justice, no peace" is the bullhorn chant. The dispute is over Vermont Hand Wash not having a contract with an organization that doesn't have many contracts. It's also over the firing of Jose Torres, an outspoken worker at the company.

If you're Anglo and over forty, you're thinking---"you mean there's such a thing as a union car wash?" Don't doubt; check cleancarwashla.com. The organization released a paper in late March of this year entitled "Cleaning up the Car Wash Industry" [warning: pdf].


The rock goes in first...

Across the street, work is finally underway in the rehabbing of the absurd and neglected flatiron island formed by the triangle of Hollywood, Vermont, and the end of Prospect. The island has been used as a convenient cab layover station for years and years; one is even seen in the photo. But the community for some reason doesn't like the cabs, and the layover zone is likely to go.

Some enterprising scribe should try to learn exactly how much Barrio Planners made off the development phase of the tiny island. Probably enough to buy a little island off the coast of Maine.

Yours truly has enjoyed many a late-night cab ride home from said zone after tee many martoonis downtown and a subsequent uneasy Metro ride home. If it indeed goes, it will be missed.

Sunday Morning Mimosa


JM, Out to lunch, 9.3.07

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

Hot day, helicopter, smoke, hillside. Repeat ad inf.

Carolina Garcia's first day in Woodland Hills is tomorrow, and media observers will wonder what kind of personal stamp she will try to put on the Daily News. Russ Stanton at the Times, new to his job but not new to town, wants fewer stories that jump. Garcia, who may not yet even recognize the importance of the City's Council Districts to its governing structure, should know enough not to move too hastily, but in LA there's so much to learn...

Here's the way community dialogs work: at a meeting, your position may be the overwhelming one by a factor of twenty, but among media who show up and shape public information, you share equal time with your opponents. So it was as the Daily News gives more time to mediator Barbara Goldfarb than to the N02HomeDepot organizers. And so it was on KNBC last night when the station let Home Depot frame the debate as being about day laborers.

Councilman Richard Alarcon, whose district is ravaged by the San Fers street gang, is now having second thoughts about an injunction that might include too wide a territory to be effective, the DN says. Out of the discussion: the CRA has been tinkering with Sylmar for years, to no effect. The adjacent City of San Fernando has somehow done a better job policing gangs, which may give the whack-a-mole theory (that when you police gangs in a specific jurisdiction, they simply hop to another area) some credence.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn's is very active of late: now she's calling on LAX to explain a contract award that smacked of cronyism. Are the fabled turquoise eyes also eying something bigger? People are now beginning to whisper about a prospective mayoral run in 2009. Hahn is up for re-election in 2009 herself, and it seems unlikely she'd jump office unless Villaraigosa suddenly falters--falters even more than usual.

The annual May Day protest, which now seems more about police than about politics, is coming, and police are conducting dress rehearsals, the Times reports. Watch the event itself get marginalized by the story of how well it's policed this year---which of course would be no story at all.

And the annual sewer of commerce known as the Times Book Fair wraps today, so if you need people to tell you in person what books you should be buying, by all means go. Or hang out with the poets, who aren't as much about marketing as the prose pushers are.

Solidarity in Sunland Tujunga


Shining on in the shade: No2HomeDepot's Abby Diamond with KNBC

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

It was supposed to be dialog; but it soon ironically became a City-funded networking party for about 300 Sunland Tujunga stakeholders who oppose Home Depot's effort to site a store on Foothill Boulevard.

The City Attorney's office, through its primary mediation specialist, Avis Ridley-Thomas, sent twenty-plus moderators and one mediation anchor, Barbara Goldfarb, to facilitate community pro-and-con dialog sessions.


Group 2: the nicest printing yet the most crossouts

It proved difficult to find more than a single proponent for the global retail giant at any single table, and most tables had none. The results were scribbled onto large pads and shared with the larger group after the dialog sessions. Because of the paucity of sentiment in favor of Home Depot, few benefits were offered on any table's list; some were even offered tongue-in-cheek to demonstrate how little pro sentiment there was.


Happy with the Do-It Center

Even before the day began, the City considered farming out the mediation process to one of two mediation entities, one backed by Loyola Law School and the other, The Center for Public Dispute Mediation. On the latter's advisory board is former Councilman Hal Bernson, who was also chair of the City's Planning and Land Use Management Committee.


I hear y'all...Zuma Dogg listens to local land-use experts


Many tables called for revisiting the EIR, a phase that the original permitting process slighted, very unusual for a project of this scope.

For all the community stakeholder's solidarity, Home Depot appears even less flexible. The company sent three representatives. It has since early last year maintained a premature Home Depot sign up on Foothill---an odd flaunting of signage under any circumstances, but especially when considering that this particular property's address is situated on a side street so as not to trigger various environmental impact inquiries.

Grand Avenue Park plans received tepidly

This Tuesday, Related Cos. brought the public an initial glimpse of Grand Avenue Park, the green and civic element of the Grand Avenue project, and the community was satisfied but far from overwhelmed. The developer also pleaded poverty and wants to encumber State funds for the would-be park.

The Downtown News's Anna Scott describes the budget concerns and garners community reaction.

While most maquettes and drawings are useful at this stage, the planners did incorporate a highly axialized concept for the park that generally honors the sanctity of the space. The space is potentially one of LA's most dynamic, stretching between the seats of culture (Music Center) and political life (City Hall). Situated near Civic Center Metro Station, it could host special civic events, such as the culmination of victory parades and civic rallies. President Carter spoke in the Park to a large crowd in 1980 on immigrant rights.

There are no plans as yet for a Speakers Corner, which could not only help create a stronger sense of civic mindedness in the park but also catch overflow public comment from City Council.

Sunland Tujunga's "invasive retail" problem and its southern neighbor

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

It is fair to say that the first truly direct testing of the community of Sunland Tujunga by Home Depot tomorrow is being watched anxiously in many sections of the City---and even outside of Los Angeles as well. Nervous new retail operators from Sunland Tujunga's neighbor to the south, the City of Glendale, already concerned about the downturn in the economy, are wondering if the "invasive retail" sentiment will spread to their largely white, largely suburban edge city with the same kind of fervor that the movement has cultivated in LA's most northeastern---and most isolated---community.

Glendale and Sunland Tujunga have a reciprocal relationship across the Verdugos that straddle the communities (the Verdugo mountains, however, belong mostly to Glendale). Sunland Tujunga shops Glendale nearly as much as it shops its own community, and Glendale reaps the benefit of the revenue, while Sunland Tujunga gladly pays the price for its isolation from "invasive retail"---a concept completely opposite to Glendale's approach of using retail to entice customers from nearby middle-class Los Angeles communities like Sunland Tujunga, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Glassell Park, Atwater, Silver Lake, and Los Feliz, as well as the cities of Burbank and Pasadena.

While Sunland Tujunga is mostly a pure middle class community with a pronounced predisposition to the bucolic, especially on its northernmost fringes, Glendale has a large section of upper-tier neighborhoods and even not one but three very wealthy pockets, all significantly detached from the retail zone below the 134 and east of Glendale Boulevard. Glendale is already oversaturated with retail development, all along Glendale Boulevard, Central, and Brand, and is getting even more. As a consequence, its tax base is enormous for its size, enabling it to service not only a large Armenian immigrant community but also to offer many top quality community services to the elderly and physically challenged and to staff seven libraries and many parks, three of the libraries are excellent and one of the rec centers, Pacific Park, is an architectural marvel. It is blessed by being able to consign its industrial services to its southwest, as adjacent San Fernando Road, following old railroad tracks along the LA River, belongs not to Glendale but to Los Angeles, and is zoned for commercial and industrial use. There's a Home Depot on San Fernando, barely tucked into City of LA limits, and Glendale has organized the streets surrounding it to make sure the traffic is all directed to San Fernando.

In Sunland Tujunga, there is none of this careful planning; there is only community in its tightly-packaged frontier sense. Historically it has accomplished community planning by circling the wagons and shooting outwards. And it's easy to see why: cut off from elsewhere as a narrow valley between two oddly imposing mountain chains, the service street is also the main street of the valley: Foothill. This is more important to the debate and the community than outsiders realize. What looks like a banal strip of stucco retail boxes and gas stations also doubles as the community's main artery hosting the Library, Council office, and all the restaurants in the neighborhood; you can't get anywhere without using Foothill, which is not nearly so well equipped for heavy use as San Fernando with its adjacent railroad tracks is.

There really is no earnest debate regarding the Home Depoting of Sunland Tujunga: the community doesn't want this store, and the corporation does; a "win-win" as the survey instrument calls for would simply necessitate the impossible, cutting the baby in half. Via a nearly frivolous lawsuit that should have been tossed out (and would be, were the City of LA to fight it in earnest), the corporation has blackmailed the City into a "mediation" that can only result in further polarization and enmity between the community and the global retailer. But holding their collective breaths are the developers who have their mixed use eyes on Glendale, which has bent over backwards to accommodate Rick Caruso's Americana at Brand, which, like most of Glendale's top retailers including its auto dealers, will depend on consumers from the adjacent middle class LA communities.

Should the community of Sunland Tujunga cause further trouble tomorrow and down the line, the developers and new retailers of Glendale will have to rethink their town as a development safe-haven, insulated from developer-hostile community activism. Perchance they will even be obliged to rethink the traditional Glendale formula of servicing hyper-consumptive retail culture itself.

Pitbulls, Unleashed

The former fishwrap of record's new pet blog, Unleashed, promises to be a hit in this most progressive animal rights city of all. A snippet today:

Wow. So many false statements (pit bulls that snap? please ... the only fatalities from pit bulls in the last two years have been from intact, breeding cycle dogs and/or chained dogs and some Darwin-award winning children ... anyone who knows dogs would have seen any of those attacks coming) Some people just aren't worth arguing with though.

Also at the blog is "the 411 on the great white" that killed the swimmer in San Diego today. Either pit bulls never snap; or pit bulls are snapped to begin with. You decide. Take it there; I'm glad there's an outlet at last.

City at Noon: Smith goes nuts

Ron Kaye's recent rambler about Grieg Smith's proposal to shift sidewalk repair to property owners demonstrates how far your average kleptocratic City Counciman is willing to go to screw every current homeowner in the City of Los Angeles.

Knowing full well that homeowners are a minority in town, rather than the majority they constitute in nineteen of the nation's top twenty cities, Smith is simply trying to take advantage of a minority community, as are most Councilpeople these days.

Basically, they're trying to drive everyone who currently owns single-family property here out of town with fee hikes, in the hope that the lot will sell to someone who wants to develop forty cramped units on it---the kind of person who slips a Councilperson a few grand to get the zone change he or she wants.

I'll tell you what, Smith: if you want me to repair my own sidewalk, the sidewalk that your City built, the sidewalk that your City hasn't maintained for eighty-three years: I'll just put NO TRESSPASSING signs on either end of it too, to make sure nobody hurts themselves on what you're now telling me is my property to fix.

Or better yet: how about me just maintaining my property and you maintaining yours, the City sidewalk.

Don't you even think of shifting one of your failing City's biggest liabilities to me. It's unethical, and of course, it will soon be determined illegal too.

Deed me the sidewalk and I'll maintain it in the way that I want to. But if it's your property---you maintain it.

ELSEWHERE: SEIU boasts about 50/50 program, where homeowners pay half for City repairs.

Morning Eye-Opener


JM, Chris and Russ overexposed, 4.24.08

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

Russ Stanton came to the LA Press Club last night and proved himself more interested in management than journalism. Things that fetched eyeballs were good; the Times still had many great writers left; the tactics behind putting out a daily newspaper were subordinated to the strategy of competing in new markets. These considerations seem more the publisher's job than the top editor's. A tech wonk in the audience, not even a scribe himself, asked the best question: "Your talk was about strategy, but you're being asked questions about tactics..." "That's the problem in a nutshell," Stanton said, wondering how to visualize a new strategy in an organization that thinks hyper-tactically. Strategy is more typically the publisher's domain; editors more typically fight for writers, space, stories, the stuff that makes any given day. Also interesting subtext: he kept referring to the space available in the paper as "real estate", the webmaster's term. He wants the Times' site to be stickier; he wants the scribes to be younger and he wants scribes who easily plug into other media. He called print "dead trees." He wants fewer stories to jump. He thought that links from Drudge were good. He admitted he has no dominion over the editorial and op-ed pages.

Brady Westwater thoughtfully informed Russ that his local beat scribes were making tons of errors and even writing fiction in some cases.

Those of us who knew Gehry's work way back when complained of how impermanent it was. And now Santa Monica Place is getting a complete makeover after a scant twenty-seven years. Courtesy Archinect, which is very uneven but which you design people might like to bookmark as Dwell continues its soft descent since Allison's sudden departure.

The mudslinging has begun: Parks calls Ridley-Thomas a "politician", the Daily News says. Somehow, Sheriff Baca has endorsed both candidates.

If you steal a peek at the Daily News left sidebar, you'll note that four of the ten top viewed stories involve the Lakers. Stanton also said last night that the former fishwrap of record was trying to figure out a way to work the Lakers into news stories. So word is out on Laker impact. Now for le deluge blogosphérique.

Club Fed for Snipes

~
Wesley Snipes gets three years in the concrete chateau for chronic tax evasion.

Maximum lawman William Terrell Hodges says Snipes exhibited a "history of contempt over a period of time. In my mind these are serious crimes, albeit misdemeanors," Hodges said.

Snipes maintained in a yearslong battle with the IRS he did not have to pay taxes, using fringe arguments common to "tax protesters" who say the government has no legal right to collect. After joining Kahn's group, the government said Snipes instructed his employees to stop paying their own taxes and sought $11 million (€6.98 million) in 1996 and 1997 taxes he legally paid....

Prosecutors said Snipes' case was important to send a message to would-be tax protesters not to test the government.

Message sent. Good luck on your own.

Keep on Taco Trucking

~
Jonathan Gold
has le bouquet final on taco trucks in today's Weekly: "Keep on Taco Trucking." At the bottom is a list of A Few Good Trucks:

A Few Good Trucks (locations as of this writing):Gorditas Lupita’s, Eagle Rock Blvd. near Avenue 34, Glassell Park; Cemitas Tepeac, Indiana St. at César Chávez, East L.A.; La Oaxaqueña, Lincoln Blvd. at Rose, Venice; 4 Ventos, Whittier Blvd. east of Soto, East L.A.; El Pique, car-wash parking lot on York at Avenue 53, Highland Park; El Chato, Olympic Blvd. near La Brea, L.A.; El Taquito Mexicana, auto-shop parking lot on Lake Ave. near California, Pasadena; El Taurino, 1104 S. Hoover St. at 11th, L.A.; El Matador, Lexington at Western, L.A.; Rambo’s Tacos, Eagle Rock Blvd. south of York, Eagle Rock; King Taco, 4504 E. Third St. at Ford, East L.A.; La Estrella, 502 N. Fair Oaks, Pasadena; Mariela’s, Third St. near Catalina, Koreatown, and Sunset near Coronado, Silver Lake.

Complete with photo essay. Since County Supe Gloria Molina made eating off of a taco truck a virtual act of civil disobedience, the trucks have only become more popular than ever.

City at Noon: Arts in LA---County expanding, City declining

~
The Mexican government has made a national cult of Muralism, and, naturally, criticism is proscribed in any and every cult. Mural painting today belongs to what might be called the Wax Museum of Mexican Nationalism, presided over by the head of Juarez the Taciturn.
--Octavio Paz, Essays on Mexican Art.

In so many areas, the County is growing, but at the City's expense. Take the arena of arts.

The County budget calls for a 3.8% increase in arts spending. Not so at the City, where the Mayor wants to cut the Cultural Affairs department 6.1% from last year's pittance.

How can this be, when the County is more beholden to property tax revenue than the City, and politicians are pleading that property tax revenue is what's hurting?

Make no mistake, the City of Los Angeles benefits enormously from the County support: the County museums at Exposition Park, the County-backed Music Center, and the LACMA complex are all tucked well within City of LA city limits, and return hundreds of millions in revenue to the City.

But the stagnation of Cultural Affairs budget in a time of artistic flourishing demonstrates the weather-vane desperation of the Villaraigosa mayoralty: even while constructing a budget that is larger than last year's, the Mayor feels more obliged to spend money on public safety and less on arts and culture. But the cult of murals and the other arts may be a more productive, and at minimum an equally valid, way to engage today's youth than uncertain public safety programs.

The Decorated PFC


JM, Charles Durning, 4.22.08

The event was winding down; people were saying goodnight. Suddenly Charles Durning, newly decorated to the Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur of France, the nation's oldest and most revered order, came forward into a crowd of gents who seemed right out of The Sting. It was a good time to snap a cellphone shot; it was a good event put on by the French consulate, honoring an American who not only has appeared in over 180 films but who long ago landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day and who escaped from German prison camps twice during the war. PFC Durning regaled the Gallic crowd with tales of Germans merciful and Germans not so. The French government in the person of Philippe Larrieu, Consul Général de France à Los Angeles, expressed its debt of gratitude.

Durning is 85 and received SAG's lifetime achievement award two months ago.


City at Noon; Newton and Moore

Street voyeurism: Ron Kaye posts a testy exchange between Mayoral candidate Walter Moore and op-ed editor at the Times Jim Newton (abridged):

WM: ...So when you wonder why the L.A. Times hires reporters and editors who never seem to "get it," just remember: the newspaper is a business. Unfortunately, it's a business that puts its own profits ahead of the lives of the people of L.A. The publishers are not going to entrust their English-language subsidiary to managers who might cut sales at their Spanish-language subsidiary. Instead, the publishers hire reporters and editors willing to adhere to the "party line," namely, "there are no illegal people."

JN:
This is absurd, and I think you know it....

WM:
Your "coverage" of this issue is absurd....You're not running a newspaper; you're running a propaganda machine.

JN:
...I don't even know who runs Hoy or how it's doing -- any more than I do about Newsday or the Baltimore Sun. Criticize all you want. But this argument is just nuts.

WM:
...Why do you think the Tribune hired and keeps you instead of someone able to acknowledge that importing gang members from abroad might not be the greatest idea in the world?...

Follow-up questions might include: who forwarded this to Kaye? It looks like Moore must have. Why would Newton get so testy when we've seen so many lines of inquiry regarding the Times and conflicts of interest in the past? Why would Walter Moore be so testy as to pick up the line of inquiry himself, picking an argument with the proverbial place that buys ink by the barrell?

One thing the Times has continuously forgotten to mention is the fact that without Walter Moore there would be no discussion of Special Order 40 at this time. Also, while most media outlets were referring to Moore's proposal as "Jamiel's Law", the Times has largely sidestepped the term, apparently because it personifies the issue too much.

City at Noon: 40 on 40; Latinos en LAPD

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The Times scraped around for 40 locals to offer their opinions on Special Order 40; included in the list are Minuteman Jim Gilchrist and libertarian-leaning Anglos Walter Moore, Patrick Frey, Melrose Larry Green, and chismosa Amy Alkon.

The most ludicrous statement in the piece is made by the Times editorial board itself, one of the forty, which said:

The [Jamiel Shaw, Jr.] tragedy exposes deplorable failures in the jailhouse processing of illegal immigrant criminals, but it has nothing to do with the LAPD, much less with Special Order 40.

It's hard to know how they can be so sure of that. Most apologists for SO40 insist that it protects witnesses, and leave things at that. The Times goes much further, denying any possibility of a link between Special Order 40 and the potential to commit a murder; this is in fact a reductio ad adsurdum for the opposing argument. Jamiel's killer may or may not have had a chance to commit a capital crime in the United States at all had his immigrant status been known at the time of his original arrest.

Significantly, Richard Riordan says that the City is right to seek clarification in what may be a wedge-issue for a 2009 Mayoral candidacy.

At La Opinión, there was a story last weekend about recruiting more Latinos for the LAPD in which Bratton calls the Latino community the best source of recruiting and the Mayor says that the war is hindering the recruiting effort. Latino officers already compose a majority in the force.

Birk's Hollenbeck mural hits CityBeat

~{
[UPDATE: CityBeat's archive no longer online. Glad to have preserved what I did.]

As though to compensate for the weird cover on LACMA last week, CityBeat this week catches up wtih Sandow Birk, who's mural for the percent-for-art element of the Hollenbeck Police Station makeover has been criticized in some quarters as condescending:

Only the story isn’t so simple as an elite outsider cocking a snook at a working-class community. “I’m really quite distressed that there’s been such an outcry on what I think is a great project, and that the criticisms are so outlandish and false,” Sandow Birk let me know via e-mail. “The LAPD was involved in the project at every step of the way, and the imagery in the mural was suggested by LAPD officers from Hollenbeck station themselves. This has been a huge project that has been going on for five years, from planning to coming up with a design to the final creation of the mural. At every meeting that I have attended there have been LAPD members and community members involved. They told me stories about the history of the precinct, gave me a tour of the facilities, and showed me their favorite places to eat, as well as memorabilia and stories of remarkable police officers. All of their input was used in the creation of the final design.”


As a long-ago arts admin for the City, I can only add that my experience is that the LAPD was the easiest City agency of all to work with when working on an arts project. (What was the most difficult? The Libraries, of course, because everyone there already knew everything about art, as they kept telling us). And as a guy who's spent an afternoon of classroom time with Birk myself I have to say that the guy is a very dexterious thinker as well as an intriguing artist.

Gregory Rodriguez in Glendale tonight; Ron Kaye's first time

This one is made for you. Times scribe Gregory Rodriguez, author of a book with a really long title, is at Glendale's Central Library auditorium tonight at 7 p.m., talking about his favorite subject, Mexican American and Anglo American race relations, and probably some other things. I met him recently and he knew me from the blogosphere and didn't seem to like me; but I know he's a busy guy, what with Zocalo, the City's best public speaker series, where they give away great catered food and wine after each event as a vurrry compelling lure. Anyway, if you have a chance, go, and find out what things are like when an auditorium turns the mike on him.

Also, a scribe's best friend, Ron Kaye, the recently retired lord of the Daily News, has a new blog, his first. RonKayeLA.com you can bet will be trafficked by lots of scribes trolling for stories they should be out making phone calls about. It should be a treat to watch the unedited thoughts of the editor unfold, and how things echo in local print a couple of days later.

Back to moderation

I'm sorry to say that comments were unrestricted for an hour but I had to bring the moderation mode back almost immediately. Two users posted insults regarding commentators within the hour that comments were unrestricted.

I really don't have much hope that this blog will be unmoderated any time soon. It's disappointing, but I do want to make sure when you read comments here that you are not offended.

I love to read comments as they give me insight into what people are thinking and they even help me with other projects a startling percentage of the time. Yes, comment moderation is a hassle on any street, and I would rather read comments when I have time to, not merely for the sake of approving or disapproving them. But I'm not going to let the blog be hijacked by a couple of people who like to flirt with hate speech and who like to dis other commentators.

It doesn't make me happy to spend time moderating comments, and it sure doesn't help your cause when I have to reject something. I don't like being obliged to moderate comments because of two damn people, but it's part of maintaining a blog and making it worthwhile, and I'll try doing that as best I can.

So forgive the moderation setting. Please leave whatever comments you're inclined to leave; but if you want them published, don't use hate speech, don't mock other commentators, and don't go near racial slurs.

More growing pains to come

Mayor Villaraigosa's developer-beholden Planning Department team, spearheaded by rogue "planner" Gail Goldberg, now wants to build 113,000 more units in LA over the next six years, and thinks that if factoring in all urban infill opportunities, we have space for 350,000.

Goldberg and her team will be busy selling the plan to GROW LA to faux community stakeholder meetings over the next three months.

The problem with having a Planning Chief like Gail Goldberg is that she has never failed to demonstrate that she is completely beholden to the whims of the Mayor's office. Planning cannot come from the Mayor, for the Mayor raises too much money through developers.

If the Mayor wants 113,000, that's what Goldberg will want. LA is not her expertise, it is the former San Diegan's internship. Coming to planning in midlife, she never quite got a feel for what was good for any City, only what was good for Gail Goldberg.

Ms. Goldberg has no Angeleno legacy whatsoever to which to look for counsel on planning decisions. She once needed a map to get from downtown to Los Feliz. Where longtime residents saw natural geographic barriers to regions of the City, such as the Ballona wetlands, the Santa Monica Mountains, the LA River basin, the Arroyo Seco, stretches which made for long sweeps through transitional landscape, Goldberg only looks for developer-friendly urban infill opportunities, and shock community therapies, to congest the City into begging for failing transit, a la Seoul. She doesn't seem to know that "smart growth" is simply growth with toney developer's spin, or that "affordable housing" can also be accomplished through market forces and even cheap-on-the-dollar Fed rental programs like Section 8 housing, rather than civic hyper-kleptomania.

She doesn't know the issues; she doesn't listen to the people; she should go. Whether by accident or design, more than any other single person, she's ruining the City for the future.

City at Noon: Maria Elena onstage at LATC, + Rutten on Team Tony


JM, LATC, 4.16.08

Labor as Theater: The lineup at the Latino Theater Company's Los Angeles Theater Center includes a conversation with labor leader Maria Elena Durazo. Inserting politics into a theater space seems like a deliberte slap in the face to the City's Department of Cultural Affairs. The bitter dispute for control of the space involved many recriminations.

The LATC venue was awarded as a home to the Latino Theater Company through a considerable taxpayer admixture of City and State funds, and string pulling by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Fabian Nunez, over the wishes of the City's Department of Cultural Affairs, which wanted to award the space to a Shakespeare company.

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Up Spring Street a little, Tim Rutten is the latest Times scribe to jump into the Mayor's lap:
Most important, the mayor demonstrated his commitment to the gang issue by increasing funding for anti-gang initiatives from $19 million to $24 million. That may not sound like a lot, but in a year of budgetary crisis and proposed fee hikes on electricity and trash collection, it's the equivalent of giving a quart of political blood.
No it's not. It's the equivalent of 1/12th of a gift from Eli Broad to LACMA for something with his name on it. I'm sure you can find plenty of your own equivalents. Who does he think he's kidding?

La Opinión goes Euro-portal

La Opinión is part of ImpreMedia, and if you didn't click the website today you'll find a big surprise. Big.

The Spanish-language media entity went to a Euro-styled tabloid portal rather than a blase American mariscos-wrap gray page. It. Looks. Great. It. Works. Great. Be proud of a fishwrap's website in town at last! Complete with print ed interactive front-page, er, primera pagina icon.

Check out the smart edition, it's way fun. The fact that some of the handles are still in English as of this posting shows you that yeah, this is still an honest-to-goodness beta, but they launched anyway.

Adweek has an item on the changeover.

O Captain, My Captain...




April 14, 2008:
Antonio gives State of the City address.

April 14, 1912: Titanic hits iceberg.

Click to WEBCAST of speech on 35.

Noteworthy quote from Fantasyland: "Angelenos, lets imagine the horizon beyond our sight. Let's do it as a family. Let's do it as a community. Let's do it as one city."

Impressions from our far-flung correspondents:

"I've never heard more cliches in a speech in my life..."

"Why is...he talking...so...spaced...outttt...like...is....he...drunk?..."

"Where's a single specific on the City outside of gang stuff? Who's getting laid off? Robin Kramer?"

"From $1 billion down to $24 million for gangs, I guess he learned which way the wind is blowing. It's all the Connie Rice plan, but without the money."

Other local reactions:

Rail Riders Union: "That is a great start. Here at the Rail Riders Union, we are looking forward to seeing how he plans on making this a reality–and how we can help implement this vision for the region’s future!"

Boifromtroy: "It looks like he is setting the stage to go to the voters, perhaps later this year, to ask for money to expand rail, but will try to sweeten the pot by also leveraging what can be garnered from private investment. That is a smart move, and I am sure we will hear more about it."

Sylvia Cochran: "Case in point is the trash fee hike. Alleging that the city is currently subsidizing the trash pickup and not passing on the full cost to the consumer, the fee hike is needed to reimburse the city for its expenditure. While this sounds good in theory, the fact that any subsidizing of services is done with city funds which are - you guessed it! - paid for by tax revenues, a recompensing of these expenditures hits the tax payers thrice: one time by paying taxes, the next time by paying trash pick up fees, and a third time by paying an increased fee for said trash pick up."

Effective Public Comment




Zuma Dogg and MayorSam have teamed to bring you clips of a couple of Councilpeople, including the Prez, yapping through what was otherwise noteworthy public comment. But of course this has been the way Councilmembers have treated public comment for decades. Remember Mike Hernandez hopping around? I don't think he was ever even seated during any public comment session in his whole tenure of office.

Here are some pointers on making effective public comment:

  1. Wear business attire. Pretend you're going to court. You are: these people are the law, these people make laws.
  2. If you have prepared remarks, make sure they're ready to go, and take them out of something clean and formidable quickly when you get to the mike.
  3. Try to talk to one of your own council district deputies before you make the comment. Try to draw it to your Council district deputy's attention that you're going to make the comment a day or two ahead of time, and try to give the deputy a draft or copy of who you are and what you are going to say, with contact information. Ask them what you think might make public comment most valuable for them. Sure, it may be insincere. But you won't look like Leonard Shapiro reacting to the morning's headlines, which you should do at your local blog anyway.
  4. Follow the order, "Mr. President Garcetti, Madame Pro Tem Greuel, Councilman LaBonge (or whomever your Councilman is), and members of City Council..."
  5. If you are even tangentially affiliated with any organization, make it known. The more City of LA voters tied to that organization the better. Naming churches, temples, and mosques in the City are great attention getters. So are city-based businesses and organizations.
  6. Make no predictions of doom, and certainly make no threats. The prophet is unwelcome in his or her own country.
  7. Be bullet-point quick. Sequential arguments piled one on top of the other are most effective.
  8. Excepting causa celebres when you or your "team" have invited media, this is not a moment for dramatic oratory. This is a moment to be a teacher, to educate. What is Council missing? What story didn't they have in Committee on your issue, what story won't they be getting from the CLA? That is what will be best heard.

After your public comment, leave the mike stand. But don't sit down; walk to some place where you can be approached. Maybe there is someone in the gallery who wants to talk to you; maybe even someone from a Council office. Hang out standing wherever you think is a good spot to hang out for a minute or two, to enable any new friend to get to know you.

That's your right. It's your Chamber as much as theirs.

Labor march gathering for Tuesday; Jamiel's Law in Wave, CityBeat

A gathering phalanx of laborers will march an intriguing route---from the La Brea Tar Pits to the Port of Los Angeles---beginning next Tuesday, April 15, to raise awareness of the discrepancy between the cost of living and wages, the Wave. Los Angeles to the marchers is "the low wage capital of the United States." The 28-mile march will last three days.

The Wave also reports on the plea in City Council by the father of Jamiel Shaw, Jr. to end Special Order 40. If you missed it, the Accused killer of Jamiel Shaw Jr., Pedro Espinoza, pleads not guilty.

Also add CityBeat to the growing list of publications that are taking a peek at Jamiel's Law, and even daring to call it that by name. CityBeat even went so far as to make mention of Walter Moore's wife Judy's appearance in Chamber Tuesday.

BTW, when those marchers get to the Port of LA, they'll arrive in a diesel-death zone that LA Sniper Alan Mittlestadt says has been written off by Antonio, in his CityBeat piece this week.

Who?


Carmel it aint


Ron Kaye knew LA the way Tom Landry knew a football field: every inch, for decades. The Daily News's new top editor, Carolina Garcia, at least has one thing going for her: she won't be biased by much previous knowledge of the gridiron of Los Angeles.

Who is Carolina Garcia?

Of the Monterey County Herald, a paper with a fifth of the circulation of the Daily News?

One thing jumps out at you on this impromptu c.v.: Carolina Garcia...

"Most dangerous story: 'Can’t recall anything that was especially dangerous...'"

The idea of a local top editor having had time to create such a document is an entertaining one. But certainly of equal intrigue will be Ms. Garcia's mixing with the same stellar, street-wise newsroom that has brought us, for example, the unparalleled coverage of the slaying of SWAT officer Randal Simmons. Does she know what such coverage takes? Will she deem it worthwhile?

It will certainly be new ground for her, as will learning the impact of gang life in Los Angeles; in fact, there are probably more dangerous gangs in LA than there are homicides in Monterery County each year. I don't have the figures, but there are almost certainly at minimum a dozen times more homicides in the City of Los Angeles than in the County of Monterey.


A top ed at a newspaper can float above this a bit, as Russ Stanton seems to be doing at the Times, spending his days greenlighting apologies, retractions and whatnot. But that seems unlikely at the Daily News, already tightly held, where Ron Kaye knew the paper's newsroom best of all the paper's sections. Wishing Carolina Garcia all the best in the transition, and hoping she finds the high drama of the big town down south to her liking.