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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 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: 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 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, 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 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 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.

City at Noon: Tales from the Fourth Floor

JM, North Wing, Fourth Floor, City Hall, 4.24.08

Parke out of favor? A Councilperson told me this noon hour that the Proposition H campaign of 2006 "was very badly run." Parke Skelton, a veteran of 180 political campaigns, ran the Mayor's Prop H Affordable Housing Bond campaign, which faltered in November 2006. The campaign dove to 62% in the ultimate week with the voters, four points short of the 66% required by law on dedicated bond issues.

Complicating the campaign, which outspent its token, unfunded opposition by over three million dollars and included a broadcast media budget, was the fact that Mayor Villaraigosa and City Council President Eric Garcetti disagreed on the measure's timing.
With a few bond issues ramping up for November around the council offices, look to a changing of the guard in political consulting for City of LA races in 2008.

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.

Morning Eye-Opener

JM, Luxury condos, Koreatown, 1.23.08

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

The Weekly cover is on billboards, a story that has been with us since Mike Feuer tried to have them outlawed and Rocky Delgadillo took advantage. We're the laughingstock of the nation in this department. I'm just glad we can't see one from the backyard---then again, we live in a canyon and can't see very much anyway. The one the owner of Mise en Place put up a few years back on the Hillhurst really tore at the heart of the community; if you can't make your business work, you can always let someone throw up a billboard, and your Councilperson is not likely to do a thing, because they all saw what happened to Feuer.

Money graf: "Villaraigosa, Delgadillo and the City Council are, in fact, doing the opposite: They are richly rewarding three billboard firms — CBS, Clear Channel and Regency — quietly letting them erect 877 pulsating, ultrabright, light-emitting-diode advertising signs in dozens of unsuspecting neighborhoods citywide. And now, a month after Councilman Reyes proposed a windfall for billboard firms — a new “sign district” allowing megasigns downtown — Councilman Herb Wesson is demanding a much bigger special district in Koreatown. One big reason the City Council is so keen to create special “sign districts” filled with street clutter: Richard Alarcon, Tony Cardenas, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Janice Hahn, Jose Huizar, Tom LaBonge, Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, Ed Reyes, Bill Rosendahl, Greig Smith, Jack Weiss, Herb Wesson, Dennis Zine and the mayor have all accepted campaign funds from the industry they have failed to regulate."

The Daily News notes how public outcry---inspired by the reporting of the Daily News---killed the proposal to charge $1 for the interbranch transfer of library books. City Librarian Fontayne Holmes has told the angry readers that she would oppose the fee. The paper says that the Library Commission is out of touch.

They're not the only ones. The LATimes editorial board calls the Mayor's budget "realistic." Who wrote this? "The city's elected leader operates within narrow confines." We'll see how realistic it is in November, and how narrow the confines, when we see what kind of bond measures are on the ballot.

About that trip to Dubai: Jose Huizar didn't go. The Councilman backed out when the conference's organizers asked him to pay his own way. Huizar felt he couldn't validate the expenditure at this time of City budget problems, Peter Hidalgo told me yesterday.

There is an op-ed in today's Times about creating a new public agency to oversee County health care, rather than obliging the Supervisors to do it. It doesn't seem like a bad idea.

A small-craft intrusion barrier has been installed at the Port of LA. The barrier is just short of a mile long. It's a homeland security measure.

Today is Armenian Remembrance Day, and some Armenian businesses in Los Feliz and Glendale will likely be closed in observance.

Silver Lake community icon Fred Ahlert suddenly passed away on Monday. The community is stunned by the news. Fred worked for Barney's; he was spotted often at Silver Lake Wine on Glendale; he enjoyed following the local blogosphere.

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.

Morning Eye-Opener

JM, In the satellite truck, 4.22.08

Hillary confounded all proposition bets by landing exactly on the point-spread. Less and she'd be out, more and she'd look possible. Kos thought it worthwhile to "prove" she got under 10%.

One thing is certain: she only picked up 10 delegates, with little opportunity to pick up more. Guam is May 3, then Indiana and North Carolina May 6.

A paperwork overload for City attorneys, threatening public safety, is but one possible consequence of the Villaraigosa budget cuts, the Daily News reports. Matt Szabo in the Mayor's office: ""It's become an annual rite of spring for the city attorney to cry wolf over the budget." That was from the same Mayor's office who said not passing Prop S would threaten public safety.

Home sellers are caving in the Valley, with home prices dropping at an annual rate of 19%. Prices are now what they were four years ago. The median price of a Valley condo is a scant $315,000.

The settlement against the Roman Catholic Church in the molestation cases was over three times the cost of the Cathedral downtown, so properties have to be borrowed against. The archdiocese is obliged to put up six high schools as collateral. The schools are concentrated in the South Bay; and one, Daniel Murphy, will be closed.

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: Loans Gone Wild!

You've heard of low-doc loans, liar loans, maybe even Ninja (no-income-no-job) loans. But here they are at last: Loans Gone Wild!

"The main factor behind this foreclosure surge remains the decline in home values. Additionally, a lot of the 'loans-gone-wild' activity happened in late 2005 and 2006 and that's working its way through the system. The big 'if' right now is whether or not the economy is in recession. If it is, the foreclosure problem could spread beyond the current categories of dicey mortgages, and into mainstream home loans..."

A reader called. She's concerned about all the gang stuff. So she asks me: "If not gangs, then what is the central issue of Los Angeles today?" I have to respond: "The awful ratio of renters to homeowners---that underlies every other policy we have, and no politician wants to deal with it. LA is a renter's town."

But how do you even talk about that? It interests nobody. The City Council knows that homeowners are badly outnumbered, so they take for granted that they'll just pay for everything from higher trash fees to parcel taxes for whatever they might like, even while receiving increasingly diminishing services.

Look at how buried this quote from a recent Times article is:

Sixty percent of Los Angeles residents are already renters, according to the National Multi Housing Council, an industry group. That compares with a nationwide average of 32%.

Our renter-to-homeowner ratio is the reverse of that of the national average. Now you may know why when I see Gail GPS Goldberg (who recently couldn't find her way from downtown to Los Feliz without a map) approving high-density condo projects that will inevitably go soft and turn into still more rental units, I scream. So should you. While some renters are happy to rent forever, the ones who are most industrious---the ones who dream of owning a home---are obliged to take their dreams elsewhere. The Mayor's know-nothing out-of-town puppets, like Goldberg and Boks, like the already-departed Jeffs, are only too eager to contribute, shamelessly, to reinforce the City's biggest problems, merely for the sake of hanging onto their jobs.

Morning Eye-Opener

JM, Incinerator, Commonwealth, Los Feliz, 4.21.08

Want to review the whole proposed City budget? Here. It's a pdf, be careful. Thanks to the Daily News. Also be warned: it's really not interesting.

That budget is over $7 billion. The increase over last year is $193 million in a far tougher time. Why? Why any increase? Public safety, street repairs and traffic signals get the increases. How they want to pay for the increases: trash fees, parking fees, golf fees all increase. What about those tennis ruffians? Do they get out of fee-jail free?

On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, Hillary plays to fears rather than hopes, with a fearmongering ad featuring Pearl Harbor and Osama. The Demo-on-Demo ad may actually inspire Howard Dean to intercede more forcefully if Hill doesn't win by more than double digits. I found this article by Rahm Emanuel, the Rep most responsible for the Demos' gains in 2006, interesting: Suburbs are key to Democratic victory.

Aggregate polling gives Hillary +6. Internet influence: Kos and his crew slimed Emanuel quite a bit in 2006 and Emanuel didn't strike back much---nothing like Hillary striking back at MoveOn. I think the biggest mistake of the past seven weeks, between the last big primary and Pennsylvania today, was not any of Barack's comments, nor even the Hillary-under-fire story, but Hillary's pronounced dissing of MoveOn. That all but defined her as not of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, even more than her national security pandering.

I still have a few email slots left from blogger for sending out every post automatically by email. If you'd like to join the people who receive every street-hassle post in email, email me:

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."

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

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

...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.

...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.

Morning Eye-Opener

JM, Coffee at the Biltmore, 4.20.08

Joseph Mailander elsewhereemail

Today the City begins to address the reality of years of predatory lending, flipping, curb appeal face lifts, the worst City Council of our lifetimes, and binge spending through all the warnings. The Mayor will introduce a City budget dealing with prospective vast shortfalls, the Daily News says. So will the County. As usual, we'll be expected to pay more for far less.

When Dennis Zine started talking about Special Order 40, he wasn't prepared for the shade thrown his way by Chief Bratton. The Chief does not like criticism. But Zine is standing his ground, Orlov reports.

In the former fishwrap of record, Zahniser wonders aloud if LA Bridges has been adequately vetted for failure. The Mayor spoke far more assertively of it than he ever did, say, of management in the writer's strike.

Not a lot of things are going right in LA right now. Not even its grandest entertainment show-pony, American Idol. That's a shame, because the contestants this year are far better overall than they have been in any previous year. But it's still America's top tv show by a wide margin. Part of the tune-out is thought to stem from the long writer's strike the Mayor dallied through.

Snack shacks at little leagues shut down by the County in Torrance and Lomita. In San Pedro, development on a big condo project has slowed to a halt, and the project's marketing rep won't say why publicly. Also, next time you're in San Pedro, congratulate Janice Hahn, just back from Washington where she was with the Mayor trying to secure more fed dollars for the City: she came back here to learn she's been selected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Arson suspected to Spanish church in Panorama City

The roof of the Panorama Church of the Nazarene caught fire this morning, and the LAFD has called in arson investigators. It wasn't a big blaze---services were held this morning---but arson is arson.

The church is on Van Nuys just north of Nordhoff. Within the sect it has sometimes been called the Panorama City Spanish Church of the Nazarene. As glass was found on the roof, a molotov cocktail remains a possibility.

The evangelical Christian sect of the Church of the Nazarene originated in Los Angeles in 1895; there were early ties to the Methodist church and some of these ties still persist today. Abstinence from alcohol and from homosexual acts are elements of the church's teaching.

Joe Scott: Antonio won't go to North Carolina for Hillary

The reason you must read Joe Scott from top to bottom is that he loves to throw in a little personal conversation at the end that makes sense of the whole thing.

Classic case in point yesterday in a post on Hillary in Pennsylvania. This is the end of the post:

Clinton had asked Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, her national Latino co-chair, to campaign in the Tar Heel state.

But a spokesman for the ubiquitous Villaraigosa, who stumped for her in Iowa, New Hampshire and Texas, told me the mayor, facing a record $700 million budget deficit, will not do so. The reasons seem more than obvious.
But if you miss them: the risk of doing political damage to yourself just to maintain an ever-slimming hope of ending up on the winning team is now too high.

Sunday Morning Mimosa

JM, Cultural Tourism #1, 4.19.08

Welcome to Los Feliz: a billboard is set at such an angle as to face cars turning left from Rowena onto Hyperion, already a dangerous proposition. Behind the billboard: Pinkberry. This is the reality of Gail Goldberg's Planning Department: empty pedestrian-friendly rhetoric accompanied by real concessions towards ever-increasing auto congestion.

Thanks, Arnold: "'The problem is so severe that we don't have a choice but to raise taxes,' said outgoing Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, who will be termed out at the end of the year." The State deficit could climb to $14 billion. Arnold goes back to the drawing board to unveil an edited budget May 15. State spending under Arnold has grown by 30%.

A bill to expand the Green Line directly to LAX was approved in the State Senate's Transportation Committee, even though the MTA opposes the expansion. It's too bad nobody, nobody follows the California State Senate. The bill's sponsor is Jenny Oropeza, who was on the MTA board from 1996-2000. The MTA says it would rather spend money elsewhere.

Gang violence in North Hollywood leaves a 15-year-old Latin teen dead. On Western near Wilshire, a Latin security guard is gunned down in an Auto Zone parking lot. In the South Bay, crime is declining, but lots of kids are breaking into cars, especially to steal Sidekicks.

City at Noon: 40 on 40; Latinos en LAPD

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.

Morning Eye-Opener

JM, Bill Plaschke, Anaheim Marriott, 4.18.08

Bernie Parks hauls in the last big fish, and it is indeed a big one: Maxine Waters. Perfect timing too. Now there is quite a race for Burke's supe seat.

Times Sportswriter Bill Plaschke spoke to a national audience of high school journalism students yesterday at the Anaheim Marriott, and he said nice things about just about everyone---except Kobe, Shaq, and bloggers. "You're not in my circle of trust anymore," Plaschke said, mocking Kobe. Bloggers, he thought, were people who had computers and wore bathrobes; he encouraged students to stick to print. But his best story was about a blogger: he also told the Sarah Morris story, about the blogger with cerebral palsy in the backwoods of Texas who was ultimately hired by MLB because Plaschke noticed her talent, though he almost overlooked it too. As soon as I heard the story, I blogrolled her, that's for sure.

If there's a story that makes LA look really bad, you can bet it will find its way into NoCal's crabwrap of record. Chatsworth Park South has remained closed since Valentine's Day, for lead contamination. Maybe they should charge admission to City parks too?

Patrick McGreevy is trying to make the State Senate interesting. A snippy memo from Majority leader Don Perata re three Chiefs of Staff who were no-shows at an election strategy meeting makes it into the Times. McGreevy also digs up an outraged watchdog group, shocked to learn that legislative aides meet to discuss election strategy. But face it: nobody, nobody cares about the State Senate.

Another reason to love Ron Kaye: he's guaranteed to be the only blogger in LA who tells you to download Sinatra's The House I Live in. If he runs for Council, that just might sew up the American-flag-on-lapel vote.

I thought immediately after the debate that the recognizable loser was ABC, and this morning that's what this Times piece says.

To me, that Park we've deeded over to Related Cos. for development is just begging for a Speaker's Corner. Such an inclusion would lend one the downtown's best potential public spaces a sense of the sacred. It would also give those who want to talk to and about the City at large another option beyond public comment. Good news: I'll be able to share my idea on Tuesday when the Dorothy Chandler pavilion hosts a public meeting on the coming park, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

City at Noon: City moves on San Fers; Economic Woes Spreading

Orlov and Rachel Uranga note in the Daily News that the City and County moved yesterday against one of the Valley's most notorious, the San Fers. But they're seeking an injunction, a legal move of questionable effect. The injunction would blanket a whopping 9.5 square mile area, making the move seem even less certain. But the LAPD insist they work.

A commenter at the Daily News site says, "Spare me, they are making possessing drugs & weapons illegal ? Maybe they didn't know it already is illegal. This is more propaganda if they wanted to go after the gangs they would this is pure politics. "

Don't look for remedy from the economy: the State's unemployment rate fairly skyrocketed last month: it's up to 6.2 percent. The State confidence index is at an alltime low.

Classic statement on the home price plunge, also dropping as fast as unemployment is rising: ""Right now you need more money down and we live in a state where people don't save."

Passover begins at sundown today.

Morning Eye-Opener

JM, Los Feliz Library, 4.17.08

Joseph Mailander

The group that wants to sue the City over the density bonus ordinance has a very well-constructed lawsuit. It is outstanding to see a group get it together like this, standing up to the rampant kleptomania in City Council that sacrifices quality of life in the City. Ken Draper reports in CityWatch. Money quote: "As we reported a few columns ago, a number of the City’s stakeholders have come to the conclusion that a law suit is a more effective why of getting heard at City Hall than the city-controlled advisory system provided by LA’s neighborhood council program."

In the same edition, Councilman Richard Alarcon explains why he cast the sole no vote on the DWP rate hike.

Kleptomania? How else would you describe it? Zuma tracks down the rumors of a City income tax. A City income tax! Like this place with its drained reservoirs and congestion and DWP rate hikes and trash fee hikes and $300 robocop red lights gives you two bits worth of services in return. The rumors say the tax is in the planning stage for the November ballot.

Those rumors come from a commentator at MayorSam who calls himself Captain Jack Sparrow. Sparrow, among other things, is the guy who tipped off the locals that a decoy cop car was parked in front of the Mayor's former Highland Park residence last December.

Fabian Nunez and Villaraigosa both feel the numbers are with them when it comes to immigration issues. Not a lot of politicians are willing to blast the Department of Homeland Security, but Nunez doesn't hesistate, the Daily News says, telling them to back off in the latest round of immigration raids on businesses.

Herb Wesson wants Koreatown to become more like Seoul, with a billboard district, Zahniser reports. Anti-billboard groups are mobilized.

Editor-turned-blogger Ron Kaye is outraged that the City is considering charging library fees. But click over there quick, because by the time you get there, he may already be onto something else. He appears to have scrubbed that fishwrap ink off his hands in a hurry.

Birk's Hollenbeck mural hits CityBeat

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.

Prop 98 debate revs up---in Spanish media

You haven't seen a lot of talk yet about the rent control rollback initiative---Prop 98. But here's an item in Spanish from La Opinión today.

Eric Garcetti, presidente del Concejo fue el autor de la resolución que se opone a la Prop. 98.

"Lo que hace esta resolución es alertar a la gente de los verdaderas causas que provocaría la Prop. 98 en caso de ser aprobada", expresó July Won, portavoz de Garcetti.

Garcetti's district is almost 90% renters---it's not a wonder he's one of the authors against.

With the stakes so high, it's surprising how Prop 98 has flown below the radar thus far. No elected official in Los Angeles, a renter's town, supports the measure, which has been called "a sneaky trick disguised as eminent domain reform."

your cluetrain manifestos welcome

Comments back on. Thanks for your patience.

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. 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.

City at Noon: bad debate, and Joe says it's so; "The Color Purple" and LA pro football

Don't worry, they want to build it at the 60 and the 57...

Joe Scott, who cites a quote from Aristotle as one of his reasons for blogging, agrees with me about last night's debate; or maybe I agree with him. At any rate, Joe's been speaking for himself for about 75 or so years, so I should let him, in a post called "Philly debate not substantive":

It was the worst in memory, a disgraceful and unbalanced performance by ABC News’ Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous days before Pennsylvanians vote.
Seemingly everyone wants Hillary to go away before she does any further damage, and I think Joe does too.

Oddly, I clicked to Joe's blog because I know he's such a great go-to guy on NFL matters involving LA, and today's the day of the big unveiling. No reaction from Joe yet, but I did find this in the Minnesota fishwraps:

It’s a little jarring to see those purple seats, and the color might well be intentional on Roski’s part. Our judgement: Worth keeping an eye on, but it’s not even the beginning of the end for the Vikings in Minnesota. Yet.

So Minnesota is at least in line on the team wish list, and the evil inland empire on the land wish list. That all sounds fairly firm, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Times scribes aside, whispers say if one person can put a deal together, it's Roski.

Morning Eye-Opener

JM, Two Modelos, 7-Eleven, 2.10.08

The Daily News blog with the offputting graphics informs that Councilman Zine made The Daily Show. It's not for anything important---it's for the paparazzi-chase ordinance. Further evidence of the way the rest of the nation, even the world, sees LA: as a place home to screwloose entertainment types and not much else.

Missed this earlier: forecasters say that this is likely to be the worst fire season ever. Funny, there were earthquake jeremiads also in the past few days, and all the local scribes were moaning about the fact that the Times doesn't have an earthquake correspondent.

Sidebar: I know I am in the tiniest of minorities but I could never figure out what the point of CalTech's touchy-feely earthquake team was. It seems every few years Lucy Jones would come out of the lab, sometimes with a baby in tow, and say, yes, we indeed had an earthquake, and it was this size....billions were spent over the years, but did they ever end up predicting a single seismic event? No, all we are given is probability, probability that is roughly akin to our own life experience, and the only forecast is: very likely over the next thirty years, which creates media frenzy.

Billions of dollars in CalTech research: we'll have a big earthquake within the next thirty years or so.

Our own life experience: big earthquakes in 1933, 1971, 1994...gee, what kind of time frame for the future?

So---"a big earthquake in the next thirty years"---that cost us billions of research dollars? What if we had spent that money on fire research? We'll have a major fire this year, and next year, and the one after that...

The message is: enjoy things while you're here. Here's one way: Silver Lake Wine has two good tasting flights tonight, in time for summer: one of French rose and one of assorted French pays reds. Info on Silver Lake Wine here. Flights are $12 for three glasses.

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.

Whoever won, television lost

JM, ABC News: the Message, 4.16.08

Joseph Mailander

Whether or not you think Barack responded with enough grace to hold his lead in North Carolina, or whether you think Hillary jumped back into double digits in Pennsylvania, there was a recognizable loser to tonight's debate: ABC. And by extension television in general.

The television station sacrificed issues for sensationalism, almost completely; indeed there wasn't one substantive issue raised in the first thirty-five minutes of the debate. Some posters at DailyKos, a site that is almost pure Obama turf by now, are calling it the ABC/National Enquirer debate.

The ABC correspondents recognizably went after the frontrunner, Obama, at the exclusion of any substantive issue; which means that any Obama supporter who was watching found the debate disgraceful, and likely uninformed voters did too. There were a couple of equally awful tit-for-tat questions about Hillary lying about sniper fire in Bosnia, and I'm sure someone will put two and two together: if her excuse for lying is that she was tired, then maybe she wouldn't do so well with a phone call at 3 a.m., eh?

Nonetheless, this would appear to be, mercifully, the last debate in this election cycle; after a split decision next Tuesday, Obama should have the nomination cinched, and party leaders will finally make up their minds about what to do with Hillary.

The medium was the message, and tomorrow the medium will be the story. Acronyms for ABC will flood the blogosphere, the Pennsylvania cycle will grind to a halt until Tuesday, and finally, finally, we might have a dialog on responsible broadcast journalism, after eight long years of satellite-beamed inanity. This just may be the debate that killed televised network debates forever.