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Sotto voce DA candidate trumps Nuch

Should Carmen star in this show?

It probably should be noted that while Carmen the Clown's office was busying pleasuring itself last weekend, sending out a presser regarding the successful defeat of a single motion in a year-long case that many question the value of, another declared candidate for District Attorney, Alan Jackson, secured a death penalty conviction on a heinous murderer, James Fayed, in a tough, complicated capital case.

I don't really like the death penalty oh so much, but it's one thing to be competent enough at prosecuting law to get a conviction and another thing to flaunt your support of the death penalty while running for an office that prosecutes misdemeanors. The former achievement is known as walking the talk, and of course it will invite easy 30 second compare-contrast spots.

Why do I automatically hear the theme from The Office very time a Nuch presser comes my way? It's not because the City Attorney's office has become a paper company, is it?

The Grand Ol' Party of ?

I see Jim Newton wrote a piece about "Republican standard-bearers" in the Mayor's race and forgot to include any currently registered Republicans.

Maybe Newton doesn't get to Norwalk much, but we hear Rick Caruso is recently registered Democratic and even Newton admits that Austin Beutner is D-T-S.

So sadly does the arms' lengthing of Republicanism speak for local finger-wagging antinannystablismentarians that it may be time for a new acronym: LARNEINO--Los Angeles Republicans Not Even In Name Only.

In fact, the only presently registered Republican in the race--Kevin James--Newton doesn't mention at all. James won't be speaking to Newton's Dartmouth Alumni Club anytime soon, but he does speak to Lincoln Clubs--which are far more politically active.

While recounting recent electoral history, Newton omits mention of Carmen Trutanich, the last LARNEINO Republican to win a citywide race, who won with abundant Republican help. Instead, he focuses on doddering Dick Riordan, whom most political analysts agree could have never won without a pronounced white Republican backlash to the May 1992 riot--which occurred a scant ten months before the 1993 election--and who could certainly not be elected in any citywide race today.

I don't think Newton did either Caruso or Beutner any favors in the piece. But he may have given James a very good idea about how to present himself to Republican groups: as an actual Republican.

Carmen's office dupes LAist, KNX on "gang injunction"

Find the City Attorney in this mural.

Pretty much a non-event over the weekend, but KNX and LAist went for it.

LA's City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich, released a presser--on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend--announcing that the City Attorney's office had won a single challenge against a motion the ACLU filed on behalf of some taggers.

Well, that wasn't the way the Trutanich office portrayed it, of course. Carmen's flacks played up the words "gang injunction" and made this sound like an enormous win for the entire city.

Others in the City characterized the same action as a "publicity-craven, misdirected, wasteful, year-long legal harangue that has yet to bear fruit, all over a nearly busted-up tagging crew."

The critics have a point. Before Carmen became City Attorney, the LAPD used to simply arrest taggers belonging to this crew. But mere arrests, depending on police to do the jobs police like to do, wasn't enough for the vainglorious Nuch. So beginning a year ago, Carmen's office sought a voter-sexy gang injunction against the scofflaw crew--a path that is still winding its way through the courts today.

The Deputy City Attorney involved in this case, Jim MacDougal, let out a hype-howler that KNX and LAist didn't call him on.

“And hopefully it has an affect on the million middle school kids with markers who are looking up to these taggers.”

I suppose this is to validate the City Attorney's effort: MacDougal wants you to think that of a city of four million, one million of us are still in middle school, and of the million of us in middle school, 100% of us are in awe of this ragtag tagging team that will likely disappear on its own before an injunction is enacted.

In fact, he's off only about by a factor of a hundred, maybe a thousand. The Los Angeles Unified School District has only 680,000 students total, of which less than 35% are in middle school. Certainly not even every other one of these has a marker; certainly no more than one per classroom "looks up" to the fifty-odd MTA scofflaws. In fact, I would bet that only three in a hundred middle school students even know what the real MTA is, let alone the tag crew.

Oddly, Carmen's office has sought no such injunction against Jeffrey Deitsch, whose notorious Art in the Streets exhibit at MoCA/Geffen celebrates and even glorifies some of this very artwork, even on a regional scale.

If the truth be told, MoCA and Deitsch, through offering a top institutional pedigree to street art, have likely had far more influence and reach on the folks in middle school than the ragtag Metro Transit Assassins have.

It's not only the ACLU and the local arts community. Some in City Hall think that this injunction is a profound waste of city time and taxpayer money, and simply another way Carmen Trutanich is seeking to promote his own career. Since the ACLU stepped in to help the taggers out, stalling the injunction, it indeed has been all this, and even less.

Why is crime down?

Even while East Hollywood and Echo Park have witnessed the kind of violence in recent weeks that shakes a community (if it also has been all but ignored by the media), a friend in Los Feliz sends along a link from the WSJ: Why crime keeps falling.

(Well, never mind that to me the Wall Street Journal is the obliging rightwing handmaiden of the interests of America's Most Wanted, its corporate CEOs.)

Here's the nub:
At the deepest level, many of these shifts, taken together, suggest that crime in the United States is falling—even through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression—because of a big improvement in the culture. The cultural argument may strike some as vague, but writers have relied on it in the past to explain both the Great Depression's fall in crime and the explosion of crime during the sixties. In the first period, on this view, people took self-control seriously; in the second, self-expression—at society's cost—became more prevalent. It is a plausible case.
The article talks in terms of race, as though race drives it all. It probably should speak of it in terms of economies. Crime as far as I can see is not far down in communities with healthy economies, where it has never been overly high anyway. But it is definitely down in less fortunate communities, whose economies are now far more integrated into the dominant economy than they used to be.

I was thinking last night of how different America is from even the time of the Clarence Thomas nomination, a scant twenty years ago. We don't have many Kweise Mfume figures, people with thorny backgrounds who have suddenly "reformed" and "made good." No, far more people of all walks are more cautious from the time they are younger.

Bourgeois culture has largely sufficiently penetrated/erased the gritty street--even if the street-s storefronts are boarded up. All that's left is Street Art, and even that has been commoditized (see the MoCA Geffen show, &c.).

One thing for sure: if crime is indeed down for sociological reasons, we should be thanking teachers, rather than vilifying them.

I rather liked Walter Moore's line during the "campaign" though: "The Mayor and Bratton are stepping on an escalator and taking credit for the movement."

A thoughtful and meaningful Memorial Day to you.

Iraq vet killed in botched pot raid in Arizona

What's wrong with this story? On Memorial Day weekend in particular, absolutely everything.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department initially claimed Guerena fired his weapon at the SWAT team. They now acknowledge that not only did he not fire, the safety on his gun was still activated when he was killed. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home...

After ushering out his wife and son, the police refused to allow paramedics to access Guerena for more than hour, leaving the young father to bleed to death, alone, in his own home....

The Pima County Sheriff's Office has now changed its story several times over the last few weeks. They have issued a press release scolding the media and critics for questioning the legality of the raid, the department's account of what happened, and the department's ability to fairly investigate its own officers. They have obtained a court order sealing the search warrants and police affidavits that led to the raids, and they're now refusing any further comment on the case at all...

The problem with that explanation is that the search warrants and affidavits weren't sealed until four days after the raids were executed, right at about the time the troubling questions about Jose Guerena's death began to make national headlines....

We've already seen in LA County how sheriffs have virtually complete insulation from even ordinary inquiry when they kill in error. But at least in the Arizona backwater, media have aggressively questioned the circumstances of this case. That's far more than local media has done in the Zac Champommier case.


Times not practicing what it's preaching on police disclosure

Champommier inquiry barely underway
Carol Champommier RIFed
In Memoriam Zac Champommier
Kids Disclose Name of Man Deputies Shot and Killed
More Questions in Killing of Recent Granada High Grad

What do Joanna Rees and Austin Beutner have in common?

A few kinks to iron out

Before we answer, let's tell our unsuspecting audience who Joanna Rees is.
Joanna Rees (born November 14, 1961 in Montclair, New Jersey) is a venture capitalist at VSP Capital in San Francisco, California. In addition to her role as the managing director at VSP, Joanna filed campaign papers announcing her intent to run for Mayor of San Francisco in the November 2011 election.
Venture capitalist running for Mayor. Sound like anyone you know?

In fact, Joanna Rees and Austin Beutner are both running for the top jobs in California's top two cities, and they both have plenty of their own money as former venture capitalists--and they both have told Ace Smith and Sean Clegg--yes, they have the same team on their side--that they want campaign contributions to come from the people and not from their own vast riches.

Ms. Rees has been making her rounds in SF for two years now. She's not afraid to go out alone, and certainly has a mind of her own, independent of her notorious strategists--as the set-up with the ironing board in Bernal Heights a couple of days ago demonstrates. Mr. Beutner, however, often leaves people scratching his head when he shows up, at, say, a Democratic picnic, which he did three weeks ago, leaving many Demos feeling oogie, wondering what the heck "Mr. Decline to State" was doing there.

There are also a few welcome differences between the two. For starters, Ms. Rees is well-known to be a progressive Democrat and she has been a tireless advocate for gay and lesbian rights, with flashy backers like a Coppola or two, and Quincy Jones. Mr. Beutner has...doddering Dick Riordan in his corner, a man seemingly hell-bent on destroying Los Angeles ever since his own Mayoralty, tinkering with schools until everyone who works for them ended up hating each other, running Peter O'Malley out of his family business, centralizing mayoral power and playing chicken little with the city's finances.

I heard a whisper that Joanna Rees is out and about so much because Ace Smith and Sean Clegg were less interested in her once she told the two salty hacks that she didn't want to spend her own money. Maybe Austin Beutner sent a similar chill down the spines of the two spinmeisters--and maybe that's why we see Mr. Beutner winging it a bit, even on his web material.

Another Friday night club murder in E. Hollywood

With the eastside community still reeling from the murder of Mickey David, another man was shot to death outside a club in East Hollywood last night as the City's nightlife murder rampage continues.

The killing was also Yelped: "Absolutely love the music here BUT...someone was murdered right at the front entrance last night, we were forced to exit out the back. Plenty of sexy ladies here, but there are also Mexican/slightly ex-convict-lookin dudes walkin around who in reality act decent, its just that there seems to be tension amongst each other."


Really Hidden Los Angeles
A tower of tagging (The Eastsider LA)
Echo Park Teenager wounded in drive-by shooting (The Eastsider LA)
Second night of Echo Park gunfire (The Eastsider LA)
Timid Police statement on Stow case; Mickey David killer still at large (street-hassle)
Stow family to sue Dodgers (street-hassle)
Jeffrey Cardona charged with one count of murder in Mickey David shooting (Patch Echo Park)
Arrest made in Mickey David killing (street-hassle)
Update on Echo Park shooting (The Eastsider LA)
Mayor to host Town Hall in Valley as violent crime spikes (street-hassle)
Ostriches take over local newsrooms as murder spree continues (street-hassle)

"We the People" no longer exists

According to Reagan's budget guy, Reaganomics is destroying America.
"Today, professional economists are no more than hired guns for politicians with myopic ideologies and huge bankrolls that make it easy to justify lying, cheating and stealing from investors, workers, consumers, savers and taxpayers. Capitalism has morphed into a monopoly ruled by politicians who are serving a wealthy elite. Competition is a joke. Democracy is a farce. “We the People” no longer exists."
All this because Reagan was able to destroy public education, making just enough people dumb enough to believe that they were voting for "freedom" when they were voting for corporations.

Of course, the dumbest of the dumb are the people who have no idea what a bank does yet call for less banking regulation anyway. Which is like calling for an end to regulating the local water supply, and later wondering why there are typhoid epidemics. But it is natural that a nation of sheep be led by wolves.

Paul Koretz wants to give Carmen Trutanich a chance to harass every homeowner in LA

If Carmen Trutanich once wanted to throw Jan Perry in jail, and slapped a million dollar bail on a man accused of a misdemeanor, imagine what he'll do to you if he gets to peek into your occasionally malfunctioning fireplace flue.

By now homeowners know the game: by design, they're vastly outnumbered in Los Angeles. They have almost no rights other than to exist to pay extra money, even beyond ordinary State property taxes, to the State, the City, and the school district. They even pay extra to build new schools while the school district continues to lose students.

Their one saving grace unto themselves is that, despite being outnumbered in the city 40-60, they vote in nearly equal rates as renters do, and in some districts, like LaBonge's and Englander's, they actually still outvote the City's renters. Of course, the City's renters also pay the city's astronomical property taxes, but don't see it as excessive taxation. They simply pay their landlords high rents and grumble about the landlords, who turn around and pay the city's and county's high property and parcel taxes with ever-larger percentages of their rent.

Since the beginning of the year, jowly Councilman Paul Koretz has wanted to give Carmen Trutanich--who lived in Long Beach before he became LA's City Attorney--the right to harass homeowners nearly any way he likes, with the Administrative Code Enforcement (ACE) plan. And Koretz's deputy Jeff Eberstein is currently peddling this plan to unsuspecting neighborhood councils.

Even Trutanich diehard Ron Kaye is willing to publish bromides against this plan, so menacing does it appear to the people who are most rooted here.

Almost no recent homeowner owns an entirely up-to-code home in Los Angeles. Problems with homes--problems acquired at sale--can take years to fix. In the mad boom of the 'zeros, flippers typically used shoddy materials and shady contractors, with much effort devoted to bluffing the busy inspectors. Homeowners from 2000 onwards were often saddled with as-is homes they got into while the loaning was good. But if Koretz and Trutanich have their way, Trutanich will be able to fine any picayune code offense as he sees fit, whether you bought your home thirty years ago or just last month.

This would not be worrisome had Trutanich not demonstrated his own willingness to flaunt and bully at nearly every turn.

You know the litany: in his short time as LA's City Attorney, Trutanich has:

Do you really trust this guy to treat you fairly when it comes to enforcing home code violations?

What is Koretz thinking? Might he have his own homeowner gold card system up his sleeve?

Really Hidden Los Angeles

I don't know how to respond to this, so I'm going to here. Apparently even the Facebook anonyblogger Hidden Los Angeles wants, like the Echo Park merchants, the LA Times, and Councilman Ed Reyes, to cover up the bigtime Latino gang problems in Echo Park, where violent, intimidation-oriented crimes are a weekly occurrence that the City tacitly tolerates in the hope of revitalizing the area that surrounds Dodger Stadium.

Has Ed Reyes checked out? Is Ed Reyes soft on gangs? (When there were gang problems in Pico Union and MacArthur Park, Ed Reyes held community meetings--but he hasn't held one in Echo Park, despite the many high profile crimes there this year). These are the questions I'm wondering now when I get feedback from "Hidden Los Angeles" like the kind I got today.


A tower of tagging (The Eastsider LA)
Echo Park Teenager wounded in drive-by shooting (The Eastsider LA)
Second night of Echo Park gunfire (The Eastsider LA)
Timid Police statement on Stow case; Mickey David killer still at large (street-hassle)
Stow family to sue Dodgers (street-hassle)
Jeffrey Cardona charged with one count of murder in Mickey David shooting (Patch Echo Park)
Arrest made in Mickey David killing (street-hassle)
Update on Echo Park shooting (The Eastsider LA)
Mayor to host Town Hall in Valley as violent crime spikes (street-hassle)
Ostriches take over local newsrooms as murder spree continues (street-hassle)

Jane Usher and the power of office

It's been nearly eighteen months since Carmen Trutanich's special assistant Jane Usher threatened me with a libel suit merely for reporting comments another party made about Trutanich at the Los Angeles Times website. The post has once again become the most read post at this website, indicating that the matter continues to be of interest to readers. Usher's threat was a vast misuse of the power of her office--a misuse of power that has never been publicly addressed by the City Attorney's office.

Anyone but MR-T

Where are all the other people?

We got a chance to see just how politically craven Mark Ridley-Thomas can be yesterday.

If it were anyone other than Mark Ridley-Thomas making the case for a Leimert Park stop on the Crenshaw light-rail line, the case would be heard further and wider, and may not involve so much drama. MR-T making himself the point person on this is a double-botch: by the Supervisor himself, whose advocacy as an elected official automatically calls into question the political motivations behind the insistence, and by the LA Times, whose obsequious op-ed page keeps publishing whatever politicians ask them too, squeezing out actual writers and making for vastly uninteresting reading.

Of all the ways to mobilize on behalf of a naturally passionate transit issue, having a politician do the heavy lifting is least effective. However, MR-T often feels he has to get his own name out there, and the awestruck Nestors in the Times often feel they have to follow along. How much more effective this crusade would be if Tavis Smiley, Magic Johnson or Stephen Box were the point person here, rather than Mark Ridley-Thomas?

What we are left with is, most likely, a station anyway, a false flogging of public opinion, and a waste of newspaper space. We didn't have to go through MR-T's personal drama--he ends up voting against the one measure the Board offered in support of his position! I wonder if he felt obliged to do that because his op-ed had run earlier in the day.

A commenter at the Metro's blog notes:

Ridley-Thomas went about this all wrong. He thought he could shove these enhancements through, via Board fiat, at the very end of the process. That was a big gamble, and it failed.

Notice all the other enhancements that were added to the project over time. The aerial bridge over Manchester and added station. The aerial bridge over Century. The trench crossing under Crenshaw near Crenshaw/Florence. The trench crossing under Centinela. All of these cost money, but all of them were added through discussions between residents, Metro staff, and boardmembers.

&c. The cost is high--$130 million--and MR-T might have to resort to putting a special bond measure on a County ballot to find it. The Supervisor was, in effect, trying to make up for his own lost time on the matter--and given his outmoded penchant for churlish indignity, this may yet not work.

Griffith Park to cede 385 square feet to Indians, none to Cowboys, in Autry wing repurposing

There are some very weird postings going up in the blogosphere about...Griffith Park, suggesting that the Southwest Museum is invading the Park as a result of a recent Rec and Parks Commission action.

In point of fact, the coming Southwest wing to the Autry merely repurposes underused but existing Autry space. It also encloses--without a roof--a grand total of 385 square feet of newly-purposed space--in an area that is presently not used for anything at all.

385 square feet is smaller than many living rooms. The Park can handle the intrusion. The addition, of course, is to a building on the un-Park-like Golden State Freeway border of the Park. The project is also CEQA exempt. The new space will mostly be dedicated to an outdoor native plant teaching garden--a vast improvement on the thirsty grass space presently occupying the tiny parcel.

Griffith Park is over over 4,000 acres in size--it's over 187 million square feet big.

Levin and Associates, the renovation firm that did the work on the Observatory under the capable and history-mindful hand of Brenda Levin, has drawn up the plans for the repurposing of the Autry space.

See the diagram up top, and the little blue rectangle to the extreme left? The outline is of the Autry, the colored spaces of the repurposed spaces, and the little blue rectangle of the 385 square feet of additional space. In the overhead shot below, the new space would appear in the same place, on the extreme left, between the two vaulted galleries.

It's official: Kayser wins

As street-hassle predicted, Bennett Kayser has been declared winner of the race for the open LAUSD Board seat. With roughly 4,000 late mail-in and provisional additional votes counted, Kayser increased his lead over the Mayor's candidate, Luis Sanchez to 602 votes after the counting was completed.

For the record, I said the morning after the election that neither this result nor the result of the close Congressional District 36 race were likely to change with the counting of additional mail-ins and provisionals, and neither did.

UPDATE: Forgot all about this--maybe it cost Sanchez 603 votes!

They call themselves Not-for-Profit

But their base salaries can be stratospheric.

Mr. Rosenfeld paid himself $541,611 in 2008. Add to that another $100,000 he paid himself from his Consumer Education Foundation (whose sole purpose apparently is to make a grant to Consumer Watchdog), and he raked in nearly $641,611 in 2008.
And there's a parenthesis for
...Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation (who also pays himself in the mid-six figures for his work on behalf of taxpayers)...
For what it's worth, Blue Shield of California is also a so-called Not-for-Profit healh plan.

Timid Police statement on Stow case; Mickey David's real killer still at large

Not only has suspect Giovanni Ramirez, left, who has still not been charged, not helped detectives sufficiently to round up the two other participants in the beating of Brian Stow, Jeffrey Cardona has not helped police sufficiently to secure the triggerman in the killing of Mickey David. The truth is, these two crimes are far, far away from being solved as trails grow colder.

Meanwhile, Jan Perry and Bernard Parks bizarrely move limit the scope of a fingerprint-sharing plan with the INS. Not only that, but this morning we learn that a computer error has enabled 450 violent criminals in California to be set free. This all would seem to ensure that in the future the only people who will ever go to prison for violent crimes in California are those who wander in by mistake.

Is Brown following the Mayor's labor blueprint?

City Journal California notes that Jerry Brown made an early deal with the prison guards' union. Brown received $2 million in campaign help from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA).

Steven Greenhut writes:

So the favorable new union contract shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it should deflate the wishful thinking that Brown is likely to be a radical reformer—unless you consider extending tax increases and restricting the use of state cars and cell phones real reform.
I don't know that it deflates wishful thinking. The agreement, in fact, reminds me of Mayor Villaraigosa's early deal with the IBEW. The deal seemed to set the table regarding the Mayor's eagerness for settling with unions, but it turned out that it didn't, and the IBEW very soon became the City's most vilified. The Mayor may have proved his pro labor bona fides--he needed to, because the Riordanites who ran his office wanted him to bust the local teacher's union. But he became a tougher bargainer immediately afterward with not only the teachers but many other unions. I'm guessing Jerry Brown might try something similar.

However, this part of the analysis is spot on:
By taking advantage of a decades-old bidding war between Democrats and Republicans, all of whom want the union’s endorsement in order to appear tough on crime, the union has resisted any reform that would reduce costs in the state’s prison system. The result: California has an annual per-inmate cost of almost $49,000, higher than the national average of $30,000 and far higher than the $17,000 in low-cost Oklahoma.
&c., with no voices from labor quoted. The prison guards' union, I suppose, is all set to become the State's IBEW. Brown may even be just smart enough to know that.

LA County's children population is declining

More countering the myth that Antonio Villaraigosa, Eric Garcetti and Gail Goldberg promoted last decade, that LA was "growing" through "immigration, copulation, relocation." It was simply a baldfaced lie used to justify Riordan-styled densification.
Los Angeles County is "ground zero" for the state's diminishing child population, a statistic that could point to serious problems as the region tries to meet future demand for workers, according to a report released Tuesday.

The number of children between the ages of 5 and 9 in the county decreased by 21% from 2000 to 2010, dropping from 802,047 to 633,690. The average decrease for California was 8.1%, according to the report "Aging in California and Los Angeles County" by USC.


EARLIER: LA grew less than 1% per year through decade.

Dems pick up House seat in conservative NY district

A shocker in NY: Kathy Hochel, a county clerk in Erie, beats the GOP nominee and takes a seat vacated by Republican Christopher Lee after some weird sexytime stuff we'd rather forget but just can't. The GOP line on Medicare proved too reactionary for many Republicans. The District was one of only four in the State of New York that went for John McCain over Barack Obama.

Stow family to sue Dodgers

It comes to this at last.
With the caveat that I am not a California lawyer, generally speaking, the law is that a business owner owes a duty to patrons to take reasonable steps to secure the premises against foreseeable criminal acts of third parties. The key word there is “foreseeable.” As in if you’re on notice that there is violent hooliganism about and you don’t take reasonable measures to prevent it, you’re gonna be liable when inevitable and unprevented-by-you violent acts take place.
"Foreseeable," if it emerges indeed as the key word, fairly dooms the franchise. There has been newspaper-noteworthy violence on previous Opening Days. The Dodgers, one readily sees, thanks to the tenterhooks payroll, took inadequate measures to mitigate the violence (for that matter, so did Antonio Villaraigosa and Ed Reyes, neither of whom should have ever stood by McCourt's side). Waive to McCourt as he heads for the exits.

EARLIER: Dick Riordan and LA's collapsing orgs.

Slam culture

Over at LA Opus Source is a veritable compendium of the LA literary scene, put forth by PEN Center International over the weekend. I was at Silver Lake Jubilee through a lot of the proceedings, both days over the weekend, and read a couple of poems myself. Flowing Tequila Real de Mexico and Deschutes IPA and Mirror Pond Ales in the green room--the Silver Lake Jewish Community Center--made the duration a happy one. Among the local lit orbits discussed are Les Figues, Amor Fati, Emerging Voices, Slake, Black Clock, the nascent Los Angeles Review of Books, What Books Press, Janet Fitch and PEN Center International.

I also saw a few bands. Restaurant was outstanding and the two Gabe Hart is in, both of which, Jail Weddings and Dante vs. Zombies are local rabble-rousing icons; Gabe fronts the former and Dante Adrian White the latter. A bit of a foxtrot-turned-Dead Kennedy slam (above) broke out at the end of the Jail Weddings set (the song was dedicated to Mickey David). We hear DvZ is next at the Echo June 6, in Monday night residency after another lit event--The MOTH GrandSLAM:VII earlier in the evening.

Odd timing for a long-awaited decision

Ever since Gray Davis built out the Califonria prison system to become one of the globe's most notorious post-millennial gulags, liberal groups especially have been hoping that some of California's immense prison population be released.

Now, just days after one of the greatest apparent prison release failures of the past decade--the release of Brian Stow attack suspect Giovanni Ramirez after accruing three felonies--the groups are finally getting their wish. California is ordered by Supreme Court judges to release 45,000 prisoners over the next two years. The validating reason for the release is inadequate medical care.

Because of the weekend cause celebre, the decision threatens to be one of the least popular SCOTUS decisions in recent history. Doubtful many politicians will be applauding it.

SEIU to launch GOP outreach

The union that won't stand with teachers is now assembling a flank to stand with Republicans. That figured.

Density and Councilman Garcetti

The Times says that in East Hollywood, 91.3 percent of the residents are renters. "Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and Echo Park have the most similar percentage of homeowners in Los Angeles County."

Isn't that interesting? One of the suspects in the most notorious crime in the State of California this year belonged to a gang in Boyle Heights, committed the crime in Echo Park, and was discovered in East Hollywood.

The 800 block of North Mariposa where Giovanni Ramirez was discovered is in Eric Garcetti's Council district, in the shadow of Los Angeles City College, a few blocks over from Heliotrope, home of Bicycle Kitchen and ground zero to Los Angeles's cycling (read: renter) community. On the other side of the Hollywood Freeway from it is Lemon Grove Park.

Mariposa is lined with ancient palms, and while slum-like is not nearly as dense nor as narrow as many East Hollywood streets.

Even so, it is not very different from much of East Hollywood, particularly the tortured streets that dead-end at the Hollywood Freeway. Garcetti's CD 13 is the densest in Los Angeles, and also the smallest of all Council Districts by area. It is also said to have the highest ratio of renters-to-homeowners of any Council District, even higher than Jose Huizar's and Ed Reyes's. Garcetti, a proponent of "elegant density" has along with the Mayor's Office led the City's densification charge--a charge bucking every known demographic trending in Los Angeles, as the 2010 census thoroughly demonstrated.

What would he do as District Attorney?

Via some clown at some blog.

We may, mercifully, never find out. Rick Orlov reports the most damaging blow to the aspirations of Carmen Trutanich yet.
"It was becoming clear, across the board, that (Cooley) did not believe Trutanich was up to the job," said a Cooley political adviser.
Indeed, Cooley's endorsement of Jackie Lacey was confirmation enough that the DA wants to wash his hands of Trutanich, but this goes the extra mile.

One visualizes "Cooley says Trutanich is...not up to the job" headlines screaming across the tube, a lead-in to the "Time and time again, Trutanich trampled on the First Amendment" and "Trutanich threatened to lock up a Mayoral candidate...whom he swore to defend and serve" and "Trutanich promised he would not seek higher office if elected" headlines certainly to follow.

It may get a little cumbersome to say "Trutanich sought the same amount of bail on a billboard violator as Cooley asked on Giovanni Ramirez--what would he do as a District Attorney?" sure. But "Trutanich's office even threatened a meek blogger for repeating a comment posted by the LA Times--and never apologized" fits on the screen.


Sunset freeloaders.

The Silver Lake Jubilee on Myra had a stupendous first day. There's a "Literary Village" around the intersection of Myra and Virginia--not only the PEN stage is there but also booths from Skylight, Los Angeles Review of Books (which hosted a fine panel yesterday on the PEN stage), Black Clock, What Books Press (covers by Gronk, excellent art direction), and the engagingly bizarre Les Figues Press. Not to mention all the great local bands and a few from out of town who are beloved to locals, such as Restaurant. In the litburg, Slake and Janet Fitch et al. are up today. More officious coverage later at LA Opus Source, but if you are in the precincts today, I do suggest you see the rest!

Giants fan beating suspect in custody.

Finally, one suspect has been apprehended in the Brian Stow beating. The police haven't released a name, but call the man a resident of an East Hollywood apartment building. He is described as possessed of "a bald head and tattoos on his neck and arms."

Les Amis des Amis

Gabe, on his merry way.

Again, I hate to go flogging while blogging, but I should say that today at noon I'll be reading poems on the PEN Center stage at Silver Lake Jubilee on Myra. I wouldn't suggest you pay to see that, but here's what I do suggest: show up for all the young dudes in the bands later in the day, including les amis des amis Gabe's big rabble-rousing post-steampunk Brechtian kitchensink band Jail Weddings. They're on at 6:30.

The Silver Lake Jubilee is the out-of-office event that the creative community has staged in the shadow of Sunset Boulevard in retaliation to the clamorous success of the ol' neighborhood hoedown, Sunset Junction. PEN is very gracious to host a stage; also on the LA literary front, Amor Fati, the Los Angeles Review of Books and Slake will all be there today en force. Admission for all is $5. I hear there is Real de México Tequila in the green room tent so all performers should be sufficiently rubbery by stage time.


Mayor's Office contradicts Greuel on her "Gold Card Desk" history

In 24 hours, Wendy Greuel has gone from offense to defense.

The Mayor's office, sharply contradicting the City's Controller, insists that Greuel as a Councilwoman allowed her staff to discharge parking tickets under the aegis of a little-known City program known as the "Gold Card Desk."

"The mayor's office also said that Greuel had been informed of the Gold Card Desk while on the council, both through a report from the city's Transportation Department and in written documents in 2007 explaining that the department would be briefing members of her field staff about parking citation issues," the LA Times reports.

The Surprise Party

I see that Ken Draper, CityWatch's editor, linked to an analysis yesterday that claims that Bowen's loss in the 36th shouldn't have been a surprise. In my opinion, it was an enormous surprise, and that analysis is way off base.

Despite what the analysis claims, the Republican vote didn't figure to all go to Huey at all. It figured to be split between Huey and Mike Gin.

Gin was no strawman in the race. He led Republican polling through most of the race and raised well over $100,000. He showed up to many many more events than Huey did. His was the sole Republican name mentioned in headlines most of the time.

No, it was lack of name recognition on the Republican side that enabled Huey's direct mail campaign to prevail.

Here's Bowen's polling memo with a month to go (bizarrely posted for all to see), showing Gin on top of Huey, even with only 8 percent of the vote. The top two Dems have 20%+ and one more has 6%. (Hahn's figures were similar I am told, though I didn't see them--a report that Hahn was expecting 40% of the vote was apparently erroneous). With a month to go, Democrats were accounting for nearly 50% of the preference, and Republicans under 20%.

Also, the percentage of Republican participation in the race is fairly meaningless as well. If anything, their "good" showing is a measure of what little success the Democrats in the race had in generating any enthusiasm. The most enthusiastic voters, by far, were the ones that stayed home, which 83% of them did.

Micro turnouts of course also tilt Republican as the bluehairs are the most likely people to vote of all. Of course, it wasn't 40% of the GOP who voted--it was 40% of the 17% of all possible voters who voted; the ratio that just happened to pencil out at 40% against the surprisingly unenthusiastic Democratic vote.

Also: lack of enthusiasm for the Democrats centers around the fact that neither leading Democratic candidate wrapped her arms adequately around aerospace.

Not so fast, Wendy

Or, Greuel Redux...

We were as enthused as the next habitual offender to see Controller Wendy Greuel's report on the City's Gold Card system that magically absolves parking tix for those who curry favor with the right Councilmember.

That's why it was so surprising to learn that as Councilmember herself, and even as head of the Transportation Committee, Greuel voted "yes" to the contract package that included "Gold Card Desk Service." And Greuel also used the service on behalf of her constituents when she was Councilmember. And we have now seen some correspondence that indicates Wendy Greuel was briefed not one but many times as a Councilmember regarding the system and how it worked.

This all goes a long way against what Greuel's office claimed in her press release:
Controller Greuel was not aware of the Gold Card Desk during her tenure as a Councilmember, and was surprised to learn that such a V.I.P. process existed for a select few. Controller Greuel commented, “You shouldn’t need political pull to expedite the investigation of a ticket. There ought to be a fair and equal process for examination of all contested citations.” She is calling for DOT to shut down the Gold Card Desk altogether.
&c. With PowerPoint presentations abounding, cc'ed to many Councilmembers, this paragraph's inclusion in Wendy's presser appears to be quite a stretch. In fact, a reader writes: "You can bet she had plausible denial lined up..."

The Fix is in--and it's all Wendy's

[UPDATE--Not so fast, Wendy--As Councilwoman, Greuel also voted yes on the service, and her office used the service too.]

Watch now as fifteen already tentative Councilmembers plead ignorance and run for cover as Wendy Greuel exposes the grandest larceny to hit ordinary people in the City of Los Angeles--the Get out of Jail Free card (link is to a pdf) that Councilmembers extended to drivers victimized by the City's money-grubbing DOT. MayorSam has links to the deets. This has the kind of legs pols dream of, and in one fell swoop, Wendy--who would be wise to become the people's advocate, rather than the people's panderer--becomes a real contender in 2013.

Bowen's chances continue to tumble

One of our two analyses of Tuesday's vote appears to be spot on. We said Wednesday morning that Debra Bowen was not likely to overtake unknown Tea Partier Craig Huey in the race to appear in a runoff for Congressional District 36.

The Times today confirms that Bowen's chances are diminishing as the ballots are counted; indeed, they are termed "mathematically impossible."

Though it was widely read, not a lot of people liked my analysis of what went wrong for Debra Bowen. That's OK--I always hear that I don't like a lot of people either.

For the record, I also ventured that Bennett Kayser would hold onto his razor-slim lead, but for very different reasons.

Tapping the Source

The presser hasn't gone out yet, but readers of street-hassle are invited to familiarize themselves with my new site that just went live, LA Opus Source.

This site has been in the works for some time. The new site is a stand-alone venture, although I am also still affiliated with the popular arts and culture site I founded four years ago, LA Opus.

The new site will feature contemporary fine and performing arts, especially from 1975 forward. There's too much of it happening in LA to confine it to a site that also reviews classical music, dance, and theater.

The site is new enough that I'm not only writing content but also filling the sidebar. If you have recommendations, as always, simply let me know!

Undocumented human cargo, Alvarado bound

Shockers galore at the news of human cargo smuggling by gangs who "learned how to do this by trying to move drugs and other contraband":

500 people in two trucks!

Not Latino, but UN participation: Guatemala, India, China, &c. North Africa next in line, I'm sure...

Border or no, how many times a day are documented and undocumented Americans zapped with x-rays, unbeknownst to them?

$7000 per trip? Isn't a visa plus a trip to a MacArthur Park fake ID shop cheaper?

The Latino connection to the Bowen meltdown

No matter what happens, it was convincing: it didn't happen for her. I don't like progressive Debra Bowen's chances at all going forward in CA 36, even if she is lawyering up. And she is lawyering up: "Contribute now to help Debra Bowen fight for every vote..."

While the unseemly Bowen meltdown continues to resonate throughout the State's progressive ranks, the broader concern of Los Angeles Democratic politicos this morning is that Janice Hahn also drastically underperformed expectations. Nonetheless, the calamitous Bowen meltdown is the hot topic of the day.

Insiders had this race at 40 Hahn, and 25 Bowen, with unknowns Mike Gin and Craig Huey scrambling for the Republican 30% of the vote, with Gin on top--leaving poverina progressive Marcia Winograd with about 5%. [NOTE: Polling varied widely among the camps, and a Bowen poll had her tied at 20% with Hahn with a month to go, although it did put Gin on top of Huey, and Winograd at 6%.]

Indeed Winograd did fetch 5% of the vote--or she would have, had 30% of the voters come to the voting booths on Tuesday to elect a Congresswoman, rather than 17.

Voters did not turn out in numbers expected of a Congressional race--and that also spelled trouble for one of the top names in the State, Bowen's. It also spells coming trouble for the woman who proved to be the top name in the District after all--even if she wasn't enough of a top name to secure even one quarter of the voters on this day: Janice Hahn.

Hahn, who has great name recognition in the district, chose a couple of top-flight local pros as her top campaign managers. Bowen, who has good name recognition throughout California, chose two people associated with a third-tier group, the National Latino Congreso--to help her.

The Congreso for some reason made Harman flinch last year, but it has otherwise been fairly docile, and even unknown in the 36th. It's really not much of a group at all, in fact; the organization with the unrepentantly Spanish-language moniker is largely a luncheon group that invites pols to sing their Latino bona fides to it.

When Bowen chose humble but fiery community organizer Daniel Chavez to head her campaign, Chavez thereupon immediately went to Luis Vizcaino, a longtime Latino communications figure, as his communications consultant. These selections were likely a very rough mix for an open primary in the 36th, where beach city Anglos vote in far greater numbers than Latinos.

In fact, Harman's success in the district as a Blue Dog likely owed in part to her circumspect track record on immigration--which she even found herself apologizing for last year, to the very group that turned up so well-represented on Bowen's campaign, the very group that had denounced Harman as "anti-immigrant."

The 36th is far too beachy and Anglo for such true-believer staffing to work very effectively there. That was how even a Christian fundie Republican was able to garner more votes than Debra Bowen in this District.

It's important to remember that Hahn underperformed dramatically too. But Bowen underperformed super-dramatically.

Going forward, Janice Hahn picking up Debra Bowen's handful of tortured votes is no picnic. Bowen's Latino voters may gleefully switch over to Hahn--or they may stay home in Lomita and Lennox. But Bowen's Anglo voters are confused, irate, indignant as to why their candidate not only finished second but lost outright, and to such a political nonentity as Huey. They are only now beginning to realize that Bowen's absurd choices for her political team made this bed for them.

Northern Californians (like Debra Bowen these days?) may like to look at SoCal as one giant juggernaut of bilingual schools and taco stands, but there are indeed many Anglo bastions in it. One such is Jane Harman's old district, in which an unknown, Anglo, Republican, Tea Partying, fundamentalist Christian is likely to outpoll the far more widely recognized, State-level progressive Dem, Debra Bowen.

But with the kind of choices Bowen made in staffing her campaign, we're not surprised at this outcome at all. With eastside-styled activist Latinos waging an eastside-styled battle on the westside, the tail was indeed wagging the dog in the beachy, Anglo 36th.

Incidentally, Brad Friedman at Bradblog has an entertaining piece on the irony of Bowen putting her own op-scan voting system, which she championed, to the test in her own race. But you already know that irony, once it has a foot in the door, kicks it in every time. No matter how you slice it, it doesn't look pretty for Debra Bowen.

Close election results not likely to change

Though some results were close in yesterday's election, the outcomes are not likely to change.

In the School Board race, Latino machine candidate Luis Sanchez trails Bennett Kayser by 286 votes with 100% of all precincts reporting. But in this election, 286 represents well over 1% of all ballots cast, and provisionals rarely move the needle over 1%. In fact, with less than 7,000 votes cast in this election at the polls on election day, Sanchez would need 100% of an astonishing 4% provisional rate simply to match Kayser's total. In this odd election, Kayser's mail-in campaign should be enough to win--if anything, there are more likely to be more late absentee ballots than counted provisional ballots, and the absentees have heavily trended to Kayser. With Kayser winning absentee ballots handily, and provisionals not likely to give Sanchez more than a few dozen more votes, the figures are not at all likely to change Sanchez's way.

In the Hahn-Huey-Bowen-Winograd race, Debra Bowen does not figure to move the needle either--because there are too many candidates standing as heirs to provisional votes. In this race, only 1/3 of the voters voted by mail, and provisionals figure to be a wash. Late absentees are likely to trend conservative, so the Christian Republican Huey is in good shape to withstand late counting.

UPDATE: The local fishwrap of record won't analyze either close race--in fact, it calls the Hahn-Huey-Bowen race "up in the air." The fishwrap's "PolitiCal" blog doesn't even report on the far-reaching Kayser-Sanchez school board race at all, but the fishwrap does have a piece this morning on the teachers' union--the Milwaukee teachers' union.

Shocker complete: Bowen third in Harman race

With 100% precincts reporting, Debra Bowen is down 200 votes to Christian Republican Craig Huey. If the total stands, Huey will face Janice Hahn in a runoff for Jane Harman's House seat.

Big surprise brewing for Harman's seat

Janice Hahn was supposed to walk away with the Congressional District 36 race. With over a quarter of the votes counted, she has not. In face, she is less than one percentage point ahead of Debra Bowen as of the first significant wave of precinct reports. [UPDATE: she is three points ahead with over three-quarters reporting]

The trouble for Bowen is that she is not significantly ahead of Republican Craig Huey, a deeply conservative Christian who appealed to the various charismatic sects that stretch from Seal Beach to Redondo, and who pumped half a million dollars of his own money into the campaign. [UPDATE: She is only 600 votes ahead of Huey--less than half of one percent--with three-quarters reporting] In fact, with Again, Marcia Winograd, an anti-war progressive, is not a factor in this one-time defense-dominated Congressional District.

There is also shocking news on the School Board front, as union-backed Bennett Kayser appears headed to a convincing victory over the Mayor's handpicked lad, Luis Sanchez, who had secured just about every meaningful local endorsement thanks to the Mayor's blessings. A Kayser victory would represent a significant turn-around of the recent trend towards charter school apologists, and signify that the past year's ceaseless teacher-bashing reporting of the LA Times and LA Weekly has had a negative impact on voters--as has the Times' endorsement of Sanchez.

Scott Svonkin and Lydia Gutierrez are locked in a very tight race, separated by a single percentage point with quite a few votes to count. Svonkin holds the lead; he was the beneficiary of an eleventh hour disclosure about Gutierrez's ties to the Tea Party and anti-gay marriage stance. [UPDATE: Svonkin won the County side of the race by less than a 1,000 votes with 100% reporting, and is slightly more than a 1,000 votes ahead on the (far larger) City side of the race, with still under 50% report reporting].

Riordan, Broad, the eastside Latino machine, and the legacy of District 5

Once upon a time, doddering Republican Richard Riordan (below left) used his influence as Mayor to bring "reform" to the Los Angeles Unified School District. The reform movement not only swept many Riordan-backed candidates into office, it also made an uneasy, certainly unholy alliance with the old eastside Latino political machine. If you help us with our school reform, the Riordanites whispered, we'll make sure the (largely Anglo) teachers union doesn't win any races it shouldn't in largely Latino districts.

This deal--which may have helped Latinos get elected, but didn't help Latinos become better educated at all--ironically played mostly into the interests of Anglo billionaires. Riordan, a multimillionaire, was an obsequious part of a billionaire cabal in the early 1990's. The billionaires, who included Eli Broad (top), wanted to take over public education by handing the public's schools to private businesses, without the businesses having to buy the property from the state; this was the foundation of the charter school movement.

Public school teachers are unpopular, the billionaires reckoned. They're a soft target. They are perceived to work only six hours a day and nine months a year. Imagine running our own schools! We wouldn't even have to prepare students for arts, culture, living at all--we'd just have to prepare them to be grateful for a corporate job! Let's first make 'em take tests that anticipate success in corporate life! Then we'll start grabbing us some campuses!

So, the billionaires reckoned, we can easily marshal public support for charter schools. First, let's saddle the teachers with hopeless but high-stakes standards and equivalency testing. They're bound to perform poorly. That will enable us to present to the public irrefutable "evidence" that the teachers aren't doing their jobs.

[All of this, by the way, is well documented in Kathy Emery's book Why is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools?--a book I tirelessly recommend to anyone who cares about education.]

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has seven seats from seven districts--and at one time or another, Richard Riordan and Eli Broad have had a strawman candidate up for all seven. Most of their candidates have won (and have you seen reform? hahahahah).

The job currently pays $60,000 a year--up until recent times it was paid reptile fund chump change. Yet to mount a campaign for one of these jobs, you need to spend about a million on at least 20 direct mail pieces.

Of course, when "reform" candidates are elected to school board, they know nothing about running a large scale, high stakes election. That's where the reform machine comes in, sweeping them into office.

In the meantime, Riordan and Broad got themselves elected another Mayor who wouldn't mind acting on the billionaires' behalf. Ironically, it's a Latino mayor straight outta District 2, Antonio Villaraigosa--who supports just about every union that has ever met with him, except for one--the local teacher's union. That one is where he drew the line.

And of course it's no coincidence that the Mayor's office was not only populated with Riordanites in its early days, or that the Mayor and Broad have gotten along to the degree that things have gone smoothly for Broad in the District.

The latest Riordan/eastside Latino machine "reform" candidate is Luis Sanchez. The latest UTLA machine candidate is Bennett Kayser. Their election is Tuesday.

° ° ° ° °

District 2 and District 5 are the two seats the LA's Latino machines need to maintain the most. The seats have been in recent years passed on more by primogeniture than by ballot. Jose Huizar acceded the throne in District 2 early last decade; after him, his chief of staff Monica Garcia took it, and now her chief of staff, Luis Sanchez, with Huizar's and Garcia's endorsement and the endorsement of the LA Times, is poised as heir to another throne, scrambling over to Yolie Flores's District 5 seat while Garcia continues to occupy seat 2. All of the successful District 2 and 5 candidates were simply gifted the twin benefits of the Latino machine and billionaire "reformer" interest, as was, of course, Flores All of them were well-scrubbed and impeccably manicured when they took their brochure shots with top Latino politicians. And in District 2 as well as District 5, a group photo with top Latino politicians is enough to win.

Against Sanchez, the UTLA machine is running Bennett Kayser, a longstanding teacher, recognizably Anglo and standing fairly alone in his brochures. Kayser is so old-mold, bad-shirt-and-tie school board that only octogenarian homeowners may recognize the type anymore: scruffy, rumpled, a guy who knows a lot about classrooms and wonders, as, say, Louis Pugliese might, why the district has spent so much money on buildings and athletic fields when it can't even pay janitors to clean the classrooms. He's such a throwback, Kayser could have been on the School Board in the 1960's, when educators actually ran the District.

But if Kayser is old school and out of step with today's LAUSD, Sanchez doesn't really know why he's there either; order-taker for Garcia as Garcia was for Huizar as Huizar was for Villaraigosa, he hasn't been around the district long enough to see the five construction bonds passed over an eleven year span that duped voters into thinking that they were paying for schooling and education, when they were really paying Corona contractors and Irwindale building suppliers. He may not even know that the real purpose of the big bonds were to keep the ever obsequious Riordan's banker friends well-oiled, and remake the local economy into a contractor-driven, boom-or-bust one that has ensured LA become a perpetual absentee landlord town. The ever obsequious Riordan's banker friends will continue to make money on the property tax payback through 2044, when the last dollars are paid.

The biggest problem with the school board today, after nearly two decades of "reform" that has brought the district half-billion dollar schools and fifty-cent education, is that not only are real education and reform strategies rarely discussed there, but its own history is now so lugubrious that not even the candidates themselves are fully aware of what they really are being asked by their handlers to do anymore, or why they're asked to do it. One candidate is handed one machine, one candidate is handed another, and both candidates are expected to answer to that machine at every moment right up through election day. Then the puppetmasters hope and pray that the puppets stay loyal, at least for a while. Some do, some don't. It's a crap shoot.

And as such, it is barely education at all. It is shadow puppet theater, and it is very unseemly to watch. The many thousands a year each homeowner, whether they ever have kids or not, pay in property taxes ends up "educating" contractors more than children, as still well over a third of the local enrolled kids drop out of LAUSD before completing high school.

Until we turn races for school board over to educators, rather than allow them to be gamed by political machines and the billionaires who make deals with them, I'm afraid it will always be thus.

[NOTE: this post originally appeared here with a different title, which misidentified the District in question as District 2. It is in fact District 5. Thank you to Katy in Eagle Rock for spotting the error.]

[NOTE II: An earlier version of this piece also appears at CityWatch.]


I do hate flogging while blogging, but I suppose I should mention that this afternoon I'll be reading some of my poems at LACMA's Artwalk, in the Ahhhhhmanson Gallery. The event is hosted by LACMA and the Petersen and put on by Amor Fati, my favorite LA litmag. I think I'm last on the bill, likely so that the crowd can sensibly thin itself beforehand. But don't let this notice bother you. Go ahead and enjoy your nice day doing nice things.

LACMA Muse ArtWalk: May 14, 2011 - Your Destination Guide to Los Angeles


Oh, Please...

Rick Caruso says of LAX

“You could be landing at any third-world country on the face of the Earth."

I'll leave it to you to determine which of the above overheads is to Windhoek Airport, Namibia, and which is to LAX.

PS, Vindictive Rick recently lost out on a big concession contract at our own third world jetstrip.