Friday, September 30, 2005

LA Times Downtown Weather Report Du Jour!

On the opening webpage page it says - 80 degrees predicted for my area, but when I click inside, it say 91 degrees predicted - with a current temperature of 89 degrees.

And I have re-entered both my Times profile and my weather profile with EXACTLY the same information, just in case that had been the problem.

Will send another e-mail to Times to see if they can figure out what is going on with their weather site. At least I got the 'floating' Alaska airlines ad fixed.

You'll Never Guess Who Is Buying Full Page Ads In The LA Times Now!

It's... the LA Times advertising staff!


Ad revenues have dropped so much that the LA Times advertising staff now has to sell ads... to each other! Now I had missed this as I only read the LAT on-line (unless I pick up a copy at my gym or on the subway), so I found this on LAOSERVED:

Times smooches the Weinsteins

Since I'm back for a few minutes, what's with the house ad on pg. E-20 of today's L.A. Times Calendar section? It's a full-page kiss to Harvey and Bob Weinstein on the launch of their new post-Miramax venture, from the Times itself—complete with poor grammar. It reads: "The Los Angeles Times Motion Picture Advertising Team Congratulates The Weinstein Company on their [sic] new endeavor." Then a list of seventeen upcoming Weinstein films follows. Editorial staffers in Calendar are not too happy, and wonder if the Times plans to start congratulating in print all potential advertisers.

There is more at the end of the linked story, but after the Staples fiasco showed the dangers of mixing news and advertising... one can only wonder - what... were... they... thinking.

Kevin also mentions there was a big marketing/advertising shake-up at the LAT and he wonders if it was the new team or the old team.

I wonder... is this now the... fired team?

Morgan Stanley Raises Possibility Of Takeover Of Tribune Company!

Rommenesko links to a NPR broadcast with the following quote:

Doug Arthur, Morgan Stanley media analyst: "If they don't show better [stock price] numbers, the company could get taken out by somebody. And then there could be a lot of carnage."

LA needs two or three or four people who have said they want to buy the Times to form a syndicate to purchase the Tribune Company. They can then keep the whole operation - or just the LA Times and other properties they want, and sell off the rest. One advantage of the last course is that individual properties will usually sell for more separately than if they are bundled together.

Additionally, buying the papers as a group removes the risk that the paper would be perceived as a vehicle for any one person's viewpoint. Then the company can go public again and the original investors can retain control of a working majority of the voting stock. But they can also get back much of their invested capital between the proceeds of asset sale and the public offering.

Lastly, once the Tribune knows they are in danger of being taken over - the endangered corporate heads might be willing to throw the LA Times overboard for a very attractive price to save the rest of the ship.

So what do you say... David Geffen, Eli Broad, Haim Saban, Rick Caruso, Michael Milken, Richard Riordan, and Ron Burkel?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Major African Art Collection Owned By LA Based Disney Donated To - East Coast Museum!

The long history of major local art collections being sold off rather than given to local museums - or, worse yet, given away to East Coast museums, hit a new low today. The Walt Disney corporation just gave away a 525 piece African art collection valued between 20 and 50 million and not one local museum is getting even a single piece of it:


WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 - In a move that will expand a strapped museum's resources, the Walt Disney Company donated a 525-piece collection of mainly West African traditional art on Thursday to the Smithsonian Institution, with the works to go to its National Museum of African Art.


Mr. Eisner said that the art, known as the Walt Disney-Tishman Collection, had helped inspire staff members who worked on the movie "The Lion King" and that some objects had been lent intermittently over the past two decades.

Disney had originally planned to display the collection in one of its own sites but never followed through, he said, adding, "We just didn't put our arms around it."

As calls for loans and gifts from the collection persisted - including an appeal from France's president, Jacques Chirac, who secured a loan for the Louvre, and from the Smithsonian's secretary, Lawrence M. Small - Mr. Eisner said he felt pressed to make a decision about it.

So we have a collection so important that the president of France was begging for it... So why is no LA museum even mentioned as being a contender for the gift? Why would a publicly owned, locally based corporation snub it's own home and give the art to a city with far greater art collections than our city will ever have? What possibly could have made Eisner to snub Los Angeles and donate the art to a city in which Disney has virtually no offices or employees, which is usually the determining factor in such corporate gifts?

And - if Disney has owned this collection for twenty years - why did Eisner feel so pressured to remove this collection from Los Angeles and give it to Washington D.C. just weeks before he leaves the company forever? Why this sudden urgency?


So he (Eisner) decided about six weeks ago, he said, to give the collection to the Smithsonian because it was a national institution with a building - the National Museum of African Art - "that could display it right.

So... he liked their building? That is the cause of the 'sense of urgency'? Doesn't he know about the massive LACMA addition that Eli Broad is building? Can it really be that a building is the real reason for Eisner's last minute betrayal?


His wife, Jane Breckenridge Eisner, who accompanied him for the announcement, is a member of the Smithsonian's board of trustees.

OK. Now we get it. As one of his last acts as head of a publicly owned, locally based corporation - Michael Eisner gives away a major art collection to an East Coast museum his wife... just happens... to be on the board of.,1,4912089.story

LA Times now covers the great art theft:

Christopher Reynolds and Johanna Neuman - LA Times

In a move to close his leadership of Walt Disney Corp. with a philanthropic flourish, Chief Executive Michael Eisner announced Thursday that the company would donate its African art collection, hailed by experts as one of the most important such collections in private hands in the U.S., to the Smithsonian Institution.

In making the gift — 525 objects, spanning five centuries and valued at $20 million to $45 million — Disney turned away suitors including the French government and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and solved a quandary that Eisner said had vexed him for 20 years.


Officials at LACMA acknowledged that they tried to get the gift. "We had been talking to them over the last five years about it," said Nancy Thomas, deputy director of LACMA. "We were really hoping that it would stay in Los Angeles, and we would have been very interested in having it come to LACMA. It's a collection that's been on our radar for a long time."


Though LACMA "actively pursued this and took it as far as we could," Thomas said, the museum's last meeting with Disney officials was more than a year ago. Noting that the Louvre currently has several items on loan from the collection, she said French officials had been hoping to land a donation as well.... It's a big loss for Los Angeles," said Doran H. Ross, a veteran Africanist and director of the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA from 1996 to 2001. "It's probably the single most important private collection that's been out there….

Now as for why Eisner personally decided to enrich already rich Washington at the expense of art poor Los Angeles by donating a collection paid for by Disney stockholders, Eisner said it was because it is a national museum - and that it charged no admission. As for that other, very minor, reason... the Times tactfully, barely mentioned it:

In choosing a destination for the collection, Eisner had a lot of options and at least one built-in connection. His wife, Jane, has served on the Smithsonian National Board since 1998 and is currently vice chairwoman.

Currently... vice-chair? Gee - wonder why she got that promotion.

So we have Eisner giving away Disney Corporation owned art to an out of area museum, an act that just happens to enhance his wife's social position and Barry Munitz spending Getty Trust money all over the world that just happens to also enhance his social life... and then there's the scandal of a major local art foundation being looted by its 'trustees' that no newspaper will report about now that New Times has been closed.

Welcome to LA!

The 2014 Olympics, The LA River, Our New Mayor, The Neighborhood Councils - And The LA Times!,1,7467878,print.column?coll=la-headlines-business

Civic boosterism... in the LA Times? What will they ever think of next!


The list of things that traditionally certify a city as "major league" in sports is short: a big-league baseball or football franchise. But what does it take to be "world class"? There the options boil down to one thing: hosting the Olympics."And I think we have a good chance," Barry Sanders told me. This Barry Sanders (not to be confused with the ex-Detroit Lion running back) is chairman of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, which earlier this month announced that Los Angeles intends to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.


Sanders gets to the nub of L.A.'s appeal as an Olympic host: Almost all the necessary venues already exist, down to a velodrome for bicycle racing. Most have been built since 1984. This is a plus because the Games' reputation as a deficit-breeding monster stems from the tendency of host cities to build facilities from scratch.


Moreover, (Saunders) contends that even the experience of bidding for the Games can help forge a community spirit."This town needs a first-tier event to bring people together," he told me. "I do not consider the Olympics a panacea for all problems, but they're a big net plus, and they give us the opportunity to build other plusses upon them."That said, it's worth considering the legacy of the 1984 Games. For a time, L.A. basked in the glory of their success. The Games came off like clockwork and raked in a $232.5-million surplus. Of that, $94 million was donated to the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, which continues to support youth sports programs throughout Southern California.


The run-up to the 1984 Olympics included such long-overdue public improvements as the modernization of LAX. The dithering ever since then over the next round of airport improvements may reflect the absence of a similar event-driven deadline.Would it be terrible if the prospect of another Olympics gave voters and public officials the pretext they needed to get this work done, along with so much else that has been languishing on various public agendas? Who knows - maybe a concerted, communal run at the 2016 Olympics would help turn Los Angeles into the city of the 21st century at last.

About the only major project that would need to be built would be the Olympic Village - and just possibly some rowing facilities. So...what about using the Olympics to help finance revitalizing part of the LA River. We already have a Mayor who can get excited about big projects - and he can also get other people excited about them. We also have at least one writer at the LA Times who thinks this may not be a bad idea. And if the Neighborhood Councils can get involved from the beginning and work together to make certain this would benefit all of the city - we can make this happen.

And one more big idea - we are one of the few major cities never to hold a World's Fair. So imagine a World's Fair that could leave in its wake - several miles of greened LA River right after the Olympic kick off the project?

Well, I can dream, can't I?

Lastly, I wish I could help myself... but... in the above LAT article... pluses... is spelled... as plusses... which is not the most preferred way.

There. I feel a lot better now.

What Is It With The LA Times On-Line Weather?

I have 90013 put into my computer as my address (it's where my office is) and yet I often get two different forecasts on different parts of the computer.

For example - this is what I get on the LAT frontpage:

Thu 81 (UPDATE - later it suddenly changes to... 91 degrees)

But when I go to the weather page tonight - this is what I get for the overall area forecast:

Thursday...Mostly sunny. Highs in the lower to mid 70s at the beaches to the lower 90s inland.

And this is what I get for 90013 - which is within coastal plain and not part of the inland or the valley - (and we are usually at least 10 degrees cooler than those areas) on the same page:

Thu 94°

Yup. As hot or hotter than in the Valley.

Except, I then insert do a Valley zip code - and get this:

Thu 97°

Well above the low 90's - and only three degrees hotter than downtown. And it's like this nearly every day and I've e-mailed them about this for ... months. So why can't they fix it?

LA Times (And Daily News) Get Around To Covering Gerry Miller Becoming New CLA!,1,5308483.story?coll=la-headlines-california

Steve Hymon does a nice wrap-up on the story:

After nearly a year of trying to find a new chief legislative analyst, the Los Angeles City Council offered the job Wednesday to Gerry Miller, who has been filling the role in an interim capacity since December. The council has quarreled for seven weeks over who should get the job, and early in the summer, Miller was told that he was not a finalist.

He appeared to be out of the running until recent days, when he again expressed interest in the job. The council interviewed six candidates in a 10-hour closed meeting Tuesday. In an unusual move, even council staffers were banned from the meeting to keep the proceedings secret word leaked out before Wednesday morning's council meeting that Miller had gotten the job. In an open session, the council approved his selection on a 12-0 vote, with one member absent.

The legislative analyst helps the council craft motions that are legal and financially sensible. Many council members often vote according to the analyst's policy recommendations.

And... the key point...

A committee led by Council President Alex Padilla brought two finalists before the full council in a rancorous closed meeting in early August. But several other council members said they were upset that both were from outside the city. Miller "fought for the job and fought for it well and that made a big impression" with the council, Padilla said.

I do recall vivid accounts of that August meeting. The idea that someone with no knowledge of Los Angeles or the workings of the City of Los Angeles, and no personal relationships with members of the council could walk into that job... well, that is hard to imagine.

My guess is that a majority of the council after seeing outside candidates, realized they needed someone who could walk in and start doing the job - tomorrow. And the fact they had someone who met that qualification whom they already knew and trusted - and who was fully capable of doing the job, just made the decision a lot easier.


Rick Orlov of the Daily News does his version of the story:

After nearly a yearlong, $40,000 nationwide search, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday selected the official who has been serving as its interim top adviser for the permanent position.

The 12-0 approval of Gerry Miller, 45, of Sherman Oaks as chief legislative analyst followed a 10-hour meeting Tuesday during which six candidates were interviewed and a divided City Council clashed over the role of the office.

"I'm just grateful to get the job and have the confidence of the City Council, " Miller, a 20-year city veteran, said after the vote. "I hope to continue to gain their trust." Tempers grew short during the closed session, several members said, with disputes arising over whether an outsider would bring in new ideas and whether the office would become politicized.


Miller emerged from a total of 25 candidates, some of whom dropped out apparently over concern about the amount of time it was taking for a decision to be made. Miller himself at one point during the process had pulled out of the running, only to recently re-enter the competition.

Miller has worked for the city for more than 20 years, starting in the City Clerk's Office, moving to the City Administrative Office and, for the past seven years, working in the Chief Legislative Analyst's Office.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

LA Times Gets Facts Wrong In LA Times Editorial In Summary Of LA Times Editorial!,1,6005401.story?coll=la-news-a_section

Don't know how I missd this the first time around - it must have been up on the Corrections webpage for only a nano-second:

Roberts editorial — Tuesday's A2 summary of a Times editorial said Democrats should not vote to approve Judge John G. Roberts Jr. It should have said that Democrats should vote to approve Roberts.

LA Times (Hell, The Entire Tribune Company!) Now Officially A Blue Light Special!

While I was over at the Education and Neighborhood Committee Meeting of the City Council - more later on that - the roof fell in over on Spring Street. Well, OK - maybe not exactly the whole roof - but you sure can see sky from parts of the upper floors. Here's Kevin's post:

Tribune execs may have shrugged off the company's bad tax news, but Wall Street did not. Tribune stock fell today to a new four-year low of $34.22 a share, down 4.3% on the day, on huge volume for the Chicago firm. Says Douglas Arthur of Morgan Stanley Equity Research: "Why management did not settle this years ago is anybody's guess. The cost to investors and therefore the company's cost of equity capital from the looming anxiety of this outcome has been incalculable." Merrill Lynch switched to neutral from buy on Tribune stock, and Fitch Ratings put the Tribune's commercial paper on Rating Watch Negative.

So all you guys who have been talking big about buying the LA Times - it's time to stop talking and join together - and buy the whole thing!

Good News For LA! Gerry Miller New CLA!

Roderick over LAO has the story:

Gerry Miller is the new Chief Legislative Analyst for the City Council. He has been the acting CLA and was previously executive officer in the second-floor suite. Council President Alex Padilla announced the hiring today...

Now when the word was leaked that Gerry was NOT among the finalists, I recall reading he was going to resign as of Friday of that week. To my surprise, though, I then saw him in the Council chamber the following week, but as the place was packed due to the DWP rate increase, I did not get a chance to talk with him.

Now let's hope the City Hall reporters can find out what deals were cut. Tough thing to do on deadline, but here's hoping. Miller replaces Ron Deaton, who bumped over to run the DWP last year.

I imagine Deaton had more than a little to do with this. And with a new Mayor and term limits - there needs to be someone on board with some institutional history. And now with Miller as the council's top guy and CAO Bill Fujioka staying on as the Mayor's top gun - we still have people in place who actually know how things work in this city.

Now if only the same could be said for the Times...

New Orleans Is Another City The LA Times Seems To Have Problems With!,0,1821544.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Reading the LA Times is a frustrating experience. I always feel I have to double check everything it says to see if it is actually true, or, even if it is not totally false, if it is really the pertinent information. Just skimming the hurricane overview today, a dozen things instantly stuck out to me as being... not quite true....

To just give one glaring example:

New Orleans accounts for about half of Louisiana's tourism--110 million visitors and $5 billion last year.

Other sources quote 10 - and not 110 - million visitors (hey - what's a hundred million or so among friends?) and state that New Orleans gathers around 60% of the state's tourist dollars. The five billion figure, though - may (possibly) be correct! One out of three!

Another example:

Parish: St. Charles/Jefferson/New OrleansIndustries: Manufacturing, fishing, tourism and servicesPopulation*: 987,681Main communities: New Orleans, Hahnville, Gretna and Vieux Carre

To begin with, 'Vieux Carre' is the fancy name for the French Quarter, which is, of course, part of New Orleans. Second, while this list is supposedly of the 'Main communities' and in several of the other parishes in this list, they do cite the larger communities, here, other than New Orleans - they do not list any of the main, or larger, communities.

Instead, this list has the parish seat for St. Charles - Hahnville - which has a staggering 2,792 people, much smaller than the 'main' communities in that parish - and Gretna, the seat of Jefferson Parish, which while larger than Hahnville, is still rather small compared to the other 'main communities' of Jefferson Parish such as the City of Kenner and New Orlean's largest suburb - Metairie - which are the dominant (i.e., main) communities in that parish.

Also, in one part of the longer list, the Times makes a distinction between incorporated and non-incorporated towns, but in other places - they do not chose to make that distinction, leading one to believe that all the other communities cited are incorporated - which they are not.

There is simply nothing resembling consistency in the way this list was put together.

I could go on and on and on, just in this one article. The point is - any reasonably educated person should be able to spot a lot of these things. But no one at the LA Times ever seems to.

LA Times Editorial Page Strikes Again! Can't Tell The Difference Between A Zhou And A Dong!

OK. Fun is Fun. But seriously ... somebody... anybody.... needs to proof read the editorials before they get published. It is now clear that whoever writes these things doesn't know his dong from a hole in the ground.

China: An editorial Tuesday on efforts to convince the Chinese to carry out pro-democracy reforms in Hong Kong stated that the city of Canton is now called Guangdong. Its name is Guangzhou.

Once again - the most error-ridden section of the paper - word for word - continues it's losing streak.

And... long after they published a correction about their August sugar prices editorial - where the Times said said that sugar prices had risen in the United States at two to three times the rate they rose in the rest of the world - when they were actually DROPPING in the United States - the Times has still not corrected the on-line editorial!

Subsidies to the sugar industry cost U.S. taxpayers about $1.2 billion annually, and in the last 10 years the price of sugar in the United States has risen at two to three times the rate in the rest of the world, costing U.S. consumers billions more.

The Times has also also yet to correct any of its incorrect facts in the big Katrina/Earthquake editorial - even though two articles in the Times within the week did print the correct facts - and the Op-Ed section still stands by Mike Davis and his claim that housing prices have crashed in San Francisco.


What if ... all along... the LA Times Ediorial Page has actually been an avante garde... novel?

The terrifyingly productive Howard Kurtz, "Reliable Sources" host for CNN and media maven at The Washington Post, is shopping a nearly finished satirical novel about the newsbiz, titled "Funny Is Money."


He added: "The great advantage of tackling a novel is that you don't have to bother with such annoying procedures as checking your facts."

Explains a lot!

Link courtsey of Romenesko.

Ten Billion Dollar Pirate Treasure Found?

Since part of my wonderfully misspent youth was spent looking around the world for lost mines and buried treasure - I found this (editted version of) article kinda cool:

In the 17th century a Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk, was a castaway on an island 2,000 kilometers to the west of what is now Chile. He was rescued some years later and one day in a pub in Scotland he told his story to Daniel Defoe, who later wrote the famous novel "Robinson Crusoe," based on the sailor's experiences....

Until now, the island was only known because of the Robinson Crusoe story and its delicious lobsters. But in 1995 an American named Bernard Keiser arrived on the island saying he had evidence that a considerable treasure had been hidden there at the beginning of the 18th century by a British captain named George Anson. In those days, British pirates frequently raided Spanish galleons and ports on the South American continent....

A few weeks ago Wagner, a Chilean geological prospecting company that was doing some work in the island, declared it had found by chance the area where the treasure is. It used a highly sophisticated robot invented in Chile that can detect different kinds of underground structures. The treasure is said to consist of 600 barrels of gold and jewels that today would be valued at US$10 billion. According to Chilean laws the amount must be shared in equal parts between the state and the finders. Of the island's 1,500 inhabitants, many do not believe that the treasure has been found.

No digging has been approved yet - so will update.

PS - Site is having technical problems.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Cowboy Way(S)!,0,2137567.story?track=hpmostemailedlink

In the above story, Jane Smiley recounts her education in educatin' horses:

GETTING a horse to do what a rider wants is at the heart of the human-equine relationship. It is by nature a coercive practice. The real challenge, however, is to tap into the intelligence and strength of the horse without diminishing either. Bits and spurs are two tools of the trade, but they have their limitations. Some horses will either fight the rider or never quite understand what the rider is asking.


The Dorrances came to value the vaquero approach, which is as much a philosophy as a methodology. "Listen to the horse," Tom would famously say. "Try to find out what the horse is trying to tell you."

On the ranch, the brothers needed quiet horses that were cooperative and capable of acting as partners in the endless work of finding, moving, herding, separating and tending to cows, calves and bulls.

The method originated in Tom's detailed observations of how horses in herds interact to establish dominance and exact submission, to form relationships and to communicate to one another what to do and when and how to do it. It makes use of techniques that, to begin with, are easy for horses to understand and perform and that add up to ever more sophisticated communication between horse and rider.

My own experience in educatin' - and gettin' educated - by horses started... under less then ideal conditions. I was given a four year old Morgan stallion that had never been ridden and had rarely even been touched by a man.

Things started badly - and went immediately down hill.

In addition, my best friend's half-brother, Tom, felt my existence on this planet was a personal affront, and he quickly devised a hazing process designed to remedy the unfortunate fact of my existence. Luckily, though, that process also - eventually - created the intensely close bond between me and my horse, Mr. D.

Not long after that, and shortly after me and my horse had proved ourselves to the others, I first saw how Lance, Tom's half-brother, broke a horse.

He walked around a corral with the horse.

Yup! That was it! Lance would just look at the animal, walk around with him for an hour or two, and then the horse would - finally - come up and lay its head on his shoulder. Lance would then stoke its head, get on his back - and ride him bareback with but a hackamore.

My first thought was - if he knew how to do that - why the hell had he watched me being pile driven into the ground of the Owens Valley for two months?

I soon realized, though, I had to undergo a baptism of sorts to be accepted by the others and that it was only after that, that I would be introduced to the mysteries of the man/horse relationship. One of the surprises about the above article, however, was my realizing how many different techniques have been developed over the years to accomplish the same goal, all created by understanding the nature of the horse as a social and herd animal.

There was the method I saw Lance do and which I began to learn how to do (wholly inadequate as I was at it), and then there is the 'horse whisperer' approach I've heard about, but have avoided reading about. I presume, though, it must be quite different as Lance never used his voice at all in the initial taming of the horse; it was all in his walk and in his eyes. And I recently scanned a brief description of using a lead rope, and now this technique described in this article.

And I almost did not read this piece as I am just finishing the main chapters of my memoirs that talk about horses in general (and my later experiences with wild mustangs that finally gave me a real understanding of horses) and my horse in particular and I did not want to influence what I recalled by reading other's people's experiences.

But I am glad I did read this article and as soon as I do finish those chapters, I will plow into other people's experiences and discover how they, too, learned the language of the world of horses.

Paging David Geffen, Et Al - Tribune Stock Might Start To Get Real Cheap!

LA Observed has the news that the Tribune Companies lost their case - big time - in tax court:

This is a day the Tribune Company hoped would never come—or one of them at least. Call it the revenge of Times Mirror's former bosses. When the Chicago-based Tribune swooped in to buy Times Mirror and the L.A. Times from unsuspecting executives in 2000, it also acquired a potential tax liability dating from an earlier, too-clever TM scheme to dodge the IRS. Well, on Tuesday the U.S. Tax Court sided with the IRS. After interest, Tribune owes—are you sitting down?—a cool billion. Not ephemeral paper assets, but actual money. Tribune will appeal but has decided to go ahead and pay the tax bite to avoid building up more penalties.

Still to come - a decision on if the Tribune will be forced to divest either The LA Times - or KTLA Channel Five:

Tribune's other big gamble, that the U.S. will change the law and let them keep both the Times and KTLA rather than force a sale, still lies a couple of years ahead.

So local billionaries - time to start pooling your funds to buy Tribune Company at the upcoming blue light special sale.

Monday, September 26, 2005

New York Times Does The Math - And The Numbers Don't Add Up! Someone Must Have Cheated To Pass Their Regent's Exam!

The premise of the above article is that science can not prove diet has any correlation with cancer rates. The Times does state, though, that a more healthful diet can't hurt when it comes to preventing cancer - and that it will likely help with heart disease. But the paper also firmly states that it can not be proven there is a link between diet and preventing cancer since concrete facts are lacking.

However, the New York Times does state that cancer rates are soaring. And then they quote the following facts and figures to prove that:

That, however, is little consolation to cancer patients and family members who are terrified that cancer might strike them next. And there are more and more. As the population ages, the number of cancer patients is soaring. From 1997 to 2004, the number of Americans with cancer jumped, to 9.6 million from 9.4 million. Cancer strikes one in two men and one in three women in their lifetimes.

There's only one little problem here. The 'soaring' number of patients comes out to a total increase of just a hair over 2.1% over seven years. That comes out to little more than a .3% increase per year.

Pretty pathetic for soaring, I would say.

Even more damning is the inconvenient fact (and, yes, facts are so very often... inconvenient) that during the same seven years, the population of this country was growing at around 1% per year. That would mean the population is growing over 3 times - that's 300% - higher than the rate of cancer increase! That means that cancer rates - as the country ages - are plummeting!

Now I doubt if that is at all true and there has to be some explanation for this. But it sure has nothing to do with the facts presented in the article.


Cancer rates are actually DROPPING in this country - and not soaring as the New York Times says tomorrow in what appears to be front page story! As proof --

Annual Report to the Nation Finds Cancer Incidence and Death Rates on the Decline: Survival Rates Show Significant Improvement

The nation's leading cancer organizations report that Americans' risk of getting and dying from cancer continues to decline and survival rates for many cancers continue to improve.

Yup - not only are the numbers of cancer patients not 'soaring' - but the rate at which Americans get cancer in this country is ... actually... dropping.


NYT corrects misspelled name - but not 'soaring' cancer rates.

An article and a picture caption in Science Times yesterday about scientific doubts on the role of diet in cancer prevention misspelled the given name of a Harvard epidemiologist who discussed the difficulties of correlating dietary habits with cancer rates. He is Dr. Meir Stampfer, not Meier. (Go to Article)

Why The Sun May - Finally - Rise Again Over The Getty Museum!

To begin with - for those of you who have joined this soap opera late - if you put 'Munitz' in the above 'search this blog' box, you can access all previous posts on the subject, starting even before the existing scandals were uncovered.

And for those who have been following along, my last two posts have useful background information, along with the September 1st post.

Now as for my optimism that the rein of Getty Trust President Barry Munitz and Getty Board President John Biggs is about to end, there appears - finally - to be a convergence of factors to create the Perfect Storm.

First, there is now well documented (thanks to the LA Times) use of Foundation funds by Munitz for his personal use or for the benefit of Munitz's rich and/or politically connected friends. And both the State of California and even a Federal institution, the U.S. Senate - are now looking into those misdeeds.

Second, the fleeing of staff from the Getty will only continue - I have been told by people up on the Hill - if there is not a clear sign - soon - that Munitz is leaving.

Third, the complete failure of the Getty - with all its vast resources - to build even a second rate painting collection over the years - has alienated members of the art community who might have supported Munitz. But by buying friends and influence all over the world by spending the Getty's money there instead of buying art for Los Angeles, Munitz does not have the supporters he might otherwise have.

Fourth, the failure of the Getty to get a big name - or even a name, period, to take over as director was probably, finally, seen by Munitz as a good thing, even if that was not (as I suspect) his original plan. But having a director with no clout or power, seemingly makes it far easier for Munitz to control him as, again one would think, it would harder for him to control a director who had run either the Whitney Museum or the National Gallery in London.

But our Mr. Brand may yet prove to be Munitz's Achilles Heel. For if things get rough up on the Hill, and they will as the scandals and subpoenas come home to roost, it is one thing for a major museum director to quit in a huff and move on. These things often happen when high powered egos collide. And that director would then assured of getting another high profile job, with all the major positions presently open.

But if a relative unknown - picked from almost complete obscurity - were to announce that things were so bad up on the Hill - that he could no longer in good conscience stay... well, how could Barry ever explain that? How could John Biggs explain that?

Well, they couldn't. And there is no way Munitz could remain in power if that were to happen.

No, Barry Munitz no longer has the power in that relationship, even if neither one of them has yet realized it.

(The other good news is that Brand's reputation appears to be well earned. But more on that later)

Fifth, the LA Times article today (described two posts ago) describes hundreds of pages of internal Getty documents that prove that Munitz knew - in detail - of the potentially illegal activities of the Getty clear back in 2001 (he was hired in January 1998), and that he did nothing to remedy the situation.

Sixth, and most damning of all, Barry Munitz and his co-conspirator, Board Chair John Biggs - kept the existence of those and many other damning documents from the rest of the Board; the very Board that is legally required to supervise the Trust. And the two board members willing to speak out in public are... pissed.

Seriously pissed. From the LAT article quoted on Sept. 1st:

Two other Getty board members, Barbara Fleischman and Ramon Cortines, said they were unaware of the documents, and believed board members should have been briefed about what the internal review found.

Fleischman said she was "flabbergasted" to learn the Getty has documents it has not provided to the Italians."I'm shocked," she said. "My knowledge is that full cooperation has been given to the Italians."

Cortines said, "If there were pictures and if there were damaging documents, as a board member I believe I should have seen that and been informed. There should have been a discussion about how we as a board were going to respond."Stonewalling is not handling an issue," added Cortines, a former superintendent of Los Angeles schools.

And this was before the release of the latest, far more damning, hundreds of pages of lawyer's papers that the LA Times has obtained, that presumably - were never seen by the majorty of the members of the board.

So, as I said on my September 1st, it is one thing to lie to the Police, to the State, to the Federal Government and to random foreign countries - but it is another thing to lie to and create massive legal liabilities for a Board that can hire and fire you.

Now, hopefully, the LA Times Editorial Page will finally demand not just the resignations of Barry Munitz and John Biggs - but also that the entire board be restructured.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Background Story On New Director Of Getty Hired Last Month!

Below is a post my Dopamine-deprived fingers could not type last month, but which I am now posting to help illuminate my shortly following post on why the nightmare over at the Getty may... finally... be coming to an end.,0,6237692.story?coll=cl-art,0,7972658.story?track=widget

First, the LA Times...

Suzanne Muchnic
August 16, 2005

The troubled J. Paul Getty Museum's highly publicized search for a leader came to an end Monday with the appointment of Michael Brand, a Harvard-educated Australian who has headed the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond for the last five years.

Brand, 47, will take charge of the Los Angeles museum Dec. 1, succeeding Deborah Gribbon, who resigned in October, citing "critical differences" with Barry Munitz, president and chief executive of the umbrella Getty Trust.


Considered a rising star in the art world and highly regarded among his peers, Brand has compiled an impressive resume but one that might not seem suited to the Getty's needs.

His academic specialty is Indian art, a field that the Getty Museum does not collect. One of his primary achievements at the Virginia museum was having spearheaded a successful capital campaign for expansion, a skill that might not seem to be in great demand at the wealthy California museum but that Munitz has said will be important.


Brand's name emerged amid speculation about possible candidates, including Maxwell Anderson, former director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum in London and former director of the National Gallery there.

And now the New York Times...

Mr. Brand, a native of Australia and an expert on Indian art and architecture, inherits a museum with a $5 billion endowment and world-class collections of antiquities, photography and illuminated manuscripts. Many in the art world, however, consider its other artistic holdings, though extensive, to lack a strong aesthetic vision and identity.

Mr. Brand will assume significant fund-raising duties that neither of his predecessors had, Mr. Munitz said. Until recently, the Getty Trust has not had to raise money and has simply bought many of the objects it coveted. But with the trust's investment income shrinking, museum expenses rising and prices of art soaring, the trust and museum have for the first time begun to seek donations of money and art objects, he said.

That task will fall largely to Mr. Brand, Mr. Munitz said.

"The fundamental burden should rest with the museum director supported by trust president, not the other way around," he said.

In other words, Mr. Brand now has to go out in public with a tin cup to support Barry's lifestyle. And...

In accepting the appointment, Mr. Brand said that he hoped not only to add to the museum's collection but also to make the center more accessible to the public. "I am looking forward to further building the Getty's renowned collection and to further expanding the way we use it as the central part of our mission of outreach and service to our various communities."

Mr. Munitz said that Mr. Brand was the first choice among four finalists identified by the museum's board and search committee. He declined to name the other candidates but said that none of the serious contenders for the post turned the Getty down.

Mr. Munitz said that Mr. Brand's background made him a good fit for a potential shift in orientation by the museum to the art and cultures of Asia and Latin America.

And... lastly....

"To get our strongest candidate with all of the noise out there tells you something about how our situation is viewed by professionals in the field," Mr. Munitz said. He said that the museum staff received Mr. Brand warmly when he introduced him on Monday morning. "There was a very warm applauding reception," Mr. Munitz said. "Nobody stood up and asked us if we were out of our minds."

Ok - now let's translate these statements into English. The new director of the Getty currently runs a very small regional museum, but he is highly thought of among other museum professionals. Clear enough.

Next, Madman Muntz, pardon me, I mean the esteemed Mr. Munitz, stated that no serious contender for the position had turned down the job.

Excuse me... but exactly why would Munitz say that no 'serious' contender had turned down the job - if no one at all had turned down the position? Why would he not just say that no one - period - had turned down the job?

The only semantical explanation seems to be that they first quietly, unofficially, offered the job to a variety of non-serious candidates (such as people actually qualified for the job, but who knew better than to touch anything associated with Barry Munitz with a ten foot Canaletto, making them 'non-serious' candidates) - all of whom quietly - and 'unofficially' - turned them down - before they... finally... offered the job to Mr. Brand.

Next comes my favorite part. To Mr. Munitz's evident shock - when the staff was introduced to the new boss they will report to - not a single one of the staff asked them if they had lost their minds in hiring him. I mean - what an unimaginable triumph! And then - to Munitz's even further amazement - not even one staff member pulled out a gun - and shot holes in their new boss! Great job, Barry!

Plus let us not forget Munitz's statement that Michael Brand was the strongest of all candidates for the job.

And how can we doubt that?

I mean, on one side they had... the director of a small, obscure, regional museum in Virgina (and a man whose field is not even collected by the Getty) while on the other side - all they had were some pathetic directors who had run backwater museums like the Art Gallery of Ontario - one of the ten largest art museums in North America, the Whitney Museum in New York and, of course, a hopelessly unqualified 'candidate' (if you can even call him... a 'candidate') who ran both the British Museum and the National Gallery in London!

My God - what a fraud to even submit his name! Shame! Shame!

Yup - we got the strongest candidate, all right!

Getty Dealings In Looted Antiquities Exposed in LA Times!,0,7970230,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

By Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino, Times Staff Writers

There are several stories contained in today's Los Angeles Times nine page (internet format) expose of the Getty's history of buying suspect antiquities. Alas, only one of them is good.

To begin with, while I am always there at the drop of a Stetson - black, felt and low crowned, of course - to point out the LA Times seemingly hourly transgressions, I take far greater pleasure in talking about the good LA Times; the version of the Times that miraculously appears - seemingly deus ex machina - whenever the paper fields its deep bench of writing, investigative and, yes, even editorial, talent against a story that actually affects the citizen of... Los Angeles.

Still, even though this latest series of revelations will undoubtedly spell the end of Barry Munitz's misadventure at the Getty Trust (the only good news in this sordid affair), this is a tragic day for those of us who care about LA and its cultural resources. It now increasingly appears that the Getty has - long before the advent of Barry Munitz, buying from dealers of questionable reputations and acquiring massive numbers of art works that do not meet the Getty's publicly stated and ever increasingly stringent guidelines to a far greater degree than had ever been previously suspected

This is a black eye for both the museum and our city.

In response to the Italian investigation, Getty lawyers combed through the museum's files and questioned staff members over several months in 2001, trying to assess the legal exposure of the world's richest art institution.The Times recently obtained hundreds of pages of Getty records, some of them related to the museum's internal review.

Those documents show that Getty officials had information as early as 1985 that three of their principal suppliers were selling objects that probably had been looted and that the museum continued to buy from them anyway.

In correspondence with the Getty, the dealers made frank, almost casual references to ancient sites from which artifacts had been excavated, apparently in violation of Italian law, the records show. The Getty's outside attorney considered the letters "troublesome" and advised the museum not to turn them over to Italian authorities.

That last sentence alludes to how during the Munitz reign, not only was evidence hidden from authorities but also from the majority of the board members. More on that latter.

The penultimate tragedy for Los Angeles, though, is that the Getty will now likely have to forfeit most, if not all of these works - along with the considerable money it paid for them. This will obviously leave considerable holes in the collection at new Getty Villa in Malibu scheduled to open in early 2006 since a clear majority of the pieces self- identified by the Getty as masterpieces, have been purchased from questionable dealers.

Although Italy is seeking the return of 42 objects, the Getty's lawyers did their own assessment and determined that the museum had purchased 82 artworks from dealers and galleries under investigation by the Italians.

They include 54 of the 104 ancient artworks that the Getty has identified as masterpieces.


The Italian legal offensive poses a threat to one of the Getty's most important collections as the museum prepares to reopen the Getty Villa in Malibu as a showcase for antiquities after a six-year, $275-million renovation.

Compounding this disaster is the realization that if those same sums had been legally spent purchasing Old Master Paintings (still reasonably priced compared to Impressionists), enough masterpieces could have been purchased to have dramatically increased the quality of the Getty Museum's still spotty art collection.

Records show the Getty bought the statue in 1988 for $18 million, a sum not previously disclosed. It was the most the museum had ever paid for an antiquity.


A 1985 memo shows that Getty officials learned from dealer Giacomo Medici that three objects the museum was acquiring had been taken from ruins near Naples decades after Italian law made it illegal. The Getty completed the $10.2-million acquisition anyway.

Seemingly, the costs of the potentially forfeitable 54 masterpieces could easily - even in 1980's and 1990's dollars - go well over a hundred million dollars.

I could also now detail a very long list of all that could have been legally bought at auction in the Old Master Painting market during those same years, but that sad history is simply too depressing to even think about, much less recount.

Lastly, as for what this all means for the future of HRH Barry - has my new Porsche been detailed yet? - Munitz, the increasingly catatonic Getty Board, the fledging Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum - Dr. Michael Brand - and the Getty Trust? - more on that latter today.

First The Sheriff's Department, Then Suburban Police Departments - And Now Hollywood Is 'Dumping' The Homeless In Downtown LA!,1,1489999.story?coll=la-headlines-california

When I walked onto Hill Street on my way to back-to-back LADWP MOU Oversight Committee and LANC Congress Organizational Meetings one very early morning (obviously, having a life is not one of this cowboy's priorities at this moment), I was stunned to see homeless encampments as far as the eye could see. Oddly, though, no one was in sight. I then spotted a rent-a-cop and realized this was all a very well dressed set for a movie.

Long time LAT staff writer Bob Pool picks up from here:

Those glancing from their office windows may have figured that Los Angeles' homelessness problem was growing faster than anyone thought. Overnight, a vast homeless encampment popped up at one of downtown's busiest intersections.

There were tents, plastic tarps and old shopping carts stuffed with clothing, bottles and cans. They lined all four sides of the intersection of Hill and 4th streets, next to the city's high-rise district.

But this was one encampment where no homeless people were allowed.The street scene was fake. A film crew built it as a backdrop for "Southland Tales," an independent feature-length thriller that depicts Los Angeles on the brink of social, environmental and economic disaster in 2008.

When I then got up to Grand Avenue, possibly another film was shooting, and when I arrived at the DWP Building, there was Jim Carey shooting yet another film.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Suburban Police Downtown 'Dumping' Of Homeless Confirmed By LAPD!,1,454215.story

LA Times Staff Writers Cara Mia DiMassa and Richard Winton

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department said they have observed police cars from at least four suburban departments drop off what appeared to be homeless people on the streets of downtown Los Angeles in the last year, their captain said Friday.

The claim comes a day after Capt. Andrew Smith, who commands the downtown division, said he and a partner saw two sheriff's deputies drop off a mentally ill man in skid row after he was released from the Central Jail. Officials from three of the departments - El Monte, El Segundo and Pasadena - all said they had no knowledge of their officers driving people to downtown as a way of getting them out of their communities.

Though acknowledging that "dumping" was a common practice years ago, the officials now say their departments have strict bans on the practice. Moreover, they offered to investigate if the LAPD provided dates and times. Officials from the fourth agency, the Burbank Police Department, declined repeated requests for comment.

As I said on my last post on this subject, for years this 'dumping' was a such a common practice that one police department appeared to be running a nightly shuttle service into Downtown LA. But recently, at least in my neighborhood, this has been far less observable. I have heard in the recent past from friends of mine who live east of me, though, that this practice still continues in the Central City East area but that the vehicles now being used are often of the 'unmarked' variety.

Final Word On SAG Election!,0,6983447.story?coll=la-home-headlines

While the past two posts examined the process by which news makes its way from the real world onto the LA Times website (and those who think watching sausages being manufactured is stomach churning, definitely should not read those two posts), now's the time to examine the actually completed story.

And it is quite good. Among other things, it mentions the last SAG strike:

The first major test for Rosenberg's coalition probably will come during negotiations next year with advertisers on a contract governing actors in commercials. SAG struck advertisers in 2000 in a bitter six-month walkout. SAG's contract with studios expires in 2008.

What the article does not mention, though, is that the last strike cost the acting community over 100 million of dollars in lost wages, never to be recovered. Further more, even after all of that, the final new contract offered not nearly enough in gains over what would have been gotten without a strike to make up for the losses from the strike, both in the short and in the long term.

That's because the real disaster was that many commercials went to Canada and other countries - causing many jobs to be lost forever. A number of LA-based directors and producers I knew went up there during the strike - and simply never returned.

Plus a number of SAG actors have complained to me that after so many commercials went non-union during the strike, that the ratio between union and non-union work has never recovered since then, further reducing the number of jobs for SAG actors. The strike ended up being the final blow that drove many of them from the Industry, including two friends of mine.

The reason this is all pertinent is that it was the botched handling of those negotiations by former SAG president Bill Daniels (under the guidance of puppet master Chuck Sloan) that brought in reform candidate Melissa Gilbert back in 2001 when she defeated Daniels proxy Valerie Harper.

So once again a new union head is elected with the promise to fight to the death for his members.

The question now is - will history repeat itself?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Why Buy The Cow When You Can Rent The Milk? Jeffrey Johnson's New Vison For LA Times!!

Below is an 'UPDATE' from my just previous story about the 'breaking' news LA Times coverage of the Screen Actors Guild Friday night election:


LA Times Gives Up!! Editors Throw In The Towel!!!

The front page LAT by-lined link now links... to an AP story!

Rosenberg Gains Control of SAG
From Associated Press

Alan Rosenberg was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild on Friday, replacing former "Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa Gilbert, who decided not to run for a third two-year term.

I guess when Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey Johnson announced two days ago the LA Times was going to 'own' entertainment coverage, he actually meant the LA Times was going to 'rent' it from the Associated Press.


LAT by-lined story - with correct facts, re-changed names, correctly assigned genders (don't ask - just read previous post) - now finally on-line.

Why They - Wisely - Do Not Do Frequent Weekend Updates On The LA Times Website!,0,6983447.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Rosenberg Gains Control of SAG

By Richard Verrier, Times Staff Writer

Actor Alan Rosenberg and his supporters gained control of the Screen Actors Guild, leading a coalition aiming to toughten led a coalition of actors to victory Friday in gaining control of the factious Screen Actors Guild, putting into place but didn't carry the national board, setting the stage for deepening conflict in Hollywood's most influential union.

The actress, who starred in such prime-time soaps as "Falcon Crest" and "Flamingo Road," garnered X percent of Y ballots cast...

Is there anything else I have to say?

I didn't think so.


Rosenberg Gains Control of SAG

By Richard Verrier, Times Staff Writer

Actor Alan Rosenberg was narrowly elected late Friday as president of the Screen Actors Guild, with his slate gaining control of the union's national board.Rosenberg led a coalition that was pushing for more aggressive negotiations with Hollywood's studios. Rosenberg won with 39.9% of the vote. Actress Morgan Fairchild had 34.7%, while Robert Contad had 25.3%.

Now - only five minutes later - actor (no longer actress) Alan Rosenberg has won as president and his slate has also now won control of the national board that they had just lost... five minutes ago. However, the ever fickle Robert Conrad, now spells his name... Contad...

Stay tuned more more late breaking Chicago Style - even the dead vote in Cook County - ballot counting, sex changes and name alterations!


... while Robert Conrad had 25.3%.

In a stunning reversal not forseen by anyone... the former Robert Conrad, then turned Robert Contad - has now once again returned to his original name of... Robert Conrad!

Another LA Times Exclusive!


LA Times Gives Up!! Editors Throw In The Towel!!!

The front page LAT by-lined link now links... to an AP story!

Rosenberg Gains Control of SAG
From Associated Press

Alan Rosenberg was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild on Friday, replacing former "Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa Gilbert, who decided not to run for a third two-year term.

I guess when Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey Johnson announced two days ago the LA Times was going to 'own' entertainment coverage, he actually meant the LA Times was going to 'rent' it from the Associated Press.

Lastly, there is no longer any mention of anyone winning - or not winning - the national board, or any other board for that matter.


Front page link now correctly credits AP for the SAG story - but the link now links to....

FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford Resigns


AP story now gone, and LAT by-line link is back on front page and... it actually now links to the story!

And the National board is now controlled by....

Rosenberg's group, called Membership First, gained control of SAG's board by winning 10 out of 11 seats up for grabs in its Hollywood division, shifting the balance of power away from Gilbert's longtime coalition. Also winning election as secretary treasurer was actress Connie Stevens, 67, who ran on Rosenberg's ticket.

This Correction Is So... Confusing... It Needs A Flow Chart!

LA Times Friday, September 23, 2005

Epstein house — The Home of the Week column in Sunday's Real Estate section said the Pacific Palisades property that was once the home of Mary Astor was sold in the 1940s to Jules Epstein. Epstein's first name was Julius, and he was never an owner of the house. The property was owned at one time by Julius Epstein's brother, Philip Epstein. The column also said Philip's son, Leslie Epstein, based his 2003 novel, "San Remo Drive," on his uncle's life in the home. The novel was loosely based on Leslie Epstein's childhood in the Pacific Palisades home.

All that's missing is a link to the Epstein family tree and DNA samples.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hardened Criminals? Drug Dealers? The Homeless? Inappropriate Spandex Wearers? No Problem! Just Dump Them Downtown!,0,962352.story?coll=la-tot-promo&track=morenews

One of the major complaints about the Sheriff's Department within the downtown community is that they arrest people all over Los Angeles County, but then, rather than releasing them to the cities they live in - they just 'dump' them downtown, usually on the parts of Skid Row most heavily populated with drug dealers, felons and the mentally ill.

LAPD Probes Dumping of Homeless in Skid Row

Cara Mia DiMassa and Richard Winton

September 23, 2005

For decades, it's been an enduring urban tale about downtown Los Angeles, often talked about but never proved: Police departments wanting to get rid of society's lost and neglected — the homeless, mentally ill people and criminals — simply drove through downtown and dumped them in skid row.

But on Tuesday, evidence landed in the lap of the person who most needed it: Capt. Andrew Smith, commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Central Division.Smith said he was out on patrol with his partner about 10 a.m. Tuesday when he noticed a Los Angeles County sheriff's car driving down 6th Street.

The cruiser, he said, turned south on San Pedro, then west on 7th Street to San Julian Street. There, Smith watched in disbelief as two deputies "pulled over, took a guy in handcuffs out of the car. They took off the cuffs and handed him a bag," Smith said.The captain and his partner immediately got out of their car and questioned the man and the deputies.

Smith said the deputies told him that the man had been released from the Men's Central Jail and was standing outside on the street when a supervisor ordered them to take the man to a downtown mission."But there was no mission nearby," Smith said. "Only a line of guys sitting on milk crates."

Deputies have identified the man as Byron Harris, 27. Smith said the man had a long history of arrests in the Lakewood as well as Long Beach, where he lived. He said Harris told him he had not asked to be dropped off and had no connection to downtown Los Angeles.

But the Sheriff is not the only offender. As the article states, city police departments all over the County will take their 'undesirables', load them up in police cruisers - and then 'dump' them downtown. The only odd thing is calling the practice an urban legend that no one had ever proved!

Well, maybe not by LA Times reporters, but those of us who actually walk the streets at night have witnessed the sight of these 'drop-offs' - for decades. I've seen them from Compton back when they had a police department, Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and Santa Monica to name a few. I have to admit, though, it has been a couple years since I have seen it happen near where I presently live or work. I guess it'd be too noticeable in this area now.

LA Cowboy Lunches With Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey Johnson and LA Times Editor Dean Baquet!

OK - so maybe the above headline is just a tad... misleading. So sue me! It got you to read this far, didn't it?

Any ways, that headline is actually even kinda, sorta, almost true... in a very LA Times kind of way. I did have lunch with them at the Biltmore Hotel - along with a couple hundred other people - since Jeffrey M. Johnson was there as guest speaker at the monthly CCA (Central City Association) Luncheon and Dean Baquet was introduced from the audience.

I was also introduced to Jeffrey by CCA president Carol Schatz (who clearly has never read this blog when she suggested that he would like to meet me) and when I walked up to Dean Baquet afterwards, our esteemed Councilwoman Jan Perry approached and made the 'official' introduction while she stood between us and surreptitiously patted me down for weapons before removing herself as a human shield. Dean then confessed he knew who I was and I invited to give him a real tour of downtown, such as the type of tour he would be able to give me of downtown... New Orleans.

So what did Johnson have to say?

Mainly platitudes, the kind of thing you'd expect him to say, but there was also some meat towards the end. He proudly proclaimed LA was now his home, that he loved here and that he never wants to leave. Of course, this is the kind of thing he has to say - but he actually said it in a way that I think I believed him.

As for the real meat, they are appointing a new editor to handle just the on-line edition of the Times, giving it more of an individual identity. That I think will be a big step forward. He also stated that Dean Baquet's long promised foray into the community beyond the walls of Spring Street will begin with a 'meet the editor' luncheon in Orange County with civic leaders next month (and also with some people who might actually read the paper) and that those types of meetings will continue throughout the LAT's circulation zone. That way, by this time next year, Dean will have met all of the LA Times' remaining subscribers.

JJ also stated that the demise of the national edition was minimal in relation to national influence since national opinion leaders still read the whole paper on-line - and I concur. He next said that they will not again print a San Diego edition since it is not one of their five county (LA, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties) home area. He also discussed the challenges facing the paper - even with no head-on competition - and the first challenge he mentioned was... blogs. It also seemed as if he was looking straight at me, but I am certain that was strictly my imagination.

He later revealed that the ever infamous Editorial Board will soon be hosting public events and attending public events so we can get to know them better and vice versa. He also talked about increasing regional edition coverage, and said they were buying local regional newspapers (citing papers in La Canada and La Crescenta, along with starting the Spanish language HOY), but it was hard to tell if he meant there would be more zoned regional coverage in the LA Times itself.

One main focus of the Times, he proclaimed, was that they were now going to 'own' the subject of entertainment, admitting that as of right now - they don't. One new feature will be an on-line site covering all the entertainment awards on a full time basis. I'm not certain what demand/interest there is for that, but I guess... it's something.

Johnson also promised there will soon be the start of actual coverage of... Los Angeles... in the Los Angeles Times, though he did word it somewhat differently than I just did, as you can imagine. And the Opinion Section (which they will hopefully soon re-rename the current, Current Section, though he did not say that) will soon have increasing numbers local writers and more coverage of local issues.

Written questions were then submitted by the audience members to be answered to him. I submitted one.

Mine, shockingly - was not chosen to be answered.

LA Times Editorial Page's Heartbreaking Blunder of Staggering Incompetence!

OK - it's now official. The Editorial Page of the LA Times is now officially a 'fact free zone'! Just look at today's correction:

Sugar prices:
An Aug. 28 editorial about a trade dispute between the U.S. and Mexico said that the price of sugar in the U.S. has risen at two to three times the rate in the rest of the world in the last 10 years. Both U.S. and world prices have decreased over the last decade, with world prices falling at a higher rate than U.S. prices.

Exactly how could the LA Times have 'found' a fact that the price of sugar is rising two to three times as fast in the United States than in the rest of the world - when sugar prices have been FALLING in the United States for the last ten years? I simply can not imagine what statistics they could have been looking at to have come up with that conclusion. Other than them just making stuff up just 'cause it sounds good, it almost seems impossible to get something this wrong if they had actually checked ANY sources.

Now, of course, the name of who wrote this editorial is not given. There is also no link to read the now corrected editorial. There is also no explanation how such a blunder could have happened.

And, best/worst of all, when one tries to find the offending editorial in the archives - there is not even a section to search the old editorials - only the Op-Ed page option is offered - and then when one puts in key words such as sugar prices for the entire paper - even then... the editorial is nowhere to be found.

But why am I not surprised? After all - word for word - the Editorial Page of the Los Angeles Times still has more errors than any other section of the LA Times.

Week, after week, after week, after week.


By using the less advanced search function, I found the old editorial! Or at least the part that is free. And guess what!

They DIDN'T correct the Editorial!! It's still... WRONG!

And the whole point of the piece is that we are paying BILLIONS more for sugar because of the rsising prices.

A sugar imbalance; [HOME EDITION]
Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Aug 28, 2005. pg. M.4
Sugar industry, Free trade, North American Free Trade Agreement, Court decisions, Editorials -- Sugar industry
Mexico, United States, US
World Trade Organization (NAICS: 928120 )
Document types:
Current; Part M; Editorial Pages Desk
Text Word Count
Document URL:

Abstract (Document Summary)
Subsidies to the sugar industry cost U.S. taxpayers about $1.2 billion annually, and in the last 10 years the price of sugar in the United States has risen at two to three times the rate in the rest of the world, costing U.S. consumers billions more. Such protectionist policies are all the more offensive considering that the sugar cane industry employs only about 62,000 people ...


BTW - I 100% agree with the position LA Times took on this issue, and for the exact reasons they cite. But just because I agree with their conclusions does not mean I in any way will not call them on getting their facts wrong on this issue. This is not about ideology, but ... competence and trust worthiness.


Well, this correction only lasted one day on the Corrections Page - and when one visits the archieves and reads the article summary - it STILL has not been corrected! So when is a correction... not a correction?

The Horror Continues! The Undead Walk The Earth! Bloodsucking Vampires From Chicago Invade LA!

Mickey Kaus continues his valiant - but ultimately hopeless - battle to cancel a subscription to the LA Times!!

LAT Desperation Update: After cancelling the L.A. Times, then cancelling again when I got a bill showing an ongoing account (with only a "stop delivery adjustment"), I got a phone call from the Times this morning. ""Thank you," the Times rep said, "[We] want to welcome you back!" It seems the Times was "in [my] neighborhood" and he was offering me a rate of $2.99 a week! I told him I'd cancelled. He said, "It's on hold right now." I said no, I'd cancelled it twice. He said "So you don't want the paper right now" and rang off. ... Something about that final "right now" tells me I'm going to be "welcomed back" again soon. ... Is the Times telling advertisers and shareholders that a lot of subscriptions are "on hold" when really they're cancelled? ... Attention resisters of sleazy LAT death-spiral circ. tactics: Here's the California Attorney General's handy Web complaint form! It only took a minute to fill out. ... Update: As if battered by kf's near-avalanche of anecdotal doubt, Tribune Co. stock fell 2.1% today (twice as much as the Dow). ... 9:06 A.M. link

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

David Geffen Wants To Buy LA Times! Others Do, Too! Tribune Won't Sell! But -- Possible Solution!,0,5001480.story?coll=la-home-business

The LA Times last Saturday ran an article on Dreamworks partner David Geffen's interest in buying the presumptive Los Angeles Times from the Godless Forces Of Evil - AKA - the Tribune Companies.

The article also mentioned as potential buyers, Eli Broad, who made fortunes from home building and financial services; Haim Saban, an entertainment magnate who first scored big with the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers"; and Michael Milken, who made a fortune in junk bonds. A person was also interviewed by the Times who declined to state his name who wanted to buy the paper and a certain ex-Mayor has also been known to express interest in the past.

The only problem is that the LA Times is not for sale, even at the inflated (IMHO) four billion dollar price the LA Times article claims it is worth.

Read the article for other details.

But there is a way around the Tribune's - very temporary - reluctance to sell a still profitable, but badly struggling, and rapidly declining property.

Buy the whole magilla.

That's right. Right now market value for the entire Tribune empire (water pumps included) is a very tasty - 13 billion.

Mere Media Mogul Chump Change!

Then the new owners can sell off the loose parts they are not interested in - and keep the LA Times and any other properties they might want to own. Better yet, the new LA owners could run the entire empire - from Los Angeles - and then send Steve Lopez... to the Chicago Tribune! It might not rank up there with plowing salt into the soil of Carthage - but it's close enough for me.

Plus there is also another option.


It appears we have five or six billionaires who want local control of the newspaper (counting the one not named). So two or three of them team up, start buying stock, and send a shot right over the bow of the listing Tribune Company. In the parlance of the Highway men of yore, they would then announce - the LA Times - or your (independent corporate) life. The Tribune, I would bet, would then cough up the LAT faster than a cat would a particularly nasty furball.

And if the Tribune still won't negotiate - then just keep buying more stock. The share prices will go up even more in expectation of a takeover, speculators will start buying the stock - and company will go into full play and then... well, then just wait for the white flag of surrender.

Where Were YOU When Jet Blue Landed?

After meeting after meeting, I headed my gym via subway and went straight for the pool for my hour of laps to unwind and relieve the pain in my body. Then, at the end of one lap, I noticed all the guys gathered around the TV sets - entranced - and some women, too. I though this odd as I could not think of what game would be on at that time that would be so... engrossing.

Then at the end of the another lap I saw everyone jumping up and down and clapping though the glass windows. This aroused my curiosity . But a few laps later, and everyone was back to their workouts and I was back in my cycle and forgot all about it.

Then when I got back to the office, I clicked on my computers, hit the LA Times web site - and got the whole story about the Jet Blue emergency landing with... no landing gear. Yes, that's right - I got my first news of the story... on the LA Times website! Bet that has got to be a first - and - likely - a last.

But when I checked the date of the story - it was two hours AFTER the plane had landed, but I can't say if that was the first story - or if it was just an update. Likely an update with a story this gripping.


Looks like my experience was replicated in thousands of places across the city:

City Holds Its Collective Breath

People in offices, sports bars, restaurants and health clubs all over the Southland are transfixed as the drama unfolds on television.

By Carla Hall and Kurt Streeter

September 22, 2005

For a few hours, the city watched and waited and watched some more as the JetBlue aircraft seemed to circle endlessly in the sky, preparing to land somehow, somewhere.

With nonstop television coverage from shortly after 3 p.m. until the moment the plane touched down and safely stopped, people in gyms and bars, restaurants and offices gathered around TV sets — turning the real-life drama into a surreal TV movie, a collective cross-town moment of fascination and anxiety.

At Grunions Sports Bar in Manhattan Beach, a good number of the 40 TV sets were tuned to the JetBlue plane coverage. Other TVs were still playing sports games, but the volume went down on those and up on the sets showing the plane.

"Everybody was pretty much enthralled by the scene," said Michael McLaughlin, one of the bar's owners.

Forty or 50 gathered, some in their seats, some standing by the screens in the bar. Quietly they watched as the plane approached, finally touching down. When flames shot out from the wheel, patrons offered advice out loud: " 'OK, OK, come on, you got it' — they were coaxing it down," explained McLaughlin.

When the plane came to a stop, the bar erupted into cheers and applause.

Rare Error By Crack LA Times Reporter Roger Vincent!,1,3215131,print.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-business

In an otherwise excellent article by the usually virtually seemingly always accurate reporter, Roger Vincent, about the new condo project in the old Broadway Building at Hollywood and Vine, the following paragraph can be found:

Elsewhere in east Hollywood, Santa Monica-based Palisades Development Group expects to start work next month on 60 loft-style condominiums in the 1929-vintage Equitable office building at the northeast corner of Hollywood and Vine, said Avi Brosh, president of the firm.

East Hollywood? Uh, Hollywood and Vine is - and was - the heart of Hollywood, period. I am not sure where East Hollywood starts - but it sure as hell ain't in the heart of old Hollywood.

And I know this is a week old, but I just got around to reading it tonight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

LA Times's ' Alice In Wonderland' Coverage of Ray Nagin... Continues!

On Monday's post I gave examples of quotes from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin that the LA Times would not - so far - print. Well, they finally did, more-or-less, print one of these quotes... kinda... sorta... well... see for yourself.

First the New York Times and AP quotes:

Noting that Admiral Allen had urged residents not to return, the mayor said: "The admiral's a good man. I respect him. But when he starts talking to the citizens of New Orleans, that's kind of out of his lane. There's only one mayor of New Orleans and I'm it.


... a clearly agitated Nagin snapped that Allen had apparently made himself "the new crowned federal mayor of New Orleans."

And this is how the LA Times reported the same story:

While calling Allen "a good man," Nagin said that he was attempting to repopulate only the safest portions of the city; he reminded Allen on Monday that "there is only one mayor of New Orleans."

Now there's selective editing and there's total fabrication. This is clearly somewhere in the middle, but the LAT story also clearly misrepresents the emotional state of the Mayor .

And now here's tomorrow's LAT story on the subject with a headline of:

This time, local, state and federal authorities are working together, and emergency food, water and evacuation are planned.

Well, again, this is kinda... sorta of.... almost true, other than the fact it's total BS beyond getting ready for just this week's storm. And even that took a direct presidential order to get him to do that. Finally, Nagin's grip on reality is shown in the below New York Times story that shows the NYT - finally - realizes this guy is... nuts:

The mayor, asked whether the city could allow residents to safely return at a point in the near future, knowing that hurricane seasons does not end until Nov. 30, said the city would resume its phased in re-entries in some form after the threat from the new storm had passed.

OK, so now we have a city with almost no clean water, limited power, no 911 service, pockets of deadly water, no sewers, no sanitation, almost no medical services and levees that could easily breech and flood the city in even a moderate rainstorm - much less a tropical storm or a hurricane - and still Ray Nagin wants to bring people back - two months before the end of hurricane season, as soon as this week's hurricane passes.

And the LA Times calls this... working together?

Can anyone now not understand how everything fell apart in the evacuation of New Orleans? Or why no plans had been made to evacuate the poor? Or why there was no effort to bring food and water to the evacuation shelters? This guy lives on his own personal Fantasy Island.

I just hope some reporter gets their hands on the WWL-TV interview done on Sunday before the storm and reports what Nagin said as the storm headed straight at New Orleans. Maybe that will wake up the LA Times. Or, failing that, a LAT reporter might pick-up tomorrow's NYT and read more about Ray Nagin's record:

Mr. Nagin did not get everyone out, did not fire up the school buses for evacuees, did not have enough food or water for them in the Superdome or the convention center, did not protect people adequately and let the looters loot so he could make rescues the priority.

He had to answer for flying to Dallas the second weekend after Hurricane Katrina to visit his evacuated family and for meeting there with white businessmen from New Orleans. This infuriated many of the city's black lawmakers and businessmen, worried about being left out of the rebuilding loop, despite Mr. Nagin's assurances to the contrary.

UPDATE! Good News - Bad News!,0,6281197.story?coll=la-home-oped

First the bad news; the LA Times Editorial Page still ignores Ray Nagin's behavior and only mentions that he was ' too early' in allowing peole back into the city. The problem here is that his rush to fill up the city is endangering people's lives, and unless the media strongly points this out, he is going to put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk.

The much larger good news is that the above editorial has a lot of sound, well reasoned arguments whether one agrees with all of them or not.


Also in today's LAT Katrina story I briefly quoted from above:

Although Rita is expected to strike in Texas and may have little effect on New Orleans, it appeared Tuesday that the local, state and federal authorities here were well-prepared. Leaders of the Katrina reconstruction effort, however, would not discuss what happened in the days leading up to and following that storm.

Well, just because they will not discuss how the Mayor went nuts when everyone else on this planet told him it was NOT a good idea to lure hundreds of thousands of people into a potential deathtrap - that doesn't mean the media should not discuss it. Remember, he still said he wants to repopulate the city as soon as this single hurricane passes. And it will only be time to move ahead from this issue when Nagin agrees to stop endangering people's live unnecessarily.

City To Examine New Guidelines For Dealing With Labor Negotiations!

Just before the passage of the highly controversial five year labor pact with the DWP union, Controller Laura Chick and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, announced a study of the city's labor negotiation procedures; procedures, I might add, that led to this contract being initiated, negotiated and voted on without the public knowing the process had started or having any meaningful input on even the basic framework of the original offer to the union before the start of negotiations. I assume the study will also examine evaluations standards in determining the sizes of future wage hikes or decreases and other contract provisions. From

* Working together: Villaraigosa and Controller Laura Chick announced today a joint "comprehensive review and reform of the CityƂ’s labor negotiation policies and practices." They are throwing some money toward Sjoberg, Evashank and Associates and the Cornell University Industrial Relations School to do the work. 3:50 p.m.

Ironically, in public comment at the start of today's council session, I asked for the same thing. So let's hope that the NC's will be involved in this process from the very beginning.

Double Correction Day At LA Times! Editorial Page Continues Its Losing Ways!!

Two almost - but not quite identical corrections - from the LA Times Editorial And Opinion Sections -

FEMA: An editorial on Sept. 11 about mismanagement at the Federal Emergency Management Agency said its former director, Michael D. Brown, had been the college roommate of his predecessor at the agency, Joe Allbaugh. A spokeswoman for Allbaugh says the two men did not know each other in college.

Michael Brown: A Sept. 13 commentary about FEMA said that former director Michael D. Brown was a "college buddy" of his predecessor, Joe Allbaugh. The two have been friends for more than 25 years but did not know each other in college.

Well, you'd think the corrections would say the same thing, but I guess they do reference the specifics of each error. And, as usual, the 'commentator' of the commentary is - as always - unnamed. Gotta protect the guilty at the LA Times! Particularly when the guilty party is - once again Robert Scheer - the most factually challenged writer at the LA Times.

But can anyone name another section in the paper that constantly has so many errors for so few words of each paper? Why can't they scrap together a few pennies and have the damn things proof read!

And why hasn't the LA Times yet corrected even one of the many errors in its earthquake/Katrina editorial? I guess they feel that since two news articles in the next week totally contradicted everything in the editorial, that they counted as the corrections.

One good thing, though. On the editorial page - they did have the balls to print the correction at the bottom of today's editorials. And that's a good thing.

Lastly, one more point - today's editorial on Judge Roberts was just about perfect, even if you do not agree with the conclusions, which I do. It clearly analyzes the situation, examines it in knowing detail and then lists potential consequences of potential actions. Real World Realpolitik!

And I see Andres Martinez's hand in the writing and the reasoning proving once again, what a superb thinker and writer he is. Now if only the New York Times can be persuaded to steal him away from us and he can go back to the home where we both want him to be.

Also the North Korea editorial was a well rounded look at the obstacles that challenge us in dealing with that country, and, very lastly - of course - even the token mention of... Los Angeles... had its humor and made its point.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mayor Ray Nagin Endangers Citizens Of New Orleans - Again! So Why Is The LA Times Covering Up For Him?!

Under pressure from President Bush and other top federal officials, the mayor suspended the reopening of large portions of the city Monday and instead ordered nearly everyone out because of the risk of a new round of flooding from a tropical storm on the way.

And in the New York Times...

The mayor reversed himself hours after Mr. Bush had questioned whether it was safe for residents to return. The president reiterated warnings by Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard, leader of the federal recovery effort, that the levee system was weakened, that the 911 emergency telephone system was not working, that the hospitals remained closed and that pollutants were in the air and water.

"Admiral Allen speaks for the administration," Mr. Bush said on Monday in Washington. "We have made our position loud and clear. The mayor needs to hear, and so do the people of New Orleans, our objective.

Now the Main Stream Media has mainly ignored Mayor Nagin's bizarre statements and behavior in the days before and after Katrina hit the city, other than his outburst when he complained - and rightly so - that no one else was doing their jobs properly. And the media has also largely ignored how he had to be forced by the president to even call for an evacuation of the city - or how he seemingly then did everything he could to prevent it from happening.

His most bizarre performance, though, was the morning before the storm when he gave a TV interview where he said that even with the then projected Category 5 direct hit - the storm water (which he claimed would not be polluted) would be totally gone, that all utilities restored and that life would be back to normal within one to two weeks. But don't look for a tape of that WWL-TV interview on-line. It has... vanished.

He also did nothing did nothing to help the evacuation and ignored the plan to use buses to get the poor out of the city. He also refused to implement any of the evacuation plans other then to tell people to go to shelters at the same time he pointedly said he would NOT stock them with food or water. And his idea of evacuating tourists was to tell them to go to the third floors of their hotels. Plus it has since come out that when AMTRAK offered Nagin an entire train on Sunday to evacuate people the day before the storm - he refused their offer.

And these are only some of the dozens of other things he said and did - and did not do - that are slowly coming out, but what you will rarely read about in the LA Times (or even the New York Times, though that is changing some) - much less hear on the network news shows.

But, finally, his behavior has become so delusional - that Associated Press and even the New York Times has finally begun to report his ravings, even though the LA Times still refuses to. In fact, even when the LAT uses AP source material, the LAT continues its history of editing and altering wire reports to meet the newpaper's political agenda.

First, as background, when Nagin, and to a lesser extend, Governor Blanco, were blamed for not following their own evacuation plans - each claimed that when Bush declared it a national emergency - two days before it hit - that he was the one in charge. And when things went wrong afterwards - they also each claimed that the president was the one in charge.

But now read below what Nagin is saying in the same New York Times article when Bush and other officials tried to stop him from having hundreds of thousands of people return to a city; a city with no safe water, no sewers, no sanitary facilites, limited power, deadly pools of standing water - and levees that could collapse with even a moderate rain storm, much less a hurricane or a tropical storm. Read the below quotes that LA Times won't report:

Noting that Admiral Allen had urged residents not to return, the mayor said: "The admiral's a good man. I respect him. But when he starts talking to the citizens of New Orleans, that's kind of out of his lane. There's only one mayor of New Orleans and I'm it.

And in an AP report:

Bush said White House chief of staff Andrew Card had been pressing the matter with Nagin. The concerns were also echoed by the top federal official in charge in New Orleans, Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen, who went on one news show after another to warn that city services may not be able to handle the influx of people.


Before reversing course Monday, a clearly agitated Nagin snapped that Allen had apparently made himself "the new crowned federal mayor of New Orleans."

Now this is important because before the hurricane hit, the White House had seriously considered taking control of New Orleans to get the evacuation going, but decided against it, feeling the political problems would have been too great. And these problems are evident in Ray Nagin's willingness to put the lives of the citizens of his city at risk then and again now, and his refusal to listen to reason until - once again - he had to forced to stop putting people at risk.

Lastly, there are many quotes from Ray Nagin both just before and in the days after the hurricane (his ravings about the phantom helicopter that someone stopped from fixing the levee is my personal favorite - though there were some internet stories about him claiming kidnapping or assasination plots that I never botherd to confirm) that demonstrate he is... crackers.

But, again, don't look to read any of these quotes in the LA Times.