What a difference a year makes!
Last night Los Angeles Times Publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson hosted the first of a series of forums on the critical issues facing Los Angeles. The problems of the homeless on Skid Row - and other parts of our community - was the lead-off topic.
Now most talking heads panels are a waste of time and deadly dull. So imagine my surprise when the each speaker and each panelist discussed real world solutions to this problem and also brought relevant facts and figures to the audience.
As for who they were and what they have to say, I will link to other people on that topic for the moment as this is a subject I will be going into in much greater detail future posts and articles published elsewhere.
What I do want to address now are the beginnings of major change at the culture of the LA Times, starting with the new publisher.
When I first him speak last year, I was surprised by the passion he seemed to have developed for his new home and I felt that could auger well of Los Angeles. And in the short period he has been here, the focus of the LA Times has once again - more and more - become... Los Angeles. And last night I was struck by the deep concern he has for his subject and it is clear this is an issue that is not going to be a seven day wonder or just a series of articles to get some prizes.
Now as for Johnson's butchering the Mayor's name in his opening remarks (for which I expect he will get a lot of blogger grief this morning), I myself never even attempt to pronounce his name in public - I just call him the Mayor or refer to him by his first name.
The next speaker with LA Times Editor Andres Martinez, who now heads the finest editorial page in the county about which I will talk more later, and he expertly questioned the panelists, starting with Steve Lopez who properly deflected much of the praise of the LAT's coverage to his colleagues at the paper, particularly Cara Mia Massa and Steve Winton.
Steve also graciously mention me - to considerable laughter as he mentioned that my writings about him have not always been completely favorable in the now distant past - as he recounted his own personal efforts at getting Nathaniel and now Ernest Adams off the street and how much each of these two gentleman have taught us both.
I might add that my name badge for the evening rather than my normal Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood affiliation - read - LA COWBOY - to the quite vocal amusement of everyone at the Times who read it.
Much more later, but right now I am late for a meeting on Project YIMBY at PATH and then have an appointment with a gentleman enrolling in a drug clinic...