Tuesday, May 02, 2006

LA Times Writer Scott Gold Slurs East LA, Flunks Geo 101, Endorses A Political Candidate - And Advocates The Return Of The Monarchy!


In a rather unusual article, recently arrived in LA reporter Scott Gold goes for some rather unfortunate and inaccurate cliches when describing LA neighborhoods. To show the dangers of style replacing and subverting substance, I will deconstruct the first part of the article:

Family Ties May Falter in Fierce Race

The granddaughter of Cesar Chavez faces tough competition for the 45th Assembly District seat.

By Scott Gold Times Staff Writer April 29, 2006

To the east, in Lincoln Heights and City Terrace, the neighbors have been known to glare if your dog isn't vicious enough to scare off the graffiti taggers, and there are so few parks that joggers run through the cemeteries.

To begin with - there are no cemeteries in either Lincoln Heights or City Terrace, much less cemeteries that joggers use. There is not even a single major cemetery anywhere in the eastside of the 45th District. The jogging cemeteries Gold is describing undoubtedly are from an article in the morgue at the LA Times describing the cemeteries in Boyle Heights and points east.

As for his statement that ' neighbors have been known to glare at your if you dog is not vicious enough' - I'll believe that when I meet his source.

To the west, past downtown Los Angeles and Dodger Stadium, pricey lofts are pushing out immigrants, but you can still find Soujouk sausage in Little Armenia and Kare-Kare stew in Historic Filipinotown.

There are a number of factors that are pushing out immigrants - but it is not pricey lofts. Almost all of the lofts in the area are conversions of vacant office buildings or built on vacant land or are replacing small older buildings. And there are only a small handful of those projects - far fewer than the large numbers of affordable housing units being built in that area, many of which house immigrants.

The two main factors in driving lower income people out are the School District's building binge and the rising prices due to the shortage of new housing units making once affordable housing... unaffordable. Ironically, it is the lack of enough new pricey units that has driven up the prices in older neighborhoods.

The handful of new lofts have had almost no impact in the changing demographics of the area - but it sounds good and sure beats having to do any actual research.

Home to 400,000 people, diverse even by the standards of Los Angeles, the 45th Assembly District has come to exemplify the city. Winning an election here requires a delicate dance across the city's east-west divide, one that appeals to the hipsters of Hollywood, the opulence atop Mt. Washington and the debilitating poverty of East L.A.

Ignoring the improbability that the 45th AD exemplifies LA, virtually everything else that follows demonstrates a scary lack of knowledge of the local turf.

First, the city's east-west divide is not between Mt. Washington or East LA or Hollywood, as anyone who knows LA... knows. The entire district is decidedly eastside in culture - both Anglo and Latino. So while there are very real differences among the neighborhoods he mentions - they are not the differences of the east-west divide of the LA.

Second, there is Gold's use the word 'opulence' to describe the top of Mt. Washington. This means one of two things. Either he has never set foot on the top of Mt. Washington - or he is unfamiliar with the meaning of the word.

My guess?

Both are true!

Worse yet, is his dismissal of East LA as a place of 'debilitating poverty'. First many of the neighborhoods on the east side of the district are stable, middle class communities. And even the poorest parts of the district are filled with life and activity and hope - light years removed from the kind of poverty one finds in some older cities.

But the real problems with the story is that this 'news story', and it is not labeled as 'analysis' or 'commentary', is such a puff piece it could have been written by Chavez's own campaign consultant.

Her opponents are described as being "anointed", "handpicked" and "gilded" by the establishment while she is "unusually attuned to the 45th District". But the ultimate bias is when Gold links his story to her website - and none of the other candidate's websites. And then there is the question of her true qualifications for the job, in Gold's opinion.

She would seem uniquely prepared, if not by virtue of her politics - she has fought for workers rights, gay rights and to ban foie gras - then for her pedigree. Christine Chavez, as her campaign literature makes abundantly clear, is the granddaughter of labor and civil rights leader Cesar E. Chavez.

Yes, Gold baldly states that she would seem to be uniquely prepared to hold the 45th AD simply because she is the granddaughter of Cesar E. Chavez! As hard as it is to imagine anyone writing that - how many editors at the LA Times approved this call for the reinstatement of hereditary titles?

Lastly - there is the 800 pound Gorilla that is sitting in the room, but which the reporter seems unable to find. The LA Times recently ran a major series - which added to other exposes of the past few years - claiming that the United Farm Worker's Union even when Caesar Chavez was still alive, began to drift from its original principles and that in recent years it has become corrupt and ineffective. The article also said one of the main purposes of the union now seemed to be employing members of the Chavez family while the farm workers' conditions had improved little.

Somehow, one would think.... that in an article about a relative of Chavez - who is employed by the UFA and who is running for office - that this subject would be at least mentioned in the paper that exposed the scandal.

But.... no.

Not a word.


Anonymous said...

I was confused, too, when I read the LA Times article. Thank you for confirming that I'm not crazy (at least not about these things)!

Anonymous said...

Despite your comments to the contrary, immigrants and Latinos (not the always the same, as I am sure you know) are being pushed out of Echo Park and Hollywood to make room for hipsters (read white people). My friends and neighbors are being evicted at an alarming rate so that hipsters can rent. Sad, but not surprising.

And, poverty in East LA (which again, I'm sure you know speaks to the incorporated part of the county and not Lincoln Heights) is debilitating in many areas. Drive down Rockwood or perhaps Bonnie Beach or Beulah and you will see.

And, I guess it depends on your vantage point, but I think most Angelenos would find Mt. Washtington opuluent.

Brady Westwater said...

Mr A #2 Thank you for your well considered comments. And we both agree that most LA working class neighborhoods are becoming unaffordable for the working class. But new lofts have nothing to do with the real problem which is that not enough new housing of any kind is being produced in this city.

And, yes I know where the real East Los Angeles is, but I didn't wnat to look as if I was nit-picking by bringing that up, even though most of the 45th AD is really in the Northeast part of the city.

I think only thing I would disagree with you is the use of the world 'opulent' to describe any part of Mt. Washington. Look up the word in a dictionary; it means over-the-top wealth and luxury. Rodeo Drive is opulent. Mt. Washington is not.

david said...

I realize that the foie gras ban is not the point of your post, but when can we get Democrats who support such a ban to discuss the irony of being pro-choice on abortion but don't respect my choice to eat (or not to eat) foie gras?