Friday, March 31, 2006

Tribune Purchase of LA Times Is Beginning To Look Like the Time Warner & AOL Merger Of Journalism!

A lot of ink has been spilled about the vanishing of stockholder value when Time Warner merged with AOL - but exactly the same thing appears to have happened in the Tribune's purchase of the LA Times, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Extra! Are Tribune's Parts Extra?

Media Giant Could Face PressureTo Divest Itself of Some Holdings;Sell the Cubs? Keep the Networks?

By JOSEPH T. HALLINAN March 30, 2006

It is just days away from the start of a new baseball season, and Tribune Co. finds itself in a pickle: Should it sell the Chicago Cubs, its game-losing but money-making team? Or keep the Cubs and toss out something else....


Tribune's two primary businesses -- newspapers and TV stations -- are concentrated in big-city markets that have taken a pounding from competitors. Its TV stations, such as KTLA in Los Angeles, have lost viewers, and its newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, have lost readers and advertising...


Tribune's price/earnings ratio for this year is 14. That compares with a slightly richer multiple of 19 for the Dow Jones U.S. media-stocks index.

Tribune's dilemma comes at a precarious time for media companies. Earlier this month, the board of Knight Ridder, based in San Jose, Calif., agreed to sell the company to McClatchy Co. of Sacramento, Calif., under pressure from Knight Ridder's biggest investor, Private Capital Management LP. The Private Capital money-management firm, run by Bruce Sherman, is a unit of Legg Mason Inc.

Talk on Wall Street is that Tribune could soon face the same pressure. But Mr. FitzSimons says there are important differences between Tribune and Knight Ridder, including the ownership of big blocks of Tribune stock by presumably loyal insiders. The Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, of which Mr. FitzSimons is chairman, holds 14%; and the Chandler Trusts hold 12%.

The Chandler Trusts acquired their stake in 2000, when Tribune bought Times Mirror Co., which was controlled by the Chandler family. The trusts exchanged their Times Mirror common stock for 36.3 million shares of Tribune common stock and got three seats on Tribune's 12-member board.

That merger, which occurred at the peak of the Internet-stock bubble, looks increasingly costly. Revenue has barely budged over the past five years and billions in market value have evaporated. Tribune paid $8.3 billion for Times Mirror in 2000, including the assumption of debt. Today, that is the market value of both companies combined.

So... 100% of the market value of the entire LA Times empire seems to have... vanished... since it was bought by the Tribune empire.

But enough about the past - what about the future?

In the newspaper business, which accounts for nearly three-fourths of Tribune's revenue, fourth-quarter advertising trends were worse than many analysts had expected, and 2006 appears to be off to a slow start, Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Ginocchio said in a March 16 note to investors. Deutsche Bank has a financial relationship with Tribune.

The future isn't much brighter. For the monthly period ending Feb. 26, Tribune's publishing revenue fell 2.4% over year-ago levels, to $314 million. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. analyst Craig Huber predicts Tribune's 2006 newspaper ad revenue will drop 2.7%, versus an industry average of 1.5%. Mr. Huber has an "underweight," or "sell," recommendation on Tribune's shares. Lehman has a financial relationship with the company.

So if you are wondering why the LA Times Business Section is now running 'get rich quick ' ads (see my previous post) - wonder no longer.

How To Buy A Million Dollar Home For $100 - And NO Credit! Read All About It In - Your Los Angeles Times!

You know those sleazy ads written to look like newspapers articles (which have 'advertisement' written in tiny letters at the top) - in downscale tabloids and magazines - on how to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate with no money and no credit - and no work?

Well - now you can find those ads in the Business Section of the Los Angeles Times!

And - increasingly - they may be the ONLY ads you will find in the LA Times - other than ads advertising... The LA Times.

For example - in yesterday's (Thursday March 30, 2006) Business Section, there were only THREE ads from regular advertisers compared to FIVE LA Times ads - advertising... The LA Times.

Now with dozens business magazines and the LA Business Journal filled with ads - why is no one willing to advertise in the LA Times Business Section?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Grand Avenue, Parks - and Parking!

There is understandable confusion about my testimony before the Grand Avenue Authority last Monday regarding parking spaces lost by the construction of the new Civic Park when my remarks were, by necessity, condensed into a single line.

My first point was that a major parking lot directly west of City Hall is going to be lost due to the speed with which the park’s plan is being developed.

The problem is that the park’s developer - The Related Companies - was just authorized to start planning the park last Monday (and their contract had originally called for them to start building the park by the end of this year) - even though none of the public agencies developing the overall plan had yet even publicly considered the possibility of putting of an underground garage under that site like the garages that currently exist under the other parts of the park.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that the project's EIR is still not completed and will not be complete for several more months.

And the construction of a garage is also not only not part of Related's scope of work - but Related does not even have the legal authority to even consider if or how such a public garage should be built there.

That is strictly a County/City decision.

To even more complicate the situation, due to the multi-agency jurisdiction of the land - and the multi-agency ownership for the some of the parcels - with the state, city and county individually and jointly owning parcels, there is no one single person or agency who has the ability to make this parking garage happen.

So, once I discovered this oversight at the previous meeting, I spoke with the County's parking people, LADOT - the City's major provider of parking downtown and the private developer who manages most of the County's parking facilities in the area to see if they could develop a joint financial plan for developing that garage.

Then at Monday’s meeting, the Grand Avenue Authority - rightly so - agreed that adding this garage's construction to their oversight would unduly complicate their already massive scope of work, so they suggested that talks be undertaken among the various parking providers – public and private - to see if a financial plan to build that garage can be developed in tandem with the process of planning and building the park - but as a totally legally separate project from the park.

And hopefully that can now happen.

As a side note, the reconstruction of the earthquake damaged county garage under the Courtyard of Flags block of the park (which is one block due west of the proposed new parking garage) will replace some - but not all of the parking spaces to be displaced in the lot west of City Hall.

Now as for when I was quoted as saying that thousands of spaces were being lost within one block, I was NOT referring to spaces lost by the construction the park and I did NOT mean just within one block, but due to the extreme complexity of the situation I was trying to explain in a few minutes, I can understand the confusion.

When I first mentioned within one block of the park, I was mainly referring to the new Police Headquarters now being constructed, the new Federal Court House about be built and the fact that old Hall of Justice will likely become the new County Sheriff’s headquarters.

And these projects have already displaced several large surface parking lots. Further compounding the problem, while each of these buildings will have parking garages - 100% of those spaces will be reserved - for security reasons - for government employees - and none of the public coming to those buildings will be allowed to park in them.

So not only do we lose existing spaces, but there will be a considerable demand for parking created by each of those three high rise buildings that will not be met by these projects. That is what I primarily meant when I said that one block of the park - and that is not what my several thousand parking spaces figure was meant to append.

When I was referring to the thousands of parking spaces, I meant to refer to the slightly larger area surrounding the park and - not just the one block - since virtually every surface lot in the area is slated for high rise development.

Plus in the adjacent Historic Core area not only are virtually all surface lots being lost - but right now three parking garages are in escrow that will be torn down and several more are going to have high rises built on top of them, after which those now public parking spaces will be turned into private spaces for those condo projects.

However, since most of these projects have not only not been made been public yet, and since most people are not even aware that those properties are in escrow, no one involved in the planning process for the area now has the necessary information to fully understand just how critical the parking shortage is about to become in the Civic Center/Historic Core area of downtown.

Added to that, long term contracts are also being negotiated by developers of adaptive reuse loft buildings for existing parking garages and even some surface lots, further reducing the amount of parking spaces open to the public. And - again - none of this loss of public parking is being factored into the debate on parking within the affected area.

Then when you add the parking needs that will be created by a civic park regularly attracting thousands of people to events - you can see the scope of the problem facing this area.

Next, the second point I made at the hearing - and which I feel is an even more important one - was not addressed in any of the articles - and that is the nature of the civic plaza proposed in front of City Hall.

As of right now, all civic celebrations will be held on the steps of City Hall facing the park west of City Hall. And this will necessitate the closure of Spring Street every time any event is held.

Now since Spring Street is a main feeder of bus lines to Union Station, each time this happens, it completely disrupts bus service throughout the central part of the city - and causes missed connections not only throughout downtown - but as far away as Hollywood and Koreatown since each affected bus line runs later and later due to the increasing congestion.

Then by the end of the event, the near-by left hand turn lanes have as many as ten buses backed up trying to make the detour around the street closures.

So any time there is a major public event - between bus and car traffic being gridlocked throughout the area - the public has a very difficult time getting to that event. But once another 100,000 people are living and working downtown a couple decades from now - it will result in total gridlock - unless we address this problem - now.

Additionally, having civic events in the middle of a street simply isn't... very civic. So what I have proposed is that a bridge be built from the first landing of steps from City Hall over Spring - and Spring would be dropped five or six meet to provide proper clearance below the bridge - to create a proper civic plaza that would extend from City Hall's west steps across Spring and clear up to Broadway.

This would then be true civic gathering spot that will NOT create traffic deadlock during each event and it will allow thus the public to actually get to the event.

And, ideally the construction of at least the basic infrastructure for this civic plaza should be concurrent with the parking garage, since when one is excavating and building retaining walls for the garage, one can also lower Spring Street at the same time, creating a considerable savings.

But - again - this is no way part of the scope of work for the park’s developer - Related. It has nothing to do with the present design process of the park. So this needs to be a joint City/County effort which needs to start planning... now.

I might add that the LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne has already come out in favor of this civic plaza/bridge as has Bud Ovrom in the past when he was the head of the CRA.

Now as for as how to pay for this - that was addressed in the third point I made at the last two hearings.

Right now, the 501c3 that is scheduled to run the completed park does not exist and there is no legal mechanism to accept private donations for the park. There is also no legal mechanism to offer naming rights to donors for projects within the park - such as the civic plaza, a band shell or larger park amenities that are not now planned for the first phase of the park.

So that foundation - or at least a temporary mechanism - needs to be set up now so that the park can be planned properly and so that a Civic Plaza can be created that does not gridlock downtown every single time a civic event is held.

In closing – as you can see – when a reporter has one line to cover what I had to say - 99% of what I had to say had to be left out. But the great news is that Troy Anderson’s Daily News article has - finally - created a true public debate on how our new civic park needs to be developed.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Amazing Fact Of the Day! Ratio Between Numbers Of Millionaires - And Unemployed In This Country!

March 18, 2006 New York Times

If I Had a Million Dollars


TRUE, $1 million isn't what it used to be. There are now more millionaires nationwide than people who are unemployed.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ernest Adams Finally Comes Home!

Ernest Adams - the now formerly homeless man who was almost beaten to death by two thugs last year - has finally left his post at the end of the Third Street Tunnel for the last time and moved into a room of his own. And the person most responsible for this, the one person who made this happen, the person who deserves the most credit for this - is Ernest Adams.

Not that many of us did not have a part in this, but all we could do was show Ernest the way. All we could do was help and encourage and not get discouraged whenever Ernest faced another setback. And there were so many, many of us.

But nothing could happened until Ernest decided he wanted to happen. And starting the day Steve Lopez and I took him back to Rancho Los Amigos - Ernest Adams took charge of his own life for the first time in many years.

And he personally - completely by himself - went back to the doctors, went to the social security agency repeatedly, got his checks, opened his own checking account and decided to sign the lease for his own apartment.

But in order to get Ernest to the point that he was ready to take control of his own life - it took a lot of people to help him find his way.

To name just a few - James and Yesenia who did so much for Ernest over the years and visited him in the hospital and brought him in contact with his family back east, Derek and his friends on the Westside with their fund raising efforts and Sakura and John Lee who helped in getting his benefits and in securing the home he is now in with the assistance of the Little Tokyo Service Center.

But while there are many who played a part in this story, this story only has one hero in it.

And that is Ernest Adams himself.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Klimt's Kome To LA!

Kevin over at LAOBSERVED reports on a LACMA press release about the famous five Klimt's:

Five paintings by Gustav Klimt that were looted by the Nazis during World War II are on their way to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They left Vienna's Austrian Gallery Belvedere yesterday; LACMA has yet to put out the word. Ownership of the paintings was awarded in January to a Cheviot Hills woman, Maria Altmann, whose family had owned them in Austria before the war. The painting called "Adele Bloch-Bauer I" is said to be worth about $120 million.
* LACMA's release: (12:30 pm): The museum gets out a release announcing the paintings will be on display from April 4 through June 30.

Go to Kevin's to read the rest of the press release. Now the question is - who is going to write the check to keep them here?

New York Times article - second to last item:

And now the LA Times take:,1,2644421.story?coll=la-headlines-california

LACMA to show Klimts

Suzanne MuchnicTimes Staff WriterMarch 16, 2006

FIVE multimillion-dollar paintings by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt — looted by the Nazis and recently returned by the Austrian government to the family of Maria Altmann in Los Angeles — will go on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Two portraits of Altmann's aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, and three landscapes will be exhibited from April 4 through June 30.

"It's a great thing for Los Angeles," said Michael Govan, who was recently appointed director of LACMA and will take charge of the museum April 1 — three days before the exhibition opens. "There are so many of these stories about works moving around and leaving. It's nice to see such extraordinary works arriving in Los Angeles. "Altmann fought a seven-year legal battle for the paintings on behalf of her family. One of five heirs to the works — valued at about $300 million — she led the fight because the others live in Canada, which does not sue foreign governments, she said.

The exhibition was initiated by Stephanie Barron, LACMA's senior curator of modern art, in January after an Austrian arbitration court ordered its government to turn over the paintings to Altmann, whose family fled Vienna in 1938. Barron proposed the show in a letter to Altmann's attorney, Randol Schoenberg, who presented the idea to Altmann.

And... in closing...

The exhibition is sure to raise questions about the possibility that the paintings might join the Los Angeles museum's permanent collection. That will be up to the heirs, and no decision has been made, Schoenberg said.But the museum's staff can hope. "Should there be some way to make this exhibition something that would be forever available," Barron said, "that would be extraordinary."

The main point I did not know is that there are FIVE heirs - and not just the woman in Los Angeles who own the paintings. This, of course, considerably complicates making a deal to keep the paintings in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Another Day! Another Asian Community Attack! LA Times Disses Chinatown!

Below is a description of Los Angeles's 19th Century Chinatown on the Chinese American Museum website:

From the 1870s, Chinese were the dominant group in agricultural produce as growers, vendors and market proprietors. They distributed their produce from carts around the Plaza. They also operated laundry businesses. In 1888, a laundry operated at the Plaza Substation site. Later others ran restaurants, meat markets and groceries. Merchants owned stores and sold goods for both Chinese and non-Chinese customers along Main, Los Angeles, Alameda and Marchessault Streets.

Although professionals were small in number, Chinese also worked as herbalists, dentists, a doctor, a lawyer, interpreters, jewelers, a movie renter and even actors.

By the 1880s, Chinese occupied three sides of El Pueblo Plaza and areas south and east. In its heyday around 1900 with a population of 3,000, Old Chinatown had eight streets, hundreds of buildings and stores, several restaurants, three temples, eight missionary churches, a Chinese school and a theater for Chinese operas. It became an urban center for laborers and farm workers.

Below is a sample of LA TIMES' purple prose at its most... purple... on the same subject:

Reminders of Bigotry Unburied By David Pierson

Times Staff Writer 9:07 PM PST, March 14, 2006

They could not marry, they could not own property, and they performed the most undesirable jobs: ditch diggers, canal builders, house boys. They were banned from most shops and public institutions and were the target of racist violence that went unpunished. Los Angeles was home to an estimated 10,000 Chinese in the late 19th century - almost all men who came to America to work on the railroads and ended up in desperate straits, crowded into a filthy Chinese ghetto near what is now Union Station.

Other than it's clear that someone missed school the day distemper shots were given out, it's stunning that the LA Times would print such a racist and narrow-minded attack on a entire community. Most of the Chinese lived in conditions that were far from 'filthy' and far from all of them ended up in 'desperate straights'. I will not go into the other inaccuracies.

Ironically, the real world situation of the Chinese was horrific enough in 19th Century America without having to slur an entire race.

LA Times Disses Little Tokyo!

One of the most vibrant - and rapidly growing communities - in Downtown Los Angeles is Little Tokyo. Almost every block in it has new construction going up or about to break ground and it easily has the most active night life of any section of the downtown.

So what does the LA Times have to say about this?,1,3488496.story?coll=la-headlines-california

... Once the largest Asian nationality in California, Japanese Americans are now fourth, after Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans. In 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 315,500 Japanese Americans lived in California, including 13,300 in San Francisco and 50,500 in Los Angeles.

Only three of the nation's Japantowns remain, including Little Tokyo in Los Angeles and Japantown in San Jose. All three are in small, largely commercial areas that have declined over the decades and face uncertain futures as non-Japanese residents and businesses encroach....

Small? Largely commercial? Uncertain future?

Not only is the area no longer contracting, but it is spreading out into areas that have not been apart of Little Tokyo for decades. The Little Tokyo Public library was just finished at 2nd and Los Angeles, the Linda Lea Theater on Main is about to be restored and the Little Tokyo Gym is going to be built on Los Angeles Street.

Plus the old Mangrove site at First and Alameda is also planned to be integrated back into the Little Tokyo community. Lastly, the numbers of Japanese buying condos in the area is dramatically increasing the Japanese population in the heart of Little Tokyo.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

LA Weekly's Lies About Kids On Skid Row!

So I pick up a copy of this week's LA WEEKLY and on the cover is a familiar looking kid I have seen around. Then when I saw his name, I recognized him as the kid who had made a film about Skid Row. I then started to read the article by Sam Slovick and while I had some misgivings about the first line - more on that later - when I saw that the article opened talking about the kids at the Union Rescue Mission - I thought - great!

The local media was finally going to talk about what is going right on Skid Row.

This is because the Union Rescue Mission last year closed escrow on an incredible ranch in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest - over 70 acres of heaven. And the 10 buildings on the ranch are going to be converted into transitional housing for up to 250 single mothers and children where they can live off of Skid Row before they are transitioned back into permanent housing.,,PTID312006CHID630778CIID2103146,00.html

But since a handful of NIMBY's who live miles - yes, miles - from this secluded canyon ranch are giving the project some grief - I felt it was great that the LA Weekly was going to tell LA about this wonderful project and how it should be supported.

So I started reading - and reading - and reading - and reading... and there was - nothing. Absolutely - nothing about this project.

Instead, the entire article was devoted to bemoaning the fact that there was zero - yes - zero - political will to do anything to get women and children off of Skid Row. And not a single word about the URM program that is about to get so many of the kids and their mothers off of Skid Row - even though the Union Rescue Mission was the setting for both the opening - and the closing of the article.

Then, besides completely ignoring the single most important aspect of kids on Skid Row - the story was also filled with so many factual inaccuracies that it calls into question everything in the story.

To list just a few errors (and I am being more than charitable in calling these 'errors'):

Some live - off the radar - in makeshift apartments - small 10-by-10-foot rooms with no kitchens or bathrooms in buildings that don't require IDs, credit checks or security deposits. These are usually shared by a couple of single moms with four or five kids each.

The article states that single moms not staying in shelters usually share 10-by-10 rooms with other single moms with an average of 9 to 10 people in each of these ten-by-ten rooms with no kitchen or bath.

Well, other than the sheer physical impossibly of this being usual - the amount of money single moms with four or five kids have can get would allow each of them to get a lot more than a 10-by-10 room. And when I asked around today if this type of arrangement was at all 'usual' - I was met with laughter.

You could throw a rock from the Ford Hotel where Franklin stays and hit a sleeping senator in silk pajamas staying at a five-star hotel if the window was open and your aim was true... well, you might need a slingshot, but you get the point.

Well, yes, I DO get the point. The nearest hotel that any senator might stay in - much less a five star hotel - is the Biltmore. And that is well over one mile - about sixteen blocks - from the Ford Hotel. Now if he had just said a stone's throw and meant that as a metaphor, that would be wrong - but at least barely understandable as hyperbole. But to them modify that you might need a sling shot to propel a rock for - 16 blocks, is clearly meant to deceive the reader about the geography of Skid Row.

But what about my friend Joey camped out in the Midnight Mission's courtyard in the middle of the festering wound known as City Central?

City Central? There is no such neighborhood in Los Angeles. The business center of the downtown is called Central City and the larger Skid Row area is called Central City East.

In discussing the people he sees in the courtyard of the Midnight Mission:

All appear to be in need of a bath and a good 10 years of intensive psychiatric treatment, and even then you probably wouldn't want to leave them unsupervised around the kids.

Now I know a number of these people - and while they have battled alcohol and drugs, most of them do not need - nor do they appear to need - the 10 years of intensive psychiatric treatment the writer claims they need. And to suggest that even then, it would be unsafe to allow your kids around any of them after ten years of treatment is absurd. But this is typical of the way the writer unfairly demonizes the homeless in this article.

Another example of that is when he tags the kids of Skid Row as - 'Skids' - a term I have never heard before and a term none of the people I talked to today who work with these kids has ever heard before. However, one woman who does work with these kids on a daily basis, said it was shameful that the writer would tarnish these kids with a slur like that. Later, when he talked about the mother of one of the kids he profiles - he referred to her as - 'a walking disaster'.

Now you imagine how traumatized that kid will be when he reads that description of his mother in the LA Weekly? If that does not qualify as child abuse - I don't know what does.

His description of the project - Safe Sleep Room - at the Midnight Mission: It's relatively clean, but it's stinky and creepy and dank.

I have been in that room many times, and it is not relatively clean - it is immaculately clean and it is less than a year old. Granted many of the homeless have not showered, but the room itself is clean and odorless - and this spacious, beautifully designed room is in no way - creepy - unless you feel that just being around the homeless is creepy (which he evidently does) - and the room is in no way the dank, which means, overly damp or humid.

But, lastly, his biggest lie is to hide from the reader the truth of what is happening on Skid Row; a new program large enough to hold every single mother and her children currently sleeping in shelters on Skid Row. And yet - here are his quotes about the lack political will to do anything about getting kids off of Skid Row:

... compassion in lieu of any legitimate political will to get children off Skid Row.

It's going to take lots of that famous political will. I've been living down here for a while now. I'm not sure the prognosis is good.

Eleanor Roosevelt once famously made a distinction between those who merely curse the darkness and those willing to light a candle.

Well, cursing the darkness is no longer enough for the LA Weekly.

When the Weekly discovered someone has at last lit a candle for the children of Skid Row - they feel compelled to blow it out.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The LAPD, The LA Times, Skid Row and San Julian.,0,4697903.story

First, the opening graphs of the story:


LAPD's Skid Row Divide

The more radical of two proposals under debate would rid area of 'box cities.' The other would target crime. Bratton is expected to decide soon.

By Cara Mia DiMassa and Richard Winton Times Staff Writers March 10, 2006

Los Angeles Police Department officials are divided over two proposals for cleaning up skid row - one an ambitious and controversial effort to move thousands of homeless people off the streets, the other focused primarily on reducing crime.

The debate comes as the city struggles to develop a comprehensive strategy for solving the downtown district's many long-entrenched problems. Despite the intense focus on skid row in recent months, progress so far has been hard to measure.

Last week, the LAPD declared one of skid row's most notorious sections - the 600 block of San Julian Street - a "drug-free zone" after a series of altercations between homeless people and officers. With increased patrols, San Julian's large homeless population scattered, and for the first time in years the street looks largely like a ghost town.

But officials acknowledge that it was far from a long-term solution, noting that most of the transients simply relocated elsewhere downtown. The more radical of the two master plans under consideration by the LAPD is being pushed by Asst. Chief George Gascon, who is calling for the department to permanently rid the area of its ubiquitous tent and box cities.

Gascon, one of Chief William J. Bratton's top deputies, argues that the department's efforts so far simply have not had a strong enough effect on the homeless problem. His plan is similar to Bratton's original policing idea for skid row when he arrived in 2002. The chief called for removing the tent cities, but the department scaled back its plans after the American Civil Liberties Union sued, saying the practice violated homeless people's civil rights.

But others in the LAPD are backing a blueprint for skid row drafted by George Kelling, the noted Rutgers criminologist who is a co-author with James Q. Wilson of the "broken windows" theory of policing that Bratton has adopted.

The theory holds that punishing lesser offenses leads to reductions in major crimes. Kelling argues that rather than removing homeless people wholesale from the streets, the LAPD should focus on criminals, including drug dealers and prostitutes, who he says create a "culture of lawlessness" in the area.

The divide is generating anxiety among service providers and officials. Bratton has said he is mulling what approach to take, with a decision expected in the next few weeks.

OK - deep breath. All the article tackles is how do we solve the problems of crime, drug usprostitutionion and homelessness - and we are given two options to chose from.

Option A or option B.

To begin with, my one small quibble with the otherwise excellent article is that it says that San Julian now looks like a ghost town.

I strongly disagree.

It now looks a like a normal street. The kind of street that the residents of any neighborhood in Los Angeles deserve to have - including the residents of Skid Row, the vast majority of whom do NOT sleep or camp out on the streets.

My second comment is that Skid Row has the largest population of people in Los Angeles who are trying to either stop drinking or stop using drugs - or who have already stopped and who are trying to say sober and/or clean.

But every time they walk out their doors, a flood of dealers comes up to them to give them free drugs to get them hooked again. And many of those dealing live in the government subsidized non-profit SRO's. A walk up and down Main Street every night will see drug dealers openly conducting business out of the front doors of at least four of these taxpayer subsidized hotels - and some of these hotels have even had in the past managers and security guards who were doing the drug selling.

For this reason alone, all of Skid Row must be made a drug free, zero tolerance zone.

Now as for the methods to use, first, San Julian is a unique situation. It borders some of the major missions in the area and it is as close to a literal hell on earth as exists in this country. There is no question that when any streets gets as out of control as it has, that drastic actions need to be taken.

San Julian, though, is a rare exception and it is not typical of the rest of Skid Row.

As for the short term methods to be used by the LAPD, I far more strongly lean towards the Broken Windows approach. Get rid of the drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps and other criminals from the area so we can deal with the problems of the people who are truly homeless and who not just using the streets as a cover to conduct illegal businesses.

I might add that of the fifty people I have helped get off the streets in the past five or six years - every single one of them has to leave Skid Row to get off the streets. Of all the homeless I have gotten housing on Skid Row - 100% of them have ended up back out on the streets.

I can not report a single success story in five or six years.

It is also clear to me that any new SRO built in downtown should never, ever house anyone who has ever - even once - sold drugs in the past. And mandatory drug testing should be required of anyone who has taken drugs in the past. And the Huntington Hotel - where the security staff is still allowing the sale of drugs and where drugs dealers are still openly operating - should be where this policy starts.

Now as for more long term solutions, I have a number of conflicting opinions.

First, being homeless has been made far too easy in this city. A few politically powerful organizations are more concerned with people having the 'right' to live in their own filth, camped out on the street as opposed to working to get them off the streets.

If you live on Skid Row you can give five or six free hot meals a day (no one ever goes hungry on Skid Row), take showers, use public rest rooms, have your stuff stored for free on a daily basis, get free medical treatment - if you avail yourself of the services, sleep in a shelter on nights when it is raining or too cold - and you are not held accountable for any of your actions out on the streets when you receive any of these services.

There are also misguided people out there who give away tents, shopping carts and sleeping bags to the homeless that help them stay out on the streets rather than seek help in one of the shelters. There are also good-hearted people who give pan handlers money on a daily basis that enable them to buy drugs and get drunk. In my opinion, a special place in hell should be reserved for each and every one of these people.

For too many people, being homeless has become the easy default when an army of enablers is giving them what they need to be able to continue to live on the streets and endanger the health of themselves and others.

As an example, right now I am regularly working with eight homeless trying to get them off the streets. One of them might - and with a little luck will - come in tonight and have his own room for the first time in over eight years.

This is Ernest Adams, the man who was almost beaten to death last year.

But it has taken a small army of us to get him to this point and at every turn we have been thwarted by all the well meaning people who have made it easier for him to live on the street than for him to go into an apartment and get the help he needs. And even now, he is starting to turn against the lead person in this week's effort because so great is his fear of giving up the security of living on the street - a street he was almost beaten to death on - for the unknown world he will face living in his own apartment.

Because of this five or six years of dealing with this, it is clear to me that in some ways, the police making it harder and harder to live on the streets is the best thing that could happen to Skid Row. It HAS to be made more attractive to seek shelter than to live out on the streets to get the shelter resistant into housing.

But just sweeping people off of every street is also not a solution. There needs to be a balance. Carrots and sticks.

And this leads us to what the real solution is. Each person who is gotten off the street does so when they are treated as an unique individual with unique problems - and unique qualities.

That is the secret. And it takes a special breed of person to work with those people and obtain their trust so that that will - finally - do what they know is best for them despite all of their fears about a future off of the streets. And many times that can only happen when life on the streets becomes too hard to deal with - and it will take tough love on the part of the LAPD for that to happen.

But we also need to restructure the vast - and competing array - of services and service providers that have flooded Skid Row. Right now, each of the homeless can come into contact with literally dozens of different providers each year - and none of them is communicating with each other on what they have done for each client - or have communicated what they have learned about each of their clients.

Yes, we are all sitting in rooms and talking to each other (to the point that twice in the past month it has been suggested to hold a meeting about how to have - fewer meetings) - but we are just talking about who we are and what we are doing. We are not talking about the individuals we are trying to help so that we can work TOGETHER on each person's case.

We somehow need to find a way to collectively work with each person as an individual. Far more can get done if there was only organization for each of the five or ten that exist now. Right now there are simply too many options, too many safe harbors competing with each other for a rational distribution of services.

And then there are those handful of organizations funded by brain dead Westside foundations that do not provide services, but instead see it as their mission to 'protect' the rights of people to shoot up drugs and sell heroin and live on the streets to further complicate the situation.

So - getting back to the article - which 'solution' do I agree with?

I agree with both of them in parts - and I disagree with both of them in part. But the real crime out there is that this has been allowed to become a problem that the LAPD has been forced to address.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Plague Carrying Fleas Threaten Santa Monica!


From today's LA Times:

Plague precautions — The "L.A. Then and Now" column in Sunday's California section incorrectly said Santa Monica had killed squirrels in Palisades Park "to reduce the number of plague-carrying fleas." It should have said the squirrels were killed "in part to reduce the potential threat of plague-carrying fleas."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

KCBS Crime Spree! Or - Morons On Parade!

While I try to avoid local TV news - since both the local and the news parts are usually lacking - watching the first few minutes of KCBS tonight was a non-stop list of murders, road rage and kidnappings... in Detroit... El Cajon... and New Jersey.

Granted there were also a few crimes in LA - but why? - why?? - would a local news station find crimes that have nothing to do with LA far more important than anything that happened in LA today?

And why would every single one of the first stories be about violent crime?

Easy. Cheap video tape from other CBS stations and no need for any actual reporting.

No wonder CRASH won for best picture.

Dysfunctional LA Times Website Continues To ...Dysfunction!

The concept of... news... continues to evade the LA Times website...

This just in over at LAOBSERVED:

Is he in L.A.?

Reader Louis just emailed:

It's 8:25pm, and the Kings made a major trade was announced hours ago. So I go to the Times' sports on the web, and not only is there no mention of the trade, but they actually have a story on ANOTHER trade (Colorado and Montreal) in the AP headline section. Hello?? Am I in Los Angeles?

I couldn't find anything either, even digging around into older wire stories. The news was first posted on the bulletin board at 3:24 pm and has been on all afternoon.

Los Angeles's Eastside Hills - Parks Or Housing - Or Both!,0,4044844.story?coll=la-home-headlines

A Battle for the High Ground

In the hills of northeast L.A., debate flares over property rights and preserving open space.

By Jim Newton Times Staff Writer March 7, 2006

The hills north and east of downtown Los Angeles are a mishmash of small homes, narrow streets, hidden valleys and long views. A few have streetlights; others go dark at night, quiet swatches of countryside less than 10 miles from City Hall. Some of the city's last big undeveloped parcels - places like Flat-Top, Mt. Olympus, Rose Hill, Paradise Hill - frame the horizon. Now those inviting green spaces have become the staging ground in a bitter, protracted dispute, with distinct class and racial overtones, that is a microcosm of the exploding development struggles across Los Angeles.

Each side has its devoted advocates. There is Clare Marter Kenyon, a librarian with a soft British accent and a keen determination to protect plants and wildlife from encroaching development; when she drives around El Sereno, she sees the stumps of felled California black walnuts and winces.

There is James Rojas, an urban planner who lives downtown but covets the relief of the open spaces and is closely allied with Kenyon. "West L.A.," he said, "has their ocean. We have our hillsides."

And there is Tomas Osinski, a Polish emigre and architect with a critical eye, an adamant belief in the rights of property owners and an intolerance for government hypocrisy....

The problem here is they are all right.

We need to find a balance between housing and parks and to also find a way to balance the rights of property owners and the needs of the public. But instead of trying to find that balance, the city has - as it too often does - has taken easy way out. The end result is that no one is satisfied and everyone is going to get screwed over.

And the irony is that doing the right thing would be a lot easier than the recently enacted/proposed half-measures which will not preserve any meaningful park land, and will also create less housing and also continue to make all housing more expensive for everyone.

A perfect lose, lose situation.

What makes a viable solution for the largest of the parcels in question possible is that they are owned by developers who are only interested in building a certain number of housing units and, more importantly, making a certain level of profit.

Now the proposed solution can be done in one of two ways. The first would take each of the parcels as separate project, the second would bundle all of the largest, developer owner parcels that would agree to participate into one development project.

The properties would then be examined from geologic, topographic, financial and social points of view and each developer would be given one or more parcels of land (regardless of who owns them) with entitlements for higher density than single family housing in exchange for donating the rest of the land to the city as park space.

This would reduce the developer's costs (and the impact upon the environment) as they would not have to build roads and utilities into steep hillside areas, and this would also allow for more units to be built at lower prices than if only single family homes were built.

More parks, more housing, and lower housing prices.

And it won't cost the taxpayers one cent.

A real world solution.

And a real world challenge for our new planning director - Gail Goldberg to tackle.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Personal Political Agendas Being Pushed On LA Times Website?

I don't know if I have ever posted a comment on the below practice of the LA Times website exposed in first the USC Online Journalism Review - and then picked up on LA Observed, but I know I wrote a number of posts I might not have finished due to my dopamine related typing problems of the past months:

Different rules for LAT website?

Robert Niles at USC's Online Journalism Review blog picked up an exchange in which the Los Angeles Times readers' representative seems to say that headlines on are encouraged to be less neutral or accurate than in the printed paper: "...pushing the facts a bit more than [newsroom] editors want."

The heds that prompted the exchange:

Online edition: 'Book: Bush Proposed Provoking War'
Paper edition: 'Book Casts Doubt on Case for War'

I have seen a number of stories pop up around midnight in which the headlines were so slanted that they amounted to literally lying about what the story actually said, much less the truth of what really happened.

I also recall stories that didn't even make a pretense of being journalism - but were instead partisan attacks that within an hour would be moderated, and then by the time the story actually appeared in the paper, they would actually be able to pass as journalism.

But mainly it is the headlines that all too often slant and distort not just the news, but the actual story itself - which are, of course, two different things. Now as for who is responsible for using the website - particularly at night - for their personal political view points - I don't know. The night editor? The guy who runs the website?

Enquiring cowboys want to know.

Norman Foster Lays Egg At Top Of Hearst Building!

Below is the comment I left about the top photo at the above linked site of about Norman Foster's under construction Hearst Tower in New York:

Much as I like Stormin' Norman Foster, he totally blows the view with way too many mullions. And can there really be the need for that kind of 'structural' steel at 'the top of the house'?

The crowning blow, though, is how badly the mullions and the steel intersect. It's the structural equivalent of painting oneself into a corner.

What should have been the penthouse now looks like the utility room above the penthouse. It is inconceivable that this kind of sloppy design will not be corrected.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Why LA County Needs A Laura Chick!

At a time when Los Angeles is running a major structural deficit, it is time to reexamine the idea of having a Little Hoover Commission look at how every dollar is spent in this city. Laura Chick has already gotten off to an excellent start in this and - as the below article shows - LA County also desperately needs its own fiscal watchdog.,0,3160787.story?coll=la-home-headlines

County Aims Anti-Terrorism Cash at Some Unusual Targets By Charles Ornstein Times Staff Writer

March 6, 2006

Los Angeles County has spent at least $2 million in taxpayer dollars intended to prepare for bioterrorism on buffing up the health department's image, responding to unrelated health scourges and buying questionable supplies and services, a Times review has found.

When public health officials couldn't round up enough volunteers to take part in a smallpox vaccination drill, for instance, they turned to actors from an old Hollywood standby: Central Casting.

To hire extras to play the role of patients in the half-day drill, the county's Department of Health Services in 2004 paid the aptly named firm $57,045.

That's not counting what the department ponied up to thank the paid actors and volunteers: $10,000 for gift certificates, $13,600 for pens, digital thermometers and bags to hold the gifts, and thousands more for food and transportation.

And that is only the start.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jon Stewart Not Yet Ready For Prime Time!

While he was not the disaster that Chris Rock was last year, it was clearly a case of sending a boy to do a man's job. Most of the time he looked like someone who had just wandered in off the street. There is an immense difference between inertly standing on a stage and telling jokes and commanding a stage and knowing how to work an audience as does Billy Crystal or Eddie Murphy - or even a Joan Rivers or a Rodney Dangerfield.

New York Times Can't Tell Difference Between Hollywood - And Downtown Los Angeles!

March 6, 2006

Fashion Diary

For Designers, an Image-Making Bonanza That Is Priceless


The roof of the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, several stories above the limo drop-off on Hollywood Boulevard, probably offers the best possible view of what Isaac Mizrahi on Sunday night called "the glamour vortex of the world." From that perch, the vista was of a 500-foot-long red carpet packed densely with celebrity caviar, and also a long view on the annual apotheosis of product placement, freebie-hustling and surface obsession that is the Oscars.

Anybody who has ever been in downtown Los Angeles on Oscar day knows how easy it is to walk three blocks in any direction from the Kodak Theater and escape Hollywood's glamorous pull....

It is one thing for a reporter who has clearly never been west of 7th Avenue in his life to get where... Downtown Los Angeles is... wrong by about ten miles but I wonder how many editors read this bone head error before it got published.

And that reporter also is clearly incapable of walking three blocks or he would have been in the hills above the Kodak Theater where the glamour of Hollywood is alive and well with million dollar plus homes with sweeping views, the Magic Castle, and the Yamashiro Skyroom. But don't hold your breath for any correction. The New York Times stopped correcting its Los Angeles errors a long time ago.


The writer also states that the Ripley's museum is 'several stories' high. But as the below linked photo shows - it is only one story high - not the three or four or more that several stories implies. Error number three.

I'm Back.... Maybe....

My dopamine deficiency problems have lately taken a turn for the worse and for some reason I have lost a lot of my motor control functions along with a lot of other odd skills including the ability to swim, play poker, play chess, ride a horse - or even tie my shoes. But lots of other stuff seems to be working fine. So I finally took some pretty drastic action and I seem to be able to be typing again more than a few words at a time, at least for tonight.