Monday, August 28, 2006

Times Misses BIG Story in LAUSD Bill Passing - But Daily News Gets It Right!

When I read the LA Times coverage on two Republicans crossing the aisle to suport the School Board takeover by the Mayor - nary a word was said about the real issue of the day - the "severability clause".

Luckily - the Daily News was able to realize what the real news was.... and tells us what really happened:

Harrison Shepard

Daily News

SACRAMENTO - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's bid to take control of the Los Angeles Unified School District passed the state Senate Monday morning on a narrow vote, leaving the mayor one step away from his vision of reforming the city's schools.

The bill was approved on a 23-14 vote - just above the 21 votes needed to pass - on an almost party-line vote with just two Democrats in opposition and two Republicans in support.

"I can tell you that the work's not done yet," Villaraigosa said minutes after the vote. "We still got an Assembly battle. But my hope is tomorrow we'll be able to declare victory there as well."


One of the Republicans to cross over to voting in favor of the bill was Sen. George Runner, R-Antelope Valley, who had been leading opposition to the bill as recently as Friday.

Runner said he still opposes the concept, and prefers a breakup of the Los Angeles Unified School District, but when the authors removed a legal provision that he most objected to, he agreed to vote in favor.

That provision was a "severability clause" which tells courts if one portion of the bill is struck down, the rest should remain law. Runner was concerned that in the event of a successful lawsuit, that clause would leave a half-measure in place, which in his view was worse than the entire bill becoming law....

UPDATE!! Almost 7 PM and LA Times is still running its before noon story - with three credited writers as opposed to the Daily News' one - that does NOT even mention the meat of the real story - that the bill passed was a severe below to the Mayor since it was amended to say that if one part of the bill loses in court (as many people think will happen) - the entire bill is dead.

UPDATE!! At 8:40 PM LA Times - finally - addresses the minor fact that the change to the bill will - likely - make the entire bill null in paragraph 30 of... 32. And it just barely addresses that fact:,0,3429715.story?coll=la-home-headlines

To garner votes from Republicans Runner and Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield, Nuñez on Friday amended the bill to remove a "severability" clause that would have allowed portions of the law to remain in effect even if other sections were struck down by a court. Runner pushed for the clause's removal because, he said, he did not want parts of the bill that were concessions to unions to remain if Villaraigosa's powers were limited by a court.

Friday, August 25, 2006

True Los Angeles Hero - Charles "Bud" Hayes - Passes.

In a much too short a story, the life of Bud Hayes is celebrated in today's Los Angeles Times.

It is tragic we have lost him far too soon at the age of 55 just when his leadership is needed now that Los Angeles is - finally - focused on how we can safely (and that is the key word here) house those thousands who are sleeping on our sidewalks.

I can only hope that the Times will give his life and his accomplishments far more coverage in the days to come and that the city will find appropriate ways to commerate him. In other cities, they honor dead heros by having them lie in state in the rotunda's of their city halls and I can think of no more deserving person that Charles Hayes for Los Angeles to start that tradition here.

Much more later.

Jocelyn Y. Stewart
Times Staff Writer

August 25, 2006

Charles "Bud" Hayes, a sometimes controversial advocate who spent a decade working on downtown Los Angeles' skid row as executive director of the nonprofit SRO Housing Corp., died Aug. 12 from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. He was 55.

In a 25-year career, Hayes was also a consultant for scores of substance abuse prevention and treatment programs in the state. His credentials included personal experiences with addiction and recovery.

"He had an enormous amount of credibility not only with me, but with the people he fought so hard to represent," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes skid row. Hayes was born April 2, 1951, in Los Angeles and attended what is now Chaminade College Preparatory, a Catholic school in West Hills. After high school he fell into addiction, went through recovery and built a career.

In 1986, Hayes founded Social Model Recovery Systems, but it was through his work at SRO Housing that he helped change the landscape of skid row and the lives of its residents.

A century ago, single-room-occupancy hotels housed men who worked on railroads. But decades later the dilapidated hotels had become housing of last resort for the poor.

SRO Housing Corp. purchased many of the hotels, transformed them into attractive affordable housing and filled them with formerly homeless people who were trying to turn their lives around.

"If we just painted the place and left it like it was, the message would be, 'You're not worth very much,' " Hayes said in a 2001 article in Mother Jones magazine. The extensive work done on the former hotels "implies something different," he said.

For several years Hayes also served on the Los Angeles County Beach Commission and volunteered with surfing groups and ocean protection organizations.

"When he couldn't surf as much because of certain chronic health ailments, he started back on motorcycles," said Ruth Schwartz, executive director of Shelter Partnership Inc. "He always liked to have fun. That was Bud."

Hayes, who was not married at the time of his death, is survived by his mother, Nancy Hayes; brothers Bob and Bill; sisters Alison Berlin and Nancy Williams; and a stepson, Kyle Oram.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Downtown News Exposes Guilty Party In SkidRowGate At LA Times!

The mystery of how an unknown writer within the Los Angeles planning or writing communities (and who had apparently briefly visited Los Angeles only twice in his life) was hired by the Los Angeles Times to write a major 'expose' of the conditions of Skid Row - and then who got almost every single 'fact' in his story dead wrong - was finally solved by Jon Regardie of the Downtown News!

Or least Regardie has exposed the name of the guilty party. But exactly how guilty he is still an unanswered question that the Times itself will - hopefully - address once their internal investigation into SkidRowGate is finished.

It all started less than three weeks ago when English college lecturer Slater wrote the lead story in the Sunday Opinion/Current section where he libeled the Central City East Assocation when he falsely claimed they had physically hosed the homeless off the sidewalks, a claim that was completely contradicted by an article in the LA Times only weeks before. I'll let Regardie tell the rest of this part of the story:

Jon Regardie

On the morning of Sunday, July 30, Estela Lopez did something many people in Los Angeles do. Before going to church, she opened the Los Angeles Times.

Unlike most people, however, Lopez was aghast at the lead piece in the "Current" section (formerly known as "Opinion"). Splashed prominently across the front page of the section, complete with a large graphic, was an opinion piece written by Tom Slater, a lecturer in urban studies at the University of Bristol in Britain. It began with a line that cast the Central City East Association, the organization Lopez heads, in a nearly draconian light.

It read (the capital letters appear on the Times website): "THE STEAM CLEANING of the streets of skid row a few weeks ago - when homeless people were literally swept and hosed out of their makeshift encampments in downtown Los Angeles by employees of the local "business improvement district" - was a troubling moment in the battle over the neighborhood's future."

There was a problem, however: The CCEA never "literally swept and hosed" anyone out of an encampment (a second reference to people being "hosed out of the way" appeared later in the piece). Instead, the organization has been working with the LAPD and other entities to clean the streets.

In an ongoing and carefully controlled process, the CCEA distributes leaflets the day before a cleaning occurs. Once the time comes for pressure washing the sidewalks - in some locations encrusted with syringes, trash, human waste and other biohazards - CCEA workers help move the homeless campers' possessions. The tent dwellers often return to the sidewalks after the washing is completed.

All of which explains why Lopez was stunned by Slater's column.

"The images that were conjured up were of the darkest days of the Civil Rights movement," said Lopez last week. A woman who spends her days working in and around Skid Row, Lopez is known for being tough. But talking about the Current column, she became emotional, her voice halting.

"I was absolutely mortified," she said before apologizing for her tears.

What the Downtown News article does not address in too much detail is exactly how many other statements in Slater's article were equally fraudulent.

I will refer you to my above first post on the subject where I describe how Slater (or whoever plied him with his 'facts') lied about Bunker Hill, affordable housing on Skid Row, rent control in Los Angeles, SRO's, loft conversions and numerous other things - and how he also chose to not just ignore, but also contradict all latest research in his supposed field of expertise - gentrification and its affects on the poor living in gentrifying neighborhoods - plus he even ignored all the current research on the history of the name Skid Row.

And this is from some who is - or at least was - going to have a book published on this subject.

So exactly how did Slater come to write on LA and LA's Skid Row - two subjects he clearly knows nothing about - and exactly where did he obtain all of his false information? Well, the answer may - or may not - surprise you. Slater says his source for the 'facts' in the article were from... an editor at the LA Times:

In a carefully worded email to Downtown News, Slater wrote: "As someone who has researched and published on gentrification, I was invited by the LA Times to place recent events in downtown in the broader context of gentrification. The information re: street cleaning given to me by the paper turned out to be incorrect. The mistake was due to a miscommunication and an editing error: it has since been duly noted and corrected, and apologies have been made by both the LA Times and myself to CCEA for misrepresenting their actions, which CCEA have accepted."

That is his bowdlerized version to the press weeks after the story hit. Below is his earlier and likely... far more accurate... response to the CCEA:

However, in emails given to Downtown News by Lopez, Slater had harsher criticism for the Times. After the piece ran, Slater, said Lopez, reached out on his own to CCEA. He wrote (the text is unedited):

"You and your organisation have every reason to be angry. The Times completely misinformed me about what had happened with regard to the street cleaning - I was led to believe by the newspaper that "homeless people were literally swept and hosed out of their makeshift encampments", and I was asked to write an article situating these events within the broader context of gentrification. I was mortified to learn that sentence was factually inaccurate, and would like to apologise for this error. My mistake was that I trusted a respected newspaper; I should have checked the facts."

Lopez responded, thanking Slater and offering some context for the current state of Skid Row and describing CCEA's efforts in the neighborhood. Slater wrote back, and included the lines (again unedited):

"Thank you for your reply. Again, I am so sorry that I was unwittingly involved in misrepresenting your organisation. I am upset with the Los Angeles Times for putting me in this position, and they have refused to admit their error in public, which is disappointing."

So the Los Angeles Times lied to him - and then refused to admit in public that they had lied to him with false information! So I guess there is no honor among thieves - or lying journalists.

So - who is the guilty party? Who is it who - apparently - not only hired Slater, but then fed him false information - and then signed off on and approved the printing of that false information?

Why, none other than Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Editor - Nick Goldberg!

More from Regardie:

Reached last Thursday, while he was on vacation, Times Op-Ed and Current section Editor Nick Goldberg, who worked with Slater on the piece, addressed the line in question.

"It was a mistake," he said by phone. "As soon as it appeared in the paper we realized it was a mistake. We were very sorry to have done it. We ran a correction and we ran a letter about the subject. We feel very bad for having misrepresented what happened. The error came about because of a misreading of the story the Times had printed by Cara Mia DiMassa. I think that the error was the Times' fault - not Tom's. The information came from us."

Part of what spurred the controversy is the article to which Goldberg referred; DiMassa's July 12 report on the CCEA's street cleaning included an interview with a man, Nelson Ware, identified as having lived in the Skid Row area for 20 years. DiMassa wrote, "Asked about the sidewalk-cleaning efforts Tuesday, Ware said that it had been done correctly, with fliers distributed in advance and a crew that did not take anyone's belongings."

Somehow, DiMassa's findings did not make it into Slater's Current piece.

Well, duh!

What is really fascination is how Tom Slater put quote marks around the most damning of the lies he told - almost as if these were the exact words fed to him by his handler. And one wonders exactly how all the other many lies were fed to him - and to what degree they were written out for him by his 'editor'?

And while I would like to think that the truth of this will all eventually come out, that would be a considerable break from the Op-Ed sections's history which even over a year after the fact still refuses refuses to correct such blatant lies as when Mike Davis said that the housing market had already crashed in San Francisco - even though it was hitting - and continued to hit - record high prices.

And though the single worst of Slater's errors was - finally - corrected in the on-line edition - it still took three phone calls from me to three different departments to get the actual story - finally - corrected on line, long after the correction itself printed. And as for all the other lies - lies that did not expose them to a multi-million dollar libel suit if had they had not been instantly corrected - not a single one of them has yet been corrected by the LA Times.

Nor has any explanation of SkidRowGate - or an apology - yet been issued by the Los Angeles Times.

Now as for why this all is so imporant - ignoring for a moment that what Nick Goldberg did is a far more serious breach of journalistic ethics than, say... making some on-line posts under fake names - well, that will be the subject of my next post.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New York City - The Show Me City! Or - Nothing LIke That Good Old Team Spirit!

The New York Times decided it was time to cash in on Hollwyood's need for material with a move that could potentially enrich some of its writers. The NYT's writers - or at least one of them - is somewhat.... less optimistic....

Times Hires Talent Agency

The New York Times has hired a Hollywood talent agency to help shop film and television projects based on articles appearing in the newspaper. The Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency, which is to merge with the larger International Creative Management this month, will represent The Times in dealing with producers seeking the rights to its content.

Previously, the paper handled requests through its legal department. Movie and television producers have long turned to magazine articles for inspiration — “Saturday Night Fever,” “Urban Cowboy,” even “Coyote Ugly” all began life in the pages of glossy publications — prompting publishers to strike formal relationships with Hollywood agencies to capture a piece of that revenue.

But few of the projects optioned ever make it to the screen, big or small, and these deals rarely become lucrative.


Now that should get those offers pouring in!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

12,000 Ballots - Or 12,000 Polling Places? LA Times Can't Seem To Make Up It's Mind!

Sam Enriquez
Times Staff Writer

4:26 PM PDT, August 9, 2006

MEXICO CITY -- Elections officials on Wednesday began recounting nearly 12,000 disputed ballots from July's presidential election while supporters of second-place finisher Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expanded their civil disobedience campaign to a blockade of three bank buildings.

The recount was ordered last week by a seven-judge tribunal that has the final say over election matters. They must declare a new president within a month, or throw out the results of the July 2 election.

Lopez Obrador and his lawyers filed appeals to the Federal Electoral Tribunal shortly after the election, claiming errors and fraud steered the election to Felipe Calderon, who won by less than a percentage point. Lopez Obrador has since waged a campaign of civil disobedience to support his demand for a national recount.

The tribunal appeared to close the door on a full recount Saturday, after justices said the law allows the recounting of ballots only at polling stations that appeared to have made arithmetic errors or show other irregularities.

Lopez Obrador so far has offered no proof of fraud.

The partial recount, which must be completed by Sunday, will require opening ballot boxes from 11,893 polling stations, about 9 percent of the 130,000 voting sites.

So which is it - almost 12,000 ballots or almost 12,000 polling places?


The results are in! Early this morning the LA Times finally voted for.... almost 12,000 polling places as the correct answer!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Another Bonehead Business Error In LA Times!

The myth of the vanishing middle class continues to be dead horse territory - a reliable target to beat. But rather than delve into the lack of logic in these arguments at this time, I will instead merely point out one momumental factual error by Peter Drier. And there is, of course, never any less reliable place to obtain facts from than a University professor.

Drier makes the incredibly bonehead statement that Los Angeles County has more billionaires than any other part of the country. But when one looks at any list or any set of statistics, New York has far more billionaires than LA both within its city limits or within its metroplitan area.

It's not even close.

And the overall San Francisco Bay Area also has as many - if not more - billionaires than Los Angeles.

Below is the latest figures I could find, though they are a little old.

There are now 313 billionaires in America, up from 262 counted last year; it's the largest number of billionaires ever on the list, the magazine said. The list shows California has the most resident members with 98, twice the number of the New York state, which has 49. But New York City still has the most 400 list members per city with 38, followed by San Francisco with 22 and Los Angeles with 19.

And while it has been over two weeks since this article was published (July 23rd) - there is still no correction in the Los Angeles Times.

Do You Think Guitar Center, Inc. Is A Fortune Five Hundred Company?

Well, I sure didn't and... evidently... neither does Fortune Magazine which ranks it at #861 in their 1,000 (and not their 500 list) list:

But somebody should tell the LA Times this:

Gregory W. Griggs
Times Staff Writer

August 8, 2006

Agoura Hills. Thousand Oaks. Westlake Village. Their names are a tribute to the rolling hills, trees and lakes that dot the landscape.

So proud were they of their surroundings, the three Conejo Valley cities lobbied for several years to have a 16-mile stretch of the Ventura Freeway designated a scenic highway.

The state turned down the request because there were too many billboards, industrial parks and gas station signs lining the road. That was more than a decade ago.

Although the corridor that connects Los Angeles and Ventura counties is still known for its dramatic topography, these days, corporate headquarters and luxury homes define the valley. Further enhancing its image, a Four Seasons resort and spa is set to open in November, adding Westlake Village to its list of locations that include London, Paris, Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand.

Wealth and fame are no strangers to this area, home to five Fortune 500 companies:
Countrywide Financial Corp., Dole Food Co., the Ryland Group Inc., Guitar Center Inc. and Amgen Inc., the world's largest biotechnology firm, which for more than two decades has helped fuel the business boom.

On the positive side, I also would have never imagined that a small guitar store that my old writing partner used to hang out in back in the 1960's during his rock star phase would become one of the 1,000 largest companies in the country.

Monday, August 07, 2006

So Who's Going To Take The Fall For The Phony Gentrification Story?

The question on everyone's mind downtown today - why did Tom Slater, a virtually unknown writer in LA with no known connections to or any special knowledge of Los Angeles, end up writing the lead article on gentrification in Downtown Los Angeles two Sundays ago?

Did he submit the article in an effort to push his upcoming book?

Or... did the Times ask him - and make a point of not asking anyone with any first hand information on the subject?

Was there a reason behind the timing of the piece? Does it have anything to do with the negotiations that are going on between the City Attorney's Office and the Mayor's Office about allowing the police to break up the dens of drug dealers posing as homeless encampments that are going on at this moment?

Inquiring cowboys want to know!

But suppose... just suppose... that someone who wants to keep those encampments in place because it is good for their business... has been talking to someone at the Times and asked them for some support in keeping the encampments on Skid Row?

And... just suppose... that person at the Times then contacted a writer half-way around the world and fed him the "facts" to write that article? And just suppose he found a writer innocent enough to rely on the LA Times for his facts without doing ANY independent investigation?

And could this also explain why this article has seemingly... vanished... from the LA Times website?

Is that what happened?

Well, only time will tell.

But a certain very, very informed source - and picture a picture of a horse and his mouth right here - is claiming that is indeed the case.

Stay tuned!

It's going to be a bumpy week!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

LA Times White Washes, Covers Up and Buries Their Lies About Skid Row!

On the front page of last week's Current section, the LA Times published an article on the alleged gentrification of Skid Row in which almost every statement was either an out and out lie - or a serious distortion of the truth as I demonstrated in yesterday's post.

And while I had hoped that the Los Angeles Times would correct at least half of those lies and errors, instead - buried at the bottom of their corrections page is this pathetically inadequate response:

Gentrification: A July 30 Current article on urban revitalization said the Central City East Assn. had "literally swept and hosed" homeless people from encampments on skid row when it cleaned the streets recently. Homeless people had been informed a day in advance that the street would be washed, and the organization waited until everyone was out of the way before beginning the cleanup.

But that is just the beginning of the cover-up of the truth. First, let's look at all the corrections contained on today's on-line corrections page and see what the LAT considered more important than correcting the lead front page story in last Sunday's Cuurrent section about a major civic issue that was largely... fraudulent:

Negro Leagues: The Sports series on the Negro Leagues included a July 28 article on former team owners that said Alejandro Pompez was the first owner in the league to sign Latin players. In fact, several Latin players had signed with major league teams before Pompez became an owner. Also, a chart on July 30 listed those who made the jump from the Negro League Monarchs to Major League Baseball. Left off was Harold M. Jones, a Monarch who later signed with the Kansas City Athletics.

'I Love Led Zeppelin': A review of Ellen Forney's "I Love Led Zeppelin" in July 30's Book Review cited the author's account of attending a 1970s Halloween costume party with her father. The author actually recounts her mother's experience attending the party with Forney's father.

'Conversations With Other Women': An article about actress Helena Bonham Carter in today's Calendar says that "Conversations With Other Women," in which she stars, was directed by Hans Canosa from a script by his wife, Gabrielle Zevin. They are not married.

Museum blogs: An article about museum blogs last Sunday misspelled as Brian the first name of the Science Museum of Minnesota exhibition developer who manages its Science Buzz blog. His name is Bryan Kennedy.

Photographer's gender: A caption with an item last Sunday about an art exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center incorrectly referred to photographer Michal Ronnen Safdie as a man. Safdie is female.

Museum blogs: A Calendar article about museum blogs on July 30 misspelled the first name of the manager of the Science Museum of Minnesota's Science Buzz blog. His name is Bryan Kennedy, not Brian.

Mustard Day: A Sunday Punches item in July 30's West magazine misidentified the pope who created the office of Mustard Maker to the Pope. It was Pope John XXII of Avignon, not John XII.

"So You Think You Can Dance": An article last Sunday about the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance" mistakenly gave choreographer Nancy O'Meara's first name as Anne.

Solar energy: A Real Estate section article on July 30 identified a member of the American Solar Energy Society board as Alan Black. His name is Andy Black.

African tour: A tour to South Africa and Namibia in the July 30 Tours & Cruises column listed the single surcharge as $325. It is $1,325.

The article on blues deejay Margaret Ann Long-Dolan (a.k.a. Ann the Raven) left the impression that musician John Lee Hooker was still performing ("The Blue Raven," July 23). Hooker died in 2001. The article also indicated that Long-Dolan hosts one of three blues-centric radio shows in Southern California. In addition to the three mentioned, "The Blues Shack" broadcasts on KCLU-FM in Ventura County (88.3) and Santa Barbara (102.3).

The 800 Words column on the TV commercial ad for HeadOn ("Ad Nauseam," July 23) misspelled the diet pill Relacore as Realcore.

Gentrification: A July 30 Current article on urban revitalization said the Central City East Assn. had "literally swept and hosed" homeless people from encampments on skid row when it cleaned the streets recently. Homeless people had been informed a day in advance that the street would be washed, and the organization waited until everyone was out of the way before beginning the cleanup.

Ok - this major screw-up was buried as correction number 13 of 14 corrections. And it was considered less important than calling Alan Black, Andy Black (whoever he is), less important than getting the spelling corrrection on a freaking diet pill, less important than the cost of a surchage on a trip to Africa - and, my favorite, less important than not once, but twice, correcting the misspelling of the first name (Brian instead of Bryan) who is the ... drum roll please... manager of the Science Museum of Minnesota's Science Buzz blog; a correction which I am certain is of vital importance to everyone in Los Angeles.

And then in the printed paper, I had to look through the whole section twice before I found the correction of the front page, top of the fold story, and that correction was buried on the last page - buried under another correction.

Now before we get to the totally inadequate correction itself, I wanted to refresh myself on the article, so I went to the Current page on the website since it always has last week's stories on it. But, uh - no - it was not there. But, no bother, all stories are still free on-line for at least ten days, so just searched for Central City East and while I found the correction of the story and the CCEA's letter to the editor - I could not find the story itself

Then I searched 'Skid Row', and got tons of hits - but still not that article. Ok - so the LA Times search engine isn't the greatest. So I ran Tom Slater the writer and - still no article!

I then tried direct quotes from the article - and still no article. So it appears that someone has removed the article from the searchable database to try and hide the evidence.

I did - finally - find the story, though, by going to the on-line print edition and since last Sunday was no longer an option, I changed the 7 days back to an 8 in the URL - and I... finally... found the Slater story. And guess what - even though they were forced to print a (partial) correction - but have refused to correct the on-line story itself!

So why has the LA Times not only refused to correct 90% of the errors in the story, and then try to bury the correction? And when you do find the story - why has it NOT been corrected?

More on this in my next post.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

LA Times' Op-Ed Page Publishes Single Most Moronic Article In History Of Los Angeles Times!

In a stunning combination of massive factual errors, complete geographic ignorance, incorrect historic references and a seeming lack of any first (or second or third) hand knowledge of the subject matter he is writing about, English university lecturer Tom Slater managed to out embarrass even Mel Gibson with his bizarre statements in last Sunday's LA Times.

In his Op-Ed piece about the affects of gentrification on LA's Skid Row, Tom Slater starts by claiming that homeless people were recently literally 'swept and hosed' away on Skid Row by the local business improvement teams.

Unfortunately for him - and the LA Times - nothing like that ever happened.

It is a total fantasy.

And since the LA Time's news section did cover this story, perhaps someone over at the Op-Ed section might on occasion read the news section of the LA Times.

What really happened is that once sidewalks became such health hazards that they endangered any person walking on them, much less sleeping on them, with illnesses such as flesh-eating bacteria, they had to be cleaned to protect the health of the people using those sidewalks. Anyone who was camped out on them was then given a full day's notice to move both themselves and their possessions to safety prior to the sidewalks being cleaned.

They were also told there were lockers - paid for by the local business community - where anyone who is homeless can safely store their belongings free of charge at any time, and not just when the sidewalks are being cleaned.

To repeat, no one was ever literally or figuratively swept or hosed away - and no one ever needed to lose their belongings. In fact, rather than being swept away, the homeless were able to immediately return to the now (relatively) clean sidewalks once the sidewalks dried off, or even before.

In addition, the sidewalks are similarly cleaned in every other part of downtown - and not just on Skid Row or where the homeless sleep, a fact Slater appears to be ignorant of. He also ignores the fact that to NOT clean the sidewalks of Skid Row when the rest of the sidewalks of downtown are being cleaned would be inexcusable. And if that ever happened, then Mr. Slater would, of course, claim this was one of the servces not provided that 'underserved' community (as he calls it); an 'underserved' community that has far more free social servcies than any part of this city, making that claim of his a lie, also.

Slater then proceeds to fill up empty space with needless histories of the terms 'skid row' and 'gentrification' and even then, he can not get his facts straight. He baldly states that Seattle was the original Skid Row where logs were alleged slid down a street called Skid Road. He refuses to say, though, this is only one of several theories of where the name came from. He also ignores the fact that the term Skid Road was used in other Western lumber camps before it was used in Seattle and even far earlier in the Adirondacks, where the original skid roads existed.

He also ignores the fact that recent research makes it likely that the 1880's road of Seattle was NOT a place where logs were 'skid' down to the water, since that would defy the laws of gravity. He also ignores - or is unaware that there are other theories about the origination of the term, other than the logging terms, when he makes his broad statement that the term Skid Row being originated in Seattle.

But - hey - why let a few facts stand in the way of a bad story?

Still, it is odd that when he goes to such lengths to explain the term when he is writing a book about the subject - and then refuses to admit his explanation is only an (increasingly) challenged theory.

After that, Slater cites his extensive credentials for writing the authoratative article about Skid Row in Los Angeles.

He visited LA in both 1994 and in 2002.

One time in each century.

Now while almost every statement of his in this article can be challenged to one degree or another on factual grounds, I will merely examine the final few paragraphs where he hangs himself with the rope he has so carefully laid out for himself:

To begin with:

Gentrification is a serious issue when housing laws fail to protect tenants, when affordable housing is nonexistent and when no new public housing is being built because of widespread fears of re-creating the unacceptable conditions of L.A.'s existing housing projects, like Imperial Courts in Watts.

The truth is all of Downtown LA is covered by a strong rent contol ordinance and it covers all affordable housing units. And even the ability to raise rents by rehabbing units, has been curtailed. Second, Skid Row area has the largest concentration of affordable low income housing in the city - so how can affordable housing here be.... non-existent?. Plus more affordable units are re-habbed for long term use each year, and others are built from the ground up. And until recently, the majority of all housing built in downtown was affordable.

Even if people are not made homeless, the conversion of dilapidated hotels into swanky apartments means there that are fewer housing options for poorer citizens, and if this happens on a large scale, it puts massive pressure on already stretched voluntary organizations, charities and social assistance providers.

Again, totally false. Not a single hotel has been turned into swanky apartments and only one old hotel has even had a portion of its units converted into work force priced lofts.

Exactly one.

And not one tennant was evicted in even that case. Less than 1% of all the individual new units in downtown built or being built were created from buildings that were hotels at the time the loft boom started. And the number of new permanent affordable units in the greater downtown area has dramatically increased during the same time period.

Plus there is a moratorium - which he also ignores - that prevents any existing SRO Hotel from being converted.

People living on the streets and in the single-room-occupancy hotels of downtown L.A. have enough to cope with already without being hosed out of the way for iPod-wearing, latte-drinking professionals strolling to work in Bunker Hill.

Obviously, he has never, ever walked the streets of Downtown if he thinks that people walking to work on Bunker Hill from their lofts are walking through Skid Row. No one from any lofts is walking to any offices through the streets of Skid Row. He also neglects to mention that the single largest subsidized housing project in downtown - by far - is located on... Bunker Hill.

Now that are just some of the highlights of his factual errors. Now I will address how he covers up and ignores the real problems of Skid Row.

If urgently needed change in downtown L.A. is to improve life at all for those who live there now, some provision must be made for adequate, affordable housing. Caps on loft conversions, greater rent protections for tenants and subsidies for people unable to afford rental housing would also help ensure that poverty is not simply moved elsewhere.

If the debate about skid row is to be productive, we need to reject the characterizations of its dwellers as unfortunate failures and instead evaluate the ways in which a booming housing market can do damage — economic, social and psychological — to those who live in poor, underserved neighborhoods.

It is frightening that the LA Times could have printed a piece about LA’s Skid Row by someone completely ignorant of the reasons behind the existence of Skid Row. To begin with, Skid Row in its present state happened long before anything resembling gentrification happened anywhere in the central city.

There is zero cause and affect between the new lofts in downtown and the Skid Row.

Even more bizarre is Slater’s assertion that the only way one can have a dialogue on Skid Row is to ignore the problems of those who live in those neighborhoods and instead concentrate on the ‘negative’ affects a booming housing market has on the low income people in those neighborhoods.

The problem with his thesis – is that it’s totally wrong.

Either he is unaware – or has chosen to conceal – that the vast majority of the homeless sleeping on the sidewalks of Skid Row are there because of their addition to drugs or alcohol – and that many of them also suffer from varying degrees of mental illness.

Of the over fifty people I had assisted in their getting off the streets – not one of them was forced out into the streets primarily by loss of housing due to economic problems; every one of them lost their housing – by their own admission - due to incarceration, drug or alcohol problems, mental illness or - usually - a combination of several of these problems, which then led them to be unable to afford housing.

That is not to say that people do not end up on the street due to a loss of housing, period. But those are rarely the people you find lying on the sidewalks of Skid Row. And those homeless for primarily economic reasons usually tend to be the very short term homeless.

Also, I have not once been unable to find housing for anyone who did – finally – want to get off the streets with days or at worst – weeks – of trying to get them off the streets. The problem of Skid Row is not gentrification; the problem is that the majority of the people sleeping on the streets of Skid Row refuse to accept any housing that does not allow them to use drugs or they are too mentally ill to accept the help they need.

And his idea on putting a cap on buildings being converted into lofts - and by law 100% of them are now office/industrial buildings as opposed to the previous 98% of the buildings - thus reducing the overall supply of housing will make housing overall more affordable is... bizarre.

But Slater claims that no discussion of Skid Row can even address those issues since he refuses to even acknowledge they exist; he states that only the allegedly deleterious affects of gentrification on existing inhabitants can be considered when one discusses Skid Row. And that is the final flaw in his bizarre article.

His unsupported claims about gentrification ignore the empirical research of those people who have actually studied the real world the affects of gentrification on existing low income tenants; academics such as Lance Freeman of Columbia and Jacob Vigdor of Duke. And they have each discovered – to their amazement - that in gentrifying neighborhoods low income tenants stay longer in neighborhoods which are booming – because of the benefits in living in safer, cleaner neighborhoods – which is the exact opposite of what Slater claims.

Below are some paragraphs from an article at the POLIS website:

For as long as gentrification has been a divisive topic, the underlying assumption has been the same: As wealthier people move into downtrodden neighborhoods, low-income people are pushed out. But does gentrification actually cause increased displacement? Lance Freeman, an assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University, thinks the answer is no. One of the leading academics to step on the gentrification land mine, Mr. Freeman (who happens to live in a Columbia-owned apartment just around the corner from Tiemann Place) has found himself in the uncomfortable position of having to explode the myth itself. "It’s a controversial issue," he told The Observer recently, "The research results were unanticipated. But the data says what it says."

What his data says is this: Low-income people in gentrifying neighborhoods are, in fact, more likely to stay in their apartments longer than low-income people in non-gentrifying neighborhoods. Not only does gentrification not cause displacement any more than the myriad other factors that result in poor people losing or leaving their homes, says Mr. Freeman, it actually provides an incentive to stay. Think about it: Would you be inclined to leave your apartment if the neighborhood was improving?

Mr. Freeman referred to the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey in reaching his conclusion. He found that poor households living in gentrifying neighborhoods in New York City, including Harlem, were 24 percent less likely to have moved between 1991 and 1999 than poor people living in non-gentrifying communities. Even when controlling for various factors, like age, race and overcrowding, poor households were still 20 percent less likely to move from gentrifying areas than poor households living in non-gentrifying communities in New York City.

."Because the results seem somewhat counterintuitive and raise a lot of questions, they want to make sure it’s right," said Mr. Freeman. "You don’t usually see that in the social sciences. Who knows—maybe they’re going to trash my research."

Mr. Freeman’s research, however, does not stand completely alone. Conclusions similar to his were reached two years ago by Jacob Vigdor, an assistant professor at Duke University, who analyzed Boston neighborhoods.

"There’s no evidence that gentrification increases residential turnover," Mr. Vigdor concurred. "The typical image people have in their minds is that people are being thrown out of their homes in gentrifying neighborhoods. But there is usually some degree of vacancy and rehabbing of buildings that weren’t previously inhabitable.

So how many of the lies and wrong information and concealed data in this article will the Times address when they have to do their inevitable mea culpa on this piece?

About half is my guess ... if we're lucky.

Hollywood's Columbia Square - Saved! And Will Continue As An Entertainment Complex!

In the best of all possible worlds, not only are the old KNX Studios on Sunset going to be saved - but they will continue to be used as much needed productions studios - helping keep Hollywood in... Hollywood. From

Historic CBS Radio Complex Commands $66M
By Bob Howard

HOLLYWOOD, CA-Las Vegas-based developer Molasky Pacific LLC plans to redevelop the historic CBS Radio complex known as Columbia Square at 6121 Sunset Blvd. after acquiring the property for $66 million, according to Madison Partners. Lynwood Fields of Madison Partners, who brokered the sale, tells that Molasky Pacific plans to redevelop the 125,000-sf building to continue to attract entertainment industry tenants and is considering options that would include adding some residential units to the office and broadcasting facility.

The property, which is 100% occupied, was built in 1938 as a CBS radio studio and was considered cutting-edge when it was built. During the decades that followed, television shows that were broadcast from Columbia Square included the Jack Benny Show, the George Burns & Gracie Allen Show and the pilot episode for I Love Lucy.

Fields, who represented both Molasky and seller Sungow LLC, calls the property “a rare opportunity to breathe new life into a relic of the golden age of Hollywood." According to Helmi Hisserich, regional adminsitrator for the Community Redevelopment Agency, the redevelopment of Columbia Square will provide new housing, office and entertainment uses “while preserving the key historical elements of the property."

The 6121 Sunset building, situated on 4.69 acres, is home to KCBS-TV, KCAL-TV and KNX NewsRadio. All three are scheduled to relocate to a new facility adjacent to CBS Studio Center in nearby Studio City.

Fields tells that the redevelopment of the building will become part of the ongoing renaissance in Hollywood, where a host of retail, office, residential and entertainment projects have taken off in recent years. “This development foresees maintaining the studio portion of the property and developing around it,” he says.