Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Who Will Save The LA River From The CRA?

My latest article over at CITYWATCH:

If one wants a reel (i.e., Hollywood) world equivalent of the real world danger to the LA River in Downtown, it would be a silent film starring Simon Legree (i.e., the appointed Community Redevelopment Agency leadership) tying the hopes and dreams of Downtown Los Angeles, for a LA River lined with parks and mixed uses, to the railroad tracks while a locomotive – packed with special interest groups - comes barreling towards us at ninety miles an hour.

To back up a bit, the City of Los Angeles is planning to spend at least a billion dollars (though no comprehensive business plan yet exists) to turn the LA River into a public amenity lined with parks and mixed uses – except in one area.

In the most per capita park poor part of the entire city – the part of Downtown represented by the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council - the approved plan will not allow us even a single park in our neighborhood; we will also not get even one unit of housing in the area with the single biggest jobs/housing imbalance nor will we get anything resembling the kinds of public amenities every other neighborhood in Los Angeles along the river will get.

And when I asked over a year ago why we were the only neighborhood not to be allowed any parks – I was told by two different staff members that it would conflict with the city's industrial policy since only industry was going to be allowed along the 'new' LA River in our neighborhood.

Now, no other city in this country – for that matter– no city on this planet (since Stalinist five year industrial plans have gone out of fashion even in Russia – if not in Los Angeles) would ever dream of lining a river in the most congested and populated part of the city with railroad tracks, high tension lines and wall to wall factories – forever.

Ironically, though – as I demonstrated in an earlier CityWatch article, while the city's industrial zoning policy will work in some parts of the city – this policy will actually destroy jobs and prevent jobs from being created in the older parts of Downtown.

But here's the best part. Since building heavy industry facilities in the heart of the city is no longer financially feasible – the CRA will have to give these factories 30 years of vast tax subsidies to pay them to destroy the LA River in our neighborhood.

Please inset the appropriate Vietnam War metaphor of your choice here.

But this situation had been recently – seemingly - looking up. Our three elected officials, Jan Perry, Jose Huizar and Ed Reyes had recently overturned the CRA's stonewalling of two major live work projects near the LA River and the city council had also just passed a resolution condemning the CRA and the Planning Department's unilateral implementation of their industrial policy. And … at public meeting after public meeting, at least 95% of the speakers – and sometimes 100% of them – strongly opposed every aspect of this plan.

Every single Downtown community and business organization with an elected board has opposed this policy – including those representing the property and business owners this plan is supposed to protect.

The only people to support this plan are appointed city officials, people being paid by city contracts – and organizations that do not represent Downtown.

So one would think that since the public the CRA 'serves', the industrial users the plan is supposed to 'protect' and the councilpersons elected by the public to represent them are all opposed to this policy– that the CRA would finally back off from their plan.

Well, not in LA.

Last week I went into an AIA (American Institute of Architects) meeting on the future of Downtown. One of the panel members was Cecilia Estolano, the head of the CRA. She greeted me warmly before the meeting started and I took that as a sign that she – finally – was willing to work with us downtown to develop a real world plan that
will create jobs, housing and parks along the LA River.

I say finally because after years of guarantees that the public would be involved in the drafting of this plan – the long promised public workshops were canceled last December – between Christmas and New Years Day when no one was in town. And then, even after the CRA and Planning were forced to hold public hearings on their betrayal, they still refused to in any way discuss or debate their policy with us. They just stoically listened to our testimony against their plan,
declined to engage in any kind of debate – and then went back to
implementing their plan with a complete disregard of the public input.

But instead of addressing any of that during her presentation last week, Estolano instead announced her latest initiative for Downtown – a policy that was created, as usual, behind closed doors - to line the banks of the LA River – particularly within the DLANC boundaries - with not just industry – but heavy industry. "Green" heavy industry

Yes, her proposal is now to destroy our environment with 'green' heavy industry to build products to improve other people's environments.

Again, insert appropriate Vietnam War analogy.

And the best part is – this new plan was again developed without any input from – or even the knowledge of - anyone in the affected areas. This was the first I had ever heard about it and when I asked around the next day, my suspicions were confirmed. Not a single one of the stakeholder groups had been contacted plus no one at Planning or
even in the CRA office in Downtown had ever heard of this new plan, much less had been consulted about it.

When the Q & A session started, I announced we had just witnessed why this city does not work; that we are still a city where some of the biggest decisions affecting our communities are still made behind closed doors. And that even when these plans are opposite of what the community wants – or needs – the community will still be ignored if they are in conflict with the desires of politically connected special interest groups.

Estolano's response to my remarks was that there was no green manufacturing policy for the length of the LA River in Downtown – even though she had just announced to the audience that there was one and she had just passed out a map showing the project's boundaries.

I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and agree she actually does believe in her mind that there will someday be some public involvement in this proposal. I'll do this despite the fact the CRA has still refused to engage in any debate with us on the specifics of the
existing industrial zoning plan and that it has still refused to allow any kind of meaningful two-way dialogue with the community on the planning process for this issue – for the past two years.

Now, on a cynical sidetrack, it appears clear to me that changing the 100% industrial zone along the LA River into a 100% 'green' industrial area – even though that would prevent – for a variety of reasons – the actual regreening of the LA River - is just a new way of re-packaging their old idea by adding the buzz word 'green' to their plan.

But the delusion that large factories making green products are going to be suddenly built anywhere in Los Angeles – much less in Downtown Los Angeles ( just like the 1990's hallucination that LA would suddenly become the center for the manufacturing of rapid transit equipment if we built subways) – is exactly that – a delusion.

What the politicians and special interest groups are ignoring is that with Downtown's outdated infrastructure, high wage costs, high business taxes, high utility fees and many other obstacles to manufacturing in Downtown – no one is going to set up heavy industry in an area that is far more expensive to do business within than in other states, other cities in LA County – or even in other parts of the City of Los Angeles. And even if they would – the massive public subsidies would far outweigh the gains.

Even more to the point, since green products are inherently more expensive than non green products – and they are often considerably more expensive - manufacturers must find the lowest cost places to make their products if they are to be at all competitive within the marketplace.

The bottom line is - of all the types of manufacturing – green products are among the least likely to locate in a high cost area such as Downtown Los Angeles.

And everyone who has a clue of how business works – and who is not dependent on the public teat – knows this to be true.

So where does this leaves us?

Well, pretty much where we started.


But at some point in time the CRA's leadership might actually learn they need to work with us to get anything done. Someday, they might even stop acting like an occupying army determined to destroy all resistance to their initiatives (and shooting anyone who dares go off-message) and understand they are supposed to serve our community – and not attack it.

The tragedy is that we all want the same things for our community. Good paying jobs, a greener environment, parks along the LA River, better transportation – and housing for everyone. But none of this will ever happen with the current bunker mentality of the CRA.

I might add that that when Estolano first came into office, I was very impressed by her speech on how the CRA would be actively involved in grass roots community building. I was so impressed I offered to give her a tour of Downtown to show how we had turned the former heroin district into a vibrant community filled with new jobs and how with modest amounts of working capital we had accomplished far more than
past, failed multi-million dollar projects of the CRA had in the same neighborhood. And she said she looked forward to that tour. But after six months – and a half-a-dozen unreturned and unacknowledged phone calls and emails and letters – I finally gave up.

Just like a lot of people Downtown are giving up on the idea that the CRA can ever be our partners in building a new Downtown for everyone.

But it shouldn't - and doesn't - have to be that way. So, just maybe, one day that attitude might start to change.

And, luckily, it will only take one person to accomplish that. But first she will have to start returning our phone calls.

(Brady Westwater is a writer, a long-time downtown and neighborhood council activist and Chair of the LA NC Congress Economic Development Committee. Westwater is a regular contributor to CityWatch. He can be reached at: bradywestwater@gmail.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it ). _

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Livable Places Dead!

I had heard that Livable Places - one of the few affordable housing developers that tried to have a sustainable financial business plan which did not depend on endless subsidies was in trouble - and I knew that something big was about to be announced - but I was still shocked to see in Curbed LA that they have just closed their doors.

Below is the opening of the letter announcing the closure from Joe Linton; the rest can be found at the Curbed LA link above.

Colleagues -

It is with great sadness that I am writing to let you know that Livable Places is closing. Seven years ago, our board of directors set ambitious goals for a new nonprofit organization to advocate for land use policy reform, and to develop affordable housing that demonstrated the feasibility of smart growth. Since then, Livable Places has worked on multiple policy issues and initiated two developments offering 160 homes and leveraging $60 million as we strived to build for-sale housing affordable to working people with minimal subsidy.

We began construction as speculation and frenzied demand drove up construction costs, and we started marketing homes as the turmoil in financial and real estate markets began. The credit crisis raised the requirements for buyers that we targeted, and the glut of higher priced housing lowered demand for new homes overall. The impact on the Southern California economy has been dire, and for Livable Places, the economic downturn has proved fatal.

How the LA Media Blew The Story Of The LAPDHQ Audit!

My latest CITYWATCH story:

Reviewing press coverage of Laura Chick's audit of the LAPD Headquarters cost overruns, there desperately needs to be some clarification from Laura Chick’s office on who was at fault.

Was it the city for not having a approved building site, the city for allowing the Civic Center Authority to not meet in ten years and the city for allowing the small 911 emergency call center to be built on the same block as Parker Center – making it impossible to later rebuilding the PHQ on the site – or was this all the BOE’s fault. Because right now – the BOE is taking a lot of the blame for decisions – it had nothing to do with.

This report might have an addendum to address the real causes for the overrun so we can prevent similar problems in the over billion or two dollars in projects that will happen in the civic center within the next ten years.

Second, the press needs to correct its existing error-filled coverage of this project. Not one story even mentioned that the city had failed to develop a master plan for the civic center after over forty years, nor did they even mention the existence of the Civic Center Authority, much less how building the 911 Center on the Parker Center block made it impossible to rebuild the PHQ on that site.

Third, the press needs to engage in some serious investigative reporting that used to be done by the much missed Jeffrey Anderson, David Zahniser and a few others during a brief golden age at the LA Weekly and as used to be done by the LA Times on huge, multi-year long investigations.

But the Times needs to learn that one or two good reporters with some real working knowledge can accomplish a lot, even when compared dozens or reporters and a huge budgets. Unfortunately, the new young hires at the Times have little interest in discovering, much less, reporting, the truth; they are only interested in pushing their own preconceived political prejudices to the exclusion of anything resembling serious news reporting.

Unsurprisingly then, the biggest winner in getting the story right came from the media outlet with the smallest budget – CURBEDLA – when Josh Williams – alone – was able to decode from the report that the Audit admitted that the blame for the overrun was not due to the BOE’s supervision.

The second biggest winder was the Downtown New which has the bet coverage and which got the most quotes from people on each side, giving the most complete and balanced coverage – but which still did not talk with a anyone who would point out the real culprits. It’s the City’s fault.

Going to the opposite end of the spectrum, the second biggest loser – the biggest we’ll save for the last – was the Daily News even though it got off to a decent start with an article covering much of the back story about the delays due to the site problems, but which emphasized the role of the BOE in that – while ignoring the real reasons. But then they blew it with an editorial that blamed the entire problem on the BOE and – somehow got the original building cost as being a 100 million as opposed to the 303 million given by both Laura Chick and the article in their own paper.

Hopefully, the new editor will eventually retract the editorial.

And that brings us to our biggest loser – The Los Angeles Times. So how did the City desk cover this major story? Did they address the real underlying problems of the city and did the editorial page then follow up with a call for true reform?

Well, no.

Because there was no story in the paper and because there was no story – there was no editorial.

A major story that dozens of other news sources covered in detail did not warrant even a single line in the Los Angeles Times. In fact, when the Business Section of the paper wrote about the contractor of the PHQ being purchased – they were the ones who had to ‘break’ the news of the audit several days later.

And that’s another reason why these disasters continue to happen. While our city faces increasingly difficult challenges, when it comes to our paper of record telling us the facts we need to know to hold our public officials accountable – there is no one at the LA Times City Desk who even knows what questions to ask – much less knows how to answer them. And the next generation being currently hired – doesn’t even give a damn.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why Do So Many LA Times Writers Seemingly Just Make Up 'Facts'?

It's getting harder and harder to believe anything one reads in the Los Angeles Times these days. Setting aside the special case of the Metro Section which even other writers at the LA Times say they can not trust the 'facts' in it - no section is free of stories that have parts that are just seemingly made to back up whatever the writer is trying to prove. Today, I will cite just one of many examples from yesterday's Sunday Times - using just a single paragraph from it to demonstrate the current crisis at the Times.

Before Teddy Roosevelt's time, cowboys had a nasty reputation, thanks to Billy the Kid and other violent outlaws who ran roughshod over the frontier. Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows and late-19th century dime novels combined to recast the cowboy's image as an Anglo-Saxon hero and heir to the Arthurian Knights of the Round Table.

So let's look at the chronology the writer cites as historical cause and affect. First there was the age of Billy the Kid and other such outlaws who gave cowboys a 'nasty' reputation. Then came Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows and the dime novels and they changed the cowboy's reputation by the time of Teddy Roosevelt.

The truth is, of course, the exact opposite of those statements. The first novels glamorizing the new breed of Westerner started at least in the 1840's - and Kit Carson was first lionized in 1849. Plus the dean of the dime novelists (a specific form that started in 1860) was Ned Buntline who started writing about the West no later than the 1860. By 1869 he had written his first book about Buffalo Bill. He later convinced Buffalo Bill to take to the stage in... 1872... and Buffalo Bill was touring the country by 1873 and did so for the next ten years performing Wild West stage shows. Then in 1883, he extended this brand by adding outdoor Wild West show extrvagandas.

Billy the Kid, however, was little known until his death in... 1881... and he only came to national fame after his killer - Pat Garrett - published his account of his life in 18882 - nine years after Buffalo Bill had started performing throughout the country and one year before he started his Wild West shows. And as for Roosevelt - he didn't become President until almost 30 years after Buffalo Bill first took to the stage.

Clearly - the time line the writer presents is... impossible. Now I assume the writer was taking this from materials provided by the Autry Museum, but even the most basic knowledge of American history should have alerted the writer and the editors that this cause and affect time line simply could not have happened. Particularly bizarre is the statement that before Roosevelt's time (and he came on the national stage only in the 1890's) - the American cowboy had a nasty reputation, since this was long after the Wild West Shows and the dime novels had captured the American imagination.

In fact, I'd really like to see any factual proof that there ever was any period in which the American cowboy had a 'nasty reputation. But, of course, facts are increasingly not what you are going to find in the LA Times.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Martha Groves Promoted To Editorial Column Writer At Los Angeles Times!

Former Metro news reporter is now writing an editorial column in the Metro section and her first editorial runs today. The beginning of her very well written column attacking a new condo project in Beverly Hills - starting with a particularly damning speculative first sentence - is below and the rest of her editorial is at the above link:

Beverly Hills approves condo project
A $500-million condo-hotel plan may also win City Council passage. Many residents are concerned about traffic congestion.
By Martha Groves
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 11, 2008

If you hate to sit in traffic at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards, prepare to discover your inner reserves of patience.

To the dismay of residents wary of overdevelopment, the Beverly Hills City Council has approved a high-rise condo and retail project for the eight-acre site of the defunct Robinsons-May department store.

Who Really Busted The LAPD Headquarters Budget? Or - Why Can't City Hall - Or The Press - Get Anything Right?

My lastest offering at CITYWATCH:

Who Really Busted the LAPD HQ Budget Or – Why Can't City Hall Ever Get Anything Right?

by Brady Westwater

When local politicians demand to know who caused the budget overruns at the new LAPD Headquarters Building (the PHQ) – all they need to do is …. look in a mirror.

The same advice can be given to a majority of the voters in the City of Los Angeles.

Not wanting to face reality, though, everyone seems content to blame the one city entity not responsible for the cost overrun – the Los Angeles City Bureau of Engineering; the city agency that administers the city's construction projects; the city agency about which some outraged writers have asked how can we allow these same people to keep screwing over us taxpayers again and again? Unfortunately, it's easier to fall into that type of rhetoric with all the widely publicized cost overruns at the Los Angeles United School District, the MTA's over budget subways and the County'sendless nightmare at King-Drew Medical, to name just a few local fiscal fiascos.

The only minor problem here is that the Bureau of Engineering – the BOE - had nothing to do with any of those disasters. In fact, in striking contrast to those out of control projects, their two largest projects in the early part of this century were done on time – or better – and they all were built well under budget. But, of course, you never saw any headlines on that; so to better understand what really happened at the PHQ, we need to look at the true record of the BOE.

First, the BOE built 32 public libraries from Prop DD funds and brought them in so far under budget they were able to build four more new libraries from the savings. Next, the BOE supervised 600 million dollars of Prop Q funds for 13 different public safety projects. Of them, three are finished and 95% of the work is done on the rest of the projects; and these projects are also all on time or ahead of schedule - plus the BOE just announced to the city council that they will come in under budget at about 65 Million dollars.

Not that you will ever read one word about any of this in the press, of course.

Now does this sound like an agency so badly managed that 32 changes have to be made to its procedures (as controller Laura Chick has proposed in her recent audit) to prevent another PHQ disaster from happening? And if they are not responsible – then who is?

Well, the first culprit is – us. This badly needed new facility (and one good quake and Parker Center – and everyone in it - is toast) was twice taken to the voters – and twice rejected. So the funds had to be cobbled together from other sources to get it built – and this was at a time when both land and construction costs were rapidly increasing.

But the real perps in this mess are the decades of elected officials representing greater Los Angeles who failed to properly plan how our Civic Center was to be developed.

But this was not always the case. Starting in the 1960's a joint powers org – the Civic Center Authority – was set up by the City and County of Los Angeles (with participation by the feds, the state and three other government agencies), to plan the Civic Center, and they initially accomplished a lot. But they stopped meeting over ten years ago (among other reasons, turf problems prevented certain decisions from being made) – and they never put together a master plan for where the new city and county facilities would be built.

With no plan, when there was a need to build a new 911 communications center, the city just plopped the 911 building on a corner of the block containing Parker Center, despite the objections of a group of us who said this would prejudice any future development of that critical block.

And then – when it came time to build a new Police Headquarters and jail and motor pool – because of the setback problems from the 911 Center – it was discovered – surprise, surprise – they could not build a new PHQ on the block without tearing down Parker Center and the jail first.

This was the only reason why the new PHQ was not built on that site.

This then caused the city to purchase the 1st and Alameda site, only to try and change to the Transamerica property after the residents of Little Tokyo proved how devastating the project would be to their community (at least two land swaps deals were also considering during all of this), but then that new site didn't work and so the project went back to First and Alameda and lastly – finally – it landed at 1st and Spring, where another group of residents fought it, further delaying it.

In just that first year, I personally attended over 50 public meetings and many more private ones.

But even then, even once the new PHQ site was located – the city still had to find another adjacent parcel for parking and the motor pool. So by the time it was all over – figuring out just where to build everything – almost 3 years hadpassed since the decision to build was made in 2003. It then took another almost two years to close escrow on the land for the parking which is just now starting construction.

This brings us to Laura Chick's in most ways highly accurate – though often misinterpreted – performance audit which finds a number of reasons for the escalation of the project's costs. The main ones though are increasing land costs, increasing construction/labor/materials costs and the inability to get contractors to bid in an overheated market. All three of these would have been avoided if the city had a master plan for the Civic Center – with a vetted and approved site for the project before they started it.

Or, if they had not built the 911 Center in the worst possible location.

As for the proposed reforms for the BOE in the audit: the BOE's administration was another reason she gives for possible – though those reasons are considerably more speculative than demonstrated - cost increases.

Even Laura Chick admits that almost all of the price increases of the project were justified by the real world costs by the time the land was actually bought and the buildings were actually being built – and not by any mismanagement – and I feel she proves her case exceptionally well here.

And the report pretty clearly demonstrates, that very little – if any – of the increased costs could have been realistically stopped, even with her proposed reforms, valid as many of them are.

The main reform she proposes – the Construction at Risk Method – is probably banned by the city charter and would have never been allowed by the city attorney.

Additionally, no convincing proof is offered in the report that there was anything the city could have done to have gotten a second bidder – another valid concern of hers.

And, I disagree with a few other of her assertions, such as the statement that the one retired person – who is still working on the project, was the only person with working historic knowledge of the project.

I can easily state as someone who was daily involved in this project - and in contact with everyone in the city family involved with it – for the first three-plus years – that is simply not true. The leadership team at the BOE is an unusually deep one, and it was one I often deeply argued with about highly technical policy considerations.

As additional proof of my assertion that the BOE's previously successful guidelines were not the problem, once the site was nailed down and construction started – and it is now 65% finished – it has been running with less than a 2% of budget in change orders – which given this project's history – is nothing less than a Mohammed becoming a Holly Roller class of miracle.

So, has the city corrected their underlying mistake? Have they reconvened the Civic Center Authority (which Jan Perry did call for... back in 2002)? Is the city now working on better – any – coordination among the over dozen – yes over a dozen– projects and
plans currently in the works in the Civic Center? Well, that answer is simple.

No! Non! Nyet!

I mean, this is the City of Los Angeles. The city government where the real motto is, what is mine is mine and what is yours, should be mine.

And if current soap opera starring Laura Chick, Tony Cardenas and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in their Bloods/Cripps styled showdown over gang turf doesn't prove that to you, I don't know what will.

So each of the dozen projects in the Civic Center area will continue to plod along – with little or no communication among them, all of them headed to hell in a handbasket. And there is no longer even a mention of developing a new plan for the Civic Center, other than in the far distant community plan update.

Now this might give one the impression that our city is led by a bunch of morons and idiots. It is not. We are lucky to have many capable and even gifted leaders in this city – capable and gifted people who just happen to sometimes act like morons and idiots.

And trust me, there is a very real difference, as small as it may at times seem.

William Goldman once famously said, about Hollywood, that it was a place where 'Nobody Knows Anything'. But if he was talking about City Hall (rather than about our second largest purveyor of smoke, mirrors and fertilizer) – a better quote might have been – "The Place Where Nobody Ever Learns Anything". (Brady Westwater is a writer, a long-time downtown and neighborhood council activist and Chair of the LA NC Congress Economic Development Committee. Westwater is a regular contributor to CityWatch. He can be reached at: bradywestwater@gmail.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it ) (Current construction photos from CurbedLA blog report.) _

Vol 6 Issue 30
Published: Apr 11, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Free Comedy Walk Downtown TONIGHT! 8:30 PM - 10 PM Thursday April 10th!

Free Comedy performances at six venues within one block of 5th and Spring! Do the Famous DOWNTOWN Art Walk - and then do the DOWNTOWN Comedy Walk!

COMEDY WALK - April 10th, the 2nd Thursday
Get Free Tickets at www.ComedyWalk.com - OR JUST SHOW UP!
Six Simultaneous Comedy Shows 8:30pm-10pm

Venue #1
Downtown Comedy Club
501 S Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
200-seat club
Hosts: Garrett Morris
& Kevin Garnier
8:25 Host Warm-Up
8:30 D'Sean Ross
8:40 Mikey Scott
8:50 Erik Lundy
9:00 Stevie Mack
9:10 Alex Nussbaum
9:20 Gayla Johnson
9:30 Dan Dominguez
9:40 The Mooney Twins
9:50 Ernie G

Venue #2
The New LATC
Los Angeles Theater Center
514 S. Spring St., Theater #4
Los Angeles, CA 90013
80-seat cabaret
Host: Stefanie Northcutt
8:25 Host Warm-Up
8:30 Todd Thomas
8:40 Vanda Mikoloski
8:50 Joe Wilson
9:00 The Mooney Twins
9:10 Ernie G
9:20 Marly Halpern-Graser
9:30 Rebecca Addelman
9:40 Alicia Simmons
9:50 Jodi Miller

Venue #3
The Canadian Room
Canadian Building
436 S. Main
SRO 2,200 sq. ft. storefront
Host: Sandra Milliner
8:25 Host Warm-Up
8:30 Red Herring
8:40 Rebecca Addelman
8:50 Laughs on Demand
9:00 Chris Adams
9:10 Mikey Scott
9:20 Go People Go!
9:30 Stevie Mack
9:40 Joe Wilson
9:50 Alex Nussbaum

Venue #4
The Onion Room
Spring Arts Tower
207 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
1,400 sq. ft. SRO
Host: Heather Ignacio
8:25 Host Warm-Up
8:30 Marly Halpern-Graser
8:40 Scott Vinci
8:50 Jodi Miller
9:00 Will Weldon
9:10 Red Herring
9:20 D'Sean Ross
9:30 Laughs on Demand
9:40 Erik Lundy
9:50 Vanda Mikoloski

Venue #5
The Backstage
Spring Arts Tower
211 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
1,600 sq. ft. SRO
Host: Shereen Saiyed
8:25 Host Warm-Up
8:30 Go People Go!
8:40 Gayla Johnson
8:50 Dan Dominguez
9:00 Alicia Simmons
9:10 Scott Vinci
9:20 Todd Thomas
9:30 Chris Adams
9:40 Will Weldon
9:50 Red Herring

Venue #6
The Chicken Room
Spring Arts Tower
211 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
1,000-sq.ft SRO
Host: Gabrielle Pantera
Gosh! Talk Show
Three-minute interviews with each of the comedians in a talk show format.

*Chris Adams, comedy webseries www.theopenmikers.com
*Rebecca Addelman, Toronto, Comedy Network, www.raddelman.com
*Daniel Dominguez, Verizon Viva! Vision www.funconsuming.com
Ernie G from Comedy Central's Make Me Laugh, www.ernieg.com
Go People Go!, this Christian folk singing sensation .
Marly Halpern-Graser EVYY winner 2007, YouTube.
Gayla Johnson, from Comedy Store. www.GaylaJohnson.net
Mary Kennedy, Laugh Factory. www.marykennedy.info
Laughs on Demand, sketch/improv www.laughsondemand.com
Erik Lundy, National Lampoon Radio. www.workplaceofthedamned
Stevie Mack, SpikeTV. www.steviemack.com
Jodi Miller, Mondays at Comedy Store. www.myspace.com/jodilmiller
The Mooney Twins, BET. www.mooneytwinsnetwork.com
Garrett Morris, original SNL cast.
Alex Nussbaum, stand-up. www.alexnussbaum.com
Red Herring, L.A. improv. www.myspace.com/redherringimprov
D'Sean Ross, Laugh Factory. www.myspace.com/dseanisfunny.com
Mikey Scott, Queers of Comedy. www.queersofcomedy.com
Alicia Simmons, from Newark, plays at clubs on both coasts.
Todd "J.T." Thomas, The Comedy Store. www.myspace.com/jtthomascomedy
Scott Vinci, stand-up guitar comedy. www.funnyordie.com
Will Weldon, Alt dot Comedy Lounge. myspace.com/willwelldone
Joe Wilson, co-host of Dork Forest Radio www.dorkforestradio.com

*Denotes EDGY, may not be suitable for children.

Brady Westwater

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cecilia Rasmussen Has Left The Room. 'LA Then And Now' Column About LA's History Is Now History Itself.

In a city where it's history is too often forgotten and ignored - and too often gotten wrong in the pages of the LA Times - one of the few dependable sources - both in frequency and in factual accuracy - was Cecilia Rasmussen's 'LA THEN AND NOW' column. And I say 'was' because the LA Times - in an act of incredible stupidity encouraged her to accept a buyout, and she did accept.

Both the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles will be lesser places for this.

Below is the opening of today's final column:

DNA tests could force a rewrite of city's history book
On the record, the 'Father of Glendale' had no children. But did L.C. Brand have a secret life and 2 sons?
By Cecilia Rasmussen
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 6, 2008

For more than 20 years, I've been writing about local history, and never once has Southern California let me down. I've found no shortage of tycoons and beggars, dreamy spiritualists, mad-eyed killers.

This 227-year-old city has had a few angels, but it's the others who often make for the most fascinating storytelling. The housewife from Milwaukee who in the 1920s lived in a house above Sunset Boulevard -- secretly keeping her lover in the attic for a decade until he came downstairs to murder her husband.

The religious cult that called itself theDivine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven and used sex, religion and animal sacrifices to separate believers from their money. The 18-year-old who in the 1880s fatally shot her boyfriend in the eye and was acquitted after her lawyers called her a victim of "menstrual madness."

I've written about cowboys and swindlers and crazy inventors, about a one-eyed Swiss watchmaker and a silent screen star who broke into film at age 75, after real-life dramatic experience as a Civil War spy.

To get those stories, I've had to do quite a bit of sleuthing -- trekking through mountains, visiting crumbling mansions and knocking the dust off ancient court files.

But in all the years, I've never gone to quite the lengths I had to for this, my final Then and Now column.

There was no way around it. To be sure this story was true, I needed DNA tests. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Maybe I should start at the beginning.

The rest is at the above link.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

LA City Nerd Lives!

LA City Nerd's website may still be blocked - but I just got an email saying he had accepted my months old invitation to FACEBOOK. Hopefully... his website will soon also be back.