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Jerry Brown Talks About Cars, Cows, & Getting Off Greenhouse

July 31st, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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When it comes to conspicuous oil consumption
and an underregulated greenhouse gas policy, Jerry Brown says he’s really, really over it.

He is also totally over it with our commuter culture—-and with people who don’t get that there’s a problem with all the above.

To make the point, he’s been filing lawsuits.

For instance, last spring he sued San Bernardino County to force that county’s planners to include global-warming counter-measures as a part of the county’s growth blueprint (the General Plan). Some people claimed Brown was grandstanding. (Which he probably was, at least in part..) But in the end, SB settled and now is one of the state’s leaders on the issue.

This morning, Attorney General Brown, (who is also 2010-candidate-for-Governor Brown) is holding an 11:30 a.m. press conference at the Port of Long Beach to announce that he is slapping a lawsuit on the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from ships, aircraft, and construction and agricultural equipment.

“Ships, aircraft and industrial equipment burn huge quantities of fossil fuel and cause massive greenhouse gas pollution,” growled Brown in his official statement. “Yet President Bush stalls with one bureaucratic dodge after another. Because Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency continues to wantonly ignore its duty to regulate pollution, California is forced to seek judicial action.”

Cool.

Not everyone has been pleased with the nature of Jerry’s proactive responses to global warming.

A few weeks ago, Joel Kotkin, an author/pundit/think tank-ish type specializing in public policy and business trends, grumpily slammed Brown in a Wall Street Journal Op Ed accusing the AG of “waging war on the very communities his father helped make possible.”

Kotkin even trotted out the old, extremely tired, pathetically-dog-eared Governor Moonbeam trope.

[Brown] sees suburban houses as inefficient users of energy,” snarked Kotkin. “He sees suburban commuters clogging the roads as wasting precious fossil fuel. And, mostly, he sees wisdom in an intricately thought-out plan to compel residents to move to city centers or, at least, to high-density developments clustered near mass transit lines…”

A very irritated Brown fired back in a letter that was published in yesterday’s WSJ.

With gasoline at $4 a gallon, the dollar plunging, and foreign oil producers taking trillions from hard pressed Americans, one would think that cutting dangerous oil dependency was a no-brainer. Apparently not for Joel Kotkin, whose “Jerry Brown’s War on California Suburbs” complains about my efforts to ensure that California cities and counties comply with our first-in-the-nation energy and greenhouse gas laws. Mr. Kotkin mischaracterizes my efforts as a war on suburbs and paints an oddly cheerful picture of freeway living, including an assertion that our highways are not clogged by long commutes. Mr. Kotkin’s vision of unending sprawl is better suited to the 1950s, when gasoline was 20 cents per gallon and California had 11 million, not 37 million residents.

[SNIP]

No thoughtful person can really question the fact that we must grow smarter, with more efficient and less polluting transportation. Nor, in a time of escalating food prices, can we afford to wantonly plow over irreplaceable farmland. That is why I make no apologies for promoting efficient building standards, renewable energy, and communities that work for people and businesses, not just oil companies.

I talked with Jerry yesterday about the Kotkin piece and a few other issues. Here’s some of what he said:


WLA:
You sure had a strong reaction to Joel Kotkin’s column….


Edmund G. Brown Jr.:
Yeah. I thought Kotkin was a pretty progressive guy. But that was Neanderthalic. (pause) Is Neanderthalic a word?


WLA:
If it isn’t, I’m sure it should be.


EGB:
I like it. Neanderthalic.

Anyway, my thing on greenhouse gasses is efficiency with building, efficiency with appliances, and the design of community so it’s on a more human scale.

What we have now, in a lot of ways, is a system where we build “garages” for people 30 or 40 miles from job centers. So people are required to make a 60 or 80 mile commute every day. And you incentivize it because the land is cheap away from the job centers. And the land is cheap because you kick the cows off it. Once you kick the cows off it, you put these little “garages” in there, these “storage centers,” then we pack them full of people. They don’t have schools near them. They don’t have stores near them. So to get out of that pattern of driving everywhere you need some evolutionary planning. And most city planners agree with that.


WLA:
Okay, but we’ve been encouraging people to move to the suburbs for sixty-plus years. How do you propose to make a change in that pattern?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in environment, State government | 42 Comments »

1st Annual WLA Summer Reading List – UPDATE

July 31st, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

The next installment of the WitnessLA All Star Summer reading list will go up on Friday morning or, at the latest, Monday (since in the middle of a deadline). But we have some great people and book choices coming in Part 3.

So stay tuned. (For Part 1 click here, Part 2, here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The 1st Annual WLA Late Summer Reading List: Part 2

July 30th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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Here’s round two of our late summer reading recommendations
(which, by the way, have been a lotta fun to gather).

Today:

—Sheriff Baca tells you exactly which book can help change your life…..

—Zev Yaroslavsky picks the ultimate tome to read by the pool while fashioning public policy….

—Novelist/writing prof/blogger Tod Goldberg recommends smart, entertaining reading for hot days.

(Plus there’s more from an LAPD Deputy Chief, a well-known criminal justice writer, and an oft-quoted LA community activist.)

Tomorrow we’ll have round three, which will include District Attorney Steve Cooley, LA Times Opinion Editor Nick Goldberg and others.

Overall, it’s a varied list. But there is one thing everyone had in common: They all believe books really matter.

(NOTE: For Summer Reading List Part 1, with Connie Rice, Fr. Greg Boyle, Dennis Zine, David Ulin & Marc Cooper, click here.)

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1. SHERIFF LEE BACA
(Sheriff of the County of Los Angeles)

“The most important book I’ve read? The Denial of Death By Ernest Decker

“Reason: This book has all the core ingredients for the purpose of life.”


2. DEPUTY CHIEF SERGIO DIAZ:
Chief of Central Bureau of the Los Angeles Police Department

“I just started on Broken Paradise, a novel by an LA-based, Cuban-American writer, Cecilia Samartin. [Chief Diaz is also Cuban American.] It’s the story of two upper middle-class girls who are cousins and who are separated by the Castro revolution. One relocates to Miami and the other stays in Cuba. So far, very compelling writing. I’m not much of a fiction reader but Cecilia’s writing was recommended. (My wife Letty just finished another of Cecilia’s books, Tarnished Beauty, which takes place in a very different context. That one is about a Mexican girl with a disfiguring defect who comes north to LA to get treatment. She really liked that one.)


3. ZEV YAROSLAVSKY
: Los Angeles County Supervisor

The book which has become my bible in the making of public policy is The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman. Her assertion that folly is a perverse persistence in a policy that is demonstrably unworkable, should guide decision-makers in every walk of life, especially in government. I have long recommended this volume to newly elected officials, and I refer to it constantly as a reminder of the “do’s” and “don’ts” in decision-making.


4. TOD GOLDBERG:
novelist and short-story writer (Living Dead Girl and Burn Notice: The Fix among others), blogger, and head of the UC Riverside’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts

Something about the summer always turns me toward crime fiction —perhaps the pool just isn’t the appropriate place to ponder the existential conundrums of humanity — but since I live in the hottest place on the planet (I’m pretty sure La Quinta has recently moved a few inches closer to the sun), I often look for summertime reads that will cool me down, at least metaphorically. With that in mind, I recommend Daniel Woodrell’s brilliant novel Winter’s Bone. Set in the winter mountains of the Ozarks, it begins with the vision of frozen meat hanging in trees and only gets more troubling as the novel’s 16-year-old narrator, Ree Dolly, searches for her bail-skipping father in hopes of saving the family house. But, of course, it’s far more than that as Woodrell sends Ree on a knight’s quest that is alternately brutal and poetic. Since Woodrell is that rare writer who doesn’t care about genre, he’s just writing the stories that move him, and Winter’s Bone is a stunner. Plus, it’s about twenty degrees throughout the entire narrative, which is good when it’s 120 outside…


5. JOE DOMANICK:
journalist, author (To Protect and Serve and Cruel Justice), Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism, and at the Center on the Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

I’ve got two:

1) The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro. Simultaneously the best written biography, most compelling work of public policy and the greatest book ever written about 20th Century New York City when the Big Town was the capital of the world. The perfect study of how genius is corrupted by the arrogance of power.

2) Interpretations and Forecasts by Lewis Mumford. In this collection of essays — on the New England transcendentalists, and on Melville, Aquinas, Marx, the origins of war, urban architecture, the excess of the gilded age, the advent of a world culture and utopia — Mumford writes like a great 19th Century poet about America’s cultural history and antecedents. His essay on Thoreau is sublime, placing him in the context of the coming industrial age, as he looks back on all Thoreau told us we were going to lose as a result.


6. NAJEE ALI:
LA activist, founder, Project Islamic Hope, blogger

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama is my choice.

Obama’s book gave me insight into his political vision and platform. It reads as a political blueprint for a future run at the Democratic nomination for the White House. We all now know how that story ended! I think it’s even more important to read now as we go into November. It helps, as I re-read it now, to give a much more serious look into his thinking.

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THE BE CONTINUED….

Posted in American artists, Books, literature, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles writers, media | 8 Comments »

TellZell.com: The Inkstained Retch Speaks Out

July 30th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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TellZell.com—-the homegrown blog that was originally launched
to give Times reporters, editors and other editorial staffers (fired and not) a place to share news, vent feelings, rage, greive and possibly plot insurrection—has now gotten nationwide attention. The increasingly well-read (and amusingly, if tragically written) site was created by an anonymous LA Times reporter (still not fired) who signs his posts: The Inkstained Retch.

Athough there has been speculation about The Retch’s identity, no one has yet unmasked him.

I contacted the honorable Mr. (or Ms.) Retch and asked if he’d mind answering a few questions about the blog’s genesis, its high and low points, and where he hopes and believes it can go from here.

His/her answers to all that and more are below:


1. What was the tipping point got you from Times journalist unhappy with Zell world, to Times journalist doing something about your unhappiness with Zell world by launching Tell Zell?

There was no single moment. It was more of a slow burn. First, Sam Zell and Randy Michaels took this “tour” of the Tribune empire. At each stop, it became more obvious that they had no new ideas and a great deal of contempt for journalism and journalists. They swore at a reporter in Orlando. Made off color references in Los Angeles. And called the entire Tribune operation in Washington “overhead.” Then Lee Abrams [TribCo's Chief Innovation Officer] started posting his long, unintelligible diatribes. Something just sparked. I figured I had to start writing.

2. Since you’ve launched the blog, what have been the three high points? By that I mean moments that you either saw that you were doing some good, or were helping express the feelings and thoughts or many, or saw how far it was reaching…or whatever it was that brought you satisfaction and made you feel the time you were putting in was worth it.

This is going to sound corny, but whatever. I’ve always enjoyed the comments section more than anything else. I get some trolls, some angry, unhelpful remarks. But mostly, I have felt like I get smart comments, on both sides of the issue. And that’s valuable to me.

High points would be: the banner drop; the distribution of bumper stickers inside the newsroom; and simply bringing attention to Sam Zell’s actions.

3. What have been the lowest points? (Either with the blog, or at the paper, or both)

I am constantly battling the thought that none of this matters. That nothing that we can do can stop Zell, or job cuts, or the dumbing down of the Los Angeles Times.

4. Have you had any contact with any of Zell’s people or do they just ignore you (and everybody else)?

I have had no direct contact from Zell or any of his people, so far as I know. but then, i don’t really know. I don’t have any real sense of who is reading the blog, or who is writing. it’s only fair. if I’m anonymous, so is everyone else, pretty much.

5. Has there been any attempt, that you know of, on the part of the Times management or the Tribune Corp. to find out who you are?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles writers, media, Zell | 2 Comments »

Earthquake….

July 29th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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11:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Alrighty then. Let’s just hope that was the quake, not any kind of foreshock.

Thus far it’s a 5.8. (Okay, actually Cal Tech says 5.8—USGS says 5.4)

It shook for five or six seconds. 29 miles, East/South east from Los Angeles, into the Chino area.

(I did what I always do. I held up the china cabinet.) It was felt as far as San Diego. (I got a call from an SD friend immediately.)

So far, according to LAFD, no reports of damage or injuries have come in.

12:05 p.m.

Circuit busy signals trying to call various places in LA. The disruption seems to be mainly to cell phones, less so to land lines. (So, all you people who dumped your land lines, who’s sorry now??? And corded phones. Never let go of your cordless phones. New rules: Don’t run with scissors. And keep at least one cordless phone in the house. Trust me. I know these things.)

12:20 p.m.

I just now spoke to guys up at California Institute for Men, the prison located in Chino, and so far they’re hearing no big damage or injuries. But, Chino’s so messed up already—no hot water in one part of the facility for more than a year, cracks in many, many of the cells that often let the rain in—so I’m not sure they’re the best bellwether.

(Secret reporter’s tip: Whenever there’s a disaster, call the guys in prison—-Try dialing random extensions until you get someone who will pick up the phone. Their stories are much more entertaining and much less PC than one gets elsewhere, I promise you.)

Aging water mains breaking at various points in the city.

12: 49 p.m. Kate Hutton, The Cal Tech chick is equating the quake to a bowl of JELL-O. I think this is supposed to be reassuring.

Okay, now everyone’s gotten their figures straight. Now it’s a 5.4

1:03 p.m. That’s it. Barring aftershocks, I’m back to work.

(But if you have your own anecdotes and/or quake tales, please post ‘em.)

2:13 p.m. There is a theory now making the rounds that the quake was not fault-related at all, but rather a seismic reaction to the profound and terrible collective psychic disturbance occurring among those on Facebook who are deep into the throes of Scrabulous withdrawal. (I am not among this number, so I couldn’t say.)

Posted in environment | 13 Comments »

The Famous 1st Annual WLA Late Summer Reading List

July 29th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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Okay, here’s the deal:

The LA Times is being disemboweled. California doesn’t have a budget. Wildfires have attacked Big Sir and Yosemite (and fire season hasn’t even started yet). The economy’s in the toilet. Los Angeles is still the gang capital of the world. And LAUSD is….still LAUSD.

With all of the above in mind, there was clearly only one sensible thing to do: It was time to compile the First Annual WitnessLA Late Summer Reading List.
So I asked a bunch of interesting and varied LA people to recommend a single book that they’d read, were reading, or had read a zillion years ago but still loved, and then to (very briefly) tell why the book was worth the trouble.

The first six very excellent recommendations are below—with a dozen or so great recs to come Wed and Thursday—all offered in solidarity with the LA Times Book Review.

Please add your own suggestions to the list. (I count on you.) (I’ll give you mine later in the week.)


1. CONNIE RICE
(Civil Rights Lawyer, Co-Founder and Co-Director, The Advancement Project)

One of my favorite books is Shogun by James Clavell. I was 17, opened it up, and became so utterly transported to warlord Japan that when I finally looked up, eight hours had passed without me moving from the chair or its magical pages.


2. DENNIS ZINE
(Los Angeles City Council Member)

I am currently reading (and would recommend) Hollywood Station by Joseph Wambaugh.

Wambaugh, who is a former detective sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department, depicts the real world workings of the LAPD, and I am enjoying it because it takes me back to my young police days working the Hollywood Division. Wambaugh sheds light on what it’s really like to be on the force while keeping the audience entertained with a quirky cast of characters and suspenseful police pursuits.


3. FATHER GREG BOYLE
(Founder & Executive Director, Homeboy Industries)
Bodies in Motion and at Rest by Thomas Lynch.

I’m really loving this book. It’s my spiritual reading, soulful and wise and has this oddly calming effect. He has a great and unique voice that calls you to attention.


4. STEVE BARR
(Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Green Dot Public Schools)

I’m currently rereading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I read it six years ago on my honeymoon. It inspired me because of how resilient we are when faced with our toughest times. We all go through our time of sickness and death of our parents. Dave’s memoir deals with the death of both parents within a month and then how he is left to raise his younger brother. What is magical is the rebound and the hard-to-explain euphoria after dealing with the stress and sadness. Despite the subject matter, much of the book is laugh-out-loud funny and optimistic.

One side note…I have become friends with Dave since falling in love with his work. He shares a beautiful passion for urban public education.


5. MARC COOPER
(Author, columnist, blogger, faculty at the USC Annenberg School for communication and Associate Director of its Institute for Justice and Journalism.)

The Dark Side by Jane Mayer.

Forget about impeachment. Neatly tucked in here between two covers is the bill of indictment. All the names, last names, and the hard, cold evidence documenting the Bush administration’s quest to institutionalize torture and abuse of detainees. Don’t read in temperatures above 100 degrees as your blood will already be boiling.


6. DAVID ULIN
(Editor, LA Times Book Review, journalist, author)

I’ve just started reading Otto Friedrich’s Decline and Fall: The Struggle for Power at a Great American Magazine, the story of the death of the Saturday Evening Post. It resonates for obvious reasons— as a cautionary tale, or perhaps a talisman—but what’s most fascinating so far is Friedrich’s insider’s point-of-view. He was managing editor of the Post from 1965 until the magazine’s dissolution in 1969, and his portrayal of a publication— and an industry— in crisis is specific and compelling, offering stark parallels to the state of contemporary journalism.

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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW….

Posted in literature, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles writers, media, writers and writing | 14 Comments »

Zell Hell: The Firings Next Time – UPDATE

July 28th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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UPDATE: Book review editor, David Ulin was on Larry Mantle’s show today,
(you can listen online here), and both LA Observed and Romanesko note that the slashing and burning of the Book section is also being discussed tonight on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Evidentally some people actually think the loss of so much of the coverage of, you know, literature is genuinely of consequence.

************************************************************************************************************

Recently departed and extremely well-liked Editorial pages editor
, Jim Newton, was the author of Sunday’s sad editorial, which explained that, while the Sunday Opinion was no longer a free standing section, it wouldn’t cease to exist. Opinion would be incorporated into the A section.

What Newton did not say is that things are about to get worse. Within the next two or three days, 8 people on the Editorial/Opinion pages will lose their jobs. (At first there was going to be only one person cut from editorial. Then four. Now it’s eight.)

That is exactly one third of the combined Opinion staff and LA Times editorial board.

(This ongoing DRIP-DRIP-DRIP of firings does wonders for morale, of course.)

Confusing matters further, the Opinion and Editorial departments do not report to the paper’s editor-in-chief, but instead report directly to the publisher. (The idea is to keep a fire wall up between reporting and opinion.)

But of late, there is one small problem with this system. The LA Times has no publisher. He was fired.

Oh, yeah, and the LA Times also has no advertising director. That position has reportedly been vacant for a couple of months.

Meanwhile, over on the Books side of things, David Ulin wrote an elegant editor’s note explaining that the Book Review would be moved to one of the Calendar-ish sections, which would be renamed Arts and Books, but that quality wouldn’t suffer:

Literature is essential to the well-being of our culture; it is the substance of our collective dreams. That has long been part of this newspaper’s legacy, and even in the midst of changes, we will continue to honor it — as we have since the days of Robert Kirsch and Art Seidenbaum

The good news is that the Book Review has no more staff cuts in the offing. The bad news: this is because it’s already lost half its staff (and its freestanding section) with the cuts announced earlier this month. Oh, yes, and as of today, the combined number of pages allotted to books will be roughly half what it was up until Sunday.

In today’s Publisher’s Weekly,
David U. talks to PW’s Sara Nelson and outlines in more detail how he intends to make the lemon of Zell’s cuts into genuine lemonade:

He anticipates three full broadsheet pages of reviews (admittedly just over half of the space he used to have); he also says some columns—including Susan Salter Reynolds’s “discoveries” —and the bestseller list will remain. “Editorially and aesthetically, we are going to be producing the same kind of work,” says Ulin. “We are generating our own content and are not reducing the quality of the reviews.” In addition, Ulin will continue to edit and “grow” the book coverage on the Web site; the paper will continue to award its annual book prizes and sponsor the very popular Festival of Books in the spring.

“I have been extremely anguished about this,” Ulin said to Nelson.

Yep. Us too, David. Us too.

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PS: Speaking of editorials, today’s Times has a smart editorial about capital punishment and the movement to get the Supreme Court to reconsider a complicated and messy case known as Kennedy v. Louisiana in which it appears that they screwed up.

PPS: Kevin R. at LA Observed points to a very funny send up of the LA Times by former Times feature writer, Roy Rivenburg.

Posted in Los Angeles Times, media | 10 Comments »

Sunday’s Must Reads

July 27th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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DON’T MISS: In no particular order:

WHO KILLED CHANDRA LEVY?

The WaPo’s 12-part-series-with-an-Epilogue that re-investigates the murder of California-raised Congressional intern, Chandra Levy, ends today. (Clearly no one in this nervous newsprint environment wanted a thirteen-part series.) Does the story have any social justice value? Oh, probably not. But it’s a compelling—if still tragic—read and a smart choice for the Post to string it out over two weeks as a continuing narrative.

In the brave New Media world, there is much wailing about readers’ short attention spans. But here’s the thing: web readers take very well to the series form. (Why do I know that, and the Post evidently knows that, and the LA Times—despite the existance of today’s new “fire” series—seems not to get it? Wake up, people!)

FIRE, FIRE, BURNING BRIGHT: OUT OF CONTROL

Sunday the LA Times started a five part series that explores various aspects of the problem of “bigger and badder”—and way more expensive—wildfires that are increasingly plaguing the Western states in general, and California in particular. Today’s installment, that looks at fire as Big Biz, is a promising start.

NOTE: Despite the fact that the (nervous-making even if quickly controlled) outbreak of a wildfire in Griffith Park on Sunday should have made the new fire series even more relevant, by mid-afternnoon, ALL references to the series had utterly disappeared from the front page of the LA Times website. (You could find it only by clicking on the California link.) Nice commitment to your news reporting, guys!

LITERARY HOMICIDE: MOVING OUR PAGES

In an unsigned editorial (cough JimNewton cough), the LA Times talks about the end of the freestanding Opinion and Book Review section, and the move of those pages to other sections (MUCH more on this tomorrow morning).

FRANK RICH: HOW OBAMA BECAME ACTING PRESIDENT

Blogfather, Marc Cooper already wrote a very good (and funny) version of this a week ago. Now in Sunday’s New York Times, Frank Rich looks at the whole phenom that we witnessed in what the Daily Show called Obama Quest …..and nails it.

IT almost seems like a gag worthy of “Borat”: A smooth-talking rookie senator with an exotic name passes himself off as the incumbent American president to credulous foreigners. But to dismiss Barack Obama’s magical mystery tour through old Europe and two war zones as a media-made fairy tale would be to underestimate the ingenious politics of the moment. History was on the march well before Mr. Obama boarded his plane, and his trip was perfectly timed to reap the whirlwind.

The growing Obama clout derives not from national polls, where his lead is modest. Nor is it a gift from the press, which still gives free passes to its old bus mate John McCain. It was laughable to watch journalists stamp their feet last week to try to push Mr. Obama into saying he was “wrong” about the surge. More than five years and 4,100 American fatalities later, they’re still not demanding that Mr. McCain admit he was wrong when he assured us that our adventure in Iraq would be fast, produce little American “bloodletting” and “be paid for by the Iraqis.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in crime and punishment, Elections '08, Fire, Los Angeles Times, National politics, Presidential race, War, Zell | 10 Comments »

The Lege Counsel Spikes The Governor’s Hostage Plan

July 25th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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At least somebody’s got their head screwed on rightside up.
Actually, make that two people in that State Controller John Chiang already said, Oh, hell, no! (or words to that effect) to Schwarzenegger’s absurd and callous take-the-state-workers-hostage-to-get-the-legislature-to-pass-the-budget plan.

The Sacramento Bee has the story.

The Legislature’s legal adviser is siding with Controller John Chiang in his defiance of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to cut state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour.

In an opinion requested by state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, Legislative Counsel Diane Boyer-Vine wrote Friday that an executive order issued by Schwarzenegger could not force Chiang to start paying state workers the minimum wage in August.

Boyers’ opinion cited cases in which courts found that the controller may sometimes wield his or her authority independent of the governor.

[SNIP]

Chiang, who believes the state has enough cash to pay full salaries through the end of September without a budget agreement, has said he plans to defy Schwarzenegger’s executive order should the governor sign it.

Florez asked the legislative counsel, the Legislature’s chief lawyer, to determine if the governor had the power to force Chiang to lower paychecks via executive order.

Florez said he hopes the legal opinion will cause Schwarzenegger to “reverse his actions and apologize.”

“We want to avoid any kind of lawsuit between the controller and the governor,” said Florez, who added that such a suit would be a “huge waste of energy, resources and time.”

The paycheck reduction idea was “very repulsive,” said Florez, who said the move showed “the governor at his lowest point.”

“There are a lot of ways to negotiate a better budget, rather than taking hostage state workers and forcing a minimum wage statute on them because he thinks he’s king and he can do it,” Florez said.

Uh, yeah. What Flores said.

Now if we can just get the brave and excellent Mr. Chiang to audit….this.

Posted in Economy, State government, State politics | 15 Comments »

Zell and The Art of Protest

July 25th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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I’m a bit slow on the uptake this morning
so didn’t check my email until just now….or I’d have had this up earlier. Courtesty of Mr. Sam Izdat over at TellZell.

LOS ANGELES, Calif—Merry pranksters scaled a Los Angeles Times building Thursday to unfurl a three-story high banner protesting news cuts by the paper’s owner, real estate billionaire Sam Zell.

The banner was hanging from the historic Times building in downtown Los Angeles. It read: “Zell Hell: Take back the Los Angeles Times.” A website address on the bottom directed the curious to the mysterious protest site by an anonymous Times employee: www.tellzell.com

“Like many of us, he got in over his head in the mortgage crisis,”
said one Times employee who participated in the banner drop. “He can’t afford what he bought. But instead of selling his house, he’s chopping it into pieces.”


The banner was taken down
rather quickly after its unfurling. “The security guards were smiling, though,” reports TellZell.

Kevin Roderick at LA Observed has some speculation as to the identity of Sam Izdat aka the Instained Retch who is the now nationally read blogger behind TellZell. The Retch answers here and says he’s definitely not a union guy, but an LA imes journalist.

Here’s a video of the last moments of the banner drop.

Posted in arts, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles writers, media, Zell | 6 Comments »

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