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Bill Bratton v. The LA Weekly?

May 22nd, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

bill-bratton-3

Late yesterday afternoon, I got a note from a couple of staffers at the LA Weekly that read:

“We thought you would be interested in the following piece of hot LOL:

Chief Bratton responds to LA Weekly’s recent cover story “Bratton: L.A. Is as Safe as 1956″ by saying “I think they were smoking a little weed when they wrote that article,” and then “It’s kind of voodoo reporting.”

The subject head for the email read: LA Police Chief Calls Us Stoners.

Indeed I was interested. Who could resist?

When I followed the embedded links I learned that on Wednesday’s Ask the Chief segment of Patt Morrison’s show on KPCC, Chief Bill Bratton came back with a few testy retorts when asked about a recent LA Weekly cover story that stated Bratton was manipulating LAPD crime stats for political purposes.

Then on Thursday, the Weekly’s Steve Mikulan posted a short take on Bratton’s remarks. (Mikulan has done a remarkable job as a one person news machine for the Weekly’s website. I have become convinced that Steve never sleeps.)

Here is the relevant excerpt:

“Actually,” said Bratton, “I think they were smoking a little weed when they wrote that article.”

The crack got a chuckle from Morrison, but the chief did not seem to be in a jovial mood about the story, and soon sounded darker motives behind it.

“The reporter that wrote that piece had a conclusion that he was writing to,” Bratton said. “Quite frankly I read that article and I couldn’t figure out what the hell he was talking about . . . We stand by our numbers.”

[SNIP]

“L.A. Weekly,” he intoned, “seems to have it in for the mayor, so anything he says they try to question. . . . the L.A. Weekly, in their effort to go after the mayor seized on this, spent a lot of time writing about it.”

When Morrison asked if it may be a little misleading to compare per capita statistics that are separated by half a century, Bratton defended his department’s figures while taking one more swipe at the Weekly:

“It’s kind of voodoo reporting,” he said of McDonald’s cover story. “I’m very happy to rely on our statistics, which are audited by the FBI.”

(You can listen to the whole radio segment here.)

Here’s the thing. Yeah, Bill Bratton at times has the fastest mouth in the West. It’s part of his…um… charm. But on the matter of the Weekly article, I must admit I agree with him. I read the 6600 word story by Patrick Range McDonald when it appeared in in the LA Weekly at the end of April. And I found it to be pretty much a hit piece.

In his initial thesis McDonald had a point. He said that Bratton claimed that crime in LA was down to levels of the 1950′s.

On January 5, 2006, for example, Bratton sent out a press release noting that the 2005 “preliminary crime rate” was “364 Part I crimes per 10,000 residents.”

“You’d have to look back to 1956 to find a comparable crime rate
for Los Angeles,” the chief said in the press release. He did it again in 2008, this time saying that L.A.’s crime rate in 2007 had repeated the amazing achievement of 2005, once again dropping so low that it matched 1956.

Technically Bratton was right, but only if he looked at Part I crimes in a particular way: Murders and robberies are much higher now per capita than they were in 1956. (Duh! I’m sure you are shocked—shocked—at this news.) But right now rapes and burglaries are way down in comparison to the 50′s. So if one averages all those figures together, Bratton can back his claim—in a number-pretzeling kind of way.

In other words, Bratton’s not cooking the figures, but he’s spinning them.
It’s a sales trick. He’s making the numbers say something that he finds useful.

Okay, fair enough. I think Bratton’s 1950′s gambit is a dopey,
disingenuous comparison too. Hey, Chief! Catchado!

And that’s probably worth a single column to whack Bratton on the wrist. But a 6600 word piece? Seriously?

And oh, yeah, and did I mention that McDonald’s editor, Jill Stewart, already did that column two months earlier?

With nearly all the same sources.

Moreover, the LAPD’s FBI verified crime stats are up on the department’s website for anybody to check. You can do your very own comparisons. In fact, short of the US DOJ, the LAPD has some of the easiest to access law enforcement stats in the nation.

So why did the Weekly decide to do this cover story on a retreaded column that had a very, very small point to make?

Well, McDonald did have two other points in mind:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bill Bratton, LAPD, media | 40 Comments »

Student Storm Swirling at Santee? – UPDATED

May 22nd, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

santee-demonstration

(SCROLL DOWN FOR THIS MORNING’S BREAKING NEWS UPDATE)


Stellar USC grad student, Emily Henry, was reporting at Santee Education Complex
yesterday and found that it isn’t just the teacher’s union—UTLA— that intends to keep protesting teacher layoffs, there is a rising tide of student and parent anger that threatens to hit a boiling point.

Last Friday, there was already one student walk off and more are scheduled.

Here’s the opening of Emily’s report:

According to reports earlier today from Jose Lara, a teacher at Santee Education Complex, students are prepping for a walkout in the coming days. Teachers are also preparing for a hunger strike. However, in the last few hours Lara reports that Santee High School is “on lockdown” and that students from Manual Arts School and West Adams have walked out and are circling Santee in an act of solidarity.


Read the rest here.
And then listen to the mini-podcast.


Santee high school is one of the mayor’s cluster of schools (which is a whole other conversation),
and some of the mayor’s people came over to try to quiet things. As you will see from Emily’s report, they did not succeed.

Everyone with sense knows that the coming teacher cuts are bad. But parents and students at the district’s troubled urban schools like Santee feel that they are already operating too close to the edge, and that additional resources pulled away will create a calamitous deficit that cannot and should not be tolerated.

Originally 55 teacher layoff notices went out at Santee, which students said would have decimated the school’s math and science departments. Now that number has been cut in half. But it is still too many, students say.

The question is: as righteous as they are, can the protests and the walkouts really accomplish anything as ever more draconian cuts are promised? Students claim the stakes are too high to stop.

We will stay tuned. And we hope Emily Henry will help us do so!

******************************************************************************************************************
UPDATE: 8 A.M. Despite Lockdown threats four hundred or more students are gathering outside Santee this morning intending to march to the district headquarters. They are being told to go inside. They ain’t going. Teacher Jose Lara is Twittering @Josedelbarrio

**************************************************************************************************************
While we’re on the subject of whether these protests are effective, read an excellent column on the issue by Venice H.S. teacher, book author, former TV writer, Dennis Danziger, called “The Day My Union Died.”

Here’s how it opens:

As I cruise around L.A., his eyes follow me. He’s in my face when I stop for a coffee or pull up at an ATM. This blond, 30-something, smiling white dude on the ubiquitous billboards looks like he might have sold sub-prime mortgages and enjoyed it. In his hound’s-tooth suit and bow tie, I’m pretty sure he fights tax cuts for the rich, and above his head I read these words:

Hiring dropouts is just good business. Honestly who else would work that cheap?

Below his beaming face, I read:
High School Dropouts make 42% less money.

Stay in school.

But on May 15, 2009, I planned to do just the opposite…..


(Photo of May 18 Santee walkout by KTLA-TV)

Posted in Economy, Education, LAUSD | 2 Comments »

Dangerous Jails – Part 6 – What Really Happened to Henry?

May 21st, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

harry-and-patricia

When we last left 59-year-old Henry Reid,
(the former director of UCLA’s Willed Body Parts program who was convicted of having sold some of the university’s donated cadavers for profit) was in Men’s Central Jail, waiting to be transferred to North Kern State Prison at Delano for “reception” and then on to whichever California state prison where he would finish serving his twenty-six month sentence.

Instead, last Thursday evening, his sister, Patricia Vetter, got a call from a sobbing Henry who said he was naked, that his clothes and glasses had been taken from him, that he had been placed in a “suicide vest,” and that he was to be transferred to the section of CJ where the “criminally insane” were kept, and that he would not be permitted visits or phone calls for the next six months.

When she could not get in to see her brother, and could get no information about what in the world had happened, Vetter began to panic. Her 6′ 5″ brother had no mental problems, only high blood pressure, she said. And despite his one-time spate of admitted illegality, he was a big and gentle man who had spent most of his working life serving honorably in such professions as fireman, paramedic, embalmer, and grief counselor.

Three hours after that first call, Vetter did succeed in getting one of the jail’s watch commanders to go to check on Henry. When she spoke again to the watch commander, he confirmed that Henry was indeed naked, but the deputy said he had managed to get Reid’s clothes returned to him. So at least that was something.

Still no word on what was wrong, and why Henry Reid was being restricted from contact with his family. Maddeninly, different watch commanders told her different things. One told Vetter that her brother was in “the hole, for extreme discipline” and would not be out for months.

After four frantic days, and multiple phone calls to whomever Vetter could find—including a jail psychiatrist whom Vetter’s psychiatrist husband knew professionally—the psychiatrist called back and said he had seen Reid and he was alright. Even better, the shrink, together with Reid’s attorney, was able to pull some strings, and got Reid permission to make a phone call….at which point, some of the real story began to come out.

Henry Reid was not in the psychiatric unit, nor was he in the hole, or being disciplined. Nor was he ever. He was in a protective custody unit, where high profile prisoners are held. Or as a friend of mine who volunteered to check on Reid put it, he’s in “highest security—where OJ was.”

It appeared that a guard, or guards, had simply been tormenting him when they took away his glasses and his clothes, and allegedly told him the story about being sent for six months to a unit for “the criminally insane.”

In his phone call to his sister, Henry said that while he could not tell her everything until he was away from jail and back at prison on a non-LA-County-jail phone.

Until then, here is what Vetter said her brother told her on the phone about his jail experience on Thursday night.

Besides taking away his eye glasses and clothes, telling him that he would be locked away for a minimum of 6 months in an isolation unit for the criminally insane, at one point before he got his clothing back they had chained him up, hands behind his back and shackled him to a wall. Then they put a tray of food on the floor with no utensils, implying he would have to kneel and hunch over to the ground and eat it with his mouth like a dog. But he was chained too tightly to the wall to reach it anyway. He said he was actually really hungry but luckily he later got chained up to some other inmate who had pocketed some cookies in his shirt and fed them to Henry.


So is this true? Would a sheriff’s deputy working in the LA County jail system
physically humiliate and emotionally torment some nearly 60-year-old jail inmate in this manner for no discernible reason?

I have heard a great many bad tales from this jail over the years, some worse than this one. Nearly all of them impossible to verify one way or the other.

But perhaps Henry Reid’s story is an exception.

If the incidents are exaggerated, we will all be relieved. But if Reid—a person with resources and a family unafraid of the system and determined to protect him—was still treated the way his sister describes it, we need to know. We really, really do.

Posted in LA County Jail, LASD | 7 Comments »

Maybe California isn’t Ungovernable…Just Ungoverned.

May 21st, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

rufus-t-firefly

The LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzick has a an angry and interesting column
in today’s paper about the budget crisis, Tuesday’s election, the lies that we have been told, and what truths we need to stop denying,

Argue with it, if you like. But read it.

Here’s the opening:

Marx Brothers fans will recall that the political philosophy of Rufus T. Firefly in “Duck Soup” boiled down to this:

“If you think this country’s bad off now, just wait ’til I get through with it.”

I’ve often considered that to be the secret slogan of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s
administration. (Just substitute “this state” for “this country.”) After Tuesday’s election, it’s no longer a secret.

Schwarzenegger had the kind of voter support in 2003
that would have allowed him to tell the voters the harsh but necessary truths about California governance and force real reforms down their throats.

Instead, he uttered the same lies about state government and proposed the same nostrums as many of his predecessors: Californians are overtaxed and underserved, the budget can be balanced by cutting waste, fraud and abuse, etc. Like everyone else who has made these claims, he never delivered on his promise.

His cut in the car tax cost the state $3.6 billion per year,
making him directly responsible for pretty much all of today’s $21-billion budget deficit.

Read on.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Social Justice Shorts

May 20th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

troy-davis-faces-2

WILL OBAMA LET TROY DAVIS BE EXECUTED?

Tuesday’s London Telegraph says Barack Obama may have a difficult death penalty issue facing him in the extremely near future.

Unlike presidents Bush and Clinton, there’s one potentially controversial issue in the United States that has yet to seriously trouble President Obama – the death penalty. That could be about to change.

A death row prisoner with a particularly strong claim that he was wrongly convicted could be just weeks away from execution. Would the president stand by and let that happen? It might be difficult for him if he did. Here’s why.

The case in question is that of Troy Davis, a 40-year-old man who has been on death row in the state of Georgia since 1991.

[SNIP]

So, why should this concern a popular president,
burrowing through an enormous in-tray 500 miles away in Washington? Well, on the one hand Barack Obama is unambiguously pro-death penalty in what he calls the “most egregious” or especially “heinous” crimes. Last year he disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling that outlawed the execution of child rapists receiving death sentences and he’s said he’d want Bin Laden executed. Okay, so far so what? This is no different from most mainstream politicians in pro-death penalty USA.

But, Obama is also heavily associated with Illinois where, as he delicately puts it, they “had some problems … in the application of the death penalty”. In fact, the problems included the then Governor George Ryan being confronted with the fact that during his governorship more death row prisoners had been released from prison on the grounds of innocence than had been put to death. Death row was running at “a loss”. As a lawmaker in Illinois Obama helped introduce new measures for videotaping police interviews and he says he’s “proud” of his role in “overhauling a death penalty system that was broken”.

Read the rest.

And WLA’s repots on Davis are to be found here.

Here’s Amnesty USA’s page on Davis complete with an interview.

*******************************************************************************************************************
PLAGIARISM AND ITCHY TRIGGER FINGERS

Presumably you know that NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd
was accused of lifting a paragraph from a previous column by journalist/blogmeister Josh Marshall and depositing it whole in her own column on Sunday. Dowd made matters worse by coming up with a ridiculously unlikely excuse, and quite a kerfuffle ensued with a great many people tossing around the P word, plagiarism.

Josh Marshall had been silent during all the commotion but now he has replied. He was gracious. And also right.

I generally think we’re too quick to pull the trigger with charges of plagiarism. I haven’t said anything about this because I really didn’t think I had anything to add. Whatever the mechanics of how it happened, I never thought it was intentional. Dowd and the Times quickly corrected it, which I appreciated. And for me, that’s pretty much the end of it.

As well it should be. All schadenfreude aside, the fact is Dowd screwed up, she got publicly slapped for it. That’s enough.

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

NYT: “GOOGLE IS MY FRENEMY”

“Google is one of those companies that we generally refer to as a frenemy,” said New York Times executive editor Bill Keller at his semi-annual newsroom question-and-answer session, informally called Throw Stuff at Bill.


The remark came as Keller was talking about various revenue
models that the Times is examining. The paper wants to charge for its web content, but still protect its high traffic, which will be a neat trick to pull off. (Good luck. We won’t hold our breaths.)

One idea that Keller mentioned is the notion of embedding ads in NYT copy, so when blogs and aggregators clip pieces of the paper’s text, the ad would automatically come along with the content.

It’s not a strategy that is going to save the newspaper business all by itself, yet it’s more innovative than resorting to the pay wall again.

And about the Frenemy business? Chill, Bill.

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

ALTERNATE SCOTUS SHORT LIST

The National Law Journal asked a bunch of constitutional lawyers and Supreme Court scholars
to say who, in their opinion, should be on Obama’s short list to succeed David Souter.


Is New York Law School’s Annette Gordon-Reed,
the Pulitzer Prize-winning law professor/historian, on President Obama’s Supreme Court “short list”? Or, Alabama lawyer Bryan Stevenson, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award recipient and tireless advocate on behalf of indigent defendants and prisoners? How about veteran consumer rights champion Alan Morrison and University of Notre Dame Law School Dean Patricia O’Hara?

Probably not. But they appear on the short lists of more than a dozen constitutional law and Supreme Court scholars asked by The National Law Journal to step into Obama’s shoes to pick a nominee to succeed retiring Justice David Souter……

They have lots more on the subject here.

Posted in media, Social Justice Shorts | 6 Comments »

Those Horrid Ballot Measures: It’s Over

May 20th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

Just at midnight, Sec. of State Debra Bowen tweeted that 76.1% of the votes were in and counted.

It’s more than over.

1A-1E have dropped like stones,
spontaneously combusted upon impact, and burned to cinder.

1F, which limits pay raises for legislators and statewide officeholders in deficit years, is sailing through on a tail wind.

Works for me.

Posted in elections | 1 Comment »

1A-1F….Those Annoying 6 Ballot Measures, Part 2

May 19th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

plucked_daisy

YES, THESE ARE ACTUAL RECOMMENDATIONS

Okay, well, they are reasonably recommend-ish anyway, Or at the very least, a set of luke warm suggestions.

Ready? Here goes:

YES ON 1A & 1C, NO ON THE REST.

Let me qualify that.

I think you should strongly consider voting YES on 1A. When I say “strongly consider,” I mean that I would not simply reject 1A in frustration without careful thought, just because the past year’s irresponsible behavior on the part of most of the state’s lawmakers makes you feel understandably angry, bitter and vindictive.

Read some of the links I’ve got listed in the post below-–like, say, read the recommendations by the San Diego City Beat, by the LA Times, by the SEIU, plus the statement by the UC Regents, and what Sheila Kuehl says.

That’ll give you a broad Pro/Con spread that will allow you to make an informed decision one way or the other.

Look, I’m not entirely convinced that 1A won’t cause trouble down the line, but I think it’s okay, and it is a short term tourniquet, which is the point, right now.

Bottom line: this is a hesitant recommendation for a YES vote on 1A.
(The alternative is a No vote, and that doesn’t seem so great either. )

My only other YES is on 1C, the Lottery Modernization Act. In fact, this is the single measure that I can support with less of a sinking heart. As Sheila Keuhl put it:

Of the six billion current dollars estimated to come from all the propositions combined (not counting increased tax revenue three and four years out), more than five billion is estimated to come from the sale of the lottery receipts. Although I do not support increased encouragement for gambling, this income could be the least damaging.

If “least damaging” is the best we can hope for, which sadly I suspect it is, I say let’s go for it.

However you vote, at least show up. No excuses.

Posted in elections | 20 Comments »

1A-1F….Those Annoying 6 Ballot Measures, Part 1

May 18th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

just-vote-cat

Okay, very late tonight I may, or may not, have actual recommendations
on those six pesky ballot measures we’re voting up or down tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19. (The primary issue holding up my endorsements is that I’m looking for the right coin to flip.)

But until then here’s where you can go to find who says you ought to vote for or against what.

In summary, the big progressive sites
—places like Calitics and The Courage Campaign—say no on all of ‘em. Feh! A pox on everybody.


But then so does the we-don’t-need-no-stinking government-we-can-pave-our-own-roads
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Ditto the California Republican Party, so things are confusing.

The CA SIEU says no on 1A with extreme prejudice. But yes on 1C, the so-called Lottery Modernization Act. And, YES on 1B, (even though they acknowledge its a somewhat empty gesture without 1A.)

Meanwhile, The LA Times, and the Sac’to Bee say:
Yes, No, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. (In other words, No on 1-B, Yes on the rest.)

The SF Chron says Yes to all six.

The San Jose Mercury News said Yes to the first 3
then the Merc’s editorial board decided it was REALLY exhausted from all that deciding so took a nap. (When they woke up later they said it’s okay if you vote yes on the other three.)

And just to make sure you’re entirely befuddled, San Diego City Beat said Yes to 1-A and 1-F, No to the rest.

The California Federation of Teachers said YES only to B
, which leads one to believe that they didn’t bother to read the freaking things, as you can’t have B without A passing. (NOTE to CFT: Reading comprehension is your friend.) Either that or the board of directors is collectively off its meds.

But the California Teachers Association says YES to all.

University of California Regents says YES to 1-A, and they sound all heartrendingly pleady as they make the case.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the members of the California State Legislature say we absolutely have to pass every one of the six… OR WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!

Former State Senator Sheila Kuehl says that there’s a case to be made pro and con for the first three (Sheila is a surpassingly diplomatic woman), but the only one of the three she, personally, would be tempted to vote for… is 1-C.

As for the second three, she says No, No and No—but in greater and more anecdotal detail.

So there you have it. Good luck to us all. We will assuredly need it.

(Now where is that $#@&^$%#$ coin!)

*******************************************************************************************************************
PS: Yes, I am suddenly into taking silly photos of the cat. It’s either that or my kid, and the cat has a more flexible schedule.

Posted in elections | 8 Comments »

Dangerous Jails – Part 5: Should Punishment = Peril?

May 18th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

solitary-in-cj

How do you know if an incarcerated family member is really in danger?
With all the ominous tales coming out of LA’s Men’s Central Jail, how perilous is it really? And if you think a jailed loved one is at risk, is there anything you do about it?


Last night I got an email from a woman who was asking herself those questions.
The email caught my eye because of the subject line:

Urgent Case/ High Profile Inmate In Danger

The sender’s name was Patricia Vetter.

After reading the email, I called Vetter on the phone to get additional information.

A woman with alarm in her voice answered right away.

I learned Vetter was a 51 year-old medical illustrator who is married to a psychiatrist. She was worried, she said, because her 59-year old brother, who was in Men’s Central Jail, had called her collect on Thursday night, crying and terrified.

“And my brother is 6’5″ and around 270 lbs-–a retired fireman and paramedic,” Vetter said. The brother had also been an embalmer. “Which means he’s used to being around dead bodies. So not much scares him,” she said. “This was totally unlike him.”

Vetter said that her brother told her that his clothes had been taken away by staff, that he was calling her naked, and that guards had said this was the last call he would be able to make. That he was being transferred to a section of the jail for the “criminally insane,” where he would remain for the next six months and would have no more visitors and no more phone calls. “They put a suicide vest on me,” Vetter said her brother told her.

With that, the phone grew static ridden and she could hear nothing more.

She has not talked to her brother again.

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

Okay, time for a little background:

Vetter’s brother is not just any inmate. He is a man named Henry Reid,. the former director of UCLA’s Willed Body Parts program who was convicted of having sold some of the university’s donated cadavers for profit to a middleman, a guy named Ernest Nelson, who then went on to sell them to large research companies (including Johnson & Johnson) thereby pocketing around $1.5 million.

You probably remember the 2007 case.

As nearly as investigators could tell, Reid profited much less than Nelson, pocketing a paltry $43 grand over the various deals. But whatever. Reid—who had no previous criminal record—ripped off UCLA, tarnished and endangered the willed body parts program, and betrayed trust of those who donated the bodies of their loved ones.

In October of 2008, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit grand theft, and agreed to cooperate in the trial of money-making middleman, Ernest Nelson. Reid was sentenced to 4 years and 4 months in prison. Because he had no priors, he would do 2 years and 2 months.

After sentencing, Reid was transferred to Delano state prison for what is called “intake,” where, until recently, he had been awaiting a second transfer to the facility where he would serve the remainder of his time.

On May 6, however, he was brought back down to LA County jail—the Twin Towers—to testify as a possible prosecution witness in Nelson’s trial, as he had promised he would. As it turned out, the prosecutor didn’t need Reid so on Thursday morning he called his sister to say that he was going back to CJ to await transfer back to prison. That he would soon be on a bus headed back.

Then at 6:45 on Thursday night Vetter got the sobbing, naked, scary phone call.

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

Vetter is close to her brother. “Henry had been calling me every morning,” she said. “And when we tried to visit Saturday, the desk clerk said Henry Reid was in the 4500 module meaning he would not have any further phone or visitation privileges.”

Yet despite multiple calls by Vetter and her husband, including two to county jail
psychiatrists that the husband was able to contract because of his professional connections, Vetter could find out little more than the additional fact that Reid’s custody level had been elevated to K-10.

K-10 means keep away from all other inmates..

I called the inmate information line and verified that indeed Reid was a K-10 and was in 4500, but could find out nothing else

Later in the evening, I spoke to a friend who knows the Central Jail layout much better than I do. She said that 4500 module had tiny, one man cells with virtually nothing in them, no windows and little light. The inmates housed there had almost no human contact, not even with guards. It was solitary confinement of a very unpleasant sort, she said.

Many of the elements of Reid’s situation sounded queasily similar to the story of another inmate, John Horton, whose mother also suddenly found that she could not visit her jailed son, nor could he call her, and no one could seem to tell her why. Horton too was waiting to be transferred to prison. After repeated frantic calls and visits, a kindly watch commander told Horton’s mother he would get to the bottom of the matter.

A few days later still, Horton’s mother was told her son had killed himself.
The circumstances of his death remain troubling and were the final straw that triggered the ACLU’s recent call to shut CJ altogether.

(I wrote about Horton’s case here. The LA Times wrote about it here.)

In an unpleasantly eerie coincidence, when Vetter tried to visit her brother on Saturday, she got to talking with a young woman at the jail who said she had a cousin who had been housed in 4500.

“They said he committed suicide,” said the young woman.

Vetter suddenly had a bad feeling and asked the girl for her cousin’s name.

“John Horton.”

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

Maybe Henry Reid is fine and his sister’s panic
is over nothing. But maybe not. I have gotten alarming calls myself, of late, from jail inmates who are much, much tougher men than Vetter’s brother.

If I were in her position, I would be worried too.

And I would damned well want some better answers than Patricia Vetter is being given.

Posted in LA County Jail | 4 Comments »

Earthquake

May 17th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

Early news: 8:39 p.m.: 5.0 centered close to Inglewood and Lennox:

News at USGS.

Didn’t feel too much in Topanga, but was on the phone with a friend in Long Beach
who had the furniture and glassware rattling and swaying impressively. Cut off the phone.

The wires say Cal Tech says 4.7

Okay, the news will tell you the rest.

Posted in Natural Disasters, Weather | 6 Comments »

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