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LA Libraries to Issue High School Diplomas, Life as a Kid in a GPS Ankle Monitor, LA’s Potential Sheriffs…and More

January 10th, 2014 by Taylor Walker


The Los Angeles Public Library announced Thursday that it will be teaming up with Career Online High School to offer an adult high school diploma program. LAPL aims to grant 150 diplomas in the first year, and if the program is successful in LA, it may be expanded to other libraries across the country.

The Associated Press has the story. Here are some clips:

It is the latest step in the transformation of public libraries in the digital age as they move to establish themselves beyond just being a repository of books to a full educational institution, said the library’s director, John Szabo.

Since taking over the helm in 2012, Szabo has pledged to reconnect the library system to the community and has introduced a number of new initiatives to that end, including offering 850 online courses for continuing education and running a program that helps immigrants complete the requirements for U.S. citizenship.


Szabo believes this is the first time a public library will be offering an accredited high school diploma to adult students, who will take courses online but will meet at the library for assistance and to interact with fellow adult learners.

High school course work is not required for a GED diploma, which can be obtained by passing an extensive test. The online high school program, however, will require its students to take courses to earn high school credits. The program is slated to begin this month.


Unlike traditional high school students, the online adult learners must choose a career path so their education can be geared toward their future job. Library staff will be trained to help the adult learners and the library system is looking at making available spaces for the students so they can meet their fellow pupils. Szabo said the library will target about a dozen areas with high percentages of high school dropouts to offer the program at those neighborhood branches initially. The Los Angeles public library system has 72 branch libraries and 22 literacy centers.


Zora Murff, a monitor of youths on probation who have to wear ankle bracelets in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has published a series of photos depicting daily life of the kids he tracks. Murff includes portraits of the kids, their environments, essays written by the kids, and other snapshots of a young population stigmatized by youthful wrongdoing.

Wired’s Jakob Schiller has the story. Here’s a clip:

“When people think about kids on probation they often negatively stereotype them,” he says. “In this project I’m trying to remind viewers that they’re still just kids who sometimes can’t make the best decision for themselves.”

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in 2010 “an estimated 491,100 delinquency cases resulted in a term of probation” nationwide. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation there are more than 60,000 youth confined in juvenile correctional facilities or other residential programs on any given night in the United States. Murff, who works for the Linn County Juvenile Detention and Diversion Services in Cedar Rapids, says his office normally monitors anywhere from 100-120 kids at a time.

Nationally, the majority of children on probation are there because of property offenses. The same is true for the kids Murff works with.

Along with portraits, Murff has also included shots that show the locations (or areas that resemble the locations) where the kids committed their crimes.

(You can view more of Murff’s “Corrections” collection, here.)


KPCC’s Kristen Lepore has assembled an overview of current contenders for the sheriff’s seat, in addition to those that are yet undeclared, but may join in. Here are the first two (but do go and get familiar with the others):

Patrick Gomez: Former Sheriff’s lieutenant

A former L.A. County Sheriff’s lieutenant, Gomez retired after 31 years in the department.

In 2010, Gomez received a nearly $1 million settlement from the Sheriff’s Department after claiming he faced retaliation for criticizing Lee Baca when he ran against him for sheriff in 2002.

Gomez says he believes the Sheriff’s Department needs major reform. Under his leadership, Gomez says each department member will be held accountable and responsible for their actions and/or inaction.

Gomez was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. He currently lives in La Cañada Flintridge with his wife.

Bob Olmsted: Former Sheriff’s Dept. commander

A retired Sheriff’s commander who was with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department for more than three decades, Olmsted threw his hat into the race early on.

During his tenure, he commissioned internal audits that concluded some deputies used unnecessary force against inmates in the nation’s largest jail system and testified before the Los Angeles Citizens Commission on Jail Violence in May 2012.

Olmsted, a former member of Baca’s senior staff, says the department needs major changes and is running on a promise to create greater transparency. He has heavily criticized Tanaka as being part of the leadership that lead to the department’s many problems.

Olmsted has taught criminal justice at El Camino College and his father previously served as a Lieutenant in the L.A. Sheriff’s Department.

Today (Friday), sheriff-hopeful Patrick Gomez will be interviewed by Doug McIntyre on 790 KABC Radio at 7:15AM. If you can’t tune in, you can still listen to the interview once it is posted on Gomez’ campaign website.


Although Sheriff Lee Baca will be stepping down at the end of this month, he may not be going very far. According to LASD Spokesman Steve Whitmore, Baca has plans to become a reserve deputy.

The LA Times’ Robert Faturechi has this story.


On Thursday, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to issue proposed amendments to sentencing guidelines for federal drug trafficking offenses. The proposed guideline amendments would reduce drug trafficking sentences by about 11 months and lower the federal prison population by about 6,550 inmates by the end of five years.

Here’s a clip from the commission’s important announcement:

“The Commission’s proposal reflects its priority of reducing costs of incarceration and overcapacity of prisons, without endangering public safety,” said Judge Patti B. Saris, Chair of the Commission.

A Commission study of offenders who received a reduced sentence pursuant to a similar two-level decrease in guideline levels for crack cocaine offenders in 2007 found no difference in recidivism rates for those offenders released early compared to those who served their full sentence.

“Like many in Congress and in the executive and judicial branches, the Commission is concerned about the growing crisis in federal prison populations and budgets, and believes it is appropriate at this time to carefully consider the sentences for drug traffickers, who make up about half of the federal prison population,” Saris said. “Our proposed approach is modest,” Saris said. “The real solution rests with Congress, and we continue to support efforts there to reduce mandatory minimum penalties, consistent with our recent report finding that mandatory minimum penalties are often too severe and sweep too broadly in the drug context, often capturing lower-level players.”

Posted in Education, juvenile justice, LASD, Sentencing, Sheriff Lee Baca, War on Drugs | 15 Comments »

15 Responses

  1. Jack Dawson Says:

    Hear I was thinking to myself: I am not going to hear anything from Steve Whitmore’s mouth again…

    Wrong! He tells us Baca is going to work a black and white. Ha!! By himself none the less!! What reality do you guys live in? The truth, which we all know is a problem for Whitmore, is Baca is feathering his nest to be a reserve in a unit where he can travel the globe.

    Please go away Whitmore.

  2. J.London Says:

    If you haven’t heard Pat Gomez re the recent radio interview I believe that Gomez hit it right on the head. Baca quit because if he gets convicted, while in office, he would lose his pension! New Law! Good job Pat!!!Perhaps a good idea that Tanaka quit also for the same reason!!

  3. 4700 ramona blvd Says:

    Rest assured, Baca, if allowed will hang with the bureau that has oversight of the reserves. ML will pray he can hang out with lee and travel the many reserve and civilian clicks lee has surrounded himself in. Unfortunately, things won’t pan out, old investigations will get opened and people will be moved in the best interest of the department. People won’t be protected anymore

  4. Person of Interest Says:

    J London, If you check, I’m sure you’ll find that if convicted of a felony committed while in office, Baca will lose his pension. He doesn’t have to be in office at the time of conviction…just have committed the offense while working.

    I’m back to believing this retirement was a reaction to a Fed “offer” of ‘resign immediately, or we will indict.’ The Feds probably re-opened old, previously closed organized crime investigation which implicated Baca, so he really wouldn’t have any choice.

    I think that the reserve bit is because he hopes to get a weak replacement named by the BOS, and become a Sheriff Emeritus, still pulling strings. I hope that goes as well as Pitchess’ expecting Block to do that for him. The day after he was sworn in, Block took away Pitchess car and driver and told Peter J to not bother visiting any LASD facilities as he was no longer welcome.

  5. 10-33_Go Says:

    I don’t understand why the Feds would ask Baca to resign or threaten to indict. It seems to me they’d want to hook the biggest fish they can–it’s how careers are made, right? Why would they give him a pass, particularly if they can make a case that the obstructing of their investigation was on his orders? The sheriff has said for a year or more that he was told he’s not a target of the federal investigation…but just because that MAY have been true a year or two ago, when the investigation was fresh, that doesn’t mean it’s been true any time since. My guess is the sheriff learned something that suggested he may be indicted soon and that, coupled with his simply not enjoying the job anymore (every day was becoming a bad day), and also coupled with the increasing lack of confidence in him department-wide, is why he decided to leave ‘on his terms’.

    As for his becoming a reserve … I guess I’d have to question whether he could even pass backgrounds at this point. Not sure he has to if he’s taking the reserve exit option, but it’s kinda an interesting question, right?

  6. J.London Says:

    POI: Excellent points. My problem is that why would the FBI make a deal with Baca when he’s one of the main kingpins of the crime syndicate? Unless Baca turns over as a government witness. I’m sure I’m wrong and you are right.

  7. It's time Says:

    POI #4…which is why the Board would be foolish to appoint Teri McDonald as Interim Sheriff. She’s not going to be their patsy.

  8. Almost there Says:

    Don’t care, 3 and out

  9. bluepiggy Says:

    If the FBI game him a pass, shame on them. That is not justice. If that is the case they should give the 18 people they hooked a pass too. I’m sure millions of dollars in resources were spent conducting this investigation. What message does that send ?

  10. Jack Dawson Says:

    Research the “Ashcroft Policy”. The US Attorney’s Office has to pursue charges if there is evidence to support the charges. No retirement/resignation deals folks. He wants to live off his pension as opposed to being relived of duty without pay llike his subordinates were!!!

    Baca, Tanaka, and Whitmore: you have ruined lives, but you are still taking care of yourselves. You are terrible people for that alone. You can justify everything else but you are spineless low down cheats for giving the orders and “forgetting” your people….

  11. leftAtTheBall Says:

    Just my opinion…. The FBI has and wants, Paul. They know he ran the department while Baca ran up his miles reward card traveling the globe.
    No doubt Baca is guilty of being a poor leader for the past 14 yrs ( I will give him three where he tried).
    But in the grand scheme, he really didn’t know what was going on, and that wouldn’t make him guilty of a crime.
    So the phone call could go like this,
    FBI Some more indictments are coming out and you could be involved or you could testify. We know you had a meeting where recordings were made, and you made some comments, (thanks for the best laugh this week). While we only have a response to an email from Mr Tananka, you could be blamed for what he said, or you could retire and testify that you were not aware of the SPECIFICS of Operation Pandora. The indictments will be out withing two weeks, you decide.
    Retire and acknowledge that you failed to properly lead or be indicted with Paul.
    That is my opinion. Only my opinion, no insider info or know “connection” with anyone.
    Being a piss poor leader is not a crime. And the other political stuff he did, while unethical, is not illegal.

  12. Person of Interest Says:

    JL, my understanding is that Baca wasn’t any sort of crime “king pin.” He just showed up suspiciously involved during several federal investigations which were subsequently closed without explanation. I do know that he took a lot of “campaign” and “gift” money from individual members of Chinese and Armenian syndicates. Based on other events and connections I have seen, I’m pretty sure he was “supported” by our local Mafia families, as well.

    People more powerful at the highest national levels might not want Baca testifying as a witness to anything. He may be privy to secrets that could embarrass them, to say the least.

  13. J.London Says:

    POI: I’m glad we are having some insightful interchange. Baca said that three days prior is when he started to consider resigning. Baca spoke to Hemmold and decided to leave. We both know that’s total BS!
    Baca can only plead stupidity so many times when any investigative agency must say “BS!” My emphasis. Add, that Baca believes that a conviction would impact his retirement. Note: I believe that taking anyone’s retirement would be held unconstitutional unless the government can show the money was gained illegally. Just my legal opinion.
    Baca would need to run a campaign, go to court, as a witness and most likely get arrested during the campaign. No doubt that all 18 deps are cooperating with the FBI. If true, then the finger can only be pointed at two people; Baca and/or Tanaka.
    Tanaka has run the money ever since Baca’s first campaign and knows where all the cash and illegal money is. That is true! So, that logically means that Stonich and Waldie are also involved with hiding money.
    As Baca has already played the stupid card it won’t be plausible that Stonich, Waldie and Tanaka would all say they didn’t know anything either! By the way why can’t anyone find Waldie? Another story.
    One thing is certain; what Baca told the press is not believable and he knows it! Frankly, I sense that Baca and Tanaka are close to “nutting up.’ Again my emphasis.
    For the FBI to not prosecute Baca there would need to be a huge benefit for the FBI and USAG Holder to pass up bringing down Baca the so-called leader of the largest Sheriff’s department in the world.

  14. Tough guy Says:

    Almost there=dork

  15. Prophet Mo' Teff Says:

    The FBI has a long record of distinguished accomplishments in numerous areas of law enforcement and crime fighting.
    Evidence also points towards FBI involvement in activities that were essentially in contradiction of existing laws and constitutional principles. Despite extensive exposure, the FBI continues to place a high priority on denial and concealment of the details regarding the unsavory portion of their record.

    In the late 1960′s and early 1970′s the FBI under director J.Edgar Hoover is believed to have focused significant resources on secret monitoring of individuals and organizations opposed to the U.S. military role in the Vietnam War.

    The FBI solicited cooperation from many local law enforcement agencies to engage in these operations.
    Although not admitted by the FBI, part of this history may include secret operations to infiltrate, attack and destroy certain organizations and their leadership.

    One can assume that the FBI knows much about Lee Baca that he would prefer not to be exposed. As well Lee Baca knows a few things about the FBI’s history which they are not yet ready to admit.

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