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Jittery Talk at LAT Book Fest About Koch Bros. Bidding for LA Times…How CA Can Get Back Control of its Prisons….and More News


On Sunday the USC Campus was gloriously packed with tens of thousands of Lit Lovers as the yearly LA Times Festival of Books entered its second event-jammed day.

However in the “green room” area where author/panelists and LA Times staffers gathered before and after their respective events, amid the upbeat book chatter there were grim conversations about the report by Amy Chozick in the NY Times that politically conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch may be the front runners among suitors to buy the LA Times.

The article suggested that the Koch brothers may have an edge on some of the other would-be buyers like, say, Austin Beutner, who only want to buy the Los Angeles Times and not the rest of the Tribune Corp’s stable of newspapers, whereas the Koches will reportedly bid on the whole shebang. This could be crucial, as the Tribune Corp would reportedly prefer to sell the whole bunch, not piecemeal, paper by paper.

In March the Hilel Aron of the LA Weekly broke the story that the Koch siblings were strongly rumored to be potential bidders.

Here’s a clip from the NY Times story:

Other than financing a few fringe libertarian publications, the Kochs have mostly avoided media investments. Now, Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant.

By early May, the Tribune Company is expected to send financial data to serious suitors in what will be among the largest sales of newspapers by circulation in the country. Koch Industries is among those interested, said several people with direct knowledge of the sale who spoke on the condition they not be named. Tribune emerged from bankruptcy on Dec. 31 and has hired JPMorgan Chase and Evercore Partners to sell its print properties.

The papers, valued at roughly $623 million, would be a financially diminutive deal for Koch Industries, the energy and manufacturing conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., with annual revenue of about $115 billion.

Politically, however, the papers could serve as a broader platform for the Kochs’ laissez-faire ideas. The Los Angeles Times is the fourth-largest paper in the country, and The Tribune is No. 9, and others are in several battleground states, including two of the largest newspapers in Florida, The Orlando Sentinel and The Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. A deal could include Hoy, the second-largest Spanish-language daily newspaper, which speaks to the pivotal Hispanic demographic.

One person who attended the Aspen seminar who spoke on the condition of anonymity described the strategy as follows: “It was never ‘How do we destroy the other side?’ ”

“It was ‘How do we make sure our voice is being heard?’ ”


“So far, they haven’t seemed to be particularly enthusiastic about the role of the free press,” Ms. Mayer said in an e-mail, “but hopefully, if they become newspaper publishers, they’ll embrace it with a bit more enthusiasm.”

A Democratic political operative who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he admired how over decades the brothers have assembled a complex political infrastructure that supports their agenda. A media company seems like a logical next step.

This person said, “If they get some bad press that Darth Vader is buying Tribune, they don’t care.”

Alarming X a zillion.


The NY Times also reports on the issue of whether or not the State of California has done enough to justify taking the state’s prisons out of federal receivership. Near the end of the story, criminal Justice expert Barry Krisberg explains what he thinks it will take.

Here’s the relevant clip from Norimitsu Onishi’s story:

Barry Krisberg, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on California’s prisons who testified in the 2011 Supreme Court case, said it was unlikely the state would succeed in its appeals because of that 2011 ruling.

“He can’t win these cases,” Mr. Krisberg said, referring to the governor. “In my view, it’s nearly impossible to go to the same Supreme Court and within a year ask them the same question.”

Instead of looking only to realignment, Mr. Krisberg said, the state must consider the politically difficult option of shortening sentences for good behavior, a policy that previous governors have carried out without an increase in crime.

“If they were to restore good-time credits for the people who are doing everything we’re asking of them in prison, they could get these numbers,” he said, referring to the 137.5 percent goal.


This story is a small but sweet one. (And we could use sweet stories right now.)

TMZ reports:

Beck did a cameo for “Southland” recently … and got a check for more than a grand. The Chief could have spent the cash on scores of donuts … but decided there was a worthier cause — he’s donating the money to Homeboy Industries…..

Turns out Beck has another cause celeb … he and some of his boys in blue are lobbying for the return of “Southland” — which is currently on the bubble.

NOTE TO TMZ: We are grateful to you for nosing out this cool little story, but we could have done without the condescending donut cliché. (Just sayin’.)


Here’s a clip from the story by the LA Times Catherine Saillant:

As he campaigns to become the city’s next controller, Councilman Dennis Zine said his first job in office would be to audit the Los Angeles Police Department’s risk management division to find out why so many officers are involved in lawsuits.

The city has spent as much as $50 million on legal settlements in recent years on cases it could have avoided if commanders did a better job supervising officers, says Zine, a former LAPD motorcycle officer who faces lawyer Ron Galperin in a May 21 runoff election.

What Zine doesn’t mention is a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a female officer claiming that as a police sergeant he made inappropriate sexual advances during a 1997 business trip to Canada. Zine said that the two were dating and that the officer made up or exaggerated her claims….

Whatever the situation with Zine’s own lawsuit, an audit of this nature never hurts, and needn’t be adversarial. In fact, we’d like to see one for the LASD as well.


This happened last week, but it bears mentioning. The Daily News’ Eric Hartley has the story. Here’s a clip:

A jury acquitted a Los Angeles police officer and a fired former officer Friday of charges they lied under oath about witnessing a drunken driver.

Lawyers for Craig Allen and Phil Walters admitted the two were wrong when they said they had seen a woman blow through two stop signs and pulled her over. In fact, other LAPD officers had stopped the woman, then called Allen and Walters to the scene to administer sobriety tests.

But the defense attorneys said the two officers made honest mistakes and had no reason to risk their careers by lying about a routine traffic stop.

“We’re all extremely relieved that this nightmare is over,” Walters’ lawyer, Joel Isaacson, said Friday afternoon. “Officer Walters had faith in the system, but it’s a scary situation to go through. ”

The two were charged with perjury and filing a false report, both felonies.

The LAPD fired Allen, now 40, before criminal charges were filed. His lawyer, Bill Seki, said Allen is “praying that he gets his job back” and will ask the department to reconsider the firing.

Walters, 58 and a 23-year veteran, still faces a departmental trial called a Board of Rights that could result in his being cleared, punished or fired. He has been relieved of his police powers and is not being paid, an LAPD spokesman said.

Here’s the back story (scroll to the bottom of the post).


  • Celeste: I’m just asking and not looking for a fight. Why would the folks at the Times be afraid?

  • Fair question, J. London. A couple of things:

    1. While newspapers have editorial boards that often tilt toward the liberal or the conservative, news coverage should not. There is supposed to be a firewall. The Koch guys seem unclear on that fact.

    Obviously no paper is free of bias, being run by humans and all, but lack of bias is the goal. Things are imperfect enough when a paper is actively striving to be free of bias. But when lack of bias is no longer the standard for which the paper reaches, we are all of us utterly screwed.

    2. Los Angeles is a democratic-leaning city in a resoundingly blue state. To have the state’s largest newspaper suddenly taken over by conservatives with a demonstrably strong desire to mold electoral politics and local and national policies to conform to their personal POVs, who appear to have an interest in buying media outlets specifically with that end in mind, would by definition mean that the paper no longer desires to reflect the needs and wants of the majority of its readers, but instead intends to serve its owners’ ideologies. (See above about “screwed.”)

    3. To use a conservative example of all of the above, The Wall Street Journal has a strongly conservative-leaning editorial board. AND they’re one of the world’s great newspapers because they do their damnedest to keep their editorial leanings out of their news coverage, and hire excellent people based on skill not ideology.

    At the bottom line, the issue is not conservative or liberal. The issue is potential owners whose actions suggest a desire and a willingness to impose their personal agendas on the news—which runs directly counter the notion of a free press.

    That should give us all the jitters.

    PS: To put it in more specific terms, what if the new owners were friendly with, say, the sheriff, and thought it was perfectly reasonable to order their news staff not to investigate anything having to do with the LASD other than, say, bad shootings, that all the rest was off limits.

  • Celeste,
    Think your comment re: Chief Beck contribution to Homeboys Industries, “could have spent cash on scores of donuts” diminishes the compliment. Frankly cops and donuts in the same sentence is offensive to most of us. I remember your reaction to running B2V in Birkenstocks, you laughed about it but rebuffed it and appropriately so. We all have our trade humor and I suspect this reflects a bit of your view of us. Respect is a two-way street. And, oh, I like donuts,I’m physically fit, reasonably educated (MPA) and think my ethics and behavior would stand the brightest of days. By-the-way, I think you are providing a valuable service with WLA, not perfect but damn good!

  • C: Thanks for the reply. But, could not your answer still hold true about the Chandlers who once owned the paper? The Chandlers were extremely wealthy and liberal. But, they knew how to create jobs and get their paper on top. I NEVER read once from the original Chandler family that they espoused more government in our lives and more welfare. I could be wrong. Welfare is a scourge on minorities. Side note:I was once a paper boy for the Times and delivered to one of the Chandler homes in Pasadena.

    If the Times or any other media source started to put out propaganda for Baca I would simply stop buying and/or reading from that source. The market would drive them out. In fact, I would start my own paper and drive the Times out of town if they didn’t expose Baca and/or any other crooked politician. The Times for many years has lost vast amounts of money and their employees have suffered the most. That’s why they are up for sale. The same goes for the NY Times. Perhaps too much Liberalism in the paper? Or maybe newspapers have had their day? Who knows? But,as an old paper boy I do know this; No papers, no workers, no LA Times. Everyday, I read the Times, Witla, Fox news and O’Reilly. Can’t get much more diverse than that!

    True that my native home of California is blue. From my view too much government(like we have now) makes poor people poorer. Poor folks, sadly, are too easy to fool and never realize that their will to fight and earn what is rightly theirs is lost on big government.I.E. African American unemployment rate is just as bad as when Obama took office etc etc. This type of government always uses minorities for their experiments and when they don’t work government still pushes on regardless of the adverse affects on these two groups, in particular. Truly, you can’t tell me that you believe that welfare works!!

    I understand why LA Times employees maybe afraid; they may need to put out a more balanced article. Again the market will either approve or disapprove of the Koch brothers. If readers disapprove, the Kochs will lose a fortune and that would make the Liberals very happy. One small problem; the workers will be out of work! For generations the owners of the Times have refused to make changes and improve the paper. So, let’s see what new owners can do. Frankly, the Times should have been closed long ago. And if they truly looked at how media was changing would they still be in financial trouble today?

    Lastly, I recall the day Baca took office and I told everyone that he (Baca) won fair square and give it our best. If you only knew all the crap the LASD has had to suffer over the last fourteen years. Because LASD is supported by law and governemnt mandate what can the taxpayer do? Start a new LASD? Unlike the Times they needed to change and they didn’t and now, I say, let’s see if new owners can make it work and make some money. Unless you are proposing Obama-care for the Times? LOL

  • Wow, how many conservative leaning newspaper do we have? The Wall St Journal and what else? An alternative point of a view would bring a little balance. So much for the so called “open minded” liberals.

  • A takeover of the Los Angeles Times, if it happens, will mean, in effect, that the Los Angeles Times, warts and all, no longer exists and that whatever remains under that name will dishonor even the garbage for which it will serve as wrapping paper.

  • Celeste, I presume I am much older than you, and have read the Times over and over as well.

    I have seen Los Angeles during the so called “conservative years”, and i have seen the Times take a relentless toll on LAPD during the ’70’s and now LASD. Whenever the Times gets a “hard on” for someone or something, they are like leaches in the streams of VietNam that attach to your legs when traversing the waterways.

    The Times has catered to the illegal immigration issue, kissed Villaragosas’s liberal ass and portrayed this fine city into a hotbed of free services, safe haven and anti-law enforcement that eventually brings “democracy” to its knees.

    I hope there is a changing of the guards. The statement that the reporting is non-biased is as far from the truth as Obama will reverse the deficit in 6 months.

    let’s remember one other thing. Most times the conservative view is the one that propels an economy. The conservative view is usually hard working, plans for a rainy day, and is not one to enjoy deficit spending. Not saying they’re always perfect, but i would vote a conservative than a bunch of section 8 unemployed ESL people. Not racist, not rednick. It’s reality, and I hope money buys out the Times. That too is democracy.


    Reflection, thanks for the kind words, and for flagging that stupid donut remark.

    For the record, those weren’t my words, they are those of TMZ. (But I posted the clip, so obviously it’s my responsibility.)

    To tell you the truth, it was so insanely late when I posted last night, I didn’t really notice the donut reference. Or didn’t focus on it anyway. (Otherwise I would have found a way to edit it out of the clip.)

    I agree, its condescending (and lazy, cliched writing, to boot)—and not a trope I’d ever personally use. If you look at the post, you’ll see I put in the best fix I can at this late date.

    Thanks again for flagging it.

  • Question. When I was completing my bachelor’s and in later years, capstone, It was always drilled into my head that gleening any information and using it for the body of the report, thesis, etc. required a footnote and acknowledging the reference material.

    Celeste, with reference to posting the clip from TMZ, had you not been asked, we all would have assumed those were your words, which in retrospect would portray you as a “cop basher”. Since that is not the case, please let us know when someone else is using inflammatory words. That way you can stay in the car with all of us :0


    Yes, of course you’re right, FTF, and I expect appropriate attribution of my journalism students when I teach. And I did attribute the words, but not as clearly as usual, thus it was, I suppose easy to miss.

    Usually in such short commentaries on a news story by another outlet, Taylor and I do something like this:

    TMZ has the story. Here’s a clip:

    And the clip is placed in a box.

    This time, however, I only wrote….

    TMZ reports:

    The clipped verbiage was, again, in the “box.”

    But, as is now evident, the left out step mattered to the reader’s eye. Especially when you’re used to the other format.

    However, in the end, the best solution was for me to have been paying better attention to what I was clipping, and thus to have left the creepy donut thing out altogether.

  • Argh! Forgot the question. Ask either candidate; considering the scandals and corruption with LASD do you support Lee Baca for sheriff?

  • I hope the Koch’s buy this newspaper so that they start getting rid of all you people destroying our country.

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