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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dream Team Lacey, McDonnell and Morris; Hailed as the Trifecta to Clean Up LA

With five weeks to go before the runoff election that will decide LA County's next Sheriff and Assessor, the prestigious downtown City Club Los Angeles was the setting for a fundraiser for front-running Sheriff's candidate Jim McDonnell.

LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey introduces keynote speaker Tommy Lasorda
at the City Club Los Angeles fundraiser for Jim McDonnell for Sheriff
The event, co-hosted by District Attorney Jackie Lacey and former District Attorney Steve Cooley, was headlined by keynote speaker former LA Dodger's Manager Tommy Lasorda. A crowd of around a hundred, comprising judges, lawyers, law enforcement, business and community leaders attended the event, all doubtless keen to get some face time with LA's next Sheriff. While McDonnell's campaign gathers steam ahead of the November 4, 2014 election, rival Paul Tanaka's campaign continues to march to the tune of the death watch beetle.

While many expect McDonnell to win handily and become the first 'outsider' to be elected Sheriff, another outsider was also in attendance; LA County Assessor candidate Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris.

Former DA Steve Cooley (right) with the Dream Team;
John Morris for Assessor, DA Jackie Lacey, and Jim McDonnell for Sheriff (left to right)

Like McDonnell, Morris has swept the media endorsements with the LA Times most recently telling its readers that in the complex L.A. County assessor race, "John Morris is the better choice" over political parvenu and flimflam man Jeffrey Prang.

Cooley, who has endorsed and supported Lacey, McDonnell and Morris, said that if the voters get it right on November 4, they will be "rewarded by a trifecta who will restore honesty, integrity and leadership in Los Angeles County."

It's persuasive argument. Both the Sheriff's Department and the Assessor's Office have been plagued with scandal after scandal, attributable perhaps to poor leadership, partisanship and voter apathy. It's an old cliche, but it is time for change, and electing genuine candidates with proven track records rather than proven political career paths, is precisely what Los Angeles needs.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Tanaka's Says Summer Campaign Suspension Over

Disgraced former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka told Daily News reporter Rick Orlov that "he is still running for Los Angeles County Sheriff."

Tanaka had previously suspended his campaign by Tweeting this message to his supporter:

The suspension followed Tanaka's drubbing in the primary election and his campaign was apparently suspended to allow "supporters to spend the summer with their families."

The Daily News, however, reported that "Tanaka closed down his main campaign office in Torrance and didn’t even inform his staff members. Tanaka said he simply moved the operation to El Monte and has continued to speak to groups that invite him. His most recent campaign reports show him with a deficit of $18,000."

Despite Tanaka's assurances that summer's over and that he has resurrected his campaign, Orlov finds little evidence to support Tanaka's claim. Orlov notes that there are "No campaign manager or aides. No active Web page, relying instead on Facebook. No plans for advertising. There are no debates for the runoff, unlike the series of confrontations held in the primary."

Orlov further notes that "In talking with Tanaka, however, it appears he is still shell shocked over the way the election turned out." It's a shell shock of nuclear proportions.  Tanaka "barely managed a second-place finish to [Long Beach Police Chief Jim] McDonnell to force a runoff election. With 49.4 percent of the vote, McDonnell fell just short of avoiding the runoff. Tanaka came in a distant second with 15.1 percent." Orlov reports.

Any hope that Tanaka may hold that enough of the votes that went to the five other primary candidates might go his way in the runoff is unlikely; all five have endorsed McDonnell.  Faced with such overwhelming odds Tanaka had the opportunity to do the honorable thing and withdraw from the runoff. That would allow Jim McDonnell to concentrate his attention on his plans to bring much needed reforms to the the Sheriff's Department in the wake of Tanaka's prolific and rampant mismanagement.

But the word 'honorable' has not previously been seen in connection with Tanaka. Despite his assertions that the County Jail scandals were not his fault, "Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, said that while Tanaka has not been indicted of any wrongdoing, he was mentioned frequently in the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence for failing to act on problems when he oversaw the custody division. The report said he failed to act on reforms suggested to him as well as failed to act on reports of problems with groups of deputies." The Daily News reported.

 In all likelihood Tanaka will struggle to poll as high as 15.1% on November 4. He is a largely forgotten figure in LA County politics. Raphael Sonenshein, executive director at the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State L.A., told the Daily News that "it appears to the public as if the Tanaka campaign has evaporated. 'You see this in other elections where an incumbent faces a light challenge, but in this one, he had a lot of money and an identified base of support that he was counting on,' Sonenshein said. 'When he did so badly in the primary, I think the rationale for his candidacy collapsed. After that, he had to keep a low profile.'" 

That Jim McDonnell will be elected as LA County's next Sheriff seems certain, the only uncertainty is the magnitude of McDonnell's margin of victory. The larger it is, the more political capital he will carry when it comes to persuading the Board of Supervisors of the need to follow and support his plans to reform the Sheriff's Department.

In many ways McDonnell could find himself in the same position as former District Attorney Steve Cooley who in 2000, defeated incumbent Gil Garcetti by what the LA Times described as a "Wide Margin." Cooley won 63.8% of the vote in November 2000, giving him a clear mandate to implement reforms at the DA's Office without political interference. Perhaps one of Cooley's most politically 'sensitive' reforms was the establishment of the Public Integrity Division; the special unit tasked with investigating and prosecuting corruption by elected officials; no politician dared to publicly stand in Cooley's way over that reform, such was the power of the mandate Cooley held - "It was like the Turkey voting for Thanksgiving," one observer noted.

Despite McDonnell looking like a shoe-in in the November 4 runoff, he takes nothing for granted and continues to campaign as strenuously and tirelessly as he did in the primary. He has a major event scheduled for the end of the month, co-hosted by former DA Steve Cooley, and current DA Jackie Lacey. McDonnell's campaign website is www.McDonnellForLACountySheriff.com, Tanaka's is waiting for that endless summer to end.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Supervisor Gloria Molina receives suprise endorsement for bid to oust Jose Huizar

Friday's breaking news story that LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina was going to run to oust disgraced LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar from his all too comfortable incumbency in the impoverished Council District 14, came as welcome news to many.

Supervisor Molina has her eyes on Huizar's seat.
Huizar, who faces a sexual harassment trial in November and was also recently criticized for costing City residents $185,000 for a late night rear-end auto accident, was looking set to breeze through his 2015 reelection bid with a campaign warchest of $650,000 and no real competition. But all that changed with Friday's announcement that Molina would run for his seat.

Tuesday morning listeners to KABC 790AM's top-rated morning talk show host Doug McIntyre were treated to a preview of what promises to be the donnybrook of a political campaigns when McIntyre announced his support for Molina.


Describing Molina's challenge to Huizar as "God's gift to talk radio" McIntyre pledged his support for Molina not only because, according to longtime political adversary Supervisor Michael Antonovich, she is "an honorable person," but also because "she isn't Jose Huizar!" McIntyre said.

McIntyre was joined on air by LA Watchdog Jack Humpreville who revealed the latest "nugget" in the ongoing scandal surrounding the sexual harassment charges laid against Jose Huizar by his former 'top aide' Francine Godoy; Huizar had not only moved Godoy's office to be next to his, but has also had a doorway installed between the two offices. Humpreville said.

Speculation continues to mount as to how much Huizar's extra-marital affair will ultimately cost the residents of Los Angeles. The City has already approved paying $200,000 for attorneys to represent Huizar at trial, a sum likely to be dwarfed by any pre-trial settlement or jury award.

Should Huizar be found liable for sexually harassing Godoy, his may well "take full responsibility" for what he has characterized as a consensual relationship. Huizar has already taken "full responsibility" for his car accident, however, Huizar's understanding of the term "full responsibility" appears to exclude financial responsibility; he left it to the residents of Los Angeles to pick up the $185,000 tab for damages paid to the driver of the vehicle he plowed into at a red light.

Humpreville opined that voters in Huizar's district tend to be a "socially conservative group" and the sex scandal may hurt his reelection chances more than he thinks. That appears to be especially so with a viable, credible and respected opponent in the form of Molina.

Should Huizar be ousted in 2015, it will be a victory for those who see Huizar as nothing more than former Mayor Villaraigosa's mini-me; Huizar inherited Villaraigosa's council seat with the full support of the former Mayor, and has steadfastly approved council measures increasing costs on ratepayers.

Hailing Molina as the antithesis of Huizar's anti-resident record, Humpreville pointed out that Molina was a vocal opponent of a recently proposed County Storm water tax fee, "she stood up for the people." he said.

The same cannot be said for Huizar; he was an avid supporter of the ill-conceived Los Angeles City Measure B; a solar energy plan that would have cost Los Angelenos billions of dollars to basically only provide jobs at the DWP. Huizar was also opposed the creation of a DWP Ratepayers' Advocate; a position tasked with reviewing Department of Water and Power rate increases to weigh in on whether they are truly needed.

Needless to say, Huizar enjoys the support of the IBEW, the union representing DWP workers. Judging by the way former Mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel fared in her electoral ambitions with a campaign similarly swelled by the IBEW, Huizar's seat on the City Council looks less and less secure, especially with Molina in the hunt.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mayor Eric Garcetti endorses Jim McDonnell for LA County Sheriff

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti became the latest elected official to endorse Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell for Los Angeles County Sheriff.

LA Sheriff's candidate Jim McDonnell speaks after receiving the endorsement
of Mayor Eric Garcetti, right, outside City Hall (Credit: KPCC)
Garcetti joins what is likely the longest list of prominent supporters for a candidate in electoral history. According to KPCC's Frank Stolze, Garcetti stood "with McDonnell on the steps of City Hall, the mayor pointed across the street to LAPD headquarters. McDonnell once was second in command there. 'Jim was able to lead this department out of a federal consent decree - exactly the kind of leadership we need now for the Sheriff’s Department,' Garcetti said."

Stoltze also reported that McDonnell's opponent, disgraced former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka "did not return calls for comment." and that "He has all but disappeared from the campaign trail." Indeed, the last that was heard from Tanaka's kamikaze campaign was in August when Tanaka Tweeted that he was still in the race, but giving his supporters time to enjoy the summer with their families.

The last word from the Tanaka campaign was in August, 2014.
In the absence of any news from the Tanaka campaign, it would appear that he has given his supporters an endless summer.





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Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Briefs; New Candidate for CD4, Deputy City Attorney Arrested

Red Light Camera Hero Jay Beeber to run for LA City Council


The already crowded race to replace termed-out LA City Councilmember Tom LaBonge in CD4 became even more crowded with Thursday's announcement that Jay Beeber has thrown his hat into the ring.

Almost every local media source covered the announcement, perhaps a sign that Beeber's campaign will have the considerable advantage of earned media to bolster his record as an outsider with a proven track record of citywide accomplishment; it was Beeber who spearheaded the grassroots campaign to rid the City of Los Angeles of those accursed red light cameras. Beyond slaying LA's cash cow that was the red light camera program, Beeber's Safer Streets LA organization has succeeded in extending the orange light time to safer periods so as to avoid intersection collisions.

While the announcement of Beeber's candidacy likely brought cheer to many Los Angelenos who hail Beeber as a hero, the 13 other candidates running for CD4 in the March 2015 primary were likely less than pleased (Credit: LA Weekly for the candidates list):

  • Tara Bannister, VP of the National Apartment Association 
  • Teddy Davis, former aide to Antonio Villaraigosa 
  • Sheila Irani, an entrepreneur in Lake Hollywood 
  • Step Jones, owner of a vape shop and a "vapor advocate" 
  • Wally Knox, a one-time Democratic legislator in the 1990s 
  • Fred Mariscal, a Democratic Party and gay activist 
  • Tomas O'Grady, an edible gardens entrepreneur who got 31 percent of the vote against La Bonge in 2011 
  • Joan Pelico, top aide to Councilman Paul Koretz 
  • John Perron Jr., president of the East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce 
  • Carolyn Ramsay, top aide to Tom La Bonge 
  • David Ryu, a Korean community advocate and executive at Kedren Community Mental Health Center 
  • Steve Veres, an aide to legislator Kevin de Leon 
  • Oscar Winslow, president of the L.A. city attorneys' government-employee union
Beeber's success fighting the red light cameras and proven ability to organize grassroots campaigns makes Beeber a formidable opponent and likely frontrunner for a place in the runoff election.

Beeber's campaign website is www.Jay4LA.com.

Deputy City Attorney Chris Garcia Arrested; Child Pornography alleged


According to the LA Times (and most local print and broadcast media sources), Deputy City Attorney "Christopher Richard Garcia, 57, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home in San Pedro and booked on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography, said Officer Liliana Preciado, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Garcia had been under investigation since at least November, when authorities served a search warrant at his home and seized computers and other “electronic evidence,” Preciado said.

“At the time, they found some questionable images,” she said.

A forensic search of the computer revealed evidence of child exploitation, she said.

Prosecutors said Garcia has been charged with sending or bringing obscene material into the state for sale and possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexual conduct.

He allegedly sent some of the material on April 2, 2013, and was found in possession of it that November, according to court records.

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday, and jail records show he has since posted $40,000 bail.

The Caifornia State Bar website lists Garcia as serving as an attorney for Los Angeles International Airport. Garcia previously worked with the U.S. attorney’s office and a joint electronic crimes task force.

City attorney spokesman Rob Wilcox said in a statement Friday that they were aware of Garcia’s arrest.

“When our office became aware of these allegations 10 months ago, Mr. Garcia was immediately placed on administrative leave, where he remains today,"
Wilcox said. "We cannot comment further on this ongoing criminal matter.”" The LA Times reported.

In 2010 Garcia run unsuccessfully for Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Office No. 28, and was prevented from using the misleading ballot designation "Federal Criminal Prosecutor," the Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported. Garcia apparently believed that his temporary assignment at the US Attorney's Office prosecuting identity theft and fraud, justified the ballot title, however, the Registrar-Recorder's Office did not share that belief and refused to allow Garcia to use that ballot designation.

According to the Met New's profile of Garcia,  "... he almost didn’t become a lawyer, he explains. Even with an Ivy League law degree [Garcia graduated Harvard Law School in 1982] he explains, he really wanted to be a musician. He played the guitar in a band, and after failing the bar exam on his first try, thought maybe he wasn’t cut out for the profession after all, he says. But music wasn’t very lucrative, he says, so he joined the family business, R.G. Construction Co. in San Pedro." The Met News reported.

According to inmate information on the LA County Sheriff's website, Garcia was arrested by LAPD's Juvenile Division at 3:115pm on September 4, 2014, was booked at LAPD 77th Street Station, and was released at 11:12pm after posting $40,000.00 bail. The Sheriff's website quotes Garcia's case number as BA429000, suggesting that the charge or charges are felony crimes, but does not indicate the date when Garcia is scheduled to appear for arraignment at the downtown Criminal Justice Center.

Garcia is understood to have been well liked and respected by co-workers, many of whom were said to be stunned and dismayed at the news of his arrest. All persons arrested for crimes are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Lies of Jeffrey Prang, Flimflam Man

The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise did an excellent job dismantling the tissue of lies that has become the campaign to elect Jeffrey Prang to the position of LA County Assessor.


Before we add to the growing list of Prang lies, here's a rundown of what the Met News currently lists as the lies false and/or misleading claims by Jeffrey Prang (a.k.a. the Flimflam Man):

Lie #1: Prang's press release claims a "unanimous endorsement" by the Los Angeles Lodge of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.
Fact: A majority of 30 members in attendance (out of 200 CACA members) voted to endorse Prang. CACA President Eugene W. Moy told the Met News that Prang "cannot misrepresent the vote," a detail that Prang ignored in his press release.

Lie #2: "Prang orchestrated [disgraced, indicted Assessor John] Noguez' exit from the [Assessor's] Office."
Fact: Prang played no part in the charging of Noguez with 36 felony crimes. Noguez is still County Assessor, he's been on a paid leave of absence since 2012 while he awaits trial and is still collecting his annual salary of $201,392.00 plus benefits.

If Prang has any legitimate claim to being any part of Noguez' "exit," it is to ensuring that Noguez continues to receive a very substantial salary notwithstanding Prang's own condemnation of Noguez' misconduct. But then Prang is no stranger to misconduct. As both the Met News and the LA Times reports, in 1999 Prang had to publicly apologize for sexually harassing a West Hollywood City Employee at a gay pride gathering in Portland. It is unknown how much Prang's misconduct cost the City of West Hollywood.

Lie #3: "Mr. Prang, a Councilmember and four-time Mayor of West Hollywood, won the Primary Election on June 3rd and is seeking final confirmation by way of the November 4th General Election."
Fact: Prang did not "win" the primary - that's why he's in the runoff in November. Prang did rather poorly in the primary, polling only 18% of the vote despite a laundry list of endorsements from politicians who should know better. Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris polled 16% and does not claim that to be a win.

Lie #4: Prang claimed to be a "Los Angeles County Deputy Assessor" in his chosen Ballot Designation.
Fact: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant threw out Prang's chosen ballot designation stating "There's no such thing as a deputy city councilperson," Chalfant said. "There's a deputy to a city councilperson.... A deputy to the assessor is not the same thing as a deputy assessor."

The Prang lies have apparently impressed his bloated list of partisan political endorsers, however, they failed to impress the all-important media in their endorsement process; both the LA Times and the Daily News endorsed John Morris for County Assessor in the primary, and will likely do the same in the November runoff election.

That clearly has Prang worried. Very worried. Which brings us to the most recent Prang lies, not (yet) reported by the media:

Lie #5: "John Morris is a nice guy, but he's not qualified to be County Assessor." Spoken by Prang to an eager listener attending a recent political event.
Fact: Prang only holds the position of Special Assistant to John Noguez because Noguez hired him, it was essentially a public relations position, nothing more. It is actually Prang who lacks the requisite qualification for County Assessor; an Appraiser's license. Indeed, Prang's campaign website states that "He has completed a real estate appraisal training program," but it fails to mention that Prang has passed the exam to be a licensed appraiser; it is understood that Prang is not currently a licensed appraiser. John Morris, however, is a licensed appraiser, holds a real estate license, has worked as a real estate attorney, and has published research on real estate fraud. 

Lie #6: "John Morris is only running for [County] Assessor so that he can run for District Attorney later against Jackie Lacey." Prang told the same listener at the same event that this was " a rumor told to me by my campaign."
Fact: Morris has no intention to run for District Attorney. It is even more ludicrous to think that having the obscure ballot designation "County Assessor" would somehow be preferable to running as a "Criminal Prosecutor" or any number of prosecution-oriented ballot designations that Morris could use if he harbored any intent to run for DA.

The latest of Prang's lies shows as much of a disregard for truthfulness as it belies a certain desperation as Prang sees the November election slipping from his grasp. "Dirty tricksterism is all too common amongst politicos [like Prang]" a seasoned political observer noted. "Prang or his 'campaign' are probably trying to sow seeds of mistrust between Morris and Lacey -  two people who have the utmost respect for each other. Prang must be desperate." He said.

No amount of partisanship, no amount of endorsements, and no amount of special interest money can give Prang the power he so desperately wants. Los Angelenos have proven, time and time again at the polls, that they really don't like liars, and that appears to be Prang's sole claim to fame.

The Los Angeles Dragnet has no hesitation in endorsing John Morris for Los Angeles County Assessor.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday's Free For All

Judicial Election Ballot Title Wars - Stein to Appeal Stripped Ballot Title


The Los Angeles Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge candidate Andrew Stein, front-runner in the primary election, will appeal a ruling by Judge Joanne O'Donnell stripping him of his chosen ballot title; 'Gang Homicide Attorney.'

Stein, an accomplished and respected criminal trial attorney, faces Deputy City Attorney Thomas 'Tom' Griego, former Chief of Staff to disgraced ex-City Councilmember Mike Hernandez, in the November runoff for Office No. 87. Griego, will appear on the ballot as a 'Criminal Gang Prosecutor,' a title that is likely the source of equal quantities of mirth and derision, based on Griego's track record of using misleading titles to present himself as something other than a pretender.

In 2010 Griego failed in his did to be elected Judge. Griego then used the ballot title 'Criminal Prosecutor,' a title that the Met News described as a "falsehood." Griego had requested a transfer from his obscure and lackluster duties in the Civil Division of the City Attorneys Office, to "The Pit," a trial unit in the Criminal Division.  It was a transfer that likely would and should have been declined, based on Griego's lack of experience and clear self-serving motives. However, then City Attorney Carmen Trutanich apparently approved the transfer in the full knowledge that Griego only wanted the transfer to get a better ballot title. Trutanich, himself no stranger to using false and misleading ballot titles, was seemingly unconcerned at the fact that the only activity Griego had undertaken in fulfillment of his 'criminal prosecutor' duties was to read a manual; he had not tried a single criminal case.

After Griego crashed and burned in his first misleading election bid, Trutanich elevated Griego to the City Attorney's Gang Unit - a move not based on any apparent achievement in The Pit, but more likely based on Griego's political connections; something Trutanich may well have felt would help in his own (doomed) bid to become District Attorney.

That the Griego campaign has the hallmark and stench of Trutanich's warped and distorted sense of truthfulness is hard to deny; he is only able to claim his ballot title thanks to the questionable motives of his former boss, and is otherwise utterly unqualified to sit as a judge.

Hopefully, Stein will succeed in his appeal, after all, in her ruling Judge O'Donnell had to concede that "...the designation ‘Gang/Homicide Attorney’ is undoubtedly literally accurate - [Stein] is an attorney who handles gang and homicide trials," however in stripping Stein of the title, O'Donnell felt that the title would mislead voters into thinking Stein is a prosecutor as the title is too similar to those used successfully by prosecutors. It also appears that under current election law, Stein is unable to select another ballot title and is stuck with "Trial Attorney."

In the race for Office No. 87, the Dragnet has no hesitation whatsoever in joining former District Attorney Steve Cooley and the Hon. David Wesley, Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, in endorsing Andrew Stein for Judge.

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