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Category: Talk back

In Steubenville rape trial, social media call out injustice, CNN

Steubenville rape

One step forward, two steps back: What a relief that the judge in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case found two star high school football players guilty of sexually assaulting an incapacitated teenage girl without placing any onus on the victim.

Robin AbcarianBut how appalling that two of CNN’s most high-profile female journalists, Candy Crowley and Poppy Harlow, chose to focus on the tragedy… that had befallen the young men, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond.

“What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty in juvenile court of rape, essentially?” an emotional Crowley asked a legal expert on Sunday, shortly after Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Lipps made his ruling.

Harlow added that Richmond’s father, reportedly an absentee parent and alcoholic who had spent time in prison, had leaned over in the courtroom to tell his son he loved him-- something, according to Richmond’s lawyer, the father had never done. 

“An incredibly emotional day,” said Harlow.

Yes, ladies, it was.

But not for the reasons you focused on.

It was incredibly emotional because justice has been denied for so long and so often to young female rape victims who have been told explicitly or otherwise that they are to blame for being raped: You shouldn’t have worn that, shouldn’t have drunk that, shouldn’t have been out so late.

Bless Judge Lipps for his description of the evidence as “profane” and “ugly,” for his warning about alcohol as “a particular danger” and for his clear-eyed verdict.

And bless social media for proving the guilt of these young narcissists, who probably would never have been charged, let alone convicted had they not memorialized their bad behavior on Instagram and YouTube. An unconscious victim is so often a perfect victim.

Continue reading »

Talk Back: What will L.A. be like in 25 years?

 Jerry Lockenour with copy of L.A.Times Magazine

In 1988, the Los Angeles Times Magazine published an article about what Southern California would be like in 25 years.

Talk back LAA Northrup Grumman engineer named Jerry Lockenour stashed the magazine away, thinking it would be fun to test the predictions when the date actually rolled around.

Now, here we are in 2013. We don’t have housekeeper robots to cook for us and wash our clothes, as described in the article. We must still keep our eyes on the road while driving, rather than gliding down “electro lanes” as we do our nails or read a book.

DOCUMENT: 1988 'L.A. 2013' essay

But some of the article's other predictions, such as video phones, online classrooms and in-car computers, were on the money.

Lockenour, 67, now teaches a graduate class in technology development at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering.  The magazine article would make a perfect assignment for his students, some of whom weren’t even born in 1988, he realized.

Walter Glaeser, a 50-year-old Boeing systems engineer who lives in St. Louis, noted that he is taking Lockenour’s class online, a development foreseen in the article.

Driverless cars aren’t commonplace, but the technology is currently in development, other students said.

How accurate do you think the magazine article was? Do you have any predictions for how we’ll live in 2038? Let us know in the comments below, by tweeting @LANow or on our Local News Facebook page.

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Gavin Smith investigation 'moving forward vigorously,' official says

-- Cindy Chang

Photo: Jerry Lockenour with a copy of the L.A. Times Magazine from 1988. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Steve Lopez to AEG's Phil Anschutz: Thanks for nothing

AEGAEG abruptly announced on Thursday that it had taken the company off the market and that Philip Anschutz would retain ownership. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

So what do we have to show for another couple of years of dreaming of the return of the NFL to Los Angeles?

Steve LopezNothing.

The city got sacked.

This after L.A. city officials — many of them bagging campaign donations from Anschutz Entertainment Group -- scrambled around like cheerleaders, kissing the rings of AEG officials. They wasted countless hours on meetings, analysis, negotiations. Meanwhile, AEG worked state legislators to ease the burden of lawsuits over environmental concerns around the building of a stadium.

And now we have the seldom-seen Phil Anschutz telling us his L.A. point man and head NFL promoter, Tim Leiweke, is out. And AEG, which was for sale, is now off the market. Meaning we're stuck with Anschutz at least a while longer, and prospects for an NFL team don't look so hot. One big stumbling block is that Anschutz has stubbornly insisted on controls neither the NFL nor any team owner would go for.

My favorite quote from an Anschutz Q&A with The Times:

"The state has stepped up and done their part here. The city has stepped up, the mayor, City Council, they've stepped up. What's not commonly known is AEG is the one that spent all the money. We've spent $45 million. I'm not in the practice commonly of writing checks just for the fun of writing them. You do that because you see a business opportunity."

Cry me a river, Phil.

Who else should have been writing the checks but the billionaire owner of AEG?

And by the way, AEG has gotten plenty of charity from the city, with tax breaks on the LA Live/hotel development and another promised for the football stadium. As Anschutz admits in that quote, he wasn't writing those checks out of the goodness of his heart. It was an investment in a potential windfall.

He ought to write one more check to cover all the time wasted by local and state officials who bent over backward trying to deliver on a stadium.

ALSO:

Shake-up at AEG clouds NFL's return

Tim Leiweke wove AEG into the fabric of L.A.

Philip Anschutz says AEG sale became 'a very noisy process'

-- Steve Lopez

Photo: AEG abruptly announced on Thursday that it had taken the company off the market and that Philip Anschutz would retain ownership. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Steve Lopez: Switch local elections to national cycle?

PHOTOS: Los Angeles voters go to the polls

Steve LopezThis should settle it. Time to switch local election day in Los Angeles to the national cycle, in November, when voter turnout is higher.

So we don't keep embarrassing ourselves.

A turnout of 16%?

With a tax increase, contested school board races, nine City Council seats and the job of mayor on the line?

RESULTS: Los Angeles primary election

Eighty-four percent of L.A.'s registered voters didn't bother to vote, and thereby relinquished their right to moan and whine about anything, although I'm guessing they're the biggest moaners and whiners and probably can't be stopped.

Do you know how easy it is to vote?

They send a packet to your house. You can check the box that says, "Hey, I'm too lazy to leave my domicile for anything but a latte," and they'll send you a mail-in ballot. You don't have to get off the couch to vote.

INTERACTIVE MAP: How your neighborhood voted

There's always been a theory that low turnout is a good sign --- it means everything's OK. But everything's not OK.

The city has a budget hole that will keep eating the services people demand.

The rec center might close. The paramedics might get to a heart attack victim too late.

People keep saying the candidates for mayor were too boring to generate much interest, or the campaigns were too negative and turned voters off.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

Some truth in that, but those are the lazy man's arguments. One of these people -- Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel -- is going to make decisions that affect nearly 4 million residents, and millions more who visit Los Angeles, in hundreds of ways for years to come.

Do you think we can top 20% in the runoff?

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Congressman renews efforts for Medal of Honor for fallen Marine

L.A. mayor's race: SEIU, a key city union, endorses Wendy Greuel

Greuel, Garcetti in May mayor's runoff; 3 council seats undecided

-- Steve Lopez

Photo: Anna Donlin gives her dogs Walnut and Pearl a treat at a polling station at Allesandro Elementary School on Tuesday. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Talk back: Do you think the Bell 6 are guilty?

 

A jury continues to deliberate the fates of six former Bell council members accused of raiding the small town’s treasury by drawing oversized salaries.

Talk back LALuis Artiga, Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal are accused of drawing salaries as high as $100,000 a year from city boards that rarely met and did little work. The prosecution argued that the city’s charter limited council members’ pay to what state law dictated a city of a similar size could receive: $8,076.

The salaries were exposed in 2010, an era when the town’s finances were sagging, employees were being cut from the city payroll and a long-promised sports park remained fenced off.

After four weeks -- during which three council members testified that they had been tireless public servants -- the trial went to the jury Friday morning:

While the prosecution cast the six as thieves who thought more of their own wallets than their constituents’ needs, defense attorneys argued their clients were tireless advocates in a town that had been forced to weather the misdeeds of a scheming, ruthless city manager.

They stressed to jurors that the prosecution failed to prove criminal negligence -- that their clients knew what they were doing was wrong or that a reasonable person should have known.

[…]

The defense pinned much of the blame on a culture where City Administrator Robert Rizzo ruled with a strong hand, drafting resolutions for salary increases and manipulating council members to take city money. Cole testified that he voted in 2008 for a 12% annual pay raise because he feared Rizzo would gut the community programs he helped develop.

“We’re here for Mr. Rizzo’s sins,” said defense attorney George Mgdesyan.

Do you think the council members were criminally negligent in accepting oversized salaries? And do you think that much of the blame should be placed on Rizzo? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting @LANow  or posting to our Local Facebook page.

ALSO:

L.A. Now Live: Discuss the Bell corruption trial    

Ex-Cudahy councilman gets 3-year prison sentence in bribery case

Arrest made in stabbing of 80-year-old woman and dog in trailer park

 -- Corina Knoll

Talk back: Does Baca deserve 'Sheriff of the Year' award?

The National Sheriff's Assn. cited L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca's record for providing educational opportunities for jail inmates and his efforts to reach out to various religious groups in the community. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Amid a number of allegations of allegations of abuse and misconduct in his department and an ongoing federal investigation, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca just got a bit of a break.

The National Sheriffs' Assn. announced it had named Baca "Sheriff of the Year," out of about 10 nominees from among the roughly 2,700 sheriffs who are members of the organization.

Talk back LAA panel of former winners, current sheriffs and corporate sponsors chose Baca after reviewing applications submitted for each of the nominees, a spokesman for the association told The Times' Robert Faturechi.

The association noted Baca's efforts to reach out to community religious groups and provide educational opportunities to jail inmates, as well as the size of the Sheriff's Department and relatively low crime rates in its jurisdiction.

But the news has drawn mixed results.

As Faturechi writes:

His spokesman said the honor was appropriate given Baca is "the most progressive sheriff in the nation" and "a guy that works seven days a week."

"This is his best year because people do their best when they face their biggest challenges and he is excelling," said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Baca's critics disagreed.

"You gotta be kidding," said Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California. "The years of malfeasance in the jails and the blatant failure of the sheriff to address the problems make his winning this award mind-boggling."

Do you think Baca is deserving of the award? How would you rate his performance as sheriff? Let us know in the comments below, by tweeting @LANow or on our Local News Facebook page.

ALSO:

Downtown L.A. TB outbreak: LAPD urges officers to wear masks

Ex-Cudahy councilman gets 3-year prison sentence in bribery case

Arrest made in stabbing of 80-year-old woman and dog in trailer park

— Kate Mather

Photo: The National Sheriff's Assn. cited L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca's record for providing educational opportunities for jail inmates and his efforts to reach out to various religious groups in the community. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Talk back: Amid scandal, would you donate to L.A. archdiocese?

 Cardinal Roger Mahony, right, and Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2010, give communion during a Ceremony of Transition as Archbishop at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Talk back LAThe Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is considering a $200-million fund-raising campaign to erase the debts brought on by the clergy sex abuse scandal.

The archdiocese is still paying down loans used to cover a $660-million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims, the largest in U.S. history. According to a December financial report, its liabilities now outstrip its assets by $80 million.

FULL COVERAGE: Priest abuse scandal

Times reporters Harriet Ryan, Ashley Powers and Victoria Kim reported Wednesday that the archdiocese has hired a New York company, Guidance In Giving Inc., to study the feasibility of a large-scale fundraiser, which would be its first capital campaign in 60 years.

The archdiocese is contemplating the fundraiser as a way to repay settlement loans totaling $175 million, according to the report. An archdiocese spokesman confirmed that the capital campaign was being considered but in a statement did not address whether any proceeds would be used to pay down the settlement loan.

Spokesman Tod Tamberg said in an email that the funds would "be put into various endowments earmarked to support the pastoral priorities of the Archdiocese, as well for the general repair and upkeep of our parish churches and schools."

[...]

The church's last capital campaign occurred in 1949 and raised $3.5 million for new schools in only three weeks. At that time, there were about 650,000 Catholics in the archdiocese. Now there are 5 million, according to church figures.

If the new fundraiser occurs, it would place Archbishop Jose Gomez in the potentially difficult position of seeking large contributions from people whose anger at the abuse scandal has been stoked anew. Files released in a court case last month showed how Gomez's predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, and a high-ranking church official, Thomas J. Curry, plotted to hide molestation from police in the 1980s and 1990s.

How a fundraising push would resonate with parishioners remains an open question.

Would you donate money to the archdiocese amid the sex abuse scandal? Would you want to know where the funds would go before donating?

Let us know in the comments below, by tweeting @LANow or on our Local Facebook page.

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Bell trial: Councilman not charged unaware of others' high pay

-- Samantha Schaefer

Photo: Cardinal Roger Mahony, right, and Archbishop Jose Gomez in 2010, give Communion during a ceremony of transition as Archbishop at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in 2010. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Steve Lopez: No one seemed to fall asleep at latest mayoral forum

Photo: Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Jan Perry, Kevin James, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, and Emanuel Pleitez during the debate sponsored by the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs at UCLA's Royce Hall on Jan. 28. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Steve LopezPacked house Monday night at the Autry National Center to see the mayoral wanna-bes square off.

The highlights?

This one was fairly lively, actually. I sat in the back of the room to gage audience reaction, and nobody fell asleep, to my knowledge.

FULL COVERAGE: Los Angeles mayor's race

Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel smacked each other a little bit over “silly season” political tactics, as Greuel called Garcetti’s proposal to donate PAC money to charities.

Kevin James spent a little too much time on an old-news ticket-fixing story. He was better off lining up the city’s problems -- a budget deficit, high unemployment, soaring retirement costs, broken streets and sidewalks -- and then telling the audience we have the highest-paid city officials in the nation.

All five candidates took the courageous stand of promising not to allow digital billboards in Griffith Park. Thanks, folks. But we wouldn’t have had so many of those billion-watt nuisances in neighborhoods if city officials hadn’t sold out to the outdoor advertising industry.

Continue reading »

Steve Lopez: How can Mahony still be a priest 'in good standing'?

  Pictures580

Just when you think things can’t get much worse for Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, along comes a stunning rebuke from his successor, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez.

Steve Lopez “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading,” Gomez said of the molestation files Mahony tried desperately to keep out of the hands of police, even as known pedophiles claimed more victims. “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil.”

So far, so good. But in The Times story on the decision by Gomez to distance the Archdiocese from Mahony, church spokesman and Mahony loyalist Tod Tamberg said the cardinal’s life would be largely unchanged and that he would remain “a priest in good standing.”

Excuse me?

How could he still be in good standing?

[Updated at 12:11 p.m.: And why did it take until Thursday for the archdiocese to crack down on Mahony and announce that Santa Barbara Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry, Mahony’s go-to man in the 1980s on molestation, has stepped down? The church has known for years what Mahony and Curry’s roles were in the scandal, and Gomez has been at the helm since 2011.]

In the files released Thursday, Curry sent Mahony a 1988 memo about a priest accused of molesting 20 altar boys in nine months.

“The whole issue of our records is a very sensitive one, and I am reluctant to give any list to the police,” wrote Curry.

And Mahony responded:

“We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever.”

Certainly not. Why act in the interest of the victims, or in the interest of preventing more crimes?

I’ve sent a message to Tamberg asking him to explain how Mahony’s actions as head of the church could be so reprehensible that he’s shoved aside, yet he remains in good standing. I’ll let you know what he has to say, if anything.

With Mahony, even as more evidence of his misdeeds emerges, the chance of prosecution remains slim because of the lapsed statute of limitations.

You have to wonder, though, if there is a worse sentence for Mahony than to be kicked aside like this, his legacy tainted, his ambitions grounded, his good deeds forever in the dark shadows of his grotesque misdeeds.

 

ALSO:

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Rebuke of Cardinal Mahony casts a lengthy shadow at L.A. churches

-- Steve Lopez

Photo: Protesters hold quilts bearing portraits of young abuse victims outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles on Friday. Credit: Frederic J. Brown / AFP Photo

Steve Lopez: It's too late for Cardinal Roger Mahony's apologies

 Cardinal Roger Mahoney enters the Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in 2009. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Steve LopezCardinal Roger M. Mahony doesn't appear to have changed much in retirement.

He and his legal protectors have continued to fight the release of damning documents every step of the way. When that fails, and his role in the cover-up becomes more clearly documented, he issues an apology.

It's a little too late for apologies, if you ask me. The latest apology is perhaps more insulting than previous ones.

DOCUMENT: Los Angeles Archdiocese priest abuse files

Mahony continues to suggest that not enough was known about pedophilia in the mid-1980s to guide him toward the protection of victims. And not until 2006, when he began meeting with victims, did he have a "fuller awareness" of the devastating effect the abuse and cover-up had on those victims.

That's an insult to all the victims and to any sense of decency.

Children were raped. Priests were shuttled, covered for, reassigned, and they abused again.

Lives have been ruined, faith destroyed, and Mahony is at the center of this scandal, his unconscionable efforts to shield perpetrators now on the record, and still he seems more concerned about protecting his own image. If he's the caring, born-again reformer he claims to be, why do his misdeeds have to be forced out of him time after time?

"I have a 3 x 5 card for every victim I met with on the altar of my small chapel. I pray for them every single day," Mahony said in his mea culpa.

If only he'd been as well organized in going after molesting priests. If only he'd have called the police instead of trying to keep them at bay to avoid any bad publicity. If only he'd practiced the morality he preached.

His prayers might mean something, then.

ALSO:

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L.A. church molestation records spark call for criminal inquiry

-- Steve Lopez

[email protected]

Photo: Cardinal Roger Mahony enters the Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in 2009. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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