Did they botch the campaign against Prop. 8?

The knives are out for some of the people behind the No on 8 campaign. According to AP, some pro-marriage advocates believe the campaign was botched -- too cautious, too unfocused:

California’s gay rights movement has been beset by infighting and finger-pointing since the defeat of gay marriage at the ballot box, with some activists questioning the campaign’s mild tactics, including the decision not to show same-sex couples in ads. The movement’s leaders “were very timid. They were too soft,” said Robin Tyler, a lesbian comic who created a series of celebrity public service announcements with the slogan “Stop the Hate, No on 8” that were rejected because they were deemed too negative. “We were lightweights on our side.” Proposition 8, a measure to stop gay marriage in California, passed with 52% of the vote last week in a painful defeat for gay rights activists. The ban overrode a California Supreme Court ruling last spring that allowed 18,000 same-sex couples to tie the knot over the last four months.

Of course, many in retrospect believe there should have been much more outreach to the black and Latino communities, which backed Prop. 8.

--Shelby Grad

L.A. mayor talks up road projects with Obama

Orangeline Yes, that was Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa up on the dais with economic gurus during Barack Obama's first news conference as president-elect. Fresh off his victory getting voters to approve a half-cent sales tax hike to pay for transportation projects, the mayor seems to be looking for some more help from Washington. He talked to The Times after Obama's news conference:

Villaraigosa said he had echoed Obama's call for new federal spending on road building and other infrastructure projects. Aid to cities and counties, the mayor said, has been abysmal.

"What I heard today was a president-elect who is going to rectify that and make sure we're doing everything we can to invest in cities," Villaraigosa said.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Los Angeles Times

It's take your kid to vote day

A little girl accompanies her family at the polling place

Talk about your teachable moments. Children have become a big part of today's voting, right along with poll workers and last-minute campaign ads. Top, Ariel Kohanim, 3, waits as her mother, Zipora Kohanim (right), helps Ariel's grandmother, Miriam Kohanim (left), vote in Fire Station 83 in Encino.

Ronald and Noah Perez wait as their mother Maria votes

Out in the San Gabriel Valley, brothers Ronald and Noah Perez -- ages 9 and 4 -- wait as their mother, Maria Mejia, fills in her ballot at a polling station set up in a Montebello furniture store.

Jaquari Sanders has trucks, not voting, on his mind

And while voters line up outside Ascension Church in Los Angeles, Jaquari Sanders focuses on more pressing issues -- at least for 2-year-olds. His mother, Gabriella Cooper, keeps watch as she waits to vote.

--Steve Padilla

Photo credits: Top, Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times; middle, Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times; bottom, Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

This report card isn't so green

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger bills himself as a "green" governor -- one who works hard to protect the environment -- but a new report indicates he is probably closer to pale aquamarine. The California League of Conservation Voters put out its annual report on how the governor and state lawmakers acted on nearly two dozen pieces of environmental legislation.

A year after he was given a 63% rating, with 100% being best, Schwarzenegger slipped to 60% for 2008, largely because of his veto of five bills, including one that would have charged a cargo fee to pay for efforts to reduce air pollution in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The author of that bill, Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), was one of only a handful of lawmakers to score a perfect 100% in the rating: The others were Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) and Assembly members Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) and Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park). Only two lawmakers, Sen. Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine) and Assemblywoman Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster), were given scores of zero.

The report card, aimed at influencing the Nov. 4 election, tries to give an accurate picture in a state where almost every politician has donned a green mantle. Earlier this month, Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill of Modesto and Assemblyman Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) hosted their annual Natural Resources Summit to "look for ways to responsibly protect California’s vital natural resources." On the League scorecard, Cogdill was given a 6% and Berryhill a 29%.

-- Patrick McGreevy

Photo: LAT file

Gut-check time for the Board of Supervisors

How does county government really work? The Times' Garrett Therolf has an answer in an article looking at Maximus, the giant government contractor that has been contributing a lot of money to the Board of Supervisors. Why? The firm wants a big contract renewed, and the county staff thinks another firm would do the job better. We can't wait to see how the board votes on this one. Here's more from the story:

Over the last 20 years, Los Angeles County taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars to a Virginia-based company to perform work criticized repeatedly as inadequate by county officials. Faced with the possibility that their $32-million contract won't be renewed, Maximus Inc. has spent more than $124,000 this year on lobbyists and thousands more on political contributions to county supervisors, including some not running for reelection for two more years. Maximus' story illustrates the intense fights that go on as the Board of Supervisors doles out millions of dollars in often lucrative contracts. In Maximus' case, as well as many others, a county contract offers the possibility of a big payout for providing services to the poor.

Earlier story about Maximus' efforts in L.A. County.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: L.A. County

Good morning -- Here's what's going on

Pastor Willie Holmes

We'll be hearing a lot about this case: An Anaheim police officer chasing burglary suspects shot and killed a 20-year-old man who had heard the commotion and emerged from his house early Tuesday, holding what authorities said was either a broomstick or a shower rod. "This is a very tragic situation," Anaheim Police Chief John Welter said at a news conference. "Julian Alexander was innocent of anything that was going on in the neighborhood at that time." (LAT)

End in sight for DNA backlog? Top city officials Tuesday unveiled a plan to help the Los Angeles Police Department's crime lab reduce its massive backlog of unexamined DNA evidence from violent crimes, but they acknowledged that the funding for the proposal was less than certain. Under the terms of the plan, which the City Council is expected to vote on today, the LAPD would allocate $700,000 to hire 16 more DNA analysts and support staff -- a boost of about 33% over current staffing. The city would also increase by $250,000 the funds earmarked to pay private laboratories that the LAPD hires to help with the daunting workload. (LAT)

Coming today: The Michael Carona corruption trial and Phil Spector murder trial get underway. Also: There's a bad multi-car accident on the 14 Freeway south near the 5 Freeway.

-Torrance park holds ocean treasures (Daily Breeze)

-Preservation tax approved in Pasadena (Star-News)

-Mission College keeps growing (10,000 students and counting) (Daily News)

-New Bible club changes 20-year-old school district policy in Placentia (OC Register)

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

Pothole milestone, a soldier dies off the battlefield, gas theft, a blogger praised -- it's last links


L.A. fills its 1 millionth pothole (above). Steve Hymon and Phil Willon have details at the Bottleneck Blog.

Marshall Elkin, a 22-year-old soldier from Baldwin Park, survived a tour of duty in Iraq. But this month, he died of skin cancer. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune tells his story:

On the day he died, Marshall Elkin called his mother to his side and told her not to be angry or sad. He told her it was God's will and that she needed to be strong for his younger brother. Elkin was 22 years old when he died from melanoma skin cancer on Oct. 7. "He was always like that," Cynthia Elkin said of her eldest son. "His main focus was not his cancer. It was us left behind."

A longtime Los Angeles County employee was charged today with allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of gasoline from the county with the intent to sell some. Victoria Kim, LAT

Problems with the instrument landing system at LAX this morning cut the number of incoming flights air traffic controllers could handle per hour by more than half and delayed departure times for passengers around the country by an average of almost 40 minutes, authorities said. Dan Weikel, LAT

Lots of fans bid LA Now blogger Veronique de Turenne a fond farewell. Here's Mike's take: "I'm so sorry to hear the sad news. I've told so many people about this blog -- it has been such a unique snapshot of local news. I always started my day reading this. Thanks for all of the quality work you put into LA Now, and I wish you the best of luck on the opportunity you find next." More tough news about the newspaper industry here, here and here.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Phil Willon / LAT

Fire danger all weekend, a diesel truck crackdown, and is Bill Bratton leaving L.A.? It's last links!

please be careful out there
Extreme fire danger warning extended until Sunday. LAT

Oops -- Some Orange County deputies were paid for time off and overtime on the same day. OC Watchdog

Close to half of the residents of San Bernardino County are Latino. The Sun

Is L.A'.s top cop getting ready to leave our fair city? LAist

A crackdown on diesel trucks in California. Greenspace

Where's the cheapest gas in the Valley? Daily News

Pastors in Whittier unite to support Proposition 8. SGV Tribune

A small fire in Santa Paula has burned three acres. The Star

Antonio Villaraigosa records a "No on Proposition 8" ad in Spanish. The Sausage Factory

The 710 Freeway in Long Beach will be shut down twice this weekend for repairs. Press-Telegram

A political face-off on cookies in Torrance. Daily Breeze

The animal shelter in Pasadena expands as the economy slows. Star-News

Five years after the Grand Prix fire, some residents are still trying to rebuild. Daily Bulletin

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Jonathan Alcorn

A firefighter monitors Thursday's early-morning brush fire in the Sepulveda Pass.

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.24.08

Little foxes on the hillside

More grim news on the financial front as a global sell-off of stocks led to another very bad day (are there any other kind right now?) on Wall Street. Meanwhile, former Fed chair Alan Greenspan is shocked, shocked! at the economic meltdown his free market policies have helped create.

A happy ending for the the island fox in the Channel Islands as the removal of fox-eating eagles has resulted in the successful comeback of the island native.

Thanks to new regulations, all California nurses now have to be fingerprinted.

County supes Zev Yaroslovsky and Gloria Molina are having a very public spat over Measure R, the rail safety measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Metrolink is suing the employer of the engineer who was at the helm of the ill-fated train that crashed headlong into a freight train last month, leaving 25 people dead and scores more seriously wounded.

L.A.'s top cop, Bill Bratton, has recorded an automated phone message (yes, it's that time of year again) in support of Barack Obama.

Good news for nearly 400,000 mortgage holders -- B of A's Countrywide unit may cut interest rates.

A new state law about how foreclosures are handled may slow down the pace of defaults, if not the amount.

Former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young is on campus again, a treat -- and surprise -- for students who know him only as the name of a street or a building.

SAT scores have been eliminated for several kids from Granada Hills Charter High School who illegally got hold of tests in advance.

Because the Phillies whipped beat the Dodgers to edge them out of the World Series, I'm happy to say the Rays won last night and the series is 1-1.

Kris Kristofferson plays tonight at the Cerritos Center.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

A new fire, more heat on the way and a guide to SoCal beaches -- it's last links!

Oh_to_be_there_right_now A new brush fire is burning in Upland. LAT

More hot weather tomorrow -- maybe it's time to hit the beach?

Altadena Hardware, founded in 1926, is up for sale. Star-News

Home foreclosures in California hit a record high. LAT

Did anyone see that fatal bike crash in Torrance on Saturday? Daily Breeze

A CSUN grad student working on a video project in Iran is being detained in prison after a traffic stop. No charges have been announced. Babylon and Beyond

Live performance of "High School Musical 3" debuts at (where else?) Disneyland. Daily Travel Deal

The southbound 405 Freeway exit at Getty Center Drive will remain closed until 5 a.m. Friday. LAFD Twitter feed

Those cute pix and videos of adorable animals? Good for your health. L.A. Unleashed

More Red Flag fire hazard warnings for SoCal. Watershed News

A Newport Beach woman who left a safe filled with $500,000 worth of jewelry in her unlocked Bentley overnight says she feels violated. OC Register

Water in San Bernardino County is rated as below average. The Sun

Mountain lion sightings in Ventura County. The Star

(Whenever I link to The Sun and The Star, I find myself wishing for a newspaper called The Moon.)

Halloween shopping at the 99 Cent Store. LAist

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.23.08


That fire in the Sepulveda Pass, which temporarily closed the 405, has been officially called a "knockdown" by fire officials at 8:25. The 405 is open again (good luck with that commute, though) and local TV news has ditched full-time coverage and returned to regular morning programming. That's the fire burning last night in the photo above. We'll have more pix soon.

It's supposed to be hot hot hot again, with another 98-degree day predicted for downtown L.A., and the winds are dying down. Typical weather for SoCal in autumn, not that you'd know that from the way some local TV anchors are carrying on.

OK, other news:

LA's top cop, Chief Bill Bratton, says get ready for an October Surprise from Osama bin Laden, meant to disrupt the November election.

Prop 9, which would require that crime victims get updates on developments in their cases, will give them a stronger voice if it gets the nod from voters.

Kids in schools are more sexually aggressive than ever, with even 6-year-olds attacking their peers.

The low payments that California makes to foster parents violate federal guidelines.

Kobe Bryant says his knee feels better and he might be able to play tonight.

Patrick Goldstein says sorry, Kobe, but LeBron James is way more popular than you.

Unlucky times for the California Lottery.

USC is going to train social workers to work with military families.

How did the OC Sheriff's Department wind up paying $48 million in overtime in the last fiscal year? No coherent departmental policy, officials say.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Associated Press

Captain Kirk feuds with Mr. Sulu, Eagle Rock wants to slow down, and pop goes the music degree at USC -- it's last links!


How do you slow down traffic on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock? Bottleneck Blog

A new degree at USC -- pop music. LAT

Public school moms head for the Women's Conference in Long Beach to ask Maria Shriver "What about education?" The Homeroom

Seriously? A feud between William Shatner and George Takei. LAT

Who's the suddenly camera-shy sponsor of a big OC wine event? It's AIG, whose logo has suddenly vanished from the web site. OC Watchdog

A weird rumor about absentee ballots. LAist

Is it a private dump or an illegal landfill? A rancher faces court to get to the answer. The Star

Times are tough -- a nail salon in Covina is robbed. SGV Tribune

Red light cameras to be removed in El Monte. Star-News

Justice Department backs truckers in opposition to ports' truck ban. Press-Telegram

A South Bay day-care provider charged with molestation. Daily Breeze

Three shooting deaths in the Whittier area. Daily News

Inland Empire twins dump the gang life for the godly life. The Sun

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Schwarzenegger's fix for the Legislature? More women


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new strategy for relieving the gridlock in Sacramento: Get rid of some of the men in the Legislature and replace them with women.

Not surprisingly, Schwarzenegger unveiled this new tactic this morning in Long Beach at the Women’s Conference organized by his wife, Maria Shriver, whom he said calls the shots in their household.

"I think that you will see decisions are being made differently because women have different priorities, and I think we need that mix in Sacramento and in Washington in order to make great decisions," he said.

The governor, who once referred to the mostly male legislators as “girlie men,” said his goal is to do everything he can to “create” more female lawmakers to even out the gender balance.

It’s not clear how he might do that. Perhaps it will be similar to the creation of the cyborg he played in his "Terminator" movies.

Women right now hold only about a quarter of legislative seats. By the governor's reckoning, they should have half.

--Michael Rothfeld

Photo: Michael Buckner / Getty Images


Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.22.08


Big winds mean a big fire in Fontana in San Bernardino County, where  more than 100 acres have burned so far.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for a special legislative session in November to deal with the state's economic woes.

A cross in the Mojave Desert placed 70 years ago to honor fallen servicemen may soon be the subject of a church-and-state decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

More than 1,000 federal agents arrested 61 members of the Mongols motorcycle gang and charged them with federal racketeering.

Jeremiah Lasater, the 14-year-old boy who killed himself in his Acton high school on Monday, was a lonely, geeky kid who was the target of bullying.

A pair of Prop 8 rallies -- one for and one against the ballot measure -- had lopsided attendance in South Central.

Midnight Club Los Angeles, a new video game released this week, features L.A. as one of its stars.

Kobe Bryant was injured while playing in an exhibition game in San Diego.

Two sheriff's deputies from L.A. County are accused of beating up a firefighter last year.

Media tycoon Sumner Redsone, whose billion-dollar fortune is in a bit of trouble right now, is getting a divorce.

A great story about three promising kids from not-so-great public schools getting a shot at a first-class education.

The World Serieszzzzzzzzzzz. Yeah, boring. Bill Plaschke says he has a brilliant way to fix it.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Red Flag warning returns, a whale killed in Long Beach, and arrests for stealing Prop. 8 signs -- it's last links!


That new elephant enclosure at the LA Zoo? Forget about it, says Tony Cardenas. LAT

Henry Waxman makes the top 10 list of best congressmen. LAist

Here we go again: Hot temps and high winds lead to more Red Flag warnings. Watershed News

A cargo ship killed a 48-foot whale in Long Beach today. Daily Breeze

Arrests made in the OC after five people are accused of stealing Prop. 8 signs. OC Register

Bias in the LAPD, a study says. LA Daily News

Grand opening tomorrow for the East Valley Community Health Center. LA Metblogs

A teen from Arcadia is the new Rose Queen. Star News

Tiny little bundt cakes -- a cupcake alternative. Caroline on Crack

When Harry Belafonte endorsed JFK. Franklin Avenue

The National Veterans Creative Arts Festival in Riverside is happening right now.  The Sun

More on the LAT redesign. LAO

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Durrell / Los Angeles Times

Ruby, an elephant from the L.A. Zoo, as she got ready to move into an elephant sanctuary last year.

No smoking in Pasadena -- not even at the Rose Parade

No_smoking_zone It's official -- smoking outdoors in non-residential parts of Pasadena, including at ATMs, on movie lines, in shopping areas and even at the annual Rose Parade is illegal. The Pasadena City Council passed the law last night, and it takes effect in 30 days. Here's info from the Star-News:

Violators would be fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second and $500 for third or subsequent violations, according to staff reports. Smoking in parks is already prohibited in the city.

Smoking in parking lots, alleyways, and outside of service entrances or other non-public building entrances would still be permitted, according to Dr. Takashi Wada, of the city's Public Health Department.

The ordinance could take effect in 30 days, though the city intends to conduct a publicity campaign to inform residents, said Wada. He added that campaign could take several months to complete. Every council member in attendance at the meeting voted in favor of the ban.

After previous meetings where there was strong rhetoric both in favor and against the ordinance, almost 20 people spoke in support of the ordinance, and nobody spoke against it.

New Year's resolutions that include kicking tobacco will be that much easier to stick to for Rose Parade fans, for a few hours, anyway.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.21.08

Just two weeks until election day. Can anyone explain to me why it's not a national holiday?

On the financial front, stock prices dropped, interest in a stimulus plan grew, and all this up and down and up and down in the stock market is driven not by logic but by (d'oh) fear.

On the home front, the LA Times has a (subtle, thank goodness) and actually useful (hallelujah!) new design.

OK, news:

Anyone driving I-5 in the Castaic area is sitting in traffic due to a big rig crash.

Up to 200 rape victims lost their chances at prosecution because of an enormous backlog -- 7,000 and counting -- of untested rape kits that include DNA samples. The LAPD's lab, already sporting a black eye for crummy fingerprint work, missed the legal deadline to test the samples.

Skylar Deleon has been found guilty of killing a couple by tying them together, attaching an anchor and dumping them overboard from the yacht they were trying to sell.

Wondering about California home prices? Still tanking.

Even more about Prop 2, the ballot measure to improve living conditions for chickens.

Scott Timberg has a terrific essay about the late photog William Claxton.

Think you're safe because you're covered under your employer's health insurance plan? Think again.

Jesse James Hollywood will go to trial in Santa Barbara after his appeal is denied.

Chris Dufresne has a plan for the USC Trojans.

--Veronique de Turenne

Meteor shower tonight, Pasadena Marathon soon, and a backlog of rape kits at the LAPD -- it's last links!

Back off, Jack!

California condors displaced by fire settle into new digs in San Diego. LAT

Orionid meteor shower tonight! LAT

Shoe Pavilion in Sherman Oaks closes after 29 years of business. Daily News

The backlog of rape kits at the LAPD is "disturbing." LAist

More than 5,000 pot plants removed from the San Bernardino Mountains. The Sun

Remote-control system fetches books in Long Beach library. Press-Telegram

Bank robberies in the OC are up 50% this year. OC Register

Will work for drinks. LAO

The Pasadena Marathon is (finally) ready to hit the road. Star-News

Local leaders in the Inland Empire are looking at buying up bum mortgages. Daily Bulletin

Non-toxic ways to clean your eco-friendly bike. Green Girl LA

Dear 2009 college grads: good luck! The Star

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.20.08

Goodl uck, gentlemen -- you look great!

The drumbeat of economic doom has faded a bit, with headlines concentrating on the news that stocks are up, leading indicators rose last month and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's is urging a new stimulus package. There's also a switch from thinking about the Dow to talking about the "fear index."

Meanwhile, here in L.A. County, eight people are dead after a weekend of violence.

More trouble for Tyrone Freeman, head of the SIEU in L.A. Now he's accused of ordering employees of a charity to work on political campaigns, which is illegal. Freeman denies the charges.

Will the most active political season in modern memory result in a surge in voters who will swamp our polling places on Nov. 4?

A working man's makeover from Working Wardrobe helps job seekers getting back on their feet get an edge in the employment market. (That's Kimberly Keller, right, of Kimco Office Pros and Industrial Staffing, talking to the newly dapper men about jobs at Kimco.)

SAG has called for the big guns, hoping federal mediators can step in and seal a deal when local negotiations have failed.

Police in Ontario arrest a man in a voter fraud case.

A feel-good cancer musical?  That's how Susan King describes "Made Me Nuclear," the current offering at the Santa Monica Playhouse.

A fight over a Cambodian temple is tearing apart the community and could leave the temple itself in ruins.

"Mr. Blackwell," keeper of the worst- and best-dressed lists, has died.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Allen J. Schaben  / Los Angeles Times

Greyhound ditches Riverside, conventions dig Long Beach, and a walk down Western Avenue -- it's last links!

Like sands through the...well, you know the rest

Keeping the sand on the beach in Encinitas. LAT

Walk this way: Join Bill Campbell and Julia Frey as they walk 26 miles on Western Avenue from Fern Dell Park to (maybe) the sea. LA Metblogs

A Caltech prof who studies jellyfish propulsion is named one of the nation's top young scientists in the next issue of Popular Science. Star-News

Feeling hopeful? Why not attend a peace conference at the Ahimsa Center at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona this weekend?

Greyhound will close its Riverside stop at the end of the month. Press-Enterprise

UCLA Bruins really, really want a Wilshire subway. LAist

The transformation of Phil Jackson from '70s
long-haired dude to 21st-century Zen guy. OC Register

The old Edison power plant in Redondo Beach acts as backdrop to an energized art scene. Daily Breeze

The Little Mountain fire in San Bernardino is deemed "suspicious." The Sun

An ex-director of a water agency pleads guilty to misusing funds and is barred for life from holding public office. SGV Tribune

Conventioneers are making a beeline for Long Beach. Press-Telegram

Mitsubishi dealer in Whittier shuts its doors. Daily News

Home prices hit a five-year low in the O.C. last month. OC Register

Ventura's facing a bumpy financial road because of some "soured" investments. The Star

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

A vehicle started the Marek fire

This fire was started by a vehicle. Can you imagine?

What started the Marek fire, which burned 4,824 acres, destroyed 40 homes and killed a man and his dog? U.S. Forest Service officials are saying it was "a vehicle."  Nothing more specific than that at this time.

Thanks in great part to a lack of wind, firefighters have been able to get the fire fully contained and now are working on dousing hot spots. The cost of the fire fight so far: $4 million.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Bush signs train safety bill, Joe Biden comes to SoCal, and the Palladium reopens -- it's last links!

Now that's a palace!

President Bush signs rail safety bill. LAT

The Palladium reopens, and The Times gets a new music blog. Pop & Hiss

Joe Biden is in SoCal today. Daily News

Renters with dogs are paying a high price. OC Register

Gotta walk? Lots of chances to stretch your legs this fall. Franklin Avenue

Tribune Co. says it plans to drop AP in two years. E&P

Dear Burbank cyclists -- please slow down. L.A. Metblogs

Cops search for suspects in San Pedro kidnapping attempt. Daily Breeze

No need to hunt for Red October -- it visits every year. Watershed News

Here we go again -- is Rick Caruso running for mayor? LAist

California history in the NYT? LA Brain Terrain

El Monte bar loses liquor license because of illegal activity. SGV Tribune

We are all Dodgers. LA Taco

Speaking of which, what happened to the Dodgers championship mural at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Figueroa Street? LA Eastside

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.16.08


Everybody's talking about Joe the Plumber, the Dodger rout  game, the amazing shrinking economy, and Project Runway.

And of course there's news:

The Sesnon fire, which officials predict will be contained by Saturday, got started when power lines sparked onto tinder-dry brush.

Antonio Villaraigosa says no to $96,000 set aside to help the city defend against a lawsuit alleging that it discriminates against the disabled on skid row.

California plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions -- over the next 12 years. (That's L.A. in 2006 in the photo. Deep breath!)

George Skelton calls our state officials ditherers who can't make a decision to save our economic lives.

IOU sales to California are booming.

The history of L.A. in a map exhibit at the gorgeous Central Library, explained by our own, incomparable Bob Pool.

A rare and unexpected collection is drawing crowds at the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Paramount High unveils a new stadium.

Boy, you L.A. Times readers are an opinionated bunch, as the Letters to the Editor section clearly shows.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times

Mooseburger helper, more metal thieves, and has the sun set on the Sunset Junction fest? It's last links!

Was L.A. ever this rural?

Come listen to a concert of early music at one of L.A.'s early churches. (That's the church 'way back when, in the postcard.)  Daily Mirror

Metal thieves hit a new low and steal heavy bronze plaques honoring war dead. OC Register

Arnold Schwarzenegger, bond salesman. LA Daily News

Is this the end of the line for the Sunset Junction street fest? LAist

Happy, happy people at a groundbreaking in Carson. Press-Telegram

Rolling Hills Estates officials look to write laws to protect views. Daily Breeze

Police arrest man who carjacked two vehicles in two hours. SGV Tribune

San Bernardino County assemblyman says "Thanks" to Arnold Schwarzenegger for declaring state of emergency. Daily Bulletin

Mooseburger helper? Opinion LA

--Veronique de Turenne

Schwarzenegger declares state of emergency for San Bernardino County

State of Emergency -- welcome to the club

Earlier this week it was L.A. and Ventura counties, now it's San Bernardino County's turn -- a state of emergency declaration by Arnold Schwarzenegger due to fires that burned along the region's I-215 corridor.

What's it mean? The State Operations Center is now active in Sacramento, with info on the fires and evacuation centers available here and here. And here's the latest on the fires, from the San Bernardino Sun.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Man hides from cops, falls through ceiling -- lands at cop's feet

A South Gate man on parole for domestic violence was hiding from sheriff's deputies in an attic when the ceiling gave way and dumped him right at a deputy's feet. From the Associated Press:

San Bernardino County investigators say Christopher Apodaca then got up and allegedly pulled a knife on Deputy James Marshall, who subdued the 30-year-old South Gate man with a Taser stun gun. Apodaca is in jail where he has been booked for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.

Investigators say Apodaca, who is on parole for domestic violence, had allegedly attacked his girlfriend on Monday, and the woman's 12-year-old daughter called deputies.

When he spotted deputies, Apodaca took refuge in the attic above the master bedroom.

First that flaming squirrel, now this.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.15.08


Another day of calmer winds helped firefighters get a handle on the two blazes burning in L.A. and Ventura counties. Good news, but as we Californians know, the Santa Ana season has just begun.

Meanwhile, after a record-breaking rally, stocks are tumbling again as retail sales slow dramatically.

And what's going to happen to the banks? With $250 billion at its disposal, the government has the fate of the nation's 8,400 institutions in its hands. (Did any part of that sentence make you feel better? Yeah, me neither.)

Former L.A. Mayor Dick Riordan put together a lot of money and a solid team to help troubled Dorsey High, but LAUSD honchos turned him down, saying school officials aren't interested. Will Riordan take his ideas elsewhere?

An SIEU local president in Michigan has lost his post over a money scandal tied to the union's L.A. chapter.

Prop. 1A -- with a bullet (train). A big fight over the pricey ballot measure to get high-speed trains into California.

Did the foreclosure and eviction notices have anything to do with it? That's what authorities are asking about the death of a Pasadena woman, who was found in her burning home with a fatal, possibly self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Even as the Dodgers get ready for tonight's game, Joe Torre's defending his moves of last Monday.

So, Tina Turner at the Staples Center -- how was she? Rocked the house, our critic says.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: A section of a Japanese model of the bullet train. Credit: Associated Press

A tunnel collapse, a green taco truck and 60-cent sandwiches at Canter's -- it's last links! *


One last round of news to finish off the day:

Weird news from Mammoth -- a tunnel under a ski run collapsed. Bottleneck Blog

Taco vendors defend their turf in Lincoln Heights. LA Eastside

It's Canter's Deli's 60th and they're celebrating with 60-cent corned beef sandwiches. Wait time at the to-go counter just 10 minutes. Eater L.A.

A green taco truck? Los Anjealous found one.

(OK, getting hungry now.)

The economics of Eastside parking. Eastsider LA

We Californians are going to pay high interest rates on our short-term debts. Money & Co.

The Hollywood Film Festival pays tribute to Dustin Hoffman, James Brolin and Kristin Scott Thomas. The Envelope

Lofts in Little Tokyo selling in the $200k range. Curbed LA

Lake Forest is the OC's hottest housing market. OC Register

Paris is burning. Fishbowl LA

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Town of Mammoth Lakes

*Two links on this post have been updated.

We now return to our regularly scheduled mix of news, tidbits, oddities and stuff


Though you wouldn't know it from this little blog for the last two days, all of SoCal isn't on fire and yes, there's other news out there. For instance:

A Korean firm has announced plans to sink $100,000 into the Grand Avenue project in downtown L.A. LAT

They're deep into jury selection into the trial of disgraced former O.C. sheriff Michael S. Carona, and so far, 75 potential jurors have been passed over. LAT

San Pedro's Sportswalk on the Waterfront is getting up a head of steam as seven more athletes are honored with bronze plaques. Daily Breeze

Turns out some people kept right on driving through the fire area on the 118 Freeway. LAist

Firefighters from Long Beach are headed to the Valley to help fight the fires. Press-Telegram

A taxi driver in Irvine has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping. O.C. Register

Police have impounded 140 cars at a Pomona checkpoint where drivers either had no valid licenses or registrations. The Sun

And just because we need a chance to saw "aww" after all this stressful fire news, that's a photo of a pair of baby pandas from our terrific animal blog, L.A. Unleashed.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Kyodo News / Associated Press

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.14.08

Bob_hope_stuff_for_sale Southern California is on fire, it seems. The two big fires in L.A. continue to burn, the Pendleton fire is growing, and a fire in San Bernardino has forced fresh evacuations. Hundreds of animals have been moved to safety, and parts of three freeways are now closed.

And yet there is other news:

Like stocks opening higher today as confidence about the various financial bailout plans seems to build.

Like the fact that the Dodgers lost last night.

Video footage of wretched conditions for laying hens is making a case for Prop. 2, the farm animal bill.

A bunch of Bob Hope memorabilia is going up for sale and expected to fetch $500k for veterans.

Universal Pictures is going to distribute DreamWorks films.

Say it ain't so -- naming rights to Dodger Stadium to be sold? (More on that one later.)

Fidel Castro -- blogger?

Gay museum to open in West Hollywood.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

A quick fire update for Tuesday morning


Here's the latest on the fires burning in SoCal:

Two huge blazes continue to tear through in L.A. -- the Sesnon fire near Porter Ranch in the west end of the Valley, which has burned more than 5,000 acres, and the Marek fire in the northeast end of the Valley, where firefighters estimate 5,300 acres have burned.

A new fire has erupted in San Bernardino in the city's Little Mountain area, just east of the 215 and north of the 210. Several hundred homes are threatened and the 215 freeway remains closed.

The fire in Camp Pendleton, known as the Juliet fire, has reached more than 3,000 acres and continues to burn out of control toward Fallbrook. (That's the Juliet Fire in the photo.)

The 118 Freeway is now shut down because of smoke and ash, and winds, which had died down a bit during the night, are robust again, gusting again this morning.

Despite the efforts of 2,000 firefighters and as many water- and fire-retardant-dropping aircraft as could be mustered, the fires continue to grow. Fears are the fires will burn south, jump the 101 Freeway and make their traditional  -- for this area, anyway -- charge to the sea.

Our main fire story, updated regularly, is here. Evacuation areas and sites are here. Traffic info here, and heart-stopping pix here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

(Seen from a hill in Vista at 10 p.m. on Monday, flames and smoke light up the hills on the southeastern boundary of Camp Pendleton, where an out of control wildfire burns towards Fallbrook.)

Heal the Bay founder dies, the MWD has a dirty little secret, and a movie star mystery -- it's last links!

RIP Dorothy Green Yes, there's news other than those monster wildfires now casting an apocalyptic glow over Los Angeles. Here's a sampling:

In case you didn't notice, very bad air quality today. Greenspace

Dorothy Green, who founded Heal the Bay, has passed away. (Photo at right.) Heal the Bay

Good news for homesick Angelenos who accidentally moved to Portland: Jet Blue now has direct flights (just $99!) to Long Beach. Press-Telegram

The Metropolitan Water District, SoCal's largest water agency, has kept a big secret for eight years: Groundwater from one of its production sites is contaminated with uranium. OC Register

Did you miss the Long Beach Marathon on Sunday? Press-Telegram

Hey, you! Where's your hall pass? The Homeroom

A growing number of inland cities are saving money by shutting municipal offices on Fridays. Daily Bulletin

CalS tate Northridge (which, btw, canceled all classes today and tonight) then and now. Daily News

Just for the fun of it -- late-night politics. LAT

Another movie star mystery photo from the Daily Mirror.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.13.08

Here_we_go_again_2 Big, big winds and a big, big fire in L.A. today. Smoke is making the Valley commute even more of a nightmare. We've got reporters and photogs on the scene and will be updating the story regularly.

Be careful -- red flag restrictions for parking in L.A.

Wall Street continues to behave like an emotion junkie, this time celebrating an international economic bailout plan with soaring stocks.

And Dodger fans have some good news too: The Dodgers won! Decisively! And it all started in the first inning! (Sorry about all the !!! -- it's just such a lovely and, well, somewhat unexpected reversal of fortune.) Lots and lots of great stories and columns on the Sports page.

Rough times on Main Street in Monrovia, where the classic hometown downtown is struggling.

L.A. County union members are running a phone campaign to elect Barack Obama.

Some L.A. gospel choirs are in the running for top prizes in a sing-off in Oakland.

The battle in the 19th Senate District is getting interesting.

The homeless man who died after someone set him on fire had a name: John Robert McGraham. And McGraham had a family, and a community who cared for him.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Britney speaks, Tim Robbins gets a star, and remember the 1988 World Series? It's last links!

On_the_mend Britney speaks: "What was I thinking?" LAT

Big winds mean big worries in the mountains today. LAT

Jaywalker citations on the rise in downtown LA. Angelenic

Loma Linda takes steps to preserve hills from developers. The Sun

Remember the 1988 World Series? Franklin Avenue

Tim Robbins is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Daily News

Pix from last night's Art Walk. LAist

L.A. ports have stopped $71 million in bogus goods from getting into the U.S. Press-Telegram

L.A. Metblogs has a Prop. 8 conundrum.

LAT endorses Measure R. Bottleneck Blog

A horror movie prop shop is selling off some, well, horrible stuff. Daily Breeze

A recession sale at Coldwell Banker. Curbed LA

An automated medicine delivery system is coming to inmates in San Bernardino County. Daily Bulletin

Here in Van Nuys has a new URL.

It's a weekend of art in Pasadena. Star-News

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Associated Press

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.10.09

Remember_the_ebony_showcase_theatre? And Black October continues. (Remember when it used to be just a single day? Seems so quaint now.)The global markets are tanking, ours are reeling and no one seems sure of what's next.

So while we're in doom-and-gloom mode, I just go ahead and blurt it out: the Dodgers lost to the Phillies in the first game of the NLCS last night. "Stunned" is how our headline writers put it. All it took was 10 very bad minutes, Bill Plaschke says.

The Ebony Repertory Theatre opens with its first production, "Two Trains Running," tonight.

Former L.A. airport commissioner Ted Stein has reason to celebrate as two law enforcement agencies close their investigations into his tenure during James Hahn's mayoral administration.

And a one-time gang member who became the first person ever to be removed from an injunction in L.A. should be pretty happy.

The price of this home in Beverly Hills drops $10k every Friday.

Everythings_dropping_these_days_2 There's a fire warning in effect for the mountain areas, where it's expected to be hot and windy.

The body found in a sunken boat  is believed to be brother of Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Linda Sanchez.

Will there be water rationing in Diamond Valley? That's the lake, at left.

Children of Vietnam War vets are seeking U.S. citizenship.

Retailers are really, really worried.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.09.08

The lurching, seething, roiling mess that is the global economy just keeps staggering along. Remember that vaunted $700-billion bailout we taxpayers handed over? Yeah, neither does anyone else. The latest plan? An interest rate cut, of course, and a (are you sitting down?) takeover of the banks by the U.S. government.

There's more (Iceland going bankrupt?) but frankly, I can't bear it, so let's look closer to home:

Freight railroads pledge to add advanced safety systems well in advance of 2012 deadline.

The Dodgers face the Phillies tonight, and Joe Torre is tweaking things in preparation.

An LAPD officer has been injured in a crash with a big rig.

Two bodies have been found in the ocean search for the brother of two congresswomen and his companion.

A brush fire in Camp Pendleton has been contained.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case about sonar and whales during Naval training exercises.

Where are the pumpkin patches in L.A.?

-- Veronique de Turenne

Britney chooses court, Letterman loves L.A. Land and Redondo Beach says no to smoking -- it's last links!

Oops - she won't do it again Britney Spears says "no thanks" to a plea bargain on those charges of driving without a license and takes her chances in court. LAT

David Letterman ♥ L.A. Land! LAT      

Thank goodness -- a sad story with a happy ending. OC Register

More calls for the resignation of city animal control manager Ed Boks. The Sausage Factory

Coyote bites jogger in Griffith Park. LAT

Dianne Feinstein testifies at today's Metrolink hearing. Bottleneck Blog

It's official -- Redondo Beach bans smoking. Daily Breeze

Two stillborn babies found abandoned 20 months apart in Fontana were born to the same mother, according to DNA tests. Daily Bulletin

Ray Bradbury's speaking at the Los Angeles Film School tonight. LAist

San Bernardino says yes to hiking city cops' and firefighters' salaries. The Sun

The "recession special" from Deep End Dining. (Vegans beware -- these guys take the name of their blog very seriously.)

Vote early! LA Metblogs

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Three hurt in Yosemite rock slide


One minute, they were in the midst of one of California's loveliest spots. The next, a swift and sudden rock slide had buried cabins, closed a road and left three visitors in need of medical care. Details from our own Eric Bailey:

The slide let loose about 7 a.m. roughly halfway up the 3,200-foot face of Glacier Point, which looms above the tent cabins and concession services on the valley floor below.

An 1,800-cubic-yard slab of rock cartwheeled down the cliff, shattered and sent boulders and fist-sized granite shrapnel spraying toward the edge of Curry Village and its more than 500 tent cabins, regular cabins and hotel rooms.

Park Ranger Erik Skindrud said one visitor suffered head lacerations and had to get stitches at the valley's medical clinic. Two other people received treatment after fleeing the rock fall. A young child was treated for an asthma attack, and an adult suffered cuts when she fell.

Eric's full story is here. Another photo of the slide after the jump.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo credits: Associated Press

Read on »

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.08.08

Elgin_baylor_deserved_much_much_better The economic free fall continues, and no one's even talking about that $700-billion bailout anymore. Just a drop in the roiling bucket, it seems. Now the focus is on an emergency interest rate cut, to 1.5%, by the Federal Reserve. Did it work? We'll see.

Now onward to more homegrown news:

That petition to recall the Governator? Rejected.

Clippers dump Elgin Baylor; don't look to see whether the door hit him on his way out. Our own Mark Heisler's not happy with that shabby treatment.

As the money squeeze hits L.A. County, requests for aid are spiking.

A sweep in South L.A. snags 30 alleged gang members suspected of illegal weapons possession and drug dealing.

Remember DeWayne McKinney? He spend 20 years in jail for a murder he didn't commit and, when he was released, started an ATM business that made him a millionaire. He died in a motorcycle accident in Hawaii.

Another motorcyclist died in L.A. today, this one shot to death near the Foothill and Glendale freeways.

Boarding schools are growing more popular here in California.

Is the trip to the La Jolla Playhouse to see "Tobacco Road" worth it?

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

Doubled salaries in Mission Viejo, no smoking in Redondo beach, and no recall for Arnie -- it's last links!

No_luck_this_time It's back to square one for Mike Jimenez, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. (photo at right), whose petition to recall Arnold Schwarzenegger has been rejected. LAT

Redondo Beach may ban smoking on the sand, in parks and open spaces. Daily Breeze

Cyber-bullying is all too common. The Homeroom

The Mission Viejo City Council doubles its pay. OC Register

A Rancho Cucamonga water district goes green. Daily Bulletin

Why "This American Life" is the place for financial news these days. Mark Lacter

No real estate qualms in Dubai, where the tallest real estate tower ever is in the works. Curbed LA

A Vietnam veteran from Forest Falls has launched a write-in congressional campaign. The Sun

Fruit fly treatment zone expanded. Press-Telegram

Sorry, pedestrians -- McCain is everywhere. LAist

The Bristol Hotel, for sale downtown, isn't for the faint of heart. Downtown News

The Foothill Cities Blog has been felled by a server malfunction but promises to return soon.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: AP

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.07.08

As the global economy keeps tanking and our $700-billion bailout starts looking either paltry or misguided or, quite possibly, both, the Fed moves to buy massive amounts of short-term debt.

So how's the state of California doing? Not so great. Our new budget is already in the red and lawmakers may soon find themselves called into an emergency session.

Here's some good news for Redondo Beach: Marvel Studios, which hit it big earlier this year with "Iron Man," plans to film four more superhero epics at Raleigh Studios. (Hear that cheering? It's coming from our hard-working fanboy blogger at Hero Complex.)

And speaking of crazed ardent fans, "Project Runway" addicts face an unfashionably long space of time as season six is delayed so Bravo's parent company, NBC Universal, and the show's producer, the Weinstein Co., can go to court and fight over...well, it's complicated and here's the link.

Thousands of people waited in line yesterday for 10-cent sandwiches at Philippe's 100-year anniversary celebration.

Antonio Villaraigosa speaks at the National Black Latino Summit, says blacks and Latinos have to face up to racial tensions before they can repair them.

The OC's new top cop, Sandra Hutchens, says things are looking up in the beleaguered sheriff's department.

Meanwhile, the OC's former top cop, Michael S. Carona, gets ready for his federal corruption trial.

And I'm sorry to say that SoCal now has just one baseball team in the playoffs. That's right, the Angels lost. In the bottom of the 9th inning.

--Veronique de Turenne

Manny Ramirez, David Foster Wallace and the House of Blues -- it's last links!

Back_in_the_day Even as the markets tumble and the D-word makes the rounds, a line forms around the block for 10-cent sandwiches from Phillipe's. (And here's a shot of the eatery in the old days.)

Manny Ramirez -- the exorcist? Fabulous Forum

Mission Viejo lawmakers want to give themselves a raise, but O.C. residents say no way. O.C. Register

Nearly 90 arrests in a gang crackdown in Pasadena. Star-News

A memorial for the late writer, David Foster Wallace. Jacket Copy

City leaders in West Hollywood plan to talk about a bill to shut down the House of Blues. LAT, LAist

Redondo Beach schools' gardening program keeps growing. Daily Breeze

Long Beach Yellow Cabs plan a fare hike. Press-Telegram

Inland Empire residents looking forward to new ice hockey season. Daily Bulletin

Seriously? An express train between LAX and Union Station? Angelenic

More layoffs at the L.A. Times. LAO

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: L.A. Times library

Metrolink witnesses: The light was green

Was_the_light_actually_green Three observers who say they were at the Chatsworth Metrolink station before last month's deadly train crash have asserted in interviews that a final, crucial railroad signal was green as the commuter line's engineer headed toward the collision point.

The accounts, including one from a station security guard and another from a retiree who says he was interviewed by a federal investigator, contradict a key preliminary finding by the National Transportation Safety Board. The safety agency has said its evidence shows the signal was red when the Metrolink train, driven by engineer Robert M. Sanchez, barreled over a switch that merges two tracks into one and slammed into a Union Pacific train, leaving 25 dead and 135 injured.

(The rest of the story is here.)

—Times staff reports

Photo: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

A chihuahua adopt-a-thon, jail for a porn director, and another break for Laura Richardson -- it's last links!

Hay chihuahua? Now here's a product tie-in -- a chihuahua adopt-a-thon at LA County animal shelters, to mark the opening of  "Beverly Hills Chihuahua". Details in our fine animal blog, LA Unleashed.

The mostly quiet campaign for the half-cent transportation tax, Measure R. Bottleneck Blog

Mission Viejo lawmakers plan to double their own salaries. OC Watchdog

Laura Richardson's code violation case in Sacramento is dropped. Daily Breeze

A dog park for Pershing Square? Blog Downtown

Altadena-based porn director heads for prison. LA Daily News

A new conductor takes over the Long beach Symphony. Press-Telegram

Lots of nice pix from a terrific event -- the Inner City Arts grand opening celebration. LAist

A really big gourd grows in Monrovia. SGV Tribune

Malibu Pie Festival tomorrow! (And yes, this is a link to my blog.)

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.03.08

the boneyard We made it! The veep debate is over, both candidates are still standing, but can we make it through the blast of hot air that is post-debate spin?

And so the credit crunch comes home to California, hits us in a big way as Arnold Schwarzenegger writes to the feds to say we need a $7-billion loan, stat. Here's the letter.

And providing a visual backdrop to the growing wreckage of the big boom years of the mirage that was our real estate market is an abandoned loft complex in Eagle Rock.

Jury selection starts in the trial of disgraced former O.C. Sheriff Michael S. Carona.

A Los Angeles pension official's retirement bash raises ethical questions.

First the papers and the cash, then the plane, now a bone fragment is found at the site where Steve Fossett's ill-fated flight appears to have ended. Fossett's widow thanks the hiker who made the discovery.

Boeing's strike in Seattle has come home to roost in SoCal.


Angels (0-1) play again tonight. Fingers crossed.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Eagle Rock's abandoned development. Credit: Francine Orr  /  Los Angeles Times

Read on »

All Saints at the Autry, a Silver Lake walkway mystery, and adios to the First Street Store -- it's last links!

All_saints One of the five men accused of starting the Corral Canyon fire in Malibu last year is now pleading guilty.

Have you seen the All Saints show at the Autry? The show runs through Sunday, and on that day, not only is admission FREE, the artist, J. Michael Walker, will be there as well. (And check out our story.)

What happened to the First Street Store? Eastsider LA

Alex Eusebio, a young chef from the Echo Park eatery 15, will be a chef-testant on Top Chef New York. (That's Alex in the Daily Dish photo.)  Daily Dish

The wife of a Santa Ana engineer gets jail time for acting as a Chinese spy. OC Register

Just what's the Silver Lake Walkway, so popular with runners, actually made of? Donna Barstow gets answers.

Life jackets and debris from a wrecked boat floating off the coast of San  Pedro prompt a search and rescue mission by the Coast Guard. Daily Breeze

Was Heather Locklear set up? Huffington Post

If you're not planning on watching the vice presidential candidates' debate tonight, LAist has some other options.

Speaking of which, what's up with Sarah Palin's accent? NPR

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: J. Michael Walker

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.02.08

Happy_happy_joy_joy So that's what it feels like -- Dodgers win their first playoff game in four years, which makes two they've won in the last 20.

(And the Angels lost.)

Since we've been talking about it here ever since the nation's financial sector hit the skids, here's the latest: The Senate passed the newest version of the bailout bill. It was three pages when first proposed, totaled 110 pages when the House held its nose and said no thanks, and now weighs in at 450 pages.

Did you feel that? A 4.0 earthquake shook up San Bernardino County early this morning. No damage reports yet.

No one's very happy with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed more than one-third of the bills on his desk. (More about that a bit later.)

Close to 140 workers will be laid off by the L.A. parks department. What does that mean for safety in Griffith Park? And, as we head into the heart of fire season, what about firebugs?

What_happened_to_steve_fossett? Yes, those are missing millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett's belongings, cash and airplane wreckage in the rugged clefts and folds of the Inyo National Forest.

Here's the kind of story generally served up in a "Law & Order" franchise -- an L.A. sheriff's deputy, enraged when he learned his wife was leaving him for a younger man, allegedly went off the deep end and imprisoned and sexually tortured the pair for hours, until the wife managed to escape with her kids.

A security guard has been killed in what looks to be an attempted robbery of a medical marijuana clinic.

House Peters Jr., the actor who played Mr. Clean, has died.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credits: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times (Dodgers); Discovery Channel / LMNO Productions (Fossett)

Sails for sale, billboard blight and how to get to tonight's Angels game -- it's last links!

A_clue_to_the_steve_fossett_mystery? Robert M. Sanchez, the engineer in last month's tragic Metrolink crash, sent a text message just 22 seconds before the fatal collision. LAT

A hiker near Mammoth Lakes has reportedly found ID papers belonging to vanished adventurer Steve Fossett. LAT

Headed to the Angels game tonight? It's complicated -- there’s also a Ducks game and a concert at the Grove. Solutions (and a map!) in  The Guide.

"Los Angeles Plays Itself" is back -- the American Cinematheque is bringing back the 2003 doc later this month. Franklin Avenue

Anaheim City Council members may have to kiss most of those free Angels tix goodbye. OC Register

The fight against L.A.'s "billboard blight." LAist

More on the fight against billboard blight. LA Metblogs

Almost 500 boats are for sale -- priced from $12,000 to $2 million -- at the Long Beach boat show. Press-Telegram

Wes Craven and Pauly Shore settle their lawsuit. Daily News

Caroline on Crack hit the 26th Annual American Wine and Food Fest.

Smackdown: Rep. Joe Baca vs. Rep. Jerry Lewis. The Sun

Sam Zell has a birthday party. (Merci to LAO.)

Good morning -- here's what's happening 10.01.08

Daddy, I'm running for president They've done some tweaking and now it's the Senate's turn to vote on that monster of a bailout bill, which  no one can promise will work, but without which everyone agrees we're sunk.

And in case you were wondering, California played a part in the bill's defeat in the House this week.

Speaking of California politics, our governor was very busy last night, signing anti-sprawl legislation and giving the nod to a water bill. Not making the grade was a bill to curb air pollution near the state's ports.

Were four San Diego firefighters who were ordered to take part in a gay pride parade the victims of harassment? That's the question now in the hands of the jury as the trial comes to a close.

A SoCal World Series? Bill Plaschke says it could happen.

It'll be a bonanza for nostalgia buffs as the 21st century gets progressively more scary and the seemingly simpler 20th century -- in film, TV and comics, anyway -- beckons.

A charter school group plans a huge expansion in South L.A., and envisions a transformation that verges on utopia.

Save the drama for your mama -- things are cool and calm in Laker camp.

A high-rise condo proposal has Beverly Hills in a tizzy. Voters get their say in five (!) short weeks.

Photo: Robert Young and Elinor Donahue in "Father Knows Best," from the Los Angeles Times' 1950s photo files.

Lawn wars, bad prison water, and a stable's last ride -- it's last links!

Riding_into_the_sunset It's the end of the trail for Catalina Stables. LAT

That 20% increase in LAUSD administrators the Daily News wrote about Monday? Parents aren't too happy. Daily News

An 18-year-old Hawthorne man accused of a string of robberies and sexual assaults is in jail on $1-million bail. Daily Breeze

Another day, another chapter in the lawn wars. OC Register

A Long Beach bar owner has banned a business rival from entering the popular hangout. Press-Telegram

Bacteria found in drinking water in a Norco prison has officials and families worried. Press-Enterprise

Police in Long Beach want info on a collision that killed a bicyclist.

Check out our listing of October festivals.

Too tame? Try the Fright Festival at Six Flags. LAT

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.29.08

Another_california_gold_rush Even as we speak lawmakers are considering that behemoth financial bailout bill that uses $700 billion of our tax dollars, creates a stunningly powerful secretary of the Treasury, has questionable salary restrictions for CEOs, and gives nothing to homeowners facing bankruptcy.

Up in them thar Sierra foothills, gold miners are scrambling as gold prices approach $1,000 an ounce.

Veolia Environnement, the huge firm that hired  Robert M. Sanchez, the engineer at the helm of the Metrolink train that crashed headlong into a freight train on Sept. 12, has been fined millions in the OC and Australia.

The fight for the 2nd District seat in the LA County Board of Supervisors' race is already the most expensive in L.A. history. Add in surging voter interest, at a peak in this wild presidential election, and the candidates are in uncharted waters.

A man was killed and a woman critically wounded in Venice last night when a gunman dressed in black started shooting during the Abbot Kinney Street Festival.

The William Morris Agency has sold its HQ in Beverly Hills to a group of investors from South America, for $143 million.

The Israeli consulate in L.A. has raised its flag outside its front doors, the first time it has ever been shown so prominently in the U.S.

Some good news for the USC Trojans.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Expanding cupcakes, polluting pine beetles, and no curbs on mortgage brokers -- it's last links!

Crumbs_from_the_table Even as the feds teeter on the brink of a deal for that $700-billion (that's $2,300 for every man, woman and child in America) financial bailout, here at home the Governator says no to a bill that would have increased oversight on mortgage brokers. LAT

They're killing our trees, but are pine beetles also polluting the air? Greenspace

Long Beach City College pays $11.5 million for former Boeing site. Press-Telegram

It's jail time (and 30 days of community service) for a prolific South Bay tagger. Daily Breeze

A slaughterhouse worker in Chino also gets jail time -- for cow abuse. Daily Bulletin

More cupcakes! Crumbs of Beverly Hills spreads a trail to four new bake shops. LAist

Win the FMX party pack from Franklin Avenue.

Median home prices in the Valley plummet. Daily News

Be very afraid of ghost ... writers. Fishbowl LA

Hey Los Angeles -- you're not ready for bike sharing. Curbed LA

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.25.08

Love the guy in the stands with the Manny Ramirez dreadlocks hat Another day of that drumbeat of doom -- the looming financial crisis. Nothing the feds say seems to persuade either Congress or Americans that writing a blank check to the very same financial institutions that got us into this mess is a very good idea.

Speaking of money, just who stands to make big bucks from Prop. 10, a fuel and energy initiative that  California would pay for by borrowing $5 billion? (Add in interest and that number doubles to $10 billion.) None other than Texas zillionaire T. Boone Pickins, who's shelled out $3.8 million to get the measure on your November ballot and to convince you to vote for it.

Dodgers are soooooo close to clinching the West -- one win for the boys in blue or one loss for those Arizona guys, and we're in.

Happy? Not so fast, says Bill Plaschke. (Seriously, you're surprised?) History just isn't on the Dodgers' side.

Texting, the 21st century version of running with scissors, is now officially against the law.

Police have made an arrest in the murder of a USC student, who was stabbed to death off campus last week. Cops say it's not gang related.

Bye_bye_betty_6 Witnesses say the man killed by a Metrolink train in the Antelope Valley on Wednesday deliberately stepped in its path.

Patrick Flynn, conductor of the Riverside County Phil for 19 years, has died.

New-home sales slid in August, taking prices with them.

"Ugly Betty" has decamped Los Angeles to shoot in NYC.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times (Dodgers); ABC ("Ugly Betty")

Read on »

Lock your gas tanks, check your Lotto numbers and get on the bus -- it's last links!

That_actually_looks_like_fun Lock your gas tanks - siphoning is a growing problem in the Inland Empire. LAT

Lance Armstrong's return from one of the shortest retirements in the history of short sports retirements becomes, as our brand new sports blog, The Fabulous Forum, puts it, "curiouser and curiouser."

Lottery tickets for $105k and $126k remain unclaimed in La Mirada. Wire blurb via SGV Tribune.

Here's a photo of that new downtown L.A. bus tour we posted about earlier today.

Remember how Gardena lawmakers wanted to write a law to ban saggy pants? Nevermind...Daily Breeze

City jail in the OC doesn't want to house pedophile priest. OC Register

Why is there an ark on Leimert Blvd.? Our brand new arts blog, Culture Monster, has the answer. (And LAist says, Hmmmm...)

Bad grades for California's new algebra rule. LAT

Arcadia puts a temporary ban on medical marijuana. Star-News

Cops say there's an arsonist at work in Murrieta. Press-Enterprise

There's a cat crisis in animal shelters in the OC. OC Register

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.24.08

Lives_or_money Looks like our elected officials won't send us to the poorhouse quite as fast as proponents of that massive financial bailout would like. Privatizing profit and socializing debt -- is that the new American way?

L.A. officials aren't all that thrilled with the bailout plan either.

So the budget's signed and the money's flowing, but California faces a long, hard slog back to economic good times.  I mean, here's what's passing for good news these days: The housing market is predicted to hit bottom in 2009. Feel better?

Some good is coming from the tragic Metrolink crash earlier this month: Congress has finally agreed to a rail safety reform bill, which had been stalled for some time. (The House votes today, then the bill goes to the Senate.) So when will we see the "positive train control" systems that could have headed off the crash? Not until 2015 -- another seven years.

It's back -- the question of whether minors need parental consent to get an abortion. You'll see it as Proposition 4 on the November ballot.

A hit-and-run driver who blew through a red light and killed a 19-year-old woman in Northridge has been arrested.

It_was_a_dark_and_stormy_night_4 Little Tokyo in L.A. finally gets its gym.

The NFL  ♥ Tustin High School -- six alums are among the 1,693 players on opening weekend rosters.

Film noir's naughty ladies light up the screen at UCLA's series, "Cool Drinks of Water: Columbia's Noir Girls of the '40s and '50s", which starts this Friday.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times; UCLA Film Archive

Arnold signs the budget, Britney lists her house and a Puffy billboard hits L.A. -- it's last links!

Let's hope he didn't get writer's cramp It's official California has a new budget. The Times

Britney Spears' home in the 90210 is for sale for $7.9 million. (Paparazzi are extra.) The Times

There's a spike in students at South Bay community colleges at a time when funding for the two-year schools is down. Daily Breeze

The Stair Climb to the Top race (1,500 steps of the  73-story US Bank Tower) will return Friday. Angelenic

The launch of a modified Minuteman II missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base will be visible from the OC tonight. Orange County Register

The Rose Bowl is going to try banning cars and trucks from a 3.3-mile loop around the stadium for two hours. Pasadena Star-News

The American Wine and Food fest kicks off tonight. LAist

An Azusa avocado orchard goes organic. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

A water district official from Claremont who made false claims about having a Medal of Honor now faces felony charges.  Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Sean Combs moves to Silver Lake Boulevard. Curbed LA

Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Steve Yeater / Associated Press

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.23.08

Even as we speak, the debate about the $700-billion bailout of the financial industry is in full swing. The Bush administration is pushing for the bill to be signed as is, while an interesting mix of Democrats and Republicans is showing skepticism. And what about that very scary sentence?

Meanwhile, back at the rancho, a census study says California immigrants are assimilating, with people who report speaking English getting a big bounce. Blacks, Latinos and Asians now make up 54 % of the population.

And, a mere 85 days late, the Governator is supposed to sign the budget today. Want to relive the madness? The full, epic tale of the Battle of the Budget is here. Here's hoping there isn't a sequel.

Quite the lively hearing about the San Onofre toll road on Monday. The feds tried for a ban on booing and cheering. Any guesses on how that worked out?

An LAPD officer who said he was punished for violating the department's code of silence gets $3.1 million in a lawsuit.

Sandy Banks' column has moved online, and her loyal (and vocal) readers have plenty to say about it.

A trio of Californians are among the latest MacArthur 'genius" grant recipients.

So how's it working out for Joe Torre here in L.A.?

--Veronique de Turenne

Toll road tussle in San Onofre, singing road gets silenced, and L Ron Hubbard Way closed on weekends -- it's last links!

The_battle_of_san_onofre The epic battle over the proposed San Onofre toll road continues. LAT

Why is L Ron Hubbard Way, a public street, shut down every single weekend of the year? LAist

In Lancaster, a different battle over a different road ends: "The William Tell Overture," embedded in a quarter-mile stretch of pavement for your tires at play, rides into the sunset in Lancaster. Funny Pages 2.0

Is your surface street commute faster? Bottleneck Blog

A man sues Seal Beach police for taking his medical marijuana. OC Register

Things are still tense at Dolores Street Elementary, where parents have protested to have the principal removed. Daily Breeze

Wreckage from 2001 plane crash discovered. SGV Tribune

It's a mad hot ballroom for Olympic volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, who's trading in her sports bra for a pair of dancing shoes. Press-Telegram

Two sets of triplets born in Pomona hospital. Daily Bulletin

Welcome home, Here in Van Nuys!

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

He demands an investigation. Who? Yes.


Love this layout choice by the Los Angeles Sentinel (celebrating its 75th anniversary this year!) in which a pair of bumping headlines tell the tale of a pair of bumping heads.

--Veronique de Turenne

Villaraigosa helps open "No on Proposition 8" HQ

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who in July joined a legion of other politicians by presiding over the marriage of a same-sex couple, today will help officially open the Los Angeles headquarters of the No on Proposition 8 campaign at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center in Hollywood.

Villaraigosa already had come out in opposition to Prop. 8, a constitutional amendment on the statewide November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage.

That legal right has existed since May, when the California Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same access to marriage that heterosexual couples have. That ruling overturned Proposition 22, passed by voters in 2000, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

-- Phil Willon

Coastal cleanup, Frogtown Artwalk and POW appreciation day -- it's last links!

Be nice to Mother Nature Love the beach? Prove it by lending a hand at tomorrow's Coastal Cleanup Day. It's the biggest event of the year for Heal the Bay, which has room for more volunteers.

Then celebrate your good deed with a visit to the Frogtown Artwalk down by the L.A. River. Jenny Burman, who was there last year, has new details about this weekend's event.

Real estate-challenged Rep. Laura Richardson is going to chat with Whoopi Goldberg during a political forum. Press-Telegram

Today is POW/MIA Appreciation Day. Daily Breeze

Yes, you can find purebred dogs waiting for homes in L.A.'s shelters. Unleashed

Happy birthday! Disney parks will be free on the day of your birth in 2009. LAist

What's the Blue Line's safety record? Steve Hymon has the stats on his terrific Bottleneck Blog.

More about California's energy crackdown in Greenspace.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Heal the Bay / used by permission

Metrolink crash -- before, during and after


How did it happen? That's the question bedeviling investigators as they gather the details and sift through the wreckage of the disastrous Metrolink crash, which happened one week ago today. To see what they see, check out this presentation by the Public Utilities Commission, which includes maps and diagrams, as well as photos of both the reenactment of the crash and the real-life aftermath.

Chatsworth residents are planning a vigil tonight at the crash site to honor the victims, survivors and rescue workers. For more about those who died, The Times has gathered their photos and obituaries into a Metrolink database, where hundreds of people have been leaving comments and prayers.

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

A secret OJ recording, suspected voter fraud and coastal clean-up on Saturday -- It's last links!

Squeezing_oj A secret tape recording causes a stir at the O.J. trial. LAT

Opponents launch a campaign to stop high-speed rail bond. Bottleneck Blog

Baldwin Park police want help finding 27-year-old Elizabeth Duer, missing for a week under mysterious circumstances. (Photo in the story) SGV Tribune

San Bernardino Democrats claim voter fraud. Daily Bulletin

Catholic school teacher in Sun Valley charged with molestation. LADN

Congressional candidate Peter Matthews says he's received a death threat. Press-Telegram

Can't we all just get along? Jim Dear, the Carson mayor who survived a recall, asks for unity. (Best of luck.) Daily Breeze

Irvine Co.'s Donald Bren lost a billion dollars this year. Not to worry -- he has $12 billion left. OC Register

Monrovia residents are told to clear brush --from other people's properties. Star-News

Four San Bernardino residents join the Crusin' Hall of Fame. (Who knew?) The Sun

Coastal clean-up this Saturday. LAist

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Getty Images

Architect of Schwarzenegger recall survives a recall (well, re-election) of his own

The president of California's powerful prison guard union easily won re-election today, validating his decision to wage a recall campaign against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mike Jimenez beat out two other candidates at the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. convention in Las Vegas and immediately vowed to continue the recall effort.

The recall had caused dissension among the more than 30,000 members of the union, but in the end they decided to give their combative president a vote of confidence.

For years, the union and governor have been at odds over the provisions of a new contract. The animosity heightened last fall when Schwarzenegger invoked a rarely used provision of state law allowing him to impose unilaterally new working conditions in the absence of a deal.

The union has been a powerful player in Sacramento, its influence fueled by the millions of dollars in campaign money it can contribute.

-- Michael Rothfeld


Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.18.08

A_morning_of_mourning A bit of good news in the stock market, though when you think about the scale we're using for comparison, that's not saying much.

Hundreds of mourners gathered this morning in downtown L.A. this morning for the funeral of Spree DeSha, the LAPD officer killed in last week's terrible Metrolink crash.

Meanwhile, investigators are looking into whether working a split shift -- up at dawn, midday break, back to work till 9 p.m. -- played a role in the train crash. (I'm thinking that if you've ever worked split shifts, you'll have a strong opinion on this one.)

Norman Whitfield, the Grammy-winning Motown producer for the Temptations, who co-wrote and produced numerous hits including "I Heard it Through the Grapevine," has died.

A USC student was stabbed to death near campus, and a man was stabbed to death in a popular West Hollywood tavern.

The Dodgers lose the game but, worse yet, lose Nomar Garciaparra for days or weeks -- no one knows yet -- to a knee injury.

Restorations of the first two films in "The Godfather" series are showing at the ArcLight.

Foreclosures account for nearly half of real estate sales in SoCal.

Now Washington Mutual is looking for a buyer.

Looking for good news? A lovely story about a priest who, despite his own injuries, gave last rites to victims in the Metrolink crash.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

Morning Metrolink riders find a letter on their seats

Prayer Our own Phil Willon, riding the train this morning, says commuters found this letter from Metrolink officials waiting for them on their seats:

Dear Metrolink Riders,

We have all been touched by the devastating events on September 12. We know that you join with  every member   of the Metrolink Family in extending our sincerest regrets  to everyone affected, directly or indirectly, by this tragedy.

As events unfolded Friday, we saw not only the dramatic effect of the collision but also the determination and heroism of the firemen, police, sheriff's deputies, paramedics, Red Cross volunteers, community residents and fellow passengers in their efforts to assist our riders. We also witnessed those brave first responders and legions of Metrolink and Union Pacific employees and contractors who worked side by side offering their resources and support. To all, we want to express out profound thanks.

As your trusted rail service for the last 15 years, we take great pride in providing our passengers with safe and reliable transportation, and value the opportunity to be a part of your daily lives.

We want you to know that your personal safety continues to be our top priority and that all of our employees and contractors join us in this sincere commitment. We are cooperating fully with the investigation and will work tirelessly to determine the cause and ensure this will never happen again.

Moving forward, we will continue to operate safely and on time as you have come to expect as our loyal riders. We appreciate your continued support as part of our Metrolink Family and look forward to serving you for years to come.


Ron Roberts
Chairman, Metrolink Board of Directors

David Solow
Metrolink Chief Executive Officer

You can find our full coverage of the Metrolink crash here. And last night, the LAFD released audio from some 911 calls. Above is a photo of one of the many remembrances left at the site of the crash.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Billionaire sues bank, Democrats question voter registrations, and u can txt yr crime tip -- it's last links!

I_c_u The newest crime-fighting tool -- anonymous txt msgs. LAT

Democrats in San Bernardino County want an investigation into the sudden surge of Republican voter registrations. The Sun

Newport Beach billionaire sues Swiss bank for $500 million, claiming it tricked him into violating U.S. tax laws. OC Register

Have you seen this man? Riverside cops search for a man who may be connected to a double homicide. Press-Enterprise

A family in Whitter is homeless after a tow truck crashes into their house. Whittier Daily News

Interim city manager appointed in Covina. SGV Tribune

Ojai con man pleads guilty to 28 felonies. The Star

Mexican artifacts found by border agents to be returned. Daily Bulletin

Nice pix of lightning strikes in the Daily News.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Black Crowes cancel concerts, downtown LA to replace parking meters, and reporters sue Sam Zell -- it's last links!

Looking_for_answers Investigators reenact Metrolink collision. LAT

Black Crowes cancel California concerts because of to illness. LAist

The eternal question -- buy or rent? -- answered (sort of ) in the NYT.

A busy day in Daily Breeze territory, with cops arresting an accused burglar who leaped through a double-paned window, hunting for car thieves and checking out the hand grenade found in a newly purchased home, which prompted an evacuation.

Santa Monica High choir -- greater than the sum of its parts. The Homeroom

Speculation that Metrolink lawsuits could lead to millions -- and possibly billions -- in claims. LADN

Check out pix of the pro surf championship last weekend at Trestles. LAT

Park-and-pay kiosks coming to downtown. Angelenic

A man accused of waving a fake gun at a hooker and demanding sex rather than paying her has been arrested. OC Register

Retired Pasadena police officer accused of being La Habra's "Polite Bandit" pleads not guilty. SGV Tribune

Joe Torre chooses Beverly Hills P.O. for his new digs. Curbed LA

Some current and former LAT staffers, including Dan Neil, are are suing Sam Zell. LAO

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.16.08

Green_and_greener Exile on Wall Street -- stocks are tumbling, companies are teetering and laid-off employees are boxing up their coffee mugs and Dilbert calendars. Experts say more bad news is on the way.

The Governator makes threats but legislators pass the state budget anyway.

Some of the commuters in Friday's deadly Metrolink crash were survivors of the crash in Glendale in 2005. Richard Myles survived both crashes. Gregory Lintner walked away from the first but died this week in the second.

A fatal crash on the eastbound 210 Freeway has all but one of the lanes closed in Arcadia.

Another day, another few hundred tomatoes in Bill Anderson's Winnetka garden.

Cab drivers in Burbank love their hybrid rides. (pictured at right.)

An agriculture instructor in Tulare was gored to death by a bull.

Monday was Day One of the O.J. Simpson trial, where he's facing more than a dozen charges, including kidnapping.

Today's "Politics of Culture" on KCRW looks at the life and work of David Foster Wallace, who took his own life Friday. Our book editor, David Ulin, has an appreciation of Wallace. Another lovely article about Wallace, from Laura Miller, in Salon.

How do the UCLA Bruins feel after losing 59-0 (ouch) to BYU on Saturday? About how you would imagine.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Nancy Pastor / Los Angeles Times

County of L.A. computer used for testy taco posts?

Decriminalized_for_now Who's that posting nasty comments in the Great Taco Controversy of '08? Hint: their IP address is, which belongs to the County of L.A., as in, your county government. This bit of sleuthing comes from the bloggers at Save Our Taco Trucks, the website whose love of tacos turned an obscure county law into national water cooler talk:

Earlier this year, our petition received some bitter posts from someone using the handle “The Real East Los.”  The poster said, among other things,

“Wow, look at all these outsiders thinking they know what’s best for us poor brown folks.  Twice a year they put down their quiche and lobster bisque to come slummin’ in the Eastside for some tacos -- except those of you who stop by more often after scoring some weed in the projects.  […]  All you uppity white folks can get back in your Range Rovers and head to the Westside for some goat cheese pizza and creme brulee -- and let us Mexicans work this out.”

And later,

“This policy affects ONLY UNINCORPORATED AREAS OF THE COUNTY.  About 99% of you who signed on are outsiders who slum in the Eastside every once in a great while.  This policy applies to taco trucks EAST of Indiana St.  […]  Most of you gringos don’t venture this far into the Eastside anyway.  You can still drive over the bridge, score some weed, get some tacos, and head safely back home before the big bad brown folks get you.”

There’s a lot to say about these comments, but the obvious points are these: Clearly “The Real East Los” is well versed with the law, and quite familiar with the specifics of where the county/city line is.

Now, there’s also something much less obvious about this post that we noticed.  Every time a comment is posted, the IP address (essentially a unique internet ID) is noted.  Interestingly, the IP address ( for the two posts is registered to the County of Los Angeles.

A bit more digging turned up the fact that edits to eliminate unflattering info from County Supe Gloria Molina's entry in Wikipedia were made from the same IP address. Ditto for edits to Molina's colleagues.

Curiouser and curiouser.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

Small blazes in SoCal uneasy reminders of fire season

Fire_in_redlands Don't let the lack of wind fool you -- it's fire season in SoCal, with a trio of small blazes today as reminders.

Firefighters on the ground, aided by fly-overs by water-dropping helicopters and a Superscooper, made short work of two fires in San Dimas, which burned a total of about three acres late this morning. Farther east in Redlands, where temps topped 100 degrees, a field of brush caught fire and quickly raced through at least 10 acres, according to the Watershed News. (See photo.)

California's fire season, which traditionally reaches its height in the hot and windy days of autumn, has already been brutal. Unusual storms with an estimated 8,000 lightning strikes sparked more than 800 fires in the northern part of the state this summer. Expect the tense debate about whether California is adequately prepared to kick up again with the first gusts of our annual Santa Ana winds.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Guy McCarthy / Watershed News

Antonio -- or is it "Anthony"? -- and the Metrolink crash

Ops Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been at center stage since the Metrolink crash occurred, giving updates to the media and today riding the rails:

Villaraigosa joined commuters this morning at the Chatsworth train station to try to reassure people about taking the train and that safety is Metrolink's first priority. "I want to dispel any fears about taking the train," he said. "Safety has to be our No. 1 concern. Taking the train is still the safest option for commuters."

Over at the opinionated political blog, Mayor Sam's Sister City, there's some discussion about whether the crash will hurt chances of the mayor's transportation tax (which the blog calls a "tax scam") getting approval from voters in November.

Meanwhile, one look at the above AP video screen grab and you can see that, despite all the exposure, some people still don't know our mayor very well.

-- Shelby Grad

Inmate death rate drops 30% in state prisons

The death rate of California prison inmates has dropped almost 30% since the beginning of 2006, a court-appointed monitor reported today.

J. Clark Kelso, the court-appointed receiver for inmate medical care, said the drop was an indication that his office is succeeding in reducing the number of preventable deaths in state prisons due to inadequate access to care, poor quality treatment and other factors.

In a report to U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who is overseeing an inmate lawsuit, Kelso said about 204 inmates per 100,000 died in state prisons in the second quarter of 2008. That was down from about 291 deaths in the first quarter of 2006. Kelso did not say how many he thought could have been prevented.

The total number of inmate deaths declined from 428 in 2006 to 397 last year, according to Kelso’s office. So far, 186 inmates have died in custody in 2008.

Kelso noted that the reduction might be seized upon by state officials “who allowed horrific prison conditions to fester” as evidence that his office is no longer needed. Likewise, he said, his efforts to obtain $8 billion in state funding for construction of medical facilities, which have so far been blocked by Republican lawmakers, would also be derided as unnecessary.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Kelso wrote. The death reduction demonstrates only “preliminary results, not that the work is complete.”

— Michael Rothfeld

Metrolink crash mobilized Chatsworth neighborhood

Comforting each other

Judith Daniels, president of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council, posted a moving essay on the group's website thanking the community for helping out victims and rescuers during the Metrolink crash and aftermath. Daniels writes about her experience and how the community came together, proving "once again that Chatsworth Cares." A highlight of the neighborhood mobilization effort:

Between 6:30 p.m. and nearly 1 a.m., I was never off the phone for more than a few minutes. My part in helping was minuscule in comparison to what others did, but it felt good to be able to do something. Late into the night, we discovered that there were almost 1,000 people at Chatsworth High School. They were mostly families awaiting word on their loved ones and some emergency personnel. We were told they had no food, no water and no restrooms. Within about two hours, there was enough food and water on site for them. One industrious volunteer determined that the emergency workers were going to need breakfast Saturday morning. She arranged to get 50 breakfasts at 5:30 a.m. and had clearance to get through the police lines to deliver the food to those who really needed it. She had already worked at least 6 hours Friday night making and delivering sandwiches and water. While she was at the grocery store, she managed to get shoppers who were headed to their cars to go back inside and help with the food preparations. Among the businesses making donations were Los Toros, Olive Garden, Islands and McDonald's. Trader Joe's chipped in a truck load of water.

More on community heroes here.

Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Rich Faulk, left, comforts train riders Dennis Donovan and Ana Pineda both of Simi Valley this morning at the Simi Valley Metrolink station after Donovan told Pineda their friend Donna Remata had been killed. Donovan and Pineda rode with Remata every morning from the Simi Valley Metrolink station. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

Bust of California surf legend, George Freeth, to be replaced


Despite a $5,000 reward, there's still no sign of the bronze bust of George Freeth, the father of California surfing, which was stolen last month from its perch on the Redondo Beach pier. So now, Bob Meistrell, the Redondo Beach businessman who put up the reward money, has another idea. He's teaming with the daughter of the late artist, Terry O'Donnell, who created the statue, to replace the bust. The Daily Breeze has details:

Luckily, the original mold is still around. Owned by the Redondo Beach Historical Commission, the mold has been in the city's historical museum all these years.

And while the artist, Terry O'Donnell, died in January, his daughter, who goes by the name of Kelly O, also is an artist based in Redondo Beach.

She is donating some of her father's bronze to the cause.    

Meistrell hopes to get the community involved by having people donate spare bits of metal which, when sold for scrap, can raise enough cash to buy enough bronze for the new statue.

Meanwhile, in the course of writing about the theft of the statue, I repeated a bit of lore about Freeth -- that he won the Congressional Medal of Honor -- which turns out to not be quite correct. In fact Freeth was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. (Thank you to AJ Davis, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who caught the error.)

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Courtesy San Diego Historical Society

Good morning -- here's what's happening

Flowers_and_sorrow_and_grief An apocalyptic morning as the stock market takes a nose dive, we get more images from Hurricane Ike, and more details about Friday's terrible Metrolink crash.

Let's start with the crash:  Metrolink officials initially blamed the engineer, who died in the crash, and then backed off that claim. But the feds  are looking into whether a red light signal, which would have warned of the oncoming freight train, was broken.

If you're a rail commuter, how do you get to work today? Info here.

And for IDs on those who died in the crash, check here.

Meanwhile, commuters are boarding Metrolink trains again this morning, and Antonio Villaraigosa is among them.

Ready for some good news? We (almost) have a state budget! No new taxes in the new spending plan, which goes to a vote today.

Another O.J. Simpson trial, another debate about race, as prosecutors are accused of trying to exclude blacks from the jury.

An appreciation of the late (I still can't quite believe it) David Foster Wallace.

Let's end with some good -- and surprising -- news: Ike's damage to oil and gas platforms in the Gulf was relatively minor and oil falls to $97 per barrel.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Metrolink: Engineer ignored signal in crash


-- From The Times' Esmeralda Bermudez: "Metrolink officials said an engineer on the Metrolink train that collided with a freight train ignored a signal telling him to stop. Had the engineer stopped, the accident would not have occurred, said Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell."

-- From the Bottleneck Blog: Steve Hymon has a great rundown of L.A.'s freight and passenger train turf war and the sometimes-deadly results.

-- From LAist: Photos from the crash.

-- Also from The Times: Our photographers' photos.

-- Shelby Grad

Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

The bird man of Watts, the open house thief, and the freeway blogger says "Peace" -- it's last links!

High_roller_2 The bird man of Watts -- raising pigeons saved Bobby Wilson's life. LAT

Kudos to Jean Mitchell, principal of Miller Elementary in South Los Angeles, who won the Riordan Foundation's first-ever School Turnaround award. The Homeroom

Celebs + papratz at LAX = spontaneous combustion. LAT

The Freeway Blogger hits SoCal commute routes. LAist

CHP officer and a motorist, who had been stopped for doing 105 mph on the 210 Freeway, duke it out in the middle of the road in San Bernardino. When the dust settled, cops found a submachine gun under the seat of the driver's car.  Daily Bulletin

Cops finally nab the Beret Bandit in Whittier. Whittier Daily News

Just one more week till Park(ing) Day, and BlogDowntown has a preview.

Scam du jour -- thieves who target real estate open houses. Phyllis' L.A. Real Estate Blog (Merci to Curbed LA for the link.)

Have you heard the one about the door-to-door salesman? He stole $25k in jewelry from a home in Cypress. Press-Telegram

Huge celebration of Mexico's independence takes place in Santa Ana. OC Register

Oktoberfest comes early to Alpine Village in Torrance, which is a bit late in getting ready for the event. Daily Breeze

Deep End Dining. If you dare.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.12.08

Kelly_slater_rips_em A woman who witnesses say was sitting in a lane of the 101 Freeway near the Cahuenga Pass was struck and killed.

Health Net, one of the state's biggest insurers, reinstated 926 people whose health insurance policies it had canceled after they got sick, and will pay some hefty fines. One thing the Woodland Hills company refuses to do: admit it was wrong.

Kelly Slater shreds the competition at Lower Trestles in San Clemente.

Oops -- never mind. The MTA alters a message urging support of Measure R, a sales tax hike, on its website because it turns out that's, well, illegal.

Barely 24 hours later and it's old news: Kanye West scuffled with photographers at LAX and wound up under arrest, another chapter in the paparazzi wars.

The numbers for retail sales in August are in and they don't look good.

Though half of high school dropouts who go back and get their diplomas, most don't  go on to finish college.

Six Nobel laureates are headed to Loyola Marymount University for PeaceJam.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

9/11 remembrances, fire pit annoyances and local firefighters head south for Ike -- it's last links!

They_remember Firefighters commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks, which took such a high toll on the New York City Fire Department.  The Times

The spill of a "white powdery substance" closes the Hollywood Freeway. Relax — it turned out to be construction mortar. Bottleneck Blog

There they go again  — L.A. firefighters, who lent a helping hand with Hurricane Hanna, are on their way to the Gulf Coast to pitch in with Ike. Daily News

Are your neighbors' fire-pit bonfires annoying? Quite (cough, cough) likely. Illegal? Curbed LA has the answer.

A dog ejected in a car crash has been found, safe and sound. Daily Breeze

The housing slump surprises even the most pessimistic readers of our land blog. LA Land

Metrolink ridership is way up in Orange County. OC Register

Even more pix from Burning Man. LAist

A new eatery is headed for the Pacific Electric Lofts. Angelenic

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Anaheim lawmakers love their freebies

Anaheim_city_council_theyre_no_ange City officials in Anaheim aren’t giving up their free tickets to Angels games without kicking and screaming. Now, however, they've come up against a potentially higher power-- 15 Catholic nuns. The sisters, from a convent in Montebello, are part of a letter-writing campaign that says taking the freebies just isn’t right.

The spat wound up before the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which held a hearing on a proposal to limit the acceptance of sports and concert tickets to those for which attendance is part of conducting government business.

Two attorneys for the city of Anaheim wrote an eight-page (!) legal paper, which warned that limiting access to the freebies was unconstitutional, unfair and ill-advised. Anaheim City Council members and department managers have for years received free tickets to events held at that city’s Angel Stadium, the Honda Center, the Grove of Anaheim and the Anaheim Convention Center.

"The proposed regulation ignores the right and longstanding practice of a public agency to provide perquisites to its public officials and employees in addition to compensation," wrote City Atty. Jack L. White and Senior Assistant City Atty. Cristina L Talley.

The letter, which stops just short of saying, "See you in court,"  cites four legal cases supporting the city’s argument in favor of hanging onto the freebies.

Meanwhile, the commission is sifting through more than 250 letters in favor of stopping the flow of freebies. Among the writers -- 15 from nuns at the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary Casa Guadalupe, a convent for retired sisters.

"I personally consider these actions immoral and unethical by elected or appointed officials," says the form letter, which calls for an end to "this pillaging."

Sister Mary Milligan, one of the nuns who signed the letters, said she hopes the FPPC will act. "I don’t like any position to have all kinds of privileges with no accountability," Milligan said in an interview. The nuns signed the letters at the request of Char Yonai, an activist who supports the monastery and is active in state political causes.

The letter-writing campaign was organized by a group called Stop Government Greed. Unfortunately, the sisters will have to wait for any action. The panel briefly discussed the proposal today but put off a final vote until December.

Meanwhile, the Angels clinched the AL West last night. Any guesses about where Anaheim's lawmakers will be during the playoffs?

--Patrick McGreevy

Photo: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

9/11 memorial in Malibu stops traffic

They've been working on the memorial for days, close to 3,000 American flags placed in a precise grid on the vast, velvety lawn of Pepperdine University in Malibu. That's one for each victim of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the day life as we know it changed forever.

Kelsey_grammer_in_malibu_on_911 Drivers on PCH have watched as students and workers measured the lawn, set stakes and drew lines, placed markers and then measured again. This morning, commuters were met with the sight of the flags moving and snapping in a stiff ocean breeze. Drivers pulled over, pulled out cameras and formed impromptu groups as they watched in silence. "Beautiful," one woman said. "And terrible."

That's Kelsey Grammer in the photo, who stopped like the rest of us, moved by the sight, by the simplicity of it.

"I was on the way back from taking my children to school," Grammer said. "I just had to stop. Amazing, isn't it?"

Yes. And terrible, too.

--Veronique de Turenne

Top photo: Brian Vander Brug   Los Angeles Times

Kanye West -- just the latest chapter in the paparazzi wars

Is_this_any_way_to_make_a_llving Even as two Malibu residents prep for their Oct. 14 arraignment on misdemeanor battery charges after a beach brawl with paparazzi last June, rapper Kanye West finds himself on the wrong side of the law with the often-reviled shutterbugs.

The list of celebs who have run afoul of papratz is long and illustrious. Sean Penn, arrested for a fight with photogs soon after his marriage to Madonna, also made news fighting for privacy at the funeral of his brother in 2006. Surfer Kelly Slater fought off paparazzi in Israel and wound up talking to police. Leo DiCaprio's bodyguards, who got into a shoving match with aggressive photographers, wound up under arrest. Britney Spears, besieged by photogs during her custody battle, paid the rent for many a paprat. Even Paris Hilton, who never met a photo op she didn't love, is no stranger to the paparazzi wars.

Some celebs come out victorious. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie won a round when camouflaged paparazzi tried to sneak onto the grounds of their rented French chateau and were arrested. A quartet of paparazzi who chased down Spears wound up in jail on $5,000 bail. Barbra Streisand, traveling in Paris, used the personal touch when she stopped a struggle between photogs and her bodyguards by getting out of her limo and posing.

Is there recourse? Malibu spoke with former Monicagate litigator, Ken Starr, about an anti-paparazzi law. L.A. toyed with a similar law, but the city's top cop, Bill Bratton, called it unenforceable. His solution? If  Hollywood's bad girls would just stay home, life would be a lot quieter.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times 

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.11.08

Seven_years_ago_today A somber day around the nation as people commemorate the 7th anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers in NYC and the Pentagon in D.C. Check out some event listings in our travel blog, and Johanna Neuman's story from today's front page. Also, some photos, and our original story about that awful day.

On a lighter note, if you've been reading this blog this week, you've had a peek into the madcap mind of our own Shelby Grad, who energized this space with posts about everything from taco trucks (a perennial L.A. Now fave) to Barack Obama. Shelby's a natural when it comes to blogging so let's hope he keeps finding time to spice things up.

And now onward to today's news:

At last -- something good to say about the credit crunch. If you can qualify for a mortgage (and that can be a big if) you'll find that rates are sharply down.

A cabbie was killed when a car ran a red light.

Now here's a concept -- when developers are finished with the redo of the Santa Monica Place mall, there's actually going to be an ocean view. Oh -- and Bloomingdales will replace Macy's as the anchor.

And here's something verging on a minor miracle -- for the first time in 40 years, Watts is close to having a movie theater of its own. Barbara Stanton (she's heads the Wattstar Cinema and Education Center) says she's got about $10 million of the $20 million the project will take to build.

Another indoor pot farm busted, this time in an Azusa warehouse.

California's top Episcopal bishops stand up to their denomination's ban on gay marriage and publicly oppose Prop 8.

Angels_clinch_the_title The fight for an Air Force tanker contract, no less bitter than the "lipstick on a pig" controversy now hijacking the presidential campaign, has been canceled by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, on grounds that things got out of hand.

Angles clinch the AL West title, get drenched in cheap (let's hope) Champagne.

Whatever happened to Meg Ryan? Some answers in an interview here.

An 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy, each walking to school in downtown Long Beach, managed to escape a kidnap attempt.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: 9/11 memorial. Credit: Getty Images; Angels celebration. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

Nic Cage owes the IRS, a school board member owes an apology, and fried-food heaven at the fair -- it's last links!

Just_shoot_me_now Our fried-food guide to the L.A. County Fair. LAT

An Ontario-Montclair school board member shouts insults and makes one of his colleagues cry. Daily Bulletin

Pasadena's John Muir High School meets testing goals after four years of federal monitoring. Star-News

Nic Cage agrees to pay the IRS $660k. Mark Lacter

Ten people were injured when a man walked into a Mira Loma bar with a shotgun and started firing. Press-Enterprise

Parking meter rates in San Pedro to go up $1 per hour. Daily Breeze

Santa Monica spent $3,000 to keep an eye (they would use a stronger term) on Critical Mass cyclists. LAist

Cash-strapped Long Beach is now proposing cuts to the police department. Press-Telegram

Four hospitals in the OC rank worst in California for helping new moms learn to breast feed. OC Register

A fire burned three acres in Ojai. The Star

Think you may be drunk? Try the coin-operated breathalyzer. OC Register

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Rob Takata

Fight over 710 Freeway extension heads for court (again)


The surprise in the latest legal maneuvering about the oft-proposed and long-resisted extension of the 710 Freeway through South Pasadena isn't that a lawsuit has been filed by two of the affected cities, but that it took this long to get started.

South Pasadena and La Canada Flintridge both filed suits against the the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week to try to block $780 million in funding, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

The latest version of the 710 Freeway extension calls for a tunnel to run beneath South Pasadena, a plan the city has both supported and opposed in recent months.

"You can't fund a project before it goes through an environmental review," said South Pasadena Councilman Richard Schneider, a vocal opponent of the 710 extension. "The lawsuit's goal is to knock out the funding for this project."

The 4.5-mile tunnel, which would connect the 710 and 210 freeways, does not have a proposed route. A preliminary feasibility study on the project was completed in 2006, but a follow-up study has not been done.

The project would receive $780 million from a proposed half-cent sales tax measure, if a state bill authorizing the measure is signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and if the measure is passed by two-thirds of county voters in November.   

If either of those things does not happen, the lawsuits would be withdrawn, according to city officials.

What city officials really fear is that, despite promises to move the reviled freeway extension underground, MTA officials will use the tax fund to build an overland route. Stay tuned for more 710 Freeway news to come.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.05.08

Big_brother_comes_to_the_cafeteria An early-morning brush fire in the hills of Sherman Oaks near Benedict Canyon Lane burned just two acres before firefighters knocked it down. Residents were praised for their brush-clearing efforts, which made the job easier.

Four days later, the seven Inglewood police officers involved in shooting to death an unarmed homeless man have been put on leave. Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks says of the shooting, in which 47 rounds were fired, "We could have done a better job tactically." You think?

Steve Lopez has a few thoughts about Inglewood, and they're not all that flattering.

The LAUSD has shelled out $9.9 million for MealpayPlus, an online program for parents to track how school kids spend their lunch money.

Authorities are mighty vague about the "security adjustments" they're making at LAX after discovering that an elevator mechanic may have been helping illegal immigrants slip past security checks and enter the U.S.

Vietnamese immigrants who came to the U.S. as political refugees have a higher rate of mental illness when they reach their mid-50s and beyond.

Next_up_best_dressed_list Unemployment has hit a five-year high in the U.S.

And as long as we're talking about record-breaking stats, the foreclosure rate is at its fastest in almost 30 years.

Former Lakers coach Pat Riley is headed for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Hollywood Republicans ♥ Sarah Palin.

Wish you got more exercise? Follow in the footsteps of Sol Shankman, who has logged 42,000 miles, mostly in Griffith Park. Oh -- and he's 93.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Top -- Rick Loomis  Los Angeles Times; Bottom -- Fernando Medina  U.S. Presswire

Getty hours are shrinking, Dash service is growing, and a Superfund site is in the works -- it's last links!

Just_cattin_around Bobcats move into a foreclosed home in Lake Elsinore. LAT

A 160-acre parcel in Rialto that was used to store bombs, missiles and other munitions during World War II, and then was used by defense contractors and a fireworks company, is being proposed by the EPA as a Superfund site. Daily Bulletin

Parking costs grow, hours shrink at the Getty. LA Metblogs

West Nile virus strikes a Long Beach woman, the city's first since 2005. Press-Telegram

New Dash service coming to east side of downtown L.A. Blog Downtown

Carson tightens housing restrictions for registered sex offenders. Daily Breeze

An excellent question about what recourse we have about light pollution at Curbed L.A.

An American Youth Soccer Organization coach from Lake Forest faces federal child-porn charges. OC Register

What's the deal with "For Better or For Worse" in the LAT's comics pages? Franklin Avenue

Great pix from last week's Long Beach Blues fest on LAist.

Foreclosures are still a drag on the Inland Empire's economy. The Sun

Ex-Pasadena cop accused of two bank robberies in La Habra is denied bail. Star-News

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.04.08

Have a cupcake, cupcake

Happy Birthday, Los Angeles -- you're 227 today!

Did you feel that? Probably not. An earthquake hit San Bernardino early this morning, but at 3.3, it was pretty small and no injuries or damage was reported.

What many Californians are feeling, though, are the results of the longest budget standoff ever. It's affecting everyone from kidney patients in need of dialysis to independent contractors about to go bankrupt because they can't get paid. It's a mess with no end in sight.

So what has the Legislature done? A bit of tinkering with the state's flawed health care system but, thanks to aggressively lobbying by docs and insurance companies, coupled with gridlock caused by feuding  Democrats,  lots of widespread problems remain.

Another battle in the quest for cupcake domination as Sprinkles sues Sprinkled Pink, a competitor in Montecito, for trademark infringement.

John Sanford Todd, who designed Lakewood and pretty much invented the "contract city," has died.

An elevator mechanic at LAX has been arrested on suspicion of helping illegal immigrants gain entry to the U.S. by helping them avoid authorities as they left the airline terminal.

Meanwhile, a San Diego police officer is accused of helping drug traffickers in Mexico by passing along inside  info on investigations. Nice, huh?

A (mostly) rave review for Bob Dylan's show in Santa Monica.

In a world where newspapers are shrinking, we run an appreciation of the late voiceover artist, Don LaFontaine, written by Hank Stuever of the Washington Post.

--Veronique de Turenne

Thumbs down to leaded grass, donations up at Dream Catcher and Britney's headed to the VMAs -- it's last links!

Donors say nay to letting Dreamcatcher horse sanctuary fade away Jerry Brown leads the fight for lead-free artificial grass. The Times

Plans for a new courthouse in Long Beach continue to move forward. Long Beach Press-Telegram

Donors ride to the rescue of the Dream Catcher horse sanctuary. LA Unleashed

Britney Spears is headed to the VMAs. Soundboard

Arcadia considers tougher penalties for contractors who use illegal immigrants. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The parent company of Costa Mesa-based Ditech will cut 5,000 jobs. Orange County Register

The spat between San Bernardino's police chief and some of his officers gets more complicated. San Bernardino Sun

It's a girl! The 100,000th baby is born at the Women's Center of Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

No one is hurt when a small plane flips over while landing at the Camarillo Airport. Ventura County Star

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Governator scolds legislators who went to Republican convention

The budget stalemate is thiiis big Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave up a prime-time speaking slot at the GOP convention underway in Minnesota because of California’s budget morass. So it was not surprising that he took the bait when asked this morning how he feels about state legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, who decided to attend their party shindigs.

But the governor, who has not been shy lately about attacking lawmakers, did so with unusual vigor at a news conference in Placerville, where he was surrounded by local officials upset that the state is holding up their funding.

“While the state is 2 1/2 months late on a budget and while there are severe consequences because of that to education and healthcare and hospitals, and law enforcement and firefighting and all of those things, there are absolutely no consequences for the legislators. Absolutely none. They go on vacation. They go on recess. They go home on the weekends and have their two days off -- because God forbid they have to work through the weekend -- and they go to the various different conventions and do their things, and business as usual.”

“I think that you should stay in the capital,” Schwarzenegger said. “You should not go anywhere until the budget is done ... "

The governor did not note that lawmakers did actually work this past weekend, because ... (continued on jump)

--Michael Rothfeld

Photo: Associated Press


Read on »

Good morning -- here's what's happening 9.03.08

Just_part_of_the_family So that's why you're not supposed to feed them -- hungry bears are breaking into people's homes in Kern County in search of easy pickings. Talk about a home invasion robbery.

Think stern warnings to L.A. city workers about wasting water have had an effect? Think again.

Eight men digging a tunnel from Mexico into the U.S., complete with ventilation and a trolley system, have been arrested.

Antonio Villaraigosa promises the moon to double the rate of academic achievement in the 10 "Partnership for Los Angeles Schools" he oversees.

Speaking of which, lots of back-to-school news and details in our education blog, The Homeroom.

Jerry Brown, the state's attorney general, sides with O.C. sheriff's deputies in a fight about their pension plan.

A man has been found shot to death on an isolated canyon road in Malibu.

A man in Irvine, who police say aimed a gun at a SWAT team during a standoff, has been shot and wounded.

USC is No. 1 in the AP football poll.

As soon as I finish this post, I'm downloading Google's new browser, Chrome, which gets a (mostly) good review from our own David Colker and Michelle Maltais. I'll let you know how it goes.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: April Wilburn

A magic mushroom arrest, "not guilty" Playboy plea, and billboard with a message -- it's last links!

Safe_and_sound That American Airlines 737 with a blown tire landed safely at LAX. LAT

The Ventura County man accused of slamming his car into the front gates of the Playboy Mansion pleads "not guilty." Daily News

Grand opening of a new LAPD Rampart station station this Thursday. Angelenic

"Stop the Killing" -- that's the message of a billboard in Carson, created by the families of slain children. Daily Breeze

A trade agreement with China that allows tour groups to get travel visas will bring millions of tourists to Los Angeles. SGV Tribune

A woman in Garden Grove has been arrested on suspicion of growing psychedelic mushrooms. OC Register

Ontario is jazzed about its helicopter crime patrol. Daily Bulletin

Tonight in rock. LAist

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

The breasts of the West pass a pair of legal tests

Oh for heaven's sake It's been a banner week for nudity in California. First the naked sunbathers at San Onofre got permission to keep their most private parts public, now a pair of women arrested in Sacramento in 2005 for baring their breasts in the name of peace have won a legal victory of their own.

According to a Superior Court judge in Sacramento, the arrest of "Breasts Not Bombs" protesters Sherry Glaser and Sheba Love was unlawful because their action was symbolic speech and the women were not, as accused, indecently exposed or committing a lewd act.

Our own Evan Halper covered the lead-up to the protest, in which officials warned that the sight of the women's bare bosoms could, as Evan put it, "corrupt children, prompt drivers to veer off the road and cause sex offenders to run amok." He was also there on Nov. 7, when the women shed their shirts and police arrested them. The women faced the possibility of a trial, and of having to register as sex offenders.

In case you're a bit hazy about the whole breasts-to-bombs connection, the women say breasts represent peace and the survival of the human race while bombs, well, don't. The group has protested in San Francisco without incident (natch) and in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., where neither the women nor the men in the group were told to put on shirts.

If you're made of sterner stuff, this site has not only photos of the bare-breasted women protesting in Berkeley in July of 2005, but some men who dropped by and, in the spirit of things, dropped trou for peace.

America. What a country.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

(A previous version of this post misidentified Sheba Love as Shoba Love.)

A Metrolink price break, another chance at Radiohead and a family goes to jail -- it's last links!

Jury_says_not_guilty_3 Ex-Marine (pictured) acquitted in deaths of Iraqi soldiers. LAT

A triathlete who broke her neck in a Santa Barbara race dies after telling her family she wanted to be removed from life support. LAT

Two men on a raft made of 15,000 plastic bottles left Long Beach in June and arrived in Hawaii three months later. Press-Telegram

Latino public school students, by the numbers. The Homeroom

Another take on exhibiting sea creatures for fun and profit. Spouting Off

LAist has some ideas on where to watch Barack Obama's speech tonight.

The mine entrance in the Cleveland National Forest where two people died is being sealed by the U.S. Forest Service. OC Register

Why Caroline on Crack hates some Radiohead fans.

Metrolink to the beach -- 25% off on weekends. Daily Travel and Deal

Whole family goes to jail when parents help their son resist arrest in Highland. Daily Bulletin

The Arroyo Seco project is finished. Star-News

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Scientists move shark from Malibu to Monterey for exhibit

Ms_White_goes_to_monterey For the fourth time in four years, a young great white shark is going on display in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, part of an ongoing research project that attracts millions of visitors even as it draws sharp criticism of the aquarium. Captured off the coast of Malibu on Aug. 16, the  new shark is a young female,  4 feet long and 55 pounds. Researchers moved her on Wednesday, and she now swims in the aquarium's Outer Bay exhibit.

The aquarium's trawler and floating shark pen have been fixtures in Paradise Cove in Malibu for each of the last four summers. This year, researchers tagged and released five great white sharks. Four others were brought to the pen, three of which were subsequently released. The fourth, now in the exhibit, is expected to stay in Monterey for several months. Upon release, her movements will be tracked until her GPS unit loses power or falls off.

Catch_and_release Controversy has dogged the shark project since its inception, with animal rights activists saying keeping such a nomadic creature in captivity is cruel. In 2005, the white shark on display attacked and killed two soupfin sharks in the exhibit. Another shark, who damaged its snout on the exhibit's walls, earned the aquarium some bad press.

But scientists for the aquarium say the project's benefits far outweigh its risks. With shark populations in decline worldwide, and with the great white being demonized in films and television shows, information gathered about the sharks' movements and behavior is the creatures' best defense.

Information on how to see the shark is here. And as always, comments are open. Be opinionated, but be nice.

— Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Randy Wilder / Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jury votes for the death penalty for notorious gangster

A Los Angeles jury today voted for the death penalty for a notorious street gang leader convicted of committing three murders during a four-year rampage that included an attempted ambush murder of two police officers.

Timothy Joseph McGhee, 35, was convicted in October 2007 of the murders of two rival gang members and the girlfriend of another.  According to court testimony, McGhee taunted one of his victims, telling him before firing the fatal shots into his head to "die like a man."

Two weeks after convicting him, however, jurors deadlocked over whether McGhee should be put to death for his crimes.  Deputy Dist. Atty. Hoon Chun promised at the time to retry the penalty phase of McGhee’s case.

"We obviously believed that the defendant deserved the death penalty for the tremendous pain and suffering he caused the victims and their families," Chun said after today’s verdict, adding that he was thankful to the jury for returning "a fair and just verdict."

—Jean Merl

'No on Prop. 5' links liberal Martin Sheen with unlikely allies

Peace_out Actor and liberal activist Martin Sheen has agreed to co-chair the People Against Proposition 5 campaign, a coalition of groups and individuals whose stated aim is to defeat the Nov. 4 ballot measure. Proposition 5, which would ease criminal consequences of some drug offenses and rewrite some parole guidelines, has among its supporters billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has donated $1 million in support of the measure. Opponents include MADD, the California District Attorneys Assn. and the California Police Chiefs Assn.

The actor's stance against Prop. 5 puts him arm in arm with the conservatives whom Sheen, as an outspoken critic of President Bush and his Iraq policies, usually fights. GOP consultant Kevin Spillane is spokesman for the campaign against Proposition 5, which now makes him and Sheen allies.

It's a toss-up what the actor is best known for -- portraying President Jed Bartlet on "The West Wing" or being the father of bad boy Brat Packer Charlie Sheen, whose drug addiction and repeat stints in rehab played out in the public eye.

"I am accepting a leading role in this effort because I believe Proposition 5 will do so much harm to so many people," Sheen said in a statement.  "Fighting drug addiction is an issue that is very close to my heart.  I believe in rehabilitation and not incarceration."

Politics does make strange bedfellows.

—Veronique de Turenne

Good morning -- here's what's happening 8.27.08

Its_always_fire_season_in_la A bill working its way through the state Legislature targets snooping into hospital medical files by unauthorized docs, nurses and healthcare workers. Also in the hopper -- a bill to assure medical care for people with pre-existing conditions.

Another deadline looms for state lawmakers -- they must say yes to a plan on the shared use of carpool lanes on the 110 and 10 freeways, or $210 million the feds are offering will vanish.

That fire in Calabasas yesterday burned 75 acres and is being called suspicious.

Meanwhile, a car with a body in the trunk was found at the site of a small brush fire yesterday on PCH at Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

Fasten your seat belts -- the FDIC warns of more bank failures on the way.

Dr. Dre's 20-year-old son, Andre R. Young Jr., was found dead in his Woodland Hills home.

Vons joins Ralphs in limiting its double-coupon policy.

Ready for some good news? Poverty in L.A. is down. (Bad news -- it's rising in the rest of the U.S.)

And whether this next item is good or bad news depends on how much of a purist you are (litmus test -- interleague play is A: A brilliant idea, or B: The devil's handiwork.) -- MLB umpires will be allowed to use video replays starting Thursday.

More debate about the push to lower the drinking age in the U.S. to 18.

Couples are getting creative in cutting wedding costs.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Bratz get spanked, politician's car gets torched and Heidi is (still) ready for her close-up — it's last links!

that's what you get for being such Bratz A jury awards Mattel $100 million in Bratz lawsuit. LAT

LAX is unaffected by computer glitch. Bottleneck Blog

A Lake Elsinore politician's car is set ablaze, the second such incident in two months. Press-Enterprise

A man is found dead in a car filled with chemicals in Pasadena. Star-News

"Top Chef" contestant (and last year's runner-up) is charged with DUI in Laguna Beach. Orange County Register

Are you following the Heidi Chronicles, in which a big, beautiful girl knocks at the doors of Hollywood, seeking fame? It's all in LA Unleashed.

A coyote causes a crash in Morongo Basin. The Sun

Rapper Snoop Dogg meets with a city councilman from Long Beach to learn how he can help his hometown. Press-Telegram

—Veronique de Turenne

Woman booted from federal building for gay T-shirt

Lapriss Gilbert, who was ordered out of the Social Security office in Van Nuys on Monday because her T-shirt bore the words "lesbian.com," says she plans to sue the security guard who told her the shirt was offensive and then forced her to leave. The Daily News has details:

As she headed for a line to pick up a Social Security card for her son, Gilbert was stopped by a guard who said her T-shirt, naming an educational and resource Web site for gay women, was offensive.

She said the guard, who works for a private company hired by the Department of Homeland Security, demanded that she leave the building or face arrest.

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination ... but this is just shocking," said Gilbert, 31.

Lori Haley, a federal spokeswoman for the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - which is under the Homeland Security umbrella - said the guard was out of line.

"We believe that the actions of the contract security guard were inappropriate and unacceptable - we have notified his company, Paragon, of our position in the matter," Haley said.

The guard cited federal guidelines to back up his actions. Think Gloria Allred's phone is ringing yet?

--Veronique de Turenne

Good morning -- here's what's happening 8.26.08

Where_do_they_go_now There's a flash flood warning for mountain areas of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the Coachella Valley and the San Diego County backcountry.

The first Californian to die from West Nile virus is a 72-year-old woman from the Buena Park in the O.C.

Low-income renters forced from their homes when landlords are defaulted on home loans are feeling the results of the mortgage meltdown.

Jerry Brown releases 11-pages of guidelines for medical marijuana dispensaries in an effort to separate the legit operations from criminal ones.

A 31-year-old robbery suspect has apparently hanged himself in his Hollywood jail cell.

The SEIU spending scandal has reached Michigan.

Santa Barbara County supes, citing improved methods, are expected to vote yes today on new offshore drilling.

Gas prices fall below $4 in (parts of) California.

Researchers plan to use radar that reveals what lies beneath the ground in the continuing search for a missing San Marino couple.

Thanks to scheduling decisions made when it looked like SAG members could strike, studio production in the city has declined.

Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl -- how was it?

Dodgers try to lure season ticket holders to renew by promising to freeze prices.

Dave Freeman, the ad exec who wrote "100 things to do before you die" has died at age 47 after a fall in his home in Venice. (And yes, he did most of the 100 things in his book.)

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Ruth Cordoba, center, and her family are living in a hotel after they were evicted from a rental that had fallen into foreclosure. Credit: Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times

Dear Editor: The top 5 reasons you write to us

The_good_ol_days_2 We get letters (dozens) and e-mails (thousands) and faxes (a few) each week here at the L.A. Times, and once the bad and the ugly get weeded out, the good fall into distinct categories. Eryn Brown, writing in our Opinion Blog, breaks it down:

After we cut out spam, obscene mail, letters addressed to more than one recipient, letters that seem to be the fruit of letter-writing campaigns (last week's biggie: complaints about Jerome Corsi's "Obama Nation") and letters with attachments (which gum up our computer systems), we usually are left with several hundred eligible items, from which we select the somewhere around 100 that get published in the newspaper every week.

In the week starting Aug. 17, we received almost 600 usable letters, 346 of which were in our Top Five Topics:

The presidential election: 181 letters, reacting to 15 stories covering everything from the forum at Saddleback Church to Cindy McCain's hand injury.

Russia: 86 letters, responding to three stories about the conflict in Georgia.

The other three topics, and an interesting chart -- in the rest of Eryn's post here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Good morning -- here's what's happening 8.25.08

Painting_for_gold Good luck if you're now on or near the 105 Freeway hoping to get anywhere on time. A body (no ID, no reason for death given) found on the eastbound lanes near Watts prompted authorities to shut down the freeway while they figured out what happened. Lanes reopen at 9 a.m., or so we're told.

Some rail buffs aren't faring much better --  an Amtrak train headed to San Diego from L.A. ran out of fuel and had to be pushed to its destination.

A man in East L.A. has been arrested in connection with a drug-related massacre on a ranch near Ensenada, in which 19 people, including two toddlers, were shot to death.

UCLA football -- hoping for the best but not expecting much.

An L.A. woman discovers her uncle's 1932 Olympic gold medal -- for watercolor painting.

ThinkFilm and its chairman, David Bergstein, are being sued by associates who claim they're owed money.

The trailers are gone and a ($12 million!) campground is going in on the 35 acres where El Morro Village once sat in the O.C.

An inmate escaped from a San Diego state prison on Sunday.

John McCain's going to appear on "The Tonight Show" as part of his SoCal campaign swing.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Jakub Mosur / For The Times

Stolen fire hydrants in Long Beach, a new area code in the OC, and good (and bad) news for Ed McMahon — it's last links!

Edgy_melrose_even_edgier Another robbery — the eighth in two weeks — on Melrose Avenue. This one took place in broad daylight. The Times

Good news for Ed McMahon — a real buyer (not Donald Trump) has purchased McMahon's home. LA Land

Bad news for Ed McMahon — Lawyers for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center say McMahon's lawsuit doesn't hold water. Daily News

California will ditch lead wheel weights by 2009. Greenspace

Seven fire hydrants have been stolen in the last month in Long Beach. Press-Telegram

A Hawthorne man is accused of torturing his wife. Daily Breeze

Orange County area codes will change Saturday. Orange County Register

A San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy is picked up for DUI outside Laughlin, Nevada. The Sun

A murder suspect in Fontana flees to Mexico. Daily Bulletin

BlogDowntown says goodbye to Ed Fuentes. BlogDowntown

Slash at the Guitar Center. LA Metblogs

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Debate over paragliding in Malibu

into the air, junior birdmenA small brush fire caused when a paraglider crash-landed in Malibu last month has sparked a debate in the Malibu Times over whether more regulations are needed. Letter-writer Bill Raffin thinks so:

I've seen hang-gliders descending dangerously low across the highway with only a short stretch of beach for landing on when the tide is high. I am not against hang-gliders and I love recreational activity, but I do believe the risk of loss of human life and the potential for collision on or near the busy Pacific Coast Highway are too great to allow this sport to take place in the immediate area.

His letter generated much debate on the Times' site. Others posted comments defending the sport. One poster said: "I support the paragliders they are beautiful to watch. Those so called out of towners bring revenue to the area although I bet most are locals. They are not a danger to you Mr Malibu or your children in your 4000 [pound] car or SUV."

-- Shelby Grad

Photo credit: Veronique de Turenne / Los Angeles Times

State Senate says 'nuts' to spay/neuter supporters

500,000 pets are killed in California shelters each year A law to require the spaying and neutering of unlicensed strays -- a reaction by a Van Nuys legislator to the 500,000 unwanted dogs and cats killed in California's animal shelters each year -- was vigorously rejected by the Senate today in a 5-27 vote.

The vote on the bill, considered one of the most controversial in this year's legislative session, reveals a divide between the state's densely populated cities and its rural areas. Patrick McGreevy has the details:

"On behalf of my dog, he’d like to remain intact,’’ said state Sen. Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), voicing the sentiment of many of his colleagues who represent rural areas.  "He hasn’t caused any problems."

The bill, proposed by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys) was watered down to apply only to unlicensed pets. But lawmakers, particularly those from rural areas, were having none of it.

"What works for Mr. Levine in Los Angeles County won’t necessarily work in Alpine or Modoc County," said state Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks).

His colleague, state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), was more direct.  "This a myopic view from those who come from the big city."

The bill would have required that the owner pay a $50 fine for the first offense. The second offense would result in a $100 fine and a requirement that a microchip be implanted so the dog could be traced. On the third offense, the dog would be spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering of cats, however, would be required on the second offense.

I do my best to stay neutral in this blog, but I can't help wondering whether spending a week in the euthanasia room of a shelter might change a few senators' minds.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times


A 10-year-old pilot, no election in Chino, and LAX workers vote to strike -- it's last links!

Because_flyings_not_hard_enough LAX service workers say yes to a strike. LAT

The brother of a Santa Ana councilwoman is among those snagged by a three-day gang sweep. LAT

A Middle East peace plan announced ... 50 years ago. Daily Mirror

An exotic species of fruit fly considered to be one of the world's most destructive pests has been found in the San Gabriel Valley. SGV Tribune

No city council elections this year in Chino or Chino Hills as no one is challenging the incumbents. Daily Bulletin

A six-foot layer of industrial glass, metal fragments and trash from Santa Susana Field Lab has been found on a nearby firing range. Daily News

A 10-year-old from Van Nuys is one of the youngest pilots in the nation. Daily News.

Reality series filmed in downtown L.A. premieres tonight on VH1. Angelenic

Two Long Beach women who live on fixed incomes celebrate serving 5,000 meals to the needy in the last five years. Press-Telegram

Dance the night away tonight on the Santa Monica Pier. LA Metblogs

The rules of the road for dogs in Dominguez Park in Redondo Beach. Daily Breeze

A Catholic priest who took a 17-year-old boy to a motel gets 180 days in jail. OC Register

Conditions in the city of San Bernardino's animal shelter are grim. The Sun

Crime on the Ballona Creek bike path has the L.A. City Council talking about closing an access gate. LAist

Dot's not fair -- the cupcake wars get sticky


It's getting late and I'm getting hungry so I'm making this cupcake photo really, really big. Not, however, quite as big as a fight brewing about the dots atop the frosting.  (Who knew?)

Seems those dots are a hallmark of Sprinkles, one of the shops (and an Oprah fave) at ground zero of the cupcake craze. Now come Famous Cupcakes, sporting suspiciously similar dots, and the frosting is about to hit the fan. The full story about the Great Cupcake War of '08, by Kimi Yoshino, is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Laura Richardson won't have to pay a $400 property bill

Is_this_laura_richardsons_legacy The never-ending story of Rep. Laura Richardson grinds on and on. And on.

The Long Beach Democrat, best known at this point for her multiple home loan defaults (eight on three homes since 2004), pricey tax payer-funded car lease ($1,200 per month for a Lincoln Town Car), and the sweet deal she got from Washington Mutual to regain control of her foreclosed home, which had been sold, just got some more good news.

The $400 spent by Sacramento code enforcement officers to board up her garage? Richardson's off the hook and doesn't have to pay. More from the Daily Breeze:

The city decided it would be too much trouble to determine who owned the property last month, when code enforcement officers were called out to deal with a "public nuisance."

After Richardson stopped making payments on the home, it was sold to an investor at a foreclosure auction. But the property was returned to Richardson in June, after her bank rescinded the sale.   

In a statement, Richardson, D-Long Beach, disavowed any responsibility for the current upkeep of the home, because she said it still has not been transferred back to her.

"Congresswoman Richardson is fully prepared, WHEN full transfer of the property is made and reinstated, to manage and maintain the Sacramento property," said her spokesman, William Marshall.

Richardson's statement conflicts with available public records, which state that she has had the title to the property since June 2.

The article asks an intriguing question: Why did WaMu pay Richardson's $9,000 tax bill?  An answer (sort of) is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Associated Press

City agencies in hot water for wasting H20

Remember this footage our reporters shot of L.A. agencies (the DWP, for Pete's sake) wasting water on the very day the city cracked down on residents with strict drought regulations and tough fines? Now they're under the same scrutiny, with orders to conduct audits of their water usage, the results of which will be handed over to the public on a regular basis, Rich Connell reports.

Help out with pix of your own. Here's a great one of city sprinklers turned 180 degrees and watering the street near Echo Park Lake.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Video: Rich Connell and Robert J. Lopez

Good morning -- here's what's happening 8.21.08

Tyrone_freeman_denies_doing_anyth_2 What's going on at Aurora Las Encinas hospital in Pasadena? A teen was raped and three adults unexpectedly died in the facility, which is known for its ties to celeb doc Drew Pinsky.

Tyrone Freeman, prez of L.A.'s chapter of the SEIU, steps down after stories by The Times reveal the union and a related charity paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to companies owned by Freeman's wife and her mother. (That's Freeman in the photo at right.)

Our state legislators are on the verge of doing something right, George Skelton says. (Hint: a growth bill.)

Meanwhile, Arnold Schwarzenegger is tilting at windmills pushing a budget that includes a three-year tax hike.

Not so fast -- even if state leaders do manage to balance the budget (fingers crossed), state voters will screw it all up on Nov. 4 when all those pricey ballot initiatives are up for grabs. That's one opinion, anyway.

See_a_movie_spend_some_cash You pull back, those upscale malls reach out, which means more marketing, aggressive sales and even free outdoor concerts and movies.

Robert Lloyd likes "The Cho Show."

Angles win, Dodgers lose, and Manny Ramirez doesn't seem to be living up to his (bad boy) rep.

Police launch a gang crackdown in Santa Ana.

The NYT uses Candy Spelling's recent mondo condo purchase to explore real estate trends in L.A. (A bit more on that later today.)

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Los Angeles Times

Yes to nudists, no to hookahs, and unemployment for even more journalists -- it's last links!

Look_ma_no_tan_linesjpg Dude, you're nude? That's OK for now, a judge tells bathers at San Onofre State Beach. LAT

A-list makeup artist, Paul Starr, was found dead in his home. LAT

Park rangers in Joshua Tree are looking for info on who set fire to an endangered tortoise. Press-Enterprise

A burglar is stealing women's undies in Ontario. The Bulletin

Another round of buyouts at the Modesto Bee. Sacto Biz Journal

A thief dressed as a DWP workers steals a bike. LA Metblogs

My kind of fight -- a gourmet taco battle in the OC. OC Register

City of Lawndale says no to applicant who wanted to open a hookah cafe. Daily Breeze

Casting call for "Deal or No Deal" tomorrow at Ontario Mills mall. The Sun

An 81-year-old apartment building from Pasadena's Fuller Seminary, which was sliced in two, carted off and stored on blocks, is finally getting a new home. Star-News

The Warped Tour. LAist

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Emancipation Proclamation headed for SoCal next month

What_would_abraham_lincoln_think_of The five-page document, considered a linchpin in post-Civil War reunification, is headed to the Reagan Library next month, part of "Forever Free," a look at slavery and the Civil War that includes a small collection of items associated with Abraham Lincoln. Details from the Ventura County Star:

"We don't just tell the story of one man here; we tell the story of American history and the presidency, and the Reagan Library is honored to share this piece of American history," said Joanne Drake, chief of staff for the Reagan Foundation.

The exhibit will include letters and manuscripts written by Lincoln, including a California Emancipation Proclamation — printed in California in 1864 and signed by President Lincoln for commemorative purposes — one of only three known to exist, said Rob Zucca, an exhibit specialist at the Reagan Library.

Lincoln artifacts include a purple chamberpot from the White House, a hanky that Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, monogrammed for him, and a volume from his law office in Springfield, Ill. (Above is a photo of Lincoln and his son, Tad, who spend part of his youth in the White House.)

The "Forever Free" exhibit starts Friday and runs through Oct. 24. The Emancipation Proclamation, hand-signed by the president and on loan from the National Archives, will be on display from Sept. 19 through the 22nd. More details at the library's website.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Associated Press

Democrats in state Senate say no to education aid for Guard members


Thank_you_national_guard For the second year in a row, our elected officials in Sacramento have refused to give educational financial aid to the California National Guard, making us the only state in the union that doesn't help its citizen soldiers on the schooling front. Nancy Vogel has details:

State military officials say their only hope now is that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will prevail upon Democratic legislators to include money for tuition assistance in the budget that is 49 days overdue and more than $15 billion in the red.


Schwarzenegger has called the lack of benefits "unconscionable" and proposed spending $3.3 million this year and next to help Guard members with tuition assistance. That is enough to cover most tuition and fees at community colleges or a state university for about 2,000 people.

Democrats and Republicans in the Assembly agreed. But Democrats in the Senate scuttled a bill that would have created the program and then stripped the $3.3 million from a Democratic budget plan.

Senators said the program's cost doomed it and hundreds of other spending proposals as the state wrestles with a $15.2-billion budget gap.

"Given the budget crisis, all bills that had a substantial amount of money" attached did not pass, said Sen. Jack Scott (D-Altadena).

The rest of Nancy's story is here. And that photo? National Guardsmen fighting a California wildfire.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Associated Press

A land transfer in O.C., a fire meeting in Griffith Park, and is this the lowest speed limit in L.A.? It's last links!

Mom_and_dad_will_pay_for_this_2 Kids tag, parents pay. LAT

Commuting patterns in L.A. County. Bottleneck Blog

Long Beach buys land on PCH for City College campus. Long Beach Press-Telegram

The newest plans for the new Nikkei Center. Angelenic

Managing director of Pasadena Playhouse to resign after 11 years. Pasadena Star-News

Tom LaBonge holds a meeting tonight about the Griffith Park fires. Donna Barstow

Schools get 100 cameras for mini-docs about voting. L.A. Daily News

The lowest posted speed limit in L.A. Los Anjealous

O.C. supes get ready to transfer control of wild lands to a nature reserve. O.C. Register

A naturalization ceremony for 22 Marines and two sailors. The Sun

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 8.19.08 *

Whos_torching_griffith_park*(Updated at 11:07 a.m.)

Those seven fires in Griffith Park? Definitely arson, investigators are saying. At least two were set by the same person. All seven started near roadways, a "crime of opportunity."

It's been 27 years since wholesale prices have risen as fast as they're rising right now.

But wait -- a spot of good news. Gas prices are at their lowest since May.

An Internet kiddie porn sweep in SoCal results in several arrests and charges filed against 50 men, the Department of Justice announced. We'll have a story later in the day.

Eighteen hospitals -- most here in SoCal -- get hit with fines for violations that put patients in serious jeopardy.

Greg Maddux is coming back to the Dodgers.

A man who barricaded himself in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall stabbed a police  officer with a pair of scissors and was shot by another officer.

"Faulty recollections" by an LAPD detective lead to dismissal of a 2005 gang murder case and, after three years, the man falsely accused is released from prison.

The FBI has begun a criminal probe of our city attorney, Rocky Delgadillo, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (UPDATE: Given what we’ve reported about Delgadillo’s use of city funds to repair a wrecked car and city staff to watch his kids, it’s not surprising that the feds might be looking into his actions. They have a legal obligation to chase leads. But it’s also worth noting that lots of investigations end up determining nothing illegal happened.)

The ancient Terra Cotta warriors of imperial China are drawing some of the biggest crowds yet for the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana.

Forget the fake grass, Patt Morrison says. Just let your unnatural lawn die a natural death.

--Veronique de Turenne


Good morning -- here's what's happening 8.18.08

Will_it_be_jeans_instead_of_greens California remains without a budget as statehouse Republicans freeze out the Democrats' plan to close the $15.2-billion gap by taxing corporations and the wealthy.

Get ready for a fight as the developer who owns the 14-acre property formerly known as the South Central Farm tries to build a warehouse for Forever 21.

Arson is suspected in this weekend's Griffith Park fire.

Should school boards weigh in on the gay marriage battle?

Speaking of which, there's a bit of a controversy about whether that "What if you couldn't marry the person you love?" TV commercial is breaking the law.

Cutbacks by foreign airlines flying into LAX could cost the region $9 billion per year in local economic activity.

The father of Olympic boxer Shawn Estrada has died.

Arnold Schwarzenegger had knee surgery.

Is the basketball winning streak at Villa Park High School the result of rule-breaking recruiting practices? Some coaches think so, but school officials deny it.

New York-based SAG members are not happy with how SoCal members are handling the contract talks.

The election of an L.A. union leader has caught the eye of the U.S. Labor Department.

What the heck is going on with Tom Cruise? (And does anyone even care?)

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Benjamin Reed / Los Angeles Times

Do as we say, not as we do -- the city and water waste


On the day L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed a law to double fines for residents who waste water in the city, that's exactly what was taking place at a Venice Beach park and a DWP facility -- a lot of water being wasted.

Read David Zahniser's story about the new drought-buster law. And here's our "A picture is worth a thousand gallons" photo album, for you to post to and help track water waste by city agencies.

--Veronique de Turenne

Video: Rich Connell & Robert J. Lopez / Los Angeles Times

Embellished resumes, cockroaches are off the menu and an 89-year-old foils a pursesnatcher -- it's last links!

Shooting_blanks Mediterranean fruit flies have been wiped out in Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Solano counties, thanks to the use of sterile males. The Times

An 89-year-old woman fought off a purse snatcher in Stanton. The Times

Too bad she wasn't around when a truckload of electronics was hijacked in Long Beach. The Times

Does your resume contain a few fibs? Are you a county worker in the O.C.? Then no worries! Orange County Register

Protest in Downey against "Tropic Thunder." Press-Telegram

Was the buyout of Lancaster's city manager legal? Daily News

A proposal for a winter season ice rink in Redondo Beach gets a preliminary OK from the City Council. Daily Breeze

A water price hike could be coming to Pasadena. Star-News

Six trash bags filled with pot were found near a Baldwin Park business. San Gabriel Valley Tribune

San Bernardino preps for the state's biggest earthquake drill. San Bernardino Sun

Magic Mountain won't serve cockroaches on Halloween. Daily Bulletin

The FBI is on the hunt for a bank robber in Whittier. Whittier Daily News

— Veronique de Turenne

Badge of honor


A swath of black tape turns the badge of a U.S. National Park Service ranger into a symbol of mourning as family, friends and colleagues await word of the fate of a pilot and eight firefighters who remain missing after their helicopter crashed. The aircraft, a Sikorsky S-61N  returning private contract firefighters from Oregon back to camp after a day's work, went down in a remote area of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Our story is here.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

Seriously? Someone stole the George Freeth statue from the Redondo pier

George_freeth_chairman_of_the_board It sat on the pier for 31 years, a sea-greened bronze bust of surf god George Freeth. Last night, someone stole it, the Daily Breeze reports:

The statue, created by sculptor Terry O'Donnell, who died recently, has been on the Redondo Beach Pier for 31 years.    

Police have not identified any suspects and will release more information about the theft later today.    

Freeth brought surfing to California from his native Hawaii in 1907, gave exhibitions and, when people became interested, taught anyone who wanted to learn. Nearly 90 years after his death, he remains the patron saint of watermen (and women) up and down the California coast.

Jack London, who met Freeth in Hawaii in his pre-California years, called him "a brown Mercury (whose) heels are winged." That's Freeth in the photo, riding a wakeboard in San Diego in 1917 and making it look like a walk in the park. Two years later, an influenza pandemic swept the world and Freeth was among the victims.

Now, thanks to some light-fingered thugs, SoCal loses another little piece of his legacy.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Courtesy San Diego Historical Society

California strawberries make a historic debut in Beijing

Stranger_in_a_strange_land The Olympics haven't even started and already California has made history. For the first time ever, a shipment of foreign strawberries -- California-grown strawberries, to be exact -- entered China on Tuesday. And who do we have to thank? Richard Nixon, of course, whose unprecedented trip in 1972 pried open the door. But also Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who acted as a strawberry spokesman during his trade mission to China in 2005.

The first 450-pound delivery of one of the Golden State's most recognizable cash crops arrived in Beijing at a time when local strawberries are out of season. Before they make it into the hands of Olympic chefs, however, the berries will undergo rigorous inspection by the (deep breath) China General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Meanwhile, Australians are still screaming bloody murder as the Chinese continue their ban on that  (seriously, have you tasted it?)  oddity from Down Under, Vegemite.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Associated Press

Shake, rattle and roll -- it's quake-related last links!

Shaken_and_stirred Twitter got a real workout in today's earthquake, with some users ending tweets while the earth was still moving. The Times' tech blog

Pomona City Hall is yellow-tagged after the quake. San Bernardino Sun

The quake breaks water pipes at Macy's in Woodland Hills. L.A. Daily News

Shake and bake: yes, the earthquake, but also more fire. LA MetBlogs

Cal State Fullerton sustains some quake damage. Orange County Register

Google trends during the quake. LAist

Minor quake injuries are reported at Mt. San Antonio College. Pasadena Star-News

Some people are hurt in Riverside too. Riverside Press-Enterprise

Know how to turn off your gas at home? The Daily Breeze  offers this link.

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

LA's Tofu Festival says soy-anara

Soyanara_to_the_tofu_fest If you've been counting down the days to L.A.'s annual Tofu Festival next month, we've got some sad news. After 12 years of celebrating the joy of soy, organizers have called it quits. Here's the scoop from the Tofu Fest's website:

Thank you for your many years of support. We’ve enjoyed delicious tofu dishes with you under the sun for the last twelve years and thank you for helping to make the LA Tofu Festival one of the top food festivals in Los Angeles. As redevelopment in Little Tokyo and Downtown Los Angeles continues to boom, venues for such a large scale events have become scarce.

Fans of the fest already know tofu had its own official spokeswoman, as well as a blog where you can see pix of last year's event, as well as dishes such as tofu scramble and a carved tofu cow. At least one aficionado has blogged his sorrow at the festival's sudden demise on his site, Matthew's Alibi:

The Tofu Festival provided the sort of surreal sun-drenched cultural hodgepodge that feels unique to this city, and it was one of the first things that made me love Los Angeles. (It was surreal. Along the lines of, “Check out this roasting hot parking lot. They got soy in the shape of gourmet ice cream! And soy in the shape of a sausage. And soy milk. And soy bread. And soy noodles! And here comes the tofu ninja …

This year's annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival won't be quite the same without it.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Beatrice de Gea / Los Angeles Times

Why no charges yet in the papparazzi beach brawl? Nobody's talking

The_paparazzi_wars Still no legal movement in the beach papparazzi -versus - surfers brawls in Malibu that made international headlines and led to beefed-up beach enforcement last month, Harriet Ryan reports:

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has not charged anyone in the incidents and one surfer claims a knife wielded by a paparazzo was edited out of the video sold to Internet gossip sites.

Meanwhile, photographers are grumbling that the lack of charges against the locals reflects Malibu's disgust with paparazzi.

"If they wanted to get them, they would have already," said Alexander DeMacedo, a freelance paparazzo who was at both incidents. "I don't think they tried hard enough."

Investigators say the problem lies with witnesses on both sides, who refuse to come forward with details. Meanwhile, one of the paps sounds as though he's considering a civil suit. Read Hariet's full story about the Malibu papparazzi brawl.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times

Kayakers to paddle length of L.A. River this weekend

And_a_river_runs_through_it Is the L.A. River actually a river? It used to be, before it was encased in concrete from Canoga Park to its terminus in Long Beach and turned into a giant storm drain. Then came the decision last spring by the Army Corps of Engineers that, because the waterway is no longer navigable, it's not a river at all.

Blogger George Wolfe of the tongue-in-cheek LaLa Times promptly took to the water in protest. (That's Wolfe in the photo. Hi George!) He's at it again today, leading a dozen kayakers on a three-day trip down the 51-mile length of the L.A. River, paddling from Canoga Park to Long Beach to prove that the feds are wrong. Here's the story from LAist:

This afternoon in Canoga Park, 12 kayakers are going to begin a 51-mile, three-day journey down the LA River to Long Beach. They have no permit to enter the river, but that's part of the point. The Army Corps of Engineers caused a stir in the community last month when they declared that the Los Angeles River was not, in fact, a river because it was not navigable, save for two spots.

Many people, including politicians, community members, environmentalists and George Wolfe, Editor of the LaLa Times and the leader of today's expedition, said this is detrimental to the city. "We’re here to defend the right of the people of Los Angeles to use their own river. The city was founded where it is precisely because of the river," Wolfe explains noting that this weekend's expedition takes the stance that "public trust law in California contains certain inalienable rights of access to the waters of the U.S., and that these time-honored, common sense laws supersede all bureaucratic misgivings, justifications and obfuscations regarding the denial of our request."

Supporters are welcome to come watch the 3:00 p.m. launch at headwaters in Canoga Park. Details and directions are on LAist. For more about river advocacy, visit Friends of the LA River.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

State workers picket, MTA votes and Laura Richardson fights back -- it's last links!

Pass_the_state_budget_already State workers picket to protest Gov. Schwarzenegger's wage-cut plan. LAT

Gas prices drop BELOW $4 PER GALLON in Pasadena. (Sorry for shouting.) Star-News

MTA votes to put sales tax increase on the November ballot. LAT

Ygor, the one-eyed SWAT dog in Santa Ana, retires. O.C. Register

Rep. Laura Richardson, she of the defaulted mortgages and extravagant car lease, gears up for a fight as a Democratic challenger takes aim at her seat. Press-Telegram

Looks like San Diego's main daily, the Union-Tribune, may soon be on the auction block. Union-Tribune

And while we're talking newspaper sales, we hear the Studio City Sun is to carry a full-page ad tomorrow paid for by a loyal L.A. Times reader. TellZell

Attack of the giant locusts! LAist

Forshay Choir students in documentary film. The Homeroom

How about a cocktail in a historical place? Art Deco Society

The Pinkberry juicer wars. Eater LA

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

A bullet hole in Inglewood


An armed man in Inglewood was shot to death at his front door early this morning when police answered a call for a family disturbance. Here's the bullet hole and the evidence tape. Police say there will be an investigation. We've got a few details about about the Inglewood shooting in a story by The Times' Joanna Lin.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times 

Felony assault charges possible in car vs. bike road rage *


Dr. Charles T. Thompson, the man allegedly involved in a car vs. bike road rage incident in Mandeville Canyon on July 4, has been arrested on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon -- his car -- our police reporter, Richard Winton, says.

Cyclists at the scene say Thompson exchanged angry words with two riders, then pulled ahead, blocked the road and slammed on his brakes. The cyclists went flying, one onto the side of the road.

The other cyclist, Ron Peterson, a 40-year-old cameraman, went head-first into Thompson's rear window. Peterson broke his nose, two of his front teeth and has numerous cuts on his face.

Martha Grove and Richard Winton have the full story.

More details and updates at LAist and Bottleneck Blog.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Ron Peterson and Christian Stoehr

* This post was updated with new links

Goleta fire -- 10,000 acres and still burning


Pat DeNatale, one of the Sierra Hotshots, sets backfires with a drip torch above Goleta in the Santa Ynez mountains Monday as hand crews cleared brush from hills that haven't burned in 53 years, all part of an effort to keep flames from cresting the mountains. See story here, and more pix here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Drawing a (tan) line in the sand: nudists vow to fight for San Onofre beach

We_shall_see They looked the other way for decades, but now officials say they're going to start enforcing the law on a clothing-optional stretch of San Onofre State Beach.

Citing ongoing complaints from park visitors and the fear of workplace harassment lawsuits from employees, officials say they will begin citing skinny dippers who refuse to cover up after Labor Day. New large signs warning that nudity is prohibited have recently sprouted up throughout the park, and rangers are telling nude sunbathers that their endless summer is about to end.

"Times have changed," said Rich Haydon, acting superintendent of the California Parks and Recreation Department's Orange Coast District. "The population growth within a two-hour drive of San Onofre has grown tremendously through the years. It can no long be The_naked_truth_2 considered a remote beach."

Angered naturists say they intend to fight the move lying down -- in the sand, as hundreds of nude sunbathers do every summer weekend.

"Do you think one or two rangers could cite all those people? No way," said R. Allen Baylis, who heads Friends of San Onofre Beach, a naturist group. "There's going to be no way to effectively enforce this policy."

The full story is here. And for a photo of the father of California nudism, click on our previous blog post here.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Big gas prices add to Big Sur's pain


Highway 1 is shut down, condor chicks are in jeopardy and firefighters seem to be losing the 11-day-old battle against the Basin Complex blaze . Now this, gas at $5.20 per gallon. For regular!

The LAT story is here, and a photo gallery is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Associated Press

Valley porn director arrested in brothel scheme

David Allen Crawford, known in the Valley's booming porn industry as 'David Lord' ("Pinks" and "Bad Ass School Girls 2") is in a bit of hot water as police question statements he made on immigration applications for Hungarian women. Basically, he's accused of tricking women into moving to the U.S. to be prostitutes, the Daily News reports:

Two Hungarian nationals and a San Fernando Valley porn director were arrested on suspicion of tricking Hungarian women to come to the United States and work as prostitutes in a Sherman Oaks brothel, authorities said today.

David Allen Crawford, 37, known in the adult film industry as David Lord, was arrested today at his Reseda home on suspicion of making false statements on immigration applications related to sham marriages.

The owner of Primal Productions is charged with perjury in relation to an immigration application for his Hungarian "spouse," Agnes Jeges, who also was arrested today at her Van Nuys apartment.

We Googled and (surprise!) couldn't find a single image suitable for the blog. Merely searching took us to sites that, should human Resources have questions, will take some serious explaining. The full Daily News story is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Some good news on the fire front in Santa Clarita


Four acres burned and three homes were threatened In the Sand Canyon area near Santa Clarita Tuesday before firefighters and water-dropping helicopters brought this grass fire under control. No one was hurt, and the homes were saved. The Goleta fire, meanwhile, rages on.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Jonathan Alcorn

Firefighters report progress in Big Sur blazes


Evacuations have been ordered along a 20-mile stretch of coast as firefighters prepare to set a series of back-fires as the fight against the Basin Complex fire continues. Full story here.

Photo: AP

Cindy McCain's California condo in tax default

Seems no one remembered to pay taxes for the last four years on a beachfront condo in La Jolla owned by Cindy McCain, Newsweek is reporting:

When you're poor, it can be hard to pay the bills. When you're rich, it's hard to keep track of all the bills that need paying. It's a lesson Cindy McCain learned the hard way when NEWSWEEK raised questions about an overdue property-tax bill on a La Jolla, Calif., property owned by a trust she oversees. Mrs. McCain is a beer heiress, with an estimated $100 million fortune and, along with her husband, she owns at least seven properties, including condos in California and Arizona.

Apparently an elderly aunt lives in the condo and the bank that handles the trust didn't receive the tax bills. Soon after the news weekly asked McCain about the tax bill, San Diego county received a $6,744.42 payment. But Newsweek says she owes another $1,742 which, if not paid by July 1, throws the property back into default. The full story in Newsweek is here.

--Veronique de Turenne

Incentive ($300 million!) to be inventive

John_mccain_wants_you_to_be_inventi Got an idea for a better battery? John McCain wants to give you $300 million to invent one:

Sen. John McCain added an unusual twist to his emerging energy agenda Monday, promising to award a $300-million prize to the inventor of a next-generation battery that could power electric vehicles. The prize amount is small relative to the billions of dollars the federal government spends on other energy industries. The Bush administration has already pledged $1.2 billion toward research on hydrogen fuel cells, a technology that proponents say is 10 or more years from viability.

But the Arizona senator spoke expansively Monday of the potential of American ingenuity. "We are the country of Edison, Fulton and two brothers named Wright," he said at a town hall event at Fresno State University's Satellite Student Union. "Think of all the highest scientific endeavors of our age: the invention of the silicon chip, the creation of the Internet, the mapping of the human genome."

More details in the full story here.

Jury finds Juan Alvarez guilty of murder in Metrolink crash


Juan Manuel Alvarez, 29, who caused a Metrolink crash in 2005 that killed 11 people and injured 180 others, has been convicted of murder, arson and a special circumstances allegation, which makes him eligible for the death penalty. He showed no emotion as the verdicts were announced. The full article is here.

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito arrives in L.A.

Crown_prince_of_japan_visits_la_2Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito, the 48-year-old heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne, the world's oldest monarchy, arrived in L.A. today for a two-day visit.

He is pictured touring the Japanese American National Museum this afternoon. In the background are stacks of suitcases carried by ethnic Japanese when they were forced into internment camps during World War II.

No stories about the visit, yet — we'll post some links as they come in. When the crown prince visited Brazil earlier this month, many news stories focused on the absence of his wife, Crown Princess Masako, who has been absent from the public eye for years.

  —Veronique de Turenne

Photo by Reed Saxon / Associated Press

Veterans get mixed decision about mental health care from SF judge

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled today that the Department of Veterans Affairs has not systematically denied mental health care to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or unreasonably weighed down the benefits system, adding such grievances should be addressed by Congress or the secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“The court can find no systemic violations system-wide that would compel district court intervention,” Judge Samuel Conti wrote.

Conti found that individual members would have standing to sue. “Given the dire consequences many of these veterans face without timely receipt of benefits or prompt treatment for medical conditions, especially depression and PTSD, these injuries are anything but conjectural or hypothetical,” he wrote.

--Jia-Rui Chong

A second paparazzi brawl in Malibu on Sunday

Stalkerazzi_wait_for_britney_2 So we're sitting here on the deck of my house (well, trailer, really) in Paradise Cove yesterday, minding our own business and trying to stay cool, when a sheriff's helicopter starts circling above. It's about 6 p.m., the heat is breaking and the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, a wildly popular restaurant on the sand, is jammed.

A friend, Diana, is here to shoot an assignment for a photo class -- environmental portraits -- and she heads to the beach to find surfers. What she gets instead is a series of increasingly hostile questions about what she's doing on the beach with a camera (already answered) and whether she's a paparazzo. (Ummm, no.)

Diana says as much to several young men who clearly don't believe her. (And don't have the sense of a sand flea, considering she's got a tripod, a flash and one of those white photo flash umbrellas tucked into her beach tote, which has her initials on it. Not exactly the crash-and-grab set-up of a pap rat.) They threaten her a bit and scare her a lot until a tatooed surfer believes her and lets Diana shoot his photo for her assignment.

Turns out the helicopter that circled for 20 minutes and the sirens that followed were L.A. County sheriff's deputies responding to a brawl near the cafe, where a pack of paparazzi were trying to get a shot of (we're told, but didn't see him) Colin Farrell.

Considering the dust-up that happened on Saturday at Little Dume, a lovely cove just a quarter mile north of here, where a bunch of surfers menaced the pack of papratz stalking Matthew McConaughey, and the anti-paparazzi law our fair city of Malibu has vowed to pass, this isn't the last we'll be hearing on this particular topic. (Oh -- and that's a shot of the pack waiting at the foot of the road to Britney Spears' house last fall.)

-- Veronique de Turenne

Jen Moss (a.k.a. Ojai's 'Pastie Lady') plans July 4th fireworks in Oregon

Jen_moss_plans_july_4th_fireworks_i She's baaaack,  Ojai's Pastie  Lady, now known as the Naked Lady of Ashland, Ore. Jen Moss is her name and the definition of the word "genitalia" is presently her game. Specifically, what the word means as cited in the Oregon state law that covers public nudity.

Moss is betting the law doesn't cover breasts, so she's not planning to cover hers. She wants to roller skate in the the town's annual July 4 parade, blowing a conch shell, dressed in just a G-string, according to an AP story.

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce learned of her coverage plans from an online posting.


"We don't feel that someone in the parade who is topless or nearly naked is appropriate for a family audience," said parade chairman James Kidd.

He said a letter was sent to Moss on Monday and wouldn't speak specifically about the chamber's position until he was certain that she had received the letter.

Kidd did say that parade rules clearly indicate that entries must be appropriate for a family audience. He also said he understood that the Ashland city ordinance allows women to be topless.

"She's welcome on any other day of the year to do that," he said. "But not on the Fourth of July while in the parade."

But with City Council member Eric Navickas saying he's on Moss' side, there's bound to be more naked drama to come.

Also carried by Fox, KTVZ and (are they placing bets?) the Online Gambling Paper.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times 

Tomato confidential

The good news -- the salmonella-tainted tomatoes that sickened nine people weren't grown here in California. The bad news -- the FDA won't tell us much more than that.

In a story by Tiffany Hsu, we learn the tomatoes were served at two different outlets of a chain restaurant. (That sure narrows things down.) And here's what the Food and Drug Administration refused to tell reporters during a conference call:

1. The name of the restaurant chain where the tomatoes were served

2. The location of said chain

3. Whether the restaurants were in the same state

4. The time frame during which the tomatoes were served

How, exactly, is this helpful? And why is it "confidential" information?

--Veronique de Turenne

And after speaking at his nephew's graduation, Bill Clinton ...

Bill_clinton_does_hollywood ... mingled with the Hollywood film crowd last night as Warren Beatty got a lifetime achievement award at AFI. Here's a (somewhat tart) note from Susan, one of our readers, who was at the event:

Maybe we have [his] nephew to thank for Clinton showing up at the AFI Life Achievement Award for Warren Beatty tonight -- those of us in the audience were surprised to see him.  A frail but very sharp McGovern was there, so were Jerry Brown and a few others. 

Besides of course, Jack and Dyan who raced over from the Lakers' loss.  Faye Dunaway and Elaine May looked like they had the same doctor for cheek implants; makes you appreciate Diane Keaton's natural approach to aging gracefully.

More coverage -- actually about Warren -- from Anne Thompsons excellent "On Hollywood" blog, People, The Gossip Girls (where Hugh Hefner and his posse of blonds take center stage), USA Today, the ever-cranky Fox News (Hollywood Left-fest!) and of course, AP.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Getty Images

Dinner parties gone wrong, PETA's mad at the Olsen twins, and another view on those reservoir balls -- it's last links!

Righting_old_wrongs The creation of a 150-acre reef to anchor a forest of giant kelp is taking shape in San Clemente.

An interview with "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan in LAist.

Those reservoir balls the DWP dumped in Silver Lake might not be so safe after all, says Donna Barstow.

Dinner parties gone very, very wrong. Jacket Copy

MTA ridership just keeps going up. Bottleneck Blog

The Olsen twins incur the wrath of PETA. LA Unleashed

Kid fails driving test five times in one day -- video! YouTube via Fishbowl LA

Ride your bike to work in LA -- a how-to guide from LA MetBlogs.

Start planning for the L.A. Film Festival next week.

Compton will get a new skateboard park in September. Curbed LA

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

George's way is not the highway — kayaking to work on the L.A. River

George Calvarescu bought a kayak, saw the L.A. River, had an epiphany and, 52 miles later — dressed in his business suit — the San Fernando Valley resident had paddled the L.A. River downstream to work in Long Beach. Full story in the LaLa Times.

—Veronique de Turenne

Roski's stadium idea is 'an interesting possibility,' NFL officials say

Your_football_stadium_here That's what the San Gabriel Valley Tribune is reporting after league officials sat down with the billionaire for football talks earlier this week. Roski, you may recall, is the developer who wants to build the "Los Angeles Stadium" on a 600-acre parcel he owns in the City of Industry. Here's more from the Trib:

National Football League officials, who initially had little reaction to Roski's proposal, now call the plan "an interesting possibility" after a sit-down meeting earlier this week with officials from Roski's Majestic Realty Co.

"At their request, the Roski group provided us an update on their stadium project," wrote NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy in an email to this paper. "Mr. Roski's site certainly seems to present an interesting possibility. The permitting and construction processes seem to be more defined than other sites we have seen."

Majestic proposed the stadium in April, and McCarthy at the time said NFL staffers are "monitoring all stadium-related developments at this time."

Majestic Realty Co. Vice President John Semcken, who is the lead for the project, said the NFL brass are now showing a little enthusiasm.

"They have seen the plan now," he said of a meeting he had Monday at the NFL headquarters in New York. "They're very impressed."

Out in the real world, the plan has as many skeptics as supporters. Online though, several thousand football-starved fans have already signed up for tickets. The full story from the SGV Trib is here.

—Veronique de Turenne

Photo: AP

Yep -- Bill Clinton's in SoCal for his nephew's graduation

Proud_uncle_bill We mentioned yesterday that we'd heard Bill Clinton is in town to deliver the commencement speech -- they call it an "advancement speech" at  his nephew's school in Redondo Beach. Now comes news the rumor was right: graduating 8th graders at Riviera Hall Lutheran School will get the benefit of the former president's advice. The Daily Breeze reports:

The K-8 institution rescheduled its annual advancement event to accommodate Clinton, whose nephew Tyler (son of his brother, Roger) is among the students being feted with a 4:30 p.m. private ceremony.

Only ticket holders will gain entrance to the graduation, which also has been closed to the media.    

School representatives have called Clinton's impending appearance both "exciting" and "an honor" -- same as it was the first time he dropped in on the Palos Verdes Boulevard campus.

It's Clinton's second visit to the school. Details in the Breeze's full story here.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Getty Images

Conservative Christian group tries legal maneuver to stop same-sex marriages

A conservative Christian group based in Virgina filed legal papers today to try to delay the start of same-sex marriages in California on Tuesday, the Associated Press is reporting:

The Virginia-based Liberty Counsel filed court documents Thursday arguing that the wording of the California Supreme Court ruling last month legalizing gay marriages allows the lower court to implement the decision on its own terms and schedule.

Liberty Counsel argued that the ruling put dozens of state laws addressing marriage into conflict and that the state Legislature needs time to address those issues.

The lawyers also argue that the high court's ruling should be placed on hold until after the November elections, when California voters will decide whether to amend the state Constitution to ban the unions.

The Supreme Court said no to a similar request last week. Full story: AP via LADN.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Step away from the toxic plastic shower curtain

Dangerous_shower_curtains Turns out that "new shower curtain smell" is actually a noxious brew of toxic chemicals that can harm your liver, damage your central nervous system, affect your breathing and even interfere with fertility. (And you thought the shower scene from "Psycho" was scary.) Tami Abdollah has the alarming details in her story here.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Myun Chung / Los Angeles Times

Harsh criticism for harsh tactics in Mexican-style rodeos

Playing_rough_at_the_rodeo The charreada, or Mexican-style rodeo, is a home-grown event that gives Mexican Americans a flavor of home. With with events like bull tail-pulling and tripping up horses by roping their front feet (as shown at a Sacramento rodeo in the photo at right) more states are banning the amateur sport, according to a story in today's New York Times:

It always begins at noon in a dusty arena, with brisk salutes on the brims of glittering sombreros and mustachioed horsemen in three-piece suits.

Let others have their golf and their swimming holes. Here in the Central Valley of California, and in Winnemucca, Nev., and Joliet, Ill., a growing number of middle-class Mexican Americans spend lazy summer afternoons at the charreada — part rodeo, part fiesta and one of Mexico’s most revered sporting events, dating to the 17th century.

“We don’t live and then go to the charreada,” said Marcos Franco, a 51-year-old flooring contractor from Tracy, Calif., who is the United States representative for the Federación Mexicana de Charrería. “We live for the charreada.”


But now the charreada, which is strictly amateur, is facing its biggest challenge. After criticism from animal rights and anti-rodeo activists, eight states over the last decade have cracked down on several events, most notably horse tripping, a centuries-old tradition that involves roping and snaring the front legs of a running mare and that can cause serious injury. As a result, no charros in the federation practice horse tripping.

You can read the full story here.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Karen Tapia-Andsersen / Los Angeles Times

His 'n' his, hers 'n' hers -- state gears up for same-sex marriages

Love_is_blind Tuesday's the big day, when same-sex couples can legally wed in California. But not so fast -- procedures vary depending on where you live, with some counties (the O.C.) granting appointments to get a license, while others (Kern and possibly Butte) are suspending marriage ceremonies altogether. Jean-Paul Renaud has the details:

The first, busy days that same-sex couples will be allowed to wed in California promise to be chaotic and confusing, as counties throughout the state are coming up with widely varying procedures for implementing the (state) Supreme Court's order lifting the ban on gay marriage.

In Los Angeles County, marriage licenses will be issued Tuesday -- the first full day the court's order takes effect -- on a first-come, first-served basis. Orange County, by contrast, has been allowing couples to make appointments to get licenses. San Bernardino County plans to close its two satellite offices and issue licenses and perform ceremonies only at its main location.

Butte County, however, indicated that it would follow the lead of Kern County in halting its practice of performing marriage ceremonies altogether, citing budget reasons.

Officials in most other counties, however, expect next week to be very busy, as gay couples throughout the state scramble to avail themselves of the newly bestowed right to marry.

An archive of our coverage is here. Patt Morrison's thoughts about Kern County's sudden decision to suspend all civil marriages here. And some think the same-sex marriage market will be California's new Gold Rush.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Getty Images

Santa Ana council man gets something off his chest regarding new sheriff

Sounds like Santa Ana City Council member Carlos Bustamante knows why the Orange County Board of Supervisors selected Sandra Hutchens as Sheriff over Santa Ana's own police chief, Paul Walters:

"I kept telling the chief, maybe we should get you some implants. Or a water bra."

That's what the Times' Christian Berthelsen heard the council member tell a blogger after this morning's announcement.

-- Jesus Sanchez

The Echo Park lotuses -- where the heck are they?

Where_have_all_the_flowers_goneTake a stroll near the Echo Park Lake and it's glaringly obvious -- the famed lotus bed is a wraith-like shadow of its former self. (That's a shot of one of the few lotus leaves that have managed to poke above the water so far this year.)

Jenny Burman has been asking about the vanishing lotus in her Echo Park blog for two years now and, like the proverbial voice in the wilderness, not getting much response. Is it  something in the water? Diseased rhizomes? No one seems to know.

When_they_were_giantsTo be fair, the the lotus bloom has been erratic in recent years. In 2004, a hot May caused an early arrival, with huge pads and luscious flowers in evidence in June. (That's a photo of the 2004 bonanza, at left, by our own Luis Sinco.) In 2006, by contrast, the day of the lotus didn't hit its stride until late September.

Martin Cox, a longtime resident of The Echo who shot the sad photo above, wonders what there will be to celebrate when the annual Lotus Festival rolls around later next month. He says that he's "thinking of making T-shirts with a picture of how they once were so that people can wear them at the festival and thereby put the lotus back where it should be!"

I'll take two.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times ; Martin Cox

Same-sex marriage issue goes to November ballot

The Supremes spoke, and now the people of California will get the last word on whether same-sex marriages will be legal in California.

Good morning - here's what's happening 6.02.08

Towering_inferno Though no one's nailed down the cause of that catastrophic fire at Universal Studios, the reason it got out of hand is pretty clear: Water pressure at the site was so low, firefighters reported water streams of just 10 feet, laughably inadequate against the towering flames. Add in a failed sprinkler system and two city blocks of sets built from what amounts to kindling and you're looking at the disaster that was yesterday's blaze.

We've got lots of info: main story here (including the news the studio's re-opening to the public toay)... what, exactly, burned ... the yes-no-yes-no saga as studio heads couldn't decide whether or not to open the park ... some video, of course ... and news that despite the damage, cameras will still roll.

Meanwhile, there's actually other news out there:

Four of the weekend's five homicides are blamed on gangs.

Iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent has died.

They_do With some prime tourist attractions now in cinders, maybe Universal should look into the gay marriage business. Ever since the state Supremes gave same-sex marriage the nod, all corners of the wedding industry have seen an uptick in business.

I'm sorry to report that the Dodgers lost to the Mets.

And if the long wait for the Lakers-Celtics match-up is getting to you, Kareem Abdul-Jabar's got lots to say about the 1985 Boston-L.A. series.

As long as we're having a fire, why not a couple of earthquakes as well? Two small ones rattled through last night, one in the Salton Sea, the other in San Bernardino County.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photos: AP; Biggayweddings.com

When lunch is more than just lunch

Is_bob_herrtzberg_running_for_offic Is lawyer and former state Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg looking to make another run for citywide office in Los Angeles? Our own David Zahniser goes to the source and gets some answers. Well, sort of:        

      That question came up after the San Fernando Valley resident was spotted Friday in San Pedro at the Dalmatian-American Club's monthly fish luncheon, a multi-course feast attended by community types and bigwigs around the Los Angeles harbor area.

      The running joke is that politicians who live north of the 105 Freeway tend to show up at the luncheon once they're running for office. Hertzberg disagreed, saying he simply wanted to reconnect with some friends in San Pedro that he met during his unsuccessful 2005 mayoral campaign. But he also said he hasn't decided whether to be a candidate in next year's municipal election — either for city attorney or for mayor.

      "I'm not ruling either one out," he said. And now that the June primary is almost over, "it's appropriate now to start thinking about it," he added.

      That makes Hertzberg the latest person to flirt with the possibility of a run against the incumbent, Mayor Antonio Villariaogsa. Mall developer Rick Caruso offered a similarly coy message to The Times this week.

      If Hertzberg runs for city attorney, he will have as an opponent Villaraigosa's closest ally, Councilman Jack Weiss. Another likely foe in the city attorney's race would be lawyer Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich, who held a campaign fund-raiser Wednesday hosted by L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley and county Supervisor Don Knabe.

      Trutanich held his event — where else? — at the Dalmatian-American Club in San Pedro.

Talk about a fish story.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times


Say hello to tan lines -- San Onofre's nude beach is about to be busted

One_of_californias_first_nudists_2 Clothing-optional for decades, the nude beach at San Onofre is about to get a visit from the (fully-dressed, we're betting) law. The O.C. Register has the skinny:

Trail 6 is a secluded area abutting Camp Pendleton property where beachgoers can let it all hang out – literally. The 1,000-foot beach, one of few "clothing-optional" beaches – with a lax approach to nudity, has been a safe haven for "naturists" for decades.

That might change in the next month, as the state sets out to crack down on nudity at the beach, in a move that has some longtime locals fuming and worrying about where they'll go. State Parks will start an educational period Sunday, warning beachgoers of the change, and start citing July 1, officials said.

What's a nudist to do? Some answers here. (And yes, there's a naked derriere on the site.) And the photo? It's of Peter J. McConville, au natural in the 1940s, as befitting the founder of SoCal's first nudist resort near Lake Elsinore.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Archival photo: Los Angeles Times


Fire at Wilmington church sparked by hot water heater, investigators say

A_faulty_hot_water_heater_caused_th That's the word from the Daily Breeze, which has this update.

The blaze began at about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday at 1551 N. Wilmington Blvd. and was reported at 10:51 p.m.

Arson investigators with the city's House of Worship Task Force were called to the scene to investigate, said Assistant Los Angeles Fire Chief Lou Roupoli.

"At the completion of the investigation, they determined it was an accidental fire," Roupoli said.

Final answer -- a 220-volt electrical water heater in the attic was the source of the blaze.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Yes...no...yes...no...ummm, well, OK. That's your state government at work

Remember how we told you about the tussle in the state legislature about whether to pony up the $7 billion the feds want California to pay to upgrade prison health care? Though the federal receiver has the power to take the money right from the state treasury, Republicans voted en masse to block the move.

So J. Clark Kelso, the federal receiver, did it, wrote a tart little note saying he has no choice, he's going after $7 billion in the state's very depleted coffers. He'll need a court order, but we're betting he'll get one.

And today, right this second? The legislature is re-visiting its decision.

We'll have more in a little while.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Ferris wheel reveal


Our own Jay Clendenin was there, taking plenty of pix of the new Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier last night. There was a crazy-big fireworks show with more than 200 mortars (ominous word) and a ceremonial re-lighting of the wheel itself.

Organizers want you to know the new wheel has 160,000 LED lights instead of the previous old-school incandescent bulbs, a 75% energy saving. Another way to save energy: watch the live web cam.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Police investigate fire at Wilmington church complex


What caused the fire at the Harbor Christian Center in Wilmington? It's the second time the place has burned in a year, and investigators are on the case. No one was hurt, but just look at the damage. The fire at the site on North Wilmington Boulevard was reported about 10 o'clock last night and took an hour to bring under control. The complex where the church sits didn't burn.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

More movement on the same-sex marriage front


A few updates to share. First, California sets June 17 as the soonest that same-sex couples can apply for a marriage license, Andrew Blankstein and J.P. Renaud report:

The memo from the state Office of Vital Records says the date was chosen because it follows the deadline for the California Supreme Court to decide whether to stay its ruling legalizing gay marriage.

Instead of "bride" and "groom," the new forms ask "Party A" and "Party B" to sign their names.

Another possible victory from the state Supremes -- seems the court is set to rule that doctors can't refuse medical treatment to gays on grounds that it would violate their religious beliefs. From Maura Dolan:

The justices' inclination emerged as the state high court heard arguments in a case that pits the religious freedom of physicians against the right of gays to be free from discrimination.

And across the country, New York's governor has set in motion the revision of as many as 1,300 laws and regulations so that same-sex marriages performed in other states will be legally recognized in the Empire State. NYT

-- Veronique de Turenne

Illustration: Tribune Media Services

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.29.08

Green_and_clean L.A. is the second-greenest big city in the U.S.? Depends on whether you believe the Brookings Institution, which delivers this startling bit of news, or the naysayers who scoff at fuzzy data. Margot Roosevelt tries to clear things up.

Does L.A. lead in school sex scandals, too? Another teacher suspected of having sex with a student is arrested. Andrew Blankstein has the story.

Ever since the new owner took over Centinela Hospital Medical Center in South L.A., services have been shrinking. Most private insurance contracts have been canceled and 13% of the staff laid off. Is this the way to serve a community?  Daniel Costello looks for answers.

A first in the O.C. -- all the candidates running for office in the 1st District are Vietnamese. My-Thuan Tran reports on the new political landscape.

Too many hands-off caches of cash are a big reason for California's current money crisis. Plain speaking from George Skelton.

Neither_fisher_nor_foul_2 It wouldn't be a playoff series without a brouhaha, and ours is here. The NBA says the Lakers' Derek Fisher fouled the Spurs' Brent Barry in the last seconds of the game, and the Spurs should have gotten two free throws. (Hey, didn't NBA honchos read Plaschke's great two-fouls means no-fouls column yesterday?) Yeah, the Lakers won Game 4 by 2 points. Commiserate with Steve Springer.

The B of A/Countrywide deal is still on, but the players are changing. E. Scott Reckard and Kathy M. Kristof  explain.

Mary McNamara takes her kids to the Hollywood Bowl to see the Police. Shares her music, learns some lessons, makes you laugh.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Jerry Lara / San Antonio Express-News; cgee / Your Scene

No free cupcakes after all

Rats - Crumbs bakery has delayed the opening of its Larchmont branch to sometime in June, so the Great Cupcake Giveaway - there were going to be a thousand of the freebie treats - is delayed as well. Eater LA has the update.

--Veronique de Turenne

A small, polite, but fervent rally to support medical marijuana


Thanks to Frank for this photo of the pro-cannabis rally held about noon Tuesday outside City Hall. As the website WeedTRACKER (again, who knew?) says in its events listings, the gathering of patients and advocates was "to support medical cannabis patients and oppose DEA interference and intimidation in California."

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Frank / Your Scene

O.C. sheriff search is down to the wire

Many have called but just one will be chosen as interviews for the job of Orange County's top cop come to a close.  Nine finalists for the job, which became available after Michael S. Carona's tenure ended in scandal, started their public interviews Tuesday. Though a final vote is scheduled for June 3, Total Buzz, the politics blog at the OC Reg, says the decision will probably take longer:

Late tonight, board members indicated that they won’t make a decision until June 17 or June 24. That’s despite an earlier decision that called for a final vote on June 3. So next Tuesday at the regular weekly meeting the supes will probably winnow the finalists down to three or four.

Our story about the search and interviews, by Christian Berthelsen and Stuart Pfeifer, is here.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Good morning -- here's what's happening 5.28.08

GOP senators say no to the $7-billion plan to improve healthcare in state prisons. Just one problem -- the feds might take that $7 billion from the state anyway. More on this latest impasse from Michael Rothfeld.Portrait_or_wanted_posted

The biggest drop in home prices in 20 years, with L.A. County and the O.C. really taking it on the chin. Peter Y. Hong has the latest numbers.

There's a bounty on teen popster Miley Cyrus' first kiss. Rachel Abramowitz explains.

Done deal: The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the studios agree on a new three-year contract. AP via LAT.

The Lakers win! The best-of-seven series is now 3-1 and moves to Staples Center on Thursday night. Mike Bresnahan's game story, plus lots of pix and links to more Lakers stories here.

They like him, they really like him. David Beckham's critics sing a different tune.

A new James Bond novel is out and ... wait, isn't Ian Fleming dead? Yeah, and his impersonators don't exactly bring the Bond legacy back to life. Read along with Tim Rutten.

The_music_plays_on Earle H. Hagen, the Emmy Award-winning TV composer who wrote -- and whistled -- the theme song for “The Andy Griffith Show” has died. Dennis McLellan writes about his life.

Remember the Olympic skater who was slipped a date-rape drug during dinner? An arrest in the case has been made, Kim Christensen reports.

A teensy bit of good news amid the housing debacle -- lower property tax bills for some of us. Garrett Therolf explains.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photos: Associated Press, BMI

Judge Jim Hahn? That's what LA's former mayor is hoping *

Our own David Zahniser has the news:

Former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, who lost his bid for a second term at City Hall in 2005,  may finally re-enter the public spotlight -- that is, if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decides to make him a Superior Court judge.

               Hahn said Tuesday that he had filled out the paperwork to put himself in the pool of candidates for a judicial appointment. And he confirmed that he has spoken twice to Schwarzenegger about his interest in being a judge -- most recently when he ran into the governor at the opening of the Americana at Brand shopping center in Glendale.

        "I realized I missed public service," said Hahn, 57, who lives in San Pedro.

Hahn lost his mayoral re-election bid to Antonio Villaraigosa in 2005. Before that, he served four terms as city attorney. Now Hahn works at a Century City mediation firm.

-Veronique de Turenne

*Updated: A previous version of this post misstated (yeah, I goofed) the date of Hahn's loss to Villaraigosa.

Set the date -- same-sex marriages to hit the state on June 14

Groom_and_grrom On Saturday, June 14 -- exactly 30 days after the state Supreme Court gave same-sex marriage the nod -- the first happy couple can head down the aisle, officials announced today. Unless opponents can manage to put a stop to it all. AP via the Mercury News:

An effort, however, is underway to stay the Supreme Court's decision until voters can decide the issue with an initiative planned for the November ballot. The measure would overrule the justices' decision and amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

Justices have until the ruling's effective date to weigh the request, but could give themselves longer to consider it, attorneys have said. Another complicating factor is that the Supreme Court also directed a midlevel appeals court that upheld the state's one man-one woman marriage laws a year ago to issue a new order legalizing same-sex marriage, and it's not clear when the appeals court would comply.

What are same-sex marriage licenses going to look like? And where to buy appropriate cake toppers?

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Getty Images

Illegal border crossing -- now it's a tourist attraction

The_new_hide_and_seek The difficult, dangerous and absolutely illegal act of sneaking across the U.S. border from Mexico is now a live action-adventure event. Thousands of participants from all over the world are flocking to a small town 400 miles south of the actual border. There, in the dark of night, they face a rigorous hike, simulated law enforcement patrols and possible capture. Reed Johnson reports:

Gunshots ring out and sirens shriek, mixing with the ragged breath of muddy, panting humans. Suddenly, the full moon sweeping the ground like a searchlight reveals a disturbing scene: a group of illegal immigrants being handcuffed and led away by U.S. Border Patrol agents.


Dubbed the "Caminata Nocturna" (Night Hike), the three-hour simulation is a combination obstacle course, sociology lesson and PG-rated family outing. Founded in 2004, it's run by members of a local village of Hñahñu Indians, an indigenous people of south-central Mexico. The village's former population of about 2,500 has been decimated by migration to the United States.

Every Saturday night, dozens of the several hundred remaining villagers take part in the caminata. Many work as costumed performers impersonating Border Patrol agents, fellow migrants and masked coyotes and polleros, the Mexican guides who escort migrants for a fee.

Organizers say it's a sociology lesson, a way to help others understand how desperate those who make the crossing must be. Skeptics call it a how-to boot camp. More in Reed's full story.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo: Adriana Zehbrauskas / Polaris

A Reggie anniversary, a reggae festival and a Taser arrest -- it's last links!

A_year_behind_bars_for_reggie_3 Seems like it was just yesterday -- Reggie's been in the zoo for a year. Curbed LA

Jazz and Reggae fest at UCLA this weekend. Nice package on the event at MetBlogs.

A teacher who uses graffiti in the classroom. The Homeroom

How bad is the economy? The Inland Empire could lose 11,000 jobs this year. Press Enterprise

A Baldwin Park school board member is stunned with a Taser and arrested. SGV Tribune

What passes for breaking crime news in Simi Valley: meat stolen from a Mexican market. Ventura County Star

The lines on "Indy 4." LA Biz Observed9th_ward_thanks_fema_2

Carolyn Kellogg visits New Orleans. (That's her photo of the 9th Ward at right.) Jacket Copy

Tonight in rock: LAist

Same-sex marriage opponents seek a five-month delay. AP via LAT

-- Veronique de Turenne & Jesus Sanchez