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(Dis)-honorable Mentions at LA City Council

“Good morning and welcome to your Los Angeles City Council,” says its President Herb Wesson at the thrice weekly, pre-determined and robotic meetings that are hardly anyone’s but his.

 

Before adjournment, he will lose critics’ speaker cards, sneak out the side door for a cigarette after preaching about decorum when school children visit, and allow his 14 colleagues to put the peoples’ business (crime, traffic, terrorism, homelessness, the budget, lawsuit settlements, union negotiations and – my personal cause – false animal shelter statistics), all on the back burner until after an hour or two of honorary celebrations more appropriate for, and expedient if held on, a Saturday morning, i.e. their weekend. 

The mechanism with which City Council tabulates votes is rumored to default to an “aye,” or yes, so concerns intended for Councilmembers’ attention are instead spoken toward their oft-vacant seats as they gab and graze on snacks, invariably resulting in unaddressed issues getting almost guaranteed yes votes.

Even by these low standards, Wednesday gave us a gem to explore…

Pinch hitting for his absent colleague Gil Cedillo, CD-15’s Joe Buscaino led the presentation to celebrate the recent 100th anniversary of “Ben” Franklin High School. 

In the course of listing some of its “well-respected alumni” who “took different successful career paths,” Buscaino spoke without first thinking.

Among them was Lee Baca (Baca, second from left above, responds to charges) – the same Lee Baca who is the former LA County Sheriff and recently convicted felon. He is about to be sentenced for his role in the systemic beatings of inmates, some of their handcuffed visitors, and hiding an inmate who was an FBI informant and threatening a female FBI agent looking for him. Perhaps Buscaino felt that Baca doesn’t deserve all the scorn since it is his handpicked former second-in-command (and recently convicted felon) Paul Tanaka who actually went to trial, lost his case and faces 15 years in the pokey.

Joey B. also spoke of that most honorable Franklin alum, Rocky Delgadillo.

It would be unfair to blame Delgadillo, the former LA City Attorney, for things his wife Michelle did wrong -- like unauthorized use of his City vehicle, crashing it, and trying to get the city to pay for it. Perhaps Buscaino feels it wasn’t Rocky’s fault that she had no insurance, a suspended license and an arrest warrant. But it is his fault for not telling the truth about it when questioned, or his not having insurance either. Rockard is also remembered for his false claim of having received an athletic scholarship to Harvard (something that was not offered at the time,) and his false campaign assertion that he “went to Harvard and got a law degree.” Well, technically that was true. He did go to Harvard….and then got his law degree elsewhere. 

And Buscaino didn’t forget the late, great Darryl Gates!

Gates was the paramilitary-minded LAPD Chief from 1978-1992. Instead of community policing, he strong-armed poor and minority Angelenos (with the blessing of then-Mayor Tom Bradley) with Operation Hammer, repeatedly unleashing thousands of officers to conduct sweeps in those communities with the vast majority of arrestees never charged. But Gates will forever be known as the man on whose watch the 1991 Rodney King Beating and subsequent 1992 LA riots took place.

Finally, let’s enjoy Buscaino’s mention of Bobby Riggs.

It cannot be denied that Riggs was once a Wimbledon champion. But like O.J. Simpson, the playing field is not the thing for which Riggs is best remembered. This legendary gambler and sexist whose devotees were known as Riggs’ Pigs, was finally put in his place by Billie Jean King on September 20th 1973, defeating him in three straight sets four months after Riggs pummeled Margaret Court in two. It was rumored that Riggs bet heavily on the underdog King in order to offset a substantial debt, a la Pete Rose.

Mind you, Joe Buscaino is a life-long resident of Los Angeles who served 15 years with the LAPD. Except perhaps for Riggs, it is impossible that Buscaino does not know the history. But at LA City Council, they certainly seem at-ease rewriting it.

 

(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a writer who lives in Los Angeles, and blogs on humane issues at www.ericgarcetti.blogspot.com) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.