THE EASTSIDER - I’ll never forget a LANCC meeting at LA City College, back in the early 2000’s. Ken Draper was there, handing out printed CityWatch newspapers.
Those were the days when a LANCC meeting could draw upwards of 200 participants, and it scared the heck out of the Mayor and the City Council. They would show up when invited. The Charter mandate to keep the electeds feet to the fire was actually working.
A few years later, when attendance to such events was significantly less, Ken came up to me and asked if I was interested in writing for CityWatch. Long story short, I said ‘sure’, and Ken started to work with me on the requirements to become a decent author. Stuff like, every week means every week, and leave the graphics and Header to those who know what they are doing :-). He was right, of course.
Over all of these years, he and Jim Hampton have built an electronic newspaper that has more honest reporting on actual City and County doings than any other source I can think of, leaving the LA Times looking like the political toadies that they have been for decades.
The last I inquired, CityWatch reaches over 2 million hits in any given week, and a really popular post can go around 500,000. Think about it - the numbers are staggering. He managed to cobble together a diverse and serious group of writers, absolutely unafraid to speak truth to power, beholden to none. Amazingly, these are unpaid citizens who tell the truth about our communities because no one else does it as well.
No one other than Ken could have accomplished this feat, and I hope that wherever he has gone, he’s checking in two times a week to CityWatch, as we try to keep the faith.
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)