In more ways than one, I'm sorry to see 2013 fade into the books. Thanks to a steady run of incompetence, corruption and bungling by various public officials, it was a banner year for local news in Greater Los Angeles.
In other ways, I can't wait for 2014 to begin, because several of this year's cliffhangers are likely to play out in coming months.
Can Los Angeles County Sheriff
Will 2014 be the year we finally find out what two mysterious nonprofits, jointly operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Local 18 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, did with $40 million of ratepayer money?
More on those debacles in a moment.
But first, 2013 served to remind us of the value of putting eyeballs on public officials at all times, if not doing their jobs for them.
Los Angeles County officials launched a review after my colleague Garrett Therolf exposed cases of foster children maimed or murdered after being placed in the care of guardians working for private foster agencies despite having criminal records.
State regulators finally went after a Vernon battery recycler after Times reporters Jessica Garrison and Kim Christensen reported on dangerous arsenic emissions. The same duo, along with reporter Ben Poston, wrote about students vomiting and teachers gasping for breath at a school near a toxic dump site and about how state regulators failed to monitor the transportation and disposal of toxic waste.
Earlier this month, reporters Joel Rubin and Catherine Saillant reported that Los Angeles officials had approved a $6-million payout to police officers who accused their LAPD supervisors of imposing a ticket-writing quota on them and punishing them when they objected.
In 2013, Howard Blume has been all over an
And this is the year in which the kingpins of the
Speaking of which, more charges were added in October to the stack of accusations against Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez. Out on bail, Noguez continues to receive his $200,000 salary while on leave and awaiting trial for a scheme that allegedly cost taxpayers as much as $10 million in lost revenue.
And now here's a little pop quiz for you:
A. Ran a half-marathon.
B. Apologized for his chronic failures.
C. Resigned in shame.
D. Hosted a reelection fundraiser.
The correct answer is D, and I'd like to tell you more, but I was turned away when I tried to crash the party.
And yes, Baca is running for a fifth term in 2014 despite an ongoing federal investigation and lawsuits that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
Stay tuned to see how that turns out, and stay tuned, as well, to find out what's in the vault at those mysterious "safety" and "training" nonprofits funded by the DWP. IBEW's top dog, Brian D'Arcy, has refused to turn over records on how roughly $4 million a year in ratepayer money has been spent, despite an expose by my colleague Jack Dolan and demands from city officials.
Is D'Arcy just throwing a tantrum after blowing $4 million of his union's cash on the losing mayoral candidate in 2013?
Is there any good reason DWP chief Ron Nichols, who jointly runs the nonprofits, can't produce the records without the help of the city controller?
Meanwhile, after sending out an estimated 70,000 inaccurate bills this year, will 2014 be the year the DWP fixes its new billing system that cost $162 million?
And now, one last galling nugget from 2013.
Early this year, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission approved a proposal by commission member and county Supervisor
But the commission said there were no funds available, so Ridley-Thomas would have to find another source to pay for the tribute to the international icon, whose courage and perseverance brought an end to apartheid.
The commission had no trouble, however, finding more than $15,000 for a plaque honoring another set of heroes.
Ultimately, six people were indicted.
Did I mention that the plaque honoring the derelict commissioners is displayed in the Court of Honor?
Joy to the world and happy New Year to all!