Like vultures, some of the most politically connected players in L.A. swooped in and got fat contracts despite past investigations into their dealings. One player who got a piece of the action pleaded guilty last December to a misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charge involving jobs in another school district — Los Angeles Unified.
If, like me, you find it difficult to get interested in elections for community college trustees, read this series and you might feel differently. In fact, there's an election this Tuesday, with four trustee seats up for grabs.
One of the most astounding aspects of the series is that, as my colleagues have pointed out, only one trustee, Georgia Mercer, has responded in any depth to questions. Not that she's done much other than defend the district.
Here's a story about a scandalous lack of oversight on their watch — with staff, taxpayers and students all getting stiffed, even as student fees are being increased — and the elected officials in charge of the mess don't care to comment?
Actually, Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Daniel LaVista might have been wise to keep his mouth shut, too, because here's part of what he had to say in an official statement after the first two parts of the series:
"After ignoring the good news of the program for years, The Times spent 20 months on this investigation and now picks at a few issues in what appears to be a sensationalist series published right before trustee elections. The timing is suspect, and the reporting is one‐sided. So far, we are sorely disappointed."
He's sorely disappointed?
I'll be disappointed if he's still on the payroll by week's end.
The district's own bond counsel concluded that millions of dollars had been spent in violation of state law, and LaVista is disappointed in The Times?
At L.A. City College on Friday morning, the day The Times ran the story of the construction disaster on that campus, I bumped into music teacher Wesley Abbott, and he wasn't surprised that his school had found its way into The Times stories.
"I knew we'd make it," Abbott said, noting the comedy of errors involving a parking garage and rooftop athletic field, still under construction, that has risen in cost from $42 million to $51 million. "I may not be in construction," Abbott said, "but I'm not stupid."
Another music teacher chimed in:
"We're not surprised or shocked, but we're very embarrassed."