Debating Daryl F. Gates’ legacy; saving the Watts Towers; Pomona College’s workers

Remembering Gates

Re “The warrior chief,” Editorial, April 17

It’s little wonder The Times’ circulation keeps dropping. Your editorial blasting a devoted public servant — former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates — had nary a kind word about a man who spent decades trying to serve and protect. Surely the man did something decent in all the countless hours he worked in the Los Angeles Police Department.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say The Times would think the only good thing Daryl Gates did was resign.

Ken Keller

Regarding your blistering attack on Gates, I offer the following advice based on ancient Latin: “De mortuis nil nisi bonum.” Translated from the Latin, this means, “About the dead say nothing unless good.”

It’s too bad that you were so blatant in your vicious attack on a dead man’s legacy.

Donald Bilinski

The Rodney King beating was nothing compared to The Times’ Daryl Gates beating.

Shame on you.

Charles Jenner
Los Alamitos

Congratulations on your editorial on Gates, probably the best I’ve read all these years in The Times.

You are certainly correct in your conclusion that the best warriors do not necessarily make the best peacemakers.

Too bad this appeared too late for Gates to read it.

Jim Somberg
Laguna Niguel

Re “Daryl F. Gates, 1926 - 2010,” Obituary, April 17

Reading The Times’ front-page obituary about Gates brought back memories of the Rodney King fiasco.

Putting the blame for this event on Gates is akin to blaming the Ambassador Hotel for the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The fault was all King’s: Had he pulled over his car when he saw the red lights behind him, there would have been no beating, no trial of four officers, no acquittals, no riots with 53 dead and no $1 billion in property damage.

Stu Cahn
Long Beach

As we mourn former Police Chief Daryl Gates, we must remember not only the dark moments of his tenure with the LAPD but the many things he accomplished in the early portion of his career.

In 1972, Gates established the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in order to deal with hostage rescue and extreme situations involving armed and dangerous suspects. SWAT was copied soon after by many police departments and is now used by law enforcement agencies throughout the world.

In 1983, Gates founded the department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program . D.A.R.E. is currently used in schools worldwide.

In the 1970s, he established the C.R.A.S.H. unit of the LAPD to combat the rising crime rate in South Central. He also developed the policing plan that allowed the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics to proceed with little traffic.

While Gates is not the greatest chief of police to have served the citizens of Los Angeles — that honor goes to William H. Parker — he certainly isn’t the worst.

Ryan Curtis
Salt Lake City

Watching over Watts Towers

Re “Still standing,” Editorial, April 12

If you haven’t seen the Watts Towers in person, you have missed one of the world’s great artistic achievements.

That it was the vision and work of one man, who used only bits of crockery, broken bottles and remnants of pieces of metal to build his towers, is astonishing, but even more astonishing is the possibility that we might lose it to decay and destruction.

We have a chance to keep something extraordinary and beautiful, which is right here in our midst. New York saved Carnegie Hall; why can’t Los Angeles rise to this occasion?

Beverly Magid
Sherman Oaks

The editorial board has an unnerving way of claiming that Los Angeles is somehow disrespectful of its past, that it is “notorious for bulldozing its historic structures.”

The Watts Towers aren’t the only example of our city’s struggle to respect our past.

Richard Riordan wanted to level City Hall; after expensive retrofitting, it remains standing as a Los Angeles icon. Many once considered maintaining canals in Venice an absurdity, yet now their banks are exclusive L.A. real estate.

Dodger Stadium , while several years older, still stands and is slated to be refurbished, while in New York, Shea Stadium was turned into a parking lot.

Can’t you please provide some substantiation before making such ridiculous claims?

Frederic Bloomquist
San Pedro

The Getty Conservation Institute supports the efforts of our colleagues at LACMA in helping preserve one of Los Angeles’ most remarkable landmarks.

As early as the 1980s, our scientists provided advice on the stabilization and repair of the towers. In 1997, we and the J. Paul Getty Museum published “The Los Angeles Watts Towers” by Bud Goldstone and Arloa Paquin Goldstone.

Our conservators were involved in the evaluation and conservation of the towers’ fissures from 2004-06. We continue to advise city staff on the conservation of the towers.

Our longtime support and leadership in SurveyLA, an effort conducted by the Office of Historic Resources to identify the city’s cultural heritage, including the Watts Towers, also provides important support for the conservation of these and other landmarks citywide.

We applaud LACMA’s commitment to the Watts Towers.

Tim Whalen
Los Angeles
The writer is director of the Getty Conservation Institute.

Pomona College and its workers

Re “This food fight is personal,” Opinion, April 14

Contrary to the impression created in Daniela Carrillo’s opinion piece, Pomona College is not opposed to the unionization of its dining services staff.

We respect the rights of our workers to decide whether or not to unionize, through a fair process with full information and a secret ballot election. The college has publicly pledged that there will be no intimidation or retaliation against anyone involved in these efforts.

Pomona College is committed to maintaining a safe and fair workplace with open channels of communication. All wages in dining services are above the Los Angeles County living wage rate, and dining services staff are eligible for the same benefits as faculty and administrative staff, including health insurance and college tuition subsidies for employees and their families.

It is our hope that we can resolve this issue in the near future in a way that is satisfactory to all.

Karen Sisson
The writer is vice president of Pomona College.