Ed, as anyone can easily see by the idiosyncratic way he has been running our somewhat dotty Chamber of Commerce (he heads two other out of town Chambers as well, so you know), likes to surround himself with weak and easily manipulated people. Nancy Walsh was definitely one of those. As are pretty much the rest of that bunch.
I say this with little fear of contradiction.
But on the other hand, that highly regarded Yale and Stanford Law grad, our current Mayor John Harabedian, is now in charge here. A guy equipped with enough wisdom to know that he needed to accommodate this community in its demand for a drought-driven building moratorium, and then actually took us there. Unlike his immediate predecessors, John also runs fair and open City Council meetings, listens to the arguments of all of his colleagues, and can actually change his mind on a position every now and again.
Plus he also lets people speak for more than 3 minutes at the public comment podium. A near miracle for this town given our recent history. You could almost find yourself forgiving this guy for past transgressions, and then getting off his back.
But then he turns around and does something as unexplainable as this (link):
"LA Couny" indeed. Now in all fairness Johnny did this when he was still Mayor Pro Tem, so it happened before last April. He was much younger at that point, and had yet to experience the seasoning process being a full on Mayor brings with it.
But still, Paul Tanaka was under investigation by the FBI even then, and for running the prisons under his control almost like ISIS runs big chunks of Syria and Iraq.
As you likely know, that FBI investigation into the brutal treatment of prisoners under the care of the L.A. Sheriffs Department continues to this day. Here is how an August 7 article from the Los Angeles Times (link) spells out just how rapidly Paul Tanaka is falling in this world.
In a stinging final rebuke, the longtime civilian watchdog for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department accused top leaders of letting their worst employees run rampant, causing a series of scandals that tarnished the agency.
Merrick Bobb has been the Board of Supervisors' special counsel reviewing the department for 22 years, and has written reports on how the agency is run.
But this last report before Bobb steps aside was particularly cutting, placing much of the blame for a jail abuse scandal — in which criminal charges have been filed against 20 sheriff's officials since December — at the feet of former Sheriff Lee Baca and his chief assistant, Paul Tanaka.
In the 62-page report released Thursday, Bobb described Tanaka, who is running for sheriff, as the leader of “an anti-reform counter movement” who encouraged deputies to “work in the gray zone” while Baca and the Board of Supervisors paid little attention.
Tanaka, the report said, has changed little since he was a member of a tattooed deputy clique in Lynwood that reportedly rewarded its members for using excessive force against suspects.
Tanaka is one of the sheriff's officials still under federal investigation. Six deputies were convicted of obstructing the FBI, and others have been charged with brutalizing inmates and jail visitors. Tanaka is now in a runoff election against Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, but his bid is considered a long shot because he received only 15% of the primary vote.
The L.A. Register also ran an article regarding Tanaka's controversial and cruel prison management style. Titled "Brutality Festered In Jails" (link), here is what The Register had to say:
In the report, Bobb said that some considered Tanaka to be good with numbers and budgets, but that there were problems with his leadership.
“With regard to police accountability, reform, rewarding constitutional policing, and engendering the active support and trust of the ever-diversifying community, the man seemed to avoid evolving substantially from his days as a Lynwood Viking,” the report said.
The Lynwood Vikings faced brutality lawsuits from plaintiffs in the 1990s, who described the group as a white supremacist gang. The department paid thousands to settle the cases.
Tanaka could not be reached for comment.
The Sheriff’s Department has faced a range of scandals during Baca and Tanaka’s tenure, many involving allegations of deputy misconduct and violence against inmates and visitors inside the jails. In July, six deputies were convicted by a federal jury of working to obstruct the investigation inside the jails.
I was reading an article published by the British paper The Economist earlier this evening. This piece was about the police brutality and riots in Ferguson (link), and their tarnishing effect on America's worldwide reputation. One paragraph in particular jumped out at me.
Smug television broadcasts in Russia and China have wildly exaggerated the sickness of which Ferguson is a symptom. But it is real enough. The police in and around Ferguson have shot and killed twice as many people in the past two weeks (Mr Brown plus one other) as the police in Japan, a nation of 127m, have shot and killed in the past six years. Nationwide, America’s police kill roughly one person a day.
So you know, the chart at the very top of this post came with this article in The Economist. That 409 figure is a stunning number to me. How did things ever get quite that bad in the country?
Paul Tanaka, in the opinion of many (myself included), is from that particular school of policing. The kind of leader who apparently thought nothing of sending uniformed goons into a prison to beat up prisoners, and without any real provocation whatsoever. Just because they all could, I guess. Pointless cruelty that has to make you wonder just what might be wrong with this guy.
Hopefully John Harabedian is now reconsidering his endorsement for Sheriff. He could certainly do a better job with this than he has so far.