Posts Tagged ‘Chinese’

The Ascension of Jerry meets the Fantastic Fig, Imperial County asthma, coal plant consequences, Ralph Who and a Chinese people’s revolt (really)

Monday, July 16th, 2012


NEWS ABOUT THE ASCENSION OF JERRY: MURDER, HITMEN AND THE MAKING OF L.A. MUCKRAKER JERRY SCHNEIDERMAN (Rare Bird Books)

Book signing and talk on Wed., July 18 with Jerry’s ex-colleague, Paul Fegen (a.k.a. the magician “The Fantastic Fig” at the  Santa Monica Public Library. Here’s the Fig’s website. Here’s how it spins his legend: “the walk-around psychic magician ‘“Fantastic Fig’ is the alter-ego of renowned Personal Injury attorney Paul F. Fegen whose name has also become synonymous with law suites or the “Fegen Suites”. Paul F. Fegen is a native of Los Angeles who attended Los Angeles High School, UCLA as an undergraduate, and USC Law School.   He worked his way through school as a dance instructor, a clown, and a juggler.  In June 1961, he was admitted to the bar. Still a clown at heart, Mr. Fegen can impress with his legal prowess, but he is guaranteed to amaze as the Fantastic Fig.  The Fantastic Fig’s brand of walk-around magic is sure to liven up any function wishing to infuse a combination of fun, excitement, and a healthy dose of astonishment.” In the video ad for Clear Internet above, Fegen is “Fantatic Larry,” the birthday magician who’s not leaving after the birthday.

* Wins silver medal for best general non-fiction at the Hollywood Book Festival

* Vroman’s bookstore bestseller

ENVIRONMENTAL BAG … 

* Imperial Valley not so easy on the lung. L.A. Times story:

– ” … For children with asthma in California, there is no place worse than Imperial County. They are far more likely than children in any other county to end up in the emergency room or hospitalized. Kids go the ER for asthma at a rate three times higher than the state’s average, according to the Department of Public Health … Doctors and public health officials said that a combination of whipping winds, pesticide-tinged farmland dust and large numbers of low-income families lacking health insurance contribute to high rates of asthma hospitalizations and ER visits. Whatever the reason, uncontrolled asthma and frequent hospital visits aren’t just an issue for those with the disease; many children are covered by Medi-Cal, meaning taxpayers often pay the tab for care …”

* Chinese protest copper plant (when they rarely protest anything that the West hears about). MSNBC link

* Don’t tell the National Parks people about the benefits of coal. MSNBC photogblog:

– “A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency order will require two of Utah’s oldest coal-fired power plants to improve control of pollution that has drastically reduced visibility across a region that includes five national parks and redrock wilderness …”

* Ralph who?  The New York Times tries answering it here:

– “Jill Stein, presumptive nominee of the Green Party, is probably the only candidate on the campaign trail who spends an hour a day cooking her own organic meals — and who was, not too long ago, the lead singer of a folksy rock band … Unlike Ms. Stein, a physician on leave from her practice, Mr. Nader, a lifelong consumer advocate, enjoyed high name recognition. But now, more than a decade later, the Green Party has matured to the point at which Ms. Stein’s lower profile may be balanced by a more savvy political operation …”

* Election greenery or long-time coming? MSNBC

– “In another case of environmental rules becoming election fodder, the Obama administration on Friday proposed tighter restrictions on soot, a pollutant caused mainly by smokestacks and diesel engines. It had been called “the sleeping giant of clean-air issues” by Frank O’Donnell, head of the activist group Clean Air Watch. And while little was made of it until now, Republicans and industry were quick to pounce on it as more red tape in a weak economy. The proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule would set the maximum allowable standard for soot in a range of 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The current annual standard, last revised in 1997, is 15 micrograms per cubic meter … House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., reiterated that in a letter to EPA chief Lisa Jackson last week, saying that ”stringent standards” on soot ”will likely be costly and have significant regulatory and other implications.” The American Petroleum Institute agreed. “By continuing to implement the existing standards we would avoid the potentially heavy added economic costs of more stringent standards, which our economy and American workers cannot afford,” spokesman Howard Feldman told reporters Tuesday …” Scream if you’ve heard that same dreary back and forth since the days of Smogtown in L.A. Which, incidentally, we wrote.

 

 

The Dirt on Bill Burke, the Man Who’d Buy the Dodgers on Behalf of China: a Smogtown editorial

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Where’s Walter O’Malley when you need him?

 The revered owner of the Dodgers—who moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and privately financed and built Dodger Stadium in the early-1960s —was a man of stature unknown today in Chavez Ravine. Former L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley once called the patrician O’Malley “the epitome of class.”

But who would say that about Dr. William (“Bill”)  Burke, a connected local businessman and political figure, with his offer leading an investment group to acquire the Dodgers for $1.2 billion?

The chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the L.A.-region’s smog-control agency, and member of the California Coastal Commission, is simply carrying the money for Chinese interests seeking to buy the Dodgers from the bankrupt and disreputable McCourt family. And by Chinese interests, we’re talking the government of the People’s Republic, if initial news reports are accurate.

Burke is no O’Malley, that’s for sure. Here’s some background on him, with much more in our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles.

Where O’Malley built a top-notch baseball empire with private funds, Burke has made a career acting essentially as a high-class bagman carrying money from other people to politicians, with more than a little self-aggrandizement along the way.

Burke is well-known for his political action committees, which have delivered millions of dollars to legislators and city council members throughout his career and given him access and clout in L.A. City Hall and Sacramento.

Not surprisingly, he constructed his for-profit L.A. Marathon on public subsidies and then cut corners when it came to paying legitimate fees levied by the city. The L.A. council looked the other way in Burke’s case, particularly those to whom he doled out campaign contributions. Compare that situation to a more recent one, when the council pulled the plug on the popular Sunset Junction Music Festival because the promoters failed to pay fees. The cancellation, just days before the festival was scheduled, left musicians and vendors hung out to dry, a fate never visited upon Burke.

Beyond the hypocritical spectacle of the region’s top clean-air advocate representing as a private businessman a country where air pollution kills an estimated 655,000 people annually, according to this 2008 study, there’s also ground-level dirt in the district chair’s past.

In 1994, the L.A. City Ethics Commission, along with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, fined Burke’s corporation $436,250 for laundering campaign contributions. But at least that was out in the open. As we document in Smogtown, Burke quietly arranged a $53,000 AQMD public relations contract for Layne Bordenave, the mistress of former-California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, records and interviews show. Bordenave simply took the money and ran without providing any service. Burke bragged that in exchange for the money, Brown promised to block legislation trimming the district’s authority during a rough economic patch in the 1990s.

Burke was back to bidding again in 2001, helping to kill the first California electric car mandate as General Motors wanted. Burke argued it was unfair to require electric cars when working-class stiffs of color still had to breathe diesel fumes from trucks on freeways and at the ports. He said he’d brokered a deal with G.M. to deliver a half-billion dollars to end diesel pollution in Southern California, if only the state would release G.M. from its obligation to build electric cars. G.M. got rid of the obligation, but never delivered the money, leaving L.A. and the state with pollution from both cars and diesel soot from trucks. Today, the electric car is making a huge comeback.

Not too shrewd, Bill. But that’s what happens to those in public service who are willing to carry money for special interests to get ahead. Repping the Chinese, with their reputation for environmental lethality, and G.M., whose recalicitrance to install exhaust-trapping technology helped entomb Southern California in dangerous fumebanks of smog for decades, fits a pattern.

Let this cautionary tale about Burke’s attempt to buy the Dodgers with the investment group sink in. Once it does, it’s easy to imagine Walter O’Malley spinning in his grave at the notion that the team he loved could pass to such hands.

For more, read William’s L.A. Weekly feature about Burke’s stewardship at the district, and Chip’s Pasadena Weekly expose on cap-and-trade fraud there under his watch..)