A good old-fashioned raid, in short. The ostensible probable cause was unspecified complaints made by unidentified neighbors. But what was really on the LAPD's mind, it seems, was sex. The uniformed officers who rolled out were from the Prostitute Enforcement Detail in Hollywood, and the raid was coordinated by the department's Organized Crime and Vice Division. "When we got a complaint letter, they indicated there was possible sexual activity going on, like prostitutes and that kind of thing," says vice Lieutenant Mike Felix. "We had to clear it up."
The LAPD has apparently had its eye on Block for some time. According to Lobkowicz, the two undercover cops who initiated the bust contacted him back in October to attend a taping. Lobkowicz denies any charges of prostitution and says, "Not only do we intend to continue shooting, but we cannot allow this kind of gangsterism to stop us from doing something that's our First Amendment right."
Block and Lobkowicz were given a warning by building inspector David Vaccaro for conducting business in a residential zone, and the cops cited them for filming without a permit.
The state Department of Labor has a chance to redeem itself after botching last year's high-profile case against Guess Inc. subcontractor Kelly Sportswear.
The charges against Kelly - a laundry list of labor-law violations - were a black eye for Guess and its much-ballyhooed "voluntary sweatshop monitoring program," and led to Guess being dropped from the so-called "Good Guys" list of garment manufacturers. But on the most technical of technicalities - the state missed a hearing deadline - the case was dismissed last fall, as reported in the Weekly. What made the blunder all the more galling was that Kelly's representative in the case, a former labor inspector named Jesse Atilano, also has the contract to run Guess' dubious monitoring program, which somehow failed to turn up any problems at the El Monte-based subcontractor. Atilano claimed, nonetheless, that his client had been "exonerated."
Then last week, while conducting an impromptu inspection at an El Monte manufacturing shop called Kevin Sportswear, state officials turned up documents linking that company to now-defunct Kelly Sportswear. According to department spokesman Dean Fryer, Kevin Sportswear is owned by one Ngan Quoc Sam, who was a corporate officer in Kelly. In the wake of that discovery, the state plans to conduct an audit probing further links between Kelly and Kevin sportswears. This could be a boon to former Kelly workers who have sued the garment maker to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages and overtime they were denied when Kelly closed up shop.
No one could be happier with these new developments than State Labor Commissioner Jose Millan. As an assistant commissioner, Millan personally led the raid on Kelly - and found an allegedly false set of books hidden in the ceiling. He was incredulous at the state's subsequent handling of the case, and left the department for a time.
What better way to memorialize a presidency we remember mostly for its delusional hypocrisy: Congress voted last week to change the name of Washington National Airport to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a sort of birthday gift for the former Chesterfields poster boy, who turned 87 last Friday.
One of Reagan's first major acts as president, you will recall, was firing more than 11,000 striking air-traffic controllers, who are not at all happy with the new nomenclature. As Randy Schwitz, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, put it, "I'd rather have a hot poker in my eye than have an airport named after him."
The other irony here is that in 1986 Reagan, in one of his Big Government Is The Problem initiatives, signed over control of the airport to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, a local governing body, which also seemed none too pleased at Congress' convenient abandonment of the principle of local control. The airport authority's board of directors considered legal action against the move, but have apparently decided to relent. The new signs went up this week, according to an airport spokesman.
-Edited by Sam Gideon Anson