By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Photo by Jack Gould
SO EX-CHIEF BERNARD PARKS IS thinking of running for the City Council instead of suing it. Although he doesn't appear to live there at the moment, Parks certainly has a better-than-even chance next year of winning the 8th District seat that Mark Ridley-Thomas will vacate this December when he wins election to the state Assembly. (It would be virtually impossible for Democrat Ridley-Thomas to be beaten by a Republican in this district.)
But I wonder if our just-departed chief has really thought this one through. Instead of being the city's central luminary, as councilman he'd be just one of 15 elected representatives. And he'd have to work with his colleagues instead of trying to thwart them. Most importantly, when speaking in the council chamber, he could only talk for three minutes at a time. This could work dire hardship on the man who, just last week, addressed his potential future colleagues for 90 minutes straight about his favorite subject: himself.
Unless you're Fidel Castro, an hour and a half is a pretty long time to hold forth -- even in a goodbye speech. With his refusal to assume even the tiniest vestige of blame for the Rampart scandal and all of the other problems of his tenure, Parks gave us all a good look at that fatal lack of critical self-awareness that plagued his entire five years as chief.
No, it was everyone else who was at fault, particularly those out there "impugning my unquestioned honesty and integrity." Now here is a funny thing: Honest people generally do not brag. When someone comes to your house vaunting honesty, you better count the silverware before he leaves.
This is not to say that Parks didn't score points against his opponents. Had he simply stopped after 30 minutes, bowed and thanked everybody for their time, he might have left us a strong impression of a good man wronged. It is barely possible that he might have carried another vote or two on the council to review the Police Commission's 4-1 decision not to rehire him. A lot of us agreed that the process looked flawed.
Parks has stressed that there was no good reason for the Police Commission to hold his personnel hearing in closed session. He noted that the question of whether his last performance review had been properly cycled around the system was basically meaningless. From what I read, the substance of the draft evaluation the panel saw didn't differ substantially from the alternative version. And Parks made a decent case that his rejection hadn't been accompanied by the same amount of paperwork that had gone into the ouster of his predecessor, Willie L. Williams.
BUT THEN PARKS FURTHER CONtended that Mayor Jim Hahn was trying to get him. That Hahn had expressed his preferences not only to the Police Commission, but -- for all we know -- to members of the City Council. And you know what? That wasn't news to anyone but Bernie Parks. There is no law that says your new boss has to fall in love with you. Particularly if you keep acting like you can't stand him.
To Parks, however, it was atrocious that anyone could not want him to be police chief for another five years. And worse that this someone would actually work to get rid of him. Just what kind of monster was this mayor guy Hahn, anyway?
Bernie let us know. Hahn had -- perhaps -- conspired with the police union not only by promising to oust Bernie in return for its support, but in getting the city to give the union $3.5 million to campaign against Parks. Never mind that this particular transfer was intended to defend officers in disciplinary hearings and hasn't been used for anything else, and that Parks had himself agreed to it.
Then our honest and integral Parks blamed the reinstatement of Christopher Commissionmandated community-based policing measures -- which he had so long resisted -- for the soaring inner-city homicide rate. He blamed the LAPD's attrition rate on bad officers who'd been forced into retirement. He acceded, sort of, to the common contention that LAPD morale was a mess. But then he made his most amazing claim of all: Good officer morale, he effectively said, means bad civilian morale. "The LAPD tries to balance the morale of its employees with the morale of its communities," he said. This time, the council members were looking at one another and the ceiling, but Parks kept going. He asserted that the high morale the LAPD allegedly enjoyed in the freewheeling days of Daryl Gates (which sure was news to me; has he checked with Joe Wambaugh on that?) was responsible for both the past department's anti-civil-rights break-head zeal and the high crime rate of 20 years ago. Would-be LAPD applicants note and file: If cops like their jobs, Parks was practically saying, they'll do lousy work and hurt people.
AND THERE, IN A SINGLE LIGHTNING flash, you had the naked Bernard Parks, spread out on a lab table. The issue wasn't (as his supporters contend) that the cops of the LAPD hate Bernie. It was that Bernie hates them.