By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Inside Las Familias del Pueblo, which makes its home in a cheery storefront amid grime and poverty, Alice Callaghan sits on a stool and takes a breather. Wearing her longtime “uniform” — a gray skirt, white sneakers and a white blouse with the sleeves rolled up — the former Catholic nun turned Episcopal priest has offered Latino workers and their children day-care, preschool and educational services on Skid Row since 1987.
Callaghan knows every block of the neighborhood, all its characters and all of its statistics. She’s been known to track down a used refrigerator for a family or accept mail for someone in need. As kids watch a Disney video nearby, Callaghan stares at the smile of Donald T. Sterling, whose newspaper advertisements are laid out on a table before her. She studies the ad copy closely.
“What’s this stuff about helping children?” Callaghan asks, pointing at a line in the ad. “There aren’t any homeless children on Skid Row, and if there are, it’s very rare.”
His claim is confusing. Why would a billionaire promote such a cliché — when the vast majority of people on Skid Row are lone men, and even couples without kids are not often seen there?
Callaghan then notices another mistake. The ad pledges to help “over 91,000 homeless people at Sixth and Wall Street.” The huge figure Sterling is claiming gives her a jolt. “We have nowhere near that amount of people down here,” Callaghan says, noting there are about 3,000 to 4,000 homeless people on Skid Row on any given day.
Callaghan shakes her head.
“It’s the lowest of the low if he’s using the homeless to make himself look good,” she says. “Or it’s the dumbest of the dumb. No one builds those kinds of shelters down here anymore. He’s a businessman. He can make anything happen. So if it’s not happening, there’s a reason for it.”
But after two years of touting his good deeds and holding meetings with experts on homelessness that go nowhere, Donald T. Sterling appears to be the only person who understands what his reason may be.
Timeline: See You In Court, Donald2001: City of Santa Monica sued him, claiming he harassed eight tenants in three rent-controlled buildings by threatening to evict them for having potted plants on balconies. He paid $25,000 in settlements.
2002:Sterling sued apparent lover Alexandra Castro for the title to a $1 million Beverly Hills home. Castro said the dwelling was a gift from him to her. The case was settled for undisclosed terms.
2003: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles represented a tenant Sterling tried to evict on Lincoln Boulevard for allegedly tearing down notices in an elevator. Sterling won. The tenant was evicted.
2004:Sterling and other landlords won a major appellate case against Santa Monica’s stringent Tenant Harassment Ordinance, which Santa Monica’s city attorney had used to order Sterling and other landlords to stop issuing eviction notices, terming the notices “harassment.”
2004: Elisheba Sabi, an elderly widow represented by Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation, sued Sterling for refusing her Section 8 voucher to rent an apartment. Sterling won last year. It’s under appeal.
2005: Sterling sued landowner Larry Taylor for allegedly reneging on an unsigned note that agreed to sell Sterling properties worth about $17 million. The “handwritten note” war made it to the California Supreme Court. Taylor won last year.
2005: Sterling settled a housing-discrimination lawsuit filed by the Housing Rights Center, which represented more than a dozen tenants. He paid nearly $5 million in legal fees and a probably much larger, but undisclosed, sum to plaintiffs.
2006: The Department of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination, alleging that he and his wife, Rochelle, refused to rent to African-Americans and families with children, among other charges. The case is pending.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald email@example.com.
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