Loading...

Donald T. Sterling Fakes His Philanthropy in a New Los Angeles Times Ad 

The Weekly unmasked his phony "homeless center"; now he's back with the same claim

Wednesday, Aug 20 2008
Comments
When Alice Callaghan turned to page A16 of the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, August 6, she was stunned.

“I saw it and I was so startled,” says Callaghan, an Episcopal priest and longtime homeless activist in downtown’s Skid Row. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, he’s doing it again.’”

What rattled Callaghan, who runs Las Familias del Pueblo, a Skid Row day-care and education center aimed at working-class Latino families, was another advertisement placed in the newspaper by real estate mogul and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, touting his “state-of-the-art $50 million dollar [sic] Donald T. Sterling Homeless Center, Medical Center and Courthouse.”

On its March 20 cover, L.A. Weekly exposed the supposedly upcoming Sterling Homeless Center as nonexistent — a troubling PR stunt promoted by a billionaire for unknown reasons. After that embarrassing coverage, Callaghan thought Sterling wouldn’t dare plug the “center” again. But the chutzpah of the Beverly Hills billionaire, it appears, can’t be underestimated.

“The man,” Callaghan says now, “is shameless.”

It has been more than two years since the L.A. Times began running, in its A section, the first of many big ads touting the Sterling Homeless Center, often accompanied by a grinning photo of Sterling and heavily implying that he was becoming a major philanthropist for the homeless. Except for the fact that Sterling, a bit player in local philanthropy, is no such thing.

Today, his proposed homeless center site at Wall and Sixth streets remains unchanged — still home to an import-export warehouse. And Jan Perry, the city councilwoman for the area — through whom a homeless-center project must first be vetted — tells the Weekly that she still has not received any proposals.

Yet his new ad implies that Sterling is finally moving forward: “Now interviewing architects, operators, and land use specialist.” Callaghan isn’t buying it. “I haven’t heard anything about this project,” says Callaghan, who knows nearly everything that happens affecting Skid Row’s homeless population.

Joel John Roberts, executive director of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), also hasn’t heard a peep. “I talk to a lot of people,” says Roberts. If Sterling were actually moving forward, “I would have heard something.” Two years ago, Sterling’s associates briefly negotiated with Roberts to operate the Sterling Homeless Center, but after the billionaire asked PATH to raise $50 million to build his project, Roberts pulled out. “We haven’t heard anything from him since,” Roberts says.

Nor has Orlando Ward, spokesman for Midnight Mission, a Skid Row institution for more than 90 years, spoken with Sterling since May or June of 2006. “Not a word,” says Ward. Two years ago, the billionaire wined and dined Midnight Mission president Larry Adamson at Spago in Beverly Hills, claiming an interest in helping the homeless. Nothing came of it.


The latest Times ad, Ward says, “looks like the same shenanigans as last time, and the motive is unclear.”

Eva Kandarpa, a spokeswoman for Jan Perry, who represents Skid Row, says their office has yet to receive a blueprint or mock-up of any kind from Sterling.

“Usually that kind of [major] project would have to go through the city council office to make sure the councilperson is supportive,” says the spokeswoman. “It’s one of the steps of a lengthy approval process.”

The timing of the new, August 6 ad shares an interesting anniversary date with one of Sterling’s most embarrassing legal battles: On August 7, 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against Sterling and his wife, Rochelle, for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act.

Sterling built his vast fortune by buying up high-end apartment buildings. According to the feds, the Sterlings “refused to rent to non-Korean prospective tenants ... refused to rent to African-American prospective tenants ... and refused to rent to families with children.”

The Sterlings are still under investigation, says Department of Justice spokeswoman Jamie Hais, who adds that it’s unknown when the federal government may conclude its case. Hais says these kinds of cases “often” end in settlement or a consent decree — a set of strict rules that would dictate, for a period of time, how the Sterlings rent out and otherwise operate their many thousands of rental units.

Meanwhile, graphic designer Marc Grobman, of Quixo Design (www.quixo.com), who has founded the cheekily named “Donald T. Sterling Graphic Design Foundation” to poke fun at the billionaire’s garish, ugly Times ads, has this to say of the latest, odd development: “The [ad] design certainly isn’t getting better, and as far as the message goes, there isn’t any new information about the homeless center.”

Maybe, suggests Callaghan, that’s because there’s nothing new to say.


Reach the writer at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

Related Stories

  • Marijuana Burn

    A West Hollywood weed shop operator who once proclaimed in a press release that medical marijuana dispensaries don't get enough positive coverage in mainstream media was convicted for trying to burn a rival's home down, the L.A. County District Attorney's office said over the weekend. Andrew Harrison Kramer, 39, pleaded...
  • L.A.'s Worst Red-Light Camera Under Fire in Beverly Hills

    You're fish in a barrel if you get caught blasting through a red light eastbound on Wilshire Boulevard as you travel downhill on a six-lane roadway headed from Westwood to Beverly Hills. After cruising through intersections with longer yellow-light intervals, you're entrapped by a double-whammy: A reduction in speed to...
  • Kanye West's Beverly Hills Fracas Could be a Misdemeanor 2

    If you believe some of the reporting on Kanye West's run-in with an 18-year-old heckler at a Beverly Hills medical office, you might come away thinking the teen allegedly got his face beat in. See also: Kanye West Investigated For Assault in Beverly Hills. Cops, however, seem to be shrugging it
  • Caffe Concerto: Chic Dining in K-Town

    Caffe Concerto, as it stands, seems completely out of place. The restaurant is all white with black accents; a stone pavement leads into the main lobby, there's a chic balcony on the second floor and curly, wrought-iron fences line the outdoor seating area. It looks as if it belongs in
  • Wallis Annenberg Center: New Beverly Hills Theater Nods to Its Past Life as a Post Office

    In a year of sweeping post office closures and service cutbacks, one local branch is being celebrated with a much-anticipated transformation. The historic mail center in Beverly Hills, after a 10-year conversion, is finally re-opening as the grand Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. In architect Zoltan Palti's design,
Reach the writer at pmcdonald@laweekly.com

Related Content

Now Trending

  • Jay Z Grand Park Concert Is Official as Mayor Plans Announcement

    It looks like Mayor Eric Garcetti is going to officially announce that a two-day "Budweiser Made in America" festival is taking place  at downtown L.A.'s Grand Park. The mayor's office said today he " will make an announcement with Shawn "JAY Z" Carter, Supervisor Gloria Molina, City Council President Herb...
  • L.A.'s Top 10 Streets for Bicycle Crashes Revealed

    You're probably already aware that there's a hit-and-run epidemic in L.A., and that bicycling in a car-crazed capital like Los Angeles can be hazardous to your health. See also: Critical Mass Bike Ride Recognizes L.A. Hit-&-Run Victims But the nerds at the MIT Media Lab's Social Computing Group recently came up...
    2
  • "Compton Division" Pimps Made Millions, Cops Say

    A trio of local pimps forced women to work the streets from San Diego to Las Vegas and beyond, cops say, and they allegedly made millions doing so. But now 31-year-old Robert Walker, 34-year-old Daniel Gunther, and 34-year-old David Sheffey, who called their crew the Compton Division, are behind bars, says...

Slideshows