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Bernard Parks Responds to Our Coliseum Story -- Plus, Los Lobos

Facts Don't Do What We Want Them to

We received a lengthy response from L.A. Councilman Bernard C. Parks to Gene Maddaus' latest piece on the Coliseum scandal ("L.A. Coliseum Fallout Continues," Aug. 17).

Parks writes, "It's been said that facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. Someone should tell that to Gene Maddaus, who may have set a world record in the 1,500-meter trash with his article. Maddaus' 1,500 words were nothing more than a biased effort to push the agenda of some Coliseum commissioners who favor their interim general manager and USC's acquisition of the Coliseum.

"I know this because after I went public with my disapproval of interim Coliseum general manager John Sandbrook due to his lack of competence and the USC Master Lease due to its lack of credibility months ago, Coliseum staff informed my staff that Sandbrook intended to make things difficult for a nonprofit organization that hosts an annual scholarship fundraiser in the Exposition Park Rose Garden. The collateral damage in this political tit-for-tat would be my wife, who happens to be the vice president of the nonprofit.

"At issue was an alcohol license that the previous Coliseum general manager offered to the organization for the event. Sandbrook determined that the use of the license was improper and informed my office. My office informed the nonprofit group, and without any hesitation or hassle, the group decided to obtain a different alcohol license. They have used the same license for the last two years with no incident.

"My staff informed Maddaus of Sandbrook's plot and also gave him an email showing that I advised the former commission president as well as Sandbrook to have the Alcohol [sic] Beverage Control investigate this matter. However, this information never made it into the article.

"Despite this trivial circumstance, Maddaus tried to link the scholarship fundraiser to my position on USC's lease, claiming that I opposed USC control of the Coliseum because I would no longer 'decide which community groups get access' (to the venue). First off, the fundraiser is held in the Rose Garden — not the Coliseum. And secondly, the Coliseum Commission has no say over events in the Rose Garden.

"Throughout the article, when Maddaus wasn't picking and choosing the facts as he pleased, he was making baseless statements and attributing them to ... no one or nothing in particular! In one instance, he wrote: ' ... the L.A. Times obtained a confidential draft of the lease — likely from Parks' office ... .' And, he never substantiated that very strong accusation with sources or evidence; not even a hazy outline of a gunman on the grassy knoll. This wouldn't fly in my office's weekly newsletter, and it certainly shouldn't be accepted by a publication that boasts about 'decoding Los Angeles for its readers.' "

"The only thing this story 'decoded' was what some commission members and staff have been adolescently gossiping about for months. I don't know whether it was Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy or Dopey who spoon-fed him all of the half truths, but at least Maddaus was courageous enough to attach his name to his countless misguided thoughts instead of cowering in secrecy.

"The speculative nature of the Maddaus piece and the attempts by an embittered cabal of commissioners to hobble events in my community for payback are still dwarfed by two much weightier issues: the Coliseum corruption scandal and USC's new master lease. 

"I challenge the L.A. Weekly to adhere to its mission statement by 'confronting the city's political leaders' (those not afraid to be quoted, of course) on all of the issues surrounding one of our most beloved venues instead of writing stories now and recognizing the facts later."

Who You Calling "Wretched"?

Jerry Mohr of San Clemente wrote to let us know that he enjoyed Hillel Aron's piece on L.A. putting the screws to a lovely little town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains — with one exception ("DWP Goes After Prized Creek in Mammoth," Aug. 24). He writes, "I took offense at the description of Owens Valley as a 'wretched place.' I've enjoyed camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, birding and taking hundreds of photos in my nearly 60 years of visiting Owens Valley. ... Every time I visit this amazing valley, I'm thankful that the DWP bought all the land. If they didn't, it would look like an extension of Palmdale."

Hungry Like the Wolves

Readers loved Bill Bentley's story about working as a publicist for Los Lobos.

"I remember seeing them for the first time at Poor David's Pub on Greenville Ave. [in Dallas], on a very cold, icy night," Mike Rhyner recalls. "They were way late because their bus or van or whatever they were traveling in was said to have broken down. About an hour, hour and a half after they were supposed to have started, they walked in through the front door, carrying their guitars, got up there and tore it up. To this day, if I can possibly pull it off, I go see them every time they roll through town. You were on to something really good."

Reader TooBriefly approvingly quotes Bentley's line about "100 mile-per-hour monkey music," adding, "Pretty damn good description of all those weekend shows at the Palace with Los Lobos opening for The Blasters back in the day. We would stomp out into that Hollywood night soaked with sweat and stinking of bourbon, feet sore from two hours of jumping around in cowboy boots and shouting for more. My God, those were some shows."

You Write, We Read

Please send letters to L.A. Weekly, 3861 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Or write us at ReadersWrite@laweekly.com. Full name and contact info preferred.


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