Just who was Kinde Durkee? The sweet, quiet treasurer handled the books for California's top Democrats — and apparently helped herself to more than $7 million in the process, as L.A. Weekly staff writer Gene Maddaus detailed in his Dec. 16 cover story ("The Money Vanishes"). Political insiders were stunned by the betrayal, even as they questioned how she'd managed to fool them for years. So, Maddaus wrote, where did the money go? And how did Durkee get away with raiding her clients' accounts for so long?
A reader who calls himself Ventura Capitalist has one snarky answer. "These are Democrats," he writes. "Check the Swiss bank accounts of the 'victims.' You'll find the money there."
Reader Muckraker fires back. "Doesn't matter if Durkee is a Democrat or Republican. What we know for sure is that she is a criminal. She admitted she broke the law," he writes. "The bigger issue is D.A. Steve Cooley. His office knew about the problem years ago and did nothing about it.
"This is a superb piece of journalism by Gene Maddaus. As sad as this story is, I was laughing at some of the dumb stuff this woman did and the gullibility of her clients. Feinstein loses $5 million, then writes herself a check to replenish her bank account? Wow. Maybe she could cut another check to the U.S. Treasury."
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Reader Terin Dickerson has a more sympathetic take. "Let me enter the conversation and say I'm not surprised by the headline, but I was surprised by the content of the article. So she's wrongfully taken clients' money and then used the money to pay for her company? Who else thinks that's weird?
"What she did is not cool, but I don't feel she's a horrible person either. She was just a business owner over her head, and she cut corners. I don't think we should just say shame on her. Instead I think we need to think how other people are doing this every day, but still getting away with it."
Lane Myers weighs in: "But she is a horrible person. Don't shame the many business owners who were/are also over their heads who chose to stay above the law and maintain their professional dignity. ... But you (and Muckraker) do have a point: Why did the various entities — the D.A., the tax board — fail in monitoring the discrepancies in her books?"
The Earth Moves
More controversial was Ryan Deto's Dec. 16 report about earthquake faults and their possible impact on the West Beverly Hills Lineament ("Westside Subway Route Fissures"). Deto reported that Metro may be using the existence of two mostly ignored fault lines to justify moving the subway line from Santa Monica Boulevard to Constellation Boulevard.
We heard from numerous readers who took issue with Deto's comparison of the two locations — "bustling Santa Monica Boulevard, where groups of working-class citizens carry fast food to work," as he wrote, and "sleepy, three-block-long Constellation Boulevard, where investment bankers valet their Porsches."
" 'Bustling Santa Monica Boulevard'? Bustling with cars and Beverly Hills residents headed to the shops on Rodeo Drive! Really? So glad I stopped picking up this joke of a paper at the newsstand," writes LACATony, who presumably still reads this joke of a paper online.
The cleverly named "BHUSD Uber Alles" adds, "L.A. Weekly, you have sunk to a new low. Apparently you have never set foot in Century City. What are you guys smoking? By 'bustling,' do you mean the six lanes of traffic next to the golf course?? And by 'sleepy' Constellation, are you referring to the millions of square feet of office and retail space surrounding it?" Uh, no comment on the smoking, dude.
Brent also weighs in: "Has L.A. Weekly ever walked in Century City? Has it ever visited at all? The proposed Santa Monica stop has a golf course on one side and six lanes of traffic on the other. All the 'bustle' comes from cars, not from pedestrians. The few who do find their way to the bus stops look like the golf course–bred rats and skunks that scurry across the boulevard in their search for safety on the other side.
"If you want to prioritize the Porsches, build that damned stop on Santa Monica, so the 99 percent has to walk a mile to work, and the 1 percent can valet their cars steps away. But if you want to build a stop where the action is, put it smack in the middle of Century City, on Constellation and Avenue of the Stars, and let the Porsches park somewhere else."
Finally, we heard from a reader who goes only by Guest, who describes Deto's story as "an uncharacteristically bad article for the Weekly." (Faint praise? We'll take it!)
"Guest" offers numerous examples of what our story supposedly gets wrong, which you can read, along with all the rest of the online feedback we received, in the story's comments section at laweekly.com. He concludes with this: "Bottom line: Anyone who knows Century City knows that Constellation is the right spot. L.A. counts on the Weekly to research its articles and present an evenhanded view. This fails on both accounts."
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