The Fan Who Would Be King

Gene Maddaus' investigation into Josh Macciello — the would-be billionaire who convinced everyone from ESPN on down that he had a legitimate shot at buying the Dodgers — had L.A. buzzing last week, with readers and reporters alike praising Maddaus for exposing Macciello as a fraud ("The Artful Dodger," March 16).

"That was a good story," writes Tom Smith. "Dude even had dinner with Lasorda! As far as baseball fans go, this will be talked about for quite a while. It wouldn't have meant as much if it had happened in New York, but to have this in L.A.'s turf — this is a classic L.A. con man, probably laughing all the way to the bank."

A reader calling himself the "Improv Alliance Organization" has additional insight. "This has nothing to do with baseball," he writes. "Not a thing. This has everything to do with the abandoned son of an actor, so needy for attention he came up with the idea of doing the ultimate: believing he could buy a baseball team and desperately attempting to convince people with more means to back a guy with no money. One look at this guy — just one look, in any city outside of Los Angeles — would have screamed, 'This man does not have a pot to piss in.' Not here. Not Los Angeles.

"The tragedy is that a huge majority of Los Angeles believed this, because this entire town deals in the business of fantasy and can no longer discern reality from fantasy. 'I'll let you write it when we make the movie'? The man is still pitching to the L.A. Weekly to help him write the movie, and believe you me, someone will buy this treatment, only for it to never be made — or, at its ultimate irony, picked up and cast with top stars, where it will win an Oscar. He will get money for it. Meanwhile the Dodgers just sit there in bankruptcy, and the only person making money at this point is the guy who owns the parking lots of Dodger Stadium.

"What do you expect? It's Los Angeles. There are a lot of Josh Macciellos in this town."

Stop-Sign Shakedown

We also heard from readers who were livid about Michael Goldstein's exposé of stop-sign cameras in the Santa Monica Mountains ("Parks Agency Money Grab," March 16). As Goldstein wrote, more than 70,000 motorists have been socked with tickets — netting the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, or MRCA, more than $2 million annually.

Some readers were livid about the MRCA's tactics. Others were livid that our story questioned the agency's tactics.

"Here's a thought: The next time you see a stop sign or red light, STOP," writes Serious Fun. "It's not that hard, it's common sense, it's the law."

Adds Mathklee, "I guess what this is saying is that if you are in the entertainment industry or work in Beverly Hills, you shouldn't have to stop at a stop sign. Hikers should move aside and let you speed on by."

Lauren writes, "Maybe if people in Los Angeles actually came to a complete stop, this wouldn't be a problem. I have lived in L.A. for almost three years now, and seriously, every day I almost get sideswiped, squished, backed into or cut off. I think more measures like this might actually curb the driving habits in L.A. I have a hard time sympathizing with people who get tickets because they broke traffic laws. You know how to fix that? DON'T BREAK THE TRAFFIC LAWS."

Safer Streets L.A. disagrees. "Do you ever drive a mile or two over the speed limit? Maybe we should install a device in your car to monitor you constantly and automatically send you a ticket the moment you exceed the speed limit by one mile per hour or don't use your directional signal turning into your driveway at 2 a.m. when no one is around."

Jacob M. adds, "To place stop-sign cameras at remote locations such as these is unconscionable. There is one purpose, and the data produced by the L.A. Weekly proves it: Joe Edmiston is intentionally ripping off people to continue to build his empire. In my book, he is the lowest of the low and should have been fired long ago because he does not administer our public lands with integrity."

We received a lengthy response from Dash Stolarz, director of public affairs for the MRCA. We've pasted it into the comments section of Goldstein's story, if you'd like to read it in its entirety. We'll leave you with his final paragraph here:

"The MRCA program was instigated to protect the thousands of park visitors who come to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority parkland every day to prevent accidents from occurring, not as a response to accident data, as a municipality might typically do. The program has clearly worked in changing the habits of drivers, and we hope, with time, it becomes even more effective in getting drivers to stop at the stop signs. All net proceeds from the program go back into the parks for purposes such as fire training, fire prevention, fire patrol, safety training, signage, striping and trail maintenance to make the parks safer and better for the hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy these public parklands every year."


We're proud to announce that L.A. Weekly columnist Gendy Alimurung recently took first place in the Education Writers Association National Reporting Contest. Alimurung was honored in the large-market single-day news coverage or feature category for her June 17 story, "Bad Lunch."

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