As Gene Maddaus reported in last week's cover story, something clearly is rotten at the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office (“Let's Make a Deal”). When appraiser Scott Schenter was caught stripping nearly $100 million in value from the property tax rolls, he said he'd done it at the behest of his longtime friend — County Assessor John Noguez. The revelation kicked off inquiries into both Schenter's actions and the perks enjoyed by other Noguez friends and donors.
Maddaus' investigation earned raves.
“Thank you L.A. Weekly!!!” writes reader MustResign. “From my understanding, the son of L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe was running Noguez's assessor's campaign, and four members of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, including Molina and Yaroslavsky, endorsed Noguez. In light of those facts, is it a surprise that the supervisors didn't ask John Noguez to resign?“
Adds Cal Watch, “I always thought it was fishy that both [antitax crusader] Howard Jarvis and the unions were endorsing Noguez. Now I know why. While you can be collaborative, ultimately tax agents have to prove their case. But instead of spending time doing their homework, they pay off the assessor and go to parties instead.“
“Great story,” reader SzWartz adds. “But while this article deals with the Assessor's Office, similar corruption plagues all of Los Angeles, especially the Los Angeles City Council. L.A. Weekly has already done some of the work in this area, but a lot more needs to be done.
“Even in last week's State of the City speech, we see the mayor trying to find ways to funnel millions of tax dollars to his political cronies under one scam or another. It seems that the major distinction between the penny-ante corruption in the Assessor's Office and City Hall's mega-corruption is that there is dissent within the Assessor's Office, while the corrupt City Council votes together more than 99.3 percent of the time.
“Bad as the assessor's corruption may be, it does not enter into the truly vile realm of the deliberate falsification of fire response times so that the City Council could cut $200 million from the fire department budget, while continuing to give millions to Eli Broad, CIM Group and other developers. The L.A. City Council willingly traded lives for dollars.”
The Perv Police
Readers were sharply divided on last week's column by Dr. Paul R. Abramson and L.J. Williamson, which argued that the only way to stop child molesters is to never, ever allow males unsupervised contact with minors (“Blackjack With Pedophiles”).
Steve M was not happy. Or, as he put it, “dumbfounded.” We'll give him the floor.
“I am dumbfounded that you would publish the garbage that was Dr. Paul R. Abramson's and L.J. Williamson's article,” he writes. “With all of the gross exaggerations and hyperbole embedded in the piece, I find it even harder to digest that Abramson is a psychology professor at UCLA and has been an 'expert' trial witness for more than three decades. The article can only be characterized as fearmongering and sensationalist claptrap, and it can certainly be used in the future to cast doubt upon the authors' credibility and judgment. …
“As a male teacher, I find it insulting for the authors to suggest that we should all have an aide in the classroom in order to monitor our behavior. This reactionary suggestion simply plays upon and stokes the anxiety and fear that the media has generated in the wake of the Miramonte case.”
He continues, “Since Abramson and Williamson's assertions were made in such a base, 'nyah nyah nyah' schoolyard tenor, I'll respond in kind. In college, it was generally accepted that psychology students were either dumb and had flunked out of pre-med, or that the students had chosen their major to sort out the demons and issues that plagued them. It was agreed that the (intelligent) ones who went on to graduate school must have been working on some serious neuroses.” Ouch!
Adds Rudy101, “The good doctor wants to build a society of fear and suspicion. The new crime will be not the 'child molestation' but the inherent attempted child molestations for simply being alone with a child.
“You are correct, Doc, about how pedos gain access and groom children. I too was a victim, and the offender had dozens and dozens of victims and never got caught. Your solution to give all men the halo of suspicion is certainly not the answer.
“Maybe a partial solution is that pedophilia be treated as a mental health issue. You know, how tens of thousands of men are molesting children tonight, but the men dare not to say anything to anyone? Why? Because if they did, they would be stripped of every vestige of their humanity, thown into jail and made into an outcast for the rest of their lives. America treats sexual deviancy in only one way, and that is through the criminal justice system.“
Shana Rowan disagrees. “I think this is an excellent post,” she writes. “The registry and related legislation do little to prevent sexual abuse. Dr. Abramson is proposing a system that would allow us to (a) prevent child sexual abuse, (b) educate parents and children about the facts, not the hype, and allow them to better identify it, (c) help address the secondary concerns such as the financial burden of prosecuting these cases/incarcerating the offenders.
“Rather than focusing on those already convicted of sex crimes, Dr. Abramson is promoting the idea of preventing there ever being crimes in the first place. Exactly the direction we need to go, in my opinion.”
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