Bernie Takes On The Times
Bernard Parks, Jr. - the Councilman's son and Chief of Staff shot us over the following email with his dad's letter to Times publisher Dean Baquet attached.
Subject: Councilmember Parks Uncovers a Big Goof by the LA Times
DATE: January 18th, 2006
Councilmember Bernard C. Parks is sending the below letter to the Los AngelesTimes today, after the paper wrote an article opposing a proposed furniture store on Western Avenue, despite favoring the same furniture store just slightly more than two years earlier. This mistake is just the latest form of carelessness by the Times, who could have avoided this mistake by simply having credible editors on staff to make sure that they don't support two different sides of the same article.
January 18, 2006
Mr. Dean Baquet
Los Angeles Times
Times Mirror Square
Los Angeles, CA 90053
Dear Mr. Baquet,
Congratulations! Your paper’s Saturday article entitled: “Land Seized for Animal Shelter May be Sold to Developer-Doner” actually defied science by proving that you can be in two places at one time.
I don’t know if you remember, but this is the second time the Times has weighed in on the proposed animal shelter on South Western Avenue. The problem is: the first time you reported the story, you favored a furniture store instead of an animal shelter. However, this Saturday– just over two years after the original story– you apparently opposed it. So, I ask, once and for all, where does the Times stand on this issue? And, why all the flip-flopping?
Throughout my career as a public servant, I have found it impossible to adequately serve the residents of this great city by playing on both sides of the issue. I would suggest that you adopt this philosophy because, despite your sagging circulation, your paper is still responsible to the relatively small audience it attempts to inform.
In Michael Hiltzik’s 2003 article “City Putting a Pound in the Way of Progress”, he asks the question: “Why didn’t anyone from City Hall stop by and say something along the lines of: Cisco, this is a spectacular and courageous development you’ve undertaken in the heart of South-Central. Is there anything we can do for you?”.
But, the Patrick McGreevy piece from this past weekend is obviously slanted in the opposite direction. He accuses city officials of having to do “fancy legal footwork” to ensure the animal shelter is kept off of the site. There are also unnecessary details about campaign contributions given by the owners of the furniture store. Given my history and reputation for integrity, I am extremely offended that your paper would even raise the possibility that my vote is for sell– and for a mere $1,000! In the future, just for fairness, why don’t you allow your reporters to report in their articles the many times votes go against contributors. This would probably be foreign as it would represent balance. By putting this policy into effect, you would be able to avoid articles like the one published Saturday, where the only consistency was its many contradictions with the previous article.
Unfortunately, this is just the latest instance of your paper’s bad fact pattern in stories that seem to involve me. I could recite the seemingly endless stream of complaints to and retractions from the Times, but instead I’ll just ask that you examine the enclosed Hiltzik and McGreevy articles and see if at the very least you can introduce the two gentleman and see what happens from there.
BERNARD C. PARKS
MORE: Full text of both LA Times articles Parks refers to posted at Mayor Sam 2.