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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Was Mark Ridley-Thomas On Your Corruption Bingo Card?

 By Daniel Guss 

@TheGussReport - Shame, shame, shame if you are a follower of Southern California politics and didn't have Los Angeles City Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, MRT, on your corruption bingo card.  Yesterday, he and a former USC dean were indicted for what amounts to the following.

One of MRT's sons, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, SRT, who had no legitimate reason for being elected to public office other than sporting a locally famous political surname, allegedly got all "hands across America" with women when he was in the California State Assembly and had to skedaddle so investigations into his haranguing proclivities could be dismissed as politically unnecessary. 

Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas
Photo Credit: ABC7

The media swallowed hook, line and stinker SRT's claim that his abrupt resignation was due to "medical reasons."

Like many coddled, lay-about children of politicians, SRT's daddy came to his rescue to get him a job that MRT apparently felt his son wasn't qualified to legitimately earn on his own and went over the top by allegedly buying him a professorship at the University of Southern California, USC.

Daddy Ridley-Thomas also allegedly bought Offspring Ridley-Thomas a USC graduate school admission and a full scholarship.

Think about that for a moment.  Mark Ridley-Thomas allegedly bought his kid a scholarship.  What bowl of Apple Jacks were those kids fed growing up where nobody seems to have raised the notion of accomplishment over entitlement?

You know, the type of bull that Mark Ridley-Thomas and all politicians spew day and night.

According to the indictment, all MRT had to do in exchange (i.e. a quid pro quo) was funnel your tax dollars and mine back to USC in a twisted amalgam of non-profits, nepotism and looking the other way. But it was apparently so aggressively ill-conceived that even USC couldn't ignore it and appears to have ratted out the wrong-doers to the feds itself.

What is it about USC that makes it a magnet for wealthy, powerful parents who think their kids aren't smart enough to get in on their own but can still be purchased from a cashier, as though the degree is a Prada bag that you carry around town?  Here's looking at you, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli.

On that note, USC continues to refuse to say whether Gianna "Gigi" Caruso, daughter of bazillionaire and a Chairman of the USC Board of Trustees Rick Caruso, earned her way into the school.  The last time this column asked, the school dodged the question and described Ms. Caruso in a way that was nothing short of shameful.

Rick Caruso, Gigi Caruso, Tina Caruso
Photo Credit: Unknown

By the way, are we still allowed to say "chairman?"  USC still does.

To be fair, we shall assume that the bikini entrepreneur (and gal pal of the Loughlin/Giannulli children) earned her way into USC through exceptional grades, test scores and community service.  It's just that the school and papa bear have refused to say that she did, let alone provide the specifics.

Mr. Caruso might very well make an excellent successor to uber-failure Eric Garcetti, perhaps in the tradition of Richard Riordan, the only stellar alcalde L.A. has had in the past several decades and maybe the best ever.  If he decides to run, the Los Angeles Times should ask about Gigi's admission into USC.

But don't bank on it.


A year ago, the Los Angeles Times endorsed Mark Ridley-Thomas to return to LA City Council despite knowing full-well about the alleged crimes for which he and a former USC dean were indicted yesterday, writing:

"He has made questionable ethical decisions, most notably when he funneled $100,000 from campaign fund to USC, which then hired his son as a professor."

Hey thanks for that endorsement, LA Times.  Imagine what a clear-eyed endorsement of a capable, accomplished community activist and attorney named Grace Yoo, who doesn't have the stink of scandal emanating from her pores, could have done for L.A.

But misapplied power and cronyism are hard habits to break.

The Times also repeatedly endorsed Mitch Englander,  who currently brushes his teeth in a federal prison in Arizona.  It also gave us the thumbs-up for Jose Huizar, who might someday set up camp in Englander's prison. And the Times has repeatedly endorsed others like Mayor Eric Garcetti, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former L.A. City Council president Herb Wesson.

But there's nothing that the Times loves to do more than floating the notion of coddled, lay-about political offspring (like Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and Justin Wesson) running to succeed their parents rather than encouraging fresh names with better ideas.

Huzzahs!  Everyone gets a trophy, everyone gets to walk in their parents' footsteps just because they're special!

Everyone except the kids who earned those spots in school.

Everyone except the candidates for office who would have worked diligently and with integrity to improve L.A.

Note to the L.A. Times: You can't manufacture the Kennedys. Even the Kennedys were not what the media wanted us to believe that they were. And neither are these locals.

If Los Angeles is going to be a glutton for felons, failures and flunky children of kleptocrat politicians, it is the Times' job to keep us from falling off that cliff rather than giving us a shove.

Thanks again, El Segundo Times.


And finally, this column has chosen the top five politicians or political hangers-on who it thinks might be indicted next. We'll keep that on the note pad over here by the morning lime water.  But here's a hint: Methinks some will be for bankruptcy fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion, forgery and/or voter registration fraud.  Okay, or bribery, but we assume you already knew that.

Tell your friends to follow me on The Twitters @TheGussReport.

(Daniel Guss, MBA, was runner-up for the 2020 Los Angeles Press Club journalism award for Best Online Political Commentary and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star-News, Los Angeles Downtown News and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections as well as its Sunday Magazine, among other publishers.)

Presently using mi amigo Scott's sign-in until tech matters are resolved.

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