A week ago, three L.A. Times reporters -- Ralph Frammolino, Nicholas Riccardi and Ted Rohrlich -- had a solid front-page investigative story that I missed as I retreated into my own deadline pressures. The story made a good case that L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley's office let slide some strong evidence of corruption by City Hall lobbyist Art Gastelum and one of Mayor Hahn's airport commissioners, Leland Wong. Steve Lopez followed up with a column chiding Cooley, and LAT associate editor Frank Del Olmo wrote a Sunday column on Gastelum's faults.
Now journalist Charles Rappleye, writing in this week's CityBeat, praises the story and says he was mistaken to support Cooley thinking the longtime prosecutor with no elected experience would crack down on political corruption.
What happened to Cooley? It may be that our DA is simply in over his head, that he wasnt ready for the pressure and should never have stepped up to bid for the top job. Or it may be that, having tasted the perquisites of high office, hes decided he wants to stay there, and that rocking the boat with politically charged prosecutions could only lead to trouble.
Either way, I cant help feeling like a sucker. Cooleys collapse seems perfectly in character, the performance you might expect of someone who spent most of his career toiling in the mid-level purgatory of a vast bureaucracy. I wonder now why I ever believed all his homilies about public integrity and following the letter of the law. And I wonder where well find a new upstart who can knock a comfortable incumbent off his perch
Cooley defeated the incumbent DA Gil Garcetti three years ago. He's up for reelection next spring and so far appears to face no major opposition.
(Another CityBeat story reports that Dutton's Books in Brentwood is opening a downtown outlet in the Disney Hall. Groovy. Just to pick a nit, Dutton's did used to have a store downtown -- in Arco Plaza, a dispiriting undergound shopping mall on Flower Street. That Dutton's was, I believe, a branch of the other Dutton brother's store in North Hollywood. Doug is in Brentwood, Dave in the Valley. Both Dutton's Books are marvelous places to browse.)
Edited 1:05 a.m.