Correcting Ken Reich

In response to Ken Reich's blog rant last week about the low turnout of Times people at a Little Tokyo event for the Frank del Olmo Legacy Lecture Series, the late columnist's widow asked me to pass along her view. Glad to do it. This is an excerpt from Magdalena BeltrŠn-del Olmo's email:

Our goal was to host about 50 people, so we were pleasantly surprised to have received 100 RSVPs, with about 65-75 people ultimately attending the event. Our goal was not to reach Los Angeles Times staff - we did that many times over with events held previously and at which many Times executives and staff attended.

It's important to note that we've had many book signings for Frank del Olmo: Commentaries on His Times, the biggest of which was the Sept. 2004 launch held at the Times and hosted by then-Publisher John Puerner and Executive Editor John Carroll.

Attendance at that launch was vibrantly reflected by more than 100 Times staff, community leaders, family, actors, and elected officials, including then-Los Angeles Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa who had our City Council declare it "Frank del Olmo Day." That launch attracted more than 300 people and we were forced to turn away others because of space limitation.

I have received nothing but wonderful support from the Times' executive leadership and those Times staff who knew my late husband. Many of the Times staff have attended other events held in the last year to honor Frank.

John Carroll has been with me to several key events and made public comments about my late husband's legacy. And it was Mr. Carroll on the editorial side who provided the leadership to green light the project, making it possible for me and my co-editor, Frank Sotomayor, to focus on developing the book itself.

The same must be said for the business side operations of the Times, with public affairs and many other departments joining forces with me to publish the book seven months after the unexpected death of my beloved husband. A lot of love and care from Times staff went into the creation of this book.

In fact, the Times last month officially granted the del Olmo Family Trust the exclusive reprint right to the book in perpetuity so I can begin the process of positioning it among journalism and ethnic studies program at universities nationwide.

The Times did NOT sell me the right - it granted it to me at no fee so the book proceeds will continue to benefit the Frank del Olmo Memorial Scholarship Endowment established by the Times and the California Chicano News Media Association (CCNMA). Earlier this month, the endowment surpassed the $100,000 mark. So, was our June 20 event successful and did we achieve our goals? Damn right!

We have lined up USC and CCNMA to organize and host next year's event. Edison International, this year's underwriter, and Hoy Spanish-language newspaper will underwrite the costs for 2007. We also sold a lot of books and reached new people, some of whom represent college campuses that want to be considered for a future hosting of the lecture series.

The Times, its leadership and staff have been warmly supportive of my family and my late husband's legacy. I would appreciate it if you shared this information with your readers.

Sincerely,

Magdalena BeltrŠn-del Olmo

Absolutely.


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