Friday, 5.5.06

Morning BuzzLots of news for a Friday, starting with the mayor's exhausting pace, Barry Munitz's new controversy, John Stodder's blog in the face of a jury, a new take on the Ferrari Enzo saga and more sports than usual here at the Morning Buzz. Click on the Buzz for the details.

♦ Riding the Villaraigosa wave: Steve Hymon Duke Helfand tracks the mayor for a Column One in the Times about the schedule he keeps.
Ten months into the job, skeptics may ridicule his plans to take over the public schools or condemn his trash-fee hike to pay for more police. But even they concede the obvious: Villaraigosa has delivered on his promise to energize City Hall.

With barely an interruption, the 53-year-old mayor has spent the past year barnstorming his native Los Angeles in a one-man charm offensive that feels alternately like a nonstop political campaign and a mad adventure to unite a city of strangers. It's an unyielding pursuit of the city's loyalty, one citizen at a time.

Villaraigosa's schedule is so punishing that he wears out aides (one calls the pace "insane") and worries friends, who fret that his breakneck pace will burn him out. His family also pays a price. Villaraigosa and his wife, Corina, a public school administrator, have two teenage children. But quality time these days often means a phone call from the car. "We're ships passing in the night," the mayor said of the time he spends with his wife.

If all that is wearing on Villaraigosa, he doesn't let on. Fueled by cup after cup of Coffee Bean green tea, he plows ahead, knocking off neighborhoods, piling up miles on his city-issue black GMC Yukon.

"I love this job," he told a gaggle of admirers who besieged him in Studio City on a recent stop to celebrate the new headquarters of the Sun community newspaper.

Wouldn't it figure: For one of the few times since he took office, Villaraigosa has "no public schedule" today. He was in Washington yesterday for a photo-op with Ted Kennedy and the American Jewish Committee dinner. Also: Jill Stewart on the mayor's immigration stumbles, in the Jewish Journal.
♦ Munitz muscles in: I missed the news that former Getty chief Barry Munitz had claimed a $163,776 job job at Cal State L.A., but I noticed this: union officials and a state Senator are miffed. Before he made so many Getty staffers miserable, Munitz was chancellor of the state university system.
♦ Amen to that: The Pasadena Weekly removed from its website a guest column by the city's schools chief after realizing it contained phrasing similar to a 1991 sermon by Unitarian Universalist minister Rev. Patrick T. O'Neill. Times But it's not that simple, as editor Kevin Uhrich explains.
♦ Healthy distance? Hours before after heading to federal court to listen to closing arguments that could temporarily relocate his life to prison, John Stodder blogged about the hulking slab of new rock that is growing five feet a day inside the crater on Mount St. Helens. But just to reassure us he's paying attention, he concludes:
(P.S. I know, I know, I read the papers, I know what I'm supposed to be worrying about right now. News like this helps put my problems in perspective.)
♦ The story that never ends: Chris Lee in the LAT's Calendar section quotes me and others (including Channel 5's Bill Smith and the Hollywood Reporter's Tatiana Siegel) about the enduring fascination of the Ferrari Enzo/Malibu/Homeland security/Swedish bad boy story:
In the annals of car-culture sob stories, Eriksson's version of events ranks somewhere between Eddie Murphy's explanation for giving a transsexual prostitute a lift down Santa Monica Boulevard in 1997 — the comedian was "simply trying to be a good Samaritan" — and Britney Spears' for driving on PCH with her then 5-month-old son in her lap: a "horrifying, frightful encounter" with paparazzi...Eriksson himself is part Steve McQueen, part Chris Farley; the Swedish national comes off as a dashing cad and international man of mystery, but also a doofus...
♦ Students make good: The Daily News picked up the story on questionable Chinese artifacts reported by the Daily Sundial at Cal State Northridge.
♦ Kidney outrage: Day three of the Times' takedown of the Kaiser kidney transplant program.
♦ Price of inexperience: At the top of, the subhead about the state Senate passing a whopping $36.3 billion bond issue says it must yet be "approved by the House." Um, in California we call that other chamber the Assembly.
♦ QTN out: They got the word at the Q Television Network offices in Burbank: "It is with deep regret, I must terminate your employment effective today due to the network’s inability to pay salaries." Two gay networks remain.
♦ Blog hoax: The LAT's Borderline opinion blog has looked into the "Ten facts on immigration from the L.A. Times" meme that has made its way onto at least 130 blogs and declares it a hoax—based on actually checking the facts.
♦ Valley Senate race: Members of the City council will endorse their colleague Alex Padilla tomorrow out front of Van Nuys City Hall. Last weekend, the state Democratic Party endorsed Cindy Montañez.
♦ Didn't take long: AtomFilms has up a two-minute animated film setting the high price of gasoline to music.
♦ Lying in Long Beach: The website says the city of Long Beach has hired Intercept, Inc., a Los Angeles company "headed by celebrity polygrapher Ed Gelb, who fraudulently passes himself off as a Ph.D. Guests who appeared on Gelb’s television show, 'Lie Detector,' have reported to that the 'tests' he conducted lasted about 10 minutes from hello to goodbye, which is sub-standard even by the low standards of the polygraph community."
♦ Promotion: Aimee Machado is the new senior producer for "Patt Morrison," KPCC's afternoon newstalk show. She began at KPCC as a volunteer on "Talk of the City" and has been the interim SP on the new show. Author Denise Hamilton guests on the show today.
♦ No Choi in Mudville: Ex-Dodger Hee Seop Choi was sent to the minors by the Boston Red Sox.
♦ New and recommended: The Outside Score, a sports blog by David Neiman, local freelancer for the Washington Post and others. On last night's painful series-tying Lakers loss, he observes:
So what has happened to the Lakers? To begin with, they’re the inferior team. They’ve played some great basketball in this series, but there’s a reason that Phoenix is the second seed in the Western Conference, and Los Angeles is the seventh. It’s called talent. Kobe Bryant is far better than any player on the Suns — you can give Steve Nash MVP trophies every year from now until the end of time, and they won’t change that — but he’s only one guy. Man for man, Phoenix is better. Secondly, Los Angeles has gotten away from its game plan.
♦ Yeah, a third sports item: I was remiss in not noting that the Galaxy's Landon Donovan and Chris Albright (a late add) and Chivas USA's John O'Brien made the U.S. World Cup team. Has it been four years already? Mexico's national team is here tonight to play Venezuela at the Rose Bowl.
♦ Make it a foursome: USC's 19-year-old quarterback Mark Sanchez, arrested last week on suspicion of sexual assault, hired prominent defense attorney Leonard Levine to explore discussions with the DA's office.
♦ Because it made sex boring: The Erotic Museum is closing after two years of trying to compete as another tourist trap in Hollywood.
♦ Correx: The Los Angeles Times wasn't alone in misspelling (on March 26) the name of the New York Times' owning family, the Sulzbergers. The NYT itself rendered it Sulzburger on April 19. Forbes observes that the family has only been in charge since 1896 or so.
♦ Best wishes: Ron Fineman reports a re-occurence of cancer in his lymph nodes. After chemo last year he had tested clean since October.
♦ Sunday events: Museum of the Arroyos day, visit five museums in Highland Park and Pasadena between 11 am and 5 pm for free. Also: Book signing and reception in connection with the exhibition "Dance in Cuba: Photographs by Gil Garcetti" at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2 pm. And: Benefit winetasting and reading for the Edendale branch library, $20, 5 to 9 pm at The Echo, 1822 Sunset.
♦ Walking Wilshire: A reader emails, "With the proposed new construction projects on Wilshire at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica, Wilshire and Veteran, and at Wilshire and Federal we will all soon have no option but to walk the boulevard."

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