New sheriff converts Tanaka's cigar-smoking patio

File photo: ZevWeb

Sheriff John Scott sent out a memo Wednesday informing department supervisors that the closed-in, climate-controlled, members-only patio where selected sheriff's officials could smoke cigars with each other would become a barbecue area open to all. "Symbols matter — a concept that is clearly not lost on the new guy in town," says Witness LA's Celeste Fremon.

It was her site that in 2011 told of the patio's existence and its weird place in the macho culture of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. Until last summer, she says, the so-called Ramona Patio "served as a de facto private club for former undersheriff Paul Tanaka, into which only his special list of loyalists were allowed to enter....In order to enter the patio, one had to possess a 'challenge coin,' a specially designed sequentially numbered coin that was given to each member by Paul Tanaka personally. Never mind that this exclusive recreational enclave, located inside the sheriff’s headquarters building in Monterey Park, was constructed in 2008 at a cost to LA County taxpayers of $22,726.31 in building materials alone, and was maintained by LASD’s Facilities Services Bureau."

Tanaka is now among the candidates running for the top job of sheriff.

Scott's memo asks for suggestions for a new name for patio, and reminds the law enforcement officials that "per California Government Code 7597(a), smoking is not permitted in the new barbeque area.”

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