Asking the Los Angeles city attorney for advice is like a middle schooler asking her parents if she can go to Rosa Rita beach for the weekend with friends.
The answer is No! No! Didn't your hear me? I said NO!
So the outcome was not surprising when the city attorney and the City Council went into closed session to consider the case of Tennie Pierce, a black firefighter who sued the city, charging that a firehouse pal--or enemy--mixed dog food with his dinner in a bout of firehouse hazing.
The council went into closed session. Should the city fight the suit in court? The answer was No!
The city attorney's office advised the council to settle for $2.7 million. Over the years, the city attorney has avoided the courtroom, with its promise of sweet victory always balanced against the danger of humiliating defeat. It's safer to go for a tie. The council agreed 11-1.
Unfortunately for the city, somewhere in the city attorney's presentation to the council, there was a reference to Pierce, himself, participating in firehouse hazing. None of the council members jumped on this. It turned out there were also pictures of Pierce, shirtless and beaming, according to the Los Angeles Times, engaged in hazing half naked men.
KFI radio"s morning "Joh & Ken" Show picked it up. I like KFI. As an occasional insomniac, I listen to the all night "Coast to Coast" show hosted by George Noory and Art Bell. The callers to this show are interested in ghosts, flying saucers and Area 51, which is a place out in the desert where they believe the government engages in secret extra terrestial activity.
Apparently the callers to the "John & Ken" show have more provincial interests. Hearing the hosts blast the settlement, seeing the pictues on the "John & Ken web site, they bombarded council offices with cans of dog food and pelted a councilman's secretary with kibble.
The mayor vetoed the settlement. The council members now have second thoughts or cold feet.
The city attorney's office should have taken a chance in court. I think they teach trials in law school. And if the firehouses are centers of bigotry or just good old boys at play, it all would have come out in testimony. Now, all we can do is rely on John & Ken.