Around the parks

I've been on jury duty the past three weeks, so I'm catching up on a few things. Please excuse any tardiness and/or staleness.

Pittsburgh CrawfordsThe Negro League Baseball exhibit at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park officially closed on Wednesday, but staff members told me that it'll remain open through next weekend. (Admission is free.) The exhibit is geared toward kids and those people unfamiliar with the Negro Leagues and consists primarily of black-and-white photographs. Most of these images came from one source: the collection of historian Larry Lester.

For a museum with "California" so prominent in its name, the most disappointing aspect of the exhibit is its lack of localized information. The exhibit ignores the rich history of "Blackball" in this state – for instance, according to Kevin Nelson's The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball (Heyday Books), a semi-pro team used to play at White Sox Park in Boyle Heights – nor do the curators mention the many Black barnstorming teams that toured in California during the winter months. All in all, a missed opportunity to delve into a part of the Negro League experience that has been largely ignored.

* * *

Last week, I went to a Dodgers-Giants game and found myself in agreement (!) with Times columnist T.J. Simers: Why haven't the Dodgers, the city of L.A., and the MTA figured out an efficient way for fans to get to Dodger Stadium via public transportation?

Dodger Stadium parking lotsFrom our place in Highland Park, my girl-friend and I can almost see Chavez Ravine. The Gold Line, meanwhile, passes within spitting distance of home plate. The only way to get near the Stadium via public transportation is by bus – and the nearest bus stop is located on Sunset, quite a distance from the parking lot, much less the stadium. And, the shuttle bus that took fans from Union Station to Dodger Stadium – which used to run only on Friday night home games -- no longer operates.

Contrast that with the Hollywood Bowl, which has figured out how to run efficient, inexpensive shuttles from all across SoCal.

The environmental damage that the bumper-to-bumper traffic around Dodger Stadium causes can't be good for Echo Park or its residents. So, the only reason we can figure out why the Dodgers don't push for a better system is – surprise - $$$$. Do the math: according to the team's website, the parking lot has spaces for 16,000 vehicles. Let's say the stadium attracts 10,000 cars per game, at $10 per car. Over 81 home dates, that means $8,100,000 in club coffers -- or, just enough to pay for a decent pitcher. (Add to that figure the money from season-ticket holders who pay their own fee.)

Think Dodger Blue? How's about: Think Dodger Green.

* * *

My favorite L.A. Times read is Steve Lopez, who is worth the subscription price alone. His juicy columns routinely tweak the rich and powerful, not to mention champion the underdogs. (Full disclosure: Lopez was honored earlier this year by the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, an organization for which I do volunteer work.)

True to form, Lopez recently questioned the huge subsidies awarded to Anschutz Entertainment Group for the L.A. Live project downtown (to be located opposite AEG's Staples Center.)
Wrote Lopez:

The topper, though, is that taxpayers are forking over subsidies to L.A. Live developer Philip Anschutz, a Denver billionaire seven times over, and I'd like to call attention to this before our fawning city officials give him Griffith Park. . . . Anschutz got $58 million in city bonds and $12 million in redevelopment grants for the land around the Staples Center, and now he's been promised $290 million in hotel tax rebates over the next 25 years to help finance the $2.5-billion sports-entertainment colossus called L.A. Live.

Lopez then spoke with Tim Leiweke, AEG's point person. At the end of the column, Lopez wrote that, "[Leiweke and I] set a lunch date for next week at Liberty Grill, a brand-new downtown restaurant run by his wife, who's in on the ground floor of the renaissance. Leiweke is then going to sell me on L.A. Live, or at least that's his assignment."

Now, I'm with Lopez on this one: the city has rolled over and given AEG a sweet deal, primarily because the hotel segment of L.A. Live is seen as the "solution" to bail out the lame Convention Center. But that column was published on July 26. It's now August 18. What happened?

Chances are, Leiweke has been away on business or is on vacation. He's the busiest man in business. Bottom line: Lopez owes his loyal readers (like me) a follow-up column about L.A. Live (and, here's hoping, other columns in the future).

* * *

One other story that deserves some follow-up reporting: The Justice Department's housing discrimination lawsuit against Clippers owner Donald Sterling. So far, it's yielded one story in the LA Times – written by Myron Levin in the California section. (Through his attorney, Sterling denies that he violated the Fair Housing Act by seeking to exclude African-Americans and people with children from his many apartment buildings in Beverly Hills and Koreatown.)

SterlingYes, these are "just" charges, but in a recent column posted on, Bomani Jones quite rightly laments that neither this lawsuit – nor a previous suit against Sterling that was settled out of court – "has qualified as big news. . . . On the section of the Los Angeles Times Web site dedicated to the Clippers, the lawsuit against Sterling can be found only on the AP news wire. On, it takes a few clicks to find the story."

Continues Jones: "People tend to think of the more annoying manifestations of racism, like how hard it can be for non-white people to get cabs in New York. But in the grand scheme, stuff like that is trivial. What Sterling is accused of is as real as penitentiary steel.

But for some reason, that hasn't qualified as big news in most places.

Sterling deserves to be raked over the coals for this. Judgment should be reserved on the suit the Department of Justice filed until a verdict or settlement has been reached. But he's already paid millions in the face of similar allegations.

It's not Sterling's job to bring attention to his ethical transgressions. That's the job of the media. And as it relates to Sterling, we have dropped the ball."

August 18, 2006 11:32 AM • Native Intelligence • Email the editor

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