Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Los Angeles County Supervisor and Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas is determined to set the record straight in regards to his converted garage home office’s security system and to maintain his stellar reputation as a public official for 22 years.

After releasing a statement to several other publications, the supervisor requested an in person interview with Los Angeles Sentinel Executive Editor and Chief of Staff Danny J. Bakewell Jr. to explain to his constituents exactly what transpired, how frivolous the allegations are and how much time and money have been wasted chasing a nothing case.

MRT- The factual assessment of when the work was done is all out there. The work was done at the beginning of September and the end of October last year (2013). The important thing to understand is this was essentially about security. The system has been a county practice for years. There is nothing at all exceptional about it. The Office of Security Management pretty much makes it clear what the procedures are and walks you through every stage of it. They tell you, ‘this needs to be handled, this is where you are compromised,’ but we don’t talk about it publically because it is a security breach. Everybody understands that. So this project was essentially that. Otherwise it never would have been done.

LAS: Why then is this such a big issue?

 MRT: I know [L.A.Times] got a bad tip and they ran with it. Somehow, who ever gave them the information said, ‘look into this, there is a lot of stuff going on that shouldn’t be going on.’ I think the specific concern was regarding the appliances and they wanted to know, ‘how in the world if you are doing a security system can you be putting in air conditioned units,’ which are about the size of a door panel or one of those mini refrigerators and a flat screen?’ That was all relative modest stuff. So, the impression that was given is that there is major stuff going on. That’s the first impression. It was inaccurate, but the incomplete information that they didn’t get was that I paid for it all well in advance of anything being in the newspapers, well in advance of media’s request of the Public Records Act. The first request of the Public Records Act came December 9, (2013) from CBS Channel 2 and the second one came on December 20, (2013) from the L.A. Times.

 LAS: When did you pay for [the appliances]?

 MRT: October 28, I was invoiced on October 23, 2013.

 MRT: So what happened was they just got a bad tip. [The Times was] chasing a TV, an air conditioned unit and a refrigerator that they thought was thrown in. It was just simply not the case.

 LAS: What is the supervisors security budget?

 MRT: That is determined by the needs of the particular property that is in question. The Office of security Management determines what the needs are and then acts accordingly. No Supervisor determines his/ her own budget. {Make this a pull quote}

 LAS: Is the issue more of a nuisance or what can the L.A. Times uncover that may be of legal concern?

 MRT: [the L.A. Times] refuses to acknowledge that the information they have been provided as part of their original hunch or tip [was inaccurate]. They were the first to come at this. Channel 2 got it and investigated it and publically stated there was no air there and let it go, plain and simple. The other articles that were written in various newspapers drew their own careful analysis of the documents and said, ‘why in the world are you still facing this? What is here worth six stories?’ They cannot answer that. They cannot answer that question! They did not wait for the documents. They wrote quickly and then were embarrassed by the fact they thought something happened that did not happen. But what they did was ask for documents from all board officers for the last five years, so when that happened it took county counsel longer to pull all of that together and that’s why it took as long as it did to get them the information on February 10, 2013.

 LAS: So, are you saying the L.A. Times cost tax payers more money in legal fees than the security system situation cost?

 MRT: There is no question about that. They are costing taxpayers more than they are writing about, and misleading the public.

 LAS: Is this slander?

 MRT: Well that is a legal term that we have to get into, but I can certainly assert that it is baseless and we have made that clear and that’s why journalists who have no reason for jumping into this said, ‘Wait a minute! Time Out!’ This is so egregious that others don’t feel compelled to comment on it.

 LAS: What individual or individuals would attack you in this manner?

 MRT: I think it’s fair to say that it’s clearly an inside job. There is no way that anybody can deny that. The question is how high does it go? And, what’s the real motivation? Certainly, I fully intend to get to the bottom of it. For the record, I FULLY INTEND to get to the bottom of this.

 LAS: It appears that someone is trying to serve a counter political agenda, is that correct?

 MRT: There’s no question that there’s an effort to advance an agenda that detracts from the work that is being done on a range of issues, MLK Hospital, the Crenshaw LAX Line, the defense of indigent juveniles, call it the issue of human sex trafficking, call the roll. All the work that this office engages in, but we will remain undeterred with respect to what we need to do on behalf of the constituents of the Second District, and by extension the County of Los Angeles. The question is what is the motivation of the Times and how do they bend the valid ethical principals with respect to journalism? What is this targeting about? What is this selective reporting about? How do they acquit themselves?

 LAS: Are there any racial overtones to the attack by the L.A. Times?

 MRT: I think the Times has to answer that for themselves. I have no need to make an allegation of that sort. I want them to explain what the selective reporting is about. I want them to explain how do you justify six articles on a matter of this sort, and you can scarcely find one article on MLK Hospital. What’s more important to the readership of the L.A. Times? Recycling and rehashing this story, when it’s already been made clear that the things they were concerned about were paid for before they showed up. That they have to act out of a certain degree of desperation and go get a security consultant in New Jersey who doesn’t even have familiarity with the code in California, and certainly in L.A. County to opine as to whether the job was done right without seeing the job. How desperately tacky are your tactics?

 LAS: How does the cost of your security system compare to other supervisors?

 MRT: The deck was stacked from the top. If you look at the last five years, which was the time that I’ve been here… if you look at 20 years, which is the period of time that other supervisors have been here, not simply on the last five years but the whole arch of time when they had their systems installed, you will get a very different picture. So, from the very top it was skewed, but then when they got the reports they requested, the fact of the matter is they haven’t reported on what they have gotten.

 LAS: This has to really disturb you

 MRT: I take my credibility seriously. It’s why I’ve done so well in public office and for those who wish to trifle with it, I don’t take kindly to that...

The Sentinel made numerous calls to the Los Angeles Times and the publication did not respond to request to be interviewed for this article. The Los Angeles County Office of Security could not comment for personnel reasons.

 

Category: Exclusive


 

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