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Plaschke: Justin Turner's act of selfishness leaves stain on Dodgers' championship moment

Dodgers.JPG

In the interest of public safety, millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have voluntarily isolated themselves from friends and family for two long and lonely weeks.

Justin Turner wouldn’t quarantine for two hours.

In the interest of common sense, millions of other Americans have been purposely absent for many deeply personal events, canceling weddings, postponing funerals, missing births.

Justin Turner wouldn’t skip a trophy celebration.

And so one of the greatest team accomplishments in the history of Los Angeles sports has been marred by a singular act of selfishness, the divine tinged with disappointment, a lovable leader now bathed in disillusionment.

In his seven years as a Dodger, the red-bearded Turner has become everybody’s favorite hometown kid. He’s like an embraceable stuffed animal with real teeth. He’s shaggy, tough, resilient, kind, charitable, the player who gives an autographed ball to the nightly honored veteran, the player who began this abbreviated season warning teammates about their pandemic responsibility.

Who would have thought he could be so irresponsible?

The facts: Turner was removed from the Dodgers’ 3-1 World Series clinching victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth inning Tuesday night upon being notified of a positive test for COVID-19.

The friction: About an hour after the final pitch, Turner ended his brief isolation in a stadium doctor’s office to return to the field to hug his teammates and their families while wearing a mask. Then he plopped down on the grass and removed his mask for a team photo. He was soon joined on the ground by Manager Dave Roberts, a cancer survivor who was also not wearing a mask. Turner then strolled around the infield without a mask before posing for a photo with the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Turner was approached by a member of Major League Baseball’s security detail, but he refused to leave. He knew he potentially could be exposing the virus to dozens of others including wives and children and at least one pregnant woman, yet he still insisted on staying.

As someone who suffered with the COVID-19 virus a couple of months ago, this columnist can attest that transmission is a dangerous act, infection is a big deal, and anyone who would willingly risk either is just wrong.

So what should have been a triumphant Los Angeles moment has been shaded in shame. What should have been a moment of elation has been transformed into a portrait of edginess. The third-base cornerstone of the Dodgers’ first championship in 32 years has botched his last play.

If you’re keeping track at home, the Dodgers’ celebration is scored an E-5.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner poses for a team photo.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, bottom center, poses for a team photo following the team’s World Series championship victory Tuesday.
“We are the champions … we’re just not the most responsible champions,” said Anne Rimoin, a lifelong Dodger fan who is a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Health and an expert in emerging infectious diseases.

Rimoin said she understands Turner’s desire to join his long-suffering teammates in partying like it was 1988. And who wouldn’t? This is a player whose first baseball memory was watching Kirk Gibson’s home run with his grandfather in Lakewood. He was signed by Ned Colletti off the scrap heap in 2014. He appreciates and deserves this title as much as anybody.

But for the sake of all collateral damage he might have caused, nobody deserved to have him come back outside.

“Everybody wants to celebrate, that’s all very important, but leaving isolation to go back on the field, that shows you how much human beings struggle to do the right thing,” she said. “He really didn’t do the right thing here. At the end of the day, he let his fans down.”

Should MLB have stopped him? Sure, officials should have escorted him from the stadium premises immediately after he tested positive upon threat of forfeit. But once they let him stay, even in that isolated room, there was no holding him back, and league security tried.

“It is clear that Turner chose to disregard the agreed-upon joint protocols and the instructions he was given regarding the safety and protection of others,” read a league statement Wednesday in which Turner was wholly condemned. “When MLB Security raised the matter of being on the field with Turner, he emphatically refused to comply.”

Should the Dodgers have stopped him? Certainly, it would have been nice if some hearty soul with some authority could quietly convinced him that he was not only risking the Dodgers health but damaging their reputation. But because Turner became a free agent Wednesday, he essentially didn’t work for them anymore, and, besides, who was going to start a fight with such a strong leader?

“He’s part of the team,” said Mookie Betts, stunned that anyone would suggest that Turner be convinced to return to isolation. “We’re not excluding him from anything.”

Only Justin Turner could truly shut down Justin Turner.

“Who’s brave enough to go to him and say, ‘Hey I’m not OK with this?’” said Rimoin. “There’s a power dynamic at play there. Who would feel comfortable saying that to Justin Turner?”

But what if Turner had stopped himself? Now that would have been special. Can you imagine how many people he could have touched if he had touched nobody, choosing instead to show the world how someone can celebrate in isolation, modeling responsibility, setting an example, teaching a hard lesson?

“He had this opportunity to do the right thing, to show people exactly what it means to have restraint, to be a good shining example of what you should do,” said Rimoin. “Of course you’re excited, this is the big moment in his career, but he could have gotten a lot of great press for doing a video, telling people how difficult it was, but he was doing the right thing.”

But instead, it was an opportunity lost, an image possibly damaged, a legacy potentially stained.

“Instead, he put a lot of people around him at risk,” said Rimoin. “And now he’s an example to a lot of people, ‘If Justin Turner can do it, why can’t I?’ And that’s a real problem.”

Turner didn’t speak to the media Tuesday night, but tweeted a message to his fans that read, in part, “I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine.”

Here’s hoping one those emotions is eventually remorse. And here’s hoping his next message conveys that emotion from quarantine.
 

Hernández: Dodgers pounce after Rays remove Blake Snell, capture title

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The Process won the World Series for the Dodgers.

Just not how they imagined.

Reading from the how-to manual of modern baseball, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash removed starter Blake Snell from the sixth inning of a game in which he was virtually unhittable.

Some gobbledygook about pitching to the Dodgers’ lineup for a third time.

Teams have boasted of their Wall Street-inspired strategies, but this was of the same variety responsible for the subprime mortgage crisis.

While Cash didn’t crash the entire economy, he was thoroughly destructive in his realm of influence, as he eviscerated the Rays’ one-run lead and whatever remained of the team’s championship aspirations.

The Dodgers pounced on his mistake. Two batters after Snell was replaced by reliever Nick Anderson, they were ahead by a run, well on their way to a 3-1 victory that clinched the World Series by a four-games-to-two margin.

Cash defended how he reached his decision, but how the Dodgers reacted to the move was evidence of how misguided he was to take Snell out of the game.

“I was pretty happy because he was dominating us and we just weren’t seeing him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

The last pitch Snell delivered was only his 73rd, a misplaced slider that No. 9 hitter Austin Barnes slapped into center field.

At the time, the Rays were up 1-0.

Barnes’ single was only the second hit allowed by Snell, who struck out nine and walked none in 5-1/3 innings.

The top of the Dodgers’ order was coming up: Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner.

But Snell had struck out each of them twice. So when Cash scaled the steps of the Rays’ dugout and pointed to his bullpen, Betts flashed Roberts a smile.

“Oh man, it was kind of a sigh of relief,” Betts said. “Had he stayed in the game, he may have pitched a complete game. He was rolling, pitching really well. That’s the Cy Young Snell that came tonight, so once he came out of the game, it was a breath of fresh air.”

The Rays unraveled almost instantly. Betts doubled against Anderson, moving Barnes to third. The right-hander then uncorked a wild pitch to Seager, permitting Barnes to score.

Seager bounced a grounder to the right side of the Rays’ encroached infield, but Betts’ headfirst slide to the plate beat a throw by first baseman Ji-Man Choi.

The Dodgers were in front 2-1. The World Series was theirs.

In a postgame interview on Fox, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger said of Snell’s departure: “I was shocked. We were kind of joking around, like, ‘Way to get him out in the sixth, like we planned.’ Umm, but not like that. We rallied from there. Snell had his stuff today. He was gross. So, I would say that, yeah, it uplifted us.”

Cash confirmed after the game that he was reluctant to let Snell pitch to Betts and Seager a third time.

While defending his manager’s credentials, Snell acknowledged he was frustrated by his removal.

“That was one of my better games I’ve pitched in a long time, honestly,” Snell said. ‘The way I was controlling the zone, the way I was adjusting. I felt very comfortable out there.”

Snell said he studied the Dodgers closely, which is why he thought he was able to keep them in check on his second time through their lineup.

“I get it’s a third time through the lineup, but, I mean, I think I’m going to make the adjustments I need to make as I see them a third time,” Snell said. “I just believe in me. I believe in my stuff. I believe in what I was doing.”

The series confirmed not only the superiority of the Dodgers’ lineup and starting pitching but also showcased the advantage the team had on the bench.

Hardened by previous failures, Roberts ignored the boos of his own team’s fans and masterfully guided his bullpen to victory in the last two games. Three relievers pitched a combined 3-1/3 scoreless innings in Game 5. Six picked up 7-1/3 scoreless innings in Game 6.

His counterpart didn’t withstand the October spotlight nearly as well. Cash ignored what was obvious and went to the so-called book.

The Rays’ brand of baseball was introduced to the franchise years ago by Andrew Friedman, who, ironically, became a beneficiary of Cash’s fealty to it. The analytically based approach allowed the frugal Rays to compete with higher-spending teams, only to have the mindset fail them on the sport’s greatest stage.

Asked whether he regretted his decision, Cash laughed.

“Well, yeah,” he said. “I guess I regret it because it didn’t work out.”

He cracked open the door for the Dodgers. Until Cash wins a World Series, he can replay the decision in his head. The Dodgers know what that’s like.
 

Plaschke: Dodgers' sixth World Series title since moving to L.A. might be the sweetest

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Dance like Mookie. Soar like Belli. Scream like Kersh.

The 31-year drought is over, the heavens have opened, and all over Los Angeles it’s raining blue.

The Dodgers are World Series champions.

We’ll write it again, with feeling, for all the times in the last three decades you thought you’d never read it again.

The Dodgers are World Series champions!

The weight is over, the burden has been lifted, the dream deferred has become a reality embraced.

For the first time since 1988, the Dodgers hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy on Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays to clinch the World Series four games to two.

“This is our year! We said it! This is our year!” shouted manager Dave Roberts during the postgame celebration. “Everyone all over the world wearing Dodger blue never wavered. This is our year!”

From Gibby to J.T., from Bulldog to Buehler, from Tommy to Doc, the torch was finally passed on a chilly fall night in Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Taking advantage of an analytic blunder by Rays manager Kevin Cash — he incredibly removed Blake Snell in the middle of a two-hit shutout — the Dodgers scored two runs in the sixth and cruised to a diamond party for the ages.

Julio Urías threw a 97-mph fastball past a frozen Willy Adames to finish it, then all redemption broke out. Urías doubled over in screaming celebration before walking into the arms of catcher Austin Barnes while all around them were flying caps, tossed gloves and tearful hugs.

“It’s phenomenal … this was incredible … we never stopped,” said Corey Seager, the unstoppable World Series MVP, who batted .400 with two homers and five runs batted in. “To be able to finally … get the last out, win the last game, it’s surreal and it’s unbelievable.”

Also surreal and unbelievable — and so very 2020 — was the postgame announcement that veteran leader Justin Turner, who had been strangely removed from the game in the eighth inning, had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Highlights from the Dodgers World Series title victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6.
“To have that happen to a guy like that … it’s gut-wrenching,” said Seager.

It’s the Dodgers’ sixth title since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, but perhaps the sweetest because it took the longest, the 31-season drought spanning four owners and nine managers and endless heartbreak.

Occurring just 16 days after the Lakers won the NBA championship, the Dodgers’ title also reestablished Los Angeles as America’s sports capital.

“To the city of L.A., this is deserved by you guys, you guys needed it the most, 32 years and here we are, world champions,” said Kenley Jansen.

The pandemic prevented Tuesday’s game from being played at Dodger Stadium — and how crazy would that have been? — but there was an overwhelming majority of Dodgers fans among the restricted crowd of around 11,000, enough to fill the air with the familiar chants of “Let’s Go, Dodgers.”

And to think, how many recent Octobers have you chanted that in vain? Through seven consecutive previous division championships, you have chanted. Through two previous World Series, you have chanted.

You’ve seen them get worked by the St. Louis Cardinals, cheated by the Houston Astros, overpowered by the Boston Red Sox, embarrassed by the Washington Nationals, and still you chanted.

This time they listened. This time it stuck. This time they were tough enough. This time they were clutch enough. Sure, this time it was a 60-game season and empty stadiums and odd rules and expanded playoffs, but don’t even say it’s not legitimate. Don’t even say it’s not real. With three weeks of quarantining in Texas, it might have been their most real October yet.

It took a leaping Cody Bellinger catch to quiet the San Diego Padres. It took a comeback from a three-games-to-one deficit, a bunch of Mookie Betts little miracles and a Bellinger homer to defeat the Atlanta Braves.

Then, in the World Series, it took two Clayton Kershaw wins, one Austin Barnes bunt-and-homer night, a bunch of Corey Seager, and a rebound from a devastating late Game 4 loss to defeat the Rays.

“This year has been crazy, obviously, but no matter what, we’ll look back on this and we’re World Series champs, and to get to say that … it’s so special,” said Kershaw.

In the end, as much as anything, this was a triumph for three often criticized cornerstones of the organization — the owner, the baseball president, and the manager.

Guggenheim Baseball Management rescued the franchise in 2012 from the destructive Frank McCourt and set it on its current course, but it was never enough. Led by Chairman Mark Walter and President Stan Kasten, the ownership poured money into both Dodger Stadium and the organizational structure, but they forgot about some of their most loyal fans. They signed an $8.35-billion television deal that kept the teams off most local TVs for six years. In a bit of fortuitous timing, the blackout ended this season, and with this title they can now take a long-awaited victory lap.

“These players had their backs against the wall but they stuck together and never gave up,” said Walter on Tuesday night. “They showed what could be accomplished when we believe in each other and when we believe in that dream.”

Also heavily scrutinized has been Andrew Friedman, the analytics guru who became president of baseball operations in 2015. He hasn’t lost a division championship since, but it was also never enough. He has come under fire for constructing most of his roster with solid players who compute well but don’t have the intangibles to perform in October. It is no coincidence that the Dodgers finally won when, last winter, Friedman finally acquired a gutsy pressure player like Betts and gave him the largest contract — a $365-million extension — in Dodger history.

“We’re bringing the trophy home; it’s been too long,” said Friedman. “To our incredible fans, thank you for all the support, we’re sorry it took us this long, thank you for your patience, but it’s coming home where it belongs, we are the champions.”

Perhaps nobody has been ripped more than manager Dave Roberts, who took over from Don Mattingly in 2016 and whose October decisions have led to a steady stream of boos. He took out Rich Hill too early. He left Kershaw in too long. He should have saved Yu Darvish from himself. Roberts was also heavily criticized this October for several precarious calls, but he figured out his bullpen enough to guide it through a Game 7 victory against the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series and then again in the final two games of the World Series.

The Dodgers celebrate their World Series title after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

The Dodgers celebrate their World Series title after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
All three cornerstones earned redemption for sins that occurred many years before their watch.

When Kirk Gibson hit that home run and Orel Hershiser threw those masterpieces and Tommy Lasorda screamed the gospel in the Dodgers’ 1988 World Series victory over the Oakland Athletics, folks thought that magic would last forever. It did not. They didn’t even make the playoffs the next year, and so the drought began, continuing unabated through bloopers and blunders and just plain bad luck. In the process, the Dodgers lost the town to the Lakers, lost their stature in the league, and occasionally appeared to lose their minds.

They traded Mike Piazza. They lost Adrian Beltre. Then there was Manny Ramirez, a player so magnetic they named an entire section of Dodger Stadium in his honor. “Mannywood,” it was called. Then he was busted for performance-enhancing drugs and Mannywood became a ghost town.

The failed players were guided by failed leadership. Peter O’Malley sold the team to the Fox Entertainment Group, and they promptly traded Piazza. Fox then sold the team to McCourt, who managed it so poorly that it was eventually wrested from him by Major League Baseball.

All of this led to Guggenheim, which led to Friedman, which led to Roberts, all which led to Tuesday night’s glorious six-word end to a 32-year journey.

We’ll write them once more. They will never get old.

The Dodgers are World Series champions.
 

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1930s Spanish-Style Home With Original Tile Asks $1.4M in Los Feliz

One-story house with red tile roof.
Photos by Suzy Poling, courtesy of Lauren Reichenberg/Compass
Plus stained glass and scalloped cabinets.

LOCATION: Los Feliz — Sitting on the northeast corner of Los Feliz, 3024 Surry Street is about a block west of the Rowena Reservoir. There was some talk of turning the ten-acre fenced reservoir into a true public recreation space last year, but for now it’s a scenic spot for strolling by (you’ll probably pass it on the way to Gelson’s or Trader Joe’s, both less than half a mile away).

PRICE: $1,399,000

SPECS: 2 beds, 2 baths, 1,302 square feet, 0.21 acres — Built in 1937, this tile-roofed Spanish Colonial Revival house remains well preserved. The entrance, complete with a covered patio, opens to a small foyer. On the left, you have a large living room with a stained-glass picture window and wood-burning fireplace. On the right is the dining room, which leads to a kitchen with scalloped cabinetry, original yellow tiles (you’ll also find original tiles in the two bathrooms), and a breakfast nook. Two bedrooms and a laundry room are at the rear of the house. The property also comes with a detached two-car garage, mature trees, and drought-tolerant landscaping.

Bright living room with casement windows, fireplace, and a gray coffee table and sofa.

The large living room has a fireplace, stained glass window, and oak floors.
Dining room with chandelier, large windows, and wood floors.

The formal dining room’s jalousie windows let in both sunlight and cool breezes.
Kitchen features original yellow tiles and scalloped-edge cabinetry.

A newly installed checkerboard linoleum floor complements the cheery kitchen’s original yellow tile and scalloped-edge cabinetry.
Small dining area with built-in cabinets.

A sunny breakfast nook comes with built-in cabinets.
Bedroom with two windows and mirrors on the wall.

One of the two bedrooms.
Pink tiles in a bathroom.

Happily, the beautiful original tile in both of the home’s bathrooms still survives.

Continue reading...
 

Mid-Century Lodge With Ocean and Canyon Views Asks $4.8M in Topanga

Low-slung home with redwood siding, large glass windows, and large patio.
Photos by Pablo Rodriguez, courtesy of Michelle Bolotin/Compass
Designed in 1963 by noted local architect W. Earl Wear.

Price: $4,800,000

Location: Topanga


A winding ten-minute drive from Topanga’s famous storybook restaurant Inn of the Seventh Ray, which is once again open for business, 2440 Minard Road is tucked into the hills just north of the 1,255-acre Tuna Canyon Park. In case you missed it, a recent feel-good story around these parts was the discovery of a new litter of mountain-lion kittens in the Santa Monica Mountains, believed to have been fathered by P-63, who “hails from the northern side of the 101 freeway,” according to National Park Service wildlife biologist Jeff Sikich.

Specs: 3 beds, 3 baths, 1,661 square feet, 0.88 acres

Built in 1963, this two-story lodge was designed by W. Earl Wear, a Canadian-born architect who worked in John Lautner’s office during the early 1950s before launching his solo practice in Topanga. Wear’s homes are known for incorporating copious amounts of redwood, stone, and glass — and this one, which was Wear’s personal residence, is no exception, with both exterior and interior redwood siding, hand-carved stone floors, clerestory windows, and a massive stone fireplace. The gated property also features a 400-square-foot guesthouse with a kitchenette, mature fruit trees (including pomegranate, fig, apple, peach, and citrus), and parking for ten cars.

Notable feature: Angles, angles, angles

Irregular angles throughout the home — like the open-plan kitchen’s trapezoidal marble-topped island and the upper-level bedroom’s slanted ceiling and windows — are visible traces of the house’s distinguished architectural pedigree. They draw a line from Wear to Lautner, a master of dramatic shapes and angles who apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, itself a glorious composition of angled structures made of desert rocks, wood, and glass.

A massive stone fireplace surrounded by walls of redwood and stone floors.

The centerpiece of the home is a stone fireplace that rises up two stories.
Overhead view of a column of redwood beams under clerestory windows.

A bank of clerestory windows tops a tower of redwood beams.
Kitchen with angled countertops.

The open-plan kitchen features angled marble countertops.
Bedroom with angular windows.

The home’s three bedrooms are studies in geometry.
Outdoor stone patio with mountain and ocean views. A hammock hangs between two trees.

Occupying the better part of an acre, the property enjoys stunning ocean and canyon views.

Continue reading...
 

Tiny 1920s Bungalow Near Dodger Stadium Asks $699K

A small pitch-roofed house hidden behind bushes.

The compact home lives large under skylights and vaulted beam ceilings.

Price: $699,000

Location: Echo Park


One of eight bungalows clustered into a small cul-de-sac off the east side of the street, 1821 1⁄2 Echo Park Avenue is of walking distance to the west side of Elysian Park, including its 2.3-mile dog-friendly trail. Dodger Stadium (currently serving as L.A. County’s largest COVID-19 testing site) and the plentiful shops and restaurants along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park are all a three-minute drive away.

Specs: 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 936 square feet, 0.04 acres

According to building permits on file with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, 1821 1⁄2 Echo Park Avenue is one of four residences constructed concurrently in 1921. At the time of its construction, the neighborhood was well served by the Red Car railway system, which explains the bungalow court’s dearth of garages and driveways; most of the cul-de-sac’s residents park in front of their homes. Serving to buffer the bungalow from outside intrusion is a set of box hedges. Beyond the hedges is a relatively spacious front porch shaded by deeply overhanging eaves. The compact interior is economically divided up between a front lounge, a galley kitchen–dining area, bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and a loft space reached via a narrow nautical-style ladder. You’ll find vaulted wood-beam ceilings throughout, as well as hardwood floors, double-hung wood windows, skylights, butcher-block counters, pocket doors, a walk-in closet made over with the Container Store’s modular Elfa shelving system, and a claw-foot tub in the bathroom. Take a virtual tour here.

A small pitch-roofed house hidden behind bushes.

The bungalow’s deep front porch is partially hidden behind box hedges.
Living room with beam ceilings and three windows.

Hardwood floors and beam ceilings are found throughout.
Living area with built-in bench under exposed beam ceilings.

A built-in seating area is slotted into a corner by the kitchen.
Bedroom with a huge opening to a large walk-in closet.

A set of pocket doors separates the sleeping area from an expansive walk-in closet in the bedroom.
Bathroom with white tiles.

The bathroom has been updated with subway tile and new lighting.
Lofted living space under pitched ceilings.

A nautical-style ship ladder leads to the sunny loft.

Continue reading...
 

How to Bribe a Los Angeles Lawmaker

A worms-eye view of a looming white concrete building, L.A. City Hall, many stories high. It feels ominous and foreboding, towering above the viewer’s vantage point.
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Escorts, cash, and karaoke bars.

Editor’s note: FBI agents arrested Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar on the morning of June 23 at his home in Boyle Heights in connection with their investigation into corruption at City Hall. Huizar is accused of federal racketeering, and the U.S. Attorney alleges he led a ring of aides, lobbyists, and developers who arranged bribes in exchange for his help getting real estate plans approved. In one instance, prosecutors allege that Huizar accepted $600,000 from a developer that the councilmember used to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in 2014.

José Huizar has presided over Downtown Los Angeles during its emergence as a neighborhood for wealthy locals and tourists, holding more sway over what gets built than anyone else, other than, perhaps, the developers themselves. Huizar, who grew up just outside Downtown in Boyle Heights, was elected to represent both areas on the Los Angeles City Council in 2005. He has staked a large part of his legacy on making the Broadway corridor the heart of Downtown, reopening old movie palaces and attracting businesses like the Ace Hotel, which opened in 2014, and Eggslut, which opened in Grand Central Market in 2013.

Huizar has not been charged in a federal corruption case that’s unfolding in Los Angeles, but he’s the only person who matches the details in court documents describing an L.A. lawmaker, identified as “Councilmember A,” who took a cash bribe from Downtown developers in exchange for help getting rid of opposition to their plans.

From a videoconference broadcast to a courtroom in the federal courthouse on June 3, Justin Jangwoo Kim, a real-estate appraiser and former City Planning commissioner, pleaded guilty to fixing the bribe: $400,000 in cash, collected in a paper bag. The courthouse, fenced off because of protests over police violence, and closed to the public because of the pandemic, was almost entirely empty, as Kim remotely entered his plea.

George Esparza, whom the Los Angeles Times has described as one of Huizar’s closest aides, has also agreed to plead guilty to racketeering as part of what the U.S. attorney has described as a “pay-to-play bribery scheme.” In a plea agreement Esparza signed on May 21, he is described as a city employee and a special assistant for Councilmember A, for whom Esparza admits helping Kim arrange the bribe.

Also pleading guilty — to falsifying facts during the FBI investigation — is a second City Council member, Mitch Englander, who represented a swath of the San Fernando Valley from 2011 until 2018.

Huizar is not named in any plea agreements, but based on their conclusions regarding the details in the court records, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council president Nury Martinez asked him to resign on May 28, saying details in those filings are “disgusting.”

The corruption probe has proved, in sordid detail, that at least two Los Angeles City Council members were not working for average Angelenos. As court records make clear, they were working for companies that can afford to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and hand it off in a paper bag like a $15 takeout meal.

The development company referred to in the court documents is a limited-liability corporation named 940 S. Hill LLC that has three managers listed in state business records: Dae Lee, Jeong Kim, and Hyuk Lim, three Fashion District merchants. (This is the limit of Jeong Kim’s involvement, as described in court records; all other references in the story are to Justin Jangwoo Kim.) An appeal had been filed against their plans to build a high-rise with 232 condominiums on Hill Street, and they wanted Councilmember A to get that appeal dropped.

The councilmember was down to help make the appeal go away — at a price. In a series of meetings that took place in cars, a coffee shop, bowling alley, hotel, and karaoke bar in 2016 and 2017, Kim helped negotiate the sum — an aid for the councilmember initially wanted $1.4 million and agreed to $400,000. (The developer would later tack on an additional $100,000.) The bribe was handed over in February 2017. The condominium plans were approved two months later by the City Planning department, but construction has not started.

Toward the end of the June 3 hearing, U.S. Central District Court judge John Walter asked Kim if he had done all of these things, and Kim responded demurely: “Yes, I did.” As part of a plea agreement, he must cooperate with federal officials as they continue investigating corruption and “pay-to-play” real-estate deals with elected officials in the city of Los Angeles.

Some of the details that investigators have uncovered — escorts and Lakers-game tickets and greed, clandestine meetings, and cover-ups — belong in the plot of a great noir, a genre that has fictionalized some of L.A.’s ugliest truths. But unlike the movies, no one is watching as the Department of Justice slowly but publicly untangles how some wealthy developers get their projects approved.

It’s unknown at this point exactly how many deals like this the councilmember put together (others have been described in court records), but Kim had a long-term vision for building up a lucrative development operation in Downtown L.A., and it hinged on the councilmember, who Kim referred to as his “boss.” Together, they were plotting a succession plan, with Kim agreeing to find an unidentified “associate” who would form a political action committee supporting the councilmember’s unnamed relative in a bid to replace him when he terms out this year.

The succession plan is one of the key details in the court documents that seems to point directly to Huizar: The filings say a relative of Councilmember A announced her candidacy to succeed him in September 2018. They also say that Councilmember A was the chair of the City Council’s planning and land-use-management committee.

The timeline matches Huizar’s own: In September 2018, Huizar’s wife, Richelle, announced a campaign to replace her husband, but she dropped out of the race two months later after the FBI raided their Boyle Heights home. Huizar also chaired that committee from July 2013 to November 2018, when he was stripped of all committee assignments. Huizar’s attorney declined to comment for this story.

Kim, who resigned from the L.A. City Planning commission in 2011, has donated to the campaigns for a majority of the current City Council, including Mitch O’Farrell, Herb Wesson, Paul Krekorian, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Huizar. He was also a business associate of George Chiang’s. (Chiang is another development consultant and real-estate broker from the San Gabriel Valley who has agreed to plead guilty in a separate case tied to the corruption investigation.)

According to the FBI, Chiang connected Councilmember A, again widely believed to be Huizar, to a Chinese developer, who the Real Deal has identified as Shenzhen Hazens Real Estate Group. Together, Chiang and the developer arranged a trip to Hong Kong and China for the councilmember and his family, agreed to contribute $100,000 to his relative’s election campaign, and gave tickets to Lakers games to his aides. In exchange, the councilmember helped get the developer’s plans for a W hotel and 435 condominiums near L.A. Live approved, including writing a motion needed to clear the plans through the Huizar-chaired planning and land-use-management committee.

Huizar has given no indication that he will give up his seat before his term ends. He seems to have enjoyed the power, even just the appearance of it. In an email to one of his aides on December 15, 2015, he wrote, “Just a reminder to commit and follow up when people ask me to be on honorary committee. For events even when I am not attending. I just saw that practically all of councilmembers were on HOPE honorary committee and I wasn’t.” The aid, Mayra Alvarez, sued him in 2018, claiming wrongful termination. Copies of emails and text messages contained in the lawsuit, which has not been resolved, show how Huizar treated her, constantly demanding cups of tea, almost always without saying please or thank you. One text thread reads only:

Tea

Tea

Tea

Huizar and Englander, the other Los Angeles councilmember implicated in the investigation, served on the planning and land-use-management committee for more than five years. Englander stepped down from the council two years ago to work for a sports and entertainment company. After he resigned, the FBI accused him of trying to cover up gifts and trips he took with real-estate developers.

As part of his plea agreement, he has admitted to taking a trip to Las Vegas in 2017 with an unnamed real-estate developer, lobbyist, and an unidentified business executive who worked with developers. They paid for his hotel room, $34,000 in bottle service, and ordered him an escort. At one point, the business executive gave Englander an envelope with $10,000 in cash in a casino bathroom.

Later, after the FBI had begun questioning Englander and the business executive, the two drove around Downtown L.A. in Englander’s car while the councilmember allegedly coached the executive on how to lie to investigators, like a scene out of a political thriller. If they asked about escorts and checked his phone records, Englander told him to say, “I was so drunk I don’t remember calling,’ or ‘I don’t remember, maybe I called the wrong number.’”

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Koreatown Craftsman With Lots of Hand-Carved Woodwork Asks $1.5M

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A shady front porch beckons from the end of the landscaped walkway. | Photos by Anthony Barcelo Photography, courtesy of Michele Moses/Ernie Carswell and Associates
It also has a koi pond.

Price: $1,438,000

Location: Koreatown


Situated in a pocket of lush, palm-tree-lined blocks in the northwest corner of Koreatown, 138 South Hobart Boulevard is walking distance from the shops and restaurants along Western Avenue. Nestled among homes with ample front lawns, the house is only a mile from some of the best Korean BBQ in L.A. along West 8th Street. Larchmont Village, with its multitude of shops and cafés, is just a five-minute drive west.

Specs: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1,498 square feet, 0.16 acres

Peeking out from behind a gated wooden fence and bougainvillea-draped arbor, the 1910 residence sits at the end of a stone pathway, from which steps ascend to a roomy porch shaded by deep eaves. The front door, ornamented with stained-glass panels, opens to a living room with beamed ceilings, picture windows, built-in bookshelves, and a dramatic Batchelder-style fireplace. The formal dining room features box-beam ceilings and a built-in hutch embellished with a striking stained-glass panel depicting a peacock, while the farm-style kitchen is big on wood cabinetry and bench seating. One bedroom, one bath, and a sun porch round out the lower level; two more bedrooms and another full bath with a claw-foot tub are found upstairs. Out back is a kid- (and koi-) friendly yard with artificial grass and playground equipment. A detached recording studio–guesthouse further sweetens the deal. Take a 3-D tour here.

Living room with wood beam ceilings and a tiled fireplace.

A Batchelder-style fireplace is the focal point of the living room.
Sunny dining room with built-n hutch, large windows, and a stained glass window depicting a peacock.

The dining room’s peacock-themed stained glass is complemented by the blue-green ceiling and walls.
Kitchen with wooden island and built-in seating.

Custom cabinets and bench seating line the farmhouse-style kitchen.
Room with French doors leading to a sun room and another door to the kitchen.

French doors lead from the first-floor guest room to the cozy sunroom.
A bedroom with vaulted beam ceilings.

The master bedroom features open-beam ceilings and a built-in window seat.
Two outdoor chairs sit under a large palm tree.

Mature trees shade the backyard patio and detached recording studio–guesthouse.

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Curbed LA Is Closing

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It’s not good-bye — we’re moving to a new home.

Dear readers, hate-readers, and vicious commenters,

Googie. “Greenmailing.” NIMBYs. (So many NIMBYs!) Ugly buildings. Beautiful buildings. Maps. Maps. Maps. Renderings. Filming locations. Earthquakes. Wildfires. Beyoncé’s house. Jeff Bezos’s house. Regular people’s houses. Haunted houses. Walk more, drive less. Seriously, though: Drive less. Trailblazing architects and groundbreaking designers. Travel. Conspiracies. Breeze blocks. Snow. Heat. One epic Los Angeles love letter.

For more than 14 years, Curbed LA chronicled and explored neighborhoods, covered the housing market, tracked development, informed voters, recounted important history, and broke lots of news, thanks to the site’s many editors, writers, photographers, and illustrators. Cary Kadlecek, Josh Williams, Eve Bachrach, Marissa Gluck, James Brasuell, Dakota Smith, Neal Broverman, Adrian Glick Kudler, Pauline O’Connor, Jeff Wattenhofer, Elizabeth Daniels, Elijah Chiland, and Bianca Barragan are just a few of our longtime contributors who captivated readers as they explained, critiqued, and celebrated Los Angeles.

Like the ever-evolving city we cover, Curbed LA has changed over the years, from an aggregator with attitude, to a gossipy real-estate blog, to a trusted local-news source. Now it’s time for a new chapter.

Effective today, we’re stopping production on this site. But it won’t be the end of Curbed stories about Los Angeles. Starting Monday, June 29, our stories will appear on Curbed.com, our flagship site. That’s in preparation for an exciting move over to New York Magazine this fall, where Curbed will relaunch as the newest vertical alongside brands like Vulture, the Cut, and the Strategist. At New York, we’ll have a bigger platform to tell the nation what’s happening in its best city, and even though I’ll be writing for an East Coast publication, I personally promise never to pen a story that wins New York Times bingo.

Curbed LA’s unapologetically Southern Californian point of view will live on, as will the Curbed LA newsletter, which will blast into your inbox every other Friday. Plus, you can still reach us anytime through the Curbed LA tipline. And even though we’ll no longer publish new stories, the archived version of Curbed LA will remain online — a testament to the fact that we built an influential, multifaceted voice for Los Angeles in the time it took to complete one Target.

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After a 52-year manhunt, investigative genetic genealogy has helped the Huntington Beach Police Department

After a 52-year manhunt, investigative genetic genealogy has helped the Huntington Beach Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office identify the victim in Orange County’s oldest unsolved Jane Doe murder and find her killer.

On March 14, 1968, three young boys playing in a large farm field near the corner of Newland Avenue and Yorktown Street in Huntington Beach found the body of a woman. She had been raped, severely beaten and her neck was slashed.

For more than five decades she remained a Jane Doe, her body buried in an unmarked grave in a Newport Beach cemetery waiting to be identified.

Her name is Anita Louise Piteau of Augusta, Maine, one of seven children. She was 26 years old.

Huntington Beach police officers who responded to the scene carefully preserved the crime scene evidence, including a smoked cigarette butt found near the victim’s body. Despite extensive follow-up and an exhaustive number of interviews, police were unable to identify the victim or her killer.

The case went cold. But the Huntington Beach Police Department refused to give up, continuing to follow up on leads.

In 2001 the victim’s sexual assault kit and the victim’s clothing were examined and processed for DNA. A male DNA profile was identified but the suspect remained unknown.

Blood from the victim’s blouse produced a partial DNA profile, which was entered into the CODIS missing person database in March 29, 2011. Her fingerprints were entered into the CAL- ID system and the FBI national fingerprint database. But she remained unidentified.

In 2010, a partial male DNA profile was obtained from the cigarette butt recovered from the crime scene and was consistent with the DNA profile obtained from the victim’s sexual assault kit, but the DNA could not be tied to a suspect.

Beginning in 2011, the case was repeatedly submitted to Cal-DOJ for a familial search in CODIS. No workable leads were generated.

In 2019, Huntington Beach detectives worked with members of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to use investigative genetic genealogy (IGG) to obtain a possible family tree of the suspect. As a result, investigators determined the suspect was Johnny Chrisco, who was not one of the initial suspects in the case. Chrisco, who was discharged from the Army after three years following a failed psychological exam that diagnosed him with having positive aggressive reaction which was defined as having a pattern of being quick to anger, easy to feel unjustly treated, chronically resentful, immature and impulsive. Chrisco died in 2015 of cancer and was buried in Washington State.

Earlier this year, detectives, prosecutors, and forensic scientists began working on a possible family tree of the victim. With the help of renowned genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, Anita was finally identified through DNA matches with her family.

Anita has two living sisters, a brother, and many extended family members who have been searching for her for the last 52 years. Due to the unwavering dedication and determination by so many law enforcement officers over five decades, this cold case has never been forgotten.

Investigators from the Huntington Beach Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s office took Anita’s remains home to her family in Maine and attended her memorial service last weekend.

Detectives are still trying to determine how the victim and suspect knew each other. If you recognize either Anita Piteau or Johnny Chrisco, please contact the Huntington Beach Police Tip Line at 714-375-5066.

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