Letters to the Editor: L.A. needs city charter reform. Nury Martinez and her colleagues show why this reform is so important in The L.A. Times.
LOS ANGELES — The Times’ response to the editorial board has been to publish more columns by itself, to run more letters by itself and, most importantly, to ignore the editorial board.
The Times has lost its way. This has always been true. The problem is, its way is the right way.
One year ago, the Times published its first ever editorial board letter to the editor. It was a letter to the editor written by two young, intelligent public defenders (one a graduate student and the other a first-year law student) who took issue with the Times’ decision to publish a front-page story by the defense lawyers on a former LAPD cop who was accused of planting a bomb on a LAPD officer.
It was a bold front-page story by lawyers that was sure to shock the public. It was a story that could have led to further bloodshed. It could have ended in murder. And yet, two young lawyers on the editorial board wrote a letter urging people to give two young men a chance in court. No matter how disturbing their story was, the letter said, the defense lawyers were entitled to the freedom of the press even though they were engaged in a high-profile criminal case.
The two young public defenders — students at UC Berkeley Law — had seen the Times’ coverage before and they knew their editorial board was going to condemn it. But they knew, too, that if they were to have any hope of getting any news out of the story, they would have to write a letter to the editor.
I was very impressed that two young attorneys came to public defenders for the first time. If the defense lawyers had approached us, we would have said, “No thanks, we’ve seen enough,” and we wouldn’t have given them any help. But this letter is different.
These men are not working in defense. They are working on behalf of people who they say they are defending. This is not just a story in defense of two men, but a story about an issue that public defenders care about very much.
In this case, the issue is the city charter that allows the city manager to appoint the four members of the city council. The city manager only needs two of them for the majority of the council to approve any major