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City of Industry

Genealogies of Power in Southern California

Victor Valle

Publication Year: 2009

City of Industry is a stunning expose on the construction of corporate capitalist spaces. Investigating Industry's archives, including sealed FBI reports, Valle uncovered a series of scandals from the city's founder James M. Stafford to present day corporate heir Edward Roski Jr., the nation's biggest industrial developer. While exposing the corruption and corporate greed spawned from the growth of new technology and engineering, Valle reveals the plight of the property-owning servants, especially Latino working-class communities, who have fallen victim to the effects of this tale of corporate greed.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii

My deepest thanks to Carrie Mullen, wherever you are, for encouraging me to start; Francisco H. V

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Introduction: Decoding the Chinatown Technologies

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pp. 1-14

It is already a cliché to say that movies such as Chinatown take the place of memories that residents of Los Angeles have never bothered to save or even live. At least that’s the dismissive judgment I’ve heard from those who prefer not to puzzle over the city’s Byzantine enigmas. The journalists who...

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Chapter 1: His Theater of Shame

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pp. 15-27

Miss Rae Schade is slender and wears a modest dress. She tilts her head down toward the taller, older man on her right, as if embarrassed. A veil of chiffon gauze hides her eyes. Her body seems to yield to the pressure of watching eyes as she steps from the shadows of the Hall of Justice onto a downtown...

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Chapter 2: A Legacy of Debt, Rails, and Nooses

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pp. 28-52

The rape scandal that sent C. C. Stafford to jail and fixed his image as the “rich grain merchant” represents just one of his possible life stories. There are several other versions of that life, including the one he fashioned from his deeds and dreams and the one his son told out of love or pride....

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Chapter 3: In the School of Power

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pp. 53-66

Jim Stafford’s civics education continued under the tutelage of Los Angeles County’s infamous and visionary supervisor Herbert Legg. Legg represented the first district, a huge political-economic jurisdiction that stretched east from downtown Los Angeles, following the contours of the...

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Chapter 4: Graduation Day

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pp. 67-80

Jim Stafford’s fi rst year on the planning commission involved organizing the formation of newly incorporated Lakewood, dealing with the accelerating pace of homebuilding in the San Gabriel Valley, and, most importantly, executing Herbert Legg’s idea of reserving portions of the adjoining La Puente...

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Chapter 5: “We Don’t Like the Dirty Deal”

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pp. 81-102

Jane Stafford did not know that her husband had served on Los Angeles County’s regional planning commission until she saw it on a TV newscast that aired in 1967. As she recalled, George Putnam, the fl ashy KTLA Channel 5 reporter known for his rightwing populism, would “all but call him a ‘crook’...

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Chapter 6: Triangulating the Throne

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pp. 103-112

According to Industry businessman Robert K. King, a wholesale dealer in rare and expensive hardwoods, admission to Jim Stafford’s world hinged on how King chose to answer a question. In a series of interviews he gave after Jim’s...

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Chapter 7: Sowing a Field, Climbing a Tree

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pp. 113-130

It should come as no surprise to learn that the Southern Pacifi c’s man in Industry, Wilfred Steiner, was also the man to recruit Warner W. Hodgdon. Steiner believed that Hodgdon could repeat the magic he had performed as director and fi nancial consultant of San Bernardino’s redevelopment agency...

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Chapter 8: Scaring the Pests Away

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pp. 131-144

Industry’s critics did not prevent the city from transforming into a redevelopment juggernaut. They didn’t even slow it down. But the schools, the good government types, the small business owners and homeowners who had failed to curtail redevelopment in their own backyards heard...

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Chapter 9: The Other Chinatowns

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pp. 145-162

When interviewed years later by the FBI, Hodgdon made it clear that it was his idea, not Jim’s, to pull off the biggest land buy the city had yet attempted: the 2,500-acre Tres Hermanos Ranch that straddled the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside county lines. It was his prize and, until its sale,...

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Chapter 10: Jim’s Busy Period

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pp. 163-178

Jim’s apparent disinterest in the Tres Hermanos acquisition coincided with a very busy, you might even say chaotic, chapter in his life. He had his hands full: he was engineering his divorce, hiding his wealth from his estranged wife, feeding his raging alcoholism, managing his deepening partnership...

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Chapter 11: Assembling Jim’s Portrait

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pp. 179-189

The details of Jim’s portrait had begun to accumulate since Industry’s incorporation. Pieces of that identity had sporadically appeared in the local press but, like jagged bits of tile, had not yet formed into public mosaic we would later accept as his likeness. Nor had the local press made the city’s image...

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Chapter 12: Jim’s Hot Vegas Tip

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pp. 190-203

Jim’s next big chance to extend his money-laundering operation came in the spring of 1981, when Bank of Industry director Owen H. Lewis told him about the hot investment tip he had received from his pal Clifford Aaron Jones, one of the most storied and politically connected casino...

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Chapter 13: A Punishing Gaze

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pp. 204-214

Special Agent Keller’s power to inspect the most intimate moments of Jim’s life and Jim’s anxious anticipation of that surveillance had begun to take their toll. We can detect that stress in the text of Jim’s actions and statements, in his desperate efforts to cover his tracks. One might even say that Keller, in...

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Chapter 14: Performing His Whiteness

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pp. 215-230

Jim scheduled a September 13, 1983, meeting with Lucilla Rowlett and her husband at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge in Leesville, Louisiana. In the course of that meeting, he paid her the fi rst of two 1,000-dollar bribes. Rowlett tape-recorded the conversation with a voice-activated Nagra recorder...

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Chapter 15: Burying the Body

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pp. 231-245

The transcript of a September 17, 1984, telephone conversation between Frank Wood and Roger Haines gives an early glimpse of how the City of Industry was bracing itself for the legal onslaught it expected after Jim’s conviction. Haines, a contractor who had admitted to playing a minor role...

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Epilogue: Becoming His Paper Son

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pp. 246-260

The 1988 settlement that the district attorney imposed on Graham Ritchie essentially erased his infl uence in the City of Industry. The city attorney had been one of the last obstacles preventing Ed Roski, Jr., from taking Jim’s place in Industry. Now Ed made his move. He started making the...


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pp. 261-308


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pp. 309-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780813548388
E-ISBN-10: 0813548381
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813545738
Print-ISBN-10: 0813545730

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 9 photographs, 4 maps
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • City of Industry (Calif.) -- Social conditions.
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Social conditions.
  • Police -- California -- City of Industry.
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