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81  5 “We Don’t Like the Dirty Deal” He would look just like a landowner, a feared species in this country due to its aggressiveness and the little consideration it showed for other peoples’ lives, as might be gathered from reading the one thousand one hundred pages. —Horacio Castellanos Moya, Senselessness 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 flashy KTLA Channel 5 reporter known for his rightwing populism, would“all but call him a‘crook’ during the evening news” for pushing the city to condemn an eighty-acre landfill located within a five-hundred-acre area known as the Little La Puente Hills. Putnam, who loved to defend the little guy against city hall, not surprisingly sided with the landfill owners against the city, which wanted to attach the whole cluster of hills to its narrow body via a threadlike easement it drew down the middle of Azusa Boulevard. When Jane walked into the kitchen after the newscast to tell Jim what she had just heard,“[he] merely shrugged his shoulders and said something like they can say what they want and you can’t do anything about it.”1 The incident, which she related years later to the FBI, reveals more than Jim’s penchant for secrecy and the kind of relationship he had built with his wife. Putnam’s allegation added a nefarious gloss to Jim’s still developing media image, but Jim’s resigned response seemed to arise from lessons he’d learned during his father’s scandalous treatment in the press. He also knew from his own experience that the media’s spotlight would eventually move on to something else. He and his pals would then return to sorting out 82 city of industry their plans for their city on a hill: its golf courses and equestrian facilities, a hotel and a conference center, a golf museum, even a wild animal park built on a mountain of trash, an undertaking so big and expensive it would take decades to finish. This grandiose scheme, which later became the focus of his criminal enterprises, marked a huge leap in both his and Industry’s ambitions. Jim and his friends were dreaming big dreams, thanks to the municipal technologies they had begun to master as well as new ones the city was prepared to absorb. But new technologies called for new technicians, and Jim found himself having to defer to their legal, financial, and planning expertise. Decision by decision, each injection of knowledge would slowly complicate and diffuse his authority, a state of affairs that contrasted starkly with his first crude try at cashing in on the city. That controversy flared in 1961, when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced its intention to build a new sheriff’s substation on a 3.3-acre parcel that Stafford owned. The ensuing scandal offers us a glimpse into Jim’s idea of a city’s purpose and provides our earliest evidence of how he was able to consolidate his influence in Industry. The episode began when Supervisor Frank Bonelli, Herbert Legg’s successor in the first district and Jim’s current political patron, decided to persuade the other county supervisors to build the district’s next sheriff’s substation on Jim’s property. Bonelli made his proposition with the knowledge that Industry’s neighbor, La Puente, had already offered the county free land so that it could win the substation project.2 Nevertheless, the county chose to ignore this opportunity to save money and instead offered Jim 80,950 dollars for his property. As a result, Jim was able to earn a tidy profit while stationing a band of property protectors in his city. All’s well that ends well, right? Not exactly. After Jim had expressed dissatisfaction with the county’s offer, the Industry city council voted to offer him 134,420 dollars for the property—53,470 dollars more than the county had offered—although they intended to use the land for exactly the same purpose: to install a sheriff’s substation inside the city limits. But in order to build such a facility on the property, the county would need to pay for constructing a road through adjacent properties, twenty-three acres of which also happened to belong to Jim. The county...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813548388
Related ISBN
9780813545738
MARC Record
OCLC
593295674
Pages
336
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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