(friend or foe?)
If any candidate has been the heated source (or victim) of media hype and distortion, look no further than Gardena Mayor and LA County Sheriff candidate Paul Tanaka.
I have read all the stories in the press, not just the LA Times, but also the LA Weekly (or should I now say "Weakly".)
At first, I was convinced that the LA Times was just denigrating Paul Tanaka because that's what the paper usually does to law-and-order Republican conservatives.
But then I heard Paul on the John and Ken Show in January.
And it did not go well.
Wow, it seemed to me that Paul tap-danced through the whole thing, and would not readily answer the questions.
The statement that stood out strongly for me, though, when Tanaka tried to explain his record of 33rd years: "Well, it's been a pretty checkered thirty-three years."
LA Weekly gleefully reported on how bad the interview went, and the two LA-area conservative radio hosts replayed the interview a couple of times.
When I listened to the thirty-minute audio a second time, I found that I was more sympathetic to Tanaka, since the radio hosts refused to let him answer many of the questions, and even some unsympathetic comments did point out that Tanaka was not permitted to talk about certain issues regardless.
|John and Ken -- Not Big Paul Tanaka Fans|
A few days ago, Paul Tanaka gave a guest appearance at a local club, and I had my questions ready.
I wanted to ask him about the Vikings, his tattoo, and why he claimed that he could command an entire organization, when he supposedly did not know what was going in Lynwood.
During his speech, he mentioned his commitment to the law and safety of all residents, and his commitment to promoting law and order in all sections of LA County, whether in Malibu or Monterey Park.
He talked up his fiscal conservatism, taking the city of Gardena from the brink of bankruptcy to a stable prosperity. Gardena is one of the safest cities I have visited. I have walked in that town at nighttime, and I feel safe.
For the record, Gardena's pension liabilities are not as bad as the city of Torrance. The city has a $10 million surplus, and the LA County Sheriff's department went from major deficits to surpluses to cover the losses.
Finally, he addressed the allegations that he was some neo-Nazi thug, that he sanctioned a culture of violence, and that he encouraged sheriff's deputies to operate in the "gray area."
About the Blue Ribbon Jail Commission, Tanaka pointed out that one of the LA County Sheriff's candidates, Jim McDonnell, sat on that panel.
But about the "gray area" issue, as far as I understand, most law enforcement officers cannot help but operate in the "gray area" since the laws of criminal procedure change constantly. Not that Paul Tanaka ever encouraged such behavior, but having spoken to individuals involved in law enforcement, it can be very difficult not to step close to the limits under pressing circumstances.
Of course, no one should condone misconduct from peace officers, ever.
Still, I was concerned about the Lynwood allegations. In the John and Ken interview, he pointed out that he was never named in the indictment. And he wasn't. Here's a copy of it.
I pressed him about the tattoo. He refused to show it to me, or to anyone else. He said it was a Minnesota Vikings tattoo, just like the one for the football team. Different sheriffs' stations throughout the Department had different logos.
It's on his leg, he tells me, not on his ankle, contrary to what the LASDabuse blog claims.
Still, why would he get a tattoo as a member of a softball team?
I never believed that he was a neo-Nazi, and he brought up information about the federal judge, who called "The Vikings" a terrorist group. The judge was getting the information from one of the litigants in the case, the same case in which Tanaka was neither a subject nor a target.
|Paul is right there in the center|
However, the website "LASD Abuse" features this photo under the Vikings Allegations. Hmm.
The truth is, this photo is from the 1980s, judging from the clothes and the style of the sheriff uniform.
Notice the "C" as opposed to "L" signs they are flashing. Duh!
Notice also that there are number of diverse people -- black, white, and Hispanic.
Nothing Neo-Nazi about this group!
Furthermore, Paul came up to me afterwards and offered to take a picture with me (I had no camera at the time). I still had questions, though, like he did not know what was going on at Lynwood Station in the late 1980's early 90s.
There were three hundred people working there, right?
He corrected me, about one hundred, then added that he worked the graveyard shift. . .
A lot of "he said, she said" still seemed all too prominent in this discussion.
A few members came up to me after the meeting sharing that they had also gone back and forth on some of the allegations, particularly his poor stint on the John and Ken Show.
One person reminded me that Tanaka was not in charge of the jails during the time when the abuse was taking place.
Then someone else dropped a bigger bomb-shell: John and Ken are pro gun control, and Tanaka not only supports the Second Amendment, but will expedite the concealed-carry permit process for future applicants (unlike retired Sheriff Lee Baca, who withheld permits for politically connected friends of his)
|Gene Maddaus (with Jane Harman)|
Public sector unions want to end Tanaka's campaign, and so does LA Weekly "journalist" Gene Maddaus, who is obsessed with bringing down Tanaka. He used to work for the Daily Breeze. Tanaka claims that Maddaus was fired for unethical reporting. Still researching that one.
I am (sadly) accustomed to media distortions to bring down people, though. Clive Bundy the Nevada is not a racist, but his heavily distorted/edited remarks confirm that the New York Times was looking for any way they could to scapegoat the guy with a bum "racism" rap. The "mainstream media" has ignored one scandal after another from the Obama Administration, yet spends weeks covering New Jersey's "Bridge-gate" or Donald Sterling's racist rants in a private and illegally recorded conversation.
Law enforcement officials have shared time and again that they take very little seriously, and trust even less what is written in the press, as do I at this point.
They called Tanaka's record a "pretty checkered thirty-three years." Peace officers get sued all the time. I have friends in the LAPD who have reported on the numerous lawsuits, and that the department just settles because of the enormity of these cases. An incident in the late 1980s (a Korean teenager was killed), the Vikings allegation, and then the jail-abuse indictments. Besides those three incidents, there is very little to suggest a pattern of abuse.
So far, the facts don't seem to add up that Paul Tanaka is some neo-Nazi racist with a Napoleon complex.
I appreciated that he answered all of my questions and didn't throw a fit when I asked them and kept asking them (unlike some political figures in the GOP: *Jim Brulte*), and even when I was still concerned, he addressed those questions, as well.
Now, at least I understand why they (John, Ken, the media in general) don't like Paul Tanaka: too conservative for their taste, and and a full faith, concealed-carry advocate of the Second Amendment.