American Renaissance

The Power of the Jump: How to Bounce Checks and Get Government Funds

Patterico, Oh, That Liberal Media, Jun. 15

The L.A. Times had an interesting story yesterday titled City Funds Flow to Check-Bouncing Developer (copied below). It is a story about curious government favoritism towards someone, with a twist: the reason for the favoritism is hidden until the back pages. Read on, and you’ll see why.

The story begins:

Los Angeles parks Commissioner Christopher Hammond is no ordinary deadbeat.

He’s bounced a campaign check to the mayor. He’s bounced campaign checks to six members of the City Council. Hammond, a leading developer of subsidized housing, has even bounced checks to the city attorney, the official responsible for prosecuting people who bounce checks.

Remarkably, this has done little if anything to harm his relations with the elected officials he relies on to approve subsidies for his projects.

Despite the bounced checks, a trail of angry business creditors and the more than $500,000 he owes in back federal and state taxes, Hammond’s business entities have received substantial government subsidies over the last few years and stand to receive, in partnerships with other firms, an additional $31 million for redevelopment of Santa Barbara Plaza, a decrepit shopping center in South Los Angeles.

The article continues with the theme: the guy has bounced checks to just about everyone in creation, but gets nothing but support from local government. Hammond is notorious. An accountant who is a campaign treasurer for the mayor and other local politicians is able to respond to the reporter’s questions about the guy’s bounced checks without consulting records. The list of people or organizations Hammond has stiffed is comically never-ending:

Hammond has also bounced checks to contractors working on his homes and for his business. He is in default on mortgages for his two homes. His landlord has taken him to court for an alleged failure to pay rent on his corporate offices. He has bounced checks to settle lawsuits over bad debts. He has even reneged on a charitable donation to the American Heart Assn.

“There has to be some reason he continues to get subsidies, despite being so obviously unreliable,” I thought to myself, and turned to the back pages to find out the reason. My guess was, he had managed not to bounce checks to the more significant people in local government.

Turns out that guess was wrong. There’s hardly a politician in the county who hasn’t received a rubber check from Hammond.

So what’s Hammond’s secret? It comes on the back pages, after the jump, where most readers won’t see it.

Hammond’s secret is simple: he’s got the backing of the Urban League and the NAACP, and the concomitant connections to all-important folks like Maxine Waters and Mark Ridley-Thomas:

[Hammond] has substantial community support. The local heads of the NAACP and Urban League urged the City Council to fund Hammond’s deal to redevelop Santa Barbara Plaza.

. . . .

Hammond, who grew up in Claremont, has deep political roots, working on his first political campaign while attending UCLA Law School in 1987.

During that campaign, he met Maxine Waters, now a congresswoman from Los Angeles, and she recruited him to join the 1988 presidential bid of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The next year, he served as deputy campaign manager for then-Mayor Tom Bradley.

. . . .

[Hammond’s] $123-million plan mixes new housing with commercial redevelopment and requires a public subsidy of $37 million. It won the crucial backing of state Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), then the area’s councilman.

You hook yourself up with these folks, and you’re on easy street. It doesn’t matter that there were “three dozen instances in which [Hammond] or his companies bounced checks from 1999 through 2003 totaling more than $200,000.” It doesn’t matter that Hammond’s bounced checks have resulted in substantial litigation that complicates his construction projects. In this city, if you have friends like Maxine Waters and the folks at the Urban League, you can do anything.

What I find interesting about this is that the L.A. Times waits until the back pages to tell its readers these facts. If Hammond had gotten the subsidies due to nepotism, or campaign contributions to the right people (especially Republicans!), that would have been in the headline. It would have been on the front page.

But when the obvious reason for the disparate treatment is his race, and his connection to black “leaders” like the folks at the Urban League, the paper is apparently scared to make the connection too apparent. Someone might get offended. So the paper simply hides the relevant facts on the back pages — and hopes that persistent readers will connect the dots.

What is the point of reporting a story about government mismanagement, if the paper’s political correctness prevents it from reporting clearly on the root cause of that mismanagement?

Another example of racial hypersensitivity at the Times.

City Funds Flow to Check-Bouncing Developer

Mayor, others say the parks commissioner’s projects are vital to the revival of South L.A.

Ted Rohrlich and Ralph Frammolino, L. A. Times, Jun. 14

Los Angeles parks Commissioner Christopher Hammond is no ordinary deadbeat.

He’s bounced a campaign check to the mayor. He’s bounced campaign checks to six members of the City Council. Hammond, a leading developer of subsidized housing, has even bounced checks to the city attorney, the official responsible for prosecuting people who bounce checks.

Remarkably, this has done little if anything to harm his relations with the elected officials he relies on to approve subsidies for his projects.

Despite the bounced checks, a trail of angry business creditors and the more than $500,000 he owes in back federal and state taxes, Hammond’s business entities have received substantial government subsidies over the last few years and stand to receive, in partnerships with other firms, an additional $31 million for redevelopment of Santa Barbara Plaza, a decrepit shopping center in South Los Angeles.

Hammond is notorious in political circles, having bounced nearly two dozen campaign checks to Los Angeles politicians over the past five years. Accountant David Gould, a campaign treasurer for the mayor and other politicians, said he did not need to consult records when asked about a specific Hammond check.

“It bounced,” Gould said. “I don’t need to look it up. We know that when we get his checks they go that way 90% of the time.”

Read the rest of this story here.