February 13, 2011 | 7:30 pm
Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren says he's planning for his company's future after he eventually steps down. The Orange County mega-developer, 78, talked about his plans for the company with Scott Kraft:
In a series of recent conversations, Bren said he has made plans for Irvine Co. to continue as a private company controlled by its independent board of directors, which will choose a new chairman. The beneficiaries, he says, will be a combination of public and private entities, which he declined to specify.
"This is a private company that is set up to operate in perpetuity," he said.
Bren has been more than just the owner; for more than three decades, he's been its entrepreneurial heart.
Photo: Donald Bren at Irvine Co. headquarters in Newport Beach, Jan. 7, 2011. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
February 13, 2011 | 7:16 pm
A 39-year-old man with a passport from the Caribbean island of Aruba has been arrested on suspicion of running a check forgery and counterfeiting ring from an office in the northern San Diego County suburb of Encinitas.
Damon Westmoreland was arrested after San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputies discovered check-making materials and computer gear needed to duplicate checks at his Encinitas office and a home in nearby Solana Beach, according to the Sheriff's Department.
Information about 10 banks and a Nevada corporation was seized from the two locations, the Sheriff's Department said. Deputies served search warrants on the two locations after Westmoreland's landlord complained of receiving counterfeit rent checks.
Despite the Aruba passport, Westmoreland's "true identity is not yet determined," said Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Varnau.
--Tony Perry in San Diego
February 13, 2011 | 7:11 pm
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas threw his support behind Los Angeles City Council candidate Forescee Hogan-Rowles at a late afternoon fundraiser in Hancock Park Sunday, calling her “very capable,” “very well-regarded” with strong credentials to lead the 8th District.
Ridley-Thomas’s backing of Hogan-Rowles, who is attempting to unseat Councilman Bernard C. Parks in his South Los Angeles district, is all but certain to add heat to an already scorching feud between Parks and Ridley-Thomas.
The two men waged a bitter battle for the 2nd District seat on the Board of Supervisors in 2008. Ridley-Thomas won by double digits, aided by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which spent an unprecedented $8.5 million to help his effort. Hogan-Rowles shares some of the same allies. The labor federation has spent more than $81,000 so far in independent expenditures on her behalf.
“It is time, after a long time of eight years of people registering serious displeasure and discontent,” Ridley-Thomas said, “that we do the positive thing, the forward-looking thing, the right thing and to call someone to represent that district who has a feel for that district, who has the heart of that district, who identifies with the constituents of that district, in contrast to one who positions himself otherwise.”
“Somebody said he lost his mind yesterday and forgot who was on the ballot — thought I was on the ballot again,” Ridley-Thomas told guests who mingled at the home of Areva and Ernest Martin Sunday. “Somebody likened it to post-traumatic stress syndrome, battle fatigue. We’ve done that. You’ve got to deal with this candidate.”
Ridley Thomas said he intended to highlight Hogan-Rowles’s strengths at Sunday's kickoff, but he made it clear he would play an integral role in the effort to take down Parks before the March 8 election: “I’ll spend some other time doing the other work as it is required,” he said to laughter. “And you can believe that will happen.”
He took some of his own jabs at Parks, however, before giving up the microphone — echoing Hogan-Rowles’s line of attack in Saturday’s debate that Parks had “double-dipped” by taking his annual pension of $265,000 from his years as the city’s police chief as well as his council salary of $178,789.
“I’m going to talk about double-dippers all the way now until March 8,” Ridley-Thomas said.
Hogan-Rowles, who heads a nonprofit financial-services firm based in South Los Angeles, said she had been “blessed by the mentorship of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas” but joked that he’d been a demanding advisor.
“I believe that the reason he pushes us so hard is that he wants us to be the very best candidate that we can be,” said Hogan-Rowles, who said Ridley-Thomas had helped her raise money for her campaign. “Trust me, he tells me what you need to know whether you want to know it or not.”
Former Rep. Diane Watson, who said she has known Hogan-Rowles for years, also attended the event, but said she was lending her support to both Parks and Hogan-Rowles.
“There’s much to be done,” Watson said. “May the best person win.”
February 13, 2011 | 4:25 pm
It took about 100 people from multiple agencies to recover the body of an Orange County man who died while rappelling down the side of a waterfall in a remote section of the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego County, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said Sunday.
The body of Matthew David Pack, 24, of San Juan Capistrano, was retrieved Saturday, the day after he was discovered by a hiker passing by Mildred Falls, in the rugged wilderness near Julian.
According to Jan Caldwell, public affairs director for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Pack was about two-thirds of the way down the side of the cliff that the waterfall pours over, and was dangling in the midst of the torrent. She said the cliff is about 300 feet high.
At the time that the hiker spotted him and called 911, Pack was still alive and was calling for help, Caldwell said. Emergency units responded “very quickly,” she said, but by the time they arrived late Friday afternoon, it was apparent that Pack was dead, possibly from exposure to water with temperature in the high 30s.
Authorities decided to wait until morning to attempt a recovery, she said. When they did, the operation was extremely challenging, she said, because it involved recovering a body from a slippery, sheer wall. Rescuers were able to bring Pack's body back to the ledge where he was believed to have started, and his body was lifted by helicopter to a landing pad about half a mile away.
“It was very, very difficult – it was probably one of the most challenging and difficult rescues to perform,” Caldwell said.
The coroner’s office had not determined the cause of death.
Among those participating in the recovery, Caldwell said, were sheriff’s deputies, search and rescue volunteers, mountain rescue workers, Encinitas lifeguards, Border Patrol search and rescue officers and the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department
-- Mitchell Landsberg
February 13, 2011 | 4:02 pm
The honking you hear along Park Avenue in Echo Park isn't coming from motorists.
It's just Maria the Goose, out for a spin with her friend Dominic Ehrler. Ehrler is a retired investor who was befriended by the web-footed waterfowl 10 months ago at Echo Park Lake.
"When she first started following me around like a dog, I got goose bumps," Ehrler said. "David Foster, one of the parks people here, finally introduced me to her. He said, 'You know you're being stalked! Her name is Maria.' "
These days, Maria greets Ehrler each morning about 8 when he rides his bright red motor scooter down the hill from his Figueroa Terrace condo. Then she leads him around the lake as Ehrler pulls out a bag of tortillas retrieved from a store trash bin and feeds the park's other geese.
-- Bob Pool
Photo: Maria, a graylag goose, chases Dominic Ehrler as part of their regular routine at Echo Park. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
February 13, 2011 | 3:25 pm
A passerby spotted the body of a man floating in Newport Bay early Sunday, and authorities are trying to determine whether it is that of a missing UC Riverside student, a police official said.
Newport Beach police detectives responding to the report shortly after 7 a.m. said they found the body floating in the Rhine Channel near the 600 block of Lido Park Drive, according to Sgt. Steve Burdette. After a coroner’s official inspected the situation, authorities pulled out the body, which appeared to be that of a man in his mid-20s.
Burdette said there were no obvious signs of foul play.
The body was found roughly a week after police received a report that a 23-year-old UC Riverside student was missing and was last seen in Newport Beach, Burdette said. The coroner's office is attempting to determine if the body was that of the student, he said.
-- Mitchell Landsberg
February 13, 2011 | 2:27 pm
A jogger was struck and killed in Laguna Niguel on Sunday morning when she tried to protect a dog that had wandered into traffic, an Orange County sheriff's official said.
The woman was jogging about 11 a.m. when she saw the dog darting into traffic and stopped to grab it, according to sheriff's Lt. Ted Boyne. She was kneeling with it on the corner of Molton Parkway and Nueva Vista Drive when two cars collided nearby. At least one of the cars ran onto the sidewalk, striking the jogger, Boyne said. She was declared dead at the scene.
All three occupants of the two cars were treated at a nearby hospital, none for life-threatening injuries. Boyne said the driver of one car, a 59-year-old man, was treated for a bruised leg, and his passenger, a 56-year-old woman, suffered a broken collarbone. A 27-year-old man in the other car had bumps and bruises.
The cause of the collision remains under investigation. Boyne said it appears that the dog had nothing to do with it. It was gone when emergency crews arrived.
The identities of those involved were not immediately released.
-- Mitchell Landsberg
February 13, 2011 | 2:00 pm LEAFY GREENS: Nature photographer Dave Toussaint gets up close to a fly on a leaf in this photo taken at the Getty Museum. February 13, 2011 | 1:43 pm
Inglewood police found a man seated in his car Saturday night with a gunshot wound to the head.
Police said they received a call about 7:30 p.m., and soon after arriving in an alley at the north end of England Avenue
pronounced the man dead at the scene. Investigators have not released the identity of the victim but say the death appears to have been a homicide.
-- Ching-Ching Ni
Map: Shows location of Saturday's incident in purple, as well as 87 other homicides in red, since January 2007. Credit: Homicide Report
February 13, 2011 | 1:36 pm
Coroner’s investigators are combing the rugged Los Angeles-area ravine where Mitrice Richardson’s remains were found, searching for body parts that they may have missed in the initial search.
Three bone fragments, believed to be from two fingers and a wrist, have been found so far, according to Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“The coroner wants to go back there and make sure we’ve found everything,” he said.
The disappearance of the 24-year-old sparked national headlines. She was arrested in September 2009 at Geoffrey’s restaurant in Malibu after being unable to pay an $89 dinner tab and acting bizarrely. She was released from the sheriff’s Lost Hills/Malibu station after midnight -- without her car, purse or cellphone -- and vanished. Her remains were found in a remote Malibu Canyon ravine nearly 11 months later.
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