Tom Lochner reports:
Under the settlement, Oliva must pay the city $1.65 million; the other stipulated judgment, for $1.5 million, is against NEO. The company’s new owner is Walter McKinney, a former police chief of Desert Hot Springs. The city agreed not to seek to enforce the $1.5 million settlement against McKinney personally. Instead, NEO and McKinney agreed to post for sale some company-owned property in Los Angeles County.
This is a rather outstanding outcome (all things considered).
Why is McKinney still operating as NEO? Does he not realize that he can change the name of the company — or stop doing whatever he thinks he is doing altogether? (I am sure whatever it is he does, he is not good at it.) I still remember McKinney in the near-empty council chambers, embattled and discombobulated, as the truth inched closer and closer to being revealed, and the most pathetic, sourpuss look on his face as we identified one another.
And although it seems now that the issue was a foregone conclusion (Oliva was a crook, the council was inept), the council stood its ground and protected Oliva and NEO religiously, especially the incumbent candidates in the 2010 election, most stridently by Joe Eddy McDonald (who described the issue — “if there is an issue” — as elitist criticism of affordable housing):
And the council (and Oliva) had their supporters — most visibly Frank Batara, who notably compared Lochner to Adolf Hitler:
No matter the questions that were asked, over and over, it was always quite the story that was never told. As it turns out, the story was never as interesting as the politics that surrounded it, or the politics that has evolved in its wake. It’s the machine that churns, the power that burns. So it goes.