Publisher Raises Eyebrows … Flip Flops on Sales Tax Prop ‘A’

INSIDE INGLEWOOD - Sentinel newspaper publisher and Bakewell Company principal Danny J. Bakewell has flip-flopped on his formal decision regarding the sales tax known as Proposition A while offering up a questionable excuse regarding the odd reversal. 

 

In the Sentinel's February 21 edition, a half-page color ad on page 2 formally admonished readers to "Vote NO [on] Proposition A." The following day, an "editorial correction" was posted on the newspaper's site. The retraction colorfully admonished readers to "Vote YES! on PROPOSITION A." 

In the retraction, Bakewell claims the printed endorsement to vote No was an "editorial mistake." With a staff of several editors to his weekly newspapers—the Sentinel also owns the LA Watts Times and the LA Watts-Times Weekender, and also heavily influences other area "news"papers to reprint its articles—questions abound how such an "editorial mistake" made it through the heavy vetting process. 

Prop A is the half-cent sales tax increase for the City of Los Angeles. A number of real estate developers backing Proposition A are doing so after having convinced the LA city council to drop a documentary transfer tax proposal that would have directly affected developers' profits. Additional Prop A support has come from a political action committee representing the California Association of Realtors. 

In an LA Times article dated January 26, both AEG and JH Snyder have recently relied on the L.A. city council for the approval of significant development projects, and both developers have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into promoting Proposition A. 

AEG had their downtown football stadium approved in 2012. The J.H. Snyder Co-owned 3150 Wilshire, a real estate company, received nearly $18 million from the city for two residential towers in Herb Wesson's district. 

Herb Wesson has publicly defended the dismissal of the documentary transfer tax and was the author of the Prop A sales tax that the real estate developers have backed. 

According to InsideBayArea.com, in an article by Staff Writer Rick Orlov and dated November 13, 2012, "Wesson insisted that dropping the documentary transfer tax proposal was not the result of lobbying by the real estate industry, but rather practical politics." 

The Daily News summarized it succinctly when in a January 25 article, staff writer Dakota Smith wrote, "The contributions come months after the real estate industry successfully killed a proposed real estate tax ballot measure. Instead, they convinced the City Council to put a citywide sales tax increase on the ballot." 

Bakewell, whose personal residences include a home in the hills above Pasadena, a house in Santa Barbara and a 373-acre ranch in Lompoc, CA, has apparently joined other high-profile real estate developers in pushing for Proposition A by publishing a retraction in the on-line version. 

According to a June 4, 2009 article in the San Francisco Bay View, Bakewell is the owner of "one of the nation’s oldest and largest African-American owned and operated real estate development companies," Bakewell Company. 

In a May 23, 2004 article in the LA Times, Bakewell was asked by journalist Michael T. Jarvis, "Will you continue to be involved with real estate development? Could that pose a potential conflict for a newspaper publisher?" 

Bakewell answered, "I don't see it at all. I'm even surprised by the question. I don't think I'll be acting any differently than the publisher of the LA Times or the Daily News." 

Bakewell is also chair of the The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) as well as chair of the Black Press of America. Both organizations regularly confer a number of annual awards to Bakewell's newspaper staff at the Sentinel. 

The LA Times and the Daily News have maintained their published announcements to Vote "No" on Prop A. 

Calls and e-mails to Bakewell at both the Sentinel and Bakewell Company were not returned.

 

(Randall Fleming is a veteran journalist and magazine publisher. He has worked at and for the New York Post, the Brooklyn Spectator and the Los Feliz Ledger. He is currently editor-in-chief at the Morningside Park Chronicle, a monthly newspaper based in Inglewood, CA and on-line at www.MorningsideParkChronicle.com) 

-cw

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 17

Pub: Feb 26, 2013