Sheriff Lee Baca

It’s time to salute Sheriff Baca, IBEW executive Brian D’Arcy and L.A. Unified, among others, for contributing to a great news year. Now for the scandals of 2014.

By Steve Lopez
December 28, 2013, 4:00 p.m.

In more ways than one, I’m sorry to see 2013 fade into the books. Thanks to a steady run of incompetence, corruption and bungling by various public officials, it was a banner year for local news in Greater Los Angeles.

In other ways, I can’t wait for 2014 to begin, because several of this year’s cliffhangers are likely to play out in coming months.

Can Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca get reelected, yet again, after having a far worse year than “Duck Dynasty”?

Will 2014 be the year we finally find out what two mysterious nonprofits, jointly operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Local 18 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, did with $40 million of ratepayer money?

More on those debacles in a moment.

But first, 2013 served to remind us of the value of putting eyeballs on public officials at all times, if not doing their jobs for them.

Los Angeles County officials launched a review after my colleague Garrett Therolf exposed cases of foster children maimed or murdered after being placed in the care of guardians working for private foster agencies despite having criminal records.

Los Angeles City Council members called for a review of seismic safety enforcement after a Times report — by Ron Lin, Rosanna Xia and Doug Smith — that more than 1,000 concrete buildings could be unsafe and that city officials have known about and largely ignored the risks for more than 40 years.

State regulators finally went after a Vernon battery recycler after Times reporters Jessica Garrison and Kim Christensen reported on dangerous arsenic emissions. The same duo, along with reporter Ben Poston, wrote about students vomiting and teachers gasping for breath at a school near a toxic dump site and about how state regulators failed to monitor the transportation and disposal of toxic waste.

To read entire column, click here.