Hustlers in Paradise: Trojans in Trouble, This Week in LA, Volume VI

Hustlers in Paradise: Trojans in Trouble, This Week in LA, Volume VI


This week started with disappointing news about one of the jewels of our City of Angels. USC is in trouble. Again. This time women on campus were being raped but ignored by the administration. One woman reports being told by a school official that: “Even though his penis penetrated your vagina, because he stopped, it was not a crime.”

Unbelievable.

Some of the incidents in the complaint date back to 2010 and interestingly the University’s formal response to the Title IX inquiry said that the University’s sexual assault reporting deadlines had been updated in 2011-2012. On the surface it would seem these updates occurred after (in response to?) some of the rapes, which would seem to further implicate the University for at least the actions in the 2010 time period.

I trust the women in this story. If actions which occurred in 2010 were so personally scarring that the victims relentlessly sought justice up to the point that a federal inquiry occurred three years later . . . well, it’s like dad always said. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

USC has worked hard (and successfully) to shed the image that it was merely a football factory for wealthy students without the grades to get into a UC. This story damages the University because it makes the place seem retrograde, more like the old SC. The formal response reeks of “legalistic argle-bargle” (to borrow a phrase from Justice Scalia) and I wonder if the University would have been better to issue a more human apology or a sincere request for other women who have been victims to join the inquiry. . .

A nice side benefit of publishing Hustlers in Paradise has been an increased amount of personal accountability on my behalf. Where in the past I might have skipped an evening networking event in Santa Monica out of sheer laziness, now I need something to write about.

So similarly, after making a pledge in last week’s blog that I would do a better job of personally reaching out to people not like me, I had to make good on that promise. On Wednesday I attended a speed networking event and reception hosted by the Asian Business Association at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

I felt a little apprehensive walking into the ballroom and, at the sign-in table, the woman first seemed to think I was seeking help instead of collecting my badge. There are entire worlds in Los Angeles that seemingly never co-mingle and, sure enough, I had stepped into one quite different than my typical stomping grounds. Tech event buzzwords like angels, exits, Series A and IPO were never mentioned. Instead, here I heard about a hustle that included EB-5 visas and multiple stories of the Chinese buying real estate in the San Gabriel Valley. Apparently such purchases are frequent, always above the list price and always in cash.

I particularly enjoyed two conversations. The first, Peter Choi, the President of the Temple City Chamber of Commerce told me about his own challenges in explaining plaintiff ADA strike suits to first generation business owners served with one of them. (Note to readers: if you are operating a facility with public access, I advise you to make sure it’s ADA compliant ASAP . . . there’s a small cottage industry of Plaintiff’s lawyers in Los Angeles who file these lawsuits). I had defended one in the past for a client of mine and Peter and I had a healthy discussion about how the law should be changed to work less like a penalty. There should be a time period where a business can come into compliance and pay a lesser amount.

In the second conversation, Karen Park, the President of Ten Advertising, told me about her work advising U.S. companies on advertising to the Asian American population. I checked after the event and according to the census, the Asian population grew faster than any other race group in the United States between 2000 and 2010. Despite this, in Park’s opinion most U.S. companies still don’t target this market. I pressed her because I was curious about how a consumer brand would thematically target such a broad market. Obviously the targeting is custom for any brand, but she said that a message focused on the family trumps products catering to the individual.

It was an interesting insight. Instead of our typical “buy our product and you will be cool/better/self-realized/stronger/thinner” try “buy our product and your family will be stronger/better/cool.” Of course, in either event, you just have less money and frequently own something you won’t care about in a couple of months (Grumpy, Old Man Joe Comment).

Last night, Southern California Blacks in Philanthropy co-sponsored a speed networking event with Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and Hispanics in Philanthropy, which occurred at Mohawk Bend in Echo Park. I found a few leads for organizations working on race and justice issues, which I am going to research further. I also met Jackie Matthews and Jessica Gelzer who each spoke eloquently about the communications support they are providing for the impact litigation of Students Matter. According to them, the organizers of the impact litigation determined that the teachers’ unions were so powerful that the only way to effect change in the schools was through the courts. The trial is set for January 27, 2014. I certainly agree that the state should be able to remove “grossly ineffective” teachers. At the same time I am concerned about a complete erosion of personnel protections because I fear districts would start to replace expensive, experienced teachers with a fresh crop of cheap, recent grads.

A final note, this month’s GQ has an entertaining profile of Joe Biden. Watch for the media to start cheerleading for Joe Biden. They can’t sell as many issues or harvest as many clicks if Hillary is a fait accompli. Will Joe Run?

Los Angeles, California

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