Eric Garcetti's Five Worst Mayoral Appointees
5. Steve Soboroff
Steve Soboroff seems like a nice guy, and we've learned to like him. But do you really want a smooth political operator in charge of the group who polices the police? We're talking about the L.A. Police Commission, which rules on officer-involved shootings and helps sets policies for LAPD. It seems pretty clear that Soboroff got the gig, and the Commission presidency, because of his support of Garcetti's campaign.
jootube.tv Steve Soboroff, super-booster, might be incapable of coming down on -- gasp! -- cop corruption.
What's not clear is how a guy who made his name in real estate and glad-handing (he helped push the Staples Center project through City Hall, he loves pitching for causes such as the Jewish Olympics) will stand up to an entrenched, macho bureaucracy that takes orders from few. Does a man who has long played the back-slapping game of politics -- he's the former CEO of the controversial Playa Vista development and a onetime mayoral candidate -- have the will to call out police corruption if he sees it?
After all, when former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt became the most hated man in L.A., McCourt hired Soboroff as his VP and spokesman. Within hours, Soboroff was saying that McCourt was "financially fine" and that ""We need more people like Frank McCourt." And when pitched controversy erupted over the removal of 371 mature shade trees in South L.A., Inglewood and Westchester that stood in the way of the space shuttle Endeavour's move from LAX to the California Science Center in 2012, LA Weekly caught the Science Center's big booster, Soboroff, in a lie:
Soboroff said, "the vast majority [of trees] to be removed are sick, dying or creating havoc on the sidewalks."
Nope. The Weekly thought that sounded convenient, and asked widely respected California arborist Jerome Smith to voluntarily survey the 12-mile lineup of condemned trees. Smith discovered that not one tree was dying, the sick ones (not a lot) were treatable, and there weren't egregious sidewalk problems -- the problems could be handled with a grinder.
Soboroff kicked off his tenure as Police Commission president by declaring that LAPD cops should wear body-mounted cameras sooner rather than later. Sounds a good idea. Video speaks louder than words when it comes to use-of-force claims. But you can't always trust Soboroff's own words. We hope he stands tough and stays truthful. --Dennis Romero