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AN OPEN LETTER TO L.A. : Trial by Fire : The courtrooms were the centers of attention for much of the year. But apocalyptic fires and the election of a new mayor also got our attention. We got our first subway and probably our last freeway. And a fight to save the Venice ducks failed, but Disney gave us the Mighty Ducks.

1993 THE YEAR IN REVIEW: A Look Back at People and Events in Los Angeles County

January 01, 1994

Dear Friends:

Happy Holidays and amen!!!

Can you believe how much we've accomplished this year? We held three really big trials, made an international celebrity out of an alleged madam, gave President Clinton the best haircut he'll ever see--on the airport Tarmac, no less--installed a new mayor for the first time in 20 years, elected an openly gay City Council member for the first time and snuffed out apocalyptic fires (with the help of firefighters from across the Western states. Thanks guys and gals!)

The Dodgers really stunk up the place (at least until season's end, when they played spoiler to the hated San Francisco Giants); in fact, the biggest story out of Dodger Stadium involved a New York Met who threw a firecracker at a little kid. But how about those Kings! They advanced to the Stanley Cup championships for the first time after 909 losses in 26 years. (That's right, the same Los Angeles Kings who are now, only months later, stinking up the place.)

It really has been quite a busy year for us, what with running back and forth between courtrooms--the second Rodney G. King beating trial, the Reginald O. Denny beating trial and those Menendez boys! Shotgun murders, confessions to a psychiatrist, emotional abuse at a tennis match--so many mysteries to unravel. But what we're really wondering is, where did Lyle get that toupee? We're not sure if they're guilty or innocent, but we thought we could spot a rug a mile off. Who knows what to believe anymore?

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday February 2, 1994 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Column 6 Metro Desk 2 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Fire photograph--A photograph showing a firefighter cooling himself from a swimming pool during the October, 1993, Altadena fires resulted from a photographer's request to the firefighter, Times editors have determined. Staging a news photograph is contrary to Times practice. The Times regrets the error.

The jury is still sorting that case out. But we closed the book on the King beating trial. The jury rendered its verdicts--two police officers convicted and two acquitted--and the city took the news in stride as ex-officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell headed to prison.

*

The Denny beating trial also came to a close. The case of that trucker pulled from his rig at the outset of the 1992 riots became a symbol of that scary time of unrest. The whole episode left us with lasting memories. It turned out that one of the defense attorneys listed on his resume a trip to Mars. (Fortunately for his client, he was replaced before the trial got started.) But what a moment it was when Denny leaned across a courtroom pew and hugged the mother of the man accused of beating him.

Who says we're all trying to kill each other out here? Of course, the sequestered jurors almost did kill each other before convicting Damian Williams and Henry Keith Watson. (The other two defendants pleaded guilty.) One juror was dismissed when the forewoman decided she was in "the Twilight Zone" and another ran down the corridor screaming for the boyfriend she hadn't seen in days. Somehow, we all knew how she felt.

Outside the courtroom, the city was infested with several uninvited pests, including Medflies and more mayoral candidates than Baskin-Robbins has flavors.

Tom Bradley bowed out after five terms as mayor of Los Angeles and 52 people lined up to take his place, including frizzy-haired street corner dancer Melrose Larry Green and a lawyer so desperate for publicity that he held an underwater news conference and nearly drowned.

It was a dizzying campaign but in the end, mega-rich attorney/businessman Richard Riordan bested them all. In his scant six months in office, he is clearly heading in the right direction, particularly when it comes to LAX, where he envisions Starbucks-style coffee and a public address system that features Frank Sinatra singing "Come Fly With Me."

Hizzoner, an avid cyclist, is really not in bad shape for 63, although he tried jogging with President Clinton in Washington and pooped out before the first mile. It might have been embarrassing had he not hopped a Secret Service van and caught up with the commander-in-chief just in time to have his picture taken.

There were plenty of other beginnings and endings around L.A.

The beloved Central Library reopened, more glorious than ever, seven years after a disastrous fire nearly destroyed it. We threw a weeklong block party to celebrate!

We got our first subway--the Red Line--and probably our last freeway--the Century. A Museum of Tolerance opened along with the renovated Venice Canals and the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena. But in a league of its own is our newly expanded Convention Center--with 24-foot-high doors big enough for tractor-trailers to drive right onto the floor!

But alas, we also lost an Art Deco retail landmark, the Bullocks Wilshire department store (the one where William Randolph Hearst used to buy his swimwear). Across the street, the Sheraton-Town House also closed (the one where Howard Hughes and Elizabeth Taylor used to stay--not together, though. Liz was there with Nicky Hilton.)

And the chandelier fell for the last time on "Phantom of the Opera," our most commercially successful theatrical presentation ever. It closed after 1,772 shows. (Almost as many games as the Dodgers lost! Just kidding.)

Oh, and the drought also ended. Did it ever! We got 27 inches of rain--double the usual amount.

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