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As if to reinforce the idea that money is the most potent drug known to humankind, legislators in California and 10 other states have legalized marijuana, often with visions of a tax windfall dancing in their heads.

The fiscal gain may not have been the only rationale for legalization and in some cases not even the prime motivation, but it was never far beneath the surface. In California, proponents of legalization, who won their battle with the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016, predicted a tax windfall of $1 billion a year.

The actual figure for the fiscal year ended in June: $288 million. The forecast for the current fiscal year is $359 million. When, or whether, the tax will reach $1 billion is anyone’s guess.

Jon Gettman, marijuana legalization promoter, in 2009

California isn’t the only state where expectations for turning marijuana into a cash cow have disappointed promoters. In Massachusetts, still the only Eastern state with legalization on the books, the state Cannabis Control Commission projected a take of $63 million. The final tally for the last fiscal year was only about $30 million. The goal for the current year is $132 million, which would mean a quadrupling of income.

Even in states that met or exceeded their expectations, such as Colorado and Nevada, the rate of growth has been slowing. According to a recent survey by the Pew Charitable Trusts, marijuana tax collections in Colorado soared by 53% from 2015 to 2016, but only 18% from 2017 to 2018. Washington and Oregon also have seen a slackening in growth.

Experts have come up with numerous explanations for these disappointing results. They say the tax structures are overly complicated, the marijuana black market is still thriving, licensing of legal dispensaries is too slow.

But there’s another explanation they’re avoiding. It’s one I highlighted back in 2009, when the legalization drive in California was gaining steam: From the start, projections of the size and value of the marijuana market itself, and therefore of the potential tax take, were based on fantasy.

As I wrote at the time, valuations of illicit activity, whether it’s drug sales, street crime or porn distribution, are notoriously squishy. Yet hard figures are accepted by the media as gospel, even though their sources are typically law enforcement agencies claiming to have achieved record-breaking drug busts or experts trying to pump up the importance of their chosen field of study.

In California, the inflation took the form of a dubious assertion that marijuana was the state’s most valuable cash crop. The assertion was duly reported in newspapers across the country, including this one, and was cited on CNN and NBC. The ostensibly hard valuation of the state’s marijuana crop was $14 billion, part of a nationwide marijuana trade worth more than $100 billion a year (including imports).

Yet this statistic was manifestly the product of a galaxy of magic asterisks. Its principal source was a 2006 study by Jon Gettman, a former president and national director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). I’ve reached out to Gettman via Shenandoah University of Virginia, where he’s on the criminal justice faculty, but haven’t heard back.

Gettman started with an estimate that U.S. domestic marijuana cultivation was 22 million pounds a year, although that figure, which came in 2003 from the George W. Bush White House, itself seemed to involve a dramatic and sudden increase from the government’s previous estimate of 7.7 million pounds.

The Justice Department again revised the estimate in 2007 to a range of 12.3 million to 20.7 million pounds, a uselessly wide range. The DOJ evidently had added up the total amount of marijuana reported seized by law enforcement agencies and guessed that the cops had found only 30% to 50% of the total, but didn’t say how they reached that conclusion.

Gettman acknowledged that concrete information was exceedingly scarce — “When you drill down, the only hard fact is they seize a lot of plants,” he said.

Yet one wouldn’t have known how soft the “hard” facts really were from the debates that went on in statehouses across the country, where the taxable value of the marijuana trade was taken as read.

It’s true that there are sound policy reasons to legalize marijuana. Prohibition places a burden on all levels of government, including tens of billions of dollars a year squandered on arresting, trying and jailing sellers and users. Marijuana laws were unevenly enforced against blacks, youths and low-income defendants — the chances that a rich, white college student caught dealing to his dorm-mates would spend a night in jail, much less end up with a felony or misdemeanor count on his record, were effectively nil compared to the experience of a street-corner seller.

There are also sound arguments against legalization. These include the toll of drug abuse (not to say the abuse of alcohol and tobacco is not a significant social and medical problem). Legalization could put more money in the pockets of alcohol and tobacco companies, assuming they move into the cannabis market, for lobbying and political activity.

Yet by focusing on the potential tax gains from legalization, voters and legislators didn’t have to spend as much time weighing those difficult issues.

In California, where the $1 billion in annual revenue became a principal talking point for the Yes on 64 campaign, voters were inundated with promises of new funding for “afterschool programs that help kids stay in school; for job placement, job training, and mental health treatment; for drug prevention education for teens; to treat alcohol and drug addiction; and to fund training and research for law enforcement to crack down on impaired driving.” (Those promises came from the official voter guide for the 2016 election.)

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Over 10 years, they were told, these programs would receive billions in revenues.

At the moment, these promises look like chimeras. But no one conversant with the history of ballot proposition campaigns or the uncertainties of government fiscal projections has a right to be surprised. Throw in the uncertainties of estimating the value of illicit or irregular activities, and the red flags should have been flying.

It’s possible, of course, that cannabis taxes will eventually fulfill the expectations set by their promoters, especially if some of those other obstacles, such as burdensome licensing of pot shops and the persistence of the black market, can be addressed.

But a billion dollars a year? Don’t start spending the money yet.


House Democrats’ hopes for a short and focused impeachment inquiry against President Trump are being put to the test by a string of new leads that could lengthen their investigation, as well as by some moderate Democrats who remain skeptical about whether the case has been made for impeachment.

Three weeks into their inquiry, Democrats have managed to break down the White House’s attempt to block them from hearing from several current and former administration witnesses. Those officials have provided details on the way the White House sidelined career diplomats in Ukraine in an attempt to install loyalists to lead U.S. foreign policy there, often in ways that would benefit Trump politically.

The very fact that government officials are willing to defy the White House directive and testify has some Democrats grappling now with the idea that the impeachment-related House committees may need to continue gathering evidence for several weeks, and that a House floor vote by Thanksgiving — once viewed by some rank-and-file lawmakers as an unofficial goal — is a long shot. The question they’re asking themselves is, when is enough enough?

“Everyone that I talk to would like this to be done in 2019,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which would have to write and approve articles of impeachment. “The problem is that the president is a one-man crime wave and he has generated a number of arguably impeachable offenses and we have a responsibility” to address them, Raskin said.

The depositions have also raised new questions for investigators and drawn in other administration officials and Trump associates, including former national security advisor John Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mulvaney on Thursday confirmed that Trump withheld aid from Ukraine partially to motivate the country’s leaders to investigate Democrats. The startling statement, issued in the White House briefing room, cuts to the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

“There are a lot of witnesses to talk to and a lot of documents to look at. I just think we have to surface as much evidence as possible as quickly as possible,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “We have to do this expeditiously, but at the same time it has to be a thorough job.”

It’s created a dilemma for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who has always voiced caution about proceeding with impeachment and has never publicly committed to a firm timetable on the investigation. Initially some Democrats wanted to focus narrowly on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political opponents. At the time of the call, Trump was withholding much-needed aid to Ukraine and resisting Zelensky’s attempts to have an in-person meeting with Trump.

Democrats’ thinking was that a quick impeachment based on what some viewed as clear abuse of presidential power might be easier for moderate Democrats to join, and would avoid a long, divisive process that might overshadow the 2020 presidential race.

A lengthy inquiry is also troubling to some Democrats who want to ensure that the House doesn’t become consumed by the impeachment inquiry and has plenty of time for legislation, such as lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

But as additional evidence emerges that Trump used the State Department and American diplomacy for his political gain, Democrats must now decide whether to allow Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), who is leading the inquiry in the House Intelligence Committee, to follow the growing number of threads, even if that takes more time. Uncovering additional misconduct could bolster Americans’ approval of the process, and polls suggest support is already growing.

But it also gives Republicans more time to attack the inquiry’s credibility and reverse momentum by accusing Democrats of launching a fishing expedition to damage Trump. And a long, drawn-out impeachment process could backfire if Americans become fatigued.

Democrats may have another motivation to slow down: convincing more moderate members that impeachment is warranted.

Full details of the committees’ depositions remain confidential, even to many members of Congress outside the three key committees on intelligence, oversight and foreign affairs. But based on what is publicly known so far, a few moderate Democrats say they are nowhere near ready for a vote on articles of impeachment.

Those feelings came to a head in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol on Tuesday after lawmakers were away from Washington for two weeks. According to several people in the room, Schiff told lawmakers the most significant evidence for impeachment has already emerged: the White House’s memo of the call between Trump and Zelensky.

The remark concerned several centrist Democrats because they fear that the investigating committees — which have been working behind closed doors — have not uncovered any more powerful evidence, according to three Democrats who did not want to be named and have not been part of the depositions.

“It’s not enough,” one of the lawmakers said, though the person acknowledged not seeing all the evidence that exists.

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Schiff’s point, he said in a brief interview, was that the “best evidence of what took place on that call is the call record itself. That call record is damning because it goes to the president’s conduct directly.” He declined to reveal specifics on what further evidence has been uncovered.

“That call is the Watergate tapes of the Ukraine investigation,” he said, referring to the secret Oval Office tapes that helped turned public perception against President Nixon. “There may very well be other things that are egregious and significant, but people shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that one of the most powerful and damning pieces of evidence has already come out.”

So far, Republicans have shown little to no appetite for the inquiry. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who did not support Trump in 2016, said the president has committed acts worth investigating, but she said Democrats have badly fumbled the process by conducting it behind closed doors.

“To me, you can’t mess around and do this in a partisan way,” she said. She tried to obtain a transcript of a deposition conducted last week as part of the inquiry and was denied. “So you’re going to put together articles of impeachment behind closed doors without allowing [the public] access to the information that causes you to bring those forward? That’s a goat rodeo. That’s an easy ‘no’ from me.”

Schiff has indicated that transcripts will be released with redactions for classified or sensitive information, but only at a time that won’t interrupt the investigation.

Democratic leaders have held close details of how many more subpoenas they may have issued or how many more depositions they hope to hold. They have released no specifics on when they might decide to end the investigation and make a potential referral to the House Judiciary Committee.

There are no outstanding public document demands or subpoena deadlines beyond Friday, however many individuals have been mentioned as potential witnesses, including William B. Taylor Jr., one of the top American diplomats in Ukraine, who may appear Tuesday.

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have not committed to a public timetable, only suggesting that they would prefer to finish before the end of the year and pledging to follow where the facts may lead. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that he hopes it is completed “sooner rather than later.”

“I hope,” he said, “no longer than months, and not a lot of months.”


Energy Secretary Rick Perry has notified the president that he intends to leave his job soon.

That’s according to an administration official who confirmed the news on condition of anonymity.

Perry was traveling with the president to Texas on Thursday when he shared the news aboard Air Force One.

Perry is under scrutiny over the role he played in the president’s dealings with Ukraine, which are currently the subject of an impeachment inquiry.

Perry had disputed reports that he was planning to leave the administration in an interview Wednesday with the Wall Street Journal. But he reportedly left the door open, saying he expected to be at the Energy Department at Thanksgiving, but giving a less definitive answer when asked whether he’d be there through the end of the year.

MIRAMAR, Fla. — 

Edmond Randle was down the street from Miramar City Hall on Tuesday when he learned his mayor was running for president.

“That’s kind of strange because the election is next year,” said Randle, 63. He hadn’t seen a pamphlet or any fliers indicating Wayne Messam was competing for the Democratic nomination, and he hadn’t heard it from anyone in the south Florida city where he’s lived since 1999.

“He needs to get to stepping,” Randle said of the 45-year-old Messam.

Messam’s candidacy is something of a mystery. He did some campaigning in early voting states — stumping in Iowa in April, New Hampshire in May, South Carolina in June — but doesn’t appear to be venturing far on the trail now. When asked, he couldn’t say where he was campaigning in the coming weeks or months. I don’t have that in front of me right now,” he said.

According to Federal Election Commission filings released this week, his campaign raised just $5 in the third quarter, a figure he suggests may be an uploading error. “I’m not sure, I’ll just have to check into that,” he said.

He insists he’s still a candidate and “making inroads.”

“I’m still in the race,” he said. “I’m still technically in the race.”

If Messam had captured the attention of the news media in Florida, one of the most-watched states in presidential elections, it would’ve been a boon for his campaign, said Susan MacManus, political analyst and professor emerita at the University of South Florida.

But his campaign, she said, “just never really caught fire. A day or two and the story was over.”

Messam’s motivation could be setting up a future run or expanding his political networking, she said. It’s possible that he saw a big opportunity to run this year, MacManus said. “Unfortunately, everybody else had the same idea.”

Messam, who was elected mayor in 2015 and easily won reelection in January, announced his presidential campaign in March. He garnered national attention as some saw his progressive platform and his background as mayor of a city of about 140,000 as the makings of a long-shot hopeful.

But he joined a crowded Democratic field, and media attention faded. In a phone interview Tuesday, Messam said that lack of coverage contributed to his campaign woes.

“Obviously running for president is a monumental task, but it’s an experience that definitely, we felt, we have been making some inroads,” he said, “obviously not as much as we would like at this point, but it’s not getting, you know, a lot of the media coverage as some of the other candidates — especially initially starting out — that it’s helped them get to the point where they are.”

But Messam’s candidacy faces steeper challenges than a lack of media coverage. His website appears outdated, soliciting enough donations to qualify for the June and July debates, and it does not list any upcoming events. His campaign’s main number prompts callers for their names and goes to voicemail.

His campaign has been rocked with allegations from former staffers and subcontractors who said they had not been paid, according to a Buzzfeed News report. He has regularly polled at 0% and has not qualified for a single Democratic debate.

“It’s a candidacy that has never really gotten off the ground because he failed that fundamental test of getting on that debate stage,” said Fernand Amandi, president of south Florida research firm Bendixen and Amandi International. “Just because you think you can be president doesn’t mean you should run for president.”

Messam’s city, a 14-by-2.5-mile horizontal strip, is the third-largest city in Broward County and has a population greater than South Bend, Ind., whose mayor, Pete Buttigieg, has risen to the middle tier of the Democratic presidential field. Miramar’s housing complexes and manicured lawns are bordered on the west by the tropical wetlands of the Florida Everglades.

In June, Messam traded the humidity of his home for that of South Carolina, telling voters in the early-primary state about his upbringing by Jamaican-born parents and his father’s work cutting “sugar cane in the hot sun of south Florida for 75 cents per row.”

He stepped onstage at the “World Famous Fish Fry” at the invitation of Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose summer event is a traditional stop for presidential hopefuls. Messam talked about gun control and climate change, his early advocacy for eliminating college debt, his city’s efforts to pass a “living wage” and his opposition to oil drilling in the Everglades.

Since the fish fry, six of the 21 candidates on that stage have dropped out of the race, including several members of Congress. But Messam continues on, and says he remains optimistic.

“As long as I’m in the race, I’m optimistic,” he said. “I know that we’re talking about issues that are important.”

His campaign’s third-quarter filings, released Tuesday, stated that he had raised $5 and spent $0. Since he launched his presidential bid, his campaign has raised about $93,000, a fraction of what most candidates have raised in one quarter, according to the Federal Election Commission. His campaign has spent about $62,600, the bulk of which has been on fundraising, according to the FEC.

In Miramar, resident Walter Wright, 68, was on his way to the gym on Monday when he learned Messam was running.

“As president?” Wright asked. The retiree, who has lived in Miramar since 2005, said Messam’s leadership has benefited the city — establishing a living minimum wage, beautifying the city — but he wouldn’t vote for him for president. Wright is leaning toward former Vice President Joe Biden.

“He has more experience than I think our mayor does,” Wright said. But Messam, the retiree added, would be better than President Trump.

Times staff writer Tyrone Beason contributed from Columbia, S.C.

As part of Staples Center’s 20th-anniversary celebration Tuesday night, the Kings orchestrated an actual laser show during the first intermission, synchronizing more than 600 neon beams of light in a Guinness World Record-breaking stunt.

Their hockey team proved far less precise. Despite flinging a season-high 47 shots on net, the Kings were blanked by Buffalo Sabres goalie Carter Hutton in a 3-0 loss.

“[The score] is what you play for,” coach Todd McLellan said. “You don’t play for the 47 shots.”

For a second straight game, the Kings hung with one of the NHL’s hottest early-season teams. Much like their 2-0 loss to the streaking Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Kings produced more chances and pressure than a Sabres team that nonetheless improved to 6-1-1.

After allowing a pair of early goals, the Kings spent much of the rest of the night in the Sabres’ end. In the third period, they fired 19 pucks on net to the Sabres’ seven.

Yet, they couldn’t capitalize. For the first time since February 2017, they were shutout in consecutive games.

“We’ve got to get hungrier in and around the paint,” McLellan said. “The secondary chances we get have to get up. Everything is on the ice and we don’t get anything up and over.”

McLellan paused.

“But that’s not my concern.”

What bothered McLellan most about Thursday was the Sabres’ opening pair of goals. Both came as the result of “long opportunities” that Sabres forwards Casey Mittelstadt and Conor Sheary capitalized on.

Both goals came against the Kings third line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Michael Amadio and Austin Wagner.

Both times, they made positional mistakes that allowed the Sabres to break for odd-man rushes in transition. Afterward, McLellan picked a pointed word to describe the breakdowns: “stupidity.”

“Everybody understands that nobody is perfect. It’s sports. That’s what it’s all about,” McLellan said. “But when you continually make the same one over and over again, you’re going to find your [butt] in the stands pretty quick.”

Offensively, the Kings appeared snake-bitten. Forward Anze Kopitar couldn’t sneak a mini-breakaway chance past Hutton. Defenseman Joakim Ryan jumped into the play only to have a redirection ring off the post. Forward Tyler Toffoli was stuffed by Hutton on a wraparound.

After the Sabres added to their lead early in the second, scoring a power-play goal that was credited to Mittelstadt but appeared to bounce off Kings’ defenseman Alec Martinez and into the net, the Kings responded with more chances.

A Kovalchuk shot off the post. A close-range effort from Jeff Carter that Hutton kicked aside. Several other shots from dangerous areas that sailed wide of the net. Still, they had nothing on the scoreboard to show for it.

In the third, the Sabres net became a shooting gallery. On an early five-on-three Kings power-play, Drew Doughty had a shot saved through traffic, Dustin Brown had a snap-shot stopped by Hutton, Amadio whizzed a pair of wrist shots just wide of the goal.

Later, Adrian Kempe was denied by Hutton’s block moments before Toffoli was robbed by Hutton’s glove.

After tallying 18 goals in the season’s first four games, the Kings have just two in their three contests since. They ended Thursday’s loss mired in a 135-minute, 89-shot scoring drought.

“I think the offense will come, and come back,” McLellan said, later adding: “At times during the game,I thought we were the better team. But that doesn’t get you anything. It’s the three and the zero at the end of the night that really counts.”

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When Troy Thomas returned for his second stint as football coach at Anaheim Servite last season, one of the smartest moves he made was hiring Darnell Arceneaux as offensive coordinator. He coached quarterback Marcus Mariota at Honolulu Saint Louis and was entrusted with recharging the Friars’ offense.

“He’s a perfect match for the kids,” Thomas said.

Servite is making real strides, particularly on offense. With sophomore quarterback Noah Fifita passing for 265 yards and four touchdowns, the Friars (5-3, 1-2) moved into position to claim third place in the Trinity League after a 34-21 victory over San Juan Capistrano JSerra on Thursday night.

“This was a big win for our program,” Thomas said.

Servite had played No. 1 Santa Ana Mater Dei and No. 2 Bellflower St. John Bosco in the last two weeks. The Friars didn’t regress — they got better. They came up with two interceptions and recovered a fumbled punt to inflict a crushing defeat on the Lions (5-3, 1-2). One of the most impressive players continues to be 6-foot-4 sophomore receiver Tetairoa McMillan. He had 10 receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown, a one-handed catch in the end zone. Colleges will be lining up to recruit him because of his athleticism and hands.

“He’s very good and is only going to get bigger and stronger,” Thomas said.

Servite put together a more than six-minute drive in the fourth quarter that finished with a Kyle Bandy 26-yard touchdown reception after JSerra had pulled within 28-21 on a one-yard touchdown run by General Booty.

As Servite’s offense gains attention, Arceneaux is going to gain quite a following but he seems happy at Servite.

“I love it man,” he said. “It reminds me a lot of Saint Louis. I’m doing God’s work. I’ve changed a lot in the way I coached.”

Said McMillan: “He’s amazing. His play calling is diverse. He tries to create different opportunities for all of us.”

Servite took a 28-14 halftime after a one-yard touchdown run by Fifita on fourth and goal with seven seconds left. Fifita had touchdown passes of 21 yards to Zedakiah Centers, two yards to McMillan and three yards to Damien Moun.

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Once down 14-0, JSerra briefly tied the game on a 74-yard touchdown run by Sammy Green and a blocked punt by New Zealand Williams that turned into a touchdown by Max Carvalho.

About the only major issue for Servite continues to be special teams. The Friars gave up a blocked punt that led to a touchdown, missed an extra point and short field goal.

But the progress being made is real.

VANCOUVER, Canada — 

Eight hours before the Clippers played their final preseason game Thursday, guard Patrick Beverley jumped out of a courtside seat and jogged into shootaround.

“Last one!” he yelled. “Let’s be great!”

For much of their last tune-up before Tuesday’s regular-season opener, his team was anything but.

They needed six minutes and 26 seconds to make their first field goal, and made just one of their first 11 three-pointers, dooming the Clippers from the start of a 102-87 loss to Dallas at Rogers Arena that was played without several key contributors.

“We got four or five days to get right,” coach Doc Rivers said.

Montrezl Harrell scored a team-high 14 points, Kawhi Leonard added 13 in his first game in Canada since leading Toronto to June’s NBA championship, and Jerome Robinson and Patrick Patterson each scored 12. Dallas received a superb performance from Kristaps Porzingis (18 points, 13 rebounds), who personally added to the Clippers’ early shooting struggles by blocking or altering three consecutive shots at the rim.

The crowd loved that sequence, but they undoubtedly came to see Leonard. If there were any lingering disappointment from his decision to sign with Los Angeles in July’s free agency, it was not apparent in the warm, loud reception he earned during his pregame introduction. Cheers from a sold-out crowd of 17,204 spontaneously burst from pockets of the crowd whenever Leonard was passed the ball.

“It was great just to be back,” said Leonard, who played 22 minutes. “Just going around in the summer time, even after me signing with the Clippers, Canadians came up to me that are in America or vice versa when I was out there and they said ‘thank you’ for everything I’d done. Very nice people.”

One week after showing off his skills as a distributor in his Clippers debut, he concentrated his efforts on his shooting, making five of his 19 field goal attempts.

His performance was not without its highlights — the most vivid coming more than halfway through the third quarter. Leonard stripped the dribble of Dallas second-year star guard Luka Doncic and followed with a circus assist to Patrick Patterson for a transition dunk.

“It was awesome to see him in Canada and everybody gave him a warm welcome,” rookie guard Terance Mann said.

Before tipoff, Rivers made clear he did not see Thursday as a litmus test for his team’s readiness ahead of the opener against the Lakers, saying the team’s accumulated practice time since the opening day of training camp on Sept. 30 was more telling than any one preseason game.

With that in mind, Rivers rested Beverley, a regular starter, and bench spark plug Lou Williams, and was without two-way forward Amir Coffey, guard Rodney McGruder — who each nursed ankle injuries — and forward Paul George, whose surgically repaired shoulders continue to heal.

The absences made his lineups, particularly in the backcourt, resemble nothing like those that are expected to face the Lakers, Warriors and Suns in the season’s first week — let alone challenge for the Western Conference title in May, as league executives believe. A survey of NBA general managers, published by the league hours before tipoff, found that 46% believed the Clippers would win the 2020 NBA title.

Still, even if the Mavericks matchup was not an indication of the Clippers’ long-range potential, it was a performance that was mostly difficult to watch.

By the time Leonard made his team’s first field goal, a tough runner in the lane, more than half the first quarter had passed and Dallas led, 13-3. The Mavericks’ margin widened to as much as 22 points before taking a 20-point halftime lead. Maurice Harkless missed all but one of his seven attempts, and knock-down shooter Landry Shamet continued a preseason in which his shots have largely misfired to an unexpected degree.

Shamet, who made the fourth-most three-pointers by a rookie in NBA history last season, scored five points on 2-of-10 shooting. He made 5 of his 30 three-point attempts all preseason.

“Different guys playing with different guys,” Rivers said of the shooting struggles as a whole, shrugging off any concerns. “Just missed shots.”

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Racing! Jerry Hollendorfer loses in L.A. court

October 18, 2019 | News | No Comments

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as a lot has happened since we last visited.

Let’s get right to the news … and other stuff.

Hollendorfer loses in L.A. court

Hall of fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer had his request for a temporary restraining order turned down by L.A. Super Court judge Mary Strobel. If granted, it would have allowed Hollendorfer to race at Santa Anita. He lost a similar request to race at Golden Gate Fields. A San Diego court did give him a restraining order, which allowed him to run horses at Del Mar.

Drew Couto, Hollendorfer’s attorney, said he would likely file for a preliminary injunction which, if successful, allow Hollendorfer to run during Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring meet, which starts Dec. 26.

Hollendorfer was banned from all Stronach Group tracks, which include Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields, after six horses—four at Santa Anita and two at Golden Gate—died under his care this year.

Hollendorfer, The Stronach Group and the California Thoroughbred Trainers have met to try and reach some sort of accord, but, so far, nothing has changed.

“You pick a circuit outside of TSG, and he’s being recruited to set up his base of operations there,” Couto said.

“After Jerry won the TRO [in San Diego] he stood in front of the press and said ‘If there is something I can do differently, I’m all ears. I’m listening and I’ll embrace. He made that same representation to Santa Anita. He said, ‘If there is something I can do differently, I will.’ So far, they have told him nothing.”

It’s still unknown if Hollendorfer will be allowed to run in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 1-2.

“The Breeders’ Cup does not comment on the status of potential 2019 world championship entries,” Breeders’ Cup spokesman Jim Gluckson said.

Emtech had previous drug positive

Emtech, the 3-year-old colt who became Santa Anita’s first racing fatality of this meeting, had tested positive for a painkiller about a month before his death.

The California Horse Racing Board fined trainer Steve Knapp $1,500 earlier this week after Emtech had about 430 ng of Phenylbutazone, a commonly used pain killer and anti-inflammatory, in his system. The CHRB eliminated its threshold of 2000 ng in the spring for race-day medication.

The test was required after the colt finished second in a race at Del Mar on Aug. 28. Emtech also raced at Los Alamitos, and won, on Sept. 14 before his fatal injury on Sept. 28.

A screening panel, set up to evaluate the fitness of horses before they race, knew about the positive for “bute” and the horse’s history.

Dr. [Tim] Grande is the official veterinarian on the panel and an examining veterinarian,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, chief equine medical director for the CHRB. “He had interviewed Knapp and discussed Emtech’s Del Mar NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) violation as part of standard process prior to Emtech’s race on Sept. 28.”

It was Emtech’s sixth race. He won his first race, a claimer, but it was voided when the vet found him unsound and he was put on the Veterinarian’s List. He failed a subsequent workout and was taken off the track. Six months later he was removed from the list after a five-furlong workout. Emtech ran his first three races for Simon Callaghan and last three for Knapp.

Omaha Beach to the BC Mile

Omaha Beach, the Kentucky Derby favorite until he was scratched, will be running in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Trainer Richard Mandella made the decision everyone expected.

“We put our heads together and that’s the decision,” Mandella told Ed Golden of Santa Anita.”

Omaha Beach looked very sharp when he won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 5. It was his first race in about six months, since he won the Arkansas Derby.

We would ask what the Breeders’ Cup thought of his decision but as we learned: “The Breeders’ Cup does not comment on the status of potential 2019 world championship entries.” (And, if you don’t think you’ll see that quote resurface a few times in the next few weeks, then you are not a regular reader of this newsletter.)

And in other Omaha Beach news, reported that the plan is the colt will run in the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes and Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 25 before heading to the breeding shed at Spendthrift Farm.

Where in the world is Tim Ritvo?

We doubt it will be as popular as that Carmen San Diego game, but let’s play Where in the World is Tim Ritvo?

When last we checked in with the COO of The Stronach Group, he was in Paris along with TSG president Mike Rogers. That’s where Rogers, after somewhat blaming the media for coverage of the deaths at Santa Anita on the Ron Flatter Racing Pod (listen here), made the unfortunate comment that if you throw out the cluster of deaths, (you can just throw them out like they never happened?) Santa Anita’s numbers were “no worse than it’s been the last 10 years.” (read here)

Sorry, off topic, Ritvo and Rogers were in France “recruiting” horses for the Pegasus in January at Gulfstream Park. Guess they had already locked up Omaha Beach while stateside.

Well, to everyone’s surprise there was a national TV sighting of Ritvo on Tuesday night in the front row, slightly to the right of home plate if viewed from the pitcher’s mound, at the Nationals-Cardinals clinching game. Did I mention front row? Man, he must have hit a mandatory payout on the Rainbow 6 to get those tickets.

We look forward to the next chapter.

Who goofed, I’ve got to know?

Me, who else? On Sunday, in one of those rare feel-good moods, I made it seem as if Glendora Girl Scout Troop raised $3,300 for CARMA, the horse aftercare program. I also said Santa Anita did an almost match of another $3,000. In fact, the Girl Scouts did present a check for that amount, but they raised $300 and it totaled $3,300 after Santa Anita’s contribution. But, if the Girl Scouts did not get the ball rolling, the extra $3,000 would have not come, perhaps. So, let’s give all the credit to the Girl Scouts, and no credit to me for my inability to read a news release correctly.

Santa Anita preview

The three-day racing week starts on Friday with eight races starting at 1 p.m. There are two turf races and I think you can declare that Santa Anita is protecting its turf course like a mother bear protects her cubs, no doubt saving it for the Breeders’ Cup. Let’s look at what the rail on the turf course has been set at:

Thursday, Oct. 10—30 feet

Friday, Oct. 11—30 feet

Saturday, Oct. 12—20 feet

Sunday,Oct. 13—10 feet

Monday, Oct. 14—30 feet

Friday, Oct. 18—30 feet

When the rail is at 30 feet, it’s almost as if there are two turf courses. Now, with all that said, if I were Santa Anita I would do the exact same thing. You want that turf course to sparkle when the Breeders’ Cup comes to town.

OK, back to Friday. The feature is the sixth race, 5 ½ furlong allowance/optional claimer on the turf for 3-year-olds running for a $51,000 purse. The favorite, at 9-5, is Carnivorous for trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Abel Cedillo, who picks up the ride from the suspended Mario Gutierrez. He is three-for-nine this year and won two allowance races at Del Mar. He was fifth last out in an allowance.

Tiger Dad is the second favorite at 2-1 for Carla Gaines and Victor Espinoza. He was won two of four this year, including an allowance at Del Mar. He was third last out in an allowance.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 5, 6, 7, 8, 7, 7, 7, 8.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

RACE ONE: No. 1 Mongolian Legend (4-1)

Mongolian Legend is 4-1 and I am hoping for higher but we have won so much betting on Enebish Ganbat/Abel Cedillo on these Mongolian horses that this still represents good value. Racing protected Friday we see a sharp workout for this race and we have a major jockey upgrade as well. Top speed in the race and best late pace this is a very tempting value play single against some mediocre favorites. This horse should be the favorite which is why its my value play Friday.

Monday’s result: Asaro broke nicely and tracked in 3rd place and looked ready to make a move going into the turn but something happened and the horse pulled back and was eased to last place.

Ciaran Thornton is the handicapper for, which offers daily full card picks, longshots of the day, best bets of the day.

Golden Gate weekend preview

We resume our weekly look at the best racing going on at Golden Gate Fields. As with the last meeting, we’re delighted to have race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman as our host for previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“The Golden Gate Fields Fall Meet began Thursday with seven races. The fall meet runs 36 racing days this year and concludes on Sunday, Dec. 15. We’ve got eight additional races Friday, 10 more on Saturday and another 10 on Sunday. First post each day is 12:45 p.m. with three exceptions: Thanksgiving (11:15 a.m.), Breeders Cup Friday (12:05 p.m.) and Breeders Cup Saturday (11:40 a.m.).

“We have nine stakes races during the nine-week season. The feature race of the meeting is Nov. 30: the Grade 3, $100,000 Berkeley Handicap for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles. The Joseph T. Grace Stakes on turf for 3-year-olds and up, has been added and will be run for the first time on Nov. 2. Four of the nine-stakes races are for 2-year-olds: the Pike Place Dancer (Oct. 26) for fillies on turf, the Golden Nugget (Nov. 9), the Golden Gate Debutante (Nov. 29) for fillies and the Gold Rush Stakes (Dec. 7). The best sprinters in Northern California will meet on Nov. 16 in the Oakland Stakes while fillies and mares go on closing weekend in the Dec. 14 Bear Fan Stakes and the Dec. 15 Miss America Stakes on grass.

“Race three on Friday goes as Leg D of the $100,000 guaranteed Stronach 5 wager. A field of 10 maiden $25,000 claimers are race six furlongs. The morning-line favorite is No. 10 Cajun Bettor (5-2), who cuts back in distance and gets to sprinting after a poor effort going two-turns on the turf. He has run well at this level before and figures to be a major player if he can duplicate his best effort. My top pick is a mild price on the morning line, 6-1 shot Columbian Crusader, who makes his second career start after a five-length loss against maiden special weight company.

“A few interesting races on Saturday: a 12-horse maiden special weight for California bred 2-year-old fillies (race eighth) and a duo of allowance races: one for 2-year-olds (race six) and the other for older fillies and mares routing on the turf (race nine). The former race is a possible springboard for the Golden Nugget Stakes. Summer meet leading trainer Jonathan Wong has the likely favorite in Nov. 6 No Longer Silent, coming into this race fresh off a terrific effort on closing week of the summer meet. Maiden special weight winner No. 5 Foreign Protocol and undefeated No. 4 Little John are two other contenders.

“The Sunday program features a full field of California-bred maiden special weight 2-year-olds in race nine and a pair of allowance races (six and eight) on the turf. The eighth race has a field of 10 routing and one of the probable favorites is Give Me The Lute, claimed out of Del Mar by trainer Andy Mathis for $80,000. He makes his first start for Mathis.”

Los Alamitos weekend preview

It’s time to turn things over to marketing and meda guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about the upcoming weekend at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.

“It’s a big weekend of quarter-horse racing with the trials to the Grade 1, $1,009,650 Los Alamitos Super Derby scheduled for Saturday night and the trials to the Grade 1, $1,072,850 Golden State Million Futurity on Sunday evening.

“Racing begins with an eight-race card on Friday with first post at 7 p.m. It will feature the return of jockey Oscar Peinado, who has been out nearly 15 months with neck and back injuries. Peinado will ride Famous Foose in the seventh race. At the time of his injury in July, 2018, Peinado was among the leading riders, having won 25 quarter-horse races and the winners of over $303,000 during the meet. In his career, Peinado has 258 winners from 2,397 mounts.

“Grade 1 stakes winners Flash And Roll, Powerful Favorite and Tequila Sangria will be among the 33 sophomores that will race in Saturday’s trials to the $1 million Super Derby. The 400-yard trials are races five through eight. The horses with the 10 fastest times will advance to the Super Derby on Nov. 10. First post for the eight-race card is 6:05 p.m.

Scott Bryant’s AQHA champion filly Flash And Roll will be in the opening trial in race five. She’ll face Heritage Place Derby winner Apollitical Pence and PCQHRA Breeders Derby third-place finisher Transcend. Flash And Roll, Apollitical Pence, and Transcend were in last year’s Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, one of four races that Flash And Roll won during her undefeated 2018 campaign at Los Alamitos. Flash And Roll was named the overall AQHA 2-year-old champion and the champion 2-year-old filly.

“The second Super Derby trial will see Tequila Sangria, who defeated aged mares to win the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on Sept. 22, facing top 3-year-old geldings Chocolatito, the runner-up in the Breeders Derby on Oct. 4, and Favorite Motion, the third-place finisher in the Golden State Derby on Aug. 18. The third trial is a wide open event led by Lethal Lil, third in last year’s Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and winner of the $100,000 Mr Jess Perry Stakes at Ruidoso Downs.

“The final trial is likely between two of the best 3-year-olds in the nation. Powerful Favorite is six for six this year, including wins in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby, Grade 3 El Primero Del Año Derby, and Governor’s Cup Derby. Jess Macho Corona arrives at Los Alamitos after running second in the All-American Derby.

“A total of 72 quarter horses are in the nine trials to the Golden State Million Futurity on Sunday night. The hopefuls include Geothermal, the runner-up in the Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 23, and Runforyourlife and Cattail Cove, the second- and third-place finishers in the Governor’s Cup Futurity on July 27. The Golden State Million final is set for November 3.

“Rewinding to Sunday night, BH Lisas Boy won his 11th career stakes race at Los Alamitos after outdueling 2018 champion aged stallion Tarzanito in the $125,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. The win gave BH Lisas Boy a berth to the Dec. 14, $600,000 Champion of Champions, which is the only Grade 1 race for older horses that the 7-year-old gelding has not won at Los Alamitos.”

Ed Burgart’s LA pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 1 Roxy Runs (5-2)

Filly has improved with each of her three starts and galloped out well in last third-place try vs. winner dropping down from a maiden $10,000 claimer. La Vita Dolce, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, is very quick from the gate but is winless in eight tries and doesn’t finish a race as strong as she starts.

Final thought

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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, October 18.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 13th day of a 23-day meet.


1 Mile. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Mongolian Legend Abel Cedillo 122 Enebish Ganbat 4-1
2 Jefe Edwin Maldonado 122 J. Keith Desormeaux 10-1
3 Music to My Ears Aaron Gryder 122 Brian J. Koriner 2-1
4 Noble Pursuit Jorge Velez 120 John W. Sadler 8-5
5 Salah Tiago Pereira 122 Eoin G. Harty 3-1


1 Mile. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Gorky Park Rafael Bejarano 122 J. Keith Desormeaux 2-1 30,000
2 Yha Yha Jorge Velez 117 Russell G. Childs 8-1 30,000
3 Color War Edwin Maldonado 122 Art Sherman 8-5 30,000
4 Golden Victory Ruben Fuentes 122 Victor L. Garcia 5-1 30,000
5 Beyond Precher Eswan Flores 122 Jorge Periban 6-1 30,000
6 K P Backtothewall Tyler Baze 122 Jeff Mullins 5-1 30,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $40,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Posterize Geovanni Franco 124 Ian Kruljac 4-1 40,000
2 Rickey B Ruben Fuentes 122 Mark Rheinford 10-1 40,000
3 Savagery Abel Cedillo 122 Peter Miller 5-2 40,000
4 Union Ride Eswan Flores 122 Hector O. Palma 4-1 40,000
5 Alvaaro Martin Garcia 122 Doug F. O’Neill 10-1 40,000
6 Principe Carlo Tiago Pereira 124 Marcelo Polanco 2-1 40,000
7 Toothless Wonder Rafael Bejarano 122 Anna Meah 10-1 40,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Shootin Money Tiago Pereira 122 Philip A. Oviedo 4-1 50,000
2 Promise Nothing Jorge Velez 117 Shelbe Ruis 8-1 50,000
3 Doctrinaire Donnie Meche 122 J. Keith Desormeaux 12-1 50,000
4 Itsthattime Ruben Fuentes 122 Jeff Bonde 6-1 50,000
5 Fun Coupons Aaron Gryder 122 Brian J. Koriner 7-2 50,000
6 Three Footer Abel Cedillo 122 Doug F. O’Neill 9-5 50,000
7 Royal Suspect Joseph Talamo 122 Mark Glatt 5-1 50,000
8 Matson Geovanni Franco 122 George Papaprodromou 30-1 50,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Secret Square Jorge Velez 117 John W. Sadler 2-1 50,000
2 Chieftess Diego Sanchez 122 J. Keith Desormeaux 4-1 50,000
3 Aurora Night Tiago Pereira 122 Rafael Becerra 10-1 50,000
4 Hay Belles Heriberto Figueroa 122 Russell G. Childs 20-1 50,000
5 Nikkileaks Abel Cedillo 122 Mark Glatt 5-2 50,000
6 For My Brother Martin Garcia 122 Juan Carlos Lopez 10-1 50,000
7 Win Often Assael Espinoza 122 Dean Pederson 3-1 50,000


5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $51,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Tap the Wire Martin Garcia 124 Daniel Dunham 15-1
2 You Must Chill Assael Espinoza 122 George Papaprodromou 20-1
3 Carnivorous Abel Cedillo 124 Doug F. O’Neill 9-5 80,000
4 One Flew South Evin Roman 124 Doug F. O’Neill 10-1
5 City Rage Flavien Prat 124 Mark Glatt 3-1
6 Seven Scents Jorge Velez 119 Craig Anthony Lewis 5-1 80,000
7 Tiger Dad Victor Espinoza 124 Carla Gaines 2-1


1 Mile. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $35,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Super Klaus Ruben Fuentes 122 Victor L. Garcia 8-1 35,000
2 Tiz Wonderfully Victor Espinoza 124 James M. Cassidy 12-1
3 Eternal Endeavour J.C. Diaz, Jr. 117 Leonard Powell 2-1 35,000
4 Catoca Edwin Maldonado 124 Anna Meah 5-2 35,000
5 Mongolian Empire Abel Cedillo 124 Enebish Ganbat 7-2 35,000
6 Cimarron Tiago Pereira 122 George Papaprodromou 8-1 35,000
7 Cyrielle Flavien Prat 124 Mike Puype 5-1 35,000


5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $29,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Drift Away Flavien Prat 123 Andrew Lerner 4-1 25,000
2 No Wine Untasted Ruben Fuentes 123 J. Eric Kruljac 7-2 25,000
3 Sapphire Kid Tyler Baze 123 Matthew Chew 8-1 25,000
4 Miss Flawless Brice Blanc 120 Peter Eurton 10-1 25,000
5 Swirling Jorge Velez 118 John W. Sadler 3-1 25,000
6 Gia Lula Assael Espinoza 123 Mark Glatt 8-1 25,000
7 Bako Sweets Agapito Delgadillo 123 Blake R. Heap 5-1 25,000
8 Donut Girl Eswan Flores 123 Hector O. Palma 6-1 25,000

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Los Angeles police are investigating a homicide that took place downtown inside the upscale Watermarke Tower on Thursday night, authorities said.

The victim was a man in his 40s, according to preliminary information provided by LAPD.

Police could not comment further on the cause of death and offered few other details, citing the ongoing investigation, according to Josh Rubenstein, the department’s chief spokesman.

The incident took place sometime Thursday night, Rubenstein said.

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Watermarke Tower is a 35-story luxury high-rise in downtown L.A. near the Staples Center, according to its website. It has apartments ranging in price from $2,680 to more than $13,000.

Times staff writer Jaclyn Cosgrove contributed to this report.

Body found in trunk of car in Anaheim

October 18, 2019 | News | No Comments

A body was found wrapped in a tarp in the trunk of a car Thursday near Gypsum Canyon Road in Anaheim.

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The Anaheim Police Department launched an investigation after receiving a suspicious-circumstances call, according to the agency.

KTLA-TV Channel 5 reported that the California Highway Patrol notified police about 10:45 a.m. about a suspicious car parked on Santa Ana Canyon Road, west of Gypsum Canyon Road, near the junction for state highways 91 and 241.

Detectives and forensics personnel were busy throughout the afternoon working the area as a crime scene. About 6:30 p.m., detectives finished processing the outside scene, and the car was towed to the coroner’s office for processing.

Later in the evening, authorities confirmed that they had discovered a body, and anyone with information about the incident was encouraged to contact authorities.