Monday, February 13, 2012
Lynn D. Olson
Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 38
Lynn D. Olson is a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court. She shouldn’t be.
While decrying her presence on our county’s trial bench, in light of her chicanery in gaining election to her post six years ago, we readily conclude that the public would be better served by her continuation in office than by the alternative. The other option is to replace her with a persistent candidate who, every time he is looked at, is seen as decidedly unfit for judicial office.
With regret that an attorney worthy of a judgeship did not challenge her, we endorse Olson for reelection.
N 2006, OLSON CHALLENGED a distinguished veteran jurist, Dzintra Janavs. The reason she targeted that incumbent was that her unofficial consultant, Fred Huebscher, wanted to prove his theory that a person with an easily pronounced Anglo-Saxon moniker is, all things being equal, apt to trounce a candidate with a foreign-sounding name.
It did seem in the early days of the campaign that all things were not equal, but were weighted in favor of the judge. Janavs not only had the advantage of incumbency, giving rise to the effective ballot designation of “Judge of the Superior Court,” but had a top professional campaign consultant, as well as some money in the campaign kitty. Olson filed a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that she did not intend to raise more than $1,000, thus relieving her of having to itemize contributions and engendering complacency in the Janavs camp.
Then, right at the end, BAM! Olson poured a torrent of lucre into her own coffers, spending about $120,000 on slate mailers. The Janavs forces had been sandbagged by Olson’s early pronouncement of a meager budget and could not, at the last minute, catch up in fundraising.
Besides, the sly Heubscher, who is in the slate mailer business, had a lock not only on his own slates but those of other slate vendors.
E PAUSE TO OFFER some observations on slate mailers. These are flyers and cards which are carefully tailored to the recipients and which seek to bamboozle them as to the source of the communication.
A slate mailer appears to be comprised of endorsements by some group with which the recipient is apt to identify, based on party, age, or other factor, while, in fact—as noted in small type that is apt to be overlooked—payment has been made, in most cases, for the supposed endorsements.
Most often, the group that is identified has no existence other than as a registered slate mailer organization.
These mailers are plainly instrumentalities of deceivers, yet are so effective that serious candidates in local races are virtually required to buy space on them or forfeit their contests.
T IS CLEARLY INCUMBENT on any candidate who is not dead set on deceiving to personally review just how his or her name will be used on a slate mailer. Obliviousness to deception perpetrated by the candidate’s “handlers” is hardly an excuse. Anyone vying for public office should have the gumption to take charge.
One slate mailer in 2006 which recommends the election of Olson, sent to Republicans, says:
“This Voter Guide for Republicans is published by Citizens for Representative Government. We endorse candidates for office who most closely support the conservative philosophy of self-reliance, less government intervention and opposition to excessive government regulation and taxation. We receive input from major crime victims organizations before making our endorsements in judicial races.”
Indeed? It happens that Janavs is a Republican—and not only is Olson a Democrat but, the Los Angeles Times June 8, 2006 report on Olson’s election victory relates this:
“Olson and her husband, Michael Keegan, a Hermosa Beach councilman, said they did not target Janavs because of her name, but rather because she was Republican.”
The article quotes Olson as saying:
“I targeted Janavs because of her political affiliation….”
We do have reason to believe that Janavs’ name was, in fact, a crucial factor in Olson challenging her. But the point here is that Olson, though an ardent Democrat, permitted her name to be used on a slate mailer going to Republicans which created the impression that she was a Republican candidate.
Too, the appropriateness of injecting party politics into an election for a nonpartisan office is questionable.
LSON’S CAMPAIGN WAS otherwise marked by an abandonment of ethics. Indeed, it was in one respect marked by a defiance of legal constraints. The Elections Code permits ballot designations of the candidate’s “principal professions, vocations, or occupations” during the previous one-year period. Olson listed herself as “Attorney at Law.”
She was, in fact, a member of the State Bar. However, a practice of law was not among her “principal professions, vocations, or occupations.” Olson did not practice, at all. She and her husband ran a bakery/sandwich shop on Pacific Coast Highway. Some knew her as the “Bagel Lady.”
Olson had been on inactive status since Jan. 1, 1999, and reactivated her license on Dec. 29, 2005, preparatory to declaring her candidacy.
We laud the quality of the bagels sold at her shop but decry her blatant dishonesty in portraying herself in 2006 as a person whose principal pursuit was the practice of law when, in actuality, her only vocation was that of a proprietor of a retail food establishment.
LSON IS UNWORTHY of trust. She is unworthy of government office. We would be delighted to see her replaced by an able and ethical challenger. However, while she does have an election challenger, one Douglas W. Weitzman, she does not have a challenger who is either able or ethical.
Weitzman ran in 2006 for a Superior Court open seat. Our reaction was that he was “ill-equipped for the office he seeks,” that view corresponding with the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.’s rating of “not qualified.” Olson, also, was determined that year by LACBA to be “not qualified.”
In 2008, he ran again. This newspaper described him as “slippery and evasive.” LACBA again rated him “not qualified.”
Two years ago, Weitzman was again a candidate for a judicial office. He challenged a sitting judge, Soussan Bruguera. He could point to no deficiency in her performance on the bench—indeed, she is extraordinarily conscientious. Weitzman apparently saw her as vulnerable based on her name. We dismissed the candidacy of this “realtor with a law license,” and, again, LACBA branded him “not qualified.”
We are confident that LACBA will, this year, again adjudge him “not qualified.” The man would be incapable of functioning as a judicial officer.
So, the only rational choice is to re-elect the “bagel lady.” On the positive side, we understand that she is taking her duties seriously and is performing adequately as a judge.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company