The Scoops and Acclaim Keep on Coming for Enterprising Los Cerritos Community News Duo

The last time a pair of reporters did this much damage on the municipal corruption front, it led to a Pulitzer Prize for the L.A. Times. Whatever awards the Los Cerritos Community News tandem of Randy Economy and (owner) Brian Hews win in the near future for their enterprise reporting about the massive scandal tainting the LA County Assessor’s office will be equally well-deserved.

Every other day, the duo have been detonating another bombshell, the culmination of many thousands of hours of investigative work and dozens of thoroughly documented articles. On September 27 for example, Economy (pictured) and Hews wrote about some bogus property value breaks given to The Grove developer Rick Caruso. More recently, on October 12, it was about how a modest Huntington Beach home owned by the man at the center of the graft – John Noguez – had somehow earned historical status.

On the top left-hand corner of the Los Cerritos Community News website, there is a quote given by Warren Buffett to the L.A. Times this spring on prominently display. It reads: ““In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper.” A principle that is at the very heart of Economy and Hews’ reporting for the website and weekly print edition.

Economy has also been blogging about his diligent efforts. About a year ago, when he first revealed that assessor Noguez’s real name is actually Juan Reynaldo Rodriguez, people laughed. No one is laughing now, and Economy has a career-crowning achievement blowing up nationally. In his own words:

If you have read my blog in the past number of years, I was one of the loudest voices about the seedy political ways of Juan Reynaldo Rodriguez, aka John R. Noguez, the Assessor of Los Angeles County who on Tuesday was arrested in the “biggest political scandal” in Los Angeles County history. I have never been more proud to call myself a “Community Newspaper Reporter!” The system works. Community Newspapers are the backbone of America’s news rooms. Going to be in an court room tomorrow [October 18] to see Noguez, Ramin Salari and Mark McNeil all in handcuffs, and all in Los Angeles County jail garb.

By the way, the Bell corruption scandal that led to that aforementioned LAT Pulitzer is a story that the Los Cerritos Community News initially had, and turned over to the paper.* Economy has been doing all kinds of media since D.A. Steve Cooley gave his paper credit at press conference. And as far as Caruso is concerned, well, the developer is no longer running for mayor.

*Correction – 10/19/2012:
Though based on some first-hand telephone interview information, the assertion above that members of the Los Cerritos Community News turned over the Bell corruption scandal story to the L.A. Times is blatantly false.

A spokesperson for the paper reminded the author of this item that LAT reporters Ruben Vives and Jeff Gottlieb did all their own footwork, combing for weeks at the outset through records and other civic minutia. The Bell story in fact began at their end while they were covering financial problems in the neighboring city of Maywood.

Both reporters understandably took strong issue with the claim above. FishbowlLA sincerely regrets the error.

[Photo courtesy:]