While the nation's leadership was gathered under the Capitol dome on Tuesday evening to hear President Obama's State of the Union speech, the civic leadership of Los Angeles was gathered at a bookstore to hear former Police Chief Bill Bratton.
Bratton is the coauthor, with Zachary Tumin of the Harvard Kennedy School, of the book "Collaborate or Perish!" a public policy guide chock-full of salient examples on how to get an entire organization to get on the same page to get things done, from an aluminum company to the LAPD.
The book alternates voice and examples from Tumin and from Bratton, and includes Bratton's accounts of a half-century of dysfunction in the LAPD, and how the cops and the community have come to an amicable teaming. He's especially forthright about the problems and resolution in the high-stakes 2007 MacArthur Park "May Day melee."
Not all of Bratton's examples came from the thin blue lines; he had praise for the Missoni fashion house's collaboration on a budget-priced line for Target. (His necktie was not Missoni but a fetching one nonetheless, with a pattern of moons and stars.)
I moderated the event with the authors at the Barnes & Noble store in the Grove, where the audience was standing room only -- or maybe saluting room only.
Just as cameras scanned the House chamber during the State of the Union speech and caught sight of Supreme Court justices and Cabinet members, anyone scanning this crowd would have seen:
Bratton's successor, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck; L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca; Andre Birotte, the U.S. attorney for Los Angeles; former Mayor James Hahn; Police Commission President John Mack; LAPD advisor and former Police Commission President Gerald Chaleff; former police commissioner Ann Reiss Lane and her husband, Bert; police commissioner John Mack; assistant LAPD Chief Earl Paysinger and deputy chiefs Sandy Jo MacArthur and Michael Downing; and Carol Schatz, president and CEO of the Central City Assn. ("Collaborate or Perish!" uses the new policing model for skid row as one of Bratton's examples.)
In short, like the State of the Union speech -- in which one Cabinet member always stays home in case the unimaginable happens (this time it was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack) -- I briefly wondered the parallel question: who in the LAPD senior staff wasn't at Barnes & Noble?
Outside the body politic were Bratton friends George Schlatter, the TV producer and director, and his wife, Jolene; film producer Arnold Kopelson; Barbara Davis, whose late husband, Marvin, had owned 20th Century Fox; Wendy Stark, daughter of legendary producer Ray Stark; and the ever-glamorous Angie Dickinson, who once wore a badge herself, in her TV roll on "Police Woman."
At a post-book-signing reception for Bratton and his wife, Rikki Klieman, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa put in an appearance, as did council member Tom LaBonge, who presented Tumin, a first-time L.A. visitor, with the LaBonge version of welcoming bread and salt -- a city proclamation and a loaf of pumpkin bread.
The host showed after all the other luminaries. He is the onetime president of the Police Commission and thus a Bratton collaborator himself, and the man who, with former baseball manager Joe Torre, just put in his bid for the Dodgers -– Rick Caruso.
The nosh served up for the fete: chicken skewers and mini-cheeseburgers. Not Dodger dogs. Not yet, anyway.
-- Patt Morrison
Photo: Former Police Chief Bill Bratton is seen in 2002. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times