The New Desk at the Los Angeles Times

A Democratic Group Pours $20 Million Into State Legislative Races in California

LOS ANGELES—When Bill Saltsman arrived at the Los Angeles Times’ office in 2001, he was the newspaper’s technology editor. A former journalist, the first thing he did was open a new desk.

Then he walked into the new computer room. It was filled with young staffers—some his age, some a few years younger. He was impressed. “It was a breath of fresh air,” he says.

“They were bright, energetic and enthusiastic—not afraid to make mistakes and do things differently than what they thought they were going to do,” Saltsman says.

He was struck by how easily these young staffers navigated the world of computerized news. “They did not know what they did not know and they did not care to know what they did know,” Saltsman recalls.

His next move was to move these new staffers from the new desk to a group meeting room. They would share news stories, and would also talk about how to make newspaper technology better. Saltsman says this group of newsroom employees was so open, so approachable and, above all, so collaborative that he has never forgotten it.

Today, it’s the state legislative race between Democrats and Republicans that is the most hotly contested contest in state politics.

The current Republican leader in the State Assembly, Mike Thompson, is challenging Rep. Jimmy Gomez (R-Los Angeles County) for his seat in the statehouse. Thompson, a former state senator, is known for his strong conservative views and his opposition to abortion.

“I am not interested in a career that is based on voting to ban elective abortions,” Thompson said in late November.

Thompson’s campaign ad, which was produced by his campaign and the San Francisco Bay Area conservative advocacy group Californians for Medical Progress, shows a young girl with the slogan “What about birth control?”

Thompson is also running a campaign ad that features a woman with the slogan “Abortion Lives.” (Thompson’s

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