The grand opening of Hollywood’s newest homeless shelter promised goodies straight from a sinful dream. “Free food, drink, condoms, syringes, and surprise packages to all homeless guests,” announced festive leaflets distributed around town in 1995. Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg was providing the indulgences. Or so hinted the fliers.

Word shot through the streets, and feet started shuffling. So many vagrants, in fact, mobbed the Gower Avenue building for the purported ribbon cutting that officials had to barricade the front door. Where were the freebies, some hollow-eyed attendees asked? And what about the party?

Goldberg’s crew stuttered there was none because the invitations were fake. The shelter was still being hotly debated and wasn’t anywhere near a kickoff. This was only a community meeting, not a party. Besides: a condom-syringe goodie bag? Whoever tricked these indigents about the salacious giveaway, hissed Goldberg’s chief of staff, had committed an “evil, horrendous” deed.

But real estate developer and gadfly Jerry Schneiderman – the man who’d made those fliers – didn’t care if the vagrants came all this way for nothing. He’d made his point. To him, the proposed shelter was egghead liberalism sure to drag down property values, including the five small office buildings he controlled nearby. He and other landowners argued the proposed food kitchen/access center would strand the homeless on an already-seedy block every night after the shelter closed. So here was a preview: jonesing down-and-outers milling about .

Goldberg, now in the state Assembly, relocated the shelter rather than challenge Jerry. She knew better. There was something too callous, too aggressive, about a guy who would manipulate society’s most vulnerable to get his way. What kind of deviant would pull a stunt like this? Only someone who didn’t care about whipping up political enemies. Someone who knows there are far worse kinds to have.


The rest of this article is no longer available, because it has become the basis for the true-crime book, THE ASCENSION OF JERRY: Murder, Hitmen and the Making of L.A. Muckraker Jerry Schneiderman (Vireo/Rare Bird Books – March 2012). Publisher’s link & 

Dusk jacket description.

Bumbling hitmen. Burning corpses. A threatened son. Life-in-hiding. Jerry Schneiderman’s orderly world evaporated when his business partner was executed by an assassin in 1979 Los Angeles, and the buzzard-eyed ringleader came for him. Though the killers behind the murder-for-profit corporation were nabbed, the trauma annihilated Jerry’s family and strip-mined his trust. Recovery only came years later with Jerry’s improbable rebirth as a prank-loving activist who defended the weak, and incensed the powerful, by milking his scars.