Thursday, April 16, 2015
April 16, 2015 5:50p.m.
L.A's most wicked political figures can sleep a little easier tonight. Michael Higby is dead.
I got the call about an hour ago from our mutual good friend Debbie Lopez (a.k.a. "Valley Doll") informing me that Los Angeles' best known (and arguably most notorious) blogger Michael Higby had passed away.
It was surprising, but not shocking, as Michael had struggled with his weight and various physical ailments over the years.
I wanted to get my first thoughts down before I read any obituaries of Michael in the media. I also called local scribe Joseph Mailander to commiserate over the loss of our mutual friend.
What can I say about Michael Higby?
Our relationship was never perfect, but I always respected and admired Michael. I met Michael after my failed attempt to get myself elected Mayor of Los Angeles back in 2009.
During that campaign, Michael saw something he liked in me. Maybe it was my unabashed Conservatism.
But he invited me to write for his buzz-worthy and addictive blog "Mayor Sam", named after former Mayor Sam Yorty. It was a golden ticket to spread my Conservative views among a crowd of influential LA political figures. And Michael Higby give me that ticket. I will never forget that.
Michaels blog was more important than the LA Times and Daily News put together. Michael didn't have to worry about pleasing advertisers. He did what he was doing for fun. He enjoyed it. So did thousands of others. Readers eager to find scandal, exposés and political gossip went to Mayor Sam every morning for what seemed like a ten-year-long thrill ride.
And man -- what a ride it was!!
I had more fun writing for Mayor Sam than I did running for Mayor. Everything that got posted on Mayor Sam had 3,000-5,000 eyeballs of City employees glued to it immediately. It was kind of like the National Enquirer of Los Angeles politics.
Mayor Sam mattered.
Michael Higby held politicians feet to the fire and made them squeal. When people got hurt by Mayor Sam pieces, Higby heard about it immediately. Professional degenerate Mike Gatto, the Assemblyman for the 43rd District, even went so far as to send his lawyers after Higby and Mayor Sam for some unkind comments about him on the blog.
These same politicians weren't suing the Times or the Daily News. Those organizations have become so worthless and servile that they were practically wearing knee pads when they walked into the room to interview local elected officials.
Mayor Sam mattered.
When I blogged my endorsement of Christine Essel for City Council, she called me personally within the hour to thank me.
Mayor Sam mattered.
Michael Higby mattered.
He was a giant on the Los Angeles political scene. He was probably more followed than any political writer or columnist at the Times or Daily News.
He started his own little Facebook page about Sunland Tujunga called "The Foothills Observed". It was an instant hit, and easily became much more important than the local papers in that neighborhood.
Michael and I didn't always agree on things. He actually fired me from the Mayor Sam blog. But I didn't take it personally. Long after that happened, we did Frank Sheftels radio show together several times. I even visited Michael in the hospital once. He seemed to be touched by the gesture.
We respected and admired each other for our political views, and our fairness. We could always agree to disagree. That's the kind of people you want to work with. That's the kind of people you want to surround yourself with.
Michaels death leaves a huge vacuum in the world of political criticism in Los Angeles. The local media are practically accomplices to the many crimes of the corrupt leaders of this city. Michael and Mayor Sam didn't let them get off that easy.
In what I anticipate will be one of the biggest ironies of Michaels life, I wouldn't be surprised if the City issues one of their "certificates" or proclamations to show respect for Michael Higby and Mayor Sam for doing their best to keep city leaders honest.
My friend Michael is dead, and I fear that Mayor Sam and The Foothills Observed may perish with him. But he leaves behind a legacy.
Mayor Eric Garcetti knows who Michael Higby was.
So do Antonio Villaraigosa, Wendy Greuel and Janice Hahn.
Tom La Bonge and Paul Koretz would love to be able to forget who Michael Higby was.
But they won't.
Much like me, they will remember Michael Higby until the day they die.