Just a Thought – Ethics 404 File Not Found

Would it surprise you to know that Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has a doctorate from University of Southern California in Social Ethics and Policy Awareness? Would it surprise you to know that Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is his son?

The recently retired 54th Assembly District Representative who suffered an unspecified health crisis said that he would need “an extended period of time” to recuperate turned up at USC as a professor – Surprise! less than three months later.

USC is now asking for a federal investigation into a donation from Mark Ridley-Thomas’ office that went through USC, into the United Way and then on to a ‘think tank’ called Policy Research and Practice Initiative (PRPI)? Would it surprise you to know that PRPI is a non-profit run by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas?

Let’s go back to that first surprise. LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has a PhD in ethics. A man with a graduate degree in Social Ethics is under scrutiny for what looks like financial malfeasance? Surely the man who was the leader of the So Cal Southern Christian Leadership Conference for a decade and hosted a radio program on KPFK is not the same person who was investigated for spending upwards of $700,000 redecorating his office? The same person who looks like he is moving money under cover to benefit his son?

He seems to be a very different person.

Whatever health crisis had Ridley-Thomas the Younger vacating his office with such haste, he healed with miraculous speed. He was robust enough to be hired (and fired) at USC mere months after resigning his Sacramento seat. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’ health crisis resembles the kind that you have on the morning of a test you haven’t studied for, or maybe an audit of your department when your numbers are not adding up. Can’t take the heat? Call in sick.

Who raised you?

In my tenure as a journalist, I have seen both men behave badly, opportunistically and artificially. My personal interactions with them have only reaffirmed my disappointment.  They are in positions of major responsibility to the community, and they seem to practice a kind of politics that is based on ego and personal ease.

What can even be said about a doctorate in ethics from USC? There seems to be no concept of ethics at all these days at the University of Serious Challenges; from the president to the dean of the medical school to the only full time gynecologist at the Health Center. Men of seeming repute are being exposed for ethical violations that range from the obvious and stupid (sharing meth with prostitutes) to the unimaginably heinous (more than 300 women are suing the university over medical exams that clearly violated professional standards.) How long has this been ‘business as usual’ at this university? Does anyone at USC even know how to define ethics?

The chair of the USC Board of Trustees, Rick Caruso, just might. He did confirm that USC has asked for federal investigation.

It could eventually turn out that there are no ethical issues with these funds being transferred in this fashion.

If you are trying to come across as someone with ethics, this is not the way to go.

Judith Martin-Straw

The Actors' Gang

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