Leonard: Novelist who skewered Hollywood dies at 87; State can force feed striking prisoners; Tahoe dispute

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Elmore Leonard. Crime novelist Elmore Leonard has died, two weeks after suffering a stroke.

Leonard published more than 40 novels and many were made into Hollywood films. Among them: “Get Shorty” and “3:10 to Yuma.” More recently, he served as executive producer of the TV drama series “Justified” on FX.

Leonard’s works were populated by schemers, con men and casual killers. He was noted for his black humor and his wickedly insightful depictions of human nature.

He described his method in a 2004 interview with Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s “Bookworm” about his novel “Mr. Paradise.”

“I decided I wanted to put the emphasis on the characters and not the plot. That if I assemble some interesting enough characters, I could make up the story as I go along, which is what I do,” Leonard said.

Leonard’s first novel, “The Big Bounce,” was rejected 84 times before it was published as a paperback in 1969. It was eventually turned into a movie starring Ryan O’Neal.

Leonard died in a suburb of his native Detroit. He was 87. AP, Bookworm

Here are some remembrances of Leonard from around the Mediasphere:

New York Times

The Atlantic


Detroit Free Press

There’s also a nice photo collection in the Detroit Free Press.

Hunger strike. California prison officials have received the go-ahead to force-feed hunger striking prisoners to keep them from starving to death. Some prisoners have been refusing meals for more than seven weeks in protest of the state’s solitary confinement policies. A U.S. District Court Judge says that even inmates who signed orders asking not be resuscitated if their health failed due to lack of food can be forced to eat. When and how the force-feeding order will be carried out isn’t clear. Prison officials say those would be medical decisions. Reuters

Realignment costs. A new report says the transfer of state prisoners to county jails has forced the LAPD to pull dozens of officers from regular patrol duties to monitor former convicts.  The report says that since 2011, the LAPD has had up to 170 officers assigned full-time to keep tabs on thousands of convicted felons living in L.A. The department will spend $18 million on the program this year.  A two year old state law designed to ease overcrowding in state prisons has shifted people convicted of less-serious crimes to county jails instead of state lockups. L.A. Times

Tahoe plan. Environmentalists are protesting a push by California and Nevada politicians to change development oversight around Lake Tahoe. They say the new plan could lead to more building – and more lake pollution. California Gov. Jerry Brown supports the plan, as does his Nevada counterpart, Brian Sandoval. Brown says it balances environmental concerns and protects the local economy. But the Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit in federal court to halt the changes. The group says the move would reverse two decades of environmental improvements. L.A. Times

Health care changes. California voters continue to support President Obama’s healthcare overhaul at rate much higher than voters nationwide. But most don’t expect the new law to affect them much one way or another. Fifty-three percent of registered voters in California support the Affordable Care Act and 38 percent oppose it, according to a new Field Poll. That’s almost unchanged since the law was passed in 2010. A plurality – 46 percent – say they don’t expect to be much better off or much worse when the law is fully enacted. A recent CNN poll found national support for Obamacare at 43 percent. Sacramento Bee