Kenneth Reich, a retired Los Angeles Times reporter, bureau chief and political writer who covered four presidential campaigns, the 1988 California insurance rate rollback and the city’s yearslong effort to host the 1984 Summer Olympics, has died. He was 70.
Reich, who had heart disease and diabetes, had been in failing health for several years and died in his sleep Monday at his Sherman Oaks home, said his daughter, Kathleen.
She said he was working on his blog only hours before his death.
“My father was absolutely passionate that the mission of journalism was to bring the truth to people. And he worked tirelessly ? and outspokenly ? to that end, up to the last day of his life,” she said.
Reich spent 39 years at the newspaper before retiring in 2004. Starting in 1965 as a Westside bureau reporter, he went on to cover the presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy, George Wallace, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
He was the newspaper’s bureau chief in Atlanta from 1970-72, edited the op-ed page in 1972 and went on to spend five years as a political writer.
Reich felt his greatest professional accomplishment was covering the city’s successful seven-year struggle to host the Olympics, beginning in 1977, his daughter said.
“Ken went after the story like a bulldog” after Los Angeles won the right to host the games, Frank O. Sotomayor, Reich’s former editor, said Monday.
“His aggressive reporting ensured that the L.A. taxpayers would not foot the bill for the Games,” Sotomayor said in an e-mail to the Times.
The games were privately funded and the organizing committee headed by Peter Ueberroth just hoped to break even, said Bill Dwyre, a former Times sports editor and now columnist.
But Reich made financial projections “and his reports predicted that the L.A. Olympics would turn a rather sizable profit,” Dwyre said.
They actually earned more than $200 million.
“It was one of his best reporting coups,” Dwyre said.
Reich later wrote a book, “Making It Happen: Peter Ueberroth and the 1984 Olympics.”
Reich also covered the battle over Proposition 103, a voter initiative that rolled back and regulated insurance rates.
“There was so much confusion over the tens of millions of dollars the insurance industry was spending against Proposition 103, and there were four other competing initiatives, and nobody knew which one was truly in the best interest of the public,” said Harvey Rosenfield, the initiative’s author.
“Ken covered that campaign day by day, week after week, for a year. Every reporter in California followed Ken’s coverage,” Rosenfield said. “And, in my view, if it weren’t for the unbelievable tenacity and textbook journalism that Ken Reich did, Proposition 103 would not have passed. He was the quintessential journalist.”
In addition to his daughter, Reich is survived by his son, David; a sister, Carolyn Shadduck, and two grandchildren.