Sun, Jul

Substance and Spectacle


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - A Deloitte holiday survey indicated that clothing, electronics and toys would be some of the most popular categories for holiday gifts nationwide this year.  But in Los Angeles, the top category this year is projected to be gift cards. Mayor Garcetti was a gift card fanatic before becoming Ambassador to India. He and Rick Jacob’s and the Mayor's Fund raised millions and millions —

City Attorney, Stefan Fauble: Mr. Preven,  can you remind me which item you are on? 

Smart Speaker:  The retail analyst at Deloitte thought all the gift cards might have to do with economic distress, here, because gift cards shoppers pick the exact amount they’re spending.

Smart. People are smart. We know about amounts and rules including as to under what circumstances, an item is required to be re-opened for public comment.

At City Council the other day Marqueece Harris-Dawson was leading a lofty discussion on the difference between “may” and “should” and how if we say you "should" do something, you are not required.  He didn't mention “shall.” 

In most jurisdictions, courts have held that “shall” can mean not just “must” and “may”, but also “will” and “is.” 

Oh, no.

We will never know. 

I had to scan the Biggest Mistakes section twice in the New York Times comprehensive Charles T. Munger obituary.  Mr. Munger died at 99 in a hospital in Santa Barbara.  No mention of the golf course, but Dormzilla got a nice plug!

Munger was Warren Buffet’s one-of-a-kind No. 2. 

Henry Kissinger who also expired this week at 100, got a nicer-than-expected write-up.

It surprised me that he was remembered so fondly... 

I guess there is a courtesy when someone passes away.  Or maybe all of the critics who remember his murderous capabilities have pre-deceased him. 

Nobody knows if Munger left instructions about nixing or reversing his gift of $43.5 million to acquire Weddington Golf and Tennis from the desperate children in Vegas, to erect a much despised private athletics complex the size of an airplane hangar in Studio City’s last remaining open space. 

With two toxic PFAS doormats. We may never know... 

Either way, RIP fellas.

Charlie and Me! Go Wolverines!!

City Council's Secret Motion about PFAS, a week after Harvard Westlake's River Plan Project approval.


Toluca Lake Day: 

Smart Speaker: Yes, it’s Eric Preven I’d like to speak on the available items and a general public comment. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: So, Mr. Preven, the open items are 1-22 and 33 through 54, so you have three minutes for the items. Please begin with the items.

Ok, first of all 1-22 it is very moving to see several communities where a majority protest existed, notably two in the one-five; one in Krekorian’s sneaky CD2 as well as a young sneaky guy in training, from CD 13, so thank you Hugo for helping the neighborhoods resist the lighting assessment.

Listen, the pilot with Performa Labs Inc. to provide use of force, de-escalation and communication training to sworn officers… It’s a 5 million dollar contract, do they have some special training that they provide?  

I don’t know if you saw that the Sheriff’s department and the county are being sued over the enormous mind-numbing overtime the officers are forced to work.  It looks very bad.  Very upsetting.  

Item 30, I appreciate the stuff-it-all-through at once plan — you know 13 different contract extensions in one item.

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  Mr. Preven, item number 30 is not open for comment … 

Smart Speaker:   Okay, thank you. Groat, good work keeping me on track, because it is hard there are 54 items so that my comments on the Simpson and Simpson company re-up and Vanir, one of MRT's besties,  will not get the criticism they deserve.  There is simply too much going on.  How about 32?

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  Thirty-two is also not open for public comment.  So again, the items 

Smart Speaker:  How about 40? 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  The items open are 1 through 22 and 33 through 54.

Smart Speaker:   Okay, so item forty is a safe space. This is a cultural historic monument and what they’re doing here is installing some new awnings if you can believe it.  So what’s wrong with that? 

What’s not visible on the agenda is Krekorian is trying to get City Hall the building designated as a national historic monument -  Today he had off-agenda Toluca Lake people down her from the iconic valley golf community… Shut up Mr. Preven. Now Bob Hope and Krekorian will tee off with… Raman?  She helped with a neighborhood cleanup when she represented the area before the great switcher. Very nice. Very very nice. 

I’m not sure I agree that city hall should be a nationally designated place. The only thing that makes our city hall different from the many dotted across America, is that we have the most indicted council members — possibly on record — now I am not saying Chicago has not hauled in a number of their elected officials. They certainly have.  But I think that we in Los Angeles have… certainly in the last several years we’ve outperformed expectations for graft, corruption and greed, Groat. With your assistance. So, thank you. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Public comment.  

Smart Speaker:  I want to take note of the extremely convoluted amendment you read into the record, as somebody said, a real mouth full!  It was also a right in the “you know where”… 

This is really getting outrageous.  And I am calling for an investigation into what happened to Sean, a treasured member of the public from the valley, who said, when you said good morning, “No, it is not a good morning.  I waited two hours to get into this meeting. You make people wait to get into a damn meeting.  Like the archdiocese, you refuse to change your protocol. If this is the way it’s going to be… “Fuck you,” he said. 

My heart is with all the people in the middle-east. I strongly condemn Hamas but urge more negotiation and a ceasefire. 

County Endurance Hearings:

Moderator: Madam chair, there are no-person speakers. 

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair:  Moderator, may we have the first remote speaker, please? 

Moderator: our first participant is Eric Preven, you may begin.

Smart Speaker: Thank you, and good morning, Supervisors. I am a little puzzled by today. A bunch of hearings and a closed session but this is interesting because Pestrella oversees the levying for the county lighting district, and so forth.  Mark Pestrella, who is the head of the county public works and also the LA County flood district -- which has a nice little section of land that's attached to the golf and tennis in Studio City... I know,  "Here he goes..."  But we need to get Supervisor Horvath, I know she is back this week. 

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair:  You know, Eric, we love you, but this is item 1, and a lighting district for Hacienda Heights. 

Smart Speaker: Fair enough. It's in Supervisorial district one, so I won't quibble with the quibbler.  You are right, I plan to stand down.  Thank you for bringing this to my attention-- Please, ask staff mermber Berger to bring my concern to Mr. Pestrella's attention. As you know, Pestrella is excellent!

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair: Thank you, Eric.  Next speaker, please.  

Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven, you may begin. 

Smart Speaker: Thank you. It is Eric Preven, and I do know a little bit about the Calabasas landfill out there. And I've often wondered what will happen in ten years, which is a  key question.  But I know in the interim we are doing all sorts of nifty things to try as we reduce emissions. I did not realize that we were producing electricity out there, but that sounds a bit frothy, to be honest.  

But the thing is that we can't be hoisting our environmental ideals and goals and then using them for... the opposite.  Like, I know you were sidled up this week with Nithya Raman of City CD4 at the Mayor's anemic street furniture rollout, but in Studio City, the world's cutest town,  they are literally proposing a giant building in the center of our public park.  Not to be confused, Supervisors, with Weddington Golf and Tennis. Supervisor Horvath, this is the Studio City Recreation Center and the park at Beeman. Around the corner.  We may need to awaken Kathryn Barger on this... as well. 

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair: Eric, come on, keep with the Calabasas landfill. 

Smart Speaker: We're doing our best, madam chair. The anaerobic digestion is the key out there. Let's try to be diligent and pay attention to the stuff that is also happening out in the districts. If you don't mind.  

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair: Thank you, Eric, your time has expired. Next speaker, please.   

Operator: Madam chair, there are no in-person speakers,  Moderator, may we have the first remote speaker, please. 

Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven. You may begin. 

Smart Speaker: This is interesting -- I was just getting to the contracting process, which looks like it was quite old. This was done in 2017, so it is an extension. Interesting. You know, I was just reading in Time magazine, and I am quoting here, "Solar is ground zero for fraud right now."  According to some guy in Pennsylvania, the industry is just littered with bad actors. I am not suggesting that anybody would be offering us the great $30 million savings with any kind of a tricky approach, now it does raise the question, if we are saving $30 million... how does that work?  How much are they making?  I know they are doing this because they love to green up the place, like everybody else. But hmm, well, this article went on about a toxic  "bro culture, which may be a slightly different market. This is of course, municipal, so a lot of these rates must be kind of -- I am sure some are feeling nervous about this because I don't know the company has an interim C.E.O. 

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair: Thank you. As much as I found that very interesting, your time has expired. Next speaker, please.  

Smart Speaker:  Okay. This is going to be a celebration. Because I love libraries. And I particularly love the Malibu Library, which happens to be in the network of county libraries on Civic Center Way.  And what a great program to soak the developers when you can a little bit to help pay for it.  Not too much, but it does help.  But one quibble that I do have with the developers and the League of Women Voters. I know we are building toward the candidate statement item which is coming next, and I just feel like libraries should be more involved in that kind of promoting debates, and civic matters like that as well. They do have a good friends program.  In fact, on Saturday, December 2nd they're having a used book sale.  And we recently got an actual bookstore in Malibu -- which is a great victory for the small population who read. And, what a great -- you know, it is always a good time to celebrate Skye Patrick our librarian. Which I know the Board loves to do ritually. 

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair: Thank you, Eric. We love it that you love libraries. 

Operator: There are no in-person speakers that have signed up for this item.  Moderator, may we have the first remote speaker, please? 

Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven, you may begin. 

Smart Speaker: Thank you. This is something that I am very familiar with, and I want to thank Dean Logan and Jeramy Gold for slapping it together over many years of laziness.  For those who don't know, it was or still is $50,000 to put your candidate statement in the ballot in English and Spanish.  In a word, insane. 

Obviously, everything has to be available in all languages which is why last year I reached out about getting my article about Primo Villanueva, the Calexico kid, shared in the Spanish language. I know that UCLA had a good outing last week -- I will just take a brief second to celebrate UCLA bringing the bell home to Westwood.  

Primo, in case you forgot, was an incredible Bruin football player and a wonderful man in his nineties now. I had the article I wrote about him professionally translated into Spanish but have struggled to put it in the right hands to reach a sizeable number of hispanohablante readers.  Maybe the county could post it so that that community can enjoy it.  I'm not expecting to be paid, I just want to share it.  

So, like candidate statements, is all about reaching the people.  And by the way, the candidate statements are important in every language, but charging $279 to the candidates is a mistake.   

It's just another insult to grassroots candidates who already have to pay to get on the ballot - if you don't want to get thousands of signatures. You can opt for getting just 40 signatures, but you have to pay more than $2,000 to do it.  Nothing like the city of LA, where you have to get 500 signatures and they cheat... 

Spectacle over Substance: LA City Hall

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:   Hello. Public comment please. 

Smart Speaker:  Thank you it’s Eric Preven I”d like to speak on the available items and a general public comment. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  Yes, so we can barely hear you, so if you can speak up a little bit.   But the open items are 28 through 37 so you have three minutes and one minute for general comment.   Mr. Preven  Go ahead, Mr. Preven. Mr. Preven we need you to press Star 6 to unmute, we can’t hear you at all. We are being told you are no longer on the line. 

Paul Krekorian, Council President:  Next Caller, go ahead…. 

Alternate Smart Speaker:  Yes, Sir.  General public comment.  I would just like to say regarding Nithya Raman planting herself on a redistricting committee, I think it was totally inappropriate. 

I guess her PR firm succeeded in fooling New Yorkers in the New York Times article that she was somehow victimized by behind-door politics here… to almost lose her district.  It did not mention that her own CD4 constituents led the recall effort, that she benefited from the pandemic, nor that many CD4 groups jumped ship into CD5 when that became overpopulated, it was announced that there was still room in CD13, and her CD4 constituents who were not fans of Mitch O’Farrell were glad to take it. That’s the truth. Stop spreading lies. It sounds like Trump. We know the truth. Don’t think people aren’t watching. They are. Thank you. 

UnrigLA Speaker: Yeah, I just find it amazing that you know there were a bunch of people who wanted to come here to speak in support of independent re-districting and applaud you, but you couldn’t even give them a minute to speak before you vote on the thing all while you applaud yourselves, talk about restoring trust in your process, applauding the way that you handled your hearings. Where you gave people a minute to speak on dense items, refused to allow remote public comment and then after you have three substantial amendments — I’ve never seen anything like that — you don’t open up public comment.  You are begging for a Brown Act complaint.  

And I just find it really amazing.  Tomorrow you are going to be talking about a protected budget for the Ethics commission, all while none of you want to say a single thing about protecting the budget of the independent redistricting commission. Just two years ago we had headlines in theLA Times about a Councilmember threatening the Ethics commission budget based on enforcement practices link.

Paul Krekorian:  Councilmember Rodriguez? 

Monica Rodriguez:  I actually had a procedural question with these amendments. I was just curious why we didn’t have public comment to address these new amendments, particularly with respect to the consideration of conversations around assets and the amendments that are proposed on that, so I was just curious with these amendments, why we wouldn’t be re-opening public comment?

Paul Krekorian:  So… the… issue with regard to assets … as I understand it… changes a word. From what the committee extensively discussed and had extensive public input about.  This issue was debated at length.  And so, I would consider that to be an insignificant change that doesn’t require the …(pause) re-opening of public comment. 

Monica Rodriguez: And similarly with the time-frame of the two years. That doesn’t effect it either?

Paul Krekorian:  Likewise, that was something that was debated extensively and had extensive public input. Both from the academics, from the organizations, and from the public in the seven hours of public comment.

Monica Rodriguez: Well, you know, I’d just like to go on the record on this…

Smart Speaker:  I was brutally cut off, and I agree the item 27 should have been re-opened. 

Charlie and me at around fifty! Go Wolverines!! 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions of Mr. Preven are not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)