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Fri, Apr

Cover-My-Ass Commissioners

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors moved closer on Tuesday to prohibiting deputies from drinking while armed after some concerning incidents. "The mixing of alcohol and guns never ends in a good time, rather, it increases the risk of injuries and death," Supervisor Hilda Solis, who reportedly enjoys a Margarita herself, said.  

The new chair, Lindsey P. Horvath's yelp ratings are dipping deeper than expected. Good luck.   

At the end of Wednesday's meeting of the Los Angeles City Council, there were several moving tributes...about the layoff of the 94 journalists at the LA Times.  And this...

 

 Early the following morning, Paul Krekorian CD2 who said, "I have a limited shelf life" convened a Special meeting of the ad hoc committee on sneaky governance. There were only two public speakers.

Feel free to explain why the ad-hoc committee on city governance, as with other committees, is labeled this way: 

Please Note Public Comment Will Be Taken In-Person Only. 

Here are some quotes from our council members who are delighted to be providing self-oversight. 

"The function is to Investigate."  

"A major staffing plan. That sounds like eight or ten people because we would want a report. 

Not someone to make mountains out of molehills, someone to make sure the system is working ..." 

"Public Integrity is not looking at Planning... they only get involved when there is a complaint. They are not present here." 

Smart Speaker:  What about Curren D. Price CD9?  

"We have thousands of city employees that are involved with the approval of buildings some of which are billion-dollar projects. There will always be a need to identify indicia of fraud and corruption."   

"Inspectors were being bribed. Should we be looking for those tripwires?"  

"Tons of big-picture contracts, that are more fraught than land use." 

I would respond, "Yes that's true.  But let's not broaden it. What I see is an office in which investigative duties are the primary focus... nothing but watching the billions flow into the city... on their merits.  That the singular focus... " 

"Waste fraud and abuse hotline. It sits and waits, it's reactive, not proactive."

"We need people looking for things that are out of the ordinary." 

"This OIG must have a direct referral to law enforcement."   

"The way we do Land Use creates minefields. There are a lot of guardrails for contracts... in land use, you just don't know when the developers are running afoul and when your proximity could get you in trouble."   

"Ethics looks at everything, so they don't look at anything."  

"It should be housed in the Ethics Commission to have independence."  

Marqueece Harris-Dawson CD8 said the corruption he'd heard about recently was in the city departments, not with the council members. "That's where all the corruption starts."  Then he bragged: "We have more than one or two billion-dollar projects."  His point was how can anyone resist a bribe from a very rich and powerful person?  

When they trotted out Tyler Josephs, who has been kicking around the Ethics Commission as the smooth-talking policy researcher for years, I was shocked.  Here's the link for the ultimate for those who like to watch corrupt politicians talk about curbing corruption with a small OIG office that they control.  

Smart Speaker:  They should call it the Conflict of Interest Board. 

Krekorian demanded that it have subpoena power and direct referrals to law enforcement (snickers from the gallery). 

Nithya Raman CD4, said, "As long as we are getting some questions answered that's totally fine with me." 

"A criminal investigative body that looks for fraud, corruption and crime. 

Bob Blumenfield CD3 thought they would be trying to solve the problems more, he doesn't want to get in the Public Integrity Division's lane.   

Eunisses Hernandez CD1 wondered why we are still having three city council meetings a week, instead of one.  

Smart Speaker:  Good to know that's where she stands.  Listen to the end of the meeting to hear Paul Krekorian go off on the  LA Times Editorial Board for saying that he's taken too long on the ... reform.   

Tuesdays 50% Off:

Smart Speaker: And just as conveniently as you didn't call me up when I signed up to speak on the agendized items, you call me up now for a general public comment. I assume you will do the opposite tomorrow.  You're cutting me in half. 

It's outrageous, guys.  You got to get it together. There were so many important items on today's agenda. I wanted to refer people to an article in The New Yorker on Christmas Day about the cat population here. We've all heard about the abhorrent, shameful treatment of dogs. This article was about the trap-neuter-releaseprogram. How the no-kill movement betrays its name by keeping cats outdoors.  Check it out.  

And Mark Ruffalo was on the agenda for the Walk of Fame.  

He was in the movie Spotlight, the detailed account of the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the widespread pedophilia scandals and subsequent cover-ups within the Catholic Church. He played Michael Rezendes a relentless fighter.  Rachel McAdams played another reporter, Sacha Pfeiffer.   

At one point, Rezendes reaches out to an activist lawyer named Mitchell Garabedian, who initially resists talking to the reporter, but he persists and eventually, they get together. They thought they were following one terrible criminal priest but it turned out to be an enormous cover-up.  And I'll tell you, Mike Rezendes -- I've often felt a kindred spirit to that guy.  

When the movie was up for Oscars in 2016 my brother and I were begging for more coverage: 

We wrote: Hey Reporters! How about a Few Questions Please on the Harvard-Westlake Scam? 

"Incredibly, Mr. Krekorian did not return the $20,950 he garnered from the recent contributions [from school Trustees]. On the contrary, he used the money to obtain public matching funds from the City, so that each Harvard-Westlake contribution was in effect supplemented by $500 of taxpayer funds. In other words, literally, the very same people who are having their quality of home life intruded on by the school's plan were made to match the Harvard-Westlake influence-peddling donations." 

We need reporters now more than ever... and frankly because of the sustained corruption and weakened newspaper. You may not be molesting children, as was evidently happening at the county (MacLaren), but what you are doing to public engagement is such a blatant and sustained act of deception and betrayal of your people.   

Frankly, if there were Oscars for malfeasance, LA City Hall would run the table. And so, I seriously think it is time for Bob Blumenfield to come forward and open the kimono on all the satisfying himself in committee. The public thinks transparency is a good disinfectant... the closed sessions can't be ritually canceled to become open sessions (a substantial change on the face of it) without an opportunity for public comment.  Any questions, class?    

1) City Ethics Commission report relative to an independent auditor or investigator’s office. 

2) Chief Legislative Analyst and departments to report relative to best practices for Charter reform processes, options to create a commission to evaluate and provide recommendations on Charter reform for future ballots, and related matters.  

Why not?  Because the whole point is keep things under wraps, silly. When Corruption and Fraud are on the docket, the public must be removed from the chambers..   

This is clearly a Cover-my-ass commission! There were only two speakers from the public. 

 

 

The City Council in the Hague in 1636.

 

Copper-action: Motions Coming Soon

Kevin De Leon CD14 is out with new numbers that show how copper wire theft has been booming. De Leon is shaking loose a couple hundred thousand to set up a task force.  What for?   

Probably to support Paul Krekorian's sneaky play to seek alternative city street lights featuring solar because...dag nab it, "the city is being "stripped for parts." That was De Leon.  

Very interesting to see these two collaborating. One speaker in public comment suggested that a year ago Krekorian was calling for De Leon's ouster, and last week he was hanging out with him at a campaign event.  Classique!

Hugo Soto-Martinez CD13 kicked off the nonagendized discussion about the Los Angeles Times. Monica Rodriguez CD7 wants the the recent pogrom, in which 94 mostly journalists of color, were laid off by Patrick Soon-Shiong, to be viewed in the right context -- further disenfranchisement of Latinos.   

Eunisses Hernandez CD1 wants to conduct a $50,000  "Dodger Stadium traffic assessment" intended to kill the  LA ART  Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit  (offensive coopting of ART).  

The fact that the project has put LA and ART into a brand is deeply offensive (and clever).   

Another example of sports culture subsuming everything else, in this case, dozens of neighborhoods. 

Frank McCourt can be relentless. 

Like George Lucas and Melody Hobson, who want to set the narrative in Los Angeles at a museum they are building thanks to a flotilla of pandering politicians with a dream...  

Quick question: Will Curren D. Price CD9, Heather Hutt CD10 and Marqueece Harris-Dawson CD8 insist along with Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell SD2, that the narrative museum the government hurried up for them, under Garcetti and Ridley-Thomas' corrupted leadership, should be open to the public?   Like the Hammer.  Free for good!   

You can see Star Wars tchockes and tacos. 

Wednesday:

Smart Speaker: Yeah, it's Eric Preven and I'd like to speak on the available items.  

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  So you have three minutes for the items. Please begin. 

Smart Speaker: OK, for the record, it's 10:34 am, so you're moving quickly. Okay, Item one. I have a question about item one. Why--

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Mr. Preven item number one is not open for public comment. Please stick to the items. 

Smart Speaker:  Why would the item about preventing digital discrimination,  what you do to me regularly, by not calling me up arbitrarily when I've been waiting and lowering the hands of speakers, who are critical of your sneaky ways?  

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: That would be three through thirteen.  

Smart Speaker:  Okay, what about item 2, is that also off the docket? 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  Correct. 

Smart Speaker: OK, then let's move forward. So, you've got a stack of REAP items. Well done, Groat. Did you and  Avak cook that recipe up one evening last week and need to push it out the door?  A full plate of REAP items which are resolutions to remove properties from the naughty landlord list and restore order ...until next time.  Good work, as nobody has too much to say about REAP... because they've already said it by filing to get the city to help --  The whole reason the city council platforms them in their meetings?  Ask the progressive flank! 

Sure they draw limited to zero interest from the public. Again, well done, Groat.  I must say Krekorian has groomed you nicely.   How about cultural historic landmarks? I saw that you are stuffing through a five-pack of designations that is meant to look worthy and appropriate. Nice to see the California Eagle offices are being protected.  I think.  Years ago that newspaper employed a very interesting woman Maggie Mae Hathaway.  Do you remember, her Groat?  She was a reporter at the California Eagle and a real activist and a singer. She came to Hollywood and sang and was frequently cast in roles like as an Egyptian princess or ...she had a very exotic look, was a very beautiful woman of color and was a golfer. Fore!   So, Matt Knabe should take note, some of you probably don't know Matt Knabe, as he's low profile  -- since the whole Mitchell Englander conviction made daylight harder.  He was and probably still taps the cash registers at county golf courses as head lobbyist for the American Golf Corporation. One of those golf courses in the county's amazing bouquet of 18 courses is called Maggie Hathaway. So that's a high honor, down near the airport, and it underscores how appalling the city and county are for allowing such a park-poor environment.  We should be making more public parks available to constituents and instead, we're putting up tiny homes and or giving away our public land to private equity billionaires and lessees, like Wesley Edens.  

And let me say about the Cannabis item. The city of Los Angeles is one of the most vibrant cities in America and yet when we set out to create a sane, reasonable regulation for Cannabis... what ensued was one of the most embarrassing chapters and its ongoing, in the city's history.  

Herb Wesson, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Paul Krekorian... take a bow. One of the most embarrassing corruptions ever seen and ignored.  Nobody could believe it. Fortunately, for y'all, the LA Times was imploding at that time, so it largely went uncovered. But down here in city hall, we heard the screams... as articulate angry mom and pops, were ritually betrayed and violated by Mr. Harris-Dawson on the advice of his craven attorneys. 

Harvard-Westlake:

Finally, something to be proud of.  After two devastating back-to-back losses by the Harvard-Westlake boys basketball team, to Notre Dame and Sierra Canyon.  Don't worry, I'm sure they've won since.  

Still, we are long overdue for some kind of feel-good story in the Daily News and girl's soccer did the trick.  

During her sophomore year in 2020-21, Alyssa Thompson earned the Gatorade National Player of the Year honor while the team went 18-0 and won a CIF Southern Section championship. 

During her junior year, Thompson continued to work out and train with Coach Richard Simms and the team. However, it was clear she was about to become a national star. 

Alyssa posed for photos during a meet-and-greet event at Harvard-Westlake High School on Wednesday.  

Thompson, a 2023 graduate of the school, is a USWNT member and currently plays for Angel City FC. 

"It’s better to be confident, play more freely, and be yourself when you’re on the field. That’s what everyone is looking for because there is no one else like you.” 

Coastal Information War: 

A large group of longtime local enablers are supporting a citizens' assembly component to our city's governance.   Huh?

They want people selected from the general population to deliberate on important public questions.   

The idea is to research best practices and priority sections for a charter reform process. They "recommend the CLA look into how a citizens’ assembly could be implemented to encourage public engagement, representative participation..."

 

"Consensus is achievable with a proper staffing plan."

 

One obstacle to "consensus conferences" is they have the potential to make individuals tend to the extreme in their opinions, i.e. citizens essentially rally around their own views in the presence of opposing views. This was the case in the Open Forum experiments conducted by representatives (including me)  of the Studio City Neighborhood Council.  

Of course, everything depends on how an assembly is structured and the tone set at the top. Resources such as briefing materials and expert testimony are meant to ameliorate extreme views by supplying information and correcting misinformation/misunderstanding.   But it can be cut both ways! Setting the agenda is very powerful!  

This raises the question:  how can any proposal like this for citizens be championed by Paul Krekorian who regularly works to discourage public engagement through various patented sociopathic techniques? 

For transparency, the supportive groups: The American Public Trust,  California Clean Money Campaign, Healthy Democracy,  League of Women Voters of Greater Los Angeles,  Los Angeles for Democracy Vouchers,  Pete Peterson,  Public Access Democracy,  Public Democracy Los Angeles,  Represent LA, The River Project, and Unrig LA.    

At Barnard, the women's college at Columbia University in New York, they've been rolling up the First Amendment carpet in favor of new rules intended to curtail views Barnard does not want to be aired on the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies website.  Or anywhere, frankly.  

Faculty can make statements about Palestine or Israel so long as they make clear they are speaking for themselves but not the college. But political statements cannot be posted on the Barnard website without approval, and "no member of the college may post signs containing political statements on the college grounds. Also, there is a new requirement for 28 days notice to have a rally.  Silly. 

The faculty say they support the Chicago Principles, which were written by Administrators at the University of Chicago in 2014 and espouse an "overarching commitment to free, robust, and uninhibited debate and deliberation among all members of the University’s community."   

Smart Speaker:  Chicago is the most corrupt city, according to some experts. 

Rotunda Control:

In other big city news, the mayor of New York and the City Council have been bickering over who controls the media activities in the Rotunda at City Hall. This month the mayor's Police Department ejected reporters from their press room at HQ, relocating them to a trailer. There was apparently a mutiny as the reporters stood their ground.  

And then, the mayor's deputy chief of staff pulled the chairs and turned the lights off during a city council presser on a new requirement that Police officers document more of their interactions with the public. The mayor is against it.  

The measure is supported by the public advocate, Jumaane Williams, who said, "The mayor has shown that he doesn't like folks to disagree with him, he doesn't like transparency, he doesn't like to shine light on things." 

Smart Speaker:  Sounds familiar!  

 

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