Fri, Jul

Counting Mariachis


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - On Tuesday the City Council was caught a little off guard when an alarm began blaring in the chambers just as the body voted on items 24 through 31, which had been agendized as closed session items, but instead were read into the record.  Nothing to see here, merely $15,823,500 in routine settlements.  Keep moving. 

City Hall Alarm Goes Off at legal settlements


No comments.  

Smart Speaker:   Thank you, it’s Eric Preven. And I think it’s arbitrary to say you will take two more callers. At 11:02 am but — 

Paul Krekorian, Council President:  Thank you, Mr. Preven.  Which items would you like to speak to?  

Smart Speaker: Thank you, Mr. Krekorian. I’d like to speak on all the available items and a general public comment, which you’ve lumped in today, Is that correct?   

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:   You have three minutes for the items and one minute for general public comment. Please begin with the items and just to be clear the items are 1-3 and 17 through 23 and 32.  Please begin.  

Smart Speaker:  What about all the other closed session items, you have like eight closed session items that are in my last article in Eric Preven’s Notebook at CityWatchLA. 

Paul Krekorian, Council President:  The city attorney just read the items that are open for public comment, speak to those items, or go to general public comment.  

Smart Speaker:   Okay, I’ll speak to those items. Thank you. One, two, and thirty-two.  Item one is a very nice item, first up on our agenda today. It’s an oil pipeline franchise renewal. Where Krekorian loves to jump up and bellyache about the fossil fuel industry … about how he’s personally going after them.  Yet here, we have an item extending a pipeline franchise. So, great work. Why not tag ‘em for a huge amount of money to pay for some technology to have the mini-headed clerks and legislative analysts, who can’t manage to figure out how to produce an effective and fair public meeting, get some assistance from AI? That’s one idea.

Item 2 is the city attorney taking a look, fortunately, at the approval for the Chatsworth BID or business improvement district. Great. Does anyone smell Englander?  Great work.  

I just had one question about the law firm, Nossaman LLP because that is a firm that handles a lot of our LAWA stuff… that’s Los Angeles World Airport.   And also, we learned, John Lee’s ethics violation.   They represent him.   So, I know you claimed a little conflict but that can’t stand, Krekorian. You realize that, right?  Mr. Lee cannot be represented by a firm that the city pays millions and millions of dollars to …can he? 

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  Mr. Preven, this is your only warning. I need you to bring this back to the agenda items, please.  

Smart Speaker:   Yeah, 32 is about street vending, Groat and I’m selling little helmets for guys like you to stay out of my business when I’m speaking so I can get to the very nice general public comment. You’re really quite disruptive … 

Paul Krekorian, Council President:  Move him to general public comment. Move him to general public comment.  Arguing with the city attorney is not on our agenda, so you can begin your general public comment right now.  

Smart Speaker: OK, I’ll go back to the Nossaman, LLP.  This is a law firm that you guys pour millions and millions of dollars into for LAWA work but now John Lee Staffer B is using that firm and that firm’s goodwill with the city - with a little ethical firewall.  Very little, because all lawyers prevaricate, it’s part of their job and they all know where their bread is buttered.  

In Bob Blumenfield’s committee.  

Nossaman should not defend Staffer B. It just doesn’t pass the smell test, at least in my view. Along with your latest:  Variable rule shifting. I’m glad that you’re allowing this general public comment today, and allowing speakers to speak early in the meeting today, but according to the rules, it should be that way every day. You don’t follow rules, you perniciously apply them against the weakest Angelenos.  And of course, you cherrypick rules that serve your interests, which is disgusting, frankly.  Well done.   

And we are sick of you constantly scolding people about how we’re not doing enough. About how — even during the storm. “It’s not enough to keep yourself safe, it is not enough to keep your family safe, you must also help keep your neighbors, other citizens, public employees, and first responders safe as well.”   

Enough is Enough. 

Enough is enough



Paul Krekorian, Council President:   Thank you.  

The technical amendment turned out to be an increase of $100,000. The technical correction increased the sum by $100,000 from $4,066,594 to $4,166,594.  Success.  

Moody Tuesday With Supes and Dupes:

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: Genevieve, are you there? Genevieve? We'll go to the next caller, please.  

Moderator: We will go to our next participant is Eric Preven. You may begin.  

Smart Speaker: What a nice idea to provide equipment that fits our brave firefighter women. But let's just take a clear-eyed approach. First of all, in the interim, we have to remember that suspenders will pull up the pants in the meantime. $100,000 is not a big number.  Not for this brave Board of Supervisors.  Remember, we paid $27 million to Vanessa Bryant out of Firefighter money.  Maybe she could buy this god damned equipment!   This Board is starting to enrage people. Let’s get this one thing done already.  $100,000 should not be an obstacle. How much money do we spend on man-sized equipment?   So, this is just infuriating, and where the hell is Dave Gillotte?  Why has this gone on for 20 years?  Though I appreciate that Supervisor Solis has a leather fire hat.   These women firefighters need to be outfitted properly; they need the stuff to get it done. 

Executive officer: Thank you your time has expired. Next speaker, please.  

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

Smart Speaker:  Yeah, it’s Mr. Preven: this is an important issue, and I think people know there's been a lot of research done on this in Europe, where 31% of women have experienced one act or more of physical violence since they were 15.   

5% have been raped since they were 15,. And of course, there is psychological violence which some would argue is being perpetrated against the good people who showed up to speak on item 15 about the Boise Amicus. They’re being made to wait.    

And there is domestic violence, 22% of all women who have had a partner have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.  Terrible. 

It is just so prevalent and so very very sad. But as Dr. Ferrer said, we don't need more infrastructure, we need something else.  And big surprise,  it is money. I am not connecting the dots. We need to educate both women and men, because alot of gender violence is gender on gender. There's no reason to castigate men.  

Executive Officer: Thank you, your time has expired. Next speaker, please.  

Moderator: Madam chair, once again, there are no additional speakers in the queue to address the board. 

Hours later… 

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

Smart Speaker:  I support this kind of Fair Chance work. I just wish it could have been expedited, as this has taken way too long. But thank you for this.  

Hours later…  

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, Chair: Can we please get the language of the amendment up on the screen for people to review? We'll go back to our callers.  Moderator?  

Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven. Go ahead, your line is open.  

Smart Speaker: Thank you, nice try Supervisor Horvath.  Putting the confusing amendment up on the big screen now, at the last minute — doing it so late, makes it very hard for the public to focus. I think the board should refrain from writing an amicus and I think that the fact that there is division among the board is reason enough not to send an amicus.  It's better to spend the money helping people than with county counsel. Who incidentally has a cost of litigation report on the agenda that you can find a link to in a recent Citywatch article.  And the Times managed to find a way to pump up county counsel, blame the Sheriff’s department and under report the story.  

Let me summarize, the litigation… is wildly out of control.  As anyone can see, the numbers are up, up, up in all categories practically. The county should stay out this case. The supreme court is packed full of conservatives but it’s still unclear what they’ll do on the Oregon case, Grants Pass v. Johnson.  The case centers on a lawsuit by a group of homeless people against city restrictions on outdoor sleeping but we could tip things in the wrong direction.  

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: Before we go to our next caller,  county counsel there have been a couple of speakers who have addressed the noticing issue. Can you please address that?  

County Counsel:  Yes, thank you, Supervisor. As you indicated there are a number of speakers who questioned the board's ability to hear supervisor Mitchell's amendment to the original motion.  Brown Act does not address amendments and instead, this board follows Robert’s rules of order. Specifically Robert's Rules 3 section 12 states and I'm quoting from Roberts's Rules.  Amendments must always be germane and closely related to or have a bearing on the subject of the motion to amend. This does not mean a new subject can be introduced under the pretext of being an amendment. To be germane an amendment must in some way involve the same correction of the motion to which it is applied. In this instance, it is germane to the original motion of Supervisor Hahn. In addition from our Brown Act perspective, it's reasonable to expect during deliberations from a directive and therefore i assumed under the original directive. The original motion was for an amicus but the motion is just narrowing the scope. 

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: So people may object to what we are doing,  but we are complying with our legal process and how we normally conduct our meetings.  

County Counsel: Yes we are.  

Hours later… 

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

Smart Speaker: I am in the queue. I support this item. What I don't support is this system where folks are forced to wait forever to give a general comment -- I think we have to think about my proposal for three discreet public comments to accommodate the people.  So that folks who come early to address something important like this won't have to wait -- 4 hours [audio break up]  

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: We lost the caller, Eric, are you there?  

Smart Speaker: Yeah, I am here. You lost me.  

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: We can hear you now.  

Smart Speaker: Oh, okay, well that was good, see, normally I would expect to be accidentally on purpose… cut off.  This was a good outcome, thank you. So, yeah, I’ve noted a lot of domestic violence and harassment items today and every week. And one thing to look at the entire DCFS department which often creates more hostility than already exists in Angeleno families. And I think— 

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: Thank you, your time has expired. Next speaker, please.  

Moderator: And once again, we have no further participants in the queue to address the board.  

Hours later… 

Moderator: Our next participant is Eric Preven. Please go ahead.  

Smart Speaker: Thank you very much. Yeah, i'd like to give a general public comment. How much time is afforded because it is seems like the prior speaker, the Ms. Mitchell antagonist,  got a very long time.  He’s right that Mitchell shouldn't talk back in public comment, trying to get the last word, if she can avoid it. I'd like to make two points. One is I really think an early bird comment period and leaving all the items open followed by a middle of the day lunchtime public comment period,  leave all the items open and lastly, a cocktail hour public comment period,  is a much better way to meet the folks where they are.  You vote after the cocktails!  This will really make it easier for your people.  Secondly,  Mark Pestrella is doing a fantastic job rescuing the county — great job!    

But Pestrella is dragging his muddy boots on getting us the lease extension that he wants you to sign giving Harvard Westlake, the imperious rich kid academy in Studio City dba  4141 Whittsett LLC  what they want. Hello Khalatian.  The people in the community are very opposed to these private Athletic facilities in our community golf course and open space.  

Executive Officer: Thank you. Your time has expired. Next speaker, please.  

At the bitter end, Hugo Soto-Martinez dragged Valerie Flores from the City Attorney’s office out for some questions about street vending.   

This resulted in Council President Paul Krekorian saying adamantly, “The city attorney should not make policy, this council should make policy.” 

Wednesday Friendsday:

Blumenfield apologized but wanted to reconsider an item from Tuesday.  

Krekorian was super helpful and kind. “No, worries.”  

The amendment wasn’t quite ready yet, but Krekorian said, he would hold the item that was not on the agenda, on the desk… lovely.  

The chambers were practically empty for the retirement presentation to Antoine McKnight, thanking him for 37 years of selfless service… since 1986.  

As an African American, he became an assistant fire chief…who always sought even more work.    

The daughter of the fire department herself, Monica Rodriguez, unfurled a pitch-perfect “families of firefighters” song… you can imagine. The sacrifice not just for the family. The emergencies, the extra assignments… the overtime.   

McKnight worked to open the door for others into a… great middle-class lifestyle!   

The current Chief, Kristin Crowley, an out lesbian was there with muddy boots. She said she would be remiss if she didn’t thank him for “showing every single member of our department, of what right looks like.”    

In 2022 Los Angeles Fire Department announced its first-ever diversity, equity, and inclusion bureau, to help change a department culture historically notorious for bullying firefighters based on gender and race. 

When McKnight finally got a chance to speak, he told how he was named after a firefighter who was a member of the Brown bombers.  His mom had twelve children.  

The whole thing was very nice until the council members started.  First, Eunisses Hernandez, expressed her “deepest gratitude” and then Price reminded everyone that it was “black history month" before noting "37 years, you could tell some stories!”   

Then, Tim McCosker who had spoken to his firefighter brother, Pat said, “Thanks for making it accessible to all.”  

Paul Krekorian highlighted McKnight’s humility, “facing imminent danger” all the time.  

Rodriguez closed noting that he did so much “on off-duty hours.” 

Smart Speaker: Wage theft?  

Paul Krekorian, Council President:  Going back to the closed session items, I’d like to ask Mr. Blumenfield… if he has recommendations.  Please read the recommendations and then we’ll see if anybody has any questions or concerns. Mr. Clerk. 

There were three legal cases settled and four refunds paid out totaling about $1.5 million, plus interest on those business tax refunds.  

Paul Krekorian, Council President:   Any questions, seeing none,  

14 ayes. 

Then there were a half dozen public speakers:  

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

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney: OK, you have three minutes for the items, items 15-19, and one item for general public comment, please begin with the items. 

Ok, so fifteen through nineteen is what you said, so we cannot speak on the preferential parking district set up by Nithya Raman who — 

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  Correct, it’s fifteen through nineteen, so please stick to those items.  

Ok, so not the — got it, the cars being blocked from parking at Runyon Canyon, a great public amenity, is not on the agenda, its on the agenda, but no for now. Ok, fair enough.  

Very very nice, that seems like a major rejection of the principles that got her elected - fairness for all - but we understand it’s election time and she is pandering to the richer hillside community.   

What about the closed sessions, are they open?  

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:   No.  

Okay, so you announced the disposition?   Okay we are having trouble understanding because you changed everything.   Fine.  Nineteen is a VOIP, voice-over internet protocol service.  It’s old stuff - For citywide voice, data, video services, local and long-distance and network-based telecommunication services - and they want to increase the contract by $4.5 million dollars.  I am very mindful of the fact that this is an older technology.  And ITA is preserving this contract with Skyvera LLC. Unclear as to why Skyvera LLC got in there. It used to be Genband, then we consented to Ribbon Communications Operating Company, Inc. (“Ribbon”)

Then, American Cloud Technologies, Inc., (“AVCT”) and the change of the VoIP provider from IntelePeer Cloud Communications LLC to Kandy Communications LLC (“Kandy”);  

Now, the City is working to transfer the Services to a new vendor but needs additional time to complete the work involved.  Confusing.  

Eighteen is an unsolved murder… the rate has gone down, it was worse during the pandemic.  The fifty thousand dollars is a little weird, it’s like buying a witness…and it never really works, only a handful have come forward.   I don’t know.  

And four hundred and fifty thousand for neighborhood CD10 service enhancements during election time, this is possibly tempting the authorities…  

I see you’ve limited the number of items we can address today so I’ll go back and lecture on ITA item 19, ITA is terrific. They have Ted Ross, who is a nice nice man.  He’s smart, and articulate even with the public. He’s an expert at schmoozing…everyone. That said the festival of oozing corruption inside the tech sector with Workday and the various failures piled up hand over fist by the city, with no accountability… Krekorian is heading for the exit.  We’ve been trying to resolve a simple payroll system for about ten years.  And we can’t do it. We can’t do it.  We just have to keep piling more and more and more money, which is why we have to retain some of these technologies…  

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:   You may begin your general public comment.  

Smart Speaker: …for no good reason  

Ya, my general public comment is … I want to say thank you for allowing the general public comment to come on the heels of the items, that allow people to speak on the items that were pushed through before the public spoke. Like Nithya Raman and this preferential parking district … we know the people up in the hills will appreciate it.  Angeleno who wants to take a nice walk will be fresh out of luck. Maybe they could Uber into the neighborhood in an unmanned vehicle to take a walk?  

To me, such an appalling turn of events. Unbelievable.  Well, it’s election time, Good luck. I hope you lose.  

In terms of all the other things on the agenda that we were blocked from speaking about — the copper theft.   I would just scrutinize Krekorian’s sneaky motion on that, very very carefully.  Who the hell knows where he’s going?  

And John Lee just keeps shoving money at the LAPD, not a surprise, but during election time.  I’m glad that Serena Oberstein who is a low-level, highly compromised individual served as president of the ethics commission for ten minutes.  Anyway, she got the LA Times endorsement for CD12, which is a slap across the face of Staffer B and the public.   

Paul Krekorian, Council President:  Thank you, very much.  

At the end of the meeting, it was time for announcements.   

Counting Mariachis +  other ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Nithya Raman, running for CD4, opened up a discussion about homeless services during the rain and the efficacy of the responses.  Odd that it was not on the agenda.  

Then Imelda Padilla, running for CD6, said she had to “kind of” speak out.  She noted the artists who tagged the building downtown - a global internet sensation -  but she wanted to remind about the mural ordinance for legalized streamlined art. The towers were bombarded with graffiti, because of repression, she said, but now we have the mural ordinance.  We can do more… art programming.  She referred to the broken windy theory. (Sic.)  And touted her own work at a skate park in her district, with the “illegitimate” artists.  She closed with,  “I had to say something.”  Again, odd that this was not posted on the agenda  

Then Kevin De Leon, currently running for CD14, addressed the homeless item introduced by Raman off-agenda.  He lectured about the checks and balances… flaws, number of beds.   And then he reported on the installation of 155 tiny homes in Boyle Heights, his district. But for the global shortage of electrical panels.  Not on the agenda, but interesting.  

Then, it was time for mariachis… not a show, but a lecture from De Leon, who said that during the pandemic, there were no weddings, fiestas, cumpleaños or bar mitzvahs, “there was none, zero, zilch.” So a couple of weeks ago… we went to count mariachis…  living unhoused.  Mariachi’s experiencing homelessness.  Then he touted how he had set things up at a city-owned property with Sanitation.  

You know, “push-pull, push came to shove, and they (Sanitation) agreed to move some of their big equipment.  Win-win situation. During election time.   Off agenda.   Kudos.  

Hugo Soto-Martinez…closed with a note that he would be holding a press event soon. Free tax returns at family source centers (If you qualify). 

Monica Rodriguez noted that she’d been touting that work for decades.  

Then she said, she was compelled to address Ms. Padilla’s notes about graffiti. She said it twice: one person’s art is another person’s blight. 

Balancing is critically important.  Going into private property like the Towers is risky. 

She thanked, Mr. De Leon who secured resources to secure that building.   

She said the whole thing was a black eye on our city at this moment.  

Finally, she said, “I’d like to address the mariachi tiny home village. People can smirk, it’s very real. My grandfather… made a living as a mariachi.  

Council President Paul Krekorian seemed aware that the speeches were going on and on… 

“Any other ANNOUNCEMENTS, members.” 

(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.)