At the Core of the Studio City Brouhaha: The City Department’s Ineptitude and the Manager’s Arrogance

GUEST WORDS--Ms. Berlin and her close ally and friend, Ms. MacKay, have conveniently overlooked some pertinent facts in their inflammatory revisionist rewrite of the 2016 SCNC post-election Grievance Panel capers. 

For me, the core issue was ultimately DONE's ineptitude in their handling of the entire online election process to begin with, followed by the arrogance of its head, Ms. Liu, and her appointed 'chargé d elections' lackey, Jay Handal, in dealing with the election challenges which ensued, two of which, Ms. Berlin's and that of another fraudulently elected stakeholder, were found by the non-partisan grievance panel to be qualified and deserving of examination and what was supposed to be final, unappealable judgment. Mine. 

(They did, in fact, render a unanimous, well-reasoned and correct judgment.  Unfathomably, an appeal was made and accepted by DONE and a second, rogue hearing resulted in a split decision in favor of the miscreants.)

Frankly, I agree with those who are calling for Ms. Liu's removal from her position, along with a complete housecleaning at DONE, a recommendation I and others have made more than once to Councilmember Krekorian, the Mayor and the City Attorney; she's undoubtedly a bright, nice person, but her executive management skill set is seriously overmatched by the demands of the job.  The city would undoubtedly benefit from that change at DONE, among many others.  To my knowledge, no such actions have been taken.

But that said, let me get back to the specific issue of Ms. Berlin's grievance with the election grievance process and to my grievance specifically.  To be unequivocally clear, Ms. Berlin was, indeed, guilty of “electioneering”, as defined in the official Election Manual in effect during the 2016 election and there is plenty of evidence and testimony to support that view of her behavior. 

However, as solid as that challenge to her election was and remains, it turns out she was guilty of even more egregious acts in obtaining her office; fraud and perjury.  Post-election, I obtained a true copy of her voter registration form, wherein she declared herself eligible to vote, and not so coincidentally, to run for a seat for which she was not legitimately qualified as a “employee/independent contractor” who is also a “business representative”. 

Under California law, a sole proprietor, which is the form of business she owns, cannot simultaneously be an “employee” of her business.  Period.  Had I learned of her fraudulent, perjurious declarations, written and signed under oath, in the short time frame allotted to initiating election challenges, you can bet I would have included them.  While her unsupported accusations about me are simply false, her own behavior before, during and after the election demonstrates exactly why she was and remains unqualified on more than one count for Board membership on the Studio City Neighborhood Council.   

The final irony, of course, is the ludicrous, albeit transparently corrupt, position she and Ms. MacKay are now promoting to abstain from  recruiting candidates for Board seats for the next election “unless there's some sort of decision regarding DONE's further use of Regional Grievance Panels for NC election disputes, just like the one Berlin endured.”  Hello, these two ladies are the co-chairs of the SCNC Outreach Committee, one of the primary duties of which is to, dare I say it, RECRUIT CANDIDATES!  If they’re not willing to do the work they volunteered and were chosen to do, they should resign and get out of the way of appointed replacements who will get the job done properly.  Indeed, given the fraud which resulted in Ms. Berlin’s seat on the Board, and Ms. MacKay’s blindly willful support of her pal’s actions and behavior, maybe they ought to promptly 'co-resign' on general principles.  

Now, for the record and complete disclosure, I no longer live in Studio City and while I can still claim certain stakeholder ties there, I am no longer active in the SCNC, the SCRA or the ad hoc CSSC, of which I was a founding member.  After many mostly happy decades in the community I’m happy to be out of the angst and turmoil of neighborhood politics and its even more intensely dysfunctional version at the City level.  But I will no longer allow my name and reputation to be trashed by the likes of the posters of the numbskull diatribe to which I’m forced to respond.   

So, to quote General Douglas MacArthur on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay after the signing of the Japanese surrender agreement ending WWII, “I now declare these proceedings closed”.  

For my part, anyway.

Unless, of course, you’d like to see Ms. Berlin’s fraudulent registration document and, perhaps, a copy of the state regulations regarding the prohibition on Sole Proprietors claiming employee status in their own companies.  They're readily available.

(Stu Miller is a former member of the Studio City Neighborhood Council.)

-cw