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A Shorter Leash For County Probation

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - There was a lot of sloganeering on and off agenda at Tuesday's six plus hour board meeting: 

"You can't get well in a cell" and  “Take Pride, Share the Ride” (for ridesharing month) were battling in out for predominance before the public was effectively banished after a couple of hours.  

Holly J. Mitchell had a five-signature letter to President Joseph R. BidenJr., Vice President Kamala D. Harris, Secretary Anthony J. Blinken, and the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation urging them to investigate the matter of Mr. Eyvin Hernandez’ detainment in Caracas, Venezuela with urgency and do all that is necessary to ensure the well-being of Mr. Hernandez. 

And a five-signature letter to the Biden-Harris Administration (not Blinken on this one) to sign onto the White House Talent Pipeline Challenge, to collaborate with the Biden-Harris Administration on public communications and other steps necessary to effectuate the County’s support and endorsement of the Challenge 

Nothing about Brittney Griner who's still detained in Russia.  

Janice Hahn was requesting that the one billion gente worldwide, including those here in Los Angeles County who recognize Diwali or the “Festival of Lights” join her in encouraging support for Diwali festivals taking place throughout the County. + “Filipino American History Month” 

She joined Barger Supervisors Barger to blast forward "Digital Equity Throughout the County."   

Jeffrey Prang had a nice Shofar eblast just before the election (but he's not on the ballot, is he?)

 

Uh-oh,  his current term ends on December 5, 2022.  He is on the ballot, "Get him!" 

Disclosure:  When I saw a shocking profile of Prang in a reputable local Pacific Palisades paper, I suggested to Kenneth Mejia, who I don't know personally, that he reaches out to the Reporter, and ask him if you're profiling the Assessor, why not profile a prospective Controller of the City of Los Angeles?   

I was trying to extend the shofar, of equal time, by providing an opportunity for him to be interviewed as a candidate in the Palisades. "They rich up in there," was my rationale. 

Good Yontif!    

Sole Source:

It means, no need to see what the market bears, let's go with this very nice looking price from Patty Giggans group (eg.), but "Actually, staff, don't even show me!"  

Surprise me!  

With items like the continued development of Phase IV of the Assessor Modernization Project (AMP), to extend the development and testing schedule for an additional 13 months, and increase the scope for an additional $9,950,000, for a new total agreement amount of $61,015,658, for the Assessor Modernization Project, we can move forward on the honor system.  

I don't see any reason to check deeper to see if Larry Ellison of Oracle, who, is handling everything on the above contract,  but also has enormous real estate holdings in the county.  

Who cares if he adjusts his tax bill fortnightly, or biennially?  

And who gives a crap if he cut a check to Jeffrey Prang's campaign (not saying he did).   "We all modernizing, bro."  

Hey, what happened to John Noguez, the Assessor who got busted?  

"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting."   

I'll never forget the day that Mitchell Englander and Jeffrey Prang and all the cuddly city of Los Angeles council members were celebrating the high holy days in the temple of hypocrisy... Dissolve: 

This was the period just before the LA City Ethics Commission and staff faced a mighty storm. (Thanks, staff)

There was the Waste Management Lobbyist Greig Smith sliding in to block a woman of color, the invalidation of commissioner Serena Oberstein from the Ballot in CD12, and of course the "Koretz Finked Out" campaign finance fiasco.  

FYI - there might be a line outside of Jeffrey Prang's proverbial door, to contribute to his campaign, so hurry.   

Trio of royalty 

Integrity, Talent & Grace:

In 2016, Scott Pelley said  “He’s integrity wrapped in talent wrapped in grace.” There were instant “Here, heres!” when glasses were held high.    

He was raising a toast to Bill Plante at a packed Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C  but it could have been for  Paul Krekorian or Shaunt Avanesian of LA County Metro. 

Shaunt was a facilities maintenance Supervisor pulling down $78k with benefits in 2013.  In 2019 he was upgraded to Senior Facilities Maintenance Supervisor and now he's making $173,654.96.  

The upcharge on the new toilet contract with the New Zealand firm  Exeloo is a bit more than the Independent Cost Estimate, but only by 19%.  Huh? 

Well, there's a lot going on but in this case the whole concept of the automatic toilet, as introduced publicly in 2019, at a park in North Hollywood, was in the face of major noise from the public and Neighborhood Council demanding a toilet at the Metro station.  

To see a metro contract with the same NoHo automatic toilet company, buried on the consent agenda at LACMTA was something like heartwarming, or heartburning.    

The city, Paul Krekorian reminded is known throughout history as a hub of innovation.  

Always,  seeking the next big thing, then he went on to talk about the 1600 bathrooms in city parks that are being used constantly.  

Michael Shull, Krekorian's partner in crime from Recs and Parks must have agreed to be the pointy part of the spear for the New Zealand company and their Atlanta, Georgia-based distributor of automatic toilets.  

What's not funny is, while Krekorian was arranging for an automated 10 minute cleansing after every 30 flushes, he and Garcetti were sneaking around trying to build a huge unwanted Net Zero basketball court on the last remaining open space in Studio City.  Beeman Park, now Nithya Raman's problem. 

There have been some recent signs that the project may emerge from the greedy ashes, but the $100 Billion state surplus has us all worried. The cooler, older mid-century modern benches were replaced recently with an order for two dozen more, new products. 

Why would we make more landfill contents out of cool stuff?  And ruin the look of our special park?  

Kudos, and mazel tov to Mike Shull for retiring before the item for the same toilets splashed on Krekorian at Metro last week.  Nobody noticed.  

Two auto cleaning potties at Metro’s Harbor Gateway and El Monte Transit Centers  (not in North Hollywood), were quietly picked up for another five years on September 22 tk..  

Even though Krekorian touted in 2019 how the units would save staffing money "dramatic reduction in maintenance cost, a dramatic reduction on the burden of our men and women workers." Read: less maintenance. 

A full wash and dry every 30 flushes is economical, but not that economical.  

+19% due to the upsurge in the use of the APTs by the unhoused, particularly during evening hours, vandalism and excessive usage and theft of consumables. 

This was Sole Source on the Consent calendar.  

The new contract, is more than the cost to staff a mobile pitstop toilet at $339,000 per restroom, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.   But we are enriching a New Zealand company and spending more water and power in the current climate crisis. 

Kudos to Shaunt.  

The entire ethos of the mobile pit-stop program, that I bellowed on in support of, before pivoting to an even simpler plan of opening the effing door on the already existent staff-only facility, was to have a human being around, not to reduce staff. 

Probation: A Shorter Leash

The county auditor-controller, who is not elected so just a very seasoned department head who works for the Supervisors (for a thousand years), produced an astonishingly paltry response to a public record act request I made about Peace Over Violence contracts.  It resulted in an article entitled Profit Over Violence.  

Excited to get cracking on Arlene Berrera's exciting recommendation to conduct biennial reviews of the Probation Department’s accounting records and controls for funds related to juvenile reimbursements, fines and restitutions, and donations.  

Public Comment:  Probation is a horrifying mess, may we suggest bi-weekly (2x a week)  rather than biennial (2x a year)? 

Unfortunately, more murky Water... on the flotilla of on-Call Consultant Services for... potentially hundreds of millions in pre-authorized spending. 

See the list of the three on-call lists that I reviewed here:  

Safe Cleanish Water Program Agreements 

Nine large-sized firms: 

Brown and Caldwell, 

Geosyntec Consultants, Inc., 

Stantec Consulting Services, Inc., 

Michael Baker International, Inc., 

HDR Engineering, Inc., 

Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc., 

Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc., 

TRC, Inc.

Woodard & Curran, Inc.

 

Seven small-sized firms: 

Mikhail Ogawa Engineering, 

Catalyst Environmental Solutions Corporation, 

Paradigm Environmental, Inc., 

DRP Engineering, Inc., 

Craftwater Engineering, Inc., 

Watearth, Inc., 

CG Resource Management and Engineering, Inc.;

 

Five medium sized firms: 

CWE, 

Larry Walker Associates, Inc., 

Pacific Advanced Civil Engineering, Inc., 

CASC Engineering and Consulting, Inc., 

MARRS Services, Inc.; 

 

And...  for the provision of as-needed environmental services for various projects

 

Four large-sized firms, 

AECOM Technical Services, Inc., 

ECORP Consulting, Inc., 

ICF Jones & Stokes, Inc. 

Psomas, 

 

Three medium-sized firms, 

Aspen Environmental Group, 

Chambers Group, Inc. 

Sapphos Environmental, Inc.; 

 

Three small-sized firms, 

Catalyst Environmental Solutions Corporation, 

UltraSystems Environmental, Inc., 

Watearth, Inc.; 

 

On-call engineering and project management services:

 

Five small-sized firms, 

Craftwater Engineering, Inc., 

DRP Engineering, Inc., 

FMF Pandion, 

Paradigm Environmental, Inc. 

Watearth, Inc.; 

 

Three medium-sized firms, 

CWE, 

Larry Walker Associates, Inc. 

Pacific Advanced Civil Engineering, Inc.; 

 

Ten large-sized firms, 

Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company, Inc., 

Geosyntec Consultants, Inc., 

GHD Inc., 

HDR Engineering, Inc., 

Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., 

Stantec Consulting Services Inc., 

Tetra Tech, Inc., 

Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions, Inc., 

Woodard & Curran, Inc., 

WSP USA Inc., 

A lot of repeat customers, but kudos to Watearth, Inc. for making all the lists 

And of course more good works re: the bloody RiverPlan (to nowhere) but pursuant to State Public Contract Code, Section 3400, that it inecessary to specify designated items by specific brand name in order to match other products in use on a particular public improvement either completed or in the course of completion and to obtain a necessary item that is only available from one source.  FFS 

Measure W (tf)

Measure W was successfully passed by voters in November 2018 creating the Safe, Clean Water Program. The Safe, Clean Water Program will provide local, dedicated funding for stormwater and urban runoff programs and projects to increase our local water supply, improve water quality, and provide community enhancements. The program is estimated to generate up to $285 million per year from a special parcel tax of 2.5 cents per square foot of impermeable surface area on property within the LA County Flood Control District. 

Maybe the LA Times can put a young cubby reporter on this, or probe a bit with Mark Pestrella the public works topper. 

Cubby young is fine but beggars can't be choosers, we'll take an old coot as well.  We simply need all hands on deck to get through these giant agendas with only 90 minutes of public comment, including translation, and half as many meetings as before the fab five landed the Supervisorial Ship Enterprise:  

  

The shameful "you can't come in here, (public) meetings" dba closed-sessioneering is as wrong as it gets...so maybe George Gascon our elected District Attorney and Rob Bonta our elected* Attorney General could focus on the PUBLIC (for whom they both work), not acting as partial mediators to the the BOS and Sheriff marital strife.   

Closed-sessioneering rhymes with less sloganeering, "Please." 

Maybe we can borrow some resources from the Weingart Foundation's partnership with Hilda Solis Village and the county board, for staff support to provide basic public scrutiny on the new bigger and so user-unfriendly giant board meeting agendas.  

The public has learned that we need to resource (pay people) to put up shade protections over our transit riders, and we now know that we need to resource people to walk our shelter dogs, and we obviously need to resource our In-Home Support Services IHSS workers, given the inflationary pressures, FFS.  

The public was reminded on Tuesday, that the rent is too damn high, so it is time to increase the effing wages. 

The board's agenda for next week has zero appearances of the word wage on a search conducted by a man familiar with the county's ginormous agendas.   

The board's meeting transcript from this week had dozens of comments about rent eviction and increasing pay for IHSS workers. [Briefly, the State saves a fortune by paying family members and others to take care of their needy, at home, under $20/hour.  The ask..."more!" 

One speaker advocate chimed in, "We knocked on three tents, three families.  A family of four, a couple and a single individual, all of them displaced due to economic situations.  The temporary protections that were put in place stopped a Tsunami of evictions. But as they have been weakened the numbers have risen and risen. And we have funding in the stay housed L.A. program where about 5,000 cases a year in a world where we see nearly 4,000 filings a month. 

It is not enough. So what you need to do is provide protections that serve as a deterrent to evictions. 

There was a limit to 100 members of the public in the hall that was completed in 1960, and has been the seat of the government of the County of Los Angeles, California, and houses the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, meeting chambers,  

Once the public comment was dispensed with it was time for the Board of Supervisors to cuddle up and listen to the dulcet tones on American Rescue Plan spender in chief,  D'artagnan Scorza, the Executive Director, Racial Equity.  

Scorza is giving Mitchell Katz a run for his money in the Supervisorial messiah competition.  

Katz was a DHS topper from a few years ago who was paid way above scale, nearly half a million to my recollection, but worth every nickel, as he consistently mesmerized the Board of Supervisors ... before bailing out to the Big Apple. 

Safe, Cleanish, Water:

Safe clean water depends on where you live. Mark Ridley-Thomas would remember the horrible water crisis that folks in his district a few years ago faced. This was before he puffed up to size and allegedly began accepting bribes from Marilyn Flynn at USC, who pled guilty recently. 

MRT was concerned about the dangers of arsenic, lead, and other toxic exposures to Los Angeles County residents, so the board voted to create a Toxic Threat Strike Team to monitor and coordinate inspections around toxic environmental sites around the county. 

Nicholas Goldberg who was the Editorial page editor for quite some time, was empathetic. 

Not about the water toxicity, of course, he would be on that, but he admitted feeling some empathy for Ridley-Thomas when he found out that his federal corruption indictment was over an alleged bribery scheme to benefit his adult son, who had recently resigned from the state Legislature and hit a rough patch.  

Sweet... but also tart, like apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah. Good yontif! 

SIPs prioritize projects that invest in Disadvantaged Communities, utilize Nature-Based Solutions, and advance compliance with existing water quality regulations.  Strong Fiscal Accountability The Safe, Clean Water Program includes strict accountability requirements. All money must stay local to protect our clean water and increase our local water supply with annual reports and independent audits required.  Each of the nine Watershed Area SIPs can be reviewed on the SCW Program website at link

Rosalind Wiener "Roz" Wyman

Ballsy to honor a USC alum in this climate.  Don't say climate.  

Right. 

As a student government leader at Los Angeles High School, Wyman became well known by the vice principal, to whom she regularly presented “crazy ideas.” She rallied for lunch mixers to bring lonely students together and pushed for school dances for those who couldn’t afford country club dances.   

After graduating from USC, the 22-year-old public administration major ran for Los Angeles City Council. Campaign headquarters were in Wyman’s living room, where USC students volunteered. “I literally wore out 13 pairs of shoes doing precinct work,” she says.    

A photo of those shoes made it into Life magazine. The national press really helps a longshot candidate, Wyman became the youngest elected legislator in a major U.S. city, a title she still holds.  Nithya Raman is the Goat, FYI, (ie. won as a non-incumbent) but Wyman started a new chapter for baseball in L.A.   

She's credited with helping to lure Walter O'Malley out to LA and pressing the Chavez Ravine initiative from a helicopter.   

After O’Malley’s death in 1979, Wyman received a phone call from his son, Peter. His father had left behind a special key said to fit every door in Dodger Stadium. Only one person could have it. Wyman still proudly holds the key to this day. 

Nothing about wages.  Unite Here 11. 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch)