The Stepping Stone Trip and Fall

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - The federal government’s corruption trial against former Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan was abruptly continued Friday after his main lawyer fell ill and went to the hospital. Chan, a one-time aide to Eric Garcetti, is accused of playing a major role in the sprawling shakedown scheme run by former Councilmember Jose Huizar, who pleaded guilty last month. 

I came across a forty-minute presentation for Ray in the city council on July 26, 2017...  

There is a lot going on in this presentation. In the three minutes + clip below, Jose Huizar and Ana Guerrero of Mayor Eric Garcetti's office tout Raymond S. Chan who @PaulKrekorian called "an inspired choice by our mayor" and who Mitchell Englander noted, "never said no." 



Chan is facing a dozen criminal counts, including racketeering conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud + lying to federal agents.  

Raymond S. Chan, Ana Guerrero, one of Garcetti’s top deputies gave Ray a statue engraved with the moniker, Building Boom Booster, which served LA City from 1984-2017. 

In addition to being a longtime city official and real estate broker, Mr. Chan was also an author.   

Ray wrote a book. (pull the book out of the bag here)  Where he put down all of his thoughts about leadership, management, and how to get things done.  

His amazing can-do attitude has been captured for posterity.   

Herb Wesson, who famously called Jose Huizar his best friend, called Ray his  … “...personal friend, Ray,” and went on to say, "I look forward to working with you as you write the next chapter.”  

If hindsight were 20/20, that title: The Indictment! 

One of the speakers pushing to the Bima to tout Ray called him the “poster child for international investment.” 

And Chris Martin of  A.C. Martin, the powerhouse construction firm that built the Wilshire Grand, said, “how does a government regulator turn his office into an office of economic development? Ray has done this...in a unique way.” 

Mike Bonin said Ray Chan was as “rare as a four-leaf clover” in that he not only gets things done but also “creates a culture around him.” 

“If there were ever an example of the perfect general manager.” 

There was an audible groan as Mitchell Englander blurted, “You are a Ray of sunshine, Ray.”  

Englander who finished his sentence for lying to the FBI many months ago,  said,  “Most people don't know we have a very close relationship outside the building.” 

"You've been a mentor to me... and a lot of guidance and principles...you've written in your book, you've shared with me and passed down to me.” 

The thrust of Ray’s book, for which I have issued a CPRA request but have not read was encapsulated by Mayor Garcetti’s office:  

“We have to always remember that leadership is not about authority but about responsibility. Not about power, but an honor.  Not a right, but a privilege.  Not a position, but action.  Not what to do to people, but for people.”  

Ana Guerrero, who Ray calls "boss" personally rejected Ray’s attempt to resign after decades of gittin r' done for the powers that be.  

After his reign at the department of building and safety, Guerrero personally brought him back to work his 'economic development' magic in the mayor's office.  

This was the period when Eric Garcetti's office was kicking ass and taking names while gathering a historic sum of behested payments to the Mayor's Fund. There's no need to aggressively audit the mayor's fund because it's all about helping people, silly.  Mas de $31 million!  

Flying around the country with Rick Jacobs in tow, reaching in…and raising big big big money for all sorts of worthy initiatives is what the Mayor’s fund is all about.  

L.A.’s Mayor’s Fund was modeled after a similar mayoral charity in New York created when Rudy Giuliani was mayor in the 1990s. Both organizations are 501(c)(3)s not 501(c)(4)s, so they aren’t allowed to advocate, participate in politics or spend money on influencing elections, silly. 

The unlimited nature of the behested payments at the request of a public official can create opportunities for influence buying, and since there are no limits on behested payments,  a donor can support a public official above and beyond the legal contribution limits. This undermines anti-corruption efforts. 

How is this not graft, since all of the donors are being shaken down?  

Paul Krekorian, the last man standing, was carpet-bombed with max contributions from powerful Harvard-Westake Trustees, who were seeking city approval for a private bridge over Coldwater Canyon, and have since moved their crosshairs to another Studio City Landmark with Krekorian’s help. 

Krekorian deftly rejected a bid for higher office in 2024, when he terms out because he’s never been busier processing the orders down at City Hall.  

Smart Vegas money expects Council President Krekorian to seek a lucrative LADWP something or other. 

He installed, Sir Topham Hat, dba Matt Hale, over there recently, and Hale is allegedly wicked smaht! If you believe the now disgraced, but making a comeback soon, Nury Martinez, who said it repeatedly.  

For a while, in Nury’s mind, she was a strong Latina role model, if not an icon.  Maybe the icon is too much, she does not have a village named after her like Hilda Solis or was not denigrated by Ana Guerrero, like Delores Huerta!   

Ana Guerrero, Mayor Garcetti's preferred, chief of staff for many years also promised to have “women who look like me”  or in Nury’s case “women who sound like me.”  Wesson preferred, “boys who looked like me.”  

Guerrero served at the Mayor’s Ray Chan Help desk but was unwilling or unable to do anything about the rampant sexual harassment problem that eventually metastasized into an impediment to the Mayor’s confirmation as Ambassador to India.  

Guerrero also made nasty remarks on Facebook about Delores Huerta that required a leave of absence, but one of her greatest moments, which will be remembered for years to come was the episode of City Council in which she led the charge to gush and Daven over the “greatest city employee of all time, Ray Chan.”  

Chan was the Kobe Bryant of the City Government.  

The video is mesmerizing to viewers … 

At one point, Guerrero whips out a book that she says was written by Ray about how to get things done at Building and Safety but really across the city’s vast landscape of dysfunctional departments and michigas. 

If that wasn't enough that she had the department build Ray a Crane and hosted a prior party with the entire Mayor’s office, she coordinated Mike Bonin of CD11 and Los Angeles World Airports [LAWA}, where Ray Chan's name could be overheard in the corridors, to provide a runway light to Ray as a gift.  

Ray cut a historic amount of red tape for LAWA and the landside modernization project etc. Though we’ve paid out millions and millions to lawyer besties from Meyers Nave, and Burke Williams— 

Sir, you’re disrupting the meeting.  

At the end of all the crooked politicians praising the most corrupt city official in history, they trotted out an older white gentleman named Martin from the downtown titan A.C. Martin, wanted to quote Luke 638. 

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”   

But instead, trotted out the Poet RL Sharpe, and said he recognized a quality in Ray, and said, that even though the poem was written over 100 years ago...he must have known Ray when he wrote it.    

The whole room leaned in… for one thing, this guy helped build the Wilshire Grand.  “That property,” he said, “served as a prototype for foreign investors —“ 

"Isn't it strange how princes, kings, and clowns that caper in sawdust rings and common people like you and me are builders of eternity?  Each is given a book of rules, a shapeless mass, and a bag of tools. And each must build 'er life is flown a stumbling block or a stepping stone.” 

“Ray is a builder of stepping stones,” the developer said to respectful applause.  

Here's the full breathtaking un-cut version. Some humorous but accurate alterations were made to the catchy opening sequence introducing the council members before the meeting, for clarity. 



Ray's Besties:

Ray was the concierge… and said at one point to his staff, “Thank you for tolerance of my occasional idiotic behavior.” 

He went on to thank a very helpful team, and mentioned Sharon Tso, still CLA, Richard Llewelyn still kicking, 

Tony Royster, still GSD jefe, David Wright (frogmarched out of DWP,  Gary Lee Moore (retired and got same au devoir as Ray Chan), Joel Jacinto (frogmarched out)  Frank Bush, (retired and got same au revoir as Ray Chan). Gene Seroka (still Executive Director Port of Los Angeles), Vince Bertoni. (still Head of City Planning Department, following Michael LoGrande who was fined $281,250 for violating the city’s ethics ordinance.)  And last but not least, Doane Liu, who was also appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as the Executive Director of the City Tourism Department (CTD).   

TOT Baby:

Doane is very excited about Transit Occupancy Taxes. 

They are so important that Paul Krekorian cut Richard Weintraub’s unpaid TOT taxes, to the tune of over $500,000 — for his Sportsmen’s Lodge and Landing.   

Not to mention the dump and scrub of the hotel that participated in Project Room Key, before the high-degree-of-difficulty-bait-and-switch was initiated in Studio City.    

It's not over until it's over.  

We all wish Ben Besley good luck, now that he’s left Midwood to find someone else to deal with the most challenging constituents that Richard Weintraub ever encountered.  

Federal Intervention:  Budget Booster!

The big MUST-COVER in detail trip to Washington DC for the first-ever historic Five-Pack of Women County Supervisors and the Mayor is moving forward.   

As the budget season is upon us, there is no better time than the present to get some FaceTime with Joe Biden and load up on federal resources. The Trip is scheduled for the week of April 24th, and the hunt for nice but not ostentatious luggage and accommodations is on! 

The roster of attendees is growing quickly and without missing a beat, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles is being suggested as a possible White House goodie bag.  Not to leave them behind, but rather bring them along and do a short set.  Why not?  

The To-do list for Washington is long, but a cappella is always appropriate.   

Item One — it’s private budget season.  "There is a public season for the Los Angeles city budget and a private season," according to the LA Times OnThe Record, desk  

If the budget process were Tennis, the Mayor serves first. 

Once her service has been received, a series of volleys or public hearings in the council’s budget and finance committee are conducted with presentations from all the players. 

Public testimony is limited to a “generous” sixty seconds on the whole budget because it is, according to Paul Krekorian, one item.  

What’s one item?  

The entire budget.  

What are you talking about there are 28 departments, shouldn’t each department, you know…give a presentation to the public and committee?  

No, because Mr. Krekorian and his team have already reviewed the documents.  

What about the public?   

Your time is up, thank you, Mr. Preven.  

You’re welcome.  

The Times called the six weeks of budget consideration a sprint, but the only one in a rush is Paul Krekorian, the longtime budget chair, who as the new council president has delegated everything he's built with Ray Chan over nearly a decade to Bob Blumenfield (of the NFL and NHL.) 

The “hurry up we are trying to break last year’s short budget hearing record” sprint will be followed by Blumenfield’s recommendations that will eventually go before the full council for a lockstep vote.  

Though, there is some fun distracting pyrotechnics on the last day.  

Krekorian has clung to and thus made famous, the “quarterback sneak.” 

Blumenfield may or may not agree with this play, we will have to see, but the way it works is… 

The last budget meeting of the council is conducted…privately. 

This means Krekorian’s closing comments about how great it is going are done at a Special Meeting of the council with no public comment.  It’s a major sleight of hand slash mistake.   

You’d think the nudnik who schooled these assholes on the Brown Act and what the rules are on Special Meetings would be able to end the illegal practice, but— 

The Judge to whom the smart speaker complained, resigned after doing nothing to enforce the appellate victory.  

Sir, you’re disrupting the meeting.  

You’d think the local paper of record would hold them accountable, as they did recently, by collecting nearly half a million from each the city and the county for — 

Sir, which item are you on?  

The LA Times, which, typically does not delve deeply into the budget morass is making an effort and called the budget hearing process, "the sexy part" of the way fiscal policy is made at City Hall.   

Thank you. 

It’s possible that a new crop of reporters is finally bringing the right level of arousal to these affairs — time will tell.  

One interview in the Times coverage with Rick Cole, who worked for Eric Garcetti and then as city manager of Santa Monica, called the hearing process, “the visible part of the iceberg," but said, the decisions get "made below the waterline.” 


Mayor Bass sent a memo to the city's myriad departments, saying that requests for new positions would be denied this season unless they’re critical.  

They are!  

Her priority is fighting homelessness but also filling the astonishingly high level of vacancies.  

Sit down, Mr. Blumenfield!  

Hopefully, a big splashy (and sexy) article in the Los Angeles Times, or if they are having vacancy problems, I suppose the New York Times is thriving.  

Disclosure: I read an in-depth probe about Drew Barrymore’s life in LAT, that may have exceeded 5,000 words this weekend.   

Barrymore is doing rather well these days with well over one million viewers, but live, Kelly & Ryan © Disney ABC Home Entertainment is the big dog, with 2.3 million viewers.  

The newly elected Controller, Kenneth Mejia, who sports a little dog, noted that Mayor Bass’ “effort to fund temporary housing and spur construction of additional permanent housing is unknown, but will undoubtedly require major funding.”  

Excellent.  How much?  

Paul Krekorian:  ”We're not taking public comments, Mr. Preven, we've already taken six hours of public comment." 

Rick Cole called the city council hearings on the budget an elaborate show, saying that “when the dust settles, traditionally they move around less than one-half of 1% of the budget.”  

One-half of 1% of $10B is $50,000,000, but Disclosure: The City’s budget for 2022-2023 was $11.8 Billion, which is certainly more than $10 Billion. 

The City Council voted in late January 2023, to create and transfer $50 million into an emergency fund for Mayor Karen Bass to use at her discretion to address Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis.  

Round ‘em up: 

According to Miguel Santana, one of the CAOs of Christmas past, who flitted over to LA County Fair to collect half a million a year before properly landing at Weingart Foundation as President and CEO, said  the budget of HHH  “was never designed to build as much housing as possible, as quickly as possible.” Rather,” he told the Daily News, “it was structured to best leverage $1.2 billion in city investment with federal, state, and other funding sources to get “bigger bang for the buck.”   

Housing is being built just not as fast as it should be, but it is being built, Santana said. 

That's a lot!  Weingart is about Courage: Dignity: Innovation and Curiosity: Partnership: Racial justice: Respect: and Trust.  They’re always focusing the resources on activities that produce results and they use a Learning and Assessment Framework to better understand and assess how the grantmaking and investments, further the organizational effectiveness.  Thank you. 

A typical affordable housing project used to take four to five years to complete from the time a developer acquired a site to when they finished construction, according to Dora Leong Gallo, president and CEO of A Community of Friends, a nonprofit that builds and provides permanent supportive housing to people experiencing homelessness and mental illness.  

Gallo is also a so-called usual suspect and if she didn’t donate to Mark Ridley-Thomas’ legal defense fund. It was probably because she didn’t get the letter requesting support timely.    

Ridley-Thomas, who the Times has covered capably recently, raised over $1.5M according to the LA Times Legal spending desk.  

How much did Skip Miller and Mira Hashmall of Miller Barondess, LLP get paid to process the order for $28.5 million smackeroos paid out to a very wealthy woman, Vaness Bryant?  

“Get him out of here!” 

Skipper must have donated to the MRT legal booster fund.  He was a big giver for many years, pre-indictment.   

As for, Gallo, who served in various capacities on the staff of former Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, she said there had been “a culture shift in City Hall under the Bass administration” and called the mayor’s directive for city departments to review applications concurrently, rather than one after another, a “game changer.”   

“With the mayor’s executive directive, we could do this in three or four years,” Gallo said. 

Disclosure: I watched Chris Rock and was aware of some offensive content, but not offended and proud to say that man is a genius!




(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)