New From CityWatch
BELL VIEW-I once did a short stint at Gigi Gordon’s Post-Conviction Assistance Center. My first week on the job, Gigi dropped 80 pedophile cases on my desk. The Supreme Court’s decision in Stogner v. California, which held California’s retroactive extension of the statute of limitations for child molestation unconstitutional, invalidated hundreds of convictions under the statute. I wasn’t long for that job. I didn’t have the constitutional grit necessary for criminal defense. But I learned a little something about pedophiles in the process.
ASSESSING OUR CULTURE OF IGNORANCE-Public ignorance is an inherent threat to democracy. It breeds superstition, prejudice, and error; and it prevents both a clear-eyed understanding of the world and the formulation of wise policies to adapt to that world.
EASTSIDER-I just finished reading Donna Brazille’s book Hacked, and she did not say that the election was “rigged” against Bernie. What she said was much worse!
ALPERN AT LARGE--Vision Zero (and, to a very large degree, Great Streets) are first-rate, meritorious efforts that have the ability to improve and save lives. There is no reason why every neighborhood council and city council throughout the nation and world shouldn't adopt part or all of those initiatives.
CAL MATTERS--With a declaration that “public servants best serve the citizenry when they can be candid and honest without reservation in conducting the people’s business,” lawmakers passed the California Whistleblower Protection Act in 1999.
NC BUDGET ADVOCATES—LA Neighborood Council Budget Advocates Janet Kim, Carol Newman, Michael Menjivar, and Ricardo Ramirez met with Chief of Staff Leela Ann Kapur and Budget Director Michiko Reyes from the City Attorney’s office to share recommendations, challenges, and successes concerning the city’s liability issue and lawsuits.
PLATKIN ON PLANNING-Question: Is the dizzy array of new zoning ordinances welling up at LA’s City Hall really intended to address LA’s twin crises of affordable housing and traffic congestion?
WEINSTEIN WATCH--Joe Biden is known for his folksy charm.
Joe Biden is a man looking for his moment. Behind those famous aviators, he’s surveying the landscape to see if 2020 might just be his year to fulfill his presidential dreams.
WAR POLITICS--A veteran who had sought help from a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in New Jersey killed himself in front of the building after his mental health needs were neglected, an investigation has found.
NEW GEOGRAPHY-Few global companies enjoy as much public good will as the Walt Disney Company. The entertainment giant regularly ranks highly on lists of the most admired or trusted companies, including ones from Forbes and Fortune.
PREVEN REPORT--During the past few years, according to a federal lawsuit filed last year by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, four separate police captains serving at various times on a disciplinary panel called the Board of Rights have come forward to accuse LAPD Chief Charlie Beck of pressuring them to return guilty verdicts and then punishing them in cases where they refused to tow the line.
EDUCATION POLITICS--Oh, California, you paradise, you far-flung western shoal, you frontier beyond purple mountains and fruited plains, you earth-shaking technological marvel, you never-ending party — California, you’re the land of good news, where the economy booms and the culture is wildly, diversely, supremely cool. You’re the golden realm at the end of our national rainbow.
VOICES--The state Legislature has repeatedly beaten down common-sense attempts to fix the most egregious flaws in the social-engineering experiments known as Prop. 47 and Prop. 57.
CAL MATTERS--The camera and lights switched on and Ole Torp, the Charlie Rose of Norway, leaned in, silver hair flashing, and posed his first question to Gov. Jerry Brown.
CORRUPTION WATCH-“Am I my brother’s keeper?” asked the world’s first murderer. This week the United States Senate GOP answered Cain’s question, “No, we are not our brothers’ keepers.” In adding a tax bill amendment which would repeal the Mandate from ObamaCare, Senate Republicans affirmed that we are not responsible for each other’s welfare. For the GOP, “each man is an island.”
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--The Los Angeles City Council Public Works and Gang Reduction committee approved a motion earlier in November to hire homeless individuals to collect garbage. The motion, which was written by city councilmembers Bob Blumenfield and Joe Buscaino, also aims to address the excess garbage on public walkways and streets – one of the issues residents most frequently report to the city.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Community Relations Officer John King promoted the idea that Rancho San Pedro’s public housing residents and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles are on a journey together. King spoke at an Oct. 26 meeting regarding the public housing’s redevelopment.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Affordable housing is vulnerable to new development in the highly sought Hollywood Hills west area.
On Tuesday, October 18, the Hollywood Hills West Neighborhood Council (HHWNC) unanimously opposed the proposed demolition of 1719 –1731 Whitely Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The project has stirred up the community since March 2016 and has been debated numerous times at Neighborhood Council committee meetings.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Working with our community partners, we took action this week to preserve two landmarks in the 13th Council District.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Water service reliability has increased in the Mar Vista area and surrounding communities thanks to the rehabilitation of the Grand View Regulator Station by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) crews. The 66 year-old Grand View Regulator Station is one of the first stations to be rehabilitated under LADWP’s five-year $2.4 billion Water Infrastructure Plan, which aims to also replace or upgrade mainline pipes, trunk lines, large valves, pump stations, water meters and in-city reservoirs and water tanks.
IMPEACHMENT EFFORT GROWS--West Valley Resistance is a grassroots community organization who spearheaded the passage of the impeachment resolution in the L.A. City Council, is standing up to defend the integrity of our American Democracy. This local group joins a nation-wide call for a Congressional Investigation. It is urgently necessary to determine whether sufficient grounds exist for the impeachment of Donald Trump.
@THE GUSS REPORT- If the lawsuit filed last week by diminutive LAPD Captain Lillian Carranza was a stand-alone story, the title of today’s column might be “Small Cop Stands Tall.” But it isn’t stand-alone at all.
ANIMAL WATCH-When Assembly Bill 485, which banned pet shops from selling dogs, cats or rabbits other than “rescued" animals or face a $500 fine, was signed into state law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 13, it also created and legalized an entire new California industry, devoid of regulation and oversight. It seems that the ramifications were also not considered. Sacramento legislators basked in a near-nirvana moment of media attention and glowed in the hype that they were “saving lives” -- as if they had just solved a problem, rather than potentially creating one.
GELFAND’S WORLD--Harlan Ellison, Timothy Snyder, and Ta Nehisi Coates are modern authors who have written with great eloquence that Truth Matters. It may seem strange that someone has to say so, but in this era it becomes a painful necessity. Snyder wrote On Tyranny, Coates has written two well received books and a column for The Atlantic. Ellison has published nearly two thousand stories and columns. And they all keep saying that truth matters. They're not alone, but their outspokenness in response to modern forms of public dishonesty stands out.
DEEGAN ON LA-The recent news that an as yet gender-unidentified mountain lion has been discovered in the Hollywood Hills reminds us that, while we live in a very dense city, our urban landscape also includes a thriving wilderness. If the mystery cat is a female and if she mates with one of the better-known local mountain lions – such as the iconic P-22 – we could soon have a new family in search of a hillside habitat. It would be, however, a family without a “dad” since male mountain lions leave “mom” within days of mating.
ADVOCATING FOR YOU-Los Angeles is home to the largest, most diverse system of grassroots governance in the world, the LA Neighborhood Council System. Except, in our city of 4 million people less than 1% of us know what a Neighborhood Council (NC) is or the amount of influence they hold. I've lived in LA for roughly a decade and had never learned any of this until this past spring. So, being brand new to the NC system myself, I was interested in learning more. What better place to make a real difference than in my own neighborhood, right?
CORRUPTION WATCH-Los Angeles’ corruptionism will last until LA real estate crashes and burns. A sociological explanation for this might be that “we grow up to become our parents.” Many of LA Millennials’ parents or grandparents were immigrants from the East Coast or other countries, which means their history has been to leave bad conditions rather than stay and fight for reform.
HULLABALOO--Here's your president in China, completely reversing everything he's ever said before and sounding like Chauncey Gardner:
GUEST COMMENTARY-More governors need to show their courage. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has proposed a budget calling on existing government employees and retirees to bear the costs of proposed pension reforms because citizens and taxpayers have already contributed enough to the retirement system. The proposed changes include higher contributions by employees and lower post-retirement increases for retirees.
NEW GEOPGRAPHY--Perhaps nothing has been more ironic than the canonization of respectable, moderate-seeming Republicans. People like Mitt Romney and the Bush family, once castigated as practitioners of unmitigated greed or even Hitlerian fascists, have suddenly become laudable in the mainstream media.
CRIMES OF INTIMIDATION-With all the current stories about endemic sexual harassment in the entertainment industry from the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, and others, I find it surprising that one critical point is never discussed in the media: What Weinstein, O'Reilly, and others have engaged in has little to do with sex and everything to do with criminal assault, battery, and other crimes of intimidation by men with profound feelings of inadequacy.
POLITICS--Democrats are fighting again. The trigger this time is former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile’s forthcoming book, which says that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was given significant control over the DNC long before she became the party’s nominee.
WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?--Many of the recent stories about sexual abuse claims against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and other powerful actors, journalists and executives mention settlements either they or their employers made to silence women who accused them of misconduct.
LA WATCHDOG--For the last four seasons, three million Southern California households have been unable to watch the Dodgers in the comfort of their own homes because of a business dispute between two media giants, Charter Communications, the owner of Time Warner Cable now doing business as Spectrum, and Direct TV, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company with a market capitalization exceeding $200 billion.
LA WATCHDOG--Ever since The New York Times broke the story on October 4th about the sexual harassment and rape allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, numerous other victims have surfaced, naming not only Harvey Weinstein, but other Hollywood predators, including filmmaker Brett Ratner, actor Kevin Spacey, and director James Toback. And no doubt there will be others who have used their power and status to prey on those lower down on the food chain.
LA WATCHDOG--On April 20, 2018, Mayor Eric Garcetti will submit his Proposed Budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2018 to the City Council. Between now and then, the Mayor and the City Council will develop the budget behind closed doors without any input from the public, including the charter authorized Neighborhood Councils.
LA WATCHDOG--The establishment of the municipally owned Bank of Los Angeles is an idea that is enthusiastically supported by City Council President Herb Wesson and the other members of the Council.
LA WATCHDOG--On Monday, The Weinstein Company (the “Company”) “announced that it has entered into a preliminary agreement with Colony Capital (“Colony”) to provide an immediate capital infusion into the Company. In addition, the Company has entered a negotiating period with Colony Capital for a potential sale of all or a significant portion of the Company's assets.”
The Weinstein Company Announces Investment from Colony Capital.
The Weinstein Company has been under siege since early October when The New York Times revealed sexual harassment and rape allegations against Harvey Weinstein, the Company’s founder, co-chairman, and celebrated rainmaker.
As a result of Harvey Weinstein’s rampant sexual misconduct, the Company in its current form is essentially out of business. After all, what self-respecting member of the Hollywood community, whether it be the talent or their agents, would work with (or even talk to) this sexual predator.
LA WATCHDOG--The four Garcetti appointed trustees of the Board of Administration of the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (“LACERS”) have demonstrated that they have placed their personal interests ahead of those of the almost 43,000 members who are dependent on LACERS for their retirement benefits.
Over 15,000 scientists hailing from more than 180 countries just issued a dire warning to humanity:
RESISTANCE WATCH--Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday to rail against the Trump administration and its policies, but the march was nothing like the huge demonstrations held across the country after last year’s presidential election.
RESISTANCE WATCH--A coalition of more than 200 South Korean civic groups have announced plans to protest U.S. President Donald Trump's escalation of nuclear tensions with North Korea during his scheduled visit to Seoul next week. (Photo above: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump met at the United Nations General Assembly in October.)
RESISTANCE WATCH--As news broke early Monday that former chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates have turned themselves in to federal authorities, grassroots organizations, lawmakers, and former government officials warned that Trump could be closer than ever to firing special counsel Robert Mueller—and urged members of Congress and Americans to take action in response.
RESISTANCE WATCH--I am going to switch it up today. Instead of giving you this week’s stories of horrible injustice, which Lord knows there is a long list of those stories to tell this week, I want us to have a serious conversation about how we make change happen in this country.
ANIMAL WATCH-At its Tuesday night meeting, Oct. 24, the Los Angeles Animal Services' Commission, appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, approved General Manager Brenda Barnette’s report requesting removal of all dog-breed ID labels from kennel cards in the interests of “transparency,” because she and the City shelter staff “really don’t know the breed of the dogs.”
ANIMAL WATCH-Animal activists and crime-ravaged communities reporting rampant animal neglect and abuse, cheered when the long-sought Los Angeles Police Department's Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) was formed in 2005 to address felony crimes against animals, including dog fighting and cockfighting. The motion was introduced by now-Congressman Tony Cardenas and seconded by current Secretary of State Alex Padilla, while both served on the City Council, and was approved on May 13, 2005.
ANIMAL WATCH-“If there is nothing bad or dangerous in a dog’s history--especially Pit Bulls--why would Brenda Barnette hide its records?” asked a visitor at the September 12 Los Angeles Animal Services Commission meeting.
@THE GUSS REPORT-On Friday, the National Football League (NFL) released a news nugget that was obscured by Friday’s Hurricane Harvey, President Trump pardoning former sheriff Joe Arpaio, and North Korea firing off some test missiles.
ANIMAL WATCH--Let's say you’ve discovered some mouse droppings, maybe even seen a mouse or rat scurrying by one night. So you decide to get some rat poison and put it out confident the problem has been solved. The rat eats the poison and makes its way across the yard where it catches the eye of a cat, a hawk, an owl that move in to catch this easy prey because it has slowed down or is moving erratically. Let's say the neighbor’s cat catches it, eats it. A few days later the heartbroken neighbor is posting signs wondering where their cat has disappeared to while a distraught neighbor a few doors over is calling dead animal pick up for the cat lying under the bushes.
This is not an unusual scenario. Using poison to kill rodents creates a serious hazard to cats and local birds of prey.
From PetMD –
Strychnine is a very strong and dangerous poison that is often added to bait for killing rats, moles, gophers, and other rodents or unwanted predators. Having a very short duration of action, the clinical symptoms of strychnine poisoning typically appear within ten minutes to two hours after ingestion, resulting in sudden death.
Patients often will die due to spamming of the muscles involved in respiration, resulting in strangulation. Cats of all ages are equally susceptible to the adverse effects of strychnine.
The following are some of the symptoms of strychnine poisoning:
- Limb rigidity
- Stiff muscles
- Uncontrolled violent seizures (sometimes in response to bright lights or noise)
- Severe spasms leading to arching of the head, neck and back in extreme hyperextension (opisthotonus)
- Elevated heart rate
- High body temperature
- Breathing difficulties, inability to breathe,
So how do we get rid of rats without creating lethal danger to our wonderful local cats, hawks and owls, all of whom provide the BEST way to kill rats and mice?
First of all a message to all the kind people providing food to their local feral population, do NOT put food out and keep it out. Put it out at specific times in the day and pick up whatever the cat doesn’t eat. That food attracts other creatures as well. Cats will know when the food is coming especially if you call them every time.
We also discourage the use of glue traps as it is a particularly cruel and inhumane, time consuming way to kill a rodent. The mouse runs onto it, sticks, and is terrified while its struggles to escape. It will either die slowly of dehydration or starvation. The traps can rip off fur and skin while they struggle, and rodents have attempted to chew through their own limbs to get free. Other animals can get trapped on it as well.
There is now a popular, new and effective trap that is being used by responsible residents. An electric trap. Small box with lure at back. Only mice and rats can fit in and are immediately zapped. More humane and less messy than the old fashioned snap traps. Just Google electric rat traps.
Here are some websites that give excellent instruction on ways to discourage rodents from visiting at all including the use peppermint oil - Add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to each cotton ball and lay strategically around your home. Refresh every week or so, or whenever you notice the smell is fading.) Did you know rodents hate to cross aluminum foil?
(Dianne Lawrence is a dog trainer and the publisher of The Neighborhood News. Reach her at: whatagooddogla.com/)
ANIMAL WATCH-At the March 14 LA Animal Services Commission meeting, Brenda Barnette included in her GM Oral Report a short but very precise and lucid overview of the Animal Services’ widely publicized hearing held on March 1. This was the inquiry to determine whether two Pit Bull that killed a tiny Pomeranian and then inflicted injuries which may have resulted in, or contributed to, the death of the dog’s owner, Valentin Herrera, 76, should be declared “Dangerous Animals.”
Barnette concluded with a clear and succinct statement: “Those dogs have been humanely euthanized.”
She later told a CBS reporter that she may have been confused and claims she “misspoke.” However, Barnette was voluntarily summarizing one single event---not discussing a number of cases or under stress that might have muddied her memory.
None of the Commissioners has experience in animal control, but they are thoroughly familiar with LA Municipal Code SEC. 53.18.5. HEARING PROCEDURES AND LICENSE REVOCATIONS, since, with Commissioner Larry Gross presiding, they serve as the Appeals Board in Dangerous Animal and Barking Dog hearings and review these cases regularly. In fact, they had heard four such appeals that morning.
But, with three attorneys present, not one asked about the euthanasia of the Pit Bulls prior to an appeal period. GM Barnette’s statement was delivered so unequivocally that no one raised the basic question to determine the right of LAAS to euthanize: “Did the owner relinquish the dogs?”
On Monday, March 20, after my CityWatch article appeared, LA Killer Pit Bulls Euthanized…Are Dog Attacks Now an Epidemic?, which quoted Barnette’s statement, I received numerous communications from reliable sources that the Pit Bulls in the Lincoln Heights attack were very much alive and being held at North Central Animal Shelter awaiting the end of the owner’s appeal period on March 22.
At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21, I electronically submitted a California Public Records Act Request (CPRA) to Commission President David Zaft and GM Brenda Barnette, asking for the records in their database regarding the status of these dogs.
Very promptly, at 2:20 p.m. I received all requested material, and a surprise! An entry by a shelter supervisor at approximately 3:45 p.m. on March 20, states:
“Administration has notified me that (Redacted name) is appealing DA 171117 NC and the determination that her dogs are “dangerous” (A1679513 AND A1679514). These dogs are to be held until the appeal is decided.
How could Brenda Barnette, who has more than six years as General Manager at one of the largest animal-control agencies in the U.S. and is the person who signs the decisions made at all Dangerous Animal hearings, forget there is an appeal period before allegedly dangerous dogs can be euthanized under law?
Also, there were two Assistant General Managers, Louis Dedeaux and Dana Brown, in the room at that time. Either could have slipped a note to their boss or whispered in her ear that she “misspoke.” (Asst. GM Louis Dedeaux has over 25 years in field and shelter experience at LA Animal Services and is the person who approves ALL animal euthanasias in City shelters.) Since neither of them corrected her, there was no reason for anyone present or those listening to the "On Air" broadcast to doubt Barnette’s word.
ALARMING INFORMATION FROM KENNEL IMPOUND
Here’s a little more information garnered from the Kennel Impound Cards: The two Pit Bulls involved in the February 2 attack on Mr. Herrera and his dog are named, “Rocky” (60 lbs.) and “Blue,” (83 lbs.) Both have a DOB of 02/03/2015. Neither is neutered or microchipped. There is no indication of dog licenses. Their physical condition does not indicate any negative findings but the description for each under OBJECTIVE FINDINGS, reads, “Patient will not allow full examination – SCARED.” A note for Rocky’s skin condition states: “MUZZLE SOILED W/BLOOD O/W OK.”
When CBS spoke to the grandson of the victim, Valentin Herrera, he was upset that the owner is requesting return of these dogs. However, an expert opined that it is possible the decision to appeal has as much to do with limiting potential civil liability. Simply allowing the dogs to be euthanized could be interpreted as an admission that they are dangerous, he said. The owner may believe there is a possibility of overturning the ruling by the LAAS Hearing Examiner, either on an appeal to the Commission or by filing an action in Superior Court.
If the owner prevails, it could mean the dogs will be released to her and returned to the Lincoln Heights location or merely moved to a location outside the city limits.
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME GM BARNETTE HAS “MISSPOKEN.”
Brenda Barnette -- who had no animal control or law-enforcement experience when she was appointed to be LA City’s “Top Dog” by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- has “misspoken” or “misinformed” on numerous occasions, with very costly results to taxpayers, animals and LAAS employees.
Here are just a few of the published examples:
Aug. 5, 2011 -- Guns, Ammunition Seized at L.A. Animal Shelters as Probe Expands
June 13, 2013 – Los Angeles Animal Services Captains Cleared
July 23, 2017 -- LA Animal Services' Employee Mauled by Pit Bull ... Who Cares?
SHOULD “MISMANAGEMENT” BE EXCUSED?
Barnette’s annual salary is now over $230,000 (Comparatively, Governor Jerry Brown makes $190,100, and the Assembly Speaker and Senate President pro tem are each paid $119,734, according to the LA Times.)
Shouldn’t we expect that she would not “misspeak” or “misinform” (without correction) on a matter as serious as Pit Bulls that are alleged to have killed a man and his dog?
Should the Commission (or anyone else) believe her on other issues -- including her insistence that Los Angeles is almost “No Kill,” although streets in many areas are rife with stray dogs and cats and thousands of homeless animals are merely being transported to other cities/states or “fostered” without a permanent home?
After more than six years, shouldn’t Barnette be expected to know the basic elements that are a regular part of her job?
Barnette’s “mismanagement” has systematically devastated a vital public safety department and endangered her staff, the public and animals; but there have been no consequences.
Is that because Barnette is automatically excused from “misspeaking” or “misinforming?” Or, is it because the political leadership of Los Angeles does not want to bring attention to its own rampant systemic manipulation of the truth?
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.