Sun, Dec

Winking Emoji: A Legacy


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - District Dirt. Ruth Galanter reportedly said this week, "The value system that does seem to operate is 'Where can I raise the most money for whatever it is I want to raise it for, or wherever it is I want to have influence?"

Winking Emoji: 



The winking face emoji’s predecessor was the ;) or ;-) emoticon.  It dominated digital spaces long before the rise of emoji, and continues to be enjoyed by people who prefer emoticons to emoji 

According to Dictionary.com, a yellow face with a slight smile shown winking, usually its left eye, may signal a joke, flirtation, hidden meaning, or general positivity. Tone varies, including playful, affectionate, suggestive, or ironic.  Not to be confused with the more mischievous or sexual  Smirking Face. 

Note: The description above is not meant to be a formal definition of Winking Face emoji.  But rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage.    😉


A Psychiatrist on every Bus!

On Oct. 19, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal by Supervisor Janice Hahn and co-authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis that allows the LA County Department of Mental Health to enter negotiations with Metro 

Potential partnership between our Department of Mental Health and Metro professional mental health teams will be accessible through the upcoming national mental health crisis hotline 9-8-8, which is set to launch next summer. 

Leadership comes naturally to the Supervisor, and she has appeal across the aisle.  Insiders are wondering if Janice Hahn might be considering tossing her hat in the ring for Mayor?  

Consider a possible new slogan from JHahn, as she's known on the block... 

A chicken for every pot... and a psychiatrist on every bus!    

Note: The original advertisement ran on October 30,1928, and was mercilessly made fun of by President Herbert Hoover's opponents, our treasured Democrats. They reminded voters heading into 1932 that Hoover had promised voters a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage during the campaign of 1928.  Doh! The Great Depression.   


Go Clippers: Immunity & Prestidigitation  pres-ti-dij-i-tey-shuhn  

One assumes Mayor James T. Butts has good attendance at the mandated sexual harassment training classes administered by Human Resources in Inglewood, but it's always tough to shake a long tail of possibly false allegations.  

In a statement, Mira Hashmall, an attorney from Miller Barondess, LLP representing Inglewood, called the allegations against the mayor “false, malicious and defamatory” and accused Doe of using the lawsuit as an “extortion tactic.”  

Hmmm, interesting notion. So, one threatens litigation against a mayor to extort some action or inaction etc.  Skip, are you following?  

Hashmall, who is wicked smaht, is suggesting that these Jane Does are threatening to sue the City and if Butts wants to attend Clipper games regularly, he better pay up! 

Sort of like, Sachi Hamai (Doe3) and the County CEO threatening to sue LA County and if the Sheriff wants to wear his damn cowboy hat, he better pay up!  [No cowboy hats are permitted while doing time tk.] 

The Supervisors control the pocket book on Sheriff Villanueva's lawsuits, and they agreed to come up with $1.5 million for their gal Friday, Sachi Hamai. She also served on the board of the United Way of Southern California.  😉

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have been aggressively looking into all options for removing the Sheriff.  In January they heard a report on four possible legal strategies.  

Whereas, Skip is the "Ace" starter for the county calling out harassment like balls and strikes, MIra Hashmall is certainly good for four innings, and if she has her way, nobody is getting on base in Inglewood.  

In the City of Los Angeles, we have Daniel S. Miller, a chip off the old Skip Miller at mom and pop law firm, Miller Barondess LLP.  Dandiel has been a reliable closer on naughty police misconduct at LAPD.  He's sort of the the Sebastian Ridley-Thomas of...    

Sir, you're disrupting the meeting. 


Next Speaker:

In July 2017 Jane Doe #2 secured a $450,000 settlement on an LAPD incident from December 2008, made payable to: Miller Barondess, LLP and Nancy Hernandez thanks to Daniel's team. 

And in February 2018, the case entitled Jane Doe v. Luis Valenzuela, et al. was settled with the city willing to fork over and the Council approving a payout of $1,975,000 to Miller Barondess LLP   😉

Mira Hashmall, specializes in employment litigation matters involving race and gender discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour, and wrongful termination claims for private and public employers and heads the appellate department at Miller Barondess.   

In regards, to the recent allegations made about Mayor James T. Butts Jr. that he promised a consultant 'more financial opportunities if she would satisfy his creepy sexual proclivities.'   Hashmall was quoted in the newspaper, “There was no sexual violence, assault, or harassment of any kind. In fact, her own complaint makes that clear. It is devoid of any facts to support her fabrications.”  

Should we take her word that they are fabrications?  She went on to say, "This is a transparent ploy to try to destroy the reputation of others in the pursuit of money. It will not work. We are prepared to fight these lies all the way to trial.”   

Sheesh, all the way to trial, that's got to cost a lot.  At least it's transparent.  Whose covering those costs?  

Sir, you're still disrupting the meeting. 2nd warning.  

The City of Inglewood has refused to provide evidence of the work Ms. Doe performed. When asked for substantiation of what Doe was doing for the city, they say she did not have a public-facing job as originally outlined in her contract. Got it.  😉



Hashmall is both transparent and diverse. In the big Ninth Circuit case, Tennessee v. Garner  she was very clear. 

The Court held in that case that a police officer may only use deadly force against a person who “poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others. . ..” 105 S. Ct. 1694, 1701 (1985). Here, Petitioner Neal Browder shot and killed Fridoon Nehad despite evidence in the record indicating that Nehad posed no threat to Browder or anyone else.  

She argued, "Simply put, this case encompasses too many disputes of fact to warrant the Court’s consideration at this time. This Court should not decide whether qualified immunity is merited in given circumstances when it is disputed what those circumstances actually were.  

The question presented here is thus whether a police officer is entitled to qualified immunity where the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that the officer used deadly force in the absence of a threat of serious physical harm to anyone.   

Most favorable? The Petition was denied and qualified immunity was upheld.  

Respectfully submitted, by the firm who upholds qualified immunity, every single day...  





Except the day that they gave Sachi Hamai $1.5 million just cuz...


Quality Assurance Consultant:

The reason people attend meetings is perfectly exemplified in an otherwise routine Nithya Raman Chaired Internet and technology committee meeting.  It's a small committee, with only Bob Blumenfield and Curren Price around for laughs.  

Nithya Raman, who is very professional and articulate, said, "This is a very small agenda so it should not take long, members."     

I had been planning to provide a short comment on an item about the destruction of records... namely old LADWP records.  The oldies, but the goodies.   

I was going to ask if the period of records being destroyed included the world famous Studio City NC rebuke of Mike Feuer for his bungling of the Price Waterhouse screw the public lawsuit at DWP?   

I was going to ensure that we did not destroy the letter from the Studio City Neighborhood council to the US Attorney's office, including Mack Jenkins:  

"It is our understanding that Attorneys in the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section prosecute impactful cases aimed at preserving the government’s integrity, reforming corrupt behavior, and protecting citizens’ constitutional rights.  

The Section works in close partnership with the FBI and other investigative agencies to achieve its goals. The Board of the Studio City Neighborhood Council voted on October 16, 2019 - 11 ayes, 3 abstentions, to urge your office to initiate a Special Investigation into the recent withdrawal of the payment processing lawsuit, on behalf of ratepayers.  We are very disappointed by the turn of events that has led to the withdrawal of litigation that was aimed at holding [Pricewaterhouse Coopers] accountable for their actions.”  

The settlement was called a “charade” at an August hearing by the judge who oversaw it. Council member Nury Martinez said, “We should not lose sight of the fact that it is the ratepayers — especially low-income families and seniors — who were harmed the most by the clear negligence, improprieties and overcharging that took place, as well as the subsequent fallout.”  

Mr. Espinosa, who works in the City Clerk's Office (of irregularity) got confused (again)... and failed to recognize my attempt to be heard. 

After a stunning report on PaySR & Workday Human Resources that I'll get to in a minute this small but brave committee of public servants capably held off a virtual public speaker.  

How do we know?   Because the City Attorney Wong spoke up, "Madame Chair, there is one speaker. "   

Raman seemed interested for a split second, like someone had come to her party afterall,  but concluded, "We've already taken public comment, haven't we?"   

When a speaker intends to be heard, they are instructed to press  *9.  Doing that once, usually does the trick. It allows the meeting chair, Raman in this case,  to recognize the speaker.   

Wong wobbled, but after sitting through the entire almost one hour long PaySR & Workday Human Resources meeting, the input from the public was firmly rejected.   

As I wrote to Ms. Raman,  

Not nice to leave a member of the public who showed up on time, waited, and everyone could see was waiting after an inadvertent disconnect. I called back, heard the whole meeting, at one point I hit *9 desperately and the data will confirm the host was aware… 💔 

The PaySR  matter sounds like one of the most breathtaking rip offs in Modern American History. 30% over budget in one year of a multi-year project.  

Ron Galperin the current and Paul Koretz the hopeful, tweedle dee and tweedle dum of the Controller's office "one coming, one going" have been assessing the best way to evolve our payroll system to one coherent functional system.   

This is the payroll system that pays the fifty thousand city workers, so it better be right.  It's not.  

Nobody denies that a company Workday operates data centers and makes money by selling subscriptions to its services rather than selling the software outright.  

Expenses are booked up front when the company signs on a new customer but the associated revenue is recognized over the life of multi-year agreements.  

The project has been in the works for many years.  This latest effort nudged along by Ted Ross, a lovely guy who has no problem following instructions, no matter how shocking or corrupt they may be.  

He's the boss of the city's ITA agency that used to shrink public speakers down to the size of #BlumenfieldsNose because Herbert J. Wesson, said so, when the public was allowed to attend meetings.   

The big recommendation that Ross and an elite commission of department heads came up with and was underscored repeatedly is the need for -- a quality assurance consultant.  We need one stat, apparently, to provide further oversight over this metastasizing project.   

Apparently there had been some serious underestimation of the time and level of effort and resources needed for production support.  How much underestimation?   

Ted Ross cheerfully reported that we were only $13 million-ish over budget so far.  Only? 

On top of how much?  First, someone said, $21M, then another $11M and add a final $2M... Blumenfield would have flashed his frowny emoji if they were permitted, because the price tag had risen to over... $35 million.   

"$35 million is a lot," Blumenfield was thinking, "that could buy a few dozen tiny homes." 

Ted Ross, pushed aside the HR spinners, who were making things worse and explained...  

1) This is a Herculean task. 

2) Workday provides a great product, but they need city staff cooperation to be effective.  😉 [That's a diss on HR an Controller's office]

3) There are a multitude of factors to blame including Covid, and SIP...  (Separation Incentive Program, created by Blumenfield)  

But how could we be 30% over budget... because we lost one year?  Why couldn't they work from home like everyone else?
Ted Ross assured the committee who were understandably outraged, "We won't fail. We didn't drop the ball. We tried to course correct."   

Also, he added we're spending $10.8 million to increase Accenture and Data Man ..."Who?" 

Blumenfield suddenly had something like a light bulb go off over his head.  The flash was almost bright enough to arouse Curren Price from his nap.  It had been a tough week of defending (to the right degree) his federally indicted colleague.   

"Could FEMA possibly reimburse?" Blumenfield, wondered aloud. "I know it's something of a Bank shot."   

Melissa Fleming representing the City jumped on it and said  "I have no problem, pushing on all funding sources."   

Raman, who ran on accountability and equity and hope...  wondered: 

"How are our heads not exploding... " 


Re: Size of presentations. Bigger is better. 

Claudia Peschiutta is leaving KNX1070 that has a one-hour free mayoral program, when Garcetti's feeling up to it, so it's hard to argue they're not on his side.  

But Claudia's move to KPCC & sister publication, LAist, is a shift from the center to the left.  [Like a dance...shuffle].  It's fun, and you don't need a cowboy hat.  

KFI, has been actively appealing to people who like to think for themselves and don't want to be hand delivered a point of view, like over at KCRW.  KFI is for people who can tolerate nasty but also offensive butt kicking five days a week, whilst jotting down names.   

Is it refreshing or disgusting? @johnandkenshow   😉

I bring this up out of respect for the LAPodcast emergency report on the MRT indictment.  Check it, it's very clear.


Gratitude Goes Both Ways in LA Politics. 

The Board of Supervisors have had over the years an almost sadistic zeal for self-congratulation. The more frowny face emojis among the public, the more winky face emojis from the Supervisors and their treasured partners.   

Hard to forget the hair-raising period when the supervisors were auditioning a program where certain speakers and donors and not for profiteers would speak in a separate preferential timeslot at board meetings, often for more time than the rank and file public, like me, for instance.  

Eventually, the presenters themselves could tell it was not appreciated and so scrapped the program... and eventually half or more of the annually alloted public comment opportunities.  Hello Mr. Gascon   😉

Why this was allowed?  Not sure, thank you for making it stop. 

The Attorney for Mark Ridley-Thomas, Michael Proctor had his head so far up his own smart speaker phone, that his final comment after capably defending MRT at the arraignment the other day, was a heartfelt thank you to the prosecution team.   


2nd Chance: 

One concern is that the significant reputation of Mark Ridley-Thomas, capably summarized by Marqueece Harris-Dawson here cobbled from five historic tweets, will be hurt:  

The reasonable among us were stunned and saddened at the indictment. It is difficult news to accept about a man whose 

political career is often described as bold and effective.   

During the days preceding Council President Nury Martinez’s motion, his decades of public service have been scrutinized, and his decisions, parental and otherwise, have been weighed and debated.  

And out of concern for the people and important work performed in chambers, Council member Mark Ridley-Thomas voiced his intention to step back so that the council could focus on its work.   

There is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. And those who mete it out must grapple with this balance and with the social and moral consensus. Is this an occasion for the letter of the law or the spirit of the law?  

I voted no because a precedent is not a rule. This was a rush to judgment. The motion for the suspension is unnecessary, and this decision leaves a community of 260,000 residents without political representation.  

That's potentially 260,000 winking emojis.


Hall of Justice: 

Of all the grisly cases that make their way through Federal Court in Los Angeles, the Leo Baeck Temple matter was near the top of the list.  

There's no room to go into it here, but suffice it to say, what a shanda.   

The gorgeous wooden Temple in the Sepulveda pass sued the City and the County of LA because they - read the LA Times, and felt that that mysterious early morning fire must have been started by a homeless person who may have been in possession of an old stove that obviously didn't work ...  😉

An Intercept article cleared up how little the Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and his compromised set of first responders knew when Mayor Eric Garcetti blurted to the world about the alleged phantom encampment fire.  

Jeff Gorell the mayor's public safety hack and Mitch Englander, now in jail,  understood at the time that rich and poor housed people are fine with firemen moving Homeless out of dangerous fire prone hillsides, more so than with police officers.  

Hey, one idea or compromise, maybe Urban Alchemy?  

Urban Alchemy had two items on the agenda last week as referenced in a prior column.  If O'Farrell bulking up on the service they provide... 

Back to Leo Baeck, the lawsuit was to collect millions from the City an County for smoke damage (eyes narrowing). 

This was the same Temple where the buddy of Mark Ridley-Thomas ran a Safe Parking lot.   

The same Temple that declined to let a candidate participate in a Supervisorial debate, for which he was present and ready and in his best Bar MItzvah suit. 


Give me Something Larger: 

Way back when, I was a senior in high school, and she was a relatively attractive big time civil rights attorney from New Haven.   

My first big case with her was as the weeping relative handler, for a case in which she was suing on behalf of the family, the New Haven Police Department, over the death of their son. The police officer had charged into a darkened stairwell and opened fire.  

The officer had qualified immunity, but the Lawyer was getting the family squared away.   

I was in charge of our courtroom presentations.   

Foam core, enables one to easily mount pictures, posters or presentations and it's fairly light.   

At the right moment, when the attorney would indicate through a look and nod of her head, I would jump into action.  

I had a small crush on the attorney who was very captivating and attractive and persuasive.  

On the day, she give me the look, that said, "Now. Let's not screw this up."   

I was like a stagehand quietly working onstage during a darkened, break, only in this scenario, I was dressed in my Bar Mitzvah suit and working in front of a packed courtroom.  

My assignment was to unveil the sheet covering the attorney's grisly presentation of young Freddie. 

An enormous morgue shot, with bullet holes and all.   

If all went as planned, there would be... a gasp from the assembled jury! 

My effort to remove the sheet was not going as planned. I was struggling to remove the sheet.  

Sue was not exactly laughing but quietly urging me to complete the task...  

The family of the deceased, who I had got to know, were sort of rooting for me....  

I realized that time was of the essence, the jury was where Sue wanted them to be:  I needed to bust a move -- and that's what I did.   

Unfortunately, the large foam core photo, inadvertently, but I maintain gently, whacked juror number seven in the back of the head. 

The Judge looked unhappy.  Sue was apologetic. 

Rumors, that a very important recess was called on account of my bungle, that gave the jury one final taste of humanity before finding in favor of the family, are not substantiated.  

Juror number seven's hair bun may have been impacted, but did not result in such a special recess. 

The heart goes out to the US Attorneys charged with wheeling in the winking emoji befitting of such a great leader. 

Caution is advised. 😉


 (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)