Fri, Jul

In That Case, Hire A Lawyer. And, Do Bans Work?


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - We were discussing the benefits of a chiropractor -- a cousin told a story of a friend who went in for an adjustment and had her neck broken.  I told her straight up, in that case, "I'd hire a lawyer." 


This is one of the few exceptions and so a good time to consider hiring a lawyer.  For a Brown Act violation, you need to do a serious cost benefit analysis.  

Even though the Agencies very clearly must abolish any requirement that public comments be submitted in advance of the meeting and must provide an opportunity for the public to address the legislative body and offer comment in real time.   

And, though written public comments are still permitted, a “real-time” comment option (e.g. telephone or Internet based) which allows the person to read their own comment must be allowed.   

These provisions do not require the legislative body to provide a physical location from which the public may attend or comment, but the 'rufkm' doctrine makes it eminently clear that the public needs to be present in the room to spot and call out the... sneaky sideshows.  

Nobody denies they exist.  Open the hall forthwith.  


Banning guns ... while arming Rangers:

In Old English, ban originally meant “to summon” or “proclaim” before evolving to “curse” in the 1200s and “prohibit” by the 1300s. The development is complicated, but etymologists point out that the underlying Germanic root of the word carried the sense of “speaking publicly.” 

In contemporary English, ban is synonymous with boycottingprohibiting, and censoring. It is a way of keeping something from people (or people from something), usually because it’s viewed as dangerous or harmful to the public. 

The sheer number of items banned at the local, state and federal level has been rising... at a similar rate to the alleged increase in "hate" crimes. A survey of LAFD’s workplace culture also found that 56% of sworn female employees who responded cited bullying and harassment as sources of conflict at the department — compared with 19% of sworn males and 26% of civilian women. 

It was a tie at 41% of both Black and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, who claimed bullying and harassment are issues.  

Notwithstanding, these numbers, Paul Koretz led the charge this week to rightsize the rule about mandatory vax checks so that every mall shopper won't have to be scanned for proof of vaccination, but rather a series of creepy spot checks would be conducted by the hourly mall cops gittin' r done, every single day. 

Maybe we could use the same DOT signage team  to come up with Spot Check signage who estimated $11,000 and $15,000 per sign to prevent sitting, lying down etc. 

A pretextual reason should not be necessary to approach a shopper in Paul "The Spot Checker" Koretz's Beverly Hills adjacent fifth district, because all such spot checks will be administered without any discrimination, other than the shocking and endemic racism, that Angelenos keep reading about in the LA Times and appear willing to accept if not encourage. DONATE: 

For politicians, bans of any kind that consolidate some segment of their voter base are an important tool in the run of the mill compromised politician's toolbox.  

It's always an excellent time to initiate another prohibition... like single-use water bottles, Idling in 105 degree weather. Not sure about "leather jackets." 

But are bans effective?  What impact do these bans have on the very “wrong" behaviors that policymakers want to curtail?   

It is widely understood that humans, in general, hate to give up freedom.    If the government bans fireworks, well...   

When Angelenos believe that their freedom has been threatened, they tend to grow more entrenched and motivated to... fire off fireworks.

This is true of many animals as well.   

Sometimes a councilmember encounters a ban or prohibition, created by a well-intentioned colleague or former colleague that does not necessarily serve his constituents... this is how the exemption was born. 

For instance, Paul "It's easy to raise $25,000" Koretz bumped into a prohibition on the use of City funds for validated parking or reimbursement of parking expense (CF 08-0685) for constituent/donors. So he AMENDED the ordinance to exempt from the prohibition, the use of City funds to provide validated parking to members of the public visiting City Council members or the Mayor. 

Exemptions are almost as much fun as bans only sneakier. 

Like why are people banned from observing the signature checking process for recall petitions?

The City Clerk, who works for the folks who don't want to be recalled, chooses from a roster of part time treasured partners to help her do the often “dirty” work… behind closed doors.

Why, like vote counting, shouldn't this be open and transparent? 

The office in which they conduct the signature count, has a very nice honorary scroll from Democratic party boss  @HildaSolis 

Some bans should obviously be dissolved. 


Ban on bullshit seminars:

The National League of Cities is where city council members from around the country exchange tricks and notes and tips on failing at the federal level.   This week seemed like the right time to re-up the contract with Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of Metropolitan Los Angeles, C-137891. 

The plan is to extend the term ending December 31, 2021 to end on March 31, 2022, for the Feed LA program to provide supplemental resources for very low- and low-income families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This contract is for 12 months of time with an ending date of December 31,2021, and funding in the amount of $5,612,055.  

That's a lot of food but those dates don't make sense. 

Sir, you're disrupting the meeting. 

Hopefully Bob Blumenfield of CD3 will be sharing his secrets in DC where the conference is this year, about flexing the FEMA muscles to Feed LA more... FEMA money. Unfortunately, the only City Council attendee that I could identify in the program was Joe Buscaino. 

Still, I thought, given the establishment of the LA City Council Junta in Los Angeles, I thought we might be able to draw attention and do outreach in the form of a cross promotion with the Woody Allen Film Bananas.  

For those who don't remember the film, the character of Fielding Mellish, played by Mr. Allen, who has subsequently been partially cancelled, was leading a revolution in a fictional south american country and had to order, for his army, an enormous number of sandwiches; and wheelbarrows full of cole slaw.   

I am requesting that  Mr. Blumenfield appear dressed as Fielding Mellish to give other cities guidance on bilking FEMA for  EVERYTHING. 

Including wheelbarrows. 



Eunisses Hernandez is running for CD1 and noted that she took on the prison-industrial complex and won!  Kudos. 

Kenneth Mejia, who is running for Controller and has pointed out that Kevin Deleon's 41.18 motion will make it illegal to sit, lie down, sleep or use personal property within 1,000 feet around City Hall.  Wow.  Also,it is possible to get sweatpant joggers for $40 and hoodies for $50.  Bucket hats are $35 and beanies can be yours for $20. Shirts of all sizes are in stock for a gentle... $25-$50.   

Marqueece Harris-Dawson talks a good game and took Knock.LA's Jonny Peltz out for a first lunch date.  I was hoping for more food notes but the key takeaways are:  

  • He wanted to meet Katzenberg, because other CMs were meeting him. "What am I chopped liver?" Katzenberg is very interested in investing in public private partnerships, like mobile healthcare services for the homeless. 
  • Some of MHD colleagues want to pile up tickets and eventually incarcerate somebody. "it's of course ridiculous, inhumane, and immoral to incarcerate somebody for being a nuisance." 

iii.  Withholding entitlements, in MHD's view, is the only power a council member has over a development he doesn't like. MHD is reluctant, because "the owner will sue the city, the city will lose." 

  • MHD's signature law enforcement reform that he will fix before he leaves council: pre textual stops by LAPD. He shares frustration but feels that he and possibly, Nithya Raman, do complain sufficiently. 
  • Outsiders are critics; but once you are on the inside, "that's not your role. Your role is to make it work as well as you possibly can." 
  • Public comment: "I'm not in control of that." But in PLUM he claims, "I do leave people in the queue" or it would go on forever, like the opposition to $15/hour."  His PLUM members, who are not indicted,  only have two hours before their next committee meeting starts so he's willing to leave people hanging, so they'll be on time. 

vii.  MHD voted for the 300 foot protest perimeter near Nury's house, but says  "...it wouldn't be the first time the city attorney produced something that violates the first amendment."  "The left wing people are annoying and disruptive, but the right wing people are violent -- they behave in a thuggish way and their orientation is to intimidate." 

Key Takeaway:  "It's great to see what you're against, but also say what you're for that's actually achievable."


Townhall (ban):

Apparently, threats of violence have become commonplace among a significant part of the party, as historians and those who study democracy warn of a dark shift in American politics.   

The New York Times quoted Bradford Fitch, the president of the Congressional Management Foundation, which advises lawmakers on issues like running their offices and communicating with constituents.   

Mr. Fitch said he now "urged members not to hold open public meetings, an American tradition dating back to the colonies, because of security concerns. Politics, he said, had become “too raw and radioactive.”  

 “I don’t think it’s a good idea right now, I hope we can get to a point where we can advise members of Congress that it’s safe to have a town-hall meeting.”   


Sister Cities:  "Say my name..."

Tom LaBonge loved LA's various Sister Cities a lot. You could see him annually leading a flock of young victims/visitors into the chambers. Since he passed away in January, nobody has dragged any cute interns from Europe down to City Hall to meet Staffer John Lee and Gil Cedillo.  

Therefore,the plaza located at 406 North Gaffey Street, shall be changed to the Tom LaBonge Sister Cities Plaza in memory of Councilmember Tom LaBonge and his willingness to host our brothers and sisters from our many sister cities.   

No word on the un naming of Huizar Plaza, Englander Plaza, and the dozens of places named for Mark Ridley-Thomas, following their indictments.     


Academy Reward:

Kyle Rittenhouse, the armed Illinois teenager who killed two people and wounded another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer, is not very likely to receive any acting awards, based on his tear-filled testimony last week.  

One tear was officially identified on twitter, but what ultimately matters is: does the jury believe him? And does the jury like him?   


Amplify punitive efforts:

Sanitation will now be writing tickets relative to the most recent update for the Administrative Citation Enforcement (ACE) Program. An item last week recommended the addition of the Bureau of Sanitation (BOS) to the ACE Program.  

The program is a non-criminal approach to nuisance abatement and quality of life offenses - using fines (instead of arrest, incarceration and criminal records) - for people who violate the Los Angeles Municipal Code, 

It was invented by the felon and former CD13 Council member Mitchell Englander, and is administered by LA City Attorney's Office, LAPD and Animal Services,  

Englander, who served 90 days of his approx 400 day sentence is FREE in Long Beach.    

What specifically a person experiencing homelessness going to do with a series of nuisance tickets... ? 

Brainstorm:  Katzenberg to cover! 


Pay to testify:

For many years, dozens of rewards were posted by the City of Los Angeles and to a lesser degree the County Board of Supervisors.  

And who knows why, but for the longest time (a decade), there were very few payouts. Then Monica Rodriguez showed up in CD7. 

Since that time, just over $300,000 have been paid out over the last couple years.  

What was a bit surprising, was how much the program focuses on getting the tipsters to be witnesses. Here we incentivize the punishment reward ethos by encouraging "snitching."   This fights the regional belief that "snitches get stitches," but a quick review of the Hit and Run fund, which pays out rewards for helping to identify suspect motorists. 

The City typically offers about 5x the typical amount offered by the County Board of Supervisors. The county offers $10,000 and the City inexplicably offers $50,000.  

This month, a backlog of $300,000 was doled out to heroic Angelenos who turned in suspects over the last two years. 

Here's a taste of what we're dealing with.


Claimant A had blocked suspect on Facebook:

In once case, Claimant A positively identified Suspect Elvis Guevara in the line-up and advised she saw Guevara driving the silver car just before it collided with the pedestrian in the crosswalk. It was also revealed to Detective White that Claimant A has known Guevara since 2013. She stated that he has been “too aggressive” with her in the past and that she blocked him on Facebook.  

Upon subsequent follow-ups to various witnesses, a warrant was issued on January 25, 2019. On May 5, 2019, a patrol radio call was generated where Suspect Guevara was arrested for 273.5(A) PC - Felony Domestic Violence.  He was also held for the warrant related to this hit and run traffic collision.  

On September 12, 2019, Claimant A was called to be a witness at the preliminary hearing. Despite being in fear of Defendant Guevara, Claimant A testified in court and positively identified him as the hit and run driver of the vehicle. 

Her testimony greatly contributed to the successful prosecution of Guevara.  $50,000


Rent-a-car + witness:  

The claimant was very cooperative and explained that he rents the vehicle to various people recommended by friends and family. On the date of he collision, the vehicle was in possession of a female named Jenevieve Hegedus. Since the collision, Hegedus had returned the vehicle but was currently in possession of another vehicle owned by the claimant. 

The claimant was diligent in his efforts to get Hegedus to meet him without alerting her there was a police investigation. $50,000


Public engages private Investigator to earn reward: 

On July 16, 2018, a severe injury Hit and Run traffic collision occurred near the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Sherman Oaks Avenue. Sheri Walsh was entering Ventura Boulevard from private property and was struck by a Lexus Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV.  The SUV was reported stolen out of the City of San Fernando on June 22, 2019 (Case No. 181388).  

The Claimant went to the scene of the collision to assess the damage to the victim's car. While waiting for the tow truck to arrive, the suspect came back to the location. The witness pointed out the suspect to the Claimant.  The Claimant videotaped the suspect and their conversation, ultimately following the suspect to a motel across the street from the crime location.  

The Claimant learned of the suspect's identity with the assistance of a private investigator whom she hired and passed the information to the police, which was critical to the investigation.  Gillian Blythe Zelman was identified as the suspect and sentenced to 270 days in jail.


Hate rewards:

Now, a new idea has emerged to offer rewards leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of persons who commit hate crimes.  Having studied the Hit and Run reward program, that I assumed was fairly cut and dry, I am losing confidence that issuing rewards leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of persons who commit hate crimes, is a good idea. 

When specifically speech becomes "hate" versus "offensive" is not cut and dry. 

If the hater (claimant) of the hater (suspect) is the determiner (hateful charge filer) of the alleged hate crime.   

You can see where this goes.  

"He called me a monkey?"  "No, I called you a jackass."  "No, I called you a goat."  "You're a cow. Moo-nica" 

I think we need to ban Rewards for calling out hate speech.  It's a bad idea. 

One good idea from Andrew Yang, who spoke to Persuasion about Rank Choice voting this week and takes a lot of credit for introducing Universal basic income.  

In this program, the government doles out money ... and nobody has to say anything offensive to trigger the payout. 

Everyone gets the money... including rich white law firms.   Like, I could not believe my eyes.   

The PPP search bar from Propublica, that I referenced last week,  was good for a few drinks revealed that the law firm of Skip Miller was forgiven over  a million dollars:   



Shut up.  The firm filed for the money on April 5, 2020... and it was forgiven on November   

Angle on: Sheila Kuehl  

For shame.



How low can you go?

Chiefs of staff run things, even when the council member is not indicted, and Karly Katona is excellent.  

And obviously, the sheer conflict of interest of a longtime partner taking over, is a great way to ensure that no fresh eyeballs will be admitted to the area where ... the proverbial bodies are buried.   

That's what the public is for, to unearth those areas, to allow the enforcement divisions, who are grossly under resourced to resume the... Hassett/Gascon position.  cc - FBI 

The Hassett Gascon is a suspended state... wherein, District Attorneys dangle above wrong doing, but never do anything to stop it.  They just observe.  cc - Sharon Woo



Kacey Musgraves wrote and sang the incredible ballad during the pandemic that... first responders like Karly Katona embodied during the dark period when Blumenfield was running up as much OT as is humanly possible to maximize the Cities FEMA reimbursement, while paying out historic sums in Separation Incentive Program.

The ballad that was performed by Musgraves at a Global Citizen concert reminded the world to keep the faith and that "the same old storm " would eventually pass and the sky would "finally open."    Sigh.   

"So, tie up the boat, take off your coat, and take a look around. 

The sky has finally opened. 

The rain and wind stopped blowin,

But your stuck out in the same old storm again. 

You Hold tight to your umbrella. 

But Darling I'm trying to tell, there's always been a rainbow

hanging over your head.  

If you could see what I see, you'd be blinded by the colors. 

Yellow Red Orange and Green and at least a million others..." 

One thought about Karly, his top lieutenant for years, filling in for MRT with no extra pay and nothing to show for her effort, is that other Council Districts may see a golden opportunity.  

Let me explain... 

Insiders say, that the only thing preventing more council members from adopting the MRT stance of allowing frequently-capable chiefs of staff handle things, is that Mr. Ridley-Thomas is not currently being paid. That is not funny.  

But, if the City Attorney could clarify that officials, with small indictments or none at all, could collect stipends from USC or others (Nike)... indictments might in fact be cost effective, and provide for more family time.  Like with Governor Newsom recently. 

Also, since Englander only served 90 days of his approx 425 day sentence... 


Who is Mr. Ridley-Thomas's lawyer?

Who is Mr. Ridley-Thomas's lawyer remains a zeitgeisty question almost eight years since I had to remind the compromised Supervisor that Richard Drooyan, who he thought was an independent attorney, was actually working for the board and so attorney-client privileged to the board.  Drooyan was inarguably his lawyer (who cashed $1.7m in checks over the three years)... not just the self described, pro-bono attorney for the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence.   

I was wondering if he'd be around at the arraignment, but instead the public was treated to the stylings of Michael J. Proctor, who delivered one of the most unctuous lather-ups I've every seen, to a highly attractive judge, who was in charge of routing MRTs case to someone who would know what to do with it.  

Sometimes, a new Judge requires a new attorney.  It's like baseball.  A righty who can hit, might deserve a lefty who can bring the heat.

Dave Roberts understands this. 

So, it was interesting to see a chap on twitter identifying himself as John Sweeney, the attorney for Mark Ridley-Thomas.  This attorney was claiming (hoisting) that he rarely loses in court.  

He gave the distinct impression that it would be he who is handling MRT's mid December proceedings. 

Nobody enjoys wearing the fuzzy antlers and comping the cinnamon cocoa with Richard Drooyan and Skip Miller and John Sweeney more than... Peter Eliasberg of the  ACLU of Southern California.


Poncho and Martinez on Netflix:

This week marked another demeaning retirement.  First, thanks to a great leader, Alfonso Martinez, who worked his way up the GSD security ranks to be an LAPD officer.  

He served the council harassing public speakers and delivering improper packages for many years.  In his off time on the weekend he collected nearly $1,300 a day for hanging out at a local library and not starting fights with homeless.   He did as he was expected, and filed a DROP claim after falling off of his ladder at home.  He will be sorely missed.  It's a shame the council president called up ZERO speakers to laud him.  

The other retirement, came out of the Arts, Parks Health Education and Neighborhood Committee -- a recommendation relative to the retirement of a Park Ranger Division Mounted Unit Horse, and its donation to a private citizen.  

Recommendations to approve the retirement of “Poncho” from City service, and grant permission to donate this horse to Monica Gilchrist, a private citizen, and owner of Gilchrist Farms, so that he may live out the remainder of his life under the care of an experienced equestrian. 

Obviously, Paul Koretz should be compelled to where a cowboy hat in connection with Poncho and Martinez retiring...  

To honor Poncho, the city is going to design a Pancho, that can be used as a wrap or blanket, but may not be used for sitting or lying down. 


 (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)