Thu, Jul

Mental Health Matters


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Street furniture is Bob Blumenfield's jam.  He loves the "Outfront Media" component and everybody pulling together at the corporate level.

And there is no reason a billboard cannot promote L.A. County's mental health services, because Mental Health Matters 800-854-7771.  

Today a man near the VB Studio City car wash that years ago used to cost under $10 but has risen to $20 due to the drought presumably, was aggressively kicking the glass advertisement encasement.  

I was worried that the use of force against it might result in broken glass, as I made my left up into the hills.  I spotted a Neighborhood watch sign, but there was no number to call.  I passed a grey Mercedes from the 1970's with a cardboard sign on the windshield, "Please tow," but no number to call. 

I thought, "this is clearly not a 911 situation, because nobody seemed in direct harm's way, though kicking furniture can result in injury. 

I suddenly wondered, "would this be a call 988 situation?"  The county is planning to tap a number of funding sources for the expansion, including a $51 million one-time state grant and $18.5 million from the federal American Rescue Plan.

But on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to roughly double the number of Department of Mental Health Psychiatric Mobile Response teams.  

There are currently about 30 of the unarmed two-person teams of clinicians for the entire county, but demand is so high that response times can be several hours, or even a full day. 

The supervisors also agreed to seek contracts with private groups that can provide round-the-clock mobile crisis teams to supplement the county’s efforts.   

Supervisors want the mobile response teams to eventually be available 24/7 as part of preparations for the launch of 988, the national hotline for mental health crises that launches next summer. 

A mental health team could ask the Advertisement Kicking constituent... "what, pray tell, are you doing?"  

Our community has to find a way to discourage or interrupt such destructive behavior.  But how? 

Just brainstorming, here, wondering if the new street furniture could have some limited built-in capacity to defend itself?   

If a person kicks the bus stop panel, could it possibly result in, photography... or other kind of unwanted recognition? 

One argument against might be, "Sir, this person is kicking the advertising because they are seeking recognition."   

Well, then can we install a device that makes a soft soothing sound, like, the sound of a whale...or if people prefer, how about the sound of five dogs barking with an increasing intensity in... full sensaround.   

How about a thirty second: THX The Audience is listening clip

The answer to all of the above the speculative questions raised is clearly, "No." 

Next item.  


Special: Homelessness And Poverty Committee:

Regarding the National League of Cities City Summit, apparently only Council member John Lee of CD12 requested a travel authority for this Conference; however, that request was ultimately canceled as the conference became virtual.  The City Clerk told me, "No other Council members have requested travel authority for the Conference."  

So why exactly did the city council take the entire week off?  

Well, it wasn't totally off, there was a sneaky homelessness and poverty committee meeting.  

Kevin DeLeon as the new chair, subsequent to the defenestration of MRT, ran a tight one hour meeting.  He rambled on for a few minutes about how we cannot study or report back on the crisis of our times anymore.  

Because of the sneaky 10:00am start time on a Monday morning, traditionally a slow-walk to a four day week for city hallers, there were only five public comments. 

One from a woman, named Ruth, who has the voice of a child and asked if the committee was meeting at City Hall and was it really illegal to sit down there,  "I hope you are all standing." 

She told a story about Kerry Morrison, who serves as an HHH civilian overseer who bragging about helping to put someone into interim housing and when the person was matched with a PSH (permanent supportive housing) unit, Kerry had intervened and made sure that the placement did NOT happen, because the speaker said, "Kerry felt that the person wasn't quite ready."   

The speaker reported that the individual was sent back to the street and that it had bothered her that Kerry was telling this story as if it were a victory.   

There were also three comments in support of Kevin Deleon (super fans).  One thanked him thank him effusively for his interim rollout echoing the council member, "we don't want to let them die." Another who hailed from Highland Park said that for 20 years, York and Figueroa had been a mess, but in under one year, she gushed, Deleon had "fixed our community" with tiny homes. 

The final speaker called Kevin and Bob, Kevin and Bob and suggested that they were being "hypocritical..." because 41.18 is causing people to be swept away without services. 

That was all for public comment and Deleon moved quickly to approve without discussion, a project for 109 tiny homes to be sub leased and managed by Urban Alchemy, at 2301 West Third. Urban Alchemy has a strong working relationship with Mitchell O'Farrell of CD13 and has been bulking up on homeless contracts of various types. 

DeLeon reiterated that the city will never "study" or "report" our way out of this crisis... so let's get to work.  

First up, a report back from the CAO:  City Administrative Officer report relative to the status of the Request for Bids for the Bureau of Sanitation CARE/CARE+ Teams and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Homeless Engagement Teams. 

On the table, was an RFB which stands for Request for Bids. Patty Huber of CAO reported that we could expect these new outreach workers to connect the homeless they encounter to some kind of a leader in the CM's office to HMIS or someone else...  

One minor wrinkle, and perhaps the reason for the special secret meeting, was that the City's contract with LAHSA is going to expire in December. 

At least this program, would only be funded through December of 2021.... so, "we recommend adding three months of funding with LAHSA." 

Huber said, "In a great world, we're going to get some great bids and responses." 

Deleon wanted to make sure that the new outreach specialists engaged to assist sanitation workers (who were empowered to write tickets last week) understood that everyone is to be treated with dignity (as they are being swept away.) 

John Wickham of the CLA, wanted to add a little more color which is code for "lay down some higher quality bullshit." He said, staff were already approved by council for this and this was about coordination and cooperation. These sanitation outreach teams will do the advance outreach work, to notify encampments that a 'cleanup' is coming "in two weeks, rather than an hour."  

Patty said they might come back sooner with more information because over at CAO they are in full budget mode right now.  

Deleon, reminded, that this is the reason we have "special meetings to course correct."   

Monica Rodriguez of CD7 was not in a great mood. She opened with "I know we don't want to study this... but LAHSA is in charge.  We can contract out to contractors, but that's all they do... is contact/outreach.  They can't lead the homeless into housing... so everyone is offering contracts but still requires the involvement of LAHSA... "we are not understanding the process." 

Though CD7 is arguably one of the most equestrian of districts, Rodriguez said, she did not want to work with a "one trick pony" outside contractor.  

"What we need is the "case management, and the service once their housed, and placement authority."  Outreach is just one piece of what she called, "the service spectrum."  Rodriguez wants to retain the system that is working in her district: no 'one trick ponies.' 

Deleon said we need to replicate the leadership of Ms. Rodriguez, who called the RFB "with all due respect, it's more bureaucracy."  

He called the work Rodriguez had done in her district, the Monica Magic.  

Blumenfield, between plugs for his bestie NGO: "About My Father's Business"  agreed with Rodriguez that more and more layers is frustrating. He talked about all the tools in the toolbox, and at 10:54am Nithya Raman showed up just in time to hear the grim report for the State about how we have over 14,000 shelter beds and 17,286 units of permanent supportive housing, which is up over 900 more than last year. 

Joe Buscaino was AWOL and the desk was cleared. The consciences not so much. 


Lights, Action... RECORD!

The trial of Ahmaud Arbery's killing rested its case Tuesday afternoon after eight days of testimony and 23 witnesses.

One issue arose, should the world famous civil rights leader, Jesse Jackson have been comforting Ahmaud's mother in front of the jury during the trial.  

This reminded me of a challenge I raised about the irregular Clerk of the City of Los Angeles, who cites a government code that makes the atypically harsh process of checking for valid petition signatures in Los Angeles, not open to the public.  

And in two recent cases that I am aware of, Judges in Los Angeles seek to punish or threaten constituents who allegedly used their telephone recording devices in a courtroom.    

The Federal Judge who issued Englander's light 14-month to extra light 3-months served sentence, made a writer who took a picture of his own computer over which he like any other member of the public could access.  Honestly, this judge going after the member of the public should be gone after for egregious, vexatious judicial activity.   We need a watchdog group over Judges.   

Why should all of these situations not be a free-to-record for all?  What precisely do we have to hide? 

The public made the recording of the police arresting George Floyd.   

No further questions, your honor.


In Camera Review: Denied

My strategy during the Christmas time 2019 hearing that Judge Mitchell Beckloff was conducting for Judge Chalfant who was apparently out on holiday break was to get myself on the ballot for Council District 2.  Plain and simple.  But I was surprised to see the low level City Attorney,  who advises city council and so torments me during council meetings sitting in the front row gazing at Beckloff adoringly. 

Since, Paul Krekorian and Nury Martinez are his clients, who, it is safe to say, did not want to see me on the ballot, sitting in the front row was off.  Ever thoughtful, I asked him if he wanted my autograph.  

I'd gathered the signatures in support of my candidacy at the mall and Fryman Canyon in Studio City over the two-week period leading up to Thanksgiving.  I've written about the process which is important but also outrageous and hilarious. 

The 626 petition signatures that I had collected were not good enough for my enemies clerk and the signature verification process is not an open to the public process.  See Gov. Code 6253.5  The City Clerk's reject rate had jumped markedly by 30% since her prior effort, so I wanted to understand. The clerk had rejected over 150 of my 600+ signatures by declaring them INVALID. 

My strategy at the hearing was to show Judge Mitchell Beckloff what I had done and how with access to broadband internet connectivity I was able to confirm that the people who signed were eligible registered voters.  I even foresaw, since the stunning and absurd secrecy over such work provided in Gov. Code 6253.5 that he might want to do an in-camera review. 

In Camera review means only the Judge can privately look at confidential, sensitive, or private information to determine what, if any, information may be used by a party or made public. The notion that the signature verification process is not open to the public is fully absurd. 

Beckloff had gone out of his way to make the hearing a farce and declined to look at my stuff. 

It was bad enough that of the three days allotted for the trial Judge Beckloff was out on ... SRT leave.  

SRT leave stands for a Sebastian Ridley-Thomas SRT who had an unidentified medical condition that resulted in a special election during the period when the FBI... 

Sir, you're disrupting the meeting.  

I grew concerned that the mental acuity of Judge Beckloff might have been impaired by whatever mysterious condition he was treating for an entire day during our very tight pleading schedule.  

If one asks questions about a medical situation pertaining to a Judge who is ruling over their fate... what can one say? 

The best I could come up with was Exhibit B: I submitted and filed with the court, a "Get well soon, Judge Beckloff" card, and the rest is history.  

Anyway, as an occasional (but no less than two times a week) critic of the city council I was surprised to see sitting in the front row, the attorney Strefan Fauble, who claims he was not working for my opponent, Paul Krekorian, but rather enjoying his first amendment rights a few days before Christmas...  

Taking in a short trial while seated among the city attorneys and county counsel fighting desperately to keep me off the city council ballot.   

If you ask me, both Jesse Jackson and Strefan Fauble have the same first amendment rights to be in a court room.   

We all have a right to be in a courtroom or hear and record proceedings from a courtroom..   

Judges, like elected officials, need to feel that the public is in the room so that whatever they say, might wind up on the front page of the New York Times or CityWatchLa.

 (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)