Sat, Apr

Combating Loneliness with Citations


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Loneliness is a public health concern – one thing I absolutely agree with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors about --  that has compounded problems of substance use, homelessness, violence, and mental health. 

Although society is arguably more connected than ever with technology, relationships and a sense of community have vanished for many Angelenos.  

Thirty-six percent of 950 respondents in a national survey said they felt lonely frequently or all the time.   

Down Grand Park at the City of Los Angeles, they're doing their part, by re-engaging some lonely Angelenos through an aggressive ramped up citation campaign.  

A Los Angeles Times analysis of parking ticket data released by the Department of Transportation (DOT) found there was a 15% increase in citations through the end of October this year from the same time frame last year.  

By saddling struggling Angelenos with pernicious fines and penalties, DOT provides Angelenos with an outlet to fight the injustice and so forces interactions with council district staff, impartial hearing officers and occasionally Judge Beckloff. Get Well Soon, Sir. 

Many of these alleged impartial hearing officers are hired "special" to serve impartially, but when one drills in, which is strictly discouraged by the city, one discovers that these hearing officers, in a least one case, are dyed-in-the-wool City Attorneys moonlighting undercover. lol srsly + not funny. 

In one case, that I am intimately familiar with, this was the case.  

Shocking, but innovative.  Happy Holidays, $73. 


Standing Room Only: 

As 2021 comes to an end, the First to Five County Board of Supervisors, not to be confused with First 5 LA the independent agency dedicated to getting kids into kindergarden ready to succeed in school, is the only jurisdiction of its size or any size to BLOCK the public from attending public meetings.  

This year, as reported here, last week, the board received 55% less gratitude than in 2019.   

So it should come as no surprise, that the board of supervisors has decided to virtually meet three days and fourteen hours before Christmas, where they can fly under the radar and attract very little attention.   

Impoverished journalists will be, for the most part, navigating snarling LAX traffic to exchange Omicron with our various loved ones and law enforcement. 

The Board believes (and you can ask Sheila Kuehl,  who dislikes hearing from people in increments longer than sixty seconds, unless it is one of her four colleagues or Barbara Ferrer or Christina Ghaly) in which case she's good to go as long as she gets the last word.  

Less, Sheila reasons, is more.  If you can't say it in sixty seconds, do you really have anything to say?  

Less is certainly not more when it comes to the American Rescue Plan and FEMA funding, but Sheila Knows Best: 

Less public comment is a very, very good thing.  

The Governor, who is feisty and has been preoccupied battling Texas, made an order on open meeting but orders are made to be broken:  

Governor's Order: All state and local bodies are urged to use sound discretion and to make reasonable efforts to adhere as closely as reasonably possible to the provisions of the Brown Act, and other applicable local laws regulating the conduct of public meetings, in order to maximize transparency and provide the public access to the meetings. 

Q:  How can the board get away with shutting the public out of its meetings, while other jurisdictions admit them?  

A:  Who cares if other weaker, smaller jurisdictions all over the nation have been open for business on a vaccinated, masked basis for months.  Nobody can tell the largest jurisdiction in the world what to do.   

Q:  What about the few larger than life but effective critics who help the public understand? 

A:  For that thumb-on-the-scales deflavorization, the county's Jeramy Gray, developed a secret method of cherry picking the public criticism program, before sliding over from his post at the Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors (improper political division) to his new post at the Registrar Recorder County Clerk's (improper political division).  

On Tuesday's agenda, the Board has a motion to address Loneliness and wants recommendations for stakeholder engagement to reduce loneliness-- why not meet publicly?   

Who would disagree that a standing-room-only public meeting would reduce loneliness?  

Sir, you're disinvited from the meeting!   


Benchmarking San Diego: 

My friend from Colorado wrote, "We have to drive to the gate to start searching the video tapes. I will make a police report. The Sheriff is coming, the video camera shows 4:44am." 

The video showed a masked person driving her 2015 Prius out of the upscale North San Diego County compound. She reported that the theft from a gated community 'caused quite a tremor' as they'd allegedly never had a car stolen from there property.  Red Flag. 

My friend asked the San Diego Deputy Sheriff, "how did they get in to the gated community?"  He replied, "It's not that hard, probably through the golf course."  

Five days later, after she'd returned to Colorado, she got a call from an officer with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD)  saying they'd recovered her vehicle in Downtown San Diego.  The car had been towed to a yard called Road One, at 3333 National Avenue in San Diego.    

Since it was hundreds of dollars for her to fly in during the pre-holiday period, I agreed to help and Uber to the redline, past the locked bathroom, catch the 6pm Surfliner Amtrak out of Union Station ($35), which arrives at 9pm and then drive her car back to LA by midnight. 

It didn't work out that way. The Redline was OK and the Surfliner double decker train was on time. 

By 9:45pm, I'd ubered to the location to collect the car, for my friend, the victim.  

Road One, the company,  wanted over $430 to get the car out of 'car' jail... 

The Sheriff's department had said there would be no fee to recover the vehicle, since it was as theft recovery, but the San Diego Police Department,  who have a towing contract with Road One, disagreed.  

Why crime victims pay outrageous storage fees for recovering stolen vehicles within hours of recovery is a good question. Though, I was the only (official representative of a) crime victim the night I was there, all of the other people collecting cars also seemed to have been victimized.   Say what?  

The unseemly side of law enforcement as we know it,  is that when people experience various traumas, rather than comfort and support, we frequently serve frustration and destruction.  

One forty year old woman, who'd been in jail for several months and eventually had to leave in frustration, told a small crowd of us in the high jacking hut, that she did not have her title but had all sorts of other stuff.  She was told to go to DMV on Monday and return-- cha ching, another $165 would be added to her escalated fees daily.  

Welcome back to society, good luck!  

Two thirty-something men had Ubered to the dark yard from Downtown, where they had been having dinner only to discover their car had been towed from a space, where the No Parking sign had been obscured by public works equipment. They told me they suspected an intentional ticket trap to drive revenue. 

They had waited over an hour, as midnight fast approached, and the temperatures were dropping. 

Inside the office is a very thick bank style plexiglass setup to contain frustration but also to make it hard to hear the details about the escalating punitive fees, capably delivered by two and finally one remaining woman, who reminds constantly that it is not her fault that registered owners are the only ones who can pick up cars.  

That's simply not true.  

It says very clearly that the yard is authorized to release vehicles without the registered owner present in a variety of ways.  I was not in possession of a notarized note, but the law enforcement agency who towed the car can release it.  It's written on the wall.   

After I spoke to a sergeant, three uniformed patrol officers  in their twenties or thirties came out in two police cars. They seemed like good guys.  

The Sheriff had said, your friend won't have to pay because you're a crime victim, but now the SDPD who had towed the car, said they would ONLY release it to me, if I paid.   When the attendant presented the car, after processing the $368 fee, that I negotiated down from $430, the car would not start.  

One of the officers was good with cars and tried to help figure out why it would turn on but not go into gear.  No luck.  

I spent a couple hours with the officers, who were out there in the frigid yard with me as we watched the woman from the plexiglass window, operate a forklift herself.   

After midnight, the woman put the car outside the gate and the Police gave me a courtesy shuttle to the San Diego Airport where I rented a car for $450 to drop at the Burbank airport. 

I drove up to Los Angeles past the illuminated obelisk of City Hall, grateful that at least there had been no accident, and nobody was physically harmed from this miserable episode.   At least I had a place to go.  No one, among us, was in jail.   

The following day,  my friend arranged to have her car towed to a Toyota dealership by Road One, for $135. 

Not a great night, but Road One nabbed $500 off of a crime victim, so not a total loss. 

The next day I called the rental car company and Avis agreed to lower the fee to around $100 to drop the car at Burbank. 


FEMA report back:

Given the devastating tornadoes and tragic loss of life etc it seems appropriate to apologize and commemorate my 45th joke about FEMA funding. 

At no time, and in no way is the suffering of people funny.   

That said, let's see if the CLA and CAO can report back on what we are doing to prevent other American cities, who may be facing horrible destruction and loss, from jumping the funding line. 

Blumenfield has been a leader in this space.  

Our brave,  civically engaged,  LAFD firefighters sometimes known as The UFLAC boys (and 3% girl) have put in a gazillion hours of eye-popping OT, administering covid tests.  

Standing alongside Sean Penn's CORE, who have been bravely stationed in Parking lots and stadiums working hand in hand with Mayor Garcetti, who told the Senate Foreign relations committee last week, that if confirmed, a "core issue" of his life would be devoted to fighting sexual harassment.    What if not confirmed?  Same, presumably, but the Mayor has not agreed to meet.  

Blumenfield will ensure that the City gets the maximum for which we are eligible, and as soon as possible 


Our heart goes out to a nation in shambles... 

On the 4th floor of City Hall, where the City Council offices are located, in the CD2 outer office, just below the ceiling panel that may have been removed by a pest control company hired by Herb Wesson and Greig Smith to spot rats (or bugs) there's a commemorative fire axe affixed to a wooden placard.   

It hearkens back to a day when Mitchell Englander would pass the fire boot around the horse shoe in City Council during a public meeting, brazen and defiant. 

In the background, Areen Ibranossian working for CD2, training young Karo Torossian in the ways of the JEDI (Jobs and Economic Development  Zones). 

Everyone eats, tonight!


Opening Time: 

The six pillars of character typically subscribed to by the YMCA are respect, fairness, caring, responsibility, trustworthiness, and citizenship.  

So I was happy to see that the YMCA will only be closed this year on December 24 & 25 and December 31 & January 1.  Happy Holidays. 

Prior to the pandemic, there had been a really long and mismanaged shutdown for more than six months to renovate and repair the roof.   

Once the work was done, the locker room had a really bad odor that had to be corrected several times, and the brand new roof has already malfunctioned. Sigh. 

Of course, the Manager, David Hartmire, has been promoted out to the west valley YMCA, something like an Equinox by comparison. That's the YMCA in CD12 where the disgraceful and disgraced Mitchell Englander and Staffer B John Lee did all their... work.  

Fundraising, giving back... taking, enforcing!  

The North Hollywood YMCA by contrast is supported by a whole host of lovely helpers including Sheila "Yoda" Kuehl who has the largest font on the donor board. 

The big problem in North Hollywood, is that our YMCA is still shutting the doors for FIVE solid hours in the middle of every weekday.   

A YMCA that is only open from 7am to 11am and then again from 4pm to 8pm.   What is going on?  

Are we trying to save five additional hours of lifeguard salary, per day?  

Our lifeguards are already underpaid at the lowest possible hourly rate on a part time basis so as to NOT trigger any benefits that the YMCA and Sheila would have to absorb.  

The 7th pillar of character at our YMCA involves taking relief money and then shutting the doors during the day,  denying benefits to the very people, that we entrust to save our lives in an emergency.   

Character counts, but five hours at minimum wage is almost $100.  

Eric Garcetti, told the LA Times that  “I’ve never had a meeting with somebody who is a business leader — and often they’re coming in because they want to build something, do something, whatever it is in the city — and not say, ‘How many summer jobs are you going to give us for summer youth?’”    

Garcetti said, referring to job programs backed by the city. “That’s my responsibility.” 

Whose responsibility is it to keep the YMCAs open during regular business hours?

(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)