Thu, Sep

This is a Race Against Time


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - The City Council President Nury Martinez canceled the regular meeting scheduled for Wednesday February 2, 2022 and replaced it with a Special meeting with 43 items.

The big difference. The council does not ordinarily take general public comment on Special Meetings.  They should.  They better or I am going to tell Ruth Sarnoff, an old timer, who is still firing on all cylinders.  

I got a howdy-do email from her assistant, saying that she was circling back on friends and contacts. 

A few days later, on Sunday morning I got a call from Chico California, where Ruth has been staying with family.  "It's the old system up here from the 1800's, it even says it on city hall "Incorporated in 1862.  The police are militarized up here.  It's ugly."   

Ruth said that she wasn't sure how corporate or whatnot, I'd become, but she was reaching out because this is a "race against time" underscoring the recent volcanic activity in Tonga, where there was a massive eruption that she likened to a nuclear explosion, "underwater!"  

She said it has been wreaking all sorts of havoc.  

I made a dumb joke about a travel writer-girlfriend flying into the region...   

Ruth said, in her signature way, "Far out!"    Before reminding me to follow the lessons from the Indigenous peoples.  

"The seasons are different now. There is no going back."   

"The Ocean is going to be saying, 'hurry up, hurry up.'" 

" A pox on all of them." [Disgust with both sides of an argument ] 

Ruth asked about Supervisor Hilda Solis, who, she said, was a really good person and helped her when she had been struggling.  

I said I would pass along regards and gratitude if I ever saw Solis or the Board again. I told her, "All of their meetings have gone virtual, and they've cut back to less than half, and do everything in closed session." 

Ruth said that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meetings "used to be civilized. Now, everything is cockamamie. When stuff is on Zoom, it's easy for them to block you out!" she said.  

Next item, "The actual military is playing with fire. You heard about the Big Sur fire, right?"  

I had to take another call and Ruth said, "Read about the Tonga eruption, read about Antartica... I'll call you at 1:30." 

Firing on all cylinders at ninety.  

Emergency Response, Enviro/Haz/Mat

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) Board met on Thursday and approved the initial 14.8-mile segment of a planned 19.3-mile light rail line linking Artesia in southeast L.A. County and downtown L.A.   

The Board also OK’d Los Angeles Union Station as the northern terminus of the project.  The transit agency plans to complete by early 2023 a Final EIS/EIR for the initial segment, which it said would allow for groundbreaking in 2023 and completion by FY2033-35. 

The West Santa Ana Branch is not just a crucial project to deliver light rail to historically underserved areas of L.A. County, it’s an opportunity to stitch our region together and connect people to opportunity,” LACMTA Board Director and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti 

Janice Hahn:  I was a cheerleader in my previous life. 

Sheila Kuehl:  Your kidding?  I never would have thought that.

Janice Hahn: Right? 

Sheila Kuehl: Right? 

Hilda Solis:  And I guess many of us were drum majors... I think all of us are!  

Not sure about drum majoring, but Channing Martinez... was very upset that "anti-blackness was not on the agenda." 

On February 10, 2022 they will start ticketing people again and more than half, he said were levied against people of color. How, respectfully, he wondered, is that happening? 

Others were upset that so many items were buried on the consent calendar, that have been determined by someone to not be worthy of comment.  If you must say something,  on consent, you can squeeze in a comment in the general public comment section whenever that is. It used to come after an unspecified cavalcade of electeds,  several eulogies presentations and anything else anyone could think of.  

Unlike, the LA County Board of Supervisors and City Council eulogies are not done by Metro at the end of the meeting, but rather at the beginning. More honorable and infuriating.  

"It's going to be a long day," said the Chair before slamming through billions of dollars on consent, including a $82,500,000 bench arrangement of usual customers for possible enviro/hazmat and a contract with Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. for  $1,119,015. 

The Board received “One proposal on June 1, 2021. The Metro Ice price, which means, Independent Cost Estimate, was $331,787.   

That's a quadruple markup for our buddies at Jacobs, who won the competition against no other bidders.   

Nothing to see.  Keep moving.  The firm's $1.1M price is down from the $1,414,698, so don't be such a cheapskate.   

If you want something done right, you need to pay quadruple to a team who has been in place cashing checks for decades.  See LAFD.   

There was a brief discussion about 511 led by head cheerleader Janice Hahn to show that she was not too easy, but just easy enough for Sheila.  511 is a three-digit dialing code designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2000, making it easy for users to access traveler information services.  

Nobody said a word about the $82,500,000 for three more years of Recommended Consultants capable of joining the bench of qualified teams to provide environmental markup Services on Capital Projects... on consent. 

Seventy-three (73) firms had downloaded the RFP package. Seven (7) proposals were received on September 21, 2021  

These seven firms will furnish all of the labor, materials, equipment, and other related items required to perform the services on a Task Order basis for numerous Capital projects, in support of Metro’s Environmental Compliance and Sustainability Department (ECSD).  

The contract type is a Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF). 

Services include emergency response, hazardous substances... at identified Metro capital project sites.  

There is no word on how much we spent during the prior period and no expectations, just a ceiling of $82,500,000.  

Seasoned firms.  

1) TRC has assembled a team with relevant expertise capable of supporting Metro across multiple task orders simultaneously without jeopardizing quality, or on schedule delivery of projects. The TRC team has successfully worked with Metro’s Environmental Compliance and Sustainability Departments for more than 15 years, supporting the department. 

2) Polytechnique staff members have provided responsive, high-quality environmental services to Metro for over 25 years. Polytechnique Environmental, Inc. (Polytechnique), headquartered in Cerritos, California, is a Los Angeles County environmental engineering company. Polytechnique has assembled a diverse and dynamic team experienced in all of the tasks described in the RFP. 

3) Kleinfelder, Inc. (Kleinfelder), a California Corporation headquartered in San Diego, California, has been in business since 1961, and is a leader in the fields of Engineering, Architecture, and Science Consulting. Kleinfelder has nearly 2,800 employees across 74 offices across the United States, Canada, and Australia. They have been working in Los Angeles since 1984.  

4) Environmental Resources Management (ERM) located In Walnut Creek, California, brings to Metro varied perspectives, innovation, and creative solutions to the capital project issues with decades of experience  

5) Atlas located in Monterey Park has over 100 years of combined experience offering a full suite of comprehensive professional services to include testing, inspection and certification; engineering and design, environmental services; and program, construction and quality management.  

6) Burns & McDonnell, located In Los Angeles, is a $3 billion transportation environmental, and energy engineering/construction firm, with a lengthy history of assembling a team of experts and qualified subcontractors to help support Metro’s anticipated needs.  The team consists of very strong companies that have a very good understanding of the project goals.  

7) ARCADIS U.S., Inc. located In Los Angeles, has four active contracts with LA Metro, provide a full spectrum of consulting, design, engineering, project and construction management services related to infrastructure, environment, and waste solutions in the public and private business sectors. The Company is a Delaware corporation.


Reporter's Notebook:

David Lazarus is an award-winning business columnist for the Los Angeles Times, focusing on consumer affairs. He also appears daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and is a part-time radio host. He's stepping away from the newspaper writing while continuing his work on TV.  He'll be sorely missed.  

"What I am is pro-fairness. What I am is pro-accountability" Lazarus said.   

"It’s so unnecessary. It’s so incredibly shortsighted," he said talking about the natural expectation that a bank like Wells Fargo, (or why it rang true for me, a real estate firm like Corcoran Group®) would be trustworthy.   

Millions of bogus accounts  that Wells Fargo opened without people’s permission to meet sales quotas is "a problem that should never have happened." 

Similarly, the Corcoran Group® agent promoting a "Dine and Dash" scheme against good faith seniors was unthinkable to longtime residents. 

These problems should have been remedied immediately, in the Corcoran Group® case, the regional management, and corporate counsel and leadership opted to form a scrum and stare down accountability.  Pressing old people to lawyer up to be treated ethically. That is a worst practice.i

The citizens could not possibly have known that at the same time they entrusted Corcoran Group or Wells Fargo Bank, that such companies would engage in breathtaking greed and dishonesty.   

Once, thanks to Lazarus and others the fines and lawsuits piled up, Wells Fargo took out full-page newspaper ads voicing “regrets” for past deeds. 

Corcoran Group® is gambling that senior citizens will pass away before their cry for a significant amount of unpaid rent is heard. Be fair.  Be home.  Not Beware, Be home.  

As to the basic quality assurance that a Corcoran Group® client will never engage in "Dine & Dash...." Pamela Liebman, the CEO told me herself that, "We have over 30,000 listings..."   

"So, when it does happen, you look away?"  

She said, "she'd look into it" and hasn't reported back or responded since.   

I've agreed on a pro bono basis to provide a Quality Assurance assessment for the Corcoran Group® and a courtesy mapping for Realogy management, to help them steer clear of unwanted volcanoes bubbling beneath the Ocean. 

Realogy's brands include Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate CENTURY 21® Coldwell Banker® Coldwell Banker Commercial® Corcoran Group® ERA® Sotheby’s International Realty®


Best Practices: 

I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people's accomplishments; the front page is nothing but man's failures. - Earl Warren, 1968 

Always make sure people whose activities are being held up to criticism, no matter how well justified, are given a fair opportunity to comment.  

A “no surprises” approach to journalism is not only good practice, it’s also legally strategic, according a former lawyer for the Wall Street Journal.  

Always respectfully respond to good faith post-publication complaints, even if they are entirely off base or vituperative.  

Always work to correct factual errors. Many reporters and not a few editors sometimes resist this, but refusing to acknowledge mistakes undermines confidence in journalism generally.


Sneaky meetings:

The meetings of the Executive Employee Relations Committee are a moving target.  It's impossible to keep track

And they were discussing Bargaining Instructions for Salary Reopeners for Memoranda of Understanding, for dozens of  categories including, Confidential Attorneys Unit (MOU 31).   

As you recall, I was wondering how the Elizabeth L. Greenwood fishy litigation was being handled, since not on the conflict panel roster.  I got a response to my CPRA request as to how much Elizabeth L. Greenwood was getting paid during the period she was at war with her employer, the City Attorney's office.  

The answer is she took in  $1,727,326 dollars during a ten year period  1/11/2012 and 12/15/2021. Actually, 9 years, 11 months, 4 days excluding the end date.  

If you exclude weekends and holidays, the number of workdays comes out to 2492 days. Ms. Greenwood spent the last decade collecting $693 for every workday. It is true that many of those days were non-productive due to a horrible series of alleged ailments that preceded her shocking claim on TV that the City of Los Angeles had contributed to her getting Typhus and viral meningitis...   She got her diagnosis on the same fateful day that Deron Williams faced a federal search warrant, Nov 27, 2018. Fun fact (eyes narrowing.) 

Eventually, we'll find out about the Confidential Attorneys Unit (MOU 31).

(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)