Fri, Apr

I Think We Lost the Connection With Mr. Preven


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - The wind beneath Kenny's wings: Curren Price brought on two chaps connected to the NFL to join in his non-agendized Kenny Washington tribute. 

Kenneth S. Washington was an American professional football player who was the first African-American to sign a contract with a National Football League (NFL) team in the modern (post-World War II) era.  He played college football for the UCLA Bruins and passed away in 1971.   

He played a physical sport at a time where racism and hatred could be forced on him each time he got the ball.  Kenny rose above.  

Gilbert Cedillo had Kenny Washington Square dedicated in 2014 but on Wednesday he rambled on praising Monica Garcia, Jim Tunney, Lincoln Heights alumni, and so many others. He surpassed the combined time allotted to Curren Price and Harris-Dawson.   

He concluded with a prediction:  "I'm just so excited that we are going to win the Super Bowl this weekend in Los Angeles."  

The council quickly ducked into the Special meeting approving the acceptance of $4M to cover some of the supplemental costs of having the Super Bowl in Los Angeles.    

A professor told KNX the $475,000,000 being bandied about as the supposed financial benefit to the region was very likely not accurate.  More like ten percent of that, she said. That's still like 47 million dollars. 

Next Speaker, Please   

Hilda Solis opened Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting by singing a brief section of a Spanish language song for Sheila Kuehl to commemorate her birthday.  It was not feliz cumpleanos, as I know that one well. Sheila was grateful for the brief recognition. Solis joked, "That's all I know!"  

Sup. Holly J Mitchell, Chair: Who thought a board meeting could be fun?  

Sup. Sheila Kuehl:  Certain portions are. Good morning.  

After the executive officer rattled off what amounted to over 90 items, including all the sneaky late posted matters, a half dozen sole source contracts that are not necessary legal in California, and an item I'd missed upbraiding the Executive Officer Celia Zavala and treasured partners, AT&T, for bungling the board's last public meeting, two weeks ago, Zavala said this week she'd received over 4,600 written public comments all of which were available to the supervisors for their consideration.  

Confidence droop, here. 

I guess it is not a surprise that the Board does not agendize the Sheriff's weekly request to speak at the public board meeting.  

They're still at war if you can believe it, so they treat him almost as badly as they do the public.  Though, Sheila Kuehl, the anti-public-comment guru, would never agree to such an intrusive time frame. 

The first speaker after the Sheriff, was Andres Kwon, an ACLU-affiliated attorney who is a certified fanboy of Sheila Kuehl and the Board of Supervisors 

The next speaker, took the county's breath away. 

She started, "Thank you. I am commenting on number two. Specifically for my daughter. She is at been wearing a mask for this entire year. Seven hours a day, giving you a best-case scenario for a kid that is mentally and physically strong and healthy, yet she comes home with a tick. Every minute she is blowing air out of her nose. She has rashes all over her face. Where the mask is.  

She comes home out of school, walks a block and a half to meet me and she still has her mask on. She is not taking that off when she needs to breathe. This is her one chance after seven hours, she is allowed to take it off but she is programmed. Keep the mask on. Her cognitive ability to realize that she is alone and not a threat to anyone is impaired or not processed through her.   

She can't take the mask off and breathe because she thinks she has to keep it on. She is not afraid she is going to get covid.  She is healthy. She has done everything she is supposed to do. This is not a childhood disease.  We cannot continue to keep our children masked.  

Celia Zavala, the Executive Officer of the board, swiftly cut her off: Next speaker, please. 

An articulate woman came on, "Good morning. And happy birthday to the birthday girl. [speaking spanish] but it is not going to be good, so I won't sing.  

She introduced herself, "I am an immigrant, a mother of four, and I am speaking on set item 2, opposing 18, and a general public comment.   I want to thank Supervisor Barger for raising a very important question that has occurred to parents of children all across L.A. County, and public and private schools for the past year and a half during which their young lives have been disrupted, destroyed, their living through despair, as the previous caller stated.  

Even kids that should be quote-unquote resilient, or thriving, are not getting the best out of the schooling experience. My kids are masked for 47 hours a week. That's including dancing, on point, outdoors, it not only makes no sense, in a time when natural immunity, but vaccines also are available, and omicron as everyone is making it the pivot now has shown to be mild, and we all know that covid is age-stratified and that children have never been at risk.  

These all need to end. It is highly discriminatory, black and brown children are suffering the most. The problems and challenges we are facing are due to the pandemic response, not actual medical issues. Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D. has been a disaster at the head of L.A. Public Health, and it is far beyond time to listen to her.  

We need to be at least in line with the California state guidelines. In terms of item 18, it is unconscionable, un-American, and I would dare say anti- against everything that we hold dear.  To fire people who are not -- with respect to their personal body autonomy. Many of our first responders and the people that will be fired are immune to covid because they were there on the front lines. They got sick.  

I am not antimask, or vaccine, I am pro-children. I am pro-freedom. I am pro-smiles. I am pro-oxygen. The last thing I want to say is adding a word to the pledge of allegiance is beneath the dignity of this office.  

I took an oath to the constitution of the United States of America. And I pledged allegiance to this country when I became a citizen.  Legally. And I have to say, that it is disgusting to say liberty and justice for all.   

Oh, it would be great if our children who do not have a union representing them could get liberty and justice today by removing the public health order that is hurting so many lives. Thank you, happy birthday, and may you all do what is right for the people of Los Angeles. " 

At the five-hour mark on Tuesday,  Sheila Kuehl, the inhouse angling attorney, came on again -- to help massage the false narratives.   


Selling CSEC et al:

The item was a report on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) a program that places a priority on treating children that are trafficked as victims rather than criminals.   

Sheila started by giving her old chum, Michelle Guymon, the bad news. Despite her service on the Governor's California Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice + Delinquency of the Board of State + Community Corrections, and as the Director of the Child Trafficking Unit with Los Angeles County Probation, there would be no time for her to give her annual report.  

The Tuesday before Super Bowl Sunday, a widely recognized period of high sex traffic, was a no-brainer to give her report, but Sheila was busy bolstering her pro-law-enforcement cred, and had taken too much time litigating her successful attempt to fire Deputy Sheriffs -who refused vaccination. 

Guymon was the original project manager for the Los Angeles County’s Law Enforcement First Responder Protocol for CSEC, 

and has been a frequent presenter and trainer regarding child abuse issues and strategies for working with CSEC youth in the Probation system.    

Sheila claimed before rattling on herself, "I wanted to go through this quickly because often we accept this report and we don't really talk about it and I kind of wanted to lift it up..." 

This drew my attention to two items on the agenda, the annual cost of litigation and county risk reports, that were being continued to a date, far far away, April 5th.  

For years, Sheila has led the charge to blunt the public's access to those important reports by denying the CEO and County Counsel the opportunity to give the public the horrible news. It's a "Receive and File" 

As for the CSEC, "I think given the lateness of the hour and deepest apologies, Michelle, to you, because I think we heard about many of the items on the report and I think we'll need to kind of move forward." 

We've been moving forward ever since February of 2016, when Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas launched the #NoSuchThingAsAChildProstitute campaign in Los Angeles.  Sheila was a newbie back then, but also in attendance.  

There is nothing more charming than a couple of wheeler-dealers, like Knabe and MRT reaching across the aisle to scoop up the most vulnerable young sex trafficking victims, with Sheila Kuehl adding gravitas, and shortening up everyone's comments but her own.   

There was one more loveable Teddy bear in attendance way back then, Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment. Ross warned the assembled: “The data show that time does not heal all wounds. Some of (the victims) become warriors and leaders through the trauma, but science tells us the effect of trauma are severe and long-lasting."  

“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” he emphasized. “We must reframe the victim to survivor. It’s essential.”  

It’s also important for victims to know that they have a place to turn.   

Mark Ridley-Thomas said that by recognizing CSEC we were "letting everyone know that our children are not for sale."   

"What about your office, sir?  Is that for sale?"   

That can be worked out.  [See Federal Indictment] 

Item 69C which was added late was last before adjournments.  "I remember there was a time when we weren't even being shown on camera, at least now we are doing that," said Supervisor Janice Hahn.   

Zavala read a lengthy report, concluding, "My office will continue to review and enhance our board meeting process, to ensure a more seamless process, so that members of the public are able to fully participate in the board meeting."  

The Chair made a comment that shocked the conscience about how great the Board was doing where other jurisdictions had failed. It was cut from the Preliminary Transcript. The public will dig it up.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Barack Obama's Attorney General...: 

Hard to forget the statement made by Herbert J. Wesson in 2015 when, as Council President of the City of Los Angeles, he was defending Jose Huizar against #MeToo allegations by his former chief of staff and mistress.  "Mr. Huizar is like my brother, my best friend on the council. I trust him with my life. He does the same for me.”    

What a series of mensches. Just to be sure that all his bases were covered, Wesson hired an attorney, "Who you gonna call?" 

Aaron Lewis, who had just migrated over to Covington & Burling, a fancy firm, after six years of service in the Department of Justice (DOJ), first as Counsel to Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, and later as an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles. 

I learned that Covington & Burling have a long and very clear track record.  

In a letter dated, March 30, 2021 obtained through the public record act, Eric H. Holder, wrote to the Executive Vice President and General Counsel Oregon Health & Science University, "We are very pleased to confirm that (OSHU or “you”) is hiring our law firm, Covington & Burling LLP (“Covington” or “we”) to conduct an independent investigation..." 

He was agreeing to a 10% discount, but stated clearly, "Currently, my hourly rate is $2,295 and Nancy’s is $1,445. Hourly rates for other lawyers range from $595 for junior associates to $2,295 for senior partners; and for legal assistants from $290 to $545. We normally review and adjust our rates once a year as of January 1, although there are circumstances in which we may adjust rates at other times." 

There are plenty of other cool things the firm does, they ought to call Covington & Burling, Coverup and Bury-ton. 

On heels of Ridley-Thomas indictment, apparently, LA County hired the firm to do a sweeping audit

I wrote to Nicole Davis-Tinkham and Rodrigo Castro-Silva of County Counsel, seeking the letter of agreement between the firm and the county.  The Daily News noted Carolyn Kubota and Dan Shallman, former prosecutors, but did not go into much detail.  

As a courtesy, I sought the letter of agreement:  "Please provide the agreement or letter or MOU pertaining to the Covington & Burling work with the county and the October 19, 2021 motion by Hilda Solis and Kathryn Barger about contracting fraud. Digital link ok stat." 

So far, the county has decided to ignore my request.  

To be fair, to everyone, the Sheriff has also been tough to pin down.  

In response to a question, this week about whether Janice Hahn's denial that the board had blocked him from training 1,000 more deputies, Deputy Jimenez, wrote,  "We currently have 951 applicants in various stages of the background process, of which 457 are Deputy Sheriff Trainee DST applicants and 494 are Custody Assistant applicants.  An additional 44 DSTs will be starting Academy Class #460 next week, and another 91 DST applicants are ready to go into the next Academy class after that. 



The Wednesday City Council meeting was an opportunity for more bonding across districts.  A toast to one another, working together... 

That said, what a heartbreaker that we are being led around by the alcohol sellers as if that's going to be a real savior for their businesses. I remember when Karen Bass in the nineties stood against the raging public health crisis. More people are dying on our roads at the hands of alcohol than ever before.  And, yet, whatever this is, that's a terrible thing. Yesterday we were arresting people for fixing their bikes, and today we are unleashing alcohol sales over the phone without food. 

Good work cutting the red tape, but... look both ways, these people are drunk.

The BIDS are doing well, there were a dozen buried in the no comments section. "We have $475,000 of revenue coming into Studio City and they're not even spending it all.  They spend $112,000 in administration which is code for paying, Vicki Nussbaum a hundred grand.  I don't even see the benefit for the public, this is one very narrow corridor, the security money for patrolling the streets... it's like hundreds of thousands of dollars, where are the patrols?"

And good work, on the motion, asking for the bodycam footage from the shooting at the Burlington Mall, by the police officer. But there is no controversy there?  It was a mistake...

Strefan Fauble, the City Attorney, jumped on, "I'm sorry, Sir, the BIDS are not on the agenda."

Alright, I said, "Then, let's go-to item 38 and 39...  Lightstone DTLA  LLC, here, an earlier speaker had it right..."

Suddenly, an interruption. It seemed to be coming from Kevin DeLeon, the council member from the 14th district, who took over for Jose Huizar.

Kevin Deleon:  "Hey..."   

Bro:  "Oh, what are you doing?"

Kevin Deleon:  "I'm in council. I'm--"

Fauble muted him immediately.

Strefan Fauble:  Mr. Deleon, you accidentally unmuted yourself (then)  Mr. Preven, please continue, we'll give you a few extra seconds...

Eric Preven: Thank you and hopefully, Mr. Deleon will be listening to me and not his bro convo.

Lightstone benefited from an enormous financial incentive package approved by the City Council which will allow the developer to retain over $100 million in tax revenue over the first 25 years of operations at the property.  Not so uncommon... since part of the place is a hotel, these are often Transit Occupancy Taxes and Mayor Eric Garcetti has wide discretion over how these incentives are doled out. 

I don't think these deals help the people, they do help the crooked politicians but they don't really help the people. 

Here today, Deleon is taking the money that Huizar negotiated -- like a million dollars in $100,000 annual increments, every year for ten years--

Strefan Fauble: Hello, Mr. Preven. (a beat) I think we lost the connection with Mr. Preven.

Seconds later, a text from a concerned activist attorney: "They once again drop you at your general public comment."  

Another, "I called in on time, raised my hand yet they said there were no more callers. And then raised my hand again, and they closed comment after you got cut off." 


(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)