A Powerful Lesson on Teamwork


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Sometimes, sports are about winning. Other times, they're about more than that. 

Like when Erin Jackson the speedskater who nearly missed the 2022 Games after she slipped during trials, but teammate Brittany Bowe gave up her own spot to ensure Jackson could go.  She won a gold medal in the 500m Sunday.  cool

This is what teammates do for one another.  It's a powerful lesson.  

"We never leave a Marine behind," and that's why it is so important to ensure that "our team" is comprised of the right stuff.  

Actually, in the case of the contracting fraud that arose at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, resulting in a 20 count indictment of Mark Ridley-Thomas, the "left" stuff!  

For some reason, rather than bothering the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the US Attorneys Office with the cumbersome task of boiling down the county's worst practices into some kind of injunction or consent decree, the County Counsel has volunteered to bring in a  stately, highly partisan, law firm to git r done.  

Covington and Burling LLP, the firm the county chose to engage -- though they have not yet provided the firm's agreement -- will probably come with attorney-client privilege.  Part of their assignment could be a directive to further farm out the investigative work to a forensic auditor, sometimes referred to as a "dog-that-will-not-hunt". 

This plan of attack by the County is reminiscent of the great wise one,  Richard Drooyan, a former US Attorney who spun through the revolving door to become a longtime jail monitor who claimed to be probono from Munger Tollers, but was actually paid over $1.6M through another firm that he moved to, on the so-called  B-side (after the CCJV recommendations that he wrote were made public).   

Joe McGrath and Joe Brann, two experts in the field of clouding jail violence with myriad reports and advisories, were hired, at his suggestion,  by the mighty law firm, Jones Day,  on a sub-contracted basis.  

This came to the public's attention, only after I berated the ACLU into suing the county over public records.   

Now, a question has arisen, do we have the right legal team in place?  Who are these lawyers serving?    

Covington and Burling, acted as outside counsel for Biden’s 2019 presidential campaign, and they “regularly advise numerous Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 corporations, trade associations, financial institutions, political party committees, PACs, candidates, lobbying firms, and high net-worth individuals concerning compliance with the increasingly complex array of laws governing the political process” and that they are recognized for their expertise in “pay to play” laws that restrict political contributions by government contractors." 

They advised Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos in advance of the U.S. House congressional inquiry in July 2020 concerning antitrust law, and Covington Lawyers have lobbied for Amazon on tax and other related matters. 

Many county residents don't know that Covington & Burling also repped McKesson, a massive drug distribution company,  over their alleged role in the opioid epidemic.  

And it was shocking to learn that Covington and Burlington's Nancy Kestenbaum was brought in when the CBS board hired her (among others) to conduct an internal investigation on behalf of CBS into sexual misconduct allegations against former CBS CEO Les Moonves.   

Covington, itself, paid out an undisclosed settlement fee to Mr. Moonves after it was found that the firm failed to protect the identities of witnesses interviewed during the investigation into Moonves.  

Covington's lobbying clients include Microsoft CorpQualcomm Inc, Northrop GrummanBAE Systems Inc and BP America. 

Citigroup Inc. became the first Wall Street bank to do an audit by attorneys at Covington & Burling LLP to see how it contributes to racial discrimination. 

Starbucks Corp. also hired Covington & Burling to do its audit leading to a commitment to civil rights, equity, diversity and inclusion.    

In January, Politico noted new lobbyist terminations for Covington & Burling LLP from Netflix IncProcare Software LLC and Unisys Corporation

Will this firm fight for the people, not the power?  

Sir, you're disrupting the meeting. 


On the record:  

Scandal after scandal has rocked the City of Los Angeles.  The LA Times is launching a newsletter next Saturday, sign up here.  

Teddy Kapur, a candidate for Los Angeles City Attorney with the same last name, but no obvious relation to longtime County Counsel and City Attorney insider, Leela Kapur, says he's running because working people, entrepreneurs, immigrants, community leaders, and healthcare experts deserve to be heard."   

He plans "to represent each and every one of us."   

Does that include the  billionaires?  

Hopefully, Teddy Kapur will recognize that a broad range of industries from media and internet to aerospace, defense, and national security, electronics and information technology, and financial services also need support. 

Leela Kapur is out, for the moment.  

An inquiry as to why, anyone would leave a $406,000 job willingly, has not been answered. 

Ms. Kapur, simply de-activated her bar status to INACTIVE, voluntarily in mid-January.   Let's not go crazy, there's is a revolving door at City Hall East.  

If there was a going-away party, not everyone made the cut.  

One can assume, however, that she deserves a little Eat, Pray Love experience following what can only be described as a breathtaking series of offensive activities that have occurred under the careful supervision of her ... führer.  

I've always said, Mike Feuer, is fast!   

Not just fleet of foot through the rotunda with a gaggle of furious residents in tow, but also in responding to challenges by unauthorized billionaires, who did not get the memo -- re: next Mayor of Los Angeles.  

Even before, former Republican, Rick Caruso, whose best-case scenario connotes a Frank Sinatra sort of swagger,  jumped officially, into the race that Mr. Feuer has been running since 2018, he'd posted a portfolio of disdain for Caruso upscale shortcomings .  

Feuer, who adores fundraising as much as the next politician failed to reference the 20 count indictment against Mark Ridley-Thonas, while messing up Caruso's hair on the day he announced.  

Feuer blamed Caruso for the USC’s School of Social Work scandal about targeting low-income students for online degrees costing over $100,000, saddling these students with enormous debt. 

I think he wanted to avoid the strong connection to Mark Ridley-Thomas and the United Way and many other treasured partners. 

Since Caruso is or was the Chair of the USC board, Feuer clumsily blames him for these offensive fraternity parties. Protecting the young people, is critical. 

Feuer forgot to mention that these were the same young people who in March 2019 were on Caruso's superyacht the Invictus with Olivia Jade when the Lori Laughlin USC bribery scandal broke.   

“While Mr. Caruso’s malls were being cited by L.A. County health officials... " Feuer was assaulting the public with self serving Youtube videos.  

As for the well-documented City Attorney / Rat  / Elizabeth Greenwood flea-bite drama, no mention of Herb J. Wesson and the highly irregular city clerk, Holly Wolcott's activities. 

And “while Mr. Caruso built luxury housing for the affluent and opposing rent control," Feuer bragged disingenuously.  

He omitted the truth that is his team,  under his leadership,  routinely violate the Brown Act and were taken to task by an appellate court, but then bought off the corrupted attorney to prevent the prevailing party from really prevailing.  


County Bacteria: 

I spoke with... Maisa Lahham an Environment, Health & Safety officer for LA County Public Health.  Not about the very friendly Amendment No. 6 to the lease agreement No.17567 between the County  CARUSO MANAGEMENT COMPANY, Ltd., a California limited partnership as Lessee of parcel 131, but rather I was curious about email updates  I was getting about elevated levels of bacteria. 

--green, (you can swim)

--yellow (means positive, but not extreme enough to close)  

--red (closed, due to sewage or super high levels...) 

Ms. Lahham told me that there are several entities that test for bacteria on our beaches, including, LA County Public Health, LA City Hyperion, Heal the Bay... etc.  All of these groups collect samples, she told me.


Total coliform level

Should not exceed 10,000 organisms per 100 milliliters.


Total e-coli 

Level should not exceed 400 organisms per 100 milliliters   -- Though, the day I spoke to her last week it was 440 e coli... possibly due to elevated temperature.


Total enterococcus

level should not exceed 104 organisms per 100 milliliters 

The tests are conducted at several County Public Health Labs. 

As for Caruso,  the Board feels he is well-positioned to attract high-quality tenants with its requisite experience from managing and operating well-known Los Angeles area upscale properties, such as The Americana at Brand, The Grove, and Waterside in Marina del Rey. 

Caruso getting a little help from the county... with the Commodore Club!  

"The County hereby waives (i) Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000.00) of Past Due Rent. for the period from April 2020 through March 2021, and (ii)Sixteen Thousand Five Hundred Eighty Eight ($16,588.00) of past due rent for the period including April and May 2021 pursuant to the County's approved Covid relief measures." 

But to be very clear, it is understood and acknowledged that although the County Board of Supervisors has authorized such relief, said amount and approval thereof is subject to the Commodore Club's compliance with County Policies and documentation requirements.  

So, probably best not to compare notes with Alex Villanueva and his department, or are conscientious objectors to certain policies.   

Ms. Lahham explained that all three of these bacterial levels rise after rainstorm, and so 72 hours after a rainstorm, smart to avoid going in the water. 

Some places, like 33 Santa Monica Pier and Mother's beach are always high. "It's not related to the discharge or sewage," she said. 

"Mother's Beach is high, because if you notice the shape -- it is in the Marina, an enclosed area not exposed to open ocean --  If there are not too many waves, the water doesn't move."   

Standing water, typically has higher levels of bacteria...and if it is warm, even higher still.  

This is also true of swimming pools, which can go green when it gets hotter, and require more chlorine.  During the winter, the opposite is true, and pools require less chlorine. 

So Mother's Beach is about movement, not sewage. It is safe to swim at Mother's, but you have to be more careful. For that reason, there is always a yellow sign on Mother's beach, cautioning and recommending against swimming.   

The reason it is called Mother's beach, is because the beach has been preferred by Mother's with children, because it is protected from dangerous surf.  

It's not the level that is important, but rather why is it always positive.   Eg. "Santa Monica Pier is almost always positive.  Rarely negative. When we went there, there was no sewage, no nothing. We did note a large bird population and fishermen, so it could be contributing to the higher bacteria levels." 

I asked, "Could it be related to Hyperion?"    

She said, to the right of the pier, and the left of the pier, the levels are typically not elevated.   So, "no!" 

I said, "Is it a mystery why the pier has elevated bacteria?"   "Yes." she replied, "It might have to do with the bird activities there ... lots of gulls, pigeons..." etc.  

I said, "or maybe the wood pylons are home to bacteria, etc."    


Heal The Bay sends results on Wednesday, so we include them.   

Sometimes, they encounter analyst errors.  A sample that comes positive for coliform ... even if the number is below the level 400 ...  If it's close, we'll consider it positive, because "better safe than sorry." 

We don't want people to get sick.  cool


Nudnik: Derogatory 

Informal: a person who is a bore or nuisance  

I'm comfortable saying that ... my cousin congratulated my niece and asked, "What's her role there?" about her role at a place they worked.   

Twenty seconds later, I fired back, "They are a docent!" 

Twenty additional seconds later, my cousin made a faux pas and apologized for "getting the pronouns wrong."  

The correction was sufficient.   

I read an article entitled "How the N-word became unsayable" which refers to the term that was used in a degrading way but is used from time to time in an affectionate way by some groups.  

Evidently, there's a quasi-ban in place, which I am certainly not for, even though I am not clamoring to say it and I don't want other people to say it.  But I do not mind hearing music played at the park.  

How is it that a man who alleges that he is a person of color, but, respectfully... what the fuck? Compared to a person of no color? People are mixed up in America, anyway, so it is not crystal clear and that's why we strive to treat people equally. 

Even if we assume, a person of color and a person who is banned from saying the N-word are distinguishable, I am still not on board with banning words. It's regressive. 

I never liked nazis and I never liked racists but we all must reserve the right to choose our words carefully.  

Even Bonin. 


(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)