Mon, May

Angelenos Are Paying Out Over $70 Million To Settle 127 Lawsuits


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK – In the very moving poem, “We Were All Odysseus in Those Days” by Amorak Huey, the final line says it all, "Call me nobody. Let me live." 

But please do call me, I've been on hold for forty-five minutes, I say.  

On Wednesday, the City Attorney was so desperate for the right kind of message that he called Mr. Antonio up to speak... twice.  Anyone listening, would have easily recognized that Mr. Antonio had just spoken a moment ago, but the Council President was not positioned on her throne.   

Her absence caused a number of constituents to question where "the fuck" she was and why she wasn't listening to the adoring public.  Maybe she heard Mr. Antonio lather up Mr. Wesson, and diss MRT, the first time.   

Enforcement of the Brown Act is left to those of us who take the time to provide the nasty comments.  The ACLU of Southern California and Paul Nicholas Boylan get it, but apparently, as attorneys, they have to be very selective... and weak, and dishonorable. Pieces of shit (POS), if you will.   


City Harassment numbers are up or down! 

During this Five year document from the City attorney from 2017 to date, 127 cases have been settled for a total of $70,452,485.   

The average cost is $544,743 per case, but one case was settled for as low as $18 dollars and one for as high as $13 million. Two cases were over $6 million.  

10 cases were regarding Age Discrimination, 33 cases of Disability/Medical Discrimination, 16 cases of Sexual Harassment, 7 cases of Gender Discrimination, 13 cases of Race/Color/National Origin Discrimination, 1 religious discrimination, and 47 cases of Retaliation.  

Applications are being accepted by the new General Manager of the Personnel Department, Dana Brown, who is a 35-year city employee, who left Animal Services after just nine months ago to jump on board to stabilize the city's larger hiring plans.  

Everything relies on hiring quickly and efficiently. "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life," she told the council.  

No word about how the city plans to hire so quickly when there is a palpable shortage of qualified applicants.  No public comments were taken on her appointment, but the horseshoe feted Ms. Brown for almost half an hour. Almost.  


Avoid Erewhon:

Studio City Neighborhood Council has embarked on a clumsy effort to blunt public input by stuffing all the speakers upfront in something like a jumpy tent.

Randall Fried stands at the entrance in socks, admitting one lunatic at a time.  

Then, depending upon how offensive the agenda is, he and the rest of the council jump around for four hours of mean-spirited, ill-conceived nasty little reports and futile edicts.  

Welcome to Studio City!  Here's your hat, what's your hurry?  

It will be interesting to see how Nithya Raman handles our power washing NIMBYs.   

There was a sharp piece in the New York Times about how artisanal food companies founded with Asian roots find that social media engagement with customers helps their growth, but it also means dealing with racist and sexist comments.   Short answer: have a sense of humor, and occasionally clap back.  

Richard Adams, who according to a local puppet known for telling the truth, passed away recently (May he rest in peace.)  

Adams was an avid button pusher in the 'he has a right to speak but...' space.    

The beauty of public comments is that they end after a couple of minutes.  

An offended listener could easily multi-task during one of Mr. Adams' endless rants. Many members of the public suspected that board member and online shopper Alexis Steinberg as well as others on the board would tune out and shop during public comment.  

Now that we have an Erewhon in Studio City, why would anyone order frozen dumplings, interesting spice blends, and high-quality kimchi online?   

To avoid going to the Erewhon and risk being run over by a frustrated motorist driving an enormous, nearly silent electric vehicle that can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds more than a gas-powered car (eg. Volvo XC40). 

Despite ten pages of hostile motions introduced by the Powerwashing Nimbys of Studio City to challenge Nithya Raman's clear-eyed solutions-driven approach, the fact that speed limits on Colfax and Whitsett had been reduced to 35mph, despite Barry Johnson's coordinated effort to jack them up to 40mph, was nowhere on the agenda. 

Even if it were, the public comment has officially been scaled back for increased board pontification time. 

Still, the new 35mph signs will eventually replace the new 40mph signs that just went up under the shameful watch of ASM Adrin Nazarian to replace the previous 35 mph signs, which were shamefully taken down by Paul Krekorian and Doug Mensman who is now serving as Director of Transportation for Mayor Eric Garcetti, after five years of dirty work alongside Karo Torossian of CD2.  

As for whether heavier cars are more dangerous? Depends on who you ask.  

Physics, suggests that when two moving objects hit one another, the heavier one will tend to carry on in more or less the direction it was going. The lighter one, on the other hand, will change direction abruptly.  Even if that lighter vehicle doesn't get smashed in, that jarring deflection is bad for the people inside, not to mention a pedestrian or Mensman on a bicycle. 

Meanwhile, for the people in the heavier vehicle that just punches its way through, that extra weight can be a lifesaver.  

Doug told CNN that even if electric vehicles were heavier enough to grind down pavement faster, it would be a small price to pay for the benefits of a healthier environment.   Including a vibrant river... 


A River: 

I couldn't resist clicking through and signing up for the Open Mind with Dr. Anna Lembke a professor of psychiatry at Stanford who, it turns out has something of an addiction to romance novels.   

Apparently, engaging characters and a page-turning plot can exist right alongside sex scenes so raunchy and explicit they have you reaching for your favorite toy.    

Once you read, "And then he set about doing things to her with his fingers and his mouth that almost made her blackout” and come across "I came, groaning, every muscle drawn taut. It was almost too much. Almost.”  It's hard to put the stuff down.  

Prozac Nation is a memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel published in 1994. The book describes the author's experiences with atypical depression, her own character failings and how she managed to live through particularly difficult periods while completing college and working as a writer. Wurtzel died in Manhattan from leptomeningeal disease as a complication of metastasized breast cancer on January 7, 2020, at age 52.   

An award-winning columnist and journalist by the time she got to Harvard, she was expected to be a major star in the music journalism field. Instead, she was overwhelmed by the symptoms of her bipolar disorder, leading to alienating friends, suicide attempts, and eventual hospitalization.   

In Dopamine Nation, Dr. Lembke, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine and Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, explores the secret to finding balance in our dopamine-overloaded world.  

Looking at our dependence on the smartphone, the modern-day hypodermic needle that delivers digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation, Dr. Lembke shows us how we have all become vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption, whether it be over-indulging on technology, social media, food, work or sex, and explains the personal and societal price of being ruled by the next fix.  

Four students committed suicide at Stanford in the past year which is heartbreaking and mental health seems more precarious than ever, so there was something comforting about a Professor of Psychiatry confessing, "I got addicted to romance novels, had to get rid of the kindle... it was a physiologic craving." 

With a goal of moderation... self-binding is important. Note from Darren Kavinoky: "Because no one looks good in handcuffs, unless you're into that sort of thing."

Note from Nadina Kavinoky, who worked in LA County for 25 years, "..reinforce proper sex education in classrooms and provide safe spaces for women to receive medical help without conflict." 

In addition to her practice, Kavinoky was a lecturer and author of many works in various medical journals regarding sexual education, birth control, and arthritis. As a side note, she was associated with a study regarding the sexual health of people over the age of fifty." 

Lembke, says, "Sex makes for a healthy life..." but changing one's microenvironment can help reduce stigma and shame.  

Increasing numbers of young people, are coming to Lembke these days and can barely get out of bed in the morning.  She said, "twenty years ago... I would prescribe antidepressants. Now I recommend a 30 day dopamine fast.   

Too much pleasure is ... creating this cycle of dysthymia.  Like City Council meetings.  

It appears that activist Damien Goodman, to be honest, may have a bit of a Herb Wesson obsession.  

At the City's BONUS meeting on Friday (they routinely cancel) he laid out that Mark Ridley-Thomas had been accused of a "core violation" so, sticking Herb Wesson in his seat, was a "no brainer."  

He said, MRT was indicted... but had chosen to not resign. That's the problem.   

"Nineteen months since Huizar was indicted --"  

Fauble cut Goodman right off and after a creepily long pause of deliberative deselection, Fauble tee'd up Mr. Antonio -- for the second time.   

Antonio had done such a fine job of lathering up Mr. Wesson the first time and there was an apparent shortage of friendlies, so Fauble let him go.  

It was embarrassing and shameful because Fauble is so fastidious about shutting down any critic or innocent who wants to speak on an item he doesn't want to hear about.  

By contrast, to a city meeting, Lembke's talk was well organized by the Terry Semel Institute.  

There was a twenty-minute opening, twenty minutes of give and take with her co-star and colleague, and twenty minutes of questions from the morbidly depressed parents who had turned in to hear about Dopamine Nation.  

Lembke's thesis that robust recovery comes with radical honesty, might not play as intended with city hallers who adore... bending things.  

An average adult, according to the Stanford professor, "tells one to two lies a day."  

A poll conducted by me, myself and I say it's very likely more, downtown where it's permitted in broad daylight.  

Lembke said, "If we actively try to tell the truth, when we share what we are ashamed of, what happens, is people will not feel so alone in their own brokenness and come closer to us." 

Another technique for bringing people together is donuts.  This one comes not from a doctor, but from Monica Rodriguez, the council member from CD7 who invited everyone to take strong action and "Go get a strawberry donut from donut man." 

A collective grumble was heard online, "So, this is where Martinez has been!"  

Then, CM Rodriguez became deadly serious,  "There is a lot of money in Sacramento... right now, " she said. 

She was stoking the City's addiction cum vivid fever dream of a vibrant LA Riverway and Bike path... with O'farrell operating a little 'electric'  kayak and pretty birds everywhere, mixed in with Drone surveillance.  Getting along together.  

The entire gang of Valley council people agreed that now was the right time to ask for $197 million in funding necessary to complete the design and construction of the Valley LARiverWay before the 2028 Olympics. 

And why not have a strawberry donut while voting to lend support to the State Legislative Program for legislation that would provide at least $15 million to complete feasibility, planning and more donuts.   

Joe Buscaino who is running or Mayor wanted to recognize a gorgeous public-private partnership, down in the port... "Picture yourself in Europe. Fall in love again. Walk to San Pedro, great food on 6th street and everyone is welcome in LA's newest tourist attraction." 

O'Farrell swooned as he repeated Joe's tagline, "Fall in Love Again in San Pedro."   


The fog of disinformation thickens: 

The Russian authorities have already made it clear that the very act of calling it a “war” — the Kremlin prefers the term “special military operation” — is considered disinformation.  

As European and American officials press Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and other online platforms to clamp down on Russian disinformation, Sheila Kuehl is fighting disinformation here at home about Elections, public health, and gangs in the Sheriff's department.   

For weeks public commenters have been insulted, so it was surprising to hear Dr. Barbara Ferrer of Public Health credit those very same parents who she told the board, were "very well informed" and were in fact correct that vaccines were less effective in school age children at preventing transmission.    

Sheila and colleague Hilda Solis' collective effort to blunt public discourse is rather robust, but nothing like China's.  

When it comes to information, the Chinese government is even more of a control freak than the board of supervisors, at dictating and censoring what its 1.4 billion people consume.  

Where Beijing has silenced and jailed its critics and journalists, Sheila merely cuts them off early or clicks off zoom herself for a moment. ' 

Sheila doesn't give a shit.  

China has coerced and co-opted the biggest Chinese online platforms to enforce its censorship guidelines.  It blocks nearly all major western news and information websites, including Google, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC.   

Sheila recognizes that the truth is essential, but has still worked very hard to reduce dissent. 


Discredit: Impossible. 

Peter Eliasberg's hourly rate according to lodestar when I checked in anger as he was abandoning me to grapple alone with Mary H. Strobel was +/- $954/hour "almost too much. Almost.”  The court tabulates the attorney fee touchstone, or lodestar, by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended by the reasonable hourly rate prevailing in the community for similar work. 

Judge Strobel is a bear and does not flinch from doing whatever is necessary, almost too much (almost), to an innocent unrepresented member of the public with a big mouth and an appetite for legal invoices.  

Unfortunately, Paul Boylan, a smaller, cleverer little critter than Strobel, cannot be trusted to do the right thing.  Can anyone? 

Both Eliasberg and Boylan share a common goal of minimizing my comments and getting my annoying articles about their various shortcomings off of their impressive backs. 

What better way to do that than to help me with my 'good trouble' fights for the public's access to county and city documents?  

"Discredit him!"  Impossible. 

Despite my constant yammering on about Peter's bailing out on the public in our fight to see the county's legal invoices, and Boylan's finking out once paid on the enforcement of the case in which together we prevailed over the City of Los Angeles, Angelenos have had seared eternally on their minds, a simple truth:  Mr. Preven is right.  

If an item appears on a special meeting agenda, the public must be given an opportunity to provide public comments.  


Wesson Vacation: Public Comment

The Honorable Mary H. Strobel, who is doing a terrific job as one of three writs and receivers judges in the Los Angeles County Superior Court who preside over challenges to decisions made by government agencies, disputes over ballot language, and California Environmental Quality Act matters. 

During the big courtroom kerfuffle in which Herb J. Wesson was challenged by MRT's club, she heard the lawyers.   

Strobel seemed to understand that Wesson was term-limited. "I don't get it."  So, what did she do? She vacated his appointment.  

It's written in the actual minute order, but the city attorney, David Michaelson, Strefan Fauble's boss... wrote a little spin poem that makes it seem like "well, we're not going vacate... temporarily." 

First of all, there are two representatives from CD10.  That's not Kosher. 

So, Mr. Wesson is no longer installed, he's been vacated by the Judge.  

Read the minute order.  

And, Mr. Galperin, if you're listening, he should not be paid.  In case that has been happening.  

What has to happen?   Something else.  

"I would appoint Karly Katona." 


(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)