Tue, Apr

Thank You & F**k You 


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Mike Bonin said on Friday June 24, 2022 during the City Council meeting "One of my biggest regrets in leaving office in a few months, is that we will not have managed to get anything 100% affordable built in the Pacific Palisades."  

That same day at the Glastonbury Festival 2022, Olivia Rodrigo dedicated a song she sang with Lily Allen, the songwriter, to the five conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade the day before.  

Rodrigo, who is not afraid to speak out said,"I've got to say, I am terrified, and so many women and girls are going to die because of this.  And I wanted to dedicate this next song to the five members of the supreme court who have shown us that at the end of the day they truly don't give a shit about freedom. This song goes out to the justices, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh.  We hate you." 

This was followed by a fun version of Ms. Allen's song, F**k You  


Capri Maddox is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department (LA Civil Rights) and she was touting The Los Angeles Reforms for Equity and Public Acknowledgment of Institutional Racism (L.A. REPAIR) will fund L.A.'s first participatory budget pilot program. She told the committee she hoped to bring an umbrella approach to the "bucket of money."  

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Attorney Maddox as the first executive director of the newly designed department in 2020. The mayor's press release noted, “Capri’s intellect and powerful sense of justice and equality will make her an outstanding leader of the Department of Civil and Human Rights. Everyone in L.A. should live free of discrimination that denies basic human dignity and violates our rights as Americans. We will stand up for each other and put our values at the center of all the work that the department will do.” 

What about whistleblowers in the mayor's office?   

"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting." 

The repair funds of $8.5 million will be shared over 9 repair zones of the underserved that have suffered wrongs in the past.  This effort, she said, is intentional with the support of the Mayor and the City Council to create a more level playing field.  

"Is the mayor's office eligible to be one of the repair zones, on account of the shocking sexual harassment there?" 

"Sir.  Please Remove him." 

Maddox queried, "Who knows the communities better than the people who live, in Mission Hills, Panorama City, and then Boyle Heights and Southeast Los Angeles, east of 110 freeway?" 

When asked what the perfect outcome would be,  Maddox, said, "We want to be present and intentional with communities in need. We want to show that "we see you, we hear you, and we are going to make a difference."     

The advisory committees will submit recommendations by July 1st.  Check it out at REPAIR.lacity.org   

Silver Lining Legal Playbook:

A majority of the City Council voted to suspend Mark Ridley-Thomas MRT while he’s fighting federal corruption charges. In MRT's lawsuit to remove Herb Wesson from "my god damn office," Wesson could rightly say, it was "my god damn office" for nearly two decades.  

Wesson, the former council president and ongoing sensei, svengali and mentor of Nury Martinez is the guy who spent a bloody fortune putting up a plexiglass bank-teller window into the CD10 offices downtown. 

The public might fairly remind Wesson, "Sir, your time is up."   

"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting." 

If the dark cloud continues to hang over City Hall, maybe MRT and Wesson should both gather the collective courage to stand up and RESIGN. Perhaps the salient words of comedian George Carlin are apropos for this particularly gloomy moment: “Remember, behind every silver lining, is a dark cloud.”  

Since Nury Martinez brought Wessonb back to provide her moral support or immoral support, to continually steamroll the general public by replacing them with comments from so-called "paying customers."   These are groups, who are more than happy to mask-up for a morning and help divert the public's attention from the run-of-the- mill misconduct, in exchange for funding.  Lots of funding.  

It was May, 31, 2006 that I caught a glimpse of Herb Wesson, who is not the tallest councilmember in America for sure,  in support of the re-appointment of Ref Rodriguez and Jeff Daar to serve on the rent adjustment commission.  

I am aware of this fact set because of the excellent program by the City's ITA agency that has been releasing newly digitized, older episodes of City Council meetings.  It's amazing.   

I've been binging the 2006 season with Eric Garcetti as Council President.  He was very young and handsome.  

And its highly amusing to see the current Ethics Commissioner Jeff Daar, being sworn in for additional city service 5871 days ago. From and including: Wednesday  May, 31, 2006 To, Monday, June 27, 2022 Result: 5871 days 

To make it simple, 16 years ago.  

But Daar said that he'd been on board since 2003, so two decades is ... within reach. 

Not sure how Mr. Wesson's attorneys and the City Attorney, who must be adjusting the load in their collective pants, over the decision to seat Wesson are going to overcome the simple math related to a term that is defined as a "maximum of three, four-year terms." 

Back in the day in 2006, it was a simpler time and everyone was excited about "Ref and Jeff"  

Jeff Daar, was touted for his legal experience. The progressive icon, and talk show host, Bill Rosendahl, asked the rent commissioners on the hot seat, what's your mission?  

Ref Rodriguez was unconvincing.   

Daar was a windbag and said "I've been on the commission since 2003, I want to make a real impact so that RSO are working fairly for everybody. I've been proactive... so the commission does its work effectively and justly." 

He said, he set up an "Internal review committee"  to re-examine everything we do. We've made the commission really user-friendly.  Proactive and responsible, and allowed for a "Just and reasonable" return for owners. He cautioned we have to preserve our housing stock. He said The Ellis act, was allowing owners to get out of the rental business, so they could build high end condos.  

This was 2006. He was going to go off and report back on how can we maintain affordable housing nd not lose ground by expiring covenants.   Is it time for a 5871-day report back?  

Ref Rodriguez allegedly withdrew $285,000 in 2014 from accounts of the charter group Partnership to Uplift Communities, in amounts small enough not to trigger oversight by the group’s board. Most of that money, the group claims, went to a separate nonprofit organization controlled directly by Mr. Rodriguez.  Little or no accounting.   

Meanwhile, Rodriguez’s cousin, who worked for the partnership and requested $188,000 worth of those checks, was allowed to resign. 

Later in 2014, Rodriguez, who was then a senior executive at a charter school organization, was putting together his first run for office. 

That December, he instructed co-defendant Elizabeth Melendrez, his cousin, to enlist contributors and later reimburse them with Rodriguez’s money.  Melendrez worked under Rodriguez as an administrator in the same charter school organization. Rodriguez held an event at a family member’s residence later that month to announce his candidacy. During the event, he asked family and friends for support. Afterward, Melendrez promised contributors that Rodriguez would reimburse them.  

From Dec. 23 through Dec. 31, Rodriguez’s family and friends, including employees under his supervision, made 25 campaign contributions ranging from $775 to $1,100. The contributors included low-wage custodians for the charter schools, and their donations totaled $24,350.  

Rodriguez could have contributed the money openly and legally to his own campaign. It is against the law to disguise the source of campaign donations.  The violations “were deliberate, and Rodriguez knowingly received and made use of laundered funds during the election,” the filing states. The actions reflected “an intent to conceal, deceive and mislead.” 

"Ref and Jeff" and the fact that their names rhymed, gave Herb Wesson a kind of giddy pleasure. For those who don't remember, Herb was the big dog from CD10 who with help from local felon MItchell Englander, and Nury Martinez who has not been charged, destroyed public comment at City Hall.  

Look at this: Oil Islands 

Look at this: Desmond Shaw of CBS/KCAL had a fascinating flyover report on The Thums Islands which sit less than a mile off the coast of Long Beach and were built to tap into the oil from the East Wilmington oil patch.  

He noted, that because of the city's beautification laws, the architects of those islands had to disguise the facilities. The landscaping and sound walls were designed to camouflage the operation and reduce noise, and they are the only decorated oil islands in the United States.  

Built in 1960s... Long Beach essentially said, "you can tap this, but we have a beautification clause" and you'll need to disguise these islands so that they don't look like obvious oil production. So the lessees, a consortium of companies including, Texaco Humble, Unocal, Mobil, and Shell hired some famous architects, some of whom worked on Disneyland to come in and beautify the islands, "670 tons of boulders were put in use and 3 million cubic yards of sand had to be dredged."  

The four man-made islands are named after fallen astronauts. Since 1967, they have also been known as the Astronaut Islands, each individual island having been named in honor of an American astronaut who lost their life in the service of NASA.  

Island Freeman (Theodore C. "Ted" Freeman) is named for the first astronaut to perish in active duty (piloting a T-38 Talon jet trainer). Islands Chaffee (Roger B. Chaffee), Grissom (Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom), and White (Ed White) are named after the Apollo 1 astronauts killed in a launch pad accident. 

The place was expected to be turned into a tourist destination after a number of years, but to this day, it's still producing oil!   

Funny, them trying to disguise oil production. Question: Is space travel possible without fossil fuel?  

During WWII the Germans built wooden airplanes and sometimes completed airfields to keep the Allies away from their real airfields and I once read about an inflatable decoy aircraft taken at the Kabul airport before it was debunked by a Reuters Fact Check team who found "no evidence" that the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, was an inflatable decoy."  

The full-court press:

The day following our recognition at the SoCal Journalism awards on Saturday, I could have sworn I spotted a 60 Minutes Blimp looming from over Mt. Wilson.  The winners are linked here.

Rita Moreno, who is certainly not a racist, closed out the evening with a feisty speech for her friend Bill Whitaker. 

Her speech veered quite close to the inappropriate line in the sand, but it was not clear why.  Moreno is highly intelligent and so when she said, that Bill Whitaker had come to her house for Sixty Minutes and since he's an African American and "none of the silverware was missing" ... something-something, there was a small groan so hard to hear. 

Confusion is the enemy of comedy and I was not sure what Ms. Moreno who was an Executive Producer on Spielberg's Westside Stroy remake, was but it seemed to be a small lite "racism" joke. 

No different than anti-semitism, anti-genderism, anti-whiteness, anti-redneck, anti-asian, anti-muslim jokes doled out at awards shows around the globe.   

I think, "cringeworthy" covers it.   

There were a few other clunkers in her speech and she did not sing or dance which is a disappointment, but she looked fabulous, and averted disaster.   

Angelenos still love Rita Moreno. Gil Cedillo, not so much.  

Marcus Yam, the Pulitzer prize-winning photographer from the Los Angeles Times was a genuine joy to hear from.  He named his drivers and translators, who he thanked for securing his passage into and often out of the most dangerous places on earth. He was an aerospace engineer wannabe before he got derailed and thanks to Norman Pearlstine, a prior leading light at the LA Times, became the guy who takes the pictures that bring the world ... "closer together" in the interest of making the "planet smaller."  

The self-parking deal that had been advertised by an eblast from the Press Club was to be capped at $14, but where the rubber hit the road after the event, it was $16.    

Bill Whitaker is a verty nice and accessible guy, and since he was receiving the 2021 Joseph M Quinn Award for Lifetime Achievement, he dressed up in a tuxedo and green plastic eyeglass frames.  

When complimented on his frames, he gave credit to the attendant at his eyeglass store, who made the strong recommendation. The man looked positively regal and wears his deceased father's ring to this day.  His father was a news junkie, so if he could see Bill now... 

When I explained my role as a local irritant, Whitaker who is the consummate professional, turned to me and shook my hand, "Local journalism" is by far the most important thing.   

Whitaker is tall, but when I was introduced to Elex Michaelson, I had a flashback to an NBA  All-Star game that I attended in Phoenix, for the Tonight Show.  Mr. Michaelson, came across as tan - the way one would appear after a full day by the coast in Malibu - and he was snappily dressed.  I would estimate Mr. Michaelson is 6' 5" tall.  [One gf suggested that I consult with Michaelson's tailor. We exchanged contact information]. 

Elex would be a movie star if he were any shorter.   

If he agrees to dig into the WaterScores of the candidates on the race to November, I'm prepared to put in a good word with the Supervisors.   An article about the high percentage of movie stars that are short took second place recognition in the category of--   

I've digressed.  

The SoCal Journalism Gala event is well-produced. The producer has worked out virtually all the known kinks. At the exact right time, Kareem Abdul Jabbar emerges from the back, causing the LA media world to look upward. If you don't already read Kareem's very good column in the Hollywood Reporter, you should. He pocketed at least one more Press Club award on Saturday. 

Celebrities celebrating celebrities:

....the caller ending in 7719 thanked the CEO Stephanie Wiggins for her excellent report and "excellent work" slipping the half a billion in federal grant requests, under the so-called door in Washington.  

In August, Wiggins announced, that the staffing will begin on the Metro's new Ambassador program (Cue: Mayor Garcetti to wince here). 

The plan calls for up to 244 security guards and 55 advocates who offer referrals, guidance, and wayfinding and will be posted at the big stations. Everyone wondered, what about Janice Hahn's "A psychiatrist on every bus" program?  

"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting." 

Service on the Metro trains and buses has been degraded to the point where even big strong guys are a little frightened.   

Would Bill Whitaker of 60 minutes, be comfortable on the Red Line in his stylish green frames?   

Public Comment: 

Thanks. I would like to applaud the metro clerk for that game of "constantly lowering my hand" at Thursday's metro meeting, when I wanted to give a comment on the "prior report" by that chap in a British accent, about the plan to do better, controlling overages at Metro.   

It was one of the worst presentations I'd ever heard and though I appreciate that Directors Sandoval and Dutra tried to put a face of concern on the content of what Brian was burying nicely, with a British accent, the episode fell far below any reasonable standard for reporting at public meetings.  

Why was Brian, whose last name I missed, so comfortable skipping over... the content of the report?   

Supervisor Solis had already shortened the meeting by nearly 4%... since last month's meeting. 

One speaker said, "You have to make it clear if nobody can see what's going on, nobody can discover that money is walking away, and that's -- it will continue.  And it's a nice idea to ask the industry what to do about it and "they'll tell you" for sure, but the people need to pay attention and it's your job to be sure that's possible.  

Sheroe Solis:

Supervisor Solis said, after so much praise,  "I'm a little melancholy you guys.  A year has gone by too fast. One step forward, two and a half back.  It's like a dog year, 7 years.  We've arrived at the hour.  Ten ayem.  And we do have a quorum.  I'm proud to call this meeting to order, and it is my last day as chair. "  

Solis cut the meeting from three hours and thirty-seven minutes to three hours and twenty-five minutes, nearly a four percent reduction, as she headed for the door... for the last time as Chairwoman.   

The terms bravery and courage came up. 

She was described as a relentless fighter for the folks who live here in Los Angeles.  

She was praised for taking public comments on the items and allowing people to speak on the merits.   

One man suggested that she copy-paste the great expansive work she's done at Metro Board during her tenure as Chair back to the Board of Supervisors, where on Tuesday it was impossible to get through at all, during a two-minute window, to address the Board of Supervisors' miserable little closed session.  

The President of the United States is a political foster parent to scandal-hobbled outgoing L.A. mayor Garcetti and stymied Ambassador to India nominee, and though everything is not "perfect and great" as Garcetti told the Metro board  [COMMENT REMOVED BY MODERATOR] 

"Each one of you are Allstars..."  said Solis, or was in Hahn? 

Well, there are rules, but to Hilda Solis, fighting is fighting.  And when she's raising money to fight, occasionally the lines can be blurred.  When you're "working for the administration" should you be raising money for "political campaigns?"   

All these ethics rules can be confusing.  Hard not to remember when Mitch O'Farrell was taken through the wringer when the Maciborsky LLCs got a little overzealous and were caught aggregating excessive contributions.  

The debacle unfolded right in front of Mr. O'Farrell and his trusted sidekick, Jeanne Min when he refused to chirp up about how clean he was, following our efforts to bring more disclosure... and ownership.  

Jeanne Min, who has endured as much as any city council person's chief of staff in America of ordinary firmness, could reasonably endure, was helpful in the end.  

Obviously, the heart goes out to O'Farrel's challenger, Hugo Soto-Martinez,  who seems poised to dash the hopes and dreams of so many aspirational young American divers in retro USA flag bathing suits (c. 1972 Mark Spitz) awaiting Mr. O'Farrell's re-election.    

If elected in November, hopefully, Mr. Soto-Martinez will keep the Olympic flame alit for the speedo set and ban O'Farrell from attending pools on the grounds of a perceived... conflict of interest.  

The Light of Day:

Kevin Frazier and Nischelle Turner of "Entertainment Tonight" co-hosted the 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards held at the Pasadena Convention Center.  The big headline, Mishael Morgan of "The Young and the Restless" won as a lead drama actress, becoming the first Black actor to win in a lead category at the Daytime Emmys.   

CBS’ The Young and the Restless had three total wins — including Mishael Morgan’s history-making one, as well as in Creative Arts categories awarded last week  — while sister series The Bold and the Beautiful collected a pair of statuettes.  

The 35-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago is the middle child of three girls.  At the age of five, her family immigrated to Toronto, Canada.   Morgan joined the CBS sudser in 2013 and originally played Hilary Curtis, but exited in 2018 due to unsuccessful contract negotiations; Hilary in turn died following a car accident.  A year later, Morgan returned to Y&R as Amanda Sinclair, a powerful and mysterious lawyer.    

A fan who follows the program said, "One of the worst decisions Y&R made was letting Mishael go and one of the best decisions they made was getting her back."  

The very first Daytime Emmy Awards took place in 1974, when a woman's right to choose had been freshly protected by the Roe decision in 1973.  At the 49th annual Daytime Emmys, NPR reported that Supporting actress nominee Nancy Lee Grahn of "General Hospital" walked the indoor red carpet wearing a temporary tattoo reading "reproductive freedom" on her chest, and the word "choice" on her disc earrings. 

"Doll" as she is known among old friends and colleagues, carried a black purse with "ban off our bodies" spelled out in rhinestones. "I dare not go through this process without speaking out about the devastation that I have for what happened today and what a dark day it is for women in this country," said the ten-time Emmy nominee and two-time winner.   

"We're not going to allow this, we're not going to stand for it."   

General Hospital won its 15th best show award, and Kelly Thiebud of GH took Supporting actress this year,  but Doll should be applauded for standing up and speaking up as she does every single day.  Fight on!  #RoeVsWade #AbortionBan   

What would the perfect outcome be? We want to be present and intentional with communities in need. We want to show that "we see you, we hear you, and we are going to make a difference."   

Wrap up:

In the aftermath of an award ceremony, it's a good time to prune back the hedges a little bit.  For instance, if a particular employee of a business owner has a relationship with a particular reporter who is recognized by the Press Club and so gaining traction, fire that employee before the journalist makes further inroads. jk srsly.   

Similarly, if a local watchdog is recognized, it might be a good time to settle up before any redoubling of the efforts to expose and make the wrongdoing clear... is initiated. 

I was delighted to speak to Chris Flint, the new hard-hitting insurance executive who serves on the board of governors for Finra, about how USAA had ripped off a long-time member who purchased life insurance from them.  Flint came across as the world's greatest defender of "horrible things" so, as a recognized critic of "horrible things," it was a very enlightening chat.  Let's see what happens.  

The Preven Brothers grab Gold, "Notebook" places 3rd:


Eric Preven and Joshua Preven, CityWatchLA, "The Pandemic Should Not be Used as a Pretext to Muffle the Voices of the ‘Inconvenient Public’"  

Judges’ comment

The Prevens fulfilled the role of watchdogs to fairly raise the alarm on the government operating its business outside of public purview and for placing an arbitrary time limit on public comment time. This deserves praise for putting a 'stink-eye' spotlight on local bodies of government.  

Humbled and honored to place 3rd in this year’s competition for online Journalist of the year.   This year’s 1st place winner was Robin Urevich of Captial & Main, a journalist and radio reporter whose work has appeared on NPR, Marketplace, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Las Vegas Sun.  


Robin Urevich, Capital & Main

https://bit.ly/36q7oRD ; https://bit.ly/3vw2NpD ; https://bit.ly/3KX9VS6 ; https://bit.ly/3JPUCJH 

Judges’ comment: One can imagine Urevich getting giddy at the prospect of doing extensive work and mining overlooked details. You can feel the shoe leather being worn down by the intense probing. Nothing less than a full 3 dimensions will do — along with a full accounting of who is winning and who is losing in California’s dysfunctional housing market. All the right questions are asked and answers demanded. She knows the streets of Los Angeles because she’s immersed in the struggle for the simplest of Life’s necessities — a decent place to live. Her work reads like a crusade against injustice!  

2nd Stephanie Mendez, ABC News/Good Morning America 

3rd Eric Preven, CityWatchLA  

F**k You by Lily Allen:
Look inside, look inside your tiny mind, now look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired
So sick and tired of all the hatred you harbour
So you say it's not okay to be gay, well, I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval
Fuck you (Fuck you), fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So, please don't stay in touch
Fuck you (Fuck you), fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So, please don't stay in touch
Do you get, do you get a little kick out of being small-minded?
You want to be like your father, it's approval you're after
Well, that's not how you find it
Do you, do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control a bit, and it's really distasteful
Fuck you (Fuck you), fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So, please don't stay in touch
Fuck you (Fuck you), fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So, please don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you
You say, you think we need to go to war, well, you're already in one
'Cause it's people like you that need to get slew
No one wants your opinion
Fuck you (Fuck you), fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So, please don't stay in touch
Fuck you (Fuck you), fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So, please don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you


(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))