ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Joe Buscaino's Policy Director, Dennis Gleason came in on his birthday, "a true virgo" said Council President Nury Martinez, after the newly installed CD10 representative, Heather Hutt, ran the pledge of allegiance.
Gleason is the latest in the brain drain at city hall and Buscainio was farklempt.
Kevin Deleon, had a quick comment in the announcement section just before the Council took another week off, this time to congregate in Long Beach with other City officials from around California.
I wrote about the event last year, and my piece had a section on Fat Leonard, the GOAT of disgusting bribery scandals. Fat Leonard absconded before trial last week in San Diego, and has friends in every port around the globe, so let's put the law enforcement resources on the criminals who are easier to catch.
CM DeLeon was granted the opportunity to go off of the agenda and describe an incident that he experienced on the way to an early dinner last Wednesday, down Colorado... before Eagle Rock at the intersection. It was all taped off. A young man at the Shell station ...had a blow torch... and was trying to blow up his car.
The man was an Eagle Rock resident from a tiny home."
De Leon rambled on dramatically and read what seemed like the entire duty roster of the local police department, pronouncing each Latino officer's name with heartfelt authenticity. Captain Walters, Sergeant SERRRRRANO!"
The disaster at the Shell station was averted, but make no mistake, "We need our friends at LA county to step up with psychiatric beds... for the severely mentally ill. We need more beds..."
The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
The Alliance lawsuit was on the county's agenda on Tuesday, but Sheila Kuehl was fighting hard to do the opposite of what DeLeon suggested.
After a brief round of Happy Birthday "ditto," "double ditto..." and "I would sing, but don't want to clear the room" the board went into auto-pilot.
The Chief Executive Officer was recommending programs and funding allocations totaling $100,000,000 for funds currently held in the Care First Community Investment (CFCI) but a small internal skirmish had broken out.
Sheila led the fake-charge and Hilda Solis faux-defended against moving $6.3 million out of DHS into the community benefit org world, ie. not for profits. The CBOs.
Who was going to greet inmates when they are routinely released in the middle of the night, at a repurposed old bail bonds office? CBOs, that's who.
Solis wanted DHS to be there with real mental health professionals. But Sheila preferred a CBO, not necessarily mental health themed, so help could be afforded to everyone, not just LGBTQ+ as she had pressed for in previous years.
Solis said, "Well, 40% or more of these inmates, getting out are mentally ill."
Sheila, countered, "we want to serve everyone... keep everyone off the street."
We want the non-clinical department of Office of Diversion and Re-entry to handle it. [DeLeon wants more clinical treatment. So there is the disconnect. ]
Sheila said, "We voted, to do this three times. Let me find my notes..."
Janice Hahn finally agreed that the release of $6.3 million of the $100,000,000 to address the critical period of release, was a good idea. "I guess if we give them $200 as they head out the door, it doesn't get you anywhere."
She cited the film, Shawshank Redemption.
After some paper shuffling, the substitute motion introduced by Sheila to carve out the funding for some bestie cbo or another was read into the record by Supervisor Hahn, who said, "I feel funny... reading it."
It was a strange day, a special meeting, but the chair said that "we would go a little out of order... as one member has a time commitment." She didn't say who.
The public comment from Sergio Vera about the medians in his community, represented by Hilda Solis, landed hard. He promised to come every Tuesday... "I will try... for my community" He begged Hilda Solis, please come down and respond."
Solis requested an opportunity to speak up and said, "We have met with him. We are working on it."
That elicited a comment from the next speaker, "It's a brown act violation to rebut the public... Solis, you know better."
After the brief public comment, the board conducted several important conversations in an open session, with limited attendance and so far, the county has not produced a transcript or link to the audio.
The plat du jour, was the stinky mess dba probation. One public speaker said the whole department was an epic fail, from the shameful use of pepper spray to the violence against girls for three decades.
She cited the fact that the attorney general had twice sanctioned the department for violations which she said was rooted in an exploitation and control mindset, admonishing the supervisors, "You've allowed the bureaucracy to get in the way."
Instead of moving the youth to Campus Kilpatrick in Malibu (where they are prepared to go to war in resistance), you will try to run the very same play. It can't work... Barry J Niedorf is a brutal prison with barbed wire. "It's a disaster and cannot be rejiggered with paint and carpet. You are perpetuating a terrible situation."
In retrospect, the Board's strategy of burying this important discussion was brilliant. By limiting the exposure to the 30 or so county employees and residents who had not fallen for the closed session bait and switch. It's not that there wasn't a closed session, it's just that there was two hours of the local County Podcast, "Negligent and Naughty and Not Funny."
According to Sheila Kuehl, Mark Ridley-Thomas "was a lone voice for reform" before she and Solis showed up.
The Chief of Probation said, "I'll raise my voice...not to be disrespectful, so you can hear me."
He went on to say that the Supervisors would see a change "ineverythingnwedo."
He was talking about the "compound" but it sounded like he was saying "camp-pound" at the Barry J. Niedorf youth probation facility that has been mired in scandal.
Holly Mitchell, the Chair of the Board said of the proposed changes, "it should have been done years ago."
The chief went on trying to sound upbeat, announcing that some young men were NOW ready to go to Camp Kilpatrick on September 12.
The campus that cost well over $60 million dollars that Sheila called a "culinary institute" was designed as an "open door, stadium room, with open doors..."
The candidates were chosen after a survey found that they are well suited with the right spirit to work together on the transformation, to this innovative academy with new programming.
One supervisor asked the chief, how many staff would be available to serve the six or so youth who would make the move next week.
The chief noted the high number of callouts but said five would be on hand.
A callout is when a staff member calls out sick because he or she does not want to deal with a potentially low-staff situation.
The Chief said, that he could only discuss the corrective action in a closed session.
"I"m worried about the safety of youth and employees and with low staffing, you compromise both." One supervisor could not get a straight answer about mental health staffing.
The supervisors were skeptical about September 12 as the move-in date, but still a little pleased that the process of moving youth to campus Kilpatrick had begun.
A vocal segment of the Malibu community was hellbent against it in public comment, saying any transfer to Kilpatrick is a CEQA violation... "the entire site is dangerous. Malibu will oppose."
Sheila was highly irritated with the department, "Probation... there is no urgency. It's very frustrating, county counsel. The others beyond the six should not stay in Barry J. Niedorf, and we hear, "they're so dangerous we need to crowd them, and understaff them."
The Chief said, "that's a closed session discussion."
The chief said we are hiring 136 candidates by October... concurrent to increasing staffing. We need to look at discipline for those who don't show up. Many of those workers are worried that they will be obliged to stay at work if they do show up.
"LACO [Los Angeles County Office of Education] is frustrated... DMH is frustrated... we are literally warehousing youth and not providing the services they are entitled to and we are not giving to them."
The last thing the board did before packing it in, went into a closed session to discuss and resolve the matter of Dominique Anderson, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al. a shameful probation lawsuit that was settled in the backroom for $950,000; And, also the Alliance lawsuit that seeks relief stemming from the homelessness conditions in the City and County of Los Angeles.
Reduction, Reduction + Additional Reduction
The speaker suggested that LAPD, "have been lying, saying that there is a crime wave. They are scared, they are losing public support, trying to make a last-minute effort to save billions in funding."
The City Attorney was unimpressed, "Is there anything else?"
The speaker said, "send me to general." He was referring to general public comment, wherein a speaker may address any old thing, as long as it's in the jurisdiction of the agency they are addressing. So, the man's LAPD anxiety was totally appropriate for general comment.
The City Attorney said, "I think you've already taken general. If not, I think your time has expired."
Another speaker said, "it used to be five minutes, now it's down to three, what happened to the other two minutes?"
One member of the public wondered why the Public hearings are not taken separately, as is required by law.
A quick glance at the meeting schedules of both the Los Angeles City Council and the County Board of Supervisors raises lots of questions.
If one starts counting from the day after the Fourth of July, since there are three city council meetings a week, one would expect 72 meetings by year's end, but it appears that the City Council will only meet 51 times, due to approximately 25 Recess dates scheduled by the council president.
The County Board of Supervisors has a Regularly scheduled meeting each Tuesday morning at 9:30am, but since the pandemic, the county has been experimenting with Special Closed Session meetings, which come without an opportunity for general public comment. Only items on the agenda are open for public comment.
Since many of those items are intended to be closed session items, they come without salient information.
Between July 4th and the end of December, there are 24 Tuesdays, but the board is only offering 12 Regular meetings where they will take public comment.
They've scheduled 11 Special Closed Session meetings, without general public comment.
Made To Order
MTO is the abbreviation for Made to Order. In the MTO production approach, products are not manufactured or built until a confirmed order for a product is received.
Before the Alopecia Awareness [AA] presentation, a group of masked blue shirts from an outfit identified by Blumenfield as M.T.O. were trotted out for partial recognition.
I thought he was referring to the law firm Munger Tolles & Olson for a moment. The firm that represented the county for decades and was home to Richard Drooyan of Jail Violence and Richard Volpert of Musem of Natural Thievery and the snappy young fellow who took the county to the cleaners with Vanessa Bryant to the tune of $16,000,000. [That's a lot of dry cleaning for a stain that never materialized. Good work, Skipper.]
Turns out Blumenfield who was joined by outbound, Gil Cedillo, was talking about the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism.
For rank and file Angelenos, it is pronounced, "sha ma zoodi" And September 30th is the day to crack out your t-shirt.
When Blumenfield and Raman get together, they are not playing. The school dates back 1400 years to the time of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), and the founder of the school, Hazrat Oveys Gharani.
The knowledge and practices of the school have been handed down heart to heart through an unbroken succession of helpers, who have distributed 20,000 items, backpacks, hygiene kits. They've been involved in beach cleanups....testing... with medical. Drive-through testing centers.
Blumenfield noted the group's awesome humility. He'd asked for the names of the dozen or so masked volunteers from MTO who attended the presentation at City Hall, but -- this is positively papal -- these dedicated volunteers didn't want to be recognized as individuals, because Sufi practice is about focusing on the greater good.
"They didn't want to be recognized..." Red Flag.
Nithya Raman said that this group had been giving free meditation to our public safety officials.
Blumenfield noted that the beautiful Islamic center in his district had shifted into Raman's following redistricting but
"better to have two council members than one!"
"It is my pleasure to be invited and share in the celebration, on September 30... in Reseda" said Raman, who told the city that she had received a very warm welcome, tenfold of what she'd been expecting, when they welcomed my children with generosity and love for the Persian New Year.
It seemed a short eternity ago that councilmember Blumenfield was speaking Farsi as Controller Galperin texted incessantly during the 2018 Nowruz celebration in city hall resulting in: A Little More Governing, A Little Less Grandstanding Please: LA’s Commendation Sweepstakes.
O'Farrell seemed to be in the market for an official delegation trip to Canada in the non-fire season. He trotted out a very nice crew of native Americans from up north and promised, "a tour of... at least my office."
He cited how the Navajo had the highest infection rate during the pandemic, but after the vaccine, the lowest!
That should be enough to get any new City Public Health office to cover a cozy weekend in Manitoba.
O'Farrell praised the way Canada had been improving indigenous health outcomes and asked the Chief Executive Officer of the tribe to speak.
He revealed he was in town to "study commodities of trade, as partners and neighbors."
What's up with the rifles on their logo, Mitch?
(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)