Tue, May

Speed is our Ally, Confusion our Enemy


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Here we go again into the middle of Biden's first term with an increasingly shrinking middle class. 

The common ground platform runs right through the heart of Los Angeles but in today's market it is "us" or "them."  That's why I appreciate it when gentle readers are not sure where I personally stand on some of the issues that I report on. I'm flattered.  

Eunisses Hernandez?  Rick Caruso?   How could a sane Angeleno not support both?!


Above, a tiny speaker addresses a mostly absent city council. 

Caruso had a good poll result last week as he crested the $62 million dollars mark, more than any mayor in the history of the universe, except New York, where in 2008 Bloomberg spent $102 million to win a 3rd term.  Caruso has apparently narrowed Bass's lead from 12% to 3%, if you believe the recent Berkeley poll, but he's a cheapskate if you compare him to what Bloomberg blew through a in one month when he was testing the water for a presidential run.  B stands for Billion and Bloomberg (+Biden).  

Ethics Hotline:

Antony Appiah, is a philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist whose interests include political and moral theory. Hisfull name is Kwame Akroma-Ampim Kusi Anthony Appiah. 

He goes by Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, FRSL, but the other day he sounded like Dr. Phil as he broke down a series of ethical dilemnas for a variety of interested callers. 

Curious, I tuned in and heard a few public speakers. One was trying to reconcile cutting off her mother who she told Appiah was toxic.  This was not a Lifetime movie, but an actual NYTimes twitter chat. Sarah Lyall, who adores Appiah, moderated.  

Appiah, has a very soothing British voice and quickly explained to the caller that the need of both sides in a relationship are important. If your mom is unwilling or unable, there's not a lot you can do. 

Our relationships in the  origin family, he said, "when they go well, awesome. And when they go badly... " hold on.   

Play power ballad here: Gaga, Pink or Miley. 

I thought Appiah ought to be a DJ, if writing the weekly Ethicist column for the Sunday NYT Magazine is not enough. 

The twitter chat was sort of a multi-culty, Dr. Frasier Crane, I'm listening.  

The big talent reminded, that "There needs to be a healthy give and take."  

Appiah said, "The obligations to be a part of the family can be Trumped, at which point we have to get on with our  lives... " 

Not everyone has a family... but if a family member is getting in the way of your flourishing and things really head south you can always...  

....launch a ballot initiative.  

That's what the county family is doing, to have the right to remove a Sheriff like Alex Villanueva. 

We're all eager to see if voters will fall for it. 

In the meantime, as Appiah says, "keep trying (to work things out) and forgive yourself."  

Keep it short, Jim:

Jim VandeHei, CEO, Axios wrote me a 143 word email asking what I think about a number of ideas.  

My reply: Keep it short, Jim  4 words. 


Eric Preven 



Thank God It was Friday presentation day!  

The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution by Council member Paul Krekorian calling on “the United States and all other democracies to stand with Armenia in its present danger and immediately suspend all military and economic aid to Azerbaijan.” 

Other democracies were not available for comment over the weekend, but the point came across nicely.  

The Council’s vote followed an impassioned address from Davit Babayan, Foreign Minister of Artsakh, a small republic formed by indigenous Armenians on their ancient land. 

After the human rights watchers were heard and respected it was time to disrespect the local public.  

One frequent commenter requested that we adjourn in the memory of LAHSA this Friday, and wanted to take names, "who was it who thought it was a good idea to give over $100 million back to the feds? We want names," she said, as the last of the Armenian dignitaries were exiting the hall.  

Dr. Truthfay was referring to the report she'd seen recently announcing that nearly $150 million worth of grants to the three main housing agencies working to reduce homelessness in Greater L.A. had gone unspent.   

How many incompetent people have been getting away with so much, for so long, she mused, concluding: "Imma need you to cut the check." 

The City Attorney tried to send her off... 

As she left she called out Sheila Kuehl's other bestie,"Molly Rysman saying the problem is the inherent confusion of HUD (housing and urban development) "  

Interesting theory.  She's not wrong.  

"Cut the check," Truthfay said.  

"The Kingdom Warrior Foundation does the work, but we get no support from the black, white and asian faces. Cut the check!" 

Joe Buscaino took over and ran the meeting like a masked talk-show host, using the uplifting energy of a weather person doing interstitials. dropping a lot of,  "Thank you for stopping by"  "Thank for joining us" 

One member of the public pleaded, "I need housing desperately. If you can possibly help... please." 

Buscaino popped on the mic too chipper, "Thank you, so much." 

Interesting choice to thank someone who is begging for help, do you?  

Speed is our Ally:

Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, told Persuasion, "Complexity is the friend of the upper middle class." explaining that "complexity is great if you know how to game it. Complex systems are harder for other people to navigate. "Simplification is the friend of equality" 

Here, here. 

And so if one takes Molly Rysman at her word, that the confusion of HUD will doom us until something changes, why hasn't anything changed? 

This is where, theoretically, a guy like Rick Caruso could be a change agent.  He could do all sorts of smart things that only an outsider could do or would even try to do.   

Like what? My list, not his... 

Reduce the time of report backs by departments, increase productivity. 

The only thing standing in the way is ... a million other things.  

Still, at both the city and the county, bad stories unfold over years not months.   

Rather than stepping into the fight against bureaucratic crimes aimed at our neediest, the city and county request report backs that never materialize or if they do, they get received and filed. 

That's a mistake.    

Where confusion is our enemy, speed is our ally. 

Bad contracts, should not be reported on in six months, but rather six weeks, so we can bail out before we get ripped off. 

"Four weeks,"  during an emergency should be four days and "by next week" should mean "by tomorrow."  

In the world of economy and efficiency and quality and productivity... and private equity. 


Where does Rick stand on Public meetings?  

The Board of Supervisors and City Council have reduced public meetings creating a feeling that issues fester off agenda, out of view. 

Creepy council members satisfy themselves in 'committee' while the problems persist and the public is limited from raising the issues during LIVE council meetings. 

The Board of Supervisors pack their meeting schedules so tightly,  meaningful participation is literally, mathematically impossible.  

If Caruso is elected, like with most private equity takeoverists the game plan should not be to uproot lagging employees, but rather to build them up to doing a better job. 

You need a good play to make a touchdown.  

The catch.  

Workers will have to accept a 'new' job with no pay cut, but working for a CEO you have to follow the CEO's playbook.  

The CEO's playbook has a much lower tolerance for 'waste and fraud'  and inward facing lawsuits than the the typical incumbent class. 

"We'll shut it all down." 

But how can a guy like Rick Caruso, for example, shut down the corruption, when so much of it is inside city lawsuits that should have been shut down years ago?   

When people speak out about wrongdoing in LA, the city family smothers them, or tries to smother them.   

The large stained-glass window through which employees pass downtown to file lawsuits against the City of Los Angeles over harassment, retaliation and discrimination, will need to be replaced with a peep hole.   

So, all the money we've been pouring into attorneys like McNicholas, Panesh, and Caitlin Weisberg and her partners at McLane Bendarski + Litt, LLP who routinely beat up on the county [Amador v. Sheriff, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173822 was a real doozy.] need to be stopped.  

We'll roll all the savings into cleaning up the crooked departments. 

But LAPPL, who support Rick Caruso,  are the enablers of LAPD harrassment, retaliation and discrimination, are they not?  

"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting." 

And let's quit trying to sell full cost-recovery schemes for basic services, that hobble the very recipients of those services.  No more dumb stuff, like over-regulating impoverished street vendors or relying on free animal care workers.   

If our leadership treated at the city and the county treated the budgets the way they'd treat their own family's budgets, the waste and fraud would dry up and ...  it would finally rain.   

Dishing contracts to Danny Bakewell and Patty Giggans is out of step with Los Angeles in 2022. 

What does the stakeholders think? 

"Your time is up, Sir." 

Let's roll back on the waste and fraud and replace it with:  

Smart and fair.   


Vincent Albano was a sworn police officer who joined in 1997 and claims he was severely harassed and retaliated against based on a disability by the Harbor Division, where Joey Buckets must know the team.   

Albano found a doctor who diagnosed him with ... physical, mental, emotional injuries, pain, distress, anguish, suffering, fright, nervousness, grief and anxiety, worry, shame, mortification, injured feelings, shock, humiliation and indignity as well as other unpleasant, physical, mental, and emotional reactions, damages to reputation, and other non-economic damages. 

Rick, what will you and LAPPL do...?


(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)