Wed, Jun

Flaming Out


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - The big flaming thing streaking across the sky the other night was the Artemis 1 moon mission rocket, not Rick Caruso's campaign for mayor flaming out.   Don't cry for Rick, he's a fighter.

Karen Bass, our new mayor, says that she's ready to lead the city in a new direction.  If you asked the several dozen angry residents of Studio City on Wednesday night, they'd confirm that direction should not be up. 

They were holding a warm-up meeting for a planning and land use battle over ONE greedy developer's egregious request to erect an impossibly large housing project on the site of an old cool hotel, The Sportsmen's lodge.

The locals have been very worried that the project will destroy their lives. 

It had been several years since I'd attended this particular Neighborhood Council's proceedings and it did not disappoint. It was entirely virtual.

The purpose of the meeting, that the chair hammered out over and over again, was to see if the board would vote to send an almost indecipherable but strong motion to th planning department in advance of a hearing on the project, Monday November 21. 

There was a lot of hostility in the room. 

The zoom format favors attackers and this neighborhood cobbled together a robust multi-media presentation consisting of sharp comments, visual aids in the form of helpful renderings to show the gigantic mass of the planned structure, and just old fashioned hostility.

Once the council 'promoted' Ben Besley to appear on screen, the virtual eggs, and tomatoes and smart bombs started flying.

Mr. Besley, who tried to characterize, Midwood, who have been holding the property for decades, have deep pockets, great taste and intend to spare no expense erecting a fucking skyscraper on top of our midcentury modern hotel, at the Coldwater canyon chokepoint.

Besley came across as sheepish-unctuous and then morphed his appearance into a smirky-schemey configuration. Finally, his most dangerous weapon... gracious.

Ben, addressed the fact that the project was as big as the largest IKEA in the country. "I've been in the IKEA... it's not bad." 

I do not envy Besley and why Randall Fried, the disgraced former president, thought it was a good idea to be lobbying for the developer, is anybody's guess.

One speaker fileted Besley's BS, the way one would fillet a trout from the old fishing hole that's been replaced with an Erewhon. 

"The feeling we got from the land use attorney," one ad hoc member said, "was that Midwood was going to get what they wanted, even with the density bonuses... the planning commission would approve." 

He interpreted it as it meaning the developer doesn't need to give any ground because they're going to get approved. "I have no objections to apartments if they're 30 feet plus 11 feet. But when we go from 41 feet to 91 feet, I object." 

The developer, who was weary by the end said, "What I'm hearing, is this project is too tall." 

The Board voted to submit their motion to planning in opposition to the project. 

Raining Hostility:

"One of my laziest tweets," he wrote, "...say what you will about Alex Villanueva."


"GIF of an African American dude, throwing a bag of trash into his can at the end of his driveway."

"Is he CRYING? I’ve never seen a Gang-member cry."

"Villanueva has sooo many illegal searches to order before he leaves office."

"That’ll do pig."

"He sucks and is a white Latino Supremacist but Gooogle LASD gangs. "

"The Bandito has been Cancelled! "

"It's gotta be tough when you're replaced as gang leader"

"Well, he certainly *ruined* the job for other LA County Sheriffs who wanted to abuse their power."

"Countdown to indictment starts..."

"Show us the tattoo now!"

"GIF of man flying into dumpster. "


County Disconnect:

As a close watcher of county government and writer who has dedicated countless hours trying to share what I've learned with other members of the public and the supervisors, I've always managed to find a way.    

Like, this week there were five sole source contracts on the agenda: one for each Supervisor.  One of the companies, Netsmart, who work in the managed care software space, sent out a tweet for  #MentalHealthMonday  about journaling.  

Everybody needs a reset every now & then! This season prioritize your #MentalHealth by taking time for yourself. Practice gratitude by journaling, participate in a hobby you love or talk to a loved one to help you feel grounded & supported. You've got this!    

I've always been an enthusiast for county government, ever since Zev Yaroslavsky called out the animal control trucks to retaliate against me for speaking out on behalf of my mother in 2010.  

On Tuesday, after calling in and signing up just a minute or two after 9:00am - so a full half hour before the published start time,  I was never called up to speak. (frowny face emoji)  

Ninety minutes of regulation public comment plus thirty minutes of bonus comment time, courtesy of  Holly J. Mitchell was not enough time.    

As we head into seasonal affective disorder season (SAD let's all try to be better journalists!     Affirmation: It's not wrong to perseverate over five sole-source contracts, because sole source contracts are NOT really in the public's best interest.    

Item 60, on the agenda is a sole source contract for Web-Based Policy and Procedure Management Solutions.  NOTE: Stop doing sole source deals!  

Item 45, a sole source contract for Family First Prevention Services Act Consultant Services with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago (Chapin Hall) to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).    

The Maximum Contract Sum for the additional period of January 1, 2023 through June 30, 2025 is $1,508,147, delegate authority to the Director of DCFS, though, County Counsel approval is required prior to termination.  Yikes, Sheila ADORES these wonks. 

As some have said, "they're street smart in Chicago," which is code for corrupt.    

Item 47 is a lovely sole source contract for California Mental Health Services Authority services and item 50, a sole source agreement for a Crisis Response Violence Intervention Program Pilot.    

The total cost of the recommended contract with TCCSC to heal the intersectionality of race and poverty..."no one merits confrontation by the state" is $375,000.  Seems low, but we didn't bid, so we'll never know.  

And finally, item 52, the daily special, a sole source contract with  Netsmart Technologies, Inc, dba Notsmart, for Managed Care Information Systems. 

Fun Fact: On October 24, 2018, the Interim Director of the Health Agency, Fred Leaf, delegated his signature authority.  He was a lovely guy, always out smoking a cigarette out on the stoop of K hall.    

On Tuesday, let's add $12,000,000 to Netsmart's pile for Optional Work, from $49,161,655 to $61,161,655, for needed enhancements to the Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) the electronic health record (EHR) known as Sage.      

The board of supervisors, who were not around when the Notsmart contract showed up the first time might be interested to know that Netsmart's leadership is shockingly ... not diverse.    Two asian fellows on the Board is something...    

Next item.  Moving on to Tranche 1:   


The abrupt cutoff switch is working well down at the Hall of Administration.    

Hahn heard a hispano hablante (spanish speaker), asking about her lights, and water and power ...being shut off.    

"Who in the board room can help her?"  A few county helpers jumped into gear.    

I raised my virtual hand because I got an LADWP bill that represented approximately three times the bill I was expecting. I called the office and despite my average intelligence was unable to understand what the agent said about why I was being refunded and gouged at the same time.  Something is wrong SOS.  

The American Rescue Plan presentation from everyone's favorite, Dr. D'artagnan Scorza. was pushed until 130 pages out of over 200.    

This seemed like the right time to reveal that the Tranche 1 money representation a virtual buffet of all you can eat services and projects, had not yet been moved out the door.  What?!    

When Sheila Kuehl started lecturing on the history of Domestic Violence in early 70s the Sojourn shelter in Santa Monica, a place where the wives of drunks that had been opened by AA…  there was a perceptible virtual yawn.  

"The tranche one money is still not out the door and 25 percent or our homeless are homeless because of of domestic violence— Fesia Davenport, the CEO was quick to jump in, "we provided ongoing funding in the supplemental."  

But the conversation picked up some heat when the old fate of 211 chestnut reared it's perky blonde head.  Sheila wanted to be very clear that Hahn's appetite for bringing 211 in-house, should not be confused as giving the current operator... "you know, another bite of the apple or false hope."     

Under the "umbrella of lessons learned…"  whatever we do, at least we will understand the full cost and scope… vis a vis the fee process.  Deloitte execs, who lost the 211 after winning, were watching on KCLS in tears.  

"We don’t want to raise hopes of 211…" said Sheila Kuehl. 

Self Rule: Christmas Party

City Council President Paul Krekorian is going to chair the newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on City Governance.  Nithya Raman, who presented the motion for the committee, will serve as his vice chair alongside, Bob Blumenfield, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Heather Hutt.

Krekorian said, "In the wake of the recent violations of the public’s trust and failures to meet the standards of integrity the people deserve of their elected officials, we can no longer accept business as usual. The people of Los Angeles are calling out for fundamental reform, and we intend to deliver it.”   


— Establishment of a truly independent redistricting commission.  

— Expanding the council and reducing the size of its districts. 

— Changes to the city’s land-use and development practices to reduce the council’s discretionary powers and reduce the risk of abuse.  

— Limiting the powers of the Council President and limiting the president’s term of office.  

— Campaign finance reforms such as addressing unlimited contributions to so-called “independent expenditure” committees.  

And here are some other tips, from this year's xmas party attendees:   

Maybe the 10 smart Angelenos gathered by the Los Angeles Times recently to weigh in on what Los Angeles needs, could form an ad-hoc, ad-hoc with Paul Krekorian and the 5 electeds he's chosen who are not yet fully mired in scandal?   

15 has a nice ring to it.  They could meet around the horseshoe and channel 35 would cover everything.  "Sir, you're disrupting the meeting."  

Let the unwealthy participate in politics 

— Aura Vasquez is a former candidate for City Council, consultant and community organizer.  

Abolish the City Council 

— Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square. A longer version of this article appears here: “Los Angeles Doesn’t Need a City Council.”  

Create an independent inspector general for City Hall 

— Michael Woo was a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1985 to 1993.   

Appoint a homelessness czar 

— Zev Yaroslavsky, who has served on the L.A. City Council and the county Board of Supervisors, is director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.  

Show real leadership, for a change 

— Gloria Molina is a former L.A. city councilwoman and a former member of the county Board of Supervisors.  

Invest more in BIPOC communities 

— Connie Chung Joe is chief executive officer of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California.  

L.A. needs an elected public advocate 

— Rob Quan is the lead organizer with Unrig LA.  

Spend less to police the unhoused 

— Isaac Bryan represents Culver City and parts of West and South L.A. in the California Assembly.  

End diffuse leadership and finger-pointing 

— Miguel A. Santana, L.A.’s former city administrative officer, is president and chief executive of the Weingart Foundation.  

Prepare for the ‘perfect storm’ ahead 

— Chancela Al-Mansour is executive director of the Housing Rights Center.  This has been a public service announcement.  Next item.   

 Once you're invited to the Christmas party, you're doomed.  

This year’s Christmas party will be held  ________.    

Not invited:

It's inevitable that Anna Bahr is going to be hoisted upward, she went to Oakwood, get your contribution in by Jan 23. pic 

She survived the Eric Garcetti administration and has played a key role with Karen Bass.  When I was trying to work cooperatively with the mayor, back in the day,  I tried reaching out to her, to see if she could help me unlock the blockade.  In a word, "no."


(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)