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Fri, Apr

Odor Controller Investigation

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Hector Villagra, the Executive Director at the ACLU of Southern California, who just urged a Judge to force the County to improve jail conditions, found the time to pop on and support Solis and Hahn's item 7 to expand the Board, but it failed, as Horvath, Barger and Mitchell bravely abstained.   

Item 13 won the day, despite a request to hear the two items together by Holly J. Mitchell, which was snottily denied by Janice Hahn.  

It wasn’t enough to blunt the force of the progressive newbies and incumbents who want change.  

Folks spoke out about how, with more than ten million residents, 2 million is simply unwieldy.  San Francisco, one speaker argued only has a population of 874,000 but has 11 supervisors.  Supervisors here have roughly, 25 times the number of constituents.  “So this is about … equitable expansion.” 

Hahn tried the old argument:  do you really want publicly funded elections?  Taxpayers paying for these incumbent elected officials' campaigns. 

One smart Speaker was unhappy about an unidentified consultant to be hired to magically solve the county’s woes, with an unidentified pricing structure.  These consultants are very likely the same cadre of cronies and experts who have been advising the county all along.  

The exercise before us is all about TRANSPARENCY… but for questions about the consultants and the rates. 

“Thank you, next speaker.” 

Holly J. Mitchell believes that the more deflavorizing committee hearings, the better. Like in Sacramento!  

So, why, one wonders have she presided over the greatest reduction of public input in county history? 

The answer is quality, not quantity, silly. That’s true of meetings and leaders. 

We need more Mom and Pop districts…if each of the Supervisor's District offices, they each have several, provided local services, why do we need more elections and staff?   

Do people feel the county is understaffed?  

Chair Hahn, hit the nail on the head when she said that the people want better representation... but not more money on government operations. 

What if there were 15 supervisors...  instead of 5? 

That’s called the city council.   

Hahn tried to stimulate interest in one of the greatest ongoing games of charades in California history, the Neighborhood Council system, that she and Mr. Ridley-Thomas set up (pre-indictment).   

Raquel Beltran is imploding as we speak as the general manager.  Her predecessor, Gracie Liu, is working at City Hall Personnel, where they have a severely problematic hiring problem.  Workday-- 

Cut him off. 

Broken Link:

The County paid $26.5 million in judgments in FY 21-22, an increase of 157 percent compared to the $10.3 million spent in FY 20-21.  Impressive.  

The cost of Vehicle Liability claims among LA County workers increased by approximately 70.3% during the same time period.  

Data shows there were increases in all types of Vehicle Liability accidents in FY 2021-22. Unsafe maneuvers and unsafe speeds account for about a third of all accidents.    

Vehicle Liability represents approximately 3.4% of the County’s Total Cost of Risk.     

There was a 13.7 percent increase in workers comp claims. Robust. 

Other General Liability claims increase substantially due to the Dominquez Hills/Carson odor complaints.  

In light of the big Transparency and Equity discussion underway everywhere, the public would love to see the plan to implement the next-generation Fraud, Waste, and Abuse analytics system to ensure the best possible outcomes, system integrity, and loss recovery. 

Could not see anything related to the cost of having the white-shoe, blue-blood, red-flag, law firm Covington & Burling glance at a sampling of 23,000 contracts worth more than $80 Billion.  

That should do the trick.  How much will that cost?  

“Sir, you’re disrupting the meeting.” 

“This county has a duty to provide transparency and accountability,” Supervisor Hilda Solis once said. For those who are busy planning the next trip to Washington for the week of April 24, 2023, there was a very prodigious young activist named Mark Ridley-Thomas.  He was a thought leader on many initiatives including boondoggling to DC, and tooling around in stretch limousines on the public’s dime -- even with disgraced former Sheriff Lee Baca!  

Following Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s indictment, the board chose Covington and Washington, D.C.-based FTI Consulting to poke around.  Carolyn Kubota, is the partner leading the investigation with another partner, Dan Shallman, who previously represented a former USC lawyer in connection with lawsuits brought by victims of university gynecologist George Tyndall.  

Apparently, Kubota was paid by USC, but county officials dismissed the notion that her work amounted to a conflict of interest.  

One idea, was stolen from Chief Michel Moore, who was on KNX touting the LAPPL’s plan to move officers away from calls that can be handled by anyone else.  He said it’s tens of thousands of calls every year.  

Too much with too little and unwanted outcomes… in the spirit of shaking the trees effectively in DC, how about a motion to modify conditions of release to get Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Washington D.C. Trip to help wrangle more money to help the homeless etc.?  

Assuming he’s not too busy prepping for Trial, this would send a strong message that he is committed to helping the county amass more money while allowing the Probation Department, Sheriff’s Department and see County Risk Report, to deteriorate.  

UCLA got a 24 million dollar grant to work on diverting the homeless from ERs and the community celebrated the much-needed resources.  

I considered popping over to a UCLA urgent care facility when my nose started twitching uncontrollably when I spotted Altobelli and Mauser in a footnote on the county’s nine-months late, cost of litigation report.    

The note said that the family had settled for $1.25 million each, while Vanessa Bryant et al. and Chester were still in litigation at the close of FY 21-22. 

There were so many items on the agenda, I made a note to go back and review that one more closely.   

But by the time I went back to find the Annual Cost of Litigation report for Year 2021-22, I could not locate it on the greatest county on earth’s website, anywhere.  (eyes narrowing) 

When I finally got it, the Vanessa Bryant nausea had already set in.  

The fact that the county shamefully succumbed to Luis Li, a former Munger-Tolles attorney — the county’s preferred law firm for at least a decade — who must have advised his clients on how to raid the county coffers is infuriating.   

Speaking on behalf of myself, I certainly hope the Judge, in that case, refuses to approve that deeply offensive settlement as it is appalling and unwarranted given the facts. No disrespect to anyone, of course. RIP Kobe.  

The period under consideration started in July 2021 and ended on June 30, 2022 so one perennial question, why a nine-month lag time? Or if you prefer a gestation period?    

It’s way too long…  for example, California federal district court approved a $53M settlement in a class action lawsuit (Amador) alleging women held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) were subjected to “highly invasive body cavity searches” from March 5, 2008 to January 1, 2015.  

In August 2020, the court approved a settlement between the parties that requires the County to pay $53 million into a claims fund in three annual installments. Up to $3 million is allocated for an assessment of LASD training needs and programs by the Moss Group, a criminal justice consulting firm, and any remaining funds not claimed by class members will revert to the County for specific jail-related programs. In FY 21-22, LASD paid the first installment, totaling $17,666,666.  

The lawyers, in that case, will get 1/3 of that sum.  Mazel Tov.  

Question: How much did the county pay to its’ lawyers at Yuck, Yuckier and Yuckiest to resist for so long? 

I didn’t see any notation about the highly irregular payout by the county to the great Sachi Hamai, former CEO and marathon runner, who never actually sued the county, just got upset with Sheriff Villanueva and had Skip Miller shower her with $1,500,000 as a parting gift.  

This was before Skip Miller took over defending the Sheriff's department in the case.  He recessed into the background and let the attorney who defended Mayor Butts of Inglewood, Mira Hashmall, take over, for the rollout of the historic payout to Vanessa and her lawyer, Luis Li.  

Skip (eyes narrowing) does very well, but we can never be sure how well because the county has to draw the line on transparency somewhere, and Skip's invoices are CLASSIFIED. 

Hashmall is a chip off of the old Skip and was brought in from the bullpen to do the right ladylike thing (slash diabolically wrong thing, in this case) and payout $28.5 Million, not counting fees charged from Miller Barondess, LLP to Vanessa Bryant et al.  

Of course, my heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones in a tragic accident but simply put -- the money which is called “resources” in county parlance and by people who have to work, could have been put to much better use.  I blame Luis Li and hope the Judge refuses to approve.  

Not too bad:

Dawyn Harrison, the veteran county counsel who knows where the proverbial bodies are buried, signed up to be the permanent county counsel for an annual salary of $440,000.  Not too shabby, but a thankless job.   

Harrison was edged out by a sum of $1,000, by the white guy they stuffed into the job of Fire Warden (Chief), Anthony Marrone, despite vocal protests. 

The County Risk report showed some very worrisome worker's compensation numbers for the Fire department. In particular, there appears to be a real overexertion problem among firefighters.  

Since many speakers voiced concerns about how two senior fire deputies of color hadn't been allowed to even apply for the job because of the way it was handled in closed session on a "rush and hush" basis, we wondered what was causing the overexertion. 

One woman firefighter noted that only 2% of the force are women and 30% of the county's fire stations don't have women's facilities!  [That's horrible. Neither, the city, nor county, nor NBCUniversal will put even ONE public restroom at the Universal City Metro Station.] 

Another insult was the testimony that one Fire Captain had recently been heard utilizing the N-word, which is obviously out of policy.  

Apparently, it’s exhausting to keep a department up to speed in the middle ages.  

Neither the top lawyer, County Counsel Dawyn Harrison (Woman), nor Chief Marrone, the top firefighter (Man), who critics said had no college degree could come close to the $505,000 a year that Lisa Wong (Woman) is heaving down to run the Mental Health department... aground.   

There was a brief discussion about how MHSA money had been piling up, but could not be spent without a big push. That’s state money but the Washington Boondoggle is coming soon.  Could we use the MHSA money to cover attorney fees to free MRT to join in on the boondoggle to raise money for the Mentally ill? 988

 

Odor Controller Investigation:

The City of Los Angeles (the “City”) entered into that certain Temporary Easement agreement with 9940 Jefferson, LLC (“Owner”).  That address was familiar to me, so I clicked on the item.

 

 

 Ah, yes… the LLC was cited, as successor-in-interest to Nantworks, LLC, on June 28, 2017—- 

For benchmarking June 2017 was when Mitchell Englander and Staffer B John Lee of CD12 hit Las Vegas.

On return, Englander, who was at the time both a city council member and a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, directed a witness to lie to and mislead federal investigators.  “Over numerous incidents of escalating corruption and self-preservation, [Englander] sold out both oaths, cheaply and repeatedly.”

NantWorks, LLC was founded by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the billionaire scientist who scooped up the LA Times from Tronc.   

I wonder if Kenneth Mejia, our fearless new City Controller, who had the instinct to hire Sergio Perez, should examine this transaction. 

The core mission of Nantworks is “convergence: to develop and deliver a diverse range of technologies that accelerate innovation, broaden the scope of scientific discovery, enhance ground-breaking research, and improve healthcare treatment for those in need.”  Lovely.

But nothing would prevent a lucrative land swap with the great City of Los Angeles, during the period when  Herbert J. Wesson was the acting mayor. Would it, Mr. Perez?  

The reason Wesson was acting mayor was that Eric Garcetti was out on the road, raising eyebrows and historic amounts of money with…  Rick Jacobs, his chief fundraising officer— 

What is that smell?  

One fussy member of the public raised the issue in public comment and with the Los Angeles Times who had just been snapped up by Mr. Soon-Shiong.  

The City Desk at the Times, who are excellent but also very busy noted how hectic things were but asked the member of the public why specifically was the nose twitching. 

“I am not sure,” he replied, “Maybe a sweetheart deal for treasured partner billionaire... with no competitive bidding…” he elaborated. 

1)  I wonder if the swap was actually a fair deal for the city.  Apparently, wide variations in appraisals… one was $3.9M and one was $13.5M.

2)  for instance if the city held an RFP would others be interested in paying substantially more for the property than Nantworks offered and Wesson accepted?

3) And how did Mr. Soon-Shiong happen to acquire the property that the city felt would be ideal for the air-scrubber (tk tk), prior to the city articulating that it needed it? 

4) If I read correctly that the... large variation in value was due to uncertainty as to whether West LA College will grant the City an ingress/egress easement over their property to access this property.  

The Board of Trustees for The Los Angeles Community College District is governed by a popularly elected seven-member Board. The current Board Members for 2016-2017 (my quick comments in blue)

Everyone is in everyone’s butt:

There was a little chit-chat about not paying the $54 million LAPD bill, run up by Metro, but Nithya Raman felt that the solution was to pay and move forward with a better, forthcoming plan.  Hugo Soto-Martinez and Eunisses Hernandez both voted, “No” anyway. 

Apparently, there were more deaths on the Metro in 2023 so far than in all of 2022. When it was pointed out that those deaths were mostly overdoses, so not necessarily brutal murders, the speaker lights lit up. 

Council member Tracie Park went … apeshit and made a speech about the responsibility to keep transit riders safe. Mike Bonin, Paul Krekorian, and Eric Garcetti were holding the line at LA County Metro, but it got away from them. 

Marqueece Harris-Dawson said, mas or menos, that the Sheriff Department had been doing a better job for less. 

There was an early thank you ritual and prayer to Supervisor Janice Hahn, thanking her for the critically important cough-up of a $42,000 grant from the county to be pushed out into CD15, following the election of Tim Mcosker, who replaced Joey “Buckets” Buscaino. 

And congratulations to the CCA’s Nella Mcosker, incoming President & CEO of Central City Association (CCA) who also popped on to advocate in Public Comment for the land use reform item, CCA style!  

She was a founding leader of the Strategies 360 Los Angeles office, building out the team and driving business development.  I think one of Krekorian’s former aides worked there as well.  

Ms. McOsker is also an alumna of the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs, where great** ones like Alex Padilla cut their eye-teeth.  He was besties with Nury Martinez before moving to DC to be the Senator from California. Gulp. Yes.  

Next speaker.  

Also not so great ones…the Coro Foundation list is long, so why not round up the usual suspects, as they say… like Ari Engleberg of Harvard Westlake and Areen Ibranossian of Paul Krekorian, for whom Areen worked before and after becoming a lobbyist at 360.   

This provoked one smart speaker to comment about how Paul Krekorian should not be overseeing any Land Use Reform.   

It was noted, that Krekorian himself, with Areen’s GPS, navigated dozens of max contributions from Harvard Westlake Trustees to Krekorian’s committees in exchange for delivery on big ideas for Garcetti’s alma mater.  

The Plan:  Screw local mom and pops out of one of their most iconic public amenities, first a hillside, now the open space and local golf and tennis courts. 

But, Nella McOsker, gets credit for leading the strategic visioning of CCA’s advocacy priorities. One such priority is to not constantly focus on residents, but also on “VISITORS” who are critically important for revenue generation.  

What about the homelessness crisis— 

Next Speaker. 

Nella also played a leadership role in successfully electing Tim McOsker to LA City Council.  

Interesting. Not surprising.  Not 100% disturbing.  Family Ties are nice. 

Big Buy:

Hugo Soto-Martinez took a moment to explain why he was voting no on Mr. Mcosker’s gun buyback program, courtesy of JHahn.  

He said, “I am not voting no because … “ of any disagreement with the effort to get the guns off the street. Rather, he explained, “I raised the question, is it necessary to spend $30,000 in Police Overtime to receive the weapons people turn in?”  

His point was what about another less expensive entity?  Or volunteers?   

He got no response and so voted NO.  Mcosker, who adores Hugo, was probably not that offended!  

There were several 10 ayes, and two nos… votes during the meeting.    

Paul Krekorian Inspector General (PKIG): 

  

When it comes to high-minded sanctimony coupled with collusion and collegial cooperation with numerous indictees, Krekorian is the real GOAT (greatest of all time). 

There was an item, known among two insiders as the PKIG item which stands for the Paul Krekorian Inspector General . The idea is to install Inspector General’s office at the city to monitor Land Use corruption and reform.  

When Krekorian said he wanted to “identify indicia of fraud…” several members of the public, first groaned, and then rushed the Bima!  

It’s an obvious non-starter, for the public and a great idea for the incumbents.  

Krekorian touted the fact that many other (big Democratic) cities have (ineffective) IG offices, and Los Angeles should too!  

When he said,  “we need this urgently because pay-to-play schemes” are corrosive.  

A cry was heard, around the world, “Sit down, Mr. Preven” 

The Ethics Commission, where Mr. Krekorian served a million years ago (1998), will report back.  

The same Ethics group he has supported every budget request they’ve ever made.   

The current President, Jeffrey Daar, has been angling at City Hall even longer than a million years ago. 

Some of the former  Ethics luminaries include Dale Bonner, Miriam Krinsky (CCJV), Gil Garcetti (Mayor’s Dad and Lobbyist), Nedra Jenkins (MRT aide), Erin Pak (Not-For-Profiteer/wife of Chris Pak), Nathan Hochman (Republican AG candidate), Ana Dahan (NBCUniversal & Huizar bestie)  Jessica Levinson (Zev’s costar on KCAL), Serena Oberstein (disgraced commissioner) and Andrea Sheridan Ordin (former county counsel).  Sheesh. 

A vacancy exists, and is to be Appointed By: City Council President Pro Tempore — currently, Curren D. Price.   

Pitch:   Del Richardson?   

Sit, down. Mr. Preven.  

Good Morning America…

Grabner has been fighting back with the same tools that Paul Krekorian and Stefan Fauble have been using... stern admonishment!   

“Please,” he said, “I need to see more eyes on me... Members should be paying attention…" like MHD. 

Several speakers began using language like, “Monica, I'm coming for you” which is not a nice thing to say.  

The walk of fame procession continued, with a nice no-discussion vote to install a ...

Michael T. Strahan star.  

To refresh, he is an American television personality, journalist, and former professional football player. He played his entire 15-year professional career as a defensive end for the New York Giants of the National Football League.  Upon retirement, Strahan wasted no time capitalizing on his celebrity and joined Fox Sports, becoming a regular on the NFL pregame show “NFL Sunday.”  

Congratulations.  (How is this a priority?) 

How about we spend the resources unlocking the restroom at Metro, or allowing street vendors into the Visitor areas?  

That’s a legal discussion, and it was not easy to see any details or corrective action plans on the fusillade of settlements that were rolled out for the city for a quick lockstep-vote, 

  1. $175k
  2. $275K
  3. $835K
  4. $985K

And the Daily Whopper: Item 22. $10,500,000 — A broken tree branch occurred on March 16, 2019, at Seoul International Park in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles… no idea why it was so much?  

It’s nothing compared to the Vanessa Bryant bleeding the county item, the most shameful story to cross my desk since last week.  How much did Skip’s firm get?  

Here’s the County Risk Report.

Here’s the   Legislative agenda

 

(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)