Tue, May

“Straighten Up and Fly Right”


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Not sure if it is gamesmanship or just confusion but first we heard that no County Supervisors would testify and then, surprise -- both Janice Hahn and Sheila Kuehl took the stand in the Dr. Mark Ridley-Thomas federal corruption trial. 

One reporter who attended the trial called their testimony a “nothing burger.” Jurors saw a clip of Hahn speaking at a 2017 board meeting and the Supervisor quipped, “well I was a lot younger and I don’t know about that hair.”  

Evidently, people in attendance felt that was hilarious.   

Another attendee rolled her eyes when Hahn appeared to have a case of selective memory. No one in this trial appears to remember anything. They're all reading documents to see if they remember. A common refrain, ”My recollection is refreshed, but I still don't remember."   

Ann Ravel, the former chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission and a former appointee to the Federal Election Commission testified that Ridley-Thomas’ $100,000 donation to USC and USC’s subsequent $100,000 donation to United Way for Sebastian's initiative was perfectly legal.   

She's a major tool and Mr. Ridley-Thomas and Junior each had a lot of dealings with the FPPC.   Prosecutors complained to Judge Dale Fischer that they tried to interview Ravel, but MRT's lawyers said they were representing her and she didn't want to talk. 

But Ravel testified that she didn't have a lawyer and didn't know of the interview request and then reportedly testified, "I don't need a lawyer. I am a lawyer."  Only a fool would have herself for a client! 

The stakes in this Trial are significant for the regional power base. In fact, I am beginning to wonder how Karen Bass and Marilyn Flynn avoided being called to the stand.  I hate to say this, but “The Fix” may be in on this one, folks. You heard it here.    

MRT has a jury whisperer on his legal team.  

The testimony from Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’ physician, George Mallouck got my nose twitching because, during the period when Sebastian was stepping aside from the State Assembly while issuing a medical riddle about what mysterious medical condition was preventing him from finishing up his term, I was paying attention.  

In fact, I remember a board meeting at which I offered him well wishes about his son. The Supervisor downplayed that it was a big deal and that Sebastian was in jeopardy.   

It seemed to me that both constituents and readers are entitled to understand without judging or stigmatizing anyone for any reason, what category of medical condition was so dire but from which he recovered so quickly.  No matter the details of the five surgeries, that worked, shouldn’t leaders stand up to stigma and discrimination, rather than kowtow to it?  

Treating the reason for a public official’s segue from the public sector to a private university as 'non-disclosable' to the public for me only heightened the need for public scrutiny on the decision to hold a $1.8 million dollar Special Election at taxpayers' expense.    

Confused, I did what any interested reader (or idiot) would do, I reached out to the Los Angeles Times.   

Court: What did the Times say about the condition? 

Eric Preven: John Myers, who covered the legislature for a number of decades, and recently stepped down explained at the time, that it was about limited resources.   

Court:  So, no questions about a $1.8 million 'self-serving' special AD54 election? 

Eric Preven:  Well, he seemed interested when I explained that it was on the heels of Herb Wesson refusing to call a special city council election after Felipe Fuentes of CD7 dropped trou to become a lobbyist with a year left on his term.   But no.  

(The Court in this case was my girlfriend. Iykyk)  

Anyone who knows AD54 well knows that it is the Indigenous grounds of the Ridley-Thomas People.  And nobody is more conversant than MRT in the local dialect known as ... Special Elections.   

I was mortified to read in the Times coverage of the trial that a public relations team that included two Sacramento-based attorneys along with two former Times staffers who now consult in PR crises — Ralph Frammolino and Glenn Bunting — traded emails and revised response and resignation statements with Mark Ridley-Thomas. 

This came on the heels of another problem activating the Los Angeles Times to go into the dark alleys of county government.   The now infamous 2nd district initiative into the first Special Election of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, his son, resulted in a very nice email chain and also a chain of Special elections and promotions from within the MRT family.    Paul Pringle is a bad resource on these matters. 

The most recent special election was necessitated by Sydney Kamlager’s election to the state Senate in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by Holly J. Mitchell’s election to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.  

The winner Isaac Bryan has advised Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Kamlager on youth development and strategies aimed at reducing the number of people becoming homeless.  He almost ran for CD10.  

None of these people testified.  

Ten Movie Lines to Remember (or forget): 

"Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown."  Chinatown

"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."  The Godfather

"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"  Network

"Show me the money!" Jerry Maguire

"You can't handle the truth!"  A Few Good Men

"Round up the usual suspects." Casablanca

Ted Striker: "Surely you can't be serious."  Dr. Rumack: "I am serious … and don't call me Shirley." Airplane!

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"  Dr. Strangelove

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know." Animal Crackers

"Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."  Forrest Gump 

“Straighten Up and Fly Right” 



If you can believe it, the expression comes from a 1943 song.  It was based on a traditional folk tale used by Nat “King” Cole's father in a sermon. In the tale, a buzzard offers rides to small animals, drops them from a great height for snacks, and is eventually outwitted by a monkey. 

I thought it was a military expression, that your commander would bark at you when you missed a hospital corner. 

The aviation sector has long been considered one of the most difficult to decarbonize, but I still think we should fly all the City and County VIPs to Washington, D.C.  

At Wednesday’s City Council hootenanny, Marqueece Harris-Dawson slyly slipped an amendment to have the CAO set aside $200,000 for what sounded like a global Boondoggle. relative to the Third (Mid-Year) Financial Status Report (FSR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23. Something to do with the global policy leadership academy.

He roped Raman and Yaroslavsky in there, too.  

But later in the meeting, he withdrew the amendment. I’m going to assume they need to put the money into the DC or bust boondoggle the week of April 24th!!!    

We see you.  Where are we staying?  

Eunisses Hernandez, who smote Gil Cedillo handily for the reigns of CD1, also put her foot down and called item 34 special, even though Bob Blumenfield dba Paul Krekorian, had said it was fine to read it out in the open session.  

The case had to do with an Officer involved shooting in 2015 in Los Feliz. The officer thought Mr. Walter DeLeon, had a gun in a T-shirt wrapped around one hand.  

It turns out it was a water bottle. That information came out too late after Mr. DeLeon had been shot in the head by the police.  

Mr. DeLeon apparently lost “a pound of cranial matter,” the ability to hear out of his right ear, and his cognitive ability and memory are impaired.   

Again, one way or the other, nobody seems to remember anything.  

After dozens of speakers pleaded with the council to pass the Right to Counsel ordinance, Ms. Hernandez felt better about the need to go into the back room to discuss the “cranial matter.”  She canceled the order, The settlement amount was read in at  $850,000.  Not sure how much cranial matter can get you on the open market.  

I tried to speak and Krekorian and Fauble chose me, “please press *6 to be unmuted.” And I did, and heard, “You are unmuted.”  But then, just as I started, “You are muted.” I never got called up again.   

Hugo Soto Martinez says that the Right To Counsel makes it a fair fight.   Pffft. 

 I wanted to note the provision clarifying that the Right to Counsel program would be established and operated "subject to appropriation" of the necessary funds.   

Another question I had, related to the lack of any recusals by Council President Paul Krekorian and Backup Council President Curren D. Price.  Why not?  

In the end, Price read out a telephone number for folks who were seeking legal advice.  “Call my office today….” He said.  I thought… “Call Jacob.” 

Price also had the motion to empower the City Attorney to utilize its own or contract forces to abate a public nuisance located in his district.  Hmmm.   

It was a bit surprising to see that the more progressive candidates had no trouble rubber-stamping two new Police Commissioners. Socialists on Twitter said they felt very betrayed. 

The new commissioners are Rasha Shields, a former federal prosecutor, and lawyer with #StopCopCity funder Jones Day who lives in Studio City and Erroll Southers, a former FBI SWAT agent and “community policing” expert. 





Tracy Park and Monica Rodriguez updated endlessly about an RV pilot from CD7 that they are tweaking and trying elsewhere. They want to link arms with Mayor Bass… as the first one-time budget with Paul Krekorian as Council President comes down the pike.  The program did not seem far enough along to me as they were still evaluating sites here in the 25th year of the homelessness crisis, but let’s stay positive.   

CM Park also took a long self-congratulatory quarter-hour to decry bureaucratic bullshit that had been blocking some veterans from veteran housing. Though poor, some veterans it turns out are not poor enough to be eligible. The whole VA saga is beyond infuriating.  

Katy Yaroslavsky, the Koretz replacement from CD5 and daughter-in-law of Zev,  jumped up to facilitate houses of worship being able to add housing to their properties.  No word if she wants them to include all the candidates in supervisor debates.  Sheila was always adamant that inclusion is overrated.  

Houses of worship are driven by “love and faith” but also by the desire to increase the supply of affordable housing on the west side. She said, developers and faith communities are trying to be part of the solution and said she would be grateful for “your aye vote. “ 

Following the religious theme, Krekorian announced that Raman had prepared a very nice presentation today, as he retook the helm.  

The last time, MTO was honored in council, Blumenfield was joined by the now fully disgraced, Gil Cedillo, at the podium.  This time, Nithya Raman took over.  

MTO stands for the Maktab Tarighat Oveyssi Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism.   

For rank-and-file Angelenos, it is pronounced, "sha ma zoodi"  

When Blumenfield and Raman get together, for Nowruz, 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, and hygiene kits.   They've also been involved in beach cleanups....testing... with medical. Drive-through testing centers.    

The praise for the MTO flower arrangements throughout the rotunda in honor of Nowruz was almost as intense as the praise from the public speakers looking forward to a right to counsel, once the economic uncertainty passes. 

(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)