ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - On Monday, the Board of Supervisors slinked into the backroom to discuss CS-1, a department head performance evaluation. There was only one item and one comment from the public. Perfect, as the fab five are heading for the airport.
The Board of Supervisors is the governing body of the County of Los Angeles, a charter county. As such, it has the unique function of serving as the executive and legislative head of the largest and most complex county government in the entire United States.
They're a very busy bunch, so have had to reduce the number of public meetings over the last few years, constituting a trend. But, Lindsay Horvath, the youngest of the five female supervisors has already announced her intention to work toward expanding the board by adding Supervisors and little mayors to help deliver the services.
The budget for such a mighty organization is understandably enormous. This year, $43 Billion dollars.
The County Board will be in Washington, D.C. this week, scrounging around in the White House sofa for resources along with the new Mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass, and presumably many others dba (the coalition).
As we all face a new set of challenges, we all need new and refreshed funding sources. Cha-ching. Amen.
Of course, this sets up the same old attempt to categorize anyone who would question the super majority’s activities on any subject, as the rantings of a right-wing conspiracy theorist.
Nobody is exempt, myself included.
Even David Zahniser, who is not of below-average intelligence and a rather canny chap to have survived for so long in the city swamp, pushed me down in the muck on one occasion (or more).
The Los Angeles City Council had voted to pursue a legal challenge against President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. My beef as a Democrat was with the way the city council had pulled a sneaky fast one and agendized it out of thin air.
Councilwoman Nury Martinez ordered me out, and Zahniser of the LA Times called me, "a critic of that vote" and said I had been disruptive. His article made it seem like I was a Trumper.
Reprehensible is a formal word that means “worthy of or deserving blame or very strong criticism.” Seconded.
Friday High Day:
One speaker asked, why does it cost $400.00 to light up city hall?
Paul Krekorian: ”Sit down or you'll be removed immediately. No more warnings, you're out if you shout out.”
LAUSD’s Alberto Carvalho dropped in and sounded very upbeat.
Council member Traci Park of CD11 could not sit still, "The safety of our children should not be negotiable, and in the 11th district you have my support for protecting schools… and thanks for the Narcan!"
Paul Krekorian: "Mr. Herman your sign violates 12d, if I see it again, it’s disgusting you’re out."
When CM Park segued to the snuggle and cuddle…section and trotted out a furry sidekick for adoption or foster, the phone lines lit up. Presumably.
Committee meetings that used to be held on the 10th floor at City Hall, will now be conducted exclusively on the third and fourth floors, with much of the action inside the council chamber. That change has been described by police as an additional security measure. Using the lower floors will reduce the possibility of confrontations between council members and the public, according to a Krekorian aide.
Smart Speaker: Will there be virtual testimony at committees?
“Cut him off, next speaker.”
Smart Speaker: “The council has a duty to return representative government to the 10th District — not through an appointee it chooses but a special election that allows the residents — not the City Council — to have a full and total say in who should represent them.”
Heather Hutt will keep the CD10 seat warm as she heats up her expensive campaign to control WessonWorld!
"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting"
And you can assume the new Zoo Commissioner, Mark Gonzalez the heavyweight democratic party insider, is on board. He and a whole raft of other midship-people, including Ms. Catherine Unger and Ms. Asantewa Olatunji who landed on the Cultural Affairs Commission the other day, were announced at a very early commit-tee time.
Q: Once again can an Angeleno give virtual testimony at committee meetings?
A: No, hang up on her.
And now a brief plug for the 101st anniversary of the Schindler House on King’s Road in West Hollywood.
What an architectural treasure… See Public Comment!
City Attorney: There is no public comment, Mr. Preven. Good day! (Dial tone)
Budget Virtual Testimony:
April is the time of year we remember the past, but also acknowledge the trauma, pain, and healing.
Budget hearings are intended to give residents an opportunity to make their voices heard and provide input on priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.
The committee members, some of whom are new this year, get to hear from witnesses representing various viewpoints. But the words atop of the City’s Budget Hearing agenda are in a word… confusing.
"The Committee will take public comment from members of the public in the Council chamber and also by teleconference on Tuesday, April 25th, only."
In sum, the hearings kick off Tuesday, April 25, after 6pm.
This will be is the only time during this year’s hearings that call-in testimony will be taken. Callers may be in cue with 100 members of ACE or the SEIU or the West Valley Nimbys, if the City gets its way…
none of the above.
Look, the city officials, know how we feel. But, if you happen to be downtown in council chambers on Friday, April 28th sometime after 1 pm, or Tuesday, May 2, sometime after 1 pm, or even Thursday, May 4, sometime after 9 am, you may be in luck.
If not, GFY.
Wednesday and Thursday are loaded up with departments of interest but no comments will be taken on WEDNESDAY – APRIL 26, 2023 1:00 p.m. ITEM NO. (1) is Consideration of the Mayor's 2023-24 Proposed Budget, including:
Presentation of the Proposed Budget by the Mayor's Office
Overview of the Proposed Budget by the City Administrative Officer
Office of Finance/Treasurer
Personnel (includes Human Resources Benefits)
City Ethics Commission
Information Technology Agency
To me, that is an eight item afternoon and it should be opened up for comment after each presentation.
The following day the committee hits the ground running. It’s a THURSDAY – APRIL 27, 2023 9:00 a.m. ITEM NO. (1) and once again Consideration of the Mayor's 2023-24 Proposed Budget, including:
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (including Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles)
Public Works -
Bureau of Sanitation
To me, this is a seven-item morning and afternoon. Note: It’s still labeled Item No (1) but its got totally different content.
No public comments will be taken on this day.
Bob Blumenfield the new Budget Chair is making good on Paul Krekorian’s promise to shorten the public hearings.
Getting enforcement from anyone including the courts on the important judgment the public won against the city for not taking public comments on items on special meeting agendas has been challenging
For broad context, this is a conflict between the petitioner (Eric Preven) and the respondent (City) over a perceived race to the end of the month on the Mayor's 2023-2024 Budget, per the charter.
The disagreement is related to the type and manner of public meetings the city plans to conduct including a serious deviation from prior practice and the Brown Act.
Prayer: The city could agree to appropriately cure and correct the special meetings by adding public comment on every item noticed on the agenda.
Here, we get into a silly game, wherein basic logic and common sense and what Angelenos expect, are cast aside and flouted in favor of a contorted, arbitrary process.
The City Attorney of Los Angeles, Heidee Feldstein-Soto told the LA Times that she works very hard for her money and has learned alot while making a lot less.
She claims to have been making 20 x the city attorney annual salary of $275k for a whopping $5 million dollars a year.
I wonder if she could explain the city’s contorted effort to block meaningful comments on the 40 city departments by pretending they are one (1) item.
The hearings should be run like a school assembly. Check with Mr. Carvalho.
Each class marches down to the auditorium and makes a presentation in front of the whole school, followed by a set of nasty and nice comments from both the public and the committee members.
The Committee is comprised of the Principal, the Drama teacher, and the Basketball Coach.
The whole point of the class presentations…is outward facing, to the entire school, assembled in the auditorium including parents.
The community of students and parents (public) are not a technical detail of an assembly (budget hearing)... they’re an integral part.
The Budget hearings should be made hybrid meetings.
The system we’ve been using for city council meetings is sufficient to provide daily options for both in-person and virtual testimony.
It’s all ready to go… Mr. Blumenfield, are you ready for your closeup?
(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)