ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - I was so excited and supportive of the Board of Supervisors going to Washington, D.C. that now that the trip is underway, I feel a little jet-lagged.
For one thing, the board of supervisors agreed to meet on the 27th but took a page from the worst practices handbook and provided no way for Angelenos to attend. There was no room address and no virtual contact numbers. This falls below the minimum standard. Well done!
Lindsay Horvath and Janice Hahn are working on a pilot program — Springtime for Supervisors — and happy to report that the meetings with the California Congressional delegation “was a big success ✅ “ even if they don’t say so themselves.
We are very excited to hear about the meeting with the Biden Administration to discuss our transportation, housing, and homelessness priorities!
Supervisor Hahn was happy to be back in her old stomping grounds, but tweeted that she was “having flashbacks and not necessarily good ones…”
There was a lovely affair for Congresswoman from California's 31st Congressional District in the US House of Representatives, Grace Napolitano, for her decades of work championing mental health policy in Congress.
And Horvath wore a jean jacket for #DenimDay.
Supervisor Hahn noted that there were “so many new faces in the Capitol since I left 🤔
Even Ronald McDonald. lol
Not to mention Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. Her priority was getting the West Santa Ana Branch rail line (new name tbd) funded and built.
"We can’t get it done without the support of @USDOT”
I was personally touched when Mama Hahn took the young cub lioness Lindsay to see the statue of Rosa Parks in the US Capitol Building. She reminded her it was sculpted by Eugene Daub from San Pedro
There was still time to Thank one more friend and former colleague, Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, the 18th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. She's a Proud Ohioan, dedicated to ensuring opportunity for all through safe, equitable, and affordable housing. Thank you for discussing our homelessness emergency, housing vouchers, & how HUD can support the work we’re doing in LA County.
“Some of the most important tools we have to fight homelessness are the housing vouchers we get from @HUDgov “
Gold in Sneaky Meetings, in a crowded field.
Because it is a Special Meeting, typically no general, two minutes directed to the items on the agenda.
Please Note Public Comment Will Be Taken In Person Only.
One speaker reminded me that virtually every city that has the Olympics goes bankrupt. The only games that ever made money, he said, were the 1984 games in Los Angeles. There were no FBI investigations at that time.
Another speaker wondered why the meeting was being held at 8:30 am without a call-in option? He alleged it was an "overt act" to block the public from coming here. He said, there would be positions added for LAPD for this.*
Blocking the public was omitted from the presentation made by a speaker on the YMCA of metropolitan LA's payroll. He talked about the expansive reach of the YMCA and said he was looking forward to partnering.
Not. Going. To. Happen. Good luck. Consider paying your lifeguards decently, and get back to us in the FSR process for the NEVER. Going. To. Happen Funding nofa.
The effort to spend the $160 million over many years is underway... one big jolt is to provide five new sports. Jimmy Kim, the dangerously upbeat head of Recs and Parks came out to announce, "archery, karate, climbing, triathlon and fencing."
Not bad, as only two of those sports involve fighting. Sorry, three.
"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting."
And of course adaptive programming for skateboarding, sitting tennis, blind soccer...
Rodriguez was excited to see good enrollment numbers... around150,000 enrolled last year, but she wondered about sustained participation? How can we track, sustained participation -- not a one and done -- we are doing it in my youth development department. I wonder if she could fund her department with Olympics MOOLAH. Shhh... great idea.
Who is Participating? Which neighborhoods?
Cue: Lights dim
Insert a song about how the Valley keeps getting lapped by South Los Angeles. This version was themed for the so-called working groups.
Rodriguez had a solo about how the working groups are comprised of people who she herself did not even recognize. She called for actual folks from her district on these (damn) working groups.
LA 2028 was saying "Yes, ma'am of course, everything is possible, ttyl."
To be competitive, we offer $19 / hour to work the program, Kim said, but the market is $20 and $21.
The requisite plug for her Students Run LA or SRLA was in place.
Rodriguez wanted to hear from more diverse voices and ways to identify smaller groups to engage.
We invited people to information sessions and then to apply...
We do have VICA on all these working groups. [That's a business lobbyist group who love going to Rams games and VIP parking.]
John Wickham of the CLA's office said he would bring more reports to this ad hoc Olympic committee. As for getting smaller groups involved, he said, some of the smaller organizations "fell off ... " during the application process. The process was fairly simple, he said, as we tried to make it that way to not scare away the not-for-profits.
They may need more probing, he said.
The IOC agreement calls for an annual plan evaluating progress... but going forward he wants to present twice a year, rather than once a year. 100% more meetings, for maximal "probing*."
Probing means bullshit.
*Thursday, sure enough, Curren D. Price of the old new ninth asked the Chief about six new positions for the LAPD to prepare for the Olympics.
Eunisses Hernandez participated in the cooing over our wonderful librarians, but voted no to distribute funds totaling $941,010 as follows: Professional Development - $641,010 Tuition Reimbursement - $300,000.
Fair enough. It was for LAPD.
But Paul Krekorian really knows how to the bully-pulpit and curry favor with people who are aligned with his interests and the interests of his constituents.
He kicked off his presentation with a harrowing story about brutal axe murder, mutilation, rape, and beheadings. No, not in North Hollywood, wise guy.
He was speaking about atrocities of the Azerbaijani government aimed at residents of Artsakh (Armenia).
DeLeon had the honor of representing Little Armenia and installing the Little Armenia sign on the 101 freeway.
Krekorian announced his great pleasure in honoring @Araksya @EllinaKTLA @PascucciNews for their remarkable coverage of the atrocities and genocidal acts being committed against the Armenian community.
Krekorian's Transparency Angels were a big hit and each showed a substantial clip. Nithya Raman among others rose in support, and said, "I have seen you all on TV...you are remarkable women...using your platform."
Alene Tcheckmedyan... will be receiving an honorary Los Angeles Press Club award this summer.
Blumenfield's opening speech was not good.
He said the meeting would recess, not adjourn... because "this is one meeting."
One speaker said, "It's ridiculous that there are so few hearings... we want a participatory budget process... You are shutting the public out."
Blumenfield explained that "even though committees in the council have ceased doing virtual testimony, this budget is so important that we've made an exception and tonight, we are taking that virtual testimony.
It's one item, even though it will be taking place over multiple days.
Public comment, technically gets satisfied on the first day, but we are going to hear comments on various different days because want to invite that in, it won't be every day, but it will be, really one continuous public comment.
And toward that end. The preference is... we are going to prioritize people who have not spoken. If you've spoken tonight, then, we are taking public testimony again on Friday, then we are going to start with folks who have not spoken.
I also ask you, as a member of the public, to understand that and hopefully, we'll have time for people who may want to ask second questions, second comments, or a third comment, but really the priority is to get as many people during the five plus hours of public comment that we're going to have throughout this process.
So, that to be individuals whose voices we've heard -- once you've spoken, even the next day, you'll be at the back of the line to speak for a second time.
Call it the Frequent Speaker Penalty Program, FSPP.
Take an interest and get a seat at the back of the bus. The Supervisors were in Washington.
Eric Preven, said, "This is the first of several public hearings, but the only window for virtual public testimony, That' is a significant problem and it's not okay. We need to proceed like today, for all of the meetings going forward. Because all of the meetings have different content even though they are under the umbrella of one item, the budget.
But, the police department is different than the Planning department and both have important issues, that the council members who are sitting there know, have different solutions and are different discussions.
You should proceed like a school assembly where each department gets a chance to make a presentation to the public and, council and committee, then the public can make comments and then the committee can make comments. Finally, you can move forward to the next item.
That's the way it's done here in America. That's our process. It's democratic, and it works. Don't by the lie --
"Thank you caller, your time is up."
There were nearly two dozen speakers from El Sereno supporting Kevin DeLeon, and a $500,000 line item for LAPD overtime to keep that community, who have been under a crime siege, safe.
There were three dozen speakers advocating for the Centro Pueblo FSC an organization that has provided support in the number 17th most neediest neighborhood among the top 20. This year's budget cut four so number 17 got dumped.
Another speaker wondered why Blumenfield was silencing public dissent. We want a participatory budget process, but you are shutting out the public ...
Yet another irritated constituent said, "I cannot believe that a city with nearly 4 million people has only one opportunity for public comment. One night... this is designed to keep the public out..." of the budget decision making and this is the money we all pay in taxes to the city."
There was a strong Afscme union presence, showing to support 911 dispatchers... more than twenty speakers.
The People's Budget people had a modest turnout, I suspect they are planning to show up en masse on one of the other remaining windows, that are shutting down fast.
One man said his office was in so much danger and that they have to buzz people in..."We're not a liquor store...or jewelry store. He said, two kids were shot... at a carnival."
Larry Fondation, who was recently replaced on a commission, was there with 915 signatures to keep the Guaranteed Basic Income dream alive. He helped dole out a lot during the pandemic, $1000/ a month.
On Wednesday, the public was gone. Blumenfield introduced his patented Hand Signals program.
In the interest of more interactivity, if you have a question just "shoot me a finger."
That will get you one or two questions. He said, you can get back in the line, with no limit.
He told Mcosker that there would be "No, clock on members..."
If you have a follow-up or urgent real-time question (ie. you want to bust someone for Bullshittng?) and want to jump the line, put up two fingers!
[OFF CAMERA muttering]
"No, don't give me the one, no not that one..." titters.
Yaroslavsky asked the Office of Finance, about a public bank but they'll have to get back.
The city attorney, Hydee Feldstein-Soto came out and said it was her honor and privilege to appear in front of you... and "Price in absentia" because he was late.
She announced that Krekorian's old PR guy, Ian Thompson, was her new chief of staff. Sigh.
She announced that she had a 12% vacancy rate in the City Attorney's office but ... in four months... she got it down to 8%. That's 1% a month, for your dashboard.
95% of the city attorney budget is salaries.
Apparently, they've added a public rights branch, without consulting with me. Still, very exciting.
The interest in prostitution or human trafficking along Figueroa was high, as usual. She said she was very supportive of funding for training... especially a path for victims or survivors (depending upon your politics) of trafficking.
Blumenfield said, the liability last year was at $87 million and $20 million in the UB. Was that sufficient in this past year?
He noted, as if to say, "We know it's not your fault." This is from ten years ago... smiley emoji.
She said she thought we would go over budget by June 30th. Rather than coming to you seeking. "X gagillion more or Y gazillions of savings." She said she would address in the FSR. She's working to create a predictable system.
Blumenfield said, "We're not taking statements. As an elected official you can make a comment."
Kenneth Mejia came with a large freshly jacketed team, led by Rick Cole, a master magician. Sergio Perez was not visible, but probably watching from nearby, holding his breath.
Rick Cole of the Controller's office.
It was clear that the request to add $500,000 for contractual audits and oversight coverage, would be handled by Mr. Perez, who handles the accountability and oversight section. Tag: Lowpoint.
Rick Cole saved Mejia's ass on numerous occasions. Cole is so wise and crafty that none of the CMs could stump him.
MCosker, asked about the plan for your audits, currently.
Mejia said with 6 performance auditors... that's one or two audits per six months per team.
Cole, swooped in, like the mesmerizer, "It's not about how many audits the $500k gets, it is about the result of the audits. Do they make things better?" Lovely.
Mejia's solution to hiring is finding applicants on social media. Last time, they got 17 applicants for one position, and this time they got 374 applicants, a year later.
Rick Cole's answer to a question about local hiring. The social media applicants are from Los Angeles.
And of course, the Public Safety junta went after his idea to monitor Police Officers during their work at demonstrations.
"The Chief Moore was notified."
How much of your budget do you devote to this?
"Not a lot, just a few of us, Executives. We are exempt, the 14 of us, including myself."
About four people help. Sergio Perez has a lot of experience with LAPD and law enforcement.
(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)