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Mon, Apr

Budget Bingo

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - You know what’s really crazy, the Mental Health Department is looking to hire 1,778 people.   

The Los Angeles economy represents over one-quarter of California's total economy.  About a year ago, the Treasurer and Tax Collector, Keith Knox, reflected on how the County's, “...strong credit ratings reflect our prudent budgetary practices under the leadership of our Board of Supervisors.”  

Los Angeles County covers over 4,000 square miles and includes 88 incorporated cities and 100 school districts.  For as long as I've been following the board, the county had very bad yelp ratings very good credit rating, like AA+. 

 The county supervisors deplore racism but when they trotted out a Zoot Suit Riots recognition the other day, people were worried do we owe a new set of plaintiffs attorneys billions? Like the $1.6B or $3B liability related to the sexual abuse at McLaren Hall.   "No, silly, it was 80 years ago, the victims are probably —"

“Sir, you’re disrupting the meeting.”

 On June 3, 1943, white U.S. servicemen and police officers descended upon a majority-Mexican American neighborhood in East Los Angeles, California, and harassed, beat, and detained hundreds of Mexican American youth. The violent riot was fueled by centuries of colonialism and white supremacy.

 Not all of them.

 In 1943, the local newspapers framed the racial attacks as a vigilante response to an immigrant crime wave, and police generally restricted their arrests to the Latinos who fought back. 

 The riots didn’t die down until June 8, 1943 when U.S. military personnel were finally barred from leaving their barracks. Shortly after, wearing of the Zoot suit was indefinitely banned in Los Angeles via a city wide ordinance.

 Yuck, hopefully, the liability has simmered down, 80 years later.  Hopefully.

 The Stonewall riots, a series of gay liberation protests in 1969 were also recognized at the top of the meeting before the bad news came out. 

 The Stonewall riots began on June 28, 1969, and marked a turning point in the LGBTQ movement for civil rights. The riot began when a group of people at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, were being harassed by police officers. The harassment by police wasn't new to the bar's patrons, but that night the community rose up against it. 

 The rest is history and that history is being rewritten every day.

 I thought I heard Bob Blumenfield, the Chair of the City of Los Angeles Budget and Innovation Committee, stuff a few ‘courtesy’ million, maybe $6 million into one of the city’s murky gang injunction accounts.   Like a modern-day Zoot Suit, just way more au courant. 

 Giving A Strong Signal:

After the racial atrocity and bigotry section, it was time to subsidize internet connections, and through a grant for a life saving $30 subsidy, capably hunted down by none other than, Selwyn Hollins, the former City Hall DOT citation specialist. 

 Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who is usually good for a fifteen-minute sermon on the subject was brief, calling this a good investment for our residents, “Thank, you. Let’s go get the money! Mitchell will be voting, aye.”  Barger, echoed the sentiment by dragging out the old clam, “Show me the money.” 

 Supervisor Horvath, said, “access to the internet during covid emergency, revealed how essential, like lights, gas or electricity… how essential…” this is.  Plus we “will employ people and lead them out of inequity.”

  

Supervisor Lindsay Horvath supports the WGA. 

Supervisor Hahn wanted to be sure the folks bringing these grants back to LA County, connect with the groups in her district that are doing this great… digital navigation work.  

The Red Chief Hunt stepped up to the microphone as a member of the public and quoted Barger quoting Tom Cruise “Show me the money.”  

Budget Bingo:

Blumenfield said, as he wrapped up his dry introduction to the anemic budget process, that the great cost-expanding mission of the mayor could be done with the city council remaining at the table to find long-term solutions.  He didn't explain how on Thursday but told KNX 97.1 the other day it was like a $250 million dollar line item but you can start with $50 million on the card. Once you get down to $25 million, we can replenish the card. Similar to the way the Bulgari Developer must work things with his pep squad.  

Blumenfield reminded me that we'd heard from Mercedes Marquez and Matt Szabo...  and the public and more discussion was on our docket.  NOTE, don't call it a docket.    

He said, we "shared a belief, that armed police is not the best way to address a mental health crisis."  The $14 million for alternative responses showed that it was a priority for Blumenfield to institutionalize... a response from the best person.   NOTE: don't say institutionalize   

Then, Paul "Kafka" Krekorian unfurled a mysterious program, with pages and items but no word descriptions. When it began it was sort of like a citywide game of budget bingo. 

The only interruption to Krekorian's reading of items [NOTE: don't call them items.]  and page numbers and the block voting was the occasional comment from a council member.  Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez objected to 40a and 40b on page eight, but what the hell that referred, to,  We'll get there... after recess! 

But still, it was enjoyable, because the public was in a relatively good mood because, after five years of shameful dodging or more, the city council agreed that you have to take comments on the items at the Thursday Special Budget meetings.  The prior damage during the last few years and weeks may or may not be addressed by Judge Beckloff, pending substantial funding approval.  

The Best and The Brightest [are also people]:

Private Schools are not immune from scandalous behavior.  That's why we have law firm like Covington and Burling. 

Personally, except for a brief stint in a Montessori school, I am a product of public schools. Disclosure: I did attend Andover, an elite academy in Massachusetts during a summer session for high school students.  Later, I learned that one of my two teachers had been implicated in a scheme wherein he had inappropriate relations with vulnerable high school girls, who were also his students. Not nice, not OK, and the man who allegedly did those things has probably been appropriately destroyed (though, I wouldn't count on it). 

At the time, I had no idea of course, and liked the man. For years I told a story about his class that only made complete sense to me, years later, when I read in the New York Times about Frederic Lyman. My teacher went by Rick, but the picture confirmed... OMG, same guy.  

One day during his writing seminar a man charged into our classroom wearing a stocking over his head and shot a handgun at Rick. It was all fake, and I had a good eye,  but it must have looked very real.  We were instructed to write down what we witnessed. An interesting exercise, I thought. Others were apparently traumatized, and to our surprise, Rick had to leave the school.  

Now, I see that his clever section on 'news reporting' or whatever, was not the main reason he left. Just like Mitchell Englander didn't really leave to work at an event company, he was indicted, people have cover stories.  

Rick was only brought to justice many years later. During his reign of terror, he shuffled around between other boarding schools, like a priest between parishes.  Mr. Lyman left Choate with a positive recommendation, which helped him gain employment at Kent Denver, a private school in Colorado. Kent Denver has hired an outside law firm to investigate his time there.  I've always wondered....   did Andover give a positive letter of recommendation to Frederic Lyman that enabled him to go to Choate?  Yuck. 

My other teacher at Andover was a wonderful poet named Gary Miranda. He was born in Bremerton, Washington, and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He taught writing and literature at various colleges and universities.  "The Cherokee Word for Water,” a biopic about Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, was his film.  

In addition to writing screenplays, he published four book-length collections of poems, one of which—Listeners at the Breathing Place—won the Princeton Contemporary Poetry competition and was nominated by Princeton University Press for a Pulitzer Prize. 

Listeners at the Breathing Place: 

Mental Health is so important, and frankly, we do have a crisis. Depression is on the rise. Some 25% of adults between the ages of 18 + 29 say they’re depressed — a stunning 12-point jump from 2017.   24% of women report depression, compared with 11% of men. 

And teenagers are as vulnerable as ever. 

It's been on my mind lately because I have been respectfully sitting on some information that should probably be "out there" but as so many will make calculations about the damage they might do by potentially putting a person's family members through a privacy invasion.   

But I still feel some things should be out there because sunshine dries up all the rain, and truthfully if a student takes his own life in February and the school keeps it respectfully, or shamefully quiet, it won't help prevent a student in trouble from taking their own life in March or April.   

Do we need to talk about multiple student suicides? No, because we want to protect privacy.  

Do we need to talk about multiple student suicides? Yes, because we want to educate and protect vulnerable students who are potentially struggling with mental health.   

The correct answer is YES.   

SCOOP: 

Inspector General Max Huntsman has asked 35 deputies to submit photos of their legs and identify the Banditos and Executioners deputy gangs in East LA and Compton. 

Jeez, Louise:  Huntsman wants 35 sworn deputies to drop trou!  Otherwise, we might miss a key tattoo. Pls take the oppty to uplift The Board of Supervisors and Spectrum 1 for committing resources to find… the missing tattoo. 

Gun Controller:

“In Australia, you had one mass shooting, 50 years ago, and they said, ‘Oh, we’re not doing that anymore,'” President Obama said. “That is normally how you would expect a society to respond when your children are at risk.” 

Speed Snapshot:

The other day, New York Mayor Eric Adams announced that 24/7 speed camera operations which began in August, are already having a dramatic effect, reducing speeding in camera zones by 25%.  

In August, cameras recorded 755,000 speeding violations, a number that continues to drop, with 565,000 in November.  Mayor Adams has said that traffic safety is public safety, and we have strong evidence this year that this administration’s Vision Zero priorities — in enforcement, education, and street redesign — made a difference and saved lives.   

Smart speaker:  Great. Now, turn the camera traps off because inflation is high and you've raised awareness... now stop bleeding people.  Remember the 1225 (d) imbroglio.   

Yaroslavsky Chumash: 

Nestled amidst the majestic Santa Monica Mountains less than five miles from Rodeo Drive, the proposed Hotel will be surrounded by 33 acres of a stunning hillside park, natural wildlife, and breathtaking views.  

Plans call for 58 Rooms and Suites and eight private estates, the signature Bulgari dining experience Il Ristorante - Niko Romito, a 10,000-square-foot Spa, state-of-the-art-gym featuring Bulgari’s exclusive Workshop training method, a private cinema and an exclusive eight-seat sushi bar—I dare you to say that ten times fast.   

Eight seat sushi bar. Eight seat sushi bar. Eight seat sushi bar. Eight seat sushi bar. Eight seat sushi bar. Eight seat sushi bar. Eight seat sushi bar. Eight seat sushi bar. 

One person who has been a resident since 1991…said, the hotel should never have been started. He said the council district 5 deputy (Shawn Bayliss) got a large donation and then, it turns out that his wife (Stacey Brenner) is the lobbyist for the hotel.  "How could anyone in this horseshoe endorse this behavior?"    

He implied that developers “will all look for back door access for you…” if you don’t shut this down.  

Another man, who I once tipped off that Ryan Murphy was a stand-out genius among other WGA showrunners, said, “We all support good jobs, where that should happen… this is not the right place.  A fragile place that needs to be protected, with very specific limitations, this will irrevocably change this neighborhood.  This would be a tragedy for the city and the community in that neighborhood. 

Another said, “Stand with the LA Times, the community, your  Councilmember, and the Mayor, Vote in favor of Yaroslavsky’s motion.  

“It’s a Secret deal for the wife of a planning deputy. This is cuckoo, bananas, 260 protected trees… the wrong place at the wrong time.  Thank you.  With 15 seconds to spare.” 

One woman lived in Benedict Canyon for over 8 years and said,  “I’m a huge supporter… compare it to Belair hotel…one canyon over. I’m in favor. Listen to the developer and look at the Environmental report. Another union leader said this would open “doors of opportunity.”  

But a smart speaker addressed the attempt to divide across labor lines. “Union members, I get it.” She said, “I will join any picket line, but this is a bad move.” 

The most common refrain was “dangerous and inappropriate.” 

Fauble, who becomes immediately aroused when he hears those terms eventually, had to chime in, “I’ve spoken to the Council President, and he’s ordered you removed from the meeting.” He seemed more embarrassed than usual delivering his signature narration, ”Now, goat noises on the way out… still shouting… sorry speaker.  Apologies.” 

The leader of the neighborhood’s resistance, who said he was taking a break from picketing the studios and streamers, noted that we all share aspirations for a city that is fair, "where the rich are not allowed to break the rules*”  [Asterisk, let’s not go crazy.] 

Applause Blocker:

The ITA department should be awarded special recognition for installing the City’s innovative applause blocker.  Whenever public speakers, like the Bulgari Resort opponents, garner applause, it's immediately muted by a city official or worker.   Once the applause subsides, or the foot comes off the proverbial brake, Krekorian and/or Fauble resume control.  Innovative!  And Disgusting!  

Polygraphic [Exemptions]:

Remember city employees, “All requests for a polygraph examination should be denied.”  

“All By executive directive and past practice, no City employee shall be compelled to take a polygraph examination.” 

Trial and appellate courts have consistently ruled that neither the results nor the mention of polygraph examinations, refused or taken, can be entered on the record in judicial or administrative hearings. The use of polygraph examinations is narrowly limited to witnesses or complainants who are neither City employees nor Public Safety Officers.  

Of course, “Never mention a polygraph examination in a threatening or coercive manner.” 

“If, during the polygraph examination or subsequent re-interview, the subject recants or contradicts any previous statement, or admits to lying, the polygraph examination may be referenced in the investigation. The reference should begin like this:  “Jones was re-interviewed after voluntarily submitting to a polygraph examination. Jones recanted his statement and admitted to giving false information about Officer Marbury’s discourteous remark. The polygraph examiner's opinion of the subject's truthfulness cannot be used as evidence in any type of criminal or administrative hearing; however, statements made to the polygraph examiner may be used.  

Sheesh.  But, never mention a polygraph examination in a  threatening or coercive manner, obv. 

(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)