Thu, Jun

Lobby Every Councilmember and Sing


ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Nobody seems to think Pricegate has the legs to materialize into a full-fledged scandal. The community of Price apologists is out in force making all sorts of excuses.  Scott Frazier wrote, "... these charges, outlandish and flimsy, can only undermine the project of attempting to correct the course of city government."

Could this just be more racism and hate? 

Peking duck is a dish from Beijing that has been prepared since the Imperial era.  It's delicious and exotic but honestly, the force-feeding component is not something you want to put on the dining agenda.  It's a real bummer.  But the final product is excellent.  

My first introduction to the dish was as a child on a sabbatical with my globe trotting father, who is a professor of psychiatry.  He told a funny story, about his recent decision to stop working at the hospital where he's worked for sixty year, even in his part time supervisory capacity. He'd called HR and told them with great fanfare, that he was ready to migrate to post-retirement benefits, as alas, after a wonderful tour… “I am retiring!”  

The HR woman was confused, “Dr. Preven, you've been retired since 2015!”  Lol. 

This is the level of misunderstanding that, if my father were an elected official might result in the kind of implosion, the smooth jazz easy-listening, playlist king, Curren D. Price, is now facing.  

There is something charming about forgetting to finish one divorce before falling in love all over again… with a major city vendor.   Less charming… signing the vendor up for city benefits.

But let's be clear, as far as we know, Curren Price never bedded both wives simultaneously in public, and even if he did, has it come to this?  Los Angeles is a bastion of tolerance, is it not?  

It's not as if Price collected health benefits for two wives, simultaneously. tk.

Why doesn't anybody ever write about the activities of lobbyist, Harvey Englander?   Uncle to felon, Mitchell Englander? 

I would love to see Julia Wick and Dakota Smith and Jessica Levinson (former Ethics Commission President) team up and do a three-way KPCC podcast on Harvey's fascinating run as jefe of Englander Knabe and Allen. This just in, KPCC downsizing Podcast department --

The EKA firm is number one again, but the above list of top ten is very deceptive because EKA have other lobbyists, who actually lobby for the lobbyists, Englander Knabe & Allen, on behalf of various clients.  

Not to mention, Arnie Berghoff of Arnie Berghoff and Associates, and his powerhouse donation check writer, Linda Berghoff.  

Brianna Knabe, generous wife and costar of Matt Knabe, the K in Englander Knabe and Allen.

Tina Khalatian, the very civically engaged wife of Edgar Khalatian of Mayer Brown, LLP.  Mayer Brown took Richard Bruckner in when Mark Ridley-Thomas--

"Sir, you're off-topic. You're disrupting the meeting."

I digress, it was Tina Choi, who was working for EKA earning her a special Ethics Commission asterisk, that gets credit for nixing the hard-fought concession agreed to by Midwood to widen Ventura Boulevard for studio city residents. 

Paul Krekorian and Karo Torossian would know all the details but they are 24/7 putting out fires and fixing the city governance problems, so that council members don't have such excessive power over land use decisions in their districts. Especially decisions that they already slammed through before handing them off to Raman.  

For new readers, a number of low-profile, high-expectation CD2 land use issues have been capably deposited in CD4, to coincide with President Krekorian's crackdown on land use power! 

Councilmember Raman is highly intelligent and went to MIT, but she ought to get a proper oral history of how these projects, which she's being asked to 'not-have-the-power' over, came together. 

One key question, for the LA City Ethics Commission's NOON meeting on June 21, 2023  

How does tossing $168,000 in various lobbyists' pockets convert to results in the hallowed halls of City Planning?

Hallowed halls? 

Sportsmen's Lodge was number 8 among the top ten highest-paying lobbyist clients, at $168K up from $126K back in Q1 2022.  

$22,500 to Englander Knabe & Allen 

$109,601 to Rand Paster & Nelson, the new kid on the block. 

$5,048 to Max Development LLC dba three6ixty 

$16,620 to Rosenheim & Associates 

$15,000 to Handelman consulting  

Also, Unite Here disclosed...that they, OPPOSED demolition of (e) hotel for proposed ~650,996 sq ft mixed-use project within 3 bldgs with max height of 94 ft that includes 520 multi fam units (78 vli) & ~45,945 sq ft commercial space. 1385 parking spaces. [Location: n/a; ref num: DCP case nos. CPC-2021-7012, ENV-2021-7013]  

And Harvard Westlake disclosed they're eagerly moving forward with controversial plans for a New Athletic Facility: Seeking approval for development of new athletic and recreational facility for school and public uses. [Location: 4047-4155 N. Whitsett Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604; 12506-12630 Valley Spring Lane, Studio City, CA; ref num: CPC-2020-1511-VCU-SPR-WDI, ENV-2020-1512-EIR]  

$22,934 to Marathon Communications, Inc. 

$54,542 to Mayer Brown LLP 

The above numbers represent money paid to lobbyists in Q1 2022, so Khalatian's project to-date earnings from HW must be ginormous as he's been duking it out with resident opposition, for close to a decade. Disclosure:  Khalatian is Garcetti's BFF, and Charlie Munger's ball boy, so not a great friend of Studio City Golf and Tennis players!!!

Lift Every Voice and Sing:

Often referred to as "The Black National Anthem," Lift Every Voice and Sing was a hymn written as a poem by the school principal and NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900. His brother, John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), composed the music for the lyrics.

Here is a magnificent version by Alica Keyes: 



Lift Every Voice and Sing 

By James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)

Lift every voice and sing, 

Till earth and heaven ring,

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; 

Let our rejoicing rise 

High as the list'ning skies,

 Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. 

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, 

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; 

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

 Let us march on till victory is won.  


Stony the road we trod, 

Bitter the chast'ning rod, 

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; 

Yet with a steady beat, 

Have not our weary feet 

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

 We have come over a way that with tears has been watered. 

We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, 

Out from the gloomy past,

 Till now we stand at last 

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast. 


God of our weary years, 

God of our silent tears, 

Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way; 

Thou who hast by Thy might,

 Led us into the light, 

Keep us forever in the path, we pray. 

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, 

Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; 

Shadowed beneath Thy hand,

 May we forever stand, 

True to our God, 

True to our native land.


Dance Quickly: 

Janice Hahn will be joining the NAACP San Pedro Wilmington Chapter to ring the Bell in celebration of Juneteenth and freedom for the enslaved people of Galveston. The ceremony was to begin Monday at 10 am with the bell ringing at noon.  One wonders if two hours is a lot of pre-ringing time, but maybe former Councilmember,  Nate Holden might drop by to complete his comments that he made Friday in City Hall before council president Krekorian rudely shut him down. 

Krekorian had the unenviable task of trying to contain Holden, as he filibustered for nearly an hour as part of the big show arranged to obscure the optics of the latest political implosion. Curren D. Price.

Mr. Holden ought to get a Lifetime Achievement award, but also the Eric Preven Award for refusing to shut up.  

Insiders worried at one point, during Holden's lengthy inaudible remembrance, that Officer Graciano (the smart one) and Marco Duarte (the other one) might be asked to effectuate an arrest of the 91-year-old lawmaker. Fortunately, the new charmless City Attorney, who has been manning Strefan Fauble's warning desk, could not pull the trigger.  

Holden's son told one fascinating story about the way his father dealt with district voters who were pissed at him, because the trees in their neighborhood had not been trimmed in years.

When CM Holden, heard this, his son reported,  he allegedly went straight downtown and provided guidance to the department of public works, who came out the next day and trimmed the trees.

By being effective at cutting the red tape, Holden was able to collect political love and maybe more on the trimming. 

Almost like a lobbyist, delivering results has value.   Not always monetary value, but getting elected is a priority.

Lobbyists are perfectly legal to give to, but if you want to show your gratitude to the Councilmember ... this is what officeholder accounts are for.  Give early and often!  Lobbyists can help bundle donations, yuck:

Lobbying entities reported a total of $97,625 in funds raised, contributions made, and contributions delivered to 14 City officeholders and candidates in the first quarter of 2023. 

I always worried when I played the role of a candidate, about what would happen if someone demanded that I do something like trim their trees, to get their vote.  What would I do? 

I could never get elected by deploying the city’s resources at my discretion in the direction of the voters... 

This is why I stopped short of becoming an incumbent, even when I got elected to my NC for a three-year term, I acted and voted like an insurrectionist

Look Away Now:

Important to look away from some of this if you are a romantic who craves clean open and transparent dealing and plenty of unimpeded public comment.

Gather children, here is the story of Dave Rand, a mucky-muck over at Armbruster Goldsmith and Delvac and recently started a new firm Rand Paster & Nelson.  During the period when investigators with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission recommended that Michael LoGrande, the former head of the Department of City Planning, be fined $281,250 for violating the city’s ethics ordinance, he and I had a little tete-a-tete.  [LoGrande immediately agreed to pay his penalties.]

In two sentences, I wanted a clear image revealing that the big open space credits being provided as a public benefit were seriously the area between highrise towers at Isaac Larian's employee housing development out on 20,000 Prairie, at the site of the old LA Times plant, for poetry reasons.  How was this a public benefit of any value?

Rand was very helpful at making clear what the entire city team led by the unhelpful Beatrice Pacheco, who is excellent, had been obscuring.  


(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions of Mr. Preven are not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)