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Tue, Apr

A New Corrupt Day

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - LAPD's new contract will be in front of the LA City Council on Wednesday the 23rd, though it looks like they will only take public comment about it at the Personnel Committee at 8:30 am. 

The agenda for the 3-person Personnel, Audits, and Hiring Committee is (in-person comment only).  Rise and shine.

The in-person only component is a policy initiated by Council President Paul Krekorian who knows exactly what he’s not doing, by denying public comment. 

Denying public comment is zeitgeisty in Paul Krekorian's City Hall...

Brown Action:

Two days prior, the city council amended a Protected Tree Ordinance triggering a similar violation because they decided not to open it for comment following the detailed amendments read into the record, after taking some comments. I filed a  cure and correct... that day. 

"Dear City Clerk: Cure and Correct and re-agendize item 11 special for Friday. I don't understand on what basis City Council feels it can amend item 11 in detail and then claim that because the item calls for a report back, somehow the city is exempt from dutifully opening the item, as amended, to public comments on the detailed amendments. This is unfortunate.    Cure and Correct and re-agendize special for Friday." 

Strefan Fauble, replied the next day from Cape Cod presumably tk., even though the Boy Wonder, Jonathan Groat, was at the helm and attempted to justify Nithya Raman's amendments. 

Groat said, "And, so this amendment only asks for a report back and then recommendations so it does not require us to re-open public comment on this matter, Mr. President."

That was enough for Krekorian'a rubber stamp; he shoved it through, practically without a second.

The following day in reply to my note, Fauble jotted, "Mr. Preven,  The substantiality of an amendment cannot be judged by its word count. The amendment, while long, only called for additional information to be reported back for Council’s consideration and possible future action—which would result in further public comment at the committee and/or Council.  Therefore, public comment did not need to be reopened.  -Strefan Fauble    

Of course, we are not arguing it was the length... but rather the substantive changes.  Fix it!  Warm regards.

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor, SOS (+Raman, too!):

 

Hark, snakes run amok! 

Regardless, in a rare twist, on Friday, an item also numbered 11 came before the council and was amended. 

This time, as if they'd heard the cry of the public (yeah right), they dutifully re-opened the item.

Traci Park, Monica Rodriguez, Marqueece Harris Dawson, Eunisses Hernandez and Tim McCosker

Smart Speaker:  Okay, I know Jamie York. I think she's done a good job as a member of the public advocating for transparency, especially around sneaky lobbyists, who don't necessarily identify themselves as lobbyists when they come before bodies,  like her Neighborhood Council, with their perky upbeat ideas.  Her point is, she'd like to know who is speaking and how much they're being paid.   

She has been proposed to serve on Ethics by Kenneth Mejia, the controller.  Maybe he and or she could look into the suspicious CD4 callers who called in to support the Harvard Westlake Project without specifics about proximity to the project, other than to say they are CD4 callers... Um, if they don't give their names, fine, but there is a company hired by Harvard Westlake and Edgar Khalatian of Mayer Brown, btw, Khalatian is besties with Mr. Krekorian from the good old days, when Friends of Krekorian tk, was being pelted with maximum contributions from the Trustees of Harvard Westlake, a virtual  'who's who' of influential private equity enthusiasts... and obviously, great leaders! Go Wolverines!

Anyway, Marathon is available for money to help sway... the way things sound at planning meetings.  How do they do it?   No idea... So, HW bought some people to push an anti-public agenda in a really sleazy way?  Yup. 

Just like they hire experts to say it like it is... if your mantra is "we can because we think we can."  

Howza bout, "We can because we have an expert who says we can." 

Doesn't the school have to report how much they spend?  Yes, but as David Tristan and Heather Holt will explain, they don't have to report instantly.  It's several months later when their generosity... in the service of the bulldozer is made public. 

Why can't it be posted on the day they are at the meeting?

Remember Jamie was nominated for the position by Kenneth Mejia's office, which is home to Sergio Perez, one of the most arch, sinister, and comedic villains in Ethics Commission history.  Collar Flap incident

Ethics Commission history is a good area...  as legend has it, as a young boy, Paul Krekorian served on the Ethics Commission "a million years ago."  

Rob Quan offered a tip of the old hat to Krekorian on having Ethics cajones.  

I would call Paul Krekorian, one of the most effective con men I've ever observed in local government.   You, too, Mr. Harris Dawson, don't be upset. You're very naughty, but effective, too.   

And by the way, the public demonstrated some confusion about what modernizing the "weed abatement program" means.  Spoiler: It's not AI putting the goats out of business, it's very likely the city stepping up and charging more fees... to you the overburdened taxpayer! 

That's what modernizing means in Monica Rodriguez's book. 

Also, it was nice to once again celebrate Africa business day... but, with Danny Bakewell, who owns the publication that posts the rewards that the clerk runs nearly constantly.  They're not large payments, but there are a lot of them.  How do you think old Charlie Munger made his money at Daily Journal? Ads.   

Anyway, that's how people get rich... slow and steady.

Finally, Mr. City Attorney, I know you are new and quasi-losing it, but the proposed agreement between the City of LA and the LA county flood district ... and Harvard Westlake et al. needs to be made clear. The county counsel seems to be in crisis when I asked Davis-Tinkham for a written copy of the Joint Power River Authority recommendation... let's be extra diligent.  

Why? Because this has to do with the lungs of our community and we are not agreeing to two giant toxic doormats next to our fire station.  

Paul Krekorian, Council President:  Next...  

Ms. Hernandez came out with Item 11, "Colleagues..."

Cut:  There was a forty-five-minute discussion about the Mayfair hotel, and Weingart taking over for three years, despite bungling it previously.  

Paul Krekorian, Council President: We have two speakers on the cue, so we'll go to that at this moment.    

City Attorney: First caller, please go ahead.

Smart Speaker Thanks, it's Eric Preven, I think the Mayfair Hotel deal needs to be slowed down and lights turned on. Isn't Miguel Santana, the former CAO, running Weingart?  And I take note of Blumenfield's comment that 11 million dollars were paid to this hotel to fix it up following the Project Room key.  So paying twice... that's a disgusting detail, and the explanation about how you can keep the insurance payout and never fix your car... is not comforting.  This is housing, Blumenfield.  They ought to put the $11 million dollars into the repairs, or "on the screen" as we say in the movie business. 

I'm getting really tired of these hotel companies ripping us off all the time.  It's not appropriate, it's a lot of public money.

Sportsmen's Lodge took over $450,000 and then attempted a bait and switch!  Now they're keeping the money that they took to fix up the property and trying to bulldoze it to a Landfill in Barger's district.  Not happening.

Thank you to both Kevin DeLeon and Governor Newsom, by the way. Great work on the instant Mayfair fiasco.  And this may be a tough moment for Eunisses,  but she'll get it right eventually because she has integrity.  And thanks to Mcosker for trying to rework the old 'flying the plane as we build it' chestnut. No worries, buddy, flush it down.  We can always amend that one later. wink wink.

MVP in the week's POS competition:

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Pro Temp:  The city says we'll do this, we'll do that, and you look six months later and nobody is home and you can't get an answer to your question. You can only get excuses for why it isn't done.  And so I want to personally bear witness to that reality and commit with you and all the members of this council to changing it and making this a place where neighborhoods can count on their city government and with that... 

They voted on the motion as amended.

Item 1, a brief amendment by Curren Price, who is facing corruption charges by the DA, jumped up to recuse himself saying, "Because I own some real estate..." 

Once Price broke the ice, Jonathan Groat, the novice City Attorney, announced that CD2, Paul Krekorian, would also be refusing. Not sure why Krekorian didn't do it himself.  It's racist.

Smart Speaker:  Why is that? Can we know which RSO properties Krekorian manages by address?

Get him out of here.   

City Clerk:  Brief Announcement, Paul Krekorians' Rules committee will commence at 2 pm as opposed to 1 pm..

On Friday, a qualified ethics watchdog was suspiciously sandbagged. 

 

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Pro Temp: And we have an amendment to read into the record for Nithya Raman who is absent.  The amendment said, to include "feedback from stakeholders, property owners, and tenants..." 

Smart Speaker:  Sweet. 

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Pro Temp: Next.  Item 13. Jamie York to Ethics.

Ms. Rodriguez?

Council member Rodriguez:  I'd like to amend to move to disapprove, please.

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Pro Temp:  Excellent. I'll second that motion, any discussion, seeing none, you can open the roll.

(Unintelligible dialogue among Council and staff)

Paul Krekorian, Council President (soto): "Oh that's right, never mind, I'm wrong."

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Pro Temp: Open the roll... (snickering laughter) Close the roll, tabulate the vote.

City Clerk:  14 ayes.

 

The Los Angeles County Flood District & me!

Speaker: Thank you. This is an important issue and of course of great concern. If people's insurance rates are going to skyrocket. Look, these wildfires are dangerous and serious, as is the fire department's structural problem. 

However, attacking residents by creating these zones. Most of these fires -- for example, in Maui, they didn't do anything really wrong. The system failed, but it was just a mighty wind blowing through their neighborhood like a blowtorch.  

We will look back on it, but taking down trees has become an outrage beyond belief. Of course, things have to be trimmed back, but we can't cut down all the old trees. These ordinances are usually free to taxpayers unless they have had a code violation.  Going for 50, 100, and then $150 over three years for everybody is going to get tremendous pushback from residents who are already struggling. 

I know how much you love Mom and Pops.  The county's budget has doubled and soared by $20 billion since I have been watching since 2010. So why are we scrounging around to find money to take care of the bloody fire department?  Answer: Because a lot of these firefighters on quadruple OT, 24/7 down at Costco.  

Get back on topic.  I don't get it. This is an example of confused leadership. This is not -- I mean, the heart goes out to the department and Weights and Measures, too,  but fighting wildfires with fees and fines isn't going to cut it. 

During the Woolsey Fire 🔥 LA County chopper pilot literally saves Malibu road in the nick of time. Thank you    Malibu rescue...

Sup. Janice Hahn, chair: Thank you. 

Smart Speaker: Thank you!  This next closed session item is the Alliance lawsuit, or the Judge Carter situation, in which the county board appealed and went along with Mira Hashmall of Skip Miller's firm, Miller Barondess, to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, who said, Judge Carter was correct to do what he did and nix the county's proposed settlement.  The county's appeal was denied, and now they have to deal with Carter, who they insulted.  Instead of the 1,400 beds that the county proposed to provide -- Carter says, 3,000 is more like it,  and probably more by now.  Oy.

Politely, this is an absolute fiasco and we are worried that the County Board of Supervisors may be getting really bad advice from the County Counsel.  

Are you aware that Vanessa Bryant received more money for the trauma she endured than Harvard Westlake's Charles Munger paid to commandeer Weddington Golf and Tennis to put up the free world's largest private athletic complex?  

For example, the county's attorneys are dragging their feet re: the LA County Flood District in Studio City.  I have repeatedly sought whatever agreement is being proposed to hand over that public land to Harvard-Westlake, an imperious private sports academy where Eric Garcetti went.  The school which has deep pockets are currently attempting to eat up the last remaining open space by bulldozing the old trees in Studio City to build a giant athletic complex with a wall around it.  

Yes, a wall. 

Supervisor Horvath, we would appreciate it if you could help us get clarity about the county flood district.

We in Studio City are growing concerned that it's not okay for big donors from UCLA who are giving millions and having their way with the public land and bulldoze the indigenous people of Studio City.  Good luck with the lawsuit.

Coming up soon:

This Thursday, August 24th, at 8:30 am,  the Harvard-Westlake River Park project is once again on the agenda at VAN NUYS CITY HALL COUNCIL CHAMBER, 2ND FLOOR 14410 SYLVAN STREET VAN NUYS, CA 91401 

Parking: around City Hall is here.

Hopefully, we will succeed at persuading our longtime neighbors that a Hybrid Project would indeed fulfill the "purpose beyond ourselves" promise.

The project as conceived is overloaded and cannot overcome the lack of equity & public access for the residents of Studio City. 

This defect coupled with the city's failure to recognize this open space as in the General Plan, the considerable impacts of noise and traffic (on a fire station) as well as toxic materials, as well as heat island concerns created by this project's effort to bulldoze the tree canopy and wildlife to put up a toxic doormat and something as large as four soundstages on the NBC lot. 

 

 

(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.)