ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Smart Speaker: Thank you Supervisors and what an appropriate and moving recognition of reverend James Lawson. This is a significant civil rights leader, not just on a local basis to be clear, on a national level. This is a great man and he's 95 years old and he looks fantastic. I was very warmed up to hear about his loving relationship with his wife. This is a great celebration and it is very nice to recognize those who have come before...
I know reverend Lawson has worked out at CSUN which is out in the valley not far from the LA River where we need help in the civil rights space because a bunch of well-off people from the hills known as the Harvard Westlake Trustees are trying to take over what is an open accessible public space in the valley and they're doing it with money and influence over our leaders, including some of the leaders sitting on the dais here today, our. wonderful county board of supervisors. We need to hold firm and stand up for what's fair and equitable. With Mr. Lawson we know we have an ally --
Sup. Janice Hahn, Chair: Thank you. Your time has expired. Next speaker, please.
City Hallers United:
ON THE PHONE
Smart Speaker: Yeah I'd like to speak on the available items and also a general public comment.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: I'm sorry, I think I heard you say general public comment.
Smart Speaker: No, I said I'd like to speak on the available items and a general public comment.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: You have three minutes for the items and one minute for general public comment.
Please begin with the items.
Smart Speaker: What are the items that are available?
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: The items that are open for public comment are 1 and 17-25
Smart Speaker: Okay, don't run my time while you're talking. Thank you.
17 through 25 are mostly REAP, which is absolutely snoozy for the general public in city meetings, but item 22 is interesting. Here you have, on Bob Blumenfield's birthday, the innovative work of the council president Krekorian, who right on the heels of the El Grito what-have-you, which was deeply moving... I will say that. To have the three Rodriguezs together was so lovely and --
From Left to Right, Guillermo Rodriguez of the Jimmy Kimmel Show, Monica Rodriguez of CD7, Daniel Tarica, GM of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and Ruben Rodriguez, executive director of Pueblo y Salud.
Paul Krekorian, Council President: Are we going to bring it to the agenda soon, Mr. Preven?
Smart Speaker: Item 22, you made a small revision and amended it on the fly, which I thought was skillfully done, because first Groat paused to interrupt Mr. Spindler, and then he rolled out the little Krekorian amendment seconded by Blumenfield. Happy Birthday, sir.
But the motion to change the threshold for written contracts at city hall - the real movers and shakers are Heather Hutt and Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a subsidiary of Herb Wesson Jr.
They want it so you don't have to do a written contract now unless it's 25 grand or more. Currently, you need a written contract for anything over five thousand. This means all the contracts above five but below twenty-five... are now on the honor system. You know, no contract is required.
So good work, Mr. Groat. The public really appreciates you making it easier for people to rip us off.
Never mind, the sweetheart deal for the airport and the port -- what? They don't need accountability because...? What? Boats and airplanes ... the threshold over there is no written contract required under $100,000... I assume Tim McCosker of the one-five helped with that little celebration of independence.
And Mr. Groat, when you snuck in the little amendment following your sneaky admonishment of the puppet, you edited the phrase: Approval as to Form and Legality.
You said, “Please cut, and legality." Not encouraging, Groat.
This is clearly a criminal enterprise and everybody knows it but I do want to say you're all doing a very nice job on the recognitions of the hand-picked besties and civil rights leaders. It has been robust and it’s very nice that Ms. Rodriguez will be leading a call-and-cry re-enactment on the steps. Good stuff. Muchos Gracias.
As for the Unsung Heroes exhibit, on the bridge to Controller Mejia's office. We look forward to the show, and Mr. Tarica the new cultural heritage fellow, has not screwed up yet, so this is encouraging. Cultural-historical projects are very important. Interesting transition from a Mitch O’Farrell operation to a Monica Rodriguez facility… What happened to Hugo?
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Sit down, Mr. Preven.
Smart Speaker: I'm on the telephone, Sir, get it together. Regarding the ethics commission I don't know what to say, you've got just two ethics commissioners which is not even a quorum. It’s very sad.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Mr. Preven, I'm not sure what item you are speaking on. The Ethics Commission is not on the agenda.
Smart Speaker: Of course not.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: So I am going to move you to public comment.
Smart Speaker: Oh, that's a good idea. Let's do that. Groat, when you have a good idea you should be cited, properly. Good idea.
The Ethics Commission has two people on it, so there's no quorum. I know that Alex Johnson has been nominated. He's BFFs with Mark Ridley-Thomas, MRT - so this elevates things to a travesty of a mockery of two shams. The city council blocked Jamie York from serving because "they don't like campaign fundraisers?” Huh?
I believe Alex Johnson is a prodigious campaign fundraiser, is he not? C'mon, get it together. How is it that you are simply unable to run our city properly? I'd like to point out that the Ethics Commission in the State of New York is also facing headwinds.
Here's my little cheat sheet on redistricting. Number one: Paul Krekorian's views do not constitute independent oversight.
Waiting until 2032 when translated to rank-and-file public, will elicit a storming of city hall commensurate with George Floyd.
Paul Krekorian, Council President: Next caller, please.
New York City Corruption:
Smart Speaker: Did you see the article in the New York Times about Eric Ulrich, the allegedly crooked New York City councilman who Mayor Eric Adams appointed as a senior adviser and, finally, as his commissioner of the Department of Buildings? For benchmarking that's comparable to what we in Los Angeles know as Planning and Land-use and Building and Safety rolled up into one corruption pastry. Like a calzone.
Eric Ulrich is facing 16 felony charges including counts of conspiracy and bribe-taking, alongside five other men who prosecutors say participated in the scheme.
The District Attorney in New York, Alvin Bragg, characterizes Mr. Ulrich as a "one-stop fixer" who, after rising to the highest levels of municipal government, reached into more than a half-dozen agencies to "expedite restaurant and building inspections, assist with licensing problems and arrange jobs and raises."
Ray Chan was the one-stop fixer for Mayor Eric Garcetti's team. They were highly efficient at facilitating -- and many of the old gang have stayed on with Karen Bass--
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: I am going to send you to general.
Smart Speaker: It certainly does not look good for Mr. Ulrich, whose lawyers said, "his integrity remains intact," but think about the poor Mayor, Eric Adams. He stuck his neck out for this guy. And think about poor Paul Krekorian, who has been close to every single indicted character and yet manages a Teflon-style performance —
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: I am not sure which item you are speaking on.
Smart Speaker: It's hard to tell. The DA's office said, “When a public official puts ...the City up for sale and uses their government office, influence and relationships to enrich themselves, they will be held accountable.”
Four of the indictments charged Mr. Ulrich and various friends and associates with bribery and corruption-related crimes.
The fifth accused him of failing to disclose his ill-gotten gains on financial disclosure forms. Here in Los Angeles we are familiar with Form 700 stories. They're not satisfying at all. Whether it be Curren D. Price misplacing his wife or Mitchell Englander forgetting to declare his bribe, this is not what people dream about when they dream about enforcement. All made worse as the public routinely watched Blumenfield rubber stamp structural corruption like the 21st amendment to the fetid Motorola contract (alluded to last week).
Court papers in New York said the bribes bestowed on Mr. Ulrich included "a bespoke suit, artwork and a discounted apartment in a luxury beachfront building in Queens where Mr. Ulrich lived."
One can only imagine what kind of “off-market housing arrangements” can be made in a town like LA where luxury housing rentals are falling from the sky almost as quickly as well-off USC students are arriving eager to help defray the cost of all the corruption.
Ulrich's premium Mets season ticket package was valued at nearly $10,000. This will remind me to ask Stuart Waldman of VICA for a chart of all the elected officials' ticket packages - all the Varsity Blues protagonists from Harvard Westlake, but all the schools would be more equitable. We don’t want to discriminate.
The Livreri brothers and Mr. Mazzio were said to have given Mr. Ulrich cash that he used in part to fund his gambling at casinos and at the 89th Street Cafe, an illegal gambling club, according to the court papers.
Naturally, gambling is very popular among corrupt municipal leaders. Jose Huizar got cold feet in a casino in Las Vegas and Mitchell Englander took cash in the men's room, which is zeitgeisty. Staffer B John Lee...
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: You're off-topic.
Smart Speaker: Yes. Apparently, a Brooklyn real estate developer was accused of attempting to use his relationship with Mr. Ulrich to influence the department to expedite requests for his firm, the Marcal Group, and of pushing the Department of City Planning to make a zoning change in Rockaway Park.
Zoning changes are also zeitgeisty. [Hello, Edgar Khalatian, Samantha Millman, Caroline Choe]... but the only way to prevent a powerful entity like Harvard-Westlake from getting what it wants is to turn the lights on. Trustees prefer darkness like vampires.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: You're off-topic.
Olivia Rodrigo - vampire (Official Video)
Harvard-Westlake: Zoning Changes $_____
I came across a 2012 article about private schools and including Harvard-Westlake that hold forth constantly about social justice while, and they used this example, dropping "$40 million on a new off-campus athletic complex."
Forty million? Rufkm. Correction: Yer a hundred million dollars short! Tony Pritzker and wife reportedly have committed over $100 million.
This article I was reading against my will refers to the school's annual report which is sent to every Harvard-Westlake family listing parents’ donations.
In 2020, the “Heritage Circle” group—gifts of $100,000 or more—included Viveca Paulin-Ferrell and Will Ferrell. A red paw next to Jeanne and Tony Pritzker’s names indicated more than a decade of cumulative giving."
What? How is "If yer not, first, yer last" Ricky Bobby’s daddy, the man who invented "Funny or Die" doing up on the wall at Harvard Westlake?
The real Ricky Bobby’s daddy, Gary Cole, was a Studio City Recreation Center dad dba Beeman Park ffs.
I’m not going to do the math, but I do remember Will Ferrel had a daughter named Ruby. I guess she must be smart. Years ago, she starred as a child in a funny bit ...before Will Ferrel bailed out on the good people of Studio City. jk srsly
Actually, I haven’t reached out, but if Will Ferrel finds out what Tony Pritzker and Charlie Munger are going to do to Studio City… he’s not going to find it funny.
And Tom McNulty who seems to be paying attention, where the hell is Adam Sandler on this?
I confess to being fortunate enough to have sent my children to neighboring private high schools, so I am familiar with the underlying tone, "Parents say that [Harvard-Westlake] is a school where giving more gets you more. Big donors get invitations to special dinners, and, most importantly, time and attention from the people in charge."
“These schools are the privilege of the privilege of the privilege. They say nonstop that they are all about inclusion. But they are by definition exclusive.
"These schools are for the tippity top of society."
Will the tippity top please stand up? Please stand up. Please stand up.
Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven, you may begin.
Smart Speaker: Thank you. This is very very nice. First of all, the unincorporated area, very important and many of us are remembering as this comes up, Mike Antonovich, who during a feisty period, was introducing himself as the Mayor of Los Angeles County that was intended to piss off Antonio Villaraigosa a little bit.
What I would recommend, is part of rolling out the newsletter, which I think is a must-do, it is not a “maybe" that's a -- “let's do it quickly and efficiently.” But let's also rebrand the office of the Mayor, so that all of the very nice Supervisors can take -- when they are the chair, they become the Mayor of the County of the Unincorporated Area. And what we do is we celebrate all together and then we each give a call to the Trustees at Harvard Westlake and encourage them to NOT do the giant sports complex in Studio City, but rather, why not do it out in the Sepulveda Basin, where everybody loves the Olympics. Let's try that. I don't know. I think this is a great opportunity to celebrate the unincorporated area that desperately needs its own dedicated series of website(s).
Sup. Janice Hahn, Chair: thank you, Eric. Next speaker.
Smart Speaker: Thank you, by the way.
Moderator: Our next participant is Eric Preven. You may begin.
Smart Speaker: Thank you. And thank you for this worker initiative. It is nice to see the not-for-profit attorneys zipping in there to help the mom and pops. But it would be nice to know what they are helping them with.
I do like the idea of building wealth, as long as it is not on the backs of the workers, which obviously this is not. So great work.
Kudos on squeezing in a small lunch during some of these longer stretches of public comment, madame chair. And just as it relates to that, I am wondering if there's any other method we can deploy ... than the lengthiest of all meeting methods. Just curious.
Mainly we should all team up and, by we, I mean all you Supervisors, agree not to repeat yourselves so much.
This group has delivered some highly repetitive commentaries, which is very good news because there's no shortage of things to say. So, thank you. The question is do we need to say it five times, slowly and repeatedly?
It's a fair question. I realize it’s been several weeks off, and the accidental on-purpose scheduled and then canceled closed session, but I’m worried that overloading these meetings with 111 items is going to hurt the brand.
We need “more” shorter meetings. How about four, “fifty-item” meetings every month? That way, Supervisor Horvath, who has a lot on her plate and a lot to say over and over again can offer her complete and undivided attention to Harvard-Westlake.
And madame chair, you’ll be able to listen attentively or if you prefer wolf something down during the back nine of the public comment. Let’s call that, the discretion of the chair. Or shall we say, Mayor!
Thank you, for this, Mayor Hahn, and good luck with all these lawyers.
Sup. Janice Hahn, Chair: Is he advocating for smaller -- shorter -- this is from someone who speaks on every item?
Thank you, Mr. Preven. Who is with me on that? Okay. Next speaker, please.
Moderator: Our next participant is Dr. Genevieve Clavreul, you may begin.
Genevieve Clavreul: Yes. Good afternoon. I have been disconnected three times today. And every time I tried to go back in, AT&T said, “Wait a minute” and the AT&T person will be back with you. And they don't come back. Three times. Anyway, I think it is a great idea and thank you for the good work you are doing. But I am not pleased with AT&T’s work at all. So I think we need to look at that a little more carefully because that is really inappropriate to be disconnected all the time, and then when you try to go back in, they tell you we will be back, and they never come back. So thank you.
Sup. Janice Hahn, Chair: Thank you. Next speaker, please.
Moderator: Our next participant is Eric Preven. You may begin.
Smart Speaker: It's Eric Preven and I think this is very, very important, cleaning up the beaches is one of the key activities following a storm, and as I think Mark Pestrella, the head of County Public Works tried to explain, at some point, you’ve got to open it up and let it flow. Mark, where is the proposed lease for the county flood district near the golf and tennis? RED FLAG
We try to stay away from the toxic stuff because there is technology and money and the Malibu Triathlon. Supervisor Horvath, the triathlon has always been a great opportunity for 3rd district fundraising up the yin-yang for the partial benefit of children's hospital. But maybe we could bend a little of that to take care of our glorious beaches, the county charges like $22 for an Angeleno to park. Which is shameful. How about people can park for free if they help clean up?
This makes me want to go back to the Hollywood Bowl rate card and double-check how much that costs following Sheila Kuehl’s pedal-to-the-metal price hikes over nearly a decade.
I propose that we make it clear that everyone is welcome on any beach in California. All county beaches and city beaches in California are open to the public whether you live there or not.
Sup. Lindsey P. Horvath: We're going to speakers in the hall. Your time has expired.
Smart Speaker: Thank you, again.
(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.)