Mon, May



ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - City Attorney: You have three minutes for the items and the items are 1 and 16 - 22. Please begin with the items.

Smart Speaker:  Okay, I think it is quite touching that the Valley Village is celebrating... it’s 20th anniversary. It’s an adorable little hamlet in the valley, like many other indigenous neighborhoods throughout council district two.  This territory has been lightly mismanaged by Paul Krekorian, until recently.  

Then, the giant bait and switch and redistricting took place. Some will recall the not-so-great Karo Torossian banging his fist about the Brown Act and the proposed maps, and yet it was clear …he doth protest too much.  All of the controversial trouble spots in CD2 for which they’d raised money to get done, miraculously appeared in the backyard of Nithya Raman’s new CD4.

A perfect crime. Raman could claim that she had nothing to do with it, and she didn’t!  This was a brilliant chess move -- a handoff to a player, who was not yet even in the game.

Now, Raman is in the game.  And we’re hoping that she will come forward and recognize that the legitimate indigenous people of Studio City… the ones who moved there or grew up there for decades. 

As we recognize our Chumash ancestors, and with that, I’d like to take a moment to thank City Council member Eunisses Hernandez for putting together such an organic feeling and dance party down at City Hall, today.  It was moving, even deeply moving.

But we still have to stick up for, the way Katy Yaroslavsky did for the mountain people of CD5, the ordinary mom and pops of Studio City.  We aren't as rich as old Pritzker, but we’re the good guy local townies, who play fair and square and don’t stomach westside bullies.

It was noted in the local press that Charlie Munger who is almost 100 years old made another gift:  He is the guy who paid for the ‘taking’ of our charming public amenity in Studio City.

Munger just coughed up another 40 million in Buffet stock to provide housing, for the homeless. No. For Families? No. 

He’s donating to fund housing for visiting professors at the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena. 

If you haven’t been, it’s a pleasant art enclave and tribute to railroad robber barons.  They have a bitchin’ collection of succulents and are a real national treasure as it relates to the corruption of California. Read all about it. 

Anyway, his forty million is to go for the housing of professors who will come from all over the world and need a place to stay while loafing around the Huntington and studying California.  The cost of living in Pasadena has risen too high. 

Of course, the people support California, and studying it is certainly a good idea, but ... Munger should realize that invading Studio City to land an athletic complex in our golf and tennis is anti-California.  It’s pro Pritzker, but California s bigger. He’s a Chicago Billionaire. 

Anyway, hats off to Edgar Khalatian, who has been leading the prevarication charge on the Harvard-Westlake debacle from Mayer Brown. 

City Attorney: Mr. Preven, which items are you speaking on? 

Smart Speaker:   Sure, I said prevarication. It means lying, basically.  When Khalatian et al. claim that Harvard-Westlake are giving a gift to the public by making this great amenity available.  This is false.

As for the tract maps and the zone changes needed, we have Mark Pestrella, and he has to give a new county flood district lease to the imperious academy for Harvard-Westlake to get what they want. 

In “Simpsons” terms.  Burns (played by Charlie Munger) is trying to take over Homer's golf and tennis courts and open space.  In this episode, Burns is exposed as a cheater.  Doh! 


We certainly hope that Harvard-Westlake and their aggressive team of tailgaters and winners will come to their senses and shift their collective focus to the Sepulveda Basin, where there is more space, and the community has been clamoring for more athletic facilities.

We interrupt life as we know it...  BREAKING

A Surprise Attack: Hamas mounted a stunning and highly coordinated invasion of Israel, leading to an all-out war.

The most sweeping invasion of Israeli territory in 50 years has delivered a psychological shock to Israel so great that its very foundations are being questioned. 

Panic and disbelief rippled throughout Israel and Gaza as ordinary citizens tried to make sense of what was happening. “The children were terrified,” one woman said.  

Hamas is holding an estimated 150 hostages, according to the Israeli authorities.

The surprise attack represented a stunning intelligence failure by Israel.

The Pentagon announced that it was sending munitions to Israel and moving Navy warships closer to the country in a show of support.  

The Hamas attack is a sign that the world is in the midst of a transition to a multipolar world order.

David Leonhardt suggested in the New York Times, Russia has started the largest war in Europe since World War II.  China has become more bellicose toward Taiwan.  India has embraced a virulent nationalism… and now this. 

“The United States is no longer the dominant power it once was, and no replacement has emerged. As a result, political leaders in many places feel emboldened to assert their own interests, believing the benefits of aggressive action may outweigh the costs.”

Soon after the attack, Donald Trump and other Republicans tried to cast blame on President Biden, saying that a hostage release deal with Iran helped to finance the assault. This is false.

Back to our regular coverage: 

As for my general public comment, I’d like to thank the city council in particular, Nithya Raman, Eunisses Hernandez, even Paul Krekorian and CLA spinner, John Wickham. 

John Wickham mansplains his understanding of the plan to choose redistricting commissioners. 


This brave group has worked tirelessly and in circles to figure out a protocol for the selection of commissioners.  


I know it makes no sense, Krekorian thinks a panel led by him, is independent. 

Frankly, this is absurd, and everyone knows it.  

The shocker, Krekorian’s antidote to the obvious self-interest is to have the City Clerk and City Ethics Commission handle things. 

Nithya Raman is reportedly highly intelligent, but she must know that the presumption of regularity in the clerk’s office has been punctured long ago. The City Clerk and Ethics have been complicitors and allies of the instant and previous corrupt regime. Nothing has changed.

Herb Wesson handed off to Nury Martinez who handed off to Paul Krekorian who took all the fun rides at Wesson World.  

And when Karen Bass hired Eric Garcetti’s staff, and the city attorney, David Michaelson to join her office — this guy not only knows where the bodies are buried, he’s the bloody undertaker!  — what else do you need to know?

Bass apparently told Nury Martinez when the racist audio tape, broke, just weeks before her election, that she thought the scandal would “blow over in about one or two days.”

Well, estimation is the bane of city mayors, but regardless, the redistricting process cannot and should not be overseen by the very same LA City Ethics / City Clerk puppet show…we’ve come to respect.

Don’t get me wrong, Krekorian’s self-serving redistricting committee has served a purpose, and the time spent deliberating (playing) will be useful.  

Once commissioners meet basic objective criteria, like be able to read, write, handle and understand big data, and of course be civically engaged, the City Clerk and Ethics will handle the rest.   

Well, who selects?   

Random from a pool of qualified applicants.  

Won’t the city insiders handle everything? 


Selection from the Latin sēlēctiō “the act of choosing out,” is the action or fact of carefully choosing someone or something as being the best or most suitable.

The process for appointing LA City Ethics commissioners typically involves the following:  

The Mayor, the City Attorney, the Controller, the President of the Council and the President Pro Tem of the Council shall each appoint one member to the commission. All appointments are subject to confirmation by a majority vote of the Council. 

That's it! 

Of course, it's conceivable that an Ethics commissioner might decide to lead a charge to topple the local government from within by exposing striking fraud waste and abuse.  

He or she might loosen the sandal strap on the giant 17-headed obelisk, but I would not count on it. 

The candidates who ultimately make it onto the commission are weebles! They wobble, but they won't fall down. 

The City electeds have a deep well or pool, as John Wickham likes to refer to it, of well-wishers and team players. 

This is very likely why Jamie York was jettisoned — she won’t wobble, she’d take strong action.   And so it goes…

Look at the history of the great commissioners in the City of Los Angeles:  Samantha Millman and Caroline Choe of Harvard-Westlake (alum) Planning Commission (w/out recusal), Rita Villa, Edgar Khalatian, Lisa Sarkin, Ben Besley, Lisa Karadjian even Tamar Galatzan's husband or brother, who served on the Prop K LVNOC that was devised and packed to rubber-stamp a nasty expensive expansion into Studio City’s last remaining open spaces, under the tattered banner “We deserve our fair share in the valley!”

Smart Speaker:  But nobody wants a giant net zero high school regulation basketball court in the open space?  We have a nice outdoor hoop set up at Studio City Recreation Center anyway.

All of the above appointments were made by Eric Garcetti Herb Wesson Nury Martinez or Paul Krekorian and they all know precisely who they are serving. 

Dumb Speaker: The people of Los Angeles?

Smart Speaker:  No, the council member who appointed them. Obviously. It's human nature or call it local politics. You only bite the hand that feeds you—

Smart Speaker:  When facing indictment? 

Next item. 

FAQ:  Don't Bodg Down 

In March, the Dalai Lama, the foremost Tibetan Buddhist leader, introduced an eight-year-old boy as the Bogd at a ceremony in India in front of throngs of worshipers. 

The Bogd is considered one of the most important senior positions in Tibetan Buddhism, but it is not one of the three most important figures overall.  Something like the City Controller...

In the early 20th century, a Tibetan-born Bogd (pronounced bogged) was the theocratic ruler of Mongolia, revered as a god-king figure. 

That was then, this is now and the title still adorns banks, cashmere boutiques, and auto dealerships. When someone sneezes, Mongolians say “Bogd bless you.” 

But there have always been complaints that the selections of lamas have been about politics and sometimes corruption.  

For one thing, the boy's parents pushed back. They argued that this reincarnation process had robbed their son of his rights. 

A. Altannar had been born into business royalty.  Before he was identified as Mongolia’s spiritual leader, he might have been picked to someday lead the giant mining company from its steel-and-glass headquarters in the country’s capital.

He was just a toddler when everything changed. On a visit to a vast monastery in the capital city, his father brought him and his twin brother into a room where they and seven other boys were given a secret test.  

This is like a closed session to discuss city litigations. 

In this particular Bogd test, the children were shown a table strewn with religious objects. Some of them refused to leave their parents’ sides. Others were drawn to the colorful candy that had been placed as distractions.

The New York Times reported that this particular child, A. Altannar, was quite different. He picked out a set of prayer beads and put it around his neck. He rang a bell used for meditation. He walked over to a monk in the room and playfully climbed on his legs. 

The family demanded the monks find another boy. 

The monks said they would try, but the Dalai Lama himself said no. This is something like a mayoral veto!  

Eventually, they decided to try to strike a balance. The monks could instruct the boy as to the ways of the Bogd if he could also continue with his regular education. 

Sequel Alert: This particular Dalai Lama mini-me has a twin brother.  Two for the price of one.  The twins dress identically and receive the same religious training as if both were the Bogd.   


Coming soon to theaters near you:  The Backup Bogd! 

The point is that the selection process, as with any important ministerial role, is often fraught. 

Essential De-selection:

Who selects which Ethics complaints to investigate? ["Staff, silly!"]

Who selects which public speakers get to speak at the city council?  ["We'll take five minutes of call-in speakers"]

Who selects the camera angle that shows the public speakers speaking? ["Wesson/Martinez/Krekorian"]

The City Clerk and the LA City Ethics Commission do read and write, so they can certainly evaluate objective criteria but when it comes to the selection itself... it should be a public process with challenges (so due process) and there should be transparent criteria for commissioner selection. 

Frankly, the City Clerk who runs the city elections (poorly) has already demonstrated her dislike of transparency. 

During the 2020 election cycle, the work her office did checking signature petitions for validity was abhorrent. 

This comes on the heels of several counter-transparency initiatives launched by her office, herehere, and here.

We must prioritize merit, expertise, and impartiality while minimizing political influence in the selection process.   

An independent selection committee composed of experts and stakeholders who are not directly affiliated with the government or organization is the best plan.  A so-called farm out.   Sort of like the LA Press Club that sends the finalist manuscripts to Cleveland and Miami for judging by local journalists there.  

Of course, nothing is perfect. I wonder if AI would be helpful in this!


(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.)