ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - If it were a Bollywood dance number, former Mayor Eric Garcetti would shimmy in wearing an elaborate Emerald Green Jacquard Silk Kurta & Churidar Pyjama followed closely by a chorus of Mission employees eager to process visa applications.
Then, an inquisitive and inquisitive member of the press carrying a Sunday Edition of The Los Angeles Times would meander in ... curiously.
Smart Speaker: How about the Times hot chili sauce?
"Shut up, Mr. Preven."
Then, we recognize that the inquisitive journalist is an AI version of Courtney Subramanian of the LA Times.
She flits around the Ambassador fanning him and blowing questions in his ears - in several languages - strangely, not Hindi. Then, all of a sudden the Ambassador's Kurta begins to inflate and puff up like the US visa numbers...
Why Subramanian left out the fact that the U.S. Mission to India, under Mr. Garcetti's esteemed leadership, has surpassed one million visas processed in 2023 is an enduring mystery.
Indians sought 1 in 10 visa applications worldwide, so it's a big job. So is praising Garcetti, but Subramanian delivered.
Eric Garcetti Meeting Applicants. X@US Embassy in India
"Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti took over a visa counter in New Delhi to meet prospective US visa applicants and address their inquiries firsthand". "We are seeing extra visa applicants with the help of Ambassador Eric Garcetti, our special guest finger printer!"
If people only knew how close to being fingerprinted Garcetti may have been.
Subramanian wasted no time in lathering up the former mayor writing that it appeared like he was doing a great job, according to the Biden administration officials. They told her the "rookie diplomat has handled his job masterfully."
Smart Speaker: Aren't these the precise enablers who stuffed Garcetti through one of the most disgusting Senate confirmation hearings ever? Over the objection of dozens of credible whistleblowers?
Smart Speaker: Jaime Regalado? The professor emeritus of political science at Cal State Los Angeles? This man has a very long track record of normalizing and helping the Times bend the stories from say "conniving and calculating" toward "lucky and loyal" like Joe. [Note: Biden's approval ratings... room for improvement.]
The puffer piece in the Sunday Times was full of exciting updates like how Eric Garcetti is delighting in Delhi dinner parties and hosting “VVIPs,” or very very important persons, including the secretaries of State, Defense and Commerce and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has visited four times this year alone."
Nice to know that Garcetti feels important. He said, “You really feel like this is one of the centers of the universe right now.”
Great. And who cares if the Los Angeles Times forgot to mention that he's amping up visas?
Anyway, visas are good for tourism and tourism is good for corrupt local governments, so it's all part of the foreign policy experience and TOT.
TOT, is transit occupancy taxes, the ones that the many Patels and others who came down to speak against the proposed Hotel Ordinance that Paul Krekrorian is taking credit for landing with hotel unions, must pay.
TOT is best known to readers as the millions of dollars Richard Weintraub collected from Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel guests including my father, but then never paid to the city. Instead, when the city sued him to get the millions, he settled and paid far less, by $500,000.
The elected leader making the tough call and huge discount for Weintraub was Paul Krekorian. The same one who cut a below-market deal on the City Firehouse. He justified the decision to cut the tax because Weintraub's wife had a judgment lien against him, so the likelihood of collecting the full amount from Weintraub was cockblocked...by the wife. There's a word for that. Yuck.
PJ Shemtoob is a good city resource on all the shocking TOT tales and refunds. Rest assured John Usdan of Midwood and Sportsmen's Lodge knows all about it and I'm sure was given the whole story, chapter, and verse. Probably.
Nithya Raman of CD4 touting speed cameras.
Praising Assessor Prang:
Smart Speaker: Thank you to the board for those moving comments about Mr. Prang and obviously thank you to Prang. Yes, it's true there was a deeply offensive chapter in which there was absolute criminality and tons of taxpayer money got away.
We just caught a small amount of the subterfuge from within. But listen, the office has distinguished itself and they are international champions now. If a veteran is blind in both eyes and has the loss of use of two or more limbs or is 100% disabled as a result of an injury or disease — for veterans like this — they could be eligible for a tax exemption; feel free to reach out to the assessor's office. By the way, there are many many other opportunities that Mr. Prang can make available for people to take advantage of, you know lawful ways to lower their the tax burden. With that, what a cash register! Amirite?
Keep up the great work.
Sup. Janice Hahn, chair: Thank you, Mr. Preven. Next speaker,
Make It Stop: Thx.
Any parent who has a child on the autism spectrum knows a lot about sensory overload when an individual's senses—take in more information than their brain can process.
It can result in restlessness and discomfort. Covering eyes or ears. Stress, fear, or anxiety about the surroundings.
This happens at Los Los Angeles City Council meetings under Paul Krekorian's leadership. The councilmember excels in the back room making questionable deals out of public view (Kudos on avoiding the ballot measure) but when it comes to managing the public comment... room for improvement.
He's created a threatening, intolerant, hostile environment and he blames it all on a few antagonists.
Frankly, we need a better solution than turning our public meetings into a battlefield.
Under the category of big monoliths softening their approach in the interest of improving popularity, why not look to the business community for leadership?
Maybe their ideas about how to make retail environments more 'sensory-friendly' could be applied to the City Council meetings.
Walmart, the giant retailer announced this week that it will begin offering sensory-friendly hours daily at its stores from 8-10 a.m. Bravo.
Following a successful pilot program this summer, the retailer says stores will be less stimulating during these new sensory-friendly hours.
During the morning from 8-10 a.m., every one of the 4,717 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will lower lights, turn off the radio, and change TVs to static images. This will commence Friday, November 10 with no end date.
These changes may seem minor to some, but for others, they are really transformative.
Walmart said, “We love being part of a team that can help create a culture where everyone feels they belong.”
City Council, are you listening?
Smart Speaker: No, they are ignoring the speakers. Why is nobody listening? Do we even have a quorum?
The changes at Walmart arose thanks to individuals who shared their feedback about how their stores could help them "feel like they belong."
One commenter* said, “I have a child on the autism spectrum, so sensory overload is a lived experience in our house. ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and other forms of neurodiversity are often an invisible disability. It is meaningful to so many families that Walmart is implementing sensory-friendly hours.”
Very happy to see this. Evidently, California has 278 Walmarts. Not to shabby, though Texas has over 600.
*Disclosure: Commenter is a Walmart attorney and SVP of citizen engagement, originally from Belfast. She holds a B.A. from Princeton University, an M.Ed. from Harvard University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband, their six children, and their three dogs.
Still, I bet she'd have some ideas about how to improve the City Council's attitude toward civically engaged Angelenos who take the time to deliver public comments. Mayor Bass?
Attitude and Gratitude:
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Number ending in 2616 what items would you like to speak on? Caller ending in 2616 please press *6 or unfortunately, we will have to go on to the next caller.
Smart Speaker (gasping for air): I’m here, Eric Preven.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: We can hear you.
Smart Speaker (panting like a dog): Yeah, that was very fishy by the way. I’d like to speak on the available items as well as a general public comment. Let me be very clear, I want to speak on item 34. That’s the item that I want to speak on.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: So, item 34 is not open for public comment but you can speak to it during general. But you have three minutes for the items and one minute for general —
Smart Speaker: It should be open
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: 26 through 32…
Smart Speaker: No, I am not going to speak to them, I only want to speak to 34. Thirty-four.
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: You can begin with the items.
Smart Speaker: I only want to speak on thirty-four (34).
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Okay, then you have one minute for general public comment.
Smart Speaker: That’s a violation of the Brown Act so I’ll explain why. Because when you introduced the $1.8 million, there was no opportunity for the public to give a comment, and that is new information. That’s different than what was posted on the agenda, for the public to examine. It’s called a substantial amendment.
And what we would say is… what a shame.
Matt Garza was a cop. He worked on the Detail for the mayor. Eric Garcetti knew Rick Jacobs was grabbing his ass and everybody else's. It was appalling beyond belief. The mayor’s office was paying millions of dollars to Peace Over Violence to consult on sexual harassment in the office and yet when this came up the city fought the cop hard. For years. An officer came forward and said “I can’t handle it anymore” and they tried to destroy him. The abuse. And now that Garcetti is in India, we’re paying Officer Garza $1.8 million to settle the case and not one of you said a word.
Do you realize the taxpayers probably spent a huge fortune in private attorney fees protecting the mayor's office? I’d like to see the Brown Act examined closely as to this practice of disclosing huge settlements without any opportunity for the public to comment.
We’ll do a little note to the clerk — (and bring a lawsuit.)
City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Mr. Preven, you’re time has expired.
Traci Park's favorite veteran was honored and recognized by City Council, on the day Krekorian shoved through a $1.8 million payout re: sexual harassment in the Mayor's office.
From: [email protected]
To: Strefan Fauble
Cc: [email protected], David Michaelson
Thu, Nov 9 at 10:10 AM
Subject: Brown Act: 23-1079
Please provide the backup or settlement document for the below item that was approved without public comment yesterday (November 8). I also plan to seek a judicial remedy over the denial of public comment.
That would be obviated, naturally, by a new hearing with the substantially amended information, included this time. Specifically, the terms of settlement including the $1,800,000.
(34) 23-1079 The City Council may recess to Closed Session, pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1), to confer with its legal counsel relative to the case entitled Matthew Garza v. City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. 20STCV26305. (This matter arises from Plaintiff’s claims of a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and failure to prevent harassment.)
Please also provide any attorney contracts or invoices related to legal defense for the Los Angeles City Mayor's Office from the date the city learned that Mr. Garza intended to file a lawsuit to November 1, 2023. [This should include other matters for which the Mayor's office engaged the council, not just the ones labeled as to the "Matt Garza" matter. Let's meet and confer about how to tally and value the in-house city attorney hours.
Please do not delay the provision of the first document while you scrounge around to put together the legal costs for the harassment scandal.
(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.)