Thu, Jun

Conflicts R Us


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Eunisses said it, "We are throwing down for all of our communidades... no community gets left behind."  I was at Jon's Marketplace on Laurel Canyon in Valley Village and the hombres in the produce section were discussing Salvadoran week.  

I chimed in, "Este Semana!”  We shared a nice moment of pride and recognition.

Not far from that grocery store is the site where the whales and high rollers are planning to take over.  High rollers are treated with white gloves in Studio City. 

Paul Krekorian earned his keep, laying the groundwork for the High Rollers of Harvard-Westlake and their massive expansion into Studio City. 

I once stayed at the Mirage in Las Vegas as the guest of a very very very high roller. It was amazing. I just showed up, put down a credit card for incidentals... and plap. Every meal was comped.  

One day, the very very very high roller who liked to play Baccarat and make obscene bets in the sportsbook, ordered everything on the giant breakfast menu. 

Conspicuous consumption on a lavish scale in an attempt to enhance his prestige.

Sadly, many people are dazzled by such riches.  But riches alone won’t give you "rizz."

Rizz is the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2023 Word of the year. Their lexicographers had a contest, the public was invited to cut the shortlist list in half by weighing in on four head-to-head thematic pairings.  In the end, it came down to  “Swiftie” vs. “rizz.” 

Rizz is slang for “style, charm or attractiveness,” or “the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.”

The actor Tom Holland claimed not to have any rizz, sending the internet into a tizzy and inadvertently propelling the slang term to victory as Oxford’s Word of the Year.


Corrective Action: 

Dr. Pepper is getting in on gaming as well. During their college football ad-buy they gave away several $100,000 checks to students (whom they carefully handpicked) and then had compete at throwing footballs quickly and accurately into a hole 30 feet away. Then, two pre-approved competitors go head-to-head during halftime.  One walks away with a $100,000 scholarship.

Fun, until there was a mistake. But when Dr. Pepper was shown by the public that they had shortchanged one of the finalists by miscounting, Dr. Pepper made it right!  They declared both pre-selected candidates, approved. 

Dr. Pepper has rizz.

Supervisors trying to forget the County Animal Shelter crisis.


Public Comment:

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Chair Pro Temp: Now we will move to electronic and telephonic testimony.

City Clerk:  What items would you like to speak on?

Smart Speaker: It's Eric Preven from Studio City, I'd like to speak on the agenda and general public comment. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:   Okay, you will have two minutes for the agenda items that are open. That's eighteen and nineteen.  Up to one minute for each and one minute for general public comment. So, please begin with the items. 

Smart Speaker: OK, well a lot of people are vocal about their opposition to having to pull a police permit to have a short-term rental guest.  These moms and pops feel they don't want to be treated like a hotel and have to get involved with live scanning, police activity, and background checking.

There is an argument that I was reading about ... you know, that the police are desperately overworked.  There is a ton of overtime... and officers are torn in many directions.  Of course, we have some terrible protocols that we’ve been working on ineffectively for years.  But this particular measure is going to create more paperwork for police officers. I mean, what kind of a crazy idea is that? I mean, isn't there a different way to do it, than have cops who we need out on the beat, acting like clerks?   I don't know.  I feel like this is very fishy.  Frankly, as much as I love the hotel community and would love to stand with Unite Here…

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  Mr. Preven, you've used your one minute for number 19, please move on to item number 18.

Smart Speaker: Eighteen? Sure, but Unite Here needs to fight for Sportsmen’s Lodge, stat. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat: Yes, correct. 

Smart Speaker:  Do you have some preference for eighteen over nineteen? Did you not like my remarks?

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:   You've used your one minute for item 19 so please move on to number 18 or we can move you to general public comment if you like. 

Smart Speaker:   Alright, thank you.  Eighteen, to me, is one less than nineteen and it reminds me of dear Fauble and the good old days when one could speak on the items -- uninterrupted.    As you know, there will be a special meeting later today -- coming right up, which I am going to attend, so I want to make it very clear so you don’t exclude me the OG special meeting man from the special meeting. 

And speaking of special meetings, three cheers for Bob Blumenfield for stuffing thirty-four items on a special budget and innovation committee meeting, formerly budget and finance, on an even Monday.  

It is so disgusting when the council does this kind of crap and all of the FSRs and John Lee’s conflict waiver. Yuck.  

John Lee has a lawyer, Nossaman, LLP, and well, they do work for the City.  And now the City Attorney is asking that the law firm Nossaman or whatever, get a waiver of conflict.   Why?  Because they are representing Staffer B John Lee in his fight with the Ethics Commission?  Well -- (thinking) no!  No, no, no, he should get a lawyer who doesn't have fifteen separate conflicting cases with the City of Los Angeles. This smells to high heaven.  And where the hell is Krekorian?  He comes in and cuts it this way, cuts it that way... and then leaves the place a shambles and walks away. I don't get it. This is among the most shameful things I've ever heard.  

And the redistricting …the idea that we are going to wait another ten years... thanks to Krekorian's tidying up. I hope the ballot measure collapses.  

And, finally, I want to issue an award for the most annoying voice on Council for 2023... from the mighty 11th district, one of the very richest, Traci Park. Council member Park breaks a record eight years of uninterrupted victories by the very irritating Nury Martinez. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  Mr. Preven, your time has expired.

The City Attorney recommends that the City Council approve law firm Nossaman LLP’s request for waiver of its conflict occasioned by the firm’s representation of Los Angeles City Councilman John Lee in the pending matter of his investigation by the City’s Ethics Commission. 

Nossaman is presently representing the City in connection with various ongoing matters, including the following: 

  • Lawsuit involving the equestrian center at Griffith Park for which there was a successful trial in April 2023; 
  • Various eminent domain, real estate acquisition and tenant disputes on behalf of Los Angeles World Airports (“LAWA”); 
  • A construction services claim on behalf of LADWP; 
  • Advising LADWP regarding IP transactions and related matters and with regard to various real estate matters; R23-0419 
  • Providing advice to the City regarding potential insurance coverage for COVIDrelated injuries and concerning a dispute with Global Aerospace, Inc.; 
  • Federal and state legislative and policy advocacy services on behalf of the Harbor Department; 
  • Representing the Harbor Department in connection with a lawsuit brought by HPEC; 
  • Representing ACTA in connection with right-of-way acquisition matters and disposition and utility relocation matters; and 
  • Representing the City in connection with the expansion of the LA Convention Center, although activity on this matter has slowed. 

Smart Speaker: No thanks. 

LA Line Dancing:

The beloved City Hall reporter, big story breaker, and Harvard-Westlake alum, Julia Wick is moving off the local government beat and over to the state and national politics team. Julia will be covering the presidential race and some California congressional races. Before joining the Times team, she was editor-in-chief of LAist. 

Harvard-Westlake alum Samantha Millman is also stepping away from her role at the City Planning Commission after an eight-year run.  Millman, appointed to the post in 2015 by then Mayor and Harvard-Westlake alum Eric Garcetti, spent the last five years as the commission’s president, helping to bring Harvard-Westlake’s River Plan into existence with the help of fellow alum Caroline Choe, a prodigious fundraiser who also refused to recuse herself at the CPC.

Chris Thompson, Mayor Karen Bass’ first chief of staff bailed out of running her office just in time for the new Ethics rules to emerge.  He’ll be returning to the private sector according to the mayor’s office but … maybe Julia or another alum will break that story. 

Thompson previously served as senior vice president of governmental relations for LA28, the private group putting on the Olympic Games. LA28 has multiple Harvard-Westlake Trustees aboard.   

Still, Thompson agreed to stay away from any Olympics issues at the city for a year out of concern about the appearance of a conflict of interest.  

Smart Speaker:  Excellent. Now that Wick, Millman and Thompson are gone... bring on the new Ethics rules.

Mayoral staff will no longer be allowed to raise money for the Mayor’s Fund, or for other nonprofits and foundations associated with the city, including those associated with the Police and Fire departments, under new guidelines announced by Mayor Bass.  

Eric Garcetti helped launch the Mayor’s Fund in 2013, shortly after taking office. During his administration, workers in the mayor’s office helped raise money for the Fund, in some cases asking for donations from companies or individuals that did business with the city.

It operated right around the corner from the mayor’s office in City Hall. Donations and grants given to the fund helped pay for an array of programs — environmental initiatives, youth employment, education and COVID-19 relief measures — that were carried out by the city or independent groups. Often with untraceable gift cards. 

By contrast, the Mayor’s Fund under Karen Bass has focused exclusively on preventing homelessness. The Mayor’s Fund also moved its office out of City Hall, to show there is more independence from the city. 

Smart Speaker: Hey, where did Chris Thompson go? 

One can only imagine what Rick Jacobs extracted from people eager for mayoral support... Yuck.   Dangling tens of millions of gift cards.  Yuck. Have I reached my yuck limit yet?

Conway Collis, who joined the Mayor’s Fund as the chief executive earlier this year, said

Registered lobbyists and restricted developers are already barred from donating to political campaigns.  “What we were trying to avoid was ... people using donations to try to curry favor,” 

Smart Speaker:  Thank you, Collis, what about the Lobbyist Wives hack? Google Brianna Knabe, Linda Berghoff, and  Tina Khalatian.  And why not speak to David Tristan in Ethics?

Viva Sports Gambling:

The wheel Humans aren’t the only creatures on our planet that possess the gift of invention. But we have done a great job with sports gambling...  

Even Miriam Adelson and her trust sold $2 billion worth of shares in the Sands Corporation, a casino operator last week, to buy the Dallas Mavericks. The purchase still needs to be approved by the NBA's board of governors before becoming official.

By the way the NBA finals will be held in Las Vegas and in February, the NFL's marquee event — the Super Bowl — will also be played in Vegas. 

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that a law that prohibited sports gambling in most of the country was unconstitutional in 2018, why not? 

During that time, Las Vegas’s image shifted from a desert oasis with casinos and nightclubs under the thumb of the mob to an urban theme park where parents can bring their children. 

There’s a whole new demographic being exposed to sports gambling by visiting Las Vegas. 

GOAT Speech: 

Nithya Raman, Council member CD4:  In this city perhaps too frequently we have had cause to lose faith in our elected leaders, and one way to respond to that is by taking away our own power and giving it back to the people of Los Angeles.  

We will also have to do it on ethics, and land use too, but redistricting is an important first step. We have to step back and give the power back to the people.  Excited about pushing this forward... most urgent, and immediate, but first of many steps to regain the people's trust. Thank you to the council president for our shared experience... with redistricting. 

Smart Speaker:  What shared experience?

Tips for State Desk:  

23-1295 CFM, authorizing the Department of General Services to negotiate and execute a lease agreement between the City and Senator Seagate, LP, for a Mayor’s Field Office, located at 1121 L Street, Suite 505, Sacramento, California 95814.

Annoying question: Will LA Times office space be provided like at City Hall?

Tips for Toddlers:  Datum Development and Bollenbach Investments secured the development rights for a city-owned property at the intersection of 94th Street and Broadway in 2019.  

Datum is connected to the founder and principal of Archeon Group and DCX Developers, Chris Pak.  Mr.  Pak has over 35 years of experience in a multi-disciplined area of Development. 

Some may remember his wife Erin Pak, the head of a Koreatown-based healthcare organization served on the Ethics Commission from December 2012 - July 2015, at the behest of still not-indicted, Herb Wesson.  

Friday, Mr. Harris-Dawson was amending and extending to December 2024, an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with 94B, LLC, in regards to the development of that City-owned property located at 9402-9422 South Broadway, Los Angeles, California 90003. 

You know who loves ENA's... the great windbag from the South, Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Tips for Dogs:

Despite promising to save dogs, two Los Angeles County shelters are euthanizing more of them — nearly doubling the number killed in recent years, a crass and opportunistic LA Times investigation has found.  Why were they not covering this more consistently, and waiting until the holiday time to boost readers? Yuck. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:   That's enough with the yucks, sir.

Smart Speaker:  Fair enough. But it’s not just L.A. County.  Animal shelters across the U.S. are overflowing with cats and dogs in need of homes. 


Charles McNulty is the theater critic of the Los Angeles Times. He received his doctorate in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from the Yale School of Drama and recently went out of his way to summarize the year in theater.  

On the chance that he missed the theatrical adaptation of the acclaimed bestselling novel THE JEWISH DOG by Israeli author Asher Kravitz, I wanted to raise it up.   I saw it at The Wallis, and my understanding is that it was also at the Skirball, earlier.  

I saw the Yonatan Esterkin production that closed in November.  In a tour-de-force performance, Roy Abramsohn played a curious family dog recounting his years-long journey through the life-shattering forces of the Holocaust.

It is a profoundly human story that confronts the unimaginable with truly imaginative and inspired storytelling. Seven stars!!!

Conflicts R Us!

The City Attorney, in consultation with the Executive Director, City Ethics Commission, City Administrative Officer (CAO), and the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA), to provide a detailed report to the Council within 90 days on establishing a permanent Office of Compliance to proactively assist Councilmembers by identifying and avoiding potential conflicts of interest, and related matters by reviewing financial disclosure and other forms.   A motion from Yarosolavsky – Raman – Krekorian – Park.

Smart Speaker:  Staffer B John Lee not in on that motion?  I wonder if he and Curren D. Price should recuse themselves since they’re both quasi-in trouble?! 

To refresh the memory in 2017, John Lee publicly announced that he would be leaving his City position to work as a consultant in the private sector. Lobbyist A suggested a group trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Lee’s career change, and the trip began on June 1, 2017. 

Businessperson A provided Lee and the other members of the group with access to the “comps” that Businessperson A received from the resort and casino at which they stayed. The comps included an individual suite (living room and bedroom) for each member of the group, as well as transportation to and from the Las Vegas airport. 

Lee stayed at the hotel for two nights. Ethics Commission staff estimated that the value of Lee’s room, room amenities, and transportation to and from the airport was at least $300 for the first day and at least $300 for the second day. 

During the Las Vegas trip, Businessperson A provided Lee with an estimated $1,000 in casino gambling chips. Lee lost all of his gambling chips playing Baccarat. 

Businessperson A paid for dinner and drinks for the group at the casino, as well as bottle service and other perks at a nightclub. Developer A paid for additional bottle service at the nightclub. 

Ethics Commission staff estimated that the value of Lee’s dinner and drinks was $431.50 and that the value of Lee’s bottle service was $4,000 from Businessperson A and $1,666.67 from Developer A. 

Lee left his position as Englander’s Chief of Staff on June 12, 2017. On June 23, Lee filed his “leaving office” Form 700, which covered the period of January 1 through June 12 of that year. Lee signed his Form 700 under penalty of perjury but did not report any gifts.

Smart Speaker: Nothing?

Young Speakers Ban Things: 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:   Good morning, could you please remind us of the name you signed up under and the items you would like to speak on?

Young Speaker:  My name is Janandra Hamardi and I have a general public... speaking. 

City Attorney, Jonathan Groat:  Ok, so you have one minute.

Young Speaker:  Today I will be talking about how I think smoking should be banned in Los Angeles. Smoking pollutes not only our air but also our ocean.  All the cigarette butts fall into the ocean and make it so disgusting. There are animals in the ocean too, so they eat the cigarette butts, then choke and die. 

Do you want to know a fun fact?  Well, research shows that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are thrown in the ocean every year.  Cigarettes don't have any benefits.  All that cigarettes do is make people sick and die.  So, this is why I think we should ban cigarettes in Los Angeles.

Heather Hutt Debate No show!

Speaking in platitudes about the status quo and ab
out public safety without any real specifics... is a disservice to CD10. 


(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.)