Thu, Jun

An Orwellian Wonderland


ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 describes an event where the repressive fictitious government of Oceania announced the good news that each citizen’s weekly chocolate ration will be increased from 30 grams to 20 grams.  Orwell’s point was that, by repeatedly stating an untruth, the government made an untrue statement true – to the detriment of the citizenry.  This happens all the time at city hall. 

Hugh Esten, who works as the Chief Spin officer for Council President Paul Krekorian (Director of Communications), is tirelessly combatting the perception that Krekorian is a petty pink-faced dictator, as he is frequently referred to in the chambers.   

Nobody knows if Mr. Esten is heading the way of LA Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, who was axed after a forty-point loss to the Raiders.  

First, a brief narrative history of the CD2 media job.  Mr. Esten's predecessor, Ian Thompson moved to the City Attorney's office where he is currently the chief of staff. Impressive. 

When Mr. Thompson worked for Paul Krekorian in CD2, he envisioned, implemented, and managed communications, press and social media strategies for Councilmember Krekorian. 

He managed press relationships, drafted press releases, and quotes/statements, and was the official spokesperson for the Councilmember in his role for the city and as a Metro and Metrolink board member. 

Thompson worked directly with city departments and agencies to convey information to Los Angeles residents. 

He wrote and approved all speeches and content for the Councilmember’s public appearances.

The chap before Thompson was Jeremy Oberstein. Oberstein, who is married to Serena Oberstein a CD12 candidate who was removed from a ticket in 2020 for a conflict of interest, even though she followed the city attorney's advice, eventually moved to the LAFD office of spin. Both Oberstein and Thompson did stints in Ron Galperin's highly ineffective City Controller's office.

Scholars of Mr. Krekorian's checkered past will recall the apology Krekorian was forced to issue for the incident involving a fake letter posted by Mr. Oberstein on his “Ask Paul” Patch column.   

Krekorian apologized, “This clearly was an error in judgment and should not have happened. I regret and take responsibility for my office’s error, and we have taken steps to ensure that nothing like this will occur again.”  

Krekorian also noted that he had been unaware that the question over digital billboards – which came from “Tracy from Studio City” – was fake.  

The controversy started when Mr. Oberstein acknowledged that he crafted the Tracy letter based on what he described as an aggregate of local opinions. 

The column allowed Krekorian to address digital billboards, a hot-button issue at City Hall, and defend himself against a negative Los Angeles Times editorial that criticized the councilman over his work with the billboard companies.  

At the time, Krekorian told the Daily News, that the “error was not made maliciously or with any intent to mislead anyone. To the contrary, my staff and I work hard every day to inform the public with accurate and useful information about city government.”  


Freeze. This is an Orwellian moment. The citizen’s weekly chocolate ration will be increased from 30 grams to 20 grams. [We were spinning you...with information you need, to be spun.]. Thank you. Rather, no thank you. 


This takes us back to the current spin doctor, Hugh Esten, who took the bull by the horns on Paul Krekorian's effort to stymie public comment by shoving general public comment to the back of the meeting. 

Esten and Krekorian share a kind of DNA. Not the biological stuff, Democrats for Neighborhood Action (DNA).  

In 2006, DNA’s founding president, Paul Krekorian, was elected to the State Assembly; then served on the Los Angeles City Council.  Another former President of DNA, Adrin Nazarian, also served in the State Assembly and is currently running for Krekorian's seat. 

Hugh Esten used to sign DNA  e-blasts.   He's a loyal soldier in the not so good DNA war. 

He said this week,  “It is hoped that holding general public comment until after the agenda items have been addressed will allow more members of the public to address the items currently before the Council.”  Another Orwellian swerve. 

Even though the council rules say that “general public comment” usually needs to be taken at the beginning, Esten told Elizabeth Chou of the Los Angeles Public Press that such a change can be made “at the discretion of the presiding officer.”  Esten said that the new rules will be in place, “until further notice.”  

Smart Speaker:  Past changes to council rules have been made by a vote by the city council.

Eunisses Hernandez of CD1 in a statement to Los Angeles Public Press said she hopes “we can work together to reconsider these recent procedural changes to ensure that public comment is as accessible and impactful as possible for constituents.”  


The Clerk reports that meeting transcripts are generated by the YouTube video for the Council meetings.  Following are some instructions: 

1: Choose the video (https://clerk.lacity.gov/calendar

2: Go to the video description and click the three dots ("...More") 

3: Click on “Show transcript” 

4: Choose the language (English Auto Generated) 

5: Review or copy/paste  

Thank you, Mandy 

Comment and Criticism: 

Thank you, it's Eric Preven from Studio City, and a couple of years ago I set out with a vision or a plan to get people to show up at public meetings. Telephonically or otherwise, my goal was to get the people of Los Angeles to show up and raise the roof and make it clear that we the people of Los Angeles do not like corruption. We love it! jk

So, today is the last day before recess, and you will all pack up your sleighs and head off into the districts.   All of the items thanks to Sharon Gin will be moving... forthwith, sir.    There will be time for self-reflection and self-review.  Several opportunities to cure and correct over the holidays will be afforded as the staff takes a much-needed break.  

Let us all make peace with the idea that Krekorian's plan to change the rules suddenly, without discussion or hearing,  and then ram through hundreds of controversial items, during the confusion... LA Public Press, LA Times etc. 

Pushing the people out of the process is an ugly ugly plan conceived by the Office of Council President Paul Krekorian ... Mr. Harris Dawson, Mr. Blumenfield...his sidekicks are requested to join President Krekorian by going to their separate corners of the city, before coming together and deciding if the city wants to be sued in the bright light of a New Year's day, probably in later January, following various updates, sentencing, and possible indictment. 

Next Items:

The flashing light billboards that were approved will have to be darkened from 3 am to 5 am... for safety measures.

Well, to me it is obvious that the reason they've agreed to that period is that the roads are not busy at that time, so the advertising dollars must be low.  This is premised on the idea that advertising is about eyeballs seeing the ads. Orwellian.

Another bite of the apple comes as new parking meters were activated downtown and presumably, others will follow soon. Angelenos are supposed to take comfort that this is a dynamic pricing system...so if there is more demand, ie. congestion, the price will go up.   Huh? 

One wonders how this idea meshes with the platform that got all of our great progressive leaders elected. 

Hugh Esten's Discretion:

Hugh Esten CD2 Media Madman "At the discretion of the chair... until further notice."

  1. Subdue the Adversary Without Fighting   Block public comment
  1. Only Enter Battles You Know You Can Win  Block public comment 
  1. Keep your plans, strategy, tactics, and decisions as dark as night   Block public comment
  1. A clever army will win not with their bodies, but with their minds   Block public comment
  1. Lead Your Team as if You were Leading a Single Man by the Hand. Block public comment.

Coming Clean: Panish & Paul Krekorian. 

On the afternoon of May 2, 2015, Plaintiff Peter Godefroy was legally riding his bicycle on Valley Vista Boulevard near Woodman Avenue in the City of Los Angeles. Unable to avoid a large pothole in the road, the Sherman Oaks resident was forced to ride over it and lost control of his bicycle, falling to the ground. As a result of the accident, the 56-year-old cyclist suffered severe injuries including a traumatic brain injury as well as numerous broken bones throughout his body. 

It was a dark chapter because the attorneys convinced the city council to pay a $6,500,000 settlement for a man who was thrown from his bicycle after coming into contact with a large pothole while riding through the streets of Los Angeles.  Nobody seemed to care that it was less than a mile from his home and not a route cleared for bicycle use. 

How the hell?  He was riding with a chap on one of Paul Krekorian's NCs. 

Brian Panish got it done, and an attorney in Panish's office said, “We are happy that the City has taken responsibility for the safety of the roadway at issue that caused Mr. Godefroy’s life-changing injury,” 

Never mind Godefroy's miraculous recovery. Go Bruins! 

On Friday, the city buried another massive 8 million dollar settlement with a Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP client. 

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón had previously announced that LAPD Sergeant Ruby Aguirre, the defendant driver in Chavez v. City of Los Angeles, has been charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving after she caused a serious collision while responding to a pursuit that left Panish client, Justyce Chavez, with life-changing injuries. 

On May 6, 2021, Sgt. Aguirre was driving a police vehicle at a high rate of speed when she ‘t-boned’ a car driven by 29-year-old Justyce Chavez, causing catastrophic injuries. Ms. Chavez was a happy, healthy, and active young woman before she was broadsided unexpectedly by a speeding LAPD cruiser. 

 “Sergeant Aguirre was not safely pursuing her suspect,” the Panish attorney said.  “What I can tell you is she was still extraordinarily reckless in her pursuit.”  On January 30, 2023, the deputy LA City Attorney defending the case signed a stipulation, or a joint agreement of facts, that said, “Defendant Aguirre’s negligence caused a collision with a vehicle driven by Plaintiff Justyce Chavez.”  The stipulation also said Aguirre was in the course and scope of her employment when the crash happened.  

What about immunity? 

A number of law enforcement officials contacted by the local TV News team said that they could not recall another instance in recent memory in Southern California in which an officer faced a criminal charge for an on-duty car crash, but the decision to file a criminal allegation followed the City of Los Angeles’ statement in civil court that Sgt. Aguirre was responsible for the collision. “I can’t think of one other case that I’ve worked on in which a public entity, especially a law enforcement agency, has admitted that they are solely responsible,” Mr. Glassman added.

Esten will know what to say. 

SPORTS COMPLEX makes me mad. 😡


(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions of aMr. Preven are not necessarily those of CityWatchLA.com.)