27
Mon, May

Yes, Everybody Loses

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

 

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Paul Krekorian seated at what looked like a deposition table, popped up on channel 35 when I clicked on the first Budget Hearing of 2024.  

He said, "It's always going to be a work in progress. and this has to be mission number one for every elected official. Because if you don't have the trust of the public you won't be able to effectively function at delivering --" 

With that, the sequence ended abruptly and the budget hearing began. 

Bob Blumenfield (CD3)has been pilloried by the public and others for bungling the Budget Process. 

 

It started with a tight half-hour from LACERS the pension and welfare fund for city employees about how to construct an all-weather portfolio... and lull any audience into a quiet slumber.  

Then, one of the city's highest-paid, smoothest operators took the stand, bringing a measure of grandeur to the affair.  Eugene Seroka, the General Manager of the Harbor Department gave a very important sounding report about the environmental harm / cash register dba the Port of LA.   The main feeling afterward: this guy is a pro, what's he doing in this crazy house?   

Though this meeting was intended to focus on Bob Blumenfield's appreciation for the public --  why not start with a very sophisticated economist and CEO type who took home $559,072.28 in pay and benefits in 2022.  

Smart Speaker:  That ought to get the hospitality workers in the right mood.  

Seroka, who himself took a retroactive cost-of-living hike of 2.75% and a merit pay increase in 2022, said the Port had 935 positions, "the highest we've ever had... and that this new budget called for 949 individuals." He noted that they currently have 876 in place...but started at 830... "so we've added 45 jobs this year."  

He said, "Now the hard work begins, it's a tough job market in varying categories... we've to attract, recruit, and retain better than ever before." 

MCosker walked out to the mound in a full catcher uniform and had a real coded smart guy chat that let the public know that McOsker "gets it." 

Monica Rodriguez (CD7) came over to the mound from first base and conducted a three-way chat about how important the Port is to the county, to the country, and naturally, to the city's pocketbook.  

Seroka reminded, "Los Angeles County is still the largest single-county employment base of manufacturing jobs in the nation, about 390,000 people. But companies only export like 1 to 2 percent, so it's ripe for more investment in that area to drive more export." 

Rodriguez could not control herself, " When we talk about the national conversations, and what that looks like, and how we really maximize our posture as a City, just really interested in that. And just for the purposes of us, you know as a council taking positions on when these conversations happen at the national level that we're engaged in it in such a way that we can ensure our maximum financial benefit. For the taxpayers of the city."  

Seroka, "Agreed. Totally." 

"And please for the others who don't follow this every day, for every four containers we bring in, we create one job. "It's about one in nine or a million folks who go to work every day, counting on what we do." 

Rodriguez thanked him again, "We look forward to continuing our good work, it's LA's port, not just the One Five!" 

McOsker had one more comment, "Those four cans (containers) create one job, and we need to avoid those four cans creating one robot. That's why we fight so hard to make sure human beings are doing this work.  

Blumenfield just had one question:  "Do you also keep a large cash reserve?" 

Seroka nailed it, " 500 days of cash on hand!"   

Now the ONE and ONLY Public Comment: 

Bob Blumenfield, (CD3) Budget Chair:  Now we are going to move to public comment, on all aspects of the budget, not any one department, you are welcome to cover any department that we have." 

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:   Please keep in mind, that this is a special meeting, so there is no general public comment. You may have up to one minute per item, two minutes total on anything on the agenda, which would be anything budget-related.  

Bob Blumenfield, (CD3) Budget Chair:  There is only one item which is the budget, but you will be given two minutes to cover any aspect of the budget.  We are going to try to give everyone two minutes to speak.  

A brief review of the transcript revealed that the term "NEXT SPEAKER" appeared 33 times, and the term community was used 37 times. Immigrant, 45 times.  Social equity, 14 times. Unhoused, 4 times. Dog, 24 times. Spay 7 times. Neuter 14 times. Fire, 19 times. Police, 23 times, Homeless, 28 times. 

Thank you appeared 101 times. 

There was only one reprimand:

 Bob Blumenfield, (CD3) Budget Chair:  "You've been to more meetings than me, Mr. Sachs you know the rules. You're trying to jump the line."  

C U Next Tuesday!

Smart Speaker:   God, it's so lonely out here. I feel like I'm the only participant. But thank you for taking my call. I just want to clarify that you have been doing the general public comment at the bitter end every other week, which is where we were last time - a terrible place to be.   We would rather be at the bitter end of the meeting  EVERY week, where I think we are today.  Not sure.    

Anyway, it is currently 2:30. That was an exhaustive series of reports that, you know, were of note, but I have to say you should really take general public comment earlier in the meeting. Everyone is talking about engagement and participation in the context of redistricting [profanity] and everything else. Yet, we're not meeting the people where they are. Not even close.  Consider what Eunisses said yesterday:  

Eunisses Hernandez, Council Member CD1:  A budget is a statement of our values.  It's important that we make sure that our budget actually reflects the needs of our constituents. When we don't create accessible opportunities for our community to come and speak on the budget we're leaving communities behind. And we cannot afford to leave any communities behind. What I hope is that we add more days and more opportunities for public comment during the budget process outside of working hours so that all Angelenos are able to attend. 

She's so smart, but here at the county, we are prioritizing robust presentations over regular people who may have comments to share.  

Lindsey P. Horvath can communicate is certainly entitled to adore Jane Fonda, but at what expense to the people...?   It's a lot, and thank you to Jane Fonda for bringing up the 3200-foot setback item 1137 and the ongoing effort to hold oil and gas accountable. [profanity]  [indiscernible] This board needs [indiscernible]  

Thank you, Supervisor Horvath, if you are making a change to the rules. I don't know what to say.  If you made the change, and don't want to admit it... 

Moderator: Thank you, your time has expired. Next speaker, please. 

28% Absence: 

Smart Speaker:  Yes, Thank you. Can you just refresh my memory as to which item this is? 

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair:  Item 4. 

Smart Speaker:  Item 4? Okay. That was a robust conversation, by the way, I really enjoyed most of it. I've been trying to follow the other meeting as well, but Carvalho was excellent. Is this Carvalho's item? No? Is this Carvalho's item? Supervisors? I  know you're busy.  

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: We're actually listening. We can't engage in back-and-forth in public comment. 

Smart Speaker: No worries, I'm on it now, thank you so much for putting together such a wonderful presentation about the state of education and 28% absence rate is not great.  I think he respectfully acknowledged that.  What a shanda.   

And What a great opportunity to have old Jackie Goldberg down here like the old days, tummeling around.  I'm so glad she's planning to get in there and help with the 1137 thing.  She was a redistricting heavyweight, as you recall. It's a love fest.  

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair:  Your time has expired, next speaker, please. 

Moderator: There are no other remote speakers.  

Net Zero Commission:

Smart Speaker: Thank you. What a nice idea to have a youth commission focused on climate action. That is important.  And I enjoyed the recitation of priorities, I believe Superviros Hahn mentioned that, green, open space etc.  And  Supervisor Horvath knows we have a beautiful green open space in Studio City that is being more or less stolen by the imperious Harvard-Westlake School which paid money but are planning to put up an enormous unwanted airplane hangar-sized structure on our little community golf course. In the open space. 

And around the corner, from that particular fiasco allowed by Nithya Raman, the City owned and operated Recreation Center is also under siege.  Here, Paul Krekorian and Nithya Raman and that insufferable Brad Sherman are attempting the unthinkable -- they want to knock down a vintage rec center and put up a huge Net Zero high school regulation-sized basketball court in what is now open space. 

Insane.  If we needed a high school regulation basketball court that would be one thing, but we most certainly don't. What we need is open space. It's essential to remember that allowing construction and development to please rich billionaires - who are not putting up affordable housing - at the expense of residential communities is a failing grade.  

Executive Officer: Thank you, your time has expired.  

Moderator: Our first participant is Eric Preven, you may begin. 

Empowerment:

Smart Speaker: Thank you. The Clean Power Alliance is a cute little frenemy relationship with SoCal Edison. So cute, but also, very powerful. The question I have today, at this policy, public hearing meeting is:  

It sounded like there is going to be a general public comment period at today's meeting.  

This would be in contrast to the last policy, public hearing meeting, where I got a teeny bit upset.  lol. Can the counsel, the county counsel, please confirm that that will be a general public comment so that the members of the public are aware?   We've been getting conflicting updates from the chair.  

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: Do you have any other comments? If you could complete your comments. 

Smart Speaker:  I just want to make sure that the people feel empowered and follow along as you change the rules. 

Sup. Lindsey Horvath, chair: Thank you. Next speaker. 

Big City Dogs: 

City Clerk:  Caller ending in 2616 please press star six to unmute.  

Smart Speaker:  Thank you, it's Eric Preven, and I'd like to speak on the available items and a general public comment.  

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  So you have three minutes for the items and one minute for general public comment.  Please begin with the items. 

Smart Speaker:  I'd like to speak on the general public comment first, is that an option? 

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  Please start with the items first and then you can move to general public comment.  

Smart Speaker:  Okay, fair enough Groat. I'm not going to quibble with a quibbler. Apparently, we are declaring another emergency on today's agenda,  Got me thinking, finally... a horrible corruption emergency! 

Bob Blumenfield has a lot of pressure on him regarding the budget and we know he would love to be done with it as early as possible.  Still, item 14 notwithstanding -- sixty seconds on a massive budget, much less than what was on offer by Paul Krekorian, is simply an affront to open government and the rights of the people to oversee the various instruments, and by instruments, I certainly mean "tools" as it relates to Paul Krekorian, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, and Blob Bliebenfeld.  

I also want to thank Pat McOsker, brother of Tim,  for identifying how important municipal golf is to our communities and I want to take a moment to shame both Nithya Raman and Paul Krekorian for their astonishing abnegation of their professional responsibilities to their constituents.  

CART PICKUP NO Smoking 

Weddington is the beloved heart of Studio City, the veritable lungs, but because of imperious aristocratic billionaires who don't really care about Studio City, it faces demolition. (cough here)

 

Arrogant entitled Harvard Westlake Wolverines will stop at nothing but Studio City is Strong.

Harvard Westlake "White Collar" when you're in the mood to destroy the lungs of Studio City.

 

Smart Speaker:  I'll take a moment to thank Dave Chappelle and Chris Hemsworth for coming out for their respective Walk of Fame humiliations.  And I want to echo what Seggara-Bohlinger said earlier, "Good luck finding a place to crack a leak!"   

And Mr. Soto-Martinez I direct this to you because you certainly appreciate cracking a leak after numerous margaritas... But homey, we can't have public urban spaces without restrooms.  Can we?  No disrespect to Don Knabe and all the years of his spinning Zev on the idea that if we provide a public restroom we will be promoting ... you know, Heroin addiction and violence against women and children and animals.  

These lobbyists were good at whipping up BS and persuading a whole generation of small-minded folks, including Paul Krekorian,  that restrooms are the enemy of public safety.  

It's pure delusion.  Thank you for recognizing your failures.   

Now, item 11 is Hydee Feldstein-Soto, a private attorney who took a huge pay cut to get elected as Mike Feuer's replacement City Attorney.  Groat, she may be your Mommy, but you should know Hydee has very little experience with the Ralph M. Brown Act.  The item supports some revisions... re: teleconferencing. 

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:   Speaker, Item 11 is not open for public comment you can speak on it in general but please stick to the items now. 

Smart Speaker:   I will go on to other open items -- like the Government Ethics item number two.  What a great item. 

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  Item number 2 is not open for public comment, or I can move you to general public comment.  

Smart Speaker:  Here, we have Paul Krekorian delaying for over 1600 days...  

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  Item two has been sent back to the committee. 

So the one about government transparency has been whisked off to the back room.  Ok, fine, let's go to general, so as many people can get in as possible  

Smart Speaker:  I will go to general... now. Are you ready? 

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  Yes. 

As Corrupt as Corrupt gets: 

Smart Speaker:  The whole idea of denying virtual comment at committee meetings is on the table.  

That is as corrupt as corrupt gets.  

And we will provide Krekorian with an honorary scroll to celebrate the biggest insult leveled against the people in over twenty-five years.   In the category of blocking public scrutiny, Krekorian stands alone.  He makes Herb J. Wesson seem like Mr. Clean.  

I think you should immediately open the phone lines in committee meetings and restore the taking of virtual public comment on those agendas.  Including the budget which, no disrespect Blumenfield, FFS, is more than one item.  

Seriously, it makes you look very bad to be defending the draconian Krekorian reductions, that have the unwanted effect of casting Krekorian as a legitimate public comment believer while casting you as one-minute Bob.   

Engagement and participation in the backroom have hit an all-time low. 

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