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Sat, Jun

Lurking in the Background

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - Coming on Tuesday to the County Board of Supervisors is approximately 96 items, ninety of which are not sole source contracts.  Still, there will likely be additional items announced on Friday.  As always, Public Comments will ONLY be taken at the bitter end of the meeting, so during Pride month this year, we legitimately hope that Lindsey P. Horvath will embrace all Angelenos voices earlier in the meeting.  Find the county agenda here. 

Over at the City, Tania Ysaguirre, a Deputy City Attorney informed the public that the general public comment at Wednesdays meeting "would be taken at the end of the meeting." This was the precise subject of a December 2023 column that has been recognized as a finalist in the SoCal Journalism Awards. The title is "An Orwellian Wonderland."  

Council President Krekorian corrected the city attorney, "No, we'll take items and public comment together today because we just have a few speakers."

But first, ladies and gentlemen, Marty Adams!  

Top Waterman Swamped by Praise Amid Crumbling Infrastructure:

The au revoir Marty moment was MC'd by Katy Yaroslavsky (CD5) but almost everyone on the council had something to say about the retiring General Manager and Chief Engineer of LA DWP.  

Imelda Padilla (CD6) said when she was elected, "We were really excited to have the conversation [with Marty] about all the flooding of my district..." now, she's looking forward to having Marty "at the table during the national conversation about infrastructure."  

Kevin De Leon (CD14) bottomlined it, "Marty [Adams] is a great guy."

Bob Blumenfield (CD3) called Mr. Adams "someone so nice and down to earth" yet "ready to come to work with a smile... takes our calls with a smile."  He said, Marty was  "a steady hand," then dropped a reference to the Israel-Los Angeles Taskforce," on water, presumably.   

John Lee (CD12) regaled the crowd with how he had flown to Washington DC seated next to Marty Adams and got a real earful on water.  

To bring the whole thing to a dishonorable conclusion, the lame duck council president Paul Krekorian cried, "Don't be a stranger," before blowing hard about how "there have been five GMs" during Krekorian's time on council, and LADWP was an agency "that has gone through challenges" but the truth is  "Every single day when we turn the tap, or flip the switch..."  

Smart Speaker:  Where are we with the historic collapse of the infrastructure following years of neglect?  

Krekrorian finally noted that Marty was "a consummate problem solver, who knew which screws to turn."  

Smart Speaker:  This was reminiscent to the priceless* Ray Chan send-off

When Marty himself took the "microphone that makes us all equal" he thanked everyone and said he was ready to get to the next stage "lurking in the background" representing the interests of the city.    

Smart Speaker:  Lurking in the background?  Hmmm, I wonder if there is a holdback on lurking or just lobbying?  

After Marty's speech, Krekorian had one last load of gratitude, saying he wanted to thank Marty's family... for giving him to all of us in the middle of the night. "We want to thank you for your sacrifice." 

Then Padilla broke out her Cinco De Mayo honoree (in late May). A very funny homegrown filmmaker who works with his father to make people laugh. They have a social media presence that Padilla drooled over briefly. Eunisses Hernandez (CD1) jumped up and thanked the comic's old man in Spanish.  

Next Smart Speaker: 

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

Tania Ysaguirre, Deputy City Attorney: You'll have three minutes for the items and one minute for general public comment. 

Smart Speaker: OK, that was a very nice presentation to Mr. Concrete. Padilla is really making a name for herself and I found Eunisses' remarks in Spanish very moving. 

 

Imelda Padilla (CD6).

 

Marty Adams is a great guy and he and Krekorian are heading for the EXIT holding hands. So, cute, these are very smart guys who have been at the helm during a giant ...well, flood.  A flood of corruption?  Well... 

Tania Ysaguirre, Deputy City Attorney: Mr. Preven we can move you to general public comment if you'd like to speak about the presentations. 

Smart Speaker:  No, I'm good. Banning references to gender is on the agenda.  I'm back on the item about Banning references to gender in the city code. Thank you, Ms. Ysaguirre. This is a great effort.  

Not quite sure how we will ban all references to gender because occasionally the use of gender references is permissible, or no?  But, yeah let's clean up the code a little bit while Rome burns.  

Also, I don't think it's too ambitious to unite Korean American families!  Well done. This item is exactly what we want the city council to be working on... as it relates to North Korean reunification. These people have suffered long enough.  

MRT was certainly a great leader and I was just wondering about the MLG insurance group item for the airport... Is there any way, we could do what they are doing over at the Board of Supervisors following his indictment and conviction and the very nice report that nobody's seen by Covington & Burling?  What they're doing at BOS now is they are disclosing  -- all members of the body over there, so here it would be all members of the city council  -- have been disclosing when they get a contribution over 250 dollars from a party to the item.  Let's say, for example,  MLG Insurance or In Touch Insurance, any of the Vacations of City property on today's agenda, or David Guiterrez or any of the unnamed non-exclusive revocable fuel delivery permit seekers.  Anybody who contributes more than 250 dollars, we say it out loud.  Mr. Lee. You simply tell us before the item is voted on what you got. So this way you vote with OUR eyes wide open an the benefit of all the sneaky payouts. I think that sounds like a great plan, do I have a second?  

Now, as for the extension of the local emergency, I want to echo what some of the prior speakers said. We definitely have an emergency.  A corruption emergency and the way to fix it is to restore public testimony and so public scrutiny at committee hearings via Zoom or other virtual techniques that we've established in this modern era.  

I do not think we should be expanding 41.18 but this one is out in council district 12, the most militarized of all the council districts because that is how John Lee Staffer B rolls. He's got license plate readers, and Landfill money turned into LAPD OT, it's a festival of law enforcement out there and it goes nicely with the toxic gas leak out in Porter Ranch. Kudos. 

Now, the seventh amendment to an agreement with this Taxi company, I have to be honest, if they've been giving you money in more than 250-dollar increments we do want to know.  We just want to know.  

We recall that Paul Koretz is out, but, by the way, he did a fairly good job of angling to be county supervisor.  Savvy guy with the fundraising. Did you know the contribution limit over there is much higher., I think here it is nearly $900 dollars per donor, over there it may be over $1500 by now.   

Tania Ysaguirre, Deputy City Attorney:  Mr. Preven, we can move you to general public comment.  

Comentarios del público en general:

Smart Speaker: Sure. 

Tania Ysaguirre, Deputy City Attorney: You've strayed off-topic.  

Smart Speaker: Is it time for public comment, or have I strayed off-topic?  Well, I disagree and what I would like to say about the budget is not upbeat. I am upset because Bob Blumenfield (CD3) cares deeply about the FEMA funding, but also about the budget and I just feel that the process this year was appalling. Removing the public from the hearings is not consistent with what the public wants... at all.  We want participatory democracy, where you bring up a department, and they make a presentation: The Zoo might say, "We've got two panda bears coming from China," we say, "That's great."  Or maybe they say, "We have a horrible deficit and we blame Krekorian!" and "We'd like to move forward with a stupid revenue generation idea."  The public might comment, "No, don't do that."  The department heads would be required to stay for the comments from the public who would be welcome, in this model,  They should then be given a chance to respond to what arises.  Then, Monica Rodriguez (CD7) and Tim McOsker (CD15) can get to their filibusterin', and finally, Blumenfield racks everything up, in the back room. 

Blumenfield, understandably, prefers to work in the backroom, where the public can't see what's going on.  Great work, sir.   

To be fair to the still-not-indicted, council president, it was Paul Krekorian who originally set the wheels in motion for one of the most draconian rollbacks of public input in the history of local government. Kudos to you, sir.  

So, with that I would just like to say to all the assembled members of the council -- looks to be about five of you at present so not exactly a quorum -- 

Paul Krekorian,  Council President (CD2):  Thank you. 

Previously (on Tuesday): 

Paul Krekorian, Council President (CD2):  Next caller, please. 

City Clerk: Caller, which items would you like to speak to?  

Smart Speaker: Thank you, it's Eric Preven from Studio City and I'd like to speak on a variety of items and a general public comment as well.  

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: OK, well, item 22 is a public benefit payment - it looks like they're amending it, from December 16, 2014. I'll never forget a couple of years ago I had a little chitchat with the new council president-elect, Harris-Dawson, about benefit payments.  At the time, it was Atlas Capital owned by the Goldbergers, their company sponsored the Central Cities Association, so a legitimate big-time developer -- They returned their Richelle Huizar contributions fourteen days before the FBI investigation was announced.  You can read about this in CityWatch.  Now, were Mr. and Mrs. Goldberger in cahoots with the FBI?  No.

But when I asked Marqueece Harris-Dawson about how it worked out that the Goldbergers shifted the contribution from Richelle, to his officeholder account. He was taken aback and confirmed that he received Goldberger contributions. shortly thereafter, but when I asked him about it,  "Look, I get a lot of contributions, I don't always know."  

Well, that's not the council president we crave.  We don't want a guy who is going to pretend he doesn't know who is giving him thousands of dollars with the wife, like the Seabreeze fiasco. Maybe you remember Janice Hahn and Joe Buscaino of the One-Five and Eric Garcetti.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is the city corruption that we've been fighting against.   

So, with regard to item number 29, Marqueece Harris-Dawson (CD8)  MHD to be voted in as council president,  I don't think that's such a great idea. This is a man who grew out of the hindquarters of the still-not-indicted Herbert J. Wesson. (CD10-emeritus) who gave birth to Heather Hutt (CD10).  Harris--Dawson cut his eye teeth as a comprehensive lackey, during Wesson's impressive reign of corruption.  To the man's credit, Still. Not. Indicted.  And to my knowledge Paul Krekorian, Godfather Wesson's Tom (Robert Duvall), has also not faced any indictments... yet.  

Paul Krekorian called it another example of "seamless leadership" change. Nury Martinez resigned her seat on council days after the release of an explosive leaked audio of a racist, crude conversation. 

Mr. Harris-Dawson has done exactly nothing to make the situation better for the public so if he becomes president, would he open up virtual testimony in committee meetings?  Nithya Raman and Katy Yaroslavsky and everyone else credit virtual access to such meetings during the pandemic with helping to bring progressive ideas and so influence the direction of the City of Los Angeles.  

Will Harris-Dawson change the insanity that Krekorian decreed, namely:  no call-ins at committee?  

The people need to be able to speak out openly about Krekorian's shady activities, which he prefers to preside over in virtual privacy.  And when we say malfeasance, we mean he is literally fostering a gap between transparency and accountability, by attacking ...Public Comment.  

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney:  Mr. Preven you've exhausted your one minute on item 29, please move on to another item ... or you can continue during general public comment.  

Smart Speaker:  Sure,  I'm going to go to item 13. The Pride Flag. You know, people in LA certainly support Pride but to put up a pride flag right in front of the Civic Center.  Are we begging for a lawsuit?  Isn't this what happened in a neighboring community?  Pride is something that we've celebrated robustly throughout society.  

I mean, I'll wear a rainbow outfit whenever I please, but I'm not sure the government has to do that when they know it's a dicey area.  

Is the idea to stand up and stand strong? Ok. Good luck.   

But I mean we have a history of doing things, remember when O'Farrell and Krekorian took on the NRA and did a bellyflop costing taxpayers about half a million dollars we had to pay out, so, despite being warned, the politicians insisted on grandstanding. In my view, same here.  

Jonathan Groat, Deputy City Attorney: General public comment.  

Commentaire Général:

Smart Speaker:  My general public comment, Groat, is that I think we need to adjust the staffing at the city attorneys' desk.  Mainly, you and your co-star Tania Ysaguirre.  Why?  Because you're conflicted.  What do you do in the off-meeting hours, refusing to share the process by which you cherrypick public speakers?   You could disclose how, but you don't.  So, to then come to a meeting  and cherrypick speakers and enforce arbitrary rules about your capacity to understand, Fauble does it too., "I'm not sure I understand which item you are speaking about, Mr. Preven?"   

Guess what, Mr. Groat. Your understanding is not our problem. You don't have to understand what we mean when we convey our thoughts. You are not grading a paper.  The people speak into the microphone at city hall to address the wider public and the city council who are elected to be seated in front of their monitors while listening attentively.    

Unfortunately, that's not quite how it works down at the Temple of Hypocrisy.  

Incidentally, you botched the admonishing language about the council's obligations to pay attention during hearings. I suggest you check with Strefan Fauble or Dion O'Connell who may recall the day that Mr. Harris-Dawson popped up during a fair public hearing and was caught on camera hiding behind a pillar talking to a lobbyist.  Was it Mcosker back in the good, bad old days?  Not sure, it may have been Arnie Berghoff or Edgar Khalatian encouraging their wives to pelt the city council with maximum contributions. Perfectly legal. Where the hell is Hydee Feldstein-Soto? 

Paul Krekorian, Council President (CD2):  Alright, thank you very much. That will close public comment on all agenda items and general public comment.  

Summary: In the City Council meeting, Deputy City Attorney Tania Ysaguirre initially informed that public comments would be taken at the end, but Council President Krekorian corrected her, stating comments would be integrated with agenda items due to few speakers. The meeting featured a farewell to Marty Adams, General Manager of LA DWP, with numerous council members praising his contributions. Eric Preven, a public commenter, criticized various issues, including city corruption, the process of public testimony, and the exclusion of virtual testimony at committee hearings. He also addressed specific agenda items, such as banning gender references in the city code, insurance for airports, and the extension of the local emergency, advocating for transparency and accountability in city government.

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch.)