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Cue the Typhoon in Japan. . .and Other Impending Storms

THE CITY - Rowing events on Monday have been rescheduled to accommodate Typhoon Nepartak, which formed Friday night to the southeast of Japan, is expected to make landfall in mainland Japan by Tuesday with Tokyo in the forecast cone.  

More children are dying from COVID-19 in Indonesia than in any other country, says the head of the Indonesian Pediatric Society, Dr. Aman Bhakti Pulungan. He blames the adults: “They refuse to wear a mask. They bring their children to crowded places.”    

Marjorie Taylor Greene, also known by her initials MTG, is an American politician, businesswoman, and far-right conspiracy theorist serving as the U.S. representative for Georgia's 14th congressional district.  She was asked by Chris Cillizza of CNN on July 21, 2021, "Have you yourself gotten vaccinated?"  

MTG’s answer: "Your first question is a violation of my HIPAA rights. You see with HIPAA rights we don't have to reveal our medical records and that also includes our vaccine records.” 

HIPAA (which is frequently miswritten as HIPPA) stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Enacted in 1996, the act was an attempt to, among other things, make healthcare simpler. While there are many ways in which a person or entity could violate someone’s HIPAA rights, a reporter asking a member of Congress about their vaccination status is widely considered not to be among them.  

A member of the state assembly  (AD54) Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, simply refused under HIPAA (I guess) to make public the reason why he was leaving public office and causing a $3M special election. The Times wouldn't ask about. . ."A booty call."  

A booty call -- is where one partner is summoned for sex usually by a text message communication (such as a phone call or text message) by which a person arranges a sexual encounter with someone.  

Nope:  

When using no in such senses as “not so -- used to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal in answer to a question or request” or “an interjection to express surprise, doubt, or incredulity” nope may be substituted (although it is an informal version of no). 

To: [email protected]  Fri Jul 23, 2021 12:55 pm 

Thank you, Mr. Castro-Silva.  

The attorneys over at Miller Barondess really do make some BANK.   

I am curious about which attorney in your office came up with the idea to cut off the payments for 2020 at less than $28,000? Since that was the year of the LA Alliance. . .and the Hamai payout. Also, under $10,000 for 2019 which included the Mandoyan debacle. . ."Nicole, get in here!" 

Public was wondering if the higher than usual humidity might be effecting [sic] county counsel output and sound judgement and ultimately compliance and provision.  

I am afraid Mr. Zurabyan may need to resume his post at the LaTayvius Alberty stand, under the esteemed leadership of Herr Lester Tolnai.  

Could Dawyn Harrison complete the task initiated here by redacting (if necessary) and providing the invoices from Miller Barondess, forthwith?  

That would be compliant.   Also, could you ask staff to name the cases, if this were admitted to Court, the Judge would say, "What the hell is this?" 

A quick reality check:  he attorney-client privilege () is the Supervisors' to invoke, not the county counsel's.  

That is why I am cc 'ing the great Timothy Coates of GMSR (Greines Stein) who capably defended the county when Granbo wore the cowboy hat but understood that his invoices to the county would eventually be made public. The county is a public entity. 

Skip Miller, a private attorney who recommended the historic $1.5M payout to Sachi Hamai, has to share his invoices, too. Just like Coates. (Hi, Coates, hope all is well. Did you see Judge Strobel struck down Measure J? Unbelievable.) 

If county counsel checks with the Board of Supervisors who have been hiding during the pandemic and regularly denying general public comment and so prohibiting criticism by reducing the opportunities to address the Board, they may agree to access and transparency.  Or maybe not.   

But we the people have a right to know and you have a responsibility to check with your clients.  

As a courtesy, to resolve any dispute about whether you will check with the Board or claim they previously delegated you the authority to insult the public, the public HERE, requests that the Executive Office post the billing invoices publicly from the law firm Miller Barondess for work on The LA Alliance for Human Rights lawsuit and the CEO Hamai payout matter, and any other private legal work they've done for one of the finest public law offices on Temple Street. 

Thank you for your understanding.  

The below dates are good guideposts for the provision of monthly invoices submitted to the county for payment.  

May 13, 2019

September 26, 2019

November 19, 2019

March 10, 2020

March 19, 2020

March 24-May 15

April 28, 2020

May 22, 2020

May 29, 2020

June 18, 2020

June 25, 2020

October 29, 2020

March 5, 2021

March 24, 2021  Hal Bastian hosts...  Executive Vice President of Major Properties

May 27, 2021

July 7, 2021 

 

California:  Running the clock. . . 

The Mayor is hoping to float around long enough to make it impossible for a Special Mayoral Election that the people crave. One critic has called for a Special Election as soon as possible.  

While you wait. . .maybe pick up a copy of The Atlantic featuring an article by Conor Friedersdorf, entitled, "The California Dream is Dying."   

The 8,000-word piece (not a typo) muses about whether the once-dynamic state may be closing the door on economic opportunity.  

The article was so long at one point I thought I was having an attention-deficit-disorder like seizure.   

Eventually, I had to check and yes, the piece had 360 sentences. Over 90 paragraphs.  

This article has inspired me to revisit the idea of brevity.    

I think the — the six-word memoir — popularized by the author Larry Smith, is a great area.    

My affection for Haikus is growing.   

"Fleets" didn’t catch on, so, as of August 3, Fleets will disappear as a feature, which seems apt for a Twitter feature built entirely around the premise of disappearance. 

Speaking of disappearance, where is Katzenberg? He stepped into the newspaper last month to join Koretz's office as they seek the solution to homelessness in Los Angeles through fundraising. 

His last effort, Quibi, a plan with Meg Whitman to entertain people during commutes and other dull moments with very short fresh little programs, was one of the entertainment industry’s most dramatic flops.  

It seemed promising and backed by Walt Disney Co., AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. even Walmart Inc.  

Assessing Tiny Homes:  

Bonin updated on July 19 that he had sited (not cited) 131 people experiencing homelessness. Nithya Ramen updates that she has put about 10% of the CD4 unhoused population. . .inside. Kudos. "Since I took office, we’ve worked with service providers and LAHSA outreach workers to help approximately 100 people experiencing homelessness in Council District Four move into city-provided housing or shelter and off the streets." 

Sometimes Less is More. The LA County Board of Supervisors think less comment time is appropriate. When the board cut back on public comment, I started writing longer articles.  

Not Playing:  

A recent report from Accenture estimated that global sales related to games are higher than the combined revenues from movies and music. Holly crap. 

Video games are a big business that grew even bigger during the coronavirus pandemic.  

In 2017, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings declared the streamer's biggest competitor was, in fact, sleep. “You get a show or a movie you're really dying to watch, and you end up staying up late at night, so we actually compete with sleep,” Hastings said. “And we're winning.” 

Netflix has confirmed that it is adding video games to its library, amid a collapse in its subscriber growth. 

There are all sorts of interactive digital experiments out there grabbing for more of our time and money.   

Shira Ovide who covers Technology for  the New York Times wrote in her newsletter, "We’re going to get more sophisticated games on the bleeding edge of technology and more stuff that doesn’t fit the video game box to challenge our minds, bodies and social interactions. "I’m intrigued to see it all." 

Like. . .new features on Zoom, including poker, trivia, and mystery games.  

Peloton, the maker of $2,500 exercise bicycles, is releasing a game that allows people’s pedal power to command a rolling virtual wheel.   

Facebook, TikTok, Amazon, Apple, and Google to varying degrees are pitching video games or selling game subscriptions. Even, "The New York Times is going bigger into digital games and puzzles," Ovide concedes. 

Matt Taibbi once described Goldman Sachs, but the state of gaming also fits the bill “A great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” 

By the numbers:  

88 fires in 13 states the other day, not too shabby for a post-apocalyptic smoke out.   

From July 23, 2021 to August  8, 2021 the Tokyo Olympics are shining the brightest light on the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. . .and Typhoon Nepartak.  

The opening ceremony garnered the smallest Olympic audience in 33 years.   

And Mike Feuer, who has still not withdrawn from his psychotic run for Mayor has been yammering on about the Trieste model that was launched in Italy in 1967.   

The Trieste Model was intended to promote social inclusion and full citizenship for users of 24/7 mental health services. Kerry Morrison is a good resource on how it works as she was on the trip to Northern Italy.  

Apparently nice outcomes. Funny, I do not associate Italy with strong mental health numbers, after spending the better part of a year in Milan in love with a professional TV costumista and lunatica. 

In  the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Italy showed up with 167 competitors, 152 men and 15 women.  This year 372 Italian competitors,192 men and 180 women will vy for gold.  

Kudos to Eric Garcetti on getting the gender lens right over there.  

And let's remember, it's not about the sports or the competition. It's not even really about the athletes. (It's not? Yes, it is).  

It's about the commercials, silly. (Yes.)  

Thank you.  

USAA:  Had your back, got your money! 

In 1922, when 25 Army officers met in San Antonio Texas and decided to insure each other's vehicles, they couldn't have imagined that their tiny organization would one day serve millions of members and become one of the only fully integrated financial services organizations in America. 

My dad qualified our family after serving as a Major in the U.S. Army at Fort Ord during the sixties. I've been a member and have bought my insurance from them since I became an adult. 

It's been approximately two months since I wrote to USAA: "Your mission is to serve our families. . .yet USAA Life took funds out of my account over my stated objections and got away with it and won't refund my money." 

As a consumer I feel an obligation to speak out.  

First of all, I am HAPPY to be alive and do my part to inform Angelenos and others who encounter Kafkaesque nightmares to help them on their journey. 

When I onboarded a term life insurance policy at $71/ month eleven years ago through my trusted Home and Auto carrier, USAA, I was doing so to ensure that my spouse would be okay, even if I unexpectedly checked out prior to becoming empty nesters.   

Over the summer of 2019, I told the USAA agent over the phone that I did not want to continue the policy after the ten-year mark.  

Despite my best efforts, as the world veered into a Pandemic, USAA doubled down.  

Though I had initially authorized the $71/ month payment to come directly from my Chase Bank account for a period of ten years, USAA adjusted the payment on November 2019 by 1375% to $1,048.70. They say they told me, but they mean they sent a letter among the endless confusing letters. 

Nov 4, 2020     $1,147.03

Oct  5, 2020     $1,048.70  

Sep 4, 2020     $1,048.70

Aug 4, 2020     $1,048.70

Jul   6, 2020     $1,048.70

Jun  4, 2020     $1,048.70   

May 4, 2020     $1,048.70  

Apr  6, 2020     $1,048.70   

Mar  4, 2020     $1,048.70    

Feb  4, 2020     $1,048.70   

Jan  6, 2020     $1,048.70    

Dec 4, 2019     $1,048.70    

Nov 4, 2019     $1,048.70    

Oct 4, 2019     $71.24

 

For many months I simply did not notice that my $71/ month life insurance premium had morphed into something closer to my combined monthly home and auto insurance premiums.  

When I finally did discover the mix-up, I contacted USAA and requested that they provide the phone call transcript in which I remembered opting out. 

USAA declined citing a legal privilege.  

Red Flag. My eyes narrowed.  

After a breathtaking and ongoing effort. . . USAA has cancelled the term policy that I never wanted to continue beyond ten years. USAA offered me a little over $2,000 of the $13,700 that they owe me in refund. But so far, I have declined. 

Life insurance is an opt in relationship. USAA has incurred no hard costs like with a health care plan.   

Therefore, USAA should refund the $13,731.43 with interest. 

Wayne Peacock, the CEO wants to comply with the provisions of U.S. laws and regulations but even if USAA could interpret the laws to support the taking of my money. Really?  

Do enlisted people across the globe expect more from USAA? Yes. 

Free Speech:  

“Misgender” refers to the systematic misuse of one’s preferred pronouns by another. Willfully and repeatedly failing to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns is not a nice thing to do.  

But Article I, section 2, subdivision (a) of the California Constitution provides: “Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.” Article I’s free speech clause enjoys existence and force independent of the First Amendment to the federal Constitution.    

"But the First Amendment does not protect only speech that inoffensively and artfully articulates a person’s point of view. At the very least, willful refusal to refer to transgender persons by their preferred pronouns conveys general disagreement with the concept that a person’s gender identity may be different from the sex the person was assigned at birth. Consistent with the Legislature’s findings in enacting section 1439.51, we conclude misgendering does indeed convey an ideological message." 

The Court of Appeal Opinion overturned the mandate referring to transgender preferred pronouns. Sigh. 

Nonprofit World: 

Dixon Slingerland alone hosted at least seven fundraisers for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as he grew YPI into an unsustainable party on the taxpayers’ dime. Apparently, the lack of accountability has become something of a “pattern” in the nonprofit world.  

That's why it is so important that the public know who is funding the endless supply of nonprofits our leaders are dishing public money to.  

The U.S. Supreme Court's six Republican-appointed justices ruled against the state in favor of a group founded by conservative donors who sued the attorney general for enforcing a state law requiring them to disclose to the office the names of their biggest donors, an obligation for nonprofit groups that was intended to thwart fraud.   

The high court’s decision could eventually upend rules that require big donors to disclose their political giving to the public.   

If YPI secured (and then misused some) funding through improper means, it’s fair to ask what the better-deserving applicants would have done and whom they might have helped?    

And it's fair to confront the backers at the seven YPI fundraisers for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and all other nonprofit fundraisers. 

‘It's (still) easy to raise $25,000’  

Paul Koretz could have easily been brushing Jeffrey Ebenstein's hair as they watched together in horror as Katie Hill's lawyers objected, claiming the other side had spent an unreasonable amount of time on the anti-SLAPP motion and the motion for attorneys’ fees. But neither were around to call back. 

It's campaign finance harvest time and there is no drought in fundraising.  

Paul Koretz has been nursing along a tiny little campaign for Controller while Jeffrey Ebenstein, his longtime Guy Friday, has been angling to be the next Great Yaroslavsky of CD5.  

Ron Galperin, who has shimmied through two embarrassing terms as Controller, has also tossed his (floral ruffled sun hat) in the ring for Sheila's breathtaking 3rd District Supervisor seat!  

Sheila's district is home to more seriously affluent people than anywhere on earth (insert annoying comparison). 

CD5 with the highest average income among the LA City Council district residents is loaded, but Kuehl is riding a money fountain.  Bonin's (CD11), and Deleon's (CD14) do very well. . .and the Hollyweirdos O'Farrell (CD13) and Nithya Raman (CD4) are solid.  

The state’s anti-SLAPP — Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — law is intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights. 

Apparently, an article published in October 2019 with a link to a photograph of Hill brushing a female staffer’s hair caused quite a ruckus. 

The Judge announced last week that Katie Hill would have to cough up more than $50,000 in attorney fees, finding that the distribution of the intimate images through their publication on a public website constituted a “statement” or “other conduct in furtherance” of the right to free speech. Sheesh. 

“Here, the intimate images. . .spoke to plaintiff’s character and qualifications for her position, as they allegedly depicted Plaintiff with a campaign staffer with whom it was alleged she had a sexual affair,” the judge wrote. 

"Accordingly, the images were a matter of public issue or public interest.”    

These five celebrities share the same birthdate with Paul Koretz but there is more. . .

 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Photo: AFP via Getty Images.