LA's Liberal Landlords Getting Screwed by Conservative Tenants

ERIC PREVEN'S NOTEBOOK - As a self-described liberal who has battled against LAPD over the use of Tasers and attacked the Fire Department and Mayor for falsely scapegoating the homeless for the Skirball fire in Bel Air, I'm not the first guy you'd think of to start an Angry Landlord Organization Extraordinaire. [ALOE] There are plenty already, but mine would be soothing


It occurred to me recently that LIberal Landlords getting screwed by conservative tenants (hiding in liberal laws) is a funny dynamic. Reminiscent of some great old style TV shows like “All in the Family" and a timeless classic, "Family Ties", where issues of the day were worked out through .... sitcom. 

To refresh, the half hour show from Gary David Goldberg starred Michael J. Fox and dealt with the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s as it shifted to the conservatism of the 1980s.   

Hmmm.  Not irrelevant today. I can imagine a show about multi-culti but NIMBY or YIMBY tenants pooling together their anger and limited resources against a liberal landlord or Council President or lame duck mayor.  Sigh.   

I guess one doesn't need to spend too much imagination capital on this fantasy.    

For the record: I am considering limited Taser use for tenant extractions [90-day report back. A joke, your highness. I'm always opposed to 50,000 volts in an argument.] 

The cultural shift back then on Family Ties was best expressed through the relationship between young Republican Alex P. Keaton (portrayed by Michael J. Fox) and his ex-hippie parents, Steven and Elyse Keaton (portrayed by Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter). 

Looking back Goldberg felt he had helped create a wee bit of a monster. One of the impetus for the show was the belief that his own children, in the face of liberal ideas "... don't understand what's wrong with having money and moving forward."  He was quoted, "Those were not traits that I aspired to and didn't want my kids to aspire to, actually...But at the end of Family Ties, when we went off the air, then The New York Times had done a piece under the banner, 'Greed with the face of an angel.'



AECOM was once again named one of 2021 World’s Most Ethical Companies for its commitment to integrity and making a positive impact by Ethisphere.  Speculation that AECOM regained its status by deciding to leave Los Angeles for Texas is merely speculation.  

Despite spending $50,000 on Mayor Eric Garcetti's inauguration, and a widely recognized unholy alliance with elected officials in both the city and county of Los Angeles, AECOM met Ethisphere's fascinating standards.  

Ethisphere’s team of analysts researches each organization’s history of litigation, reputation, and ethical track record to inform the score for the organization’s Leadership and Reputation.   

After a seven-year dry spell from 2014 through 2020, AECOM has climbed off the past World’s Most Ethical Companies ® list and earned a seat at the Ethisphere table.... with AT&T, CBRE and USAA.   

Ooops, USAA was dropped in 2021.  Sorry.   Wayne Peacock's willingness to look away from substantial problems being investigated by citizens and journalists, as proud service men and women who have a right to know, are ripped off.  

Different silos under Mr. Peacock's leadership have resulted in highly unethical behavior, outlined in another column.   To be clear we cannot link USAA's being dropped from the World's most ethical companies list in 2021 and added back to the past World’s Most Ethical Companies ® list, to this pernicious activity, but we can certainly not rule it out.    

FYI - Companies that submit the Ethics Quotient (EQ) survey and supporting documentation between August 10, 2021, and November 12, 2021, are considered for inclusion in the Ethisphere World’s Most Ethical Companies recognition program for 2022. 


Sports Gambling

As for Ethics, Jay Z, the billionaire badass popstar is getting into sports gambling in New York.  Huh? He's made so much money, doing great work, the hard way, so why is he investing in an activity that destroys people?  Why?  

Reverse course, Jay Z.


Lawyer up, son:  Speaking out is not getting results...

I told my dad, "Well, it's better to take the high road and tell the truth. Mom cannot storm the house and drag her tenant out by her ear."   

"Disagree, " he said, "The Supreme Court just nixed the federal eviction moratorium." 

"Dad," I explained, "There is still an eviction moratorium in New York and California" that was a case about the CDC not being able to take such an action, without congress voting on it."  

The Corcoran Group's East Hampton Real Estate Office who has been quietly looking away from one of their client's egregious breach of contract, would know... Janifer Jaeger and Ernest "Ernie" Cervi and their lawyer, Andrew R. Levinson, are good resources as to why.   

My father, who is an excellent psychiatrist, and I were discussing, whether or not my mother should hire an attorney to force a tenant in arrears out of her home.  My instinct in this case is, "no."  

I suggested, the only time to hire a lawyer is when you have a hard legal problem or need a criminal defense, which can be a bit tricky.  

It seemed to me that my mom's landlord/tenant dispute was over money... so more of a ...financial, contractual ... disagreement.   

It's not like legal squabbling is satisfying.  

Especially, when one comes to the realization that squabbling yourself can cost considerably less than squabbling with lawyers and get comparable or better results.   

What a racket!   

Why pay an attorney $215 an hour or $645 an hour (Friedman) or $954 / hour according to a "carte de vin" for pricey lawyers, like Peter Eliasberg of the vaunted ACLU of Southern California?  

It truly makes no sense until you realize that good advice is worth more than money.... 

Skip, get in here...

Sir, you're disrupting the meeting. 


"It's the enforcement, stupid"

If you are lucky enough to gain a Legal victory of some kind, where a court finds in your favor, one assumes a sort of implied warranty, that the person being ordered by a court to do something, will finally actually be forced to do it! 

This is America and the rule of law prevails... yadda yadda yadda  

It doesn't quite work out that way every time. Like everything else, it's the enforcement, stupid.  

Even though the law requires the city or county has to comply with a rule or provide access to something, sometimes, they STILL do... something else.  

If you want to go to court... Mary C. Wickham, the former county counsel has just signed up as a commissioner over there, so good luck. 

As the Board's top lawyer, Wickham advised the county to follow Skip Miller's advisories when he suggested in writing that CEO Hamai was hopping mad and the Sheriff was out of control and that the Board should pay off Ms. Hamai (their friend and colleague) $1,500,000.  

When the City of Los Angeles, who had been crying out for correction and admonishment on their pattern of violating the Brown Act rule about taking comments at special meetings, I was forced to engage Paul Nicholas Boylan to help me bring the city into compliance.   

He took $95,000 from the city in fees and left me with an empty victory because he would not agree to enforce against the city who continued to break the rule we fought over.   

Eventually, I defenestrated him for cause, but to this day appellate court victory on the matter, is not satisfying because Paul Krekorian the Chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee has managed to sell to Angelenos, his delusional view that the city's enormous budget of more than $10 billion dollars, is actually one small item.  

Therefore, sixty seconds of public comment is more than reasonable. For deeper comments and criticism about the budget, he has started to conduct little business centric zoom calls using the cc list of someone.   

Possibly, the influential Stuart Waldman of Valley Industry & Commerce Association. Some people call Waldman, the Jim Clyburn of the Valley. One resident noted Stuart is as "far up the sixth district tuchus as anyone I know" and has done a fantastic job for the business community in the valley. 

The Budget Hearings are a bad joke.  Will anyone speak up?  


Public/Private Deposition: 

Eric Garcetti said,I have not witnessed that, and I have never witnessed that,” in his Feb. 8 deposition when asked about alleged sexual harassment by Rick Jacobs.   

The city attorney won't make the Mayor's deposition public, but we were able to get Feuer's deposition and posted it in a prior column.    

It's unfortunate, because the people do have an genuine and compelling interest in seeing the questions the mayor was asked about what has been described by others as a rampant culture problem.   

How could such a smart man 'with the face of an angel' be so clueless?   


LA Times: Fair and Impartial 

When I took the County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Superior Court all the way up to the California Supreme Court to clarify my belief that despite some attorney-client privilege the invoices paid to attorneys at private firms had to be disclosable public records, I was naive.  

It was a long hard fight and what Peter Eliasberg and Davis,Wright & Tremaine, a law firm who partnered up with me to get the matter resolved were paid is a story for another column, but it took an enormous amount of energy, and in the end we got what we got which was only, so-so. Peter called it, "a half a loaf."  

The attorney client privilege has once again reared its head, and is being invoked to block invoices from Miller Barondess, LLP, the firm where Louis "Skip" MIller hangs his hat.   

Unfortunately, for more than a year the County and Mary C, Wickham before quitting her job as the Los Angeles County Counsel to become a commissioner at the LA Superior court, were blocking public view of Miller Barondess LLP invoices.   

On Tuesday's agenda, if the county Board approves a settlement will be reached with Grace Community Church of the Valley.  

The church had alleged State and United States constitutional violations related to COVID-19 infection control measures, including capacity limits on indoor services, the requirement to practice social distancing and masking, and the prohibition on chanting and singing. 

As Biden reminded Americans when the federal eviction moratorium was struck down by the Supreme Court, “...our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends.”   

The county's lawsuit failed... and they are going to settle, but the Los Angeles Times' willingness to 'half report' the story is intolerable.  

Evidently, the cost of the lawsuit conducted by Skip Miller's firm, Miller Barondess, LLP ...was $952,000, the very same firm  -- that recommended a $1.5M payout to CEO Sachi Hamai, told Judge Carter, "my clients are doing an excellent job" with the homeless crisis and  went after Sheriff Villanueva's driver with an astonishing vigor #Beckloff  -- will be paid out of the public health department's budget.  

The disagreement between the LA Times and me, a lowly reader, is small.  

The Times wants to wait until a point in time in the future, when the original writer will be back on duty to disclose the amount.  

I wanted the Times to act earlier, as the Board meeting on Tuesday is fast approaching and it will be the first time in several weeks that the board have met.  

Both Times readers and members of the public have an fair interest in knowing that the county's public health budget is going to take a $952,000 hit for the payout to cover attorney's fees and costs on top of the $400,000 settlement payout by the county to the Church.     

The Times frequently references Skip Miller and the Miller Barondess LLP firm, as players in the unfolding county drama. 

County residents want the whole truth... an equitable city, but also equitable reporting 

As Nury Martinez said last week, about the egregious stuffing of a city credit card with LAPD overtime “Regardless of any inevitable overtime pay, it’s undeniable that this council has listened and is focused on creating a more equitable city." 

Equitable means fair and impartial.


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