Tue, May

More Corruption: Abusing This Journalist Costs LA City Attorney, LAPD $10,836


@TheGussReport – Last year, I reported in this column that the LAPD was ordered by a Los Angeles judge to pay me roughly $2,000 (about $100 of which was for my expenses) due to its ongoing abuses of my 1st Amendment and Civil Rights for continually threatening me as I reported on corruption and failure in Los Angeles government.

As part of that win, I proved in court that two of its officers, Brian Hun and Tracy Banuelos, falsified documents they filed under penalty of perjury. In the spirit of the late LAPD Detective Phil Vannatter, Hun and Banuelos apparently felt the need to cheat and doctor evidence.  And in the spirit of the late legal guru Johnnie Cochran, I caught them red-handed.

Note: LAPD’s Internal Affairs has yet to ask me a single question in response to my complaint.

I am hardly the first person, let alone the first journalist, abused by the LAPD.  For context, a decade ago, according to the LA Weekly, “the city already had agreed to payout more than $13 million in settlements, including $450,000 to five other journalists who were allegedly mowed down or mistreated by cops” in the infamous 2007 May Day Melee.  One journalist, Fox 11 News camera operator Patricia Ballaz, received $1.7 million for injuries inflicted on her by the LAPD.

Which brings us to today’s column.

How did my $2,000 verdict wind up growing by 550% to the nearly $11,000 check I recently received, signed by LA City Controller Ron Galperin, as pictured above?

That part of the story is just as seedy and corrupt, except that the bad actor here is a malicious Deputy City Attorney of five years named Jonathan Peralta Bislig, who is consequently under investigation by the State Bar of California, which recently ordered him to submit a Notice to Show Cause for his actions, i.e. my complaint rose above the first level where most Bar complaints are dismissed.

The basis of my original lawsuit against the LAPD was simple. It surrounded my lawfully obtained and used LAPD press pass that I used to get closer to corruption stories by gaining access to non-public areas of City Hall like the City Council floor and press conference room as well as out in the community under certain circumstances.

My effectively exposing corruption stories that the LA Times didn’t know about or ignored (until they couldn’t ignore them any further) embarrassed politicians and other government hacks.  In response, the LAPD repeatedly used its muscle to intimidate, harass and threaten my freedom; who knew that the LAPD did such things? (Got a week or three to list them?)

In fact, the LAPD created rules that it applied only to me and repeatedly threatened to arrest me if I actually used the pass in the prescribed lawful manner and it even obnoxiously tried to stop me from complying with its singular-to-me rules!

And make no mistake, many familiar names in City Hall and the LAPD were a part of the harassment and threats, which insiders confirm was orchestrated by former L.A. City Council president Herb Wesson and former L.A. City Councilmember Mitch Englander (now a felon with an upcoming residency at a federal penitentiary) and they did it through an LAPD Detective named Harry Eddo.

Enter Jonathan Bislig.

Since my winning verdict, Bislig farted a lot about appealing the case, known as a trial de novo, which is well and good, except that in those instances both parties can have attorneys and he ultimately lacked the cajones to go up against my public records guru, attorney Paul Nicholas Boylan of Davis, California, who has 30 years of experience.

Exit Jonathan Bislig’s bluster.

And then there’s something else.  I discovered that Bislig maliciously took my personal information, including criminally misusing the DOJ background report that I paid for as part of my LAPD press pass application, which clearly states “unauthorized use is a crime,” along with my date of birth, California Driver’s License number and other private information and intentionally and purposelessly posted it on the court website with blatantly transparent redaction in some areas and no redaction at all in others.

In other words, California attorney Jonathan Peralta Bislig maliciously tried to expose me to identity theft, of which I am already a documented two-time victim. 

Bislig, City Attorney Mike Feuer and LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein ignored multiple demands from me to ask the case judge to seal the file. Then, Bislig repeatedly assured me that he would do that, but never did. Ultimately, I asked the judge to seal it and it was done immediately.

Oh heck, don’t take my word for it.  Here is the entirety of that email exchange and Judge Ray Santana’s ruling. 

For this, I demanded that City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office pay me $100 per day for each of the 89 days of Bislig’s malicious misconduct. At first, they refused the claim, but Feuer had a sudden (i.e. gutless) change of heart when my attorney, Mr. Boylan, showed up on the scene.  Then – yes, then – Feuer’s flunkies decided it was a good idea to pay me that $8,900.  And from what I am now told, the case was worth a helluva lot more money than that.  If there is another instance of my identity being stolen, the City of LA may be on the hook for a boatload of money.

Of course, if you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that there’s more to the story than just this.

While the State Bar of California now has a cattle prod up Mr. Bislig’s arse, it hasn’t drawn a conclusion about his misconduct because I am now expanding that complaint and opening a new one.

In deliberately assigning Bislig to negotiate a settlement surrounding his own malicious misconduct, City Attorney Mike Feuer knowingly enabled an overt conflict of interest; Bislig’s job and career may have depended on whether he could minimize the payout. 

That new Bar complaint will be against Feuer, and this would be a good time to remind you that he is running for Mayor of Los Angeles and that neither he, the LAPD nor Bislig have apologized.

Should Bislig have a change of heart and decide it is a good idea to show remorse for maliciously mishandling my private information, I might do the same for using this old, public photo that he voluntarily posted openly on social media, showing him cooling his tootsies on a watermelon floatie…..for journalistic fair use purposes to demonstrate the degree of his misconduct that the State Bar of California is investigating. 

And that is how one deals with bullies who have all of the power, money, time and inclination to harm you.

Still, some habits are hard to break.  Other forms of City Hall harassment have emerged and in the coming weeks and months, you’ll read more about them here.

Oh, and one last thing.  The LAPD renewed my press pass, though it was done cynically so Bislig could suggest to the court that no real harm was done because the pass was renewed.  But that obviously failed.  I’ll go out on a limb and make this prediction: The LAPD will renew it a third time next spring and in perpetuity.

The LAPD and City Attorney’s office ignored multiple offers by this journalist to resolve these matters amicably and away from the public eye.

(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion, Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.)



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