Sat, May

Dear Mr. Garcetti: Sometimes Friends Can Be So Disappointing

WHO CAN YOU TRUST?—(Editor’s note: This open letter was intended for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Jimmy Gomez. It deals with critical city planning issues and the ongoing matter of trust and transparency. We felt it was important for you to see this letter.) Photo above: LA’s ongoing air quality crisis.

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Janice Kamenir-Reznik Up Close (Part 2): ‘Porter Ranch Lead Revealed that Lawmakers were Asleep at the Switch

CAMPAIGN 2016-Candidate Janice Kamenir-Reznik is the sole woman running for State Senator Fran Pavley’s 27th District Seat. The longtime attorney and social activist shared her thoughts about the implementation of the state’s expanded Paid Family Program, the housing crisis, and education. In the second part of this interview, we discuss the drought and infrastructure issues, utilities, campaign finance reform and criminal justice.

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Eli Broad Bias Showing at LA Times … No Fan of Public Teachers and Schools

EDUCATION MATTERS-In the last few days, the LA Times has published misleading information on the California Appeals Court decision this week denying the lower court ruling in the Vergara lawsuit – a suit wherein a few carefully chosen students were urged to press a lawsuit to terminate teachers without due process, changing the law pertaining to what they call tenure. In addition, this lawsuit would serve to weaken teachers unions.

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Why Is Southern California Underrepresented in State and National Politics?

RECLAIMING THE POWER-For the first time in decades, California is poised to play a significant role in determining each party’s presidential nominee. Being a reliably blue state, presidential candidates in the recent years have done little campaigning in the Golden State. As Angelenos know, whenever President Barack Obama’s entourage arrives in town, Southern California in particular has served little purpose in national and state politics other than as a source of money from the region’s Hollywood elite.

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Translating Mayor Garcetti’s Latest Press Release on City Planning into Understandable English

PLATKIN ON PLANNING-We live in a city where the Mayor’s ambitions are as high as the luxury high-rise buildings he promotes as his program to address LA’s affordable housing crisis, including homelessness. These ambitions and high-rise buildings are matched by a Mayoral staff skilled at writing press releases that make crony capitalism actually sound enlightened.

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Sexual Assault: ‘Victims Act’ Gets Support from Both Sides of the Aisle

JUSTICE--In California, murder and embezzlement cases don’t face the clock ticking on a statute of limitations. Per California law, the prosecution of felony sexual offenses is generally limited to ten years following the offense, barring DNA evidence, which may buy extra time. The bipartisan Justice for Victims Act (SB 813), which passed the Senate Public Safety Committee earlier this week, is posed to change that.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, would allow indefinite criminal prosecution of rape and other felony sex crimes, including continuous sexual abuse of a child.

“I introduced the ‘Justice for Victims Act’ earlier this year for a simple reason: It will help to ensure that rapists and sexual predators are not able to evade justice simply because of a shortened statute of limitations,” the senator shares. “Survivors of sexual assault should always have the ability to seek justice in a court of law, even years after the alleged crime was committed.”

Senator Leyva notes that the bill would not impact the burden of proof but would provide victims more time to come to terms with the assault and to build up courage to come forward to authorities. Supporters of the bill include San Bernardino County DA Michael Ramos, California Women’s Law Center Executive Director Betsy Butler, Assembly Member Mike Gipson, and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred.

SB 813 has strong bipartisan support from legislators, including principal co-authors Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills,) Assembly Member Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson,) Assembly Member Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) and Assembly Member Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood) on the Democrat side of the aisle. Republican supporters include co-authors Rocky J. Chavez (R-Oceanside) and Assembly Member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale.)

“As a Principal co-author on Senate Bill 813, I am proud to support this legislation,” noted Assembly Member Gipson.  “Sexual assault is one of the most personally invasive crimes that can be committed against someone leading to deep pain and life-long trauma. When we think about the emotional pain that is held by the survivors of sexual assault, it is only made worse by the knowledge that you are helpless in receiving justice. SB 813 is long overdue, but will serve to ensure that if these crimes happen in the future, the state of California will have an effective remedy for the survivors who deserve closure. I serve as a proud male ally on this issue.”

The “Justice for Victims Act” is co-sponsored by San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) and supported by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Crime Victims United of California, End Rape SOL, National Association of Social Workers, among others.

Critics of extending the statute of limitations often point to the difficulty in mounting a prosecution or defense due to destruction of evidence including emails, text messages, and surveillance video, as well as diminished memory for details.

However, sexual assault victims may be reluctant to come forward at first, as emotional reactions may include self-doubt and shame, as well as the awareness that very few cases end in conviction. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), for every 100 rapes, 32 will be reported to law enforcement; 7 will lead to arrest; 3 will be brought to prosecution; 2 will lead to felony convictions; and 2 will spend a day in prison.

Eliminating the statute of limitations should be just one of the steps taken to ensure justice for sexual assault victims. We need to provide better support to encourage victims to come forward, ensure speedier processing of rape kits, and continue efforts to educate about consent.

  • For information and support for rape and sexual assault, visit www.rainn.org.

(Beth Cone Kramer is a successful Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)


Reader Says CityWatch Article Got It Wrong … ‘Key and Vital Info Missing’

VOICES--(Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to John Schwada’s recent CityWatch column, “LA Activists Score Big: Reverse a ‘Backroom Deal’ at City Hall …”) “Dear Mr. Schwada. I read your article in CityWatch LA and as a well-established and seasoned Investigative Reporter I would like to ask if you can meet and or we can speak. The article written was missing key and vital information and facts as follows:

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Metro’s Long-Range Transpo Forum: Just Another Dog and Pony Show

THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS-Last month, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) released a draft of their Long-Range Transportation Expenditure Plan. When approved in June, it becomes the basis for a countywide ballot measure asking voters to extend our current one-half cent sales tax and add a new one-half cent sales tax for the next 40 years – until 2057. This is a huge decision and many voters don’t know what to do.

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Janice Kamenir-Reznik Up Close (Part 1): “The Exorbitant Cost of Housing is a Major Issue for Women

CAMPAIGN 2016-As State Senator Fran Pavley terms out for the 27th District seat, Janice Kamenir-Reznik is the sole female candidate to throw her hat in the ring. Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl reminded a gathering of voters in Encino last weekend that women officeholders often lend additional oversight to issues impacting women and families. Kuehl provided the example of Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) sponsorship of the Bipartisan Women’s Preventive Health Amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Of course, gender shouldn’t stand alone as a reason to vote for a candidate.

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Integrating LA’s Miracle Mile

FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT--When I was a twelve-year-old kid in Northridge, some agitated neighbors came by to talk to my folks about "the negroes that wanted to move into the neighborhood." They wanted all the lily-white and predominantly gentile neighbors to get together and buy the house to get it off the market, thinking this would stop African Americans from moving in.

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Don’t Be Fooled by City Hall’s Half-Baked Reforms

While we applaud the mayor and City Council for attempting reforms that try to mimic the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative heading for the March 2017 ballot, today's City Hall proposal (see below **) is a half-baked effort that continues to shortchange Los Angeles residents in favor of developers who shower the City Council and mayor with money.

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Construction’s Negative Impact on Local Businesses: Does METRO Even Care?

SKID ROW-As a Skid Row community activist, I must point out that Skid Row’s most northern border on 3rd Street is connected to Little Tokyo and our two communities have supported each other’s efforts to improve our communities a lot in recent years. But when I attended a recent Little Tokyo Community Council ‘All Committees’ meeting, I was shocked to hear about the serious concerns they have about METRO’s construction in their community.

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Beyond the Bridge

JUST SAYIN’--Living in Los Angeles allows one the opportunity to enjoy the full gamut of those peculiar sensations commonly expressed in the abbreviation, “WTF!” (Exclamation point mandated.) From bemusement to indignation to outright incredulity, our great city’s policies and practices seem calculated to inspire consternation. Especially if you should ever set foot, or wheel, on the streets.

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Total Recall – Do the Math

PERSPECTIVE-When voters get angry at a politician, some turn to the recall process. There have been over 150 recall attempts in California; nine made it to the ballot, five succeeded in removing an official. The best known effort ran Governor Gray Davis out of office.

Five out of 150 …. a poor return by any measure.

The latest attempt is underway in my own backyard. A group of Valley Village residents wants to start a recall process against City Councilmember Paul Krekorian. (Photo above.) He is accused of allowing the premature demolition of a 1930’s era structure, which briefly served as a residence for Marilyn Monroe before she rose to fame.

You can argue until the cows come home, or Marilyn, if the property was historically significant, as the group claims. Indeed, the developer pulled the trigger on razing it before approval was granted by the city.

Regardless of what Krekorian’s role was, or was not, the math of this recall attempt runs overwhelmingly against success.

The recall group would be required to get signatures from 15% of the registered voters in CD2, or around 18,000+.

The largest turnout in CD2 in many years was back in 2009 in a hotly contested race between Krekorian and Chris Essel. It was a race I covered extensively in my blog, including a blow-by-blow account of almost every debate, and, boy, were there a bunch of them, held in every corner of CD2.

The campaign was ugly and generated much media coverage. Very large sums of money were in play, including union contributions from IBEW Local 18. You know, Brian D’Arcy’s boys and girls – the same ones who gave us those free-wheeling non-profit trusts who have used $40M of our money to pay for junkets and steak dinners. Allow me to digress, but I am still waiting for DWP General Manager Marcie “D’Arcy” Edwards’ reports dealing with reforming the trusts.

For all of that hoopla, rancor and treasure, the turnout was around 15.5%.

So, what are the odds of getting good signatures from 15% of the registered voters for a low profile, and likely little-publicized campaign?

You do the math.

I am sure there are quite a few residents in CD2, as in any district, who do not even know who their council members are.

“Sign what?”

“Who is Krekorian?”

There is a time and a place for recalls. When there is an adequate body of evidence strongly supporting the possibility of malfeasance, start circulating the petitions.

But it requires due diligence to build a case.

Aggrieved citizens would better serve themselves and the public by focusing on developing and funding alternative candidates for scheduled elections.

It takes work, but the sooner started, the better.


(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as President of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. The views presented are those of Mr. Hatfield and his alone and do not represent the opinions of Valley Village Homeowners Association or CityWatch. He can be reached at: [email protected].) Photo: LA Daily News. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.


Three Recalls are Better Than One

PEOPLE POWER--Valley Village has gone Hollywood. Following Howard Beale’s lead in “Network,” it’s yelling, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore.”

Valley Village has gone Hollywood in another way. It is suing the City of Los Angeles. Hollywoodians learned a long time ago that the only way to derail the developer juggernaut at City Hall is to sue. The Valley Village uprising began when Councilmember Krekorian needlessly demolished one of Marilyn Monroe’s old homes before people could have it moved to another location. See CityWatch article from August 27, 2015.

Marilyn’s former home did not even interfere with the condo project which Krekorian wanted. The mentality which prevails at City Hall is a feudal one, where each councilmember fancies himself as the Lord of his fiefdom with his constituents as serfs. Their role is to render him homage and gifts. When the peasants had the nerve to oppose the needless destruction of Marilyn’s modest home, Krekorian’s office helped the developer use an invalid permit to demolish it just three days before the Cultural Heritage Commission hearing that was to consider the matter.

Following in Hollywood’s litigation footsteps, tiny SaveValleyVillage sued the city over the illegal demolition of Marilyn’s home.

SaveValleyVillage filed a follow-up lawsuit challenging City Council’s unlawful vote trading practices wherein councilmembers agree not to vote No on a project in another council district. Penal Code 86 criminalized all vote trading agreements. That unlawful vote trading pact is the key to developer power at City Hall. All a developer has to do is be “nice” to one poor councilmember and he will be bestowed with riches that include entitlements, exemptions and financial subsidies. Not only does a developer receive an iron clad guarantee of unanimous City Council approval, but just by being nice to a council member he gets a cheap way to rape the zoning code.

With the knowledge that voters had stopped La Bonge’s hand-picked successor from being elected in Hollywood’s Council District 4, Valley Village decided not to wait for Krekorian’s re-election time, but to undertake a recall…a big challenge for such a small group.

Councilmember Krekorian’s wanton destruction of Marilyn’s former home was particularly mean spirited, but Angelenos throughout the city are treated in a similarly shabby manner. Each councilmember knows that his or her word is law within the district, thanks to the City Council’s unlawful “voting pact.”

The question for Angelenos is this: Are you sick and tired of councilmembers who are too busy obsessing over maximizing the profits of Big Business to care about your quality of your life?

If the councilmember approves a project which is patently illegal, such as the Target Store in Hollywood, he knows that it will pass unanimously. If he wants to destroy a historic home like the Bartlett Home in Hollywood or Marilyn’s home in Valley Village, he knows that the City Council will unanimously approve. If he wants to approve a mega project that will loom over nearby homes, the homeowners will soon find a humongous wall in their midst.

As an example, look at how Council President Wesson helped get hundreds of millions of dollars for developers to provide disabled accessible housing that has been allegedly pocketed by those developers and was sued by advocates of the disabled. Wesson has supported the demolition of thousands of rent controlled units, creating an artificial market for his developer buddies to construct affordable housing with funds earmarked for the disabled. Wesson and Mayor Eric Garcetti have both been shedding crocodile tears for the homeless. But in the meantime, they are steering hundreds of millions of dollars to their developer friends for the construction of “affordable housing.”

The problems besetting Valley Village and Hollywood are citywide, although Mitch O-Farrell (Council District 13) and Herb Wesson (Council District 10) are especially aloof from their constituents. If Angelenos want to really take back our city from the City Hall Overlords, maybe two more recall petitions would be a good start.

If we Angelenos, do not look out for ourselves, who else will do it? If we don’t step up now, then when? We have the tool of the “recall.” We need to find the will to use it. And three recalls are better than one.


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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