THE EASTSIDER - I owe this one to CJ Schumacher, formerly with NBC Network News, and longtime Eagle Rocker. The subject matter involves NC President Michael Sweeny doing a naughty and directly contracting Metro, supporting the BRT!
The subject is not shocking - community members have been aware of Metro putting the fix in by prearranging meetings with their supporters, tightly controlling the agenda and timelines, and the like, for a long time. In fact, I wrote about this way back in 2019. You can find the link to the article here.
[excerpt] This one is going to tear up the communities in Northeast LA for a long, long time, particularly Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and adjoining areas.
Saturday afternoon a seriously way-beyond-standing-room-only crowd overwhelmed Metro and the Community Room they reserved for a “Scoping Meeting” over the controversial BRT (fancy code for Bus Rapid Transit) Plan which may go right up Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock to Pasadena.
So … what’s it all the controversy about?
Our part of the plan, through Eagle Rock to Pasadena, had two basic choices: go on the 134 Freeway, or go along Colorado Boulevard. It turns out that in a Report presented to Metro in April (a month before the May vote), there were a multiplicity of reasons for the staff recommendation to eliminate the freeway route.
The Recommendation says, “The refined Street-Running Alternative with Route Options is the most promising alternative in terms of ridership potential, improved service reliability, opportunities for Transit Oriented Communities, and regional connectivity.”
This was the basis for Metro staff recommending the freeway alternative be scrapped in favor of running along Colorado Blvd. through Eagle Rock up to Pasadena. As word of the recommendation leaked out, folks freaked out, leading up to Saturday’s Scoping Meeting held in a small community room at the Eagle Rock Plaza.
Eagle Rock NC Self-Dealing, and the BRT
While the original action goes back to 2019, prior to the BRT being adopted by Metro, it is only recently that Freedom of Information Act requests were finally honored. Here’s a taste of what came out from Schumachers inquiries:
“Speaking of yes votes, thanks to Michele Mck we have the following tidbit in an email:
“There are many new discoveries in the last few days, such as:
These TERA board members, Severin Martinez (LADOT) and Michael McDonald have been lobbying Metro illegally for years, they are not registered lobbyists - see attachment). There will be a complaint forthcoming this week to many agencies, that Metro has covertly worked with these unauthorized lobbyists to create the 1-lane "staff recommended" beautiful blvd design for Eagle Rock. We have dozens of the PRA record requests to prove this covert collusion between Metro LADOT, TERA, ERNC, and City of LA-Mayors office., against the public, against the wishes of Eagle Rock residents and business owners. Also Metro employees have been illegally harassing and doxing ER business owners on Twitter to thousands of bike activists at LACounty Bike Coalition. Also this TERA non-profit is illegally lobbying.
Also, PRA proof of Metro, and Severin Martinez colluding with...
Michael Schneider( "founded Streets For All (streetsforall.org) in 2019 to promote freedom of choice around transportation in his hometown and he passionately believes that everyone has the right to get to where they are going safely, regardless of their mode of transportation.). - to handle communication from Metro”.
"Mr. Hartwell, this letter was passed by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council on 10/6/20 and due the City's ban on Neighborhood Councils communicating with Metro directly, was addressed to Councilman Kevin de Leon. NC motions, letters and minutes are public record as a matter of course. so, I am submitting this as a private citizen to ensure that the Eagle Rock neighborhood is not unduly muzzled by the inactions of its Councilmember and the troubled period where we were without effective representation due to the prior Councilman's corruption indictments. Attached is the adopted letter from the ERNC from 10/6/20 as well as the minutes of the ERNC's 9/1/20 meeting which include direct source comments that were taken."
“It is well known throughout the Eagle Rock Community that Michael Sweeney is a Architect by trade. His main goal has been to receive a contract with METRO. (design some block of Colorado Blvd. ) He has submitted Architectural renderings to the MTA (which they used in public presentations and flyers) He admits such in various news outlets, upon being questioned by various community members he trys to sidestep the issues & conflicts of interest.”
Can We Trust DONE?
So where was Raquel Beltran and DONE during all of this self-dealing happening? Evidently nowhere to be found.
This had to be a conscious act by DONE. The “private” email by a NC President is way over the line by any rational analysis. If something like this had been done by one of the NC’s that Beltran didn’t like, it would be off to the races of “Exhaustive Efforts”.
For that matter, where were all the City Attorneys that DONE has who are always nit-picking NC actions and telling them what they can and cannot do. I am forced to the conclusion that Beltran’s actions were simply low down and dirty politics.
Someone needs to make DONE more transparent. Can the “Interim” General Manager do the job? See attached emails.
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)