I Don’t Know Much About The Law But This Latest Pleading Filed By The City Of PVE Seems Pretty Crackpot To Me — Are They Really Arguing That Mark Velez Was Automatically Named As A Party To The Case When Jeff Kepley Resigned And Therefore It Is Vexatious Harassment To Suggest To The Court That Mark Velez Be Named As A Party?!

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case.

A couple weeks ago the plaintiffs in this most Byzantine of cases filed “a suggestion” to the court, which evidently is a genuine type of pleading, noting that because Jeff Kepley was being sued in his official capacity and had resigned as chief of the PVEPD, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d) required that he be automatically dropped as a party to the suit and his successor, who is Mark Velez, acting chief of the PVEPD, be substituted in.

Well, on Tuesday, the City filed a response to the suggestion which, I think, claims that because FRCP 25(d) provides that Jeff Kepley was automatically substituted out and Mark Velez substituted in, the court need not do anything and therefore the suggestion “serves no purpose other than to harass Captain Velez by subjecting him to the publicity of being named as a defendant in this lawsuit” when he’s going to be removed as chief in a few weeks.

I mean, I admit I’m not a lawyer and that I only have a tenuous grasp of what’s going on in many of these papers, but this one seems particularly crazy to me. Everyone admits that Kepley is no longer a party and that Velez is now a party and that this happened automatically when Kepley resigned. Everyone admits that it doesn’t matter what the judge does about it.

So why is it wrong to bring Jeff Kepley’s resignation to the attention of the Judge? How’s he supposed to find out about it if no one tells him? Why does mentioning Mark Velez’s appearance as a defendent constitute harassment after it has already happened? Well, the answer is probably, as is often the case with these people, “who freaking knows?!” There’s a transcription, as always, after the break.
Continue reading I Don’t Know Much About The Law But This Latest Pleading Filed By The City Of PVE Seems Pretty Crackpot To Me — Are They Really Arguing That Mark Velez Was Automatically Named As A Party To The Case When Jeff Kepley Resigned And Therefore It Is Vexatious Harassment To Suggest To The Court That Mark Velez Be Named As A Party?!

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How I Reported Fashion District BID Executive Director Rena Leddy To The Ethics Commission For (a) Failing To Register As A Lobbyist And (b) Failing To Recuse From A DLANC Vote For Conflict Of Interest

As you may already know quite well, in the City of Los Angeles, people are required by the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance to register with the Ethics Commission if they’re compensated for 30 hours of lobbying activity over three consecutive months.1 This year I’ve been working on reporting BID consultants to the Ethics Commission for failure to comply. So far I’ve filed two complaints, both against Tara Devine, one for her work on the Venice Beach BID and another for her work on the South Park BID.

But consultants aren’t the only BID people who spend their time trying to influence municipal legislation.2 BID staff actually spend a huge amount of time on this as well, and they never ever register as lobbyists. Also, they have never, in the entire history of Los Angeles, ever been called to account for failing to register. In fact, they’ve fought vigorously against the very idea that their work is even subject to the MLO.3

Consequently I’ve been working on expanding my unregistered lobbyist reporting project to BID staff as well. I kicked off the modern era of this project4 today by filing a complaint against Rena Leddy, executive directrix of the Fashion District BID, for failing to register and also for violating conflict of interest laws. You can read the whole complaint if you wish, and there’s a detailed discussion after the break.5
Continue reading How I Reported Fashion District BID Executive Director Rena Leddy To The Ethics Commission For (a) Failing To Register As A Lobbyist And (b) Failing To Recuse From A DLANC Vote For Conflict Of Interest

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Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Recall that in May 2016 the City of Los Angeles filed a motion asking Judge James Otero to clarify his preliminary injunction against enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC §56.11 within the boundaries of Skid Row. Recently plaintiffs’ attorney Carol Sobel filed a scathing opposition to the City’s motion. Otero then ruled that he could dispose of the motion without a hearing.

Earlier today he filed an order doing just that. He denied the City’s motion entirely and accused them of asking him to rule on abstractions and complex constitutional issues which had not yet come up in practice in this case. This he declined to do, rightly in my opinion, leaving the City with no option but to buckle down and follow the freaking law for once. There’s a transcription after the break.
Continue reading Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

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Lunada Bay Boys News Roundup: More Discovery Matters, October 12 Hearing Set Before Rozella Oliver — Tiffany Bacon Withdraws As Attorney To Ferraras — Plaintiffs File Memorandum Supporting Discovery Request For Work-Related Texts From PVEPD Officers’ Personal Cell Phones

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case.

The latest episode in the ongoing nightmare that is the discovery process in this case is summarized in this minute order setting the schedule for dealing with the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions against Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee. You can read a transcription after the break to get the details, but essentially everyone has to meet and confer and a strict briefing schedule is set. There is an in-person hearing scheduled for October 12 at 10 a.m. in Courtroom F on the ninth floor of the Spring Street Federal Courthouse.

And turn the page for the story on the other items mentioned in the headline!
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys News Roundup: More Discovery Matters, October 12 Hearing Set Before Rozella Oliver — Tiffany Bacon Withdraws As Attorney To Ferraras — Plaintiffs File Memorandum Supporting Discovery Request For Work-Related Texts From PVEPD Officers’ Personal Cell Phones

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Video Of Third Interested Persons’ Meeting Now Available, Featuring Among Other Things Some Exceptionally Whiny Non-Profits Whose Whole Argument Against Regulation Seems To Be That The Ethics Commission Is Strapping Extra Pianos To Their Back Just Like Donald Trump Does To Poor People, Conveniently Forgetting The Fact That Nonprofit Status Is A Huge Freaking Public Subsidy

No doubt you recall that the Los Angeles Ethics Commission is presently working on proposing revisions to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance (MLO) and that part of the process has been to hold a bunch of meetings to gather input. I recorded the first of these, which turned out to be quite interesting. The second focused on neighborhood councils and I’m working on obtaining an audio recording of it.

The third meeting focused on nonprofit organizations that lobby the City. I wasn’t able to make it, but fortunately for all of us, it was recorded by Bobby Buck, a brave citizen journalist. He posted his recording on YouTube for all to watch and listen. The main issue under discussion here is which 501(c)(3) organizations will be exempt from the registration and disclosure requirements of the MLO. Currently the law at §48.03(E) presently exempts 501(c)(3)s from the requirements if they receive:

… funding from any federal, state or local government agency for the purpose of representing the interests of indigent persons and whose primary purpose is to provide direct services to those persons, if the individual or individuals represented by the organization before any City agency provide no payment to the organization for that representation.

The Ethics Commission staff is proposing1 that this be tightened up to exempt only:

501(c)(3) organizations that receive government funding and are created primarily to provide basic life assistance to disadvantaged clients at a rate that is significantly below market (and their employees engaged in the same activity).

The meeting is more than 90 minutes of the usual bitching and moaning, and I’ll write on various episodes as I have time. Tonight’s installment concerns these comments by yet another genius, this one from the Inner City Law Center, who thinks that just because he claims to be doing good in the world no one really has the right to question anything he says or does, let alone subject his organization to any kind of registration or disclosure requirements.2 Turn the page for a transcription of some of his remarks and some commentary.
Continue reading Video Of Third Interested Persons’ Meeting Now Available, Featuring Among Other Things Some Exceptionally Whiny Non-Profits Whose Whole Argument Against Regulation Seems To Be That The Ethics Commission Is Strapping Extra Pianos To Their Back Just Like Donald Trump Does To Poor People, Conveniently Forgetting The Fact That Nonprofit Status Is A Huge Freaking Public Subsidy

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Tentative Settlement Reached In Street Vending Lawsuit Against Fashion District BID And City Of Los Angeles

You can read up on the background in this 2015 LA times story and also in our multiple stories on the subject. Most of the paper filed in the case is available here.

The monumental lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District BID for their abominable treatment of street vendors was set for trial in January. However, papers filed with the court yesterday announce that the plaintiffs have reached a settlement with the City and as soon as it’s approved, a process which can take many months for it to work its way through Committees and Council, they will drop the case against both the City and the BID. Hence they asked Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell to put the calendar on hold until the settlement is approved.

Today Virginia Phillips, Chief Judge of the local federal district, issued an order vacating the schedule in anticipation of this settlement. You can read the joint notice of pending settlement that inspired the order, and, as always, there’s a transcript of both documents after the break.
Continue reading Tentative Settlement Reached In Street Vending Lawsuit Against Fashion District BID And City Of Los Angeles

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Experimental CPRA Request To San Francisco County Supervisor Aaron Peskin For Emails To/From Union Square BID Director Karin Flood On A Subject Found In Her Lobbying Disclosure Demonstrate The Utility Of Detailed Contact Reporting By Registered Lobbyists

One of the major issues in the currently ongoing process of revising this City’s Municipal Lobbying Ordinance has to do with the level of detail about their contacts with City officials that lobbyists should be required to disclose. Currently they don’t have to disclose much, but there’s a proposal on the table to require them to disclose each contact with a City official including which issue was discussed.

Naturally, the lobbyists hate this idea. Their big argument against it, which has, to their everlasting shame, been echoed by a number of Ethics Commissioners, is that this level of disclosure would require so much work that the entire lobbying industry in Los Angeles would be driven into bankruptcy. This, of course, is ridiculous, not least because, just for instance, our silicon-addled redheaded step-cousins up North in the City and County of San Francisco require precisely this information on their disclosure forms without, obviously, having driven the industry into the ground. It’s fascinating to look at these disclosures, by the way. Check out San Francisco’s lobbyist directory for links to all of it.1

And one of the major arguments in favor of requiring lobbyists to disclose each contact with a City official and the issue discussed is that it would facilitate requesting records of the City via the California Public Records Act, and thus promote transparency. This is a great argument in the abstract, but concrete arguments are always more persuasive.2 Oh, I forgot to mention it, but in San Francisco, BID staffers register as lobbyists, unlike in Los Angeles.3 So, in keeping with the blog’s BID theme, I thought I’d try out my little test on Karin Flood, executive directrix of San Francisco’s Union Square BID. Turn the page to find out what happened!
Continue reading Experimental CPRA Request To San Francisco County Supervisor Aaron Peskin For Emails To/From Union Square BID Director Karin Flood On A Subject Found In Her Lobbying Disclosure Demonstrate The Utility Of Detailed Contact Reporting By Registered Lobbyists

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Who Is In Charge Of The Palos Verdes Estates Police Department? Jeff Kepley Is Definitely Out, But Other Than That No One At The City Is Talking, At Least They’re Not Talking To Judge James Otero

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit.ames Also see here to download all pleadings in this case.

A very peculiar pleading in this most peculiar of cases hit PACER last night, in . It seems that PVE police chief Jeff Kepley retired at some point recently. Since he’s being sued in his official capacity rather than his personal capacity, it appears that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d) requires that Jeff Kepley be dropped from the suit and his successor named instead:

Public Officers; Death or Separation from Office. An action does not abate when a public officer who is a party in an official capacity dies, resigns, or otherwise ceases to hold office while the action is pending. The officer’s successor is automatically substituted as a party. Later proceedings should be in the substituted party’s name, but any misnomer not affecting the parties’ substantial rights must be disregarded. The court may order substitution at any time, but the absence of such an order does not affect the substitution.

So, very reasonably, it seems, plaintiffs’ attorney Kurt Franklin filed a Suggestion to the Court that the acting Chief, who seems to be Mark Velez at this point, be substituted in.1 This seems to be fairly inconsequential in that the rule seems to say that the substitution happens irrespective of whether anyone acknowledges it, but it also seems like the kind of thing one would want to tell the court about. If it comes up later and one knew about it and didn’t tell the court, how weird is that going to look?

Not that the City of PVE is worried about such niceties. As with everything to do with the City’s involvement in this case, the events leading up to this filing have an air of shady incompetence, evasion, and deception. It hasn’t yet been proven that this weirdo little City on a Hill has anything to hide, but they surely do act as if they do. So what’s one more little item like not telling the court that the freaking chief of police retired?

As always there’s a transcription after the break, as well as a timeline of key events.
Continue reading Who Is In Charge Of The Palos Verdes Estates Police Department? Jeff Kepley Is Definitely Out, But Other Than That No One At The City Is Talking, At Least They’re Not Talking To Judge James Otero

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More Scenes From The First Interested Persons’ Meeting — Über-Lobbyist Bill Delvac Reveals That His Clients Tactically Report Their Opponents In The Land Use Wars To The Ethics Commission As Unregistered Lobbyists But No Action Is Ever Taken — Heather Holt Corrects Him With Provocative Obliquity: “Perhaps No Public Action,” Quoth She

Oh dear, CPRA material from various BIDs, fascinating stuff, is pouring in as usual and just piling up on my metaphorical desk while I write post after post after post about the Ethics Commission‘s ongoing effort to revise the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. Well, it can’t be helped, because the MLO is essential.1 Part of the process is holding a bunch of meetings to seek input, the first of which took place last Thursday.2 I’ve also posted my take on the various proposals. I’ll get to the BID stuff as soon as possible, friends, but meanwhile, here’s yet another MLO post.3

If you’ve been following the conversation you’ll know that the lobbyists opposing the proposed revisions have argued consistently that the City doesn’t need more regulations imposed on lobbyists who, according to them anyway, desperately want to follow the law but instead needs to register the herds of unregistered and unregulated lobbyists swarming around City Hall.4

They’re not wrong that there are far, far too many unregistered lobbyists. Turning these people in to the Ethics Commission is one of the main purposes of this blog and I have, uncharacteristically, to agree with the registered lobbyists that there are an awful lot of unregistered lobbyists haunting 200 N. Spring Street and that the ease with which they can be detected is astonishing.5

Where they are wrong is in their claim that there’s some kind of dichotomy between registering the unregistered and revising the laws. Mostly the people pushing this idea, that somehow revising the law and registering the unregistered are mutually exclusive, seem to be doing it only to distract everyone’s attention from how badly the present law needs revision and, possibly, how badly their subterranean activities might be exposed were the law to be revised.

At least that’s how it sounded in last week’s meeting when John Howland, late of the CCALA but more recently employed by Arnie Berghoff and Associates, broke out with the same old routine, of which I’ll spare you a transcription, because it’s essentially content-free. However, at that same meeting supervillainesque land use attorney Bill Delvac also had quite a lot to say, most of which, in contrast to the self-serving contributions of his fellow flacks in the so-called regulated community, was quite interesting.

On the subject of unregistered lobbyists, for instance, Bill Delvac asserted that not only were there bunches of them, but that many of the lawyers who professionally oppose development projects are engaged in lobbying, and that essentially none of them are registered. He also, surprisingly to me, revealed that many of his clients had reported such lawyers to the Ethics Commission but that no action had been taken. Heather Holt, executive director of the Commission, corrected him, saying “perhaps no public action.”

And turn the page for some comments on the more technical parts of what Bill Delvac had to say, including the only colorable argument I’ve ever heard against a compensation-based definition as the main criterion for registration as a lobbyist.6 There is also, as usual, a transcription of all relevant remarks.
Continue reading More Scenes From The First Interested Persons’ Meeting — Über-Lobbyist Bill Delvac Reveals That His Clients Tactically Report Their Opponents In The Land Use Wars To The Ethics Commission As Unregistered Lobbyists But No Action Is Ever Taken — Heather Holt Corrects Him With Provocative Obliquity: “Perhaps No Public Action,” Quoth She

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My Letter To The Ethics Commission On Proposed Revisions To The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance

As you may already know, the City Ethics Commission is in the process of proposing revisions to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. The full proposal is here. They’ve been holding meetings to solicit input and, given the anti-regulatory stance adopted by a significant number of the Commissioners recently, it’s essential that right-minded people get their comments in to ethics.policy@lacity.org soonest.

I’ve been working on a letter for a few weeks now,1 and yesterday I finally finished it. You can get a copy of the PDF or read a transcription after the break. Please feel free to use any part of this to guide or inspire your own letters, which, as I said, I really hope you will send in as soon as possible.

The next Commission meeting is on October 17, and I’m told by staff that all comments received by a few days before then will be distributed to the Commissioners. If you can get your comments in pretty soon, though, they’ll also be discussed by staff prior to finalizing the proposals, which may be a good thing.
Continue reading My Letter To The Ethics Commission On Proposed Revisions To The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance

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