Category Archives: Los Angeles City Council

How José Huizar Was Desperate In 2017 — Gil Cedillo Too — For Anyone — Anyone At All — To Support Demolishing Parker Center Cause Everyone — Like Everyone! — Wanted To Preserve It — So Huizar Flunkies Megan Teramoto And Ari Simon — Who Used A Secret Email Address By The Way — And Cedillo Flunky Gerald Gubatan — Ginned Up Support From A Bunch Of Little Tokyo Business And Property Owners — Coached Them In How To Comment — And The Little Tokyo-Ites Did It To Gain Huizar’s Support For Their Favored Projects — And That Is How Community Buy-In Is Bought And Sold At 200 N. Spring Street


To get some context for the events discussed herein, take a look at this excellent preservation-minded timeline.

In late 2016 the erstwhile LAPD headquarters known as Parker Center was yet again threatened with demolition.1 CD14 repster José Huizar made some pretty noises about preserving it, but really, there’s no money in that for anyone, and by January of 2017, when a crucial series of hearings began, he had thrown the full weight of his councilmanic power behind the wrecking ball.

And even though the decision on Parker Center was strictly up to the City Council, which can unilaterally override every City commission or board, and that means that the decision was strictly up to Huizar alone,2 for whatever reason Huizar apparently was reluctant to tear the building down based on nothing more than his raw desire and power to do so.

It’s hard to say why this was the case. Possibly because the Cultural Heritage Commission had taken the fairly unprecedented step of recommending Historic-Cultural Monument status on their own motion, or maybe because the mostly reliably subservient Los Angeles Times had editorialized against demolition, or possibly because phone calls to his office were disproportionately in favor of not tearing the damn building down.

In fact, according to Kristin Fukushima of the Little Tokyo Community Council quoting an unnamed Huizar staffer, CD14 had “gotten like 20 calls this am telling us to preserve it and none to demo it. Also extremely expecting like 40 ppl tomorrow to show up supporting preservation.” In a city with a functioning representative democracy we might at this point expect Huizar to change his position given that no one seemed to support him.3 But this is Los Angeles, friends, which is why instead of changing his position he did what Councilmembers always do when faced with this dilemma.

That is, he ordered his staff to go out and gin up some supporters to come give favorable comment at some meetings in favor of his already-determined position. Comments from the public in favor of whatever a given CM has already decided to do are pearls of great price at 200 N. Spring Street, the preferred medium of exchange, the Fort Knox gold that backs the currency in which political capital is measured.4 Such comments, along with letters to council files, and similar things, are collectively known as community buy-in. A Los Angeles City Councilmember can generally do whatever they want to do, but with community buy-in they can do it with impunity.5

So Huizar’s aides set out to buy some buy-in. They hit up people from business improvement districts and like-minded nonprofits, e.g. the Little Tokyo BID, the Downtown Center BID, the Little Tokyo Service Center, and the Little Tokyo Community Council. And these paid commenters6 showed up in force and did what they were expected to do. And I’ve obtained dozens of emails showing the coordination,7 the use of Gmail addresses by at least one Huizar staffer, the unexplained participation of Gil Cedillo’s planning deputy Gerald Gubatan, and the expected quid pro quo in the form of Huizar’s anticipated support for various Little-Tokyo-centric pet projects. Turn the page for links to and transcriptions of selections from these emails, arranged into an epistolary narrative!
Continue reading How José Huizar Was Desperate In 2017 — Gil Cedillo Too — For Anyone — Anyone At All — To Support Demolishing Parker Center Cause Everyone — Like Everyone! — Wanted To Preserve It — So Huizar Flunkies Megan Teramoto And Ari Simon — Who Used A Secret Email Address By The Way — And Cedillo Flunky Gerald Gubatan — Ginned Up Support From A Bunch Of Little Tokyo Business And Property Owners — Coached Them In How To Comment — And The Little Tokyo-Ites Did It To Gain Huizar’s Support For Their Favored Projects — And That Is How Community Buy-In Is Bought And Sold At 200 N. Spring Street

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A Detailed Analysis Of The Cash Flowing In And Out Of Mitch O’Farrell’s Public Benefits Slush Fund — Developers Pay Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For The Privilege Of Building Out-Of-Code Projects — O’Farrell Spends The Money On Projects That Please His Political Supporters — It Seems Unlikely That There’s Any Net Benefit To Anyone But Zillionaires — This Is No Way To Run A City

A developer wants to build a building that’s taller than the local zoning allows, or has less parking than required. Maybe there are pesky historical structures on the proposed site or the new building will attract enough additional traffic to gridlock the streets around it. There are any number of reasons why a given building might not be allowed. It’ll still get built, though.

The developer will just have to pay hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to the appropriate councilmember to get it approved. And these payments are inextricably integrated into our City’s building approval process. One might even suspect, and not without reason, that the ultimate purpose of zoning codes in Los Angeles is to induce developers to pay for exceptions to them.

And it’s not bribery, at least not the illegal kind. The CM doesn’t get to pocket the money. Instead it goes into one of the dozens of City trust funds set up specifically for receiving such monies. Just for instance, Mitch O’Farrell, CD13 repster, has one called the “Council District 13 Public Benefits Trust Fund.” It’s authorized by the Los Angeles Administrative Code at §5.414 ” for the receipt, retention and disbursement of gifts, contributions and bequests for the support of police and community activities within Council District 13.”

The fees are imposed on developers by the City Council at the behest of the relevant CM. To see an example of how this works take a look at CF 07-1379, wherein some developers sought permission to build another mixed-use monstrosity in Hollywood, this one at 1540 N. Vine Street.1 The developers got what they came for, which was Ordinance Number 178,836, authorizing construction. And in there, buried among other conditions, will be found paragraphs 26 and 27, stating how much money they’re going to give to Mitch O’Farrell in exchange for their zoning changes:
Continue reading A Detailed Analysis Of The Cash Flowing In And Out Of Mitch O’Farrell’s Public Benefits Slush Fund — Developers Pay Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For The Privilege Of Building Out-Of-Code Projects — O’Farrell Spends The Money On Projects That Please His Political Supporters — It Seems Unlikely That There’s Any Net Benefit To Anyone But Zillionaires — This Is No Way To Run A City

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José Huizar Files Totally Formulaic Response To Medina Complaint — Also Challenges Assigned Judge Barbara Meiers — Affirming That She Is So Biased That He “cannot, or believes that he cannot, have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before” Her! — What’s Up With That?!

Unaccountably-not-yet-resigned City Councilmember José Huizar has two lawsuits pending against him, filed by former employees. Both of them most plausibly allege at least 31 flavors of harassment, outlawry, and workplace insanity against him. One was filed by Mayra Alvarez, his former scheduler, and you can read about it here. The other, filed a week later by Pauline Medina, is discussed here.

And last week Huizar filed his response to Medina’s complaint, and I got a copy of it yesterday (and added it to my growing collection of pleadings here on Archive.Org). And it’s not that interesting. These first answers to complaints rarely are. It’s basically just a list of reasons why Huizar denies everything. In fact, the most interesting thing about it is that it’s essentially cribbed from his answer to Alvarez, filed the week before it. I suppose if he’s going to make a habit of inducing these kind of lawsuits, he might as well save money by developing a generic response form.

But that wasn’t the only thing filed last week. Huizar also filed this peremptory challenge to Judge Barbara Meiers. The California Code of Civil Procedure at §170.6(a) allows any litigant to file such a challenge to one judge per case by affirming that the judge is biased against the party. It’s not required to present evidence for this.

I’m not sure what it is that Huizar has against Meier, and there’s not much on the Internet that tends to enlighten. Meier’s reviews on the Robing Room are pretty uniformly abysmal, but that’s true for most judges, it seems, so we’re probably never going to know the facts. Turn the page to read the actual code section!
Continue reading José Huizar Files Totally Formulaic Response To Medina Complaint — Also Challenges Assigned Judge Barbara Meiers — Affirming That She Is So Biased That He “cannot, or believes that he cannot, have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before” Her! — What’s Up With That?!

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José Huizar And City Of Los Angeles File Answers To Mayra Alvarez’s Complaint — Get Your Copies Here! — Also We Have A Copy Of Pauline Medina’s Complaint Against José Huizar — With Even More Stupid José Tricks!

On October 22, 2018, Mayra Alvarez, a former CD14 staffer, filed suit against her old boss José Huizar and the City Of Los Angeles, alleging that he created a bizarre, hostile, sexually threatening, and retaliatory work environment. The Times had a good article about it at the time and I published a copy of Alvarez’s complaint as well. And on December 20, 2018 Huizar and the City of Los Angeles both filed their replies to Alvarez’s petition. I finally managed to lay my hands on copies and you can get them here:

And I mean, don’t hesitate to read them, but the sad fact is that all of these petition answers are routine. Basically they all say (a) we didn’t do it but (b) if we did do it no harm was done and (c) if harm was done we’re legally not responsible but (d) if we are responsible the plaintiff brought it all on herself so we don’t owe money. It’s very ritualistic.

But tonight’s other news is not at all ritualistic. In the blinding light generated by Alvarez’s petition it’s easy to forget that she was not the only plaintiff who filed a complaint against Huizar in October. Again, David Zahniser at the Times had an excellent story on the matter, and again I have a copy of the complaint for you. This petition contains many of the same themes as Alvarez’s, but at least some very different factual allegations. Huizar again comes off as a domineering sexual aggressor as well as a petulant, vengeful, possessive, and borderline violent boss. Also newly revealed is the claim that Medina was first hired by Huizar in 2008 because she is the mother of his nephew.

Some of Medina’s allegations are familiar from Alvarez’s complaint, e.g. tension created by Huizar’s multiple affairs with his staffers, his demands for personal services, fundraising improprieties related to Bishop Salesian High, and so on. Indeed, some of the language is copied verbatim between the complaints. However, some of the allegations are quite different. Medina alleges, for instance, that Huizar routinely spent City money on family parties and other events unrelated to City business, which we didn’t see in Alvarez’s complaint.

Also, it seems that prior to August 2017 Huizar’s staffers were allowed to work from home at will, or even skip work without charging the time to vacation or sick leave. She says, though, that at that time Huizar, through his chief of staff Paul Habib, changed the policy to allow him to track the location of his current mistress.1 In particular Habib told Alvarez to quiz the staff on their intended whereabouts every morning and then send him an email telling him where they were going to be.

She also claims that through this new tracking duty and for other reasons she was forced into complicity with Huizar’s mistress’s lies to Habib about her attendance at work and that ultimately Huizar and Habib retaliated against her for complaining about these and similar matters. And, as always, turn the page for selections.
Continue reading José Huizar And City Of Los Angeles File Answers To Mayra Alvarez’s Complaint — Get Your Copies Here! — Also We Have A Copy Of Pauline Medina’s Complaint Against José Huizar — With Even More Stupid José Tricks!

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Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

A couple days ago, based on a huge release of emails, I wrote about collusion between the LAPD, LA Sanitation, and property owner Miguel Nelson, which facilitated his installation of the hostile anti-homeless landscaping project known as “North Sea” in Skid Row. It’s axiomatic, of course, that something as controversial and on such a broad scale could never ever in a million years be approved in Los Angeles without the support of the Councilmember in whose district the project situates,in this case that is José Huizar, disgraced CD14 repster.

And yet it seems that no evidence has yet been adduced to support this notion, at least not until now! But it turns out that as part of its investigation into Nelson’s anti-homeless planters, KCRW got copies of all the permits from the City, which I uploaded to Archive.Org for the sake of stable access, and you can get a copy right here. It’s a huge file, more than 400 pages, and as part of the permitting process for such projects it’s required to obtain letters of support from various City departments, among them the Council Office.

So right in there, among the proofs of insurance and detailed diagrams and so on, is an email from erstwhile Huizar staffer Ari Simon to Bureau of Engineering staff supporting the project:

On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 2:29 PM, Ari Simon <ari.simon@lacity.org> wrote:

Hi Shay,

Wanted to let you know that at this time, Council District 14 is in support of moving forward with an application for R-permits to do beautification work around the area of 4th / Towne as requested by Miguel Nelson.

As the project moves forward, we ask that BOE adhere to the requests made by BSS, asking that a full plan of what exactly will be planted where is included, that any areas of planting are contained by concrete, and that plans comply with BOE’s determination of a clear and generally straight path of pedestrian travel.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Warmly,

Ari

Continue reading Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

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Massive Record Release — Including Emails Between Skid Row LAPD, Deputy City Attorneys, Council Staffers, Property Owners — Shows Among Many Other Things Extensive City Collusion In Skid Row Anti-Homeless Landscaping Projects — Like Miguel Nelson’s North Sea Horror Show — Encampment Cleanups Scheduled To Suit Needs Of Property Owners — Photographs, Briefing Documents, Sanitation Cleanup Schedules — And So Much Else It’s Not Possible To List

I recently obtained part of a vast set of records from the LAPD, comprising emails between four officers and a long list of people involved with homeless issues on Skid Row as well as a wide variety of other materials which was attached to the emails. The officers are Marc Reina, Aloaf Walker, Robert Arcos, and Keith Bertonneau. Their correspondents are many, but in particular property owner Miguel Nelson, deputy city attorneys Kurt Knecht and Gita O’Neill, and LA Sanitation staffer Bladimir Campos.

This is an incredibly rich, incredibly complex set of material. The whole thing, or as much as I have so far as I am told there is more to come, is here on Archive.Org. There are many, many enlightening stories to be told from these sources, and I will be posting on some of them over the next few days.1 Also, I hope to publish a list of some of this stuff soon with brief descriptions. But I have extracted one important story for you this evening.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about anti-homeless planters in Venice of one sort or another, installed illegally and passively tolerated or even actively assisted by the City of Los Angeles. But the latest round of weaponized agriculture started last year in Skid Row with the so-called North Sea Project, which also involved giant heavy planters taking up the sidewalk to prevent people from sleeping there.

This North Sea installation was guided mostly by local property owner Miguel Nelson.2 According to KCRW Nelson obtained permits from the City for his hostile landscaping, unlike the copycats in Venice. The purpose of these planters, anti-homeless and pro-gentrification, was widely reported in the international press. Even the SRNC Formation Committee’s own General Jeff weighed in on the anti-human motivation behind these abominations.

But what I haven’t seen reported on anywhere is the astonishing level of City complicity in the installation of these Skid Row planters, which exceeds at least what we know about parallel issues in Venice.3 The evidence shows that the City of Los Angeles conspired with Miguel Nelson to coordinate the installation of sidewalk fencing on the east side of Towne Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets with an Operation Healthy Streets raid.

Bladimir Campos of LA Sanitation gave Nelson five days advance notice of the cleanup so that he would have time to schedule his fence crew to barricade off the public sidewalk to prevent encampments from returning before he had a chance to install the planters. Note that five days is even more notice than the people living in the encampment got! Further, on the day that the cleanup crew was working Campos instructed his subordinates to give Nelson real-time estimates of their arrival. There’s no reason to suspect that this level of cooperation wasn’t in play through the whole North Sea installation process.

This is in sharp contrast to the City’s refusal, which continues to this day, to give homeless rights advocates advance notice of cleanups so that they can be observed and recorded. Interestingly, the City is expressly forbidden by the California Public Records Act from releasing or refusing to release information based on the purpose it’s to be used for,4 and yet that is exactly what they’ve done in this case by releasing it to be used against homeless people but withholding it from those who would use it to defend their rights.

It’s also in sharp contrast to the City’s stated purpose for Operation Healthy Streets, which like most5 such tools placed in the hands of the City has been weaponized to serve the interests of property owners. The mission at one time seems to have been fairly humane. Nothing to do with clearing out encampments so that property owners can colonize the space with planters:

Operation Healthy Streets (OHS) was implemented in 2012 as a robust homeless community outreach program designed to provide adequate notice and identify high-risk people in need of services and assistance.

As always, turn the page for links to and transcriptions of the actual evidence.
Continue reading Massive Record Release — Including Emails Between Skid Row LAPD, Deputy City Attorneys, Council Staffers, Property Owners — Shows Among Many Other Things Extensive City Collusion In Skid Row Anti-Homeless Landscaping Projects — Like Miguel Nelson’s North Sea Horror Show — Encampment Cleanups Scheduled To Suit Needs Of Property Owners — Photographs, Briefing Documents, Sanitation Cleanup Schedules — And So Much Else It’s Not Possible To List

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The Hollywood Forever Cemetery Violated Alcohol Laws Or Regulations For Years While Will Salao Was Running The LA Metro Office — And Then Gerry Sanchez Took Over In 2017 After Will Salao Was Arrested For Corruption And Tried To Restore Compliance — And Marisol Rodriguez From CD13 And Julie Nony From The LAPD Attacked Him And Snitched To Kevin DeLeon On Him — And Gerry Sanchez Just Caved Under Pressure — Said He Would “Eat Shit And Walk It Back” — Didn’t He Take An Oath To Uphold The Freaking Law??

NOTE: The records discussed in this post tell an interesting story. But the story of how I got my hands on these records is also interesting, and you can read it here.

If you’ve spent much time in Hollywood you’ve noticed the wildly popular movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. They’re sponsored by Cinespia and have been going on since 2002. These events have been the subject of sycophantic only-in-Los-Angeles style coverage in local news outlets since forever. E.g. in 2015 the L.A. Times explained:

As the smell of popcorn and weed wafted through the air, DJ Ana Calderon spun “Sweet Caroline” and smiling hipsters lined up to snap shots in a candy-festooned photo booth that had been designed by pop artist Alia Penner…

Or the L.A. Weekly:

There’s even a cute deejay girl spinning a pitch-perfect assortment of swinging 1960s classics while 4,000 moviegoers trickle their way into the “theater,” picnic baskets, blankets and beach chairs in tow.

“Want some, Dani?” asks the cool mom to my left, extending a plastic cup filled with red wine my way.

Bring your own weed! Bring your own wine! Cute deejay girl! Cool mom! Famous dead people! You can even buy drinks from the bar! What could be more pleasant on a beautiful summer’s night in Los Angeles?! Who could ask for anything more??!

Well, evidently the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control could ask for anything more. Remember Will Salao? Ultracorrupt former ABC district manager, indicted by the feds for bribery and abuse of authority and probably a federal snitch? It seems that for years Will Salao pointedly did not worry about any problems with the drunk movies at the cemetery.

But his 2017 replacement, putatively new broom and special agent in charge Gerry Sanchez, immediately noticed something funny about these events at the Cemetery that evidently had been just fine with bribe-accepting Will Salao. They were breaking the damn law by letting people bring booze in, or at least Gerry Sanchez thought they were breaking the law, or maybe it was a regulation. No one ever seems to have identified the specific law they were breaking. And he did what seems to be his job and told them that it was against the law for people to bring their own alcohol in to the movie screenings and they would have to stop.

And you can guess what happened next, right? The cemetery bitched and moaned and complained to their elected representatives and so forth but then the LAPD and the City government stepped up in favor of everyone following the damn law! We’ve seen how diligent they were in conspiring against nightclubs on Hollywood Blvd, for instance, with LAPD, CD13, and City Planning teaming up to get them all shut down on the basis of obsessively compiled lists of violations. So why wouldn’t they defend the law in this instance as well? You remember the law, don’t you? It’s that thing we’re all equal under.

Actually, nope. It seems that when you’ve got 4,000 palefaced happy hipsters swilling wine and smoking weed on the lawn things work very, very differently from situations with a different color scheme. In this case, rather than spending years trying to shut down the putative violators with every creepy cop trick known to the power elite, CD13’s Marisol Rodriguez, the LAPD’s Julie Nony, and Baydsar Thomasian of Kevin DeLeon’s office basically swarmed special agent in charge Gerry Sanchez and yelled at him until he gave up and decided to let the cemetery continue breaking the law. That is, if there even was a law broken.

And then, because the guy’s no hero, he spent the next few days whining about it to his superiors instead of honoring the oath he took to defend the law. Or instead of realizing that no law had been broken and owning up to that. Either way, the guy’s a loser, but then we already knew that. Turn the page, of course, for every last detailed piece of this no-heroes-involved story, told, as usual, by means of transcribed emails.
Continue reading The Hollywood Forever Cemetery Violated Alcohol Laws Or Regulations For Years While Will Salao Was Running The LA Metro Office — And Then Gerry Sanchez Took Over In 2017 After Will Salao Was Arrested For Corruption And Tried To Restore Compliance — And Marisol Rodriguez From CD13 And Julie Nony From The LAPD Attacked Him And Snitched To Kevin DeLeon On Him — And Gerry Sanchez Just Caved Under Pressure — Said He Would “Eat Shit And Walk It Back” — Didn’t He Take An Oath To Uphold The Freaking Law??

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Mitch O’Farrell’s Secret Email Account Yields The First Concrete Evidence I’m Aware Of Concerning Staff-Mediated Back-Room Collusion Between City Council Members — Suggests Brown Act Violations On A Massive Scale — Consistent With Serial Meetings Coordinated Via Council Staff — Contributes To A Theory Of Staged City Council Debates Invariably Ending In Yet Another Unanimous Vote — At Very Least Yields Many Potentially Fruitful Leads For Future CPRA Requests

If you’ve ever attended a meeting of the Los Angeles City Council it’s very likely that you’ve seen one of the fully scripted performances that pass for debate with that body, ending, as always, with a unanimous vote in favor of yet another preordained conclusion. It’s a sickening spectacle, more worthy of a for-show-only parliament of some backwater bargain-bin Ruritanian dictatorship than of the legislators who are putatively leading our great City. This phenomenon is the subject of much discussion here in Los Angeles, and was the basis for at least one sadly ill-fated lawsuit.

If you haven’t seen an example of this spooky kabuki, you can take a look at this August 23, 2016 debate on whether the City should support or oppose some state bill about taxi regulation.1 After the break you’ll find a detailed chronology with links into the video, which will save you a lot of time because the whole thing is more than 30 minutes long and it is mind-numbing. There’s no conceivable way that episodes like this one could happen other than through prior discussion, collusion, and agreement among the Councilmembers. It’s completely implausible that it could be otherwise.

The problem with that, of course, is that prior discussion, collusion, and agreement among Councilmembers are illegal in California. It’s even illegal for Council staffers to discuss things and then report back to their bosses about other CMs’ opinions as reported by their respective staffs. The law mandates real public debates and forbids scripted performances whose conclusions are predetermined in back rooms. In particular, the Brown Act at §54952.2(b)(1) states explicitly that:

A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.

As far as I know there’s never been a successful Brown Act complaint against the City Council on these grounds. Courts will not, I’m under the impression, accept arguments based on the fact that it’s totally obvious what’s going on. Without sufficient proof of out-of-meeting communications no action is possible. And there just has not hitherto been any proof to be found, or none that I know of. But it appears that, buried deep within the recent release of emails from Mitch O’Farrell’s toppest secretest privatest email account, there are some hints of how this coordination might be accomplished.

There’s no proof there of a Brown Act violation, but there’s evidence that in 2013 David Giron, who is Mitch O’Farrell’s legislative director, coordinated with CD5 and CD8 regarding the positions of Paul Koretz and Bernard Parks2 with respect to fracking in Los Angeles and then communicated the intentions of those other CMs to Mitch O’Farrell. This is the kind of thing that the Brown Act forbids if it takes place among the majority of the Council, or even the majority of a Council committee.3

There’s no hint in the evidence that this discussion is any kind of anomaly, so it may be the first piece of the puzzle of how the City Council builds consensus out of view of the public. It certainly gives me hope that the truth will be brought out eventually.4 Take a look at the email exchange here, which is on the surface about Mitch O’Farrell’s position on CF 13-0002-S108, having to do with a State Senate bill on fracking. There are transcriptions and detailed discussion of the issues involved right after the break.
Continue reading Mitch O’Farrell’s Secret Email Account Yields The First Concrete Evidence I’m Aware Of Concerning Staff-Mediated Back-Room Collusion Between City Council Members — Suggests Brown Act Violations On A Massive Scale — Consistent With Serial Meetings Coordinated Via Council Staff — Contributes To A Theory Of Staged City Council Debates Invariably Ending In Yet Another Unanimous Vote — At Very Least Yields Many Potentially Fruitful Leads For Future CPRA Requests

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First Look At Emails From Mitch O’Farrell’s Secret Gmail Account! — Fascinating Material! — For Instance Registered Lobbyist James Litz Emailed Him There In April 2018 Attempting To Influence Today’s AirBnB Vote! — While Losers Like You And Me And The Rest Of Us Had To Email Him At His Probably Unattended City Email Address — And A Bunch More Stuff Besides! — Oh, Did I Mention That O’Farrell Chief Of Staff Jeanne Min Is A Big Whiny-Baby?

OK, remember that our friends over at the Hollywood Sunshine Coalition discovered recently that CD13 repster Mitch O’Freaking Farrell has a top secret Gmail account that he uses to conduct City business? And remember how they sent CD13 a CPRA request asking for all public records in this account? And remember how Mitch O’Farrell’s fairly sinister chief of staff, Jeanne Min, was all like no way, friend, go pound sand? And then the brave and untrammeled souls over at the Coalition were all like, way, friend, if sand is to be pounded, you pound it!

Well, apparently some part of that message got through to Ms. Jeanne Min, cause evidently yesterday CD13 supplied HSC with a bunch of emails! And they passed them to us!1 And in the typically passive aggressive attitude that the City of LA adopts when complying with CPRA requests the PDFs had pages randomly rotated, interspersed with random blank pages, and so on, making them fairly unreadable. But I’m a whiz with PDFs and I cleaned them all up and published them on Archive.Org right here so you can read all 101 pages of them. Here’s a link straight through to the clean PDF and the original files are also available so you can compare if you’re interested.

And there is a ton of good stuff even just in this small selection. I aim to write at least three more posts highlighting various aspects of it, and I’m sure if you read through it you’ll find gems that completely escaped my notice. The episode you’re reading now is particularly timely, given that it has to do with today’s contentious vote on AirBnB regulation. Did you have an opinion on that? Did you communicate your opinion to your Council rep? Well, you didn’t get to communicate it as well as some people did!

It seems that on April 27, 2018 James W. Litz, then working for the sinister-sounding Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of Realtors, and himself a lobbyist registered with the City Ethics Commission, sent an email to the usual list of public-facing Councilfolk email addresses ending with lacity.org telling all of them that his employer, the BHGLAAR, supported the AirBnB regulations proposed in CF 14-1635-S2 as long as they didn’t let people living in rent stabilized units rent out their homes and let building owners forbid their tenants from participating if they wanted to. This email is transcribed after the break.

And then, certainly because as you yourself have no doubt suspected, nobody actually reads a damn thing that comes in to those “councilmember.wtf@lacity.org” addresses, less than two minutes later James W. Litz turned around and forwarded the email to Mitch O’Farrell at the secret Gmail address, which is to say mitchof13@gmail.com, with a personal note:
Continue reading First Look At Emails From Mitch O’Farrell’s Secret Gmail Account! — Fascinating Material! — For Instance Registered Lobbyist James Litz Emailed Him There In April 2018 Attempting To Influence Today’s AirBnB Vote! — While Losers Like You And Me And The Rest Of Us Had To Email Him At His Probably Unattended City Email Address — And A Bunch More Stuff Besides! — Oh, Did I Mention That O’Farrell Chief Of Staff Jeanne Min Is A Big Whiny-Baby?

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Gil Cedillo has a Private Email Account Through Which He Conducts City Business — And Our Friends At The Hollywood Sunshine Coalition Have Made A Request For The Emails! — Evidently CD1 Staff Believes There Is A CPRA Exemption Which Allows Them To Redact This Secret Email Address! — Pro-Tip — There Is Not

Man, it is top-secret Councilmember email address season in the City of Angels! We are in the midst of a veritable top-secret-email-address-a-palooza round here! First there were a bunch of politicians from somewhere east of San Bernardino, don’t exactly recall their names.1 And then there was Mitch O’Freaking Farrell, revealed by this very blog in a hard-hitting piece of hard-newsical investigative reportitude to be corresponding with all and sundry members of the 0.1% out of the public view using a Gmail account at mitchof13@gmail.com.2

And now, this very day, it’s my pleasure to reveal unto you that Gil Cedillo of CD1 is the second Councilmember that we know of using a secret Gmail address to conduct City business. This was discovered by accident, lurking in this email chain between famous Los Angeles artist Frank Romero, who CD1 has evidently hired to paint a mural in Highland Park, probably as an attempt to resolve their unbearable shame and guilt.3

The content of the emails is interesting. It seems that as part of the mural project Frank Romero rented a studio from Lincoln Heights supervillain Eric Ortiz, big-time Lincoln Heights storage honcho and, probably not coincidentally, vice president of the Lincoln Heights Industrial Zone BID. Then Eric Ortiz cheated Frank Romero somehow, which is only to be expected cause how does anyone think zillionaires get to be zillionaires, anyway?4 And then Frank Romero, who signs his emails “yours in the struggle,” asked Gil Cedillo to intercede.

We don’t know the end of the story, and we may never know the end of the story, but for our purposes, the real story is that Frank Romero sent his emails to Gil at gilcedillo45@gmail.com, which is the newly discovered secret email address! And then Gil Cedillo forwarded Frank Romero’s emails to his chief of staff at debby.kim@lacity.org for her to deal with, which proves that it’s City business being conducted. As you’re no doubt aware, in California it’s the content and purpose of emails that makes them public records rather than who owns the account. Thus these emails are public records.

And interestingly, Gil Cedillo’s staff redacted some instances of this newly-found secret email address but, fortunately, not all of them. This is discussed, with pictures, after the break. Also, our good friends at the Hollywood Sunshine Coalition, who are pushing hard on CD13 for copies of Mitch O’Farrell’s secret emails, have made a request to CD1 for these other secret emails. There is also a transcription of that after the break.
Continue reading Gil Cedillo has a Private Email Account Through Which He Conducts City Business — And Our Friends At The Hollywood Sunshine Coalition Have Made A Request For The Emails! — Evidently CD1 Staff Believes There Is A CPRA Exemption Which Allows Them To Redact This Secret Email Address! — Pro-Tip — There Is Not

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