Category Archives: Los Angeles City Council

Mitch O’Farrell And The California Public Records Act — Second Part Of A Series On His Outrageous Violations — He Has Instructed His Flunky — Dan Halden — To Redact The Names Of Constituents Who Send Him Insane Rage Rants Against Homeless Human Beings — Advocating Starvation — Forced Relocation — And Similar Genocidal Measures — And The Reason He Thinks He Can Hide Their Identities? — Because — Halden Says — Publicity Would “Chill” Their Willingness To Ask Mitch O’Farrell For “Help” — What He Means Is They Don’t Like Being Exposed And Mocked On The Internet For Their Sociopathy — At O’Farrell’s Bidding Halden Also Redacts The Names Of Actual Public Officials — Like Jittery Little Peruvian-Hating Psychopath Carol Massie — Of The Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance — And Refuses To Explain Why — Although The Real Reason Is Obvious — O’Farrell Hates The Constitution — And He Hates The Law — And He’s Really Got To Go

Here’s another installment in my ongoing series of posts about the City of Los Angeles and the interesting ways in which its various departments violate the California Public Records Act.1 Today I’m looking once again at Los Angeles City Council District 13, repped by the fecklessly idiotic troll doll Mitch O’Farrell, and some of O’Farrell’s illegal email redaction policies.2 The story actually begins last March.

At that time I received some emails from CD13 containing conversations between staffers, LAPD officers, and local owners of commercial properties about homelessness. The discussions were filled with dehumanizing stereotypes and calls to starve the homeless, to use pressure-washing and illegal planter placement and other hostile measures to displace them, and so on. All of this not just uncriticized, not just accepted, but actively encouraged and facilitated by City staff and LAPD officers.

I found the whole scene appalling and wrote a number of posts exposing these privilege-addled sociopaths, the main one of which is here but this other one about Kanye West flunky Anthony Kilhoffer is also good. Some of them flipped out and threatened me and apparently others complained to CD13 that I had exposed their sociopathy to the world or that I was mean to them on the internet or whatever. Since then, clearly in response, CD13 has redacted email addresses of basically every correspondent who’s not using a government email address.3

Dan Halden, who’s responsible for handling some of my CD13 CPRA requests,4 has told me that such redactions are legally justified because exposing constituents to personal mockery for advocating genocide against the homeless would create a chilling effect on their willingness to contact their elected officials. Here’s one instance of Halden’s articulation of this novel5 legal theory:
Continue reading Mitch O’Farrell And The California Public Records Act — Second Part Of A Series On His Outrageous Violations — He Has Instructed His Flunky — Dan Halden — To Redact The Names Of Constituents Who Send Him Insane Rage Rants Against Homeless Human Beings — Advocating Starvation — Forced Relocation — And Similar Genocidal Measures — And The Reason He Thinks He Can Hide Their Identities? — Because — Halden Says — Publicity Would “Chill” Their Willingness To Ask Mitch O’Farrell For “Help” — What He Means Is They Don’t Like Being Exposed And Mocked On The Internet For Their Sociopathy — At O’Farrell’s Bidding Halden Also Redacts The Names Of Actual Public Officials — Like Jittery Little Peruvian-Hating Psychopath Carol Massie — Of The Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance — And Refuses To Explain Why — Although The Real Reason Is Obvious — O’Farrell Hates The Constitution — And He Hates The Law — And He’s Really Got To Go

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Zillionaire Developer Albert Taban — Of The Famous Zillionaire Taban Klan — Is Building A Whole Block Mixed Use Monstrosity In CD14 — The Arts District — 2110 Bay Street — Which Needs Any Number Of General Plan Amendments — And Rezoning — And The Usual Load Of One-Off Ad Hoc Bespoke Exponential Property Value Multipliers Poured Out By Our City Council — Like Yummy Slop — Into The Piggy-Trough At Which These Developers Gorge — And So Taban Hired Lobbyists As These Zillionaires Will Do — But For Whatever Reason Jose Huizar Isn’t Pushing This One — So Eric Garcetti Took A Break From His Self-Declared State Of Emergency — And Sent It To The Planning And Land Use Management Committee Last Week — Which Might All Be Business As Usual — Who The Heck Even Knows? — But What’s Not So Usual Is That Stuart Waldman — LA Olympics Booster — LA 2028 Board Member — Supreme Commander Of Rightwing Fash Front Group VICA — Valley Industrial And Commercial Association — Who Is Not One Of The Lobbyists Hired By Taban — In Fact He’s Not A Registered Lobbyist At All — Actually Wrote The Damn Rezoning Resolution — That Got Submitted To Planning Commission Unchanged — Which Is Revealed By The Metadata — Waldman’s Not On Any Other Record As Being Involved In This — In Some Cities The Lunatics Are Running The Asylum — In Los Angeles The Piggies Are Running The Trough — Is It A Surprise Everything’s Falling To Pieces?

A couple months ago I wrote on how a massive development project in CD1 was approved. One of the aspects of the story most surprising to me was the intimate involvement of lobbyists at every stage of the process. Somehow I had thought that their role was more like influencing City officials, suggesting outcomes to them, talking to them, and so on. Something like ordinary public comment even if supercharged by highly enhanced access to official ears.

But it turned out to be far more than that. E.g. lobbyists actually write ordinances, resolutions, and motions which are then submitted to Council by Council District staff. The lobbyists understand City procedures much more clearly than electeds and staff.1 In some sense the lobbyists are actually running the planning and land use process with civil service staff effectively working for them. In the case I wrote about in March Gil Cedillo’s planning director, Gerald Gubatan, seemed to do little more than serve as a conduit between lobbyists for the developers and City civil service staff.2

And I’m sure this is the norm, but given the dedication with which City officials and staff flout the requirements of the California Public Records Act proof is pretty hard to obtain. However, despite such obstacles there are still a few clues available here and there. For instance, let’s take a look at a project, apparently pending at least since 2017, at 2110 and 2130 E. Bay Street in the Arts District in CD14.

This is a massive project with the usual nauseating mix of live/work and creative blah blah blah of the too-familiar type beloved of zombie urbanist flackmonsters like Urbanize LA. Like all such projects, this one requires bunches of spot-zonings, variances, general plan changes, and so on. In particular, in exchange for a mere 12 “restricted affordable units”3 the City is proposing to rezone the parcels from Heavy Industrial to Commercial Industrial.
Continue reading Zillionaire Developer Albert Taban — Of The Famous Zillionaire Taban Klan — Is Building A Whole Block Mixed Use Monstrosity In CD14 — The Arts District — 2110 Bay Street — Which Needs Any Number Of General Plan Amendments — And Rezoning — And The Usual Load Of One-Off Ad Hoc Bespoke Exponential Property Value Multipliers Poured Out By Our City Council — Like Yummy Slop — Into The Piggy-Trough At Which These Developers Gorge — And So Taban Hired Lobbyists As These Zillionaires Will Do — But For Whatever Reason Jose Huizar Isn’t Pushing This One — So Eric Garcetti Took A Break From His Self-Declared State Of Emergency — And Sent It To The Planning And Land Use Management Committee Last Week — Which Might All Be Business As Usual — Who The Heck Even Knows? — But What’s Not So Usual Is That Stuart Waldman — LA Olympics Booster — LA 2028 Board Member — Supreme Commander Of Rightwing Fash Front Group VICA — Valley Industrial And Commercial Association — Who Is Not One Of The Lobbyists Hired By Taban — In Fact He’s Not A Registered Lobbyist At All — Actually Wrote The Damn Rezoning Resolution — That Got Submitted To Planning Commission Unchanged — Which Is Revealed By The Metadata — Waldman’s Not On Any Other Record As Being Involved In This — In Some Cities The Lunatics Are Running The Asylum — In Los Angeles The Piggies Are Running The Trough — Is It A Surprise Everything’s Falling To Pieces?

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David Ryu Certainly Seems To Be Yet Another Landlord On The Los Angeles City Council — And Apparently Perfectly Comfortable Voting On Various Tenants’ Rights Issues Without Recusing Himself Or Even Mentioning It — He And His Sister Esther Bought A Four Unit Apartment Building In 2018 — And Immediately Signed It Over To A Shady Entity Called Daejopia LLC — Controlled By Their Brother Joseph — Ryu Acknowledged On His Form 700 That He Owns The Building — Although He Lists It By Parcel Number Rather Than Address — But Denies Receiving Any Rental Income From It — Which Seems Really Highly Unlikely Given That It Appears To Be Fully Occupied — But Maybe He’ll Explain Himself If For Some Unknown Reason It Is True — Did I Mention That Kenneth Yoon — Who Sold The Building To David And Esther Ryu — Turned Around And Gave Ryu An $800 Contribution A Month After The Deal Closed? — And That The Ryus Only Needed To Borrow $460K On What Was Apparently A $840K Transaction?

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020 the Los Angeles City Council considered an emergency ordinance to halt evictions and give renters 24 months to cover missed payments. Or at least that’s what the original motion, introduced by CD11 rep Mike Bonin, called for. During the debate,1 though, various other councilmembers, notably Paul Krekorian, Paul Koretz, and Herb Wesson, argued passionately against the harm that such an ordinance would do to the proverbial mom and pop landlords by giving these deadbeat tenants so damn long to settle up.

Two years is far long, they said. Mom and pops can’t afford to wait, they said. Will increase default rate, said they. They said all kinds of impassioned stuff in favor of reducing repayment time by a murderous 75%. But one of the things they didn’t say was that all three of these councilmembers are themselves landlords. It’s impossible to imagine that they weren’t thinking of their own interests while arguing to amend this motion. I wrote a piece on this a few days ago, the research for which also revealed that they weren’t the only three, by the way.

It turned out that Jose Huizar, Nury Martinez, and Curren Price are also landlords and also voted yes on the change to a 6 month grace period. My method of landlord discovery relied solely on Form 700s, which are annual financial disclosure forms required of elected officials in California. And rental income is a specific category which must be identified as such. For instance, consider the relevant section from Paul Krekorian’s most recent filing.

But it turned out that this method was flawed. Not flawed in the sense of producing false positives. The six that I identified are in fact landlords. Flawed, though, in the sense of producing false negatives based, as it is, on the disclosures being honest.2 And that’s how I missed the fact that CD4 representative David Ryu is also a landlord,3 although it’s certainly not obvious at all from his most recent Form 700. First, take a look at the relevant section:

He lists an assessor’s parcel number rather than an address. I didn’t previously look up the property, though, because he checked off the box indicating that he’d received no rental income. It turns out, though, that skipping this was a huge mistake on my part. I finally did look into the matter and it turns out that I had previously missed everything! Read on for the whole astonishingly sordid story of David Ryu and this property!
Continue reading David Ryu Certainly Seems To Be Yet Another Landlord On The Los Angeles City Council — And Apparently Perfectly Comfortable Voting On Various Tenants’ Rights Issues Without Recusing Himself Or Even Mentioning It — He And His Sister Esther Bought A Four Unit Apartment Building In 2018 — And Immediately Signed It Over To A Shady Entity Called Daejopia LLC — Controlled By Their Brother Joseph — Ryu Acknowledged On His Form 700 That He Owns The Building — Although He Lists It By Parcel Number Rather Than Address — But Denies Receiving Any Rental Income From It — Which Seems Really Highly Unlikely Given That It Appears To Be Fully Occupied — But Maybe He’ll Explain Himself If For Some Unknown Reason It Is True — Did I Mention That Kenneth Yoon — Who Sold The Building To David And Esther Ryu — Turned Around And Gave Ryu An $800 Contribution A Month After The Deal Closed? — And That The Ryus Only Needed To Borrow $460K On What Was Apparently A $840K Transaction?

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In Response To The Coronavirus Emergency Last Week Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez Ordered Council Meetings To Be Held Only Once A Week — But It Sure Looks Like This Is A Violation Of The City Charter — Which Requires The City Council To Meet At Least Three Times Per Week — And Grants The Power To Declare A Recess Only To The Full Council By Ordinance — Not To Council President By Unilateral Decree — And While We’re On The Subject Of Enumerated Powers — It Appears That Herb Wesson Did Not Have The Power To Remove Jose Huizar From All Council Committees

On March 11, 2020 Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez sent a letter to her colleagues announcing that in response to the coronavirus emergency Council would meet weekly for the rest of the month. The Los Angeles City Charter at §242 gives the Council the sole power “to organize its business [and] prescribe the rules of its proceedings” subject only to a couple of limitations. But one of these limitations is directly on point and requires Council to meet at least three times a week with no exceptions:

The Council shall hold regular meetings at least three days each week. Meetings may be held in City Hall or elsewhere in the City. By resolution, the Council may establish periods during which the Council or its committees will be in recess.

Three meetings a week are required by the Charter. And the office of Council President is established by the Charter as well, at §243, but the only power granted there is to replace the mayor when necessary. All other powers of the Council president are granted by the Council Rules. And obviously the rules can’t override the Charter.

Note that §242 does give the Council itself the power to go into recess, and probably the Council could choose to go into recess except on Tuesdays, but this power must be exercised by resolution, not by the unilateral decree of the Council President. Resolutions require a vote of the full Council, to be placed on a publicly posted agenda, and public comment accepted.

I’m not sure what penalties there are, if any, for violations of the Charter, but it’s surely a violation of the oath of office, found at §215, which includes the City Charter among the laws that Councilmembers are sworn to support. It’s true that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, and that elected officials need extraordinary powers during emergencies. But extraordinary powers are extraordinarily dangerous and must be limited by law, which Martinez has exceeded here.
Continue reading In Response To The Coronavirus Emergency Last Week Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez Ordered Council Meetings To Be Held Only Once A Week — But It Sure Looks Like This Is A Violation Of The City Charter — Which Requires The City Council To Meet At Least Three Times Per Week — And Grants The Power To Declare A Recess Only To The Full Council By Ordinance — Not To Council President By Unilateral Decree — And While We’re On The Subject Of Enumerated Powers — It Appears That Herb Wesson Did Not Have The Power To Remove Jose Huizar From All Council Committees

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Yesterday The Los Angeles City Council Eviscerated A Reasonably Good Eviction Moratorium Motion — On The Insistence Of Paul Krekorian And Herb Wesson — Who Kept Talking Up The Needs Of The So-Called Mom And Pop Landlords — Who In Everyone’s Fantasies About Capitalism On A Human Scale Are Not Insatiable Villainous Psychopaths Like Non Mom And Pop Landlords Are — And Somehow Neither Krekorian Nor Wesson Thought It Was Worth Mentioning That They Themselves Are Mom And Pop Landlords — As Is Paul Koretz — And Nury Martinez — And Curren Price — And Jose Huizar — And Mike Bonin’s Husband — Although Bonin Voted Against Krekorian’s Eviscerating Motion — So At Least There’s That

Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council considered and passed1 a long list of motions intended to alleviate some of the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our City. One of the most essential of these was CD11 rep Mike Bonin’s motion to stop evictions and ban late rent fees until the end of the emergency declaration and then give renters 24 months to pay missed rent.

The meeting itself was interminable and the public is excluded from City Hall and had to sit out on the front patio under a tent. But fortunately a number of extremely hard-working reporters were on the case, and it’s due to the incomparable Sahra Sulaiman‘s live-tweeting of this episode that I’m able to tell the story I’m telling here.

Sulaiman reported that Paul Krekorian, our second fashiest councilmember, was all about 24 months to repay being far, far too long:

Can’t tell who (Krekorian?) suggests that we are shifting loss bc if we give tenants too much time to pay back, the grace pd may extend beyond their lease and therefore end up being uncollectable. And that we need to consider more options, like applying security deposit to rent.

Krekorian went on to say that:

He acknowledges some folks will never be able to pay it back and that some landlords can absorb that, but others cannot, and that may have other negative consequences.

Got it? Paul Krekorian acknowledges that some landlords can absorb the loss from tenants not paying back rent while other landlords cannot absorb the loss. This is his reason for wanting to cut the repayment period down from 24 months to 6 months.

Hey, did you know that California state law requires public officials like Paul Krekorian to file annual disclosures of their financial interests? Well, it does. They’re called “Form 700s” and here’s Paul Krekorian’s from 2018. And as expected, rental income is income and thus counts as a financial interest to be listed on the form.
Continue reading Yesterday The Los Angeles City Council Eviscerated A Reasonably Good Eviction Moratorium Motion — On The Insistence Of Paul Krekorian And Herb Wesson — Who Kept Talking Up The Needs Of The So-Called Mom And Pop Landlords — Who In Everyone’s Fantasies About Capitalism On A Human Scale Are Not Insatiable Villainous Psychopaths Like Non Mom And Pop Landlords Are — And Somehow Neither Krekorian Nor Wesson Thought It Was Worth Mentioning That They Themselves Are Mom And Pop Landlords — As Is Paul Koretz — And Nury Martinez — And Curren Price — And Jose Huizar — And Mike Bonin’s Husband — Although Bonin Voted Against Krekorian’s Eviscerating Motion — So At Least There’s That

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Ever Wonder How One Of These Super-Sized Construction Projects Downtown Gets Built? — Here Is An Unprecedented Look Into How City Councilmembers And Developers Work As Partners To Subvert And Sideline Civil Service Staff And Basically Give Away Piece After Irreplaceable Piece Of Our City To Further Their Own Interests — Laid Out Step By Covert And Appalling Step — In The Case — Still Ongoing — Of 1330 W. Pico In CD1 — From Gil Cedillo’s First Meeting In August 2017 With Zillionaire Eri Kroh Of Sandstone Properties — Through Three Distinct Motions — Every Last One Of Which Signed By Cedillo But Written By A Lobbyist — And Sheparded Through City Staff — And Council Committees — And Council — By Cedillo’s Planning Director Gerald Gubatan — Who Insulted And Belittled Any Civil Service Staff Who Dared To Question Any Aspect Of The Project — Through CD1 Assistant Chief Of Staff Tony Ricasa’s Apparent Derailment Of Matt Szabo’s Plan To Use The Building For Homeless Housing — And Much Much More — Including Links To Hundreds Of Emails — And Draft Motions — And So On

Here in Los Angeles we read a lot of news about real estate development, real estate being the sun about which every local planet orbits. And this reporting mostly tells the truth, and probably nothing but the truth, but for the most part never the whole truth. Just for instance, consider the property at 1330 W. Pico Blvd. This parcel has been in the news since October 2017, when real estate developer Sandstone Properties bought it for $42 million, planning to build yet another hotel. Here’s The Real Deal’s story on the purchase.

The next reported-on milestone was in June 2018 when Gil Cedillo, in whose Council District the property is, introduced a rezoning motion allowing a hotel to be built at the address. Here’s The Real Deal’s story on that, and at this point Urbanize.LA1 initiated coverage with this equally superficial story. A few months later Cedillo moved to give the hotel hefty tax incentives,2 which was covered in the Downtown News as well as the two previous rags. And that’s the whole story, according to the local media.

The reporting rightly focuses on the motions themselves, although, interestingly, not all the motions.3 After all, without the motions, the rezonings, the tax incentives, and so on, the projects couldn’t get built. What all of these stories about this Sandstone project lack, though, what most such stories about all such projects are missing, is any sense of where the motions come from, how Council offices and developers collaborate to obtain the myriad permissions required for something like this proposed hotel to get built.4

And that story is amazing, really unexpectedly appalling.5 It’s revealed in astonishing detail by a massive set of emails I recently received from CD1, spanning more than two and a half years of discussions between lobbyists from at least three distinct firms6 repping Eri Kroh and Sandstone, CD1 planning director Gerald Gubatan, and various City of LA staffers in City Planning and elsewhere beginning in August 2017 and continuing to this day.

The lobbyists actually write and revise the motions that Cedillo introduces to further their cause.7 Gubatan works closely with the lobbyists basically in opposition to City civil service staff’s attempts to enforce the City’s laws and rules, and is outright contemptuous of their abilities.8 Cedillo himself stays distant from the process, but in no way detached. He met with the project’s zillionaire developer Eri Kroh and lobbyist Lali DeAztlan in August 2017, two months before the purchase was final. Presumably this is when Cedillo greenlighted the project.

In a post-meeting email to Gerald Gubatan DeAztlan shared her pleasure with the result: ” I think it went well, the Councilmember and the Owner Eri seem to speak the same language, and that gets us off to a great start.” After that Cedillo seems to have been briefed only once9 and otherwise didn’t have to do anything else once he’d set things moving except, of course, to sign the motions.10 The story is complicated and best understood by reading through the records themselves,11 but read on for a moderately detailed outline with link after link after link to the primary sources.
Continue reading Ever Wonder How One Of These Super-Sized Construction Projects Downtown Gets Built? — Here Is An Unprecedented Look Into How City Councilmembers And Developers Work As Partners To Subvert And Sideline Civil Service Staff And Basically Give Away Piece After Irreplaceable Piece Of Our City To Further Their Own Interests — Laid Out Step By Covert And Appalling Step — In The Case — Still Ongoing — Of 1330 W. Pico In CD1 — From Gil Cedillo’s First Meeting In August 2017 With Zillionaire Eri Kroh Of Sandstone Properties — Through Three Distinct Motions — Every Last One Of Which Signed By Cedillo But Written By A Lobbyist — And Sheparded Through City Staff — And Council Committees — And Council — By Cedillo’s Planning Director Gerald Gubatan — Who Insulted And Belittled Any Civil Service Staff Who Dared To Question Any Aspect Of The Project — Through CD1 Assistant Chief Of Staff Tony Ricasa’s Apparent Derailment Of Matt Szabo’s Plan To Use The Building For Homeless Housing — And Much Much More — Including Links To Hundreds Of Emails — And Draft Motions — And So On

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George Yu Fails To Appear At His Last And Final Contempt Hearing — Judge Mitchell Beckloff Orders Yu Seized — And Detained — And Chained — And Hauled Bodily Into Court — To Explain In Person Why He Has Been Ignoring The Judge’s Order To Hand Over The Damn Records — And Also He’s Ordered To Pay Our Lawyers An Additional $21K In Legal Fees — Looks To Me Like Now He’s Pushed His Luck Too Far — I Am Guessing That Gil Cedillo Will Have To Withdraw His Support At Some Point — Beginning To Look Very Much Like Yu’s Days Are Numbered


UPDATE: Today, February 7, 2020 Judge Beckloff changed his mind about the bench warrant for technical reasons that I don’t understand. Not sure what’s going to happen next and even though it remains quite likely that George Yu will be hauled off in chains in the near future, it won’t be because of the warrant that was issued on Wednesday. Here’s a copy of today’s order.

In 2018 Katherine McNenny and I sued the Chinatown Business Improvement District over their failure to comply with the California Public Records Act. And for the last 18 months neither BID director George Yu nor anyone else from the BID has appeared in court at all. In due course they lost, Judge Mitchell Beckloff issued an order to them to hand over the records, and they ignored that as well. Late last year we moved to have Yu held in contempt for his failure to obey the order, and the judge issued an order for Yu’s arrest and suspended it pending a hearing at which he ordered Yu to appear in person and explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt.

That hearing was held this morning. Perhaps predictably, Yu didn’t show up today either, and the judge released the arrest warrant.1 Apparently this isn’t the kind of warrant where the cops go out and hunt down the offender, but if he’s pulled over or a cop has some other reason to enter his name into a computer, this will come up and he’ll be arrested and hauled before the judge. The Chinatown BID is in CD1, Gil Cedillo’s little kingdom, and as do all BIDdies with their Councilmembers, Yu has hitherto enjoyed Cedillo’s unconditional love. But having the guy arrested and hauled by force before a judge to explain why he refuses to obey the law may, just may, not saying for sure, erode that affection, that tolerance, just a bit. We can hope!
Continue reading George Yu Fails To Appear At His Last And Final Contempt Hearing — Judge Mitchell Beckloff Orders Yu Seized — And Detained — And Chained — And Hauled Bodily Into Court — To Explain In Person Why He Has Been Ignoring The Judge’s Order To Hand Over The Damn Records — And Also He’s Ordered To Pay Our Lawyers An Additional $21K In Legal Fees — Looks To Me Like Now He’s Pushed His Luck Too Far — I Am Guessing That Gil Cedillo Will Have To Withdraw His Support At Some Point — Beginning To Look Very Much Like Yu’s Days Are Numbered

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Los Angeles City Council District Seven — Repped By Councilmember Monica Rodriguez — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — Over Emails Concerning LAPD And Vigilante Anti-Homeless Facebook Groups In The San Fernando Valley — CD7 Ignored Requests For Months On End — Which Is Against The Damn Law!

Last summer it was revealed that LAPD officers participated in various secretive vigilante anti-homeless Facebook groups. Stories ran in the press and LAPD Chief Michel Moore banned his officers from participating. At the time I was investigating the story through Public Records Act requests to various City departments, including all San Fernando Valley Council Districts.

Most of them complied, albeit reluctantly and with the usual idiotic foot-dragging obstructionism, but Council District 7, repped by Monica Rodriguez, actually just completely stopped communicating with me after some point. This is a typical tactic in the City of Los Angeles,1 and the only recourse provided by the law is to file a lawsuit seeking to compel compliance. So on Friday, January 17, 2020, assisted by fabulous and heroic attorneys Ian Stringham and Tasha Hill, that’s just what I did! Here’s a copy of the petition, and read on for transcribed excerpts!
Continue reading Los Angeles City Council District Seven — Repped By Councilmember Monica Rodriguez — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — Over Emails Concerning LAPD And Vigilante Anti-Homeless Facebook Groups In The San Fernando Valley — CD7 Ignored Requests For Months On End — Which Is Against The Damn Law!

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Joe Buscaino Moves To Sell Off Two City-Owned Parcels In CD15 To Private Developers For Some Nonsensical Purpose He’s Calling Economic Development – And They’re In Freaking Opportunity Zones So Not Only Is The Grift Turned Up To Eleven But The Sale Will Likely Support Gentrification And Displacement – And Half The Money From Such Sales Goes Straight Into The Councilmember’s Discretionary Slush Funds – Which Are Used Among Other Things For Projects To Boost Incumbent Popularity Before Elections – This Is What City Councilmembers Do With Our Public Land – Enrich Themselves And Their Zillionaire Cronies – Instead Of Building Social Housing On It – And A Loophole In Council’s Recent Motion To Require City Property To Be Used For Affordable Housing Is Finally Revealed!

In 2017 the Federal Government created the latest entry in a long series of programs leveraging various combinations of tax cuts and economic incentives to enrich zillionaires at the expense of poor urban communities of color. The current incarnation is known as an Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones, like their predecessors, use powerful economic and policy tools to promote displacement, to incentivize gentrification, and to siphon money from the treasury to zillionaire coffers. The heroic economic justice activists in SAJE have done a great deal of deep and fundamental research into this program, including its likely effects on Los Angeles, published in a blockbuster report called Displacement Zones.

The Los Angeles muncipal government, which can fruitfully be conceptualized as an incredibly efficient alchemical process for transformatively combining human misery and real estate into zillionaire gold,1 is, as you’d expect, right on top of this newly created opportunity for grift. And, also as you’d expect, they’ve hidden many parts of the process from the public, not by carrying them out in the proverbial but by now outmoded smoke-filled rooms, but by obscuring them beneath multiple layers of semantically empty words, distributing pieces of the process across multiple council files, mostly supplementary, in the effectively-unsearchable-by-design Council File Management System, and so on.2

But with careful attention to the City’s various announcements and close reading of motions it’s occasionally possible to become aware of some of their moves. This is how I learned that in June 2019 Joe Buscaino introduced a couple of motions with the phrase “City Economic Development / Asset Management Framework Review” in their titles, each along with a specific address. These are Council File 12-1549-S14, which is about 500 S. Mesa Street and Council File 12-1549-S15, which is about 1845 E. 103rd Street. Both motions note that the properties are located in Opportunity Zones. The motions instruct various City departments to evaluate the properties “for economic development purposes” according to some set of criteria called “the Asset Management Framework” and then report back to Council on their findings.

The report-backs hit the Council Files a few weeks ago (500 S. Mesa Street and 1845 E. 103rd Street). Both recommend, as they seem to have been intended to do, that the City issue a request for proposals to use the properties for economic development, potentially through private development. The fact that the two reports are identically worded except for a few specific details about the properties suggests that not much care was taken in their creation. This supports the view that the outcomes of the evaluations were predetermined. The fact that the criteria for what counts as economic development are so vague supports the view that the ultimate point is to sell these valuable parcels off to some developer with a superficially plausible story about tax benefits or whatever.

And the fact that the City is going to sell the properties to private developers3 supports the view that the goal is grift rather than using City-owned resources to help residents of the City. It’s not like the City of Los Angeles itself can’t develop its properties for commercial use, which would support economic development just as much as if a private developer owned the land, or more because more of the money would go to the City. Just for instance, the City owns plenty of parking garages, many of which have retail space at street level. The City offers these for lease to commercial tenants, a proposition which must be of more value to the City than if a private developer is involved in any capacity and taking out profits.
Continue reading Joe Buscaino Moves To Sell Off Two City-Owned Parcels In CD15 To Private Developers For Some Nonsensical Purpose He’s Calling Economic Development – And They’re In Freaking Opportunity Zones So Not Only Is The Grift Turned Up To Eleven But The Sale Will Likely Support Gentrification And Displacement – And Half The Money From Such Sales Goes Straight Into The Councilmember’s Discretionary Slush Funds – Which Are Used Among Other Things For Projects To Boost Incumbent Popularity Before Elections – This Is What City Councilmembers Do With Our Public Land – Enrich Themselves And Their Zillionaire Cronies – Instead Of Building Social Housing On It – And A Loophole In Council’s Recent Motion To Require City Property To Be Used For Affordable Housing Is Finally Revealed!

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