Category Archives: Public Records Act Pragmatics

My California Public Records Act Lawsuit Against The Fashion District BID Is Now Fully Briefed In Anticipation Of The Trial — Which Will Take Place On Wednesday June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM At The Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 86 — Get Copies Of Everything Here — And Maybe I’ll See You There!

Recall that last August I was forced by the unhinged intransigence of the Fashion District BID to file a petition asking a judge to force them to comply with the California Public Records Act. Things are moving towards the end, and the trial will take place on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 9:30 AM at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Department 86 before Judge Mitchell Beckloff. It looks to be a barn burner, friends, because these BIDdies are really, really angry.

And the way these trials work is that sixty days before trial my lawyer, the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, files a so-called opening brief, which lays out the case, only outlined in the initial petition, in full detail with all the evidence, argument, and citations to relevant cases. Then thirty days before the opposition files their reply brief, in full detail with all the obstructionist bullshit for which they’re famous. Finally, fifteen days before, we file a reply to the reply and that’s that.

All that briefing is done now, and below find links to everything. There’s a lot of it, and I’m not going to comment on any of it to avoid jinxes, but I will note that the Fashion District’s reply, written by one or both of Bradley & Gmelich galaxy-brains Barry Bradley and Carol Humiston, is an extraordinarily careless piece of work. They consistently misspell the names of cases they’re citing and in one especially egregious case they not only get the name of the case completely wrong, but they get the year wrong too.1

This would be inconsequential if the case weren’t central to everyone’s arguments in this trial and if it weren’t a key component of their argument that the case was decided after I made the requests at issue here. In fact the case was decided before the requests. It’s really unbelievable that seasoned putative professionals made this kind of error, but it seems that they did. Anyway, I hope to see you at the trial, and I’ll be happy to buy you lunch when it’s over if you want to hang out!
Continue reading My California Public Records Act Lawsuit Against The Fashion District BID Is Now Fully Briefed In Anticipation Of The Trial — Which Will Take Place On Wednesday June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM At The Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 86 — Get Copies Of Everything Here — And Maybe I’ll See You There!

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City Of Los Angeles Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — In Particular CD11 Has Ignored My Requests For Months On End — Has Blown Through Their Self-Imposed Deadlines — And Are Likely Doing So To Hide Their Complicity In Planter-Placing In Venice — I Am Seeking Emails Between CD11 Staff And Angry Housedwellers — Twitter Blocks And Mutes — And Constituent Communications Done Via The “Romulus” Platform — Read The Masterful Petition Here! — And Confusion To Our Enemies!

Everybody knows about those damn planters in Venice, but we’re just beginning to learn the depth of the City’s complicity with the angry housedwelling planter-placers. And fairly recently I obtained some emails that proved that Mike Bonin’s staff, if not Bonin himself, have been very complicit indeed, which led me to file a complaint with the City Ethics Commission against one of them, Taylor Bazley.1

I obtained those emails by accident, in response to a request to the LAPD that I made for a fairly different reason, but I have actually been trying to get planter-related stuff from CD11 at least since December 2018 and have been completely, utterly, thoroughly, and even literally ignored by Mike Bonin’s staff since then. They have not produced a single record in response to my requests.

And, as you surely know by now, the legislature has left the people of California only one remedy to enforce their rights under this law, and that is to file a petition asking a judge to order the neglectful ones to get it together and comply. So that, this very day, is what I did with our friends at CD11. You can get a copy here, powerfully written by the incomparable Anna von Herrman, and there’s a transcription below.

Basically there are three classes of requests. First I asked for emails between CD11 staff and various suspects in the planter-placing and other anti-homeless psychopathy with some names culled from especially angry NextDoor comments. These included both Mark Ryavec and George Francisco.

Next, as part of a series I was working on at the time, I asked for a list of all official CD11 Twitter accounts and also lists of users blocked or muted by those accounts. And finally, I asked for data from CD11’s use of the so-called Romulus Constituent Services software, which someone had told me Bonin used to talk to people outside of more predictable channels like email.

This last request Krista Kline, Mike Bonin’s deputy chief of staff in charge of something shady, refused to fulfill, claiming that it was “overly voluminous,” and the others she initially promised to produce records in response to but then did not.2 All of this material is of great, practically incalculable, public interest with respect to not only the planters but also for understanding how the City decides which encampments to sweep, and many other things besides. So stay tuned for updates on events, and read some lengthy selections from the petition below.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — In Particular CD11 Has Ignored My Requests For Months On End — Has Blown Through Their Self-Imposed Deadlines — And Are Likely Doing So To Hide Their Complicity In Planter-Placing In Venice — I Am Seeking Emails Between CD11 Staff And Angry Housedwellers — Twitter Blocks And Mutes — And Constituent Communications Done Via The “Romulus” Platform — Read The Masterful Petition Here! — And Confusion To Our Enemies!

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South Central Hollywood Racketeer Club Larchmont Village BID Loses Public Records Act Lawsuit!! — Ordered By Judge Mary Strobel To Stop Fooling Around And Do An Adequate Search For The Damn Records!! — Their Kooky Legal Strategy Dismissed Out Of Hand!! — Apparently Their Kooky Lawyer Thomas Cairns Misrepresented Facts To The Court — Motion For Fees Likely To Follow — A New Request For Records Already Filed!

Long story short. The weirdos over at the Larchmont Village BID completely ignored my 2017 requests for records, so in March 2018 I had to file a petition against them. They failed to file an answer to the petition and then showed up at the trial setting conference whining about how mean I was and asking for extra time to file an answer. Well, they never filed anything, and in March 2019 my lawyer, the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, filed a smashing opening brief.

And then on May 16 of this year we all showed up for the trial. And even Thomas Cairns showed up, twitching like a tweaker, half-empty pack of Marlboro Reds in his briefcase, prescription aviator shades perched on his surreally toupeed brow. And the judge, Mary Strobel, called the case. And Cairns began babbling some crazed stream of consciousness in which he seemed to be representing that he didn’t actually appear before the court in 20181 and therefore everything should be tossed on a technicality.

The judge seemed skeptical, like really, really, really skeptical, of Cairns’s claim. But she decided to put off the hearing for a couple weeks while she ordered up a transcript to check Cairns’s assertions. The new hearing was held last Tuesday, June 4, 2019. And it turned out that in 2018 Cairns didn’t say anything like what he claimed he said. It was all a big fat lie.

And when the judge explained this to him he had the nerve to ask for another 30 days to file a response to my brief! Strobel said no way, friend, and ruled against the BID on all of my causes of action. You can read her ruling here and there is a transcription below.

Also, don’t forget that if a requester, that’s me, prevails, as I did, in a CPRA action then the respondent, that’s the BID, has to pay my lawyer’s fees and also all the costs involved in filing the suit. That doesn’t happen automatically, though. There’s a whole new set of proceedings, which will start with filing a motion asking for the money, about which I will let you know when it happens.

And finally, finally, this victory means that I am free to start requesting records from these Larchmontane criminals once again. Sent some askyness off to these gangsters the instant I learned of the ruling! And read it here! Looking forward to receiving, reading, publishing, analyzing, and, of course, mocking the holy hell out of these goodies!
Continue reading South Central Hollywood Racketeer Club Larchmont Village BID Loses Public Records Act Lawsuit!! — Ordered By Judge Mary Strobel To Stop Fooling Around And Do An Adequate Search For The Damn Records!! — Their Kooky Legal Strategy Dismissed Out Of Hand!! — Apparently Their Kooky Lawyer Thomas Cairns Misrepresented Facts To The Court — Motion For Fees Likely To Follow — A New Request For Records Already Filed!

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Roya Saghafi Is Suing Palisades Charter High School Over Nasty Evil Racist Hostile Targeted Harassment In The Workplace — Alleged Doncha Know — Of Exactly The Type That Sane People Have Associated For Decades With Pali High In Particular — And For That Matter With The Palisades In General — Abhorrent Little White Supremacist Stronghold That It Is — So Naturally I Requested Everybody’s Emails With Saghafi Under The CPRA — And Then Doctor Pamela Magee — Chief Boss Of Pali High And Their Designated CPRA Responder — Refused To Give Them To Me On The Basis Of A Wildly Unsupportable Interpretation Of An Exemption — The Battle Rages On!

UPDATE: Dr. Pamela Magee hired a lawyer to advise on this matter and he capitulated to my demands! At least in theory! So these emails should be forthcoming! At least in theory!

So there’s this charter school in the Palisades, Palisades Charter High School, which is moderately famous for, among other things, being chock full of both satan-worshipping privatizers1 and openly racist baby thugs. Two salient facts about Pali High2 are that the supreme boss of the school, Doctor Pamela Magee, earns more money in one year than all but three of the sixty thousand employees of LAUSD, and that a former teacher, Roya Saghafi, is suing the school for the torment she suffered at their racist horrible hands while she worked there.

You can read about both of these matters in a previous post of mine and also get your hands on Saghafi’s complaint. And I’ve been following up on the Saghafi story, of course, and as part of this effort I sent this request under the California Public Records Act to Doctor Pam Magee asking for:

… emails in the possession of any administrative staff which are to/from/cc/bcc Roya Saghafi from January 1, 2012 through March 29, 2019.

And eventually I got a response from Doctor Pam Magee, and what she said was not encouraging:

This information is not available under CPRA 6254b as these records pertain to pending litigation.

This doesn’t seem right! Better read the code section. Always read the code section:

… this chapter does not require the disclosure of any of the following records:

(b) Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the public agency is a party … until the pending litigation … has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.

Yikes, man! She quoted it accurately, so that was a disappointment. But on the other hand it seemed really implausible that the emails I’d requested could be exempt on this theory. First of all, they obviously weren’t exempt before Saghafi filed suit so they couldn’t really become exempt on the day she filed.
Continue reading Roya Saghafi Is Suing Palisades Charter High School Over Nasty Evil Racist Hostile Targeted Harassment In The Workplace — Alleged Doncha Know — Of Exactly The Type That Sane People Have Associated For Decades With Pali High In Particular — And For That Matter With The Palisades In General — Abhorrent Little White Supremacist Stronghold That It Is — So Naturally I Requested Everybody’s Emails With Saghafi Under The CPRA — And Then Doctor Pamela Magee — Chief Boss Of Pali High And Their Designated CPRA Responder — Refused To Give Them To Me On The Basis Of A Wildly Unsupportable Interpretation Of An Exemption — The Battle Rages On!

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Opening Brief Filed In Chinatown BID Public Records Act Lawsuit — A Powerful Statement Of The Intense Public Interest In Understanding This Shadowy Criminal Conspiracy — And What It Is Doing With The Public Money That Funds It — Neither George Yu Nor Anyone From The BID Has Responded To Anything — Or Participated In Any Way At All In The Petition Against Them — Trial Is Set For July 24 2019 At 9:30 AM — Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 86

Last August Katherine McNenny and I filed a suit against the Chinatown Business Improvement District because not only did they refuse to provide us with the public records we’d asked for repeatedly but they refused to respond at all. Their bossboy, George Yu, was, you may recall, deeply implicated in the 2017 zillionaire conspiracy against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort, so they clearly had and, we hope, still have, a lot of really essential information.

But George Yu and his criminal cronies at the BID, I guess true to the pattern they’d established with respect to the requests themselves, refused to respond in any way to the lawsuit. They didn’t reply to the petition, they ignored the discovery, they didn’t show up for the hearing on the motion to expedite hearing of the motion to compel them to answer the damn discovery,1 and so on. But the case rolls on, and on Friday, May 24, our lawyers filed an absolutely stunning opening brief.2

You can read transcribed selections below and here’s a super-short summary. The Chinatown BID is a major player in municipal politics. This includes George’s Yu’s participation in the conspiracy against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. Through our CPRA requests we sought to understand the BID’s role in this and their relationship with the City in general.

The BID failed to respond at all to these requests and that violates the California Public Records Act. Therefore the court should require the BID to produce the records. We’re also asking the court to declare that the BID’s actions violated the CPRA3 and to issue an injunction against the BID violating the law in this manner in the future. Finally, we’re asking the court to order the BID to pay our attorneys for their work on our case.
Continue reading Opening Brief Filed In Chinatown BID Public Records Act Lawsuit — A Powerful Statement Of The Intense Public Interest In Understanding This Shadowy Criminal Conspiracy — And What It Is Doing With The Public Money That Funds It — Neither George Yu Nor Anyone From The BID Has Responded To Anything — Or Participated In Any Way At All In The Petition Against Them — Trial Is Set For July 24 2019 At 9:30 AM — Stanley Mosk Courthouse Department 86

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A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

Don’t know if you’re aware, but in September 2018 the California Court of Appeal held that local agencies could charge CPRA requesters for staff time for redacting electronic records. In particular, the City of Hayward charged the National Lawyers Guild more than $3,000 to redact some parts of bodycam videos. It’s well-established for paper records that agencies must allow inspection at no cost and if copies are requested, can charge only the direct cost of copying.

The Court of Appeals based its opinion on the CPRA’s much-abused §6253.9(b)(2) which states that an agency can charge a requester for the bare privilege of inspecting a record under a small set of very specific circumstances:

… the requester shall bear the cost of producing a copy of the record, including the cost to construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy of the record when … [t]he request would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record.

The court’s reasoning was that redaction of a video constitutes extraction required to produce the record. Sane people can see, however, that the video already exists. Nothing is required to produce it. This section is talking about e.g. running queries against databases, where the requester only wants certain information and the results of the query constitute a new record that “would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce.”

And as you can imagine, after this opinion was published, obstructionist anti-CPRA lawyers all over the state started drooling on their pillows in glee. For instance, Carol Humiston, the soon-to-be-disbarred Rasputinian ear-whisperer to transparency-averse business improvement districts all over Los Angeles, advised her clients on the basis of this decision to assert that if I wanted to see any more of their damn emails I would have to pay for them to buy Adobe Pro so that they could redact them.

She backed off on this outlandish claim after I pointed out repeatedly that emails weren’t found in the wild as PDFs so that there was no case to be made for purchasing an expensive PDF editor to do a job that the built-in text editors that come with every computer operating system could do better. However, the LAPD also glommed onto this case, and the City Attorney’s office began theorizing madly, and now if you submit a request to LAPD for emails through NextRequest you’re met with an aggressive notice warning you that you’re going to pay and pay and pay unless you withdraw your request right now, and the notice explicitly cites the case.

So yeah, this opinion sucks and sucks big time, and it doesn’t just suck in theory, it’s actively sucking in practice even now as I write these very words. But at least it was appealed to the California Supreme Court. And at least the Supreme Court agreed to hear it. And papers have been filed, but it turns out to be really hard to get pleadings out of the Supreme Court.

But recently I was lucky enough to obtain a couple of interesting items. Here’s an amicus letter from a coalition of public interest law firms and activist organizations explaining the harm that the decision is doing. And here’s the opening brief, which explains in well-reasoned and exceedinly convincing terms why the Court should reverse this extraordinarily bad appellate decision. Both are fabulously worth reading, and there’s a transcription of the amicus letter after the break.
Continue reading A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

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AB1819 Passes Assembly — Now On To Senate — A Tiny But Essential Improvement To The California Public Records Act — Will Require Agencies To Allow Requesters To Copy Records At No Charge — Using Their Own Equipment — Includes Electronic Files — Take That, Department Of Alcoholic Freaking Beverage Control!

Assembly Bill 1819, which would require agencies to allow requesters to copy records using their own equipment at no charge, was unanimously passed by the Assembly yesterday and now it’s on to the Senate. As I wrote in March when the bill was introduced, most agencies already do this for paper records, although there are some which, in their frenzied desire to obstruct oversight by the very citizens they were created to serve, do not.

Most notable among these in my experience is the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control which, in addition to being plagued by unchecked corruption, is also imbued with the kind of paranoiac institutional culture that enables heavily armed power junkies like Special Agent In Charge Gerry Sanchez of the Los Angeles Metro Office to feed their need to control by forbidding requesters to take photographs of records during the inspection process.

As amended the bill will also require local agencies to allow copying of electronic records using the requester’s own equipment unless to do so “would result in…[u]nauthorized access to the agency’s computer systems or secured networks by using software or any other technology capable of accessing, altering, or compromising the agency’s electronic records.”

This clause is much more consequential for my own work, as many, many, many business improvement districts, mostly under the baleful influence of Carol Humiston, the world’s angriest CPRA attorney, refuse to allow me to copy electronic records during inspection unless I pay them outrageous fees for expensive storage media.

Humiston designed this policy explicitly to impede access to records by driving up the costs, an illegal plan for which she is presently under investigation by the State Bar. Her BIDdies certainly can’t argue convincingly that use of the requester’s own equipment, e.g. a USB drive, WOULD result in compromised security (as opposed to MIGHT so result in some feverishly imagined world) this bill will likely put an end to Humiston’s illegal nonsense.

And interestingly this bill has drawn no significant opposition, not even from the California Downtown Association or other assorted BID fronts that habitually oppose even the mildest and most unobjectionable improvements in the Public Records Act.1 E.g. this year Todd Gloria’s AB 1184, which merely clarifies that existing state records retention law applies to emails.

Anyway, passing the Assembly unanimously is a good sign, and fingers crossed for the Senate. You’ll find no pre-hatch chicken counting around here, though. We saw in 2017 how determined coalitions of well-funded shadow-dwelling BIDdies can sink even very well-supported bills in the reconciliation process long after they’ve passed one house or another. Turn the page for a transcription of selections from the Assembly floor analysis of the bill.
Continue reading AB1819 Passes Assembly — Now On To Senate — A Tiny But Essential Improvement To The California Public Records Act — Will Require Agencies To Allow Requesters To Copy Records At No Charge — Using Their Own Equipment — Includes Electronic Files — Take That, Department Of Alcoholic Freaking Beverage Control!

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George Yu And The Chinatown Business Improvement District Continue To Refuse To Participate In Our CPRA Lawsuit Against Them — Motion To Compel Response To Discovery Filed Yesterday — Along With Ex Parte Motion To Set An Earlier Date For Hearing Motion To Compel — How Did Anyone Decide That This Whiny Little Poobutt Should Be In Charge Of A Multi-Zillion Dollar Publicly Funded Enterprise?!

I mean, at this point all these posts about our1 lawsuit against the Chinatown Business Improvement District are turning out about the same. We do something and he ignores it and doesn’t show up for court or file papers or do whatever he was supposed to do. And the last such item was the discovery we served on the BID in January. And he just wouldn’t answer!

Well, the trial is coming up on July 24 and our lawyers have to have the opening brief in on May 24. So yesterday we filed a motion to compel the BID to answer the discovery and also to pay $3,160 in costs incurred because of Yu’s intransigence. But there’s an extra problem, which is that there’s no room on the court’s calendar for hearing the motion until July.

This would leave no time to incorporate the discovery information into the opening brief, so we’re doing an ex parte application to hold the hearing on the motion to compel sooner.2 It’ll be heard this Thursday, May 2, at 8:30 am in Department 86 of the Mosk Courthouse. Turn the page for some excerpts from the lawyer’s declaration explaining what a bad, bad boy George Yu has been.
Continue reading George Yu And The Chinatown Business Improvement District Continue To Refuse To Participate In Our CPRA Lawsuit Against Them — Motion To Compel Response To Discovery Filed Yesterday — Along With Ex Parte Motion To Set An Earlier Date For Hearing Motion To Compel — How Did Anyone Decide That This Whiny Little Poobutt Should Be In Charge Of A Multi-Zillion Dollar Publicly Funded Enterprise?!

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Since 2016 Eleven CPRA Lawsuits Against The City Of Los Angeles Have Been Disposed Of — The City Lost Two At Trial And Paid Up — And Settled Eight Before Trial And Paid Up — And The Only One They Didn’t Lose Was The One Wrongly Filed In Federal Court By A Pro Se Litigant — For A Total Of $662,722 — And Given That They’re About To Pay More Than $324,000 To The ACLU To Settle Another Loser — This Is More Than A Million Dollars In Less Than Four Years That They Wasted Because They Can Not Or They Will Not Comply With The Law — For That Kind Of Money They Could Hire A Damn CPRA Coordinator — And Some Staff — And Stop The Bleeding

If you make requests of the City of Los Angeles under the California Public Records Act you will have learned by now that they fail to comply in almost every possible way. They delay access to records, they wrongfully withhold records as exempt, they fail to respond to requests at all, they say that there are no responsive records when in fact there are, they manipulate requesters into asking for far less than they have a right to by wrongly citing authorities, they insist on printing electronic records onto paper and then charge for copies, and so on and on and on. It’s a real nightmare.

Some of the City’s shenanigans are due to the fact that the state legislature, in its wisdom, has made judicial action the only means of enforcing the CPRA. The City, probably with reason, assumes that most requesters don’t have the resources or the tenacity to follow through with a lawsuit, so the expected consequences for their abject noncompliance are pretty minimal. And that may be an accurate assessment, it’s hard to tell because I don’t have access to all the data.

But not having access to all doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get access to some, so I have been investigating CPRA suits against the City of Los Angeles. I first started thinking about this matter in 2015 but was at that time told by Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas1 that the City had no way of listing CPRA suits against it. But after all that nonsense happened in San Diego recently, what with their City Attorney,2 Mara Elliot, tricking Senator Ben Hueso into introducing his appalling and since-withdrawn CPRA-gutting SB 615 and then some people got a spreadsheet showing how much the City of San Diego had spent on CPRA suits since 2010.

So I thought I’d ask Mike Dundas again and what do you know!? He came through and also informed me that the City Attorney3 had assigned a cause code to CPRA suits in 2016 so that it was now possible to track them individually.4 And then, kablooie! He produced this list of ten closed cases with payouts since 2016!5 And then later he told me that there was this one other closed case that didn’t involve a payout since the City was dismissed from it on a motion.6 And according to him he will be producing7 a list of the currently open cases.8

And just the bare numbers here are really interesting, but not a good look for the City of Los Angeles. Since 2016 eleven CPRA cases against the City have been disposed of. The City went to trial on two of these and lost, paying a total of $558,690.57 to petitioners’ lawyers. The City unfavorably settled eight of them before trial, paying a total of $104,032 to petitioners’ lawyers. And the City got itself dismissed from one before trial, but only because the petitioner mistakenly filed the case in federal court.

I obtained copies of all ten of the properly filed petitions, and you can find them here on the Archive and there are also links to the individual files below. From a practical point of view, those eight cases that the City settled without going to trial are the most interesting of all. First of all, they were all avoidable. None of them hinged on any subtle interpretations of the statute. If the City had just followed the explicit requirements of the law none of them would have been brought in the first place.

I describe each of them briefly below, by the way. The City has really come to rely on not being sued, and I don’t think we have any hope at all of improving their compliance without a lot more petitions being filed. It’s my hope that these statistics along with access to these cases will encourage more lawyers to get involved in suing the City over CPRA violations. It really looks like there’s some money to be made.

But, much, much more importantly, it looks like it might be not only practically possible, not only morally desirable, but also economically feasible to get the damn City of Los Angeles to just comply with the damn CPRA in some kind of predictable way. The money they spend settling these cases could easily fund a Citywide CPRA coordinator and another staff member just to keep all the City departments on track so that we get access to our records and the City avoids an endless parade of these entirely avoidable suits.
Continue reading Since 2016 Eleven CPRA Lawsuits Against The City Of Los Angeles Have Been Disposed Of — The City Lost Two At Trial And Paid Up — And Settled Eight Before Trial And Paid Up — And The Only One They Didn’t Lose Was The One Wrongly Filed In Federal Court By A Pro Se Litigant — For A Total Of $662,722 — And Given That They’re About To Pay More Than $324,000 To The ACLU To Settle Another Loser — This Is More Than A Million Dollars In Less Than Four Years That They Wasted Because They Can Not Or They Will Not Comply With The Law — For That Kind Of Money They Could Hire A Damn CPRA Coordinator — And Some Staff — And Stop The Bleeding

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Exceedingly Strong Trial Brief Filed In My CPRA Suit Against The Fashion District BID — The BID’s Reply Is Due In 30 Days — Trial Set For June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM — Department 86 — Stanley Mosk Courthouse

It’s been a while since I wrote about the lawsuit that I was forced to file in August 2018 by the unhinged intransigence of the Fashion District BID, pursued by them in line with the unhinged intransigence of their soon-to-be-disbarred attorney, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, Ms. Carol Ann Humiston, in order to enforce my rights to read their damn emails. But time rolls on and the trial, scheduled for June 26, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in Department 86 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, is rapidly approaching.

Thus did my attorneys, Abenicio Cisneros and Karl Olson, file the trial brief with the court on Friday. The arguments are overwhelmingly powerful, and you can read substantial excerpts after the break. If I were the Fashion District after reading this I’d be ready to settle up and settle up quick. But they’re clearly on some kind of a mission with an axe to grind and a point to prove and I certainly don’t expect them to start acting sensible at this point. After all, it’s not their own money they’re squandering on Ms. Humiston’s exorbitant fees.1

As I said, you can read the specifics in the excerpts below, but there are two main general issues at stake. First is the fact that the BID relies heavily on the so-called catch-all exemption to the CPRA, found at section 6255(a), which allows agencies to withhold records when they can show “that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” The key thing here is that they have to make a showing of public interest in withholding the record.

This is hard enough to do in general, and the BID hasn’t even made an attempt, but our argument is that in the City of Los Angeles such a showing is even more difficult to pull off because (a) the BID is deeply involved in attempts to influence municipal legislation and (b) the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.01 establishes an extraordinarily high public interest in disclosure of information about attempts to influence:

The citizens of the City of Los Angeles have a right to know the identity of interests which attempt to influence decisions of City government, as well as the means employed by those interests.

Complete public disclosure of the full range of activities by and financing of lobbyists and those who employ their services is essential to the maintenance of citizen confidence in the integrity of local government.

The argument is essentially that the BID can’t even show that there’s any significant public interest in withholding the records they withheld, but given that the subject of these records concerns the means they employ to attempt to influence municipal decisions, they really especially can’t meet this extra-high local bar.

The other main argument is against some nonsense that the BID just made up in their reply to my petition. Many of the emails they refused to turn over are in the possession of their board members Linda Becker and Mark Chatoff. They wouldn’t even search for these because it’s Carol Humiston’s opinion that board members aren’t subject to the CPRA.

You can read the technical details below, but basically our argument is that the law that makes BIDs subject to the CPRA, which is Streets and Highways Code §36612, explicitly makes the owners’ associations subject. It makes no sense as a matter of law and as of a matter of common sense that a corporation could be subject to the CPRA while its board members were not subject. A corporation only does anything through the actions of the people who run it. And that’s the quick and dirty summary. As I keep saying, read on for the excerpts!
Continue reading Exceedingly Strong Trial Brief Filed In My CPRA Suit Against The Fashion District BID — The BID’s Reply Is Due In 30 Days — Trial Set For June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM — Department 86 — Stanley Mosk Courthouse

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