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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Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

As you may well remember, earlier this year Senator Bob Wieckowski introduced the small but essential SB931. The Brown Act already requires public agencies to mail copies of agendas to members of the public on request.1At §54954.1 This bill would require them to email them if asked to.

It’s very strange but sadly true that there are plenty of little backwater agencies, mostly business improvement districts and charter schools, who are so intent on obstruction that they will refuse to email agendas even though it’s free, even though they already email agendas to people they approve of. They will insist that the law only requires them to mail agendas.

And don’t get me started on how they send them via certified mail so that if people miss the first delivery it’s essentially too late to find out what the meeting is about. And if it’s a special meeting? Or if someone’s unhoused and doesn’t have reliable mail service? Forget it. So like I said, this is a minor problem, something these agencies ought to be doing anyway but some of them just won’t and Wieckowski’s bill will fix it.

As far as I know there’s no organized opposition. I mean, what are they going to say? That they enjoy exploiting this unfortunate loophole to mess with people? But there’s a lot of support! I already wrote about the letter sent by our friends at the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition. The California News Publishers Association sent a nice little letter. And just the other day I learned that Oakland Privacy, a group I hadn’t heard of before this, wrote a really extraordinary, really dynamic letter in support.

You can read the entire thing below, but they raise a really important point that no other support letter has brought out in such detail. That’s the fact that if members of the public want to monitor the agendas of many local agencies to see if they want to comment on specific items, essentially their only practical choice right now is to check the agencies’ websites regularly.

For people or groups that monitor tens or hundreds of agencies this is not only time-consuming but also unreliable. Requiring notifications by email would solve this problem. Anyway, as I said, read on for the full letter, and if you have a moment, why not drop Wieckowski a line or call him in support yourself?
Continue reading Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

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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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The City Of Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center On East Temple Street Houses The Unified Homelessness Response Center — And A Lot Of Other Departments As Well — It’s Managed By Two Committees — The Emergency Management Committee — And The Emergency Operations Board — These Bodies Meet Inside The Emergency Operations Center — And Their Meetings Are Subject To The Brown Act — Which Means That The Public Can Attend — Inside The Building — Therefore At Least Sporadically It’s Open To The Public — Which Is Big News For Various Reasons — And LAPD Chief Michel Moore Chairs The Board — Although Not The Committee — Which Would Seem To Offer An Interesting Opportunity For General Public Comment

The City of Los Angeles has an Emergency Operations Center situated at 500 E. Temple Street. There are a lot of different departments housed in the building, but of most interest to me is the Unified Homelessness Response Center. You may recall, if you follow my Twitter feed, that last November as part of our years-long quest to get accurate information about upcoming encampment sweeps, Tommy Kelly of Streetwatch Los Angeles and I went over to UHRC in person and demanded access to the schedules. And we were menaced by a confused-about-the-law cop and made to leave.

According to the cop at the time the building isn’t open to the public. This may or may not be true, but the fact that he said it at all explains how exceedingly interested I was to discover this very morning that the Emergency Operations Center is managed by two distinct committees, whose meetings seem to be open to the public. There’s the Emergency Management Committee and the Emergency Operations Board.

This last body is chaired by the Chief of Police, currently of course Michel Moore, and would therefore seem to offer an interesting and hitherto unexploited opportunity for public comment. You can sign up to receive agendas for both of these groups via email. There’s also an archive of old agendas and minutes on the Emergency Operations Center website — Here for the Board and here for the Committee.

I certainly plan to attend these meetings in the future when possible. It’ll be really something to get inside that building, to even be allowed to make video of the goings-on, without being menaced by loony-tunes know-nothings from LAPD. See you there, perhaps?!

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Last Year Gavin Newsom Vetoed Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s Absolutely Essential Email Retention Bill — But Gloria Reintroduced It The Other Day And It Looks Like The Fight Is On Again! — The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Submitted A Letter In Support And You — Being Sane — Should Submit One As Well! — The Idiotic And Dishonest Letters Of Opposition Are Already Rolling In!

Perhaps you remember last year’s Assembly Bill AB1184, introduced by government transparency hero Representative Todd Gloria, dishonestly opposed by a bunch of mendacious business improvement districts and other shills with a lot to hide, and ignominiously vetoed by California Governor Gavin Newsom at the behest of lobbyists hired by the bad BIDdies and their enablers? Well, Gloria reintroduced it this year, and here we go again!

The new number is AB2093, and perhaps this time the forces of good and right will be able to overcome the nonsensical objections and get this baby passed. The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition submitted a letter in support today, and you and/or your organizations can submit one as well! Send to Raquel Mason via email at raquel.mason@asm.ca.gov.

It’s expected to go to committee in March so it’s not urgent, but it’s also not not urgent, so don’t dilly-dally! And read on for a transcription of the letter sent by the LASC. Oh, and also! The dishonest opposition has already begun. Behold an idiotic form letter of opposition sent by some random special district somewhere north of Pacoima. Too dumb to analyze, but maybe worth a glance?
Continue reading Last Year Gavin Newsom Vetoed Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s Absolutely Essential Email Retention Bill — But Gloria Reintroduced It The Other Day And It Looks Like The Fight Is On Again! — The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Submitted A Letter In Support And You — Being Sane — Should Submit One As Well! — The Idiotic And Dishonest Letters Of Opposition Are Already Rolling In!

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The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

It’s so darn bandied-about that it’s become easy to forget that Abraham Lincoln’s perfect description of the American form of government,1 or at least its to-be-constantly-striven-for ideal form, as “of the people, by the people, for the people” has a great deal of meaning packed into it. In particular, if government is to be of and for the people then the people have to have access to the spaces in which its work is done and advance notice of when it’s happening.

And governments being what they are2 they would often prefer to keep people out of the process entirely by making their decisions and doing their work in secret. To prevent this, to preserve Lincoln’s ideal, we need laws to protect our access. In California such access is protected by the Brown Act.

One of the rights protected by the Brown Act is the right to have notice of the time, place, and subject matter of upcoming meetings. This protection comes in two forms. First, §54594.2 requires agendas to be posted in public and on the web 72 hours before a meeting.3 But of course, this is only sufficient if you remember to check the posting location or the website. If you don’t or can’t do that you’re out of luck.
Continue reading The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

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LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

As you may already know, I’ve been looking into civil nuisance abatement lawsuits and their relation to gentrification in Los Angeles. The City files dozens of these cases each year and they’re based on really flimsy but also mostly unchallenged evidence. A big part of this project is collecting copies of the complaints themselves, and so far I’ve obtained them for 2015 and 2016 and 2017-2019.

Apparently, though, the City Attorney inadvertently omitted1 a few of these from earlier productions and I just got copies of those the other day. They’re available here on Archive.Org. We’re still waiting for 2014 and earlier. And I have a bunch of other requests pending, of course, and I will certainly let you know if any of them are successful and result in interesting stuff!

But also sometimes even unsuccessful requests have interesting results! And that’s the main subject of today’s post! But first, some background! You may recall that Supreme Nuisance Prosecutor Jonathan Cristall and his unindicted co-conspirator Liora Forman-Echols published a really insidious how-to/why-to guide in the National Gang Center Bulletin in 2009, which I wrote about recently.

And this pernicious little document contains some really implausible claims. Just for instance, on page 6, Cristall and Forman-Echols state, without supporting evidence, that “[i]n most instances, the abatement of the nuisance at the property has a ripple effect, positively improving the surrounding neighborhood.” Oh, and also! Seasoned Supreme Gang Nuisance Prosecutor Cristall is not only a self-proclaimed expert on abating nuisances for fun and profit, he’s also a self-proclaimed expert on raising teenagers!
Continue reading LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

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