Tag Archives: ACLU

The LA CAN & Catholic Worker Lawsuit Has Cost The Central City East Association At Least $115,000 In Legal Fees And Costs (And How It Took Me Two Months Of Hardcore CPRAfaction To Discover This Fact)

Around these parts we refer to the California Public Records Act as CPRA, pronounced SIP-rah. The methodologies and practicalities of using CPRA are known as CPRAfaction, pronounced SIP-rah-faction.

You may recall that in March, the Central City East Association settled the momentous lawsuit brought against it by the Los Angeles Community Action Network and LA Catholic Worker.1 This was mere months after beloved Los Angeles gadfly Eric Preven and the incomparable ACLU of Southern California won a momentous decision in the California Supreme Court, which ruled essentially that once a legal case was finished the legal privilege exemption to CPRA2 no longer applied. No coincidences around here! So I fired off an email to Estela Lopez as follows:

Good afternoon, Estela, and happy Palm Sunday.

And congratulations on settling that 2014 lawsuit, namely LACW et al. v. Downtown Industrial District BID et al. (2:14-cv-07344-PSG-AJW). I would like to look at copies of all bills from all lawyers who worked for the CCEA on this case.

For the sake of efficiency, and in case you’re not already aware aware of this, here’s a link to an LA Times story on the recent Supreme Court decision declaring that once a case is resolved the bills become public records:

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-court-legal-bills-20161229-story.html

As you can imagine, there was a lot of back-and-forth, with her mostly refusing to hand over the legal bills, until this afternoon, when she did hand them over. The full story of that, with bunches of emails and also a reasonable amount of CPRA nerdview, can be found after the break if you’re interested.

But here are the actual bills to CCEA from their lawyers, Hill, Farrer, & Burrill. I spent a little time adding up the totals and their total legal bills, costs and fees, seem to have come to $89,782.54 over the last three years. Add this to the $25,000 they agreed to pay the plaintiffs in the settlement agreement and their whole bill comes to $114,782.54. This is over slightly less than three years, and the BID’s annual budget is roughly $2,000,000, so it’s relatively not that much.

According to Estela Lopez in 2015 there are more than 2000 homeless human beings living in the CCEA’s territory. Thus this lawsuit cost them a little more than $57 per potential harassment victim. I’m sure this seems cheap at the price. Anyway, that’s the substantive information. Turn the page for the story of how I got my hands on it!
Continue reading The LA CAN & Catholic Worker Lawsuit Has Cost The Central City East Association At Least $115,000 In Legal Fees And Costs (And How It Took Me Two Months Of Hardcore CPRAfaction To Discover This Fact)

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In Yet Another Example Of Disdain For The California Constitution, LAPD Internal Affairs Finds “Insufficient Evidence” To Pursue CPRA-Based Complaint Against LAPD Discovery, Leaving ACLU’s April 2017 Lawsuit As Current Best Hope For Reform

Maybe you remember that last October I complained to LAPD Internal Affairs about the fact that the LAPD Discovery Unit, which handles Public Records Act requests, was unbelievably, flamboyantly, egregiously, astonishingly remiss in their legal duty to provide requested records promptly. They routinely take more than 18 months to handle requests if they handle them at all.

The complaint was based on the theory that, since compliance with the Public Records Act is a fundamental constitutional right in California, and since Reverence for the Law is one of the LAPD’s core values, someone in the chain of command ought to be held responsible for LAPD’s flouting of this fundamental constitutional right. Well, a few weeks ago I received a determination letter from Internal Affairs on my complaint. They found sadly, that there was Insufficient Evidence to Adjudicate. So much for that theory!

Of course, the LAPD has a long and ultimately twisted relationship with both the Constitution of the United States and with the Constitution of California, from the depths of unrecorded history to 1923’s Liberty Hill Strike to the Consent Decree imposed by the Justice Department in response to innumerable instances of appalling misconduct to the long list of killings of unarmed people in the first decades of the 21st Century.
Continue reading In Yet Another Example Of Disdain For The California Constitution, LAPD Internal Affairs Finds “Insufficient Evidence” To Pursue CPRA-Based Complaint Against LAPD Discovery, Leaving ACLU’s April 2017 Lawsuit As Current Best Hope For Reform

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ACLU And Eric Preven Score Huge California Supreme Court CPRA Victory Against Los Angeles County Over Release Of Attorney Invoices

Eric Preven is not only winning huge CPRA victories, he is also running for mayor of Los Angeles.
Last week local hero and candidate for mayor Eric Preven along with the ACLU of Southern California won a major victory for CPRA rights in the California Supreme Court. This was well-covered by both the ACLU and the Los Angeles Times. The main point of this post is to make available some of the paperwork from the case, but here’s how the ACLU summarized the issues:

Today, the California Supreme Court affirmed the public’s right to access government billing records with private law firms, overturning a previous appeals court ruling in a California Public Records Act (CPRA) case brought against Los Angeles County.

L.A. County should now release the invoices for all closed cases, so that the public can learn how much taxpayer money is going to private lawyers to defend the county and its employees, including the many cases against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for brutality against inmates in the county jails.

In 2013, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California … and … Eric Preven … sued the county demanding that it and the Office of County Counsel release invoices detailing the amounts of money billed by private law firms in lawsuits filed against the sheriff’s department and its personnel. The laws​uit, ACLU/Preven v. Los Angeles County, came after county counsel denied several CPRA requests for the documents that list the amounts billed by private attorneys, which are paid by county taxpayers.In the opinion the court rejected the county’s argument that attorney-client privilege extends to government invoices with private legal counsel in closed cases, writing that “contents of an invoice are privileged only if they either communicate information for the purpose of consultation or risk exposing information.”

And turn the page to download bunches of pleadings in the case, including the Supreme Court opinion.
Continue reading ACLU And Eric Preven Score Huge California Supreme Court CPRA Victory Against Los Angeles County Over Release Of Attorney Invoices

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Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors.
Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors. I apologize for the crappy image quality. I didn’t plan to film.
After I spent some time looking into the Central Avenue Historic BID in the context of potential political goals for the post-approval Venice Beach BID, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about this newborn BID.1 The meetings are held at CD9’s district office at 4301 S. Central,2 so on a very pleasant evening last Thursday, I took the 210 out of Hollywood to MLK and Crenshaw, where I boarded the 705 to Central and Vernon from whence a couple blocks North on Central to watch the Board of Directors conduct their business.3 The meeting was scheduled to start at 5:30, but that evidently included some preliminaries, because when I got there at about 10 to 64 they hadn’t started yet.

Anyway, take a look at the agenda. You can see that they’re talking about the kind of things that one would expect BIDs to talk about from, e.g., reading the Wikipedia page on BIDs,5 like branding and marketing, cleaning the streets, having Halloween events, and so on. And watch this short clip of the meeting.6 That’s Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, the BID consultant, who also seems to be functioning as executive director, talking about some kind of partnership the BID’s working on with Hollywood Community Housing Corporation involving affordable housing at the corner of Central and Jefferson.7

Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
And then you can watch here as BID security director Allan Muhammad introduces his employees, and then they proceed to hand out sample Halloween bags to everyone in the room. They didn’t once discuss custodial arrests, handcuffs, social engineering, mass relocations, self-aggrandizing 5150 holds, or any of the other hard-edged tactics of which the City’s older and ever so much more dangerous BIDs are so enamored. And even though I only got 15 minutes on tape of the 90 minutes I was there8 they didn’t really have anything objectionable to say even during the parts of the meeting I didn’t record. They talked about parking, they talked about their phone bills, they talked about how it was hard for the BID to patronize local businesses because they mostly only accepted cash.9

Could this be what a BID looks like as BIDs were intended to look? Well, the very question is based on a false assumption. And there were foreshadowings of bad news to come. And on the way home, and for the last few days, it’s got me thinking about what BIDs were meant to be,10how BIDs11 evolve under selective pressure, and how it’s probably inevitable that this BID is going to end up like the worst of the Downtown BIDs, the worst of the Hollywood BIDs. The short version is that BIDs probably started out as helpful tools, but as a wise woman once said, “every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.” So turn the page if you’re still interested…
Continue reading Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

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City of Los Angeles Files Boilerplate Motion in Stop LAPD Spying CPRA Case Stating that Judge Joanne O’Donnell is too Prejudiced to Officiate

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell.
There’s a (relatively) new development in the Stop LAPD Spying v. City of L.A. Public Records Act case. Unfortunately the L.A. County Superior Court doesn’t seem to have an automated filing notification system like the Federal District Courts do, which is why I missed (until now) this interesting motion that the City of L.A. filed on January 12, 2016. It is a Motion for an Order Establishing Peremptory Challenge to Judicial Officer as well as a Declaration of Julie Raffish. Julie Raffish is the Deputy City Attorney that’s defending the case for L.A. In this declaration she claims that:

Joanne O’Donnell, the judge before whom the trial or hearing in this action is pending or to whom it has been assigned, is prejudiced against the Respondent
[City of Los Angeles] or its attorney or the interest of the Respondent or its attorney, so that the declarant [Julie Raffish] believes that she cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judge.

Now, this is obviously a boilerplate motion, and, at least as of today, the first three hits on a Google search on los angeles superior court peremptory challenge to judicial officer are forms for this, using the identical language to the motion filed by Julie Raffish. But there’s more!
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We Have a Suspicion that Morrison’s Mission in New Exposition’s to Lie by Omission About Her Commission so Our Admonition to this Patrician Technician’s to Cure the Condition of her Own Volition with an Act of Contrition1

Kerry Morrison keeping schtum about her culpability.
Kerry Morrison, patrician technician of homeless policy in LA, keeping schtum about her culpability in various matters.
On the front page of the Summer 2015 issue of the HPOA newsletter, our heroine and perennial source of subject matter, Kerry Morrison, has an article cynically entitled Discouraging News About Homelessness Surprises No One. Her subject is the 2015 homeless count results, released last month and showing that homelessness in Los Angeles County has increased by 12% over 2013, the year of the last count. In her piece, Kerry gives a number of delusional speculations on why this might have happened: more crazy people, good weather in LA, Prop 47 (srsly), people who, following the example of Jesus Christ, give money to panhandlers, the FREAKING ACLU?!!3

You’d never guess though, from reading this little essay, that the County’s approach to the problem of homelessness consists of anything more than a bunch of random but self-styledly-good-natured business-people chilling in their offices speculating benignantly about how hobos gossiping amongst themselves about how the livin’ is easy down by the LA River3 might possibly have to our current homelessness armageddon. There are actually agencies in Los Angeles whose entire purpose is “to support, create and sustain solutions to homelessness in Los Angeles County…”
Continue reading We Have a Suspicion that Morrison’s Mission in New Exposition’s to Lie by Omission About Her Commission so Our Admonition to this Patrician Technician’s to Cure the Condition of her Own Volition with an Act of Contrition1

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