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!
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 lawsuit, 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.”
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 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
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.
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