Tag Archives: California Public Records Act

Ruben Alonzo — Carpetbagging Galaxy-Brained Founder Of Excelencia Charter Academy In Boyle Heights — Co-Located On The Campus Of Sunrise Elementary School — Surveilled, Stalked, And Photographed Anti-Charter Protester Mimi Duncanson — And Tried — Unsuccessfully — To Get The Cops To Tow Her Car — And Pretty Likely Violated The Brown Act To Prevent Her From Learning Of Impending Teacher Firings At Excelencia — And This Is The Kind Of Amoral Grifter The State Of California Entrusts With The Lives Of Small Defenseless Children

Excelencia Charter Academy is yet another creepy little charter school run by yet another shockingly unqualified creepy little galaxy-brained grifter, this one known as Ruben Alonzo, going about the place making creepy little announcements of delusionally impending disruptive excellence while lining his creepy little pockets with public money1 at the expense of the actual human children that the state legislature, for reasons they’re going to have to answer for eventually, has seen fit to place into his care.

In this regard Alonzo is much like Sakshi Jain, shockingly unqualified founder of the ill-fated GANAS Academy, whose plan to co-locate on the campus of Catskill Elementary School conjured up such a monumental hurricane of activist opposition and scorn that, it appears, she has had to put her school’s opening on hold while she slinks back to her lair to soothe her metaphorical wounds with a salve made of equal parts boorish self-pity and Walton family megabucks.

Unlike Jain, though, Alonzo did actually manage to open his school. In the Fall of 2018 as it happens and, like Jain’s fiasco, co-located, in this case on the campus of Sunrise Elementary School in Boyle Heights. And like Jain’s folly Alonzo’s weirdo little project conjured up some opposition, most publicly from Sunrise Elementary teacher Mimi Guzman-Duncanson.

Duncanson famously parked her SUV out in front of the school covered in flyers advertising the appalling lack of qualifications of Excelencia’s teachers, let alone Ruben Alonzo, the self-proclaimed founder. Duncanson’s protest was covered in the Los Angeles Times and by Jason McGahan, writing in The Baffler.

You can see a picture of Maestra Duncanson2 with her minivan somewhere near this sentence.That picture and another like it came from a huge set of emails released to me recently by Alonzo pursuant to the California Public Records Act.3 And if it looks like hostile photography, like surveillance, well, that’s because that’s precisely what it is. It turns out that aggressively callow hellbaby Ruben Alonzo just could not deal with the fact that anyone at all dared to question his galaxy-brained 29 year old self.

These emails reveal that Alonzo hated and feared the truth to such an extent that not only did he stalk and surveill her, take hostile photographs of her, not only did he whine about her to every reporter who’d sit still long enough, but he tried to convince police to tow Duncanson’s protest van, although they refused.

He also arranged for police presence at his school for the first few days of operation because of his hatred and fear of protesters. He almost certainly also violated the Brown Act by emailing information about firing two teachers to his board of directors in advance of the meeting, explicitly stating that he was doing so in order to keep Duncanson from learning it. You can find PDFs of the relevant emails here, and read on for quotes and links!
Continue reading Ruben Alonzo — Carpetbagging Galaxy-Brained Founder Of Excelencia Charter Academy In Boyle Heights — Co-Located On The Campus Of Sunrise Elementary School — Surveilled, Stalked, And Photographed Anti-Charter Protester Mimi Duncanson — And Tried — Unsuccessfully — To Get The Cops To Tow Her Car — And Pretty Likely Violated The Brown Act To Prevent Her From Learning Of Impending Teacher Firings At Excelencia — And This Is The Kind Of Amoral Grifter The State Of California Entrusts With The Lives Of Small Defenseless Children

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Interesting Public Records Suit Filed Against The City Of Los Angeles — By La Brea Willoughby Coalition — Concerning The Much Abused Exemption For Draft Materials — Which Really Needs To Be Cancelled — And The City Of LA’s Absolutely Phoned-In Boilerplate Reply — Ridiculous!

I just learned of an interesting public records suit filed in September 2019 by Venskus & Associates for the La Brea Willoughby Coalition against the City of Los Angeles. They’re fighting upzoning around the Purple Line extension, which I don’t understand enough to comment on. But irrespective of the merits1 of their cause the City of Los Angeles has repeatedly violated their right to due process in appeals and pretty much, as the City will do, every possible other arena.

And that extends to some requests for records that the Coalition made of the City for materials having to do with the Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan. And the City eventually produced more than 2000 pages of the wrong stuff, which is a favorite tactic of theirs. They also didn’t claim any exemptions. After almost a year of debate, during which the City finally did claim that some of the material sought was exempt, the Coalition brought this suit. You can read the petition and the City’s ridiculously inapropos reply on Archive.Org.

According to the petition the City wouldn’t produce some of the requested material because it contained drafts of the City’s upzoning policies. The City claimed, according to the petition, that:

[t]hese drafts represent preliminary ideas and thoughts related to the policy initiative and do not reflect that [sic] final policy direction provided by City management or the City’s decision makers. Producing such documents would create the real risk of the public being misinformed as to the components of the policy initiative. Through the release of various documents and through numerous public workshops, the public has been provided with staff’s initial recommendations related to this policy initiative and an opportunity to provide input on them. This process will continue until such time that staff finalizes its recommendations to the City’s decision makers.

Which is all fine and dandy, even if true, but these kinds of qualitative theories of why an agency might prefer not to release records are not enough under the CPRA to justify not releasing them. The law is very clear2 that an “agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter”.

There’s also a so-called “catch all” exemption, found in the same sentence, that allows agencies to withhold records if “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.” Finally, there is an exemption, found at §6254(a), which allows agencies to withhold draft material with the same kind of public interest weighing test required by §6255(a),
Continue reading Interesting Public Records Suit Filed Against The City Of Los Angeles — By La Brea Willoughby Coalition — Concerning The Much Abused Exemption For Draft Materials — Which Really Needs To Be Cancelled — And The City Of LA’s Absolutely Phoned-In Boilerplate Reply — Ridiculous!

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After Accelerated Schools Board President Juli Quinn Shut Down The October 24 Board Meeting In A Fit Of Petulant Rage — Because Protesters — Her Social Inferiors In Every Way Just Ask Her — Dared To Say Something True In Her Presence — And Weren’t Sufficiently Grateful For The Sacrifices Being Made By Their White Saviors On The Board — After All That — Facilities Director Tom Nizetich Cursed About Security Guard Guillermo Garcia Calling The Police To Handle The Situation — Because Nizetich Didn’t Think The Police Would Even Show Up — He Wanted Garcia To “Just Shuffle These People Out Of Here God Almighty” — Listen To A Recording Of Nizetich’s Foul-Mouthed Cynical Paranoia — And Wonder Yet Again Why Anyone Thinks It’s A Good Idea To Make These Self-Absorbed Psychopaths Responsible For The Care And Education Of Actual Human Children

Of course you remember a few weeks how Juli Quinn, president of the Board of Directors of the white supremacist criminal charter school conspiracy known as The Accelerated Schools, threw her toys from the pram and shut down a meeting just because public commenters said some true things. And the subject that they were commenting on was, of course, the unreasonable firing of long-time employee and union member Hilda Rodriguez-Guzman.

But what you might not have known is that Hilda has been continuing to investigate wrongdoing at TAS via, among other things, the California Public Records Act. And this is how she recently obtained official audio recordings of the last three TAS board meetings. She shared them with me and I’m sharing them with you by publishing them on Archive.Org for download and on YouTube for streaming. Here are links:

★ June 27 part 1 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis
★ June 27 part 2 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis
★ August 29, 2019 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis
★ October 24, 2019 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis

And this is important information to have. And it came with an unexpected bonus which supplies even more important information. After Quinn shut down the October 24 meeting the Board did not stop recording immediately and thereby captured some comments by facilities manager Tom Nizetich to executive assistant Mia Watson about how the protesters ought to be handled in his opinion. Here’s what he said:

Tom Nizetich: God damnit! He’s letting Vincent deal with these people while he’s on the fucking telephone!

Mia Watson: Who? Garcia!

Nizetich: Yes! How could you! Son of a bitch drives me out of my mind! The police! Good luck getting them over here! Just shuffle these people out of here!

Watson: Seriously!

Nizetich: God almighty!

Continue reading After Accelerated Schools Board President Juli Quinn Shut Down The October 24 Board Meeting In A Fit Of Petulant Rage — Because Protesters — Her Social Inferiors In Every Way Just Ask Her — Dared To Say Something True In Her Presence — And Weren’t Sufficiently Grateful For The Sacrifices Being Made By Their White Saviors On The Board — After All That — Facilities Director Tom Nizetich Cursed About Security Guard Guillermo Garcia Calling The Police To Handle The Situation — Because Nizetich Didn’t Think The Police Would Even Show Up — He Wanted Garcia To “Just Shuffle These People Out Of Here God Almighty” — Listen To A Recording Of Nizetich’s Foul-Mouthed Cynical Paranoia — And Wonder Yet Again Why Anyone Thinks It’s A Good Idea To Make These Self-Absorbed Psychopaths Responsible For The Care And Education Of Actual Human Children

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On September 20, 2019 The Aids Healthcare Foundation Filed A California Public Records Act Petition Against The City Of Los Angeles — Just Four Days After Receiving A Characteristically Inadequate Denial From The Office Of The Mayor — This Is A Necessary — And Laudable — And Entirely Appropriate Action — I Can Only Think Of Two Strategies For Encouraging The City To Consistently Comply With The CPRA — One Is For Us To Pass A Local Sunshine Ordinance — And Until That Happens We Have To Sue The Freaking Crap Out Of The City Immediately Every Time They Illegally Withhold Records — Like Freud Said — If They Don’t Pay They Won’t Get Better — So Yay AHF!

Yesterday the Aids Healthcare Foundation held a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles for its alleged and exceedingly plausible arbitrary and capricious denial of an AHF homeless housing project. This is an important lawsuit with a a powerful and convincing petition in support of AHF’s laudable efforts to house the unhoused in Los Angeles. It’s been well-covered in the press.

Not quite as well-covered is the fact that in September 2019, as part of the lead-up to that lawsuit, AHF sent a request to HCIDLA for public records related to the bidding process in which their project was rejected. HCIDLA rejected it with a message stating that the Mayor’s Office had the records and that AHF should send it there.1 They did so, and a few days later Garcetti’s office sent them a denial stating “[it] is our policy not to disclose materials related to competing bids while the contracting process is still ongoing.”

Now, the CPRA is very clear on the fundamental fact that unless there is an explicit reason given in the law for withholding a record, that record must be released to anyone who asks for it. This is found at §6255(a), which says that “The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or 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.”
Continue reading On September 20, 2019 The Aids Healthcare Foundation Filed A California Public Records Act Petition Against The City Of Los Angeles — Just Four Days After Receiving A Characteristically Inadequate Denial From The Office Of The Mayor — This Is A Necessary — And Laudable — And Entirely Appropriate Action — I Can Only Think Of Two Strategies For Encouraging The City To Consistently Comply With The CPRA — One Is For Us To Pass A Local Sunshine Ordinance — And Until That Happens We Have To Sue The Freaking Crap Out Of The City Immediately Every Time They Illegally Withhold Records — Like Freud Said — If They Don’t Pay They Won’t Get Better — So Yay AHF!

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My Public Records Act Case Against The Historic Core BID Went To Trial Today — And The BIDdies Lost Big-Time! — Judge Orders Them To Do A New Search! — And Basically Scoffs At Their Argument That MailChimp Doesn’t Send Emails! — BID Lawyer Jeff Briggs Actually Argued In Open Court That They Shouldn’t Have To Hand Over Records Because Of The Upcoming Fee Motion! — Total Loser Move! — If They Were Mops The Floor Would Be Cleanest!

Quick summary! In August 2018 I was forced by the unhinged intransigence of Blair Besten, half-pint Norma Desmond of the Historic Core BID, to file a petition seeking to enforce my rights under the California Public Records Act. So the usual on-and-freaking-on process of CPRA litigation happened and after a few archetypally zany moments, like La Besten denying under oath that those things her BID sends out via MailChimp are, you know, emails, everybody filed their briefs in July and then today, Tuesday, November 5, we finally had the damn trial.

And the judge, James Chalfant, did as judges will do, and issued a tentative ruling the day before, and you can read it right here.1 And then this afternoon at the trial, after some characteristically futile yammering by counsel for respondent, the notoriously feckless Jeffrey Charles Briggs, the judge adopted his tentative ruling, handing us, that is me and my lawyer, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, a major victory. In particular, said the judge, those things that MailChimp sends are indeed emails and the BID is ordered to search for them and hand them over.
Continue reading My Public Records Act Case Against The Historic Core BID Went To Trial Today — And The BIDdies Lost Big-Time! — Judge Orders Them To Do A New Search! — And Basically Scoffs At Their Argument That MailChimp Doesn’t Send Emails! — BID Lawyer Jeff Briggs Actually Argued In Open Court That They Shouldn’t Have To Hand Over Records Because Of The Upcoming Fee Motion! — Total Loser Move! — If They Were Mops The Floor Would Be Cleanest!

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Fee Motion Filed In Public Records Act Suit Against The Chinatown Business Improvement District — Asks For More Than $51K In Costs And Fees — George Yu And The Rest Of The BIDdies Have Hitherto Failed To Participate At All — And Now It Is Time For Them To Pay For Their Crimes

In August 2018 Katherine McNenny, with the able assistance of Abenicio Cisneros and Anna von Herrmann, filed a lawsuit against the Chinatown Business Improvement District because they had ignored our various requests for public records concerning such clearly weighty matters as their involvement in the appalling zillionaire conspiracy against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. They continued to ignore the requests, and in fact they ignored the lawsuit altogether.

And in July 2019 we prevailed over them and the judge, Mitchell Beckloff, subsequently issued an order requiring that they produce the damn records, which they have also ignored. It is well known that the California Public Records Act requires government agencies to pay legal fees to prevailing requesters, which requires a motion to be filed with the court asking to be paid.

Our attorneys filed just such a motion last week, asking for more than $51,000 from George Yu’s BID.1 I don’t know if the BID is going to ignore this or not, but I can’t imagine we’re not going to get it or something close to it. The hearing is scheduled for February 5, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. in Beckloff’s courtroom, Department 86 in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Get a copy of the motion here and stay tuned for details!
Continue reading Fee Motion Filed In Public Records Act Suit Against The Chinatown Business Improvement District — Asks For More Than $51K In Costs And Fees — George Yu And The Rest Of The BIDdies Have Hitherto Failed To Participate At All — And Now It Is Time For Them To Pay For Their Crimes

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My Public Records Act Lawsuit Against The City Of Los Angeles — CD11 In Particular — Is Settled — The City Handed Over The Records And Will Pay My Attorney $12K For Her Trouble — Gotta Wonder Why They Think This Is Better Than Just Complying With The Law

Maybe you remember that in June of this year I was forced by the unhinged intransigence of various CD11 staffers with respect to compliance with the public records act, with the able assistance of the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, to file suit against the City of Los Angeles. The issue was over emails mostly involving planters illegally placed on the public sidewalks of Venice by the usual Klown Kar Krew of psychopathic housedwellers, aided and abetted in their absolute flouting of the law by various CD11 staff members.

And unlike e.g. the Venice Beach BID, at least the City of Los Angeles knows when they’re beat and they started handing over records immediately. And although I still have some issues with the City’s compliance, especially over the formats in which they choose to produce emails, this wasn’t the time to fight those battles, and they do at least know when they’re beat.

A lot of the material they produced in response to this suit was quite important. Not least e.g. was this story about how former and not-really-well-missed Bonin staffie Taylor Bazley not only abetted angry housedwellers in another crazed anti-homeless hostile landscaping project but even discouraged them from planting trees because, spake Bazley, homeless people like shade.

And just recently the settlement agreement was finalized, and you can get your copy here. As is the way with such material it’s really not that interesting. But there is one really interesting bit and that is that the City of Los Angeles agreed to pay von Herrmann $12,665 for her labors.
Continue reading My Public Records Act Lawsuit Against The City Of Los Angeles — CD11 In Particular — Is Settled — The City Handed Over The Records And Will Pay My Attorney $12K For Her Trouble — Gotta Wonder Why They Think This Is Better Than Just Complying With The Law

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My Public Records Act Suit Against The Venice Beach BID Is Finally Over — They Handed Over The Records And Paid My Lawyer $21,000 — A Purely Avoidable Waste Of Money — But What Do They Care? — Not Their Damn Money

Well, in case you missed it, in February 2017 I sent a request to the Venice Beach BID for various public records, and they ignored me and ignored me and ignored me, and finally I hired a lawyer, the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, and in April 2018 he filed a suit against them seeking to enforce compliance with the damn law.

And now, finally, the case is done with the signing of this settlement agreement. Notably, the BID handed over the records and paid Cisneros $21,435 for his work on the case. This payoff is one hundred percent wasted money that the BID could have saved had they only complied with the law in the first place. But they did not. And I have another request in to them, so we’ll see if they learned their lesson. Meanwhile, behold a partial transcription of the agreement:
Continue reading My Public Records Act Suit Against The Venice Beach BID Is Finally Over — They Handed Over The Records And Paid My Lawyer $21,000 — A Purely Avoidable Waste Of Money — But What Do They Care? — Not Their Damn Money

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Essential Public Records Act Improvement AB1819 Signed By Governor Gavin Newsom Yesterday — Requires Agencies To Allow Requesters To Photograph Records — And Probably To Copy Electronic Records To A USB Drive — Freaking Take That, Government Bad Actors — Like California Alcoholic Beverage Control — And Los Angeles City General Services Division — And Pretty Much Every Business Improvement District Repped By Soon To Be Disbarred If There Is Any Justice Attorney Carol Humiston

Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed AB1819 into law. This bill will require agencies subject to the California Public Records Act to allow requesters to photograph records at no charge during inspection. Although it originally would have required agencies to allow the use of portable scanners, a late amendment only requires the use of copying equipment which does not touch the record.

The law also allows agencies to forbid the use of equipment which “would result in … [u]nauthorized access to the agency’s computer systems or secured networks by using software, equipment, or any other technology capable of accessing, altering, or compromising the agency’s electronic records.” On the one hand there’s no reason to include a clause like this unless the law is meant to apply to electronic records as well as physical records. This interpretation is bolstered by the fact that an early amendment limited the law’s application to “physical records” but then that was removed in later versions.

But there will be a lot of resistance to allowing requesters to make electronic copies and it will probably take litigation to sort this out. In any case, reaction to this law seems to be divided between people who see the value immediately and others who cannot imagine that agencies would forbid people to take pictures of things with their phone. But they will. And do. So I thought I’d close out this announcement with a couple of stories about it.
Continue reading Essential Public Records Act Improvement AB1819 Signed By Governor Gavin Newsom Yesterday — Requires Agencies To Allow Requesters To Photograph Records — And Probably To Copy Electronic Records To A USB Drive — Freaking Take That, Government Bad Actors — Like California Alcoholic Beverage Control — And Los Angeles City General Services Division — And Pretty Much Every Business Improvement District Repped By Soon To Be Disbarred If There Is Any Justice Attorney Carol Humiston

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Mike Bonin Has Recently Produced Hundreds Of Megabytes Of Emails In Response To My Public Records Suit Against His Office — Here Are Links To All Of Them — Along With Some Well-Deserved Mockery And A Transcription Of A Housedweller Rant By Venice Physician Melvin Scheer — Slightly Unique In That It Explicitly Links The Olympics With Homeless Displacement — And Possibly With Mass Slaughter — “Mexico City Style”

In June of this year I was forced to file yet another lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles to enforce my rights under the California Public Records Act in the face of their habitual reflexive intransigence, this time against CD11 over emails having to do with those goddamned planters. Well, as I have already reported, the City caved immediately and began handing over records.

And just recently I got another set of goodies from them with a little bit of interesting stuff in it, so I thought it was time to catch you all up on the story, provide links to the goodies, and mock and shame yet another unhinged homeless-hating housedweller, this one seemingly promoting Mexico City style mass killings by the Olympics Committee.1

Let’s start with the links. These are all the emails at issue in this suit that I’ve received so far. They’re not in any kind of order, and, as usual, the City has engaged in its usual passive aggressive scrambling, crooked scanning, chronological disordering, and so on, so, by design, they’re pretty much impossible to sort through and understand globally. But they’re still worth reading, of course! There’s a lot of material here, downloadable via bittorrent if that’s the way your pleasure tends, or by straight links:
Continue reading Mike Bonin Has Recently Produced Hundreds Of Megabytes Of Emails In Response To My Public Records Suit Against His Office — Here Are Links To All Of Them — Along With Some Well-Deserved Mockery And A Transcription Of A Housedweller Rant By Venice Physician Melvin Scheer — Slightly Unique In That It Explicitly Links The Olympics With Homeless Displacement — And Possibly With Mass Slaughter — “Mexico City Style”

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