Tag Archives: California Public Records Act

State Legislators Connie Leyva And Patrick O’Donnell Introduce SB126 — To Clarify That Charter Schools In California Are Subject To The Public Records Act — And The Brown Act — And The Political Reform Act — This Will Formalize And Extend Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Recent Published Opinion On The Matter

You may recall that California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued an opinion in December 2018 stating that charter schools in California were subject to the Brown Act and the Public Records Act. And recently, despite some ill-founded pushback, I was able to use the CPRA to get some pretty interesting information out of a local charter school, New Los Angeles.

But AG opinions aren’t law, and evidently there is still some uncertainty about the matter, for instance see this article by Tony Butka in CityWatch LA. So yesterday, state legislators Connie Leyva and Patrick O’Donnell introduced SB126, which states explicitly that charter schools and the organizations which run them are in fact subject to the Brown Act, to the Public Records Act, to the Political Reform Act of 1974, and to certain ethics laws.1

If this passes into law, and why should it not, it will be an incredibly useful tool for activists, the fruits of which you’ll be reading about here and elsewhere for the foreseeable future. Turn the page for the legislative analyst’s description of what the bill would do.
Continue reading State Legislators Connie Leyva And Patrick O’Donnell Introduce SB126 — To Clarify That Charter Schools In California Are Subject To The Public Records Act — And The Brown Act — And The Political Reform Act — This Will Formalize And Extend Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Recent Published Opinion On The Matter

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Los Angeles Police Protective League Anti-SB1421 Case — Judge Chalfant Accepts 170.6 Motion By First Amendment Coalition And Los Angeles Times To Disqualify Him — All Scheduled Hearings Are Cancelled — Case Transferred To Judge Mitchell Beckloff

A couple weeks ago Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled that the ACLU, the First Amendment Coalition, the Los Angeles Times, and some other parties could join the case of the appalling petition brought by the Los Angeles Police Protective League seeking to prevent the City of Los Angeles from complying with SB1421 by releasing records relating to police misconduct occurring before January first of this year.

On January 23, 2019 these new parties, not counting the ACLU, filed a so-called 170.6 motion, asking Chalfant to disqualify himself. This is a standard move in California civil trials, authorized by the California Code of Civil Procedure at §170.6, which allows any party to move to disqualify a judge on the grounds of bias, although they don’t have to explain what bias they perceive. As long as the motion is filed on time it must be accepted and the case must be transferred.

For whatever reason the LAPPL wasn’t happy with this motion and they filed an opposition to it on January 25, essentially arguing that the deadline had passed and that the motion should be rejected because the so-called media intervenors1 already knew that Chalfant was handling the case when they asked to join, that Chalfant had already made rulings in the case, that switching judges now would mess up the case for everyone else, and so on.

The media intervenors filed a response to that opposition on January 28, basically stating that the Police Protective League’s position was full of crap and they can’t read the law or, if they can, then they didn’t summarize it correctly in their opposition. There was a hearing on this stuff on Friday2 and Chalfant accepted the motion to disqualify himself and reassigned the case to Judge Mitchell Beckloff.

His order accepting the motion is here, and the notice of reassignment is here. The most immediate effect of this is that all pending hearings are cancelled, including the one upcoming on Tuesday, February 5. I’ll let you know when and if Beckloff schedules anything. Meanwhile, if you want to browse through (most of) the paper filed already in this case you can find it here on Archive.Org.
Continue reading Los Angeles Police Protective League Anti-SB1421 Case — Judge Chalfant Accepts 170.6 Motion By First Amendment Coalition And Los Angeles Times To Disqualify Him — All Scheduled Hearings Are Cancelled — Case Transferred To Judge Mitchell Beckloff

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Annals Of Public Records Act Bullying Tactics — Brooke Rios Of New Los Angeles Charter Schools Tries An Old Dodge — Sadly Commonplace Among CPRA Obstructionists — “Your Records Are Ready And You Can See Them As Soon As You Give Us $90” — But Then Backs Off In Less Than Two Hours After Being Told That The Law Requires Inspection For Free — Sadly, The Only Unusual Thing About This Episode Is The Short Time Frame

What with the recent unrest in the teacher/labor community which, as you know, led to a historic victory which, for the first time ever, led to the school board recommending a cap on charter schools in Los Angeles, well, and what with Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, just recently issuing a historic opinion stating definitively that charter schools are subject to both the Brown Act and the Public Records Act, yes, what with all that, I thought it might be interesting to hit up a few of these zillionaire-beloved trojan horses with some requests for information.1

And one of the ones I hit up in the first round was the New Los Angeles Charter Schools. You can read my request here, sent to NLA boss Brooke Rios, seeking information contained in emails about discussions their administration had about the UTLA strike.2 And roughly within the statutory time-frame, I received a response letter from Rios quoting a bunch of aggro copypasta lawyerese, citing the attorney/client privilege exemption, and informing me that they had 363 pages of responsive material and that I had to pony up $90.75 if I wanted to see the goods.3

Now, that’s $0.25 per page that she was proposing to charge me for copies. The CPRA at §6253(b) allows agencies to charge “fees covering direct costs of duplication,” which it’s doubtful that $0.25 is given that most copy machines cost about $0.02 per page and even FedEx Office only charges $0.13 per page, and they’re making a profit from that. I’m told by those who have reason to know, though, that this is essentially an unwinnable argument in court,4 given that, e.g., the Los Angeles County Superior Court charges about $1 per page for freaking PDFs, and those are the same judges one would be asking to declare $0.25 excessive.

Another problem with Rios’s problematic proposal is that emails are electronic documents. The CPRA at §6253.9(a) requires agencies to provide copies of electronic documents in electronic formats, whereas Rios has obviously printed these emails out on paper and wants to require me to accept and pay for paper copies. Of course, the “direct cost” of making copies of electronic files is $0.00, so her insistence on charging $0.25 for paper copies is a violation of that section as well.

But the real kicker is that the CPRA does not allow agencies to charge for access to records. They’re only allowed to charge for copies of records. This is codified in the CPRA at §6253(a), which states in pertinent part that “[p]ublic records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided.” Nothing in the law says they can charge, and so they can’t charge. By insisting that I pay $90.75 before getting access to these records Rios was poised to violate this requirement of the law.

And sadly Rios isn’t the only public official in the world to think of this bushwa means of CPRA obstructionism. It’s commonplace, and it’s essential to push back on it whenever it’s encountered. Thus did I send Rios a response outlining these facts and offering her the choice of providing me with electronic copies for free or letting me come in and scan the records myself with my scanner.5 And although many public agencies take the untenable stance that they can charge exorbitant fees for access to records, not many back down as quickly as Brooke Rios did. It took her less than two hours to concede that I had the right to see the records and make my own copies at no charge.6

It is a very sad situation indeed that public agencies are allowed to attempt to intimidate people who want to look at records, and that it’s necessary not only to understand one’s rights thoroughly but be willing to push back against unsupportable CPRA aggression in order to be able to exercise the right to access public records. It doesn’t seem like the legislature is going to fix this7 any time soon, so right now we have no choice other than to know our rights and push back, push back, push back. And turn the page for transcriptions of everything!
Continue reading Annals Of Public Records Act Bullying Tactics — Brooke Rios Of New Los Angeles Charter Schools Tries An Old Dodge — Sadly Commonplace Among CPRA Obstructionists — “Your Records Are Ready And You Can See Them As Soon As You Give Us $90” — But Then Backs Off In Less Than Two Hours After Being Told That The Law Requires Inspection For Free — Sadly, The Only Unusual Thing About This Episode Is The Short Time Frame

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City Of Los Angeles Files A Creditable Brief In Opposition To Appalling Los Angeles Police Protective League Anti-SB1421 Petition

Last week in the appalling lawsuit filed by the appalling Los Angeles Police Protective League seeking to prevent the LAPD from releasing records newly made public by SB1421, the City of Los Angeles filed a surprisingly unappalling opposition brief arguing that the records ought in fact to be released.

The LAPPL’s lawyers, Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver, have been filing these lawsuits all over Southern California, and so far they’ve managed to get injunctions against releasing the records in San Bernardino and Orange Counties as well as, of course, in the City of Los Angeles. I thought I heard somewhere that not every government has opposed these suits, but I can’t verify it, so forget that! But, as I said, the City of L.A. did file an opposition, and you can find a transcription of selections below.

You may recall that the LAPPL’s argument is that it’s unfair to apply the law retroactively because officers made career decisions based on the confidentiality of these records. The City of Los Angeles, in response, says that releasing the records would not in fact be retroactive application because the law applies to records that the City has in its possession now.

They also argue that it wouldn’t be a retroactive application of a law because it doesn’t change the consequences attached to the actions of the officers related in the records. They argue that releasing old records was the intention of the legislature, and finally that the legislature does have the authority to change privacy protections that apply to existing records.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Files A Creditable Brief In Opposition To Appalling Los Angeles Police Protective League Anti-SB1421 Petition

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Eddie Guerra Update Finally! — He’s The Cop Who Took A Personal Check In 2016 For $400 From The Media District BID Ostensibly For Some Charity — And Then I Wrote About It In January 2017 — And Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission — Who Didn’t Do Anything As Usual — But Cory Palka Read That Blog Post! — And Told Now-Chief Michel Moore! — And Guerra Was Moderately Busted! — And I Just Found This Out Because It Took The LAPD Two Freaking Years To Fulfill My CPRA Request — And A Special Surprise! — Cory Palka Uses A Private Email Address To Conduct City Business!

In the Fall of 2016 LAPD officer Eddie Guerra asked the Hollywood Media District BID to give him $400 ostensibly for some charity. He asked by return email right after they thanked him for getting rid of some homeless people at their express request. Context matters, and this struck me as particularly shady, so I did three things. First, I turned Officer Guerra into the Ethics Commission for violating LAMC 49.5.5(a), which forbids misusing public power for private gain. Second, I wrote a blog post about the incident. And third, I made a request to the LAPD for more records.

And because the LAPD is slow as paint when it comes to filling CPRA requests they didn’t get back to me until two years later on December 31, 2018,1 when they sent me this little spool of puckey in response. And, as is often the case with released records, most of them are completely worthless or else I already had them. But, as is also often the case with released records, some of this material was really essential!

Just, for instance, take a look at this series of emails between Hollywood mega-muckety Cory Palka, friend of white supremacists and of scientologists, and his superior officers, including now-chief Michel Moore, wherein Palka sends links and gives credit to this very blog (!) for breaking the story of Guerra’s misfeasance and they end up recommending a 1.28, which is evidently some kind of LAPD complaint form. Michel Moore, the current chief of police, agreed and then said that “corrective action/training/counseling is warranted.”

Oh, snap, amirite?! Now that I know he reads this blog and sends links to future chiefs of police, well, next goal, get @CoryPalka to follow me on Twitter! And amazingly enough, Cowboy Cory Palka is revealed by these emails to use the private email address cpalka@me.com to conduct City business, which puts him in the august company of Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu, Gil Cedillo, and (spoiler alert) Paul Koretz!2 You will definitely be hearing more about this, but not necessarily soon.

Anyway, turn the page for transcriptions of all the emails including, of course, Cory Palka’s suprisingly lucid summary of the situation and shout-out to your very own MK.Org!
Continue reading Eddie Guerra Update Finally! — He’s The Cop Who Took A Personal Check In 2016 For $400 From The Media District BID Ostensibly For Some Charity — And Then I Wrote About It In January 2017 — And Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission — Who Didn’t Do Anything As Usual — But Cory Palka Read That Blog Post! — And Told Now-Chief Michel Moore! — And Guerra Was Moderately Busted! — And I Just Found This Out Because It Took The LAPD Two Freaking Years To Fulfill My CPRA Request — And A Special Surprise! — Cory Palka Uses A Private Email Address To Conduct City Business!

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David Ryu Is The Third City Councilmember Revealed To Be Using A Private Email Address To Conduct City Business — In Fact He’s Sending Emails To Mitch O’Farrell’s Private Email Account — Cause Of Course He Is

Within the last few weeks we have learned that Mitch O’Farrell conducts City business through a Gmail account and so does Gil Cedillo. Now for the first time it is revealed that David Ryu also has a secret private email account that he uses to conduct City business. The email address is david@davidryu.com. Drop him a line, I’m sure he’ll appreciate it, especially if you can Paypal him $800 for the old officeholder account.

In an interesting twist, I learned of the existence of David Ryu’s private email account because he used it to email Mitch O’Farrell in April and the email, which you can read here (and there’s a transcription after the break), was produced by CD13 in response to the Hollywood Sunshine Coalition’s CPRA request. And as for what the email is about, well, it’s hard to tell.

It’s about a $200 million building project at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital and who’s invited to the groundbreaking ceremony and did they go and pay court to Mitch O’Farrell like David Ryu told them they had to? I’m sure it all makes sense to people who know exactly whose hand is down whose pants at 200 N. Spring Street. To the rest of us, although the connotations of corruption are clear, the actual meaning is obscure.

The real value in this revelation, at least the real immediate value, is twofold. First it exposed David Ryu’s secret email address, which is of intrinsic public interest. Second, it shows that not only are our councilmembers hiding their nefarious work from us by communicating with their special friends and lobbyists via private unscrutinized channels, but they’re also doing the same thing with one another. Did you ever wonder how those extraordinary unanimous outcomes are created in Council meetings over and over and over again? I believe I’m on the verge of really understanding it, and this is an essential piece of the puzzle.

Oh, did I mention that our friends at the Hollywood Sunshine Coalition have asked David Ryu’s office for the goodies? Well they have, and just as Mitch O’Farrell’s sinister gatekeeper Jeanne Min tried to claim that CD13 didn’t have to hand over anything cause it would be too darn much work, David Ryu’s sad-sack minion Andrew Suh is taking the same tack. CD4 is on NextRequest, so you have to look at a PDF of the request as it’s presently unpublished. Stay tuned for news as we get it and turn the page for a transcription of the email.
Continue reading David Ryu Is The Third City Councilmember Revealed To Be Using A Private Email Address To Conduct City Business — In Fact He’s Sending Emails To Mitch O’Farrell’s Private Email Account — Cause Of Course He Is

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Pyschopathic Rageball George Yu Was Nowhere To Be Seen — Neither Was Anyone Else From The Damn BID — Chinatown BID Completely Skips Yesterday’s Court Hearing — What Are They Thinking? — These Things Don’t Just Go Away On Their Own — Don’t Grownups Know That?

So you might recall that in August Katherine McNenny and I were forced by the unhinged intransigence of psychopathic rageball George Yu of the Chinatown BID to file a writ petition asking that the court compel him and his thuggish little weirdo henchies in the BID to obey the freaking law and hand over the records we asked for. And then you might recall that in September he and his damnable minions failed to even answer the petition.

Well, yesterday was the trial setting conference, way up north in the Stanley Mosk courthouse, in good old Department 86.1 And the Chinatown BID didn’t change up its strategy at all. No one showed up. Neither George Yu nor minion nor henchie nor lawyer nor counselor nor advocate nor consigliere. Just nobody. And did the judge do anything to them? Punish them in any way for their continued failure to respond? Nope. He continued the hearing until December 26. If they don’t get in trouble, how are they ever gonna learn? I guess we’ll find out.2
Continue reading Pyschopathic Rageball George Yu Was Nowhere To Be Seen — Neither Was Anyone Else From The Damn BID — Chinatown BID Completely Skips Yesterday’s Court Hearing — What Are They Thinking? — These Things Don’t Just Go Away On Their Own — Don’t Grownups Know That?

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Remember That CPRA Request That Estela Lopez Made About The Skid Row Neighborhood Council In January 2017? — To The Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment About The Election? — Well Newly Obtained Information Shows That Less Than Ten Days After She Sent It She Complained To José Huizar Personally That They Hadn’t Responded — This From A Woman Who Can’t Comply With The CPRA To Save Her Life — Complaining To A Councilmember Who Also Can’t Comply With The CPRA — Or Federal Anti-Corruption Laws For That Matter

This is a new piece of an old story. You may recall that in January 2017, right after the Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision effort was certified by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, Skid Row’s own high priestess of Satan and associated evil deities, that is to say Estela Lopez, made a request under the public records act seeking various bits of information to toss into the wicked potion then, unbeknownst to the side of the angels, bubbling away in her reeking cauldron and with which she and her killer klown krew of slithy minions and halfwit henchies would later put the SRNC into a coma just like Snow Freaking White.1

That’s old news, of course,2 but still interesting. You can read Estela Lopez’s request right here and there’s a transcription of that PDF somewhere down the page in this old post. But what’s new this morning is this just-obtained email from Estela Lopez to CD14 repster José Huizar,3 in which, after a little obligatory sycophancy, she complains to José Huizar that DONE didn’t answer her request on time:

From: Estela Lopez <ELopez@centralcityeast.org>
To: josé huizar <jose.huizar@lacity.org>
Cc: Ari Simon <ari.simon@lacity.org>, Martin Schlageter <Martin.Schlageter@lacity.org>
Date: Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 5:13 PM

Dear Jose, thanks so much for today’s meeting. Below is the request I submitted to DONE on January 17. I have not received a reply. Today represents the 10-day deadline for at least an initial response to a CPRA request.

Have a good weekend. See you on Broadway!

Cordially,

Estela Lopez

I mean, really. The sheer platonically ideal chutzpah of this woman just boggles.4 She’s complaining to José Huizar that DONE didn’t answer her request within the legal deadline when (a) she herself is one of the City’s worst violaters of the CPRA,5 (b) José Huizar is also essentially incapable of complying with the CPRA,6 (c) most of us don’t have access to our councilmembers to encourage City departments to comply with the CPRA,7 and, worst of all, (d) DONE wasn’t actually in violation of the law at that point, so she really had nothing to complain about.

Not that this kind of clueless exploitation of privilege is anything surprising at this point, but it is what we write about here. Turn the page for a discussion of the technical aspects of the CPRA relating to Estela Lopez’s complaint!
Continue reading Remember That CPRA Request That Estela Lopez Made About The Skid Row Neighborhood Council In January 2017? — To The Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment About The Election? — Well Newly Obtained Information Shows That Less Than Ten Days After She Sent It She Complained To José Huizar Personally That They Hadn’t Responded — This From A Woman Who Can’t Comply With The CPRA To Save Her Life — Complaining To A Councilmember Who Also Can’t Comply With The CPRA — Or Federal Anti-Corruption Laws For That Matter

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