Tag Archives: California Public Records Act

An Unforced Error By Self-Proclaimed Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs Provides Unique Insight Into The Thoroughly Cynical, Thoroughly Bogus Nature Of BIDs’ Use Of The Deliberative Process Exemption To The California Public Records Act — They Even Used It In One Case To Cover Up A Blatant Brown Act Violation

One of the biggest flaws in California’s Public Records Act is that the various local agencies that constitute our government are trusted to search their own records, decide without oversight what’s responsive to requests and, worst of all, decide what’s exempt from production. My general feeling about BIDs and record searches is that they purposely don’t find everything, about their exemption claims that they’re mostly lying.

Unfortunately, without a lawsuit, it’s not realistically possible to get a look at records for which they’ve claimed exemptions.1 Hence it’s not usually possible to check how closely this feeling corresponds to reality. However, due to an interesting confluence of events, I recently obtained a number of emails between various people at the Hollywood Media District BID for which their lawyer, Jeffrey Charles Briggs,2 had claimed exemptions, thus making it possible to compare his claims with the actual records. Unsurprisingly the exemption claims turned out to be 99\frac{44}{100}\% pure and unadulterated nonsense. You can find the emails and some analysis after the break, but first I’m going to ramble on a little about some tangentially related issues.

Like many policies, this default assumption of honesty on the part of local agencies no doubt works when it works, but when it comes to the BIDs of Los Angeles, who are staffed, for the most part, with the most unscrupulous bunch of pusillanimous chiselers ever to engorge their bloated reeking tummies at the public piggie trough, it doesn’t work at all.3 They lie, they confabulate, they delude themselves and others, and generally display utter and overweening contempt for the rule of law.4

And nowhere does their misbehavior reach a more fevered pitch than in the use of the so-called “deliberative process” exemption to the CPRA. In short, this is an exemption that courts have built up out of the “catch-all” exemption to CPRA, found at §6255(a), which says:
Continue reading An Unforced Error By Self-Proclaimed Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs Provides Unique Insight Into The Thoroughly Cynical, Thoroughly Bogus Nature Of BIDs’ Use Of The Deliberative Process Exemption To The California Public Records Act — They Even Used It In One Case To Cover Up A Blatant Brown Act Violation

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Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

Perhaps you recall that the infamous Venice Beach Business Improvement District has been nonoperational for an entire year after the second-time’s-a-charm reapproval by City Council, whose blindingly arrogant indifference to both law and decency necessitated this expensive and amateurish do-over.

Well, they’re operational now, friends! Yesterday morning the VBBID CEO, AKA President-For-Life Tara Devine, transmitted in interstate commerce5 an announcement of the BID’s first-ever meeting. Here are the documents involved:

The meeting is on Friday morning at 10 a.m. If you’re able and willing to attend and film the entire meeting, which is your absolute right under the Brown Act, please do so, as various prior commitments prevent me from attending. If you’d like some tips on how to film Brown Act meetings effectively, please get in touch!

Meanwhile, turn the page for a critical analysis of selections from these woefully deficient documents as well as some special bonus info on how and why President Tara Devine and her co-conspirators are so arrogantly outlaw.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

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Ethics Commission Veep Serena Oberstein Announces That She Is Very Excited To Have Found A Way To Evade The Public Records Act While Claiming That She’s Evading It “In The Spirit Of Transparency Which The Ethics Commission Represents.”

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission held its December meeting this morning, and I recorded the whole thing1 and you can watch it either on YouTube or else on Archive.Org. Of course the main event was the last two items to be discussed regarding proposed updates to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, and I’ll have something to say about that whole mishegaas later in the week I hope. And there was also an instance of silence speaking louder than words, as the Commission completely ignored my recent request that they consider adopting a disclosure rule for ex parte contacts between Commissioners and those who would influence them.

Such contacts, of course, are a serious problem with our Ethics Commissioners, not least Serena Oberstein, the lobbyists’ best friend, who was involved in a minor yet horrifying interlude at this morning’s meeting which is the subject of tonight’s rant. The issue was whether and how the Ethics Commission’s investigators should disclose to the targets of their investigations that the investigations have become inactive.

This came up at the October meeting, and you can watch the whole episode here if you’re interested. The short version is that the investigators presently do not inform investigative targets when they’ve stopped investigating due to confidentiality mandated by the City Charter. Commissioner Serena Oberstein is deeply concerned that all these targets are going to be unsettled and anxious by not knowing that they’re not being actively investigated and she wanted staff to issue closure letters.

Such letters turned out not to be legally or politically possible, but at today’s meeting Sergio Perez, Director of Investigations, presented this proposal, adopted unanimously by the Commission, which recommended that policy be changed to allow oral notice to those being investigated that their investigations had become inactive. This recommendation putatively avoids the confidentiality requirement by invoking LAAC §24.29(c)(2), which states that:
Continue reading Ethics Commission Veep Serena Oberstein Announces That She Is Very Excited To Have Found A Way To Evade The Public Records Act While Claiming That She’s Evading It “In The Spirit Of Transparency Which The Ethics Commission Represents.”

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“Hello ■■■■■■■■■ and ■■■■■■■■■. My name is Josh Albrektson and I live in Downtown. I thought you guy smight [sic] be interested in what your colleage [sic], ■■■■■■■■■ does in his spare time.”

Recently I reported on the fact that idiosyncratically facial-haired DLANC douchebag-at-large, Joshua Albrektson, had threatened to expose my deepest darkest secrets to the world if I didn’t stop requesting documents via the California Public Records Act and writing about them on this blog. Well, the other day I obtained a few of the emails he sent in furtherance of this criminal conspiracy to repress me, and I thought I’d publish them here. For once I don’t have any snark to intersperse. The guy’s work is self-mocking. So turn the page for links and transcripts!
Continue reading “Hello ■■■■■■■■■ and ■■■■■■■■■. My name is Josh Albrektson and I live in Downtown. I thought you guy smight [sic] be interested in what your colleage [sic], ■■■■■■■■■ does in his spare time.”

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Estela Lopez’s Exclusion Of Andy Bales, Other Board Members, From Secret Email Discussion Of Skid Row Neighborhood Council Not Anomalous — Bales, Gardner, Kavoukjian Regularly Left Out Of Group Emails From Lopez To CCEA Board Members — What’s Lopez Hiding And Why Is She Hiding It?

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

Recently I reported that nine out of the twelve members of the Board of Directors of the Central City East Association egregiously violated the Brown Act during their weeks-long participation in the anti-Skid-Row-Neighborhood-Council conspiracy centered around the shadowy anonymous Delaware-incorporated entity United Downtown Los Angeles LLC. Well, I’ve been continuing to investigate this matter, not only with respect to the involvement of CCEA executive directrix and Skid Row voodoo queen Estela Lopez and the CCEA board of directors, but from many other angles as well.

As part of the investigation I’ve been seeking via the California Public Records Act various emails between CCEA’s board and staff. I’ve actually been asking for these for almost a year now. Estela Lopez has been consistently obstructionist, mostly claiming that all such emails are exempt due to the famously abused, mostly made up, so-called deliberative process exemption to the CPRA.2

This position is indefensible, of course, and there have been some demand letters exchanged between my lawyer and some attorneyesque dude known as Don Steier, who seems to be very buddy buddy with the CCEA conspiracy. The CCEA remains mostly uncooperative, although they did cough up about 50 pages of emails they’d formerly claimed were exempt.3 An even superficial perusal of the evidence will show conclusively that their original claim that this stuff was exempt is nonsense of the first water, and the material they released is mostly chaff.4

However, there is still some interesting information to be gleaned from this release. In particular, the fact that Estela Lopez was involved in extensive secret email discussions with 9 out of 12 CCEA directors, excluding Andy Bales, Richard Gardner, and Sylvia Kavoukjian, was in fact not an anomaly. It seems that she habitually sends emails to everyone but those three.5 I have no idea at this point why those three directors are excluded on a regular basis. Perhaps someone more up on Downtown politics will be able to figure it out. Anyway, turn the page for some examples, some discussion, and some mockery of Don Steier, the CCEA’s lawyerlike co-conspirator.6
Continue reading Estela Lopez’s Exclusion Of Andy Bales, Other Board Members, From Secret Email Discussion Of Skid Row Neighborhood Council Not Anomalous — Bales, Gardner, Kavoukjian Regularly Left Out Of Group Emails From Lopez To CCEA Board Members — What’s Lopez Hiding And Why Is She Hiding It?

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It Seems That Piratical Swashbuckling Downtown Real Estate Vigilante Jacob Douglas Van Horn Supplied Anti-Skid-Row-Neighborhood-Council Conspirators With Patti Berman’s Copy Of A DLANC Voter Registration List In Advance Of The Subdivision Election For Purposes Of Electioneering, Thereby Potentially Misusing His Power As A Member Of DLANC’s Board

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

You may recall that one of the major issues raised in the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s appeal to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners over probably illegal, certainly immoral, shenanigans in the horrifically shady campaign against the SRNC was the question of whether DLANC had illegally opposed formation by sending out emails via its Mailchimp account. The turning point, though, was when the opposition convinced CD14 repster José Huizar to allow online voting at the last minute and to automatically register all people who’d voted in the last DLANC election.

The fact that Huizar decided to allow online voting meant that contact information for all the automatically registered voters suddenly became very valuable. I haven’t uncovered any new information on the Mailchimp front, but one of the emails from yesterday’s release of records from the Downtown Center BID reveals that on April 3, just three days before the hotly contested election, then-DLANC-Board-member Jacob Douglas van Horn,7 sent DLANC’s copy of the registered voter list to a rogues’ gallery of anti-SRNC conspirators. Here is the email and here’s what it says:

Attached is a spreadsheet with the list of pre-registered voters from the last election. All of these people have already been sent a login and pin by DONE. For many it is ending up in their spam email box. Please every take a few minutes to look over this list. If you know anyone on the list please follow up with them and make sure they have voted.

And turn the page for a discussion of what may be wrong with Jacob Douglas van Horn sending this to his co-conspirators, who those co-conspirators were, and how I know that this is DLANC’s copy of the spreadsheet.
Continue reading It Seems That Piratical Swashbuckling Downtown Real Estate Vigilante Jacob Douglas Van Horn Supplied Anti-Skid-Row-Neighborhood-Council Conspirators With Patti Berman’s Copy Of A DLANC Voter Registration List In Advance Of The Subdivision Election For Purposes Of Electioneering, Thereby Potentially Misusing His Power As A Member Of DLANC’s Board

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Experimental CPRA Request To San Francisco County Supervisor Aaron Peskin For Emails To/From Union Square BID Director Karin Flood On A Subject Found In Her Lobbying Disclosure Demonstrate The Utility Of Detailed Contact Reporting By Registered Lobbyists

One of the major issues in the currently ongoing process of revising this City’s Municipal Lobbying Ordinance has to do with the level of detail about their contacts with City officials that lobbyists should be required to disclose. Currently they don’t have to disclose much, but there’s a proposal on the table to require them to disclose each contact with a City official including which issue was discussed.

Naturally, the lobbyists hate this idea. Their big argument against it, which has, to their everlasting shame, been echoed by a number of Ethics Commissioners, is that this level of disclosure would require so much work that the entire lobbying industry in Los Angeles would be driven into bankruptcy. This, of course, is ridiculous, not least because, just for instance, our silicon-addled redheaded step-cousins up North in the City and County of San Francisco require precisely this information on their disclosure forms without, obviously, having driven the industry into the ground. It’s fascinating to look at these disclosures, by the way. Check out San Francisco’s lobbyist directory for links to all of it.8

And one of the major arguments in favor of requiring lobbyists to disclose each contact with a City official and the issue discussed is that it would facilitate requesting records of the City via the California Public Records Act, and thus promote transparency. This is a great argument in the abstract, but concrete arguments are always more persuasive.9 Oh, I forgot to mention it, but in San Francisco, BID staffers register as lobbyists, unlike in Los Angeles.10 So, in keeping with the blog’s BID theme, I thought I’d try out my little test on Karin Flood, executive directrix of San Francisco’s Union Square BID. Turn the page to find out what happened!
Continue reading Experimental CPRA Request To San Francisco County Supervisor Aaron Peskin For Emails To/From Union Square BID Director Karin Flood On A Subject Found In Her Lobbying Disclosure Demonstrate The Utility Of Detailed Contact Reporting By Registered Lobbyists

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How Kerry Freaking Morrison And A Bunch Of Other Bad BIDdies Helped Gut AB-1479, An Essential Improvement To The California Public Records Act, And It Seems, If You Believe Them (Although Why Would You, Really?), To Be All My Freaking Fault For Being So Freaking Mean To Them On The Freaking Internet And Being “Intent On Bringing [Their Freaking] Organization To Its [Freaking] Demise”!

In February 2017, California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta of Oakland introduced AB-1479, which would have amended the California Public Records Act to allow judges to assess civil penalties of between $1,000 and $5,000 to punish flagrant CPRA violations. The bill sailed through the Assembly and almost made it through the Senate until a shitstorm of opposition, including from many Los Angeles BIDs, some of whom cited this blog as part of their parade of horribles, hired high-powered lobbyists Gonzalez, Hunter, Quintana, & Cruz and thereby sank the most important part of the bill, leaving only a tragic and fairly useless husk.

According to a staffer of Bonta’s who is in charge of this bill it’s essentially irredeemable this term, but they’re going to try again next year. Also, she was kind enough to send me a huge selection of letters received, pro and con, including a bunch from many of our Los Angeles BID friends. If we can’t beat them, well, at least we can publish their ravings and then mock them, right? The whole collection is available on Archive.Org. You should definitely read through it if you’re interested. The support letters are fabulous, but I don’t have time to discuss them here.

And turn the page for a more comprehensive description of exactly what happened, of how the BIDs, as usual, missed the whole point, and an exceedingly, painstakingly, obsessively, mockingly detailed analysis of this characteristically delusional, narcissistic, crackle-pated nonsense from our own Ms. Kerry Morrison.11
Continue reading How Kerry Freaking Morrison And A Bunch Of Other Bad BIDdies Helped Gut AB-1479, An Essential Improvement To The California Public Records Act, And It Seems, If You Believe Them (Although Why Would You, Really?), To Be All My Freaking Fault For Being So Freaking Mean To Them On The Freaking Internet And Being “Intent On Bringing [Their Freaking] Organization To Its [Freaking] Demise”!

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Lunada Bay Boys Plaintiffs Reply To Opposition To Their Motion For Administrative Relief, Include Fascinating Transcript Of Yet Another Telephonic Hearing About Discovery Transgressions By Defendants

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case.

A couple weeks ago the plaintiffs asked Judge Otero to deny all the various and sundry motions for summary judgment filed by all the various and sundry defendants in this tangled web of a lawsuit. The basis of this plaintiffs’ motion is their pretty darn plausible assertion that approximately none of the defendants are cooperating with their discovery obligations, making it impossible for the plaintiffs to reply effectively to the defense motions.

Of course, both the City defendants and the individual defendants filed the usual eleventy-jillion briefs in opposition. And yesterday the plaintiffs filed their reply to the opposition. This was written by Kurt Franklin, and is very much worth reading.12 There is a transcription after the break. The hearing on this motion is scheduled for September 5, 2017 in James Otero’s courtroom 10C in the First Street Federal Courthouse.

The reply came with the usual batch of exhibits, among which is this gem of a transcript of the July 25 hearing before the Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver about Sang Lee’s discovery failures. If you’ve been following along, this was the hearing after which Oliver issued an order requiring Lee to hand everything over that very day. Another good read is this excerpt from the Steve Barber deposition in which he admits to being a Bay Boy buddy and also discusses at length the phone-carrying habits of the PVEPD.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Plaintiffs Reply To Opposition To Their Motion For Administrative Relief, Include Fascinating Transcript Of Yet Another Telephonic Hearing About Discovery Transgressions By Defendants

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A Bunch Of Emails Between The Los Feliz Village BID And The City Of Los Angeles Reveal A Number Of Interesting Issues, Not Least Of Which Is City BID Analyst Giving The BID Legal Advice On CPRA Requests Contrary To Holly Wolcott’s Position That This Does Not Happen

The other day I received a big pile of emails between the Board of the Los Feliz Village BID and people at the City of Los Angeles. They’re available here on Archive.Org. Note that the BID produced these by using some kind of bulk forwarding utility for Gmail to send these to their attorney, uniquely repetitive chair of the famed Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Jeffrey Charles Briggs Esq.

Attorney Briggs then exported the forwarded emails as MSG files and passed them along to me. Unfortunately this process mangled the metadata and made it more trouble than it seems to be worth to sort and rename the files by date and time. Sr. Briggs seems to be willing at least to consider instructing his clients to provide actual exact copies of emails in the future, but for now we’ll work with what we got, especially since the whole process has taken more than six months to get to this point. Anyway, turn the page for discussion of a few highlights.
Continue reading A Bunch Of Emails Between The Los Feliz Village BID And The City Of Los Angeles Reveal A Number Of Interesting Issues, Not Least Of Which Is City BID Analyst Giving The BID Legal Advice On CPRA Requests Contrary To Holly Wolcott’s Position That This Does Not Happen

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