Tag Archives: California State Attorney General

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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The Los Angeles City Council Violated The Brown Act Prior To Its Hearing On Designation Of Parker Center As A Historic-Cultural Monument — Huizar Staff Evidently Polled All Other Council Offices To Learn How They Would Vote — Which Constitutes An Illegal Serial Meeting According To The California Attorney General And The Court Of Appeals — If Little Tokyo Bigwig Kristin Fukushima Is To Be Believed, Anyway — And Why Would She Lie?

In his 2017 rush to destroy Parker Center, not only did José Huizar direct his staff to organize a series of phony performances of public support at various hearings as part of a twisted quid pro quo deal with various Little Tokyo luminaries, but on February 13, 2017 or thereabouts his office also violated California’s open meeting law, the Brown Act, by polling all the other Council offices on how they intended to vote the next day on the designation of the building as a historic-cultural monument.

The evidence is right here in this email conversation between Kristin Fukushima, Little Tokyo anti-Parker-Center coconspirator, and Gerald Gubatan, who is Gil Cedillo’s planning director:1

On Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 2:03 PM, Kristin Fukushima <kristin@littletokyola.org> wrote:

Hi everyone,

Gerald, just letting you know – I spoke with CD 14 this morning, and apparently they checked in with all the offices and have confirmed that they are expecting everyone on City Council tomorrow to vote in approval of PLUM’s recommendation against HCM nomination for Parker Center. To be safe, a handful of us will still be there tomorrow, but good news nonetheless!

Thanks!

If she’s telling the truth about CD14 checking in with all the offices, and why would she not be, then the City Council violated the Brown Act by holding a meeting that the public had no access to. It’s not surprising, of course. We’ve seen significant circumstantial evidence that such violations happen regularly, but man, has it been hard to claw that proof out of the City.2

This kind of lawless behavior in no way seems uncharacteristic of Huizar. It wouldn’t have seemed so even before his enormous capacity for lawlessness and illicitry was made even more manifest than anyone could have expected.3 Sadly, there’s nothing at all to be done about it at this point. The Brown Act has very short built-in time limitations for taking action, and this is far past all of them.

By the way, it may not seem obvious that a staff member from one Council office contacting all the other offices and asking how they’re planning to vote on an agenda item constitutes a meeting, but it’s clear under the law that it does. For all the wonky details, laid out in full wonky splendor, turn the page. You know you wanna!
Continue reading The Los Angeles City Council Violated The Brown Act Prior To Its Hearing On Designation Of Parker Center As A Historic-Cultural Monument — Huizar Staff Evidently Polled All Other Council Offices To Learn How They Would Vote — Which Constitutes An Illegal Serial Meeting According To The California Attorney General And The Court Of Appeals — If Little Tokyo Bigwig Kristin Fukushima Is To Be Believed, Anyway — And Why Would She Lie?

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Update On The Willingness Of The California Board For Professional Engineers To Read And Consider Complaints Against Engineers Who Prepare Reports For BID Establishment — According To Boss Honcho Ric Moore They Not Only Will Read And Consider Them But He Personally Will Review And Clarify The Findings Of His Enforcement Staff — It’s Hard To Know If This Is Excellent, But It Is Way, Way, Way Better Than Nothing!

As you may know, I’ve been working on getting the California Board for Professional Engineers, which regulates the profession of engineering in California, to accept complaints against the engineers who write reports supporting BID formation. At first the Board’s position was that the preparation of such reports didn’t even constitute the practice of engineering and therefore all such complaints should be rejected a priori. After a few months of discussion, the Board seemed more entrenched than ever in this disappointing position.

However, in the last week or so, the Board, in the person of Executive Director Ric Moore, seems to have softened its position somewhat. In this email,1 Moore has made what strike me as two significant concessions:2

◈ Ric Moore stated that all complaints to the Board are read and responses reflect the actual factual allegations in the complaint.
◈ He also said that if the person filing the complaint doesn’t believe that this happened he, Ric Moore, will clarify and address the concerns.

This certainly is welcome news, and Ric Moore’s statements have had at least two immediate consequences. First, the Venice resident who filed the original complaint against BID engineer Ed Henning took Moore up on his officer to clarify and address concerns. Second, because Moore has committed his agency to reading all complaints and responding based on the factual allegations, I have determined to submit my own complaint against Ed Henning. I hope to have this done within four weeks, possibly sooner.

And I have updated this Archive.Org page with the additional emails (dated April 16 and 17, 2018). Turn the page for links to the new emails, transcriptions of all or part of the salient ones, and possibly a little more discussion of the issues.
Continue reading Update On The Willingness Of The California Board For Professional Engineers To Read And Consider Complaints Against Engineers Who Prepare Reports For BID Establishment — According To Boss Honcho Ric Moore They Not Only Will Read And Consider Them But He Personally Will Review And Clarify The Findings Of His Enforcement Staff — It’s Hard To Know If This Is Excellent, But It Is Way, Way, Way Better Than Nothing!

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The California Board For Professional Engineers Not Only Continues To Refuse To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Involved In BID Formation Even Though They Have No Written Policy To That Effect But Now, After An Initial Show Of Considering Reasonable Counterarguments To Their Unwritten Policy, Have Been Reduced To Intransigent Stalling And Clueless Unprofessional Mockery

Before a business improvement district can be formed, the Property and Business Improvement District law at §36622(b) requires that a licensed engineer prepare a report supporting the assessment methodology. At least in Los Angeles these reports are pro forma copy/paste monstrosities that are completely unrelated to any actual facts. Now, engineering in California is regulated by the Board for Professional Engineers, and one of their duties is to investigate complaints about unprofessional conduct.

So last year, after the utterly despicably disheartening process of approving the Venice Beach BID came to its tragic end, a resident, fed up with the nonsense promulgated by civil engineer Ed Henning in his report,1 filed a complaint against him with the Board. Amazingly, his complaint was closed unread because, as he was told in a letter by Jackie Lowe, the enforcement analyst who wrote to him, the Board does not consider the preparation of engineer’s reports for business improvement districts to constitute the practice of engineering.

They claim that it’s not within their jurisdiction and, in her letter announcing the close of the investigation, Jackie Lowe told the complainant that “Historically, our Board has deemed these “tax assessment” reports not civil engineering work.” This struck me as being reflective of a Board policy, which was so unexpected that after learning of it I sent a CPRA request to the Board asking for records related to this policy decision.2 After all, if there’s a policy, it ought to be written down so that it can be analyzed and, if appropriate, disputed.

After they ignored me for a long time, their enforcement manager Tiffany Criswell answered and propounded the usual line of nonsense about why they weren’t going to fulfill my request.3 Furthermore, she informed me that there was no written policy stating that the preparation of these engineering reports didn’t constitute the practice of engineering.

Basically she claimed that the Professional Engineers Act, which is the establishing law for the Board, forbade them from investigating anything which wasn’t explicitly defined in the law as the practice of engineering. She seemed to claim that creating a policy was forbidden. That they had to work only from the language of the law.4 I argued that it was pretty clear from the language of the Act that preparing engineer’s reports for BIDs constituted the practice of engineering as described in the Act. Strangely, she seemed to actually listen to my argument. She told me that she would look into it and get back to me.

And listen, when disputing anything at all with a government agency at any level, this counts as a win. So I waited. Heard nothing. Asked what’s up. She said later. Waited. Asked what’s up. She ignored me. Waited. Asked what’s up and CC-ed her boss, the inimitable Mr. Ric Moore. He flipped out and wrote me a weirdly sarcastic email full of malcriado scare quotes and other instances of bitterly bureaucratic sarcasm.

This email convinced me that, even though every aspect of the process remains unresolved, it’s time to publicize matters. Hence this post. The discussion is unavoidably technical, which is why the details are after the break, along with links to and transcriptions of most of the emails involved. As I said in the footnotes already, though, all the emails are available here on Archive.Org.
Continue reading The California Board For Professional Engineers Not Only Continues To Refuse To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Involved In BID Formation Even Though They Have No Written Policy To That Effect But Now, After An Initial Show Of Considering Reasonable Counterarguments To Their Unwritten Policy, Have Been Reduced To Intransigent Stalling And Clueless Unprofessional Mockery

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Kerry Morrison’s Cogent Argument Against Legal Street Vending Supports Outlawing Hollywood Real Estate Super-Villians CIM Group, Employer of HPOA President Monica Yamada

As we’ve previously discussed at great length, the palefaced economic elites of Los Angeles are all abuzz at the possibility that the City Council might legalize street vending of various kinds, an activity whose practitioners are, for the most part, not that palefaced. As part of their abuzzitude, the palefaces have produced reams of frantic pearl-clutching hysteria regarding the threats posed to truth, justice, the American way, etc. that would, they say, certainly ensue as a result of such legalization.

These white-privilege rage-rants, while mostly grounded in delusion and mental illness, occasionally contain valid and useful arguments. It can sometimes happen, as Albert Einstein said, that “a blind pig has found an acorn.”1 A letter by Kerry Morrison, Executive Directrix of the HPOA, to Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, is an example of this. Kerry argues that, amongst other reasons, street vending should not be legalized, at least not in Hollywood, because it “raises numerous questions that must be taken into consideration. For example, how will taxes and permits be enforced, especially given that this is a cash-only business?2

Typical cash-only business in Los Angeles, beloved of the human residents but hated by the HPOA because of the difficulty of enforcing "taxes and permits."  This one's owned by an extraordinarily wealthy former mayor of Los Angeles, who evidently didn't get the memo about how his business practices are RUINING EVERYTHING!!
Typical cash-only business in Los Angeles, beloved of the human residents but hated by the HPOA because of the difficulty of enforcing “taxes and permits.” This one’s owned by an extraordinarily wealthy former mayor of Los Angeles, who evidently didn’t get the memo about how his business practices are RUINING EVERYTHING!!

As an aside, this argument can also be used against iconic Los Angeles restaurants The Pantry, Nick’s Cafe, and Philippe’s. Will the HPOA soon be asking the City Council to shut down these landmark establishments?

In any case, Kerry also lists a bunch of other undesirable consequences that, in her view, are likely to ensue from the legalization of street vending. These are not all illegal, e.g. the horrifying prospect of the potential placing of trash into appropriate public receptacles, but they’re all, says Kerry, “not something we are requesting in Hollywood.” We will refer to these en masse as “Kerry Morrison’s cogent argument.”

In our previous post on this subject we mentioned that the city of Los Angeles has had some problems with the enforcement of “taxes and permits” regarding CIM Group, a real-estate investment conspiracy run by rich white people. There we discussed the whole John Noguez scandal and hinted at the difficulty of enforcing building permit terms and conditions against CIM. Subsequently we decided to do some further research on the subject, the fruits of which are the subject of today’s post.
Continue reading Kerry Morrison’s Cogent Argument Against Legal Street Vending Supports Outlawing Hollywood Real Estate Super-Villians CIM Group, Employer of HPOA President Monica Yamada

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