Tag Archives: Cynthia Anderson-Barker

Since 2016 Eleven CPRA Lawsuits Against The City Of Los Angeles Have Been Disposed Of — The City Lost Two At Trial And Paid Up — And Settled Eight Before Trial And Paid Up — And The Only One They Didn’t Lose Was The One Wrongly Filed In Federal Court By A Pro Se Litigant — For A Total Of $662,722 — And Given That They’re About To Pay More Than $324,000 To The ACLU To Settle Another Loser — This Is More Than A Million Dollars In Less Than Four Years That They Wasted Because They Can Not Or They Will Not Comply With The Law — For That Kind Of Money They Could Hire A Damn CPRA Coordinator — And Some Staff — And Stop The Bleeding

If you make requests of the City of Los Angeles under the California Public Records Act you will have learned by now that they fail to comply in almost every possible way. They delay access to records, they wrongfully withhold records as exempt, they fail to respond to requests at all, they say that there are no responsive records when in fact there are, they manipulate requesters into asking for far less than they have a right to by wrongly citing authorities, they insist on printing electronic records onto paper and then charge for copies, and so on and on and on. It’s a real nightmare.

Some of the City’s shenanigans are due to the fact that the state legislature, in its wisdom, has made judicial action the only means of enforcing the CPRA. The City, probably with reason, assumes that most requesters don’t have the resources or the tenacity to follow through with a lawsuit, so the expected consequences for their abject noncompliance are pretty minimal. And that may be an accurate assessment, it’s hard to tell because I don’t have access to all the data.

But not having access to all doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get access to some, so I have been investigating CPRA suits against the City of Los Angeles. I first started thinking about this matter in 2015 but was at that time told by Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas1 that the City had no way of listing CPRA suits against it. But after all that nonsense happened in San Diego recently, what with their City Attorney,2 Mara Elliot, tricking Senator Ben Hueso into introducing his appalling and since-withdrawn CPRA-gutting SB 615 and then some people got a spreadsheet showing how much the City of San Diego had spent on CPRA suits since 2010.

So I thought I’d ask Mike Dundas again and what do you know!? He came through and also informed me that the City Attorney3 had assigned a cause code to CPRA suits in 2016 so that it was now possible to track them individually.4 And then, kablooie! He produced this list of ten closed cases with payouts since 2016!5 And then later he told me that there was this one other closed case that didn’t involve a payout since the City was dismissed from it on a motion.6 And according to him he will be producing7 a list of the currently open cases.8

And just the bare numbers here are really interesting, but not a good look for the City of Los Angeles. Since 2016 eleven CPRA cases against the City have been disposed of. The City went to trial on two of these and lost, paying a total of $558,690.57 to petitioners’ lawyers. The City unfavorably settled eight of them before trial, paying a total of $104,032 to petitioners’ lawyers. And the City got itself dismissed from one before trial, but only because the petitioner mistakenly filed the case in federal court.

I obtained copies of all ten of the properly filed petitions, and you can find them here on the Archive and there are also links to the individual files below. From a practical point of view, those eight cases that the City settled without going to trial are the most interesting of all. First of all, they were all avoidable. None of them hinged on any subtle interpretations of the statute. If the City had just followed the explicit requirements of the law none of them would have been brought in the first place.

I describe each of them briefly below, by the way. The City has really come to rely on not being sued, and I don’t think we have any hope at all of improving their compliance without a lot more petitions being filed. It’s my hope that these statistics along with access to these cases will encourage more lawyers to get involved in suing the City over CPRA violations. It really looks like there’s some money to be made.

But, much, much more importantly, it looks like it might be not only practically possible, not only morally desirable, but also economically feasible to get the damn City of Los Angeles to just comply with the damn CPRA in some kind of predictable way. The money they spend settling these cases could easily fund a Citywide CPRA coordinator and another staff member just to keep all the City departments on track so that we get access to our records and the City avoids an endless parade of these entirely avoidable suits.
Continue reading Since 2016 Eleven CPRA Lawsuits Against The City Of Los Angeles Have Been Disposed Of — The City Lost Two At Trial And Paid Up — And Settled Eight Before Trial And Paid Up — And The Only One They Didn’t Lose Was The One Wrongly Filed In Federal Court By A Pro Se Litigant — For A Total Of $662,722 — And Given That They’re About To Pay More Than $324,000 To The ACLU To Settle Another Loser — This Is More Than A Million Dollars In Less Than Four Years That They Wasted Because They Can Not Or They Will Not Comply With The Law — For That Kind Of Money They Could Hire A Damn CPRA Coordinator — And Some Staff — And Stop The Bleeding

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Tentative Settlement Reached In Street Vending Lawsuit Against Fashion District BID And City Of Los Angeles

You can read up on the background in this 2015 LA times story and also in our multiple stories on the subject. Most of the paper filed in the case is available here.

The monumental lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District BID for their abominable treatment of street vendors was set for trial in January. However, papers filed with the court yesterday announce that the plaintiffs have reached a settlement with the City and as soon as it’s approved, a process which can take many months for it to work its way through Committees and Council, they will drop the case against both the City and the BID. Hence they asked Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell to put the calendar on hold until the settlement is approved.

Today Virginia Phillips, Chief Judge of the local federal district, issued an order vacating the schedule in anticipation of this settlement. You can read the joint notice of pending settlement that inspired the order, and, as always, there’s a transcript of both documents after the break.
Continue reading Tentative Settlement Reached In Street Vending Lawsuit Against Fashion District BID And City Of Los Angeles

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The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 3: the Good Guys

Previous installments of this series appear here: Part 1 and Part 2

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1990 picture of Cynthia Anderson-Barker, badass civil rights lawyer and board member of the badass civil rights organization the National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles. Their motto proclaims them to be “Dedicated to the Belief That Human Rights Are More Sacred Than Property Interests”
We originally planned to write a full post making fun of Nicole Shahenian’s speech at the May 28, 2015 meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall on the subject of legalized street vending in Los Angeles. On listening to it again, though, we realized that it’s nothing more than the same old nonsense, probably ghost-written by Kerry Morrison, and that writing on it would be a waste of time, space, and electricity. So today we’re concluding our reportage on the May 28 meeting with a brief discussion of the good guys, the white hats, the rays of sunshine, the breaths of fresh air, the actual humans in the room, the supporters of legalized street vending in lovely Los Angeles. In particular we hear from an actual street vendor who supports his family and from badass civil rights lawyer Cynthia Anderson-Barker, who explains why it’s essential to repeal LAMC 42.00(b) because, not only is it not being enforced equitably, it is not actually possible to enforce it equitably.
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling hot dogs on the streets of Hollywood.
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling hot dogs on the streets of Hollywood.

First up we have a man, whose name we didn’t catch on the audio, who’s one of the street vendors that Kerry Morrison recently mocked in public for claiming that he practices street vending in order to support his family. Listen here or read a transcription after the break. She has complained vociferously in the past and will no doubt complain vociferously in the future about the tone and incivility of those who oppose her iron will, never taking into account that her minions, who are paid to go to these meetings to speak words that, even if she didn’t actually write them, are certainly consistent with every public statement she’s ever made on the issue, are directly attacking people like this speaker, who are trying in the face of massive harassment to feed their families.

She and her minions rank this man’s life and well-being below the putative, delusionally construed rights of their employers not only to own property in Hollywood, to make untold amounts of money in exchange for very little productive labor, and not only that, but to have an extraordinarily immoral amount of control over the social conditions of life in places and neighborhoods where they don’t even live. In the face of this, Kerry Morrison has the audacity to complain about the audience being “uncivil” to her minions? Quel chutzpah, n’est ce pas? Anyway, in his speech, this man makes it clear that he knows that they’re his enemy. And he’s not wrong. They are his enemy. They are our enemies.

Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated for selling ice cream on the streets of Hollywood
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling ice cream on the streets of Hollywood

He says, plausibly directly in response to BID flacks Alyssa Van Breene and/or Devin Strecker:

By example, for myself, I make ninety dollars a day. And I support my family with that money. … Our life … is very different than yours. Our day is starting at 4 a.m., and we’ll finish at around 9 p.m. for just a few dollars, but it’s OK.

42.00(b)- LAMC- SALES OF GOODS W/OUT A LICENSE
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling water on the streets of Hollywood

This is the kind of story Kerry Morrison dismisses as an example of speakers “being bused in” in order to all have “the same, the same, um, tune, like ‘I need to be able to sell on the street to support my family.'” We’re impressed in a theoretical way that she can live with herself thinking like that in the face of such testimony, although maybe we could live with ourselves too. Never having thought like that, how would we know? Does she think the guy’s lying? Making up stories to win the right to work 17 hours for 90 dollars? What is she thinking, if anything?
Continue reading The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 3: the Good Guys

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The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 1: Alyssa Van Breene

The Boyle Hotel at 101 N. Boyle Avenue, appearing here because we don't have a picture of the Boyle Heights City Hall, which is about half a mile west on First Street from the corner of First and Boyle.
The Boyle Hotel at 101 N. Boyle Avenue, appearing here because we don’t have a picture of the Boyle Heights City Hall, which is about half a mile west on First Street from the corner of First and Boyle, that being the location of this building.
We recently wrote about Kerry Morrison’s description of the series of public meetings sponsored by the Chief Legislative Analyst of the city of Los Angeles regarding the framework for legalizing street vending that’s being studied by the City Council. Well, interestingly enough, it turns out that the Council’s Economic Development committee has a website set up devoted to the issue and found thereupon are audio recordings of three of the four meetings held to-date.1 Astute readers will no doubt recall Kerry’s description of these meetings:
there were a series of four hearings that the chief administrative office staff held on the… the sidewalk vending ordinance. … It’s just this kind of amorphous set of hearings, which were completely dysfunctional, disrespectful, and almost, um, resembled a circus.
Wanna know what "frabjous" means?  You gotta ask Mr. Humpty Dumpty, or look it up in the Dictionary, for God's sake.
Wanna know what “frabjous” means? You gotta ask Mr. Humpty Dumpty, or look it up in the Dictionary, for God’s sake.

Well, frabjous day, friends! We have listened to the first of these, held at the Boyle Heights City Hall on May 28, 2015, and clipped out some representative bits for your audiosthetic pleasure and we’re sharing them with you here. First listen to HPOA Board Member Alyssa Van Breene (transcriptions after the break if, like us, you’d rather read than hear):

Listened up? Good! Let’s take this nonsense one lie at a time, shall we?
Continue reading The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 1: Alyssa Van Breene

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