Tag Archives: Gil Cedillo

Interim Councilmember Greig Smith Has A Private Email Address — Conducts City Business Through It — citycouncilguy@yahoo.com — For Instance — Among Other Pretty Sleazy Things — Uses It To Communicate With Lobbyists At Englander Knabe & Allen — Founded By Harvey Englander — Uncle Of Smith’s Predecessor And Protege Mitch Englander — Like A Whole Trump Family Incestuous Secret Email Vibe Going On Out There In The Damn Valley Innit?!

With yesterday’s revelations that Betsy De Vos and seven other members of the Trump administration are being investigated by the House Oversight Committee for their illegal, unethical, appalling, and hypocritical use of private email addresses to conduct public business I thought it was a good time to catch you all up on the state of my investigation into private email use by our own local City Council folks, precisely none of whom are being investigated by anyone for this specific transgression.1

Previously I discovered and revealed that Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu, and Gil Cedillo all have privately controlled email accounts through which they conduct City business. Jose Huizar also does this, but I didn’t break that story, the FBI did.2 And today, thanks to a huge set of emails I recently received from the ever-courtly Colin Sweeney, director of communications over at CD12, I can, for the first time of which I am aware, break the news that the name of Sweeney’s current boss, the infamous Greig Smith, belongs right smack on that list as well.

The email address in question is citycouncilguy@yahoo.com. The set linked to above only contained a few examples of Smith’s use of this email address to conduct City business, but then I only picked them up by accident. Thanks, as we know, to the monumental 2017 opinion in City of San Jose v. Superior Court, these emails are public records in themselves. Of course I have a request in already for the rest of them, but I imagine it could be a long process. Or maybe not, we’ll certainly see! Read on for links to the emails along with some commentary.
Continue reading Interim Councilmember Greig Smith Has A Private Email Address — Conducts City Business Through It — citycouncilguy@yahoo.com — For Instance — Among Other Pretty Sleazy Things — Uses It To Communicate With Lobbyists At Englander Knabe & Allen — Founded By Harvey Englander — Uncle Of Smith’s Predecessor And Protege Mitch Englander — Like A Whole Trump Family Incestuous Secret Email Vibe Going On Out There In The Damn Valley Innit?!

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News About My CPRA Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles Concerning Emails Between CD1 And LAPD — The City Has Abandoned Its Exemption Claims And Provided More Than 200 Pages Of Records — Which Is Good News On The Prevailing Party Front — And At Least One Of The Newly Released Emails Is Exceedingly Important — Not To Mention Appalling — Shows Gil Cedillo’s Deputy District Director Jose Rodriguez Calling In A Homeless Encampment Sweep — In February 2019 — At The Explicit Behest Of Sociopathic Developer Trammell Crow — Because The Mere Presence Of Displaceable Homeless Human Beings Was Interfering With A Project Schedule — Senior Vice President And Failed Screen Actor Alex Valente Has A Lot To Answer For — As Does Gil Freaking Cedillo — And Jose Rodriguez — And Everyone Else Involved In This Abuse Of Municipal Power

There are two parts to today’s story. First, recall that last month I was forced by the arbitrary, pointless, and utterly inscrutable intransigence of Gil Cedillo‘s Senior Policy Deputy Mel Ilomin to file yet another writ petition against the City of Los Angeles seeking to enforce compliance with the California Public Records Act. And I have some excellent news about this, which is that yesterday the City completely abandoned its indefensible exemption claims and produced more than 200 pages of material responsive to the request at issue. It came to me in two PDFs, which you can get copies of here:

CPRA emails part 1.pdf

CPRA emails part 2.pdf

You might recall that Ilomin, completely backstopped by ought-to-know-better Deputy City Attorney Strefan Fauble, had claimed that every single one of these emails was exempt due to that putative deliberative process nonsense that the City of Los Angeles loves so well. And I won’t belabor the details, but if you read through the yield, you’ll see that this exemption claim was entirely unfounded, indefensible, just utter nonsense. For instance, a nontrivial number of these emails are widely published announcements that there will be mobile showers available on various dates at Lincoln Park which, whatever the hell they may be, aren’t exempt from production under any theory acceptable to even the marginally sane.

And there’s some other reasonably interesting material in there, about some of which I might write at some point. But there is also one exceedingly important record, which is this February 2019 email conversation between Cedillo’s Deputy District Director Jose Rodriguez and a long list of LAPD officers, LAHSA staffers, and others, scheduling a sweep of homeless encampments along Llewellyn Street in Chinatown for the explicitly stated reason that they were impeding construction on a huge housing development owned by the Trammell Crow Company, done at the request of Trammell Crow’s senior vice president Alex Valente.

Now, you might recall an instance where an encampment was swept for no better reason than that Eric Garcetti was making a political appearance in the area later. This incident was reported in the Los Angeles Times and evoked the following quasi-denial from Garcetti’s spokesman Alex Comisar, who said it did “not reflect the mayor’s approach to interacting with Angelenos experiencing homelessness.” And this same tired implausible story of utter compassion is told by everyone involved with homelessness no matter how messed up their motives actually are. Our City officials, just ask them, do not use the vast municipal power entrusted to them to fuck up the lives of the unhoused for petty stupid venal purposes.

Even, no doubt, Gil Cedillo will tell you what a goddamned humanitarian he is on these lines. And yet when we look at what he does, what they all do, well, here is Cedillo’s staff arranging for homeless human beings to be displaced from their community just because some sociopathic zillionaire didn’t want his damned construction project to be held up. And the sweep did take place. In fact, on the very next day, February 26, 2019, as reported by Joanna Swan on Twitter, because that’s where the City’s priorities are, what their actions are, no matter what their empty words might suggest. Read a transcription below, and if you haven’t done so already, look into Services Not Sweeps.
Continue reading News About My CPRA Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles Concerning Emails Between CD1 And LAPD — The City Has Abandoned Its Exemption Claims And Provided More Than 200 Pages Of Records — Which Is Good News On The Prevailing Party Front — And At Least One Of The Newly Released Emails Is Exceedingly Important — Not To Mention Appalling — Shows Gil Cedillo’s Deputy District Director Jose Rodriguez Calling In A Homeless Encampment Sweep — In February 2019 — At The Explicit Behest Of Sociopathic Developer Trammell Crow — Because The Mere Presence Of Displaceable Homeless Human Beings Was Interfering With A Project Schedule — Senior Vice President And Failed Screen Actor Alex Valente Has A Lot To Answer For — As Does Gil Freaking Cedillo — And Jose Rodriguez — And Everyone Else Involved In This Abuse Of Municipal Power

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City Of Los Angeles Sued Yet Again To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act — This Time It’s Over CD1’s Obstinate Refusal To Produce Emails Between Staffer Jose Rodriguez And Two LAPD Officers About Homeless Encampments In CD1 — On The Advice Of The City Attorney Cedillo Staffer Mel Ilomin Claimed A Series Of Bogus And Ever-Shifting Exemptions — But I Got Two Responsive Records From LAPD — Which Show The Utter Implausibility Of The Exemption Claims

As you know, one of my long-term projects is using the public records act to understand how and why the City of Los Angeles schedules sweeps of homeless encampments and related enforcement actions. Emails between Council offices and either LAPD or LA Sanitation have been essential in this effort. For instance, a monumental recent email release from LAPD revealed a number of essential facts.

First, that CD11 staffer Taylor Bazley, despite official denials, had been complicit in the illegal placement of anti-homeless planters in Venice. This revelation led, in turn, to my filing a complaint against a list of LAPD officers with the Internal Affairs Division and a complaint with the Ethics Commission against Bazley. These same emails revealed that CD11 itself had been illegally withholding incredibly important records in the face of a number of my pending CPRA requests, which led to my filing another writ petition against the City seeking to compel the release of those materials.

And also, there among these 1,200 pages of stuff, were a couple emails between CD1 staffer Jose Rodriguez and a couple of police officers, Arturo Siguenas and Ruben Arellano, about homeless encampments and sweep scheduling at an encampment on Avenue 61 between Figueroa Street and Piedmont Avenue, one block to the North. Here’s the first one and also the second one. These emails in themselves are fairly innocuous, but since other emails in the release had turned out to be so very consequential, and since CD1 is a particular interest of mine although not, so far, with respect to homelessness, the importance of tracing this thread further was quite clear.

Thus I sent a request for all emails between Rodriguez and these two officers from between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2019, the day before the date of the request:1
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Sued Yet Again To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act — This Time It’s Over CD1’s Obstinate Refusal To Produce Emails Between Staffer Jose Rodriguez And Two LAPD Officers About Homeless Encampments In CD1 — On The Advice Of The City Attorney Cedillo Staffer Mel Ilomin Claimed A Series Of Bogus And Ever-Shifting Exemptions — But I Got Two Responsive Records From LAPD — Which Show The Utter Implausibility Of The Exemption Claims

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Hollywood LAPD Captain-To-The-Freaking-Stars Cory Palka Uses A Personal Email Address For Official Department Business — cpalka@me.com — Here Are A Bunch Of Emails From That Account — How He Got A Blue Check For His Twitter — Police Protective League Collective Bargaining Demands — His Notes From A Workshop By Cop Cult Leader Dave Anderson — FBI Security Notes On 2018 Oscars — Which Comes With A Freaking “Intelligence Products Customer Satisfaction Survey” — I Swear I Am Not Making That Up — Notes On How To Spin Drop In Hollywood Hills Burglary Arrests — Blame Homeless Encampments Of Course — Oh! — And A Cory Palka Trivia Quiz! — Twenty-Two Pages Of It!

One of my long-running projects is identifying Los Angeles City officials who’re using private email accounts to conduct public business and, per the transcendentally monumental 2017 opinion in City of San Jose v. Superior Court, obtaining copies via the California Public Records Act. So far I’ve learned that Mitch O’Farrell does this, as do both David Ryu and Gil Cedillo as well. I also have some suggestive but not conclusory evidence that Eric Garcetti uses ericgarcetti@gmail.com for public business, and I am continuing to investigate.

And today I have another account to reveal, along with a set of emails. The account is cpalka@me.com, belonging to LAPD Hollywood Division Captain Cory Palka, famous for, among other things, following any number of white nationalists and Trumpistas with his blue-checked LAPD Twitter as well as sharing a warped racist sense of humor with a bunch of white supremacist BIDdies. You can browse and download the release on Archive.Org and read on for some selected gems!
Continue reading Hollywood LAPD Captain-To-The-Freaking-Stars Cory Palka Uses A Personal Email Address For Official Department Business — cpalka@me.com — Here Are A Bunch Of Emails From That Account — How He Got A Blue Check For His Twitter — Police Protective League Collective Bargaining Demands — His Notes From A Workshop By Cop Cult Leader Dave Anderson — FBI Security Notes On 2018 Oscars — Which Comes With A Freaking “Intelligence Products Customer Satisfaction Survey” — I Swear I Am Not Making That Up — Notes On How To Spin Drop In Hollywood Hills Burglary Arrests — Blame Homeless Encampments Of Course — Oh! — And A Cory Palka Trivia Quiz! — Twenty-Two Pages Of It!

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Ever Wonder If You Are Blocked By Your Councilmember On The Twitter?! — We Have The Answer! — Also City Attorney! — Also The Mayor! — But Nury Martinez — And Herb Wesson — And Mike Bonin — And Mitch O’Farrell — They Won’t Even Answer The Damn Requests — Oh, Almost Forgot To Say! — Deputy City Attorney And Insufferable Rich Boy Strefan Fauble Wants To Be Sure You Know — Mike Feuer Isn’t Muting Any Twitter Users But If He Were — The List Would Be Exempt From Release Under The CPRA! — Yeah Right, Strefan Fauble! — Stick To Art Collecting And Leave The CPRA Lawyering To Others!

For about two months now I’ve been looking into the practice of Twitter users being blocked or muted by official City of Los Angeles accounts. I’m still gathering evidence, but yesterday it came out that Police Commission president Steve Soboroff blocks a bunch of users who’ve never even interacted with him, so I thought it’d be timely to write up the information I have so far. This issue is of special interest in these latter days given that in 2018 a federal judge ruled that it is unconstitutional for Donald Trump to block users on Twitter.

What I can offer you today, friends, is Twitter block/mute information for eleven of the fifteen council districts, the City Attorney, the Mayor, and a small selection of official LAPD accounts.1 There’s also an interesting line of hypothetical bullshit from deputy city attorney Strefan Fauble2 about some pretty technical claims about CPRA exemptionism,3 but that, being übernerdlich, is way at the end of the post.

Most of the accounts blocked are porn or spam, but Jose Huizar and David Ryu are notable exceptions. Both reps block accounts that are obviously controlled by actual individual people. Huizar’s list is by far the most extensive, and includes wildly inappropriate blocks like @oscartaracena and @BHJesse.

My research on this question is ongoing, mostly hindered by the City of LA’s familiar foot-dragging CPRA methodology. Turn the page for a tabular summary of the results I have so far along with a brief discussion of how Strefan Fauble is still on his CPRA bullshit.
Continue reading Ever Wonder If You Are Blocked By Your Councilmember On The Twitter?! — We Have The Answer! — Also City Attorney! — Also The Mayor! — But Nury Martinez — And Herb Wesson — And Mike Bonin — And Mitch O’Farrell — They Won’t Even Answer The Damn Requests — Oh, Almost Forgot To Say! — Deputy City Attorney And Insufferable Rich Boy Strefan Fauble Wants To Be Sure You Know — Mike Feuer Isn’t Muting Any Twitter Users But If He Were — The List Would Be Exempt From Release Under The CPRA! — Yeah Right, Strefan Fauble! — Stick To Art Collecting And Leave The CPRA Lawyering To Others!

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July 1, 2013 — Gil Cedillo’s First Day In Office — Ultra-Corrupt Lobbyist Morrie Goldman Needed A Favor Right Away — Senior Staffer Arturo Chavez Was All Like — None Of Our Office Machines Are Even Working Yet But For You Morrie Anything! — Setting The Tone For The Rest Of Cedillo’s Term

Been six weeks or so since last I wrote about selections from this stinking heap consisting of 242 PDF pages of problematic ethical situations involving Gil Cedillo’s senior staff advisor Arturo Chavez and a rampaging gang of corrupt lobbyists. And first among these corrupt rampagers is Mister Corruption himself, Morrie Freaking Goldman. Talked of in FBI offices alongside Jose Huizar, buddy of Gil Cedillo.

And today we have a small story of a single day in the CD1-repping life of Gil Cedillo. But not just any day. It was the first day of the rest of Cedillo’s term. July 1, 2013. The fax wasn’t even working yet.1 But the influence machine was working, and that’s how Morrie Goldman came to leave a message for Arturo Chavez on July 1, 2013 asking for a favor and later following up by email: “Did you get my message re: 1111 Wilshire CUB hearing?”

And these 1111 Wilshire people didn’t just parachute in out of nowhere. They were heavily invested in the CD1 race that Cedillo ultimately won. At first they weren’t interested in Cedillo at all, but rather his opponent, Jose Gardea. As Ed Reyes’s chief of staff Gardea was doubtless the establishment candidate and presumptive heir of the moment, which is doubtless why two separate anonymous LLCs named after 1111 Wilshire gave Gardea a total of $2,100 in the 2013 CD1 campaign.

But at some point they evidently realized that they’d better hedge their bets, so in June of 2013 they gave Cedillo $700 as well. And that, children, is doubtless why Morrie Goldman had Arturo Chavez’s phone number on the first day of Gil Cedillo’s term. And doubtless why Arturo Chavez answered Goldman’s demands. And told him that yes, Cedillo was writing a letter, and yes, he could pick it up in the morning.

And that, friends, is what $700 buys you from Gil Cedillo, and that, friends, is how Gil Cedillo and his senior staff spent their first day at 200 N. Spring Street. And every other day since then, looks like. Turn the page for a transcription of the entire email conversation and please, take a look at the whole spool because there are doubtless unmined gems lurking in there!
Continue reading July 1, 2013 — Gil Cedillo’s First Day In Office — Ultra-Corrupt Lobbyist Morrie Goldman Needed A Favor Right Away — Senior Staffer Arturo Chavez Was All Like — None Of Our Office Machines Are Even Working Yet But For You Morrie Anything! — Setting The Tone For The Rest Of Cedillo’s Term

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In April 2017 Cedillo Minion Bill Cody Told Yami Duarte Of The Department Of Cultural Affairs About CD1’s Plans For That Frank Romero Mural — And She Told Cody That There Were Also Plans For A Mural By Zender On The Same Wall — And The Procedure In That Case Was To Present Both Murals To The Cultural Affairs Commission At A Public Hearing — And He Told Duarte That Cedillo Wouldn’t Want To Do It That Way — It Seems That Rules And Procedures Are For Other People In Cedillo’s And Cody’s CD1 — Especially If They Interfere With Cody’s Mad Thirst For Vengeance

Last week I wrote about how CD1 staffer Bill Cody used his position with the City to revenge himself against Highland Park community art activists Brenda Perez and Yaya Castillo by trying to get City funding pulled from a mural because a compatriot of theirs, muralist John Zender, was involved in the project. That happened in June 2018, and the backstory is well-summarized in that post, so I won’t repeat it here. The very short version is that Bill Cody was pushing a mural by Frank Romero of Los Four at least in part to silence community agitation at the destruction of a mural by Zender at the behest of the reprehensible Highland Park Business Improvement District.

Well, it turns out that in April 2018, when Cody was beginning the process of organizing Frank Romero’s new pro-Olympics mural, there was also a project by Zender proposed for the same City-owned wall. It turns out that the Cultural Affairs Commission, which must approve murals on City property,1 has a process in place to resolve just this kind of situation. Which they would have to have, of course, because the City property belongs to everyone. If more than one artist wants to put a mural somewhere there has to be a fair method of choosing.

Accordingly, Yami Duarte of the Department of Cultural Affairs told Bill Cody that all murals on City property must be approved by the CAC and that the DCA “Director is apprised that there may be another mural proposal for the same location by artist Mr. John Zender Estrada, and recommends that both projects be presented side by side to the Commission.” By the way, I don’t think that it has been previously reported that Zender had plans for a mural where Romero’s mural was going to be painted. The story is told in this brief email conversation, of which there is a complete transcription after the break.2

But, as we’ve seen, Cody really had it in for Zender, so he wasn’t having that. And he wasn’t owning his not having it either, as he attributed his unwillingness to follow the rules and let the CAC decide which mural ought to be placed on the wall to Gil Cedillo.3 Thus spake Bill Cody: “I do not think the Councilmember will want to do it that way and I think we should have a conversation about this.” Of course, the vengeful Cody doesn’t want to do anything any way that might result in some democratically empowered body such as the CAC choosing something other than what he had planned, which is keeping Zender’s work off walls in Highland Park. And of course he invokes Cedillo, the source of his power.

Cody evidently had his way with the mural, although the details are still unknown. For whatever reason Romero’s mural didn’t come up before the CAC until its January 9, 2019 meeting. Take a look at the agenda for yourself and notice that there’s nothing at all about Zender on there. And that’s the story. Sure, it’s more low key than all that lurid nonsense about Cody punishing constituents for attacking his office on Facebook, but it’s just as corrosive of democratic principles. So turn the page for a transcription and also to take a look at how the Department of Cultural Affairs thinks it’s somehow appropriate to redact the name and email address of City staffer Rebeca Guerrero.4 I asked them why, but they declined to respond.
Continue reading In April 2017 Cedillo Minion Bill Cody Told Yami Duarte Of The Department Of Cultural Affairs About CD1’s Plans For That Frank Romero Mural — And She Told Cody That There Were Also Plans For A Mural By Zender On The Same Wall — And The Procedure In That Case Was To Present Both Murals To The Cultural Affairs Commission At A Public Hearing — And He Told Duarte That Cedillo Wouldn’t Want To Do It That Way — It Seems That Rules And Procedures Are For Other People In Cedillo’s And Cody’s CD1 — Especially If They Interfere With Cody’s Mad Thirst For Vengeance

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Weirdo Cedillo Staffer Bill Cody Tried To Withhold Money From A City-Funded Highland Park Mural Because Renowned Highland Park Muralist John Zender Estrada Was Involved — On The Basis Of A Bizarre Grudge Against HLP Heroines Yaya Castillo And Brenda Perez — Like The Freaking Mural Mafia Of CD1 — Cody: “We’re Not Really Big On Giving Grants To Folks Who Are Involved With People Who Have Been Attacking The Council Office On Social Media”

This Highland Park mural story gets more convoluted and appalling by the day. You’ll recall that in concert with the Highland Park Business Improvement District Cedillo staffer Bill Cody worked with the Department of Cultural Affairs to allow the BID to destroy two well-loved murals in Highland Park. One of these was by renowned HLP muralist John Zender.

This episode led to community protests, organized by among others HLP heroes and heroines Brenda Perez, Yaya Castillo, and Mando Medina, who ended up being surveilled and stalked by Cody, as well as the establishment of radical pro-mural/anti-gentrification group Restorative Justice for the Arts by Perez. Oh, and did I mention this petition calling Bill Cody out for his serially harassing ways?

Cody also has a long-stewing grievance against Perez, Castillo, and Medina, based on something to do with Chicken Boy, Amy Inouye, and Stuart Rapeport, that I do not understand and it really seems like he made it all up, which is not uncharacteristic of the fellow. So there’s a lot of tension swirling around HLP these days with respect to murals and the people involved with them.

And then there’s Kathy Gallegos, executive director of HLP art scene fixture Avenue 50 Studio. The studio accepts funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs, and apparently one thing that Gallegos does with the money is arrange for murals to be painted around HLP. And it seems that in June 2018 Gallegos had a contract with DCA to organize a mural by Anthony Ortega and some of the funds were provided by CD1, with Bill Cody staffing the matter.1 The story is told in this email conversation of which, as always, there is a transcription after the break.

But then Cody discovered that Gallegos had subcontracted with Zender, along with a number of other respected HLP artists. And Cody flipped out and sent an at-the-mouth-frothing email to Yami Duarte and Felicia Filer of DCA interrogating them on this development, demanding that Zender be removed from the project and threatening to withdraw CD1’s funding. Why? Because Zender was known to be friendly with Castillo and Perez and, according to Cody:

The grant was approved by myself and I never would have involved the parties that have been attacking the local constituents. I am told Brenda Perez and Yaya Castillo have been involved and at this point I would like the contract redone with John’s name removed for many, many reasons.

And Cody made it very clear that he views CD1’s cultural funding as a way to reward his friends and punish his enemies:

We’re not really big on giving grants to folks who are involved with people who have been attacking the Council Office on Social Media. We’ll definitely want to make sure that does not happen in the future.

And the trouble with this? There are so many troubles. [A]ttacking the Council Office on Social Media is what we do in America. It’s none of Cody’s damn business who’s attacking the Council Office. And if CD1 is going to be giving out grants, they’re certainly not allowed to choose the recipients based on their political opinions. That’s just a straight-up violation of the First Amendment.

And it’s a betrayal of the public trust. CD1 doesn’t have all that money so their staffers can play favorites and hand it out to their smoochy-face friendsy-wendsies. They have it so that they can keep things running and make the City better. If that means following the rules and paying people who attack the Council Office on social media, well, that’s the kind of thing that grownups have to do sometimes.

And not only is this illegal, not only is it a betrayal, not only is it immature, but like everything about Bill Cody, it’s also stupid in the kind of floridly bizarre way that’s essentially the guy’s signature at this point. For reasons only he understands Cedillo hasn’t fired the guy for being a serial harasser, but maybe he’ll fire him for making him look like such a chump. In any case, turn the page for transcriptions of the emails.
Continue reading Weirdo Cedillo Staffer Bill Cody Tried To Withhold Money From A City-Funded Highland Park Mural Because Renowned Highland Park Muralist John Zender Estrada Was Involved — On The Basis Of A Bizarre Grudge Against HLP Heroines Yaya Castillo And Brenda Perez — Like The Freaking Mural Mafia Of CD1 — Cody: “We’re Not Really Big On Giving Grants To Folks Who Are Involved With People Who Have Been Attacking The Council Office On Social Media”

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Annals Of Utter Abject Mind-Numbing Shamelessness — Morrie Goldman Wants To Know If Gil Cedillo Will Be At PLUM Next Week — Cause He Needs Him For A Quorum — Cause Englander Is Gonna Be Out — Debby Kim Has Nothing More To Say Beyond “He Will Be There :)” — Yes, The Smiley Face Is Part Of The Quote — Even The Damn Rats Are Embarrassed At This Point

Background first. There’s Morrie Goldman. Lobbyist who runs Urban Solutions LLC, a lobbying firm. Famously caught up in the slow motion putrefaction of what was, at one time, known as Jose Huizar’s political career. Well-known friend of Gil Cedillo, at least as the word is understood at 200 N. Spring Street. Favor asker. Supplicant. Then there’s Gil Cedillo. Career politician. Wielder of vast power. Mover. Shaker. Favor granter. Supplicatee.

Or, you know, that’s how I always thought things worked in City Hall. The Councilmembers were in charge and the lobbyists asked them for goodies on behalf of clients and paid them off for their cooperation. But I recently obtained a steaming heap of emails between CD1 staffers and various lobbyists, and amongst them was this email conversation from 2015 between Morrie Goldman and Cedillo chief of staff Debby Kim1 which forces a quantum-level re-envisioning of that narrative, featuring Morrie Goldman as Keyser Soze and Cedillo with nothing more than some kind of walk-on role in his own career.

The whole exchange is just four emails long. Only the first two really matter. A week before the meeting, Goldman emails Kim to ask if Cedillo will be at PLUM on June 23, 2015. He says “We have an item coming to PLUM that day and need him for a quorum. Englander is out.” Kim’s reply? “He will be there :)” So yeah, in case you hadn’t realized, lobbyists don’t only tell Councilmembers how to vote and then deliver payola in return. They also call roll in advance and make sure the reps show up when they’re needed to vote. It’s unexpected and creepy at the same time.

And conceivably it’s also a Brown Act violation, since at that time the entire PLUM committee consisted of Jose Huizar, Cedillo, and Englander. Communications through intermediaries between a majority of the members, which would be two of them, constitutes an illegal serial meeting.2 So Goldman insinuating to Cedillo’s staff that Englander would have voted in favor is probably not OK. The statute of limitations is long gone, though.

And of course, the question of what issue Goldman needed Cedillo present to vote on is an essential one. I don’t yet know for sure, but here’s the PLUM agenda from June 23, 2015. The only matter on there of any consequence is CF 15-0721, which has to do with a CEQA appeal against the AMPAS project on Wilshire, which is likely to be the vote Goldman was worried about. Oh, one more thing! Notice how Goldman doesn’t even have to ask how Cedillo’s voting? That’s all been settled already.

And that’s the sordid little story of who’s calling the shots in the relationships between lobbyists and their pet councilmembers. Turn the page for a transcription of the emails themselves, so ordinary and yet so shocking.
Continue reading Annals Of Utter Abject Mind-Numbing Shamelessness — Morrie Goldman Wants To Know If Gil Cedillo Will Be At PLUM Next Week — Cause He Needs Him For A Quorum — Cause Englander Is Gonna Be Out — Debby Kim Has Nothing More To Say Beyond “He Will Be There :)” — Yes, The Smiley Face Is Part Of The Quote — Even The Damn Rats Are Embarrassed At This Point

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A Tale Of Two Lunches! — How Gil Cedillo Invited Then-USC-President Max Nikias To Lunch In 2017 “To Catch Up On All Things” — And They Were Gonna Eat At The California Club — But USC Staffer Catherine Kuriyama Told Cedillo’s Chief Of Staff Debby Kim About Gift Reporting Laws — And Debby Kim Was All Like Don’t Wanna Report That Lunch! — And No Wonder I Guess Since Cedillo Has Accepted More Than $10K In Gifts From Lobbyists During His Time On The City Council — Including Another Lunch With Max Along With Debby Kim And Jay Cortez Which Did Get Reported — Cause Cedillo Only Paid Two Dollars For It

When lobbyists spend money on officials in Los Angeles the LAMC at §48.04 requires them to report it to the Ethics Commission.1 And for any number of reasons lately I’ve been really interested in Gil Cedillo. So here’s a list of all reported expenditures that benefitted Cedillo since he took office in 2013, total $10,229.39.2 Sadly, these disclosure forms don’t require any detail really, so if we want to learn what went on we have to request records.

But, as you know, that’s what we live for around here! It’s a slow process, though, and we won’t understand everything on that list for a while yet. However, I did recently acquire a bunch of emails between CD1 and the University of Southern California, and these shed some interesting light on two lunches enjoyed over the years by Cedillo in the company of then-USC-president Max Nikias, now no-confidenced right out the door.3 One of them is on the disclosure form and the other is not. This is the story of those two lunches.

The first lunch, which took place on September 28, 2017 at the California Club, was instigated by Cedillo himself. The story is told in this extraordinarily disorganized string of emails. And when USC informed Cedillo staffer Debby Kim4 that the lunch was worth $39 and that they would have to report it to the Ethics Commission unless Cedillo reimbursed USC for the food, Kim flipped out to some extent and asked to change the venue to some place where it wouldn’t have to be reported. USC told her that if Cedillo reimbursed them for it they wouldn’t have to report, which she said CD1 would do. Evidently CD1 did, or something, because this lunch doesn’t appear on the disclosures linked to above.

The second lunch, in April 2018, was at the request of Nikias himself, and is revealed in this also-scrambled email conversation. Cedillo planned to bring along Kim and his communications director Jay Cortez. USC told Kim that the lunches were worth $34 each, so that the three of them would be valued at $102. There’s a limit of $100 per calendar year,5 so USC also told Kim that they’d have to pay back $2 to keep it legal. Charmingly,6 neither Kim nor USC wanted to bother Max Nikias with these street-level legalities nor to dirty his august hands with cash money, so that even though Kim brought the money to lunch, no one was there to accept it and she evidently had to mail it in later. This lunch does in fact appear on the disclosure list with a value of $100, so evidently the money did dirty someone’s hands, maybe august, maybe not.

That’s the short version, and turn the page for the long version along, of course, with transcriptions of the essential parts of the conversation, helpfully rearranged into a sensible order for ease of reading!
Continue reading A Tale Of Two Lunches! — How Gil Cedillo Invited Then-USC-President Max Nikias To Lunch In 2017 “To Catch Up On All Things” — And They Were Gonna Eat At The California Club — But USC Staffer Catherine Kuriyama Told Cedillo’s Chief Of Staff Debby Kim About Gift Reporting Laws — And Debby Kim Was All Like Don’t Wanna Report That Lunch! — And No Wonder I Guess Since Cedillo Has Accepted More Than $10K In Gifts From Lobbyists During His Time On The City Council — Including Another Lunch With Max Along With Debby Kim And Jay Cortez Which Did Get Reported — Cause Cedillo Only Paid Two Dollars For It

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