Tag Archives: LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

Latest Entry in LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project: Hollywood Media District BID Seems To Have Paid LAPD Hollywood Division SLO Eddie Guerra $400 In Exchange For Homeless Encampment Cleanups (Ostensibly As A Charitable Donation), But Why Was The Check Made Out To Him Personally?

Eddie Guerra, kicking ass and taking checks from the Media District BID, $400 at a time.
How much does a private nonprofit organization have to pay an LAPD officer in exchange for him running off some homeless people who are having a barbecue on the sidewalk and scaring the neighborhood zillionaires? Newly received evidence suggests that the going rate is $200 per running-off incident.

It has been more than two months since the last entry in our ongoing LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we report various City employees to the Ethics Commission in an attempt to discover exactly what the most fascinating ordinance ever,1 LAMC 49.5.5(A), actually prohibits. It’s high time for another report, and this is it. First, recall what the law actually says:

City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.

Our story begins with a six-month long email chain between Hollywood Division Senior Lead Officer Eddie Guerra and a number of people associated with the Media District BID about scary sidewalk-barbecuing homeless people:
Continue reading Latest Entry in LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project: Hollywood Media District BID Seems To Have Paid LAPD Hollywood Division SLO Eddie Guerra $400 In Exchange For Homeless Encampment Cleanups (Ostensibly As A Charitable Donation), But Why Was The Check Made Out To Him Personally?

CD13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan’s Homeless Encampment Cleanup For Property Manager Bryan Kim Is Latest Entry In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

Council District 13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan.
Council District 13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan.
This evening I’m pleased to present the third installment in our ongoing LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we report various City employees to the Ethics Commission in an attempt to discover exactly what the most fascinating ordinance ever,1 LAMC 49.5.5(A), actually prohibits. It says:

City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.

Now, if you’ve been following the saga of Bryan Kim and Aram Taslagyan here on this blog,2 you’ll have noted these essential elements of the story:
Continue reading CD13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan’s Homeless Encampment Cleanup For Property Manager Bryan Kim Is Latest Entry In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

Administrative Law Judge Samuel Reyes Finds That Jim Parker Violated LAMC 49.5.5(A) As Alleged By City Ethics Commission, Which Is A Good Sign For Our Ongoing Project

You can find a good summary of the background to this post by Jasmyne Cannick on her most excellent blog or by Kate Mather writing in the L.A. Times.

Maybe you remember that former LAPD Sergeant Jim Parker was charged by the City Ethics Commission with violating LAMC 49.5.5(A) based on his release of an audio tape proving that charges of racial profiling by actress Daniele Watts were fabricated. Well, today administrative law judge Samuel Reyes issued a proposed decision in the matter, where “proposed” seems to mean that the Ethics Commission has the power to reject it if they want to. He found Parker not guilty of some of the charges, but, importantly for our purposes, guilty of violating LAMC 49.5.5(A):

Respondent1 was in possession of the audiotape by virtue of his position as an LAPD sergeant. Since he released the recording to TMZ in violation of LAMC section 49.5.3, the disclosure constitutes “misuse” under LAMC section 49.5.5, subdivision (A). Respondent released the audiotape to defend himself and LAPD against allegations of racial profiling. The release created a private advantage for Respondent, as it protected his reputation against allegations of racism.

And maybe you recall our LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we are filing complaints against various City employees for what seem to us to be violations of this law, in an effort to, not only get them to stop their bad behavior, but to find ways for citizens to force City employees to do their duty by utilizing already-existing City agencies, laws, and processes rather than having to hire lawyers for everything. This is a good sign for our success, and there’s more detail on this after the break.
Continue reading Administrative Law Judge Samuel Reyes Finds That Jim Parker Violated LAMC 49.5.5(A) As Alleged By City Ethics Commission, Which Is A Good Sign For Our Ongoing Project

Chad Molnar’s Explicit Refusal To Comply With The California Public Records Act Provides Raw Material For The Latest Installment In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

Chad Molnar is Mike Bonin's campaign treasurer and also does odd jobs of some sort around the Council District offices.
Chad Molnar is Mike Bonin’s campaign treasurer and also does odd jobs of some sort around the Council District offices.
A couple of days ago I announced MK.Org’s latest project, which aims to experimentally determine the scope of the extraordinary LAMC 49.5.5(A), which states, rather succinctly, that:

City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.

Anyway, today’s episode involves the California Public Records Act and Mike Bonin’s Chief of Staff, Chad Molnar. Since August, I’ve been making CPRA requests of CD11. At first they more or less complied with the law, but after the chaos at the first Council hearing in August and the subsequent humiliation caused by the City’s having to redo the whole BID approval process, they completely stopped complying.

In fact, they not only stopped complying, but when I wrote to them asking them if they were going to comply, Chad Molnar wrote back with one of the most extraordinarily confused responses I’ve ever received to a CPRA status request. He not only agreed that they hadn’t complied, but he said explicitly that they weren’t going to comply, and that he believed that they did not have to comply because to comply would make their constituents suffer, and he didn’t think that the intent of CPRA was to make their constituents suffer. I’m not kidding, that’s what he said. Read it yourself, and turn the page for more of my amateurish legal theories, and another complaint!
Continue reading Chad Molnar’s Explicit Refusal To Comply With The California Public Records Act Provides Raw Material For The Latest Installment In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

Announcing Our New LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project: Peter Zarcone And The HPOA Music Festival Fiasco Provide Raw Material For Our First Experimental Attempt At Seeing What This Law Actually Prohibits

Eep!
Eep!
LAMC 49.5.5(A) states, rather succinctly, that:

City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.

Here’s what seems to be required of a City official or employee to violate this law:1

  1. That they misuse their position, where I’m thinking “misuse” means:
    • They do something that requires the powers granted to them by virtue of their position and
    • their powers were not granted for the purpose of doing that thing.
  2. The misuse creates a private advantage or disadvantage for someone, where I’m thinking “private” means:
    • The advantage or disadvantage created does not further public policy goals. E.g. getting arrested creates a disadvantage for the arrestee, but the disadvantage furthers a public goal. Winning a contract through the City’s bidding process advantages the successful bidder, but the advantage furthers a public goal.

The law is enforced by the City Ethics Commission, although it doesn’t seem to have been used much. There is, e.g., this case from 2010 involving a Fire Inspector who charged money for successful inspections. This is the kind of thing one would expect to fall under this statute. However, there is also one high profile case pending right now which doesn’t seem ordinary at all. It seems quite unexpected. In 2014 LAPD Officer Jim Parker was among those who responded to a sex-in-a-car call involving Daniele Watts and her boyfriend. She accused the police of racism and brutality, and Parker anonymously leaked an audio recording of the incident, which exonerated the police. Subsequently, the Ethics Commission issued a public accusation against Parker for violating LAMC 49.5.5(A) on the theory that leaking the confidential audio recording, which he only had access to by virtue of his position, constituted a misuse which created a private advantage for himself.2

This is very encouraging. It seems that perhaps the Ethics Commission is willing to at least think about a broad application of this seemingly very broad law. And it’s an interesting thing about laws that no one can actually be sure what they mean, what the range of application is, until they’re repeatedly tested in the courts. Well, that’s not exactly right. If a court decides that people of average intelligence can’t be sure at all what the law actually prohibits or requires, they’re likely to toss it out as unconstitutionally vague. But, I guess, if people don’t know exactly what the law prohibits or requires, but average people could have realized that it potentially prohibits what they’re doing or requires what they’re not doing, then it’s not too vague, even if no one actually did realize those things.3 That’s the space I’m interested in exploring with respect to LAMC 49.5.5(A). And because I’m not interested in philosophical explorations any more I’m going to explore this issue by actually turning people in to the CEC to find out what happens, beginning with our old friend, Peter Zarcone. You can read some details after the break, and even get your very own copy of the complaint I sent the Ethics Commission the other day.
Continue reading Announcing Our New LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project: Peter Zarcone And The HPOA Music Festival Fiasco Provide Raw Material For Our First Experimental Attempt At Seeing What This Law Actually Prohibits