I spent about three hours yesterday in City Hall and at the LAPD Discovery office scanning stuff. There are thousands of pages of stuff here, some of it quite important. It will take a long time to go through it and write about the highlights, so I thought I’d put it up on the Archive in (very, very) raw form immediately. Here’s what we have today:
More emails from 2015 between Peter Zarcone and the HPOA — What happened is that the first time I made a request for this material, the LAPD IT department somehow missed a number of responsive documents. I could tell that they did because of automatically generated out-of-office responses that they did provide the first time around. However, the emails which had triggered those responses weren’t included, which was evident from the dates. They accepted this argument and reran the search. Consequently many but not all of these documents have already been published, but I have not yet had time to sort out the duplicates. As I said, I want to make the material available immediately.
Emails between Tara Devine and the LA City Clerk’s Office — Here are thousands of pages of emails between Tara Devine and various people in the LA City Clerk’s office. Some of these have been previously published but most of them have not. Interestingly, although most of the material is about the Venice Beach BID, there is also a bunch of stuff about the South Park II BID1 renewal, which Tara Devine was also the consultant for. I will be writing about much of this material, but here’s the raw stuff. Drop me a note if you spot anything that seems especially pressing.
Last week local hero and candidate for mayor Eric Preven along with the ACLU of Southern California won a major victory for CPRA rights in the California Supreme Court. This was well-covered by both the ACLU and the Los Angeles Times. The main point of this post is to make available some of the paperwork from the case, but here’s how the ACLU summarized the issues:
Today, the California Supreme Court affirmed the public’s right to access government billing records with private law firms, overturning a previous appeals court ruling in a California Public Records Act (CPRA) case brought against Los Angeles County.
L.A. County should now release the invoices for all closed cases, so that the public can learn how much taxpayer money is going to private lawyers to defend the county and its employees, including the many cases against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for brutality against inmates in the county jails.
In 2013, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California … and … Eric Preven … sued the county demanding that it and the Office of County Counsel release invoices detailing the amounts of money billed by private law firms in lawsuits filed against the sheriff’s department and its personnel. The lawsuit, ACLU/Preven v. Los Angeles County, came after county counsel denied several CPRA requests for the documents that list the amounts billed by private attorneys, which are paid by county taxpayers.In the opinion the court rejected the county’s argument that attorney-client privilege extends to government invoices with private legal counsel in closed cases, writing that “contents of an invoice are privileged only if they either communicate information for the purpose of consultation or risk exposing information.”
In September, local activist group Save Valley Village filed suit against the City of Los Angeles and the City Council alleging in their petition that
The Councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council operate according to an agreement, i.e. The Vote Trading Pact, not to Vote No on any Council Project in another council district and said agreement by its very terms requires reciprocality, also called mutuality, whereby the agreement not to Vote No by one Councilmember is given in exchange for the other Councilmember’s not to vote No on a Council Project in his/her council district.
Although I don’t really have time to cover land use issues here, sometimes they have an intersection, however tenuous, with public records activity. Also, since BIDs are universally in favor of all development, no matter how illegal or stupid it might be, and they talk about it incessantly at their meetings in between planning to deport homeless people to Manzanar or whatever, it seems useful to collect some material on these issues here. One such instance is the stupidly huge development at 8150 Sunset Blvd.,1 recently approved by the LA City Council over the objections of freaking everybody.
So an organization called Fix the City2 sued the City on Thursday3 over various aspects of the 8150 Sunset project.4 I’m going to collect the filings on this case, starting with the verified petition filed Thursday, and you can get them via the menu structure or also:
Last Thursday, September 8, a group called Save Valley Village filed a petition with the LA County Superior Court (hat tip to Scott Zwartz at Zwartz Talk for breaking the story) alleging that the members of the Los Angeles City Council are violating not only their oaths of office, but a State law, when they pay one another “deference” by never voting against anything that any of them propose within their districts.
The whole thing is worth reading and will be totally convincing to anyone who has ever watched our Council in action. The fact that there is some covert agreement among the Councilmembers is transparently clear. Here’s how SVV’s complaint describes it:
The Councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council operate according to an agreement, i.e. The Vote Trading Pact, not to Vote No on any Council Project in another council district and said agreement by its very terms requires reciprocality, also called mutuality, whereby the agreement not to Vote No by one Councilmember is given in exchange for the other Councilmember’s not to vote No on a Council Project in his/her council district. Some have described the Vote Trading Pact as an agreement to Vote Yes for all Council Projects, and it has been described as taking the format of, “If you scratch my back on my Council Projects, I will scratch your back on your Council Projects.” Others refer to the agreement as one of deferring or respecting the decision of the Councilmember in whose district the Council Project is located. All the phrases describe the same Vote Trading Pact.
Councilmember David Ryu has described the Vote Trading Pact as one of “respect” for other Councilmember’s Council Projects and in return he expects the same “respect” for his Council Projects.
“For someone to come in at the tail end and to disagree with my recommendation after meetings with the community on dozens of occasions and with other city departments and after I have involved stakeholders,” doesn’t make sense, he said. “I might make a decision…and my colleagues respect it. Even if they might disagree with my decision, they abide by it because they were not there during those community meetings.” Los Feliz Ledger September 1, 2016
Last month (on May 5) Judge James Chalfant, who’s presiding over the CPRA lawsuit filed by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition to address the LAPD’s utterly lawless noncompliance with the California Public Records Act, entered an order setting the hearing date to Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 1:30 p.m. This will be in Chalfant’s courtroom, which is Department 85 (room 834) in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse at 111 North Hill Street. I’m sorry for the late notice, but the LA County Superior Courts don’t offer an RSS feed or any other way to be notified of new filings.
Plaintiff Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and respondent City of Los Angeles agreed in a stipulation filed with LA County Superior Court on March 3, 2016, to continue the trial setting conference, originally scheduled for March 7, 2016, until April 7, 2016. The reasons given in the order (with attendant whereases) include:
WHEREAS, after filing of the complaint, the Respondent has produced two sets of responsive documents to Petitioners and continues to search for responsive documents;
WHEREAS, the parties are engaged in ongoing informal discussions about further production…
It’s my impression that if filing a suit encourages the respondent to cough up the goodies then they’re still on the hook for the court costs and attorney’s fees. So it’s fitting and proper that the City is producing documents and talking to the plaintiffs, but they would have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble but just following the law in the first place.
There’s a (relatively) new development in the Stop LAPD Spying v. City of L.A. Public Records Act case. Unfortunately the L.A. County Superior Court doesn’t seem to have an automated filing notification system like the Federal District Courts do, which is why I missed (until now) this interesting motion that the City of L.A. filed on January 12, 2016. It is a Motion for an Order Establishing Peremptory Challenge to Judicial Officer as well as a Declaration of Julie Raffish. Julie Raffish is the Deputy City Attorney that’s defending the case for L.A. In this declaration she claims that:
Joanne O’Donnell, the judge before whom the trial or hearing in this action is pending or to whom it has been assigned, is prejudiced against the Respondent [City of Los Angeles] or its attorney or the interest of the Respondent or its attorney, so that the declarant [Julie Raffish] believes that she cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before the judge.