Tag Archives: Shayla Myers

A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

Don’t know if you’re aware, but in September 2018 the California Court of Appeal held that local agencies could charge CPRA requesters for staff time for redacting electronic records. In particular, the City of Hayward charged the National Lawyers Guild more than $3,000 to redact some parts of bodycam videos. It’s well-established for paper records that agencies must allow inspection at no cost and if copies are requested, can charge only the direct cost of copying.

The Court of Appeals based its opinion on the CPRA’s much-abused §6253.9(b)(2) which states that an agency can charge a requester for the bare privilege of inspecting a record under a small set of very specific circumstances:

… the requester shall bear the cost of producing a copy of the record, including the cost to construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy of the record when … [t]he request would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record.

The court’s reasoning was that redaction of a video constitutes extraction required to produce the record. Sane people can see, however, that the video already exists. Nothing is required to produce it. This section is talking about e.g. running queries against databases, where the requester only wants certain information and the results of the query constitute a new record that “would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce.”

And as you can imagine, after this opinion was published, obstructionist anti-CPRA lawyers all over the state started drooling on their pillows in glee. For instance, Carol Humiston, the soon-to-be-disbarred Rasputinian ear-whisperer to transparency-averse business improvement districts all over Los Angeles, advised her clients on the basis of this decision to assert that if I wanted to see any more of their damn emails I would have to pay for them to buy Adobe Pro so that they could redact them.

She backed off on this outlandish claim after I pointed out repeatedly that emails weren’t found in the wild as PDFs so that there was no case to be made for purchasing an expensive PDF editor to do a job that the built-in text editors that come with every computer operating system could do better. However, the LAPD also glommed onto this case, and the City Attorney’s office began theorizing madly, and now if you submit a request to LAPD for emails through NextRequest you’re met with an aggressive notice warning you that you’re going to pay and pay and pay unless you withdraw your request right now, and the notice explicitly cites the case.

So yeah, this opinion sucks and sucks big time, and it doesn’t just suck in theory, it’s actively sucking in practice even now as I write these very words. But at least it was appealed to the California Supreme Court. And at least the Supreme Court agreed to hear it. And papers have been filed, but it turns out to be really hard to get pleadings out of the Supreme Court.

But recently I was lucky enough to obtain a couple of interesting items. Here’s an amicus letter from a coalition of public interest law firms and activist organizations explaining the harm that the decision is doing. And here’s the opening brief, which explains in well-reasoned and exceedinly convincing terms why the Court should reverse this extraordinarily bad appellate decision. Both are fabulously worth reading, and there’s a transcription of the amicus letter after the break.
Continue reading A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

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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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City Of Los Angeles Poised To Pay Half A Million Dollars To The Legal Aid Foundation Of Los Angeles To Settle Los Angeles Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association

As I reported last week, the City Council was scheduled today to go into closed session to consider a settlement of the monumental lawsuit brought by Los Angeles Catholic Worker and the LA Community Action Network against the Central City East Association and the City.

Well, today they met and approved a motion which authorizes the City Attorney to pay $495,000 out of the City’s Police Liability Fund to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles as part of the settlement. Given the extensive behavioral restrictions on BID security and ongoing oversight by the court agreed to by the CCEA in its settlement, it seems likely that the money will turn out to be only part of the City’s settlement deal. The details of the rest will surely be hitting PACER soon enough, and you’ll read about them here first!

This is a huge win for LAFLA and its brave and talented attorneys: Fernando Gaytan, Shayla Myers, Paul Hoffman, and Catherine Sweetser. Cheers all round! And, although Carol Sobel didn’t work on this particular case, the outcome continues to confirm Mike Bonin’s prescient 2016 remark that if the City didn’t clean up its act with respect to the property of homeless people, “We may as well open up the keys to reserve funds to Carol Sobel”

Turn the page for a full transcription of the motion if you’re interested.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Poised To Pay Half A Million Dollars To The Legal Aid Foundation Of Los Angeles To Settle Los Angeles Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association

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The Venice Beach BID Hearing Is Scheduled For November 8, 2016 At 10 A.M. And Here Is Some Anti-BID Material That’s Being Circulated

anti_venice_beach_bid_flyer_screenshotIf you’ve been following the story of the Venice Beach BID at all you will know that the first hearing that the City held on this matter was shown to be invalid via some sharp lawyering by superhero public interest attorney Shayla Myers and that subsequently the City had to call a complete do-over of the process. Well, the time for the do-over hearing is rapidly approaching. It will be held at City Hall on Tuesday, November 8, at 10 a.m. If you can fit it in I hope you can show up and voice your opposition.

And your opposition is being heard by the City. For instance, City Clerk Holly Wolcott was recently quoted in the Argonaut to the effect that

… the drama surrounding the Venice Beach BID is unprecedented. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve never seen the level of turnout we had for the BID nor had a BID ordinance repealed for these reasons,” she said.

Whether or not we’re ultimately successful in preventing this BID1 is less important than to show the City that they can no longer expect that their BID-building shenanigans will unfold unopposed in the quiet of their formerly smoke-filled back rooms. It’s important to show them that what Wolcott thinks is an anomaly may well be the new normal.

Finally, as they have been doing all along, the fine folks at Venice Community Housing are leaders in the anti-BID movement, and they’ve produced and/or distributed some useful information, to which you can find links after the break.
Continue reading The Venice Beach BID Hearing Is Scheduled For November 8, 2016 At 10 A.M. And Here Is Some Anti-BID Material That’s Being Circulated

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Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
After a chaotic hearing on the Venice Beach BID in August,1 after Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles powerhouse attorney Shayla Myers pointed out that the process was legally flawed, and after City Attorney Mike Feuer accepted her argument and told the City Council that they’d better have a do-over, after all that, the rehearing on the abhorrent BID was scheduled to be approved considered in Council on November 8, 2016. This, of course, is also the day that Americans will be deciding the future of the world, which takes up a lot of time. Venice being Venice, there has been a lot of speculation about whether Bonin did this on purpose to make it difficult for detractors to testify. Venice also being Venice, there has been an organized effort to get Bonin to postpone the hearing.

Such protests usually fall on what seem like deaf ears, but in this case, an email that I obtained last night from the City Clerk’s office proves that, in September 2016, Mike Bonin was considering moving the hearing from the disputed date of November 8 to the presumably more acceptable dates of November 29 and 30. Read on for details.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

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Why Is Getting A Mailing List For The Property Owners In The Venice Beach BID Out Of The City So Absolutely Maddeningly Impossible? We Do, However, Now Have A List Of Property Owners Without Contact Information A Fraud Perpetrated On The Public By The City Clerk

Somehow this is all Holly Wolcott's fault.
Somehow this is all Holly Wolcott’s fault.

The list itself is here. The story of the list follows.

Edited to add: The list that Miranda Paster sent me isn’t even the list I asked for, as discussed in the story below. It’s an edited version of the publicly available ballot tabulation sheet. It is unbelievable that these people are so unwilling to release what are obviously public records and that their unwillingness is so clearly in the service of their political agenda. On the other hand, the fact that they so vigorously defend their secrecy makes it seem even more likely that they’re concealing serious and exploitable weaknesses.

Three weeks ago I wrote about how neither the City Clerk nor CD11 was willing to hand over a list of the property owners in the proposed Venice Beach BID with contract information. CD11 told me to ask the Clerk and the Clerk told me to ask Tara Devine and Tara Devine ignored me (and continues to ignore me). The Clerk’s rationale was that they didn’t have anything to do with mailing out the petitions, so that the Public Records Act didn’t apply to the mailing list.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the act, you may not be aware that (at section 6252(e)) public records are defined fairly expansively to be any “writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency.” So I made the argument to the Clerk’s office that since they were orchestrating the process, the mailing list was being used by them even if they didn’t own it or retain it themselves. No dice on that, though.

So imagine my pleasure and surprise to discover on August 14 that, upon perusing Government Code section 53753 for the zillionth time (this is the same law used to such marvelous effect ten days later by the incomparable Shayla Myers of LAFLA to derail the whole BID process) that the freaking City Clerk’s office is required to notice the property owners by mail:
Continue reading Why Is Getting A Mailing List For The Property Owners In The Venice Beach BID Out Of The City So Absolutely Maddeningly Impossible? We Do, However, Now Have A List Of Property Owners Without Contact Information A Fraud Perpetrated On The Public By The City Clerk

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LAFLA Questions Legality of Venice Beach BID Approval Process in Letter to Mike Feuer, Holly Wolcott. Ballot Tabulation Published By City, Demonstrating Anti-Democratic Nature of BID Process. CD11 and Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Play Favorites With Information Access

LEGAL-AID-FOUNDATION-OF-LOS-ANGELES1Today two interesting items hit the Venice Beach BID Council File. First there is a letter from LAFLA Attorney Shayla Myers demonstrating that the City did not follow the strictly mandated procedure for hearings prior to establishing an assessment district. The issue is that Council President Herb Wesson cut off public comment without allowing everyone present to be heard. This is completely acceptable under the Brown Act, which regulates general public meetings in California. In the cases covered by that law, agencies can put reasonable limits on public comment. However, the hearings that must be held before BIDs can be established are described in the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, which at section 36623 requires that the “notice and protest and hearing procedure shall comply with Section 53753 of the Government Code.” This section requires…well, I’m going to let Myers explain:
Continue reading LAFLA Questions Legality of Venice Beach BID Approval Process in Letter to Mike Feuer, Holly Wolcott. Ballot Tabulation Published By City, Demonstrating Anti-Democratic Nature of BID Process. CD11 and Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Play Favorites With Information Access

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City of Los Angeles asks Judge Otero to Clarify Last Month’s Preliminary Injunction Against Full Enforcement of LAMC 56.11

California-central(See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post).

Recall that last month Judge Otero issued a preliminary injunction forbidding the City of Los Angeles from confiscating the property of homeless people in and/or around Skid Row without following required due process. Today the City filed a motion asking Otero to clarify what he meant. They also filed a proposed order for the Judge’s signature which, I imagine, is mostly of value here as it shows what the City wishes the injunction means.

Additionally the city filed a map of Skid Row, a copy of LAMC 56.11, and a declaration of Scott Marcus, the assistant chief of the Civil Litigation Branch of the City Attorney’s office. Marcus’s main point seems to be that he met with Carol Sobel for four hours in the company of Magistrate Judge Carla Woerhle and they couldn’t come to a common understanding about what the order meant.
Continue reading City of Los Angeles asks Judge Otero to Clarify Last Month’s Preliminary Injunction Against Full Enforcement of LAMC 56.11

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Updated Exhibit F Filed Tonight in LACW/LACAN v. City of LA, CCEA Lawsuit, Includes Detailed List of Weird Lacunae in City’s Discovery Production

California-centralThis is just a very quick note to memorialize tonight’s filing by the plaintiffs in the Los Angeles Catholic Worker and Los Angeles Community Action Network’s suit against the City of Los Angeles and the Central City East Association. Last Wednesday the plaintiffs filed a massive set of declarations and other stuff about ongoing problems with the City’s discovery production in preparation for tomorrow’s hearing (at 10 a.m.) on the plaintiffs’ application to have the City held in contempt. First there is a notice of errata stating that they left part of one exhibit out of the Declaration of Shayla Myers in support of the application for contempt, and then, more interesting, the corrected Exhibit F. Some details after the break.
Continue reading Updated Exhibit F Filed Tonight in LACW/LACAN v. City of LA, CCEA Lawsuit, Includes Detailed List of Weird Lacunae in City’s Discovery Production

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