Tag Archives: Skid Row Neighborhood Council

Skid Row Neighborhood Council Online Voting Contractor Everyone Counts Seems To Have Gone Out Of Business — Which Seems To Be Making It Impossible For The Formation Committee To Get Evidence For Their Ongoing Lawsuit Against The City Of Los Angeles — So Yesterday They Filed A Motion Asking The Judge To Compel The City To Produce — Or Else To Reject All Online Votes Because They Can’t Be Verified — Which Would Cause SRNC-FC To Win! — Perhaps A Long Shot — But An Audacious One

You may recall that in 2017 Skid Row held an election seeking to form a new neighborhood council as a subdivision of DLANC but Jose Huizar and a bunch of corrupt downtown zillionaires and business improvement districts conspired to illegally thwart their effort by allowing illegal online voting and illegal out-of-district polling locations. The whole mishegoss is the subject of an ongoing and monumental lawsuit.

The evil plan worked as intended with the subdivision proposal putatively defeated by a mere 60 votes out of more than 1,500 with the online voters markedly skewed against formation. Thus information about these online votes is essential evidence for the plaintiffs. The paper ballots ran 183 to 19 in favor of formation whereas the online ballots, at least according to the City of Los Angeles, ran 583 in favor and 807 against.

But Everyone Counts, the contractor hired by the City of Los Angeles to run the online part of the election, was recently bought by a company called Votem, which turned around and went out of business. And the City of Los Angeles has therefore been unable to track down the required evidence. This failure led the SRNC proponents to file an audacious motion with the court yesterday seeking to compel the City to hand over the evidence.

Or, if they remain unable to do so, to void the online ballots as a remedy for the fact that there’s no way for them to analyze the evidence and to compensate them for the fact that the City failed in its duty to preserve evidence. Of course, voiding these ballots would give the election to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council proponents. And of course, that would be a good thing, and in the interests of truth and justice.

To quote the SRNC-FC’s lawyer, Grant Beuchel, “Los Angeles is a pay to play city, and my clients do not have enough money to play.” The hearing for this motion is on the calendar in Department 86 on July 12, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Maybe we’ll see you there! And turn the page for transcribed selections.
Continue reading Skid Row Neighborhood Council Online Voting Contractor Everyone Counts Seems To Have Gone Out Of Business — Which Seems To Be Making It Impossible For The Formation Committee To Get Evidence For Their Ongoing Lawsuit Against The City Of Los Angeles — So Yesterday They Filed A Motion Asking The Judge To Compel The City To Produce — Or Else To Reject All Online Votes Because They Can’t Be Verified — Which Would Cause SRNC-FC To Win! — Perhaps A Long Shot — But An Audacious One

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Massive Record Release — Including Emails Between Skid Row LAPD, Deputy City Attorneys, Council Staffers, Property Owners — Shows Among Many Other Things Extensive City Collusion In Skid Row Anti-Homeless Landscaping Projects — Like Miguel Nelson’s North Sea Horror Show — Encampment Cleanups Scheduled To Suit Needs Of Property Owners — Photographs, Briefing Documents, Sanitation Cleanup Schedules — And So Much Else It’s Not Possible To List

I recently obtained part of a vast set of records from the LAPD, comprising emails between four officers and a long list of people involved with homeless issues on Skid Row as well as a wide variety of other materials which was attached to the emails. The officers are Marc Reina, Aloaf Walker, Robert Arcos, and Keith Bertonneau. Their correspondents are many, but in particular property owner Miguel Nelson, deputy city attorneys Kurt Knecht and Gita O’Neill, and LA Sanitation staffer Bladimir Campos.

This is an incredibly rich, incredibly complex set of material. The whole thing, or as much as I have so far as I am told there is more to come, is here on Archive.Org. There are many, many enlightening stories to be told from these sources, and I will be posting on some of them over the next few days.1 Also, I hope to publish a list of some of this stuff soon with brief descriptions. But I have extracted one important story for you this evening.

There’s been a lot in the news lately about anti-homeless planters in Venice of one sort or another, installed illegally and passively tolerated or even actively assisted by the City of Los Angeles. But the latest round of weaponized agriculture started last year in Skid Row with the so-called North Sea Project, which also involved giant heavy planters taking up the sidewalk to prevent people from sleeping there.

This North Sea installation was guided mostly by local property owner Miguel Nelson.2 According to KCRW Nelson obtained permits from the City for his hostile landscaping, unlike the copycats in Venice. The purpose of these planters, anti-homeless and pro-gentrification, was widely reported in the international press. Even the SRNC Formation Committee’s own General Jeff weighed in on the anti-human motivation behind these abominations.

But what I haven’t seen reported on anywhere is the astonishing level of City complicity in the installation of these Skid Row planters, which exceeds at least what we know about parallel issues in Venice.3 The evidence shows that the City of Los Angeles conspired with Miguel Nelson to coordinate the installation of sidewalk fencing on the east side of Towne Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets with an Operation Healthy Streets raid.

Bladimir Campos of LA Sanitation gave Nelson five days advance notice of the cleanup so that he would have time to schedule his fence crew to barricade off the public sidewalk to prevent encampments from returning before he had a chance to install the planters. Note that five days is even more notice than the people living in the encampment got! Further, on the day that the cleanup crew was working Campos instructed his subordinates to give Nelson real-time estimates of their arrival. There’s no reason to suspect that this level of cooperation wasn’t in play through the whole North Sea installation process.

This is in sharp contrast to the City’s refusal, which continues to this day, to give homeless rights advocates advance notice of cleanups so that they can be observed and recorded. Interestingly, the City is expressly forbidden by the California Public Records Act from releasing or refusing to release information based on the purpose it’s to be used for,4 and yet that is exactly what they’ve done in this case by releasing it to be used against homeless people but withholding it from those who would use it to defend their rights.

It’s also in sharp contrast to the City’s stated purpose for Operation Healthy Streets, which like most5 such tools placed in the hands of the City has been weaponized to serve the interests of property owners. The mission at one time seems to have been fairly humane. Nothing to do with clearing out encampments so that property owners can colonize the space with planters:

Operation Healthy Streets (OHS) was implemented in 2012 as a robust homeless community outreach program designed to provide adequate notice and identify high-risk people in need of services and assistance.

As always, turn the page for links to and transcriptions of the actual evidence.
Continue reading Massive Record Release — Including Emails Between Skid Row LAPD, Deputy City Attorneys, Council Staffers, Property Owners — Shows Among Many Other Things Extensive City Collusion In Skid Row Anti-Homeless Landscaping Projects — Like Miguel Nelson’s North Sea Horror Show — Encampment Cleanups Scheduled To Suit Needs Of Property Owners — Photographs, Briefing Documents, Sanitation Cleanup Schedules — And So Much Else It’s Not Possible To List

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Who Do We Speak To When We Speak Truth To Power?

Last week USC hosted a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was invited to speak, but his speech was repeatedly interrupted by protesters from LA CAN, from the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee, from NOlympics LA, and others.

This prompted an editorial from the L.A. Times entitled Shouting down Mayor Garcetti isn’t ‘speaking truth to power,’ the theme of which is well summarized by this excerpt:

But protesters can overplay their hands. These days, tolerance of other people’s views seems low, and there’s an unhealthy willingness to silence one’s opponents rather than engage them, debate them and out-argue them. That’s a shame.

Protesters who shout down a speaker — or shut down a public meeting — aren’t just expressing their own views; they’re making it impossible for others to share theirs.

It’s silly almost beyond comprehension to believe that Eric Garcetti can be silenced by protesters, that anyone interrupting him can make it impossible for him to share his views. Every word the man says is reported on extensively. His press releases are reprinted or recited verbatim by major news outlets. His press conferences are attended by reporters from all over the state, even the nation. A few people interrupting a speech isn’t making it impossible for Eric Garcetti to share his views.

And why in the world does the Times think there’s something wrong with protesters being unwilling to debate or out-argue Eric Garcetti? Do they really believe that if Eric Garcetti just hears the right argument he’ll stop allowing his LAPD thugs to kill young men for no good reason, stop sending them out to arrest homeless people and incinerate their belongings, that he’ll stop accepting campaign money from real estate developers in exchange for enabling them to destroy neighborhoods and cause more homelessness, that he’ll suddenly see the light and stop being evil?

It’s not going to happen like that. He’s heard the arguments already. If he hasn’t seen the damage he’s doing, the pain he’s causing, the killings he enables, all for the sake of his campaign coffers and his career, it’s because he doesn’t want to see. He knows his constituency and he’s giving them exactly what they want from him. No reasoned analysis is going to change that. These kind of repeated demands for civil discourse in the face of racist police murders, genocidal policies on homelessness, gentrification by force of arms, are incredibly disingenuous.

And strangely, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the LA Times that the protesters already know they’re not going to change Eric Garcetti’s mind about anything. These protesters are accomplished, able, serious people, the value of whose contributions to civil society in Los Angeles is incomparable. None of them have done what they’ve been able to do by wasting their time trying to debate LA politicians into being nice. What, the LA Times pointedly did not even consider, might such protests actually accomplish?
Continue reading Who Do We Speak To When We Speak Truth To Power?

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Kicking Off Our New Brown Act Enforcement Project With A Demand Letter To The Byzantine Latino Quarter BID Insisting That Their Advisory Board Of Directors Stop Discussing Public Business In Secret Via Email — With A Writ Petition To Follow If They Won’t Unconditionally Commit To Following The Damn Law In The Future

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that one of our constant themes has been the exposure of an unrelenting series of violations of the Brown Act by the various BIDs of Los Angeles. I started the blog in October 2014 and that very month caught the Sunset Vine BID and its dear leader, Ms. Kerry Morrison, requiring IDs in order to attend meetings, which is a violation of §54953.3.

Since then it’s just been one damn thing after another, what with the South Park BIDdies refusing to share documents considered by their board at a meeting, or requiring meeting attendees to sign in, or their teleconferencing fiasco, or the Venice Beach BID’s deficient agenda descriptions, or the Central City East Association‘s discussing and voting on matters that were not agendized, or the East Hollywood BID‘s teleconferencing violations, and those aren’t even the worst of the bunch.

One of the most important prohibitions imposed by the Brown Act is found at §54952.2(b), which states that “[a] majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”

In the past we have seen shameless, egregious violations of this section, e.g. the Pacific Palisades BID in 2016, or also by the Central City East Association as part of their relentlessly immoral, illegal campaign against the formation of a Skid Row Neighborhood Council, and by the Los Feliz Village BID, whose violation of §54952.2(b) was bad enough that it actually earned them a written rebuke from the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

That last outcome has been an anomaly, though. Despite my having filed multiple reports against BIDs for serious violations of the Brown Act, the District Attorney has, to date, ignored all of them but the Los Feliz one.1 But the legislature, oh wise and omniscient!, has determined that Brown Act enforcement is too important to be left only up to the whims of County District Attorneys. They’ve also allowed for private citizens to enforce the law as well!

So this time, when I discovered dispositive evidence that the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID had violated §54952.2(b) of the Brown Act on at least two occasions earlier this year by discussing BID business in private via email I decided that I would take matters into my own hands rather than relying on the County DA to handle the violation. And the violations are really extreme and also somewhat lurid. One involves BID board member and Greek Orthodox priest Father John Bakas arguing against homeless shelters on the grounds that homeless people are dangerous and incorrigible, e.g.

Of course, it took some time and effort to study the law, get professional advice, and generally prepare an infrastructure for the private prosecution of such violations. Now that it’s all set up, it’s not just good for this one violation, but will work for all future violations that come to my attention. Thus it is with a great deal of pride that I announce an ongoing project to force the BIDs of Los Angeles to stop violating the Brown Act by prosecuting them myself if necessary! Turn the page for the legal theories involved and the specific details of the BLQBID’s violations!
Continue reading Kicking Off Our New Brown Act Enforcement Project With A Demand Letter To The Byzantine Latino Quarter BID Insisting That Their Advisory Board Of Directors Stop Discussing Public Business In Secret Via Email — With A Writ Petition To Follow If They Won’t Unconditionally Commit To Following The Damn Law In The Future

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Chinatown Business Improvement District Sued To Enforce Compliance With California Public Records Act — The Brick-By-Brick Dismantling Of Pyschopathic Rageball George Yu’s Backwater Cult-Like Totalitarian Empire Has Begun!

On Friday a petition was filed in LA County Superior Court against George Yu’s corrupt little empire, the Chinatown Business Improvement District. You’ll recall George Yu, of course,as the caudillo of Chinatown, the man who screams at people for legally filming his meetings without approval, the man who had me ejected from his glorified strip mall for daring to defy his unlawful orders, the man who smugly admits to serious legal violations on camera because history has taught him that there will be no consequences.

Well, it turns out that he’s also the man who thinks that he can ignore people’s requests for public records for more than a year without even answering. We’re hoping this petition, which is a little different from most of the ones I report on here in that Katherine McNenny and I filed it jointly, will teach him the error of his ways, at least with respect to the CPRA.

The whole thing started in May 2017 when, after it became clear that George Yu had played a central role in the Downtown BIDs’ underhanded conspiracy to torpedo the Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision effort, Katherine McNenny requested a bunch of records on this topic from the Chinatown BID.1 He did not even respond, and has not responded yet, which is a clear violation of the law.2

Independently of Katherine McNenny’s requests but for the same purpose, in March 2018 I sent George Yu three requests also, slightly broader than hers but still focused on the SRNC formation effort and George Yu’s role in sinking it. He also ignored these requests. To date he has not even made the initial response required by §6253(c). For reasons I will never understand George Yu3 thinks its better to break the law repeatedly and then pay potentially tens of thousands of dollars as a consequence than to just comply in the first damn place.

And that’s what’s going on with the Chinatown BID. Turn the page for some transcribed excerpts!
Continue reading Chinatown Business Improvement District Sued To Enforce Compliance With California Public Records Act — The Brick-By-Brick Dismantling Of Pyschopathic Rageball George Yu’s Backwater Cult-Like Totalitarian Empire Has Begun!

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Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee Files Blistering Petition In Superior Court — Asks Court To “Reestablish The Rule Of Law” — And Require The City Of Los Angeles To Award Skid Row “its well-deserved Neighborhood Council”

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

I haven’t reported on it before, but maybe you’re aware nevertheless that the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee along with founding members General Jeff and Katherine McNenny are suing the City of Los Angeles over their egregious, illegal, and immoral vote suppression and other horrors during the subdivision election last year.

And just yesterday they filed a second amended petition, which lays out the evil shenanigans committed by the City of Los Angeles in collusion with Estela Lopez, Rena Leddy, and other Downtown zillionaires and zillionaire lackeys, This is a blistering and righteous piece of legal writing. I highly recommend that you read all of it, although here are the main issues, and as always there are transcribed selections after the break.

◈ The City prohibited homeless voters from voting online or at any of the twelve pop-up polls, which seriously advantaged the anti-subdivision side.

◈ The City’s voter registration requirements disenfranchised the largely black homeless population of Skid Row, which violates the Voting Rights Act.

◈ The City’s last minute implementation of online voting and secret alterations of pop-up poll timing unfairly advantaged the anti-subdivision side.

◈ Online voting violated California Elections Code §19205, which states unambiguously that “No part of [a] voting system shall be connected to the Internet at any time.”

◈ DONE’s pop-up polls violated §22.820 of the Los Angeles Administrative Code, which requires that neighborhood council subdivision elections be held solely within the proposed boundaries.

And the main thing they’re asking the judge to do to remedy these and the other violations is to discount online votes and votes submitted at pop-up polls and award the SRNC formation committee their neighborhood council. There is much, much more, all of it, as I said, worth your time to read and understand. Turn the page for transcribed selections from the petition.
Continue reading Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee Files Blistering Petition In Superior Court — Asks Court To “Reestablish The Rule Of Law” — And Require The City Of Los Angeles To Award Skid Row “its well-deserved Neighborhood Council”

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How Andrew Thomas, The Icky-Sticky-Ooky-Pooky Exec-Direc Of The Westwood Village BID, Conspired With Michael Skiles To Hold The North Westwood NC Subdivision Election On A Weekday — And How The City Clerk Ruled Out Multiple Election Days Due To Security Concerns — Which The City Government Probably Gleefully Intended For The Skid Row Subdivision Election

You may recall that I recently received a moderately sized set of public records from the Westwood Village BID, some of which I wrote about the other day. You can look at the whole collection here on Archive.Org,1 and one of these is the text for today’s sermon, a conversation amongst Michael Skiles, Grayce Liu of the Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment, and Lisa Chapman, president of the Westwood Neighborhood Council.

There’s a transcription and more commentary after the break, of course, but here’s a brief summary of what went on. Lisa Chapman wrote to Grayce Liu telling her that she heard Michael Skiles say that Westwood Forward did not choose the date of the election, which was not on a weekend as NC elections usually are. Grayce Liu wrote back in her inimitably condescending manner saying some nonsense that sane people can barely credit.

Michael Skiles wrote to Grayce Liu thanking her in his inimitably sycophantic manner and explaining that weekday elections were agreed on by him and Andrew Freaking Thomas, who sane people want to know why is this guy involved at all? What, we all want to know, do BIDs have to do with making detailed decisions like this about NC matters?

Then, the absolute kicker, Grayce Liu wrote back to Michael Skiles stating that the City Clerk forbade subdivision elections to be spread out over multiple days “because of voter security issues.” Of course, this is horrific and shocking given that for the Skid Row NC subdivision election Grayce Liu herself allowed putative pop-up polls to take place on multiple days in multiple locations including restricted access buildings emphatically NOT open to the public. And now no one at the City can actually audit the votes cast in that election, which suggests strongly that there were very serious, as yet undiscovered, “voter security issues,” which no one at the City cares about.

But of course, “voter security issues” are going to be cosmically important in elections like this Westwood one, where zillionaires and their financial interests fall on both sides of the question. In a case like Westwood, because zillionares disagree, every vote truly does count, so the most secure practices must be followed by the City, and the City recognizes this. In a case like Skid Row, where the zillionaires were unified on one side, voter security would have just gotten in the way of stealing the election. Anyway, read on for the details.
Continue reading How Andrew Thomas, The Icky-Sticky-Ooky-Pooky Exec-Direc Of The Westwood Village BID, Conspired With Michael Skiles To Hold The North Westwood NC Subdivision Election On A Weekday — And How The City Clerk Ruled Out Multiple Election Days Due To Security Concerns — Which The City Government Probably Gleefully Intended For The Skid Row Subdivision Election

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Little Tokyo BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With California Public Records Act — And To Put An End To Their “secrecy, obstruction, and lawlessness”

This time not by me but by the intrepid Katherine McNenny. It’s the same old story, though. As you may remember, the Little Tokyo BID was chin-deep in the anti-SRNC conspiracy coordinated by the Voodoo queen of Skid Row herself, Ms. Estela Lopez. Thus it was natural for Katherine McNenny, one of the SRNC proponents, to try to discover more about the BID’s role using the California Public Records Act.

Ellen Endo, BID president and chief apologist, wasn’t having it, though. It took her almost a year to even respond, and even then she didn’t respond appropriately.1 Even worse than not responding, at no time did she produce any records. She still hasn’t. As we’ve all come to learn, most tragically, our esteemed legislature has left citizens in this position with no recourse but to file a petition in Superior Court, and that’s just what Katherine McNenny did!

Here’s a link to the petition itself, which is well worth reading for many reasons, not least of which is its stirring defense of the very weighty public interest in seeing fair play in the SRNC election process. Selections of this latest triumph by the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros are transcribed after the break, and you might keep an eye on this page on Archive.Org for future developments. If you don’t have time for all that deep dive jive, though, just read this one stunning paragraph:

In denying access to the requested records, the BID has obscured its role in a matter of public significance. The residents of Skid Row labored and organized to create a local governing body for the purpose of better coordinating with City government to meet the needs of some of Los Angeles’ most imperiled and dispossessed residents. The formation of the SRNC was opposed by United DTLA, a secretive organization employing a prominent-and no doubt expensive-lobbyist, which apparently enjoyed funding and in-kind support by Respondent and other Business Improvement Districts. Petitioner, after obtaining glimpses of Respondent’s involvement, lawfully requested records which, if disclosed, will throw into the full light of day the nature and scope of Respondent’s efforts to defeat Skid Row residents’ hopes for a neighborhood council of their own. When faced with this exposure, Respondent refused access and opted instead for secrecy, obstruction, and lawlessness. Respondent neglected every obligation imposed by the CPRA and refused to provide even a single record, in clear violation of the law.

Continue reading Little Tokyo BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With California Public Records Act — And To Put An End To Their “secrecy, obstruction, and lawlessness”

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On April 3, 2017, Batty Little Fusspot Blair Besten Tried To Use Her Business Card As ID To Register To Vote Online Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council — When This Was Unsurprisingly Rejected By DONE Patti Berman And Bob Newman Pleaded For An Exception — And Grayce Liu Granted One In The Form Of Extra Time To Upload Acceptable Documents — Which She Did With 16 Minutes To Spare — Were Pro Skid Row Voters Given The Same Opportunity?

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

Here’s the whole story in a nutshell, taken from this fabulous little gem of an email exchange (of course there’s a transcription after the break!) On April 3, 2017 Blair Besten, batty little fusspot director of the Historic Core Business Improvement District, third weirdest of the minor Downtown BIDs, tried to register online to vote against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council in solidarity with her fellow zillionaires and their minions. As I’m sure you’re aware, registering to vote online at that time required one to upload a photo of an ID. Blair Besten uploaded a picture of her business card instead.

Not acceptable, said the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment! So then DLANC president-for-life Patti Berman1 and weirdo-about-town, male-for-rent, and some kinda damn social worker Bob Freaking Newman2 emailed everybody saying please guys! Let Blair Besten register please!! And not only that, but Patti Berman used her dlanc.com email address during the conversation even though DLANC was required by City law to be neutral. Helping Blair Besten register is not neutral.

And then Grayce Liu, the famous führerin of DONE, said OK! Even though people who think their business card counts as ID usually have to show up in person to vote we will make an exception for Blair Besten! If she uploads her real ID in the next 51 minutes we will allow her to vote online!! And she did!! So she got to vote!! Mission accomplished and those are some helpful-ass City Officials, amirite?!
Continue reading On April 3, 2017, Batty Little Fusspot Blair Besten Tried To Use Her Business Card As ID To Register To Vote Online Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council — When This Was Unsurprisingly Rejected By DONE Patti Berman And Bob Newman Pleaded For An Exception — And Grayce Liu Granted One In The Form Of Extra Time To Upload Acceptable Documents — Which She Did With 16 Minutes To Spare — Were Pro Skid Row Voters Given The Same Opportunity?

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Zillionaires Against Humanity At The Los Angeles Poverty Department Opening On Friday, March 9, At 6 p.m. — Exhibit Of Cartoons From This Blog, The Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s Timeline Of Events, And Video By Linus Shentu

Opening on Friday, March 9 at 6 p.m. at the Los Angeles Poverty Department‘s Skid Row History Museum & Archive see an exhibit of cartoons from this blog, a timeline and documents by General Jeff from the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee, and videos by Linus Shentu. The exhibit will run through June 30. Here is the press release, and turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading Zillionaires Against Humanity At The Los Angeles Poverty Department Opening On Friday, March 9, At 6 p.m. — Exhibit Of Cartoons From This Blog, The Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s Timeline Of Events, And Video By Linus Shentu

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