Tag Archives: Skid Row

MK.Org Exclusive! — On June 7, 2019 Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis Wrote To The City Of Los Angeles Telling Them To Clean Up Their Damn Act With Respect To Illegal Dumping Of Trash And Sanitation Around Homeless Encampments — This Was Duly Reported In The Los Angeles Times On June 8 — But They Did Not Publish The Letter Itself — Because “The County Declined To Release” It — We, However, Have Obtained A Copy! — And It Is Available To You Right Here! — Dear Readers! — For Download!

No one reading this blog needs a recap of the City’s persistent homelessness crisis or the pain, suffering, torment, and disease caused by the City government’s inaction and worse, although this LA Times editorial lays out the basic facts well. And on June 7, 2019, as reported by the Times on June 8, the County of Los Angeles public health officer Muntu Davis wrote a scathing letter to the City memorializing a June 5 meeting about illegal trash dumping in Skid Row, homelessness, associated health dangers, and the City’s utter failure in dealing with these matters.

For as-yet-unknown reasons, the Times did not obtain a copy of the letter itself, offering nothing more by way of explanation than the laconic statement that “[t]he county’s Department of Public Health declined to release the letter”. Well, this aggression will not stand, man, so I asked the County to cough up this essential piece of our City’s history and, yesterday, surprisingly quickly, they actually did! You can get your own copy of the letter here, and there’s a transcription below. They also sent an unasked-for but nevertheless welcome letter from Davis to the City about typhus outbreaks, sent in March 2019, and you can get a copy of that one here.

The June 7 letter is an essential document. Davis essentially lambastes the City for their failure to provide basic tools of sanitation — toilets, sinks, showers, trash receptacles — to people living on the street. He also notes the City’s failure to deal with illegal trash dumping and also notes that encampments are often very wrongly blamed for this severe problem, a fact that I have never seen any evidence that anyone from the City understands.

I don’t know what if any role this letter played in the City’s very recent conversion to many of the essential principles espoused by the heroic Services Not Sweeps Coalition. I suspect that that’s been longer in coming and that relentless and unanswerable pressure from activists is more responsible, although I don’t know. The letter, anyway, certainly didn’t hurt. It’s well worth the time it will take you to read it.
Continue reading MK.Org Exclusive! — On June 7, 2019 Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis Wrote To The City Of Los Angeles Telling Them To Clean Up Their Damn Act With Respect To Illegal Dumping Of Trash And Sanitation Around Homeless Encampments — This Was Duly Reported In The Los Angeles Times On June 8 — But They Did Not Publish The Letter Itself — Because “The County Declined To Release” It — We, However, Have Obtained A Copy! — And It Is Available To You Right Here! — Dear Readers! — For Download!

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“They’re Saying It’s A Constitutional Right To Have Stuff” — More Performative Insanity From Batty Little Fusspot Blair Besten — The Finest Legal Mind Of Her Generation — As She Explains The Mitchell Injunction To You — From The Point Of View Of A Whiny Entitled Privileged Stupid Person — A Constituency That Doesn’t Get Nearly Enough Attention In Los Angeles — That’s Sarcasm — They’re In Charge Of The Damn Asylum — And Listen To Her Run Her Poormouth About How Her Putatively Underfunded BID Makes Do With Low Budgets By Being More Efficient Than The Fashion District — Which Spends Proportionately Half Of What Besten Spends On Administration — Lie Or Incompetence? — The Perennial Besten Question

It’s been a long while since we here at the blog have heard from Blair Besten, the half-pint Norma Desmond of the Historic Core.1 Well, it’s because, like with El Duckworth, she is so convinced that she is above the law that I haven’t gotten any substantial records out of her infernal BID in ever so long, and without records I will not, I can not, mock.

And of course, as you know, I’m in the process of suing her and her damnable BID to enforce compliance with the Public Records Act. And she’s going to lose, because losing is what she does best. So at some point the records will be rolling in again and the full-time mockery will resume. Until then, though, well, I have always relied on the kindness of strangers, and they are strangely kind to me.

In particular, just recently, unsolicited, was handed to me2 an audio track of an unscheduled appearance made by Ms. Besten at some bullshit meeting conducted at some bullshit Downtown residential bullshit location, having something to do with some bullshit or other. So I made it into a video3 and you can listen here on YouTube and here on Archive.Org, where you can also download it more easily. And of course there’s also a complete transcription after the break!

And best of all, this unexpected bit of Besteniana means that it’s gonna be like the good old days around here what with all the mere mockery unloosed upon the world! Gonna mock around the clock tonight! Turn the page, I’m gonna lay it on you in increments, but before then let’s just spoil the ending and take a look at the single most incomprehensibly lobotomized proclamation proclaimed by Ms. Blair Besten in a long unbroken chain of incomprehensibly lobotomized proclamity!

What, you may ask, does Ms. Blair Besten think that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit Mitchell v. Los Angeles are so freaking wrong about? Why “they’re saying that it’s a constitutional right to have stuff in Skid Row.” If you stop and think about it, Ms. Besten, that’s kind of like, almost, what the Fourteenth Amendment to the constitution is saying with all that jive about “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

See the part about property? That’s what grownups call “stuff.” And I don’t see anything about it not being true in Skid Row. In fact, all kinds of people have “stuff” in Skid Row. Like e.g. all those property owners in the Downtown Industrial District BID. Gonna tell them they can’t have stuff there?

And the amendment goes on to say that states may not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” They seem to have left out the not in Skid Row bit there too. So on Blair Besten’s testimony it’s hard to see why she’s so upset at the prospect of the City settling Mitchell. But she is very upset. Can see how it might get confusing to folks like Besten. And listen, lest you think I’m being pointlessly mean to Blair Besten, please keep in mind that this is not just some kook spouting her theories to the waves on Venice Beach.

She is the head of a major Downtown Business Improvement District, hand-picked by Jose Huizar over the objections of its board of directors to administer its outrageously high $2.2 million budget. She is widely considered by City officials to be some kind of expert on homelessness, to the point where they appointed her to the damn HHH citizens’ oversight committee over the objections of a lot of sane and accomplished people. She’s not just a kook, although she is a kook. She’s a dangerous kook with a lot of power. So yeah, I’m being mean to Blair Besten, but not pointlessly mean. Anyway, read on, friends!
Continue reading “They’re Saying It’s A Constitutional Right To Have Stuff” — More Performative Insanity From Batty Little Fusspot Blair Besten — The Finest Legal Mind Of Her Generation — As She Explains The Mitchell Injunction To You — From The Point Of View Of A Whiny Entitled Privileged Stupid Person — A Constituency That Doesn’t Get Nearly Enough Attention In Los Angeles — That’s Sarcasm — They’re In Charge Of The Damn Asylum — And Listen To Her Run Her Poormouth About How Her Putatively Underfunded BID Makes Do With Low Budgets By Being More Efficient Than The Fashion District — Which Spends Proportionately Half Of What Besten Spends On Administration — Lie Or Incompetence? — The Perennial Besten Question

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Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

A couple days ago, based on a huge release of emails, I wrote about collusion between the LAPD, LA Sanitation, and property owner Miguel Nelson, which facilitated his installation of the hostile anti-homeless landscaping project known as “North Sea” in Skid Row. It’s axiomatic, of course, that something as controversial and on such a broad scale could never ever in a million years be approved in Los Angeles without the support of the Councilmember in whose district the project situates,in this case that is José Huizar, disgraced CD14 repster.

And yet it seems that no evidence has yet been adduced to support this notion, at least not until now! But it turns out that as part of its investigation into Nelson’s anti-homeless planters, KCRW got copies of all the permits from the City, which I uploaded to Archive.Org for the sake of stable access, and you can get a copy right here. It’s a huge file, more than 400 pages, and as part of the permitting process for such projects it’s required to obtain letters of support from various City departments, among them the Council Office.

So right in there, among the proofs of insurance and detailed diagrams and so on, is an email from erstwhile Huizar staffer Ari Simon to Bureau of Engineering staff supporting the project:

On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 2:29 PM, Ari Simon <ari.simon@lacity.org> wrote:

Hi Shay,

Wanted to let you know that at this time, Council District 14 is in support of moving forward with an application for R-permits to do beautification work around the area of 4th / Towne as requested by Miguel Nelson.

As the project moves forward, we ask that BOE adhere to the requests made by BSS, asking that a full plan of what exactly will be planted where is included, that any areas of planting are contained by concrete, and that plans comply with BOE’s determination of a clear and generally straight path of pedestrian travel.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Warmly,

Ari

Continue reading Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

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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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Why Is The RAND Corporation Paying Off People In Skid Row To Discuss Public Safety? — The Same RAND Corporation Whose Pro-BID Study Is So Influential That It Is Cited In The Actual Property And Business Improvement District Act — The Same RAND Corporation That’s Funded By The Department Of Homeland Security — The Same RAND Corporation That Justified Carpet Bombing And Torture In The Vietnam War For Robert McNamara — The Same RAND Corporation That Paid “Megadeath Intellectual” Herman Kahn And His Ilk To Theorize About Winnable Nuclear War

The flyer you’re looking at was posted around Downtown Los Angeles recently, seeking participants in discussion groups about “neighborhood safety,” to be paid $25 for 90 minutes of their time. As you can see at the bottom, the moving force behind this was the RAND corporation, a Santa Monica based think tank that has been providing theory-driven rationalizations for all manner of murderous government policies since 1948.

Now, I don’t know what kind of information RAND is looking for here or what they’re planning to use it for, although the multiple layers of deception embedded in the poster itself1 make it hard to believe that they’re working on anything life-affirming. I do know that RAND has a history with business improvement districts in Los Angeles.

BIDs actively collect data about what passes for public safety in zillionaire circles and repurpose it as propaganda in the service of the vast development and gentrification machine in which they are teensy cogs. For instance, as putative evidence that more and more and more police are needed in gentrifying areas, and that those police need increased powers to deal with the putative danger. Or that more and more and more BIDs are needed and that those BIDs need increased powers as well.

Without evidence to the contrary it’s likely that, whatever else the information they’re gathering might be used for, RAND is certainly going to use it for this kind of thing. Or, once published, it will be used for this even if not by RAND. This has happened before. Just for instance, in 2009 RAND released a massive report on Los Angeles BIDs and public safety. Although the results of this study were ambiguous, nevertheless it has been taken up by both BIDs and by governments as weighty evidence in favor of the theory that BIDs reduce crime.

So much so, in fact, that it’s actually cited in the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 as one of the reasons that the State Legislature promotes the formation of business improvement districts, at §36601(e)(1):

Property and business improvement districts formed throughout this state have conferred special benefits upon properties and businesses within their districts and have made those properties and businesses more useful by providing the following benefits … Crime reduction. A study by the Rand Corporation has confirmed a 12-percent reduction in the incidence of robbery and an 8-percent reduction in the total incidence of violent crimes within the 30 districts studied.

Tangentially, this report is surprisingly honest in a weirdly Orwellian sense about what BIDs are up to, much more so than the BIDs themselves ever are. For instance, read this selection,2 wherein the authors “… describe the BIDs in terms of their public safety (or social control), beautification (or broken windows), and marketing (or place promotion).”
Continue reading Why Is The RAND Corporation Paying Off People In Skid Row To Discuss Public Safety? — The Same RAND Corporation Whose Pro-BID Study Is So Influential That It Is Cited In The Actual Property And Business Improvement District Act — The Same RAND Corporation That’s Funded By The Department Of Homeland Security — The Same RAND Corporation That Justified Carpet Bombing And Torture In The Vietnam War For Robert McNamara — The Same RAND Corporation That Paid “Megadeath Intellectual” Herman Kahn And His Ilk To Theorize About Winnable Nuclear War

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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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More Than Ten Thousand Emails! Downtown Santa Monica BID And Downtown Center BID! Two Unbelievably Rich Sets Of Records!

This is just a short note to announce two massive sets of emails that I’ve obtained over the last couple weeks. There’s so much material here that it’s taken an unusual amount of time to get it processed and published. I will be writing about this material over the next few weeks. There’s so much, and it’s so rich, that it’s going to take me a while to get it all sorted out, so I thought it’d be best to make it available to you right away:

  • Downtown Santa Monica BID — Emails between the City of Santa Monica and the Downtown Santa Monica BID from January 1 through September 8, 2017.
  • Downtown Center BID — Assorted emails from the Downtown Center BID, mostly from 2017.

Like I said, there’s so much here that it will take a while to get it sorted through. Meanwhile, though, turn the page for some interesting stuff you can begin to look for on your own.
Continue reading More Than Ten Thousand Emails! Downtown Santa Monica BID And Downtown Center BID! Two Unbelievably Rich Sets Of Records!

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Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

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. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Recall that in May 2016 the City of Los Angeles filed a motion asking Judge James Otero to clarify his preliminary injunction against enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC §56.11 within the boundaries of Skid Row. Recently plaintiffs’ attorney Carol Sobel filed a scathing opposition to the City’s motion. Otero then ruled that he could dispose of the motion without a hearing.

Earlier today he filed an order doing just that. He denied the City’s motion entirely and accused them of asking him to rule on abstractions and complex constitutional issues which had not yet come up in practice in this case. This he declined to do, rightly in my opinion, leaving the City with no option but to buckle down and follow the freaking law for once. There’s a transcription after the break.
Continue reading Judge James Otero Issues Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify His Preliminary Injunction Against Enforcement Of LAMC §56.11 In Skid Row

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Judge Otero Rules That No Hearing Is Necessary On City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify Preliminary Injunction In Mitchell Case, Cancels Hearing Scheduled For Monday September 11

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. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

Recall that in May 2016 the City of Los Angeles filed a motion asking Judge James Otero to clarify his preliminary injunction against enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC §56.11 within the boundaries of Skid Row. Recently plaintiffs’ attorney Carol Sobel filed a scathing opposition to the City’s motion and a hearing was set for Monday, September 11.

Well, just yesterday Judge James Otero ruled that he didn’t need a hearing in order to decide on the motion and thereby cancelled it. This was published on PACER as one of those text-only notices, no PDF associated, and you can read what there is of it after the break.
Continue reading Judge Otero Rules That No Hearing Is Necessary On City Of LA’s Motion To Clarify Preliminary Injunction In Mitchell Case, Cancels Hearing Scheduled For Monday September 11

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Discussions On City Of LA’s Motion For Clarification Of Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Forbidding Confiscation Of Homeless Property In Skid Row Finally Break Down, Leading Plaintiffs’ Attorneys To File Scathing Opposition — Hearing Set For September 11 At 10 a.m.

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. See here to download most of the papers filed in the case.

It’s been over a year since anything tangible happened in Mitchell v. City of LA, which is the most recent lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles challenging the City’s abhorrent enforcement of the abhorrent LAMC 56.11 as an abhorrent justification for the illegal and immoral confiscation of the personal property of homeless people in Los Angeles. Here’s a brief timeline of what’s been going on:

  • April 2016 — Judge Otero issues a preliminary injunction severely limiting the City’s enforcement of LAMC 56.11 in Skid Row.
  • May 2016 — The City of Los Angeles asks Otero to clarify his injunction. In particular, the City wanted to know the boundaries within which the injunction applies and also how the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment is to be exercised in relation to homeless people’s property.
  • Subsequently the City and the plaintiffs spent over a year trying to come to an agreement on the motion for clarification.

Well, yesterday Carol Sobel filed this opposition announcing that, while the parties were able to agree on the boundaries within which the injunction applies and some other matters, they most certainly were not able to agree on the community caretaking matter and neither were they able to agree on the City’s proposal for what constitutes a removable “bulky item.” The agreed-upon boundaries, by the way, are:

Second Street to the north, Eighth Street to the South, Alameda Street to the east and Spring Street to the west.

According to the American Bar Association Journal,

The idea behind community caretaking is that police do not always function as law enforcement officials investigating and ferreting out wrongdoing, but sometimes may act as community caretakers designed to prevent harm in emergency situations.

When they’re functioning in that role, the theory goes, they can seize cars without due process, or search houses without a warrant, and so on, as long as they’re “caring for the community” rather than investigating. Thus the community caretaking function justifies some specific exceptions to the Fourth Amendment prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures of property.

And I’m sure you can imagine just what kinds of mischief the City of Los Angeles is capable of getting up to with a tool like that. In particular they’re arguing that they ought to be able to confiscate people’s property when they’re arrested even if the arrestee has someone at the scene who can take custody of the property. The City says yes, sane people say no.

This matter is scheduled for a hearing at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 11, in Otero’s Courtroom 10C in the First Street Federal Courthouse. Anyway, turn the page for some excerpts from the filing which explain things better than I’m capable of doing.
Continue reading Discussions On City Of LA’s Motion For Clarification Of Otero’s Preliminary Injunction Forbidding Confiscation Of Homeless Property In Skid Row Finally Break Down, Leading Plaintiffs’ Attorneys To File Scathing Opposition — Hearing Set For September 11 At 10 a.m.

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