Tag Archives: University of Southern California

A Tale Of Two Lunches! — How Gil Cedillo Invited Then-USC-President Max Nikias To Lunch In 2017 “To Catch Up On All Things” — And They Were Gonna Eat At The California Club — But USC Staffer Catherine Kuriyama Told Cedillo’s Chief Of Staff Debby Kim About Gift Reporting Laws — And Debby Kim Was All Like Don’t Wanna Report That Lunch! — And No Wonder I Guess Since Cedillo Has Accepted More Than $10K In Gifts From Lobbyists During His Time On The City Council — Including Another Lunch With Max Along With Debby Kim And Jay Cortez Which Did Get Reported — Cause Cedillo Only Paid Two Dollars For It

When lobbyists spend money on officials in Los Angeles the LAMC at §48.04 requires them to report it to the Ethics Commission.1 And for any number of reasons lately I’ve been really interested in Gil Cedillo. So here’s a list of all reported expenditures that benefitted Cedillo since he took office in 2013, total $10,229.39.2 Sadly, these disclosure forms don’t require any detail really, so if we want to learn what went on we have to request records.

But, as you know, that’s what we live for around here! It’s a slow process, though, and we won’t understand everything on that list for a while yet. However, I did recently acquire a bunch of emails between CD1 and the University of Southern California, and these shed some interesting light on two lunches enjoyed over the years by Cedillo in the company of then-USC-president Max Nikias, now no-confidenced right out the door.3 One of them is on the disclosure form and the other is not. This is the story of those two lunches.

The first lunch, which took place on September 28, 2017 at the California Club, was instigated by Cedillo himself. The story is told in this extraordinarily disorganized string of emails. And when USC informed Cedillo staffer Debby Kim4 that the lunch was worth $39 and that they would have to report it to the Ethics Commission unless Cedillo reimbursed USC for the food, Kim flipped out to some extent and asked to change the venue to some place where it wouldn’t have to be reported. USC told her that if Cedillo reimbursed them for it they wouldn’t have to report, which she said CD1 would do. Evidently CD1 did, or something, because this lunch doesn’t appear on the disclosures linked to above.

The second lunch, in April 2018, was at the request of Nikias himself, and is revealed in this also-scrambled email conversation. Cedillo planned to bring along Kim and his communications director Jay Cortez. USC told Kim that the lunches were worth $34 each, so that the three of them would be valued at $102. There’s a limit of $100 per calendar year,5 so USC also told Kim that they’d have to pay back $2 to keep it legal. Charmingly,6 neither Kim nor USC wanted to bother Max Nikias with these street-level legalities nor to dirty his august hands with cash money, so that even though Kim brought the money to lunch, no one was there to accept it and she evidently had to mail it in later. This lunch does in fact appear on the disclosure list with a value of $100, so evidently the money did dirty someone’s hands, maybe august, maybe not.

That’s the short version, and turn the page for the long version along, of course, with transcriptions of the essential parts of the conversation, helpfully rearranged into a sensible order for ease of reading!
Continue reading A Tale Of Two Lunches! — How Gil Cedillo Invited Then-USC-President Max Nikias To Lunch In 2017 “To Catch Up On All Things” — And They Were Gonna Eat At The California Club — But USC Staffer Catherine Kuriyama Told Cedillo’s Chief Of Staff Debby Kim About Gift Reporting Laws — And Debby Kim Was All Like Don’t Wanna Report That Lunch! — And No Wonder I Guess Since Cedillo Has Accepted More Than $10K In Gifts From Lobbyists During His Time On The City Council — Including Another Lunch With Max Along With Debby Kim And Jay Cortez Which Did Get Reported — Cause Cedillo Only Paid Two Dollars For It

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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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More than 200 MB Of New Hand-Scanned Documents From Figueroa Corridor BID and North Hollywood BID, Heavily Redacted For No Discernable Reason, But Interesting Nevertheless!

For the last few months I’ve been posting a lot of records from:

But I haven’t discussed the fact that these releases weren’t complete. In each case, Aaron Aulenta of Urban Place Consulting, who seems to be in charge of both of these BIDs, claimed numerous exemptions to the Public Record Act and told me that there was a bunch of material that he was printing out and redacting by hand on the basis of these exemptions.

Well, for various reasons I wasn’t able to get over to the offices of the FCBID to look at this stuff until Tuesday. Aaron Aulenta was kind enough to let me scan it instead of paying the usual outrageous copying fees that BIDdies habitually claim to be allowed to collect, and, after some minimal processing, I’m pleased to announce that it’s now available on Archive.Org. There’s some pretty interesting stuff in there, but it turns out that in this case the most interesting stuff is what’s not in there.

That is to say, the most interesting aspect of this release is what Aaron Aulenta thought that he was justified in redacting. Perhaps you recall that the California Public Records Act only allows for material to be redacted or withheld if one or more of the explicit enumerated exemptions to be found in the statute applies. There’s one exception to this principle, to be found in the infamous §6255(a), which states:

The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.

As you can imagine, BIDdies1 freaking love this last bit. It’s the most abused section of the law, with BIDdies, stoned out of their minds on white privilege and steeped in their delusional2 theory that laws are written and enforced for no better reason than to preserve and augment their power and wealth, claiming randomly that pretty much any piece of information they feel might embarrass them or their lackeys is exempt under this so-called public interest exemption.

For your future reference, there are at least two dispositive signs that this clause is being misused. First, they will refuse to state what public interest they feel is clearly being served by their withholding of the information. You’ll note that the law requires them to make this judgment on the particular facts of the case, which do not, can not, include a vague wave of the hand towards a claim of “I don’t heart that.”

Second, they will state semantically empty summary phrases which purport to refer to actual exemptions but, in fact, do not. Aaron Aulenta’s favorite of these seems to be “the benefit does not outweigh the burden.” It’s not exactly clear what the hell he’s thinking when he says this, and getting my hands on all these redacted documents has made it less rather than more clear, as you will see from the specific examples to be found after the break.
Continue reading More than 200 MB Of New Hand-Scanned Documents From Figueroa Corridor BID and North Hollywood BID, Heavily Redacted For No Discernable Reason, But Interesting Nevertheless!

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Saturday Morning Document Dump! Skid Row Neighborhood Council Conspiracy, Beaucoup De Bylaws, Form 990s Galore, Emails, Emails, Emails, And More, More, More! Larchmont Village, Fashion District, Figueroa Corridor, North Hollywood!

So much new material to announce!

  • Emails from Fashion District BID about Skid Row Neighborhood Council — This is clearly the most important item I have to announce today so I’m putting it first. If you’re interested at all in how the Downtown zillionaire elite crushed the SRNC formation effort you’ll want to read this stuff. There is what appears to be new evidence about the identities of the people behind the infamous United Downtown LA front group that hired Rocky Delgadillo to write a demand letter to City Council over the SRNC, although there’s still no smoking gun. I will be writing more about this material, but it may take a few days, and I wanted to get it before you as quickly as possible.
  • Figueroa Corridor BID emails — Between the BID and the City of LA, also USC, also Securitas. Various time ranges.
  • North Hollywood BID emails — City of LA and their security provider. Various date ranges.
  • Figueroa Corridor BID tax forms — From 2013 through 2015. It’s interesting to learn here that the Figueroa Corridor BID has been “IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY, WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY, AND DOCUMENT RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION POLICY.” at least since 2013, with no sign of actually producing anything. Ah, sigh.
  • North Hollywood BID tax forms — From 2013 through 2015. It’s interesting to learn here that this BID and the Figueroa Corridor BID, both of which are administered by our old friends at Urban Place Consulting, turns in copypasta from the FCBID on their tax forms. Just for instance, they too have been “IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY, WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY, AND DOCUMENT RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION POLICY.” at least since 2013, with no sign of actually producing anything.

And turn the page for beaucoup de bylaws and some interesting preliminary material on the privatization of public space in the San Fernando Valley. Most interestingly, there is a very rare appearance of some new material from the outlaw stronghold known to the world as the Larchmont Village BID!
Continue reading Saturday Morning Document Dump! Skid Row Neighborhood Council Conspiracy, Beaucoup De Bylaws, Form 990s Galore, Emails, Emails, Emails, And More, More, More! Larchmont Village, Fashion District, Figueroa Corridor, North Hollywood!

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The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

The Wicked Witch of the Southeast corner of Wilshire and Hope giving instructions to her flying monkeys.
Recall that I’ve been tracking the hysterical, irrational opposition of LA’s business improvement districts to the ongoing process of legalizing (some aspects of) street vending in the City since the Spring of 2015. A truly astonishing level of bitching and moaning in 2015 stalled out the whole process for most of 2016 because, I believe, everyone was too freaking sick of the whining and the carefully orchestrated lying on any number of occasions and the City just needed a rest.
A man arrested, transported, and handcuffed to a bench by the Andrews International BID Patrol in Hollywood for selling umbrellas on the street. At least it appears that this horror show is over, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more loopholes and it’s not over at all.
Until the November election of Donald Trump and his subsequent threats to deport essentially anyone, U.S. citizen or not, who’d ever smiled while thinking of eating a taco spurred the Council into action on at least the small part (small but in no way insignificant) of the plan to decriminalize illegal street vending so that, no matter how much trouble the zillionaires might cause the heladeros, at least they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and subsequent deportation. That bit seemed urgent enough to pass Council outright, and even the anti-vending forces of the zillionaire elite seemed to realize that they were just going to be exposed as the nasty little mean creeps that they are if they fought back on this particular issue. However, the Council put off acting on an actual legalization framework until later.

But recall, as I reported in January, the instructions for the report-back were altered from the original, and quite sensible,1 request for

A process to create special vending districts to be initiated by Council, the Board of Public Works, or petition (with signatures from 20 percent of property owners or businesses in the proposed district), based on legitimate public health, safety and welfare concerns that are unique to specific neighborhoods with special circumstances.

to a request for language

Providing the City Council the ability to opt out of certain streets by Council action.

At that time I didn’t understand yet how this had all taken place, but now I’ve accumulated enough documentary evidence that it’s possible to sketch out a picture. The short version is that in December 2016, Suzanne Holley, at that time acting Executive Director2 of the Schatzian horror show known as the Central City Association of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the City Council telling them to make the change. This was distributed to the BIDs via the BID Consortium. They all told their pet Councilmembers to change it. It got changed, and all the BIDs rejoiced, some of them quite publicly. The consequences of this are going to be horrific, and whatever street vending framework gets put in place will be DOA. Details and evidence after the break.
Continue reading The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

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When Assemblyman Richard Bloom Toured Hollywood in September 2015, Kerry Morrison Suspended Enforcement of LAMC 41.18(d) for his Benefit, Blamed Prop 47 for Ruining Lives, Put into Question her Commitment to Truth, Decency, Equal Protection, Appearing Sane

Richard Bloom, former mayor of Santa Monica, prepares to ask the questions he's been asked to ask.
Richard Bloom, former mayor of Santa Monica, prepares to ask the questions he’s been asked to ask.
According to an email chain recently obtained by our correspondent, on September 24, 2015, Assemblyman Richard Bloom toured the Hollywood Entertainment District BID, accompanied by Kerry Morrison, Carol Massie, some other businessfolks, and Councildude Mitch O’Farrell. The BID Patrol usually goes around the place waking up sidewalk sleepers at 6 a.m., which is the earliest it’s legal1 to do so under the settlement in Jones v. City of Los Angeles. However, on the day of Richard’s tour Kerry directed the BID Patrol to delay the wake-up call, seemingly so that Richard could see people sleeping on the sidewalk and thereby draw the conclusions that Kerry wanted drawn. Here’s how it unfolded in the emails. On September 17 at 4:30 pm, Bloom aide Tim Harter wrote to Kerry (CC to Dan Halden of CD13):

Kerry,

I wanted to chat with you about morning of Sept. 24th, I believe we will be getting a tour with Captain Zarcone and the Homelessness taskforce on Thursday morning from LAPD from 8am-9am you are welcome to join if you would like nothing has been confirmed, I have been playing phone tag with Captain Zarcone. We will be at the Hollywood BID at 9am, I wanted to see if you have an idea of who will be at the meeting with us?

Well, that didn’t mesh with Kerry’s plans at all. You see, she’d arranged things so that Richard would see what she wanted him to see, and the 9 a.m. time messed up her carefully arranged Potemkin encampments. She got a little pushy about it, too:
Continue reading When Assemblyman Richard Bloom Toured Hollywood in September 2015, Kerry Morrison Suspended Enforcement of LAMC 41.18(d) for his Benefit, Blamed Prop 47 for Ruining Lives, Put into Question her Commitment to Truth, Decency, Equal Protection, Appearing Sane

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