Save Valley Village Vote-Trading Lawsuit Against LA City Council Dismissed With Prejudice Despite (Or Perhaps Because Of) Entirely Truthful Yet Delightfully Unhinged Pleading Filed By The Good Guys

Morning in Valley Village in 2007.
In September, local activist group Save Valley Village filed suit against the City of Los Angeles and the City Council alleging in their petition that

The Councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council operate according to an agreement, i.e. The Vote Trading Pact, not to Vote No on any Council Project in another council district and said agreement by its very terms requires reciprocality, also called mutuality, whereby the agreement not to Vote No by one Councilmember is given in exchange for the other Councilmember’s not to vote No on a Council Project in his/her council district.

In October the City filed a demurrer,1 and then in the last couple weeks there have been a number of documents filed, leading up to the Court’s dismissing the case with prejudice.2 It’s a pity in one sense, because this is precisely one of the ways in which the City Council is corrupt. It ought to be against the law, and if the Court is correct in its ruling that there presently are no laws which it’s against, then such a law needs to be written. That it should be written is self evident. How to write it, how to enact it, these are not such easy questions to answer. Turn the page for links to all the recent filings, including the judge’s detailed ruling on why he dismissed the case as well as excerpts from the tragically, beautifully loony and also fairly convincing petitioners’ memorandum in opposition to demurrer.3

All the paper we have for this case is available here from static storage. Also here are links and descriptions of the new stuff, in semi-random order:

Respondents’ reply in support of demurrer (December 6, 2016) — The memorandum to which this is a reply is discussed below because it’s the most interesting of the new documents.

Order sustaining demurrer and dismissing petition without leave to amend (December 13, 2016) — Order sustaining the demurrer and dismissing the case with prejudice.

The Court’s ruling on the demurrer (December 13, 2016) — Herein the Judge explains the reasoning behind the above-linked order dismissing the case. He adopts the City’s reasoning wholesale, and this is mostly a restatement of the City’s reply in support of their demurrer.

Petitioners Memorandum in Opposition to Respondents’ Demurrer (November 28, 2016) — If you read no other document in this case, read this one. It is… well, it is delightful, tragic, true, and hopeless, and below are some excerpts that caught my eye, but really, read the whole thing.

1. The Sorry State of the Fiefdom Angeles

Describing a criminal enterprise as a work of beauty may seem strange, but the Los Angeles City Council’s unlawful voting pact merits both admiration and condemnation. It functions so effortlessly that it should be called the Rolls Royce of criminal operations. Tens of thousands of times in a row it functions without a hitch producing an endless stream of unanimous votes upon unanimous votes. It has been said that the likelihood of so many unanimous votes occurring by chance has to be less than one in infinity. Who has seen such a marvel?

So here we have these pipsqueak pests — a gaggle of citizens in the form of SaveValleyVillage — who have the gall to challenge turning the Los Angeles City Council into a feudal council where each Lord and Lady is the supreme, nay the sole and supreme, authority within his/her fiefdom provided that they give pledge fealty to the Prince. These peons have the effrontery to assert that the City Council has a duty to abide by the law.

2. In a Feudal Society, the Rulers are above The Law of the Land

The law of the California [sic] is found in Penal Code 86 which makes trading one vote for another a criminal act. The serfs have asserted that the Lords and Ladies and their Council, thus, have a duty not to engage in a vote trading pact, no matter how well it greases the palms of everyone’s hands.

There is lore in the annuals [sic] of the realm’s legal cases which says that mere serfs are citizens and citizens have the legal right to file a Petition with the court to stop public officials from violating the law. The Lords and Ladies object by way of their Demurrer that no mere citizen has standing to bring such a lawsuit. However, the citizens do not pretend to be the District Attorney and they are not criminally prosecuting the City Council.

7. An Assertion that Council’s Conduct is Non-Justiciable Places The City Council Above the Law

Although princes and their lords and ladies have from time to time in history claimed that they are above the Law, King Louis XIV claimed that he was the law. Richard Nixon claimed that if the president does it, it is legal. And James I of Great Britain believed in the divine right of kings. [Footnotes omitted] The City has liberally sprinkled the words Justiciability and non-Justiciability through its demurrer. One should note that invoking the Doctrine of Justiciability pre-supposes that the objectionable conduct is in fact occurring. There is no need to resort to such convoluted legal mumbo-jumbo as Justiciability if there were no vote trading pact by which billions of city dollars have flowed into developers [sic] pockets over the past decade.

12. Summary

Since power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, invoking Non-Justiciability to place the City Council above the law is a naive ploy to protect the prerogatives of gaggle [sic] of corrupt businessmen and politicos. Although billions of dollars have been sucked out of the City over the last fifteen years, there are many more billions waiting to be looted. Measure HHH just threw another $1.2 Billion on the table. Making the City Council’s operations above the law is an invitation to more serious criminals. MS-13 would probably enjoy the respectability of running a City Council. There can be no gainsaying that the Yakuza is sufficiently sophisticated in business to push out the present pikers, nor is there a lack of Russian “businessmen” eager to set up shop in a country where the courts have declared corrupt city councils are beyond the reach of the courts.

A wiser course of action would be to allow the serfs to have their day in court and present their case that the time for feudalism is gone and now is the time for governments to function according to the rule of law.

Image of Valley Village is by espelina, who has kindly made it available via Flickr under the CC BY-NC-ND license.

  1. Which seems to be a form of pleading arguing that even if the opposing party’s facts are correct they don’t actually support a cause of action. As much as it pains me to admit it, I think that’s probably accurate in this case.
  2. Which means that it cannot be amended and refiled, so it’s over (barring appeal, I suppose).
  3. It’s easy to mock the victims of the powerful for their seeming craziness, but it’s crucial to remember that (a) the powerful get to define for the most part what are the standards of sanity and obviously they do so in a way to disadvantage their opponents. Speaking truth to power always seems crazy for exactly this reason. Until one day it doesn’t any more. Also (b) the power elite in this City, in this world, are so arrogant, so insulated from the effects of their corruption, that they drive their victims to unhinged behavior.

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