New Documents: More Emails Between Tara Devine and the L.A. City Clerk’s Office, More Emails Between LAPD Captain Peter Zarcone and the HPOA, A Bunch of CPRA Requests to L.A. Sanitation

What’s so funny, Captain? Peter Zarcone smiling with his eyes at a HPOA Joint Security Committee meeting in April 2015.
I spent about three hours yesterday in City Hall and at the LAPD Discovery office scanning stuff. There are thousands of pages of stuff here, some of it quite important. It will take a long time to go through it and write about the highlights, so I thought I’d put it up on the Archive in (very, very) raw form immediately. Here’s what we have today:

  • More emails from 2015 between Peter Zarcone and the HPOA — What happened is that the first time I made a request for this material, the LAPD IT department somehow missed a number of responsive documents. I could tell that they did because of automatically generated out-of-office responses that they did provide the first time around. However, the emails which had triggered those responses weren’t included, which was evident from the dates. They accepted this argument and reran the search. Consequently many but not all of these documents have already been published, but I have not yet had time to sort out the duplicates. As I said, I want to make the material available immediately.
  • Emails between Tara Devine and the LA City Clerk’s Office — Here are thousands of pages of emails between Tara Devine and various people in the LA City Clerk’s office. Some of these have been previously published but most of them have not. Interestingly, although most of the material is about the Venice Beach BID, there is also a bunch of stuff about the South Park II BID1 renewal, which Tara Devine was also the consultant for. I will be writing about much of this material, but here’s the raw stuff. Drop me a note if you spot anything that seems especially pressing.
  • CPRA requests to LA Sanitation for 2016 through November — This is interesting for a number of reasons. First, most requests are from engineering firms, seemingly for the purpose of preparing environmental impact reports. Second, there are many requests for huge numbers of records. For instance, take a look at these items:
    • Request for materials relating to service requests near Preston Trails — Contains such open-ended requests as, e.g., for all materials relating to maintenance, service, reports, communications, etc. near a given address as well as all records which mention any of the employees which performed the service.
    • Request for materials relating to the Sunshine Canyon Landfill — Asking for all records2 relating to various regulatory issues concerning the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, operated by Browning Ferris Industries.3 The request encompasses e.g.

      1. All COMMUNICATIONS … transmitted between any employee of Los Angeles Sanitation Bureau and any employee of the South Coast Air Quality Management District relating or referring to the Sunshine Canyon Landfill.
      2. All RECORDS … referring or relating to any proposal to reduce or limit the hours of operation of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, including any proposal to reduce or limit the hours during which the Sunshine Canyon Landfill may receive waste.

      And so on and on and on without any time limitations. The request seems likely to encompass hundreds of thousands of records, given that people have been fighting over this landfill for more than twenty years. Keep that in mind next time some functionary tries to make you feel guilty because you request a few thousand pages a month.

    • Request for materials relating to Tom LaBonge and the Hollywood Sign — The amount of paper generated by this issue is remarkable, not to mention the level of vitriol. Here, land use attorney Corin Kahn asks for e.g.

      1. All DOCUMENTS that are communications sent to or received from any person employed by the CITY and/or CITY departments including without limitation THE OFFICE OF COUNCILMAN LA BONGE, as defined herein, regarding any and all issues pertaining to tourism and/or non-resident public access affecting the HOLLYWOODLAND NEIGHBORHOOD for the period January 1, 2000 to the present.
      2. All DOCUMENTS that are communications sent to or received from any person employed by the CITY and/or CITY departments regarding any and all issues pertaining to tourism and/or viewing opportunities viewing opportunities related to the Hollywood Sign for the period January 1, 2000 to the present.
      3. All DOCUMENTS that are communications sent to or received from any government agency that is not a part of the CITY regarding any and all issues pertaining to tourism and/or non-resident public access affecting the HOLLYWOODLAND NEIGHBORHOOD for the period January 1, 2000 to the present.

      And on and on and on. And the definitions are exhaustive as well:

      1. “THE OFFICE OF COUNCILMAN LA BONGE” shall include the Councilman himself, and shall include all of his staff regardless of their position. To be helpful in constructing searches, but not by way of limiting the search, the following names were staff members working in Councilman La Bonge’s office: Carolyn Ramsay, Tracy James, Sharon Shapiro,Daniel Halden, Jeanne Min, Stacy Marble, Dave Ahem. Sheila Irani, Todd Leitz. Juliette Durand, Sharon Shapiro, Brenda Gonzalez, and Lisa Schechtler (our best efforts to spell these names have been provided)
      2. ‘EMAIL’ includes, but is not limited to, correspondence to or from any e-mail account through which any City business is being conducted, including but not limited to e-mail accounts to City officials, employees or consultants, and any personal e-mail accounts maintained by City officials, employees or consultants in which City business is being conducted or public issues, such as communications with a project developer and/or its representatives, are discussed . All personal e-mail accounts that may have been used for sending or receiving documents and records that are responsive to our requests are public records subject to disclosure under the CPRA. This definition of email is consistent with the recent Los Angeles County Superior Court order to the City of Malibu to preserve all personal email of public officials where they conducted public business on personal email accounts so as to defeat the mandates of the California Public Records Act and the Ralph M. Brown Act.

      And so on. Incidental to another investigation I’ve collected a few thousand pages of emails from these Hollywoodland people to David Ryu, which you can find here and also here. These were just from July 1, 2015 when Ryu took office, until roughly August 2016 and there’s already, I think, more than 2000 pages. What happens when that’s multiplied by 15 more years and dozens more agencies is anyone’s guess. Also note that the request is across multiple City agencies and offices (“any person employed by the CITY and/or CITY departments”) and the scope begins to boggle the mind. Nevertheless, the law does not contain limitations on the amount of material that one may request, and I suppose the legislature surely would have limited it explicitly had they meant to. Nevertheless, the City4 will certainly whine, attempt to induce guilt and shame, and otherwise harass frequent CPRA requesters. This kind of thing, sent by a combative and litigious lawyer, is unlikely to have been subjected to the same treatment. Keep that in mind next time Holly Wolcott or Daniel Halden tells you you’re taking up too much of their time.

Image of Peter Zarcone is ©2015

  1. There are two South Park BIDs, I and II. They are all run by the same people, and they seem to have the same board of directors, with a committee in charge of II. This is possibly yet another of the shady tactics that the City and BIDs use to get around the requirement imposed by state law that BID boundaries make some sense. I don’t know for sure, and I sure don’t have time to look into it.
  2. And “records” as defined in the CPRA is a hugely expansive category, including any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.
  3. In what is purely a coincidence, slavering psychopathic bête noire of all sane people concerned with the fate of Venice Beach Mark Ryavec used to be a lobbyist for Browning-Ferris, working on issues surrounding Sunshine Canyon. He famously published a bunch of mendacious nonsense about then-Councilmember Hal Bernson as part of a covert lobbying effort. Bernson sued for defamation, the case got tossed on a technicality involving the statute of limitations. Bernson appealed on the grounds that Ryavec had concealed his identity, and the California Supreme Court ruled that that was at least grounds for the trial court to consider whether the concealment was material, making dismissals in such cases not automatic. Thus was Ryavec responsible for new law in the Golden State, which was not necessarily an expected occurrence, given the fact that the more natural circumstances for this to have occurred, that is via a bill of attainder, were expressly forbidden, in what is universally considered a good move although perhaps the framers had not considered the possibility of the emergence of a Ryavec, by the U.S. Constitution.
  4. Not to mention the freaking BIDs, who whine about this kind of thing at top volume incessantly.

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