I recently received almost three hundred pages of emails from 2017 between Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott and Department of Neighborhood Empowerment boss lady Grayce Liu. These are available here on Archive.Org. There’s a lot of quite interesting material there, most of it far off my beat, but there’s this one item in particular which is quite relevant.
It’s a March 14, 2017 email from Grayce Liu to Bill Kuncz of Everyone Counts informing him, among other things, of the fact that the City of Los Angeles would be using online voting for the April 6, 2017 Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision election. She told him “… that we would be able to move forward with using the online voting and voter registration platform for our subdivision election in a few weeks.”
The main problem with this, of course, is that the question of allowing online voting didn’t even come before the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners until March 20, 2017. It didn’t come before City Council’s Rules and Elections Committee until March 22, 2017, and it wasn’t finally approved by City Council until March 28, 2017.
You may well remember that at that March 22, 2017 meeting José Huizar announced his decision to allow online voting by reading a pre-written statement, showing conclusively that he’d made up his mind even before hearing public comment. This email shows that he’d made up his mind at least eight days before the meeting even took place.
To be sure, there’s nothing illegal about this behavior. There’s possibly nothing even immoral about it. But in the culture of the Los Angeles City Council, where no one votes against their colleagues’ desires for intra-district issues, it makes it even more glaringly clear that our local representative democracy is not functioning at all. A couple of zillionaires went to see Huizar in January 2017 and convinced him to destroy the SNRC and that’s all it took.
The decision was essentially finalized at that point with no public input, no deliberation, and no chance that wiser heads on the City Council would prevail. There are no wiser heads.1 No one even had the decency to tell Grayce Liu to wait for the formalism of City Council approval before acting on Huizar’s unilateral decision. Sadly, it’s business as usual. Turn the page for a transcription.
Transcription of Grayce Liu’s email:
Grayce Liu <email@example.com> Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 5:34 PM
To: Bill Kuncz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hope ail is well. I sent Shelley the good news email below that we would be able to move forward with using the online voting and voter registration platform for our subdivision election in a few weeks. I was shocked to find out, however, that she is no longer with the company when I received this email bounce back and called her.
It was very disappointing to hear that Shelley has been let go especially because she is the major reason Everyone Counts has this account with the City of LA. She was instrumental in the 2016 successes for online voting and was a key partner in helping us get online voting in 2018 for Neighborhood Councils. For Shelley to be laid off without any notification or explanation to me or our City Clerk is simply not good business, particularly when we are finally poised to get City Council to act again on approving online voting.
What is the status of Everyone Counts now to perform the terms of our contract? I’d appreciate an update by tomorrow since I am to prepare a report for City Council next week to provide them the plan for online voting for an election we are conducting on April 6th.
Department of Neighborhood Empowerment
Image of Grayce Liu is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and if you’re into that kind of thing why not take a look at this lil Grayce Liu right here.