Here are three months of LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith‘s appointment calendars. There’s a lot of interesting information in there, including what sure looks like a Brown Act violation by the Los Angeles Police Commission. And the story of how I obtained these records is also interesting! And is revealed below! But first, here’s a selection of Smith’s calendar entries with some comments on ones that interested me!
✬ January 13 — Call Shane — Presumably this is Police Commissioner Shane Goldsmith. Is it normal for the IG to meet ex parte with commissioners?
✬ January 28 — Conference Call with Decker — Perhaps Commissioner Eileen Decker? I’m not sure if this is normal, but the Commission has only five members and this is beginning to seem like a serial meeting. Also, why is Shane “Shane” but Decker “Decker”?
✬ January 28 — Reminder Only: Roll Call/Ride-Along — I mean, LAPD is famous for only letting groupies do ride-alongs. Is the Inspector General enough of a friend to the Department for this kind of treatment?
✬ January 29 — DA Debate — The guy’s interested in local politics? This was an interesting event, by the way.
✬ January 31 — LASD Civilian Oversight Commission: Roundtable Discussion on Public Comment — Not sure what this was but I can see how LAPC staff might be interested in the subject.
✬ February 3 — Meet with Sheriff — What in the world?!
✬ February 6 — Rebecca and ASAC Kasmar re: approaching Consuls Generals — I am so curious!! Who’s Rebecca? I guess ASAC is Assistant Special Agent in Charge? What’s going on with Consuls Generals??1
✬ February 10 — MT w/FBI and DOJ (room 1055)
✬ February 12 — Suits in Solidarity Meeting with COP — I hadn’t heard of Suits in Solidarity before. Portentous.
✬ February 20 — Meet with Commissioner Bonner — Dale Bonner is the third Commissioner that Mark Smith met with in just a few weeks. This is how illegal serial meetings happen. Also, see how we’ve gone from “Shane” to “Decker” to “Commissioner Bonner”? This guy Mark Smith, like many cops, has a finely honed talent for completely deniable insults based on levels of formality.
✬ February 28 — Meet with BOPC and Cal DOJ — I mean, it says that Mark Smith met with BOPC. This must mean the Board of Police Commissioners, right? But here’s a list of their 2020 meetings. Nothing at all scheduled for February 28. This looks very, very, very much like a Brown Act violation.
✬ March 26 — BOPC Meeting Rehearsal — Dude rehearses for Police Commission meetings?!
✬ March 27 — BOPC Test — And gets tested on what he’s learned from rehearsal?
✬ March 31 — Board of Police Commissioners Meeting — I sure hope the rehearsal paid off! It was for a closed session, so we’ll never know.
And now let’s look at the process of getting this record! On July 28, 2020 I asked Police Commission staffer Richard Tefank for the Inspector General’s calendars from 2019 and 2020.2 Tefank forwarded my request to Mark Smith, the Inspector General, who apparently handles his own requests. Smith sent his first response on August 6, which contained at least two interesting items.3 First, says Smith:4
In accordance with Government Code Section 6253(c), “unusual circumstances” exist with respect to your requests due to the need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine the requested records, which may be voluminous, that are demanded in your request. See Govt. Code § 6253(c)(2).
Isn’t it kind of Smith to invite me to look at Govt. Code §6253(c)(2)?! It is absolutely essential to look up every possible statute, every appellate case, basically every authority these people5 cite, because they lie all the freaking time. Smith is not only lying here, he added a word to the statute which entirely changes its meaning. The point is that agencies must respond within 10 days, but §6253(c) allows them to extend that deadline by 14 days under unusual circumstances as defined. The subsection he’s relying on, (2), has to do with “voluminous amount[s] of … records”:
As used in this section, “unusual circumstances” means the following, but only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request:
(2) The need to search for, collect, and appropriately examine a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records that are demanded in a single request.
See how Smith said that the requested records MAY be voluminous? See how the law requires that the requested records ARE voluminous? Agencies are given ten days to evaluate the scope of the request. If Smith had followed the law here he would have done a preliminary search and determined whether the requested records were or were not voluminous.
Since all the records I requested are electronic the search takes no time at all, but reviewing responsive records may take a lot of time. The law allows agencies to spend time “only to the extent reasonably necessary to the proper processing of the particular request”. Burning up ten days without even evaluating the scope of the request is a violation of this requirement. Smith’s next interesting statement has specifically to do with the calendars:
With regard to your request for the daily calendars of the Inspector General for all of 2019 and 2020, the OIG respectfully requests, pursuant to Govt. Code section 6253.1, that you modify this portion of your request to make a more specific and focused request, including by narrowing the date range of the request, identifying specific dates you are interested in, and/or specifying the subject matter(s) of calendar entries sought.
I mean, first thing to do is look up the section pursuant to which he’s claiming to be “respectfully request[ing]” me to “modify this portion of [my] request to make a more specific and focused request”. Here it is. I’m not quoting it here because it has nothing whatsoever to do with Smith’s request to me. The section requires agencies to assist requesters in making “a focused and effective request” in case they don’t understand what’s being requested. In this context the word “focused” does not mean “narrow”.
It means a request that “reasonably describes an identifiable record or records” Agencies have to assist requesters identify records because we have no way of knowing how the agency names or organizes the records. The section is very clear that it’s about identifying records, not making requests “more specific and focused”. Again, Smith just made his version of this section up out of nothing at all. It’s imaginary. A complete lie. I said as much to Smith and asked him to cite a reason for narrowing.
Smith ignored me until the extra 14 days were up and then sent this mendacious doozy of a response.6 The gist of it as it applies to the 2019-2020 calendars is that producing them would reveal Smith’s mental processes, that therefore they’re exempt via 6255(a), and that this claim is supported thus:
See Times Mirror Co. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal.3d 1325, 1343-44 (1991) (explaining that disclosure of a government official’s calendars would be “the functional equivalent of revealing” the official’s “judgment and mental processes” and holding that “[t]he intrusion into the deliberative process is patent”)
Take a look at the case! First, the case is not about any random government official, it’s about the Governor of California. Note that Smith’s summary is technically accurate in the sense that the Governor is “a government official”, but see how he disingenuously exploits an ambiguity in the English language to make it sound like the case was about arbitrary government officials.7 This is another lie.
And you can see from the case that the fact that it’s about the Governor matters a lot. The Governor submitted a huge amount of evidence to the court about his calendars and the detailed confidential information they contain. Further, the governor’s staff treat the calendars as confidential and destroy them soon after their date passes.8 There’s no way the City of Los Angeles is going to make an argument like this for the freaking Inspector General of the LAPD. It’s so disproportionate, such an idiotic deception.
So I pointed this out to Smith and in the interest of efficiency I asked him to just give me as many calendars as wouldn’t trigger the exemption claim. In response to that he sent me January through March 2020.9 And look at them! There’s nothing at all about mental processes in there. The whole thing is a lie.
He redacted a name here and there. It took no time at all, which you can see from the date on the PDF he sent, which is the same day he sent the material to me. There’s just no way his exemption claims will fly for any number of such calendars. So I asked him for the rest of them and a bunch of other stuff and let’s see what we can learn!
- Not to mention why is the phrase so very overhyperpluralized?!!
- Along with some other stuff, none of which they’ve produced yet.
- Actually more than that, but the others concern parts of the request that are still pending and which I’m not writing about here.
- Obviously some lawyer from the City Attorney’s office wrote this gibberish rather than Smith, but Smith signed it so he’s gotta live with it!
- In this context these people are people who have control over public records. A bunch of liars, every last one of them. OK, there are like three who aren’t liars.
- Let me mention that when agencies respond on day 10 to say they’re claiming the extra 14 days and then respond precisely 14 days after that, they’re almost certainly violating the law. The CPRA says over and over and over again that nothing in it is intended to allow agencies to delay responses. It says over and over and over again that the 10 day and the 14 day deadlines are a maximum and the agency is only allowed enough time as it takes to process the specific request. There’s no serious chance that this is 10/14 days for every single request. Therefore the agency is stalling and therefore is violating the law.
- I want to be a government official because a government official makes more than $100,000 per year! No? Well the governor does, so it’s still true.
- Susan Pederson, the Governor’s scheduling secretary, explained that after reviewing requests for meetings and invitations, she drafts a “scheduling memorandum” which is then reviewed with four senior staff members of the Governor’s office. A final scheduling memorandum and a “tentative month-long calendar” are then prepared in consultation with the Governor; the calendar “is a schematic representation of engagements and meetings discussed in the scheduling memorandum.” Thereafter, a finished month-long calendar is produced which identifies the Governor’s “major time commitments for public appearances and private meetings.” Copies of this calendar are given to the Governor, a “limited number” of members of the Governor’s office, the Director of Finance, the Governor’s security director and those responsible for the Governor’s transportation.
Each week the scheduling secretary also formulates a schedule for the two upcoming weeks, which incorporates information from the monthly calendar as well as more recently approved appointments and appearances. The schedule for the first week is designated “final,” and that for the second is designated “advance.” Lastly, a complete daily schedule is prepared on the afternoon or evening prior to each working day; the daily schedule “accounts for all the Governor’s time from his departure from home in the morning until his departure from the office in the evening.” The two-week and daily schedules are distributed to the same persons as the monthly calendar. According to Ms. Pederson, all persons receiving the monthly, two-week and daily schedules “do so with the understanding that they are to treat the schedule[s] and any accompanying material as confidential, and destroy the schedule once they have completed their use of it.” Ms. Pederson did not indicate in her declaration whether or to what extent copies of the final calendars and schedules are normally retained by herself, the Governor or anyone else in the Governor’s office.
- I’m skipping over a big part of the story here, where he tried to get me to narrow my request by asking only for entries about certain topics. Like he offered to give me all entries involving LAPPL. As if he’s going to suggest a topic that’s not safe for him?