In June 2020 Paul Koretz Was One Of Only Three LA City Councilmembers To Vote Against Even Studying An Absurdly Minuscule LAPD Budget Reduction — He Told The Daily News That He Had Heard From People On Both Sides Of The Issue — Creating The Impression That He Was Balancing The Conflicting Wishes Of His Constituents — But I Just Got Copies Of All The June 2020 Constituent Emails To Him On Police Defunding — Can’t Count Precisely But There Are Around 270 In Favor Of Defunding — And One — Yes, One — Against — So It Looks Like Koretz Was Confused — Which Is A Politely Sarcastic Way To Describe What Koretz Really Is — About Who He Represents

On June 16, 2020 Council District 5 rep Paul Koretz was one of only three Councilmembers to vote against asking City staff to report back on ways to cut a mere $150M from the LAPD budget.1 For some background check out this excellent essay by Jacob Woocher in Knock-LA. Koretz defended his position both before and after the vote by admitting that he’d received public comments urging him to support the cuts but also, according to Elizabeth Chou of the Daily News, “Koretz said he’s heard “emphatic” calls to defund the police dept, but he said he’s also heard from others who “feel very differently, and for whom public safety is a very high priority.” Those people fear “slower response times” from police”.

Koretz wants to show the world that he’s representing his constituents, rather than voting the straight LA Police Protective League line in opposition to his constituents’ desires. But doesn’t he sound like he’s lying? So I thought I’d check it out by asking CD5 for the communications from the public, hoping to learn how many of these folks who, according to Koretz, “feel very differently, and for whom public safety is a very high priority” actually did get in touch with Koretz.

And a few days ago I got the goods! And published them on Archive.Org! Get your copies here! It’s hard to count the exact number of constituent emails in the set because of the file format supplied, but there are roughly 270 in favor of defunding the police and precisely one opposed.2 So if Koretz was telling the truth, and there’s no particular reason to think that he was, but if he was then he didn’t hear from these others who “feel very differently” via email. I think he’s probably just talking about LAPPL lobbyists.3

And Koretz wasn’t the only one in the office ignoring the overwhelming consensus in favor of at least studying police defunding. On June 24 Jim Bickhart, Koretz’s policy consultant,4 sent an email to noting that some of the pro-defunding people gave their ZIP code as 90094, apparently in Playa Del Rey. Says Bickhart: “I wonder how many of these other folks who swear they’re in CD5 are comparably geographically challenged.”

Debbie Dyner Harris, who I absolutely hate having to characterize as the grownup in that particular room,5 points out that UCLA is 90095 and that therefore it might just be an error. Finally Koretz PR flack Monica Molina sends a link to the letter template and a Facebook page where activists coordinated the email campaign.6 Surely Koretz never considered voting for the cuts, but just as surely the discovery of this coordination made it easier for the staffers to live with their consciences after having to listen to their boss lie to reporters about having support for both sides of the issue.

  1. The motion is found in Council File 20-0692.
  2. The single opposing email is on page 129 of the PDF. If you want to check my count, here’s what I did. First, I worked only on this file since every constituent email in the other files also appears in this one. Fortunately when they turned the emails into a PDF they didn’t destroy the text-searchability, so I used pdftotext to dump the text to standard out and filtered for the word Subject, which seems like a good proxy for an individual email. There were 278 hits. A few of the emails are internal to CD5 and one is opposed, so I brought it down to 270 to account for that. The whole command was: pdftotext 1_AB\ –\ 20-4438\ –\ Binder1.pdf – | grep Subject | wc. Note that the hyphen directly following the PDF filename tells the pdftotext command to direct output to standard out rather than to a file.
  3. Or maybe the little clone of Jamie McBride that lives inside his head.
  4. Whatever the heck that is!?
  5. Due to her reprehensible work on establishing a BID in Venice back when she worked for Mike Bonin.
  6. This document proved Dyner Harris correct. It gives 90094 as an example ZIP code.

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