I just learned of an interesting public records suit filed in September 2019 by Venskus & Associates for the La Brea Willoughby Coalition against the City of Los Angeles. They’re fighting upzoning around the Purple Line extension, which I don’t understand enough to comment on. But irrespective of the merits of their cause the City of Los Angeles has repeatedly violated their right to due process in appeals and pretty much, as the City will do, every possible other arena.
And that extends to some requests for records that the Coalition made of the City for materials having to do with the Purple Line Transit Neighborhood Plan. And the City eventually produced more than 2000 pages of the wrong stuff, which is a favorite tactic of theirs. They also didn’t claim any exemptions. After almost a year of debate, during which the City finally did claim that some of the material sought was exempt, the Coalition brought this suit. You can read the petition and the City’s ridiculously inapropos reply on Archive.Org.
According to the petition the City wouldn’t produce some of the requested material because it contained drafts of the City’s upzoning policies. The City claimed, according to the petition, that:
[t]hese drafts represent preliminary ideas and thoughts related to the policy initiative and do not reflect that [sic] final policy direction provided by City management or the City’s decision makers. Producing such documents would create the real risk of the public being misinformed as to the components of the policy initiative. Through the release of various documents and through numerous public workshops, the public has been provided with staff’s initial recommendations related to this policy initiative and an opportunity to provide input on them. This process will continue until such time that staff finalizes its recommendations to the City’s decision makers.
Which is all fine and dandy, even if true, but these kinds of qualitative theories of why an agency might prefer not to release records are not enough under the CPRA to justify not releasing them. The law is very clear that an “agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter”.
There’s also a so-called “catch all” exemption, found in the same sentence, that allows agencies to withhold records if “on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” Finally, there is an exemption, found at §6254(a), which allows agencies to withhold draft material with the same kind of public interest weighing test required by §6255(a),
Continue reading Interesting Public Records Suit Filed Against The City Of Los Angeles — By La Brea Willoughby Coalition — Concerning The Much Abused Exemption For Draft Materials — Which Really Needs To Be Cancelled — And The City Of LA’s Absolutely Phoned-In Boilerplate Reply — Ridiculous!
Here’s a summary of where we are in our public records suit against the Chinatown Business Improvement District. We filed it in August 2018 because the BID ignored our requests for records. The BID never participated at all and in July 2019 we prevailed over them and Judge Mitchell Beckloff subsequently ordered the BID to produce the records.
They continued to ignore the whole situation so last week our attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to hold them in contempt of court for refusing to comply with his order. They didn’t show up for the hearing on that either, which was on Friday morning, so the judge ordered them to show up on December 27, 2019 at 9:30 AM and explain themselves. The charge is contempt of court, which is defined in the California Code of Civil Procedure at §1209 to include “Disobedience of any lawful judgment, order, or process of the court.”
And the same Code, now at §1218, allows the judge to punish the contempt with fines of up to $1,000 and up to five days of jail time. Also the judge is allowed by §1212 to have people arrested and brought before the court to answer for contempt charges. So if the BID doesn’t show up for this proceeding things might get really, really interesting! Read on for a transcription of the judge’s order.
Continue reading Judge Mitchell Beckloff Orders George Yu And The Other Directors Of The Chinatown BID To Appear Before Him And Explain Why They Should Not Be Held In Contempt Of Court For Continuing To Ignore His Order To Hand Over The Damn Public Records — They’ve Ignored Every Part Of This Lawsuit So Far — But If They Ignore This Part They May Be Forced To Pay Even More Money — And Be Arrested — And Go To Jail For Up To Five Days — The Hearing Is Set For December 27 At 9:30 AM
WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: I’m just going to tell you right up front that there is actually no point whatsoever to the post you’ve just started reading. It’s really nothing more than a heap of anecdotes strung together without so much as a smidge of narrative synthesis interspersed with pointless sarcasm, signifying nothing. But that’s the content you’re here for, innit?!
I recently got a bunch of emails from the formerly unincorporated white supremacist mountain stronghold known as the City of Calabasas as part of my ongoing investigation into those terroristic antihomeless West Valley vigilante Facebook groups you’ve been reading so much about, most recently in L.A. Taco, where just today the incomparable Lexis-Olivier Ray published another excellent piece on the subject. And specifically into rogue cop Sean Dinse, who has some kind of relationship with Calabasas Mayor Pro-Tem Alicia Weintraub.
Calabasas being the creepy little backwater bastion of white privilege that it is, I got the usual braindead pushback to my request at first with Alicia Weintraub claiming that she didn’t possess any emails between her and Dinse but, and this is essential advanced CPRAlogical praxis, of course I hadn’t asked without knowing from other sources that, in fact, there were such emails. So after a surprisingly minimal amount of argument the City admitted that they’d made an unintentional error, which is what public agencies call it when they lie and then get caught, and agreed to produce. And they did produce. And you can look at a selection of the produced material here on the Internet Archive.
And there’s no bloody shirt to wave here, none of the supervillain stylings so characteristic of the City government of Los Angeles. What we find instead is a bunch of small town politicians with too much time on their hands and too little of substance to occupy them. And, it appears, one single unhoused resident that they all follow around and discuss with one another.
Now he’s walking by a school! Now he’s carrying stuff! Now he walked past my Ring camera! Just look at the video! Now he walked down a street! And worst of all, now he walked by my kids’ lemonade stand! And they were terrified! THAT IS ABSOLUTELY FRIGHTENING!!! And, you know, it is absolutely frightening. But not for the reasons these people think it is. Read on for some stills from that terrifying Ring camera video!
Continue reading Emails Obtained From Creepy Zillionaire Haven Calabasas Show That They Appear To Have One Homeless Resident And The Entire City Government Follows Him Around And Calls The Cops On Him Daily — Because He Walked By The High School — Or He Walked By A Lemonade Stand — Or He Walked By Someone’s House
As you may know, email retention policies among public agencies in California are a mess, with agencies claiming, however implausibly, that they automatically delete emails very rapidly, sometimes even immediately on receipt. This would seem to run afoul of the law at Government Code §34090, which states pretty clearly that cities are not to delete public records less than two years old. And the California Public Records Act at §6252(g) explicitly defines the phrase “public records” to include emails.
But cities and other local agencies such as business improvement districts along with their legal minions have cooked up amongst themselves a theory that emails aren’t covered by §34090 unless they make some kind of specific effort to retain them, like for instance printing them out and putting them in a drawer. This is the kind of theory, very popular among CPRA-subject agencies, that no one actually believes is valid. It’s only meant to hold up in court long enough for the agency to avoid sanctions for flouting the law.
And this year Assemblymember Todd Gloria tried to strangle this nonsense in its metaphorical crib with his AB-1184, which would have clarified that agencies are required to retain emails for two years just like every other kind of record. But agencies lobbied hard against this bill, pushing the narrative that retaining emails for two years would cost too much money. The bill passed the legislature anyway, but our feckless governor vetoed it and essentially let the agencies write his idiotic veto message.
That such a law is essential is not only obvious in theory, but the incredibly dishonest behavior of various local agencies shows how important it is in our very specific practical context. So for instance, here behold the entire Board of Directors of the entire Fashion District BID swearing under oath no less that they delete all BID-related emails on receipt and that’s why they don’t ever produce them in response to CPRA requests. And the judge believed them, although he admitted that the whole story was implausible. But no evidence controverted it.
Continue reading Even Though Gavin Newsom — At The Behest Of A Bunch Of Bad BIDdies With Dark And Bloody Secrets To Keep — Vetoed Todd Gloria’s Essential Email Retention Bill — The Question Of Whether Existing Law Already Requires Local Agencies To Retain Emails For Two Years Is Potentially Up Before The California Supreme Court — The Electronic Frontier Foundation And A Host Of Other Government Transparency Advocates Urge The Court To Accept The Case And Find That The Law Does In Fact Prohibit These Book Burners From Destroying Public Records — Here’s A Copy Of The Amicus Letter — And A Little Assorted Ranting Of My Own On This Essential Topic
Of course you remember a few weeks how Juli Quinn, president of the Board of Directors of the white supremacist criminal charter school conspiracy known as The Accelerated Schools, threw her toys from the pram and shut down a meeting just because public commenters said some true things. And the subject that they were commenting on was, of course, the unreasonable firing of long-time employee and union member Hilda Rodriguez-Guzman.
But what you might not have known is that Hilda has been continuing to investigate wrongdoing at TAS via, among other things, the California Public Records Act. And this is how she recently obtained official audio recordings of the last three TAS board meetings. She shared them with me and I’m sharing them with you by publishing them on Archive.Org for download and on YouTube for streaming. Here are links:
★ June 27 part 1 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis
★ June 27 part 2 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis
★ August 29, 2019 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis
★ October 24, 2019 — YouTube | MP3 | Ogg Vorbis
And this is important information to have. And it came with an unexpected bonus which supplies even more important information. After Quinn shut down the October 24 meeting the Board did not stop recording immediately and thereby captured some comments by facilities manager Tom Nizetich to executive assistant Mia Watson about how the protesters ought to be handled in his opinion. Here’s what he said:
Tom Nizetich: God damnit! He’s letting Vincent deal with these people while he’s on the fucking telephone!
Mia Watson: Who? Garcia!
Nizetich: Yes! How could you! Son of a bitch drives me out of my mind! The police! Good luck getting them over here! Just shuffle these people out of here!
Nizetich: God almighty!
Continue reading After Accelerated Schools Board President Juli Quinn Shut Down The October 24 Board Meeting In A Fit Of Petulant Rage — Because Protesters — Her Social Inferiors In Every Way Just Ask Her — Dared To Say Something True In Her Presence — And Weren’t Sufficiently Grateful For The Sacrifices Being Made By Their White Saviors On The Board — After All That — Facilities Director Tom Nizetich Cursed About Security Guard Guillermo Garcia Calling The Police To Handle The Situation — Because Nizetich Didn’t Think The Police Would Even Show Up — He Wanted Garcia To “Just Shuffle These People Out Of Here God Almighty” — Listen To A Recording Of Nizetich’s Foul-Mouthed Cynical Paranoia — And Wonder Yet Again Why Anyone Thinks It’s A Good Idea To Make These Self-Absorbed Psychopaths Responsible For The Care And Education Of Actual Human Children
The Risk Management Division of the Los Angeles Police Department runs a course called Professional Resources for Officers in Civil Trials, or PROACT. The City Attorney defends officers who are sued civilly for work-related matters, and this course prepares the officers for the process. I recently obtained a copy of a detailed syllabus for the course, which you can download here in the original rich text format and also here exported to PDF if that’s useful. I also converted it to html and you’ll find that version at the end of the post.
This document might be useful for plaintiff’s attorneys suing LAPD officers seeking to understand the advice and/or the preparation that their respondents have undergone. There’s also some found humor here, as in the recommendation for trial attire forbidding “western wear”. The document is only an outline, which leaves some intriguing ambiguities unresolved.
For instance, there’s a section on “Asset Protection” which includes a section on “Fraudulent Transfers.” This doesn’t appear to be telling officers not to do fraudulent transfers, but rather to transfer assets as early as possible so they don’t look fraudulent. Which would be disconcerting if true but, as I said, the outline form makes it hard to be sure:
Timely implement is necessary, when officers hesitate to act they loose sight of their most valuable resource – time.
Officers have found that neglecting to act necessitates the option, Fraudulent Transfers. (Core Value)
A transfer found to be fraudulent is avoidable by the creditor.
And the whole thing is really worth reading. It’s transcribed into HTML below. Oh, but before you go there, take a look at this little section on how married cops should “protect” their assets from civil judgments:
In Transmutation of community property to separate property to protect 50%, beware it has ramifications for subsequent divorce.
Marital Agreements that are made in advance of problem, are better for long-term protection than undocumented outright gifts.
A divorce is usually too extreme, and you lose all tax benefits associated with marriage.
Continue reading The Los Angeles Police Department Risk Management Division Runs A Course To Prepare Officers Who Are Being Sued Civilly For Their On-The-Job Actions If They Choose To Be Defended By The City Attorney — The Course Is Called “Professional Resources for Officers in Civil Trials” — Or PROACT — Here Is A Copy Of The Course Outline Showing Exactly How They Prep These Respondents For Depositions — Testimony — And So On — With Advice On How To Dress — How To Answer Questions — How To Deal With The Anxiety Of Not Being In Charge Of The Situation — Apparently How To Hide Their Assets From Judgments
Sakshi Jain, yet another in a long line of nihilistic charter school scammers, once thought she would start a school, GANAS Academy, in the City of Carson, authorized by LAUSD and to be colocated on the campus of public elementary school Catskill Elementary. But the community saw through her lies and fought back against them and Jain ultimately had to abandon her unholy plans and slink back to her lair in disgrace.
It has been clear all along that Jain had no one’s but her own best interests in mind and that placing human children in the custody and care of such a callow grifter was an awful idea, but details of what she was planning for her victims have been few. We did learn recently from a grant application Jain submitted to the California Department of Education that she believed in stringing together empty words about putative excellence, although again, what this would mean for the actual children wasn’t clear:
… rigorous academics, character development, and community engagement, GANAS Academy Charter School educates students in kindergarten through fifth grade for academic success, placing them firmly on the path to college. GANAS Academy believes that all students – regardless of zip code, race, or socioeconomic status – deserve access to a high-quality education that prepares them for success in college and career.
But recently I obtained some really interesting 2017 information from CD15 about what Jain had in mind. Buscaino’s office was involved at that point because Jain originally planned to colocate her infernal school in Wilmington, which is in the City of LA in CD15, so she was cultivating relationships with them. To this end, on October 1, 2017 Jain emailed Buscaino staffer Fernando Navarette and cultivated with all her damn might:
Continue reading In 2017 Sakshi Jain — Founder Of Ill-Fated GANAS Academy Charter School — Sent Three Videos To CD15 Staffer Fernando Navarrete — Proclaiming That They “Provide A Glimpse Into” What She Had In Mind To Subject Small Children To — Basically Militarized Grammar Drills — Like Some Kind Of Subtextually Coercive North Korean Card-Flipping Performance — Totalitarian Training For Future Automatons — Of A Sort That The Zillionaires Who Fund Jain And Other Charter School Grifters Would Never Subject Their Own Kids To — We Were Luckier Than We Knew That Jain’s Appalling Project Flamed Out
Yesterday the Aids Healthcare Foundation held a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles for its alleged and exceedingly plausible arbitrary and capricious denial of an AHF homeless housing project. This is an important lawsuit with a a powerful and convincing petition in support of AHF’s laudable efforts to house the unhoused in Los Angeles. It’s been well-covered in the press.
Not quite as well-covered is the fact that in September 2019, as part of the lead-up to that lawsuit, AHF sent a request to HCIDLA for public records related to the bidding process in which their project was rejected. HCIDLA rejected it with a message stating that the Mayor’s Office had the records and that AHF should send it there. They did so, and a few days later Garcetti’s office sent them a denial stating “[it] is our policy not to disclose materials related to competing bids while the contracting process is still ongoing.”
Now, the CPRA is very clear on the fundamental fact that unless there is an explicit reason given in the law for withholding a record, that record must be released to anyone who asks for it. This is found at §6255(a), which says that “The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.”
Continue reading On September 20, 2019 The Aids Healthcare Foundation Filed A California Public Records Act Petition Against The City Of Los Angeles — Just Four Days After Receiving A Characteristically Inadequate Denial From The Office Of The Mayor — This Is A Necessary — And Laudable — And Entirely Appropriate Action — I Can Only Think Of Two Strategies For Encouraging The City To Consistently Comply With The CPRA — One Is For Us To Pass A Local Sunshine Ordinance — And Until That Happens We Have To Sue The Freaking Crap Out Of The City Immediately Every Time They Illegally Withhold Records — Like Freud Said — If They Don’t Pay They Won’t Get Better — So Yay AHF!
Quick summary! In August 2018 I was forced by the unhinged intransigence of Blair Besten, half-pint Norma Desmond of the Historic Core BID, to file a petition seeking to enforce my rights under the California Public Records Act. So the usual on-and-freaking-on process of CPRA litigation happened and after a few archetypally zany moments, like La Besten denying under oath that those things her BID sends out via MailChimp are, you know, emails, everybody filed their briefs in July and then today, Tuesday, November 5, we finally had the damn trial.
And the judge, James Chalfant, did as judges will do, and issued a tentative ruling the day before, and you can read it right here. And then this afternoon at the trial, after some characteristically futile yammering by counsel for respondent, the notoriously feckless Jeffrey Charles Briggs, the judge adopted his tentative ruling, handing us, that is me and my lawyer, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, a major victory. In particular, said the judge, those things that MailChimp sends are indeed emails and the BID is ordered to search for them and hand them over.
Continue reading My Public Records Act Case Against The Historic Core BID Went To Trial Today — And The BIDdies Lost Big-Time! — Judge Orders Them To Do A New Search! — And Basically Scoffs At Their Argument That MailChimp Doesn’t Send Emails! — BID Lawyer Jeff Briggs Actually Argued In Open Court That They Shouldn’t Have To Hand Over Records Because Of The Upcoming Fee Motion! — Total Loser Move! — If They Were Mops The Floor Would Be Cleanest!
As you may well know there is a group of activists here in Los Angeles, known as Stop LAPD Spying, which is dedicated to the goal of stopping LAPD from spying. Such a group is, sadly, really necessary because LAPD just will not stop spying. From the famous red squad to the present, they just will not cut it out. And one of the forms LAPD spying takes in the present day is the monitoring of social media accounts and the dissemination of so-called intelligence gathered there. For instance, in 2017 dedicated LAPD social media stalkers learned of an unpermitted demonstration planned by a group called Code Pink, and they emailed a bunch of security people and BIDs Downtown about it and possibly even sent cops to the event.
And just today I learned of another such incident, this time involving LAPD’s Transit Services Division. It seems that Extinction Rebellion Los Angeles was planning a protest for April 22, 2019 to take place on the Red Line train, although the location was not at first revealed. As folks will do these days they coordinated it via social media, and the TSD was watching. And screenshotting. And disseminating their work to various private security companies, who sent it along to their clients, which include business improvement districts.
I learned of this from an April 21, 2019 email sent by Brian Raboin of Allied Universal Security to his clients, including the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. Raboin quotes extensively from an LAPD email that I don’t yet have a copy of, in which it’s revealed that not only was TSD monitoring Extinction Rebellion’s social media, but that the Media Relations Division was as well. There is a transcription of this email below. And Raboin also sent an attachment consisting of thirteen pages of screenshots from various Extinction Rebellion social media pages. Selected images from this document appear below as well.
On April 22, 2019 Extinction Rebellion announced via Facebook that the protest would take place, or at least start out, at Universal City Station. And, even more ominously in the jaundiced view of these cops and their henchies in private security, recommended that participants wear “clothes that can get stained.” The police sent out an update immediately and Raboin forwarded it along to his clients. That’s the story. I’ll leave the moral for you to formulate.
But it’s essential to continue to piece together evidence about what LAPD can monitor, what they do monitor, and with whom they share the fruits of their monitoring. Just yesterday it seems like the whole human population of New York City rose up against violent overpolicing on their subways. And the whole human population of Los Angeles can see that we have the same problem and that it might well lead to the same kind of reaction. So it’s worth remembering while we’re organizing, friends and fellow humans, that the cops are reading our Twitters.
Continue reading LAPD Transit Services Division Monitored Extinction Rebellion’s Social Media In April 2019 And Sent Out Reports To Allied Universal Security — A Private Security Firm Employed By Many Business Improvement Districts In Los Angeles — Subsequently AUS Distributed LAPD Intelligence Reports To Its Clients