North Figueroa Association — AKA Highland Park BID — And Lincoln Heights BID — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — After I Exposed Their Mural Erasures — And Social Media Stalking — And Attacks On Street Vendors — In 2018 They Lawyered Up — And Stopped Complying With The Law — Apparently Litigation Is The Only Way To Get These Outlaws To Comply With Their Damn Obligations

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our old friends at the Highland Park BID but that’s certainly not because I lost interest in them! You’ll recall that in early 2018 they released a really rich set of emails in response to some requests made under the California Public Records Act. These records revealed, among other things, the BID’s complicity in the ongoing hurricane-force gentrification of Highland Park, using tactics like mural erasure and harassment of street vendors. The emails also showed the BID’s creepy Facebook stalking of local antigentrification activists, coordinated with weirdo CD1 staffer Bill Cody.

The Highland Park BID’s executive director, Misty Iwatsu, is also the ED of the Lincoln Heights BID.1 Lincoln Heights isn’t as under the gentrification gun as Highland Park, but it’s going to be very soon. So in May 2018 I sent some CPRA requests to the LHBID, seeking to understand their role in changing the neighborhood and also to understand their BID renewal process, which was just beginning. But by the middle of that month Iwatsu’s two BIDs had evidently had their damn fill of transparency.2 They hired ritzy Manhattan Beach lawyer Mark Abramson, who on their behalf immediately stopped complying with the CPRA.

And as usual I spent some time trying to convince the guy to straighten up and follow the law, but he simply would not do it. The previously smooth flow of records ceased. Abramson announced vague far-in-the-future deadlines for production and then blew through them, sent corrupted files and denied they were corrupted, and all the usual tactics that obstructionist agencies rely on. At some point it became clear that no one at either of these BIDs was planning to comply with the law, so on Monday, January 13, 2020, I filed a petition in L.A. County Superior Court asking the judge to compel them.

The public interest in accessing this material is huge even apart from the general public interest in having public agencies comply with the Public Records Act. The BID’s role in mural erasure was covered in L.A. Magazine and The Boulevard Sentinel and local activists Restorative Justice for the Arts have organized in opposition. The Lincoln Heights BID is actually involved somehow in the planned gentrification of that neighborhood, which has also been covered in the press. And in the 18 months since the BIDs stopped complying we’ve been kept in the dark about whatever else these publicly funded entities are getting up to. This cannot be allowed to continue! Read on for selections from the petition!
Continue reading North Figueroa Association — AKA Highland Park BID — And Lincoln Heights BID — Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act — After I Exposed Their Mural Erasures — And Social Media Stalking — And Attacks On Street Vendors — In 2018 They Lawyered Up — And Stopped Complying With The Law — Apparently Litigation Is The Only Way To Get These Outlaws To Comply With Their Damn Obligations

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In 2018 and 2019 The Los Angeles City Attorney Sent Out 479 Demand Letters In Nuisance Abatement Cases — And Filed 30 Cases In Court — According To Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson An LAPD Gang Officer’s Referral Is Sufficient To Open A Case File — Gang Officers Of Course Were Recently Revealed To Engage In Widespread Lying — And None Of The Demands And Almost None Of The Filed Complaints Get Litigated — So Almost None Of The City’s Allegations Ever Get Tested Adversarially — The City Is Already Reviewing Criminal Cases That The Lying Officers Were Involved In — But Who Will Review These Civil Nuisance Cases?

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program ostensibly attacks gang crime by filing civil lawsuits against property owners whose properties are allegedly involved in ongoing criminal activity. And even though there are obviously people committing all kinds of crimes, dealing drugs, shooting guns, hanging out listening to music,1 in houses and apartments all over the City, the vast majority of these suits are brought in South Los Angeles, a significant fraction in East and Northeast LA, and almost none in other areas.

These disparities support the widely held view that nuisance abatement suits are used as an aggressive gentrification tool. The neighborhoods targeted are gentrifying neighborhoods. The settlement conditions, and by far most of these cases settle, support gentrification and displacement by, among other things, forcing property owners to sell or to evict putatively undesirable tenants or to install surveillance equipment or otherwise function as LAPD informants. Most of the cases are brought against owners of single family homes or small multifamily or commercial properties, maybe because they’re less likely to have the resources to defend themselves.2

I’ve had some trouble learning how the City Attorney picks its targets, but recently, Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson, in an important series of emails, revealed that for the most part they’re chosen as a result of referrals from residents or law enforcement.3 According to Wilson, irrespective of the source of the referral, an LAPD “gang officer’s communication would be sufficient for the DCA4 to open a case on the property.” And the information supporting the case also comes from LAPD, according to Wilson: “The criminal activity at the property would have to be chronic and well-documented by LAPD before a DCA would even consider filling nuisance abatement action.”

And it turns out that for the City, filing a case essentially amounts to winning it. I recently obtained almost a hundred of these nuisance petitions, filed since 2015, from the CA via the California Public Records Act.5 and for the most part the targets don’t fight back. I checked all 67 of the cases opened between 2017 and 2019 and no more than ten involved any significant defense before settling essentially on the City’s terms.6 This means that the allegations in the petitions almost never get tested adversarially.

There’s no cross-examination, no documentation, and, surprisingly, not even testimony under penalty of perjury. In California Civil Procedure7 a petition is called verified when the complainant asserts belief in the truth of the allegations under penalty of perjury. For whatever reason nuisance abatement petitions are unverified, so no one even gets in trouble if parts of the cases turn out to be made up.8
Continue reading In 2018 and 2019 The Los Angeles City Attorney Sent Out 479 Demand Letters In Nuisance Abatement Cases — And Filed 30 Cases In Court — According To Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson An LAPD Gang Officer’s Referral Is Sufficient To Open A Case File — Gang Officers Of Course Were Recently Revealed To Engage In Widespread Lying — And None Of The Demands And Almost None Of The Filed Complaints Get Litigated — So Almost None Of The City’s Allegations Ever Get Tested Adversarially — The City Is Already Reviewing Criminal Cases That The Lying Officers Were Involved In — But Who Will Review These Civil Nuisance Cases?

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The West Adams BID Formation Process Has Officially Begun — The Council File Is Opened — And The Draft Ordinance Of Intention Is Published — Largely Promoted By Supervillain Developers CIM Group — The Petitions Are In And Property Owners Holding 50.4% Of The Assessed Value Approve — The Management District Plan Proves That The BID’s Main Purpose Is To Support The Ongoing Tornado-Force Gentrification Of This Vulnerable Neighborhood — Almost Certainly This BID Can’t Be Stopped And Will Start Its Wicked Work On January 1, 2021

A business improvement district that has been in the works in rapidly gentrifying West Adams at least since the Summer of 2018 is finally moving forward and is very likely to be created by the City later this year and begin operations on January 1, 2021. The formation effort is largely backed by supervillainesque developer CIM group, which owns a huge plurality of the commercial property in the proposed district, slated to run along Adams from La Brea to Hauser.1 The formation materials are currently contained in Council File 20-0020.

Recall that a BID is a geographical area within which commercial property owners2 pay extra taxes3 to fund various services. The formal BID creation process begins with a group of property owners4 petitioning the City to allow a BID to be formed. It’s required by the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994, which is the authority under which BIDs are created and administered in California, that these petitions represent property owners “who will pay more than 50 percent of the assessments proposed to be levied”5

According to the report placed in the Council File by the City Clerk they received petitions representing $106,034.65 out of a total assessed value in the proposed district of $210,388.90, which is 50.4%. The report doesn’t say how many distinct owners signed petitions nor who they were, but I’m working on finding out. The next stage in the formal process is for City Council to pass a so-called Ordinance of Intention, the draft of which is available here.

Once this is passed the City Clerk will mail out ballots to all the property owners and if enough of them, again weighted by assessment amounts, vote in favor of the BID City Council will pass another ordinance creating the BID. Before this can happen the owners have to know what services their extra taxes are going to fund, which is laid out in great detail in the so-called Management District Plan.6 When a BID is created this document7 is incorporated into the law establishing it and then they can’t spend money for anything not enumerated in the plan. The proposed West Adams BID’s MDP is here.

The West Adams BID’s proposed activities are limited in the MDP to “Sidewalk Operations, District Identity and Placemaking, and Administration Services.” The MDP makes it very clear that the BID is being formed to support gentrification, though, stating that its “services would be needed to accommodate hundreds of new apartments and businesses opening in 2019 and 2020, and these services would be needed by the beginning of 2021.” The surprise omission here is funding for security guards. During the pre-formation process CIM Group’s support-building outreach focused to a great extent on property owners’ perceptions of safety in the area.
Continue reading The West Adams BID Formation Process Has Officially Begun — The Council File Is Opened — And The Draft Ordinance Of Intention Is Published — Largely Promoted By Supervillain Developers CIM Group — The Petitions Are In And Property Owners Holding 50.4% Of The Assessed Value Approve — The Management District Plan Proves That The BID’s Main Purpose Is To Support The Ongoing Tornado-Force Gentrification Of This Vulnerable Neighborhood — Almost Certainly This BID Can’t Be Stopped And Will Start Its Wicked Work On January 1, 2021

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The Accelerated Schools Issue A Complete — Utter — Abject Capitulation To My Demand That They Stop Violating The Damn Brown Act By Illegally Requiring People To Sign In As A Condition Of Attendance — They Unconditionally Commit Never To Do It Any More Ever Again — And Wayne K. Strumpfer — Their Lying Ideologue Of A Lawyer — Asserts That They Were Only Ever Making People Sign In Because It Prevents School Shootings — Which Sounds Not Only Implausible To Me But Actually Moronic — But Probably That’s Only Because I’m Not A Galaxy Brain Privatizing Charter Genius Like Strumpfer And His Clients

In October 2019, as you may recall, the infamous white savior rogue charter conspiracy known as The Accelerated Schools held a board meeting at which they committed three distinct and shocking violations of California’s quintessential government transparency law, the Brown Act. One of the most appalling of this series of thoroughly appalling transgressions was their requirement that members of the public sign their names to a sheet in order to enter the public meeting.

This, of course, is explicitly forbidden by the Brown Act at §54953.3.1 TAS attempted to excuse this outlawry by claiming that they weren’t requiring a signature to attend the meeting, but just to enter the school grounds on which the meeting was being held. This is nonsense, of course, but nevertheless typical of the kind of empty technical loopholes that arrogant privileged zillionaires and their minions seem to believe are all it takes for them to evade their legal obligations.2

And so on December 18, 2019, in accordance with the procedures mandated by the Brown Act,3 I sent them a letter demanding that they unconditionally commit never to ever require people to sign in to attend their meetings and informing them that if they didn’t completely obey me within 30 days I was going to file a petition asking a judge to (metaphorically) slap some damn sense into them.

And lo! Just yesterday, TAS’s metaphorically mobbed up lawyer Wayne K. Strumpfer of privatizing powerhouse law firm Young Minney & Corr, who’s basically a liar and enabler of outlawry but evidently knows a losing position when his clients manage to back themselves into one, sent me a letter utterly and abjectly capitulating to my demand!

But before he got around to the utter abjection Dr. Strumpfer went on and on and on explaining to me that The Accelerated Schools actually did nothing wrong, that I pretty much made everything up, that his clients only acted according to the very highest motivations, and that requiring people to sign in to attend meetings is how TAS prevents school shootings! And I guess that that’s working because as far as I know they haven’t had any.

On that subject, it’s interesting that Strumpfer doesn’t say a word about the fact that TAS chooses to have its meetings on school grounds during school hours when schoolchildren are present even after parents have been pleading with the board literally for years to have meetings in the evening so that working people have a chance to attend. One might think that having meetings at times when no kids were around would be a more effective way to protect the kids than having people sign a piece of paper, but admittedly I know nothing whatsoever about whatever kind of eleven dimensional galaxy brain hypercrapola in which these TAS people and their shyster lawyer have earned an average of 2.7 Ph.Ds each.4

In any case Dr. Wayne finally gets around to the actual point, which is that they don’t want to get sued by me so dammit, they concede everything! The only actual concrete effect of this concession5 is that if they ever require people to sign in to their meetings I can sue them without giving them notice or even asking them to stop. Which I totally will do, by the way! So that’s a little victory over the satanic minions of privatization. Read on for a complete transcription of Wayne K. Strumpfer’s jittery little surrender letter!
Continue reading The Accelerated Schools Issue A Complete — Utter — Abject Capitulation To My Demand That They Stop Violating The Damn Brown Act By Illegally Requiring People To Sign In As A Condition Of Attendance — They Unconditionally Commit Never To Do It Any More Ever Again — And Wayne K. Strumpfer — Their Lying Ideologue Of A Lawyer — Asserts That They Were Only Ever Making People Sign In Because It Prevents School Shootings — Which Sounds Not Only Implausible To Me But Actually Moronic — But Probably That’s Only Because I’m Not A Galaxy Brain Privatizing Charter Genius Like Strumpfer And His Clients

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Joe Buscaino Moves To Sell Off Two City-Owned Parcels In CD15 To Private Developers For Some Nonsensical Purpose He’s Calling Economic Development – And They’re In Freaking Opportunity Zones So Not Only Is The Grift Turned Up To Eleven But The Sale Will Likely Support Gentrification And Displacement – And Half The Money From Such Sales Goes Straight Into The Councilmember’s Discretionary Slush Funds – Which Are Used Among Other Things For Projects To Boost Incumbent Popularity Before Elections – This Is What City Councilmembers Do With Our Public Land – Enrich Themselves And Their Zillionaire Cronies – Instead Of Building Social Housing On It – And A Loophole In Council’s Recent Motion To Require City Property To Be Used For Affordable Housing Is Finally Revealed!

In 2017 the Federal Government created the latest entry in a long series of programs leveraging various combinations of tax cuts and economic incentives to enrich zillionaires at the expense of poor urban communities of color. The current incarnation is known as an Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones, like their predecessors, use powerful economic and policy tools to promote displacement, to incentivize gentrification, and to siphon money from the treasury to zillionaire coffers. The heroic economic justice activists in SAJE have done a great deal of deep and fundamental research into this program, including its likely effects on Los Angeles, published in a blockbuster report called Displacement Zones.

The Los Angeles muncipal government, which can fruitfully be conceptualized as an incredibly efficient alchemical process for transformatively combining human misery and real estate into zillionaire gold,1 is, as you’d expect, right on top of this newly created opportunity for grift. And, also as you’d expect, they’ve hidden many parts of the process from the public, not by carrying them out in the proverbial but by now outmoded smoke-filled rooms, but by obscuring them beneath multiple layers of semantically empty words, distributing pieces of the process across multiple council files, mostly supplementary, in the effectively-unsearchable-by-design Council File Management System, and so on.2

But with careful attention to the City’s various announcements and close reading of motions it’s occasionally possible to become aware of some of their moves. This is how I learned that in June 2019 Joe Buscaino introduced a couple of motions with the phrase “City Economic Development / Asset Management Framework Review” in their titles, each along with a specific address. These are Council File 12-1549-S14, which is about 500 S. Mesa Street and Council File 12-1549-S15, which is about 1845 E. 103rd Street. Both motions note that the properties are located in Opportunity Zones. The motions instruct various City departments to evaluate the properties “for economic development purposes” according to some set of criteria called “the Asset Management Framework” and then report back to Council on their findings.

The report-backs hit the Council Files a few weeks ago (500 S. Mesa Street and 1845 E. 103rd Street). Both recommend, as they seem to have been intended to do, that the City issue a request for proposals to use the properties for economic development, potentially through private development. The fact that the two reports are identically worded except for a few specific details about the properties suggests that not much care was taken in their creation. This supports the view that the outcomes of the evaluations were predetermined. The fact that the criteria for what counts as economic development are so vague supports the view that the ultimate point is to sell these valuable parcels off to some developer with a superficially plausible story about tax benefits or whatever.

And the fact that the City is going to sell the properties to private developers3 supports the view that the goal is grift rather than using City-owned resources to help residents of the City. It’s not like the City of Los Angeles itself can’t develop its properties for commercial use, which would support economic development just as much as if a private developer owned the land, or more because more of the money would go to the City. Just for instance, the City owns plenty of parking garages, many of which have retail space at street level. The City offers these for lease to commercial tenants, a proposition which must be of more value to the City than if a private developer is involved in any capacity and taking out profits.
Continue reading Joe Buscaino Moves To Sell Off Two City-Owned Parcels In CD15 To Private Developers For Some Nonsensical Purpose He’s Calling Economic Development – And They’re In Freaking Opportunity Zones So Not Only Is The Grift Turned Up To Eleven But The Sale Will Likely Support Gentrification And Displacement – And Half The Money From Such Sales Goes Straight Into The Councilmember’s Discretionary Slush Funds – Which Are Used Among Other Things For Projects To Boost Incumbent Popularity Before Elections – This Is What City Councilmembers Do With Our Public Land – Enrich Themselves And Their Zillionaire Cronies – Instead Of Building Social Housing On It – And A Loophole In Council’s Recent Motion To Require City Property To Be Used For Affordable Housing Is Finally Revealed!

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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation Filed A Public Records Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles In September 2019 – And Even Though The City Only Very Rarely Contests These CPRA Petitions They Are Contesting This One – Not Sure Why Though Given That AHF Asked For Fifteen Categories Of Records And The City’s Sole Defense Is Apparently That The California Supreme Court Said That Records In One Of Those Categories Are Exempt Under Certain Circumstances – Which Don’t Even Obviously Apply Here

This is just a short post to update you on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation‘s pending California Public Records Act petition against the City of Los Angeles. The petition was filed in September, and you can read about it some detail here. The short version is that the City put out a request for proposals for some housing stuff. AHF’s response was rejected. Subsequently AHF submitted a CPRA request asking for fifteen distinct categories of records related to the RFP process.1

One part of the request was for the other responses to the RFP. The others had to do with communications regarding the RFP, names, resumes, and conflicts of interests of the people who scored the responses, and so on. And the City denied the request with a characteristically terse non-sequitur, stating that: “[it] is our policy not to disclose materials related to competing bids while the contracting process is still ongoing.”

The City of Los Angeles, you may recall, fights very, very few CPRA petitions filed against it. Between 2016 and early 2019 they settled nine out of at least ten cases.2 I myself have filed eight cases against the City since last year and they’ve settled three of them, agreed to settle three others, and two are just beginning. But they’re not settling this one, or at least they’re buying some time before they do settle.3

And therefore on Monday, January 6, 2020, the City filed this answer to the petition. Answers in civil litigation can be notoriously devoid of content, and this one’s pretty much in line with that trend, what with the “to the extent that anything the petitioner said makes any sense respondent the City of Los Angeles denies it” and other such circumlocutions. But Bethelwel Wilson, the Deputy City Attorney who’s staffing the case, did include a couple fragments of substantial argument. In the first place, quoth Wilson:
Continue reading The AIDS Healthcare Foundation Filed A Public Records Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles In September 2019 – And Even Though The City Only Very Rarely Contests These CPRA Petitions They Are Contesting This One – Not Sure Why Though Given That AHF Asked For Fifteen Categories Of Records And The City’s Sole Defense Is Apparently That The California Supreme Court Said That Records In One Of Those Categories Are Exempt Under Certain Circumstances – Which Don’t Even Obviously Apply Here

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Annals Of Police Misconduct And The Public Records Request – The Painfully Detailed Story Of SB1421 And The Los Angeles World Airport Police Department – Almost A Year Of Block-Headed Pointless Resource-Wasting Obstructionism – Delay – Lies – And So On – Even More Evidence That This City Badly Needs A Working CPRA Policy – Also Included – Instructions On How You Can Receive – By Mail Even – As Many Free USB Drives As You Want From The City Of Los Angeles

Wonder what this lovely aerial photograph of LAX has to do with the fact that SB1421 required California police departments to release certain records relating to police misconduct? Without the passage of that law in 2018 I would never have received this image. What’s the story? Read on, friends!
On January 1, 2019, Senator Nancy Skinner‘s monumental police accountability law, known as SB1421, went into effect, requiring police agencies in California to release detailed records of investigations of certain kinds of officer misconduct that had previously been exempt from production via the California Public Records Act. People immediately requested all newly available records from every police agency possible, police unions sued in vain to stop the law from taking effect, and one year into the new era an incredible amount of important and previously secret information has come out.

And even as judges across the state ruled against various attempts to block the law, police departments have developed a vast range of techniques to frustrate requesters by imposing countless obstacles, time-sinks, outrageous charges, and the like. There’s been a lot of discussion of this in the press, of course, the press being immediately affected by such tactics. And open discussion of these tactics is essential for any number of reasons. Just for instance it allows requesters to be able to respond effectively and legislators to be able to identify fixes. And, maybe, just maybe it might shame some of these obstructionist police departments to stop fooling around and follow the damn law.

And that is why today I have for you a detailed account of the ludicrously extreme SB1421 compliance obstruction tactics practiced by the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department, told through our email correspondence over the last year! On January 21, 2019 I sent a request to the Airport Police Department (APD, as they call it over there) for all records newly made available through SB1421.1 After about six weeks of delay and nonresponse, I finally got an email from Deputy City Attorney Karen Majovski in which she belatedly acknowledged receipt of my request and also insisted on discussing it with me over the phone under the guise of seeking clarification.
Continue reading Annals Of Police Misconduct And The Public Records Request – The Painfully Detailed Story Of SB1421 And The Los Angeles World Airport Police Department – Almost A Year Of Block-Headed Pointless Resource-Wasting Obstructionism – Delay – Lies – And So On – Even More Evidence That This City Badly Needs A Working CPRA Policy – Also Included – Instructions On How You Can Receive – By Mail Even – As Many Free USB Drives As You Want From The City Of Los Angeles

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Jordan Cunningham – Republican Member Of The California State Assembly From San Luis Obispo – Introduces Monumental Police Misconduct Transparency Bill – AB1599 Would Require Release Of Police Personnel Files Of Officers Accused Of Sexual Assault On Member Of Public When The Officer Resigns Before The Investigation Is Concluded

The legislature is back in session as of yesterday, and all the bills still kicking around from last year must be dealt with soonest. And among these is a gut and amend1 version of AB1599, introduced yesterday by San Luis Obispo Republican Jordan Cunningham. This is a supplement to last year’s blockbuster SB1421, which required the release of a whole range of records relating to police misconduct.

That law has been transformative, even in the face of massive police resistance to its implementation, but it only applies to records of completed investigations, which leaves open the possibility that officers could resign during an investigation and thereby keep records from being released.

Cunningham’s bill closes off that possibility in the specific case of officers accused of sexual assault involving members of the public by making an officer’s personnel records relating to such complaints public in the event that the accused officer resigns prior to the investigation being complete.

It’s possibly interesting that such a radical police misconduct transparency bill is being introduced by a Republican, I guess, although partisan politics in California is full of such superficial contradictions. Cunningham is both a former ADA and has a reputation for promoting law enforcement accountability, two qualities which are often but ought not to be in tension. His reasoning, perfectly sensible and yet apparently very rare among prosecutors, is summed up in this story from last year about his support for another bill in this genre:

“I can tell you as a deputy (district attorney), the last thing you want to do is carry a case forward to a jury not knowing whether you’re going to put a police officer on the stand that has impeachment material in their file that you haven’t gotten access to,” Cunningham said on the floor May 22. “I know a lot of my colleagues on our side of the aisle are nervous about this bill, but I don’t think you should be.”

This bill seems like a good idea, and stay tuned for developments! Meanwhile, here’s a link to the legislative file again, and read on for the legislative analyst’s summary.
Continue reading Jordan Cunningham – Republican Member Of The California State Assembly From San Luis Obispo – Introduces Monumental Police Misconduct Transparency Bill – AB1599 Would Require Release Of Police Personnel Files Of Officers Accused Of Sexual Assault On Member Of Public When The Officer Resigns Before The Investigation Is Concluded

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Emails Between Excelencia Charter Academy Founder Ruben Alonzo And Various Lawyers At Powerhouse Privatizing Law Firm Young Minney Corr – Discussing How To Respond To My Request For Public Records – Reveal Strategies Of Obstruction And Delay – And Hint At A Coordinated Campaign Of Intelligence-Gathering And Investigation Of Me – Including Idiotic Interpretations Of My Motives And My Place Of Employment – Pretty Creepy Stuff On Which To Be Spending Public Money Meant For The Education Of Children – But Not Especially Surprising

In October 2018 I sent a California Public Records Act request for a bunch of emails to Ruben Alonzo, self-proclaimed founder of Excelencia Charter Academy, a creepy co-locating conspiracy currently occupying the Boyle Heights campus of Sunrise Elementary School. And about six weeks later, at the end of November, Alonzo handed over a suprisingly complete set of responsive records. And what important material it turned out to be.

From it we learned about a demand letter that the United Teachers of Los Angeles sent to Excelencia in June 2018 alleging violations of the Brown Act. And about how insidious privateer brigade the California Charter School Association provides free lawyers to charters to help them co-locate on the campuses of actual public schools. And about how charter school operators use all kinds of shenanaganistic financial maneuvers to skim money from the public funds they receive and funnel it into the coffers of their zillionaire sponsors. And about how Ruben Alonzo is a whiny crybaby stalker who hates democracy and freedom.

And not only was all that stuff revealed but Alonzo was kind enough to produce a set of emails between him and a couple of lawyers, Sarah Kollman and Kimberly Rodriguez, from metaphorically mobbed-up charter school law conspiracy Young Minney & Corr advising him on how to respond to my request and giving him apparently illegal suggestions for how to delay my access to the records. I’m exceedingly familiar with the end result of the anti-CPRA machinations of public agencies, but it’s rare, and very interesting, not to mention useful in deciding how to respond and proceed against them, to get a glimpse of the little folks behind the curtain who create the responses sent out over the signatures of their feckless clients.

The emails also include a series of weirdly puerile and self-serving theories on my thoughts about charter schools and my motives for requesting records and related matters, thereby revealing that evidently I myself am an object of investigation and intelligence-sharing1 amongst the local charterites. For instance, in one email to Alonzo, Sarah Kollman says about me that “This guy is a “community organizer” and has made it his mission to harass charter schools across LA.”2 At one point, Ruben Alonzo identifies me in an email to his tech department as “the same blogger who was attacking Sakshi and Ganas.” Which of course is true, see the story here at the tag archive, and isn’t validation nice!

As I said, the story begins with my October 13, 2018 request for access to some of ECA’s emails. It’s really important to provide as specific a description of what one wants as is practicable,3 and here I asked for 2018 and 2019 emails that:
Continue reading Emails Between Excelencia Charter Academy Founder Ruben Alonzo And Various Lawyers At Powerhouse Privatizing Law Firm Young Minney Corr – Discussing How To Respond To My Request For Public Records – Reveal Strategies Of Obstruction And Delay – And Hint At A Coordinated Campaign Of Intelligence-Gathering And Investigation Of Me – Including Idiotic Interpretations Of My Motives And My Place Of Employment – Pretty Creepy Stuff On Which To Be Spending Public Money Meant For The Education Of Children – But Not Especially Surprising

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LAPD Has Over A Million Historical Photos In Its Archives – Going Back Almost A Hundred Years – These Are Public Records So I Asked For Copies – And They Were All Like No Way! – But In 2001 They Shared These With Some Gallery Owners – Who Put Together An Exhibit – Which Is Still Touring The World After All These Years – And They Are Selling Prints For Hundreds Of Dollars – And The Law is Very Clear That Once The City Lets One Person See Them They Must Let All Other People See Them – So Today I Filed Yet Another Lawsuit Seeking To Compel The City To Hand Over The Damn Goods!

LAPD Archival photo of Black Panther Headquarters
Apparent LAPD arrest of a man for masquerading.
Late last year famous local historians and operators of Esotouric Tours Kim Cooper and Richard Schave drew my attention to a collection of more than a million historic crime photos held in the LAPD archives and dating back to the 1920s. In 2001 the LAPD allowed the owners of the Fototeka Gallery to access these photos, copy them, and exhibit and sell prints for outrageously high prices.

The gallery owners also published and sold a book of selected images.1 Since then, though, the LAPD hadn’t let anyone else look at the pictures. Kim and Richard were lamenting the tragic fact that such important historical material had been cherry-picked by so few individuals, when there are many historians whose work would be enhanced by access – and by extension enhancing Angelenos’ understanding of our city.2


And that is really an understatement. Just look at the few examples scattered around this post, which I took from Fototeka’s site. There is an image from an LAPD men’s room spy camera, a picture of the Black Panther Party Headquarters after the shootout, a man apparently arrested for crossdressing, old buildings, many possibly unintentionally artistic closeups. An unimaginable variety.

These pictures could potentially give unprecedented insight into the LAPD’s past treatment of people of color, of LGBTQ people, gender noncomformists, and so on. Architecture, design, daily life. There is no limit to the public interest in seeing these images, in opening up this whole collection to the public. It is appalling that they’re not available to everyone.

Men’s restroom spy camera shot, 1950.

Now, the California Public Records Act is very, very clear that photographs are public records.3 And it’s also very clear that once a public record has been released to one member of the public it can no longer be withheld from any member of the public.4 Clearly, then, I thought, we are going to get access to these photos! So I submitted a request through the City’s NextRequest platform.

Now, the LAPD is famous for its idiotic denials, and their first response was consistent with their reputation. They told me that I couldn’t have them because they are investigative materials and therefore exempt under §6254(f).5 So I told them about the fact that a release to anyone constitutes a waiver and asked them to change their mind.


They ignored me, as they are wont to do, so I wrote to the City Attorney and asked again. And they also ignored me. So I contacted the incomparable attorney Anna von Herrmann and asked her what she thought. And what she thought was that we should file a petition to force the City to release the photos. And that’s what we did, and here is a copy for you! Read on for some selections.
Continue reading LAPD Has Over A Million Historical Photos In Its Archives – Going Back Almost A Hundred Years – These Are Public Records So I Asked For Copies – And They Were All Like No Way! – But In 2001 They Shared These With Some Gallery Owners – Who Put Together An Exhibit – Which Is Still Touring The World After All These Years – And They Are Selling Prints For Hundreds Of Dollars – And The Law is Very Clear That Once The City Lets One Person See Them They Must Let All Other People See Them – So Today I Filed Yet Another Lawsuit Seeking To Compel The City To Hand Over The Damn Goods!

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