Recall that in August 2016, Mitch O’Farrell and Mike Bonin introduced a motion in Council to attack the homeless by prohibiting RVs from parking overnight in the Media District BID. This was as a result of lobbying by Lisa Schechter, now executive directrix of the Hollywood Media District BID, but formerly Tom LaBonge’s high muckety-muck for something or another. The full story is here. At the time I wondered why David Ryu hadn’t seconded the motion, given that (a) Schechter had lobbied him heavily to do so, and (b) a significant part of the Media District BID is in CD4:
[His non-involvement] suggests the possibility that Ryu isn’t as invested in pleasing these BIDdies as O’Farrell is. Or maybe he’s sitting it out because his staff has made him aware that Schechter’s up to something sneaky.
Well, I recently obtained emails from CD4 that bear on the matter. These are heavily redacted, but interestingly, as is sometimes the case, the redactions themselves tell part of the story.
The first email in the chain is a recap by cowboy Rick Howard of Hollywood powerhouse Occidental Entertainment. Ignore that. Rick Howard is famous for many things, and all of them are related to his self-serving mendacious hysteria with respect to the homeless population of Hollywood. Next, we have an interesting series of short exchanges among Nikki Ezhari,1 Justin Orenstein,2 Nicholas Greif,3 Renee Weitzer,4 and Sarah Dusseault,5 discussing what to do.
First, David Ryu wrote to an undisclosed set of recipients, probably including Greif, on February 16, 2016, at 1:08 pm:
This prompted Greif to write to Ezhari on February 16, 2016:
Let us know what you want to do on this if anything.
And this prompted a flurry of emails over the next 2 days, all of which came to me redacted on the express order of Ryu chief of staff Sarah Dusseault,7 on the basis of the putative “deliberative process exemption.”8
Well, we don’t know what was said in all those redacted emails, but we do know that the end results were that, first of all, no one from CD4 even responded to Rick Howard’s email, and second of all, that Mike Bonin seconded Mitch O’Farrell’s motion rather than David Ryu. Ryu was elected in 2015 on a platform that included strong promises of transparency and fair dealing and, while he has not lived up to those promises to the extent that one might wish, he has shown occasional flashes of promise. For instance, his ongoing records preservation project and his openness about how he spends his discretionary funds. It’s possible that his refusal to kowtow to Lisa Schechter’s illegal and Rick Howard’s unhinged9 demands for more anti-homeless parking policies is another example of this.
Image of Lisa Schechter is ©2016 MichaelKohlhaas.org.
- CD4 Hollywood Field Deputy, and first point of contact between Ryu’s office and the Media District.
- Ryu’s Legislative Deputy.
- Director of Policy and Legislation, also on the Palms Neighborhood Council in some sort of official position, where he has some fairly unhinged-seeming locals really freaking mad at him. Note that I’m not using “unhinged” as an insult here. Greif and his ilk, “ilk” meaning too-smart-for-their-own-damned-good Council staffies (we are looking at you, David Giron), are the source of about 16% of all justifiable unhingement in the greater Los Angeles area.
- Chief of Planning and Land Use.
- Chief of Staff.
- Ryu often sends this message to his staff. I have no idea what it means, and the Google is worse than no help, returning a lot of obviously wrong and exceedingly disconcerting results. From context it seems to mean they should deal with it.
- It’s an interesting feature of CPRA that if a government entity claims an exemption, and redacting stuff is claiming an exemption, they have to tell you the name(s) and title(s) of the person(s) responsible for the decisions. It’s sometimes essential to have that information, but it’s always essential to ask until one gets it. There’s enough tomfoolery surrounding CPRA without allowing express violations to slip by unobjected-to.
- This is a much-abused, court-created interpretation of the general public interest exemption to CPRA. The theory seems to be that public agencies and officials can’t function if they know their every word might be publicly scrutinized later, so putatively “pre-decisional” material can be withheld to protect the “deliberative process.” As with most such things, one can (a) see the point and (b) see the potential for abuse and, the more experience one has with CPRA, the more the potential for abuse seems to outweigh any possible benefit. That’s not a battle anyone’s going to win any time soon, probably, although the recent (2014) addition of a requirement to comply with CPRA to the state constitution may allow for this mostly crap exemption to be challenged more successfully. Time, as always, will probably tell.
- And this time I do mean it as an insult. Rick Howard is not-in-a-good-way unhinged. It’s a general rule of MK.org blog post interpretation that a construction which tends to exaggerate the unhingedness of Rick Howard is to be preferred over a construction which does not exaggerate the unhingedness of Rick Howard. Although sticklers might rightly object that it is not actually possible to exaggerate said unhingedness.