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. 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. 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
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.
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. 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.
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
It occurred to me that maybe you might want a link to the petition right away without having to read through this whole damn blog post to get to it at the end. If so, here is a link to the petition!
The Office of the City Attorney of Los Angeles has a thing called the Citywide Nuisance Abatement Program, or CNAP, in which they use various civil laws to have tenants or property owners declared nuisances and evicted, required to put up security cameras and allow LAPD warrantless access to them, or other such conditions.
Often allegations of gang activity are involved. So just for instance, there’s this case against the Chesapeake Apartments on Obama Blvd between La Brea and Crenshaw. Or this smaller scale one against a woman with a house near 52nd and Vermont. Or this against a small apartment building near 56th and Western.
Most famously this year the City Attorney has been relentlessly pursuing such an action against Slauson and Crenshaw Ventures LLC, owned by the late Nipsey Hussle and his partner David Gross. The allegations against Hussle and Gross’s property seemed unsupported by evidence, though, and this is apparently not unusual.
This program and others like it have long been understood as part of the gentrification machine, particularly pernicious in Los Angeles. That is, the City can drive out tenants in rent stabilized apartments, or force property owners to install cameras and give LAPD unfettered access to them, or impose various other conditions to serve their ends. This lets landlords raise rents or forces residents to become essentially LAPD informants.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act – I Asked The City Attorney For A Bunch Of Nuisance Abatement Demand Letters – Which Everybody Knows Are A Major Tool Of Gentrification – And Although The Lawsuits Filed By The City Are Public – It Is Impossible To Understand The Scope Of The Problem Without Seeing The Demand Letters – Since Surely Many If Not Most Of These Cases Don’t End Up In Court – But Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson Was All Like Naaaah! – So I Was All Like You’ve Been Served!
I’m a little late in writing this up, but on December 9, with the able assistance of Abenicio Cisneros and Joseph Wangler I filed yet another petition under the California Public Records Act seeking to compel the City to follow the damn law and hand over a bunch of records I had asked for ever so long ago. And as they often will do, they actually started handing them over immediately, although I haven’t gotten the most interesting ones yet.
The petition covers three major requests, unrelated other than by the fact that they were all made to the City’s Information Technology Agency. These are the folks to file CPRA requests for emails with if you want MBOX format, which ultimately is the best way to get emails. ITA is also the sole source for emails in the accounts of former City employees. Here’s a link to the very interesting petition, worth reading for many reasons and also containing every last detail of the requests at issue, described more briefly below.
First is a request I first made in 2016 for emails having to do with Eric Garcetti when he was repping CD13, his staffers Heather Repenning and Helen Leung, and their conspiracy with Kerry Morrison, then-commander of the Hollywood Entertainment District BID, to illegally exclude homeless people from Selma Park in Hollywood.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Sued Yet Again To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act – This Time Over Emails Concerning Various Matters Of Public Concern – Garcetti/Repenning/Morrison Conspiracy Against Selma Park – Wesson Corruption – Huizar Corruption – Less Than Two Weeks After Filing They Already Conceded Fault And Are Producing Documents – This Is No Way To Run A Damn City
As you may know I have been making requests of charter schools under the California Public Records Act for about a year now. Some of them have been incredibly cooperative while others, well, you know how it goes, have been less so. And no doubt you’re aware by now that the only mechanism to compel compliance with the CPRA is to file a lawsuit. Which brings us to that shady criminal conspiracy known as The Accelerated Schools. I’ve written a lot about these folks and their cartoonishly wicked white supremacy but, you may have noted, none of it has been based on public records apart from this very first thing I did in April 2019.
So I sent them a few more requests after the one that post was based on and they made a few desultory stabs at answering me in compliance with the law and then stopped responding at all. But as you’re probably aware, the situation with this Klown Kar Krew has grown ever more urgent, more of public interest than ever before.
What, that is, with their retaliatory firing of long-time employee Hilda Guzman and subsequent unfair labor practices complaint by her union, with repeated community protests at their infernal board meetings, and the unexpected recent petulant rage quit by now thankfully former board chair Juli Quinn. We need to be able to understand what these folks are up to! Which is why their special variety of unhinged intransigence can’t go unanswered, not if we expect government of, by, and for the people to not perish from this earth.
And in pursuance of it not perishing, therefore, I filed a writ petition against these privatizing creepers a couple weeks ago. And for this reason and that reason it took a while to get it served, but it was served this morning, and at long last I can publish a copy of it. And there are transcribed selections below, so stay tuned for updates and, eventually, more of the spicy records-based mockery you’re here for!
Continue reading The Accelerated Schools Sued To Compel Compliance With The California Public Records Act – My First CPRA Petition Against A Charter School – But Not The Last – Not – By – Any – Means
Mitch O’Farrell, the crying-little-babiest Councilmember in the whole City of Los Angeles, was soundly rebuked in his whiny ways by the California Court of Appeals, which last week issued an opinion reversing Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White‘s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association against the City.
The dispute was over a planning meeting sponsored by CD13 in 2014, from which Hollywood activists George Abrahams and Doug Haines of the Association were physically barred by then-CD13 director of planning (and self-confessed criminal) Marie Rumsey. As the ruling summarized the story:
Petitioners alleged that on June 26, 2014, [a Hollywood Design Review Committee] meeting was held at the office of Lehrer Architects “to discuss various projects proposed for Hollywood.” Abrahams and other members of the public went to the meeting location, but “were denied entry to the building.” Haines was also denied access, but he entered the room anyway. When Haines picked up a copy of the meeting agenda from a table, Marie Rumsey, planning deputy for CD13, “pulled the agenda from his hand and physically shoved him toward the exit.” Meanwhile, “Abrahams observed groups of lobbyists entering the building at will.”
So the Association argued that the meeting was subject to the Brown Act and that their exclusion violated that law. Furthermore, they argued that O’Farrell had exluded them based on the fact that they disagreed with his positions on various issues, which violated the First Amendment:
Petitioners also alleged that on January 15, 2015, O’Farrell said that people who tried to “crash” HDRC meetings in the past would not be allowed to attend future meetings. Petitioners alleged that O’Farrell was “singling them out because of positions they have previously taken on matters of public concern, and because they have previously been involved in litigation against the City of Los Angeles.”
O’Farrell’s position was that the meeting was private, was not subject to the Brown Act, and that therefore he could exclude anyone he wanted to. The case went through a number of highly technical twists and directions, very few of which I understand well enough even to summarize, and finally, in December 2017, Judge White declared a nonsuit, which I guess is essentially a dismissal of some kind, and it’s that declaration that was appealed here and reversed by the Appellate court.
Continue reading Whiny Baby Mitch O’Farrell Barred Activists Doug Haines And George Abrahams From One Of His Damn Planning Meetings In 2014 – In Fact His Then Planning Deputy – Self-Confessed Criminal Marie Rumsey – Physically Pushed Them Out Of The Room – All Because They Were Litigious And Had Criticized O’Farrell – They Sued And After A Circuitous Process Their Suit Was Dismissed – They Appealed And Last Week The Appellate Court Reversed The Dismissal – Which Among Other Things Seems To Mean That If All The Facts The Plaintiffs Allege Are True Then They Would Win – And This Might Mean Maybe Mitch At Some Point Could Have To Open The Damn Meetings? – Anyway Get A Copy Of The Ruling Here And See If You Can Figure It Out!
Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.
Recall that in 2017 the City of Los Angeles and a bunch of Satan worshipping business improvement districts conspired in various ways to subvert the rule of law and steal the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Subdivision election away from the rightful winners. The SRNC-FC filed an appeal and a hearing was held before a board of citizens. The SRNC-FC won this but the result was then ignored by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.
So in 2018 the SRNC-FC filed suit in Superior Court. And just a few days ago they filed their trial brief with the court in advance of a scheduled hearing on February 5, 2020 at 9:30 AM in Department 86 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse before Judge Mitchell Beckloff. this is a compelling piece of work, and there’s a transcription below. The City’s reply is due in early January and then SRNC-FC will have a chance to reply to that before the hearing. See you there, perhaps!
Continue reading Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee Files Trial Brief With The Court — In Advance Of Hearing Scheduled For February 5, 2020 At 9:30 AM — Get Your Copy Here!
You will no doubt recall that in June of this year the creepy little South Central Hollywood white supremacist criminal conspirators over at the Larchmont Village BID crashed, burned, and utterly lost the public records lawsuit I was forced by their unhinged intransigence to file against them back in early 2018.
And the chariot of justice is creeps slowly along its path as if pulled by snails, friends, but it eventually gets where it’s going. Thus did it happen that yesterday, November 21, I found myself once again at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, right there in Department 82, represented by the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, arguing for the fees which he so righteously earned in this righteous cause!
Continue reading Larchmont Village BID Ordered To Pay $42K In Attorney Fees In My Public Records Suit Against Them! — Their Weirdo Lawyer Tom Cairns Savagely Rebuked By Judge For His Dishonest Nonsense! — I Hope Other BIDs Will Learn Their Damn Lesson From This Stunning Victory And Stop Obstructing Access To Public Records!
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