Category Archives: Los Angeles City Council

Last Week The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Filed Yet Another Public Records Suit Vs The City Of Los Angeles — This One Relating To Emails About Gentrification And Real Estate In CD1 — But Gil Sadill Is Not Worse Than His Fourteen Unindicted Co-Conspirators — Who Also Won’t Follow The Freaking Law — So While These Lawsuits Are Effective In A Limited Scope The Overall Problem — That The City Of Los Angeles Repeatedly And Intentionally Violates The Public Records Act — Can’t Be Solved This Way — Because Neither The City Nor Its Staffers Suffer Consequences For Their Violations

The City of Los Angeles is generally very, very, very bad at complying with the California Public Records Act. There are no consequences that matter to them for violating it so they violate it wantonly. Only lawsuits will get them to comply, and only in that specific instance. So we were glad to hear that our friends at the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition filed yet another petition against the City of Los Angeles to enforce compliance.

The issue is a bunch of requests for emails from CD1. For a couple years Gil Cedillo’s office, mostly in the person of long-time crony Mel Ilomin, was incredibly compliant with the CPRA, just super-helpful. But then, on a number distinct occasions, we here at the blog exposed Cedillo’s machinations to the light of public scrutiny, which may have contributed to Ilomin’s sudden refusal, beginning in 2019, to comply with the law.

In any case, for whatever reason, he stopped complying, and of course a suit is our only recourse. This, by the way, is the second time that Cedillo’s office has induced a CPRA suit via idiotic noncompliance. So take a look at the petition, stay tuned for details, and read on for a short list of dirt we’ve gotten on Cedillo via the CPRA!
Continue reading Last Week The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Filed Yet Another Public Records Suit Vs The City Of Los Angeles — This One Relating To Emails About Gentrification And Real Estate In CD1 — But Gil Sadill Is Not Worse Than His Fourteen Unindicted Co-Conspirators — Who Also Won’t Follow The Freaking Law — So While These Lawsuits Are Effective In A Limited Scope The Overall Problem — That The City Of Los Angeles Repeatedly And Intentionally Violates The Public Records Act — Can’t Be Solved This Way — Because Neither The City Nor Its Staffers Suffer Consequences For Their Violations

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Our City Council Could Easily Build Public Housing In Los Angeles — Instead Of Giving Away Public Property To Private Developers For Putatively Affordable Housing — But Instead They Say Public Housing Is Illegal — They Say They Can’t Do It — This Is A Lie — Here Are Concrete Steps We Can Take To Force Them To At Least Try To Build Some

The Los Angeles City Council is very fond of giving away publicly owned property to real estate developers to build what passes for affordable housing.1 Judging by the fact that they never do it, they’re decidedly unfond of building public housing.2 At least some Councilmembers, though, are also fond of lying about their ability to build public housing at all — ask one about it and maybe they’ll tell you that new public housing projects are illegal in California.3

This is a lie, by the way. An utterly shameless lie. In fact they could easily use City land for City-owned housing. Here are some steps we might take to force them to do it. But first let’s talk about the origin of this illegal public housing lie. It’s based on Article 34 of the California Constitution.4 The key part says:
Continue reading Our City Council Could Easily Build Public Housing In Los Angeles — Instead Of Giving Away Public Property To Private Developers For Putatively Affordable Housing — But Instead They Say Public Housing Is Illegal — They Say They Can’t Do It — This Is A Lie — Here Are Concrete Steps We Can Take To Force Them To At Least Try To Build Some

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David Ryu Appointed Former CD13 Rep Mike Woo To The Redistricting Commission — When Nithya Raman Trounced Ryu Woo Tendered His Resignation To Raman — And Then Tried To Convince Her To Reappoint Him — By Explaining To Her How They Could Evade The Ban On Ex Parte Communications — And Explaining To Her That There’s No Place For Equity Or Justice In The Redistricting Process — Except When The Feds Investigate Civil Rights Violations — And Explaining To Her That It’s All About Political Self Interest And Treachery — That She Should Hire Her Own Consultant Because The Ones That Nury Martinez Wants Won’t Have Raman’s Interests In Mind — Woo Is An Expert At Working The System — Who Never Seems To Have Considered That Maybe The System Is Bad — Spoiler Alert! — Raman Fired Woo And Put Her Own Person — Alexandra Suh — On The Commission Instead

Redistricting in the City of Los Angeles is handled by a commission whose members are appointed by municipal elected officials. Presumably the commissioners are expected to be somewhat fair and independent, or at least to appear so,1 but as you can imagine the process is deeply corrupt. It’s at least plausible that if the commissioners carried out their work via an adversarial process the result wouldn’t be precisely tailored to the idiosyncratic interests of the electeds who appointed them, but in practice, as you can imagine, this doesn’t happen.

Everyone involved, from commissioners to electeds, has an overriding interest in helping their colleagues attain their individual goals so that they’ll get the same consideration in return. The one rule that might prevent absolute coordination between the commissioners and the electeds who appointed them is the ban on ex parte communications. However, some emails I recently obtained show that even this regulation is easily evaded.

Last September unlamentedly former CD4 repster David Ryu appointed former CD13 rep Mike Woo to the Commission. On September 29, 2020 Woo emailed Ryu’s also-now-former Chief of Staff Nick Greif with a draft statement for some required form. But most interesting was Woo’s postscript:

P.S. At some point I need to discuss with you how we should deal with the likely restrictions on ex parte communications. It also would be helpful to me if we could have a longer conversation, including the Councilmember, about his redistricting priorities.

But, as the whole world knows, Nithya Raman quite handily kicked David Ryu’s metaphorical ass at the November election which, among other things, unhatched Woo’s already-counted Commission-involved chickens. After Ryu conceded Woo emailed Raman tendering his resignation but, at the same time, making it clear that he was willing to continue to serve and also giving her some (astonishingly man-splainy, by the way) reasons for choosing him:
Continue reading David Ryu Appointed Former CD13 Rep Mike Woo To The Redistricting Commission — When Nithya Raman Trounced Ryu Woo Tendered His Resignation To Raman — And Then Tried To Convince Her To Reappoint Him — By Explaining To Her How They Could Evade The Ban On Ex Parte Communications — And Explaining To Her That There’s No Place For Equity Or Justice In The Redistricting Process — Except When The Feds Investigate Civil Rights Violations — And Explaining To Her That It’s All About Political Self Interest And Treachery — That She Should Hire Her Own Consultant Because The Ones That Nury Martinez Wants Won’t Have Raman’s Interests In Mind — Woo Is An Expert At Working The System — Who Never Seems To Have Considered That Maybe The System Is Bad — Spoiler Alert! — Raman Fired Woo And Put Her Own Person — Alexandra Suh — On The Commission Instead

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November 2020 — The Last Days Of David Ryu — Registered Lobbyists Currying Favors By Forwarding Job Announcements Around To Soon-To-Be-Former CD4 Staff — Soon-To-Be-Former CD4 Staff Agonizing Over Whether They Should Submit Resumes To Raman’s Transition Team — Zillionaire Trust Fund Baby Nick Greif Floating Above The Fray — Submitting Gracious — But Still Condescending — Recommendations To Raman’s Camp — Along With Weirdly Patronizing Advice — From A Guy Whose Boss Had Just Lost An Election No Less

Former City of Los Angeles staffers are super-famous for their seamlessly corrupt transitions between public service and the lobbying industry, so much so that we had to create a so-called revolving door ordinance to (very lightly) regulate the practice. As with so many of the rules putatively enforced by our beleaguered and underfunded Ethics Commission, though, this ordinance is widely ignored.

We’ve seen many examples of this revolving door phenomenon, for instance, Marie Rumsey moving from CD13 to the Central City Association in 2015, but I’m not aware of much information on what goes on when the door is opened and the former staffers prepare to step across the transom. Some light is shed on this phase of the process by a newly acquired email conversation from November 12 and 13, 2020, though.

The discussion is between registered lobbyist Dwayne Gathers and soon-to-be-former CD4 Chief of Staff Nick Greif. It also sheds light on the fate of an ousted CM’s staff, as they struggle with divided and dividing loyalties while deciding whether to submit their resumes to the new regime after their boss David Ryu conceded to Nithya Raman on November 6.
Continue reading November 2020 — The Last Days Of David Ryu — Registered Lobbyists Currying Favors By Forwarding Job Announcements Around To Soon-To-Be-Former CD4 Staff — Soon-To-Be-Former CD4 Staff Agonizing Over Whether They Should Submit Resumes To Raman’s Transition Team — Zillionaire Trust Fund Baby Nick Greif Floating Above The Fray — Submitting Gracious — But Still Condescending — Recommendations To Raman’s Camp — Along With Weirdly Patronizing Advice — From A Guy Whose Boss Had Just Lost An Election No Less

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October 2020 — Former David Ryu Staffer Nick Greif Used City Email To Send A Copy Of Ryu’s Unhinged Campaign Talking Points To His Private Account — Along With Notes To Himself Concerning Revisions — Which Suggests That This Well-Known Hatchetman Had A Significant Role In Developing Ryu’s Desperate Attack Messaging — Either Way Though This Is A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5(B)(4) — Which Forbids The Use Of City Resources For Campaign Purposes — So Not Only Did I Report Him To The Ethics Commission — But I Have A Copy Of The Talking Points Memo As Well!

Last fall former Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu was fighting ultimately successful challenger Nithya Raman for his job repping CD4. He lost by four points in November, so it’s easy to imagine that in October his internal poll numbers were terrifying him.1 This situation no doubt also contributed to the remarkably negative turn his messaging took around that time.

Los Angeles elections are regulated, albeit not heavily, by the Municipal Code. In particular, LAMC §49.5.5(B)(4) forbids [u]sing City equipment, vehicle, supplies, or resources, including but not limited to mailing and distribution lists, electronic mail, and electronic data.

So you can imagine my surprise when a friend of this blog passed me a copy of this October 8, 2020 email sent by former Ryu staffer Nick Greif using his City email account to himself at a private account. The email has an attachment, which is an MS Word document entitled 09.30.20_TPs for Supporters.docx, and a note from Greif to himself on planned revisions.

This is about as clear a violation of the code section as I’ve ever seen, even without the Word document’s metadata.2 so this morning I reported Greif to the LA Ethics Commission and we’ll see what comes of that! Meanwhile, read this ridiculously desperate memorandum! Or read on for images!
Continue reading October 2020 — Former David Ryu Staffer Nick Greif Used City Email To Send A Copy Of Ryu’s Unhinged Campaign Talking Points To His Private Account — Along With Notes To Himself Concerning Revisions — Which Suggests That This Well-Known Hatchetman Had A Significant Role In Developing Ryu’s Desperate Attack Messaging — Either Way Though This Is A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5(B)(4) — Which Forbids The Use Of City Resources For Campaign Purposes — So Not Only Did I Report Him To The Ethics Commission — But I Have A Copy Of The Talking Points Memo As Well!

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What Does Progressive Darling Nithya Raman Have In Common With Despicable Developer-Loving Lickspittles Like Jack Weiss — Greig Smith — David Ryu — And Joe Buscaino? — All Five Of Them Support Giving Away A Specific Piece Of City Property In The Bird Streets — To An Anonymous LLC — Known As 5B Enterprises — Owned By Costa Mesa Zillionaire Rami Batal — Which Would Vastly Increase The Value Of A Particular Residential Lot — Batal’s LLC Is Represented By Land Use Lobbyist Randall Akers — Who Apparently Lobbied Raman Over This Matter — Even Though He Is Not Registered With The Ethics Commission — Meet The New Boss I Guess — Who Looks Awfully Darn Similar To The Old One!

In 2004 LA City Councilmembers Jack Weiss and Greig Smith initiated the process of giving away a piece of Thrush Way, up in the Bird Streets, to the owner of an adjacent parcel.1 As they will do, the City Council approved the motion in January 2005, but the property owner dropped the ball, missed some requirement or another, and the offer expired.2 The parcel used to be in CD5, which is why Weiss was involved, but now is in CD4.

According to ZIMAS the property was sold in 2014, apparently to an LLC owned by a Costa Mesa man named Rami Batal, known as 5B Enterprises. Batal3 hired land use lobbyist Randall Akers to revive the street vacation plan. In 2016 this actually happened, with a motion from Joe Buscaino, seconded by David Ryu.4 The new motion ended up in Council File 16-0566. It generated a ton of opposing public comment and apparently more than one lawsuit, which explains why, on March 22, 2017, the Council voted to continue and file the motion.5

And that’s about it! Oh, wait, that’s about it until four years later, on March 2, 2021, when Nithya Raman, who famously showed weirdo incumbent David Ryu a thing or two last year, filed a short but exceedingly consequential motion of her own, seeking to reactivate the council file. Nury Martinez didn’t fool around with this one, by the way. She didn’t send it to a committee, but rather, the very same day Raman filed it Martinez referred it to the full council and a few days later the Clerk put it on the agenda for April 6, 2021.6
Continue reading What Does Progressive Darling Nithya Raman Have In Common With Despicable Developer-Loving Lickspittles Like Jack Weiss — Greig Smith — David Ryu — And Joe Buscaino? — All Five Of Them Support Giving Away A Specific Piece Of City Property In The Bird Streets — To An Anonymous LLC — Known As 5B Enterprises — Owned By Costa Mesa Zillionaire Rami Batal — Which Would Vastly Increase The Value Of A Particular Residential Lot — Batal’s LLC Is Represented By Land Use Lobbyist Randall Akers — Who Apparently Lobbied Raman Over This Matter — Even Though He Is Not Registered With The Ethics Commission — Meet The New Boss I Guess — Who Looks Awfully Darn Similar To The Old One!

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A Couple Of Newly Obtained Emails Reveal Hitherto Unknown Clues About The LA City Council’s Famously Habitual Brown Act Violations — All Fifteen Council District Chiefs Of Staff Held An Impromptu And Illegal Serial Meeting In March 2020 — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run But It’s Clearly A Violation And Clearly Neither The First Nor The Last Time This Has Happened — And Another Email — This From CD5 Enviro-Dude Andy Shrader To His Boss Koretz — Suggests That The Chiefs Aren’t The Only Staffers Doing This — He Mentions A “Daily Staff Meeting” That Includes Republicans Who Might Spill Beans To Other Councilmembers — Sounds Like Another Brown Act Violation To Me!

The Brown Act famously forbids the Los Angeles City Council and its committees from meeting in secret1 to conduct its public business. The prohibition is found at §54952.2(b)(1), which states categorically that:

A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.

But anyone who pays even a little attention to meetings of the Los Angeles City Council or its committees can see that there’s some kind of collusion going on behind the scenes. There are too many unanimous votes, too many obviously scripted comments by Councilmembers responding to scripted comments by other Councilmembers when there’s no legal way for them to have known what their colleagues were planning to say, and just too much foreknowledge of the course of legislation.

It’s really unlikely that the Councilmembers themselves make all the arrangements. Almost surely the collusion is done by their staff. This doesn’t make it any less against the law. It’s exactly the scenario contemplated in the phrase “directly or through intermediaries.” So for instance, if 15 staff members, one from each Council district, got together to discuss pending motions, votes, or anything else within the subject matter jurisdiction of the City Council and then relayed information from the discussion to their bosses it’s a violation.2

One of my very long term projects is finding proof that the City Council does in fact engage in these illegal meetings and also to understand the means by which they do it. It’s slow going, though, and not just because of the City’s general unwillingness to comply with the Public Records Act. What I’m looking for is evidence of habitual and chronic outlawry, so the City has even more pressing reasons to withhold the records.3 But from time to time I come across something interesting and suggestive, and today I actually have two!
Continue reading A Couple Of Newly Obtained Emails Reveal Hitherto Unknown Clues About The LA City Council’s Famously Habitual Brown Act Violations — All Fifteen Council District Chiefs Of Staff Held An Impromptu And Illegal Serial Meeting In March 2020 — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run But It’s Clearly A Violation And Clearly Neither The First Nor The Last Time This Has Happened — And Another Email — This From CD5 Enviro-Dude Andy Shrader To His Boss Koretz — Suggests That The Chiefs Aren’t The Only Staffers Doing This — He Mentions A “Daily Staff Meeting” That Includes Republicans Who Might Spill Beans To Other Councilmembers — Sounds Like Another Brown Act Violation To Me!

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Confidential Attorney Client Conversation Between Deputy City Attorneys Mike Dundas and Strefan Fauble And CD13 Staffer Dan Halden Reveal That The City Denies Requests As Burdensome Even Though They Know A Judge Wouldn’t Buy Such An Exemption Claim — That They Consider Whether A Requester Will Actually Sue Them When Deciding Whether Or Not To Deny As Burdensome — Which Is Intrinsically A Violation Of The CPRA — And That Mike Dundas Understands The CPRA Far Better Than Strefan Fauble

This post is about a confidential email conversation between Deputy City Attorneys Mike Dundas and Strefan Fauble and CD13 staffer Dan Halden about a CPRA request of mine. If you’d like to read the email without reading my nonsensical rantings about it you can find it here on Archive.Org.

If you spend any time at all asking the City of Los Angeles for copies of public records you’ll have realized that compliance with the Public Records Act is not a high priority of theirs. They violate it constantly, in small ways and large, intentionally and out of sheer careless indifference. They violate it because they can afford to pay out any number of settlements and most people won’t sue them. They violate it even though compliance with the CPRA is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of California.1

And now, although I’ve long suspected it to be true, I have proof that the City Attorney’s office actually advises them to decide whether to violate it based on whether or not they think the requester will sue them which, as Strefan Fauble so succinctly puts it in a top-secret confidential April 2019 email conversation, “would involve a lot more work.”

But it takes resources to sue them, so effectively this policy favors rich requesters and corporate requesters, even though the Constitution2 guarantees access to every person, which clearly means equal access. It’s surely no coincidence that rich people and corporations are much, much less likely to be critical of the City. This story begins with a request I sent to Dan Halden on March 12, 2019. I asked Halden for:
Continue reading Confidential Attorney Client Conversation Between Deputy City Attorneys Mike Dundas and Strefan Fauble And CD13 Staffer Dan Halden Reveal That The City Denies Requests As Burdensome Even Though They Know A Judge Wouldn’t Buy Such An Exemption Claim — That They Consider Whether A Requester Will Actually Sue Them When Deciding Whether Or Not To Deny As Burdensome — Which Is Intrinsically A Violation Of The CPRA — And That Mike Dundas Understands The CPRA Far Better Than Strefan Fauble

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Soon-To-Be-Indicted Mitch Englander Resigned From LA City Council Effective January 1 2019 — By January 31 2019 Steve Soboroff — At That Time President Of The Police Commission — Was Conspiring With LAPD Chief Michel Moore And LA Police Foundation Board Member Warren Dern To Get Englander A Seat On The Police Foundation Board — Soboroff And Dern Had Lunch With Englander At Freaking La Scala To Discuss It — Although Nothing Seems To Have Come Of The Plan

December 31, 2018 was now-convicted felon Mitchell Englander’s last day on the Los Angeles City Council. He was all like “I am stepping down for a once in a lifetime career blah blah blah” but of course he was getting out ahead of his arrest, exposure, conviction, and sentencing for corruption. The impending disgrace, however, didn’t stop his zillionaire cronies from cushioning his landing with job offers and fancy lunches.

Most famously, of course, on January 1, 2019 he started his new career with the Oak View Group, which is a Los Angeles based “global advisory, development and investment company for the sports and live entertainment industries.” In other words, a perfect landing spot for an as-yet-unindicted former politician. Nothing hurts these politicos more than being forced out of the inner circles of power, though, and making a zillion dollars a year as a lobbyist doesn’t quite fill the kind of ego void created by public disgrace.1

And unhinged typewriter fetishist and perpetual inner power circle dweller Steve Soboroff, at that time president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, apparently understood this quite well. Which is probably why, on January 31, 2019, Soboroff fired off an email to Hollywood power lawyer Warren Dern, also a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Police Foundation:
Continue reading Soon-To-Be-Indicted Mitch Englander Resigned From LA City Council Effective January 1 2019 — By January 31 2019 Steve Soboroff — At That Time President Of The Police Commission — Was Conspiring With LAPD Chief Michel Moore And LA Police Foundation Board Member Warren Dern To Get Englander A Seat On The Police Foundation Board — Soboroff And Dern Had Lunch With Englander At Freaking La Scala To Discuss It — Although Nothing Seems To Have Come Of The Plan

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I Filed A Complaint Against Joey Buckets Staffer Amy Gebert In August 2020 — Which Apparently Flipped Her Out So Much That She Started Emailing Me Every Week Or Two Using An Alternate Account Designed — Unsuccessfully — To Conceal Her Identity — About How My Request Would Be Ready In A Week Or Two — And Then Cancelling And Postponing — She Did This Eight Times In Just A Few Weeks — Which Is About Twelve Times As Often As She Did It Before The Complaint — Then Stopped Abruptly In December 2020 — And Still Hasn’t Produced The Damn Records — So I Filed Another Complaint Against Her With The Ethics Commission — This One For Retaliating Against Me For Filing The First Complaint

Ultimately this post is about this complaint that I filed with the Ethics Commission today regarding CD15 staffer Amy Gebert’s retaliation against me for complaining about her last August. There is also a transcription below.


Flashback to those lazy hazy crazy days of Summer 2020, those days of COVID and ethics complaints against CD15 staffer Amy Gebert!1 Well, after I filed that complaint, Gebert flipped out and, using a fake email address,2 started emailing me every week or two telling me that my request would be ready in a week or two and then, on the last day, emailing me again to tell me that the production date was postponed.

Obviously she was doing this in response to my having filed a complaint against her. She started about a week after I filed it, and proceeded to send me 8 emails over the next few weeks at a rate almost 12 times more frequently than she had in the year prior to the complaint.

As obviously she was doing it to irritate me. What possible legitimate reason could she have for repeatedly lying about when the records, which by the way I still don’t have, would be ready? Sure, she could be withholding them to hide the criminal conspiracy conducted by her boss, Joey “Joe Buscaino” Buckets, but that has nothing to do with this compulsive notification/denotification.

And doing things to irritate people because they file complaints against you with the Ethics Commission is, it turns out, a separate violation of the Municipal Ethics Ordinance at LAMC §49.5.4(B), which tells us that:

City officials and agency employees shall not use or threaten to use any official authority or influence to effect any action as a reprisal against another person who reports a possible violation of law to the Ethics Commission or another governmental entity.

And so today I filed yet another complaint against Gebert with the Ethics Commission. You can read the complete complaint here, and there’s a transcription of the complaint, but without the exhibits, below.3
Continue reading I Filed A Complaint Against Joey Buckets Staffer Amy Gebert In August 2020 — Which Apparently Flipped Her Out So Much That She Started Emailing Me Every Week Or Two Using An Alternate Account Designed — Unsuccessfully — To Conceal Her Identity — About How My Request Would Be Ready In A Week Or Two — And Then Cancelling And Postponing — She Did This Eight Times In Just A Few Weeks — Which Is About Twelve Times As Often As She Did It Before The Complaint — Then Stopped Abruptly In December 2020 — And Still Hasn’t Produced The Damn Records — So I Filed Another Complaint Against Her With The Ethics Commission — This One For Retaliating Against Me For Filing The First Complaint

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