Starting in 2018 gangs of astonishingly unhinged and utterly psychopathic housedwellers and some owners of commercial property began installing anti-homeless planters illegally on the streets of Los Angeles, aided, abetted, and assisted in their outlawry by City Council offices and LAPD officers. By April 2019 I had learned that not only were the planters illegal but that the City requires permits for placing structures or large objects on public sidewalks, none of which had been issued for these planters. So, via the California Public Records Act, I began asking for records.
In particular I asked for emails between BSS investigators and various CD11 staff. Later I also asked for copies of all citations issued by BSS from January 1, 2016 on for unpermitted planters and other structures placed on sidewalks. And after the usual months-long fruitless exchange of emails between me and BSS investigator Temo Llanes, filled with lies, errors, deceptions, and broken promises, the City of LA stopped responding to me at all. Hence the suit. Which you can get a copy of here if you are interested and there’s a transcription below. Stay, of course, tuned for more info!
Continue reading I Have Been Forced Yet Again To File A Petition Against The City Of Los Angeles To Enforce The California Public Records Act — The Bureau Of Street Services Refuses To Release Emails About Those Illegal Anti-Homeless Planters — Which I Have Been Waiting On For Well Over A Year
Quick summary! In August 2018 I was forced by the unhinged intransigence of Blair Besten, half-pint Norma Desmond of the Historic Core BID, to file a petition seeking to enforce my rights under the California Public Records Act. So the usual on-and-freaking-on process of CPRA litigation happened and after a few archetypally zany moments, like La Besten denying under oath that those things her BID sends out via MailChimp are, you know, emails, everybody filed their briefs in July and on November 5, 2019 we finally had the damn trial and the BID lost big freaking time!
And when a local agency such as a BID loses a CPRA case the law is very clear. The judge must award costs and fees to the requester. It doesn’t happen automatically, though. The prevailing requester has to file a fee motion and if the parties can’t agree on it there’s a hearing. So we filed the motion, and by “we” I mean my attorney, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, and here’s a copy of the fee motion. The BID flipped out and you can read their reply to the fee motion and our reply to their reply if reading a flipout is interesting to you.
We were supposed to have a hearing in May, but of course that didn’t happen. However, the judge did issue a tentative ruling, of which there is a transcription below, and awarded us $39,720 in fees and $1,099.25 in costs. This may seem high, but Chalfant cut Flynn’s hourly rate from $740 to $400 based on his unarticulated evaluation of the difficulty of the case and the level of expertise involved, which apparently judges mostly just have the discretion to do.
Continue reading Historic Core BID Slammed With $40K In Costs And Fees As A Result Of My California Public Records Act Request — Defended By Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs — Who Has Not Won A Single One Of These Cases For His BIDdie Clients — His Whole Argument Here — And In The Rest Of The BID CPRA Cases He’s Defended — Is That I Should Lose Because My Entire Motive For Requesting Records Is To Trick BIDs Into Violating The CPRA — Then Sue Them Repeatedly — And Eventually Drive BIDs Out Of Business — This Is Provably False — And Patently Idiotic — And Explicitly Irrelevant Anyway — But Briggs Keeps Screeching About It — At Some Point I’m Expecting The BIDs To Realize That It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And Smarter — To Just Follow The Damn Law — But It Keeps Not Happening
About two months ago, on May 7, 2020, the incomparable Lexis-Olivier Ray alerted me to the fact that, from his putatively safe haven in Simi Valley, Los Angeles Police Department Commander Timothy Scott Harrelson had just tweeted triumphantly about an LAPD raid on a “luxury apartment” Downtown due to “illegal cannabis sales.” But maybe you heard that cannabis is now legal in California? So this is essentially an arrest for tax evasion. Which is not something that ought to be at the top of any law enforcement priority list in the middle of a pandemic, right?
So I thought I’d look into the circumstances, and how better to do that than using the California Public Records Act?! There’s a problem, though, and that is the sad but true fact that the Los Angeles Police Department has completely stopped responding to my requests. When they first stopped I invented a few pseudonyms to make requests under, and this worked for a while. But then I started to file lawsuits over some of my pseudonymous requests so they caught on. Soon, I believe, they started tracking my pseudonyms as they identified them and then refusing to respond to those requests.
They are pretty prompt when the LA Times makes a request, though, which is part of the reason I think they’re singling out my requests for inaction. But this matter seemed important. Not only important enough for a new pseudonym, but for an actual backstory! And given LAPD’s responsiveness to the Times I thought of being a reporter. And from a sympathetic-sounding news outlet. And for a more convincing, at least superficially so, email address than the usual email@example.com. So I bought bluelinenews.org, fired up the random name generator and, using its suggestion, Rose Olsen, on May 9, 2020 I filed a CPRA request at lacity.nextrequest.com:
Continue reading It Took Me Two Months To Get Even A Minimal Amount Of The Story Behind A May 7 Copaganda Tweet From LAPD Central Division Supreme Commander Timothy Scott Harrelson — With A Public Records Act Request That I Filed Pretending To Be A Reporter At Blue Line News — Which I Made Up And Bought A Domain For To Use For Email — And — Even Though Obvious — The Ploy Worked Briefly In That Commander Harrelson Apparently Told LAPD Discovery Staff That He Was Going To Call Me — Me Being The Made Up Reporter Rose Olsen From Blue Line News — But Then He Didn’t Call — And LAPD Apparently Caught On To The Ruse — But I Did At Least Learn The Names Of The Arrested People — And The Location Of The Arrests — All Of Which Turns Out To Be Less Interesting Than The Process — Which Is Just How It Goes Sometimes
Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar will soon be spending pretty much all his time working out with his new Club Fed Golf Team buddies and Richelle Huizar probably won’t be joining him even though arranging for her election to the seat he’s termed out of was apparently one of the goals of his corrupt conspiracy. See this excellent story from yesterday’s Times for a timeline of her role in the CM’s troubles. And as you can imagine, I’ve been after records involving her for some time now.
But Jose Huizar, credibly accused of ordering staff to alter or destroy material responsive to pending public records requests, has not been very forthcoming. The only remedy the California Public Records Act provides to compel compliance is for a requester to file a lawsuit, and I’ve had to file three against Huizar’s office. Two of these involved emails between him or his staff and Richelle Huizar. This one against the City’s Information Technology Agency is still very much pending, but the City’s about to settle the other one.
And of course we don’t settle these things unless they hand over the goods, which in this case amounted to about 150 pages of emails in PDF format. You can take a look at here on Archive.Org. And it turns out that there’s nothing really incriminating in them but nevertheless these emails illuminate aspects of Richelle Huizar’s role in CD14’s operations that I wasn’t previously aware of. She communicated directly with high level staff about motions, met with constituents, attended executive staff meetings, and so on. The context is hard to understand but it’s clear that Jose Huizar was readying Richelle Huizar to take over the family business.
By the way, I’m not critical of that fact in itself. That is, I don’t have a problem with elected officials hiring their spouses or using them as informal advisors. The other aspect of this material that’s important is that Jose Huizar originally claimed it was exempt from release. As you read it, you’ll see that such a claim is not merely indefensible, it’s also ludicrous. In other words, the real lead here is that Jose Huizar is a liar.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Emails Between Richelle Huizar And Various CD14 Staff Show Jose Huizar Grooming Her To Run The Family Business — She Met With Constituents — Consulted With Chief Of Staff Paul Habib On Motions — Including One Relating To Tenants In Caltrans 710 Houses — Attending Executive Staff Meetings — Et Freaking Cetera — And It All Came Crashing Down About Them — As Castles In The Air Built By Lying Psychopathic Criminal Cheaters Will Do From Time To Time
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, known as POST, publishes well over a hundred video training courses for local police forces. I learned recently that POST is subject to the California Public Records Act and a couple weeks ago I sent them a request for all their training videos. There are 124 of these videos, and ultimately POST agreed to send 79 of them.
However, Phil Caporale, the POST staffer who’s handling the request, claimed that the other 45 were exempt from release. His first attempt at an explanation for withholding them was that they “are deemed Law Enforcement sensitive” and that therefore they were exempt from release via the infamous §6255(a) catch-all exemption. Also at first he didn’t tell me how many videos he was withholding or which ones they were.
Now, §6255(a) is by far the most often abused section of the law. It allows agencies to withhold records without a specific authorizing exemption when “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.” But the section is very clear that “the facts of the particular case” must support the decision to withhold. It’s not enough, not at all, for an agency to make something up, like that they “are deemed Law Enforcement sensitive,” as a justification for invoking 6255(a).
After I pressed him a little he informed me that to release these 45 videos would endanger the safety of both the public and of officers. He also listed the 45 videos he was proposing to withhold. The list is transcribed at the end of this post and you can also find it in this PDF of Caporale’s email. But that bit in §6255(a) about the “facts of the particular case” isn’t in there for nothing. It requires agencies to have an explanation for each withheld record that’s based on specific facts about that record.
Continue reading The California Commission On Peace Officer Standards And Training — POST — Publishes 124 Different Police Training Videos — POST Staffer Phil Caporale Refused To Release 45 Of Them In Response To My Request For Public Records — Claiming That To Do So Would Endanger Public And Officer Safety — But He’s Ignoring The Law — Which Requires Him To Balance That Putative Public Interest Against The Public Interest In Releasing These Training Materials — And In A Week Where California Police Have Attacked — Tortured — Beaten — Arrested — Shot — Killed — Peacefully Assembled Protesters — The Public Interest In Seeing How Cops Are Trained In Crowd Management — Crowd Control — And How That Training Compares To Their Actual Violent Behavior — Is So Cosmically High That It’s Basically Insurmountable — Not That This Truth Matters To Caporale — Who Like So Many Antisocial Public Officials Is Just Making Stuff Up To Justify His Predetermined Outcome — Just Mumbling Meaningless Words — Which Is Also Contempt For The Public — Which Also Endangers Our Safety
All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records required by the California Public Records Act. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are some earlier posts on this topic.
It’s well-known among requesters of public records that agencies don’t just violate the law, they don’t just ignore it or misunderstand it or willfully misinterpret it. They also whine about it constantly, they aggressively mischaracterize requesters to create the impression that the requests are the problem rather than the agency’s noncompliance, and so on.
Such behavior is bad enough when governments do it, but at least in the state of California numerous private corporations, if created by the government to carry out government functions, are also subject to the Public Records Act. These entities, mostly business improvement districts and charter schools, are not only subject to the CPRA by law but also due to contracts they sign with their authorizing governments.
It strikes me as especially egregious when such quasi-private entities whine about their CPRA obligations and gaslight requesters because they voluntarily agreed via contract to comply. This is a brief post to highlight a recent example involving the gentrification-enabling Highland Park charter conspiracy known as El Rio Community School. It’s not the most egregious instance I’ve encountered, but it’s straightforward, so a good illustration.
Continue reading Dr. Katie Sobczak Chau — Supreme Commander Of The Gentrifying Charter Conspiracy Known As El Rio Community School — Is Very Unhappy That She Is Required To Comply With The California Public Records Act — And She Seems To Think I’m A Big Meany For Asking For Records — And Maybe I Am A Big Meany But I’m Not The One Who Signed A Contract With LAUSD Agreeing To Comply With The CPRA — And I’d Rather Be A Meany Than A Whiner Who Whines About Having To Live Up To My Own Freely Made Promises — I Mean For The Sake Of Argument Only Of Course — Since I’m Not A Meany — Or At Least Not Because Of My CPRA Requests
All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records required by the California Public Records Act. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are the first and also the second post not to mention the third posts in this series, and you’re reading the fourth!
Rena Leddy, supreme commander of the cartel-drug-money-funded criminal conspiracy known as the Fashion District Business Improvement District, refuses to let members of the public inspect records in person due to the pandemic, which may well be fine and normal. But she also insists that in order to protect public health and safety the only way for requesters to get access to electronic records is to mail her a brand new unopened USB drive onto which she will copy the records and mail it back.
This is an element of her pre-COVID program of obstructing access to records by making the process as onerous and costly as possible. But obviously any method which requires physical objects to be transferred between strangers is more likely to transmit disease than a method which does not. This is true not only for the people exchanging the objects but also for all the intermediaries, like mail carriers, mail sorters, staff members who have to open the envelopes, and so on.
Leddy is willing to increase the risk of disease and therefore death for requesters, essential workers, her own staff, and herself for the sole reason of delaying and obstructing access to records, and to do so in the name of protecting their safety. When confronted with these facts Leddy declined to contradict them, merely stating that the narrative was “out of control.” And it’s certainly out of her control, but where’s the lie, Ms. Leddy?
Continue reading Rena Leddy — Executive Director Of The Drug Cartel Funded Fashion District Business Improvement District — Is A Bloodthirsty Psychopath Who Would Rather Kill The Mailman — And Me — And Surprisingly Even Herself — Than Comply With The California Public Records Act — She Apparently Thinks This Is OK Because Her Lawyer Said It Was OK — Which Is A Strange Way For A Self-Proclaimed Adult To Make Moral Choices — But Not Uncommon Among Zillionaires And Those Who Serve Them — Who Have Shown Themselves Willing To Risk The Lives Of Essential Workers For The Most Stupid — And Trivial — And Self-Serving — Reasons Including Haircuts — Manicures — And Unnecessarily Exchanging Physical Copies Of Electronic Data — The Real Question Is — As Framed By The Incomparable Kitty Wells — Will Her Lawyer Talk To God For Her? — Knowing Carol Humiston I’d Say The Chances Are About Zero That She’ll Even Get A Chance — Being Much More Likely To Head In The Other Direction When The Time Comes
All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are the first and also the second posts in this series, and you’re reading the third!
For more than six months now I’ve been looking into the question of why Uber and Lyft premium services, the ones that approximate limousines, I guess, continued to be allowed to pick up passengers at curbside in LAX even after October 2019 when the airport banned taxis and regular Uber/Lyft drivers, relegating them to a special off-site pickup lot. The matter first came to my attention via this October 29, 2019 Spike Friedman tweet and I sent them this request that same day. And as is typically the case the process is taking forever, although a little bit of information has dribbled out.
In February of this year e.g. LAX, in the person of Supreme Operations Commander Angela Jamison, produced a few emails, only one of which related to the question. This email, from Landside Management staffer Shirlene Sue, seems to be an answer to Jamison’s request for records responsive to my request. It basically says that Uber/Lyft premium services operate under different rules from regular Uber/Lyft and taxis and that’s why. It’s also worth noting that I made the request in October 2019 and Jamison sent me these three emails four months later. That’s more than a month per email.
Of course, the explanatory power of this statement is nil — essentially all it says is that they’re allowed to pick up passengers at the curb because the rules allow them to pick up passengers at the curb. It tells us nothing about how or why the decision was made. But Jamison claimed that these three emails were the only records responsive to my request (ridiculous color scheming in original; blue is from my request, red is Jamison’s response):
Continue reading Why Are Uber Black And Premium Limo-Like Lyft Cars — And For That Matter Actual Limousines — Still Allowed To Pick Up Passengers Curbside At LAX — When Taxis And Regular Uber/Lyft Pickups Got Moved Off-Site Last Year? — This Is Obviously An Important Question And I’ve Been Trying To Learn The Answer Through Public Records Requests Since October 2019 — With Absolutely No Success So Far — But Here Is Part One Of Yet Another Incredibly Detailed Story About How Local Agencies Deny The Public Access To Records Via Stalling — Temporizing — Mischaracterizations Of The Law — And So On — Because The Local Version Of The Old Lemons/Lemonade Adage Is — When Agencies Deny Records Requests Write Blog Posts About Their Denials!
As you probably know I’ve been investigating LAUSD charter schools using the California Public Records Act since January 2019. I was moved to this work by the monumental UTLA strike and especially the union’s focus on charter co-location.
I obtained some striking early results including an incredibly consequential release of emails from Green Dot Charter Schools, some of the fruits of which got wide and fairly devastating coverage in the media, including the Los Angeles Times, and Capital and Main, and Diane Ravitch’s blog, and elsewhere.
But this kind of success breeds resistance, so a lot of charters lawyered up and stopped producing records in response to my requests, or even stopped producing without the benefit of a lawyer’s advice. The only option left in such a situation is to start filing lawsuits, and that’s just what I’ve been forced to do.
In January 2020, for instance, I filed two. One ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ and the other against white savior charter conspiracy PUC Charter Schools, in some vague sense co-founded by former LAUSD board member and convicted felon Ref Rodriguez.
Continue reading Two Of My Public Records Act Lawsuits Against Charter Schools Settled In April 2020 — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ PUC Charter Schools — Between Them They Paid More Than $11K — Which Was Supposed To Be Spent On Educating Children — But Which These Privatizing Pirate Academies Wasted Due To Their Appalling And Antisocial Arrogance — Here’s Some Background And Copies Of The Settlement Agreements!