Category Archives: Public Records Act Pragmatics

Los Angeles Has Paid Almost $1.5M Settling Recent Public Records Suits Against LAPD — But LAPD Continues To Violate The Law With Impunity — Newly Obtained Reports Show That They’ve Radically Decreased Staff In The CPRA Unit — Even As They Deny Requests Which They Claim Would Use Too Much Staff Time To Fill — They Pad Their Request Completion Stats By Prioritizing Innocuous Automated Reports Rather Than Substantial Material — And They Handle Requests From Mainstream Media Outlets More Promptly Than Others

The Los Angeles Police Department routinely violates the civil rights of Angelenos. They kill, beat, and maim, of course, but also conduct countless racist pretextual stops of drivers and bicyclists. They’re allowed to do this by the LA City Council, and without good information about what they’re up to it’s not easy for Angelenos to control them.

But they also routinely violate the California Public Records Act. The details range from egregiously obvious to subtly technical but in every case the goal, and for the most part the actual result, is to keep public records out of the hands of the public. They have been sued repeatedly and successfully for this over the last five years.1 To my knowledge they’ve never prevailed in a public records case.

LAPD’s violations are expensive.2 Since 2016 the City of Los Angeles has paid out at least $1,377,224 to settle CPRA suits against the police department only.3 Given the number of pending cases this figure is likely to top $1.5M by the end of 2021. The fact that settlement payments come from the City’s general fund clearly facilitates LAPD’s strategy of denying access to records until a suit is filed.

One of the most common reasons LAPD gives for denying the public access to records is that to produce them would be “burdensome.” There’s no such exemption in the CPRA, but courts have found, in some cases, that a public agency’s use of its resources, including employee salaries, to fill a request serves the public interest less than the production of the records would do.4
Continue reading Los Angeles Has Paid Almost $1.5M Settling Recent Public Records Suits Against LAPD — But LAPD Continues To Violate The Law With Impunity — Newly Obtained Reports Show That They’ve Radically Decreased Staff In The CPRA Unit — Even As They Deny Requests Which They Claim Would Use Too Much Staff Time To Fill — They Pad Their Request Completion Stats By Prioritizing Innocuous Automated Reports Rather Than Substantial Material — And They Handle Requests From Mainstream Media Outlets More Promptly Than Others

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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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On May 4, 2021 The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Filed A California Public Records Act Petition — Against The City Of Los Angeles — Over Violations By The Los Angeles Police Department — Involving Improper Redactions And Refusal To Release Other Required Records — Get A Copy Of The Petition Here!

This post is about a petition filed by the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition to enforce compliance with the California Public Records Act by the City of Los Angeles. If you want to read the petition but not the nonsense you can get a copy right here.

On Tuesday, May 4, 2021 the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition, represented by the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, filed a writ petition against the City of Los Angeles seeking to enforce compliance with the California Public Records Act. There are two basic issues at stake.
Continue reading On May 4, 2021 The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Filed A California Public Records Act Petition — Against The City Of Los Angeles — Over Violations By The Los Angeles Police Department — Involving Improper Redactions And Refusal To Release Other Required Records — Get A Copy Of The Petition Here!

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Los Angeles Police Department Inspector General Mark Smith Is Supposed To Investigate LAPD To See That They Comply With The Law — Which Is Pretty Hypocritical Since His Office Intentionally And Egregiously Violates The California Public Records Act — Which Is A Violation Of Requesters’ Constitutional Rights — I Made A Request In September 2020 — His Staffer Julie Buchwald Had The Records Ready By October 2020 — She Messed Around And Didn’t Produce The Records Until April 16 2021 — If Smith Doesn’t Know That Buchwald Is A Liar And An Outlaw Then He’s Incompetent — If He Does Know He’s A Co-Conspirator — Either Way He Has No Business Whatsoever Overseeing Anything Related To Obeying The Law — Especially The Police — He Is A Hypocrite And Ought To Resign Immediately — He Probably Exonerates Every Cop He Investigates To Sooth His Conscience Over His Own Lawbreaking — Even Cops Ought To Refuse To Be Overseen By This Guy — Who At This Point Has Zero Credibility — Did I Mention He Ought To Resign?

On September 20, 2020, I sent a request for some old reports to Mark Smith, the Inspector General of the Los Angeles Police Department. On April 16, 2021 Smith produced the responsive records. This is the story of what happened in the seven months between the request and the production!1

On September 22, 2020, just two days after receiving my request, Police Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank emailed Deputy City Attorney Soraya Kelly who, along with Carlos De La Guerra, staffs CPRA requests for the Commission and the OIG. He wanted legal advice, and he had some very … colorful … ideas about my work:2

Good Morning Again Soraya,

So now I receive this email from [Kohlhaas].

From what he is doing to my office and the OIG I feel this guy is harassing us via CPRA requests. Is there any action that can be taken. Quite frankly I don’t have the time for these games.

Richard

It’s clear from this that Tefank and Mark Smith had been talking, and they weren’t happy with me! Their default attitude towards people who expect them to follow the law they voluntarily made themselves subject to is that they’re being harassed. Meanwhile, on September 29, 2020, precisely when required to do so by law, Smith sent me a letter claiming a 14 day extension to respond, in which he stated that he would in fact respond by October 13, 2020.3

And Tefank’s anxiety about my requests got worse! Just three days after Smith sent me that extension letter Tefank sent a heartbreakingly plaintive email to Smith,4 LAPD Constitutional Cop5 Lizabeth Rhodes, CPRA cops Bryan Lium and Marla Ciuffetelli, and a bunch of deputy city attorneys, including Soraya Kelly, Julie Raffish, Debra Gonzalez, and Carlos de la Guerra:
Continue reading Los Angeles Police Department Inspector General Mark Smith Is Supposed To Investigate LAPD To See That They Comply With The Law — Which Is Pretty Hypocritical Since His Office Intentionally And Egregiously Violates The California Public Records Act — Which Is A Violation Of Requesters’ Constitutional Rights — I Made A Request In September 2020 — His Staffer Julie Buchwald Had The Records Ready By October 2020 — She Messed Around And Didn’t Produce The Records Until April 16 2021 — If Smith Doesn’t Know That Buchwald Is A Liar And An Outlaw Then He’s Incompetent — If He Does Know He’s A Co-Conspirator — Either Way He Has No Business Whatsoever Overseeing Anything Related To Obeying The Law — Especially The Police — He Is A Hypocrite And Ought To Resign Immediately — He Probably Exonerates Every Cop He Investigates To Sooth His Conscience Over His Own Lawbreaking — Even Cops Ought To Refuse To Be Overseen By This Guy — Who At This Point Has Zero Credibility — Did I Mention He Ought To Resign?

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Despicable Streets Of Shame Reporter Joel Grover Emailed LA Sanitation Boss Flackie Elena Stern Asking For A Bunch Of Info — Stern’s Subordinates Asked Her Why Didn’t She Make Him Use NextRequest — Stern Explained That “we have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to antagonize a reporter like Grover” — She Said: “because it’s him, I’m not making him go through CPRA” — Then She Sent Him The Goodies Via Return Email — So I Asked Her For The Same Stuff Just Yesterday — Via Email — And Her Response Was Quite Different — She Refused Me Stating That “all CPRAs are to be submitted through the NextRequest portal” — Because She — Or Her Masters In The Department Of Public Works — Like Joel Grover’s Reporting And They Don’t Like Mine — Which Is Egregious — And Illegal — And Immoral — And Entirely Normal For The City Of Los Angeles

Ask the LA City Bureau of Sanitation, popularly known as “LA San,” for public records and you’ll almost certainly be subjected to obstructions, delays, lies, and so on. And since LA San signed up for NextRequest, a despicable and useless public records platform, you’ll be forced to communicate with anonymous City staffers through a clunky script-heavy website that barely works on a computer and just forget about your phone all together.

Unless, of course, you happen to work for NBC Universal or the LA Times. Elena Stern, Senior Public Information Director with the Department of Public Works, which includes LA San, is happy to handle your CPRA requests informally via email. This is no accident, by the way. Stern clearly understands the utter uselessness of NextRequest, and the pain it causes. Here’s the story.
Continue reading Despicable Streets Of Shame Reporter Joel Grover Emailed LA Sanitation Boss Flackie Elena Stern Asking For A Bunch Of Info — Stern’s Subordinates Asked Her Why Didn’t She Make Him Use NextRequest — Stern Explained That “we have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to antagonize a reporter like Grover” — She Said: “because it’s him, I’m not making him go through CPRA” — Then She Sent Him The Goodies Via Return Email — So I Asked Her For The Same Stuff Just Yesterday — Via Email — And Her Response Was Quite Different — She Refused Me Stating That “all CPRAs are to be submitted through the NextRequest portal” — Because She — Or Her Masters In The Department Of Public Works — Like Joel Grover’s Reporting And They Don’t Like Mine — Which Is Egregious — And Illegal — And Immoral — And Entirely Normal For The City Of Los Angeles

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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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November 2020 — LAPD Constitutional Policing Boss Lizabeth Rhodes Wrote A Top Secret Memo To Police Commission Boss Richard Tefank About Public Records Requests From Stop LAPD Spying — I Have A Copy Of The Top Secret Memo For You! — And Also It’s So Full Of Bullshit And Lies That It Amounts To A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5 — Which Is Why This Morning I Reported Rhodes And Her Co-Conspirators Marla Ciuffetelli And Bryan Lium To The Ethics Commission — And Here Is A Copy Of The 118 Page Report For You Also!

This post is about a confidential memorandum from LAPD Constitutional Policing director Lizabeth Rhodes to Police Commission ED Richard Tefank about a request made by Hamid Khan of Stop LAPD Spying under the California Public Records Act. It’s also about a series of violations of LAMC 49.5.5 by Rhodes and LAPD officers Marla Ciuffetelli and Bryan Lium based on their biased handling of various requests for records and a complaint against all three of them that I filed this morning with the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. If you don’t want to read the whole thing here are the two main documents involved:

🙨 Lizabeth Rhodes’s confidential memorandum

🙨 Complaint against Rhodes, Ciuffetelli, and Lium

The Los Angeles Police Department has something called the Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy. It sounds like pernicious crapola and pernicious crapola is precisely what it is. Forced upon LAPD by the 2000 consent decree, over the years the cops have used their cop superpowers to thoroughly weaponize OCPP against the people of Los Angeles. Just for instance, let’s talk about about Hamid Khan of Stop LAPD Spying, about the California Public Records Act, about a letter Khan sent to the Police Commission in August 2020 about LAPD’s refusal to comply with the law, and about Lizabeth Rhodes, the hard-nosed criminal lawyer in charge of OCPP.1

In September 2019 Khan filed a CPRA request with LAPD. LAPD, of course, will not comply with the CPRA2 at all, and they especially won’t comply for the likes of Khan. Khan wrote to the Police Commission about it on August 31, 2020 and then complained in person during public comment on October 6, 2020. Khan’s remarks apparently prompted Commissioner Dale Bonner to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there might be some substance to his complaint. Consequently criminal lawyer Rhodes wrote a top-secret highly confidential memorandum, which I just happen to have an actual copy of, to Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank.

This remarkable document is packed with lies and bullshit to a degree hitherto unseen even from the LAPD, an organization which has been growing fat on lies and bullshit for well over a century. It is worth discussing in great detail. Before I do that, though, don’t forget about LAPD officer Marla Ciuffetelli, who runs the CPRA unit, and who violates LAMC 49.5.5 by prioritizing CPRA requests from some reporters and absolutely obstructing requests from other reporters. Also don’t forget about Bryan Lium, Ciuffetelli’s boss, who violates LAMC 49.5.5 in exactly the same way.

Rhodes’s memorandum also violates LAMC 49.5.5, so this morning I filed a complaint against all three of these thuggish scofflaws with the City Ethics Commission, and if anything comes of it I will certainly let you know! Meanwhile, read on for a detailed discussion of Rhodes’s dishonest nonsense! Presented as a dramatic dialogue no less!!
Continue reading November 2020 — LAPD Constitutional Policing Boss Lizabeth Rhodes Wrote A Top Secret Memo To Police Commission Boss Richard Tefank About Public Records Requests From Stop LAPD Spying — I Have A Copy Of The Top Secret Memo For You! — And Also It’s So Full Of Bullshit And Lies That It Amounts To A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5 — Which Is Why This Morning I Reported Rhodes And Her Co-Conspirators Marla Ciuffetelli And Bryan Lium To The Ethics Commission — And Here Is A Copy Of The 118 Page Report For You Also!

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Marla Ciuffetelli of LAPD’s California Public Records Act Unit Specially Facilitated A Request From Denise Chan Of KCET — Ciuffetelli Had It Labeled With A Distinct Label Not Used For Less Favored Media Representatives — And Repeatedly Emailed Richard Tefank Of The Police Commission Encouraging Him To Hurry Up And Finish Chan’s Request — Which He Did — It Was Completed In Less Than Two Months — She Also Went Out Of Her Way To Hinder Tefank’s Processing Of My Requests — She Has A Special Label For Me Too! — Which Apparently Discourages Anyone From Working On My Requests — She Is Going Down For Violating LAMC 49.5.5 By Creating A Private Advantage For Chan — And Probably For Violating The First Amendment — Which Specifically Forbids Government Agents From Granting More Access To Their Pet Reporters — And From Deciding Which Media Outlets Are More Legitimate

I wrote recently about how LAPD Legal Affairs Boss Bryan Lium violated LAMC 49.5.5 by expediting a CPRA request for journalist Aura Bogado while at the same time hindering a request from Stop LAPD Spying. Today’s story, about how LAPD CPRA Unit Boss Marla Ciuffetelli did precisely the same thing for KCET journalist Denise Chan, shows that Lium’s antics with respect to Bogado’s request were not an anomaly.

Ciuffetelli has her subordinates tag requests from her favored media outlets, presumably to distinguish them for expedited handling. And, like Lium, she was willing to send Police Commission Executive Richard Tefank innumerable emails encouraging him to hurry along Chan’s request while repeatedly mentioning the fact that she works for KCET. And, like Lium’s beneficiary Aura Bogado, Denise Chan’s request got filled comparatively very quickly, in less than two months. As we’ve seen, other requests, from less favored requesters, can linger for years with no action at all.

Chan filed Request 20-3691 on June 11, 2020. That link leads to the actual NextRequest page as seen by a user not logged in as Chan or an administrator. But NextRequest request pages have a lot of material not visible to the general public. For instance, take a look at this PDF printout of the same request, but as seen by a logged-in user with staff privileges. In particular, make note of the tags added by the LAPD CPRA Analyst: LAPD: CAT-2, LAPD: CPRA (non-SB1421), LAPD: Media, LAPD: Other

Unfortunately I don’t yet have any way of figuring out what those tags actually mean. But there is still some useful information to be gained. For instance, I’m willing to guess that the LAPD: Media tag means that the requester is from a media organization that LAPD favors for as-yet-undertermined reasons. This may seem obvious, but it’s not for a number of reasons.

In particular, take a look at this request that I submitted to LAPD on July 9, 2020. The linked-to PDF is again the logged-in administrator view, showing the tags: LAPD: CPRA (non-SB1421), LAPD: High Priority , LAPD: High Profile, LAPD: Other Note that although I explicitly and truthfully identified myself as a member of the media the analyst did not add that LAPD: Media tag.

However, they did add at least one tag not applied to Chan’s request, which is the LAPD: High Profile tag. I know for a fact that this tag refers to me personally. To see this, take a look at Marla Ciuffetelli’s weekly CPRA report for the week of August 15, 2020. You can see up at the top a headnote:
Continue reading Marla Ciuffetelli of LAPD’s California Public Records Act Unit Specially Facilitated A Request From Denise Chan Of KCET — Ciuffetelli Had It Labeled With A Distinct Label Not Used For Less Favored Media Representatives — And Repeatedly Emailed Richard Tefank Of The Police Commission Encouraging Him To Hurry Up And Finish Chan’s Request — Which He Did — It Was Completed In Less Than Two Months — She Also Went Out Of Her Way To Hinder Tefank’s Processing Of My Requests — She Has A Special Label For Me Too! — Which Apparently Discourages Anyone From Working On My Requests — She Is Going Down For Violating LAMC 49.5.5 By Creating A Private Advantage For Chan — And Probably For Violating The First Amendment — Which Specifically Forbids Government Agents From Granting More Access To Their Pet Reporters — And From Deciding Which Media Outlets Are More Legitimate

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Remember How I Sued The Highland Park BID And The Lincoln Heights BID In January 2020 Over Their Failures To Produce Public Records? — They Were About To Settle The Case But Then They Flipped Out — Fired Their Sane Lawyers — And Hired Carol Humiston And Her Weirdo Henchie Julie Bachert To Fight The Case! — And My Lawyer — Colleen Flynn — Fought Off Their Aggressively Unhinged Tactics — And Taught Them A Lesson They Shouldn’t Forget But They Probably Will — And They Came Crawling Back Begging To Settle! — Which We Did Yesterday And They’re Paying Flynn And Matthew Strugar — Who Also Helped — Thirty Thousand Dollars In Fees — And Assorted Costs — And They Agreed To Produce Emails On A Schedule — So More News About These Infernal BIDs Quite Soon!

Background: This post follows up on a post from last year, and here’s some useful background from there:

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 post is about my lawsuit against these BIDs. You can read most of the pleadings filed here on Archive.Org as well.

Remember last January? Before all this pandemic insurrection nonsense? Anyway, that’s when I filed a suit against both the Highland Park Business Improvement District and the Lincoln Heights BID1 over their failures to comply with the California Public Records Act. I haven’t written much on it because at first it looked like it was going to settle quickly. The BIDs agreed to produce the records and everything was fine.

Then they fired their lawyers and hired Carol “World’s angriest CPRA lawyer” Humiston’s firm, Bradley & Gmelich, to fight the petition instead. Humiston, of course, has it in for me and is even willing to break the law and the rules of the California State Bar to further her obsessive campaign. She apparently actually believes that the only reason I request records from BIDs is to fuck with them and run up their lawyer bills, and she’s determined to prove this in court.

So these new lawyers, apparently more determined to get at me than to help their clients, aggressively tried to depose me, I guess to get me to admit to my evil anti-BID plans. There’s nothing that my evidence can add to a CPRA case, though. The law specifically states that the requester’s purpose is irrelevant.2 and my lawyer, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, filed a motion for a protective order to stave them off.
Continue reading Remember How I Sued The Highland Park BID And The Lincoln Heights BID In January 2020 Over Their Failures To Produce Public Records? — They Were About To Settle The Case But Then They Flipped Out — Fired Their Sane Lawyers — And Hired Carol Humiston And Her Weirdo Henchie Julie Bachert To Fight The Case! — And My Lawyer — Colleen Flynn — Fought Off Their Aggressively Unhinged Tactics — And Taught Them A Lesson They Shouldn’t Forget But They Probably Will — And They Came Crawling Back Begging To Settle! — Which We Did Yesterday And They’re Paying Flynn And Matthew Strugar — Who Also Helped — Thirty Thousand Dollars In Fees — And Assorted Costs — And They Agreed To Produce Emails On A Schedule — So More News About These Infernal BIDs Quite Soon!

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My Public Records Requests Have Apparently Caused Both LAPD And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson To Embrace A Kind Of Self-Destructive Paranoid Madness — They Are Randomly Accusing Various Not-Me Requesters Of Being Me — LAPD Has Evidently Put Random People Other Than Me On My “Work Plan” — The Plan Amounts To Not Filling My Requests At All — So Basically LAPD Is Denying Requests From Random People In Order To Take Revenge On Me — Which Is Not Only Illegal — It’s Also Idiotic — And Unsustainable — Did I Ever Mention “The Caine Mutiny”? — It’s A Really Good Movie! — Very Timely! — Very Relevant!


Have you ever seen The Caine Mutiny?1 Humphrey Bogart plays Captain Queeg, who at one point calls in all his ship’s officers at 1 am to interrogate them about some putatively missing strawberries. He forces them to investigate all night and give him a report at 8 am. They can’t find the culprit and tell him so, but he regales them with a long story of how, as a young ensign in 1937, he nabbed a cheese thief on his ship who’d made a duplicate pantry key. He told them that he was sure the same thing had happened with the strawberries on the Caine:2

Now, I’ve worked out a very simple plan. First, we collect every key on this ship and tag it with the name of the owner. Second, we strip all hands to make sure we got all the keys. Third, we test each key on the icebox padlock, and the one that fits will give us the name of the owner.

Humphrey Bogart won an Oscar for his role, and as far as I’m concerned he deserved it just for the way he’s fooling with his damn toast in this scene. Anyway, as you probably know, the Los Angeles Police Department is very, very upset with my use of the California Public Records Act. Their displeasure goes to the very top, as shown by this personal letter I received last Summer from supreme LAPD chieftain Michel Moore.

Despite his blah blah blah about a work plan and handling requests sequentially, what they’ve really done is to stop producing records at all. But they’re somewhat hindered in this project by the fact that Gmail is free and the law doesn’t allow them to inquire too deeply into the identities of requesters.

However, they try, they try, and one of the ways they try, it turns out, is by randomly and wrongly accusing various requesters of being me. Their raving paranoia matches and perhaps exceeds Queeg’s. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at this blog comment from the other day:
Continue reading My Public Records Requests Have Apparently Caused Both LAPD And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson To Embrace A Kind Of Self-Destructive Paranoid Madness — They Are Randomly Accusing Various Not-Me Requesters Of Being Me — LAPD Has Evidently Put Random People Other Than Me On My “Work Plan” — The Plan Amounts To Not Filling My Requests At All — So Basically LAPD Is Denying Requests From Random People In Order To Take Revenge On Me — Which Is Not Only Illegal — It’s Also Idiotic — And Unsustainable — Did I Ever Mention “The Caine Mutiny”? — It’s A Really Good Movie! — Very Timely! — Very Relevant!

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