Category Archives: Public Records Act Pragmatics

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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In June 2020 LAPD Took Only 26 Days To Produce 60 Pages Of Michel Moore’s Text Messages In Response To A CPRA Request From Investigative Reporter Aura Bogado — Which Is So Fast It’s Unbelievable — Bogado Attributed Their Speedy And Complete Response To Her Litigious Reputation And Some Specific Phrases She Included In The Request — But We All Know From Experience LAPD Doesn’t Care About That At All — They Get Sued Successfully All The Time — And I’ve Seen No Evidence That They Care How Requests Are Written — It Turns Out That Bryan Lium — Commander Of LAPD’s Legal Affairs Division — Took A Special Interest In Bogado’s Request And Emailed Richard Tefank About Eleventy-Jillion Times To Hurry It Along — Which Is Actually Why It Got Filled Fast — Meanwhile Lium Tells Everyone That Stop LAPD Spying’s Requests Will Just Have To Wait Because They Have To “Balance” Them With Other Requests — Where “Balance” Apparently Means “Ignore Completely”

On June 30, 2020, investigative reporter Aura Bogado tweeted a thread about text messages sent or received by LAPD Chief Michel Moore during the June 2, 2020 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Bogado obtained these on June 29, 2020 as a result of a June 3, 2020 NextRequest filing.1

As you may know, I’ve had some trouble getting the Los Angeles Police Department to even respond to my CPRA requests, let alone to actually produce significant records quickly enough to be useful. So I asked Bogado how she’d done it, but it turned out that she had no idea whatsoever, although she thought she understood. Here’s what she had to say:

I did a standard CPRA to police records; made sure to include why I thought the records existed (Soboroff lifted his phone to the camera at some point) and also included that the request was subject to litigation if I didn’t get a response. I sue, and win, but that’s usually with the federal gov (I cover im/migration nationally) so I think this was part of the motivation to take my request seriously.

Continue reading In June 2020 LAPD Took Only 26 Days To Produce 60 Pages Of Michel Moore’s Text Messages In Response To A CPRA Request From Investigative Reporter Aura Bogado — Which Is So Fast It’s Unbelievable — Bogado Attributed Their Speedy And Complete Response To Her Litigious Reputation And Some Specific Phrases She Included In The Request — But We All Know From Experience LAPD Doesn’t Care About That At All — They Get Sued Successfully All The Time — And I’ve Seen No Evidence That They Care How Requests Are Written — It Turns Out That Bryan Lium — Commander Of LAPD’s Legal Affairs Division — Took A Special Interest In Bogado’s Request And Emailed Richard Tefank About Eleventy-Jillion Times To Hurry It Along — Which Is Actually Why It Got Filled Fast — Meanwhile Lium Tells Everyone That Stop LAPD Spying’s Requests Will Just Have To Wait Because They Have To “Balance” Them With Other Requests — Where “Balance” Apparently Means “Ignore Completely”

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Today I Filed Yet Another Complaint Against LAPD Detective Kris Tu — Sub-Boss Of Their Public Records Unit — And His Subordinate Thanh Su — For Willfully Violating The California Public Records Act — Read All About It Right Here!


This post is about a complaint I filed just now with LAPD Captain Bryan Lium against Kris Tu and Thanh Su of the Department’s Public Records Unit. If you want to skip straight to it here is the link!

The LAPD let me know recently that they will not comply with the California Public Records Act when it comes to my requests. Which isn’t much of a change, actually. Other than a few months in 2018 when they followed the law they have never complied. It took them over a year to get to my first request to them in 2015 and things have only gotten worse.

But late last year they settled a major CPRA case with the ACLU and part of the agreement required the Department to adopt a policy stating explicitly that LAPD employees, both sworn and nonsworn, were subject to discipline for willful violations of the law. And since they will no longer produce records in response to my requests I’ve been using the time I would have spent reviewing and writing about their records to file complaints against them instead.

In August of this year I filed one against LAPD CPRA Sub-boss Kris Tu and his supervisor, Lieutenant Marla Ciuffetelli. Then another against Ciuffetelli alone. A few weeks ago I filed my third, this against Tu again and also Discovery Analyst Masoomeh Cheraghi.

And today I filed my fourth! This one’s against Tu and Analyst Thanh Su. There are two issues involved here. First their refusal to state which exemptions they claim justify their redactions and withholdings and second their refusal to state the name of the person who determined to apply the exemptions. Read the transcription below for the details and stay tuned to see what happens!1
Continue reading Today I Filed Yet Another Complaint Against LAPD Detective Kris Tu — Sub-Boss Of Their Public Records Unit — And His Subordinate Thanh Su — For Willfully Violating The California Public Records Act — Read All About It Right Here!

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The City of Los Angeles Continues To Produce Emails As Non-Text-Searchable Super Low Quality PDFs Rather Than MBOX Or EML Files — But The California Public Records Act Requires Them To Produce In Any Format They Use To Make Copies For Their Own Use — Which Includes MBOXes — We Are Finally Litigating This Issue — Hearing On November 11, 2020 — Read The Trial Brief Here — And A Declaration From Computer Pioneer Martin Haeberli — Explaining Why The City’s Reasons For Not Producing MBOXes Aren’t Reality-Based

This is what the City of Los Angeles does to image files when it converts emails to PDFs. It’s obviously not an exact copy, the provision of which is required by law. This is a completely faithful copy of an image file the City of LA produced in response to a CPRA request.
Maybe you remember that back in December 2019 I filed yet another CPRA suit against the City of Los Angeles. Here I was after a varied bunch of emails from the City’s Information Technology Agency. As usual, the City started handing over records almost immediately, which counts as a concession that they were wrong in denying my original requests.1

Also as usual they produced emails and their attachments as huge, unwieldy, non-text-searchable PDFs with highly degraded quality even though I asked them for MBOX files and the law requires them to produce MBOX files.2 They also produced attachments this way. You can see from the image what this process does to image files3 but imagine how incredibly useless it makes a spreadsheet! The CPRA’s requirement, found at §6253.9, is clear:

6253.9. (a) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, any agency that has information that constitutes an identifiable public record not exempt from disclosure pursuant to this chapter that is in an electronic format shall make that information available in an electronic format when requested by any person and, when applicable, shall comply with the following:

(1) The agency shall make the information available in any electronic format in which it holds the information.

(2) Each agency shall provide a copy of an electronic record in the format requested if the requested format is one that has been used by the agency to create copies for its own use or for provision to other agencies. The cost of duplication shall be limited to the direct cost of producing a copy of a record in an electronic format.

They refuse to do it, though, as they have been refusing since at least 2014. They change their reasons all the time, often in response to my pointing out that they’re lying about their capabilities. These days they’re not denying that they can produce MBOX files because everyone knows by now that they can do it even they used to say explicitly that it was impossible.4 Their current argument, also a lie, is that it’s impossible to redact MBOXes, so they can only produce as PDFs, which they can redact.

But this time we’re not willing to settle with them! We’re about to litigate this file format issue! The hearing is on November 11 at 1:30 before James Chalfant. Here’s the trial brief. There’s also a declaration from Internet and Apple Computer pioneer Martin Haeberli explaining the reasons why producing emails as MBOX files is far superior to PDFs and also explaining two perfectly workable ways to redact them in this form.5 Read on for excerpts from the brief and stay tuned for news!
Continue reading The City of Los Angeles Continues To Produce Emails As Non-Text-Searchable Super Low Quality PDFs Rather Than MBOX Or EML Files — But The California Public Records Act Requires Them To Produce In Any Format They Use To Make Copies For Their Own Use — Which Includes MBOXes — We Are Finally Litigating This Issue — Hearing On November 11, 2020 — Read The Trial Brief Here — And A Declaration From Computer Pioneer Martin Haeberli — Explaining Why The City’s Reasons For Not Producing MBOXes Aren’t Reality-Based

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We Now Know That The LAPD Lied To A Whole Series Of Public Records Requesters About Facial Recognition — They’ve Been Lying About It For Years — And They Lied About It To Me Too — I Recently Discovered Proof That LAPD Discovery Had Records Responsive To My Request In Their Actual Possession At The Time That LAPD Discovery Boss Kris Tu Told Me There Weren’t Any — And The LAPD Department Manual CPRA Section Requires LAPD To Comply — And States Explicitly That If They Willfully Withhold Records They May Be Subject To Punishment — Which Is Why Today I Filed A Complaint Against Tu — And Masoomeh Cheraghi — A Civilian Analyst Who Had One Of The Responsive Records In Her Possession When Tu Illegally Closed My Request — And You Can Read It Here!

NOTE: This post is about a complaint I filed today against a couple of LAPD CPRA staff and that’s a link straight to it if you want to skip the post.

In August 2019 I learned that LAPD used facial recognition technology to, among other random things, identify homeless people in Chinatown on behalf of outlaw Chinatown BID Boss George Yu. In September 2019 I asked LAPD for records relating to their use of facial recognition. They stalled and stalled and stalled until June 2020 when Kris Tu, a detective in charge of LAPD’s CPRA unit, told me that there were no responsive records.

Which, as was very recently revealed, was certainly not the whole truth. Furthermore, I recently obtained this email chain involving LAPD CPRA analyst Masoomeh Cheraghi. She responded in May 2020 to a February 2020 email announcing various LAPD facial recognition policies, announced that she was working on my request,1 and was told by LAPD staff that there was in fact a Detective Bureau Notice on the subject.

However, she failed to produce either the email or the Notice, although both are clearly responsive to my request. Not only that, but in June 2020 Kris Tu told me explicitly that there were no responsive records despite the fact that Cheraghi, his subordinate, provably knew of at least two of them and had at least one of them in her possession.
Continue reading We Now Know That The LAPD Lied To A Whole Series Of Public Records Requesters About Facial Recognition — They’ve Been Lying About It For Years — And They Lied About It To Me Too — I Recently Discovered Proof That LAPD Discovery Had Records Responsive To My Request In Their Actual Possession At The Time That LAPD Discovery Boss Kris Tu Told Me There Weren’t Any — And The LAPD Department Manual CPRA Section Requires LAPD To Comply — And States Explicitly That If They Willfully Withhold Records They May Be Subject To Punishment — Which Is Why Today I Filed A Complaint Against Tu — And Masoomeh Cheraghi — A Civilian Analyst Who Had One Of The Responsive Records In Her Possession When Tu Illegally Closed My Request — And You Can Read It Here!

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Mark Smith Is LAPD Inspector General — Here Is His Appointment Calendar For January Through March 2020 — And The Harrowing Story Of How I Managed To Obtain These Records Despite Smith’s Lies — And Deliberate Misstatements Of Law — And General Obstructionism — Smith Rehearses Before Police Commission Meetings — And It Looks Like He And The Commission Met With The California DOJ Outside Of A Noticed Public Meeting — Which Of Course Is Against The Law Completely — Smith’s Job Is To Enforce Constitutional Policing — His Compliance With The Public Records Act Is A Fundamental Constitutional Right — In California — How Can He Be Trusted To Protect One Set Of Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights While So Freely Violating Another?

Here are three months of LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith‘s appointment calendars. There’s a lot of interesting information in there, including what sure looks like a Brown Act violation by the Los Angeles Police Commission. And the story of how I obtained these records is also interesting! And is revealed below! But first, here’s a selection of Smith’s calendar entries with some comments on ones that interested me!
Continue reading Mark Smith Is LAPD Inspector General — Here Is His Appointment Calendar For January Through March 2020 — And The Harrowing Story Of How I Managed To Obtain These Records Despite Smith’s Lies — And Deliberate Misstatements Of Law — And General Obstructionism — Smith Rehearses Before Police Commission Meetings — And It Looks Like He And The Commission Met With The California DOJ Outside Of A Noticed Public Meeting — Which Of Course Is Against The Law Completely — Smith’s Job Is To Enforce Constitutional Policing — His Compliance With The Public Records Act Is A Fundamental Constitutional Right — In California — How Can He Be Trusted To Protect One Set Of Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights While So Freely Violating Another?

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Are Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Gang Tattoos Public Records? — And Therefore Subject To The Public Records Act? — I Don’t See Why Not! — Although I’m Not A Lawyer And Could Easily Be Wrong — But I Could Easily Be Right!

The FBI is investigating tattooed gangs of LA County Sheriff’s deputies and a suit filed by a former deputy includes allegations of gangs with matching tattoos controlling the Compton Station. Thus the idea that LASD gang tattoos may be subject to the California Public Records Act is in the air! So I thought that I would give you my amateurish and decidedly nonlawyerly take on it. The starting point for any such inquiry is the CPRA at §6253(a), where we read that:

Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided. Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be available for inspection by any person requesting the record after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law.

This is very clear. If they’re public records they must be open to inspection unless they’re exempt.1 If Sheriff gang tattoos are public records, then we can look at them! So are they?
Continue reading Are Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Gang Tattoos Public Records? — And Therefore Subject To The Public Records Act? — I Don’t See Why Not! — Although I’m Not A Lawyer And Could Easily Be Wrong — But I Could Easily Be Right!

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CD15 PR Flack Amy Gebert Told Me In 2019 That It Would Take Her 21 Months To Produce 10,000 Pages Of Emails — Where “Produce” Means To Print 200 Pages On Paper Every Six Months — And Then Scan Them To Gigantic Unsearchable PDFs In Random Order — And To Deny That CD15 Is Able To Produce Emails Any Other Way — Which Actually Is A Lie Since ITA Will Produce Any Quantity Of Emails In MBOX Format For Any City Department That Asks Them To — And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson Apparently Advised Her To Lie In Precisely This Way — I Have Neither Time Nor Capacity To Sue The City For Every One Of Its Hundreds Of CPRA Violations — And That Doesn’t Help Against Lawyers Anyway — So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission — Against Both Of These Miscreants — For Misusing Their Positions To Create A Private Disadvantage For Me — A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5(A) — And You Can Get A Copy Of The Complaint Right Here!

TL;DR I filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission against CD15 staffer Amy Gebert and Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson and you can get a copy of it right here.

In June 2019 I asked Joe Buscaino’s PR flack Amy Gebert for some emails. After wasting three months on bad-faith arguments she agreed to produce 10,000 pages by April 2021. In March 2020 she produced the first two hundred1 pages, printed out on paper, in an untidy stack, and told me I’d have to pay $0.10 per page to obtain copies.

Then earlier this month she produced another few hundred pages, many not even responsive, although this time she printed them on paper and scanned them to PDFs for me.2 When I asked her to follow the law and produce them as MBOX files she lied and told me that CD15 didn’t have the technical capacity to do that. Bethelwel Wilson of the City Attorney’s Office apparently told her to use that excuse.
Continue reading CD15 PR Flack Amy Gebert Told Me In 2019 That It Would Take Her 21 Months To Produce 10,000 Pages Of Emails — Where “Produce” Means To Print 200 Pages On Paper Every Six Months — And Then Scan Them To Gigantic Unsearchable PDFs In Random Order — And To Deny That CD15 Is Able To Produce Emails Any Other Way — Which Actually Is A Lie Since ITA Will Produce Any Quantity Of Emails In MBOX Format For Any City Department That Asks Them To — And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson Apparently Advised Her To Lie In Precisely This Way — I Have Neither Time Nor Capacity To Sue The City For Every One Of Its Hundreds Of CPRA Violations — And That Doesn’t Help Against Lawyers Anyway — So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission — Against Both Of These Miscreants — For Misusing Their Positions To Create A Private Disadvantage For Me — A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5(A) — And You Can Get A Copy Of The Complaint Right Here!

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Lt. Marla Ciuffetelli Runs LAPD’s Public Records Unit — And She Refuses To Publish CPRA Requests On NextRequest — So That They Remain Unreadable And Unsearchable By The Public — This Is A Direct Violation Of A Settlement Agreement LAPD Signed Last Year To Settle A Monumental CPRA Case — So I Filed A Complaint With LAPD About Ciuffetelli’s Transgressions — Which You Can Read Here — Of Course!

In 2017 the ACLU of Southern California sued the Los Angeles Police Department over their habitual egregious violations of the California Public Records Act. The City settled the case in September 2019 by paying the ACLU $57K and signing an extensive agreement which included a number of conditions regarding LAPD’s CPRA practices.

One of the conditions requires LAPD to use a web platform for handling CPRA requests, to publish the requests so that they’re searchable, and to publish records produced as well. The full text of this clause is transcribed below. The City addressed this requirement by adopting NextRequest, but so far LAPD has failed to publish requests consistently, and even when they do publish them, they often won’t publish the released documents or the conversation with the requester, both of which the settlement requires them to do.

In particular, at the time of writing, requests 19-4413 and 19-4414 remain unpublished and the released documents remain unavailable and unsearchable for anyone but the logged-in requester. It’s essential that LAPD publish all published requests, but I have a particular interest in these two given that recently LAPD Chief Michel Moore publicly accused me of making requests that “are intentionally designed to be unclear, confounding, and/or overbroad.”

The evidence Moore cited is based on these two requests, which are none of the things he accuses me of intentionally designing them to be. So a couple weeks ago I asked LAPD Lt. Marla Ciuffetelli, new boss of the CPRA Unit, to publish them. She has so far completely ignored my request1 despite the fact that LAPD is subject to a court order requiring publication and despite the fact that the requests are themselves public records, which I requested.

But one of the other clauses in the agreement says that LAPD officers who willfully violate the CPRA may be subject to discipline. So yesterday I filed this complaint against Ciuffetelli with Bryan Lium, her superior officer, which is also transcribed below.2 I am sure that as they usually do they’ll kick it around for a year or two and then exonerate Ciuffetelli, but maybe not. In any case, I will certainly let you know what happens!
Continue reading Lt. Marla Ciuffetelli Runs LAPD’s Public Records Unit — And She Refuses To Publish CPRA Requests On NextRequest — So That They Remain Unreadable And Unsearchable By The Public — This Is A Direct Violation Of A Settlement Agreement LAPD Signed Last Year To Settle A Monumental CPRA Case — So I Filed A Complaint With LAPD About Ciuffetelli’s Transgressions — Which You Can Read Here — Of Course!

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