Yesterday The Los Angeles City Council Eviscerated A Reasonably Good Eviction Moratorium Motion — On The Insistence Of Paul Krekorian And Herb Wesson — Who Kept Talking Up The Needs Of The So-Called Mom And Pop Landlords — Who In Everyone’s Fantasies About Capitalism On A Human Scale Are Not Insatiable Villainous Psychopaths Like Non Mom And Pop Landlords Are — And Somehow Neither Krekorian Nor Wesson Thought It Was Worth Mentioning That They Themselves Are Mom And Pop Landlords — As Is Paul Koretz — And Nury Martinez — And Curren Price — And Jose Huizar — And Mike Bonin’s Husband — Although Bonin Voted Against Krekorian’s Eviscerating Motion — So At Least There’s That

Yesterday the Los Angeles City Council considered and passed1 a long list of motions intended to alleviate some of the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our City. One of the most essential of these was CD11 rep Mike Bonin’s motion to stop evictions and ban late rent fees until the end of the emergency declaration and then give renters 24 months to pay missed rent.

The meeting itself was interminable and the public is excluded from City Hall and had to sit out on the front patio under a tent. But fortunately a number of extremely hard-working reporters were on the case, and it’s due to the incomparable Sahra Sulaiman‘s live-tweeting of this episode that I’m able to tell the story I’m telling here.

Sulaiman reported that Paul Krekorian, our second fashiest councilmember, was all about 24 months to repay being far, far too long:

Can’t tell who (Krekorian?) suggests that we are shifting loss bc if we give tenants too much time to pay back, the grace pd may extend beyond their lease and therefore end up being uncollectable. And that we need to consider more options, like applying security deposit to rent.

Krekorian went on to say that:

He acknowledges some folks will never be able to pay it back and that some landlords can absorb that, but others cannot, and that may have other negative consequences.

Got it? Paul Krekorian acknowledges that some landlords can absorb the loss from tenants not paying back rent while other landlords cannot absorb the loss. This is his reason for wanting to cut the repayment period down from 24 months to 6 months.

Hey, did you know that California state law requires public officials like Paul Krekorian to file annual disclosures of their financial interests? Well, it does. They’re called “Form 700s” and here’s Paul Krekorian’s from 2018. And as expected, rental income is income and thus counts as a financial interest to be listed on the form.
Continue reading Yesterday The Los Angeles City Council Eviscerated A Reasonably Good Eviction Moratorium Motion — On The Insistence Of Paul Krekorian And Herb Wesson — Who Kept Talking Up The Needs Of The So-Called Mom And Pop Landlords — Who In Everyone’s Fantasies About Capitalism On A Human Scale Are Not Insatiable Villainous Psychopaths Like Non Mom And Pop Landlords Are — And Somehow Neither Krekorian Nor Wesson Thought It Was Worth Mentioning That They Themselves Are Mom And Pop Landlords — As Is Paul Koretz — And Nury Martinez — And Curren Price — And Jose Huizar — And Mike Bonin’s Husband — Although Bonin Voted Against Krekorian’s Eviscerating Motion — So At Least There’s That

Share

Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

As you may well remember, earlier this year Senator Bob Wieckowski introduced the small but essential SB931. The Brown Act already requires public agencies to mail copies of agendas to members of the public on request.1At §54954.1 This bill would require them to email them if asked to.

It’s very strange but sadly true that there are plenty of little backwater agencies, mostly business improvement districts and charter schools, who are so intent on obstruction that they will refuse to email agendas even though it’s free, even though they already email agendas to people they approve of. They will insist that the law only requires them to mail agendas.

And don’t get me started on how they send them via certified mail so that if people miss the first delivery it’s essentially too late to find out what the meeting is about. And if it’s a special meeting? Or if someone’s unhoused and doesn’t have reliable mail service? Forget it. So like I said, this is a minor problem, something these agencies ought to be doing anyway but some of them just won’t and Wieckowski’s bill will fix it.

As far as I know there’s no organized opposition. I mean, what are they going to say? That they enjoy exploiting this unfortunate loophole to mess with people? But there’s a lot of support! I already wrote about the letter sent by our friends at the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition. The California News Publishers Association sent a nice little letter. And just the other day I learned that Oakland Privacy, a group I hadn’t heard of before this, wrote a really extraordinary, really dynamic letter in support.

You can read the entire thing below, but they raise a really important point that no other support letter has brought out in such detail. That’s the fact that if members of the public want to monitor the agendas of many local agencies to see if they want to comment on specific items, essentially their only practical choice right now is to check the agencies’ websites regularly.

For people or groups that monitor tens or hundreds of agencies this is not only time-consuming but also unreliable. Requiring notifications by email would solve this problem. Anyway, as I said, read on for the full letter, and if you have a moment, why not drop Wieckowski a line or call him in support yourself?
Continue reading Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

Share

Ever Wonder How One Of These Super-Sized Construction Projects Downtown Gets Built? — Here Is An Unprecedented Look Into How City Councilmembers And Developers Work As Partners To Subvert And Sideline Civil Service Staff And Basically Give Away Piece After Irreplaceable Piece Of Our City To Further Their Own Interests — Laid Out Step By Covert And Appalling Step — In The Case — Still Ongoing — Of 1330 W. Pico In CD1 — From Gil Cedillo’s First Meeting In August 2017 With Zillionaire Eri Kroh Of Sandstone Properties — Through Three Distinct Motions — Every Last One Of Which Signed By Cedillo But Written By A Lobbyist — And Sheparded Through City Staff — And Council Committees — And Council — By Cedillo’s Planning Director Gerald Gubatan — Who Insulted And Belittled Any Civil Service Staff Who Dared To Question Any Aspect Of The Project — Through CD1 Assistant Chief Of Staff Tony Ricasa’s Apparent Derailment Of Matt Szabo’s Plan To Use The Building For Homeless Housing — And Much Much More — Including Links To Hundreds Of Emails — And Draft Motions — And So On

Here in Los Angeles we read a lot of news about real estate development, real estate being the sun about which every local planet orbits. And this reporting mostly tells the truth, and probably nothing but the truth, but for the most part never the whole truth. Just for instance, consider the property at 1330 W. Pico Blvd. This parcel has been in the news since October 2017, when real estate developer Sandstone Properties bought it for $42 million, planning to build yet another hotel. Here’s The Real Deal’s story on the purchase.

The next reported-on milestone was in June 2018 when Gil Cedillo, in whose Council District the property is, introduced a rezoning motion allowing a hotel to be built at the address. Here’s The Real Deal’s story on that, and at this point Urbanize.LA1 initiated coverage with this equally superficial story. A few months later Cedillo moved to give the hotel hefty tax incentives,2 which was covered in the Downtown News as well as the two previous rags. And that’s the whole story, according to the local media.

The reporting rightly focuses on the motions themselves, although, interestingly, not all the motions.3 After all, without the motions, the rezonings, the tax incentives, and so on, the projects couldn’t get built. What all of these stories about this Sandstone project lack, though, what most such stories about all such projects are missing, is any sense of where the motions come from, how Council offices and developers collaborate to obtain the myriad permissions required for something like this proposed hotel to get built.4

And that story is amazing, really unexpectedly appalling.5 It’s revealed in astonishing detail by a massive set of emails I recently received from CD1, spanning more than two and a half years of discussions between lobbyists from at least three distinct firms6 repping Eri Kroh and Sandstone, CD1 planning director Gerald Gubatan, and various City of LA staffers in City Planning and elsewhere beginning in August 2017 and continuing to this day.

The lobbyists actually write and revise the motions that Cedillo introduces to further their cause.7 Gubatan works closely with the lobbyists basically in opposition to City civil service staff’s attempts to enforce the City’s laws and rules, and is outright contemptuous of their abilities.8 Cedillo himself stays distant from the process, but in no way detached. He met with the project’s zillionaire developer Eri Kroh and lobbyist Lali DeAztlan in August 2017, two months before the purchase was final. Presumably this is when Cedillo greenlighted the project.

In a post-meeting email to Gerald Gubatan DeAztlan shared her pleasure with the result: ” I think it went well, the Councilmember and the Owner Eri seem to speak the same language, and that gets us off to a great start.” After that Cedillo seems to have been briefed only once9 and otherwise didn’t have to do anything else once he’d set things moving except, of course, to sign the motions.10 The story is complicated and best understood by reading through the records themselves,11 but read on for a moderately detailed outline with link after link after link to the primary sources.
Continue reading Ever Wonder How One Of These Super-Sized Construction Projects Downtown Gets Built? — Here Is An Unprecedented Look Into How City Councilmembers And Developers Work As Partners To Subvert And Sideline Civil Service Staff And Basically Give Away Piece After Irreplaceable Piece Of Our City To Further Their Own Interests — Laid Out Step By Covert And Appalling Step — In The Case — Still Ongoing — Of 1330 W. Pico In CD1 — From Gil Cedillo’s First Meeting In August 2017 With Zillionaire Eri Kroh Of Sandstone Properties — Through Three Distinct Motions — Every Last One Of Which Signed By Cedillo But Written By A Lobbyist — And Sheparded Through City Staff — And Council Committees — And Council — By Cedillo’s Planning Director Gerald Gubatan — Who Insulted And Belittled Any Civil Service Staff Who Dared To Question Any Aspect Of The Project — Through CD1 Assistant Chief Of Staff Tony Ricasa’s Apparent Derailment Of Matt Szabo’s Plan To Use The Building For Homeless Housing — And Much Much More — Including Links To Hundreds Of Emails — And Draft Motions — And So On

Share

The City Of Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center On East Temple Street Houses The Unified Homelessness Response Center — And A Lot Of Other Departments As Well — It’s Managed By Two Committees — The Emergency Management Committee — And The Emergency Operations Board — These Bodies Meet Inside The Emergency Operations Center — And Their Meetings Are Subject To The Brown Act — Which Means That The Public Can Attend — Inside The Building — Therefore At Least Sporadically It’s Open To The Public — Which Is Big News For Various Reasons — And LAPD Chief Michel Moore Chairs The Board — Although Not The Committee — Which Would Seem To Offer An Interesting Opportunity For General Public Comment

The City of Los Angeles has an Emergency Operations Center situated at 500 E. Temple Street. There are a lot of different departments housed in the building, but of most interest to me is the Unified Homelessness Response Center. You may recall, if you follow my Twitter feed, that last November as part of our years-long quest to get accurate information about upcoming encampment sweeps, Tommy Kelly of Streetwatch Los Angeles and I went over to UHRC in person and demanded access to the schedules. And we were menaced by a confused-about-the-law cop and made to leave.

According to the cop at the time the building isn’t open to the public. This may or may not be true, but the fact that he said it at all explains how exceedingly interested I was to discover this very morning that the Emergency Operations Center is managed by two distinct committees, whose meetings seem to be open to the public. There’s the Emergency Management Committee and the Emergency Operations Board.

This last body is chaired by the Chief of Police, currently of course Michel Moore, and would therefore seem to offer an interesting and hitherto unexploited opportunity for public comment. You can sign up to receive agendas for both of these groups via email. There’s also an archive of old agendas and minutes on the Emergency Operations Center website — Here for the Board and here for the Committee.

I certainly plan to attend these meetings in the future when possible. It’ll be really something to get inside that building, to even be allowed to make video of the goings-on, without being menaced by loony-tunes know-nothings from LAPD. See you there, perhaps?!

Share

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■1 ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■2■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■:
Continue reading ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ — ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Share

Last Year Gavin Newsom Vetoed Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s Absolutely Essential Email Retention Bill — But Gloria Reintroduced It The Other Day And It Looks Like The Fight Is On Again! — The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Submitted A Letter In Support And You — Being Sane — Should Submit One As Well! — The Idiotic And Dishonest Letters Of Opposition Are Already Rolling In!

Perhaps you remember last year’s Assembly Bill AB1184, introduced by government transparency hero Representative Todd Gloria, dishonestly opposed by a bunch of mendacious business improvement districts and other shills with a lot to hide, and ignominiously vetoed by California Governor Gavin Newsom at the behest of lobbyists hired by the bad BIDdies and their enablers? Well, Gloria reintroduced it this year, and here we go again!

The new number is AB2093, and perhaps this time the forces of good and right will be able to overcome the nonsensical objections and get this baby passed. The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition submitted a letter in support today, and you and/or your organizations can submit one as well! Send to Raquel Mason via email at raquel.mason@asm.ca.gov.

It’s expected to go to committee in March so it’s not urgent, but it’s also not not urgent, so don’t dilly-dally! And read on for a transcription of the letter sent by the LASC. Oh, and also! The dishonest opposition has already begun. Behold an idiotic form letter of opposition sent by some random special district somewhere north of Pacoima. Too dumb to analyze, but maybe worth a glance?
Continue reading Last Year Gavin Newsom Vetoed Assemblymember Todd Gloria’s Absolutely Essential Email Retention Bill — But Gloria Reintroduced It The Other Day And It Looks Like The Fight Is On Again! — The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Submitted A Letter In Support And You — Being Sane — Should Submit One As Well! — The Idiotic And Dishonest Letters Of Opposition Are Already Rolling In!

Share

The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

It’s so darn bandied-about that it’s become easy to forget that Abraham Lincoln’s perfect description of the American form of government,1 or at least its to-be-constantly-striven-for ideal form, as “of the people, by the people, for the people” has a great deal of meaning packed into it. In particular, if government is to be of and for the people then the people have to have access to the spaces in which its work is done and advance notice of when it’s happening.

And governments being what they are2 they would often prefer to keep people out of the process entirely by making their decisions and doing their work in secret. To prevent this, to preserve Lincoln’s ideal, we need laws to protect our access. In California such access is protected by the Brown Act.

One of the rights protected by the Brown Act is the right to have notice of the time, place, and subject matter of upcoming meetings. This protection comes in two forms. First, §54594.2 requires agendas to be posted in public and on the web 72 hours before a meeting.3 But of course, this is only sufficient if you remember to check the posting location or the website. If you don’t or can’t do that you’re out of luck.
Continue reading The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

Share

LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

As you may already know, I’ve been looking into civil nuisance abatement lawsuits and their relation to gentrification in Los Angeles. The City files dozens of these cases each year and they’re based on really flimsy but also mostly unchallenged evidence. A big part of this project is collecting copies of the complaints themselves, and so far I’ve obtained them for 2015 and 2016 and 2017-2019.

Apparently, though, the City Attorney inadvertently omitted1 a few of these from earlier productions and I just got copies of those the other day. They’re available here on Archive.Org. We’re still waiting for 2014 and earlier. And I have a bunch of other requests pending, of course, and I will certainly let you know if any of them are successful and result in interesting stuff!

But also sometimes even unsuccessful requests have interesting results! And that’s the main subject of today’s post! But first, some background! You may recall that Supreme Nuisance Prosecutor Jonathan Cristall and his unindicted co-conspirator Liora Forman-Echols published a really insidious how-to/why-to guide in the National Gang Center Bulletin in 2009, which I wrote about recently.

And this pernicious little document contains some really implausible claims. Just for instance, on page 6, Cristall and Forman-Echols state, without supporting evidence, that “[i]n most instances, the abatement of the nuisance at the property has a ripple effect, positively improving the surrounding neighborhood.” Oh, and also! Seasoned Supreme Gang Nuisance Prosecutor Cristall is not only a self-proclaimed expert on abating nuisances for fun and profit, he’s also a self-proclaimed expert on raising teenagers!
Continue reading LA City Attorney’s Office Admits That There Is No Evidence Outside Their Own Heads That Their Gang Nuisance Lawsuits “Improve” Neighborhoods — Whatever They Even Mean By “Improve” — And Jonathan Cristall — Supreme Commander Of The Gang Nuisance Prosecution Crew — Fails To Produce Evidence That He Actually Recieved Any Of The Series Of Honors He — Formerly — Listed On His Amazon Author Page — Which Of Course Doesn’t Mean He Didn’t Receive Them — But It Is Certainly Interesting How Much These Prosecutors Want People To Take On Faith Given The Fact That Their Cases Are Based On The Untested Word Of LAPD Gang Officers — A Famously Mendacious Bunch

Share

Since 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Has Paid Out More Than $1.7 Million To Settle Public Records Act Litigation — Most Of Which Could Have Been Avoided By Taking Compliance Seriously — This Is Not Only A Betrayal Of The Public Trust But It’s A Huge Damn Waste Of Money — If Only There Were A City Official Charged With Reducing Waste Who Could Look Into This — Oh Wait Of Course There Is! — The City Controller! — So This Morning I Sent Him A Letter Asking Him To Use His Audit Power To Evaluate The City’s CPRA Policies — And Assess The Risk And Liability Created By Noncompliance — And Recommend Ways To Avoid This Waste In The Future — Including The Creation Of A Centralized CPRA Coordinator For The City — And You Can Read That Letter Here! — Along With A Bunch Of Other Nonsense!

As you may well know, the City of Los Angeles has a really, really hard time complying with its obligations under the California Public Records Act. And as you may also know, the only remedy for noncompliance provided by the Legislature is to file a lawsuit against the violators. If the requester prevails1 the law requires the judge to award litigation costs and lawyers’ fees to the requester.

And, it turns out, the City of Los Angeles not only has a hard time complying with the CPRA but they get sued a lot over it. And they usually settle quickly but when they don’t they lose. A lot. And they pay a lot of money to requesters’ attorneys. In fact, since 2016 they’ve paid off in 26 cases to the total tune of more than $1.7 million. Here’s a list of all of these cases, both as a PDF and in the original XLSX.

Probably some of these cases involve legitimate controversies over the City’s decision to withhold records from release, but as you know if you follow this blog, most of them are due to very little more than the incompetence, indifference, or intransigence of City departments. Most of these cases could have been avoided if the City had just released records that they ended up releasing anyway as a result of the suit. Many could have been avoided if someone had just explained to a few City staffers what their obligations under the law actually were.

So not only does the City’s continual, habitual flouting of the CPRA deprive citizens of our constitutionally guaranteed right to access public records promptly,2 but it also costs the City an immense amount of money. All of which is wasted since had the City just followed the law in the first place they wouldn’t have had to pay any of it. Or to pay the salaries of the Deputy City Attorneys who had to handle these cases after they were filed.3

The City doesn’t even have a CPRA compliance policy, but if it did and if it followed it, none of this money would be wasted. The City of San Diego, it turns out, has a very similar problem, which I only found out about because they have an officer called the City Auditor. He recently investigated San Diego’s CPRA practices and policies and made recommendations for improvement.

Which reminded me that here in Los Angeles there is a also City official whose charge includes the right to audit and investigate the expenditures of City departments and to recommend policy changes to stop money wasting. This, of course, is the Controller, whose powers and duties are defined by the City Charter at §260 et seq. and which include the ability to “conduct performance audits of all departments and may conduct performance audits of City programs, including suggesting plans for the improvement and management of the revenues and expenditures of the City.”4

So he’s empowered to look into this matter, but of course, how’s he going to know to do that unless someone brings it up? Thus did I write Galperin a letter this morning asking him to get on it and audit the City’s CPRA compliance and policies and make recommendations. In particular I asked him not only to consult with requesters about needed policy changes, but also to consider recommending that the City create a central CPRA coordinator whose job would include receiving, processing, and assigning requests to departments and then tracking and ensuring compliance. Read on for a transcription and stay tuned to find out if anything comes of it!
Continue reading Since 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Has Paid Out More Than $1.7 Million To Settle Public Records Act Litigation — Most Of Which Could Have Been Avoided By Taking Compliance Seriously — This Is Not Only A Betrayal Of The Public Trust But It’s A Huge Damn Waste Of Money — If Only There Were A City Official Charged With Reducing Waste Who Could Look Into This — Oh Wait Of Course There Is! — The City Controller! — So This Morning I Sent Him A Letter Asking Him To Use His Audit Power To Evaluate The City’s CPRA Policies — And Assess The Risk And Liability Created By Noncompliance — And Recommend Ways To Avoid This Waste In The Future — Including The Creation Of A Centralized CPRA Coordinator For The City — And You Can Read That Letter Here! — Along With A Bunch Of Other Nonsense!

Share

Starting January 1, 2020 The California Public Records Act Requires Agencies To Allow Requesters To Make Copies Of Records At Inspection Time Subject To Some Limitations — The Limitations Are Clear For Tangible Records — The Means Of Copying Must Not Require Contact With The Record — But Things Are Not So Clear With Respect To Electronic Records — The Legislative History Of The Bill Makes It Clear That Copying Actual Files Must Be Allowed Though — But The Downtown Center BID — Which Has Adopted A Ludicrous Series Of Obstructionist Policies Over The Years Did Not Agree — Said I Could Photograph Electronic Records On The Screen But Not Copy The Files Directly — But I Was Like No Freaking Way And Here Is Why — And In A Rare Moment Of Sanity They Totally Caved!

Last year the legislature passed and Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill amending the California Public Records Act to allow requesters to copy records at inspection time using their own equipment. The precise language added to the law at §6253(d) is:

(d)(1) A requester who inspects a disclosable record on the premises of the agency has the right to use the requester’s equipment on those premises, without being charged any fees or costs, to photograph or otherwise copy or reproduce the record in a manner that does not require the equipment to make physical contact with the record, unless the means of copy or reproduction would result in either of the following:

(A) Damage to the record.

(B) Unauthorized access to the agency’s computer systems or secured networks by using software, equipment, or any other technology capable of accessing, altering, or compromising the agency’s electronic records.

(2) The agency may impose any reasonable limits on the use of the requester’s equipment that are necessary to protect the safety of the records or to prevent the copying of records from being an unreasonable burden to the orderly function of the agency and its employees. In addition, the agency may impose any limit that is necessary to maintain the integrity of, or ensure the long-term preservation of, historic or high-value records.

And this new requirement took effect on January 1, 2020. Agencies have been all over the place on allowing requesters to photograph paper records at inspection time, but mostly the new language is clear enough that they’re just complying. Even the extraordinarily psychopathically obstructionist Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control conceded with respect to paper records.
Continue reading Starting January 1, 2020 The California Public Records Act Requires Agencies To Allow Requesters To Make Copies Of Records At Inspection Time Subject To Some Limitations — The Limitations Are Clear For Tangible Records — The Means Of Copying Must Not Require Contact With The Record — But Things Are Not So Clear With Respect To Electronic Records — The Legislative History Of The Bill Makes It Clear That Copying Actual Files Must Be Allowed Though — But The Downtown Center BID — Which Has Adopted A Ludicrous Series Of Obstructionist Policies Over The Years Did Not Agree — Said I Could Photograph Electronic Records On The Screen But Not Copy The Files Directly — But I Was Like No Freaking Way And Here Is Why — And In A Rare Moment Of Sanity They Totally Caved!

Share