Yesterday the Aids Healthcare Foundation held a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles for its alleged and exceedingly plausible arbitrary and capricious denial of an AHF homeless housing project. This is an important lawsuit with a a powerful and convincing petition in support of AHF’s laudable efforts to house the unhoused in Los Angeles. It’s been well-covered in the press.
Not quite as well-covered is the fact that in September 2019, as part of the lead-up to that lawsuit, AHF sent a request to HCIDLA for public records related to the bidding process in which their project was rejected. HCIDLA rejected it with a message stating that the Mayor’s Office had the records and that AHF should send it there. They did so, and a few days later Garcetti’s office sent them a denial stating “[it] is our policy not to disclose materials related to competing bids while the contracting process is still ongoing.”
Now, the CPRA is very clear on the fundamental fact that unless there is an explicit reason given in the law for withholding a record, that record must be released to anyone who asks for it. This is found at §6255(a), which says that “The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that 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.”
Continue reading On September 20, 2019 The Aids Healthcare Foundation Filed A California Public Records Act Petition Against The City Of Los Angeles — Just Four Days After Receiving A Characteristically Inadequate Denial From The Office Of The Mayor — This Is A Necessary — And Laudable — And Entirely Appropriate Action — I Can Only Think Of Two Strategies For Encouraging The City To Consistently Comply With The CPRA — One Is For Us To Pass A Local Sunshine Ordinance — And Until That Happens We Have To Sue The Freaking Crap Out Of The City Immediately Every Time They Illegally Withhold Records — Like Freud Said — If They Don’t Pay They Won’t Get Better — So Yay AHF!
As you know, one of my long-term projects is using the public records act to understand how and why the City of Los Angeles schedules sweeps of homeless encampments and related enforcement actions. Emails between Council offices and either LAPD or LA Sanitation have been essential in this effort. For instance, a monumental recent email release from LAPD revealed a number of essential facts.
First, that CD11 staffer Taylor Bazley, despite official denials, had been complicit in the illegal placement of anti-homeless planters in Venice. This revelation led, in turn, to my filing a complaint against a list of LAPD officers with the Internal Affairs Division and a complaint with the Ethics Commission against Bazley. These same emails revealed that CD11 itself had been illegally withholding incredibly important records in the face of a number of my pending CPRA requests, which led to my filing another writ petition against the City seeking to compel the release of those materials.
And also, there among these 1,200 pages of stuff, were a couple emails between CD1 staffer Jose Rodriguez and a couple of police officers, Arturo Siguenas and Ruben Arellano, about homeless encampments and sweep scheduling at an encampment on Avenue 61 between Figueroa Street and Piedmont Avenue, one block to the North. Here’s the first one and also the second one. These emails in themselves are fairly innocuous, but since other emails in the release had turned out to be so very consequential, and since CD1 is a particular interest of mine although not, so far, with respect to homelessness, the importance of tracing this thread further was quite clear.
Thus I sent a request for all emails between Rodriguez and these two officers from between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2019, the day before the date of the request:
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Sued Yet Again To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act — This Time It’s Over CD1’s Obstinate Refusal To Produce Emails Between Staffer Jose Rodriguez And Two LAPD Officers About Homeless Encampments In CD1 — On The Advice Of The City Attorney Cedillo Staffer Mel Ilomin Claimed A Series Of Bogus And Ever-Shifting Exemptions — But I Got Two Responsive Records From LAPD — Which Show The Utter Implausibility Of The Exemption Claims