Tag Archives: CPRA 6253.9

Rena Leddy — Executive Director Of The Drug Cartel Funded Fashion District Business Improvement District — Is A Bloodthirsty Psychopath Who Would Rather Kill The Mailman — And Me — And Surprisingly Even Herself — Than Comply With The California Public Records Act — She Apparently Thinks This Is OK Because Her Lawyer Said It Was OK — Which Is A Strange Way For A Self-Proclaimed Adult To Make Moral Choices — But Not Uncommon Among Zillionaires And Those Who Serve Them — Who Have Shown Themselves Willing To Risk The Lives Of Essential Workers For The Most Stupid — And Trivial — And Self-Serving — Reasons Including Haircuts — Manicures — And Unnecessarily Exchanging Physical Copies Of Electronic Data — The Real Question Is — As Framed By The Incomparable Kitty Wells — Will Her Lawyer Talk To God For Her? — Knowing Carol Humiston I’d Say The Chances Are About Zero That She’ll Even Get A Chance — Being Much More Likely To Head In The Other Direction When The Time Comes

All over the State of California local agencies are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to deny the public access to records required by the California Public Records Act. I don’t, therefore, have nearly as much material to write about so in response I’m writing about the lack of records instead, and the various ways agencies deny access. Here are the first and also the second post not to mention the third posts in this series, and you’re reading the fourth!

Rena Leddy, supreme commander of the cartel-drug-money-funded criminal conspiracy known as the Fashion District Business Improvement District, refuses to let members of the public inspect records in person due to the pandemic, which may well be fine and normal.1 But she also insists that in order to protect public health and safety the only way for requesters to get access to electronic records is to mail her a brand new unopened USB drive onto which she will copy the records and mail it back.

This is an element of her pre-COVID program of obstructing access to records by making the process as onerous and costly as possible. But obviously any method which requires physical objects to be transferred between strangers is more likely to transmit disease than a method which does not. This is true not only for the people exchanging the objects but also for all the intermediaries, like mail carriers, mail sorters, staff members who have to open the envelopes, and so on.

Leddy is willing to increase the risk of disease and therefore death for requesters, essential workers, her own staff, and herself for the sole reason of delaying and obstructing access to records, and to do so in the name of protecting their safety. When confronted with these facts Leddy declined to contradict them, merely stating that the narrative was “out of control.” And it’s certainly out of her control, but where’s the lie, Ms. Leddy?
Continue reading Rena Leddy — Executive Director Of The Drug Cartel Funded Fashion District Business Improvement District — Is A Bloodthirsty Psychopath Who Would Rather Kill The Mailman — And Me — And Surprisingly Even Herself — Than Comply With The California Public Records Act — She Apparently Thinks This Is OK Because Her Lawyer Said It Was OK — Which Is A Strange Way For A Self-Proclaimed Adult To Make Moral Choices — But Not Uncommon Among Zillionaires And Those Who Serve Them — Who Have Shown Themselves Willing To Risk The Lives Of Essential Workers For The Most Stupid — And Trivial — And Self-Serving — Reasons Including Haircuts — Manicures — And Unnecessarily Exchanging Physical Copies Of Electronic Data — The Real Question Is — As Framed By The Incomparable Kitty Wells — Will Her Lawyer Talk To God For Her? — Knowing Carol Humiston I’d Say The Chances Are About Zero That She’ll Even Get A Chance — Being Much More Likely To Head In The Other Direction When The Time Comes

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Emails Between Excelencia Charter Academy Founder Ruben Alonzo And Various Lawyers At Powerhouse Privatizing Law Firm Young Minney Corr – Discussing How To Respond To My Request For Public Records – Reveal Strategies Of Obstruction And Delay – And Hint At A Coordinated Campaign Of Intelligence-Gathering And Investigation Of Me – Including Idiotic Interpretations Of My Motives And My Place Of Employment – Pretty Creepy Stuff On Which To Be Spending Public Money Meant For The Education Of Children – But Not Especially Surprising

In October 2018 I sent a California Public Records Act request for a bunch of emails to Ruben Alonzo, self-proclaimed founder of Excelencia Charter Academy, a creepy co-locating conspiracy currently occupying the Boyle Heights campus of Sunrise Elementary School. And about six weeks later, at the end of November, Alonzo handed over a suprisingly complete set of responsive records. And what important material it turned out to be.

From it we learned about a demand letter that the United Teachers of Los Angeles sent to Excelencia in June 2018 alleging violations of the Brown Act. And about how insidious privateer brigade the California Charter School Association provides free lawyers to charters to help them co-locate on the campuses of actual public schools. And about how charter school operators use all kinds of shenanaganistic financial maneuvers to skim money from the public funds they receive and funnel it into the coffers of their zillionaire sponsors. And about how Ruben Alonzo is a whiny crybaby stalker who hates democracy and freedom.

And not only was all that stuff revealed but Alonzo was kind enough to produce a set of emails between him and a couple of lawyers, Sarah Kollman and Kimberly Rodriguez, from metaphorically mobbed-up charter school law conspiracy Young Minney & Corr advising him on how to respond to my request and giving him apparently illegal suggestions for how to delay my access to the records. I’m exceedingly familiar with the end result of the anti-CPRA machinations of public agencies, but it’s rare, and very interesting, not to mention useful in deciding how to respond and proceed against them, to get a glimpse of the little folks behind the curtain who create the responses sent out over the signatures of their feckless clients.

The emails also include a series of weirdly puerile and self-serving theories on my thoughts about charter schools and my motives for requesting records and related matters, thereby revealing that evidently I myself am an object of investigation and intelligence-sharing1 amongst the local charterites. For instance, in one email to Alonzo, Sarah Kollman says about me that “This guy is a “community organizer” and has made it his mission to harass charter schools across LA.”2 At one point, Ruben Alonzo identifies me in an email to his tech department as “the same blogger who was attacking Sakshi and Ganas.” Which of course is true, see the story here at the tag archive, and isn’t validation nice!

As I said, the story begins with my October 13, 2018 request for access to some of ECA’s emails. It’s really important to provide as specific a description of what one wants as is practicable,3 and here I asked for 2018 and 2019 emails that:
Continue reading Emails Between Excelencia Charter Academy Founder Ruben Alonzo And Various Lawyers At Powerhouse Privatizing Law Firm Young Minney Corr – Discussing How To Respond To My Request For Public Records – Reveal Strategies Of Obstruction And Delay – And Hint At A Coordinated Campaign Of Intelligence-Gathering And Investigation Of Me – Including Idiotic Interpretations Of My Motives And My Place Of Employment – Pretty Creepy Stuff On Which To Be Spending Public Money Meant For The Education Of Children – But Not Especially Surprising

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Metaphorically Mobbed-Up Charter School Lawyer Erica Klein Loses Her Mind In Response To My Request For Public Records – The Six Month – So Far! – Saga Revealed Here In All Its Mind-Numbingly Psychotic Detail! – Name Calling! – Lies! – Weirdo Obstructionism! – Legal Threats – And Ultimately Capitulation!


It’s astonishing to me even after more than five years of dedicated CPRA-ology the literal torrents of microaggressions, macroaggressions, evasions, lies, threats of retaliatory litigation, illegal demands for payment, and so on, that public agencies will unleash on unsuspecting citizens who try use the California Public Records Act to understand and influence these putatively public-serving offices, created by popular will to serve the needs of the people of California.

Their nuclear skunk-spray defense tactics are really successful against unsuspecting, unprepared, inexperienced requesters. So occasionally, in furtherance of my goal of empowering Angelenos1 to be able to use the CPRA as the exceedingly powerful tool of activism that it potentially is, I like to tell stories of my own experiences to expose, mock, and troll the bad actors, demystify and defang their tactics, and build solidarity among requesters.2 To remind you that you’re not alone and that when they’re screaming at you, threatening you, insulting you, aggressively billing you for zillions of dollars, you still have a constitutional right to get the damn records at no charge.3

And today, friends, do I have one heck of a story for you! Encompassing in a single episode an extraordinarily broad variety of popular obstruction tactics! With the added attraction of a LOL-U-mad-bro moment in which opposition lawyer Erica Klein, name partner of metaphorically mobbed-up charter law shyster conspiracy Hansberger & Klein, totally lost her already minuscule supply of what apparently passes for cool among the charter law conspiracy circles in which she moves, revealed in an extraordinarily explicit series of batshit psychotic emails!
Continue reading Metaphorically Mobbed-Up Charter School Lawyer Erica Klein Loses Her Mind In Response To My Request For Public Records – The Six Month – So Far! – Saga Revealed Here In All Its Mind-Numbingly Psychotic Detail! – Name Calling! – Lies! – Weirdo Obstructionism! – Legal Threats – And Ultimately Capitulation!

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Tom Waldman – Communications Director For CD2 Repster Paul Krekorian – Our Second Fashiest Councilmember – Has Raised Obstruction Of The California Public Records Act To A New Level – A Level Of Unrelenting – Mindless – Primordial – Paradigm Shifting – Neuron Rewiring – Self-Justifying – Psychopathy – Which Is A Stunning Accomplishment Given The Baseline Level Of Psychopathic Obstructionism That Pervades Every Possible Interaction Between The City Of Los Angeles And The Public Records Act – Here Is Tom Waldman’s Story!

The California Public Records Act gives every person access to official writings because, as the law itself tells us,1 “the Legislature … finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.” And this isn’t just some random preamble to some random law. It is among the fundamental human rights enumerated in the California Constitution itself,2 which states that:

“The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.”

Among the other fundamental rights enumerated in this same article are freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, the right to civilian control of the military, the prohibition of slavery, equal protection, habeas corpus, and so on.3 This right of access to public records, measured both intrinsically and by comparison with the company it keeps, is hugely important. Fundamental.

But nevertheless, the City of Los Angeles4 habitually, consistently ignores its duties under the CPRA, flouts this fundamental right in a way that they’d never think of doing with, e.g., the right to be free of slavery. And they don’t just ignore their duties, don’t just flout the law. They flout it in the stupidest, most arrogant, most flamboyant ways possible.
Continue reading Tom Waldman – Communications Director For CD2 Repster Paul Krekorian – Our Second Fashiest Councilmember – Has Raised Obstruction Of The California Public Records Act To A New Level – A Level Of Unrelenting – Mindless – Primordial – Paradigm Shifting – Neuron Rewiring – Self-Justifying – Psychopathy – Which Is A Stunning Accomplishment Given The Baseline Level Of Psychopathic Obstructionism That Pervades Every Possible Interaction Between The City Of Los Angeles And The Public Records Act – Here Is Tom Waldman’s Story!

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Here Are Copies Of Many Of The Pleadings Filed With The California Supreme Court In The Monumentally Important California Public Records Act Case National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — It’s Extraordinarily Difficult To Get Copies Of Appellate Pleadings In California But I Found A Way To Do It — Which Is Also Explained Here If You’re Interested

The California Public Records Act generally mandates that every person has a right to take a look at any public record at no cost. Agencies are explicitly not allowed to charge requesters for the time it takes to search for records, organize them for inspection, or review and redact them for exempt information. The one major exception to this has to do with records stored in computers that require programming to extract information responsive to a request.1

For instance, in Los Angeles, the City Attorney maintains an SQL database of all its prosecutions. The database itself evidently contains too much data for it to be practicable for humans to review the whole thing for exemptions and produce it in its entirety. But the contents are inarguably public records, so to get access to them it’s necessary to run a query against the database. This must be written in SQL and the law allows the agency to charge the requester for the time it takes to write and run the query.

Although I do not particularly like this section of the law I can see the need for something like it. The CPRA does not in general require agencies to create new records in response to requests but in this case it has to or the public would be denied access to information in databases that were too big to review, among other records and it’s at least possible to argue that someone needs to pay for the construction of these new records. This process, by the way, is known as “extraction” in CPRA circles.

So in 2015 the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Chapter asked the City of Hayward for access to some cop videos and the City said not only did they have to redact the videos but that video redaction required special software and thus it constituted extraction and could therefore be billed to the requester. The cost was in the thousands of dollars, which the NLG paid under protest and then filed a petition asking for a refund on the theory that the charge was illegal under the law because redaction is not extraction.

The NLG won in Superior Court, the City appealed the ruling and won in Appellate Court, and the case is now before the California Supreme Court. The case is now fully briefed and we’re just waiting for oral arguments to be scheduled. You can sign up for notifications at this link, but unlike many courts, it seems that the California Supreme Court does not publish copies of pleadings filed with it until after the Court rules on a case.

Which has been driving me absolutely crazy because this case is so important and reporters, even good ones,2 consistently get the facts wrong when writing about legal matters. There is no substitute for reading the primary sources. I’ve been reduced to writing begging emails to various lawyers pleading for PDFs. And occasionally they give them to me and I write about them.3

But on Thursday I made a huge breakthrough! I was downtown for various reasons and stopped in at the County Law Library to read cases on Westlaw and I learned that they collect appellate pleadings on their site, including ones from the California Supreme Court. I looked and they did in fact have PDFs of everything filed in this monumental case! And I could read it at the Law Library computer.

Now, generally Westlaw is very good about giving copies things to users. Like past published decisions are no problem, just click a button and put in your email address and it will send you a PDF of any published opinion. So I selected all these and hit the button and told it to email and …. got a damn error message saying that these PDFs were restricted and could only be printed on paper.

Which isn’t acceptable for any number of reasons, not least because there are hundreds of pages involved and it costs money to print on paper. This is not to mention the fact that it destroys the OCR and redoing the OCR invariably introduces errors. It’s horrible. But I fooled around some more and it turns out that when viewing the PDF on the library computer it’s possible to save a local copy.

Then, because the library is kind enough to provide access to a full-featured browser, it’s possible to upload the saved PDFs to a cloud service or something similar, and get copies that way. Or log into an email account and mail them to oneself as attachments So I did something like that, and got 18 new files, and published them all on Archive.Org for you right here! And also here is a list of the whole collection with links and brief descriptions.
Continue reading Here Are Copies Of Many Of The Pleadings Filed With The California Supreme Court In The Monumentally Important California Public Records Act Case National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — It’s Extraordinarily Difficult To Get Copies Of Appellate Pleadings In California But I Found A Way To Do It — Which Is Also Explained Here If You’re Interested

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A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

Don’t know if you’re aware, but in September 2018 the California Court of Appeal held that local agencies could charge CPRA requesters for staff time for redacting electronic records. In particular, the City of Hayward charged the National Lawyers Guild more than $3,000 to redact some parts of bodycam videos. It’s well-established for paper records that agencies must allow inspection at no cost and if copies are requested, can charge only the direct cost of copying.

The Court of Appeals based its opinion on the CPRA’s much-abused §6253.9(b)(2) which states that an agency can charge a requester for the bare privilege of inspecting a record under a small set of very specific circumstances:

… the requester shall bear the cost of producing a copy of the record, including the cost to construct a record, and the cost of programming and computer services necessary to produce a copy of the record when … [t]he request would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce the record.

The court’s reasoning was that redaction of a video constitutes extraction required to produce the record. Sane people can see, however, that the video already exists. Nothing is required to produce it. This section is talking about e.g. running queries against databases, where the requester only wants certain information and the results of the query constitute a new record that “would require data compilation, extraction, or programming to produce.”

And as you can imagine, after this opinion was published, obstructionist anti-CPRA lawyers all over the state started drooling on their pillows in glee. For instance, Carol Humiston, the soon-to-be-disbarred Rasputinian ear-whisperer to transparency-averse business improvement districts all over Los Angeles, advised her clients on the basis of this decision to assert that if I wanted to see any more of their damn emails I would have to pay for them to buy Adobe Pro so that they could redact them.

She backed off on this outlandish claim after I pointed out repeatedly that emails weren’t found in the wild as PDFs so that there was no case to be made for purchasing an expensive PDF editor to do a job that the built-in text editors that come with every computer operating system could do better. However, the LAPD also glommed onto this case, and the City Attorney’s office began theorizing madly, and now if you submit a request to LAPD for emails through NextRequest you’re met with an aggressive notice warning you that you’re going to pay and pay and pay unless you withdraw your request right now, and the notice explicitly cites the case.

So yeah, this opinion sucks and sucks big time, and it doesn’t just suck in theory, it’s actively sucking in practice even now as I write these very words. But at least it was appealed to the California Supreme Court. And at least the Supreme Court agreed to hear it. And papers have been filed, but it turns out to be really hard to get pleadings out of the Supreme Court.

But recently I was lucky enough to obtain a couple of interesting items. Here’s an amicus letter from a coalition of public interest law firms and activist organizations explaining the harm that the decision is doing. And here’s the opening brief, which explains in well-reasoned and exceedinly convincing terms why the Court should reverse this extraordinarily bad appellate decision. Both are fabulously worth reading, and there’s a transcription of the amicus letter after the break.
Continue reading A Coalition Of Poverty-Focused Community-Driven Advocacy And Legal Aid Organizations Filed An Amicus Brief With The California Supreme Court Asking That They Review The Abominable Court Of Appeals Opinion In National Lawyers Guild V. City Of Hayward — Which Held That Agencies Can Charge For Time Spent Redacting Electronic Records — Now Being Used By The LAPD To Functionally Deny Everyone Access To Emails — This Was In November 2018 But I Just Recently Got A Copy — The Supremes Did Agree To Hear It — And I Also Have A Copy Of The Stunning Opening Brief

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Carol Humiston — The World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Counseled The South Park BID To Thwart My CPRA Requests By Violating The Law — And It Is Against The Rules Of The California State Bar For An Attorney To Counsel A Client To Violate The Law — Which Is Why I Filed A Complaint Against Her Yesterday — And Maybe She’ll Get Disbarred — Which Would Be Pretty Appropriate In The Circumstances — Ironically I Only Have Evidence Of This Because The SPBID Was Honest Enough To Release It To Me In Response To A CPRA Request — But As Honest As That Might Be — Doesn’t Make Up For The Fact That SPBID Executive Directrix Ellen Riotto Enthusiastically Adopted Humiston’s Illegal Advice!

Carol Humiston, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, advises a bunch of L.A. business improvement districts on how to thwart my CPRA requests. She even held a seminar about me last summer for random BIDs that weren’t even her client to teach them her angry CPRA-thwarting methods. And, you know, I don’t like her methods, and I don’t like her clients, and I don’t like her. But I do like the fact that all people, even Satan-worshipping BIDdies who see violence against homeless people as a sacrament and guns as a masturbation aid, have a right to advice from counsel on how to further their goals within the bounds imposed by the law.

That last clause is essential, though. We do not want lawyers running around telling people that they ought to break the law and then using their special lawyerly powers to show them how to break it more effectively. In return for the powers granted to lawyers by society, they’re required to follow some minimal set of rules. And one of those rules is Rule 1.2.1, which states unequivocally that:

A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal, fraudulent, or a violation of any law, rule, or ruling of a tribunal.

But some emails, ironically obtained from the South Park BID in response to a CPRA request, prove that that’s precisely what Carol Humiston has done. She explicitly counseled the South Park BIDdies to engage in conduct that she knew was a violation of the CPRA. And that, friends, is why, just yesterday afternoon, I filed this complaint against her with the California State Bar. You can read the painful details after the break, both of her advice and the sections of the CPRA she advised the South Park BID to violate, including copies of the actual emails in which she gave the advice.
Continue reading Carol Humiston — The World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Counseled The South Park BID To Thwart My CPRA Requests By Violating The Law — And It Is Against The Rules Of The California State Bar For An Attorney To Counsel A Client To Violate The Law — Which Is Why I Filed A Complaint Against Her Yesterday — And Maybe She’ll Get Disbarred — Which Would Be Pretty Appropriate In The Circumstances — Ironically I Only Have Evidence Of This Because The SPBID Was Honest Enough To Release It To Me In Response To A CPRA Request — But As Honest As That Might Be — Doesn’t Make Up For The Fact That SPBID Executive Directrix Ellen Riotto Enthusiastically Adopted Humiston’s Illegal Advice!

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Some Eric Garcetti Staffers And The Venice Chamber Of Commerce Held A Private Meeting At The Hotel Erwin On March 1, 2019 — Which We Learned About From A Characteristically Whiny Privileged And Entitled Nextdoor Post By Gun-Toting Homeless Hating Ben And Jerry’s Franchise Owning Angry White Dude Klaus Moeller — We Now Have The List Of Attendees! — With Email Addresses! — And The List Of Speakers!

On March 1, 2019 Klaus Moeller, the extraordinarily whiny, privileged, and entitled owner of the extraordinarily anti-human Ben and Jerry’s franchise on the Boardwalk, posted some not-so-extraordinarily whiny, privileged, and entitled nonsense on the extraordinarily anti-human white supremacist bulletin board Nextdoor.Com.

And there among the assorted delusional rants about how the entire government of the City of Los Angeles is conspiring against the poor beleaguered zillionaires of Venice to prevent them from opening even more cute restaurants so that there will be more space for homeless people1 was an actual important piece of information. According to El Moeller, his “daughter just came back from a small round table meeting with 20 people at the Erwin Hotel. The meeting was called for by the Mayor’s office and the Venice Chamber of Commerce.”

So this is news, right? The Mayor’s office is holding top secret invite-only meetings with Venice zillionaires in the white supremacist paradise known as the Hotel Erwin! And other people were interested in the story besides me! And someone fired off a CPRA request to David Harrison, who seems to be one of the Mayor’s lawyers.2 And wow! Just yesterday the Office of the Mayor sent over 8 pages of emails explaining what happened, and containing a really unexpected gift!

What it was was a “business summit” organized by the Venice Chamber of Commerce in the person of Chamber CEO Donna Lasman. And what was it meant to be about? Well, here’s what Lasman said to Garcetti staffers Robert Park and Ami Fields-Meyer about it:

I am pleased to inform you that we have secured a location for our business summit on Friday, 3/01. The event will be at Hotel Erwin – 1697 Pacific Avenue = and will be organized into 2 sessions. The first session will be located in Larry’s Loft from 9:00 am – 1030 am and will consist of your presentation.

We have sent invitations to approximately 50 business leaders in the community from diverse business sectors and representing the various areas in Venice – Abbot Kinney, Lincoln Blvd., Ocean Front Walk, Rose Avenue and Washington Square. We expect approximately 30 people to attend.

As we discussed during our meeting, we are interested in hearing an assessment on the current business climate and trends for the Westside community, issues and initiatives that the Mayor’s office is working on, and how business leaders in Venice can partner with the Mayor’s office to work on issues that support a thriving economy in Venice.

Carol/George – please chime if there is more that you want to add.3

The second session from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm will be a focus group/planning session with about 15 stakeholders. Our goal for this segment is to identify priorities for our business community and create actionable items for mobilizing our business community. Though there is no need for you to stay, you are of course welcome to join

And another interesting fact revealed in these emails is the list of speakers. Here they are:

• Robert Park, Community Business Manager for Mayor Eric Garcetti

• Ami Fields-Meyer, West Area Representative for Mayor Eric Garcetti

• Bhavna Sivanand, Executive Director of lmpact@Anderson, UCLA Anderson School of Management

• Dion Wiltshire, Business Services Supervisor, West LA WorkSource

• Patti MacJennett, Senior Vice President for Business Affairs, Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board

But the real gem was this spreadsheet, which contains the RSVP list for the event, along with email addresses! The people listed here may not be the ones that ruined Venice in the first place, but they’re the ones who are keeping it ruined and ruining it even more! This is extraordinarily useful information! And there’s an auto-generated HTML version of the spreadsheet after the break. And also there’s the pretty interesting and enlightening full story of how I got the spreadsheet via the CPRA request, which you should definitely read if you’re interested in CPRA pragmatics!
Continue reading Some Eric Garcetti Staffers And The Venice Chamber Of Commerce Held A Private Meeting At The Hotel Erwin On March 1, 2019 — Which We Learned About From A Characteristically Whiny Privileged And Entitled Nextdoor Post By Gun-Toting Homeless Hating Ben And Jerry’s Franchise Owning Angry White Dude Klaus Moeller — We Now Have The List Of Attendees! — With Email Addresses! — And The List Of Speakers!

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Annals Of Public Records Act Bullying Tactics — Brooke Rios Of New Los Angeles Charter Schools Tries An Old Dodge — Sadly Commonplace Among CPRA Obstructionists — “Your Records Are Ready And You Can See Them As Soon As You Give Us $90” — But Then Backs Off In Less Than Two Hours After Being Told That The Law Requires Inspection For Free — Sadly, The Only Unusual Thing About This Episode Is The Short Time Frame

What with the recent unrest in the teacher/labor community which, as you know, led to a historic victory which, for the first time ever, led to the school board recommending a cap on charter schools in Los Angeles, well, and what with Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, just recently issuing a historic opinion stating definitively that charter schools are subject to both the Brown Act and the Public Records Act, yes, what with all that, I thought it might be interesting to hit up a few of these zillionaire-beloved trojan horses with some requests for information.1

And one of the ones I hit up in the first round was the New Los Angeles Charter Schools. You can read my request here, sent to NLA boss Brooke Rios, seeking information contained in emails about discussions their administration had about the UTLA strike.2 And roughly within the statutory time-frame, I received a response letter from Rios quoting a bunch of aggro copypasta lawyerese, citing the attorney/client privilege exemption, and informing me that they had 363 pages of responsive material and that I had to pony up $90.75 if I wanted to see the goods.3

Now, that’s $0.25 per page that she was proposing to charge me for copies. The CPRA at §6253(b) allows agencies to charge “fees covering direct costs of duplication,” which it’s doubtful that $0.25 is given that most copy machines cost about $0.02 per page and even FedEx Office only charges $0.13 per page, and they’re making a profit from that. I’m told by those who have reason to know, though, that this is essentially an unwinnable argument in court,4 given that, e.g., the Los Angeles County Superior Court charges about $1 per page for freaking PDFs, and those are the same judges one would be asking to declare $0.25 excessive.

Another problem with Rios’s problematic proposal is that emails are electronic documents. The CPRA at §6253.9(a) requires agencies to provide copies of electronic documents in electronic formats, whereas Rios has obviously printed these emails out on paper and wants to require me to accept and pay for paper copies. Of course, the “direct cost” of making copies of electronic files is $0.00, so her insistence on charging $0.25 for paper copies is a violation of that section as well.

But the real kicker is that the CPRA does not allow agencies to charge for access to records. They’re only allowed to charge for copies of records. This is codified in the CPRA at §6253(a), which states in pertinent part that “[p]ublic 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.” Nothing in the law says they can charge, and so they can’t charge. By insisting that I pay $90.75 before getting access to these records Rios was poised to violate this requirement of the law.

And sadly Rios isn’t the only public official in the world to think of this bushwa means of CPRA obstructionism. It’s commonplace, and it’s essential to push back on it whenever it’s encountered. Thus did I send Rios a response outlining these facts and offering her the choice of providing me with electronic copies for free or letting me come in and scan the records myself with my scanner.5 And although many public agencies take the untenable stance that they can charge exorbitant fees for access to records, not many back down as quickly as Brooke Rios did. It took her less than two hours to concede that I had the right to see the records and make my own copies at no charge.6

It is a very sad situation indeed that public agencies are allowed to attempt to intimidate people who want to look at records, and that it’s necessary not only to understand one’s rights thoroughly but be willing to push back against unsupportable CPRA aggression in order to be able to exercise the right to access public records. It doesn’t seem like the legislature is going to fix this7 any time soon, so right now we have no choice other than to know our rights and push back, push back, push back. And turn the page for transcriptions of everything!
Continue reading Annals Of Public Records Act Bullying Tactics — Brooke Rios Of New Los Angeles Charter Schools Tries An Old Dodge — Sadly Commonplace Among CPRA Obstructionists — “Your Records Are Ready And You Can See Them As Soon As You Give Us $90” — But Then Backs Off In Less Than Two Hours After Being Told That The Law Requires Inspection For Free — Sadly, The Only Unusual Thing About This Episode Is The Short Time Frame

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