Tag Archives: Greig Smith

Emails Between Keystone Towing General Manager Ed Arensdorf And CD12 Field Deputy Colin Crews — And LAPD Officer Benjamin Jones — And LADOT Staffer Brian Hartman — Provide A Rare Glimpse Into The Functioning Of The City’s RV Towing Machinery — And That Ultimately These Dwelling Places Are “Crushed” — No Conclusions Here But Some Illuminating Detail

I learned recently that the City of Los Angeles opposed a bill banning poverty tows in California for no better reason than that one single lobbyist asked on behalf of his clients, the Official Police Garage Association of Los Angeles, Herb-Wesson-appointed interim CD12 representative Greig Smith to oppose it, stating that his clients couldn’t do so publicly because to do so would expose them as the greedy bloodsuckers that, in fact, they actually are.

As pointed out by the incomparable folks at KTown For All this is an example of one single person determining official policy for a City of four million people for no better reason than to keep diverting zillions of dollars of public money into his clients’ coffers. And today I have a small related story, but an important one, showing not only an unexpectedly granular level of complicity between the tow companies and the City government with respect to RV towing, but some hints about the volume of RV tows and also the scale of the infrastructure required to tow and ultimately destroy motorhomes.

It begins with a May 23, 2019 email from Ed Arensdorf, general manager of OPG Keystone Towing, to Colin Crews of CD12, LAPD officer Benjamin Jones, and LADOT staffer Brian Hartman, in which he tells them that he is forced “to put motorhome towing on indefinite hold”. And in case you’re envisioning chaos, vehicular anarchy, Mad Max but with RVs, well, don’t worry, notes Arensdorf parenthetically, this is “(except evidence, stolens and blocking driveways/intersections).”

Which essentially means that they were going to have to stop towing away RVs that people live in but they will keep on towing RVs where there’s actually a defensible reason to tow, rather than displacement and profiteering. And in case it occurred to you, there were no moral considerations at all involved in the towing hiatus. The company that crushes RVs1 was having some regulatory problems with environmental agencies.
Continue reading Emails Between Keystone Towing General Manager Ed Arensdorf And CD12 Field Deputy Colin Crews — And LAPD Officer Benjamin Jones — And LADOT Staffer Brian Hartman — Provide A Rare Glimpse Into The Functioning Of The City’s RV Towing Machinery — And That Ultimately These Dwelling Places Are “Crushed” — No Conclusions Here But Some Illuminating Detail

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Remember When Assemblymember David Chiu Introduced A Bill To End Poverty Towing — And Fashy Interim City Councilmember Greig Smith Introduced A City Council Resolution To Oppose It — Basically Because — Said Smith — Without Police Power To Tow Cars Homeless Vehicle Dwellers Would Overrun The Whole City — But Newly Obtained Emails Show That Actually No One Even Cared About That — The Motion Was Written By Lobbyist Eric Rose — Working On Behalf Of The Official Police Garage Association Of Los Angeles — Whose Income Would Be Cut Drastically Without Poverty Tows — But Who Could Not Openly Oppose Chiu’s Bill Without Exposing Themselves As The Greedy Bloodsuckers They Are — So Rose Cooked Up The Homeless Connection — And Smith Pushed It — And They Passed Their Motion — And The Bill Died In Committee

On March 18, 2019 the Western Center on Law and Poverty released a monumental report on the effects of poverty towing in California. In conjunction with the report, WCLP issued a press release announcing that Assemblymember David Chiu had introduced a bill, AB-516, seeking to end the practice. Nine days later fash-adjacent hand-picked interim CD12 representative Greig Smith introduced a resolution in the Los Angeles City Council proposing to formally oppose AB-516.

The rhetoric in the motion, to be found in Council File 19-0002-S50, is uniformly anti-homeless, fueled by the axiomatic housedweller beliefs that without coercive means of removing vehicle dwellers they will somehow take over and destroy every last inch of the public realm. And this was a great story, and a completely plausible motive for ultra-fash Greig Smith, who stood out for his inhumanity towards people forced to live on the street even among his homeless-hating peers on the Council.

However, emails newly obtained from CD12 via the California Public Records Act prove that this was nothing but a cover story.1 No one involved cared at all about the relationship between poverty tows and vehicle dwellers. The anti-homeless rhetoric in this case was no more than smoke behind which was hiding the fact that the only reason that Smith moved to oppose Chiu’s bill is that Eric Rose, a lobbyist with thermonuclear Los Angeles lobbying firm Englander Knabe Allen, incestuously linked with CD12 in any number of ways, represents the Official Police Garages Association of Los Angeles, who would obviously lose a lot of money if the number of tows decreased for any reason whatsover.

On March 19, one day after WCLP’s press release announcing the report, Rose asked Smith2 to oppose Chiu’s bill and asked Smith’s permission to draft a motion to that effect. As Rose cynically explained, though, “The OPG’s can’t oppose this because it will be viewed as self-serving.” OPGs, of course, are the official police garages. Smith forwarded Rose’s email to his legislative deputy Erich King, and later that night Rose sent Smith a draft motion, also forwarded to King. And a few days later Smith’s actual motion was introduced. Written, no doubt, by King, heavily influenced by Rose.

In the text of the motion there’s nothing whatsoever about the Official Police Garages, Rose’s client, whose income the sole purpose of this opposition was to protect. Instead the text is all about enforcing the law and the subtext all about punishing people who live in vehicles. Don’t forget, never forget, that none of that’s the reason for any of this. It’s ironic, by the way, that Rose’s cover story relies so heavily on the need to enforce the law. His draft and the actual motion go on and on about scofflaws and how Chiu’s bill would enable them.3
Continue reading Remember When Assemblymember David Chiu Introduced A Bill To End Poverty Towing — And Fashy Interim City Councilmember Greig Smith Introduced A City Council Resolution To Oppose It — Basically Because — Said Smith — Without Police Power To Tow Cars Homeless Vehicle Dwellers Would Overrun The Whole City — But Newly Obtained Emails Show That Actually No One Even Cared About That — The Motion Was Written By Lobbyist Eric Rose — Working On Behalf Of The Official Police Garage Association Of Los Angeles — Whose Income Would Be Cut Drastically Without Poverty Tows — But Who Could Not Openly Oppose Chiu’s Bill Without Exposing Themselves As The Greedy Bloodsuckers They Are — So Rose Cooked Up The Homeless Connection — And Smith Pushed It — And They Passed Their Motion — And The Bill Died In Committee

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Council District 8 Rep Marqueece Harris-Dawson Has A Private Gmail Account That He Uses To Conduct City Business — And His Chief Of Staff Solomon Rivera Uses City Resources To Arrange For Harris-Dawson To Purchase Rams Tickets — Straight From Joe Furin — The General Manager Of The Coliseum — And A Bunch Of Other Interesting Emails From CD8!

Council District 8 representative Marqueece Harris-Dawson has a private Gmail account at mharrisdawson@gmail.com that he uses to conduct official business. In this practice he is, sadly, not at all alone. Earlier investigations have revealed that at least four other City Councilmembers and one high-ranking LAPD officer use private email addresses in this way:

Mitch O’Farrell
David Ryu
Gil Cedillo
Greig Smith
Cory Palka

I learned about this from this June 2016 email conversation between Harris-Dawson’s chief of staff Solomon Rivera, his senior field deputy for Baldwin Hills and surrounding areas Dina Andrews,1 and Harris-Dawson himself at the Gmail address. This email, by the way, is part of a small but juicy set I got today from Rivera. You can browse the whole thing here on Archive.Org.

The subject matter of this particular email isn’t that interesting.2 It has to do with former actor Bennett Liss trying to get Harris-Dawson to be interviewed for a documentary directed by Liss’s son about how to cure homelessness by selling the backs of freeway signs for advertising.3 But what is of the utmost interest, of course, is that Andrews doesn’t use an lacity.org email address to communicate with Harris-Dawson. Instead she uses his Gmail address.

The use of private email addresses by public officials is a shameful and secretive practice, and ought to be, if it isn’t already, illegal. Fortunately the 2017 California Supreme Court opinion in City of San Jose v. Superior Court held that such emails were public records, no matter what kind of account they’re in or device they’re on,4 but in order to apply that holding it’s necessary to find the accounts in the first place. I have found a bunch of them, but it’s painful and time-consuming work.

Bunches of creepy Trumpian fascists are rightly and regularly criticized in the national press for exactly the same practice, and yet, at least so far, this is a complete nonstory in Los Angeles.5 And this is far from the only interesting item in this set. Just for instance, there’s a conversation between Rivera and Joe Furin, general manager of the Coliseum, and Sherry Caldwell, the Coliseum’s director of ticketing, trying to arrange for a pair of Rams tickets for Harris-Dawson to purchase at $255 each. Oh, and after all the talk, Harris-Dawson doesn’t even end up wanting the tickets!
Continue reading Council District 8 Rep Marqueece Harris-Dawson Has A Private Gmail Account That He Uses To Conduct City Business — And His Chief Of Staff Solomon Rivera Uses City Resources To Arrange For Harris-Dawson To Purchase Rams Tickets — Straight From Joe Furin — The General Manager Of The Coliseum — And A Bunch Of Other Interesting Emails From CD8!

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Interim Councilmember Greig Smith Has A Private Email Address — Conducts City Business Through It — citycouncilguy@yahoo.com — For Instance — Among Other Pretty Sleazy Things — Uses It To Communicate With Lobbyists At Englander Knabe & Allen — Founded By Harvey Englander — Uncle Of Smith’s Predecessor And Protege Mitch Englander — Like A Whole Trump Family Incestuous Secret Email Vibe Going On Out There In The Damn Valley Innit?!

With yesterday’s revelations that Betsy De Vos and seven other members of the Trump administration are being investigated by the House Oversight Committee for their illegal, unethical, appalling, and hypocritical use of private email addresses to conduct public business I thought it was a good time to catch you all up on the state of my investigation into private email use by our own local City Council folks, precisely none of whom are being investigated by anyone for this specific transgression.1

Previously I discovered and revealed that Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu, and Gil Cedillo all have privately controlled email accounts through which they conduct City business. Jose Huizar also does this, but I didn’t break that story, the FBI did.2 And today, thanks to a huge set of emails I recently received from the ever-courtly Colin Sweeney, director of communications over at CD12, I can, for the first time of which I am aware, break the news that the name of Sweeney’s current boss, the infamous Greig Smith, belongs right smack on that list as well.

The email address in question is citycouncilguy@yahoo.com. The set linked to above only contained a few examples of Smith’s use of this email address to conduct City business, but then I only picked them up by accident. Thanks, as we know, to the monumental 2017 opinion in City of San Jose v. Superior Court, these emails are public records in themselves. Of course I have a request in already for the rest of them, but I imagine it could be a long process. Or maybe not, we’ll certainly see! Read on for links to the emails along with some commentary.
Continue reading Interim Councilmember Greig Smith Has A Private Email Address — Conducts City Business Through It — citycouncilguy@yahoo.com — For Instance — Among Other Pretty Sleazy Things — Uses It To Communicate With Lobbyists At Englander Knabe & Allen — Founded By Harvey Englander — Uncle Of Smith’s Predecessor And Protege Mitch Englander — Like A Whole Trump Family Incestuous Secret Email Vibe Going On Out There In The Damn Valley Innit?!

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Ever Wonder If You Are Blocked By Your Councilmember On The Twitter?! — We Have The Answer! — Also City Attorney! — Also The Mayor! — But Nury Martinez — And Herb Wesson — And Mike Bonin — And Mitch O’Farrell — They Won’t Even Answer The Damn Requests — Oh, Almost Forgot To Say! — Deputy City Attorney And Insufferable Rich Boy Strefan Fauble Wants To Be Sure You Know — Mike Feuer Isn’t Muting Any Twitter Users But If He Were — The List Would Be Exempt From Release Under The CPRA! — Yeah Right, Strefan Fauble! — Stick To Art Collecting And Leave The CPRA Lawyering To Others!

For about two months now I’ve been looking into the practice of Twitter users being blocked or muted by official City of Los Angeles accounts. I’m still gathering evidence, but yesterday it came out that Police Commission president Steve Soboroff blocks a bunch of users who’ve never even interacted with him, so I thought it’d be timely to write up the information I have so far. This issue is of special interest in these latter days given that in 2018 a federal judge ruled that it is unconstitutional for Donald Trump to block users on Twitter.

What I can offer you today, friends, is Twitter block/mute information for eleven of the fifteen council districts, the City Attorney, the Mayor, and a small selection of official LAPD accounts.1 There’s also an interesting line of hypothetical bullshit from deputy city attorney Strefan Fauble2 about some pretty technical claims about CPRA exemptionism,3 but that, being übernerdlich, is way at the end of the post.

Most of the accounts blocked are porn or spam, but Jose Huizar and David Ryu are notable exceptions. Both reps block accounts that are obviously controlled by actual individual people. Huizar’s list is by far the most extensive, and includes wildly inappropriate blocks like @oscartaracena and @BHJesse.

My research on this question is ongoing, mostly hindered by the City of LA’s familiar foot-dragging CPRA methodology. Turn the page for a tabular summary of the results I have so far along with a brief discussion of how Strefan Fauble is still on his CPRA bullshit.
Continue reading Ever Wonder If You Are Blocked By Your Councilmember On The Twitter?! — We Have The Answer! — Also City Attorney! — Also The Mayor! — But Nury Martinez — And Herb Wesson — And Mike Bonin — And Mitch O’Farrell — They Won’t Even Answer The Damn Requests — Oh, Almost Forgot To Say! — Deputy City Attorney And Insufferable Rich Boy Strefan Fauble Wants To Be Sure You Know — Mike Feuer Isn’t Muting Any Twitter Users But If He Were — The List Would Be Exempt From Release Under The CPRA! — Yeah Right, Strefan Fauble! — Stick To Art Collecting And Leave The CPRA Lawyering To Others!

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