I can’t remember where I learned that the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst writes briefing notes for each meeting of each City Council committee, but obviously as soon as I heard I started trying to get copies via the California Public Records Act. And so on June 24, 2020 I fired off a request asking for a few years worth.
And you know how the City of LA is. I didn’t get a response at all until September 29, when CLA staffer Karen Kalfayan sent me this ill-considered bit of crapola, claiming that she would have denied my request as “overly broad” but that instead she was denying it as so-called “deliberative process,” a court-created interpretation of the CPRA at §6255(a):
With regard to your request for briefing notes for the period January 1, 2016 through June 24, 2020, please be advised that this Office has made its determination on your request as required by Government Code section 6253(c).
Please note that the request is overly broad, and normally we would request you to clarify your request in order for us to search for specific records. However, please be advised that records may be withheld under Government Code Section 6255 because they would show the officials’ deliberative process. As to these documents, Government Code Section 6255 permits nondisclosure because the public interest served by protecting the official’s decision-making process clearly outweighs the public interest served by the records’ disclosure.
I recently obtained a huge batch of emails between former City Clerk June Lagmay and present City Clerk Holly Wolcott back when she had Shannon Hoppes’s job as Executive Officer. I haven’t managed to prep them all for publication yet, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. See e.g. this recent post about lawsuits against the Downtown Center BID and how the City propped them up for five years by refunding a half million dollars in assessments to an angry plaintiff.
Today’s topic, also based on selections from this material, is a vignette about an attempt by former Councilmember Dennis Zine to donate $30,000 from his salary to the LAPD’s Mounted Platoon to buy a replacement tractor, maybe to move horseshit around?1 The Council File is 13-0064-S4, and you can read the LAPD’s report on the donation as well. On February 11, 2013 Holly Wolcott emailed Karen Kalfayan, possibly with the office of the Chief Legislative Analyst,2 to ask if the money was coming out of Zine’s salary as Councilmember.3
Subsequently Lagmay emailed Wolcott to alert her that the item would be heard in committee on February 22. After the meeting Lagmay emailed Wolcott under the subject line “interesting” to tell her that the item was continued to an unspecified future date, and then Wolcott replied, taking credit for the whole thing: “Yes, that was due entirely to my intervention…….since I couldn’t keep it off the agenda that is what we all decided to do with it. … It will die in continuation pergatory, [sic] never to be agendized again hell now. [sic]“Lagmay’s reply expresses pure admiration: “You one powerful woman.” And who is “we all” in Wolcott’s narrative? Some anti-tractor cabal? Isn’t the Committee in charge? Very weird.
A recent trip to the lovely City Archives on Ramirez Street, my absolute favorite of all city agencies,1 yielded up a bunch of really interesting stuff from 2001–2003. So much so that I started a new page for it. It took me three hours to look through two boxes of BID records (out of more than 400), so I’m sure there will be much more of this stuff to come. There’s a list of some highlights after the break, but check it!
In 2003 the BID’s expiring security contract with Burke Security, the predecessor of Andrews International, was put out for bids. Aaron Epstein, yes, the same one whose nuclear bomb of a lawsuit established the subjection of BIDs to both the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, thereby making this blog possible, and a large group of his fellow Hollywood BID stakeholders2 sent a letter to then-mayor James Hahn complaining that they:
believe[d] that the District’s board of directors and executive director have not conducted a fully open and competitive process to ensure that property owners receive the finest security service for the lowest competitive price (the current two year contract exceeds $2 million). Moreover, we believe that the board and executive director have failed to be objective in the process and have allowed the contractor, Burke Security, to function in ways that do not provide the maximum benefits to the property owners and merchants.