It’s been a big few days around here! The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition filed two CPRA suits against the City of Los Angeles and one against LAHSA and I personally filed one against the City of Los Angeles. Both LASC and I are repped by the formidable Gina Hong of the Los Angeles Center for Community Law and Action.
The case against CD15 is based on a request I made in June 2019, for which, two years later, I’ve only received minimal responsives with no unexpired deadline for production forthcoming. Buscaino staffer Amy Gebert’s shameless violations of the CPRA led me to file two distinct complaints against her with the LA Ethics Commission, one in August 2020 and the other in February 2021.
This is an extremely exciting petition. It’s the first time I’ve used a cause of action based on California Code of Civil Procedure §526a, which allows taxpayers to file suit against government agencies for wasting tax money. The idea is that by insisting on producing emails by printing them in color on paper and then scanning the paper to PDFs CD15 is wasting staff time on unnecessary processes and public money on completely unnecessary color printing.
Continue reading Last Week The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition And Friends Filed Four CPRA Petitions — Three Against The City Of Los Angeles And One Against LAHSA — The LA City Suits Are Versus CD4 — And CD15 — And The Information Tech Agency — The CD15 One Includes A Taxpayer Suit Based On California Code of Civil Procedure 526a — Which Lets Us Allege That Buscaino Is Wasting Public Money By Using It To Violate The CPRA — And May Lead To Lasting Policy Changes Rather Than A Mere Production Of Records
Redistricting in the City of Los Angeles is handled by a commission whose members are appointed by municipal elected officials. Presumably the commissioners are expected to be somewhat fair and independent, or at least to appear so, but as you can imagine the process is deeply corrupt. It’s at least plausible that if the commissioners carried out their work via an adversarial process the result wouldn’t be precisely tailored to the idiosyncratic interests of the electeds who appointed them, but in practice, as you can imagine, this doesn’t happen.
Everyone involved, from commissioners to electeds, has an overriding interest in helping their colleagues attain their individual goals so that they’ll get the same consideration in return. The one rule that might prevent absolute coordination between the commissioners and the electeds who appointed them is the ban on ex parte communications. However, some emails I recently obtained show that even this regulation is easily evaded.
Last September unlamentedly former CD4 repster David Ryu appointed former CD13 rep Mike Woo to the Commission. On September 29, 2020 Woo emailed Ryu’s also-now-former Chief of Staff Nick Greif with a draft statement for some required form. But most interesting was Woo’s postscript:
P.S. At some point I need to discuss with you how we should deal with the likely restrictions on ex parte communications. It also would be helpful to me if we could have a longer conversation, including the Councilmember, about his redistricting priorities.
But, as the whole world knows, Nithya Raman quite handily kicked David Ryu’s metaphorical ass at the November election which, among other things, unhatched Woo’s already-counted Commission-involved chickens. After Ryu conceded Woo emailed Raman tendering his resignation but, at the same time, making it clear that he was willing to continue to serve and also giving her some (astonishingly man-splainy, by the way) reasons for choosing him:
Continue reading David Ryu Appointed Former CD13 Rep Mike Woo To The Redistricting Commission — When Nithya Raman Trounced Ryu Woo Tendered His Resignation To Raman — And Then Tried To Convince Her To Reappoint Him — By Explaining To Her How They Could Evade The Ban On Ex Parte Communications — And Explaining To Her That There’s No Place For Equity Or Justice In The Redistricting Process — Except When The Feds Investigate Civil Rights Violations — And Explaining To Her That It’s All About Political Self Interest And Treachery — That She Should Hire Her Own Consultant Because The Ones That Nury Martinez Wants Won’t Have Raman’s Interests In Mind — Woo Is An Expert At Working The System — Who Never Seems To Have Considered That Maybe The System Is Bad — Spoiler Alert! — Raman Fired Woo And Put Her Own Person — Alexandra Suh — On The Commission Instead
Former City of Los Angeles staffers are super-famous for their seamlessly corrupt transitions between public service and the lobbying industry, so much so that we had to create a so-called revolving door ordinance to (very lightly) regulate the practice. As with so many of the rules putatively enforced by our beleaguered and underfunded Ethics Commission, though, this ordinance is widely ignored.
We’ve seen many examples of this revolving door phenomenon, for instance, Marie Rumsey moving from CD13 to the Central City Association in 2015, but I’m not aware of much information on what goes on when the door is opened and the former staffers prepare to step across the transom. Some light is shed on this phase of the process by a newly acquired email conversation from November 12 and 13, 2020, though.
The discussion is between registered lobbyist Dwayne Gathers and soon-to-be-former CD4 Chief of Staff Nick Greif. It also sheds light on the fate of an ousted CM’s staff, as they struggle with divided and dividing loyalties while deciding whether to submit their resumes to the new regime after their boss David Ryu conceded to Nithya Raman on November 6.
Continue reading November 2020 — The Last Days Of David Ryu — Registered Lobbyists Currying Favors By Forwarding Job Announcements Around To Soon-To-Be-Former CD4 Staff — Soon-To-Be-Former CD4 Staff Agonizing Over Whether They Should Submit Resumes To Raman’s Transition Team — Zillionaire Trust Fund Baby Nick Greif Floating Above The Fray — Submitting Gracious — But Still Condescending — Recommendations To Raman’s Camp — Along With Weirdly Patronizing Advice — From A Guy Whose Boss Had Just Lost An Election No Less
Last fall former Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu was fighting ultimately successful challenger Nithya Raman for his job repping CD4. He lost by four points in November, so it’s easy to imagine that in October his internal poll numbers were terrifying him. This situation no doubt also contributed to the remarkably negative turn his messaging took around that time.
Los Angeles elections are regulated, albeit not heavily, by the Municipal Code. In particular, LAMC §49.5.5(B)(4) forbids [u]sing City equipment, vehicle, supplies, or resources, including but not limited to mailing and distribution lists, electronic mail, and electronic data.
So you can imagine my surprise when a friend of this blog passed me a copy of this October 8, 2020 email sent by former Ryu staffer Nick Greif using his City email account to himself at a private account. The email has an attachment, which is an MS Word document entitled 09.30.20_TPs for Supporters.docx, and a note from Greif to himself on planned revisions.
This is about as clear a violation of the code section as I’ve ever seen, even without the Word document’s metadata. so this morning I reported Greif to the LA Ethics Commission and we’ll see what comes of that! Meanwhile, read this ridiculously desperate memorandum! Or read on for images!
Continue reading October 2020 — Former David Ryu Staffer Nick Greif Used City Email To Send A Copy Of Ryu’s Unhinged Campaign Talking Points To His Private Account — Along With Notes To Himself Concerning Revisions — Which Suggests That This Well-Known Hatchetman Had A Significant Role In Developing Ryu’s Desperate Attack Messaging — Either Way Though This Is A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5(B)(4) — Which Forbids The Use Of City Resources For Campaign Purposes — So Not Only Did I Report Him To The Ethics Commission — But I Have A Copy Of The Talking Points Memo As Well!
In 2004 LA City Councilmembers Jack Weiss and Greig Smith initiated the process of giving away a piece of Thrush Way, up in the Bird Streets, to the owner of an adjacent parcel. As they will do, the City Council approved the motion in January 2005, but the property owner dropped the ball, missed some requirement or another, and the offer expired. The parcel used to be in CD5, which is why Weiss was involved, but now is in CD4.
According to ZIMAS the property was sold in 2014, apparently to an LLC owned by a Costa Mesa man named Rami Batal, known as 5B Enterprises. Batal hired land use lobbyist Randall Akers to revive the street vacation plan. In 2016 this actually happened, with a motion from Joe Buscaino, seconded by David Ryu. The new motion ended up in Council File 16-0566. It generated a ton of opposing public comment and apparently more than one lawsuit, which explains why, on March 22, 2017, the Council voted to continue and file the motion.
And that’s about it! Oh, wait, that’s about it until four years later, on March 2, 2021, when Nithya Raman, who famously showed weirdo incumbent David Ryu a thing or two last year, filed a short but exceedingly consequential motion of her own, seeking to reactivate the council file. Nury Martinez didn’t fool around with this one, by the way. She didn’t send it to a committee, but rather, the very same day Raman filed it Martinez referred it to the full council and a few days later the Clerk put it on the agenda for April 6, 2021.
Continue reading What Does Progressive Darling Nithya Raman Have In Common With Despicable Developer-Loving Lickspittles Like Jack Weiss — Greig Smith — David Ryu — And Joe Buscaino? — All Five Of Them Support Giving Away A Specific Piece Of City Property In The Bird Streets — To An Anonymous LLC — Known As 5B Enterprises — Owned By Costa Mesa Zillionaire Rami Batal — Which Would Vastly Increase The Value Of A Particular Residential Lot — Batal’s LLC Is Represented By Land Use Lobbyist Randall Akers — Who Apparently Lobbied Raman Over This Matter — Even Though He Is Not Registered With The Ethics Commission — Meet The New Boss I Guess — Who Looks Awfully Darn Similar To The Old One!
In this troubled time, perhaps to be known to future history as the early days of fully formed American fascism, sane people have legitimate reasons to worry about the President of the United States adding homeless human beings to the already too-long list of people he’s willing to intern in camps, torture, and kill in order to further his political purposes.
Meanwhile our local politicians keep up their characteristically hypocritical performance of opposition to Trump and empathy towards the unhoused while continuing to call down sweeps on their encampments, displacing them, endangering them, occasionally killing them. Endangering, sacrificing, just as Donald Trump does, the lives of actual human beings for no better reason than to please their bloodthirsty constituents, who demand visible action in lieu of actual solutions.
Of course, that’s not how these politicians frame their activities. They go on and on and on about how police-attended encampment sweeps are necessary to help homeless residents, to disincentivize them from living on the street and encourage them to accept shelter, et cetera. But that’s not a reason the City of Los Angeles has sweeps, not at all. And whatever all the reasons might be, political expedience is certainly one of them.
Just for instance, take a look at this December 2017 email from Taylor Bazley, formerly on CD11 repster Mike Bonin’s staff, to LAPD senior lead Adrian Maxwell, asking him to “focus resources” a homeless encampment on Hampton Avenue in Venice. Bazley was communicating Bonin’s concerns which had nothing to do with helping the inhabitants in any way at all. No, Bazley’s stated reason for focusing resources on this “particularly disadvantageous” encampment were that:
… across the street is the primary homeless serving organization for the SPA (St. Joseph Center) – people will think that the encampment is due to the organization and the Councilmember is concerned that this will make projects we all want to move forward, more difficult with an already skeptical neighborhood.
Continue reading Donald Trump Is Poised To Forcibly Relocate Homeless Human Beings – Move Them Into Concentration Camps To Please His Bloodthirsty Constituents – Meanwhile A Newly Obtained Email Shows That Mike Bonin Does The Same Sort Of Thing – Arranging For An Encampment Sweep Across The Street From The St. Joseph Center On Hampton Avenue For No Better Reason Than To Placate Housedwelling Psychopaths – He’s Willing To Sic The LAPD On The Unhoused For No Better Reason Than That It Suits His Political Goals – Keep This In Mind The Next Time Bonin Flips Out And Compares Advocates For The Rights Of Homeless Human Beings To Donald Trump