Tag Archives: University of Southern California

Video Available Of August 29, 2019 Accelerated Schools Board Meeting — Protestors Speak Powerfully In Support Of Hilda Rodriguez-Guzman — Fired By The Board For Insubordination — Which Equals Saying Something True On The Radio — All White Board Credibly Accused By Activist Beverly Roberts Of Lacking Diversity — Demonic White Supremacist Nightmare Marionette And Board President Juli Quinn Not Only Won’t Explain She Says She Doesn’t Have To Explain — Later She Mentions Board Member Binti Yost — Who Has Darkish Skin And Therefore Evidently In The Mind Of Juli Quinn Counts As “Diversity” — And Says “We do have some diversity on the board, unfortunately they’re just not here” — And Then Explains How They Want To Have Parent Reps On The Board — But They Will Have To Be Trained All Summer To Be “More Verbal And Able To Assist Us On The Board” — Because Juli Quinn Is A White Supremacist — And This Is Less Than Ten Minutes Out Of Three Freaking Hours Of Video

I went to my first board meeting of The Accelerated Charter Schools last Thursday, and what a freaking horror show it turned out to be. Here’s the video, almost three damn hours of it, on YouTube and also on Archive.org for ease of downloading.1 The meeting started out with a series of moving public comments in support of Hilda Rodriguez-Guzman, unceremoniously and unjustly fired by TAS last month in retaliation for her activism. Here’s my Twitter thread on that with links to some comments, and it is well worth watching the whole thing, which starts here.

In particular, though, see this comment by community activist Beverly Roberts, who wants to know why the board members present are all white when they’re running a school in South Los Angeles. She waits for an answer until the point where Juli P. Quinn, president of the board, who has a guilty conscience and a bad case of demonic possession, just seething with anger, with privilege, with rage at Roberts’s insubordinance, tells her out freaking loud that “this is public comment, we don’t need to respond.” The protest essentially lasted for the first half hour of this interminable meeting, ending with this exceedingly dramatic exit.

But the meeting went on for more than two hours after that. And as tedious as it was it was nevertheless filled with revelations.2 And there are far, far too many for one post, as usual, so I’m going to have to lay it on you in increments. Today’s episode has to do with surprisingly life-like horrible white supremacist nightmare marionette3 Juli Quinn and her understanding of race in the context of her position as an affluent white president of an affluent white board of trustees in charge of a publicly funded private school located in a decidedly non-affluent, non-white community and whose student body is more than 98% Latinx and African American and pretty much 100% on free or reduced lunch.4
Continue reading Video Available Of August 29, 2019 Accelerated Schools Board Meeting — Protestors Speak Powerfully In Support Of Hilda Rodriguez-Guzman — Fired By The Board For Insubordination — Which Equals Saying Something True On The Radio — All White Board Credibly Accused By Activist Beverly Roberts Of Lacking Diversity — Demonic White Supremacist Nightmare Marionette And Board President Juli Quinn Not Only Won’t Explain She Says She Doesn’t Have To Explain — Later She Mentions Board Member Binti Yost — Who Has Darkish Skin And Therefore Evidently In The Mind Of Juli Quinn Counts As “Diversity” — And Says “We do have some diversity on the board, unfortunately they’re just not here” — And Then Explains How They Want To Have Parent Reps On The Board — But They Will Have To Be Trained All Summer To Be “More Verbal And Able To Assist Us On The Board” — Because Juli Quinn Is A White Supremacist — And This Is Less Than Ten Minutes Out Of Three Freaking Hours Of Video

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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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The City Of Pomona Has No Memorandums Of Understanding With College Law Enforcement — So Not Only Is The Agreement Between The City Of Los Angeles And The University Of Southern California Anomalous Among Such Agreements — Such Agreements Don’t Necessarily Even Have To Exist — All Of Which Means That The City Of Los Angeles Made And Is Making A Conscious — And Explicit — And Entirely Optional — Decision To Allow USC To Arrest People Far Away From Its Campus — And To Continue To Do So Even In The Face Of Evidence Of Its Racist Practices

Here’s another update on my ongoing attempt to understand why alone of all private college security forces in Los Angeles the Department of Public Safety of the University of Southern California is allowed by the Los Angeles Police Department to operate not just off campus but up to a mile off campus.

And they do in fact operate far, far off campus. They detain and handcuff people for unexplained reasons that can’t possibly have anything to do with their university. It’s a travesty and a shame. And it turns out that they are the only private college in the City of Los Angeles that’s allowed by the LAPD to do this.1 This kind of behavior is authorized by a memorandum of understanding between USC and the City of Los Angeles.

And as part of my attempt to understand what’s going on with this, I’ve been looking at law enforcement agencies around Los Angeles County and various MOUs they maintain with colleges. And, at least on the evidence of the LA County Sheriff, which only has one innocuous MOU with BIOLA University and on the evidence of the City of Pasadena which has only three, none of them allowing off-campus operations, it’s becoming clear that the relationship between USC and the City of Los Angeles is really, really unusual, at least in this county.

The latest piece of evidence comes to us from the fair City of Pomona, about which I know very little other than the clearly important facts that it’s somewhere east of here and that it’s got a freeway and a bunch of colleges named after it. Oh, and it maintains its own police department rather than contracting with the LA County Sheriff.
Continue reading The City Of Pomona Has No Memorandums Of Understanding With College Law Enforcement — So Not Only Is The Agreement Between The City Of Los Angeles And The University Of Southern California Anomalous Among Such Agreements — Such Agreements Don’t Necessarily Even Have To Exist — All Of Which Means That The City Of Los Angeles Made And Is Making A Conscious — And Explicit — And Entirely Optional — Decision To Allow USC To Arrest People Far Away From Its Campus — And To Continue To Do So Even In The Face Of Evidence Of Its Racist Practices

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Pasadena Police Have Three Memorandums Of Understanding With Local Colleges — Pasadena Community College — Art Center College Of Design — And Of Course Cal Tech — And Not A Single One Of Them Allows The College Cops To Operate Off Campus — It’s Actually The Opposite Here — Each Of These Agreements Lists Crimes That The Pasadena PD will Handle Even On Campus — It’s Beginning To Appear That USC Is Unique Not Only In The City Of LA But In The Whole Region — As Before Though If It’s Not Required To Let Them Operate Off Campus Then At Least There’s Some Hope — However Small — Of Changing Things

This is just a quick update on my ongoing attempt to understand why alone of all private college security forces in Los Angeles the Department of Public Safety of the University of Southern California is allowed by the Los Angeles Police Department to operate not just off campus but up to a mile off campus.

And they do in fact operate far, far off campus. They detain and handcuff people for unexplained reasons that can’t possibly have anything to do with their university. It’s a travesty and a shame. And it turns out that they are the only private college in the City of Los Angeles that’s allowed by the LAPD to do this.

Not only that but it’s beginning to appear that police in other jurisdictions really, really don’t allow this kind of thing at all. I learned recently that the LA County Sheriff has only one memorandum of understanding with any college in its jurisdiction and it explicitly does not allow them to operate off campus.

And today I received three MOUs from the Pasadena Police Department, none of which allow campus security to operate off campus. In fact, the central point of all three of these agreements is to lay out precisely which on-campus crimes will be handled by the PPD and which by campus security.

There is a great deal of detail on sexual assault and rape because colleges are bound by various federal laws to handle such crimes in very particular ways, but the explicit assumption in every case is that campus security will operate only on campus.

Here are links to them, and they’re not that interesting. But then, why should they be? There’s a transcription of the one from Cal Tech after the break, and my investigations continue.

Continue reading Pasadena Police Have Three Memorandums Of Understanding With Local Colleges — Pasadena Community College — Art Center College Of Design — And Of Course Cal Tech — And Not A Single One Of Them Allows The College Cops To Operate Off Campus — It’s Actually The Opposite Here — Each Of These Agreements Lists Crimes That The Pasadena PD will Handle Even On Campus — It’s Beginning To Appear That USC Is Unique Not Only In The City Of LA But In The Whole Region — As Before Though If It’s Not Required To Let Them Operate Off Campus Then At Least There’s Some Hope — However Small — Of Changing Things

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University Of Southern California Private Police — Are Alone Among Private College Cops In Los Angeles — In Being Allowed By The LAPD To Act As Peace Officers — And To Operate Up To A Mile Off Campus — Not Even Los Angeles Community College Cops Can Operate Off Campus — UCLA And Cal State Cops Can — But That’s Required By State Law — So Is Not Due To LAPD’s Choice — Why Does The LAPD Allow This — Especially Given The Well-Documented Abuses Of Police Power By USC Cops — Or Perhaps I Have Answered My Own Question There

As you may know, the Department of Public Safety of the University of Southern California,1 operating under a memorandum of understanding with the Los Angeles Police Department, is permitted to operate on public streets up to a mile from campus as limited-power peace officers. And as you might well imagine, they’re not using this power for socially beneficial purposes.

Their racist policies includes stops, detentions, handcuffs, interrogations of people on public streets without even a pretense that the safety of their students or their campus itself is directly involved. The racism is so blatant, so very on display, that Marqueece Harris-Dawson, an African American member of the Los Angeles City Council, has admitted that DPS even racially profiles him.

The State of California authorizes security guards working for private colleges to act as peace officers, which is legalese for having the power to arrest and probably some other stuff besides, via the Penal Code at §830.75. In order for this possibility to take effect it’s necessary for the college and the City to have a memorandum of understanding.

The law states that college security is allowed to operate within a mile of campus, but it’s not clear to me at all whether it’s mandatory that they be allowed to do so or whether their operational area can be set in the MOU. As part of my attempt to understand this and related questions about USC I’ve been collecting MOUs between various law enforcement agencies and local colleges.

I recently got a bunch of them, which you can browse here on Archive.org. They prove that USC is the only private college to which LAPD grants off-campus operating authority. Furthermore, it’s the only college in Los Angeles, public or private, to which LAPD grants off-campus operating authority voluntarily. Turn the page for links to these MOUs and more detail on what they allow.
Continue reading University Of Southern California Private Police — Are Alone Among Private College Cops In Los Angeles — In Being Allowed By The LAPD To Act As Peace Officers — And To Operate Up To A Mile Off Campus — Not Even Los Angeles Community College Cops Can Operate Off Campus — UCLA And Cal State Cops Can — But That’s Required By State Law — So Is Not Due To LAPD’s Choice — Why Does The LAPD Allow This — Especially Given The Well-Documented Abuses Of Police Power By USC Cops — Or Perhaps I Have Answered My Own Question There

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The Los Angeles County Sheriff Has Exactly One Memorandum Of Understanding With An Institution Of Higher Learning — Granting Their Security Guards Limited Police Powers — With BIOLA University — And It Explicitly States That They Are Not Allowed To Operate Off-Campus — Contrast This With The LAPD/USC Agreement — Which Allows Them To Arrest People As Much As A Mile Away From Their Borders — What The Hell, LAPD?!

The California Penal Code at §830.75 allows law enforcement agencies to grant limited police powers to university security guards by means of a memorandum of understanding. This document lays out the limits on these extraordinary powers.

The University of Southern California very famously operates a racist paramilitary police force that the LAPD has granted the power to operate and even to arrest people as much as a mile from the campus. This arrangement has far-reaching and pernicious consequences, and I’m spending some time investigating it.

One of the questions I’m looking into is whether off-campus operations are a standard concession in such agreements. To do this I’m working on getting copies of MOUs that other local law enforcement agencies have with universities. As will all CPRA-based investigations the going is really slow, but this morning I did receive some interesting material from the Los Angeles County Sheriff.

They told me that they have only one such MOU, with BIOLA University. Here’s a copy of it. And, importantly, this agreement explicitly limits BIOLA campus security to on-campus operations. They have no powers at all, let alone arrest powers, off campus.

So far, then, I have two of these MOUs. One allows wide-ranging operations on public streets. The other explicitly forbids this. It’s not enough data to draw any conclusions, but, as always, stay tuned! And turn the page for some transcribed selections from the BIOLA MOU.
Continue reading The Los Angeles County Sheriff Has Exactly One Memorandum Of Understanding With An Institution Of Higher Learning — Granting Their Security Guards Limited Police Powers — With BIOLA University — And It Explicitly States That They Are Not Allowed To Operate Off-Campus — Contrast This With The LAPD/USC Agreement — Which Allows Them To Arrest People As Much As A Mile Away From Their Borders — What The Hell, LAPD?!

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The USC Department Of Public Safety Is Well-Known For Its Racist Policing Practices — Wanna Know How Well-Known? — So Well-Known That Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson Admits That They Racially Profile People — Wanna Know How Marqueece Harris-Dawson Knows The USC DPS Racially Profiles People? — Because They Freaking Racially Profile Him! — Regularly! — He Says So On Freaking Video! — Why Is This Not Enough To Get The City To Fix This Damn Problem?

The University of Southern California calls its security guards the Department of Public Safety. It seems to be not so widely known that, with the explicit consent of the City of Los Angeles, USC security operates on public streets in a huge area surrounding the campus. And as you might expect from a troublesome and troubled institution such as USC their policing is both troublesome and troubled. It’s demonstrably racist and demonstrably outside the bounds of what the law allows them to do as security guards. The problem has been covered for years now by the incomparable Sahra Sulaiman of Streetsblog Los Angeles. See e.g.:

A Tale of Two Communities: New Security Measures at USC Intensify Profiling of Lower-Income Youth of Color

Handcuffing of Cyclist by USC Public Safety Raises Questions about Tactics, Oversight, Accountability

And if you still don’t believe that USC DPS is out of control, watch this video of Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson responding to a constituent concerned about their racist policing by revealing his own personal experiences with their racial profiling. There is, of course, a transcription after the break.1

And this revelation raises a really serious question. If even Marqueece Harris-Dawson gets treated like an “undesirable” by USC DPS, why hasn’t the City of Los Angeles done something to stop them? Why hasn’t Marqueece Harris-Dawson done something to stop them? The logistics wouldn’t be hard. What’s hard is finding political support for a solution.

The City of Los Angeles is deeply invested in the racist policies of its own police force, so how are they going to expend political capital shutting down the racist policies of their little partners at USC? USC DPS is furthering the goals of the City of Los Angeles as implemented by LAPD.

And whether out of deference to his colleague at CD9, Curren Price, in whose district USC situates, or out of respect for the wants and needs of the zillionaires who eventually come to control every council office, Harris-Dawson has made his choice to do nothing. It may not be possible to explain, but it’s so commonplace a situation in LA politics that it doesn’t really need explanation.
Continue reading The USC Department Of Public Safety Is Well-Known For Its Racist Policing Practices — Wanna Know How Well-Known? — So Well-Known That Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson Admits That They Racially Profile People — Wanna Know How Marqueece Harris-Dawson Knows The USC DPS Racially Profiles People? — Because They Freaking Racially Profile Him! — Regularly! — He Says So On Freaking Video! — Why Is This Not Enough To Get The City To Fix This Damn Problem?

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It Appears That The University Of Southern California Is In Violation Of Its Memorandum Of Understanding With LAPD — USC Police Are Required To Submit Regular Reports Describing Their Activities And Giving Various Statistics — According To LAPD Discovery In Response To A CPRA Request There Are No Reports — Given The Vast Off-Campus Area That USC Cops Cover It Is Disconcerting That There Is No Way To Know What They’re Doing — And It Is A Massive Dereliction Of LAPD’s Duty To The People Of Los Angeles That They Evidently Are Allowing USC To Shirk Its Legal Reporting Duties

So it turns out that security guards at private universities can actually be peace officers under California law if certain conditions are satisfied. This is authorized by the Penal Code at §830.75, which lists the fairly minimal conditions. They include a requirement that “[t]he institution of higher education and the appropriate local law enforcement agency have entered into a memorandum of understanding.” Once the conditions are met, the law allows the security guards to act as police officers on public property within a mile of their campus.

And the University of Southern California has taken full advantage of this opportunity, entering into the appropriate MOU with the Los Angeles Police Department so that its security guards, collectively known as the Department of Public Safety, have the arrest power and are allowed to exercise it within the boundaries of the map shown above. I obtained a copy of this MOU from LAPD under the CPRA, and it’s well worth reading.

If you’re paying attention at all you’ll have heard that this situation, with USC policing a vast off-campus area in neighborhoods whose residents are mostly poor, mostly black or brown, is intolerably abusive. Sahra Sulaiman, for one, has been writing about it for years on Streetsblog. See e.g. this 2013 overview and this more recent description of yet another appalling incident.

When the LAPD is involved in activities like this, well, it’s not so easy to stop them, but it is at least possible to use the Public Records Act to try understand what they’re up to. This is not so clearly possible with USC, since they’re a private school and not prima facie subject to the CPRA.1 But the MOU does provide for some transparency about USC operations.

In particular take a look at Article 5, which requires all kinds of reporting about police activities by USC, all of it to be submitted to LAPD.2 USC DPS is required to submit reports of significant incidents, daily reports of calls, weekly crime statistics, monthly reports of all activities pertaining to the exercise of the powers granted by the MOU, and other stuff besides.

So naturally I asked LAPD for copies of all of these reports from 2018 and 2019 under the CPRA.3 And imagine my surprise when the LAPD told me this afternoon that they didn’t have any records. They even said that they asked Southwest Division to look for them, which was the right thing to do as they’re the designated recipients under the MOU.

So if LAPD Discovery is telling the truth and no one actually has copies of all these reports that USC is supposed to submit, then USC is in violation of the MOU and they certainly ought to stop patrolling off-campus immediately and have all the powers granted to them under its terms suspended until they come back into compliance.

This isn’t just some kind of technicality, either. If USC DPS is going to operate on public property, detain and arrest citizens of Los Angeles who aren’t remotely interacting with USC property or employees, and so on, then we have a right to keep track of what exactly they’re up to. If they actually haven’t been submitting these reports, or if LAPD isn’t retaining them or is hiding them, then it’s impossible for us to understand USC’s operations on our streets, which is unacceptable.

On the other hand, obviously, it’s possible that LAPD is either lying or mistaken, either of which would be completely not at all surprising to anyone who’s dealt with them before. So I asked Southwest Division to put me in touch with whoever is their USC liason, and I asked USC senior vice something or other Todd Dickey, who signed the most recent amendment to the MOU, to please let me know what’s going on. If and when I hear back from them well, you’ll read about it here. Meanwhile, turn the page for all the transcriptions.
Continue reading It Appears That The University Of Southern California Is In Violation Of Its Memorandum Of Understanding With LAPD — USC Police Are Required To Submit Regular Reports Describing Their Activities And Giving Various Statistics — According To LAPD Discovery In Response To A CPRA Request There Are No Reports — Given The Vast Off-Campus Area That USC Cops Cover It Is Disconcerting That There Is No Way To Know What They’re Doing — And It Is A Massive Dereliction Of LAPD’s Duty To The People Of Los Angeles That They Evidently Are Allowing USC To Shirk Its Legal Reporting Duties

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A Tale Of Two Lunches! — How Gil Cedillo Invited Then-USC-President Max Nikias To Lunch In 2017 “To Catch Up On All Things” — And They Were Gonna Eat At The California Club — But USC Staffer Catherine Kuriyama Told Cedillo’s Chief Of Staff Debby Kim About Gift Reporting Laws — And Debby Kim Was All Like Don’t Wanna Report That Lunch! — And No Wonder I Guess Since Cedillo Has Accepted More Than $10K In Gifts From Lobbyists During His Time On The City Council — Including Another Lunch With Max Along With Debby Kim And Jay Cortez Which Did Get Reported — Cause Cedillo Only Paid Two Dollars For It

When lobbyists spend money on officials in Los Angeles the LAMC at §48.04 requires them to report it to the Ethics Commission.1 And for any number of reasons lately I’ve been really interested in Gil Cedillo. So here’s a list of all reported expenditures that benefitted Cedillo since he took office in 2013, total $10,229.39.2 Sadly, these disclosure forms don’t require any detail really, so if we want to learn what went on we have to request records.

But, as you know, that’s what we live for around here! It’s a slow process, though, and we won’t understand everything on that list for a while yet. However, I did recently acquire a bunch of emails between CD1 and the University of Southern California, and these shed some interesting light on two lunches enjoyed over the years by Cedillo in the company of then-USC-president Max Nikias, now no-confidenced right out the door.3 One of them is on the disclosure form and the other is not. This is the story of those two lunches.

The first lunch, which took place on September 28, 2017 at the California Club, was instigated by Cedillo himself. The story is told in this extraordinarily disorganized string of emails. And when USC informed Cedillo staffer Debby Kim4 that the lunch was worth $39 and that they would have to report it to the Ethics Commission unless Cedillo reimbursed USC for the food, Kim flipped out to some extent and asked to change the venue to some place where it wouldn’t have to be reported. USC told her that if Cedillo reimbursed them for it they wouldn’t have to report, which she said CD1 would do. Evidently CD1 did, or something, because this lunch doesn’t appear on the disclosures linked to above.

The second lunch, in April 2018, was at the request of Nikias himself, and is revealed in this also-scrambled email conversation. Cedillo planned to bring along Kim and his communications director Jay Cortez. USC told Kim that the lunches were worth $34 each, so that the three of them would be valued at $102. There’s a limit of $100 per calendar year,5 so USC also told Kim that they’d have to pay back $2 to keep it legal. Charmingly,6 neither Kim nor USC wanted to bother Max Nikias with these street-level legalities nor to dirty his august hands with cash money, so that even though Kim brought the money to lunch, no one was there to accept it and she evidently had to mail it in later. This lunch does in fact appear on the disclosure list with a value of $100, so evidently the money did dirty someone’s hands, maybe august, maybe not.

That’s the short version, and turn the page for the long version along, of course, with transcriptions of the essential parts of the conversation, helpfully rearranged into a sensible order for ease of reading!
Continue reading A Tale Of Two Lunches! — How Gil Cedillo Invited Then-USC-President Max Nikias To Lunch In 2017 “To Catch Up On All Things” — And They Were Gonna Eat At The California Club — But USC Staffer Catherine Kuriyama Told Cedillo’s Chief Of Staff Debby Kim About Gift Reporting Laws — And Debby Kim Was All Like Don’t Wanna Report That Lunch! — And No Wonder I Guess Since Cedillo Has Accepted More Than $10K In Gifts From Lobbyists During His Time On The City Council — Including Another Lunch With Max Along With Debby Kim And Jay Cortez Which Did Get Reported — Cause Cedillo Only Paid Two Dollars For It

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Who Do We Speak To When We Speak Truth To Power?

Last week USC hosted a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was invited to speak, but his speech was repeatedly interrupted by protesters from LA CAN, from the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee, from NOlympics LA, and others.

This prompted an editorial from the L.A. Times entitled Shouting down Mayor Garcetti isn’t ‘speaking truth to power,’ the theme of which is well summarized by this excerpt:

But protesters can overplay their hands. These days, tolerance of other people’s views seems low, and there’s an unhealthy willingness to silence one’s opponents rather than engage them, debate them and out-argue them. That’s a shame.

Protesters who shout down a speaker — or shut down a public meeting — aren’t just expressing their own views; they’re making it impossible for others to share theirs.

It’s silly almost beyond comprehension to believe that Eric Garcetti can be silenced by protesters, that anyone interrupting him can make it impossible for him to share his views. Every word the man says is reported on extensively. His press releases are reprinted or recited verbatim by major news outlets. His press conferences are attended by reporters from all over the state, even the nation. A few people interrupting a speech isn’t making it impossible for Eric Garcetti to share his views.

And why in the world does the Times think there’s something wrong with protesters being unwilling to debate or out-argue Eric Garcetti? Do they really believe that if Eric Garcetti just hears the right argument he’ll stop allowing his LAPD thugs to kill young men for no good reason, stop sending them out to arrest homeless people and incinerate their belongings, that he’ll stop accepting campaign money from real estate developers in exchange for enabling them to destroy neighborhoods and cause more homelessness, that he’ll suddenly see the light and stop being evil?

It’s not going to happen like that. He’s heard the arguments already. If he hasn’t seen the damage he’s doing, the pain he’s causing, the killings he enables, all for the sake of his campaign coffers and his career, it’s because he doesn’t want to see. He knows his constituency and he’s giving them exactly what they want from him. No reasoned analysis is going to change that. These kind of repeated demands for civil discourse in the face of racist police murders, genocidal policies on homelessness, gentrification by force of arms, are incredibly disingenuous.

And strangely, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the LA Times that the protesters already know they’re not going to change Eric Garcetti’s mind about anything. These protesters are accomplished, able, serious people, the value of whose contributions to civil society in Los Angeles is incomparable. None of them have done what they’ve been able to do by wasting their time trying to debate LA politicians into being nice. What, the LA Times pointedly did not even consider, might such protests actually accomplish?
Continue reading Who Do We Speak To When We Speak Truth To Power?

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