Tag Archives: Western Center on Law and Poverty

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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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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