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C'mon, Kroenke, Don't Be So Cranky!

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Nithya Raman and Bob Blumenfield have a nice rapport.

There were eight items on the Information, Technology, and General Services Committee agenda including, Motion (Krekorian - O'Farrell) relative to negotiating a purchase and sale agreement with the owner(s) of the real property located at 5114 Lankershim Boulevard.  

Chair Raman, suggested one recommendation, that GSD be permitted to negotiate a purchase and sale OR maybe a LEASE...  

This gave the impression that she was actually considering the best deal for the public.   

Blumenfield, clarified that he OBVIOUSLY had no objection, but was curious, where is money coming from for this theatre?  

I hadn't noticed that it was even a theatre project. 

Chair Raman said, "I know we have Matt Hale here from CD2 in case there are any questions."  

Mr. Hale one of Krekorian's heavy hitters during budget time, appeared to be a no-show.  

Blumenfield quickly stood down,  "I don't need to know the answer... it's fine."    

I'd know I'd heard that refrain before.   

 "Matt Hale is actually not here... sorry."     

Blumenfield said, "I'm all for CRA money... we have a theatre in my district...  I can figure that out offline, I'm fine with that on consent."  

Raman also heard from Maria Ramos from the CAO's office and her terse report about a  5-year extension to Dec 2026 -- for $15m dollars.  "Due to staff Separation Incentive Program..." she prattled on.  

Chair Raman opened it up for questions, and Curren Price queried, "Why five years?"   

"So the previous contract was for three... we've been extending annually... so up to five....To save city attorney staff time and our staff time." 

Price got the memo.  "You need a little more elbow room." he said.  "What's their history with diversity?"  

City staffer, Maggie McNally responded,  "It's a minority-owned and disadvantaged firm, but we are not able to affect contractor diversity... but our outreach programs... are increasing diversity of our contracts."  

Price was curious,  "Diversity...like what,  Albanian, Alaskan?" 

 

2nd District Initiative:

I place the line referencing a question and the fact that it would be "okay if there were not an answer."  

Years ago, I'd done a CPRA for county emails and in those emails a story emerged of Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas pressing his staff to press the staff of another county agency, Regional Planning, to release a letter (to a selected bunch of constituents in the 54th) before the Special Election that launched his son into office..    

It was a soothing letter intended to assist Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and it worked.  He eventually got elected. 

My memory took me back to the 11/26 email,  "Is there a specific account to charge this too?  The mailing for Baldwin Hills? It's okay if there is not. But just curious." 

County workers engaged (wittingly or unwittingly) in the use of public resources for political advantage (more than $25,000).  My recollection is the email chain read like a county agency functioning like a well-orchestrated campaign machine ...firing on all cylinders.  The only problem was that the County of Los Angeles Office of Regional Planning is not supposed to get involved in that.     

The story evolved at the LA Times but never emerged.  It's fair to say, I was pressing for the public to be informed regardless of whether the Supervisor or any of his underlings committed a prosecutable crime.   

Evidently, most theft of public resources is in the form of unauthorized 'political' work.

 

Community Theatre: 

I'd heard Jose Huizar touting the twelve historic theaters that were in Los Angeles ready for a renovation on a Youtube of a city council meeting from March 21, 2007. Eric Garcetti was the council president and they were installing / recycling a Cultural Affaris commissioner. 

It was a real time capsule, Councilmembers at the time, Janice Hahn and Jose Huizar talking about the importance of Los Angeles theatre is priceless. This was back when the city council members spoke frequently and excessively. Wendy Greuel, who was also a council member back then, used the term "City of Los Angeles" 23 times in under 3 minutes.   

"Every time we find an old theaterwe buy it, but then we realize we have no money to refurbish it." said Janice Hahn.  

Huizar said he was committed to the public-private partnerships, to bring prosperity to North-East Los Angeles.   Oy. 

Earlier in the week, Honorable John F. Walter, the Central District of California Judge presiding over Huizar's public corruption trial, pushed the proceedings back to later in 2022, probably October.  He said, "We're all doing a lot of work."  

When he was asked by the Government to clarify his confusing order, in writing, the Judge demurred, "I'm working 24/7, you can buy the transcript and write it up yourself." 

 

Speech insecurity: 

To have a case of "speech insecurity," as I will admit to, is far better than experiencing "food insecurity." But public hearings do offer a time for members of the public to speak to their council or board while they are exclusively focused on the speaker or the monitor in front of them to ensure a fair public hearing.   

A freshly elected Marqueece Harris-Dawson had been schmoozing a lobbyist behind one of the famous marble pillars in the council chambers,  as council members do.  It was not uncommon to find Gil Cedillo or Bob Blumenfield backslapping with the lobbyist Arnie Berghoff.  

When I showed the Deputy City Attorney at the time, Dion O'Connell, the entire sequence -- the reading of the caution to council, to pay attention, the rising of MHD, walking over to the pillar, all during the testimony of the furious applicants and appellants, he retired. 

It was so embarrassing, that Dion took a job in Newhall before hanging his Deputy City Attorney cowboy hat over at the Pasadena City Attorney's Office.   

Getting the electeds to pay attention during hearings has become harder now that all meetings are held on Zoom and not in person.  

It's quite evident if you watch a city council meeting or a county board meeting or a metro board meeting today, that though a few are clearly listening (you can see them wince from time to time) many are doing something else, that involves talking animatedly.  

The volume must be way down. Zoom has provided a digital solution to the age old conundrum of electeds facing their electors--"how the fuck can we mute these assholes?" 

In Sheila Kuehl's analogue world, where driving an antique Porsch will not be prosecuted by SCAQMD, because she's served on it for five years, you simply pull a deputy staffer into some important fake business.    

My own mother, once dropped the mic at a county board meeting,  when the great Ridley-Thomas famously took a telephone call during her moving testimony.  

MRT's Supervisorial District Two staff were always quick to point out that audio of public comments was also piped into the crapper, so "thank you for your interest in county government."    

When I caught Ridley-Thomas, AWOL, and discovered through CPRA, that he had not been in the bathroom for 75 minutes,  but rather... he was at the Lucas/Hobson Narrative museum of storytelling ribbon-cutting event, hosted by Mayor Garcetti et al.  See prior article.  

He zipped out during a hearing in which constituents of a neighboring district were fighting against the expansion of a festering landfill.  

You'd think an environmental justice warrior like MRT would be there in lockstep.   He was busy at the Exposition Park hob bobbing with the big dogs and Mellody Hobson. 

On return, where he found a cluster of angry residents, pissed off that he had left the hearing, MRT lashed out.   

To be fair, he was in a bad mood because at the ribbon cutter he'd been inadvertently referred to as Ridley-Scott, by Hobson or Lucas or both.  

Curren Price will remember, chapter and verse, and he knows how hard MRT had pushed to secure the Exposition Park deal for the museum.  Those in the know sometimes refer to the project as the 'sheath' to contain Mr. Lucas's enormous... collection.   

Will it be free? If you have to ask...

 

SOS: Bonta, get in here! 

You never ask a state’s top prosecutor to opine on the constitutionality of suspending an elected official pending the outcome of a judicial proceeding, unless you know he or she is going to give you a favorable answer, right?    

Folks understand that MRT playing the church card, as he tries to evade capture in his public corruption trial, is the last gasp, but having the South Los Angeles Clergy for Public Accountability send a letter to his besties in Sacramento, would have been more effective if there were an actual organization, like... The United Way. Doh!   

I guess the church group must be an ad-hoc group. If you google their name you run into some...  'credibly accused' lists in three dioceses... etc.  Nothing specific, but ... 

This group is alleging that the City Council considered the motion to suspend Ridley-Thomas Oct. 20, just 24 hours after it was introduced by Council President Nury Martinez. They apparently waived the customary public hearing requirements before voting, effectively discouraging opportunities for 10th Council District constituents to be meaningfully heard on the matter.  

(shaking head) Look, as the OG complainant about fair public hearings--isn't this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? 

[That's an expression referring to a situation in which one person criticizes another for a fault the first person also has.] 

President Martinez already said that she was going to appoint a voting member to represent the 10th District in the coming weeks, but how can she do that, if she can't or won't even choose a new Vice President Pro Tempore?  

No it's not free: 

Super Bowl 56 in Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s multibillion-dollar SoFi Stadium is next weekend. It's fair to say that some members of the #Ramily, are rabid advocates for their unwavering position:  that LA deserves a Super Bowl victory. Stat.  #GoRams  

Rams tickets are never cheap, but the Super Bowl is an unusual event and, yes, it's a rich people party, wherever it is, but no, you're not invited unless you are connected or ... very liquid.  

There is no point in complaining because watching from your tiny home, can be quite enjoyable. Inglewood is "The City of Champions" 

Superfans, who endure the metro or the traffic and pay astronomical parking rates to cheer on the team during the regular season deserve some recognition.  Right? 

Was wondering, if Silent Stan Kroenke, as he is known, would consider... running for Mayor of Los Angeles once Rick Caruso announces that he's finking out once again?  

I'm taking $1 bets that Rick Caruso will not run. 1) it's the worst job in the world... other than Ambassador to India and  2)  I've digressed. 

Most Angelenos don't know that Mr. Kroenke not only owns the Los Angeles Rams, which he moved back to California from St. Louis in 2016. His sports empire also includes the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids, and the U.K.'s Arsenal soccer club.   

He's also a major landowner, with more than 1.5 million acres of ranches across the U.S. and Canada.   

I wonder if Mr. Kroenke would agree to send every single Rams fan, who gives their address and wants it, a commemorative piece of Rams swag.   

The most in-demand items are the official NFC Champions locker room T-shirts ($39.99), pullover hoodie ($84.99), as well as the official hats ($34.99) worn on the field when the Rams accepted their NFC trophy. 

Special player jerseys with Super Bowl LVI patches are available for Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp in adult sizes for ($139.99), as well as youth sizes for $99.99 for StaffordDonald and Kupp

There is also a new Rams gift box with all sorts of NFC Champs goodies ($84.99), which is valued at $105. The box includes the official locker room hat and towel, a lanyard, koozies, a pennant and more. 

 

Profit: Up

If Los Angeles loses the Super Bowl, let's not be upset with the Bengals, let's be upset with Apple, and USAA Insurance.  

A banner advertisement for USAA insurance sits atop the NFL.com website.  

When it comes to insurance "One Size. Does not Fit all."  the graphic conveys,  "Our agents help you get your coverage right!"   What?  

"Bundle and save." That's it. Unlike, Tampa Bay's Gronkowski who did a funny series of spots highlighting that USAA is only for veterans and their families. One of my parents served in the US Army.     

I've been spending a lot with USAA for a very long time, but when they inadvertently extended me into a type of life insurance coverage that I no longer wanted, they refused to give me back my money.  To my knowledge, I have not died.  I didn't make any claims.  I just want my money back.  

Wayne Peacock is the CEO of USAA and this year marks their 100th anniversary and the Super Bowl is on Sunday.  

Let's discuss why the USAA agents in the Life Insurance Group are getting away with a virtual crime.   

I never agreed to a 1375% increase. Auto-suck rules be damned.  

And by the way, Gronk's TV commercials during Monday Night Football this year about not knowing, who specifically is eligible for membership were funny-ish.  Members of certain federal agencies, such as the FBI are eligible.    

We love the FBI out here in Los Angeles, they're card-holding members of our dogs-that-don't-hunt club. 

 

Another bite of the: 

Apple is adding a 500,000-square-foot office facility in Culver City that will serve as a regional headquarters for the tech giant's local operations, which include Apple TV+ and Apple Music. 

They established operations in Culver City in 2014, and currently have more than 1,500 employees in the area. Apple says it plans to have more than 3,000 employees in Culver City by 2026. 

Apple officials noted the location's proximity to the Metro station, along with various transit lines, and added that Apple will "be offering shuttle service, support for cyclists and other commute alternatives for our teams." 

Wow, what a wonderful company.  Are all those Apple employees agreeing to NOT purchase TESLAS?   Didn't think so.  

Apple's beef up would be more appealing to me personally,  if a single investigative journalist that attended the IRE conference two years ago could explain how to crack the code and actually get a person in management to come to the telephone.  All the big publications were there.  

Even, someone as persuasive as an opinion writer or a consumer advocate with a highly reasonable grievance on behalf of senior citizens or veterans couldn't get through.   

A plaintive request to speak to a VP resulted in a breathtaking, now lifelong crusade,  to hold that little weasel, Tim Cook, accountable.  

Apple’s profit for the past year of $101 billion was more than the combined yearly profits of — take a deep breath — Walmart, General Motors, Exxon, Pfizer, Verizon, Disney, Coke and McDonald’s 

Now, hold your breath.  

Now, hold your nose.  

BTW - no disrespect to the weasels. Including Justin Ray of Essential, who I read daily and do recommend.

 

Essential: 

Mr. Ray published a small crack in his Essential Newsletter by including a reader passage with a punchline that promoted the myth/truth that shorter people are somehow less attractive.    

As a wiseass, who once stood 5' 10" tall, I copypasted the line, and wrote to him. He never wrote back.  

 

-----Original Message----- 

From: ERIC PREVEN <[email protected]

To: [email protected] 

Sent: Mon, Jan 24, 2022 6:25 am 

Subject: A short joke? “  

 

 “My anticipation quickly melted into disappointment when he climbed down the ladder. My dreamy date was only 5'4".”   

The real problem facing short men is not that we are often looked down upon by the rest of society… but rather we are mocked mercilessly!  It’s nice that Essential has a sense of humor.  What other groups are OK to make fun of?🔦  

Eric Preven

 

An estimated 200 million people download Rogan's podcast each month and on Saturday he apologized for his past use of racist language. India Arie, who is an truly inspirational artist shared resurfaced clips of Joe Rogan using N-Word amid the Spotify battle about which, Jon Stewart said, "There's no question that there is egregious misinformation that's purposeful and hateful, and that being moderated is a credit to the platforms that run them," Jon Stewart said. "But this overreaction to Rogan, I think, is a mistake." 

Rogan was quoted as, "I never used it to be racist, because I'm not racist."  

The New York Times reported that as many as 70 episodes of "The Joe Rogan Experience" show had been quietly taken off Spotify.  

 

Non Essential: 

Hopefully, the new weekly newsletter from former Essential writer/editors, Julia Wick and Benjamin Oreskes, will cover " the machinery... and the bureaucratic intricacies" and not just the mullah.  

Readers need debates in addition to the brilliant insights from the editorial board so we can kick the tires on these candidates

The board has been grieving and out of sorts since Donald Trump was unelected.  

Sunday, the Los Angeles Times published a fun read about the cottage industry — including online pastors and conservative legal groups — helping California employees who want religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. 

The Times amassed more than 2,200 pages of emails, letters and other records related to religious waivers from vaccine rules. The documents came from four public employers. 

Another story from the former City Hall reporter at the TImes, about some private schools that kept getting cited for COVID violations, caught my eye. In some cases, it was because these schools wouldn’t let a health inspector into their facilities. Trinity Classical Academy is one of three private schools in Santa Clarita that had been cited for students or staffers failing to wear masks as required under county COVID-19 orders. 

Sound familiar?  

It reminded me of the Grace Community Church of the Valley fiasco, for which the county of Los Angeles coughed up $400,000 in settlement after their lawyers took on religious freedom.  

Here, the church rightly alleged State and United States constitutional violations related to COVID-19 infection control measures required by the county. 

The public health department and Miller Barondess, LLP attempted to limit capacity on indoor services, require social distancing and masking, and the kicker, Skip Miller's firm called for a "prohibition on chanting and singing."

 

The reporter of that article found the whole thing amusing and ran a quote that made it seem as if religious zealots are fair game for outright mockery, “The church is not only a building but is the bride of Christ and exists to proclaim the truth" they wrote.  

It would have been marginally more palatable had the reporter not omitted the real cost of the losing litigation, on top of the $400,000 dollar settlement.   

PAID ATTORNEY FEES, TO DATE   $938,096

PAID COSTS, TO DATE                    13,831 

 

Jason H. Tokoro, Esq. Miller Barondess, LLP  

Keep your eyes peeled for more egregious billing from Skip and the gang who already took over $1 million to manage the already egregious claims of Vanessa Bryant, who, despite having a lot of money, wants county money for the transgressions of few deputies. 

She, nor anybody else, ever saw the images so let's move on.  No disrespect for her loss, but the county did not take Kobe away... 

 

 

Trigger happy: 

A motion was introduced Wednesday by Councilmen Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian, and Mitch O'Farrell.  The ordinance would be modeled after one in San Jose that requires liability insurance through homeowner's or renter's insurance.  

That ordinance also requires an annual fee that is used for evidence-based initiatives that aim to reduce gun violence.  "This reasonable move will promote the use of common-sense measures to keep families and neighbors safe," Paul Krekorian said.  

Paul Koretz said in the motion that insurance would encourage people who own firearms to take safety courses, make sure firearms are properly stored and secured, install trigger locks and use loaded chamber indicators.  

The motion highlighted auto insurance's risk-adjusted premiums that reward good driving as an example of how insurance can lead to safer practices.   "We need a similar approach to address the risks posed by guns," the motion stated.   

Koretz told KNX 97.1 FM  "I certainly wouldn't be surprised if the NRA sues us over the latest effort to curb gun violence."  

That's a particularly familiar and triggering, pun intended, thing to say. Given the City's payouts for knowingly bad but political lawsuits over which they've been pre-warned by wiser constituents, including myself and the Studio City Neighborhood Council, before it became mired in Randall Fraud... sorry, Fried.      

Well-intentioned litigation is terrific, but grandstanding politically is a worst practice.  Treating the city's treasury like your political slush fund is gross.  Even if you can call former FPCC guy, Gary S. Winuk at the Kaufman Legal Group. 

If Koretz wants to ban something, how about he ban the "faux-campaign" for candidates running for office scam.  Ron Galperin who moved to stop Ridley-Thomas’s salary payments and benefits in October and Richard Bloom, a state assemblymember, each engaged in impressive fundraising for the 3rd Supervisorial district, before dropping out of the race.   

The remaining candidates in the race are State Senator Bob Hertzberg who serves Senate District 18, Senator Henry Stern of the 27th District, and Lindsey P. Horvath of West Hollywood who has Supervisor Kuehl’s endorsement. 

Will Bloom and Galperin return all the contributions they collected? I doubt it.    

Galperin, presumably, is going to try to roll the funds over toward his bid for State Auditor. 

And what about electric bicycles? 

These silent devils are causing genuine fear among Angelenos that walk, who already have plenty to fear.  

These new bicycle (rockets) that ride on puffy tires and it seems to go up to 40 mph (tk.) are cruising along California beaches.   

It is not uncommon to encounter them as one meanders along the coast at sunset staring down at the sand in search of some deeper meaning or maybe a piece of sea glass... errant piece of Rams swag.  

C'mon, Kroenke, don't be so cranky! 

 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch. The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch)