ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - The City has an all-star roster.
Selwyn Hollins delivered over and over again in numerous City capacities and eventually slid up Grand Park to manage the Internal Services Department for Los Angeles County. A lot of gratitude is in order for all the deals he's overseeing, now that Sheila Kuehl et al. have given so much more 'discretion' to departments and thereby limiting the board's need to approve things. Why?
Because when the board approves things, it has to be posted on a public meeting agenda, and dang it, the public are soooo effing annoying.
Another sharpie from Los Angeles City Hall is old Greg Good, currently running to take Mike Bonin's seat in CD11. Good was an appointee of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti after seven years at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). Until recently he was a Commissioner on the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works. In July 2020, he was elected President of the Board. He's married to a Deputy Attorney General for the State of California.
And there's, stand up John Wickham, he works for the Chief Legislative Analysts office CLA and always seems to be around when we are giving AEG a major TOT howdy-do, or clawing back against LAHSA, by examining a war with the county.
He's trusted confidante to Sharon Tso but also an effective underminer, and the entire council adores hearing him prattle on about everything.
Somehow, I missed the memo on that there was going to be a Special – Ad Hoc Committee On The 2028 Olympics And Paralympic Games meeting, where Wickham would be giving and taking orders and getting ready to amend the operating agreement with LA2028, the private entity run by Casey Wasserman, to whom the city farmed out the Olympic games.
But AP Diaz stole the show on sneaky Monday. Executive Officer Anthony-Paul (AP) Diaz is the Executive Officer for the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and he was the go-to for something called the: Joint CAO and CLA and Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners reports relative to the proposed Department of Recreation (RAP) and Parks 2022-23 Project Plan pursuant to the 2028 Youth Sports Partnership Agreement between the RAP and the Los Angeles Organizing Committee for LA 2028.
I know him as the higher-up at Rec and Parks who cringed when I was exposing some of the Proposition K shenanigans in Studio City at the Rec Center there, but more recently he'd been ignoring a CPRA.
I'd asked for "Please provide a digital copy or link to of all communications and complaints to the Studio City Recreation Center & Park or to the Department of Recreation and Parks Los Angeles Park Rangers requesting enforcement of LAMC at Studio City Recreation Center & park from January 2019 through January 29, 2022."
So far, I've got Zilch.
On February 23, 2022 I sent AP a friendly reminder because I had already called the Park Ranger's office to inquire if the email was working.
Now I see what he was working on. Who has time for routine public records act service when you are presenting on the Olympics stage. It's a springboard for everyone involved, even John Wickham.
O'Farrell called AP's presentation, excellent on the 2023 plan, and said there was more to come in the Play LA and youth adaptive use programs.
The First Amendment to the Youth Sports Partnership Agreement for Olympic and Paralympic Games 2028 (LA28) was going to divert approximately $17.5 million in year 2022 and 2023 for some innovative new transportation programs, including interesting new ways to spend the children's money.
As for oversight... "Puh-lease!"
We have the working groups, silly! And the composition of the working groups will be hand-picked by Casey Wasserman (no approval or veto accepted by anyone) but he's open to hearing "ideas" from O'Farrell, and anyone else.
The cash flow is excellent, LA28 reported, the sketchy balance sheet was just related to accounting. The entire room was uplifted as each initiative that tickled the various fancies of the committee members was brought out and briefly celebrated and praised.
Monica Rodriguez the council member from CD7 is out in horse country and she was delighted to be funding Equestrian actors in her district with the children's money. And cyclists. She talked about the ability to leverage with ATP grants, and Vision zero, so we can build out more infrastructure... and re-stripe and make protected bike lanes. (good for fundraising around).
And Tennis Everyone?! Before Mark Ridley-Thomas imploded into the indictment phase, he was very far up the USTA pole... cutting them a mega deal on a county golf course in Carson... shhh.
All agreed that whether sneaking around with the money for the able-bodied or the not-able-bodied it was time to sneak around, bigtime. Transportation funding can be migrated from the children's accounts to transport the children, obviously.
They're not going to be able to run to Carson to play tennis. The only person who loves SRLA more than Monica Rodriguez, who once put on a major SRLA presentation in the city council, is Gil Cedillo.
"Students Run LA ..." Cedillo said, "...my office is a donor, and participant. I can't say enough about that org."
O’Farrell had a brainstorm. He called it a spontaneous thought... that he came up with all by himself. In order to get more bang for our buck, we need to activate young people. Get them more active. "What about diving? Diving is so popular," he said.
Though, we might have a hard time with the large platform diving infrastructure, AP Diaz liked the idea and said he would look into it.
"We have so many city swimming pools... a lot have springboards... can we put olympic regulation diving specs. That would be an easy retrofit... "
He wondered if the Bureau of Engineering could get in on the action.
"It's not dangerous and it's a lower cost retrofit ... you can get in the business of training young Olympians!"
The Olympics itself is a springboard! To what?
"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting."
Cedillo said he wanted to emphasize "organized labor at ...every level!"
Krekorian wondered since Paris is four years ahead, what have we seen re: their changes... to "insurance” (again fishing). No word, if Krekorian is going to go into the event insurance business when he terms out in 2024.
As 2pm approached, O'Farrell was exasperated with his own enthusiasm, he closed with a mighty round of thank yous and said this was going to be the "best Olympic games agreement ever!" Though he'd done the lion's share of the talking, he said it had been a "great conversation"
Maybe Sergio Perez could be the OIG over the Olympics!
Eric Garcetti, after three years of dilly-dallying appointed Sergio Perez to be the OIG over the LADWP that has been mired in scandal. Not the Formula One Driver who is currently running fourth for Red Bull, but rather the Orange County zealot.
Q: What happened to Fred Pickles?
A: He's the ratepayer advocate at LADWP, you idiot, not the OIG. There has never been an inspector general at LADWP.
Q: Well, then who is Sergio advocating for?
A: Though many inspector general roles are independent of the agencies they monitor, Perez will report to the utility’s general manager, Marty Adams. This would be like Max Huntsman, the OIG over the Sheriff's department reporting to the Sheriff. Huntsman reports to Sheila Kuehl. Mr. Perez and his 18-24 employees [wtf!] will be Auditing DWP programs and contracts; investigating complaints of fraud or abuse; referring misconduct to law enforcement; and liaising with other city departments, including the mayor, Los Angeles Police Department, and his old homies at the LA City Ethics Commission. Perez will also have a “dotted line” reporting relationship with the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, whose five members are appointed by the mayor.
Mr. Perez previously brought a certain Je ne sais quoi to the 'robust' enforcement program over at the LA City Ethics Commission. Enjoy!
Translation: The Public is Trespassing
A small incident in the Ethics Commission waiting room drew my eye to the fascinating prominent warning that if you were disruptive at all or unauthorized in some way, you would be asked to leave or subject to arrest. Arrest?
I was in no mood to argue. I had just come from Controller Galperin's office where a records excavation related to the Jamison Services Inc. organization's ongoing business with the City of Los Angeles was doing the opposite of providing confidence that the public's resources are being properly watched over by our various public agencies.
For over 100 days nobody from GSD, Controller Galperin's office, Wesson, O'Farrell. . . nobody seemed to know the status of our work with a robust provider of downtown real estate. Odd, because the county had reluctantly opened its kimono on this.
Mr. Ridley-Thomas is certainly a good resource on Jamison. We all are!
Marisol, the very good receptionist in Ethics that day instantly buzzed Sergio Perez who served as the enforcement director from August 2014 to June 2018. He had a brief stint working for the Sheriff's constitutional policing department, now dis-banded, and landed as executive director of the Orange County Office of Independent Review. The position has been mired in controversy.
Mr. Perez, who had never responded to my complaints about Mitchell Englander taking 12 maximum donations from Taser (Axon) executives during an active procurement for officer-worn bodycams, forcefully explained that copies of meeting agendas would not be made available for FREE.
As an attendee of many more Ethics Commission meetings than Mr. Perez, I reminded him that staff always provide at least a dozen or so free copies of each agenda item at every meeting, and, invariably, as one of the three members of the public, on average, who attend the regular Commission meetings, I always get my copies at the meeting. Mr. Perez shook his head, and crossed his arms. "No, Mr. Preven."
I scanned the walls. . .looking for a bulletin board, but there were none in evidence. Only older citations and scrolls from City Hall politicians touting and honoring the excellence and transparency of the commission.
At that point, Mr. Perez stepped into the public area from behind the giant plexiglass window and the blue Trespassing Warning. Now, I am not easily intimidated, and I would be willing to bet that my total gross poundage without shoes or clothing (sorry), is more than double that of Mr. Perez without shoes or clothing (sorry). . .but Mr. Perez was aggressive.
For one thing, Mr. Perez was wearing a necktie, but both of Mr. Perez's collar buttons had come undone.
I had recently read an article on the subject and learned that: Leaving your collar buttons undone — with the collar flapping around and the buttons just sitting there, sad, and unused — will make your outfit look undone, or as if you hurried out of the house before you could finish dressing. The only exception to the rule is that some men do choose to leave collar buttons unbuttoned for an artfully casual and carefree style. That kind of aesthetic can work if you're wearing shorts or headed to the beach, but for squeezing a taxpayer for a public meeting agenda fee, you're better off keeping the collar buttoned and the roll firmly in place.
The Collar Flap Incident
For some reason, that fateful day on the 24th floor, Mr. Perez was also in no mood. (We now know, hindsight 2020, he was trying to conceal a second agenda that had been buried on the website.)
Sergio Perez: Eric, you need to go.
Eric Preven: What are you talking about? I'm here for the agenda.
Sergio Perez: Don't raise your voice.
Eric Preven: I'm not raising my voice. I want a copy of the agenda for the public meeting. Thank you, Sergio. I'll handle this. Marisol, would you mind asking Heather (Holt) or David (Tristan) to come forward. Sergio, you are welcome to resume your enforcement activities. Many, thanks.
Sergio Perez: Stop raising your voice.
Eric Preven: I'm not raising my voice, am I, Marisol?
Sergio Perez: I will call security if you do not stop disrupting our workflow.
Eric Preven: Sir, I am not disrupting your workflow. I am here at the office to pick up an agenda for the public meetings of the Ethics Commission on Tuesday.
Sergio Perez: That's it.
(Perez entered the office and dialed the phone demonstrably. . .collar flaps flapping. A few minutes later LAPD #1 Jones - 34106 & LAPD #2 Monahan - 32197 arrive as I am sitting quietly in the lobby.)
Eric Preven: What's up fellas?
Jones: Oh, hey, Mr. Preven, what's up?
Eric Preven: Not sure, I just came up here to get an agenda and we're having a little disagreement as to whether I am going to cough up $21 for a copy. They give 'em out at the meeting.
Monahan: Are you serious?
Jones: Is it a public meeting?
Eric Preven: Yes. I must tell you I am confused by this. And to bother you guys. . .I mean there are real public safety issues presumably. My apologies.
Jones: Let me see what I can do.
Sergio Perez: Hello officers, thank you very much for coming up. (opening the door to the back) C'mon in here and I'll explain.
Eric Preven: No, thanks. I'm a public guy, and Mr. Perez is saying weird stuff, so feel free to have your discussion right here in front of me.
(Jones - 34106 returned to the outer area. Perez shrugged and followed.)
Sergio Perez: Mr. Preven is disrupting our workflow.
Eric Preven: That is nonsense, I'm sitting here quietly waiting for a copy of the public meeting agenda.
Sergio Perez: Can I finish? He needs to go. He's harassing our staff, and we've had to call security before.
Eric Preven: What are you talking about? I have not harassed anyone. You can't say that. . .what are you doing?
Sergio Perez: We had to put up this trespassing sign because of him.
Eric Preven: That's not what City Attorney Hugo Rossitter said when I asked him that very thing.
Jones: What do you say, Mr. Preven? He wants you to leave.
Eric Preven: Guys, I am very sorry. This has nothing to do with you, but if Mr. Perez won't produce his supervisor, I'd like to speak to yours. Very sorry. I have not disrupted anyone or anything and he's making weird claims while refusing to give me a public meeting agenda.
Sergio Perez: He has to go.
Eric Preven: I need to speak to a supervisor.
(About ten or so minutes later, LAPD Sergeant Gonzales 27591 and LAPD Shabi 41896 arrive.)
Sgt. Gonzalez: (extending hand) How is it going?
Eric Preven: Not bad, very sorry about this. This is embarrassing and there is obviously no good reason for four law enforcement officers including you, sir, to be here. But I am not going to leave without a public meeting agenda. I'm here for an agenda that they typically hand out five minutes before the meeting on Tuesday. . .not everyone in LA is able to get online, so if you come here to the office of the agency, you should be able to get an agenda.
Sergio Perez: We haven't printed them out yet.
(Sergio goes back into the office.)
Eric Preven: (to Sgt. Gonzalez) So, he's willing to print it out, even though staff resources are tight. . .but four sworn LAPD personnel [are] on this. I wonder why he won't simply provide a copy of the agenda. Once again very sorry. I have what I think is a fair solution. I am willing to write a check for the blasted $21 right now. . . He can take it. This will signal to Marisol, who is excellent, that it is okay to print out the copy. Then, I go. This has taken an hour. On Tuesday, Sergio brings the check that I wrote to the meeting and rips it up. No harm, no foul. No extra cost. If I don't show, he can cash it.
Sgt. Gonzalez: That sounds reasonable. Let me see what I can do.
The negotiation continued but Gonzalez could not persuade Sergio, who identified himself as the number three ranking employee of the Ethics Commission staff.
The only possibility of getting out of that office with a copy of the various concealed public meeting agendas was to cough up a pared-down (by me) $3.30.
We wrote about the hearing here. [portions of this sections appeared in a previous column]
Just to be safe, I asked Vivienne Swanigan of the City Attorney's office to file a formal complaint against Mr. Sergio Perez for making false and misleading claims to several LAPD officers by suggesting that I had harassed Marisol, when in fact, I had asked Marisol to get Mr. Perez's boss.
I also sought a copy of the LAPD reports about the events and any other dates for which the city has been gathering FALSE “workplace violence” reports about public conduct.
Nothing has been resolved. By not posting a reference to 602.1 (c) shown here, the City is treading dangerously close to violation:
(c) This section shall not apply to any of the following persons:
(1) Any person engaged in lawful labor union activities that are permitted to be carried out on the property by state or federal law.
(2) Any person on the premises who is engaging in activities protected by the California Constitution or the United States Constitution.
As for how the Spanish translation was finally added, that’s a story for another column.
The Alliance Lawsuit settlement case calls for the city to provide beds to shelter 60% of the unhoused population (according to the most recent homeless count) that are not chronically homeless, or suffering from serious issues, such as mental illness. Districts that provide beds to shelter 60% of its unhoused population will be allowed to expand and enforce laws that make it illegal to sleep on a sidewalk. Buscaino and Lee tossed another log on the fire but didn't properly agendize the item 17 on Wednesday.
Mike Bonin, who is stepping away from elected office by choosing not to run again for Council District 11, has grave concerns that the settlement will propel the City even faster in the direction it’s been heading — moving some people into shelters, where they will most likely be locked into homelessness for years instead of being housed, and then using law enforcement to push everyone else from block to block, neighborhood to neighborhood, and council district to council district.
It's a not-so-merry-go-round kind of deal.
Even though enforcement has never worked as a response to homelessness, there are a lot of people clamoring for it, and this settlement is structured to appease them. In some parts of the LA, people who support that approach will get what they want – a lot of enforcement, and the ability to push homelessness into other communities.
Bonin said that will not be the case in his district, because his part of town has a long way to go to get the 60% it will need to get enforcement. The settlement could mean the next Councilmember of CD11 would need to identify at least 1000 – maybe many more – new beds. Oy.
Bonin is worried that the settlement may not reduce homeless on the Westside, but actually increase it. Districts where housing or shelter have opened more quickly, and districts that have smaller unhoused populations, will get to their bed quota rapidly, effectively allowing them to push 40% of their unsheltered population elsewhere – most likely places like the Westside, which have fought more housing and shelter.
There are a lot of people running for office promising to step up enforcement, “clear out encampments,” or force people on the streets to choose shelter or face arrest.
Which way LA?
(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)