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Choose Your Politicians Carefully

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Rick Caruso's campaign has spent over $11 million on airtime and TV advertising strategists as of April 23...

nearly 48% of the record-breaking $23 million-plus Caruso has already spent on an election that hasn’t even reached the June 7 primary. Yawn.  Caruso told an Encino Neighborhood (paramilitary) group that he's a "neat freak." Jk, it was a homeowner’s association.  

I was reading about Pauline Gibling Schindler who was married to the modern architect, RM Schindler, and a teacher, critic and activist. In one section the author confirmed her growing awareness that “the extremity of suffering which the capitalist system brings to millions and millions of human beings” and of her conviction that “we must come to an economic system based on production for use and not for profit.”   

Choose your politicians carefully.  

Mike Feuer is fighting hard and hired Puttnam Partners, who conceived of the 2021 campaign spot in which the actor Jason Alexander provided the voiceover as Feuer’s mustache.  Feuer, has allegedly poured $1,000,000 into a new spot that has him tooling around the city with a dachshund named Martin as the word “underdog” blares in the background.  

The 30-second spot touts Feuer’s political accomplishments, as it attempts to cut through the clutter and tell Feuer's story in an authentic and memorable way.  He's hoping the hot dog closes the gap. 

If you saw the Kentucky Derby, you'd agree that long shot has taken on new meaning.  The stunning come-from-behind win of Rich Striker is one of the most Inspiring 80-1 odd comebacks, I've ever seen. Check out this aerial view that emphasizes the amazing run.  

If only horseracing or Feuer were more palatable, this story about a Long Shot evolving into a Big Win would resonate, right? 

Wrong.  And thanks to the hard-working local press pool, reportedly, Mike Feuer and his family do not have pets.   

Outrageous.

 

Dear Mommy:

Holly J. MItchell proposed, "Wishing a Happy Mother's Day to all the women in our lives, whether you are a birth mom, adoptive mom, or a member of the village, thank you." 

Right on. Women are the glue. 

That said, "it's not about money" but how much money is saved by discontinuing remote speaker access via  "zoom" to board council and committee meetings?  I am aware of no law or ordinance that prevents any jurisdiction from taking public comments in person or remotely via "zoom" or "At&T" or etc.  Make it easy, ladies.  

What is the projected cost to host each board meeting and council meeting and committee meeting with a video or audio link through which the public may deliver verbal testimony?  Please also provide the RFP materials for the city council's "teleconferencing" solicitation. + Happy Mother’s Day.   

 

Kleptocracy:

A kleptocrat is “a thievish politician,” or a member of a kleptocracy (“government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed”). The word takes its roots from the Greek kleptein (“to steal”) and kratos (“strength, power”). A kleptocrat differs from a kleptomaniac, as the latter often steals things compulsively, and without an economic motive, while the former has a very clear economic motive, which is to get more money. 

I tallied seven budget hearings, comprising 39 hours.  On Friday, the last day before the wrap-up on May 13, there were seven speakers buried in the middle of a four-hour day. Still Paul Krekorian chirped on "we've taken public comment every single day, every single caller, and through that." 

The envelope please... 

 

Appointment Only:

You need an appointment to meet with your City Councilmember going forward.  Good luck with that. 

Michael Finnegan and Ben Welsh had the story in the Los Angeles Times that drew me in to reach out to Eric Garcetti for such a meeting. 

Garcetti had told reporters shortly after being elected to the office of mayor that his evaluations of managers, led he and his top staff on a "deep dive into each department" as they embarked on a mission to foster a culture of change and excellence across the city's 50,000-person workforce.

Lots of departments, but just one item. 

"We have too many managers and not enough leaders — too many people that the incentives for success have been, 'keep your head down, keep things going,' instead of innovate, move forward," Garcetti said after just 100 days in office. "We don't have enough disruptive forces in local government."

When I read that, I wrote to Mr. Garcetti on October 8, 2013, "Sir, I admire what you're doing with the Dashboard -- I have a lot of ideas on this.  Let me know if you want to meet a fairly disruptive force in local. government.  It would be my pleasure. Cheers.  Eric Preven

I was stunned by an immediate response.  "Thank you for taking the time to contact Mayor Eric Garcetti" but it was a form letter. 

By October 19, 2013, I had composed a sharpened request:  "Would love to sit down at the Mayor's convenience to discuss ideas re: 

-Ethics, -Civic engagement, -City/County collaboration.  Best, Eric Preven." 

On October 24, 2013, Claudio Luna from Garcetti's office arranged for me to meet with Henry Casas, who at the time was Director of External Affairs. I suggested, "Mr. Casas:  Please ask Mr. Garcetti to join us at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday if he has time."  

As Thanksgiving approached, on November 21, 2013, I decided to give the old Koretz revolving door a spin. Gail Koretz, who is married to Paul Koretz, and had been loafing around at county board meetings on the mayoral payroll, and I tried to rekindle the magic. 

"Greetings, Henry, Ms. Koretz shuffled me off to you.  Can you speak this morning... for a pre-interview? I'm a county resident from Studio City with a probono 'watchdog' component.  I want to chat with the Mayor about some ideas I have for collaboration between the City and the County.   

In one sentence, what if the Public Health relationship between City and County was similar for Ethics Oversight -- only in reverse, the City's Ethics Commission, which is functional*, would receive funding from LA County to oversee county ethics as well...and Mayor Garcetti would be given credit for standardizing sensible oversight - cross jurisdictionally - Gil Garcetti could openly help to rewrite a simple but effective set of ethics rules around the state requirements.  

Confusing rule deviation between jurisdictions is the enemy of meaningful public scrutiny.  An audacious platform such as the one I am lightly proposing, if bled out into the ocean of public opinion, might garner substantial support. If the Mayor and Galperin, who is county-savy and an alleged truth-teller, get behind a no-gift rule from city and county lobbyists... and one lobbyist disclosure system... across jurisdictions.  We choose the best rules from both jurisdictions and standardize them.  No reason why contract cities wouldn't sign up too, with their small checks.  Anyway, I'm just a bloke who'd like a few minutes with the Mayor.  Thanks. Eric Preven" 

On December 6, 2013, I got the following response from Gail:  "Thank you. Per your request, I will pass along your message to Mr. Casas that you would like him to give you another call. In the interim, as I offered to you today on the phone, we are happy to meet with you in the interim to further discuss your ideas." 

She used, "in the interim" twice.  This is a "worst practice." 

Mr. Casas moved quickly on the subject: of my meeting with the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti. "I can meet with you on the 10th around 10am... I have a 11am meeting scheduled already.  Please check-in at the Mayor's reception desk, I will meet you there.  The Mayor will not be available to meet, it will be just you and I.  Thank you" 

On January 5, 2015, I was getting impatient.  "Gail:  As a resident and candidate I would like to try again, it has been over a year, to speak with our Mayor. If there is a specific reason why the Mayor has been unable to find time to meet an interested constituent, with a concrete proposal, I'm very curious.  Otherwise, let's put something brief on the books, at the Mayor's earliest convenience. Thanks.  

Finally, quick question, who was the lad I met last year from the Mayor's office at the Studio City event by the river?  Nice enough chap who I gave my written proposal to deliver. 

By February 6, 2015, Gail was getting fatutzed. "Mr. Preven, My colleague forwarded to me your message. Our communications team is the best source to address your issue. Thank you.  Gail" 

A week later, I fired off one more friendly note:  "Ms. Koretz: It is tough to know what you were referring to... without a bit more information.  I know you deal with a ton of constituent requests on a daily basis.  Were you referring to my request that the Mayor nix the 4230 Coldwater "public necessity" gift to Richard Weintraub?   

Or my request that the greatest Mayor in America - sit down and hear me out about -- the adoring public appearing in a visible format on taxpayer-funded Channel 35?  

Also, could you dial me into the right person to discuss the shocking item (1) from yesterday's (2/9/15) Budget & Finance Committee meeting -- the refund to 907 Shenandoah, LLC. It might be a District 5 leadership issue.   

As a collector of worrisome items... let me just say, that this one is almost breathtaking!  Thanks." 

Approximately, a month later, on Thursday, March 12, 2015, I wrote, "Maybe I could ask Derek Mazzeo to vouch for me. I met him alongside Jonathan Yang last weekend at the Young Democrats session. I've been so patient and dedicated. Who, one wonders does the Mayor agree to meet with? 

As the summer concluded, on Friday, August 28, 2015, I made one more cry for help: "Mayor, please help... I'd like a word before September 1, 2015 -- because both the Olympics; and the County's Jail plan are on the agenda in a hurried way. It was great to see you at Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration on July 21, 2015. Very proud of the leadership on minimum wage.    

But, Mr. Mayor, please stand against a program to arrest women in South Los Angeles and ship 'em up to Lancaster, home of the recent civil rights violations.  C'mon.  We need to step forwart and provide reduction before construction.   

There is no shortage of people who want to build housing in LA. There is a shortage of affordable housing and community-based treatment options that do not involve the incarceration of women, who generally are not dangerous. Plus, it's particularly devastating because women tend to be the quasi-glue in families.  Sigh. 

Instead, let's partner with Dr. Dre and women and cut a ribbon on something like a hive of education, treatment, and services -- almost like a Y... or Kibbutz... not a jail in South Los Angeles. 

Olympics got a nice kickoff today... Casey Wasserman working the room... Old man Wesson violating Eric Preven to the shock and horror and support of his colleagues." 

Eric Garcetti never, ever, ever agreed to a single meeting.   

And neither has Michael N. Feuer.   

 

The CA primary election day is one month from today, June 7th.  Dean Logan slipped me the link to the Candidate Statements on Sunday, so here it is.  I haven't had a chance to check it out but it appears to only be for County Offices like SD3 and the Sheriff. I know the City Clerk doesn't have anything like this for Mayor, does she?  I wonder why not.   

Senator Alex Padilla was California's secretary of state until Gov. Gavin Newsom chose him to replace Senator Kamala Harris when she assumed the office of U.S. vice president.  He'll be listed on the ballot twice and promises to continue to double down on his commitment to the people of California! The reason he's on twice is to finish one truncated Senate term and then begin a new one.   

Since he's doubling down what's his stance on the impacts of the robust rollout of sports gambling on the surging community of Angelenos living at or below the poverty line?  

And what about all this signature gathering?   

The City Council had an item buried in the section marked, "already discussed it, in committee, please fuck off" or if you must, "you may address it in "general public comment."  The gist of the item, was to free up +/-  $600,000 to be deployed by hiring checkers to work on a strict timeframe in accordance with the City Charter and Election Code, invalidating signatures. 

There are currently eight initiative petitions circulating in the City of Los Angeles and the City Clerk has been notified that up to four will be filed within the next few weeks. Once filed, the City Clerk will need to conduct signature verification within a strict timeframe 

A group of unions, and homeless service providers called Unite To House LA submitted nearly 100,000 signatures. 

The concept:  stick a 4% tax on property sales above $5 million that would rise to 5.5% on transactions above $10 million. 

Now, the city clerk’s office is tasked with signing off on the ballot. Just over 60,000 signatures are required to make it onto the ballot. 

The Clerk works for the City Council and the irregular workings and outcomes of the signature verification efforts, require real transparency, but if you ask to observe the process of verification: Denied.  

Another matter involving the City Clerk's actions and inactions surrounded the presentation of paper meeting agendas at public meetings. 

It was a common practice adopted widely throughout the state, so when Holly Wolcott decided to break with tradition and follow the lead of Herbert J. Wesson, Mitchell Englander and Nury Martinez, by pulling paper meeting agendas from the meetings, all hell broke loose.

 

12 of 12 clerks agree:  

From: Eric Preven 

Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2019 2:31 PM 

Subject: Paper Copies of Public Meeting Agendas   

My understanding is that most municipalities in California provide paper copies of public meeting agendas on a table clearly visible and available to members of the public and can be obtained without the help of city staff. Does this arrangement describe how things are done in your municipality?  

Much appreciate any response, I'm a journalist in Los Angeles and am trying to educate myself about the use of public meeting agendas around the state  

 

Yes. 

Yes, they are on public racks at the entrance to the Council Chamber.  

Correct, paper agendas are available at the meeting and electronic agendas are available online.   

That is correct. In addition to posting the agenda and full Council packets online (and agendas at public posting boards), we provide paper copies of the agendas for the audience, as well as one public review copy of the full packet. Additionally, we provide e paper copies of any supplemental materials that came in after the publication of the agenda/ packet – supplemental materials include PowerPoints, correspondence from the public, revised reports, etc. I hope that helps   

Yes, agendas are available for the public in the Council Chambers and also in bins outside the Council Chambers.   

Good Afternoon Eric, Yes, in an effort to be inclusive and transparent, we do have paper copies of agendas and the entire agenda packet for the public to review. Additionally, any supplemental information pertaining to an agenda item would also be provided in a paper copy form. The City’s website has all materials uploaded however our senior population prefers a paper option   

Yes, we have a table in the front of the Council Chamber that has agendas and the staff reports. As city clerk, I sit next to the table and can answer questions, but everyone has access without the need for staff assistance.  That is the practice in the City of Aliso Viejo. Please let me know if you have any  additional questions   

Hello, The City of San Mateo will always have paper agendas on hand, on a table clearly visible and marked, for the public to freely take. In addition, we post the information on a couple of bulletin boards, on the website, and  distributed to the public who sign up to receive it electronically  

 

(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)