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Secret Herbalife Refund

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - You can't spell Herbalife without Herb...

The October 24, 2021 City Streets Closure in Venice Beach was moved by HERB WESSON, JR. at the behest of Herbalife so they could hold their 24 Triathlon Los Angeles.  

It was a big move, because the County Board of Supervisors, with the help of some noisy members of the public over there, threw them off the County beaches when their sponsorship of the Malibu Nautica Triathlon was identified as ... disgusting!   

The company promises people a dream, a chance to change their lives, quit their jobs, and gain financial freedom.  In 2016 they also promised to pay a $200 million judgment for refunds to many of its "distributors."  

Monica Rodriguez took a $500 campaign contribution on her road to victory and Nury Martinez took $500 right in the Officeholder, on 09/27/21. Less than a year ago.   

Same deal in 2019 with Marqueece Harris Dawson ($500) and Curren Price, who choked down an Officeholder supplement of $500. 

Is it true that Herbalife has preyed on aspirational Angelenos eager to climb out of poverty, while not getting mired in a losing pyramid scheme in which they dole out resources, or go in debt, to become part of the Herbalife flock?   

Yes.  

Has Herbalife changed its harmful practices? 

  1. They say they have banned lead generation 2. Changed its buyback policy 3. Modified the qualification thresholds for different positions in the plan.   

But none of those changes address Herbalife’s compensation system or the business fundamentals that make it a pyramid scheme.   

When I asked the City Attorney, why there was an item 15 on a Claims Board Agenda that identified Herbalife in some kind of settlement, he said:   

"Please note that there is no complaint for #15."

 

 

Stay in your own lane:

An expression that is a nice reminder, but complicated, as it can have more than one meaning.  

It works well as an expression between partners in a relationship.   When one partner does not need help from the other partner... about, for instance, how to make their special recipe.  

In swimming, the "stay in your own lane" is very practical so swimmers don't bang into one another.  Same principle applies to roadways.  

Post Pandemic, it seems more people are comfortable screaming their heads off in critique of other people's activities.   

There was such a "lane" cross today at the local swimming hole in Studio City.  

A man, evidently blew his nose in the outdoor shower adjacent to the swimming pool, sending one woman into a tirade against him.  

The man was defensive at first, but then quickly apologized, when he saw how unhinged the lady swimmer was.  

He shuffled off apologetic, but perturbed.  

A few laps later, I noted the nose-blower's return.  He'd brought along the twenty-something gym attendant and said he checked the rules and there was not rule prohibiting the use of "nose" in any shower.  

The woman was furious and started shrieking at him.  He called her a Bitch which activated the second swimmer in her lane, who leapt forward to defend his wife's honor.  "Don't call my wife a bitch." 

Disaster was averted, by the intervention of bystanders, but we all wondered, what is going on?   

Stay in your lane, people. 

 

Despair and Hope: 

During the pandemic, we were hearing so many horrible things and numbers... (start weeping here) bodies piling up, literally outside of health care facilities. 

 A walk by the coast with the animals, was one of the only ways to seek refuge, find peace. 

And then, the county closed the beaches. 

The orange temporary signage, restricting Californians from assembling or even visiting the ocean alone, were traumatizing. 

How horrifically unnatural, I thought, to cordon off the... nature.  

In the distance, a pregnant woman in a bikini, played with her toddler in the surf...  

I've never been able to shake that simple beautiful but also haunting image...  

Was this child mourning the loss of her family member, or rather the embodiment of human resilience? 

A tragic twist, or the indomitable spirit.  

 

One item (dba 22 items). 

If you are curious how the recent stock market turbulence has impacted the budget outlook, you might have attended Monday's Special Budget and Finance meeting. No General public comments, members of the public who would like to offer public comment on the items listed on the agenda can call in via ZOOM and press *9 to request to speak.  

Why the same virtual offer cannot be extended people who attend council meetings is not clear.  

Over the past decade, Wells Fargo Bank has provided nearly all of the City’s general banking and treasury services. On January 5, 2018, Finance released a Request for Proposals in order to seek a new contract for City general banking services.   

In 2020, Wells Fargo announced that it will pay $3 Billion For The Bank's Fake Account Scandal. 

This week, the Office of Finance is requesting approval to execute an amendment to the Wells Fargo Bank contract (C-114826) for an additional two years, to expire on June 30, 2024.  

That's six years since the fiasco.  

After final evaluations, JP Morgan was selected to succeed Wells Fargo for general banking services, since April 2020, Finance has been working with all City departments to transition all banking services from Wells Fargo to JP Morgan.  

All departments are on track to complete the transition by June 30, 2022, with the exception of LADWP for merchant card services.   

Diana Mangioglu, the Director of Finance and wife of Adrin Nazarian, who is running to replace Paul Krekorian in 2024, and resume his post at Council District Two, is requesting an additional two years, from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2024, subject to final review of the proposed amendment by the Office of the City Attorney.    

The ninth amendment to the contract being approved has a little revision to the Audit provision and an atypical Corporate Signature requirement (please sign in blue ink): 

"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, the BANK will not allow audits or inspections of its data center, facilities, systems, networks or equipment for security and confidentiality reasons. The BANK can allow audits of relevant records with reasonable prior notice during normal business hours in accordance with BANK’s policies for the purpose of verifying the accuracy of amounts charged or compliance with contractual financial and record-keeping requirements.”    

No audits, but I checked CheckBookLA, in 2018 it says we paid the naughty bank, over $250 million dollars, we've whittled it down to just over $100,000 year to date:

 

2018       $253.52 million dollars 

2019       $605,977 thousand

2020       $1.05 million 

2021       $571,619  thousand

2022       $106,028  thousand

 

While I was at the CheckBookLA site, which is helpful, I noted our licensing deal with Relx, Inc. The Lexis/Nexus database people. For people who don't know, this service organizes the world's legal crap. 

A delightful cha-ching was issued in 2017.  

 

2016       $130,761 

2017       $556,908 

2018       $406,270 

2019       $413,273 

2020       $348,314 

2021       $395,513 

2022       $295,196    

Easy money.

 

Youth Pay:  $1,000 / year

Olivia E. Mitchell's passion for mentoring young Angelenos is legendary. She began her City service in 1974 when she joined the staff of Mayor Tom Bradley. She is currently the Assistant Chief Grants Administrator in the newly created City of Los Angeles Community Investment for Families Department. 

Now, the council is hoping to seat 30 youths between 16 and 25 (2 per district)... to learn the inner workings of local government, drive special community and civic projects and work in partnership with City officials to identify and implement solutions to citywide issues.  

And here's the kicker, the youth are going to get paid!  Makes sense.   

It is apparently, an established or emerging practice among other prominent and forward-looking (fiscally irresponsible) municipalities, with sanctioned Youth Advisory bodies, rooted in positive youth development principles.  Like LA County! 

Uh.  LA County Probation and DCFS are not exemplary organizations... but... 

"Authorizing compensation for the council will remove a major barrier, for many prospective members, particularly low-income youth, who would otherwise be deterred from applying to join due to financial need. " 

Okay, how much?  $36,000!      

Each?   

No, of course not, approximately, $1,000 per kid.  

This should cover half the gas necessary to attend the meetings. Maybe.  

Still, we should compensate youth anytime possible for the active, responsible, and impactful public service they provide to the city (Does this include campaign work?) 

"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting! Yes!"

 

Friday Night Lite:

The proctor said, "Mr. Sergienko. Please let Mr. Candido speak... "   

Candido quipped back to the City Attorney, "I can't believe you and I are agreeing..." 

He went on to announce that both Dodge and Acura seem to be running less of their commercials.  He was hopeful, that some of the city council had contacted Dodge. 

Arnold Sachs stepped up, "Good morning, you criminals..."    

Since public attendance has been down, unless one or more of the council members "bus 'em in", Strefan Fauble, the city attorney offered Sachs extra time to comment on item 18 but Mr. Sachs said he had a "brain cramp."  

Richie Sergienko... gave a short presentation, outlining how he'd run into "O'Farrel's goons, Caruso's goons and of course the goons of Joe Buckets."   He said, officials were quick to put their hands on him and he did not seem to like it. 

After public comment, Mr. O'Farrell, who has been staging elaborate presentations even during a pandemic, platformed Pride month with a series of videos including one of Ron Galperin wearing a rainbow Tallis.   

The tallis koton; "small tallit" is a fringed garment traditionally worn either under or over one's clothing by Jewish men.  

It was very nice to see Mr. Galperin in a quasi-TV commercial,  because the State Controller race is quite tight. 

Also, fun to see Galperin and Jeffrey Prang, the Assessor, advertising in City Watch. [See Identity Crisis column, coming soon.] 

O'Farrell, clinked his glass, and reminded everyone that "We are going to defeat the gun lobby... " as he kicked off the happy pride.. mish-mash, he'd put together.  "Congratulations to honorees..." 

Nury Martinez waved to an honoree as she left the dreary chambers, "I love seeing Corinna, you are always here fighting the good fight." 

Then, it was time for the Orange Crush: 

Paul Krekorian explained, "Apparently, a young person performed for Obama... in Chicago, and a week after that participation with the President of the United States at an inauguration event, she was shot dead in a playground." 

Horrific.  

Orange was her favorite color and Krekorian was disgusted at how the country "has made cars safer over the years, but not guns..." 

An imaginary attendee, raised his hand, "Sir, deaths from cars are through the roof!  Vision Zero has failed..." 

Since election day is upon on, Krekorian took a moment to tout the brilliant life-saving local assault weapon ban (as if it were his own and not Koretz's or DeLeon's) ...before blaming those effing Republicans for letting it expire.  

Why our own California super-majority, couldn't rededicate efforts did not come up.  We could ask John Myers, the Sacramento Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times, but we'll have to hurry, as we just learned he's changing tack after a number of years. [Thanks for all the stories.] 

Now, Krekorian lamented, "we can't seem to muster the will and consensus to keep people safer from guns... We've done the work in LA, but god knows... the nation has to join us." 

I can't recall so much Orange in recognition of gun violence awareness in prior years, but I certainly remember Denim Day, in recognition of Peace Over Violence and the very strong relations between Patty Giggans, the jefe there,  and Mayor Garcetti and Nury Martinez and Sheila Kuehl...    

Martinez tried to explain, "Many of us are wearing orange--" but interrupted her own rollout, by shouting loudly into the mic, "MISTER. Sergienko... Please ask him to leave our council chambers."  The City Attorney chimed in, "You've been ordered to leave quietly... Mr. Sergienko."  

The Council President quipped, "They need that for posting on Instagram today,"  

She finished by saying,  "Hunters wear orange to avoid being mistaken for prey and shot.  "The more we wait for the feds..." she said,  "the more we become prey." 

Rodriguez... nodded to her colleague's powerful remarks... before touting North Valley Broncos from Pacoima - the FIRST all Black baseball team to make it to the Little League World Series in 1965.   

Then, Martinez recognized John Lee Staffer B, who has skirted indictment so far.  The Englander replacement from Council District 12 gave a very short and sweet commemoration of Houston Tipping, who had served with the Los Angeles Police Department for five years and was assigned to the Devonshire Division.
As Chief Moore put it earlier, "He was a bike instructor, a son, a friend, and a hero and guardian."    In the final analysis, Lee said,  "he's still a hero... true to his character of service:  He was an organ donor."   

"Mr. Lee... All members!" said the Council President. 

All members adjourned in Officer Tipping's memory, all CMs are not stipulating to organ donor status with this vote, but OK to ask them.

 

One Terrific Guy:

Monica Rodriguez, was recognized for a second bite of the apple, and thanked her partner in Crime [fighting] Mr. Lee, for "those beautiful remarks" before diving into some of her own about a dear friend, David Estrada.  

She took us back to high school in 1989, including a detailed description of how she and Estrada dressed, "I was wearing a bob... and a letterman jacket... "As a sophomore she started hanging out and became involved with Seniors. She and David were into the same type of music... and had a similar style. Estrada wore "thick frame buddy holly" glasses and beads looped around his belt, Levis with three-inch cuffs. 

It was the late 80's,  but Rodriguez said, David looked like he was from the late 1950s. 

He was the best dungeon master... she'd ever met, and was one of the few people who could "lead" her in dance.  

One summer at Occi... [Occidental] she said, "we got shakes... at insomnia cafe,"  just hanging out... at her now husband's house, in Arleta.  Laughing, playing records. 

She said Dave was always willing to drive, if you'd help pay for gas and he wouldn't let you "sip" his pop, but would leave you some in the can.

Nury knew him, too, and capped the moment with, "Too often, high school friends are leaving us..."

 

Small batches of wrongdoing:  

Mario Hernandez, one of three separate unrelated Hernandez cases, involved a  Plaintiff who was lawfully on the sidewalk when suddenly and without notice, he tripped and fell on a dangerous condition on the sidewalk causing him to suffer injuries.  The City had failed to remedy, remove, alleviate, and/or warn of the dangerous condition.  

As a result, the Defendants' actually and proximately caused Plaintiff to suffer personal injuries for which the taxpayers are liable.  Hmmm. 

Barbara Hernandez  4144 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90004 said, the city knew and/or should have known of the subject dangerous condition.   

Berenice Hernandez Rosales was hit by a guy making a left turn onto 6th Street, causing a "T-Bone" collision. The plaintiff's vehicle collided head-on with the defendant's driver's side.    

The so-called routine settlement roster has a lot of "known or should have known" material.

 

Brenda Nix

At all times Defendant City-owned, controlled, and operated the law enforcement agency known as LAPD...  Each of the Defendants was the co-tortfeasor of each of the other Defendants in doing things hereinafter alleged.  

Nix worked at LAPD since 2002, and in 2020 she filed her case claiming that she had been discriminated against, harassed, and retaliated against based on her gender and sex and that she was subject to a hostile environment.  Because she spoke out, her superiors were aware of the behavior but condoned it.   

In February 2017. a sergeant invited her to join the Homeless Outreach Proactive Engagement Unit ("HOPE")...  Upon joining, as the only female in the unit, was singled out based on her sex and gender when the unit was told Plaintiff was joining as a "female."  

In the unit, Plaintiff was regularly subjected to an environment that degraded belittled, and objectified women.  He called them 'bitches," said or implied he needed to have sexual intercourse with a female supervisor to "calm her down," and boasted of how he "fucked" his female partner and how she wanted something more, but he did not.   

He set the tone that females did not need to be treated with respect within the unit.  In or around April 2017 Defendant joined the Sergeant in Las Vegas and asked her to "dye her hair blonde because he likes blondes."    

Nix complained, he left, and all of her other complaints were ignored. In October 2018 the department had heard enough complaints and retaliated.  

An anonymous complaint was filed against the plaintiff based on her conduct in the unit. It was later deemed unfounded, and in further retaliation, she was accused of inappropriate conduct in response to the false claim. 

In 2019, during a 2019 clean-up of approximately 40-50 homeless persons, she called for help, but the unit... deliberately refused to assist.   Paragraph 26 is a real zinger.   

Matt McNicholas's firm, really lay it out there.    

"Witnesses include people from the LAPD and the City that are involved in the facts and circumstances of this claim.  All of the Plaintiff's supervisors and co-workers, all command staff at Plaintiff's division and bureau, and all the members of the LAPD Internal Affairs including, but not limited to the people who were involved in any way, shape or form in any investigation (formal or otherwise), all people and supervisors involved in the adjudication and signing-off on discipline and findings of any kind, all people that were involved in the movement or promotion or non-promotion or other adverse acts against the Plaintiff at all relevant times, and all members of command staff in the LAPD from the rank of Captain 1 up to Chief of Police (as well as their assistants, adjutant, secretaries, helpers, and advisers).  

All these people play a role in what goes on in the Department, and this claim puts YOU on notice that Plaintiff will seek discovery and evidence, and put the same on trial, as to all these people and all their actions in the years before and after the specific acts outline in this claim.   

The LAPD is too big and complex for Plaintiff to know right now everyone who had a hand in the wrong acts at issue, but the Department knows because they did it.  

Whether the LAPD chooses to do a proper investigation is, as always, up to the LAPD.   

So, why haven't we fixed this yet?  

Chief Moore?

 

Other Shocking Cases: 

On July 29, 2019,  Salvador Duenas filled out his claim form by hand. He emphasized that the excessive force that he faced when he was arrested without probable cause, was delivered under the color of law. 

The police allegedly kicked down his door, and attacked him without probable cause, before beating him and tasing him, even though he was secured in a hobble.  

MIguel Sillas is repped by the Umhofer lawyer from Spertes Landes and Umhofer. LLP. I believe they are one of the firms working in the the Alliance lawsuit about the City's homelessness crisis downtown.  

On June 10, it will be the six-year anniversary of the 2016 claim by the Sillas family, that law enforcement seized nearly $1million dollars, underreported it, and got away with nearly one-half million.  

$30,000 had been bound by a scrunchy hair tie in Mrs. Sillas's closet and $400,000 from a black Michael Jordan backpack that also contained a Los Angeles Dodgers hat and a Rams hat.    

But, the only currency mentioned in the affidavit of the officers making the arrest was the money located in two safes. 

What happened to the 'under-the-bed' money?   

The Defendants [LAPD] also failed to report $430,000 they seized. (United States v. $819,640.00 in US Currency, CV`17-00269-FMO (C.D. Cal. (Dkt. No. 1).   

When Maria Sillas complained about the $800 taken from her shoe organizer... she was mocked by police, but explained that she was in charge of collecting rent from the tenants.   

The officers say the money belonged to the Avenues gang. 

According to her attorney, the theft of currency was conducted under the color of law and was an intentional abuse of public authority.  

The actions were known or should have been known to the policymakers responsible for that agency and occurred with deliberate indifference to the constitutional violations... and by failing to train, supervise or discipline in areas where the need is obvious.    

Attorney, Dan Stormer, has the case of Michael Moore.  

Not the police chief.  Mr. Michael Moore, who suffers from mental illness and is blind, was tackled by police who allegedly slammed his head against the floor, and beat him during his arrest.   The LAPD misperceived the effects of Mr. Moore's disability as criminal activity. 

One of the Defendants, allegedly suffocated Mr. Moore as he lay helpless and restrained on a hospital gurney.  

Moore survived, and his lawyer has alleged that each Defendant combined and cooperated with the conduct of each of the remaining Defendants.  

Finally, Stephen Yagman + Reichmann, LLP wants not less than $1,000,000 per defendant.  I counted there are nearly 40 defendants, including Garcetti and the City Council, in a case about the horrific treatment of an RV dweller good samaritan. 

R. White vs. the same long list of City officials and officers is a CLASS ACTION, calling out LAPD's terroristic, thuggish, murderous and barbarous tactics and conduct... with a side order of deliberate indifference. 

 

(Eric Preven has been named a finalist in the upcoming 64th SoCal Journalism Awards in the category of Journalist of The Year (Online).  A commentary co-written by Joshua Preven entitled “The Pandemic Should Not be Used as a Pretext to Muffle the Voices of the Inconvenient Public” is also a finalist.)

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)