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Honor and Decency

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOPK - The Los Angeles Civilian Oversight Commission COC has been probing the presence of gang members in the county sheriff’s department. On Friday they were stonewalled.

Zero witnesses showed up prompting the commission to direct its lawyers to seek enforcement of a subpoena in state court issued to Matthew Burson, a former division chief who failed to appear.    

Chairman Sean Kennedy, said at the hearing, Burson should be found in contempt if he continues to refuse to cooperate and the commission will ask a judge to order him incarcerated. 

What about diversion? 

The civilian commission that oversees the sheriff’s department dove headlong into an independent investigation into the presence of gang members among deputies in March.       

Witnesses won’t appear in public, even if they’re promised anonymity, Bert Deixler, a former federal prosecutor who is leading the probe, told the commission. "They either fear for their safety or believe that testifying in public would be “career suicide,” Deixler said.   

“The climate of fear” that exists in the Sheriff’s Department “is evidence itself that the groups exist,” Commissioner Robert Bonner said.  “People are simply too afraid of retaliation.”    

The County knows all about retaliation. Even the former county counsel, Mark Saladino, faced it. 

For those who remember, it was the county counsel Mark Saladino who made the mistake of alleging wrongdoing among the hallowed Board of Supervisors, resulting in a strong "Letter of Contrition" written by Skip Miller, for Saladino to sign in order to keep his job at Treasurer and Tax Collectors.  Skip's letter would chill anyone, anywhere from speaking out about anything.   

The COC also directed legal staff to issue additional subpoenas, including one more for Sheriff Alex Villanueva to appear at its next meeting on July 1.   

Kudos to Miller Barondess for bringing back the honor and decency through retaliation.  Put their invoices on the table, Harrison! [Dawyn]

 

National Disgrace: 

Jan. 6, 2021, a day that will live in infamy, it is alleged that Donald Trump oversaw a seven-part plan to overthrow the election even though he clearly knew that he had lost.  

The shame that those who supported Trump during his ongoing delusional tirades about election fraud must be hard to manage.  

That said, the January 6th fiasco played out live on TV in real-time. 

A year and a half later, we need to ensure such crazy behavior never happens again but we don't necessarily have the bandwidth to conduct a multi-week televised investigation with 24/7 gavel-to-gavel Olympic-style coverage. 

 U.S. Representative Liz Cheney summed it up best, when admonishing her Republican colleagues who she believes defended the indefensible: "There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone but your dishonor will remain."

 

NationBuilder v. Go Daddy 

"We appreciate your business and cannot wait to exceed your expectations." Pffft.  

Imagine a sports bra that provides plenty of support and is stylish enough to wear on its own.  Whoops, an unwanted banner ad! 

I've always disliked NationBuilder, and I never really liked Go-Daddy, but as I've grown more tech-savvy, I've learned to question the objectionable, and invariably I get better service, elsewhere. 

That's why competitive bidding is so important. Things that used to be hard, are now relatively easy. Like ...finding outreach workers for the homeless. [See below - It's not easy at all.] 

NationBuilder is the world’s most used software for politics and advocacy which explains why incumbents like it so much.  For one thing, they charge above market, and at least some elected officials, pump NationBuilder through their public entity and satellite NGOs 

Paul Krekorian is a NationBuilder chap, and the second year I challenged him, NationBuilder was pleased to destroy my upstart campaign website, irretrievably, without even reaching out to me once by telephone.  

As a repeat candidate, one small advantage was already having an upstart candidate website ready to go. The amortization of grief and time setting it up, building it up, was unceremoniously flushed down the drain by the insensitive NationBuilder-ists.   

The truth is NationBuilder is in it for the money, like everybody else, and allowing a customer to go dormant is not revenue driving, so they deleted my dormant account, without even a hello.  

Takeaway:  When you come to the NationBuilder fork in the road, keep moving, and check the fine print!  

And by all means check this Go Daddy fine print, "Please respond immediately as this situation is a full-fledged Catch-22, and highly irregular and frankly, outrageous. A leave of absence, which is none of your business, should never result in this type of punitive denial. I am here requesting, that an executive who understands the complexity of this situation... get in touch. Warm regards. "

 

Privatization: 

Mario Valenzuela, Dan Powell, Alan C. Hostrup, and Mark Dengler Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, and the whole Metropolitan YMCA of LA legal department and Chief People Office have an announcement to make.   

Alan C. Hostrup who has been hiding under his desk for several years, following 47 years of YMCA leadership, is heading for greener pastures. 

There are some members of the public who are more set up to put a YMCA Chief Executive on the "hot seat" than others.  And I have always been humbled and honored to be granted the authority and gravitas to provide the correct dosage of clarity to bring accountability.  Others, who are more easily victimized by the un-American activities of Nevin Stanton-Trehan of the Chief People Office & General Counsel, not so much.  

August 16, 2021 article

December 19,  2021 article

February 20, 2022 article 

March 20, 2022 article 

March 30. 2022 article 

April 4, 2022 article

April 8, 2022 article

On April 8, 2022  Hostrup resigns 

April 28, 2022 article 

The 8th pillar of character at the Y could stand for April 8th, 2022.  That's the date on which Hostrup was offloaded, following the egregious misteps of Stanton-Trehan and a fairly compounded rollout of truthiness on CityWatch. [We are humbled and honored to be finalists in the 64th SoCal Journalism awards, but I digress--] 

For a full briefing on the investigation into the YMCA, feel free to contact Kathryn Barger's Fifth District Supervisor office.  They should be able to explain why the YMCA believes it can authorize discrimination and retaliation because they're a not-for-profit (with a CEO who made almost $500k/year, but routinely refused to come to the telephone.  

Since the YMCA takes a fair amount of public funding, they are now facing more scrutiny than ever, as the new CEO takes over.  Outgoing President and CEO, Alan Hostrup, said of the new CEO, Victor Dominguez, “His vision for the Y movement is one of creating equity, collaboration, youth development, and inclusion..."    But, inclusion does not include 50 year members and critics like Eric Preven. FYI.   

Hostrup may be gone, but the Bane act will never be forgotten.  Our hearts goes out to Nevin Stanton-Trehan and his unethical team.   

Nevin was just trying to protect old Uncle Alan from unwanted public scrutiny of the shameful mismanagement permitted right under the nose of Nury Martinez, Adrin Nazarian & Paul Krekorian, and the progressive icon, Sheila Kuehl.  

Nevin should face the public and be severely punished, but spared the harshest punishment... IMHO.  

As for the CEO's office, I look forward to hearing from Mr. Dominguez this week to resolve everything in mediation. Mediation is zeitgeisty!

 

"Pure audio Mr. Chair..."

For some reason, the City Clerk team led by Luigi Verano prefers an email address with a different name so it's not possible to reach him, if he's tied up blocking a speaker, even when that speaker is clearly in the cue of the Homelessness and Poverty committee that he manages for Holly Wolcott, when it meets.   

If Luigi himself is not reviewing the monitoring because he is a City Clerk, why is his contact information on the agenda?  

The city's protocol, according to the Holly Wolcott's Clerk office, is led by the council leadership and Information Technology Agency ITA.  She wants nothing to do with picking and choosing speakers.  

Assembled in committee on Thursday last week were, Bob Blumenfield of CD3, who just won re-election, Kevin Deleon of CD14 and Joe Buscaino of CD15, who each lost their elections, and Nithya Raman, the greatest of all time when it comes to city council elections. 

She overcame the harshest odds and prevailed, and now she's in there doing the work.  

It's not necessarily going great, but let's give it time.  On the agenda, was the $55 million Homeless Housing Assistance Program HHAP, funding request.   Now, these programs, are not part of the city's regular annual budget process. 

The reason for that, was briefly explained - to keep the general fund dollars flexible for things that HHAP funding won't cover.  Like egregious lawsuits?  ["Sir, you're disrupting the meeting!"] 

With HHAP funding the city can plan ahead over three years or more... so you have HHAP2, HHAP3, and so on.  

This way the city can prioritize ongoing services, whether being effectively administered or not. 

Kevin DeLeon who ran and lost his election on the idea that the time for studies and reports is over, said, "we need a report on the efficacy of the reports we're funding--" but was suddenly interrupted by a loud jackhammer sound coming from his side.  

"Sorry," he said, there "is construction going on outside," if you hear that noise."  

My little imaginary hand went up because my public comment was not taken for reasons that are not clear and regardless of the reason, appalling.  I quipped to myself, "is the construction, affordable housing, or just more over-market rate?" 

Once he got rolling, you could tell Mr. DeLeon had done his homework.  No time to lick his wounds from the failed run for mayor. There are no losers in politics... just committed advocates and winners. 

DeLeon called for more reports "a set of informed metrics for HHap2, hygiene metrics... outreach... standardizing of reporting, establishing of fee rates, invoicing standardization, all to come back in a report in two months.  

The big news is that rather than relying on LAHSA, who we pay quite well as SEIUists, now, our very own CAO's office, will be working together with LAHSA.   

CM, Raman... wanted to understand, "I'd like to follow what we are changing.  Bucket 3? Is it just impacting the 3rd bucket, on page 4 of the CAO report?    The answer is yes.   Good enough for Raman.  

But Bob Blumenfield wanted to ask the City Attorney to address "the legality of going sole source..."   

He wanted to be sure that we were crossing our "t's" and dotting our "I's" when the inevitable lawsuit comes.  

The City Attorney who may have deselected my public comment earlier, said, "It might be better if we raise them, but not in this public forum... a lot of it is legal advice." 

Blumenfield, pressed, "I recognize that but give us your assurance that we are on solid ground..." 

The Deputy City Attorney,  "We have reviewed and we will brief your office..."   

Alrighty then.  That's not encouraging.  

The attorney said, "she'd be happy to offer any other office that wants a briefing as well..."    Just not the public.   

DeLeon was quick to point out that he's not a lawyer, and not speaking on behalf of the city attorney, but he believes "the city is on solid legal ground."   Let the games begin!  

"Thank you very much, Madame city attorney." 

Buscaino raised his hand!   Mr. DeLeon recognized, him, "We noticed your very very short haircut... "  

Buscaino noted, "The reason we can't go into the closed session is that we haven't posted it as a closed session. Is that correct?" 

"Yes," said the chair.  DeLeon wanted to know why we were spending 10M in administrative costs and only 15M on permanent supportive housing.  He wanted to explore cutting administrative costs and not continually "lining of the pockets of executives." 

The CAO said, administrative costs are capped at 7%... but that there is a lot of admin work...and that 7 percent is quite lean. 

"Godspeed," said Buscaino. 

They agreed to follow up in the future on the city's "admin processes...and homelessness governance... and contracting processes..."  sigh. 

The City of Los Angeles takes too long to do everything.   Just getting an ordinance passed can carry on for longer than a four-year term.  To make a minor adjustment to an Outreach contract, Nithya Raman told the Committee, should be straightforward. 

Apparently, It's not. She said, "a huge number of man-hours were needed (I think she meant work-hours) just to change the contract by adding a few blocks to adjust the scope of work.  

She said it took much longer than it takes in other cities and similarly situated municipalities.  

DeLeon agreed, "100%" and ordered an exhaustive review of each city in the continuum of care within two months.  

The frustration in the room was palpable as item 3 showed up.  

This was the report from John Wickham of the CLA.   He recently completed the request for bids RFB, which is intended to  attract qualified service providers for general outreach services in the city.  His work was corroborated by the CAO and LAHSA... who helped in the prepping and evaluating the scope of work needed. 

Wickham said he looked at national models... and that work is reflected in the scope of work in our report today.   

A full description, that bidders will be asked to respond to, is intended to create a comprehensive list of qualified bidders... and then each CD would pick from all the bids." 

There were zero bidders to the last RFB, but great news, Wickham repeated that the CAO's office has recently staffed up to manage homeless services. 

The City Attorney and Bureau of Contract Administration are ready to roll.  There is a Retention worker policy in place, so nobody will lose their job if we consolidate, but rather be offered a new job.  

Since the CAO is being upgraded to handle the hard-to-pin-down, LAHSA, the public would be well served with  a report back from the Chief Legislative Analyst's office, CLA on the ACTUAL cost that will be charged by the CAO for handling such administration.   

Wickham explained that the "Outreach" offered by LAHSA is SEIU covered union work.  There is a set wage. 

Bob Blumenfield wanted to know about the wages... he wanted to know that "We could be seeing different salary ranges... the city's living wage ordinance would be at a minimum." 

Raman and DeLeon did not seem interested in finding lower-cost workers, to undercut LAHSA.  

All workers, it was agreed should be paid on the same scale.  "I don't want the contract to take jobs from government workers to give to private workers at cut rates." 

One wonders where Rick Caruso and Karen Bass land on this point.  

Wickham... confirmed that "the RFB, would include a salary range that is consistent with LAHSA.  

Raman wanted to make sure a formal amendment included such language.  "I do have concerns around privatizing workers who are taken into this work..." 

DeLeon said he had a "canny sense that if we head in that direction, 721," the union, will... kick some ass. 

Blumenfield... said, "We don't want to privatize these jobs... we do need to know how other groups... how they compensate their workers... "we don't want to put [our below market partners] out of business." 

He reminded, that the prior Exec Director Heidi Marston, made a unilateral decision to give the workers a raise and then promptly exited LAHSA. 

If we don't want people to undercut our LAHSA workers for less... "we could always bring the outreach workers in-house." 

Blumenfield, said, "I haven't evaluated. this... equity and frankly, we need flexibility ... it allowed us to have more flexibility with the hours. We are rigid on the LAHSA side because there was no bargaining... so we hire people at lower wages who can work on weekends." 

Wickham said this is all part of the discussion today.  When we go out for bid... "we should be clear about what they should be doing.  We are dealing with the private sector. They have their processes for setting salaries, so they will tell us what their staffing structure is."  

As the meeting was audio-only, there was no word about John Wickham's haircut. 

 

Shortness and Depth:   

Staffer B John Lee who fully attended the debauchery trip to sin city with Mitchell Englander that resulted in his lying to the FBI and going to jail cited how incredibly hard it was for the Valley Youth Philharmonic out at Christ Community Church, to put together their zoom concert.  

Council President Martinez was impressed by Mr. Lee's presentation, "I love to see the valley well represented. Well done, Mr. Lee!" 

O'Farrell invited members of the public, hoping to delight and inspire, to a bar and beer garden in Hollywood...where they could join LAFD Cheif Crowley and O'Farrell as they celebrated the 52nd annual LA pride parade, which he announced, had a new name, "Now LGBTQ+!"  

Council President was impressed by Mr. O'Farrel's presentation, and said "our own Sophie Gilchrest, our own celebrity DJ" will be mixing it up. 

 

Never Skip the Preakness:

Rich Strike is an American Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 2022 Kentucky Derby, racing at 80–1 odds. Rich Strike is the second-biggest longshot to have won the Kentucky Derby after Donerail in 1913, he entered the Belmont race at 4-1 odds, after skipping the Preakness Stakes to regain focus.   

At the Belmont on Saturday, the horse appeared agitated as he walked to the starting gate. He spent most of the race in last place, and though he'd been in a similar position during the Derby, the magic clearly wasn't there this time.  

Rich Strike finished sixth out of eight.   

Moral of the story:  Never skip the Preakness.

 

(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)