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Cut Him Off, Next Speaker

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - “At the end of the day, most people are not corrupt at City Hall, no matter how cynical we are,”

according to, Eric Hacopian, a political consultant who is often quoted by the LA Times, as if he's not Paul Krekorian and Mitch O'Farell's bestie, “But they all get tarred with the same brush.”  

With that, on Wednesday, Nury Martinez, the City Council President wished a Happy Birthday to Staffer B John Lee, the man who accompanied Mitchell Englander to sin city and was just a tad late getting his reimbursement back to the developer who covered all the goods and services, that Mr. Lee claims he did not actually participate in.  She called Mr. Lee, "Sir" and thanked him for working on his birthday.   

Careful city watchers and district deputies wondered f Koretz might be plotting one more giveaway to labor:  Introducing the "THIS ONE IS ON US" program, is a proposed constitutional amendment modeled on the old Baskin Robbins, FREE CONE on your birthday program.  

The way it works:  All eligible city and county employees get a FREE, PAID day off on their recorded Birthdate. 

Public: Do you mean, all eligible city and county employees get a FREE CONE on their birthdays? 

"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting. Full day off! (under breath) Cut him off!"  

Next speaker.  

I suggest that the Registrar-Recorder and County Clerk,  Dean Logan, and trusty sidekick, Jeremy Gray, report back on how much "fun" a free birthday off would be for municipal workers, and how much it would cost taxpayers.  Again, we seek the cost of the day off, not the ice cream cone.   

Everything is going up including...

 

The cost of good help: 

For benchmarking, the one-time "You in the boat" signing bonus of $1,375 ($700 part-time) was approved by the County Board on Tuesday for all Service Employees International Union Local 721 bargaining units, that have signed an MOU.   

On Wednesday, at City Hall, the great Ackley Padilla, baby brother of Senator Alex Padilla, who made his way from the northeast valley to Washington, was stepping away from city duties, to be with his family.  

Nury finally took off her mask for her longtime chief of staff, who she said, had been a "staple" in these hallowed chambers.  

She didn't call them hallowed, but she did say that Ackley was the epitome of the guy who would send funny gifts, emojis, guaranteed to put a smile on your face" while being a truly invaluable member of the CD6 team. 

Ackley is leaving to become a fulltime dad, an activity he adores, and has missed, given all the difficult long hours characterized by
and endless supply of "emergencies" that never stop.  Ackley, according to Nury, has never shied away from the calls, never lost sight of his family.  The way Blumenfield has never lost sight of FEMA refunds. 

"It's not a good bye, it' as C U later... "and it's not a C U next Tuesday either, because Ackley is "more like a brother and sister..."  with Nury in the role of older sister.    

Ackley has been second to none at handling Nury when was stressing out. "He always knows what to say, to make me feel better -- you can't find people like that," said Nury.  "I look forward to hanging out in Pacoima..."  

If it were not appended to the very end of the meeting, there would have been some kind of trumpet announcing that The United State Senator from the Great State of California, Alex Padilla... was in the Chambers.  

Rumor has it, the Senator did not want to alert the Mayor who one could argue was being slightly shunned while waiting for an India disposition.  

Senator Padilla, whipped off the mask and addressed Nury Martinez, who he later referred to as his "sister."  

 "Thank you madame president... thank you for allowing me to be back..." to honor my brother. 

Padilla, who served as Council President from 2001 to 2006ish, and then Secretary of State before filling Boxer's seat, said, Ackley was a "tremendous public servant."   

People constantly tell him, "I met your brother, he's better and funnier than you are and way better with people, but why does he root for the Angels and not the Dodgers?"   

Then, the Senator turned serious, who better than Ackley, he reasoned way back when, "to be my eyes and ears, my consiglieri in the northeast valley."  Godfather language and blood runs thicker than any scandal or lobbying opportunity, that may have gone wrong.   Padilla became farklempt when he said, "Ackley was living up to the standard that our family always held up that "family comes first."   

MRT, who reportedly watches all  City Council meetings, had to blow his nose at this point.   

Channel 35, who have explored more interesting shots of the council members recently, including the grandstanding three-shot, where the honored is flanked by the honorer and the council president for underwriting the whole thing.  Also an extension of the #Blumenfield's nose public reduction program is appalling, but ITA found the manpower to play a short video, followed by a variety of deeply moving remarks from Curren D. Price, who said, "you were on Nury's payroll, but you served us all."  

Monica Rodriguez of CD7 said, Ackley, "you are in my district."   

Kevin Deleon, who clearly didn't know Ackley that well, saw an opportunity to bow down before a Senator brother, "In the six or seven months... just a little, when I've engaged with you, you've always been professional, thoughtful, always even-keeled, and a straight-shooter and those are the characteristics we appreciate very much, especially when they are in the ecosystem whether it be here or in Washington, they validate and double down. Professional, even-keeled, straight shooter, problem-solver of the human condition.   You have so many more years, but I can already tell we need more people like you. " 

O'Farrell started clapping inappropriately, before he was given a chance.  His comments were adequate. 

One member referenced that the US Senator used to go to Pattys in Toluca Lake, where their father had worked.  I got emotional there because I loved that luncheonette diner.  I would go there with a right wing TV Director, who frequently called me a commy liberal,  and we would argue during lunch, and then after a quick round of insults, we'd go back to work at NBC. 

John Lee, told his story about how Ackley wouldn't call him by his name, John.   The public wondered, "Staffer B?" No, apparently Ackley was very formal and when he would run into John Lee Staffer B at a campaign event, he would call him "Mister Lee."   

Mister Mike Bonin, spoke of a quiet rockstar, a humble, self-effacing guy who always gets stuff done. He said, "I may have annoyed Nury... "  Council President Martinez quipped, "No, never, Mike!" 

"But as chiefs of staff, they always get the bad stuff, none of the praise," said Bonin, who was Rosendahl's chief a thousand years ago. 

Herbert J. Wesson, still not indicted, quoted Rudyard Kipling after saying, "I hate to see you leave this building." 

Ackley was the hub of the wheel of the San Fernando High School legacy of the San Fernando valley.   The political empowerment that emerged from the northeast San Fernando Valley in the democratic party was carefully noted.  Ackley is not someone who would "fudge or gild the lily" and we can always  count on his northeast valley "honesty."  

Krekorian, who has controlled the reserve fund admirably, but has struggled with higher than tolerable ass kissing levels, during the instant drought said, In City Hall, "Ackley, is like.. Beyonce or Madonna." 

After everyone who was willing to suck up had a chance, except Harris-Dawson, who had cleverly reserved an adjournment that would feature a strong 'civil rights' theme, likely to impress Senator Padilla, Ackley took off the mask. 

He looked different than I remember, but that's those masks. Everyone does.  Including, Nury.  

"This is a difficult job, the commitment... the chief-calls... "Ackley said. 

"I see Avak. I haven't worn a tie since the pandemic.  Avak is grinding his teeth, he hates it..." 

He was referring to Avak Keohtian, a Chief Legislative Analyst who once outlined to me and an LAPD officer who chuckled along, how, in Avak's view, the public elected city officials to run the government and once they do that, they should essentially stay out of the way.    These people are simply, disrupting the meetings. Avak hates the public and believes strongly,   "Leave it to the pros."  and for god sakes, make wear a necktie.  

Ackley's closer was something out of Pacoima, the sitcom.  His last comment was to thank his wonderful wife, who he said had to work that day, but had kissed him goodbye before quipping:  "Don't forget you have to clean the garage this weekend."    

 

No Recording:

Photographing, recording, or broadcasting your hearing is prohibited by California Rules of Court 1.150 and local rules of court. However, a reporter's transcript of proceedings is sometimes available.   

I recently participated in a matter for which there were two short hearings and the court reporter responded promptly to a request for transcript.  

A colleague was virtually arrested for taking a picture of his computer during a sentencing hearing and the mere suggestion that you are limited from making an iPhone recording or video of anything is next to laughable.   

There were two prices: the one-week rush $500 and the one-month slog $350.  And that's for the digital PDF, rate.  It's about $10 to print it at a fair printer, double that at Staples, Kinkos. 

The point is the Court Reporter has to work within the confines of rising costs as well. We all do.  Even the kook litigants, myself included. Gas, food, and lodging are through the roof, and it struck me as very thoughtful of the Board and Council to be thinking about offering various protections, including more renter protections that were prominently on everyone's agenda this last week, as the region braces for the so-called cliff, over which many renters, will be going soon. 

It's sad because this eventuality has dovetailed with what can fairly be described as the great mark-up!

 

Too damn High!

I was contacted by two individuals who in the last week encountered proposals for new and unwanted rent increases.  In one case, the apartment which accommodates three residents without a washer and dryer is being jacked from $2,700 to $4,000, a 48% increase.  Not kidding, but there may be room for negotiation.  

The other situation is an out-of-the-blue request by landlord to inspect a small rental house with the intent of potentially adding an extra tenant in a garage that is currently included in the rental.   

Even the cost of an ad in CityWatch must have gone up.  Though, the purpose of CityWatch remains unchanged: To hold City Hall accountable and to encourage grass roots civic engagement.  If the Ron Galperin for State Auditor or the Jeffrey Prang for County Assessor checks are good, there is an obligation to cash them.   

 

Pay to Pepper Spray:

At every largely peaceful and law-abiding protest, there's always one guy who shows up with a makeshift flamethrower made out of a spray-paint can and a lighter.  It's so annoying.  

One such guy allegedly hurled it at a police officer during a downtown abortion-rights march and it appears the man is going to be charged with two felony assault counts.   

So, this should shut up the "Gascon won't prosecute anyone" gang.    

Sorry, not gang... well-- 

In fact, it was kind of cool to hear from old Gilbert Wright, the Deputy DA who has been running the mental health division since 2019.  Our paths crossed when I became curious about the DA's refusal to pay their excise taxes and what seemed to me a larger than Kosher amount of money seized in asset forfeiture cases being spent on Tasers.   Why, I posited, do the DA's need Tasers?  

It's a great question, and though I agreed with Mr. Wright's public comment at the Board meeting Tuesday, "that the office of diversion and re-entry ODR, realizes that services are needed throughout their lives.  DA's, he said "have come to support ODR..."  I guess Mr. Wright is still working on the CPRA about the DA Tasers. 

As for Mayor Garcetti and the LAPD who took some heat, not from the flame thrower, but over alleged excessive force with certain members of the press and public, the Mayor told a Knock reporter confidently, "there's ways to engage the press and to accommodate them in ways you didn't see reflected."    

His point, not everything we've learned about not attacking journalists was "reflected" and so you didn't see it.   

The mayor's enduring legacy remains,  "I see nothing. I know nothing."  

There were 47 watching now, when Isaac Bryan came out to express his extreme gratitude to the Chair, Holly J. Mitchell, and the board.

 

Monetizing the games:

There's an old adage about why people read newspapers -- it's for the sports, stupid.  Now, not so much.  

That's why the big media families, like the Soon-Shiong's are branching out into owning politicians as well as publications.  

The Los Angeles Times is happy to play that game, according to some well informed Angelenos, who follow which candidates, the sharp Soon-Shiong daughter, has backed.   

The New York Times plays other games like wordle and the one that has captured my family's imagination - Spelling Bee - where you see how many common words of 5 or more letter you can spell using the letters in the hive.   

We copy the drawing onto a white piece of paper and the oldest of us starts and usually gets quite far, then the jackals and sharpies like me hover over and start adding. There's a natural, friendly competition and comradery, as we're all working to get the number as high as we can.  And the New York Times is allowing you to track your scores.  

"Spelling Bee stats are here!" they've announced.  

So you can discover how often you’re good, great, amazing and more.  It may not be as lucrative as sports gambling, but... are you a genius today? 

 

The cost of  reporting:

Not clear why the Los Angeles Times failed or maybe neglected is a better word, to mention that the not so honorable  @PaulKrekorian, @CurrenDPriceJr, @JoeBuscaino also accepted donations from Dae Yong Lee. Why so stingy with the real info that the public craves?   

One question that arose when I learned that a very good not-for-profit journalism outfit didn't necessarily pay the writers for each article, while raising money from... anyone, including, politically aligned groups. 

Only half serious here, but as a thought experiment, if a writer wrote a puffy empowerment piece about the great Eunissess Hernandez, for instance (who I do support) would that writer have to declare the article, as an "In Kind Contributions?"  

I realize that would be contingent on the article having some value or readership and though CityWatch is highly respected, I am but one of the choruses of many voices singing and as the disclaimer usually goes: The opinions expressed by Eric Preven are solely his and not the opinions of CityWatch. 

What about a Times Opinion writer, possibly more widely read?  What if they wrote a lather job on a candidate they like? 

 

(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)