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Dog Days of Summer

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - I grew up in the suburbs of New York so started reading a local Gannet chain newspaper as a boy and the New York Times. 

My aunt and uncle were big time liberals, as were my parents, and I remember at one time preparing to 'egg' President Nixon's motorcade as it passed through our stretch of the Boston Post Road. 

I had mixed feelings, not because I liked Nixon, we hated him and the Viet Nam war, but to me, it seemed ... well, kind of dangerous. Even though I actually hitchhiked to school on the Boston Post Road, I felt egging was not safe.  There was also a dark patch of the road near the high school and until they eventually fixed it, years later, local restaurant workers were routinely mowed down.  #PaciificPalisades 

My mother and her sister created a nice family ritual of getting together for Sunday dinners and there was always a vibrant discussion at the dinner table.  I remember reading/skimming the Sunday Times in preparation for diner, so that I wouldn't seem as ignorant as my siblings and cousins who are all geniuses, but at the time on account of age seemed less interested in the so-called news.  

As in some newspapers, both the liberals and conservatives fired off on the same opinion pages. You had Russel Baker and the great William Safire, who wrote a very good column On Language in the Sunday magazine.  

I loved it!  Later, I discovered that Safire was a very conservative guy and yet, I still loved his language columns.  

On Wednesday, Ross Douthat, one of the current crop of conservative opinion columnists at the New York Times, wrote a piece entitled, "What Driving Means for America."    

On a recent road trip in a minivan with his young family, he hearkened back to the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, when driving was a thing of an earlier innocence. It was about the freedom and liberty of the open road. It represented the endless opportunities of an optimistic America.

I got sucked in briefly, "But now" according to hundreds of outraged readers, "the reality is different. It is about being stuck 2 hours/day commuting." "It is about destroying the planet." "It is about being a pawn, a dupe, of the Oil companies and the politicians they have purchased."

Hard to dispute that, and the comment section following the article to me was mesmerizing, the way Stuart Waldman enjoys looking up at young athletes in shorts on a climbing wall. The comments on NYTimes articles are very good.

An interested reader, who subscribes, can see all the comments or the Readers Picks.

The takeaway after reading the 1281 reader comments on Douthat's article is that driving is no longer a thing of innocence, but a thing that does great harm, and yet for which most Americans have little realistic alternative at present.

Also, if you want people to "like" your comment, it's best to post as early as possible. 

To be fair, a significant percentage of the comments are polarizing and insulting but the letters from highly informed New York Times readers are priceless, nonetheless. Check it out. 

Dog Days of Summer

The Los Angeles Times is enjoying a bump as well from a story written by Dakota Smith who ordinarily covers Mayor Garcetti about urgent operational issues at the Department of Animal Services. 

 The Times received 60 comments on one of her several recent articles.  Though, that is about 4% of what the opinion piece in the New York Times about driving garnered, not too shabby.  

But Paul Koretz's numbers were through the roof.  898 views! 

Koretz, who is running for City Controller, called an emergency Special One Aganda item meeting to discuss intake and care, adoption programs, shelter maintenance, and staffing.  

Paul Koretz like the rest of City Council has been in a race to the bottom, to cancel most of his regular committee meetings.  

He canceled the regular meetings of Personnel, Audits, and Animal Welfare Committee on July 6 and July 20, but found a way to wedge in a special emergency meeting on July 19th, following Dakota Smith's article. Neither Marqueece Harris-Dawson nor Mike Bonin, the other committee members, could be bothered to attend. Why?   

One speaker, said, "Another contributing factor to this problem is the proclivity of corporate multi-family landlords in Los Angeles to charge unending and expensive pet fees which are 1) discriminatory and 2) prevent many would-be pet owners from adopting animals due to financial strain. Deposits are fair, fees are not.   

One speaker said, walking dogs at shelters is a "Good job for prisoners/ community service."  

One person said the story in the Times was a call to action, “This needs to be an ongoing series, not a story taken out of the “kennel” once in a while." 

There were dozens of angry callers berating Koretz for being asleep at the helm.  "Why was this an emergency meeting? We've been telling you about this for years" 

One snarky commenter said, the city tries to paint itself with a soul of compassion but can't be "bothered to walk the dog." 

Is our city capable of doing anything? one person wondered.  "It seems they fail at everything from smaller items like fixing broken sidewalks and keeping our trees trimmed, to larger issues like homelessness and crime. This problem should be much easier to fix than any of those issues. I know funding is always an issue, but surely we can do better." 

The final blast, a respected activist said, "we're funded with 12 oz of water to fill a one-gallon bucket."  

Where are Karen Bass and Rick Caruso?  Where is Kenneth Mejia? Where is Heidi Marston?  

Heidi Marston, the former executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and labor activist?  Yes. 

Heidi is very concerned and works remotely with the shelter after she recently moved out of state. Which state?  

It better not be a 'right to work' state. 

Retaliation Square,  91405

Most Angelenos believe whistleblowers and critics deserve protection. If we silence or smote the critics who call out the problems, they'll never change. 

Stuart Waldman, is an example of a pro-retaliation, Angeleno.  Waldman is a lobbyist from the Valley Industry Commerce Association, who said he was 'mesmerized' by videos of young boys and girls making their way up a climbing wall during the 2020 Olympics in short shorts, but always finds time to promote the retaliatory conduct of the City Council President et al., whose backside, he fastidiously kisses. 

Waldman joined arms with Martinez on Twitter this week and launched, to my surprise:  "Maybe the dogs can go swimming with you at the YMCALA or are you still banned from being around other retired seniors and children? Are you banned from all YMCAs? Or just the ones in the Valley? "

I am certainly no shrinking violet, and I will not hesitate to issue a strongly worded admonishment, but I found Waldman's WILD and FALSE line of questioning on Twitter, beneath an acceptable standard. I know, he's a lobbyist jackal, but still.

He shouldn't be banned or anything, but maybe he should be interviewed in a bathing suit about the shameful lies that he's been promoting as if they are funny. Correction: I have never been banned from being around children and seniors. I am a father of two and a son who routinely looks after his elderly parents, and dogs... lots of healthy dogs.


-----Original Message-----

From: ERIC PREVEN <[email protected]>

To: Strefan Fauble <[email protected]>

Cc: [email protected][email protected][email protected]; David Hersch <[email protected]>; [email protected][email protected]; Supervisor Kuehl <[email protected]>; [email protected]

Sent: Wed, Jul 20, 2022, 11:04 am

Subject: VICA retaliation report 

Stuart Waldman a leader in the Valley lobbying community with strong ties to the Council President has been giving the impression that I, Eric Preven, have been banned from being around retired seniors and children, due to actions taken by the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. 

Is this true? Did the CP, as a major funder of the Y authorize a retaliatory ban for speaking out? 

Please provide the claim submitted to the clerk on this, thank you, and refer this matter to your new civil rights commission. 

Regards,

Eric Preven

 

The City Clerk and City Attorney wrote back stating they have no such claim from Eric Preven, but I have a copy of that claim and it names John Lee CD12, Paul Krekorian CD2, Nithya Raman CD4, and Nury Martinez CD6, so what, one wonders, is going on?    

Excerpt from the claim, Filed Date: 03/26/2022:

County and City funded not-for-profit that locked me, a 50 year paying member out of my YMCA. I am a critic and LA Press club award winner. Section 1983 but not limited to that. The County funded a not-for-profit that dramatically cut its service hours, despite receiving a lot of county funding. When a member of the public spoke out about the problems in the community family YMCA, at several public meetings, and in writing online, pleading for help from both the LA City Council and the County Board of Supervisors (a second respondent, who also substantially funds the YMCA) they terminated my 50-year long membership without cause or explanation, causing trauma, great reputational damage, physical pain and ongoing suffering. They have refused to refund the money they took over $800 during the pandemic when they were not providing service. And they are still providing terrible service. The city is prohibited from funding not for profits that attack city critics. The optics are all wrong. The resolution here is not to hire Skip Miller and try to destroy me. Rather, restore the petitioner's membership, and cover the costs of swimming at large in the interim. So shameful. 

I asked ONE attorney... can a private entity (like the Y) that takes public money, refuse service to a critic? 

If the critic is discriminated on over race, gender or even religion, which is mutable but is treated like it's not for some reason, they might have a claim, but otherwise critics without such protected class status, apparently do not qualify for protection. 

The conclusion of this ONE attorney, that private entities may keep people out that they don't want around, may be accurate.   

The lawyer said, "You could have a business and be like "no republicans" and that would probably be fine."  

Interesting analysis. The YMCALA takes a lot of public money, across multiple jurisdictions that I professionally adore and criticize on and off point, but apparently, they run their show the way they see fit.  

Funny how 100 yards from the Mid Valley YMCA where Nury Martinez routinely erects a life-size cutout of her likeness to kick off an annual fundraising event, is one of the six city animal shelters.  It's so sad.  

Got me thinking, and VICA would find it funny, maybe we could we expand the good name of the Cardenas family that is affixed to the local Elementary School, to name the whole block... 

Andres And Maria Cardenas Retaliation Square: 

 

 

YMCA

6901 Lennox Avenue 

Van Nuys, CA 91405

 

 Los Angeles City East Valley Animal Shelter

14409 Vanowen St, 

Van Nuys, CA 91405

 

13 Ayes, 1 No,  CD10 cannot vote, because the City Attorney, knew or should have known.  

Gift Cards

I've always had a bee in my bonnet about prepaid debit cards.  The ease of use is convenient, but the groups that are issuing them are given, it seems to me, wide, verging on too much latitude.   

I've written about the $50,000 in gift cards I sniffed out in a Peace Over Violence contract and just wondered how that worked.  And of course, I was absolutely dumbstruck when I put together the fact that the Mayor's Fund, which if there is a more disgusting but perfectly legal way to shake down businesses to secure mayoral favor, I'd like to know, distributed a gazillion dollars in gift cards.   

And natch, the Mayor is way above the fray, but the man in the trenches on full groping duty was his trusty gift card wrangler, Rick Jacobs. [spit up in mouth, here]   

The reason why the Mayor didn't notice Rick Jacobs holding "auditions" for $1,500 gift cards, is ...  See Garcetti Deposition. Blocked by lawyers.   

Let's not go there, because a sexually active fundraiser with gift cards issued on the Mayoral honor basis, is not good, but is it possible that any of these millions in Gift cards could have inadvertently migrated away from say, a family in need, to a person in want of a gift card, with access? 

"Sir, you are disrupting the meeting."  

Remember the team that work for the Mayor's fund are not necessarily paid well.  Or correct me if I'm wrong on that.  

To be clear that I'm not spouting off inaccurate information, let's do a CPRA... to the Mayor's fund and it's bank.  

"Please provide, the amount, name of vendor and date spent on all mayor's fund gift cards from 2017 - 2019. "

If you are wondering who the intended recipients are, Curren D. Price might be an excellent resource, as he hosts workshops.    

The county had a similar item buried on its agenda to authorize the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Development Authority to execute a Prepaid Debit Card Agreement with U.S. Bank National Association, to continue to provide needed utility assistance to tenants through the simple and cost-effective prepaid card method. 

Zeitgeisty.   

Chair Mitchell is high-handed and arrogant, so I immediately requested some backup because the five fabulous women, know it all, but don't want to discuss it with the public.  I would ask Chair Mitchell, if she were approachable, why is U.S. Bank National Association "the only bank continuing such a prepaid card program?"   Yeah, why? 

I asked the CEO Fesia Davenport to provide links to the prior agreement with Bank of America for prepaid debit cards, as well as the county's current agreement with U.S. Bank National Association referenced in Supervisor Mitchell's motion.  Not to be confused with this new agreement with LACDA, a quasi-county subsidiary, run by the Board. 

U.S. Bancorp is an American bank holding company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and incorporated in Delaware. It is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, and is the fifth largest banking institution in the United States. That was not in Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.for Tuesday.   

We'll get more details.  

I did note that U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc. is set up nicely at the CAO's office in City Hall, for underwriting services related to the MICLA 2018 Financing [Municipal Improvement Corporation of Los Angeles.] 

There was an adorable "Mini Bid from on-call list" for a contract that was executed in 2018 and ends in 11/01/2027.  Chase may be mired in fraud, but US Bancorp is excellent!    

The CAO, currently Garcetti's Budget boy, Matt Szabo, has a second agreement with US Bancorp to provide Commercial Paper Dealer Services for the MICLA Lease Revenue Commercial Paper Program. Again, teeny-tiny... "Mini Bid from on-call list." 

What's a few million among friends?   

These mini bids are so cute, but when Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe and Mister Ridley-Thomas set up the LACDA, they had the wisdom to ensure that "Banking services and fees are exempt from procurement" under LACDA policy.  

And great news, per Holly J. Mitchell, who has plenty of experience avoiding procurement, the CEO, presumably, negotiated an agreement with U.S. Bank National Association that will have no cost to the agency."    

That's fantastic!  No word on how much it will cost those who are seeking relief from soaring utility bills.   

One thing for sure, U.S. Bancorp is not doing anything for free.  

JP Morgan Chase - Whoops, there it is!

JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon, who was in Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago, is busy doing damage control.  He made some crack about how the Wall Street giant would probably outlive the Chinese Communist Party and had to walk it back. “Speaking in that way can take away from constructive and thoughtful dialogue in society, which is needed now more than ever.” 

What a prince.  

JPMorgan’s gold traders were in court, guilty as charged for cheating other market players for a number of years by “spoofing trades” or manipulating the price of precious metals to boost their profits.  This is not a bitcoin thing; this is Fort Knox!

Three men were charged with wrongdoing in 2019.  In 2020, JPMorgan paid $1 billion in fines for the fraud, but more details came out in the trial.    “Our job was to do whatever it takes to make money,” former trader John Edmonds said in a court case accusing three of his former colleagues of committing systematic fraud.  

“Everyone at the time did it on the desk and it worked.”   

This is why CityWatch is so important, and why the public must pay some attention to the city and county banking operations.   

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Departments have changed their banking services to abide by health and safety protocols. Many Departments, for example, have implemented electronic payment methods as an alternative to in-person cash transactions at public counters.  

I read in the City's new agreement with JP Morgan Chase "While such alternate electronic payment methods are safer and more efficient, they result in increased bank services usage, thereby increasing banking costs."  Politely, wtf.  It should be cheaper.  

As some will remember, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (Wells Fargo), a longtime service provider to the City of Los Angeles veered off course, and was mired in a horrible, shameful scandal revealing that employees were coerced to do bad things regarding setting up accounts for customers.  Sigh.  

In January 2018, the City of LA released a request for proposals (RFP) for general banking services to identify a new bank and treasury service provider and to establish succession agreements to the existing Wells Fargo. 

As a result of the competitive process, the City chose a bifurcated general banking services model with JP Morgan and Bank of America.   

On October 5, 2020, Finance, now run by Adrin Nazarian's wife Diana Mangioglu, terminated its contract with Bank of America because Bank of America failed to meet critical receivables migration timelines and did not provide satisfactory service levels.  Who knew? 

Subsequently, Finance engaged JP Morgan to implement depository services as the City’s Agreement with JP Morgan already included depository services as a secondary scope of work.  

Having JP Morgan as the payment processor and the acquiring bank in credit and debit card transactions will further streamline the steps toward receiving revenue and minimizing costs.   

As part of the disbursement banking services implementation, Finance is activating JP Morgan’s fraud prevention and detection system, called the “Early Warning System” (EWS). The EWS allows the City to evaluate the risk potential for newly registered vendors by screening bank payments from the City to vendors.  

What about some kind of in-house Fraud Detection System to keep the JP Morgan Chase folks honest?   

And let's reinstate Public Comment.  

Classic Parking:

As a local activist, I fell hard for the Los Angeles Times.  All these young sharp women and men with little backpacks and skinny ties. Telling the truth and exposing the lies.  It was intoxicating.  

 Ron Lin and Robert Faturechi were around when I showed up.  

The game for an activist involves trying to get the Los Angeles Times, the main local paper to pay attention to the stuff that you feel is important and want the people, in this case, Times readers, to be aware of. 

I met a lot of great ones, like Jim Newton, Kimi Yoshino, the editorial board, William Nottingham, Emily Alpert Reyes, Maya Lau, Abbey Sewell, Maris Gerber, Dakota Smith, David Zahniser, Laura Nelson, Michael Finnegan, Jack Dolan, Maura Dolan, and Gale Holland...  

And I met a lot of not-so-great ones [REDACTED] Catherine Saillant, who called me, profiled my candidacy, and then never ran the article. Jason Song, wrote a quasi-hit piece about me, without even calling me or talking to me because Joel Bellman told him to.   

I have one good story about Ron Lin and me in the City of Angel's parking garage, across from the Kenn Hahn Hall of Administration.  

Think All the President's Men!  I had approached Ron, who was covering the county for the Times, freshly graduated from Berkley.  

My idée fixe at the time,  was the nearly $500,000 annually when I totaled it up, that was being handed out in Supervisorial parking grants and waivers.  

When I went deeper into the basement of the county's parking contracts, managed by ISD, Ron lost interest.  

That's when I grew a little frightened.  It seemed like the county's contract with Classic Parking was ripe, with lots of cash drops... it seemed porous. The process of updating the system led to the Modern Parking saga, and Don Knabe and his lobbyist son, Matt Knabe, who’s a decent golfer and apparently played when he was at Pepperdine.  

Must have helped, get the American Golf lobbying agreement that Englander Knabe & Allen have had for years. Matt would pocket $100,000 a year from the county's golf registers.  

Antonovich shanked one off the tee when he tried to have me rightsized in Malibu one day.   

It deserves a full telling, but suffice it to say, Sheriff's deputies tried and failed to shut me up by... arrest.  I was terrified but did not spend the night in jail.  

When I got out, I wrote an email to Ron Lin, after the incident. I knew that if something happened to me, he'd probably come forward, and tell the story.  

Gulp. 

I always wondered why wouldn't he write about my nightmare, or come forward back then?  

For the Record:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014, I wrote to Paul Pringle and explained:  

"If home renovations on the county dime are an issue, the story of this November email chain could be part of a deeper pattern ... The below e-mail chain reads like a well-oiled [pun intended] campaign machine mobilizing for a timely regional planning sponsored response." 

After nearly sixteen months of frustrating dealings, on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, I wrote to Robert Faturechi and Jack Dolan. "I assume you are aware that LACMA has agreed to open an adorable little annex in MRT's district... I referenced it at a Board meeting some months ago. 

"This email chain and the following emails are in a related space -- Supervisor deploying county regional planning employees, oil company funding, quasi-coordinating... during the election (of his offspring).  It's a page-turner but has not seen the light of day, due to an internal logjam at the LAT." 

Thursday, May 21, 2015, one day later, Pringle responded, stating that Jack Dolan had forwarded him my email, "The story will soon see the light of day" he said.  

Six months went by and I wrote on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, to Pringle:  "Will the story soon see the light of day? This has been quite a gestation period. If it was quashed, by someone for some reason, please tell me so that I can try harder to amplify it. Thx. 

On Thursday, January 28, 2016, I requested that my documents be returned. "Please send me my documents via US mail to my address" 

The following week on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, Pringle wrote: "The story has not been “quashed.”   

On February 23, 2016,  I wrote to Pringle, explaining, "I appreciate that the story has not been quashed and will soon see the light of day. Still, kindly send me the original documents that I gave you via US mail to my address. 

On March 4, 2016, I wrote Pringle about Sebastian being in Maui. " 

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas allegedly attended this Maui event:  

Maui junket: Twenty-one state legislators have disclosed that they attended a conference in Maui last November that was paid for by a nonprofit group funded by special interests including the oil industry and state worker unions. Los Angeles Times I appreciate that the story has not been quashed and will soon see the light of day. Still, kindly send me the original documents that I gave you via US mail to: Eric Preven 

On March 11, 2016, I wrote, "Mr. Pringle: I appreciate that the story has not been quashed as of February 2016 and that it will soon see the light per your note of May 2015. Regardless, please return the public records that I sought and provided to you (and the Times) on loan. If something has gone terribly wrong and you have misplaced or lost the public records that I identified and purchased from the county, you need to do a PRA for the Eric Preven PRA to the county, obtain fresh records, and then provide them to me immediately.  

I am very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you or the LA TIMES, but those public records, borrowed from a source, ought to be returned.  

Additionally .... FYI according to an FPPC press release posted yesterday, Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is working on A.B. 2250 to give the FPPC the authority to act in candidate races involving foreign money. So, he's working cooperatively with the agency charged with enforcement...  

Please send me the original documents that I gave you via US mail to my address. 

On March 11, 2016, Pringle replied, "I will have to track those records down. As I believe you know, we subsequently filed broader PRA requests and have been working off the documents we received through them. I also assumed the records you gave me were copies." 

March 22, 2016,  I wrote, "Are you moving forward with the story?"   

March 30, 2016, I wrote "Are you?" 

May 6, 2016, Paul Pringle wrote "I will not be back in the office until late Monday afternoon. I will check on the records then." 

I asked, "Is the story alive at the Los Angeles Times?"  

On Monday, May 9, 2016, Pringle wrote, "yes." 

On June 9, 2016, I wrote " What's the deal with this story, will it be forthcoming? Another election goes by...   Hey, did you locate my packet of originals? 

On Tuesday, July 5, 2016, I wrote, "Happy Independence Day, Paul. We're approaching 900 days, since January 21, 2014... which is an impressive gestation period.  Are you planning to publish the piece? When approximately? Also, please provide my packet of originals. Thanks. 

On Sunday, July 24, 2016, I wrote, "Are you moving forward? I continue to believe in the story... January 21, 2014 - July 24, 2016 = 915 days Also, please provide my packet of originals. Thanks. Kindly confirm receipt." 

On August 3, 2016, I wrote Pringle, "January 21, 2014 - August 3, 2016 = 925 days.  Hey, do you remember the Scott Walker deploying county government workers for political activities story...  

Is the Times ready to move forward? Btw, across the street, the series continues. BOTTOM LINE NATION This Is Your Life, Brought to You by Private Equity Since the financial crisis, the private equity industry has become hugely influential. Here’s how it plays out in your daily life. 

Finally, on December 22, 2016, I wrote:  

Paul, 

Before I launch this to Shelby (and then the powers that be at TRONC) I'm reaching out. Do you have anything to say to the source of the story? Is the story dead at the LA Times as we approach the 3-year milestone?   

DRAFT -- SHELBY, The quality, and tone of the stories that are being featured in Essential California have improved (marginally) subsequent to the exit of Alice Walton, but is there a reason to not occasionally feature sharp opinion articles from CityWatch writers, as they arise?  Also, Mr. Grad, you will remember our conversation about Paul Pringle's (alleged) article about Ridley-Thomas... Regional Planning... 2nd District Initiative. He has still not returned my records, which is an issue I take very seriously.  

From and including Tuesday, January 14, 2014, To, but not including Thursday, December 22, 2016 Result: 1073 days 

Fin

Is the story dead at the LA Times? 

Is Sanctimonious Dirtbag too strong? 

 

(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)