ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - As a writer who has been experimenting with ridiculously long rambling articles intended to keep folks who do not have the time to attend these dangerous public meetings apprised about what is going on,
I am always pleased to hear from readers.
The meetings are not really dangerous, but our local elected officials are desperate to promote that narrative to keep the annoying public out of their business.
It's our business?
"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting."
Don't call me, sir.
Occasionally, readers send friendly suggestions or ask me for links. One such note arrived with a link for me, to the Ted Talk by Jim Vanderhei. I consumed it quickly and I'm not sure why Vanderhei couldn't have said what he had to say in sixty seconds. As the co-founder and CEO of Axios, his message was simple: keep it short.
Sheila Kuehl certainly believes that sixty seconds of public comment is enough to turn any bag of coal into a diamond. [Thanks to the readers who noticed that my public comment last Tuesday was cut short by a minute... I was entitled to three, but granted two. Innocent Executive Officer mistake.*]
The reader's suggestion for me was to add a menu near the top of my rambling messes, so a reader could quickly skim to see if there are any sections of the train wreck that they want to inspect (ie. Do I want to read this?)
I'm prepared to stipulate that an endless article with too many subjects is not ideal, for a modern Angeleno, who is running around in circles to avoid being run over by a Mercedes, but readership remains stable.
I want to address anyone who might be thinking, "what is wrong with this man, why won't he choose fewer words... ffs stfu!"
The debate is an old chestnut, and I enjoy onboarding criticism.
Long form is popular, very popular.
Clickbait is stimulating, very stimulating. People do like to skim.
In 2007 everyone suddenly had access to a smart phone... to more of humanity... to be able to share stupid ideas.
Following, fans... mass information ... for free.
Jim Vanderhei said, "we're not built to keep up with so much stimulation" and "Nobody is paying attention to what you’re saying or doing."
If consumers want more, quicker, with less time... he reasoned, what to do?
Smart brevity is smart essential information... but delivered fast.
"GRAB ME what is the most important thing. "If you only had 26 seconds, what do you want to remember?"
Keep. It. Simple.
Don't call a banana a 'yellow elongated piece of fruit," use simple structure.
He said, he's not going to "..use SAT words in the bar. Or euphemisms. He said, stop using big terms, "They don't think your smart."
Vanderhei suggests using as few words as humanly possible and both the writer and reader will get the time back they deserve. And it's selfishly good for the writer because they''ll be heard again.
Tijuana has been facing armed and hooded criminals effectively shutting down the city by forcing passengers off public transportation and setting taxis ablaze.
Horrible, and this after Anne Heche crashed her car into a Mar Vista home which then caught on fire. She died at the age of 53.
And the horrific nightmare a week ago in which a Mercedes-Benz that was speeding as fast as 90 mph plowed through a red light into the busy intersection of La Brea and Slauson killing a half dozen people including a baby. It was 1:30pm for God sakes.
Speed, reckless driving and inattention are to blame.
Say goodbye to the summer-lite traffic, it's getting worse as we round the hot dry bend of August to the hot dry... September.
It's a great time to stay off the road if possible but also a good time to reconnect with humanity, post-pandemic. [It's not over...]
In New York City, Congestion pricing is once again being considered and as I've pointed out before, "What’s prohibitively expensive for someone of limited means is a drop in the bucket for the affluent."
One wonders, if there were congestion pricing would it get drivers who don't want to pay off the road and onto the bus? Or would it more likely just put them out of business?
Would it ease the traffic for those who are prepared to pay? Like the people who pay the penalties for watering their golf courses during the drought. It's a pay-to-spray environment for the rich and famous as ordinary folks struggle to conserve.
Where are we with the Rick Caruso and Karen Bass water usage numbers? *****
Would congestion pricing have any impact on the rising number of motor vehicles colliding into things, one wonders? It would certainly speed things up... Doh.
Should the public be blaming the road danger on the smartphone industry?
Or the 'quiet' ride of electric vehicles?
What is really causing the mowing down of all these pedestrians?
Vision Zero is not supposed to be about adding a zero to the pedestrian death numbers.
We see you!
And we're going to blame you, and then hold you accountable.
Animal Welfare Trust Fund:
Revenue raised by that fund over the last four fiscal years, broken down by fiscal year was not immediately available but we are going to reach out to Sharon Lee who handles their budget.
Here's the latest snapshot, which I have not reviewed carefully.
DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL SERVICES ANIMAL WELFARE TRUST FUND (FUND 859)
Back to School:
I read an Axios piece about how school design is evolving.
The new ideas are less corridor with classrooms lined up like cells, more transparent spaces with lots of windows and visual connections to the outdoors.
The author who put together a tight Axios presentation didn't mention 'shootings' in her post, but I'm sure if you clicked on a link, it was in there.
TMI stands for 'too much information' and many people feel overwhelmed with the constant barrage. Keep it clean.
A stack of paper pages that are often ruled and used for purposes such as note-taking, journaling or other writing, drawing, or scrapbooking.
For me it's a place to remind yourself and others about what you've learned on the daily beat or expedition.
Sam Sifton does a good job of barraging readers with his Cooking eblast from the New York Times. A thousand recipes and recommendations on what to read, watch, consume. He even posted an ordinary poem about August from Dorothy Parker.
He's a smart curator with some kind of taste (allegedly).
I am going to share a column about a very bad curator, but first an absolutely fabulous announcement.
Unclear if Chistopher Hawthorne is heading out of service, but exciting to see his power wife, Rachel Fine, taking a cool job at Yale. Fine is married to Hawthorne, the chief design officer for the City of Los Angeles and former architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times. Hawthorne will be teaching courses in journalism, criticism, and urban design in Yale College and the Yale School of Architecture. Fine and Hawthorne have two daughters.
And Weed abatement in Studio City... on agenda this Tuesday on motion by Paul Krekorian and Bob Blumenfield (who adores hockey) relative to funding for supplemental weed abatement and unimproved median island maintenance in Council District 2.
It's only $40,000 in the Council District 2 Street Services Overtime, but where is the project? Let's ask the Studio City Land Use Chair... oops, she's out!
The weed taxes are also very high in Studio City! And apparently so is Curren D. Price...
Ever wondered, "What Is Service?"
The law says that when you sue a person, partnership, corporation, or the government, you must give formal notice to the other side that you have started the legal process. If you want to sue the city council see Holly Wolcott, the City Clerk. It can be challenging.
One has to wonder what Curren Price and Paul Koretz were thinking... about their motion relative to funding for services in connection with the Mayor’s special recognition for the joint day of service between the University of Southern California (USC) and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Was he referring to all those horrible lawsuits? #CarusoCanSettleAnyDisgustingLawsuit #IncludingKarenBassRelated #OrMarkRidleyThomasRelated
Sneaky amendment, make it a joint day of PENANCE.
Play the USC/UCLA scandal reel, Johnny... no Smart Brevity. Two on one day!
(“USC makes confidential settlement with 80 students, many LGBTQ, who accused doctor of misconduct,” April 29, and “USC education school omitted key data for U.S. News & World Report rankings, report says,” April 29)
The salary rate for the permanent appointment of Jimmy Kim to the position of General Manager, RAP, BE ESTABLISHED at $264,090
The salary rate for the permanent appointment Jaime Pacheco-Orozco to the position of General Manager, Aging, BE ESTABLISHED at $207,714
The County of Los Angeles has six department head positions where an (Acting) person is serving, meaning they are temps.
Selwyn Hollins formerly from City of LA, now makes $320k to run Internal Services Department ISD, so pass that along to Tony Royster who runs GSD at the City, for benchmarking.
The Children & Family Services temp makes, $318k
The temporary County Counsel makes a whopping $382k
Mental Health is a big salary, only -$60k less than the $500k Sherin took, so a tasteful, $441k for the current gal.
Military and Veterans Affairs temp topper, $141k (consistent with our disrespect for he military).
Public Social Services, temp a tasteful, $297,000
And Vincent Holmes (Interim) gets a dinky little $207k to head up county youth development.
The librarian Skye Patrick is nicely paid, at $312k
Animal Care and Control, Marcia Mayeda $291K
The Executive Officer $302K
The DA makes $386,903
The Sheriff makes $369K
The Director of Regional Planning, currently makes $297k
Avak Keohtian, City's National treasure.
Cultural Faux Pas
In India, where Mayor Eric Garcetti is running late for an appointment you are not supposed to show someone the bottom of your feet. Or eat with the left hand, as it is used for other activities in some parts.
In sections of South-East Asia it is considered rude to point with your fingers (use an open hand, instead), and in much of the Arab world exposing the soles of your feet to another person, is frowned upon.
In Los Angeles, it is considered taboo to walk in front of a member of the public who has traveled to City Hall to address the local city council during their comment.
The John Ferraro Chambers at City Hall, often described as the Temple of Democracy, is the people's house, but you wouldn't know it.
The current regime is promoting a narrative that has an unruly public causing the council to have to rethink open government. Maybe Nury Martinez has spent too much time huddle with Avak Keohtian, a Chief Legislative Analyst who once outlined to me and an LAPD officer who chuckled along, how, in his view, the public should not be admitted to public meetings, they should essentially stay out of the way. "Leave it to the pros."
That's when I chirp up and remind, the pros are facing indictments, Avak, and sir, you are an influential man so should be brought up to speed on some of the local mores and one very serious, cultural faux pas.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has cleared the heir to Samsung the country’s biggest company of bribery charges, for which Mr. Lee Jae-Yong (no relation to Staffer B) spent 18 months in prison before his parole a year ago.
But there is no reason to assume that the Korean culture has any more or less of an appetite for corruption than Herb J. Wesson or Gagik Khachatryan, Armenia's former minister of finance, who along with his sons are facing criminal charges in Armenia.
The businessman was accused of providing more than $20 million in bribes. Some might remember the fun LA TImes Hamilton/Fleming article about pricey real estate and bribes: "In May, a French chateau-style mansion in one of Los Angeles’ most exclusive neighborhoods, Holmby Hills, complete with 11 bedrooms, 27 bathrooms and an asking price of $63.5 million."
Armenia seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991 but remains dependent on Russia for aid and investment. Many Armenians accuse the government of corruption and mishandling an economy that has struggled to overcome the legacy of central planning.
But when it comes to central planning here in Los Angeles, Avak Keohtian is the undisputed master of the City Hall dirty trick.
He'll stick a last minute amendment to an existing lease agreement with the Korean American National Museum, Inc. (KANM) on an agenda with 99 other items, to allow KANM to construct a museum and replacement parking on the City owned parking lot located at 601-617 South Vermont Avenue.
And the city has a rich tradition under Avak, of making sloppy errors that make it hard for the public to track what's happening.
For instance, call a firm Omni instead of ONNI makes a big difference.
Two separate eighty-thousand dollar "Taste of Soul" requests for city funding with different case file numbers; one withdrawn (only after the public called it out). Incorrectly labeling a spectacular vacation in CD2, 1518 North Cahuenga Blvd as if CD12.
That's called a intentional mistake.
And on Friday, May 18, 2018 6:03 pm and the Cure and Correct for Item 10A -- (10)13-0862-S1
Paul Krekorian's audible MOTION on the LAFD Automatic Vehicle Locator item #10 was improper because he did not take comment even though had been a substantial change to the item.
The original item 10 as posted was A
Krekorian, read in a motion 10 A: $540,000 Contractual Services
$810,000 Operating Supplies
That is substantial difference, and therefore not providing comment before or during consideration was a violation of the Brown Act.
On Friday Avak initiated a "Buscaino" wherein a city staffer or an elected walks right in front of the public comment podium as a resident is speaking.
Item 30 on Tuesday June 19, 2018 -- Case File 13-0849: Referred to the prior settlement that was allegedly paid off in August 2017 ($1.6M tax bill was knocked down to $1.1M... a $500,000 discount for Richard Weintraub of Sportsman's Lodge )
Budget and Finance Committee waived consideration of a NEW proposed settlement
Shemtoob told a member of the public that the public is going to have to wait for the city council approval before he would share the terms. And if those terms are accepted, the public will only get to know the amount of settlement from the LLC, not the context, ie. against what sum is actually owed. This defines a crooked racket.
Kudos to Avak!
One of Avak's best-in-show entries is the high-degree-of-difficulty combination:
1) three committee meetings at the exact same time to defeat any interested party or reporter trying to cover the city
2) mislabeling items to defeat a diligent search
3) burying many questionable items in a 100 item day, so that even if there were a crack investigative team paying attention, they wouldn't be able to make a dent in two minutes of public comment.
On June 12th there were three 1pm committee meetings, so Greig Smith denied my cards on the grounds that he called my card at the exact same time Mike Bonin was calling my card in Transportation. The item had caught my attention because of the Onni Group, who are big time players downtown and were housing the City's office of finance. Redflag as they have plenty of needs from the city for approvals, Jose Huizar...etc.
It was posted by Avak correctly in Committee (shown below) but there, the comments were denied by old coot, Greig Smith.
When the item finally hit council for a vote it was posted incorrectly (shown below). The agreement was noted as between the Omni group. Awkward. It's a contract to rent space from a treasured partner and developer Onni.
No comment taken and the weird Typo with over 100 items on agenda worked like a charm.
(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)