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Bitter Twisted Lies

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - We are approaching two and a half years since I last attended a public meeting at City Hall.

It's been three months since the public was finally permitted back inside after it had been shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Council President Nury Martinez could easily offer the opportunity to deliver virtual comments by telephone or zoom, for speakers who can't make the trek or can't wear a mask.  

On Tuesday Martinez attempted to persuade her colleagues on the city council to confirm Heather Hutt, who has been the district’s caretaker since mid-July, when Herb Wesson's appointment ran aground. Five council members blocked her proposal to name Hutt as the interim representative of the 10th District, sending it to a committee for review.  

Week in, week out Council President Martinez fires off against her critics, frequently sicking the LAPD on those who dare to challenge her "bitter twisted lies."  She legislates with scorn and literally hollers at the people, yet "still... like air, I'll rise."    

Still I Rise 

By Maya Angelou 

"You may write me down in history 

With your bitter, twisted lies, 

You may trod me in the very dirt 

But still, like dust, I'll rise.  

...

You may shoot me with your words, 

You may cut me with your eyes, 

You may kill me with your hatefulness, 

But still, like air, I’ll rise."

 

One wonders if Heather Hutt, who served as an aide to Vice President Kamala Harris when Harris was in the U.S. Senate would support a proposal to reopen virtual public comments.   

American Golf of Glendale & Mark Ridley-Thomas:

On Tuesday, the board of supervisors called for a 120-day report back with recommendations for updating the County’s 2014 water conservation ordinance with permanent water conservation measures for outdoor water use in unincorporated areas of the County, such as requiring water efficient irrigation systems, multi-benefit landscape design, limits on the washing of sidewalks and cars, banning non-functional turf, and other recommendations from the Chief Executive Officer’s November 24, 2021 report entitled, “Report Back on Supporting Urban Water Conservation in Los Angeles County;” 

Yawn.  What about those golf courses? 

Golf courses in Los Angeles are among the finest and most enjoyable in the nation.  Chester Washington Golf Course opened on 135 acres of land east of Western Avenue and south of 121st Street, in Los Angeles, on Wednesday, March 28, 1928.  The course, according to Golf.com  was initially known as Western Avenue Public Golf Course and later renamed Chester Washington after the publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, the city’s largest black-owned weekly. The Sentinel is currently held by Danny Joseph Bakewell's The Bakewell Company. 

At the heart of Chester Washington’s appeal is its history. Members of Chester Washington men's club played a crucial role in desegregating golf. In the 1950s, the course became a hot spot for Black celebrity athletes, including Joe Louis, Jim Brown, Maury Wills, Sugar Ray Robinson and many others. Over time, it has maintained its popularity — even a young Tiger Woods played there.  

In April 2020, Chester Washington & Maggie Hathaway the sister Golf Course were together designated as a Los Angeles County Historical Landmark, which protects them from the gentrification that the neighborhood, like many others in L.A. has been facing. 

The Minority Verification Sheet that was slipped by on a Board of Supervisor's agenda for September 15, 2020, transferring the courses, admitted that the contract was not going to a certified minority, woman, disadvantaged or disabled veteran owned business (CBE) or even a certified local small business enterprise (LSBE).   

Apparently, one proposer had asserted that their firm had been certified as a disadvantaged business enterprise, but apparently failed to provide proof of certification.   

The Envelope please:  American Golf of Glendale.  Ms. Hana Khouri has been President of American Golf’s parent company, Drive Shack Inc., since August 2019.  Most recently, Ms. Khouri worked at New Fortress Energy serving as Chief of Staff to NFE Chief Executive Officer, Wes Edens.  

I previously raised serious questions about Edens and American Golf, "Is this a guy we can trust? Is this a guy we want with his hand in County cash registers?" 

And where was Mark Ridley-Thomas in all this?

Abstaining.  

In the next two weeks, as Labor Day approaches, the names of great labor and civil rights leaders will inevitably be invoked. As we've noted before, Wall street always has its way with Main street. And so here’s a question for all our local civil rights leaders:  

Would any one of those leaders respond to this situation by doing nothing?     

For the second quarter 2022, the Company’s traditional golf business, American Golf, generated total revenue of $70.8 million, an increase of $8.5 million or 13.6% compared to total revenue of $62.3 million in the second quarter 2021.   

Among the 41 municipal leases the company holds, eight are County of Los Angeles Courses:  Whittier Narrows Golf Course, Mountain Meadows Golf Course, Los Verdes Course, Lakewood Country Club, La Mirada Golf Course, Knollwood Country Club, Diamond Bar Golf Course, and Chester Washington Golf Course. 

The October 17, 2021 article "I Told You So" spells out the Victoria Golf Course giveaway which will very likely take its rightful place along with Harvard Westlake's heist of Weddington Golf and Tennis on the short list of great local public amenities, handed over to moneyed private interests. Tiger Woods Foundation and USTA to name a few alongside the LA Galaxy.  A nice 'private' group.   

Total revenue for American Golf in Q2 included $15.2 million of managed course expense reimbursements in the second quarter this year compared to $12.9 million in the second quarter last year.  

The increase in total revenue was primarily due to higher event sales this year of $9.5 million, up $7.2 million or 311% versus the same period last year.  

The numbers are strong.  The ethics are weak. 

   

Civil Grand Jury Responses coming in hot...

Here is a smattering of disagreement from CEO Fesia Davenport, related to recommendations made in the 2021-2022 Civil Grand Jury Report. 

RECOMMENDATION NO. 1.17 

County should approve a policy that family members or friends of Supervisors, or current staff members, should not be hired in the County Supervisor's office.  

RESPONSE The respondents partially agree, the recommendation has not been implemented but may be considered for implementation in the future. While many departments have developed their own nepotism policies given their specific lines of business and hiring circumstances, preventing any conflict of interest, real or perceived, is a high priority for the County, there may be situations where it is appropriate for individuals who have a personal relationship to work in the same department.  

Public Comment:  SoCal Connected Family Ties May Mean Favors for L.A. County Supervisor's Son  

These instances should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and measures should be taken or put in place to prevent potential corruption and undue influence, conflicts of interest, or an appearance of impropriety. While the County does not have a countywide nepotism policy, each department is encouraged to develop their own nepotism and conflict of interest policies given their specific lines of business and hiring circumstances.  

Additionally, the County’s Fiscal Manual instructs Departments to take every step to eliminate an actual or apparent conflict of interest by separating the functions of related individuals and reassign such individuals to other responsibilities, if needed, to ensure the integrity of the County’s system of checks and balances. 

RECOMMENDATION 2.1 The Board of Supervisors (BOS) should consider an additional budget item for funding Department of Regional Planning’s (DRP) drone program including the cost of insurance. 

RESPONSE Disagree. This recommendation will not be implemented. DRP does not expect to annually procure additional drones or equipment related to new drones. When the service-life of any drone necessitates a replacement or if the fleet expands, DRP will work with the CEO to identify funding. Current ongoing costs are only for drone insurance and software costs which result in an estimated cost of $19,000 per year. The nominal amounts will be absorbed in the DRP’s operating budget. The recommendation will not be implemented because it is not yet warranted. 

RECOMMENDATION 2.11 BOS should consider additional compensation for planners who have completed Los Angeles County drone training.  

RESPONSE Disagree. The recommendation will not be implemented. DRP has provided drone training as an incentive to staff and funds the training and drone license fees for all trainees. 

RECOMMENDATION NO. 3.3 Consider proposals for and submitting a ballot measure to bring desalination plants into the County.  

RESPONSE Disagree. This recommendation will not be implemented. Desalination is a viable option in many areas with limited water supplies, and there are over 177,000 desalination plants operational in 170 countries. However, in Los Angeles County it does not provide a net benefit to the community when considered from a triple-bottom-line analysis taking into consideration economic, environmental, and societal impacts. Additionally, implementation of this recommendation would likely have net negative impact on the County’s efforts to meet its sustainability goals. Water agencies in LA County have been evaluating the feasibility of desalination for decades and no current desalination projects are recommended. Notably, this includes the decision in 2021 by the West Basin Municipal Water District to terminate their Ocean Water Desalination Project.  

RECOMMENDATION NO. 4.1 Designate a parking area in front or close to the facility for staff and family claiming or identifying a decedent.  

RESPONSE Disagree. This recommendation will not be implemented as the CEO and BOS have no jurisdiction over Medical Examiner-Coroner (ME-C) parking. This recommendation should be referred to the ME-C. 

RECOMMENDATION NO. 4.3 Provide a storage room to include individualized compartments/drawers for decedent belongings.  

RESPONSE Disagree. This recommendation will not be implemented. The BOS defers to ME-C’s response for further information on the storage process.  

RECOMMENDATION NO. 6.1 Scrap long delayed & debated plans to demolish the Men’s Central Jail [MCJ]. It serves a custodial & penal mission for hardened criminals. MCJ should continue to be used for this purpose.  

RESPONSE Disagree. This recommendation will not be implemented. MCJ is an outdated correctional facility that has outlived its usefulness and no longer meets the needs of the population. 

Claims Board:

On Tuesday September 6, 2022, the hallowed body known as the Claims Board will come together for a special meeting of the members.  That means the beleaguered but upbeat, Mayor Eric Garcetti or designee, will act as chair and together with the embattled Council President Nury Martinez or designee, and the resoundingly defeated City Attorney Mike Feuer, or designee, will review a few doozy whopper legal claims against the city.  

The matter of  Lillian Woodfin Parker described as a Senior Property Officer caught the attention because this $112,000 annual salary-type  character has been alleging harassment, discrimination, and whistleblower retaliation.  Go on...I've requested more detail.  The salary for that position at the Department of Water and Power is $112,626 to $139,937.   

I'll fire off a follow up to Matt Hale, the former 'one item' budget man and current LADWP cleaner-upper. Matt, is very smart. 

So, always a good sounding board for high-level grievances about endemic corruption.  Super smart and helpful. 

On September 16, 2020, Plaintiff Vincent Albano sued the City of Los Angeles,  asserting causes of action for disability discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Plaintiff was employed by Defendant as a police officer. Plaintiff alleges Defendant discriminated against him because of his disability. 

Charf Lloyd, who claims to have endured one of the most reprehensible acts of brutality against a homeless person, let alone a man in a wheelchair, sued over an incident involving Los Angeles Police Department members on June 2, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

An LAPD Brutality Relief Fund has raised $28,336 for Charf, comprised of 1,400 donations. On average $20/per donation.  

Harassment, discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, reprehensible acts of brutality ... 

I wonder who will serve on September 6, 2022.   it's a MYSTERY! 

One could ask directly at 2pm by dialing 1-669-254-5252 then entering the meeting ID: 161 676 5348#  then press # again.  Immediately press *9 to raise your hand, when acknowledged press *6 to unmute yourself. Here's the full agenda of 19 items, most of which are trip and falls and other pedestrian injuries.  

We look forward to working with you...[not really]

It is inarguable that a person can make a strong point in sixty seconds. Just listen to Stacey Abrams 

Exclusive Six minutes of Public Comment -- 9/6/2016 BOS Meeting [Open Session] 

Speaker:  Madame speaker, I'm going to allocate one minute to Eric Preven from my two minutes, and I want to talk to you about a lawsuit: Brandenburg versus Ohio, 395 U.S. 444  [..] 

Eric Preven: Thank you. It is Eric Preven, from the third district, on this final minute. So I am concerned that the board has claimed to restate its public comment rules, but in fact it has changed the rules. And there is confusion. There's a lot of confusion about it. Witness, all of the public speakers today raised concerns. So I would recommend that the Board of Supervisors reconsider and put on a public-noticed agenda a proposed plan of attack for public meeting comments so that then you could hear from the members of the public in such a way that they could speak on that without being disenfranchised from what is 90 items today. You put on today's agenda 90 items. You canceled August 30th, with nary a week's notice. It was on, I think, August 9th that you canceled the August 30th, thereby by compounding, as I raised on that day, multiple, multiple items. And then you roll out this draconian and restrictive new set of interpretations of your rules, which are inaccurate, among other things. So the scrubbers and the factual checkers need to put something on the agenda, bring the public in appropriately, and then we can move forward, okay? That's what I would recommend.  

Hilda Solis, chair: I was very lenient to give you that one minute, because your time has already expired, Sir. Goodbye.  

Lori Glasgow, Exec. Ofcr.:  In the future, the board rules do not allow ceding time for public comment.  

Hilda Solis, Chair: That's correct. Let's be clear. 

Sup. Ridley-Thomas: and, Madame Chair, perhaps counsel or the Executive Officer should reinforce the point that the change in the rules was notified well in advance.  

Hilda Solis, Chair:  Yep. In fact, it was weeks.  

Sup. Ridley-Thomas: And in writing. So any assertion that it was sprung on the public, and that it's a drastic and/or a draconian alteration of what has been afforded, just simply needs to be challenged. It should not be asserted without a response.  

Mary Wickham, Counsel: Yes, Supervisor, Madame Chair. Just to clarify the record, there has been no change in the board rules. The board rules, as written prior to today, allotted six minutes for public comment. Today, we allowed for six minutes for comment. There has been no change. In addition to the six minutes, members of the public who wish to speak on a policy item will be given additional time to do that. Mr. Preven, we would ask that you comply with our process. Members of our staff tried to work repeatedly with you today, to have you designate your time so that we could run a more efficient board meeting, which falls within the prerogative of the board, which is authorized by the Brown act, which is authorized by our board rules, and we look forward to working with you.  

Sup. Sheila Kuehl: May I just add: the adopted rule of the board, before I was even elected, was a total of six minutes per speaker. The fact that they didn't enforce it came to our attention. We did not adopt a new rule. As a matter of fact, we made it somewhat more generous, because the rule that was adopted said you had to spend 3 minutes on public comment, and you only had 3 minutes for everything else. Everything else. And so we said no, we would rather have the speakers allocate their own time. But we reinstated enforcement of the rule that already existed, for a six-minute limit. I think you've been coming here for quite a long time, but I don't know how long it's been since the board enforced its adopted rule.  

Eric Preven:  And if Supervisor Ridley-Thomas says that the changes were notified well in advance, how could county counsel Mary Wickham say, "Just to clarify the record, there has been no change in the board rules.  

Hilda Solis, Chair:  We're not covering our tracks.  

Eric Preven: So, no matter how one dices it, that is a significant reduction for a member of the public who has driven in from the outer reaches of the county to explain from scratch what is going on. Unlike a speaker addressing an item that is noticed on the agenda, in general public comment the speaker has to provide all of the exposition to make a coherent presentation.  [Never mind that members of the public are currently required to 'introduce' and 'comment' on more than one dozen items in a three minute period.  Some of the eleven million members of the public are better communicators than others but life is complicated and making a general public comment to the county board of supervisors is not easy and so the supervisors should explain why they can no longer tolerate the extra minute.  

Hilda Solis, Chair:  While we do roll, giving information that was made available at the last two meetings, and here's a copy of what was given, in both English and Spanish, and now it's even printed in the board book. So it's there. There's information there. It's not for you to decide. These are rules that were in place even long before we got here. It's not that I don't want to. Those are the rules.  The Executive Office will call us into closed session. 

 

(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)