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Withering Broadsides

ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - It seemed like an articulate African-American doctor of some kind was being heckled by a white city attorney and complaining, "I've got 17 seconds, Fauble, can you just close it for a second." 

Insiders knew she the speaker was hoping Mr. Fauble would close his mouth. "Go ahead... protect the trees and Sheila Kuehl, in Studio City," said Dr. Truthfay, who used to go by Mellow Desire. 

The doctor was speaking to the agenda and an item 7 that noted a legal victory by the Sunshine HIll Residents Association, who prevailed in a CEQA lawsuit against a property owner at 11472 West Laurelcrest Drive in Studio City. Apparently, the City Council's CEQA determination was vacated by a Judge Strobel ORDER on April 27, 2022. 

As the doctor exited stage right, "I submit proposals and you do nothing," she barked. "They're sleeping in their cars.... Rick Caruso for mayor!" 

Another member of the public, Candido Mares, who identified himself as a Native American Latino opened with a warm greeting for the city attorney "Good to see that you haven't' been run over by a Dodge Challenger, Fauble. They're selling speed!" Mr. Mares went on to give a local update that people had been changing their oil on Reseda boulevard. Mr. Fauble failed to see how that was on the agenda, so more squabbling, ensued.   

"You're disrupting the meeting..." Fauble sniped.  

Candido, fired back, "Stay out of my business."  

Another speaker said they'd applied for a Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) in March and tried to have it expedited. "I needed to be in a shelter, went to midnight mission, but no resources or vouchers or housing has materialized. I have had multiple people approach with their business cards, nobody has followed up... I'm in dire need." 

Nury Martinez agreed to have "a staff member meet you in the front row. They are going to come talk to you in a minute and get more information."

There were a lot of organizers masked and eager to extend tenant protections and many were blaming Gil Cedillo for what they said was a botched meeting of his Housing committee earlier in the week.  

"My mom is a small landlord, everyone on property had been laid off... I had to carry the mortgage..."   Cut off after, 1 minunte.

One organizer said the committee chaired by Mr. Cedillo was a disgrace, complaining about the terrible translation. He demanded that the city establish a permanent tenant bill of rights, "right now." 

Doug Haines, spoke for two NC boards calling for the closure of Lexington Park, stating that the fentanyl Overdose tragedy at Bernstein High School was preventable.  

"Lexington park should be closed. It's a gang park, near an elementary school."  He said LAPD needs money for these pocket parks and outlined how the problem emanates from encampments along 101 and Western--the providers of the drugs. He suggested Mitch O’Farrell clear the encampments.  

Many tenants were in attendance begging to have permanent protections in place before "you get rid of the pandemic protections." There was strong praise for the Universal Justice clause that has "allowed us to remain in our homes."

"The pandemic has significantly impacted my life circumstances," one woman said.  "My husband is the only one who brings the money home, and if that stops we will be on the street." 

"Our landlord  won't accept money orders. Our landlord is crazy and dangerous. Thanks to Marqueece Harris Dawson, for standing up for us."

 

 

"Please keep the protecciones."  (ttyl MHD) 

"I'm having cervical surgery, next week. The harassment is very strong and he won't allow anyone to visit me. I've complained to Building & Safety and housing, no calls are returned."  

A large crowd from ACE, pronounced Ah-say in Spanish, were in attendance on Friday to speak directly to council president Nury Martinez.   

"We need more attorneys to help us fight everything that we need to do," one women begged, "due to harassment, we have illnesses that we shouldn't have." 

One such speaker was hollering and using volume for emphasis the way the council president does herself when she gets worked up, about how great a job she feels she's doing.  

"These tenants were not prepared," she yelled in Spanish, "some of them have to have two or three jobs... to be able to pay for the rent, so they are totally indebted, so when you asked us for a vote, now, I am asking you guys to please to stand up for us." 

Fauble: Thank you. 

The agenda for Friday was ultra-lite. There were only seven items and only one open for comment.  

There was a CD10, Height District change.  Herb Wesson handled the height jokes in CD10 for years, and then again during the illegal stint filling in for Mark Ridley-Thomas, but the appeals on the agenda that were being denied, will be signed off on by the first ... Heather Hutt.  

Good news for Sunset Twins-HH, LLC c/o Daniel Neman and Mr. Phil Patel for various CD13 happenings under O'Farrel's election time leadership.   

And great news for Paul Koretz's, CD5, the richest district in Los Angeles and Wilshire Springs, LLC.  With the help of the highly effective Craig Lawson, Friday's plat du jour sailed through without discussion.  

... the proposed demolition of the existing two-story commercial building and surface parking lots to develop an eight-story mixed-use building with 242 residential dwelling units and 10,900 square feet of commercial space fronting Wilshire Boulevard; the Project would set aside 25 dwelling units for Extremely Low Income Households; the Project would encompass a total floor area of 260,000 square feet resulting in a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 3.54:1 and would have a maximum building height of 105 feet; the northern lots and Carling Way (which would be merged into the Project Site through Case No. VTT-83358-CN) would be redeveloped into a 16,822 square-foot green belt that would be utilized as a publicly-accessible common open space; the Project would provide 26,350 square feet of open space which includes the green belt, a courtyard, roof deck, private balconies, and amenity rooms; the Project would comprise of 293 residential parking spaces located within two subterranean levels and one above-grade level, and 30 commercial parking spaces located on the ground level; designated driveways would provide ingress and egress for residential and commercial parking and would be located along South Citrus Avenue; the Project would also provide 164 bicycle spaces (143 long-term and 21 short-term); for the properties located at 5001 Wilshire Boulevard, 671-677 South Highland Avenue, and 668 South Citrus Avenue. 

The hearing was held in committee, but some residents were curious about the monthly pricing for the 25 low income dwelling units (would it be around $1,500?) and regarding, the 217 market rate dwelling units (what... $6,000?)  Less?  More?  Tell us! 

And re: open space calculations: 26,350 square feet of open space which includes the green belt, a courtyard, roof deck, private balconies, and amenity rooms.   

Are amenity rooms counted as open space?  C'mon! 

"Sir, this is an "Item for which Public Hearings Have Been Held." Cut him off.  Zapping sound.  

Then a strange thing happened on the way out of the... public forum. 

Where is DeLeon going?

After all the public comments, real and imagined, after the seven agendized items mostly having to do with land use in CD5, CD10, CD13 and one minor CEQA victory in Studio City, either CD2 (Krekorian) or CD4 (Raman) we're checking, there was a major Brown Act implosion. 

DeLeon kicked things off with an invitation to a Boyle Heights remembrance of Vicente Fox with the former President of Mexico's widow. A quick goodbye from Joe Buscaino to Jake Ettinger, one of his best guys, who is leaving to join the staff of State Senator Ben Allen, "This man speaks incredible Spanish... at meetings in watts, they thought he was full-on Latino. You get your money's worth..."

There was a quick "Staffer B" John Lee reminder to take the 'little gift' left on council members' desks. All the public could see was envelopes as there are no close-ups provided for members of the public or gifts for local pols left by Korean dignitaries.  

The public is grateful, but notes here with some concern that the South Korean currency has tumbled to a 13-year low following US inflation data on September 14.  Perhaps the city's Ethics Commission should have a look inside those gift envelopes. "Mr. David Tristan, c'mon down!" 

Gil Cedillo rose again to attack his critics one more time before handing off to Kevin DeLeon for what DeLeon called a quick commentary on the LAHSA released homeless count.  It was not agendized. 

DeLeon started by celebrating how we had collectively flattened the homeless curve and how the pandemic, thanks to Nury Martinez's brilliant policies...had worked to "curtail the outflow." [of people onto the streets]. 

The city's technology agency immediately cut to a two-shot on the channel 35  telecast so that the public could see Nury beaming under her mask as Mr. DeLeon, the undisputed star of the show, diligently praised her.   

"Kudos," he said, before launching into comments about the migration of a tiny home residents from Glendale coming to CD14. 

Hmmm. That didn't seem to be on the agenda, either?  

The public thought, no worries, he'll probably keep it brief. 

No.   Mr. DeLeon made a giant meal out of it and brought plenty to share with his hungry colleagues. It turned into a real potluck of unagendized stuff, and it was delicious.   

DeLeon went on and on for in excess of four minutes, regaling the public and council with his tiny home saga.  

Curren D. Price of CD9 thanked DeLeon for bringing the subject forward / veering off course, and then unfurled a similar, well-prepared four-minutes on the unagendized Homeless count.  

Paul Krekorian, who is sly like a dog and refers to the entire budget as one special item, rose appropriately to tout a woman from Toluca Lake who was celebrating her 99th birthday, before diving into his totally unagendized rant about Armenia.  

But let me be clear, it was a very well coordinated four-minutes on a very serious subject about which he is an authority; he used the term 'tin pot dictator' and referred to Nancy Pelosi's travel schedule.  He gave sharp remarks about the alleged atrocities by Azerbaijanis or Azeris also known as Azerbaijani Turks perpetrated against Armenia, so why not agendize them?   

Mitchell O'Farrell of CD13, who loves hearing himself sermonize while promoting youth diving and the LA River, leapt forward to discuss the horrible tragedy at Bernstein Elementary.  He went on about the unagendized drug crisis for more than five minutes. [Note: Never dive in the LA River] 

Nury Martinez chimed in, mentioning how hard it is to raise kids in Los Angeles and everywhere with social media, accessibility to drugs. She said the drug crisis was terrifying and touted Alberto M. Carvalho of LAUSD who she said attended the El Grito celebration, where Gil Cedillo was the Padrino.  

Paul Koretz, who is running for City Controller, against Kenneth Mejia, who according to VICA's leader Stuart Waldman, is a hedge fund manager who made a fortune in fracking, got credit for attending Nury's Grito. NOTE: Mr. Waldman is looking into why VICA blocks smart people on Twitter.   Unverified: Koretz rode his bike to San Francisco. 

Marqueece Harris Dawson rose to join what he called a "party of regret" noting over half a dozen homicides in Los Angeles last week alone. He dropped two minutes of commentary, circling back on the tragic rapper homicide at Roscoe's in south LA. It wasn't on the agenda.  

Gil Cedillo, who had already called out the public for critiquing him, rose once again to deliver two more indulgent minutes on how the pandemic has made Angelenos so angry.  He then went on to give his views on the unagendized homeless count. 

DeLeon and Cedillo went back and forth and touting Mr. Krekorian's unagendized Azerbaijani presentation.  

DeLeon was heading for his third and largest outpouring of commentary, and the public was growing concerned.  What if he never stopped talking?  

After a six minute stretch of uninterrupted speech, several layers of thanking Mitch O’Farrell for his comments on Fentanyl and then topping it by boasting of his own meetings with federal agencies... "about Meth, specifically."  

Like an electric car that suddenly lost its charge, "Thanks for allowing me to indulge myself, Madame President."  

There was just one item that went unanswered...  

A member of the public had snarked on social media that the LA Public health director, Barbara Ferrer, should consider taking a short ten-minute break from hassling restaurants and praising the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and try to step up for some residents who have been waiting for... "Mr. DeLeon to get up off his ass and do something for the residents of the SB Building located across the street from the Cecil Hotel."   

The residents took to social media to document the horrors of living in a building that had been neglected by its owner/management company, Greystar.  The building was deemed uninhabitable by the City on Sept. 1.   

Maybe Mr. DeLeon could shut the F&*k up and put it on the agenda. 

Busted:

Two key provisions of the Brown Act that ensure that the public's business is conducted openly are the requirements that legislative bodies post agendas prior to their meetings and that no action or discussion may occur on items or subjects not listed on the posted agenda. 

If the meeting is a “regular meeting” of the legislative body the agenda must be posted 72 hours in advance of the meeting for “special meetings,” the “call” of the meeting and the agenda  must be posted at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. 

A body may not take action or discuss any item that does not appear on the posted agenda.   

There are some limited exceptions limited exceptions to the no discussion on non-agenda items rule.  

Those exceptions are:    

  • Members of the legislative body or staff may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by persons during public comment periods.  
  • Members or staff may ask questions for clarification and provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information.  
  • Members or staff may make a brief announcement, ask a question or make a brief report on his or her own activities.
  • Members may, request staff to report back to the legislative body at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter; and   
  • The legislative body may itself as a body take action to direct staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda.   

The body may not discuss non-agenda items to any significant degree under these exceptions. The comments must be brief. 

These exceptions do not allow long or wide-ranging question and answer sessions between the public and city council or between legislative body and staff.   

When the body is considering whether to direct staff to add an item to a subsequent agenda, these exceptions do not allow the body to discuss the merits of the matter or to engage in a debate about the underlying issue.  

It is important to follow these exceptions carefully and interpret them narrowly because the city would not want to have an important and complex action tainted by a non-agendized discussion of the item.  

Any person may also seek declaratory and injunctive relief to find a past practice of a legislative body to constitute a violation of the Brown Act.

In order to do so, the person must first send a “cease and desist” letter to the local agency, requesting that the practice cease.  

If the agency replies within a designated time, and disavows the practice, no lawsuit may be initiated. [ttyl] 

(Sections 54954.2, 54955 and 54956) (Section 54954.2(a)(2)) (Section 54954.2(a))  (Section 54956). (Section 54960).  

The Disrespect continues: INDIA: 75 - USA: 0

It was the same week, that the Los Angeles Times released, 75 years of the Los Angeles Lakers, a new hardcover collector’s book. In Washington, DC, 75 organizations from across the US came together to celebrate 75 years of India’s independence and the glorious history of its people, culture, and achievements in a community reception, on September 14, 2022, at Capitol Hill.  

The event was well attended by members of US Congress, Indian Embassy officials, Indian-American White House officials, and CEOs, and delegations of community organizations, who praised India’s progress and many achievements and contributions of the Indian-American community.   

Where the hell was the U.S. Ambassador to India?  

Special Assistant to President Joe Biden Raj Panjabi, highlighted that Biden has appointed 130 Indian Americans across the government. He shared Biden’s message, “as people around the world, including nearly 4 million Indian Americans celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence on August 15th, the United States joins the people of India to honor its democratic journey guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring message of truth and non-violence. India and the United States are indispensable partners, and the US-India Strategic Partnership is grounded in our shared commitment to the rule of law, promotion of human freedom and dignity.”     

So, where is the Ambassador? 

Democratic Chair of the India Caucus, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) stated, “I’m thrilled to join the Indian American community to celebrate 75 years of independence and celebration of the people of India and the growth of Indian culture. The United States is the oldest democracy and India is the largest democracy and it is no surprise ...deepen the bond between both the countries.  I am a strong supporter of India and Indian Americans.”   

We are the largest democracy in the world, but India gets no Ambassador? 

During her address, Indian American Caucus member, Congresswoman Michelle Steel (R-CA) cautioned that China “very selfishly” is looking to expand and ultimately attempt to take over the whole world, further highlighting the importance for a strong US-India alliance. She conveyed that a lot of Indian Americans represent California, and her pride in working with them.  She went on to state, “we even give out 5000 Hindi ballots in my district.”   

Great, who’s the US Ambassador? 

The event hosted cultural performances by Anugraha Sridhar, Pandit Sandeep Mahavir, Bharat Balvalli, and Siddhivinayak Temple of NJ at the reception where prominent community organizations, such as NCAIA, ISKCON, GOPIO Silicon Valley, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, Global Indian Chamber of Commerce, Rajdhani Mandir, Yoga Sangeeta, and Jayalakshmi Datta Yoga Center were present.   

No sign of Eric Garcetti.  

Sleepy Board: 

I understand why my phone alerts me when the Queen of England's funerals starting or, as a recent example, Puerto Rico, a US territory has been plunged into a blackout.  I'm not sure who decides, but I am okay with it.  My phone lit up at six ayem the other day, it's past to replace your mascara, these wands will help you achieve the extra long lashes of your dreams."   

It doesn't seem like wake 'em up news, to me, but, whatever.  I don't wear mascara.  At one point during the last Board of Supervisors meeting before the mighty storm that upended county government as we know it, people were tweeting about needing to do a quorum check, to be sure that Sheila Kuehl, who admittedly loves hearing Barbara Ferrer and Christina Ghaly prattle on endlessly about Covid and Monkeypox, was awake and fully alert. 

Nobody expected that the progressive icon would be raided by law enforcement the next morning.  

Withering Broadside:

The word broadside most often refers to a very strong and harsh spoken or written attack, but it has other meanings as well, among them “an attack by a ship in which all the guns on one side of the ship are fired together.”  Jim Newton snuck the expression in a piece about Free speech and L.A. County ten years ago.  

Moderator: Our next participant is Eric Preven. Please state the items you are addressing and whether you will address on general public comment. You may begin.  

Eric Preven: Thank you. I am going to address several items and will address on general public comment as well. So first of all, how much time does that afford me two minutes and one minute is that accurate? 

Sup. Mitchell, chair: That affords you three minutes.  

Eric Preven:  Thank you. Appreciate that, Madame chair.  First of all, I would like to recognize the item that is calling to name a lobby after Maria Chong-Castillo who is a long-time veteran of the third district.  

She is in charge of public works and recs and parks and various other little county departments and subsets of the county.  Not all, but many, and she works for the supervisor Kuehl in the third district and she goes back even further to when Zev Yaroslavsky was running the show.  Which, if you can believe it, goes back 39 years.  

Chong-Castillo also worked for Zev at city council, where Janice Hahn worked before she went to congress. So this is just a tremendous, unbelievable lineage of service.  

There were a couple of little speed bumps along away. She didn't want to get into the Herbalife thing, but eventually we cleared them off the county beaches because they had been putting their nasty multi-level marketing scheme MLM  into effect that actually hurt a lot of county residents. 

The idea that the county would be giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars to an entity that was hosting a triathlon on our county beaches, was nixed, and we've moved forward subsequently with another very classy sponsor: BofA.  

The thing that is important to look at is naming more than just a lobby after Chong Castillo. I think what we need to look at, in order to give the full recognition of the people, who have been here for so long, and deserve it, is to name the Inmate Reception Center, down at the county jail after Maria. 

Apparently, if you believe the ACLU, there's an appalling medieval, abyssmal situation down there and this board has simply ignored it's professional responsibility. 

Apparently the sheriff's department, that runs that jails and the county board of supervisors who pay for it, have been tremendously ineffective for many many decades.  

So maybe we can find a way to name the name the IRC after Maria Chong-Castillo, so that the standards of care will quickly rise to the level of her outstanding service.  

Like the sun in the morning.  And the light will shine, and nobody will be chained up to a bench for sixty hours while the county, shuffles paperwork around in closed sessions.  

Because the people know it is unacceptable, under any circumstances.  

And Max Huntsman, the inspector general for nearly a decade, while presiding over a staff of 25 people who are not even housed in the jails, but rather in nice offices near the City market are posting reports on agendas with 100 items so barely noticed. 

In fact, let's go further. How about proclamation to have Maria Chong-Castillo day, to commemorate 44 years of federal oversight, and county failure?  

Moderator: Excuse me, your time has expired, may we have the next speaker, please. 

Meet & Confer:

Readers will be surprised to learn that lawyers rarely agree on anything, but the law still mandates that they try.   

How does a so-called, meet and confer, work?  

Many areas of the law require attorneys to meet and confer. 

What does that mean?  

It means the lawyers must communicate the basis for their disagreement on a legal issue and make a meaningful attempt to reach a resolution.   The meet and confer process can occur by letter, telephone call, at court, at deposition, at lunch, or wherever.  

The point of the meet and confer is for one side to give the legal basis for why they think. Then the other side must respond by either agreeing to provide updated responses, or stating why they think the original filing was appropriate.   

Only after the meet and confer process is complete can a party file a motion with the court.  

Todd, the attorney for two very naughty clients, plans to file a motion with the court to collect attorney fees, but is required to meet and confer, first. 

The logic is that meet and confers save the court time and resources to hear about and decide the issues between the parties,  But there are times when disputes cannot be resolved outside of court.   

Because Todd's clients are intransigent, lawless, high-conflict litigants who have repeatedly refused mediation, a judge may be required to resolve the very serious allegations of Fraud. 

California recently extended the meet and confer requirements to the kinds of documents that defendants often file in an attempt to dismiss a lawsuit, or threaten to get attorney fees as a means of intimidation, as in the instant matter.    

These motions are intended to cause opponents time and money and in the case of our octogenarians, pain in light of the shocking elder abuse aimed at longtime residents. 

The law now requires that the party who seeks sanctions first engage in meet and confer. That means the moving party must discuss the legal basis and the respondent party must be given a chance to respond.  

Courts are optimistic that if parties meet and confer, disputes can be resolved without having to file time-consuming motions in court.   

The law requires that litigants at least attempt to reach a resolution.  

Mediation works. 

Open Forum at the Studio City Library: 

The Opener:   

Sheriff Alex Villanueva v. Supervisor Sheila Kuehl   

On the patio, unplugged:  

Karen Bass v. Rick Caruso 

The Big Fight:

Gavin Newsom v. Ron DeSantis  

 

(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)