ERIC PREVEN’S NOTEBOOK - Eric Garcetti testified at his confirmation hearing to become the US Ambassador of India in December 2021 that he “never witnessed, nor was it brought to my attention, the behavior that’s been alleged.” Bullshit.
A number of Senate Democrats who face tough battles in red states in 2024 haven’t looked into the nomination yet, according to the Los Angeles Times. Bullshit.
Most Republicans on the Foreign Relations panel opposed Garcetti’s nomination on Wednesday, a contrast to last year’s business meeting. Will Eric Garcetti actually get a vote on the Senate floor?
It raises a key question for, Charles Schumer and others -- what do Senators think about whistleblowers? Or do they even know that Eric Garcetti’s attenuated confirmation efforts are due largely to the tenacity of the many victims who spoke out, refusing to go along and look away?
Some Senators may not be fully aware of the situation or, possibly don’t really care. Susan Collins the Republican Senator of Maine made some positive comments after Punchbowl News reported that Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said she would vote for Garcetti on the floor.
Hirono had previously said she was “still considering” how she would vote. “In this case, it wasn’t him who did it,” Hirono said of Garcetti and Jacobs’ alleged behavior. “He also said he didn’t know anything. So at this point, I’m ready to vote for the guy.”
One has to wonder, “rufkm?”
Did Hirono sit down and listen to the Whistleblower Aid advocate? Hirono's office was very polite but has avoided answering the question so far.
Whistleblower Aid is a non-profit legal organization in Washington, D.C. supporting individuals who lawfully report government and corporate law-breaking. It provides assistance to individuals in the United States and abroad seeking to disclose illegal conduct, including misconduct relating to government officials, securities fraud, sexual violence, and violations of tax, labor, or environmental laws.
In recent years Whistleblower Aid lawyers have represented Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and the Ukraine whistleblower whose disclosures led to the first impeachment of President Trump.
Does the Senator from Hawaii think it is OK to enable and look away from sexually predatory behavior, as long as you don’t engage in it yourself? Doesn't that logic absolve the enablers?
One senator who looked deeply into the issue and posted a report found that it was “Extremely Unlikely that Garcetti didn’t know.”
Wouldn’t Senator Hirono at least want to hear from the whistleblowers? Why does Eric Garcetti think they are liars?
Angelenos familiar with City Hall in Los Angeles urge Senator Hirono to take responsibility and consider the credibility of the nominee and not just take his denials at face value. Not when there are legitimate whistleblowers with a contrary view pleading about what they endured.
If Senator Hirono chooses to look away, she is helping Mr. Garcetti whitewash his crimes.
What crimes? Lying to the American public and the Senate and the big guy.
After Wednesday’s vote, on International Women’s Day no less, one of the whistleblowers, spoke of "a real disconnect between the rhetoric we hear from elected leaders who claim to support workplace sexual harassment and the pass they give to party loyalists in the next breath."
Hirono might fairly say, “Thank you, for your comments, Mr. Preven, but the President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden vouching for Eric Garcetti is good enough for me.”
The enabler in chief? “Folks, this is not complicated. There is no room for sexual harassment or retaliation or workplace violence in America. Period.”
Mr. President, not to interrupt your very nice speech, but have you reviewed the Whistleblower reports about Eric Garcetti?”
It’s hard not to feel empathy for the victims of the Gymnastics molestations that went on for years despite dozens of reports about a doctor molesting athletes that were ignored or worse. And what about the poor children who were molested, as bishops found ways to do nothing with the priests who they knew were molesters, except shuffle them from one parish to another, so they could prey on more kids with impunity?
The gynecology scandal at USC. UCLA. Michigan State. Penn State.
I think Senator Hirono should read the testimony of the whistleblowers if she hasn’t. Yashar Ali, who was victimized himself by Mr. Jacobs, wrote, “All I know is this, anyone who votes for Garcetti should never utter #MeToo again…”
And one Senator promoting a no-vote said, “We must ensure that any chief of mission will, without question, protect our foreign service officers and embassy staff from all types of harassment.”
Imagine a similar situation where dozens were exposed to predatory behavior at the US Embassy in India. If mayor Garcetti squeaks through, would the traumatized in India be facing what the whistleblowers from Los Angeles are facing now— as Garcetti told the President and the world, I “never witnessed, nor was it brought to my attention, the behavior that’s been alleged.”
Pricing: Note and File
I missed the regular meeting held on February 28, 2023, of the Government Operations Committee. Marqueece Harris-Dawson was the Chair and Eunisses Hernandez of CD1 attended and asked a few questions. Councilmember Hutt was a no-show.
It was annoying to see a NOTE and FILE of items 6 and 7 reports relative to best practices to ensure that the City is getting the best price for purchased items slide through the city council without any public comment.
Folks out in the districts generally like getting the lowest and most responsible pricing available, unless there is a very good reason not to. But procurement red tape at city hall has been much harder to cut now that Ray Chan, mayor Garcetti's most gifted concierge is on trial facing federal corruption charges.
For background, the City makes its purchases under the authority granted in the City Charter and Administrative Codes and as a result, competitive bidding is the primary method for obtaining solicitations.
Solicitation awards are made to the lowest and most responsible bidder who meets end-user specifications and on the basis of the lowest ultimate cost to the City.
In fulfilling these duties, all qualified suppliers have equal opportunity to do business with the City. There is no requirement to donate large sums to the Mayor's fund.
During the Committee meeting, after the one caller had been disconnected abruptly, the clerk got Harris Dawson to confirm, "Yes, we won’t accept any more callers.”
Hernandez asked if there were any kind of scorecard to keep track of monthly contract awards to women, disadvantaged, minorities etc.
Mr. Harris-Dawson, joined Hernandez, in lamenting the logic that cheaper is always better, citing the need for more local hires. He said that it costs more sometimes to do business in LA because we "are committed to helping small businesses."
Hey, whatever happened to RAMP? Why did that not come up during the fifteen-minute meeting?
It was May of 2021 that a young activist and Influential Budget Chair, Paul Krekorian ran into the town square with a motion to install an OFFICE OF PROCUREMENT / CITY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER
And by March 8, 2022, "one of my most important priorities has always been to foster the growth of small business... as result of these efforts, a new and dramatically new procurement system for the City is now complete and open for business.
RAMP, the Regional Alliance Marketplace for Procurement, is expected to leverage over $30 billion of economic activity in the region over the next decade, increasing opportunities for all businesses, and removing barriers to participation for women and minority-owned businesses.
I checked it out... was immediately confused and put off.
I went for help from Chip, the helpful 24/7 virtual assistant bot to answer questions in real-time, but alas no such luck. Chip was down.
People who follow this column will never be able to forget how important best pricing contract language is and strategy.
For example, in general term condition GTC-16 in City contracts, it states that the prices charged to the City on any contract shall not exceed those charges of other government agencies. If the supplier sells the same products or services to other government agencies under similar quantity and delivery terms and conditions at prices below those stated in the City’s contract, the supplier shall immediately extend the lower prices to the City."
(Eyes narrowing) So, like the Taser agreement for body cams. Right after Los Angeles, opted into the bodyworn program spearheaded by felon Mitchell Englander, (though Krekorian was absent for the vote) Axon/Taser extended an offer of "first year" free. When we circled back to collect our $7 million, Krekorian and Bob Blumenfield the new Budget Committee Chair winced in shame.
It's never too late for a refund! Get in there, City Council...for the small businesses.
Former city councilmembers Jose Huizar and Mitch Englander pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison.
A former deputy mayor, Raymond Chan, is standing trial now.
It is very expensive to take a case brought by the US attorney’s office to trial, but with the help of numerous donors, Ridley-Thomas has hired one of the nation’s elite law firms, Morrison Foerster, to defend him.
One big question: Will Ridley-Thomas testify in his own defense?
The Pride of The County:
Breaking USC rules is not against the law, according to the lawyers for Mark Ridley-Thomas, who allegedly wanted something else from Marilyn Flynn: He wanted to transfer $100,000 from one of his political campaign funds to a new nonprofit headed by his son, Sebastian. And, he wanted to funnel the money through USC.
Flynn accepted the money at her school of social work, then allegedly persuaded USC to donate $100,000 to United Way, the fiscal sponsor of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’ Policy Research and Practice Initiative (PRPI). Yes, it's the same United Way of Los Angeles that Sachi Hamai, the former County CEO served on the board of.
Though, Hamai resigned from that position before the United Way board voted on a measure to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
The legal team at County Counsel brought in its favorite lawyers from Covington & Burling, Dan Shallman and Carolyn Kubota, to really avoid any appearance of impropriety. They bring... actual impropriety!
"Sir, you're disrupting the meeting."
Correction: The county's favorite lawyer is, Skip Miller, who also presided over the shameful $28.5 million dollar Vanessa Bryant et al. settlement.
Miller said of the Hamai Sheriff case, “I frankly think that if we litigated [Hamai’s] case, a jury could have hit the county for a lot more than $1.5 million, a lot more,” he said.
Ms. Hamai never even filed a claim.
Dear Dawyn Harrison:
Please provide all the invoices for compensation to Miller Barondess, LLP, even if the firm is engaged through another firm engaged directly by the county.
The county board is going to fly the Progress Pride flag at county offices daily for the month of June to honor pride month.
Which airline should the county family use to fly to Washington DC on the week of April 24th? Good question.
And are they really canceling the weekly board meeting?
How about an RFP for air carriers, eager to fly about 100 county workers to the nation’s capital? It would be good to have a mechanism for various lobbyists, advocates, and various hangers-on to also qualify for a county rate!
You know, extend the 'best pricing' to the many, many helpful associates and consultants.
CC - CEO, Fesia Davenport
(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)