LA Politicians: Too Exhausted to Engage with the Public?

LOS ANGELES-Overexertion. Among the various causes of incidents outlined in the 2019-20 Trend Analysis, 15.7 percent of all worker's comp claims at Los Angeles County were due to overexertion. 

Overexertion includes those that involve strain or injuries due to lifting, carrying pushing or pulling. . . or doing bad things because Supervisor Ridley-Thomas asks you to.  

There's a great transcript from a landfill hearing that the Supervisor had to cut out of mid-stream because George Lucas was cutting a ribbon over at Exposition Park and the Mayor and Wesson and Price were all there. Besides, the landfill was not even in his district, so "Jeeves, bring around the car." 

From 2018-19 to 2019-20 the number of new general liability claims at the Board of Supervisors soared by 161%, from 21 to 55 claims.  

County department head salaries. 

Mark Ridley-Thomas, the newly installed CD10 jefe, who will not hesitate to speak up when he is triggered by an offensive remark or an ad hominem attack at a public meeting, has taken to putting Deputy Strefan Fauble of the City Attorney's office in an uncomfortable position.   

Fauble, a well-regarded civil rights leader, would probably agree that one man's "offensive" is another they's "inoffensive" and yet a third she's "neither offensive nor inoffensive." He always strives to be clear, but frankly, he does not seem comfortable whacking the moles the way Mr. Ridley-Thomas does. 

What to do? All whistleblower hotlines are open. 

Also, the Mayor's office of sexual harassment will very likely decline to discriminate against an in-house Attorney. 

"Injust Culture" is Catchy. 

What to make of the spike in claims against the Board of Supervisors? The County's Risk and Litigation reports have been formally shelved by Sheila Kuehl, so there was no discussion. 

The county has been developing some new branding: 

 "Just Culture," (as in Justice, not "only" -- it's a work in progress).  

It's not bad, but hard to get excited about our hallowed first all-female County Board of Supervisors because they've cut back their open meeting schedule, possibly due to overexertion, to twice a month. If you can call “on camera to one another” but invisible to the public, open.  

No matter what you label this activity or these items, it amounts to a horrific reduction of input, but they've really decimated the "general public comment."   

"Injust Culture" is catchy.   

Bonta's Frame:  Transparency and Openness.

Rob Bonta was sworn in as California's 34th attorney general by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday. He told the New York Times, "I see the role as the people’s attorney, to fight for everyday folks, to protect them from the abuse of those in power. That’s my frame. . .I intend my tenure as A.G. to be defined by transparency and openness." Lovely. Refreshing.

ITA in the House. 

One more pumpkin bread recognition Wednesday as Monica Rodriguez had the motion to add Tom LaBonge's voice to the My311 hotline for folks who are put on hold (pro tip: everyone).  

Rodriguez also pointed out that ITA under Ted Ross had spared no expense finding the right LaBonge clip. 

ITA always flexes its muscles in advance of the budget hearings to curry favor with decision makers. This year, with Mitch O'Farrell and Mayor Garcetti, they created a dazzling Arab American video. 

Suggestion: Why not reach out to Ramy Youssef, the Golden Globe award winning TV producer of Ramy. He's a New Jersey boy but I'm pretty sure he's also a NoHo Bro. The community deserves a first-rate presentation.

I miss the era when the mayor had dozens of communication specialists all googling him. Now, we can't even get a first-rate Arab American video. Everything has changed.  

Budget Shame: Efficiency over Engagement.

Yesterday, Paul Krekorian made good on his promise to break his previous record. Short hearings.

As I wrote on page 232 of my 474-page article last week, Paul Krekorian is still the chair of the budget committee. Bob Blumenfield and Curren Price are still aboard but left winger Mike Bonin and right winger Paul Koretz have been replaced accordingly by Kevin Deleon ("I want them in Sherman Oaks") and Monica Rodriguez ("Do you want them in Pacoima?")   

It is essential. . .that we have hearings that are open to the public, and user-friendly for the public, so that a speaker may drop a comment early. . .or after each dept presents.   

The entire budget is NOT one special item 1 and the suggestion itself crumbles under the lightest possible scrutiny. It’s absurd.

I don't disagree that there is an efficiency, but I think what gets lost is the engagement piece. 2min 

Consider his words and compare it to what's on offer at LA City Hall. . .2021. The below transcript is from 2016 or as labeled. Enjoy.

Chairman Krekorian: Mr. Preven, just for clarification of the process, by the way, you are not limited to one topic per day. You're limited to 2 minutes per day. You can speak about as many topics as you like. The one topic that's on our agenda is the budget. So, as long as it within the context of the budget you can speak about any department you like. You will have 2 minutes per day, we will have about 13 days of hearing. So, you will have nearly thirty minutes of time to provide your comments about the entire city budget. So, you're not being limited in any way. In fact, you are getting thirteen times as much time as the Brown act would require you to have. So, just wanted to clarify that for the record. Thank you, sir. We are not in a dialogue. Thank you, sir. Thank you, sir.  We are not in a dialogue. The controller will be next. Sit down please. We don't have back and forth discussions.  

Krekorian's explanation of budget from May 2016.

April 27, 2017

Eric Preven: Good Morning, Council member Krekorian and Budget Committee. I am very excited for the budget and there are multiple departments, today we have City Attorney, Ethics Commission and Controller on the docket.  To speak for sixty seconds--without hearing the presentation from the department--is challenging. Because that would be twenty-seconds per. . . What I would do, is ask, going forward, for those of us who follow the budget and in the public who are interested, if there is a presentation by a department to provide a short period to comment, would be great.  We have a nine point something billion-dollar budget but 25 billion when you consider all the voter approved stuff. . . 

Now I was up in HHH and I wrote about it for CityWatch coming up tonight -- we need to do a better job of inviting the public to really have meaningful input, when we asked about--what's the percentage that the city takes on a 3.5 million dollar HHH project, the response was: We're not taking comments from the public from the floor, which is crazy because it was a hidden meeting in the middle of the fifteenth floor anyway. So, I would really ask, Sir, I know you care a lot about transparency, to get people a little more time to speak on point. The Ethics Commission, Mitch O'Farrell needs to return some contributions. I've been trying to get them-- 

Krekorian: So. . .you're off topic, Mr. Preven, just so you know, we are going to be taking public comment every single day. So if you hear something today and you want to come and comment any other day feel free to come on and talk about it. 

Eric Preven: No, and I will.  

Krekorian:  This is not a back and forth. And then you know in addition we'll be taking comment before we vote on our reports back. We'll also be taking additional public comment later when we consider it in the council so. . . you'll have plenty of opportunities.  

May 1, 2017 

Eric Preven: 

Thank you, Mr. Krekorian, did you get the message about XXX's Time, would I be granted the extra minute? 

Krekorian: No, you can speak on his behalf. . . 

Eric Preven: You mentioned you were going to draw as much public comment as you can. . . and I think sixty seconds on I think nine or ten major departments including the department of transportation, the department of neighborhood empowerment, the city clerk -- do not interrupt me, Sir -- it's not tenable, it's five seconds per item -- You're interrupting me, sir, it's not appropriate. 

Krekorian: No, I will interrupt you. 

Eric Preven: That is the meeting. 

Krekorian: No, I will interrupt you because as I instructed you at the beginning, you are not here to speak about process you are here to speak about the budget or else your time is going to expire, so go ahead. 

Eric Preven: 22 million dollars to redo the Merced Theatre for the ITA, which is on the agenda, is not appropriate, Sir. . .when you are reducing. . .look at the diminution of Jack Humphreville from day one of the budget hearings to day three. On day one he was visible on day three he's not visible. What you're doing is blocking. . . and what is the budget for the budget hearings? Why are you in such a rush to get out of here by 1:30 p.m.? And why were you in such a rush? And why are we going to cut days off the budget as we did last year? Public input is critical, Sir, and I'm going to have to write about these issues.  You know I've had issues with the Department of neighborhood empowerment, it's on the budget today. . .the clerk is on the budget today, all of these are important things. . . GSD is on the budget today. . .these are the people with the real property. . .It's not appropriate, sir.


(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.