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Summer Funk and Lots of Other Thoughts

THE CITY-Murders increased 36 percent in Los Angeles in 2020. LA City Council is getting fired up for more policies that can build opportunities for those on the tightrope and the governor is taking a break from firing million dollar checks out of a t-shirt cannon to jump in on the action. 

"We announced our unprecedented $12 billion tenfold increase in our historic investments to address homelessness this year."  

And presumably someone is going to swoop in to assist with the rising cost of food, childcare expenses, utilities, and medications; the challenges with late fees, loss of work hours, business closings, and presumably at some point, employment benefits coming to an end.  

Kissing is back with a vengeance. 

Coco Chanel's vintage response to a young woman's query of her, “Where should one use perfume?" is solid gold. She quipped"Wherever one wants to be kissed." Hint: Not in the mayor's office. 

Unfortunately, it's impossible to use the expression "Solid Gold" these days without thinking of the Garcetti's in house sexual harassment scandal.  

It was Oscar Wilde who observed, “A kiss may ruin a human life” but the question now is, why does it have to be Mayor Garcetti's life? 

In a perfect world, the Rick Jacobs’ transgression would have lived a short but natural life and then gone where all such sagas go. . .nowhere. 

But in retrospect, Garcetti adopting the time-tested attitude that he never saw anything out of place was a miscalculation. It simply doesn't scan. . .as every other human being in the vicinity saw a lot and collectively held their breath in a sort of toxic. . .embrace. 

The mayor personally empowered Rick Jacobs to gallivant across the city and country raise large sums of money for democratic and other causes. 

It is a LONG and HARD story to tell but when The Times sued the city over its refusal to say how much was being spent on Garcetti’s security detail when he traveled, the public dove into how much time the mayor was out of town, leaving a half-crazed Herbert J. Wesson in command. (Juul vape, here.) 

Valentine's Day 2018 

-----Original Message-----

From: Eric Preven <[email protected]>

To: Julie.Ciardullo <[email protected]>

Cc: david.e.harrison <[email protected]>; carlos.singer <[email protected]>; richard.llewellyn <[email protected]>; leela.kapur <[email protected]>; ana.guerrero <[email protected]>; mike.feuer <[email protected]>

Sent: Wed, Feb 14, 2018 4:47 pm

Subject: Fwd: Out of State // All Travel Expenses 2016, 2017

 

Hi, Julie, 

First things first. The mayoral notices to the Council President about being out of state, subsequent to early november through the present are generated at Guerrero's desk and are embarrassingly late.  Guerrero's helper can do it in ten minutes, so it is a wilful failure to provide, not just an annoying and unnecessary one. Do we have enough mayoral staff?   

The limited air travel for a smattering of travel paid for by the Mayor's office was provided by Mr. Harrison but nowhere could I find the evidence of records substantiating, at whose expense, the Mayor made his way to Europe, South America, Qatar etc.  As I said to your esteemed colleagues at LAPD, CLA, City Clerk, City Attorney before you stepped into the ... case, by honoring Carlos Singer by forever searing his good name to the roster of mayoral obfuscation specialists, it is in no way an effort to slight you, Julie Ciardullo, or the young dawdling attorney, Omar Gonzales, who happily trained on the desk of the ever feisty Richard Llewellyn. Rest easy, there is plenty of horrifying embarrassment to go around.  

It would be appropriate to provide the records. My heart goes out to Jeff Milman over at the Olympic committee and Bill Carrick over at the Mayor's various political committees who are both aware of this reasonable request by copy and who have done absolutely nothing re: compliance and provision.   

I hope Garcetti is not being given bad legal advice. It's an interesting area, but the question who is flying the mayor around first class, or coach...and why only coach, if only coach? There is certainly nothing inherently wrong about travelling but denying public access to the costs is neither tolerable nor Presidential. 

We're talking about the great Mayor of Los Angeles. . . for god sakes, hand over all the records right now.  

Garcetti's posture of "I see nothing, I hear nothing, and I say NOTHING!!!" worked for Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's heroes, it is not mayoral at all. 

So many city workers and staff watched as the Mayor's team simply refused to get the invoices paid by the Olympics committee or his Officeholder account.  

But "As Time goes by" ... It's still the same old story. A fight for love and glory. A case of do or die. . .  

"Your time is up, Mr. Garcetti."    

 

Janet Malcom RIP 

Her central crime if there was one, involved cobbling together 50 or 60 separate conversations and making them seem like a single lunchtime monologue. Anna Quindlen, one of her critics, said it was over the line to tidy up such material into a "dramatic composite version." 

She claimed in her defense that she was just trying to put it in a logical order. Whatever. 

I had forgotten she was an immigrant from Czechoslovakia who was stymied until she picked up English at school in Manhattan.  Pretty inspiring to come here in the middle of the century and land as a writer for the iconic New Yorker.  

The NY Times obit reported that "one day she repeated an anti-semitic slur, prompting her parents to inform her that she was Jewish. By then she had already internalized the anti-semitism in the culture, she wrote in a New Yorker essay, ‘Six Glimpses of the Past’ (2018).” 

Malcolm had impressive parents. Her mother was a lawyer, and her father was a psychiatrist and neurologist. Disclosure: My dad is psychiatrist. 

She attended University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and as managing editor of the Gargoyle, a humor magazine, produced a now famous parody of the New Yorker.  

She graduated in 1955 with a degree in English. Disclosure: I graduated the University of Michigan in 1985. 

Katie Roiphe wrote about Malcolm's idiosyncratic form in the Paris Review: "She takes apart the official line, the accepted story, the court transcript like a mechanic takes apart a car engine and shows us how it works; she narrates how the stories we tell ourselves are made from the vanities and jealousies and weaknesses of their players. This is her obsession and no can do it on her level."   

RIP 

Studio City Flower. 

Paul Koretz is auditioning for Ron Galperin's job as Auditor Controller. His top bud tender, Jeffrey Ebenstein, is running for Council District 5. 

For years, Koretz agreed to be the laughingstock, punching bag, nerdy Dodger fan with oversized hat among the dangerous jocks who populate City Council. "It's easy to raise $25,000" when you live in the fancy part of LA with higher incomes and your wife works for mayor Eric Garcetti hanging out at county board meetings to keep things. . .including LA County Democratic Party things, moving.  

Koretz, why are the below taxes on two recent Studio City transactions  (A) and (B) different? 

  1. A)   $27.00 Product

4.05  Excise 

3.45  City Tax

3.28  Sales Tax      (10.77)   28% tax.  $37.77

 

  1. B)   $80.00 Product

8.00  MBT 

8.36  Sales Tax       (16.36)   17% tax  $96.36

 

Is it true that the City of Los Angeles which has taken in $155,000,000 in cannabis tax revenue has resulted in 0.00 in grants for social equity applicants; whereas the City of Long Beach which has taken in $7,985,051 in cannabis business tax income has provided $315,000 in grants for social equity applicants?     

Ebenstein, get in here! 

Never to fence, never to close. 

Mark Ridley-Thomas was in pink cutting a ribbon on the fence-opening at Leimert Park on June 19 (Juneteenth) and I thought of the African proverb, "If you want to go far, go together."   

The neighborhood around that iconic park has been steadily gentrifying with whites and other non-Blacks moving in, forcing questions about Leimert Park’s identity.  

There was a memorable public comment at the LA County Board of Supervisors, back when they still took a few public comments on the items: 

Speaker:  "First of all ... come and put a fence up around the park called Leimert. When a white boy put it together Walter Leimert 84 years ago...he said 'never to fence and never to close'  and you closin' and fencin'." 

"Now you want to change the rules and laws?" 

"When we come before you. . .THIS was established to come before you and talk and reason about what's in our hearts."    

"I've been coming down here forty years and now all of sudden I gotta speak like this. This is insane. They want to burn the world down; I want to keep it from burning." 

"You say don't come here? I don't have to come here. You people need to get a grip. You plant this kind of insanity.   

You got ninety items in three minutes. You people are a joke. You not going to turn my land into Gestapo-ism." 

Mary Wickham, County Counsel: Madam: 'What Item are you speaking on?" 

Speaker: "I don't have to talk about nothing but. . .what? See if you have a world. . .if you can breathe air. You put all my people in prison and jail give us all $2,200 A Month Per Person, $500 Per Person Food Stamps. Give us a grant for a house or a grant for business and there's no homelessness." 

Mary Wickham, County Counsel: "Madam: What Item are you speaking on?" 

Speaker: "You ain't talking about none of them items." 

I spotted Damien Goodmon in the KCAL coverage of MRT celebrating Juneteenth. He once wrote me asking, "Hey Eric - great to see you today at Metro. Please send me the pictures with Watt Companies and the former County Planning Director." 

And that's what I did.
Now ("If you want to go far, go together") he's marching with Mark Ridley-Thomas. 

Full Phase Out.  

The City wants to explore going paperless. Sounds terrific, but we need to provide paper copies of public meeting agendas on a table clearly visible and available to members of the public and can be obtained without the help of city staff. And we need to resume public meetings.  

Twelve out of twelve California clerks agreed that paper meeting agendas are critical. Holly Wolcott requires MORE guidance.

 

-----Original Message-----

From: esp3800 <[email protected]>
To: lawrence.middleton <[email protected]>
Cc: carlos.singer <[email protected]>; eric.garcetti <[email protected]>; Mike.Feuer <[email protected]>; deron.williams <[email protected]>; andrew.westall <[email protected]>; shawn.wallace <[email protected]>; vivienne.swanigan <[email protected]>; Ana.Guerrero <[email protected]>
Sent: Wed, Mar 13, 2019 8:47 pm
Subject: Fwd: ✍️about restoration of prior paper meeting agenda practice during city council meetings

 

Mr. Middleton, 

I have no way of knowing what you must be thinking but a community of resident stakeholders, city staff and others have been blindsided by an unexplained withdrawal of the prior practice of putting paper meeting agendas out and readily accessible during Los Angeles city council meetings without having to interact with law enforcement or required to meet technical requirements or follow detailed instructions.   

It raises questions when such a brazen and unwarranted action can be taken in broad daylight after the stinging rebuke of the City in the Second District Appellate court opinion in the matter of Eric Preven v. City of Los Angeles over a pattern of Brown Act violations. See attached - the request for publication was granted last week. 

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission report released in 2014 was a compendium of all bad things in LA, including the lack of transparency and accountability in City Hall. Since then, a series of regressive anti-participation measures have been initiated under Holly Wolcott's leadership. When confronted about her 'worst practices' she immediately directs inquiries to council president Wesson's office. Wesson is currently running for Supervisorial District 2 and raised over $455,000 in December 2018 while his office was renovated subsequent to the FBI investigation. 

The council president has adopted a 'take no meetings' policy that has also been adopted by the Mayor and City Attorney. If a member of the public or media want to present evidence in person, it is strictly forbidden.  Mr. Middleton, we know that you are able to get a meeting with City Attorney Mike Feuer, but millions of Americans in Los Angeles, including hispanohablantes who deserve accurate trespassing warnings in both English and Spanish in City Hall, have been having a tough time landing an appointment. 

Vivienne Swanigan, an actor from the City Attorney's office (who has herself sued the City Attorney's office) does not want to update or translate the current procrustean English-only trespassing warning, leaving a major problem uncorrected. I don't think she understands and have tried to diligently make an appointment with her boss Mike Feuer via Maria Mattera's desk. Getting an appointment has proven to be far more difficult than I could ever imagine. There are no walk-in appointments, only scheduled appointments, but when you call or write to schedule an appointment, no appointment times are ever offered. No responses are ever provided or posted.   

If a city resident passes by the City Attorney's office offering wide availability to lock any timeslot down, even out into the future, a law enforcement officer of LAPD alerts a GSD swat unit that shows up in riot gear and follows you around City Hall until you leave. Not a great look for an aspirational community leader committed to transparency.  

Rather than resolve ongoing open government issues under the City Attorney's authority, he prefers to make presentations to the honorable Kevin Brazile and Erick Taylor presiding judges of the LA Superior Court and engage in costly decorum wars that have hurt the public at large. 

As for Feuer. . .not fun for voters to see him preening before the cameras at LAX but in his own city hall, blocking the inclusion of the key sentences in both English and Spanish about constitutional protections in a 2019 redraft of the city's trespassing flyer. . . Really? 

Given the ADA lawsuits. . .given so many issues -- we even wrote to Ana Guerrero, who gets it.  

And this latest effort, to withdraw paper meeting agendas from public meetings -- say you are reversing and then refuse to reverse -- cannot be supported by any acceptable rationale, and bad faith representations will not be tolerated. Herb Wesson and Holly Wolcott are welcome to point fingers at one another, but the public deserves accessible paper meeting agendas during council meetings and written confirmation that the “prior practice” of making such paper agendas readily accessible and available will be restored forthwith.  

As for the disturbingly well documented series of arbitrary and capricious actions taken by the city to thwart public engagement and stymie criticism, nothing has been resolved. 

 

California Attorney General, Rob Bonta. 

It is not common for the LASDHQ to conduct investigations into other county agencies. The District Attorney's office typically handles public corruption cases thru the Public Integrity Division.  

Max Huntsman who seems to have recovered from brain surgery is once again fired up to defend the fab five against the tyrannosaurus Sheriff. I object to the Daily News headline referring to Huntsman as the LA County Watchdog, as he is attorney-client privileged to the Board of Supervisors and was handpicked to have their back.  

The Sheriff is simultaneously the alleged leader of a vicious gang AND thousands of rank-and-file cops who are just trying to keep everyone, including the Supervisors, safe and sound.  

Being a deputy sheriff is a thankless job, but reform is a procedure required in the interest of public convenience and necessity. Robert Greene won a prestigious award for editorials about the public's revolt against excessive incarceration and recidivistic policies. 

Confusing calls for the recall of District Attorney George Gascón, who the Supervisors are aligned with, but Sheriff Alex Villanueva is opposed to, coupled with the new normal of no public comment have people worried about summer riots.  

Supervisors Holly J. Mitchell and Sheila J. Kuehl are well aware of what they've done, and the rest of the board is complicit, with a special prize to the Hilda L. Solis Villager herself, Hilda L. Solis. 

All are very happy to hear one another's thank yous to one another while denying the public the right to be heard at their meetings. 

The scapegoatrix in chief, Kathryn Barger, should pivot soon and remind us that Mike Antonovich who named the courthouse after himself in the Antelope Valley, believed in public comment.  

And Janice Hahn, who leads with emotion but also intellect (to a lesser degree), should demand the restoration of the public comment.  

At City Hall last week, a member of the public addressed California Attorney General, Rob Bonta, directly: 

 "I know that the governor's attorney general Bonta is in town... and we're very lucky to have his attention, we'd like you to look Sir at the governor's order that doesn't lapse until September 30th, but we would like to point out that both the LA county board of supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council have been prohibiting public  criticism by nixing regular meetings that provide a general public comment section and replacing them with special -  [Dial tone]" 

Rude, but the message is here lodged. Thank you, Sir.  

By the way, the Ethics commission has been using a shot clock buzzer that is so loud it may violate OSHA!  

Oil Can Harry's: There's magic in that can! 

The City is also exploring the possibility of declaring a local watering hole and dance bar in Studio City a cultural historical monument.  

In 2019, Mark Ronson chose Oil Can Harry's for his post-Grammy “Club Heartbreak” celebration with Adele, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Troye Sivan, Charli XCX, and the girls from Haim.  

It's a line-dancing bar on any other Sunday night but now it's closing.   

The web site says, "A new buyer, who wants to have their own venue with jazz music. So, at this time I have to vacate the property -- nothing bad or ugly, just something I have to do. I fought hard to keep it, but just had to give up. . . Not sure where it will lead down the road." 

Cultural Historical Monumentalism 

Mitch O'Farrell tapped another $100,000 to keep the Barnsdall Hollyhock House. . .hocking. Hard not to love the Hollyhock house. 

A letter from RM Schindler to Aline Barnsdall from September 1929, begging for leniency for Watt & Long, a set of roofing contractors who had been engaged but could not meet the budget, is one in a series of letters between Schindler and Barnsdall, who clearly kept in touch with one another after the Hollyhock project.   

It is a great example of Schindler's sharp articulate manner. . .  I obtained it at the UCSB archives of Schindler's work and was reminded of it when the Hollyhock UNESCO moment happened for Frank Lloyd Wright recently.  

Dear Miss Barnsdall.

 

May 22, 1929 

Dear Miss Barnsdall, 

I hear that the case of “Long & Watt” is in the hands of your attorney. He will of course be able to take care of the legal side of it. However, the legal side of the case is not the only aspect.  And to my mind not at all the most important one.              

Being a neutral party in the transaction I feel it is my duty to bring the human aspect of the matter to your attention. 

Long and Watt proposed to do a certain job for a certain sum. We bargained -- and they undertook to do the work for about eight hundred dollars less. Now it appears that the actual cost of labor and material necessary to execute the work is in excess of the contract price. This is a fact regardless of all additions and deductions which may have been made or not made during the period of construction.  

Of course, it is the contractors’ mistake to under-estimate the work. However, it would not be fair to condemn them too harshly. Alteration jobs are the dread of any estimator and if both the building and the addition are of a new and unusual nature, the estimate becomes a mere guess. The only fair way to do such work is on a “cost” or “unit” basis.  

As it happened, the contractors applied themselves for months to a task, which they knew would not pay them any profit.  And I, who had constant dealing with them, marveled at the poise and good will they maintained in spite of the unfavorable financial background.  They have proven to be gentlemen. 

During the last few weeks, they realized that the cost of the work would not only eat up the profit, but also their resources. Their present state is a sorry one with funds depleted due to the lack of income during the three months. Their credit has been ruined. They are forced now to hire themselves out by the day in order to eat. The mistake of a few hundred dollars in estimates is affecting their lives seriously. 

If the whole deal were not entirely clear and honest on their part, I would not be interested. But it is my conviction that this is not a case to be settled by lawyers and judges.  

I am sure a settlement could be reached which would be satisfactory to all concerned. Even if you reimbursed them the entire cost of labor and material, you would have the benefit of their own labor, gratis. It would leave the cost of the work to you below the figure of the next highest bidder and would constitute a bargain price for the job.   

This does not mean that I am overlooking the merits of your position. But I refuse to admit that the fear of being taken advantage of should be the only motif power for our actions in financial matters. We clamor for peace between nations. . .should we not start by overcoming our instinct of warlike attitude in our private life. Does not this seem you too, a case for arbitration?  

Sincerely,

 

RM Schindler 

As many know now, Schindler was 30 years old when he began working for Frank Lloyd Wright in 1917. Schindler had worshipped Wright's work and changed his entire life to get to him. Wright left Schindler in charge of the Hollyhock project when he went to do the Imperial Hotel in Japan.  

There are some colorful assessments of the relationship between Schindler and Wright. Competitive is too strong a word but check out the full-throated arrogance in Wright's quote about Schindler: 

"Rudolph was a patient assistant who seemed well aware of the significance of what I was then doing. His sympathetic appreciation never failed. His talents were adequate to any demands made upon them by me."  

Adequate! A t-shirt quote? If there is a more arrogant way to say something nice about Schindler, I would love to see it. 

The point is, Schindler's small role in the great Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock should be appropriately amplified, again. The amp on Wright has been turned up to 11 or possibly 12. Let's get DCA to sponsor a brief deep-dive report on the subject -- followed by an exciting celebration of Schindler at the Hollyhock house, again!   

Maybe we should have a reading of the amazing Schindler Letters of which I have a trove. . .at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre. We'll provide big name actors to fill the seats! 

Schindler Letters. 

I pulled one short letter from December 1940 that Schindler had written to the Federal Housing Administration on behalf of George Gold, a Tax Accountant client, for whom he was designing a house in Studio City.  

"In answer to your rejection of our design I should like to submit the following:  I assume that your objection is based on the somewhat contemporary character of the architectural features of the building. I see no good reason why a contemporary house should not take its place among the usual mixture of so-called conventional styles in any neighborhood. It is obvious that the present fashion of “Early American” imitation will be just as short lived as the passed “Spanish” phase and the architectural development of this country cannot artificially and permanently be reduced to rehashing old European models." 

He goes on to demand re-inspection of the neighborhood. (attached) Unlike, the uncertain fate of Watt and Long, the roofing contractors who Schindler fought to save, the Gold House plans were ultimately granted approval. I know this because I raised my two children and have been living there since my former wife and I restored the Gold house in 2000. (It's plywood and stucco!)   

Schindler was very much an immigrant to this country, and there are a number of letters to him from colleagues like Neutra and family members stuck in Europe eager to get out. It really resonates.  

And there is at least one lifelong love story, a la Love Letters. Ellen Jansson was a younger woman who worked for the Senator from California in Washington. She fell hopelessly in love with Michael (as Schindler was known) and wrote letters that play well on date night.  

Rudolph Michael (RM) Schindler died in his home on skyline drive. 

 

(Eric Preven is a longtime community activist and is a contributor to CityWatch.)