Tin Foil Hats and Other Local Government Oddities

THE CITY-An unclassified Pentagon report was released Friday detailing 144 individual reports of what the government terms "unidentified aerial phenomenon" seen by military observers between 2004 and 2021. Only one was identified. 

The Board of Supervisors has been challenging the City of Los Angeles' supremacy in the category of shameful closing down and fencing out of public commenters by loafing around on various self-dealt recesses as their various jurisdictions implode. 

Sheila Kuehl, who has been lying around but also lying about public comment since at least Halloween 2014, when she claimed she personally gave public comments to the prior board over the years, but could not produce a single date or subject.   

That dispute was resolved at the time by the Executive office, a wholly owned subsidiary of Englander Knabe and Allen (still), who contradicted Sheila, by saying there was Zero record of any Sheila James Kuehl testimony.   

Last week, Sheila Kuehl touted how important "on the ground testimony" is. "It can be so instructive. . ." she said. That's why the current Board pays advocates through grants to not-for-profits to come on down and testify. Now, thousands of submissions to the county's website by advocates working in alignment with the board deliver public testimony for a fair price.    

By declaring 10 meetings of the County Board of Supervisors from Memorial Day to Labor Day as Special meetings, without public comment, the county is doubling down on the head in the sand approach. 

The Board of Supervisors Summer Vacation Behind Closed Doors. 

May 25 closed session 

June 1 closed session 

June 8  regular meeting 

June 15 closed session 

June 22 regular meeting  

June 28 budget deliberation 

June 29 closed session 

July 6 closed session 

July 13 regular meeting 

July 20 closed session 

July 27 regular meeting 

August 3  closed session  

August 10 regular meeting 

August 17 cancelled 

August 24 cancelled 

August 31  regular meeting  

September 7 closed session 

For each of the 10 special closed sessions, no general public comment will be taken, so an effective prohibition on criticism is in place in violation of the Brown Act.   

As for the mystery surrounding the expungd or non-existent records of Sheila Kuehl testifying at the Board before becoming a supervisor, maybe Joel Bellman, of the society for profesional journalists in Los Angeles (SPJLA), would know.  

The problem is he must be very, very, busy getting the word out for Angelenos and everyone else to donate blood.   

Some may not know, but there is a serious shortage of good blood in America.  

Bad blood, we have plenty. Public comment is the blood that makes our democracy run.    

Maybe Joel can ask Zev Yaroslavsky, his former master if he could put to good use the two million dollars Zev extracted from Third District voters and has had shelved in his officeholder accounts for more than a decade.   

How about a lottery for people who donate blood?   

County v. Sheriff 

The Sheriff's Department was ordered to release misconduct, use-of-force records in response to an LA Times lawsuit. Cool.  

“This ‘We’ll get it done when we’ll get it done’ [approach]. . .is not acceptable under the Public Records Act,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff announced in court Friday.   

Beckloff was the guy from the preliminary injunctions against the Burbank restaurant, the Grace Community Church, and it was he who issued the 17-page decision that Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s attempt to reinstate former deputy Caren Carl Mandoyan was unlawful.  

Good to see Beckloff is feeling better. . .subsequent to our pre-pandemic holiday-from-hell due-process episodes.   

Beckloff, who gathered 20 signatures to make the ballot himself and I'm pretty sure was endorsed by the LA Times, was under the weather when it was brought to his attention that the LA City clerk had been engaged in. . .irregularity and misconduct, and a comprehensive lack of transparency in checking signatures from candidates eager to defeat the clerk's budget masters on City Council.   

The CPRA request made by one such candidate to review the list of “checkers” was improperly denied on specious grounds, but as Beckloff (and Patricia Nieto) and all judge's love to point out, that was not the matter before them. "My (shrug) hands are tied." 

The interest level went sky high when the LA Times article by David Zahniser noted that incumbents had sailed through; Nithya Raman, sailed through; Nury Martinez, who had serious FBI issues last election cycle, sailed through with the exact same number submitted as a challenger.  

Angry challengers, who'd made it several times in the past. . ."not this year." 

Nobody spoke to or identified the signature checkers themselves.  

I had to wince when I spotted the Paige St. John article with another writer about the allegations of election fraud in California. It was very long, and it seemed biased.  

I remember when St. John covered state prisons. Now she's debunking “kooky” ideas like the California Democratic party would do anything untoward to win a seat. Pffft. Insulting. What a kook! 

Times ‘r a changin' 

Five stories on the Ana Guerrero Solid Gold Facebook story must be a magnet to draw readers furious with Mayor Garcetti to an unsurprising cat chat on FB. One member of the public put it nicely, "Who gives a shit?"   

Who knows what Garcetti was really up to. . .?   

He was at the Apple store on Thursday before the metro meeting, cutting a ribbon. He chaired his last Metro meeting before stepping down from leadership and handing his role as third banana under Hilda Solis, the new Chair, to Dupont Walker, whose husband Sonny was eulogized for forty-five minutes.   

Sonny was the Chief operating office of Exposition Park where the Cal Science center is and so much LA history went down, including the LA Coliseum corruption scandal. (Dial Tone).   

It's also where the Lucas Narrative Museum is coming soon. And we all agree (hopefully) that no matter what, given all the red tape cutting, line-cutting to get that project done so fast, it should be FREE.  

Even Mark Ridley-Thomas soiled himself by walking out of a Chiquita Landfill hearing in which he was supposed to be considering testimony of Angelenos who, like Aliso Canyon residents, faced imminent environmental harm. How arrogant. 

MRT did not want Curren Price, who has taken to appearing publicly in front of the giant hand massager rendering of the museum that has been rapidly progressing. . .at any cost.  

If you poke around the coliseum environs it's easy to spot Mark Ridley-Thomas droppings.   

He spent a lot of time raising a lot of money, while refusing to make the Museum of Natural History free to children, in favor of hiring a raft of expensive professors who belong at a university not on our municipal government payroll. 

The public private partnership scheme with the foundation at the Museum of Natural History is a self-serving legal rubric intended to raise money off of the backs of children.   

It is free to enter on some days after certain hours, unless you check the fine print, we recommend that you bring money.  

We are ready for the next chapter in the ongoing narrative of Los Angeles. It's a parable from the billionaires who get to sell merchandise, probably including Starbucks, where Hobson is chairwoman, to the tourists who visit Exposition Park in perpetuity: "Why our Museum is free to the public," by George Lucas and Mellody Hobson.   

Metro ICE 

If only the Metro trains went off as smoothly as the thankyous at the LA County Metro board meetings, where 11,000 workers try to make it happen every single day. The restrooms for the drivers at the Universal Redline station remain unfortunately locked and caged.  

If the public perchance has to use a facility. . .? (Dial Tone)   

I was hoping to point out that item 10 re: the AUDIT Plan referred to five goals, but  Goal #4 seemed to me. . .missing.   

I wanted to check with Charles Safer, the counsel at Metro, who has signed off on the most egregious abuse of a consent agenda I've ever seen. Here are goals 1-5 minus 4: 

Vision 2028 Goal #1 – Provide high-quality mobility options that enable people to spend less time.

Vision 2028 Goal #2 – Deliver outstanding trip experiences for all users of the transportation system.  

Vision 2028 Goal #3 – Enhance communities and lives through mobility and access to opportunities. 

Vision 2028 Goal #5 – Provide responsive, accountable, and trustworthy governance within the Metro organization.  

I was also curious about the instruction for the Chief Executive Officer to negotiate and purchase Public Entity excess liability policies with up to $300 million in limits at a cost not to exceed $18.9 million for the 12-month period effective August 1, 2021, to August 1, 2022.   

Seems high to a Studio City guy. If an individual wants $300,000 of liability coverage it would not cost $18,000 a year, would it? No.  

Well, how young are the drivers? How does that work? (Dial Tone)   

Stephanie Wiggins is the new CEO at Metro. She was at Metrolink briefly before jumping in to fill the shoes of a man who Sheila Kuehl felt was the best Sheriff in America. . .sorry. . .the best Executive in America.   

Phil Washington who managed a balanced budget in excess of $8 billion a year, was responsible for overseeing between $18 to $20 billion in badly delayed capital projects and provided inadequate oversight of an agency with 11,000 employees that transports a dwindling number of passengers daily on a fleet of 2,200 clean-air buses and six rail lines, has taken a job in Denver running the airport.  

Members of the public who were called up to speak for sixty seconds, despite rules on speaking, seemed upset about the gondola project NEAR Dodger stadium and wanted more transparency about that. It was revealed that Mayor Eric Garcetti had been at an Apple opening in Huizar’s district. Tim Cook of Apple was there cutting a ribbon.  

One item (number 3) that resided in the sleepy consent agenda, where comments on point are comprehensively denied and forbidden until after the hallowed board has voted, and then you can address the subject in general public comment only, had to do with Real Estate Acquisition, Relocation.  

I glanced at the matter and discovered that Del Richardson & Associates, Inc. was being added to the 2021-0289 Property Management Bench and. . .ALSO, for item 38, Richardson signed a new two-year, firm fixed price Contract No. PS2890900 to Del Richardson & Associates, Inc. to operate the Metro Pilot Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project BSC.   

Her initial proposal had been $557,597. METRO's ICE price or "Independent Cost Estimate" came in at: $99,290. The negotiated price where the taxpayers landed was: $219,070. 

Curren Price of council district 9 is Richardson's husband. She went high, and Metro clapped back low. Deal.  

The last public speaker, Channing Martinez of the bus riders’ union, was abruptly cut off in the perfect segue to a solid hour or two of praise for Garcetti.  

Janice Hahn, who could not sit still because she was so eager to cuddle with the mayor, reminded everyone of the mayor's seniority over her as she'd been sworn just two weeks after Garcetti at City Hall. She praised the mayor for his 28 by 28. . .initiative, including projects in her district, as part of the sneaky plan to blow off constituent interests by accelerating Olympics impacted routes.    

Finally, she cited his leadership as president of the LA City Council back then. . .and now, at Metro meetings. "You're so gentle. You gave respect and dignity to each and every one." 

Except Channing Martinez who was unceremoniously cut off. 

Then, a very moving video of Eric Garcetti was shown. Bonin called him, "charismatic. . .extremely intelligent" but went on to say, "This is not a funeral. . .we'll see you later today."   

Ara Najarian, the Mayor of Glendale, had to call out Garcetti's sense of humor. "We trade zingers. . . some understand, and some don't. . .in this pressure cooker of an agency. . .it's good to laugh." Solid Gold. 

In the sixty seconds I had, I was unable to attack Charles Safer, the metro attorney who openly denies the right to comment on consent agenda items.   

Like, for instance, Mitsubishi Electric USA ELEVATOR AND ESCALATOR MAINTENANCE SERVICES contract was being increased from $76,732,083.65 to $109,324,373.65 and extended out through the period of performance from November 1, 2021, to October 31, 2023.  

In Attachment B – Contract Modification/Change Order Log, I noted that there were over $1,254,123.65 in change orders. . .and approximately $400,000 was set aside to accommodate a huge Pedestrian bridge at Universal Studios in North Hollywood at the Red Line station.   

Customers (the public) who arrive by train can walk over the bridge and ride a tram up to the Universal Studios cash registers. There, and only there, one can use a public restroom.  

I wonder if Krekorian could stop bragging about the size of his district and open the bathroom door that is currently caged and locked. 

Angelenos who need the system to work for them for increasingly long commutes have to drain the tanks from time to time prior to boarding the Orange line connector. Open the bathroom door.  

Or, in the alternative, please stop praising one another about how great the Orange Line is.   

As Hilda L. Solis said, once sworn in as the new chair, "It's not just the right and equitable thing to do it's the right thing to do." 

She also praised Jackie Dupont Walker's husband Sonny Walker as not just a guy who talked, but a guy who also walked.  

As the head of operations at Exposition Park, Sonny Walker was also involved in providing an outstanding customer experience. 

Garcetti, seconds before being sworn in as the third banana sort of Assistant Tempore, pulled out a fast one.  

He declared that rather than take his role as the third banana, he would like to nominate. . .and he hadn't discussed this with anyone, Jackie Dupont Walker, to take over his leadership role. Everyone was touched.   

Now Garcetti would be free to serve his: 

a) time b) community  c) country  d) master  e) wife


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