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Eric Preven Notebook: CA and NY Governors on the Defensive

LIVE, WORK, PAY-TO-PLAY - In the next week, the big tech companies are expected to report earnings that will eclipse all previous windfalls.

 Facebook is busting a move.  Willow Village — planned to cover 1.6 million square feet at the current site of an industrial warehouse complex — is smaller than your average city, and will not be incorporated. 

Surrounding the site will be 1.25 million square-feet of new Facebook office space and 1,729 apartments.  Quaint.  

The site will include a supermarket, a pharmacy, cafes, a 193-room hotel and a "town square."   

But don't confuse "town square" with "public forum."   

The public forum doctrine (which provides the greatest protection for free speech in general, as well as against content and viewpoint discrimination) traditionally applies to government-owned or government-controlled -- not privately-owned -- property.   

Got it. 

 

TROUBLE AT THE TOP

Both Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California are fighting for their political lives.   

Gavin Newsom and his allies have raised more than $51 million to fight the attempt to recall him, more than twice as much as every major Republican candidate and pro-recall committee combined, according to new fundraising disclosure reports and the Times. 

Governor Cuomo is being pressured to resign following a bombshell sexual harassment report.  

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has agreed to pay $22,792 in fines to the San Francisco Ethics Commission for: 

-financial contributions received to help pay for a 2015 San Francisco Pride Parade float

-a letter she sent in 2018 to Governor Jerry Brown advocating on behalf of her brother who is in prison

-a car repair former San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru* paid for 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, according to the New Republic, "signed legislation almost unanimously approved by the City Council criminalizing homeless encampments in many places throughout the city. It’s the latest move in a vicious top-down class war in Southern California that’s increasingly targeted the already sizable and growing unhoused community living there." 

And obviously, a former communications director for Garcetti says the mayor and his top deputies knew about inappropriate behavior... 

 

IF THEY GET AWAY WITH IT, WHY NOT?

I was moved by a letter from a New York Times reader some years ago who wrote, "...always strikes me when reading about the all-too-frequent arrests of our legislators on corruption charges, is the casualness with which corrupt acts seem to be done, and an apparent unconcern that there might be harsh consequences. 

You’d think that a corrupt public official would go to extraordinary lengths to make his crimes difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove, but at least in several of the cases we know of, they rarely seem to. 

Since most officials are rational people, this suggests that a pervasive culture of corruption and their individual experiences with it have told them that they have little to fear. That logic has to change. Any official contemplating selling his office has to be made to know that he will end up not just in prison, but financially ruined, if he does.

 

LINCOLN HTS TO ENTER NIMBY OLYMPICS

It's a hallmark of public service to stick up for those who can't stick up so easily for themselves. Gil Cedillo has been talking about doing it for his entire career.   

On Wednesday, according to Cedillo... Council member Mitch O'Farrell of CD 13 who, due to Covid Delta Variant considerations should probably cancel or continue any "excessive contribution" dunk tank activity, had been slighted by public speakers calling him out.  

Council member Cedillo stepping up for a colleague was unsettling but according to Cedillo, O'Farrell's district was responsible for producing 14% of all the affordable stock in the city.  He should be applauded, not rebuked... argued Cedillo. 

Pundits wondering about Cedillo blowing smoke up someone else's ass rather than his own, were enlightened when Cedillo disclosed that it is he in his singular district one, that produces the most affordable at 15%... of the city's stock. 

O'Farrell and Cedillo represent nearly 1/3 of the city's stock...he boasted and "the expression of affordability is on full display."  

Then, Cedillo took a moment to circle back and defend the 8th annual Latin Jazz festival, saying it "should be mandatory!"  It was on the agenda, stripping funding from other events including the Lincoln Heights 4th of July celebration, to provide additional oomph to the jazz festival.  

The presence on the agenda of Lincoln Heights (being defunded) was triggering for a lot of Angelenos. 

Steve Lopez had put Mr. Cedillo on blast over the weekend when he wrote about Respect Lincoln Heights, a group who said an email addressed to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Gil Cedillo and the entire City Council, that the nightly market had to move and was simply not sustainable.   As Lopez said of the Night market, "How hard is it to get it right?"
Cedillo drew some public comment re, not against the Jazz, but rather for MORE services and help with the NIGHTLY market disruption.  One person hoped he was not retaliating against his constituents of Lincoln Heights for speaking out.  

Cedillo missed the point of the moment completely and attempted to clumsily spin. He said, he'd never "heard any laments about the Greek festival in the valley. Yet, people feel no qualms about attacking us in the Northeast. They have no qualms..."   Then, in an attempt to reflect his blinding narcissism, he turned to Mr. O'Farrell, and said "your efforts and your productivity... your record, and my record on historic preservation, in a new way... putting them to new use."  

He seemed to tear up for a moment, farklempt.  

Nury Martinez was so moved herself and proud of Mr. Cedillo sticking up for the neediest, she said, "Here, here!" 

There was not a dry eye in the house.  Though if your eyes are itching...

 

Scrubbing Nantworks LLC

What's that's smell in El Segundo? It's not the Culver City story... from a couple years ago, known among LA Times reporters as the The Wesson Odor Control Motion. 

Paul Pringle, the éminence grise of Mark Ridley-Thomas/LA Times scandals would normally go into this type of material wholeheartedly with no helmet, but recently he's been demoted to chasing a drunken Fire Chief, with the full force and weight of the Times investigative team.  

Though, Adam Elmahrek, the award-winning investigative reporter has been tied up examining a lobbyist’s secret gift to a councilwoman from El Monte. A boob job.  

It looks like the City of El Monte is going to change their ethics rules thanks to the hands-on approach and willingness to go where reporters are not welcome. 

The gist of the Soon-Shiong Odor Control matter was a routine land swap/ripoff involving tens of millions exchanged between the City and Nantworks, a Patrick Soon-Shiong company.  Pre-Times.  Gulp. The reporters declined to cover it, and frankly, why should they?  

The June 20, 2017 public comment... is a reminder as to why we want and need regular public comments.  

 "Sir, you're disrupting the meeting." 

Wesson made the motion and slid the item right along resulting in a deal—but …  only if the community college district board will approve! 

[The board then...]

The role of Herbert J. Wesson, will be played going forward by the former Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas [MRT] who also adores the tenth district and the LA Times owner.  

What's not to love?  

In fact it was MRT who made a county motion to keep the Los Angeles Times owned locally.  Clever. 

Mark Ridley-Thomas seemed to welcome the now infamous Pringle article on the wiring costs incurred by county workers installing a Supervisorial TV set at his home. 

When Pringle was hand-delivered a story about Karly Katona (MRT's current City jefe of staff) and the entire County Regional Planning team under Richard Bruckner (now at Mayer Brown) mobilized to help the Supervisor's son, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas by rushing out a timely pre-election letter on the public's dime, re Fossil Fuel anxiety, Pringle demurred.  

Now he's covering the drunk fire chief while MRT move his way onto the ballot for Mayor. 

MRT has loaded up Danny Bakewell and Taste of Soul with plenty of public funding to make a compelling case, but more importantly he made a motion to require county advertising to be spent in the Bakewell direction. The LA Sentinel writes glowingly about MRT's various initiatives. MRT is the boss. 

When the public inquired as to who paid for a very nice Full page LA Press Club advertisement in the award dinner program, featuring the Supervisor reigning over his county district, it got really quiet.  

The county counsel said the county did not pay.  The LA City Ethics Commission knows of 'no law'.... 

MRT won't answer the question. 

It could have been a gift to him from someone... 

A full page ad in the program might cost $1,000 (maybe).   

Could it have been an excessive contribution for MRT's council run?  

London Breed got in trouble and had to pay.   MRT always gets away. 

 

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