CA is gutting the Public Records Act


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CPRARecently, against the staunch opposition of California newspapers, the California Association of Licensed Investigators, California League of Latin American Citizens, National League of Latin American Citizens, Bring Hollywood Home Foundation, Miss Revolutionaries and the San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization for Women, the legislature removed from the budget bill a provision which would have charged the public $10.00 just to search court records indexes and raised the fees for copies to $1.00/page and the certification fees to astronomical levels.  But another provision of the budget bill is even more dangerous to the public and to the small “d” democratic nature of government itself:


Mercury News editorial: Public Records Act must be restored

 Posted: 06/18/2013 12:49:07 PM PDT

 Updated: 06/19/2013 06:52:05 AM PDT

     Without the state Public Records Act, we would never have known about the Santa Clara County supervisor who used public funds to feed his gambling habit or the sheriff who issued concealed weapons permits to campaign contributors and out-of-county residents.

     We would be ignorant of broken bolts on the Bay Bridge, the cover-up of Moraga teachers sexually abusing students, a BART train operator who collected salary and benefits totaling $193,407, the former BART general manager who received $420,000 the year after she was fired or the Port of Oakland executives who spent $4,500 one night at a Texas strip club.

     As the state Legislature declared in the preamble to the records law, “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.”

     In this photo taken Tuesday, June 11, 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the budget compromise reached with Democratic leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento left, and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, right, during a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Lawmakers are expected to vote, approve the compromise budget plan reached that largely mirrors the governor’s proposal for a fiscally restrained spending plan that assumes conservative revenue projections.

     But the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown are gutting the law.

   As a result, local government officials will only have to relinquish documents when they get around to it. If they deny access, they will no longer need to provide a written reason. If they have easily searchable electronic data, they can instead print it out and hide alarming numbers in reams of paper.

     If state lawmakers care one iota about transparency — or if Californians hammer them for what they’ve done — they will reverse this appalling action.

      Legislators know all about burying information. They made these changes to the state Public Records Act last week at the last minute by slipping language into one of 15 state budget bills now sitting on the governor’s desk. While legislators and Brown touted on-time passage of the spending plan, they didn’t mention they’d also made it far more difficult for taxpayers to determine how local governments use their money.

     Lawmakers hide behind the notion that this change will save the state money, since it has to reimburse local governments for costs of complying with mandates it has imposed since 1975. That includes Public Records Act amendments requiring local governments to provide written responses to document requests within 10 days and to provide the records in electronic format if they’re available that way.

      Rather than pay the costs of compliance, lawmakers ended the mandates. The governor first proposed suspending the requirements; the Legislature permanently killed them. They all point to estimates from the Legislative Analyst’s Office that this would save the state tens of millions of dollars. We usually admire the work of the LAO, but in this case it offered no justification for the number, which appears to be a wild guess.

      More important, it doesn’t account for billions saved because residents — and, yes, the media — now have the ability to examine records and act as watchdogs.

     The LAO said local officials should decide whether to comply with disclosure rules. Ask residents of Bell how well that would work. The idea is absurd. It’s not responsible public officials who will balk at providing records. It’s the bad ones — the ones who don’t want us to know what’s really going on. The state is giving them license to operate in secret.

      It is unconscionable.


“Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.” — Jeremy Bentham

“Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show it can bear discussion and publicity.” — Lord Acton

“Children love secret club houses. They love secrecy even when there’s no need for secrecy.” — Donna Tartt

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” — Patrick Henry

“The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.” — Niels Bohr

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.” — John F. Kennedy

Don’t let this happen.  Call, write and email you legislators and demand that these provisions be taken out of the budget bill.



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Jewish Clean Sweep in LA Elections


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Shame on every ethnic group in Los Angeles with one exception, maybe?

LA City VotesVoter turnout in the Los Angeles Municipal elections was the worst in 100 years:  23% of the electorate turned out.  Shortly after the election, one winning politician laid a very interesting statistic on me.  I haven’t verified it but it was from a reliable source and I see no reason to disbelieve it as fantastic as it sounds.


50% of the voters who did turn out were Jewish.

Jewish VoteLos Angeles now has a Jewish Mayor (Eric Garcetti), a Jewish City Attorney (Mike Feuer), and a Jewish City Controller (Ron Galperin, whose husband is a Rabbi).  Likewise, Nancy Pearlman won an incredible come from behind victory to win by 14% after coming in second in the primary for re-election to the Community College Board.

Tikkun Olam, healing the world

Tikkun Olam, healing the world

Knowing all of these four people personally, I’m confident that they all agree with me that whether or not god exists (I’m an existentialist Rabbi-Tlamatini of the Jewish Existentialist World Society) the Jewish tribal commitment to Tikkun Olam, healing the world, is part and parcel of what motivates them to public service.  What I hope is that my fellow Jews who turned out in massive percentage did so with the same motivation, and not just mindless voting by tribal affiliation.


Tikkun Olam is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” (or “healing the world”) which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world. In Judaism, the concept of Tikkun Olam originated in the early rabbinic period. The concept was given new meanings in the Kabbalah of the medieval period and has come to possess further connotations in modern Judaism.



In Lurianic Kabbalah, the physical world is connected to spiritual realms above, and these spiritual realms in turn influence the physical world. In the Derech Hashem, it is written that Jews have the ability, through physical deeds and free will, to direct and control these spiritual forces. These spiritual forces include Tikkun (rectification, good; the presence of Divine light) and Kilkul (damage, evil; not merely the absence of goodness and Divine light, but its own force that is strengthened by the absence of goodness and Divine light).



A Jewish girl reading her "Haftorah" at her Bat Mitzvah, making her Aliyah or call to read

A Jewish girl reading her “Haftorah” at her Bat Mitzvah, making her Aliyah or call to read

I will be officiating at a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Sunday at Hollywood Forever, Beit Olam Mortuary section at 2:00 p.m. for four quadruplets who have already begun their journey in life with Tikkun Olam, helping at Food Banks for the poor, campaigning for candidates who will make the world better, and participating in a whole host of programs against racism, sexism, and violence.  You’re all invited.  Check my FB event page for June 16 for details or email me at

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Rated as a Leading Blog by Background


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Background Top 40 Private Eye Blogs



My name is Nicki and I am part of the Editorial Team for Background I wanted to let you know that your site at has been selected as one of the Top 40 Private Eye Blogs.

Our Editors and Readers selected your blog because of its high standard of quality information mixed with your excellent commentary.

We enjoyed reading your posts and we find them very informative……

In addition, if you are interested in being interviewed for our blog, please let me know. Continued Success!

Nicki Watson


Top 40 Private Eye Blogs

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Tusca at Hyatt is the bomb


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Tusca @ The Hyatt, 5101 Great American Parkway

The food, the service and the ambiance of Tusca restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara is nothing short of atomic!

Callie Fowler

Chef Callie Fowler

Dining to some excellent and very trumpetty Jazz in the background, I’m glad I inquired about the Seasonal Ravioli, which turned out to be a creation of Chef Callie Fowler.  It’s made with Wagyu Beef and Truffles in a sauce of butter, white wine, with shallots and fresh tomatoes.  BrandtThe Wagyu Beef, akin to Japanese Kobe beef, is from Brandt Farms of Carlsbad, California, from cattle that are massaged and fed beer all day long, according to my fabulous waitress, Barb.

After devouring and savoring the ravioli and thinking that there was just nothing else that could possibly improve the experience for my palate, it’s lucky that Barb can sell sand in a desert, because she sold me on dessert….are you ready for this:  Italian Margarita flavored Gelato with sea salt!  This was three steps beyond… was pure unadulterated EVIL and my close friends know that this is a compliment that’s way beyond good…..

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Bring Hollywood Home Foundation Seeks Reform


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6-4-13_001 6-4-13_002 6-4-13_003 6-4-13_004 6-4-13_005

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Rape Camps in Syria–What will the World DO?


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Bosnian RapeIn 1992, SFV/NELA NOW organized a huge protest at the Westwood Federal Building that got massive press and drew support and participation from just about every feminist and human rights organization in town about the Bosnian Rape Camps being run by the Serb army. I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A NEW PROTEST ABOUT THE LACK OF THE WORLD’S ATTENTION TO WHAT’S GOING ON IN SYRIA:

Tracking a rumor: Is there a sugar factory in Syria being used as a rape house?

[Reprinted from:]

By Lauren Wolfe/Director — May 24, 2013

We were seated on a scratchy nylon mat with “UNHCR” written all over it. Children with the same beautiful, olive-complexioned face stared big-eyed at me from every corner of the furniture-less room, and their mother cried as she talked about the many massacres her family had fled in Homs five months previously. The woman, Maha, 37, couldn’t recount how many people she had seen killed but she knew the number of family members she saw dragged away at a checkpoint as they fled their Homs neighborhood, Deir Ba’alba: 10.

As she tried to recall some of the horrors she’d witnessed, Maha mentioned that there was a sugar factory in her town where government soldiers were taking girls to be raped and killed.

“They picked beautiful girls for generals and then gave them to the soldiers,” Maha said.

“How do you know this?” I asked her.

She knows people who worked in the factory and witnessed what was happening there, she said.

“Whoever leaves the village has to go through a checkpoint next to the factory,” Maha said. “They take the girls at the checkpoint. The girls get killed. They disappear.” She said she did not know how many girls had been abducted.

A refugee in Amman told the author about a sugar factory that is allegedly being used as a rape and torture center in Homs. But rumors have long swirled about a different sugar factory—in a different province—in which women and men are being held in Syria.

Syria RapeIn my many interviews with Syrian refugees, I’d heard about alleged apartments or construction sites used as impromptu rape and torture centers. But something about a sugar factory rang a particular bell. The media, and the United Nations investigating commission, have reported on a sugar factory used as a rape and torture center in a town called Jisr Al-Shugour, in Idlib province. This is the UN’s note on it from a September 2011 report:

“According to other witnesses, the sugar factory was used in that period [around June 8, 2011] as the headquarters for armed forces deployed from other areas, as well as for the interrogation, detention and torture of suspects. Several sources also reported that four girls were raped at that location, although the mission was unable to corroborate these accounts.”

The France-based TV channel Euronews reported in June 2011 that a man named Sadik told the outlet: “I saw what happened in Jisr-al-Shughour with my own eyes. They have turned a sugar factory into a prison. They are literally skinning the men alive and raping the women.”

And we have this report on our map from German news outlet Spiegel Online International in June 2012 and this one from Time magazine in June 2011 talking about the Jisr Al-Shughour sugar factory/rape house.

But Jisr Al-Shughour is not close to Homs. So what about this allegation from the refugee I met? Could there really be two sugar factories being used as torture/rape centers? Could there even be one? I decided to look into the Homs rumor a little more closely.

A Web search turned up a number of sugar factories in Syria, but news reports specifically seem to refer to three or four. There is one in Jisr Al-Shughour, and there appear to be two near the woman’s home in Deir Ba’alba.

The National Sugar Company is located 16 miles (25 kilometers) outside of Homs on the way to Damascus; it was reportedly shut down in 2011. It might also be known as the Jandar refinery. Then there’s the Middle East Sugar Refinery located 31 miles (50 kilometers) south of Homs, in the Hasia industrial zone, 55 miles (90 kilometers) from the coast, near Iraq. Maha had told me the factory was “close” to her house. Are either of these conceivably “close” to Deir Ba’alba?

I asked a Syrian colleague of mine if she thought either factory would qualify as “close” to this woman’s town.

“As for the way Syrians estimate distance and what is close or far for them, it always frustrated me,” my colleague said. “There are no rules. They can say about a place that it is ‘as close as the distance a stone you throw will reach’ but turns out to be far, and they can say you need a car and it turns out it is a very reasonable walking distance.”

Assuming one of these factories is close enough to be the factory Maha talked about, who was actually in charge of the area in December 2012? Was the town controlled by government soldiers at that time?

A search reveals that there were a number of government massacres in that period in Homs. Specifically in Deir Ba’alba, the London-based independent Syrian Human Rights Committee reported on a massacre on December 29, 2012: “Human rights activists have reported that the district of Deir Ba’alba in Homs has witnessed a horrific massacre in which more than 220 civilians have been killed, following an attack on the area by Syrian regime forces and its Shabiha [plainclothes militia] gangs.” That particular attack might be the one that caused Maha and her family to flee Syria. She described a massive shabiha knife attack on her town as happening “around New Year’s Eve.”

This Reuters story describes an army push into the same area of Homs that same day, and an ongoing struggle for rebels to maintain their control over pieces of Homs. Are either of the two Homs factories in those disputed areas? I’m still looking into who was controlling the specific surroundings in those months, which saw heavy fighting in the province.

Getting back to the basic question here: Can there really be a sugar factory being used as a rape house in Syria? And can there actually be two?

The likelihood that there are two sugar factories being used in this way seems off. With the echo chamber that is the Internet and the rumor mill that churns propaganda surrounding Syria, I would be reluctant to say that both these allegations are real. But with the actual, documented torture and rape occurring in this war, I would be hesitant to discount that there is such a center where atrocities are being committed. We know such centers exist. And keeping track of the rumors gives us a base from which to investigate.

If such a rumor were proven to be true, it would open up an important question: Is someone in the Syrian government or army aware that this factory is (or was) being used as a rape house and, if so, did they order it into existence?

No one has yet proven that rape is systematic in Syria. By “systematic” I mean that someone in the government has orchestrated it. We just don’t have definitive proof whether the government, accused of multiple atrocities, has a hand in organizing any kind of rape site.

Bosnian Rape2Regardless of who may have organized an alleged site, it might help at this point to look to the lessons of Bosnia: In that conflict, a sports hall called Partizan, in Foca, served as a center for sexualized violence for a number of months in 1992. Women were routinely transported from the hall to be raped in soldiers’ apartments nearby. One told Newsday that soldiers had raped her about 150 times at Partizan. And while during the war there were warnings about the existence of the Partizan camp, the multiple reports went ignored.

One day, journalists and human rights investigators will be allowed into Syria. My hope is that by that time there will still be enough evidence, and survivors left to speak, to tell us what really happened.

(With research by Stephanie Chaban. For more on our work documenting sexualized violence in Syria, see this report on our findings at one year of crowdmapping and this story on how stigma is creating a wall of silence around this issue.)

UPDATE: A woman who says she lived in Homs for many years contacted me the day after this story went up and said she knows of a sugar factory about 3 miles (4.6 kilometers) from the center of Deir Ba’alba. Here it is on Google Maps. “It is very close to an air force intelligence building,” she said.


Saying “Never Again” accomplishes nothing unless you accompany words with action.  The world ignored the Holocaust against the Armenians and Hitler knew that he could get away with a Holocaust against the Jews.  The world ignored the pogroms and rapes perpetrated in Azerbaijan against ethnic Armenians and said tsk tsk while 800,000 Armenians were driven out of Azerbaijan….so Serbian fascists knew they could get away with setting up concentration and rape camps in Bosnian to deal with Muslims and Croats.

Are YOU going to let this happen in Syria?

Never Again

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LA Progressive Joins Same Page Coalition


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J.B. Tucker & Associates

News Release


P.O. Box 433 Torrance CA 90508-0433


Tel: 310.618.9596 Fax: 310.618.1950


Cell: 818.720.3719



Criminal Justice Columnist, Counter Punch Magazine


Commentator, Black Talk Radio


Public relations guru”Los Angeles Times 1996


Former 1st Vice President, LA Newspaper Guild


Member, CWA Local 39521, Pacific Media Workers Guild



For Immediate Release: 5/29/13


For Information: Jan B. Tucker as above; Dick Price; Sharon Kyle



L.A. Progressive Joins Same Page Coalition



The well-respected on-line media L.A. Progressive has been unanimously voted into the Same Page/Misma Pagina (SPC) coalition by the existing member organizations, which include the San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter of NOW (SFV/NELA NOW), National League of Latin American Citizens (NLLAC), California League of Latin American Citizens (CALLAC), United For Education Coalition (UFE), Bring Hollywood Home Foundation (BHHF), Miss Revolutionaries, Todos Unidos, and California LULAC Institute (CLI). Founded and operated by Dick Price and Sharon Kyle, the L.A. Progressive has an international following and carries posts by such celebrated writers as Dr. Anthony Samad, Marcy Winograd, Cynthia Loo, Norman Solomon, Carl Bloice, Tom Hayden, and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto amongst others. Biographical information for Price and Kyle is available at



Endorsements by the SPC are considered important prizes in Los Angeles area elections. During the 2012 election cycle, both of SPC’s endorsees, Representative Brad Sherman and long-shot Steve Fox went on to win their races. Running 10% ahead in the polls, Sherman sent a last minute mailing to every Democratic and Independent registered woman in his district touting the SFV/NELA NOW endorsement and went on to beat his opponent, Rep. Howard Berman, by an astounding 20 points on election night. During the 2013 Los Angeles Municipal elections, all four of the major Mayoral candidates sought and were interviewed by SPC for endorsement. In the runoff, with the exception of SFV/NELA NOW which made a triple endorsement in the primary which became a runoff dual endorsement, all other SPC endorsing groups endorsed Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti for the runoff.



A 2006 professional poll commissioned by then-Assembly member and current frontrunner for Los Angeles City Council District 6 Cindy Montanez demonstrated that amongst San Fernando Valley endorsing organizations, the voters considered the SFV/NELA NOW endorsement to have the highest integrity. SPC attributes the credibility of their endorsements to their strict non-partisanship (member organizations have made past endorsements of Democrats, Republicans, independents, Greens, and Peace & Freedom Party candidates) and conflict of interest policies to insure that interested individuals cannot participate or must limit participation in specific races, even based upon a mere appearance of impropriety.


SPC is implementing two new procedures in conjunction with its endorsement process, which has previously included a joint candidate questionnaire (known as one of the most difficult in California because it is completely subjective and cannot be “scored”) and a face to face interview. For upcoming elections, SPC will add an optional on-record semi-formal press conference that candidates seeking the endorsement will be encouraged to participate in. All media will be invited, but an emphasis will be placed upon seeking participation from alternative and small media outlets, such as community newspapers, on-line publications, and ethnic/non-English language press.



Additionally, SPC is in the process of creating a chart to “hold incumbents feet to the fire” by comparing the promises and representations they made during the endorsement process to their performance in office. SPC will seek periodic face to face meetings with the soon to be incumbents to review their efforts to implement their promises and to help build public support for the reforms they have demanded.



To see the SPC’s existing candidate questionnaire and background documents, see





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Power goes to two poles


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Bob Dylan once said that “Money doesn’t talk.  It swears.”  Just as true and as once again proven by Nancy Pearlman’s re-election victory for Los Angeles Community College Trustee is Saul Alinksy’s statement that “Power goes to two poles:  to those who’ve got the money and to those who’ve got the people.”

I wrote in a recent blog about how David Vela, the handpicked political hack candidate of the Los Angeles Democratic Party elites, had the money while Nancy Pearlman had to rely on the people for support [].  This morning Nancy told me of how she was outspent by Vela by about $600,000 to her paltry $25,000.  Yet, here’s the final outcome from election night stats:


NANCY PEARLMAN                             DAVID VELA


183,578 57.18%                                       137,470 42.81%

In American politics, anything over a 10% victory margin is called a “landslide.”  With just over 14% more votes than Vela, Nancy won by a landslide and with the amount that the powers that be spent for Vela and against Pearlman, the powers that be should feel humiliated, because frankly, they never seem to learn.  In 2001, here’s how she won, beating another political hack, Joey Hill []:

NANCY PEARLMAN                                   SAMUEL J. “JOEY” HILL


338,590 62.62%                                           202,079 37.38%


The first time Nancy won her seat in 2001, she was outspent 100-1:

4th Time Is the Charm in Race for Trustee, Los Angeles Times


“The public kept telling me they wanted me there,” said Pearlman, who unsuccessfully ran for the office in 1995, 1997 and 1999. “I’ve learned from all my previous experiences, and my supporters helped me get to the voters we hadn’t reached before.”

Pearlman, a Green Party candidate who raised $1,000 for the campaign, stressed that she would be the independent voice on a seven-member board that she considers too swayed by staff and faculty unions.

“I know I’m going to have to work with people . . . I’ve criticized,” Pearlman said. “But I am not critical of them as individuals, only of some of the decisions they’ve made.”

Hill, an aide to state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City), was incredulous at the election’s outcome.

“No one I know can think of any rational reason she would have gotten two out of three votes in June when she got only one in three in April,” Hill said. “I was more than a little surprised. I was shocked.”

Hill outspent Pearlman 100 to 1 in the race.


So, the liberal Democratic elites in Los Angeles just pissed away another $600,000 on somebody they thought was Goliath.  It never occurred to them that they were taking on David.




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Crack Babies-a Retro Report


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Kit Roane

Kit Roane

I first met reporter Kit Roane when he first worked for the Los Angeles Reader when he was doing hard hitting investigative journalism.  He later went on to the New York Times and U.S. News & World Report on overseas assignments and is now working out of New York City.  Here’s a message I got from him today:

This quick intrusion is so I can throw you a link to a video that I produced. It looks back at the “crack baby” epidemic of the 1980s and is one of several we are doing at Retro Report, a non-profit news documentary project that is infusing historical moments with fresh reporting and perspective. The videos are distributed on our own site as well as that of The New York Times. Take a look if you get a chance. There is also a link on the page somewhere where you can subscribe, or you can comment via Facebook. Feel free to pass it along.

Best regards, Kit

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Los Angeles Election Campaign Memes


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Latinas 4 Garcetti

Latinas For Garcetti

Cindy Montanez MemeNancy Pearlman MemeRon Galperin MemeCindy Montanez Meme 2

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