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Mike Feuer for City Attorney
Mike’s work for civic improvement and the protection of the powerless first came to my attention when he headed the non-profit Bet Tzedek (House of Justice) program in Los Angeles providing free legal representation for the elderly, poor, and disabled on issues ranging from health care, nursing home abuse, consumer fraud and slum housing. Very dear to my heart as my readers know from my past writings on the subject in this blog and in the L.A. Progressive, he established a legal program to assist those afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. I knew of Mike’s work through my friend and attorney Laura Streimer, who headed Bet Tzedek’s San Fernando Valley operations at the time.
While a member of the State Assembly, Mike authored many long overdue bills and saw them through the legislative process into law, including election-day voter registration with the right to cast a provisional ballot, the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act (known as “Civil Gideon” for Gideon vs Wainwright, extending the RIGHT to a lawyer from criminal to the civil arena for certain key areas of human rights), and the Homeowners Bill of Rights, expanding the rights of those facing foreclosure at the hands of unscrupulous lenders. On LGBTI rights, his website points out that:
Mike is also a longstanding advocate of equal rights for all people. He is a co-author of legislation to establish marriage equality in California and wrote the law assuring same-sex couples won’t be impoverished when one spouse enters a nursing home. As a pro bono attorney he drafted a letter-brief in a California Supreme Court case establishing key adoption rights of same-sex couples and as a legislator led efforts in both houses to file a friend-of-the-court brief urging the state Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8.
By contrast, Carmen Trutanich is up to his eyeballs in continuing a scandalous prosecution begun under his predecessor, Rocky Delgadillo, which I deal with at length in my blog posting at: http://janbtucker.com/blog/2013/05/12/eric-garcetti-for-mayor/
Ron Galperin for City Controller
Segue from my last point about why I’m backing Mike Feuer for City Controller, the scandalous prosecution I refer to in my 5/12/2013 blog posting about the Mayoral race. We need somebody in the City Controller’s office who really understands what goes on in Los Angeles City fiscal policy and administration. As the person who chaired the Commission On Revenue Efficiency (CORE), Ron knows this subject better than anybody in Los Angeles. I’ve listened to hours of testimony before CORE and Ron is skillful and adept at getting to the bottom of what’s wrong with the procedures of various city departments and knows how to use the tools of the Controllers Office to improve their efficiency.
Cindy Montanez for City Council, District 6
During the 2002-2003 legislative session, I wrote and Cindy introduced AB 1617 which has gone on to form the basis for nationally endorsed principles of how to put teeth into laws by which employers must prevent, investigate, and resolve workplace harassment and discrimination. This background is extremely critical when considering the serious issues I’ve raised in this blog before about rampant discrimination—especially against African American employees, in at least three city departments. It also comes into play with questions I’ve raised about city hall quid pro quo sexual harassment, with women having to pay to play with their bodies to sleep their way into promotions.
Although it didn’t pass, AB 1617’s basic principles are extremely important to our Same Page/Misma Pagina Coalition, all of whose organizational members were unanimous in their endorsement of Cindy for City Council. The AB 1617 principles are one of four (4) basic documents which must be reviewed and commented on by all candidates seeking to get our endorsement.
An “Oh by the Way” on the Mayoral Race
Some interesting financial contributions have come Wendy’s way in her mayoral election bid:
Herbert “Bert” Boeckmann, owner of Galpin Ford. Here’s an excerpt about Boeckmann from the Los Angeles Weekly:
From LA Weekly:
Herbert Boeckmann II, who owns Galpin Motors, one of the biggest businesses in the Valley, has bankrolled Valley VOTE tactics behind the scenes, contributing $25,000 of his own money and $20,000 from his car dealership. He’s also the most unabashedly ideological and conservative of the secessionists, a former California vice- chairman of right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson‘s 1988 presidential campaign, and a contributor to the Christian Coalition.”Boeckmann views L.A. as captured by liberals, so if he separates off the Valley, he can have a right-wing paradise,“ where he’s a major player, says Mark Siegel, a Valley resident. L.A. attorney and civic activist Connie Rice wonders about the financial incentives that drive someone like Boeckmann. ”As a businessman, his power would be enormously magnified. He could own half that new City Council,“ she says. [Emphasis added]
My mother was a waitress and a member at times of Local 11 of HERE (Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees, the local headed by Maria Elena Durazo, now Secretary Treasurer of the LA County Federation of Labor). In fact, my mother had a reputation as the Deli waitress in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley who told the best dirty jokes (I heard this from more than one of her customers who asked if I was related to her). Plus I’ve had a number of restaurants over the years as clients, so with that knowledge of the industry under my belt, I’m just kind of skeptical as to how a waitress at Ports O’Call Restaurant in San Pedro, Michelle Nataly Gomez, is able to come up with $1,000 to contribute to Wendy. My inquiring mind wants to know. Who knows? Maybe she’s a part owner of the restaurant even though she listed her occupation on campaign reporting forms as waitress??????
Then there’s an old friend I haven’t seen since the 90s, James “Jim” Mangia, who ran for Lieutenant Governor on the Reform Party ticket in 1998 after a stint with the New Alliance Party–previously the so-called “Newmanite” faction of the Peace & Freedom Party. Jim, who serves on the State of California’s Workforce Investment Board, contributed $1,300.00 to Wendy listing his occupation as “West Hollywood Reform Party.” For more on the Newmanites (who in 2000 got behind right-wing and anti-semite Pat Buchanan’s Presidential campaign) see http://www.rickross.com/reference/new_alliance/new_alliance5.html
Finally, the strangest fundraising operation out there for Wendy may be solicitations I’ve heard about by Mousa Namvar, brother of Ezri Namvar. I know the Namvar family and regardless of my views about them, I can’t imagine why Wendy would have anybody with that surname out soliciting funds, especially in the Jewish community, where their name is at the moment quite controversial. Ezri is in federal custody serving time at Taft Correctional Institution. Here are some excerpts from a Los Angeles Weekly article about what has been described as the Bernie Madoff of Beverly Hills:
His acquisitions included hotels: the Hotel Angeleno, the downtown Marriott, the Cal Neva Resort in Lake Tahoe. He bought office buildings, including the Wilshire Bundy building. His company, Namco Capital Group, occupied the entire 14th floor there, with a commanding view of West L.A. He also bought apartment buildings, vacant land in rural areas, an equestrian center and a pistachio farm.
Namvar’s most formidable and dogged opponent has been Abraham Assil, a wealthy real estate investor who had parked $6 million with Namvar. When Assil heard the rumors of difficulty, he went to see Namvar.
“He played with my head,” Assil says. “He sent me looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Assil says Namvar promised to secure his loan with an interest in a penthouse in Israel. So Assil went to Israel to check it out. He says he later found out the penthouse was already being used as collateral for someone else. Assil says he concluded that Namvar had been transferring assets to his relatives and friends.
Ezri Namvar Is the New Bernie Madoff and the Most Reviled Man in Town (And he speaks for the first time) By Gene Maddaus Thursday, Jul 21 2011
Undoubtedly my readers have heard the old idiom, “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” This is the dilemma that the Internal Revenue finds itself in with congressional investigations, a criminal investigation launched by Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Barack Obama’s press conference. The basic assumption that utilizing politically sensitive names as a criteria to scrutinize an application for 501(c)(4) status ignores the crime wave of affinity fraud that targets legitimate and honest people who are the targets of criminals posing as “conservatives” or “patriots.”
As I was researching and had actually begun writing this blog, Lawrence O’Donnell started his “Last Word” show on MSNBC talking about how the IRS didn’t do anything wrong and called the controversy (along with Benghazi attacks on the White House) as “faux scandals.” While O’Donnell is attributing the problem to the IRS having taken a wrong turn in interpretation of the law during the Eisenhower administration, I am marveling at how the press is missing a perfectly rational basis for what the motivation of IRS employees is when scrutinizing organizations based upon the policy language in their names. Even the IRS Inspector General has rushed to judgment on this point. IRS Acting Deputy Inspector General Michael McKenney’s 54 page report contains the following:
The mission of the IRS is to provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and by applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all. According to IRS Policy Statement 1-1, IRS employees accomplish this mission by being impartial and handling tax matters in a manner that will promote public confidence. However, the criteria developed by the Determinations Unit gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission. The criteria focused narrowly on the names and policy positions of organizations instead of tax-exempt laws and Treasury Regulations. Criteria for selecting applications for the team of specialists should focus on the activities of the organizations and whether they fulfill the requirements of the law. Using the names or policy positions of organizations is not an appropriate basis for identifying applications for review by the team of specialists.
McKenney is wrong. Scrutinizing words like “Patriot” and “Tea Party” are legitimate investigative filters to protect true conservative patriots and true conservative and legitimate “Tea Party” adherents from well known patterns of affinity fraud. If they didn’t properly scrutinize groups like this and honest and well-meaning conservative activists got ripped off by con-men then sure enough, the IRS would be damned because it didn’t.
A Canadian Security Administrators group warns people in one of its bulletins about scams that target anti-tax organizations.
Canadian Securities Administrators
Protecting Your Finances: HOW TO AVOID INVESTMENT FRAUDS AND SCAMS
A scam organizer will often take advantage of anti-tax or anti-government sentiments held by potential investors. The promoter will offer the ability to avoid paying tax and may offer to keep your money outside of Canada where the government won’t be able to touch it. The scheme will usually offer very attractive rates of return – as high as 2% per week, or up to 300% per year. Many times, you will be told to keep the opportunity a secret and not disclose the information to anyone – especially lawyers, accountants, bankers, or representatives of the government.
If you choose to participate in an investment scheme that you know is illegal (i.e. income tax evasion), it is very likely that you may lose all the money you invest. In such cases, there is little or nothing that securities regulators can do to help you recover your money. An illegal $5000 investment to save $700 in taxes may actually end up costing you $5000. [Emphasis added]
Here are some relevant tidbits from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
The Lawless Ones: The Resurgence of the Sovereign Citizen Movement
An Anti-Defamation League Special Report, August 9, 2010
In the summer of 2010, Americans have witnessed a wave of anti-government sentiment sweeping the country. In the mainstream, this has manifested itself in ways ranging from the spread of anti-incumbent electoral trends to the growth of anti-government movements such as the Tea Party movement.
On the fringes of American society, the growth of anti-government sentiment has helped spawn the proliferation of extreme anti-government conspiracy theories and the resurgence of anti-government extremist groups and movements, most noticeably the militia movement, which has grown from 50 groups or so in 2008 to nearly 200 in 2010.
People who are angry at government, especially government regulation. Some people develop intense antipathy toward government rules and regulations, from property codes to tax laws. Every unsuccessful encounter with the government simply makes them angrier. Consequently, when they encounter the sovereign citizen movement, with its alleged ways to get around laws and regulations, as well as tools of retaliation against government officials, they find the movement very attractive.
Con artists and people who want “something for nothing.” The sovereign citizen movement is full of theories that promise people quick riches or other seemingly magical benefits, from being able to eliminate a mortgage to be able to hide one’s income in a series of trusts and make it immune to government scrutiny. As a result, the movement appeals powerfully to people who are always seeking a quick buck or something for nothing. It also appeals to con artists and confidence men and women who can use the movement’s theories to create schemes to attract money from the greedy or the innocent alike.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2010: Former Minneapolis police officer Douglas Earl Leiter received a 10 year sentence for his role as the leader of a sovereign citizen/tax protest group called Common Law Venue, which taught people how to use bogus trusts to evade taxes.
Las Vegas, Nevada, March 2010: Jan Lindsey, a retired FBI agent from Henderson, Nevada, pleaded guilty to a felony count of tax evasion for evading $109,000 in personal income taxes. Lindsey was one of four sovereign citizens and tax protesters arrested by the FBI in May 2009 following a three-year investigation into money laundering, tax evasion, and illegal weapons
Nampa, Idaho, February 2010: Fred Covey was convicted for having filed bogus UCC liens against two IRS employees, claiming that they owed him more than $166 million; he had also filed similar liens against the Secretary of the Treasury and against Idaho State Tax Commission employees.
Colebrookdale Township, Pennsylvania, July 2008: The Pennsylvania Department of State ruled fraudulent a $450 million lien placed by sovereign citizen Ira Huntington of Colebrookdale Township against a local official and her husband.
Sanford, Florida, 2008: Sovereign citizens Joel and Donna Brinkle allegedly filed liens on the property of four local officials, in addition to previous liens filed against people ranging from a tow truck company to former president Bill Clinton.
Dane County, Wisconsin, February 2008: Sovereign citizen Bryan D. Hoel was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted for criminal slander. Hoel had filed a $600,000 bogus lien against a state revenue department investigator who was investigating a state tax case against Hoel. Hoel claimed that his name was trademarked and that the investigator “violated” the trademark by using his name without his permission. Wisconsin has the oldest bogus lien law in the country, as public officials had been repeatedly victimized in the past by members of the Posse Comitatus.
On April 8, 2008 the U.S. Department of Justice announced a nationwide crackdown on bogus investment schemes that preyed on anti-taxers. In just one example cited:
The Oregon suit names Eugene “Gino” Casternovia of Ashland, Ore., and three other individuals. According to the Oregon complaint the defendants operate two businesses in Medford, Ore., Southern Oregon Resource Center Educational Services (SORCE) and Castlenuevo Inc., that work with PQI to promote tax scams involving the use of sham entities to help customers conceal their assets. The defendants also allegedly promote a “disenfranchisement” scam, falsely telling customers that the federal income tax system is voluntary and that customers can opt out of their federal income tax obligations by revoking their Social Security numbers.
“The size and sheer brazenness of the tax defier activities alleged in these complaints are staggering,” said Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Tax Division. “Tax defiers sometimes claim to be ‘patriots,’ but those who push bogus tax schemes are nothing more than con artists, and those who pay for these schemes are buying nothing but trouble.” [Emphasis added]
This is not an ideological issue for me. I have frequently written in these pages criticizing left-wing poverty pimps as criminals and thieves. My concern is that my conservative friends be just as protected as others from thieves that would prey on them and well-meaning people who are the obvious targets for the dishonest and the degenerate. As vaudevillian George M. Cohan once warned, “Many a bum show has been saved by the flag.“
I titled this blog posting the way I did because Nancy Pearlman takes her title of Trustee very seriously. Wikipedia begins defining “Trustee” as:
Trustee (or the holding of a Trusteeship) is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, can refer to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility for the benefit of another. Although the strictest sense of the term is the holder of property on behalf of a beneficiary, the more expansive sense encompasses persons who serve, for example, on the Board of Trustees for an institution that operates for the benefit of the general public. [Emphasis added]
Unlike her opponent, David Vela, Nancy has never held another political office than Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees nor was she ever employed as a political staffer (those of us with degrees in Political Science frequently refer to professional staffers as “hacks,” as opposed to “flacks,” which are the professional Public Relations people who used to be legitimate journalists now serving as paid and hired guns; that said, it’s perfectly reasonable to utilize the same terms for me at times in different roles I’ve assumed over the years). Yet, she has a lifetime of political activism under her belt that make her one of the most qualified political leaders I have ever met.
Should Progressives Support Nancy on her record and on the issues? Hell Yes! Following is a series of great questions posed online by Green Party member Thomas Scott Tucker (no relation that I know of) and my response:
To Greens in Los Angeles,
Should Greens support Nancy Pearlman, now seeking re-election for a fourth term on the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD)?
According to a recent message from Mike Feinstein:
“Nancy was originally elected in 2001, when a Green.”
Those words suggest that Pearlman has left the Green Party. Is she now a member of the Democratic Party, or some other party? Pardon my ignorance, but since we are discussing possible donations and endorsements on a Green email list we ought to have the facts spelled out.
In a memo from Pearlman dated April 7, 2013, she wrote:
“I am an independent voice who will stand up to unreasonable labor and
Presumably the unreasonable corporate demands would include the corporate undermining of Social Security, which seems to be part of an ongoing “Grand Bargain” between Democrats and Republicans. But I am curious to know what Pearlman regards as the “unreasonable” demands from labor. I hope she spells them out, soon, explicitly, and in public.
We must also consider this message from Bob Johnson:
“No where can I find her defending our Green Party platform which bolsters our Boycott Divestment and Sanction of the right-wing
regime of apartheid Israel. If she does, can someone point this out?”
If Pearlman is no longer a Green Party member, then of course she would not feel obliged to support the Green Party national program. But Johnson’s question is a good one all the same, since her positions on Palestine and Israel should be spelled out directly to Green Party members before Greens consider giving her any endorsement.
All quotes are from messages added below for reference.
Peace and solidarity, Scott Tucker
1. The unreasonable demands of labor amount to her vote on a single issue on the board, giving her a 98% COPE rating. In that vote, she chose environmental considerations over what labor wanted. In spite of the fact that AFL-CIO policy requires her to be endorsed as an incumbent with a 95% or better COPE rating–a rule cited by the California Federation of Teachers in opposing Hilda Solis for Congress and in support of then Congressman Matty Martinez–the AFT College Guild and SEIU teamed up to orchestrate the endorsement of a crony of Miguel Santiago who is a Democratic Party team player.
2. For those who doubt Nancy Pearlman’s environmental credentials, she (and I) were members of the “Fanatic Fifty” of the People’s Lobby who got the Clean Environment on the ballot for the June 1972 ballot at a time when PL was considered the tip of the javelin for the green movement.
3. If anybody wants to guess at how long Pearlman has been a feminist activist, one example alone is that she was the person who sued in 1972 for the right of women to register as “Ms” (in 1972) and secured the right of women to keep their own name when marrying in California instead of adopting their husband’s names.
4. If anybody has any doubt about Nancy’s commitment to Palestinian rights, she attended my Passover Seder of the Jewish Existentialist World Society (JEWS) on March 30, 2013. Read very carefully the Passover Haggadah and what it says about the relations between Jews, Arabs & Palestinians: http://janbtucker.com/blog/2013/03/04/passover-reversion-ceremony-3-30-13/
Let me flesh out my above commentary on a couple of points. Read my commentary about how Hilda Solis became a member of the House of Representatives, a crucial step on her way to becoming U.S. Secretary of Labor……over a tooth and nail fight led by none other than the American Federation of Teachers representatives in the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor: http://janbtucker.com/blog/2008/12/20/for-hilda-solis-i-was-at-the-right-place-right-time/
The AFT and its local are well aware of the rules. Their representatives invoked the rules against Hilda Solis and in favor of NAFTA supporter Matty Martinez. Now they ignore their own rules against Nancy Pearlman and for David Vela; why? Especially why in light of the fact that one of David Vela’s public campaign pledges was to vote on the Board of Trustees for lower student fees (a completely incompetent pledge since he apparently doesn’t know that the Board doesn’t set those fees, the legislature does)?
Been there, done that
I’ve been around the block a few times. I know where all the bodies are buried in town because I was either on the burial detail or else I had it under surveillance. In the labor movement I’ve been on the front lines, in no man’s land, and behind enemy lines in battles against labor’s enemies and against the enemies of union democracy within the movement. I served as First Vice President of Newspaper Guild Local 69 under Presidents Gary North and Joe Segura. I was the investigator for years for Graphic Communications International Union District Council 2, the Southern California Allied Printing Trades Council and many other unions.
I was a close confidante of Miguel Contreras when he was Secretary-Treasurer of the County Federation of Labor. I used to do very special clandestine investigations for him and the County Fed just like I did for other unions. I was alone with him in his office when he got a fax (originated by another friend of mine, a high ranking Democratic politician) about the formation of a “Business Democrats” group, upon which Miguel exclaimed: “The Democratic Party is a piece of shit, but we’re going to take it over and at least then, it will be our piece of shit.”
Miguel’s point was that the labor movement was tired of being the tail being wagged by the Democratic Party dog. From his perspective it should be the other way around.
So I don’t think I’m quite the dullest tool in the shed when it comes to finding out stuff in both the labor movement and in the Democratic Party and I can be relatively objective about stuff in the Democratic Party because I’m not now and have never been a Democrat and it’s usually a battle between different Democratic Party factions where I’ve got friends in both (or all) competing camps. From everything I’ve been told, most of which has not been “for attribution” even though it’s been “on record” here is how it shakes out.
Nancy Pearlman isn’t part of the right political or social circles
I hope that my loyal readers trust my integrity on this because while most of what I’ve been told has been “on record” even if “not for attribution,” some has been told to me “off record” and for very good reasons. Ergo I’m not even going to explain what I mean by Nancy not being in the right “social circles” and even if those things had been revealed “on record,” I don’t even know that I’d make it public. The people I would have been talking about had I done so will likely know exactly what I’m talking about and guys, I just consider what you’re doing to be out of line.
As far as her not being in the right “political circles,” first, it’s true that she hasn’t always been a Democrat. Just like me, who remains in a third party (even though the leadership of my own party quite literally wants me executed). Nancy, unlike me, has arrived at being a Democrat and if the Democratic Party is as big a tent as it claims to be, the party should be welcoming her. If they don’t, then Democrats should stop telling me that I’d be welcome and stop telling me to get out of that crazy old Peace & Freedom Party that I belong to. In the past two elections, the AFT College Guild did endorse Nancy and now all of a sudden, after repeatedly telling her that they had no problem with performance, they go renegade on her.
The next point is that whereas Miguel Contreras had set in motion his goal of having labor take over the Democratic Party in Los Angeles, the labor movement’s attempt to scuttle Nancy’s re-election bid has a lot to do with the push-back of Democratic Party hacks and flacks against that takeover. Instead of being labor wagging the Democratic Party as its tail, this is a case of Democratic Party hacks wagging labor as its tail to justify getting another hack into office at the expense of a dedicated, competent, and brilliant public servant.
How the Democrats wagged Labor’s tail
An example of how Party hacks got Labor hacks to do their bidding was revealed in a leaked November 30, 2012 internal email from SEIU Local 99 leadership to its staffers. For context, Local 99 has always had notorious “issues” of corruption and mondo bizarro behavior. A former local president was indicted along with a sitting Los Angeles City Council member and sent to federal prison. When I was First Vice President of Newspaper Guild Local 69, our local (and I was directly involved) represented the staff of Local 99 against it’s own management. Some stuff the feds never even learned (if I recall, it was FBI special agent Sam Mayrose that took down the major crooks; I later was on the other side of Sam in the Golay-Rutterschmidt murder trial): (a) the son of a certain Local 99 official was heroin addicted and kept no-show employee-buddies of his on the local’s payroll who kicked back 50% of their checks to him in cash; later he burgled the office stealing all of the local’s computers and the petty cash fund; (b) one former Local 99 staffer–still on SEIU’s payroll in another local–was so crazy she once chased the student body president of an LAUSD campus around a room with a scissors trying to stab her.
The November 30, 2012 internal email indicated that the staffers should turn out “solid members” which is thinly veiled code for those who are willing to follow the leadership line on who to endorse at an endorsement “town hall” forum. The leadership had already decided who they wanted to endorse — David Vela for Community College Board Office 6 — and they needed people likely to rubber-stamp their choices to show up. The email warned that they were to keep the leadership’s decisions on who to orchestrate the endorsement of “confidential” while euphemistically referring to them as “recommendations.”
Listen to Nancy for yourself to see just how incredibly qualified and knowledgeable she is about the issues….
Political Analyst and Community Advocate Pedro Baez along with Co-Host Michelle Richardson on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, will conduct an exclusive in studio interview with LA Community College Board of Trustee’s candidate Nancy Pearlman on a special edition of “These Times w/Michelle & Pedro” at 9:00 AM PST, Noon EST, on KTYM Radio (1460 AM) and streamed globally on ktym.com.
Ms.Pearlman will discuss the education crisis facing the colleges today, student access and success, and other problems facing the colleges.
“The Los Angeles Community Colleges have under gone draconian cuts,” says Baez, “Candidate Pearlman will explain why the colleges need a grass roots approach to these problems and her remedy to fix them,” says Richardson.
Who I’m endorsing for Los Angeles Mayor: Eric Garcetti
My first choice for Los Angeles Mayor was Jan Perry, but Eric Garcetti was by far and beyond my second choice over Wendy Greuel. I could analyze and re-analyze where the two stand on issues just like every other self-appointed pundit in town, but as my readers know, I much prefer to deal with original facts and experiences that you’re not going to find anywhere else.
One of the key reasons I’m NOT supporting Wendy Greuel is because of the City Controllers Office—and her role personally—in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on questionable and even outright bogus prosecutions concerning the Parking Occupancy Tax. After attempting to obtain a tape for months (the audio tapes of the Commission On Revenue Efficiency, CORE) which was in limbo while being transferred to the custody of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office, I finally got my hands on the audio of a hearing in which the Office of Finance, the Police Commission, and the City Attorney’s office all made presentations about the administration of the Los Angeles City POT (Parking Occupancy Tax). There are about 23 more audio tapes I may have to peruse until I find the specific testimony I’m looking for (more about that shortly), but in the meantime what these three city departments said in the hearings are actually less interesting than what I know that they either knew or should have known and didn’t bother to tell the commission.
After listening to hours of testimony before CORE commissioners, here’s what I didn’t hear that I should have heard if those departments were intent upon being fully forthcoming. As has been many times repeated, The cruelest lies are often told in silence. – Robert Louis Stevenson:
The Office of Finance claimed that it supposedly does not refer cases to the City Attorney for collection or criminal prosecution until it has completed an internal office review with the taxpayer; in the most egregious case which CORE commissioners specifically queried about, the city employee charged with working the case out retired, moved to Arizona, nobody bothered to inform the company which was trying to work out differences over what was owed, and then without warning the City Attorney charged the company and its president in criminal court. Nobody from either the Office of Finance or the City Attorneys office owned up to this behavior to the commissioners.
The Office of Finance claimed that they send out tax assessments to the taxpayers which the taxpayers then have an opportunity to contest. Conveniently, they didn’t bother to admit to the fact (I have personally witnessed the documents, the mailing dates, and accompanied the company representatives to the Office of Finance which could come up with no rational explanation for this and made no effort to fix the problem) that the City of Los Angeles contracted with a Sacramento mailing house to send these tax notices. That mailing house saved up the assessment notices for months at a time and then sent them all in bulk to the taxpayer well after the date that they were allowed to contest the assessment.
When a taxpaying company for the POT no longer owns or operates a parking lot, they are supposed to send in a change notice. Those change notices would go to a post office box of the City of Los Angeles. During court testimony though, not one single Office of Finance witness was able to say who picked up and processed or how those change notices were processed. The company that was being prosecuted, as just one example, had been charged by the Office of Finance for years no matter how many notices they sent in for tens of thousands of dollars a month for the purported parking lot which was in fact the construction site for the new Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, which now houses the unit of the Police Commission which is supposed to grant police permits for the operation of that very location as a parking lot. My contention that the Office of Finance, Police Commission, and City Attorney knew or should have known that the construction site of the Police Headquarters really is an accusation that demands an answer!
Now for the $64,000 – er – make that $65 million question – is, how did the City of Los Angeles, specifically, Wendy Greuel, have the chutzpah to accuse my client, Prestige Parking, Inc. at a press conference (not to be confused with other companies with similar names) of owing $65.1 million in POT right in the middle of a criminal trial over the issue. According to the Los Angeles Downtown News (July 24, 2009):
Tops on the list is Prestige Parking Inc., which operates about 30 parking lots throughout the city and is headquartered in Downtown. The list said Prestige owes $65.1 million [later upped to $72–JBT] in parking occupancy taxes, though company representatives strongly dispute that.
Names do not go up just because of a late bill. Christovale said delinquent taxpayers are sent a certified letter advising them that they have 30 days to settle or pay their debt. Those who do not respond or begin to negotiate a settlement are then posted on the list. Consequences for non-payers can include added penalties, interest and the loss of their business license, Christovale said.
As I have explained, what Christovale claims happens doesn’t really happen. Prestige Parking was in the middle of negotiating with the City – or thought it was while the guy they were negotiating with retired and moved to Arizona – when the City chose to prosecute them criminally.
To get up the gumption to make this accusation—announced by Wendy Greuel personally at a press conference—first, she had to have a way of fabricating the figures. Unless you put $65-$72 million dollars on a single company, she had no way of getting to at least over $100 million that she could blame on “tax scofflaws” to be used as scapegoats for the City budget deficit. These figures were also thrown into contract negotiations with City unions to lay the blame for deficits not on real waste, fraud and mismanagement, but on falsified city financial records showing higher tax receivables than actually existed. How do I know……?
Source Number One (SNO) who I interviewed a couple of years ago is a whistle blower employed by the City of Los Angeles. According to SNO the enormous figures that Wendy Greuel publicly accused Prestige Parking of owing to the City was generated by a “glitch” in the computer programming of the Office of Finance. At least one or more city employees had offered to fix the glitch and were ordered not to fix it. Based upon my interview of this whistle blower I sent a California Public Records Act request to the City and received the following response:
All writings constituting memoranda, reports, notes, cmails, and/or any other communications to and/or within the Office of Finance concerning and/or recommending changes, fixes, and/or corrections to the algorithm, logic (including but not limited to prepositional calculus and/or rules of inference), algebraic equation, mathematical calculus or other methodology used to calculate parking occupancy tax delinquencies authored by:
(a) employees of the City of Los Angeles
(b) independent contractors of the City of Los Angeles
(c) elected officials of the City of Los Angeles
Response to Request #3: The Office of Finance was unable to locate any records that are responsive to Request #3.
Source Number Two (SNT): SNT was an employee of CORE (Commission On Revenue Efficiency, as discussed above). According to SNT, the response to my CPRA request is non-sense because there was a deliberate methodology used by the Office of Finance designed to produce the maximally false POT figures to be levied against Prestige Parking. The Office of Finance computer program was intentionally set to produce a figure under the assumption that all of Prestige’s parking lots were full up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and everybody who had any interest in the matter in the Office of Finance, the City Controller’s office and the City Attorney’s office had to know that little tidbit. SNT told me that this emerged during testimony to CORE which is contained in one of the 23 other audio tapes that I have yet to listen to.
Another way that Wendy Greuel helped to generate these phony figures was by the Controller’s Office hiring complete incompetents as “Investigators.” For example, one “Investigator” who refused to be interviewed by me during the criminal trial proceedings, used to be an IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) special agent but left federal service well before staying long enough to get his 20 year pension…..something nobody does unless they’re incompetent and about to be fired. He went into private practice for a couple of years as a certified fraud examiner, couldn’t make it in the private sector, and went to work for the City Controller. Why the city would hire somebody who couldn’t hold a job with the IRS or make it in private practice is beyond me, but they wound up with a guy who wound up testifying that he destroyed the notes he made of his investigation of Prestige.
The notes he destroyed included his notes of a surveillance of a Shell Gas Station at 3201 Wilshire Blvd (Los Angeles CA 90010). His destruction of his notes was convenient because in his sworn testimony in court, he tried to justify why the Office of Finance was assessing tens of thousands of dollars per month on the location even though there was no evidence that Prestige ever owned, operated, or had anything whatsoever to do with the location. Incidentally, this location was about three blocks down the street from an Office of Finance unit and personnel there refused my invitation to walk or drive down the street so I could prove to them that the figures they were generating against Prestige Parking for 3201 Wilshire were obviously bogus. This City Controller “Investigator” also refused to be interviewed by me prior to the criminal trial, something which is his right, but which is also a ground for impeachment of him as a witness since refusal to be interviewed by either side demonstrated his bias against the defense.
While the City was busy fabricating receivables it knew didn’t really exist and pretending that so-called tax scofflaws were to blame for the City’s budget deficit, Wendy Greuel’s Controller’s Office was letting very serious real troughs of money “fall through the cracks” in its audits. As the Los Angeles Times recently pointed out:
Laura J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times May 9, 2013, 10:33 p.m.
During years of cuts to basic services, Los Angeles city officials say, nearly $43 million piled up unnoticed in a Department of Transportation fund because of an accounting error.
The discovery of $42.6 million will be a welcome one-time infusion into next year’s budget, officials said, but has left them worried that other such funds may still be undiscovered.
Had the money been discovered sooner, it might have added a few million dollars annually to the city fund that pays for police, fire and other basic services during years that city employees were forced to take furloughs and pay cuts.
“It frankly makes me a little concerned about what other costs aren’t being accounted for,” City Councilman Paul Krekorian said during a budget meeting Wednesday. “$42.6 million is a lot to fall through the cracks.”
My Wish List for the Next City Administration
Memorializing the Truth About Los Angeles History….
During the racist “Zoot Suit Riots” in 1943 in which soldiers, marines, and sailors attacked Latinos in East Los Angeles during World War II, then-Mayor Fletcher Bowron brazenly urged the military police and shore patrol to unleash military personnel against the Chicano/Mexican community after they had been reined in, because in Bowron’s opinion the community had not yet been taught a sufficient lesson about its status. In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Zoot Suit Riots, a monument should be placed at Fletcher Bowron Square to expose him as a racist and a pig.
In 1942 Japanese Americans were ordered to report to 120 N San Pedro (now 120 N Judge John Aiso), then a Japanese American church and now the home of the East West Players so that they could be hauled off to concentration camps. A monument to the fact that Americans were sent to concentration camps from that location is in order, lest future generations forget.
In 1871, Officer Emil Harris attempted against the odds of a mob of about 100 to save the lives of innocent Chinese immigrants from lynching in the Chinatown area until he and one colleague were beaten and the immigrants were physically taken from their custody. Later, Harris, a Jewish immigrant from Prussia, shot Tiburcio Vasquez during his apprehension near the corner of Kings Road and Santa Monica Blvd and then prevented the posse from lynching him, insisting that Vasquez be brought in for trial. Later, Harris became Los Angeles’s first private investigator. Monuments to the 1871 “Chinese Massacre” and to Harris’s role in standing up to mob violence and lynching are appropriate.
Los Angeles has a monument extolling the alleged virtues of a battle in which a Mormon unit from Utah helped to RE-CONQUER Los Angeles. On September 23, 1846, Los Angelinos, who had peacefully surrendered to American forces of Commodore Stockton during the Mexican American War, revolted against Captain Archibald Gillespie of the United States Marine Corps after he improperly imposed martial law on the City of Los Angeles. Under Captain Jose Maria Flores, Los Angelinos drove the Marines out of Los Angeles, drove American forces out of Southern California all the way from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, and in essence liberated Southern California as free Mexican territory while the front lines of the war still raged in what we now call Mexico. The courageous Los Angelenos who fought against the attempts of the United States to seize territory to extend Southern slavery, widely condemned by Americans from Henry David Thoreau to Abraham Lincoln, should be commemorated with a monument.
2,000 New Cops? Maybe, but what kind of cops do we need?
Wendy Greuel has proposed hiring 2,000 new Los Angeles Police Officers even though street crime is at all time lows and forget the fact that she has made no rational explanation as to how she intends to pay for hiring 2,000 more officers. How about combating crime that doesn’t make it into the daily newspapers or reported about on television instead?
Let’s say that instead of hiring 2,000 police officers, the State of California hired 2,000 Deputy Labor Commissioners to go out and investigate wage, hour, and working condition violations. They could investigate by hanging around in working class industrial areas near industries like textiles where violations are known to be rampant. They could go to after hours bars or restaurants with community organization representatives to simply ask workers whether they’re being exploited, build up evidence for search warrants, conduct raids, and put the fear of god or the devil into companies that have been getting away with exploitation forever.
On the other hand, you could hire a whole bunch of housing inspectors for the County Health Department and put on full time toxic mold inspectors and a laboratory to respond immediately to mold reports. Invariably, these reports are made by the poor. The County Health Department does not and will not take admissible evidence nor test evidence of mold for people who report it. The people who report it can’t afford to hire one of the private firms to get it tested. If County Health won’t do it, why not have the City Rent Stabilization office hire mold inspectors and a laboratory to conduct tests at every unit where a tenant reports landlord harassment or other violations and order immediate rent moratorium on any unit with a toxic mold infestation?
Targeting Economic Crime in Family Law
There is always a crime wave in Family Law proceedings in which mostly males violate Section 270 of the California Penal Code (failure to support a child) which happens to be a crime and Section 118 of the Penal Code, perjury, especially when it comes to hiding assets. No matter how big the lie or how big the value of the assets concealed, the police will simply not investigate and nobody will prosecute, at least under the current crop of leaders we have in city and county government. How about hiring a unit of City Attorney investigators as a task force to combat these crimes against women and children?
Cracking Down on Discrimination in City Employment
For background on what’s been going on during the Villaraigosa administration, see my past postings:
The Bottom Line
With Wendy Greuel’s track record, I have no confidence whatsoever in her ability to make the right choices for administration and public policy in Los Angeles. I have the confidence in Eric Garcetti that something will get done and frankly, I’m confident that his performance has to be a major improvement compared with Antonio Villaraigosa. Eric has pledged to ask all city department heads to re-apply for their jobs…..that’s a great start especially when it comes to the Office of Finance. Wendy Greuel couldn’t possibly do that with the Office of Finance because their administrations have been thick as thieves, quite literally, and lord knows who in the Office of Finance knows what other bodies are buried in the City Controller’s office.
Last night, on the recommendation of my friend Sharon Jimenez from the Bring Hollywood Home Foundation (a person who I really hope becomes “Film Czar” in the next mayoral administration) I went to Pips (1356 S La Brea Ave Los Angeles CA 90019) with celebrity photographer Donna Dymally. The one word which describes Pips is that it truly has Class!
I had not been to this location in about 30 years, but when it was Anna Maria’s Italian restaurant, it became one of my favorite hang-outs with my late mentor, Jim McDonald. We made a habit of trying restaurants from the “Playboy Preferred” two-for book that I got with my Playboy Club membership (that’s a long story for my feminist entourage). Pips is still Italian, featuring Argentine Master Chef Luis Carizo Salvat (mis companeros Argentinos, take note) and owned by African American Entrepeneur Derrick Pipkin.
From the cocktails (I had the “All that Jazz”) to accompany the stupendous Jeff Robinson jazz vocals and band (he’s the feature every Friday night starting at 8:00 p.m.) to the bread to the appetizer to the entree, everything was delicious and served with class. Every Italian restaurant these days will of course serve the bread with oil and balsamic vinegar….but how many restaurants put minced garlic in the oil? Pips does.
Here’s a mystery for you that you have to solve by going to Pips and finding out for yourself: the visual presentation of the vegetables. In all my years of eating out, cooking professionally myself in my youth, and doing investigations for restauranteur clients, I have never seen anything like the way the vegetables were visually presented with my Linguine Pescatore. It was nothing short of classy and brilliant!
The eggplant parmesan appetizer was a meal in itself and as Donna exclaimed over and over, “it melts in your mouth.” Donna had a “small” pizza which was enormous for a single person. I tried the Linquine Pescatore with shrimp, mussels, white fish and salmon fillets in a white wine sauce and it was both stupendous and enormous; I had to take home about three quarters of the meal as it was such a large portion.
Anyway, if you trust my palate and my taste, check out Pips. You won’t be disappointed in the least.
My friend Donna Dymally was performing community service to work off a traffic ticket fine at Goodwill Industries International Inc.’s store in the Park La Brea area, Los Angeles 90036. Required to sign a waiver of liability for any injuries she might suffer to begin with, here is what she has recently had to endure:
On Monday, April 30, 2013, at approximately 1:57PM, I was doing community service at the Goodwill located at 817 S. La Brea, Los Angeles CA 90036. I was assisting an employee, Jennifer Sajia with moving a clothes rack when she accidentally ran over my right big toe with a clothes rack that was completely filled with garments.
I was informed by manager, Kelly White that I could call 911 but I would be responsible for all charges. Since I suffered a stroke last year, I have been unable to work and I am waiting on my disability payments to be approved, I could not afford to incur this additional debt. My daughter who works down the street came and picked me up shortly after.
I asked the acting manager, Kelly White if I could have a copy of the incident report for my record. She had me fill it out and I also gave her a hand written attachment of what occurred (which I wrote in duplicate) She informed me that Goodwill’s corporate office told her not to provide me with a copy. Kelly White did inform me that I could speak with corporate and gave me the phone number to call.
Upon immediately leaving the premises at approximately 2:08PM, I called corporate and talked with Goodwill representative Minerva (323) 223-1211. She told me corporate should respond to my call within 24 hours and that did not occur until today (May 2, 2013).
A male called me and failed to identify himself from the Goodwill corporate office. He refused to provide me with any record of the injury incident, refused to provide me with anything identifying how many hours of community service work I was credited with (so I cannot even determine if I have completed my assignment or not), and told me I would have to subpoena anything. He hung up without even giving me his name or title.
Here is my letter to the President of Goodwill, Jim Gibbons, which I sent before the guy called from their corporate office:
Jim Gibbons, President, Goodwill Industries International, 15810 Indianola Drive, Rockville MD 20855
Dear President Gibbons:
The California League of Latin American Citizens (CALLAC), an affiliate of the National League of Latin American Citizens (NLLAC), has received a request for assistance from Donna Dymally who has been performing community service in lieu of a traffic ticket fine at one of your facilities in Los Angeles. She was injured in the course and scope of her volunteer job and indicates that this may impact her ability to complete her community service.
Ms. Dymally is fully cognizant that she signed a waiver of rights concerning potential injuries during her volunteer duties. She does however need confirmation of the incident to provide to the Los Angeles Superior Court in the event that this adversely affects her legally. She indicates that in spite of being assured by her supervisor from Goodwill that the corporate office would respond to her within 24 hours and that the corporate office had directed that she not be provided with a copy of the incident report, that corporate has not returned her telephone call. Following is her narrative:
On Monday, April 30, 2013, at approximately 1:57PM, While doing community service at the Goodwill located at 817 S. LaBrea, Los Angeles CA 90036. I was assisting an employee, Jennifer Sajia with moving a clothes rack when she accidentally ran over my right big toe with a clothes rack that was completely filled with garments.
I was informed by manager, Kelly White that I could call 911
but I would be responsible for all charges. Since I suffered a stroke last year, I have been unable to work and I am waiting on my disability, I could not afford to incur this additional debt. My daughter who works down the street came and picked me up shortly after.
I asked the acting manager, Kelly White if I could have a copy of the incident report for my record. She had me fill it out and I also gave her a hand written attachment of what occurred (which I wrote in duplicate) She informed me that corporate told her not to provide me with a copy. Kelly White did inform me that I could speak with corporate and gave me the phone number to call.
Upon immediately leaving the premises at approxmately 2:08PM, I called corporate and talked with Goodwill representative Minerva (323) 223-1211. She told me corporate should respond to my call within 24 hours and that has not occurred to date.
Miya Dymally [phone number]
Jennifer Sajia – Goodwill employee
Evelyn Alvarez – Goodwill employee
Kelly White – Acting manager
Nina – Goodwill customer [phone number]
Local Goodwill (323) 931-3239
We would appreciate it if you would direct your personal attention to this matter to insure that Ms. Dymally receives proper and appropriate documentation of this matter to document for the court that she may not be able to timely complete her community service requirement.
Respectfully Yours, Jan B. Tucker, State Director, CALLAC
Okay, Goodwill shouldn’t have pissed me off by shafting one of my friends. Over the years, I’ve heard other horror stories about how they exploit their workers but these were always anecdotal and second or third hand. Now I know the story from the horse’s mouth. So, the first thing I do is check the IRS Form 990 for 2012 for Goodwill Industries International, Inc. Guess what: the 990T they filed for 2012 claims that their business is “real estate rental.” So I get confused. I started with Goodwill Industries International because that’s the entity which operates the Goodwill Industries website.
Turns out that Goodwill is locally incorporated all over the place as separate entities. There’s Goodwill Industries of Southern California whose Form 990 for the period ending December 31, 2011 shows that it’s gross revenue was $145,296,438.00. The compensation of Douglas H. Barr, listed as President and CEO, was $1,075,614.00 plus an additional $113,119.00. The total compensation of Officers and Directors of the company was listed as $3,763,936.00 compared with other salaries and wages, i.e., the rank and file workers: $33,676,900.00.
Do you think it’s right that the poverty pimps at the top are so highly paid as a percentage of total wages? I don’t.
A man who worked for Goodwill in Oregon and tried to unionize his store didn’t think so either. Here’s an excerpt from a blog he wrote about his efforts (see the full story at http://amongstthemeek.blogspot.com/2011/09/my-letter-of-resignation-to-goodwill.html):
I haven’t posted on here for a while now. There has been a reason for that. I have been trying to unionize my workplace, Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette which is located in Portland Oregon and the surrounding areas. It will actually be my former workplace as of this morning. My decision to resign has been a long time coming. I had been one of the employees from the beginning to try to get GICW employees to join a union since last fall. That fall I approached another employee about it, Doug M., and the next day we had an anti-union meeting with two of the higher ups in the company. Obviously you just can’t trust some people. You’ll read about the higher ups later.
So, what can I say: fuck Goodwill and fuck the horse they rode in on. Unionize Goodwill. Boycott Goodwill. Take action.
What am I going to do? I’m going to seek action in the legislature to:
- Outlaw companies benefiting from community service, i.e., slave labor imposed by the courts on the poor, from making them sign waivers of liability for workplace injuries
- Require that community service workers and other volunteers have a right to review records kept about them on the same basis as employees under Section 1198.5 and Section 432 of the California Labor Code
- Require that tax exempt non-profit corporations agree to union-neutrality and neutral card-check rules to enable their employees to form and join unions without management opposition or interference
If you want to help, call, write or email your Assembly member and State Senator and tell them you want these reforms enacted into law.