With ‘No Due Respect’ for the Mayor, Free the L.A. 250 from Illegal Detention

UPDATE: Here is a letter to the editor of the Daily Journal submitted today by Oscar Winslow, president of the L.A. City Attorneys Association:
Approximately 292 protestors were arrested during the Occupy LA sweep. It took 1400 police officers, many of whom were approved for overtime, to clear the encampment. Ironically, there’s a shortage of prosecutors responsible for prosecuting these individuals, as Deputy City Attorneys within the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office have been placed on furlough and ordered to work shortened days. Because of this, and the loss of 100 deputies from the Criminal Division, there is a question as to the office’s ability to handle the large-scale increase in arrests. Although Deputy City Attorneys will, as always, perform with the highest possible degree of professionalism, they must do so within the constraints of the furloughs imposed on them. This incident highlights and portends the difficulties that may occur when LAPD’s counter-part in public safety, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, continues to have its budget cut, as arrests without prosecution are meaningless.


With all the backslapping and self praise going on today among the mayor, police chief and their lieutenants, you would have thought they had done something great, like solved the city’s many problems, rather than just arresting 250 people who offered no resistance.and never should have been allowed to take over the grounds around City Hall for two months.

This is the mayor whose introduced Antonio’s Doctrine of full cost recovery for city services that taxes already paid for like trash pickup but who doesn’t have the foggiest idea of how much damage was done to City Hall Park but guesses it might be as low as $150,000, dismisses questions about the cost of all city services for the past 60 days and dares to pretend the police actions Sunday night and Tuesday night with up to 1,400 cops cost nothing at all.
This is the mayor who once headed the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in L.A. and thinks it is totally righteous to hold all those people who allowed themselves to be arrested peacefully for up to 48 hours on $5,000 bail on misdemeanor charges as lightweight as failure to obey police orders to disperse — charges that bring no jail time.
Carol Sobel, who was ACLU senior counsel when Villaraigosa was chairman, issued this statement this afternoon on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild:
“The National Lawyers Guild calls for the immediate
release of all those arrested in the police raid on Occupy LA last night. The
police are holding everyone on $5,000 bail for misdemeanor charges of failure to
disperse.

“California law is clear. Penal Code §853.6 is mandatory
in requiring that anyone charged with a misdemeanor shall be released
with a written notice to appear.

“National Lawyers Guild board member, Carol Sobel,
condemned the action of the LAPD. “The Los Angeles Police Department is
deliberately refusing to release anyone arrested in the Occupy raids with a
notice to appear. The City is holding them in jail on $5,000 bail until they
can be arraigned by a judge, which can take up to 48 hours. This punishes
people for exercising their First Amendment rights.”

:Like the hypocrites on the City Council, the mayor boasted time and again how much he respects the First Amendment rights of the protesters. It appears it is the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments regarding illegal detention and due process that he has trouble with.

The truth, the sad truth, is he only respects money and power just like everyone else in elected office in this city.

I have hope that the Occupy L.A. movement will actually figure out that all politics is local and now that the encampment drama is over will decide to reach out to the 99 percent, including community activists of every sort, of every race, of every class, people who have worked long hours over many years to try to make their communities better, people who are treated like dirt by the power structure of L.A.

The Revolution’s Eviction Will Not Be Televised


As one-time radical Tom Hayden is calling LA’s treatment of the Occupiers “a crack of hope” compared to what has happened elsewhere and praising Mayor Antonio Villaragosa for his rejection of violence against protesters, the LAPD is taking off the kid gloves and gearing up to destroy the City Hall encampment in the dark with only hand-picked media allowed to observe.


Here are tweets from the LAPD sent out to the media Monday and intercepted by journalist and  Occupy L.A. activist Ruth Fowlerlapd-occupy-media-email.jpg
#LAPD meeting to do lottery to select “pool media” for future #OccupyLA activity. Interested media in pool must have rep attend mtg @ 7:15pm
RT @DavidBegnaud: #LAPD media relations to hold news conference at 7:15pm tonight @LAPDHQ regarding #occupyla #ktla

The intention was to keep a lid on how much video and credible information got out to the public when the cops come storming down with full force sometime before the weekend when the mayor heads off to Asia on a junket to announce deals with Korea and China that lopsidedly benefit them but give him a chance to create he is creating jobs in L.A. — one for every 10 there.

Fowler got this information when she sent the tweets to a reporter who attended the meeting on the press pool selection:

“They were only going to let in one media outlet for each medium (print, tv and radio) but we convinced them to let in three….the only media eligible for pool were those who were on the LAPD press release list and able to get to headquarters with an hours notice. So very few were represented at the meeting. I asked about independent radio/blogs and they said that only media with LAPD-issued badges would be allowed in the vicinity. I asked about those already at the camp and they said after the unlawful assembly order everyone who doesn’t leave will be arrested, even those who are journalists. Our attorney was looking into whether there were legal challenges to be made.”

Her reaction: 

“Once again, a clear violation of First Amendment Rights is occuring over Occupy LA and its eviction. It remains to be seen whether other members of the MSM (mainstream media) excluded from the pool adhere to it or not, but the banning of MSM from the scene of Occupy LA during its eviction severely inhibits the press from reporting fairly and accurately, as well as protecting Occupiers from police abuses, which are frequently deterred by the presence of the media. Last night, on the street, one of the chants heard often was “The Whole World is Watching”.

“LAPD listened to that, and instantly addressed it, so that they can make sure the whole world isn’t watching. Only those MSM outlets they choose to filter our information are going to be watching Occupy LA and LAPD’s attempts to evict us.”

The only thing stalling the attack is the lawsuit filed against the city and the mayor specifically by five occupiers and the National Lawyers Guild’s Jim Lafferty, citing the City Council’s resolution giving 100 percent support to Occupy L.A. last month and Council President Eric Garcetti’s personal promise that they can stay encamped at City Hall as long as “they need to?

It was a 
commitment made with Bill Rosendahl’s nodding approval although the Councilman now thinks an ad hoc committee to discuss their concerns will assuage the feelings of betrayal among the protesters.


You can watch the video of how they made their promise early in the occupation and how Rosendahl was greeted as he tried to weasel his way out. You can also watch the mayor’s remarkable double-talking interview with KTLA on Monday after he sent in 500 cops to remove the protesters Sunday night and then ordered them to back down — an order that has left the rank-and-file who stood on the street all night long furious at him and their weak-kneed Chief Charlie Beck.






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Why They Invented the Sabbath: A Short Story

At LAX and airports across the country, large numbers of travelers stranded for hours by flight delays and cancellations immediately turned to their cell phones, iPads and laptops for solace.

It wasn’t that way for my family on Saturday driving back from Phoenix. We suddenly came to a halt west of Desert Center on the I-10 with traffic backed up as far as the eye could see for 20 miles or more.
An SUV had flipped over and slammed into a Border Patrol car, blocking both westbound lanes for what was several hours for those closest to the accident..
We were three miles back and like everyone in the cars around us jumped on our cellphones to see if we could find out what had happened and how long it might take before we got moving again.
No luck. No connection in the middle of the Mojave.
After a while and still in the dark about our situation, people got out of their cars and trucks and started talking to each other.
The grumbling about the disruption soon gave way to gallows humor about dying of thirst in the desert or having to go to the bathroom in front of hundreds of people.
By then, everyone was laughing and talking about their trips and getting to know one another, bonding into a community created by our shared pain that got worse as we watched several dozen trucks and SUVs race pass us on a dirt road about a half mille north of the freeway. 
We were stuck for well over an hour but wound up having a good time.
The moral of the story is we all need to disconnect. We are slaves to electronic devices, be they phones, computers, TVs or whatever. We are wired to avatars of real people, living hermit-like lives alone with our gadgets.
Is it any wonder we’re having such a hard time getting along with each other and  building healthy communities?
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Moment of Truth for Occupiers & L.A. — Last Stand or the Real Start?

For nearly two months the Occupy L.A. protesters have trashed the grounds around City Hall with the full permission of the Mayor and City Council. 

The Council unanimously supported a resolution that endorsed every element of the Occupy movement including their right to “occuppublic space in order to create a shared dialogue by which to address the problems and generate solutions for economically distressed Americans.”

It’s a resolution worth re-reading for its denunciation of the rich, the corporations, the bankers, the Supreme Court; its dire warnings that the nation’s economic crisis is “eroding the social contract, undermining the Constitution, and the “sobering reality” that “income inequalitin thUnited States is even highethan that of some of the (Middle East) countrietorn asunder by violent revolution.”

Authored by Bill Rosendahl and indicted felon Richard Alarcon, it promised to go to war against all forms for inequality and to punish the ban
ks with a legally questionable assertion of authority that has lingered for three years without action.

Amazingly it singled out the Los Angeles CountFederation oLabor — which hand picks and funds nearly every elected city official — for its endorsement of the Occupy movement and insistence that Americans  “are fed uwith an unfair economy that works for 1 of Americans whilthe vast ajority of people strugglto pay the bills, get an education and raise their families.”

Even more incredibly, the protesters loved it as if the unions were not as much a part of the problem of corrupting government at all levels as the corporation, as if there was anything integrity in the words and actions of the nation’s highest paid municipal officials, as if it were perfectly OK to cost taxpayers in a nearly bankrupt city millions of dollars in services and damage to public facilities.

The damage done plus the demand on police and other city services has mounted into the millions of dollars.
And now the stage is set for a midnight showdown tonight between between the hypocrisy and dishonesty of City Hall and the hypocrisy and naivete of the protesters.
After full consultations with former Police Chief Bill Bratton and other mayors (Villaraigosa leads their national organization, our mayor, backed by the lovable lapdog Police Chief, has decided to stand for law-and-order for the the first time in his life. The encampment will be destroyed at 12:01 a.m. even though he supports everything they stand for. They will be removed kindly and without force unless some of them actually have the courage of their convictions.
Gandhi sat down on the railroad tracks and dared the British to run him and his followers down. They blinked and he changed the world.
Let us see how may of the thousand occupiers and the tens of thousands of their supporters dare to defy arrest, beatings, pepper spraying, tear gassing tonight and how many pull up stakes and move on to a place that is mostly out of sight and out of mind.
I see the same forces at work as the occupiers. They are the same forces at work as the Tea Party see from a very different set of values.
Our government institutions are corrupted to their core from Washington to Sacramento to our own City Hall by the bankers, corporations, unions and other special interests who are predictably looking after themselves. 
It’s the politicians who are the problem for all of us. They are the ones who won’t engage in an honest dialogue about how we move together for the common good. 
Occupy L.A. can begin to end the stalemate if they stand up to the attack by our city government tonight in large numbers and don’t just cut and run. 
It would take courage and true belief and commitment few of us have. 
But they can take heart from the fact that our two-faced mayor and City Council  are terrified they will make this the last stand for the occupation movement and expose them for the crooks they are.
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Occupy L.A. Escalates Fight with City Hall

EDITOR”S NOTE: Here’s the latest posting by the Occupy L.A. movement, rejecting City Hall’s ultimatum to leave by Monday and re-focusing their demands on city issues, from restoring the South Central Farm to a moratorium on foreclosures. Click here to read more.

Counter-Offer
from Occupy Los Angeles G.A. to Mayor’s Office, LAPD

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S RESPONSE TO THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES

History: passed with full
consensus at GA on Wednesday 11/23/2011. The language, ideas and grievances
contained herein were culled from the minutes of 2 special City Liaison
Committee Meetings, 2 General Assemblies devoted to the issue, one meeting with
the Demands & Objectives Committee, consultation with Media and PR, and
widely circulated and amended by the online community of occupiers, and adapted
into its current form by the General Assembly on 11/23/2011.

As
a collective, Occupy Los Angeles would like to express their rejection of the
City of Los Angeles’ alleged proposal that we leave City Hall by November 28th,
2011, in exchange for an apparently now rescinded offer of a 10,000 square foot
building, farmland and 100 SRO beds for the homeless.

Occupy
Los Angeles believes that as part of a global movement advocating direct,
participatory democracy, and challenging economic and social injustices, our
position is such that we cannot, in all good faith, accept further material
benefit from City Hall at the taxpayer’s expense without seriously compromising
our beliefs, our desire for global change, and our commitment to our inherent
human rights to free speech and assembly protected in this country by First
Amendment Rights. The 1 percent should be paying for any services used by the
Occupy Movement, not taxpayers.

In
the spirit of inclusivity and transparency which is so dear to our movement,
Occupy Los Angeles extends an invitation to Mayor Villaraigosa and the City
Council to attend our General Assemblies at the City Hall Occupation if he
wishes to discuss these and other matters in a direct, democratic and
horizontal way. Mayor Villaraigosa must speak out against the violent actions
towards our brothers and sisters, declare the actions of other cities to be
unjust, and stand before us equally at a General Assembly. Occupy Los Angeles
believes that until this happens, we should have no more closed-door
discussions regarding our continuing occupation of City Hall.

The City Council – in
line with government in general – is an authority which is more accountable to
developers and corporations than the public. The very act of the Los Angeles
City Council requesting the physical removal of Los Angeles Occupiers without redressing
the grievances which were specifically referenced in the inclusion of our
adopted ‘Declaration of the Occupation of New York City’, and in the City
Council’s ‘1st Amendment Rights / Occupy Los Angeles / Responsible
Banking Resolution’ — is in effect supporting the removal of all Occupations
from public space by any means. We cannot negotiate with such an institution
without undermining our sister occupations across the globe who are suffering
from oppressive force and attacks upon their inherent human rights to free
speech and assembly, protected in this country under the First Amendment. We
refer here to episodes in Oakland, Boston, New York, Portland, UC Davis and San
Francisco, to name but a few. We refer to those further afield, in Tahrir Square
in Egypt, in Madrid, Greece, London and more. Teargas, pepper spray, beatings,
jail, suppression and intimidation have been used as a coercive method of
silencing our movement and our desire for global change.

We reject outright
the City’s attempts to lure us out of City Hall and into negotiations by
offering us nebulous, non-transparent and unconfirmed offers which fail to even
begin to address our local grievances. We will continue to occupy this space,
in solidarity with our global movement, until the forces of the few are forced
to capitulate to the power of the people.

When the following
grievances have been addressed – grievances which we have agreed upon as a
movement through our General Assembly as advancing our cause and providing for
the people of Los Angeles – we as a movement will be happy to initiate dialogue
with the Mayor and Los Angeles City Council. An office space of 10,000 square
feet would not have addressed these grievances. While the grievances listed
below are localized, we believe that they promote the underlying foundations
and principles of our movement, which include, but are not limited to:
providing for basic, fundamental and inalienable human rights such as shelter,
food, healthcare, freedom of choice, sexual orientation, gender equality and
education — and the right most paramount to a free and democratic society — the
right to self-govern. Detailed demands which encompass our greater world view
will be released at a later date by our Demands and Objectives Committee
through the General Assembly.

 

 

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Continue reading Occupy L.A. Escalates Fight with City Hall

The NFL Calls the Plays for AEG’s Fumbled Downtown Stadium Deal

Of all the strange plot twists, audacious power plays, ever-changing story line, the strangest one of all is to see the National Football League taking charge of deciding the who, what, where and when of bringing pro football back to Southern California.

Here is a business enterprise that has twice robbed other cities to put teams in L.A., approved deals for them to move from the Coliseum to Anaheim and even to Irwindale, and then twice pulled the plug. 
And now Commissioner Roger Goodall and his greedy owners want to decide where a new stadium will be built, what he looks like, whether there’s one team or two, who will own them, how much somebody will have to pay the NFL for the privilege of bringing football back into the second largest market so newly-recruited fans can pay $200 to $300 a ticket to see what they now see for free on their giant flat screen in the comfort of their home.
No other sense can be made of AEG’s sudden abandonment of its roofed stadium/events center — the core idea it sold the city to justify tearing down half the Convention Center and adding to the $45 million in annual interest on its existing debt — except that the NFL made it clear that it would cost twice the $1.1 billion estimated cost.
The latest design — perfectly described by LA Weekly’s Dennis Romero as looking like a Maxi-Pad — isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Its cost would still be prohibitive and it would take a day to put it up and take it down, a problem for the month-long Auto Show that would be facing football games on its busiest day for visitors.
It was slapped together to break the news that the rebuilt Convention Center will actually be smaller than what exists now — unless you count luxury suites as exhibition space.
AEG, for all its willingness to buy city and state officials, is feeling heat right now — and there is almost no chance that a team will be playing at the Coliseum or Rose Bowl next season unless Ed Roski’s Majestic Realty prevails with a shovel-ready stadium in the City of Industry.
That’s the difference at its basic level: Roski can start construction as soon as the NFL gives the green light to one of the teams that have been negotiating with both sides in this game.
AEG in contrast has yet to show design one for the new Convention Center and only has a table napkin drawing of winged insult to the aesthetics of architecture to show for more than a year’s worth of work and millions of dollars in wasted spending. 
We know now that it is going to be impossible for AEG to produce an environmental impact report as promised by January since it would have to actually be the detailed design and show what the impact would be on the city to withstand legal challenge.
AEG showed just how corrupt Sacramento is by getting the legislature and the governor to agree to  undermine the state’s environmental laws but it’s harder but not impossible to give money and free 50-yard line tickets to judges.  
Even if AEG pulls off everything just as planned — something it hasn’t done even once in the last year — it won’t have a team at least until 2013 because the Chargers aren’t saying adios to San Diego, the Jaguars to Jacksonville or the Bills to Buffalo without the assurance of a new and more lucrative home.
Roski can offer that; Tim Leiweke can’t — unless the NFL decides there is more money to feed its greed in downtown.
Greedy bastards like the NFL and its owners are looking at history and they are seeing the Rams and Raiders deciding downtown at the Coliseum wasn’t as good as going to Anaheim and Irwindale and eventually to St. Louis and back to little old Oakland. (The death of Al Davis making the return of the Raiders a near certainty).. 
That might suggest that downtown isn’t the right place to try for a football revival since it failed twice already. 
That’s why AEG came up with its plan for a spectacular domed, now winged stadium — for no purpose other than to create a visual image on a TV screen no matter how pathetic it made our city look.
If L.A. had any self-respect, it would have told the NFL at the outset to show us the money: How much are they going to pay us for the right to call a team the Los Angeles whatevers. Instead what we’ve got is a deal that is whatever the NFL wants it to be and guys like Leiweke and his boss Phil Anschutz who don’t give a damn about anything except adding to their wealth.
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The Billionaire Boys Club Know What’s Best

Eli Broad and such stars of the billionaire boys club as Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and investor Nicolas Berggruen have a great idea on how to save California from sinking into an ocean of debt and failed public policy — soak the middle and upper middle classes.

What could be more ironic than the 1 percent knowing what’s best for the 99 percent, isn’t that how they got so rich in the first place?
According to the plan leaked to the LA Times over the weekend, Berggruen alone is willing to put up $20 million to sell us on a tax hike that will slash taxes on the low end and raise them sharply on household incomes above $95,000 as well as hammer small business and others with a stiff tax on legal, accounting and other  services.
You might think that instead of backing a ballot measure, Broad might decide to forego the $52 million in taxpayer money being spent for a parking garage for his art museum and might give up on his failed Grand Avenue project which has eaten hundreds of millions of dollars in public money. 
These billionaires might even back closing all the loopholes they have profited from for so long, reinstating high inheritance taxes, and giving up their use of foundations to protect themselves from taxation so they can use their wealth to buy power and influence.
Don’t hold your breath.
The unions have their own tax hike plan that achieves the same goal of taking money out of the pockets of middle class wage slaves while protecting the pensions and benefits of public employees that are the No. 1 reason government services are being slashed and pressuring for public works spending to create union jobs.
Personally, I’m not against paying more in taxes but like everybody else I want to know exactly where my money is going and to see that the benefits to the community as a whole are real.
That’s the same reason most people oppose tax increases — government at all levels has lost credibility and ceased to represent the interests and values of ordinary people. Government by special interests and influence peddlers is not doing the job of serving the public.
They will say anything to squeeze more money out of your: We have to raise your taxes to be able to get people back to work, to fund the schools so the next generation has the skills to compete in the global economy, so we have clean energy and sustainable communities. 
The slogans are hollow because the policies that are enacted don’t follow them. 
The leader of the state Senate, Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg, takes the hard line position that there will no more cuts in spending.
“Over the last three years, we’ve done quite enough damage on the cut side, thank you,” he said. “In the short run, I do not see making more cuts.”

He made the comment just a couple of days after the state Legislative Analyst’s Office released a new economic outlook report that suggested that Steinberg and his pals have used smoke and mirrors and one-time cuts without even facing the structural deficit.

“There are
few easy options left for balancing California’s budget. Difficult program
reductions already have been passed, and significant one-time budget actions
may be more elusive than in prior years. Accordingly, the remaining work of
eliminating the state’s persistent, annual deficit will require more difficult
cuts in expenditures and/or increases in revenues,” the report said.
.

“It is
important to note that our forecast does not include funding to address some of
the state’s key long-term fiscal and policy problems. If, however, the
Legislature and the Governor were to eliminate the structural deficit this year
or over the course of the next few years, the focus of their efforts could
finally shift away from short-term budget problems and turn to the serious
long-term fiscal issues of the state’s accumulated budgetary obligations and unfunded
retirement liabilities.”

If the billionaires really want to help they could put their money into electing people with integrity and a commitment to public service into office at all levels, non-politicians who will actually sit down and doing the hard work of finding solutions that balance out competing interests.

The legislature has been gridlocked for more than 30 years. That’s not going to change until we all decide to vote out the professional pols no matter how much they smile and glad-hand us.

A Thanksgiving celebration of life: My Sunday Column for News-Press & Leader

If
I had my way, Thanksgiving would become a weeklong holiday at least once a
decade — a time to take stock of who and where we are, and where we are going.

We would take our heads out of the clouds of our self-absorption, including the
Internet “cloud.” We would turn off our cell phones and TVs. We’d put away our
iPads and Kindles.

We’d
take a walk around the block and say hello to everyone we came across. We’d
volunteer for some kind of community service for a day or two.

We’d actually give thanks for what we have and celebrate the good in our lives.

This would definitely be the year of my choosing for the weeklong Thanksgiving
celebration of life.

I spent my working life as a newspaperman, seeing half-full glasses as mostly
empty, digging into things to find out what was wrong, not right, the same way
a cop looks for criminals, not for those obeying the law.

The injustices and the inequities, the greed and the corruption, the waste and
the inefficiencies, the pain and the suffering, the fear and the doubt — there
is more than enough of all of that to keep everyone one of us busy full-time
compiling all that is wrong.

We are all wired 24/7, absorbing data and communicating electronically. We keep
our kids programmed in activities and put video games into the hands of
2-year-olds.

Maybe it is time we stopped, looked and listened to the birds chirping in the
trees and the wind rustling the leaves. Maybe we should actually hear what
others are saying, and relate to each other from our hearts, instead of our
over-stimulated brains.

(READ FULL STORY)

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