Hayes Davenport: Today is Monday, October 26th. Tomorrow is a week before the election… that will never come.
Alissa Walker: Tomorrow is a- tomorrow is a year,
Hayes Davenport: yeah.
Scott Frazier: Now, this is funny because I just, you know, last week I was like, “Oh, well, we should try and be a little bit more optimistic,” in an anticipatory fashion. I tried to carry that spirit. And then there was the game four of the World Series where I was like, “Oh shit, why am I being, being optimistic when things like this are still possible?”
Alissa Walker: So you saw it as like a metaphor for-
Scott Frazier: Yeah, no, I think Hayes is right now. The election will never come. We’re-
Hayes Davenport: This is our second to last episode. This is episode 145 From Husk Till Dawn. We’ll talk about husks later in the show, former husks. Thank you to Brian Holmes, producer of the show, to everyone for listening. This sounds like the end, but it’s actually the beginning. And to our Sepulveda Passholders for keeping us independent on Patreon, you can go to thelapod.com and clicking on the ‘Support Us’ link to subscribe.
We had a new episode of The Ten last week with Claire Evans from YACHT and 5 Every Day. Everyone who uses 5 Every Day. This is an expert on everything that is good to do in LA. and she talked about some of her favorites on the show. And this week we’re going to talk about a sort of scary, half-scary movie. Our listeners voted on They Live which I’ve never seen. I’ve only seen the, the memes.
Scott Frazier: I was watching it for the first time. It’s great. I’m really excited to talk about it with you guys.
Hayes Davenport: I’ve seen, I think I’ve seen the entire movie, every frame of it as a meme, but how those frames are arranged-
Alissa Walker: Yeah we don’t know. We don’t
Hayes Davenport: will be interesting.
Scott Frazier: It’s like a really good example of how to put together movie poster art. Cause that movie poster tells you a lot, actually. It’s it’s very revealing.
Hayes Davenport: And Scott you have an event. Tomorrow, as people are listening to this right, on Zoom.
Scott Frazier: Right. Yeah. So we are, or I am co-hosting an event with Nithya Raman’s campaign, called “It’s Our Time to Lead: Los Angeles’s New and Old Progressivism.” I talked a little bit about it last week. Just a reminder that it is tomorrow, Tuesday, at 7:00 PM Pacific. Free and open to everybody.
It should be a fun and informative thing. RSVP at nithyaforthecity.com/teachin. Hope to see a lot of listeners there.
Hayes Davenport: That race – it continues to be very weird.
Scott Frazier: Very strange.
Hayes Davenport: Now the LA police protective league has gotten involved. They’re spending a huge amount of money on mailers saying that Nithya has promised to cut 98% of the police budget, which is a total lie.
Scott Frazier: And a Ryu talking point. Nominally independent expenditures, but, remarkably, remarkably aligned talking points.
Hayes Davenport: There’s no difference between what Ryu and the Police Protective League are saying. It’s just additional money. It’s now up to, I think like $600 grand that PACs have spent on Ryu in this race. All the most reactionary forces in the city are getting together to try and make sure a grassroots challenger doesn’t win. If you could phone bank this week, that would probably make a big difference.
Also we’ve got our new resource guide on the, on the, on the blog,
Scott Frazier: Yeah, resource guides are up, very excited about them. We coincidentally, I think we had been working on this for about a year, maybe even longer, and coincidentally launched on the same day as, LA Forward and Inclusive Action for the City launched their LA 101 Guide.
Hayes Davenport: They launched, I think like an hour and a half before us, it looks so bad and petty for us as if we were just like-, but we’d been planning on doing this forever.
Scott Frazier: But you love to see it. And we, we, yes, we love their work on that. Of course, Inclusive Action for the City has done incredible stuff around street vendors. We’ve had Rudy Espinoza on the show before, and, very glad to be able to support them as well. And we want to shout out of course, Lex Roman @calexity on Twitter and Keith Scharwath Alissa’s husband for doing the incredible design work, but check those out on, on, our Guide to LA on the website.
Hayes Davenport: And, and that is going to keep growing as well. It’s got a few people on it that are currently up for election, but, all our little bios and information, that’s going to keep expanding.
People can vote now. They’ve been able to vote for a while, but they can vote in person. Yesterday, the first day of early voting, on Saturday, we’re we’re we are recording this on Sunday,
it seemed to go fine. Lines were really long when the vote centers opened, I heard, but they moved through them relatively quickly. It seems to be a better oiled machine than, than March, right?
Alissa Walker: Other cities too, like you could see, like in New York, people were waiting like five to seven hours and nobody, I don’t think anybody waited that long here it’s long lines, but move fast.
Hayes Davenport: and it’s all the different, fun places you can even go to Universal City Walk and the Hollywood Bowl and Staples and just vote everywhere. Just vote at all those different, that all those different locations. Try and hit every one.
Alissa Walker: It’s funny. You can go to the places that are closed and just go hang out socially distance to vote. Maybe you could open some of these places for people to walk around in.
Scott Frazier: It is important, I think a controversial position, but I would say it’s important to vote more than once, in case a Republican arsonist burns down your ballot dropbox, as happened in Baldwin
Alissa Walker: Park.
That was really scary, actually. That was really scary. And that made national headlines. That’s, that’s very troubling.
Scott Frazier: I don’t even know what happened. Like, I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t know what happens to people who cast their votes and had them be immolated.
Hayes Davenport: Cause if they’re completely destroyed, they can’t even tell you that it was yours. I saw like Debra Messing, posting, like, “LA check and make sure that your ballot, was, like,..”
Alissa Walker: This-
Hayes Davenport: “was counted” or whatever. Yeah. It’s like, “I don’t know. I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”
So look, last week, I think we were talking about how the mayor predicted that more likely than not, he was going to be mayor in two years.
And we were like, “No way that’s true. He’s gunning for this cabinet position.” Like, “Not a chance.” And now I still think it’s possible that that won’t be true, but maybe for different reasons. And that might, that statement might have been wishful thinking. The mayor’s in a little bit of trouble.
Scott Frazier: Yeah.
Hayes Davenport: Let’s talk about, some of what we not necessarily learned, but at least like was made public this week.
Scott Frazier: Yeah, this is, this story really blew up this week. Very likely that if you’re listening to this, you’ve already heard about it. So what happened in LA this week was a very prominent journalist and, like celebrity Twitter user, Yashar Ali, posted that- In response to allegations from this summer, from July, that mayor Garcetti’s longtime friend and aid, basically his money guy, who runs several nonprofits in the mayor’s stead had been harassing everybody within the mayor’s orbit. But in particular, a former cop or actually a current cop with the LAPD Matthew Garza, who was on the mayoral detail, the security detail that the mayor takes with him everywhere for, for about a decade. So this guy, back in June, requests transfer off of the mayoral detail and files suit in LA Superior Court for hostile work environment, saying that Mayor Garcetti had failed to protect him from the sexual harassment of Rick Jacobs, who is the money guy here.
And that story, although it did get some attention, it was pretty well drowned out, I would say, by other things going on in the city between coronavirus coverage, the worsening pandemic due to the re-, due to the reopening.
Hayes Davenport: And kind of dismissed as a hit job by the LA Police Protective League, which at the time was upset with Garcetti for his moving to cut the LAPD budget. And so I think within the Mayor’s circle, there were people trying to be like, “Oh, this is like trumped up. This is fake.” And just, this is like a revenge play.
Scott Frazier: Yeah. So then this week, what happens is, Ali tweets out to his, you know, more than half a million followers on Twitter, not only has he talked to sources within the mayor’s office who have confirmed similar behavior to him that, that the mayor was aware of Rick Jacobs personally, doing things like grabbing people and inappropriately kissing them, inappropriately making sexual comments, bullying behaviors, but that he personally, that is to say, yeah, Ali, yeah, has been forcibly kissed on, he says basically every occasion that he saw Rick Jacobs over the course of a ten-year period when he was working in Democratic party politics. So he’s saying, “I have also been a victim of Rick Jacobs’s misconduct,” and it immediately transforms this story from, like you said, “Hey, is it potentially a trumped up hit job by the LAPPL?” to now one that has seemingly a lot of independent corroboration and is also a national headline news story.
Hayes Davenport: Yeah. I mean, it’s always like the, like you want, like, “Was there a whisper network about this? Was this like an open secret?” and the answer is, “Yes.” This is something that people like, I, if I knew about it, if I had heard people talking about this, then it was very open. I don’t know, like that many people, and this was something that people talked about for sure.
Both things can be true that the decision to go public with this and file a lawsuit about it, like was politically calculated, the fact that it is now coming out again, just before Garcetti would potentially be chosen for a cabinet position, that could also be a political calculation and all of the allegations could also be true.
And based on like how loud a whisper, this was about Rick Jacobs. That seems to be the case. This is something that people have been talking about with this specific person for a really long time. So let’s talk about Rick Jacobs because I’ve heard I’ve been texting people and they’re like, “Why, why? Like, why not do something about this? Why did no one like tell him to stop?”
This guy is unbelievably powerful in the Garcetti’s orbit. He controlled access to Garcetti for a really long time. The way he got his position, he, he he’s been in, democratic politics for a really long time. He founded the Courage Campaign at the state level, has worked in a lot of different capacities.
But he, when Garcetti first ran for mayor in 2013, Rick Jacobs ran his PAC, which, his outside PAC, which raised like $2 million plus dollars for his race.
Scott Frazier: Yeah. And he ran like attack ads, saying that Wendy Greuel was a Pete Wilson Republican in the early nineties. Things like that. That was, that was all left to Jacobs.
Hayes Davenport: Yes. And that was, and that money for Garcetti was a huge deal because Garcetti was not supported by Labor. Labor was coming in hard for Wendy Greuel. Garcetti really needed someone to go get rich-people money, Hollywood money. Just like the, kind of like the access to wealth was really, really important for Garcetti’s campaign.
Garcetti won by like a good margin by like nine points, I think, or something like that. but this, as he was getting his campaign going that money would have been that PAC money would have been super important. So Rick Jacobs is rewarded with a job in Garcetti’s office, which he doesn’t need for like money, you know, he didn’t care about like a job at City Hall.
He cares about access to Garcetti, which he, he ran his schedule. Not just while he was working at the city, but after as well. And he ran that office. Like, people that work in that office, talk about how Rick Jacobs was kind of like a, a tyrant behind the scenes. And again, including after he left. So he left his city job, I think in 2018 or something like that.
Scott Frazier: 2016. So
Hayes Davenport: That’s how early he left?
Scott Frazier: Yeah, but see, this is the thing, this is where it gets complicated because, so the same role that he had in the 2013 election, the initial election of Mayor Garcetti, to that office, he then when Garcetti was running for reelection in 2017, a race that he would eventually win by, I think he got like 81% of the votes in an extremely low turnout election.
So Jacobs left his role as Deputy Chief of Staff in 2016 to go do that, do the same exact thing, run the independent expenditure campaigns, fundraise, et cetera, for, for Garcetti’s reelection campaign, but then never returns to- so this is where it’s funny. He never “returned to city hall.” Instead, he continued to work as a, as a board member for the Mayor’s Fund of LA, which is the nonprofit piggy bank that, that Eric Garcetti started during his time in office. And also the Accelerator for America, which is like a weird, sort of like pseudo tech startup, bringing public policy ideas across the country, really seen as a way to expand Garcetti’s reach into other political search circles as he was looking to run for.
Hayes Davenport: Was basically like they call LA and California, like the ATM for Democratic candidates for the rest of the country. It was basically bringing the ATM to them.
Scott Frazier: Yeah.
Hayes Davenport: was what-
Scott Frazier: Branch offices of the, of the Garcetti. Yes. I mean, it was, it was just like that. And so the, the funniest thing about this is. There’s there’s such an asterisk. When you say, “Rick Jacobs left city hall,” because the Mayor’s Fund of LA has an office in city hall that is like immediately underneath where the mayor’s office is.
So he didn’t really leave. And to the extent that, like you’re saying Hayes, he was a tyrant behind the scenes, he was never gone. Like he was still absolutely fulfilling that role after he left the official employment of the city.
Hayes Davenport: They called, in, in one of Ali’s reports, he talks about how they call Tuesdays, “Tuesdays with Rick.” Because he just like controlled Garcetti for that entire day, even, when he was no longer working in the city office, I want to talk about one. So like, it’d be there now. it at least four allegations, I think some anonymous, but they seem to keep trickling in of Jake, this kind of behavior from Jacobs where he’s squeezing people’s butts and just like being, being really inappropriate.
Alissa Walker: And did you note too, that there was an LA Times story that followed up, you know, we’ve had LA times stories throughout the summer, and then we did have another one this week. I think you said who wrote it. Dakota Smith and Ben Oreskes.
Hayes Davenport: Ben Oreskes, yeah. That includes additional allegations, that, that are both anonymous, but in similar to what other people have been talking about. but I want to focus on one aspect of Rick Jacobs, his role in all this that Ali, refers to in his art and his second story on this, which is a source told him that a major LA firm booked a meeting with Garcetti. And then 20 minutes after booking the meeting, they got a call from Rick Jacobs asking for a donation to the mayor’s nonprofit. That is a practice I have heard about as well. not just getting donations to the mayor’s nonprofit, which we’ve talked about. I mean, we’ve talked about how, yeah. The Mayor’s Fund, there was, that guy we talked about, I think the company is J.M. Eagle, which makes like PVC piping, and they asked him, “Why did you donate to the mayor’s fund?” He said, “Oh, well, hopefully they’ll, use my pipes.” Like they’ll, I’ll get, I’ll get contracts with the city because of this. Like, “I’m essentially paying for play.”
Scott Frazier: You love it when, the, the payola is not, not self aware enough to not say that out loud.
Hayes Davenport: Well, what happened as a result of them saying that nothing like it’s not something that, has there have been no, there’s been no result of that being basically on the oven, but another thing I’ve heard that Rick Jacobs does, and, political consultant, Mike Trujillo. who’s very tied in with the city was alluding to this too, that Jacobs as an outside advisor now to Garcetti, goes to companies that want business from the city and says, “Hey, let me represent you as a consultant, give me a contract, pay me and I will usher your project through, you know, I have Garcetti’s ear. I will help move this forward.”
If that’s true, that’s illegal, that’s lobbying. And he is not a reported lobbyist.
Scott Frazier: And it’s very Similar to our city hall scandal that we’ve been tracking for a number of years at that point where you had Ray Chan, former head of Department of Building and Safety operating as a, as a lobbyist behind the scenes to Jose who is our and other elected officials.
Alissa Walker: And got very close and had people who were actually in the mayor’s office as well as part of that. But again, it never got all the way to the top. And also I think, and I remember this when he, when Jacobs joined the staff very. Not normal to have your top fundraiser become your chief of staff for that very reason, because you are, you are setting a precedent of paying for access.
And I do remember this being talked about at the time is kind of just like setting this very weird tone for the incoming administration.
Scott Frazier: Yeah. Dakota Smith wrote a story a way back in August of 2013 about this for the Daily News, saying that, you know, watchdogs, ethics watchdogs are kind of like, “Oh, so this person raised millions of dollars for you, and now without any real, Any real, even like claims to why he is the right person for this job you’re just going to make him your deputy chief of staff for operations.”
As Hayes said, the scheduling, the money guy. But it, it kind of seems like to me, at least you can see as far back as 2013, Garcetti looking at this mayoral position as a way to interface with the other powerful and moneyed interests around the country to build his own national profile, which in that case, if that’s the role, then it’s like, you know, that’s why it’s important to have a guy like Jacobs in there.
Hayes Davenport: And this is a pretty consistent theme with a lot of Garcetti circle and other name you hear a lot is Yusef. Robb. who used to be Garcetti spokesman and, Ali actually, alludes to this in his article, he talks about how use of Robb left city hall because of, clashing with Amy Wakeland, the mayor’s wife, which is something that had been reported, for a long time, he left in 2015, but he didn’t leave the Garcetti orbit either. he is like now the spokesman for the Mayor’s Fund. I think he works at like Accelerator for America too. Like he is still, he’s just moved over here now.
Alissa Walker: There’s a floor below and they can like send messages down through the floor in like the pneumatic tubes of city hall.
Scott Frazier: I thought that was very interesting in Ali’s reporting. Cause he, he did make it sound like Robb had been sort of excised from, from the, the world of Mayor Eric Garcetti, but that is not really my experience. I feel like I still see his name coming up as spokesperson for, you know, for AEG, for the convention center expansion for like all these things that are not even tangentially, tangentially, I would say they are embedded in, in the mayor’s platform. He seems to still be there a lot. I do think that one of the things that’s interesting here too there’s, there’s so much in this story. The, the mayor’s wife has a very interesting role in these allegations.
She is frequently mentioned in the same breath as, as Rick Jacobs by these anonymous sources. They are described as having – Jacobs and Wakeland that is – are described as having a “codependent” relationship. Garcetti is described as, relying on his ability to be very nice to people, with Jacobs and his wife, being the people who quote, “harass the fuck out of you.”
So the presence of Wakeland in, in the Garcia administration is clearly seen by. Many people at this point as similar in intensity to, Jacob’s his presence, which I think is,
Hayes Davenport: Without any of the, harassment –
Scott Frazier: Correct.
Hayes Davenport: Allegations or anything like that. But yes. And so I think one, like an important thing to think about with this is like, not like people talk about it as like irresponsible of Garcetti to keep someone like Rick Jacobs around, as these allegations were piling up.
They talk about how he has known about this for many years and like considered Jacobs as a potential liability. But when we think about why, why someone like this is kept around- You, you can find someone to be mean to people on your behalf. That’s a replaceable, asset, but, why is it that he feels like he can’t get rid of this person?
What is he worried would happen if he decided that this person, other people in his circle were to just be cut loose entirely? Like, what is he, what is he concerned about at that point? Uh, this is an issue where, like, it’s I think it’s very, very common with a, a very quick rise to power, which is, which is what Garcetti had, and wanted it to be even quicker.
Like he, like, you get involved with people who now suddenly you cannot get rid of, or else they become a bigger issue for you than they are. Doing, like, unacceptable things within your circle. And it speaks to judgment. It speaks to just like, a lot of stuff that is not does not reflect well on him as an executive.
Scott Frazier: Totally. I, and I think the city’s response to this has been really weird, both in the, the, the response to the actual complaint by Garza and then, in the responses delivered to, to Yashar Ali and to the LA times, it is. It’s not the kind of defenses that actually legally speaking, it would excuse you from having created a hostile work environment, which is, which is one of the, the different kinds of sexual harassment that can exist in a workplace.
They’re saying things like, “Well, we didn’t hear any complaints about Jacobs until now, which is even if it’s true is not actually, is not actually a defense against the existence of that environment, nor, of the responsibility of, the boss, in this case, Eric Garcetti to, to have done things, to prevent that from existing within his office.”
Hayes Davenport: Right, but it’s also not true.
Scott Frazier: Right, but it’s also not true. You can only, you can only look at this in my opinion, as sort of arising from the fundamental disinterest that he has shown in this job. Right? And like now he’s being called to task on, on something that he was never interested in, which is being the administrator that you were talking about, that top executive, he was never interested in that.
And now it’s, was biting him.
Hayes Davenport: Talk about, should we do a sting where, I want to move, I want to get into The Husk. Is that okay? Can we just
Scott Frazier: Totally let’s do it.
Alissa Walker: It is
Hayes Davenport: what if it’s, uh, “Tusk,” but we all, but we just say “Husk!” And then it’s we just have like the lead up.
Scott Frazier: Yeah. I like that.
Hayes Davenport: to that. Okay, great. Alissa. What is, you’ve journeyed
Alissa Walker: have have journeyed to the husk.
Hayes Davenport: let’s tell, let’s tell the whole story of the Target
Alissa Walker: Oh my . That could be a whole podcast in itself, like a whole like nine segment podcast series that we could do, like a mini series.
Scott Frazier: Serial season four: Target Husk.
Alissa Walker: Yeah. How far we have to go back to the construction of the red line, right? When was the SNAP, Scott? So that’s like,
Scott Frazier: Yeah. I mean, it was, it was like, mid-2000s. I think that, yeah.
Alissa Walker: So the Target itself was proposed, I believe, in 2008. It may have even been, it may have even been before that, but 2008 was when the city council decided that they could take over the strip mall that used to be there and build. I’d build a Target there. So they, you know, CIM group might’ve been even earlier than that, have been scoping around, looking for Targets because remember the West Hollywood Target opened what like 2003, and that was a really big deal.
Because it was like the first time this box store had come like into the city and was like part of this new, like urbanism vibe going on, that they had like West Hollywood Gateway, but in, and that was, that’s a very big development in West Hollywood. For us, however, we had a stipulation as part of the “Specific Neighborhood Area Plan.” Did I say right Scott?
Scott Frazier: I think it’s “Station.”
Alissa Walker: Oh is it a station one? Oh, “Station Neighborhood Area Plan.”
Scott Frazier: I think so.
Alissa Walker: See, I don’t even know. It’s like this happened so long ago, when they, put the redline stations in, in this little corridor, Western Vermont, and I’m like drawing boxes at my hand. They wanted, they wanted these uses to be put there, like mixed use type developments and stores and places for people to live and all the things that would make like a station.
Relevant, uses, but they limited the height, which is just kind of a very LA thing to do.
Hayes Davenport: It can be relevant up to-
Alissa Walker: Yeah. You can do a lot of-
Hayes Davenport: but after that, it has to be completely irrelevant.
Alissa Walker: was a 35 feet, 30, something I love. I’m just like literally having reading and writing about this for so long that I can’t
Scott Frazier: You- you’ve been marinading in this story for years.
Alissa Walker: forget these numbers.
Hayes Davenport: That’s what they set it as 35
Alissa Walker: Yeah, that’s all that. That’s why all those buildings around there are very short. They’re still, you know,
Scott Frazier: Because the goal is to make Sunset and Santa Monica pedestrian-friendly, which, if you’ve ever been on Sunset in East Hollywood, you know, it’s so pedestrian friendly. So pedestrian friendly to have a 35 foot husk, a 70 foot husk, towering over you while the sidewalks are closed for 10 years.
Hayes Davenport: Off. Yeah.
Alissa Walker: Yeah,
Scott Frazier: Pedestrian friendly.
Alissa Walker: irony. And then they were like, Oh, we could, we were allowed to. Use lanes during the pandemic to do construction. I was like, you’ve been taking those lanes for 10 years. Like, don’t say that, that you just, I, I digress. Okay. So. What happened was, and this is where Garcetti comes back in, because remember at the time this is his council district and he basically got the city council, I don’t, I don’t know what this conversation was, but he convinced the Target to come in with a bigger plan than what was allowable. And then he convinced the council to just say, “okay, it’s fine.” Like just make a little exception. and, and they don’t even have to do an Environmental Impact Report. Let’s just, let’s just slide it on through.
It’ll be fine. The truth is it probably would have been fine except,-
Scott Frazier: Well, I mean, this is interesting because like, if, if you remember back before Measure S went on the ballot, which was a couple years ago, now that was that was one of the, the measures that sought to like totally rewrite how development is done. They used – the, the Measure S coalition, before they got absolutely crushed at the ballot box – were using developments like Target, and other ones in Hollywood as examples of what the city was, doing incorrectly. For, for the purposes of like holistic neighborhood planning. Nevermind that all of those people prevent holistic neighborhood planning from actually taking place, and like do things like sue the community plans, and stop them from going forward.
But they were looking at this as an example of spot zoning, which was really rampant at the time.
Alissa Walker: Haven’t heard that in a while. I just like
Scott Frazier: Right. Cause it doesn’t, it doesn’t happen anymore. But at the time this was something where city council would actually go on a parcel by parcel basis and say, instead of what this is currently zoned for, we’re going to, we’re going to just say that some other thing is allowable there and just do an ordinance that only applies to that specific lot. In this case, it’s really crazy because I feel like what happened was the Target was spot zoned, and then they broke the allowable spot zoning because Garcetti wanted them to like go higher, make the building taller. And then Alissa, what, what happened after they exceeded the allowable height limit on sunset?
Alissa Walker: Then we get the La Mirada Homeowner’s Association in the picture and La Mirada is a street that is like two blocks behind the Target, but we’re pretty sure it’s just this one guy, Doug Haines, who is one of these, You know, likes-to-litigate-for-fun homeowners that we have so many groups about, that do the same thing in LA.
And he gets superstar lawyer who likes to litigate these types of cases for fun, Robert Silverstein, who had just been working on, remember the Sunset Gordon tower a few blocks away. A few blocks west where,
Hayes Davenport: The old Spaghetti Factory.
Alissa Walker: The Spaghetti Factory wars, where they actually had people moved into apartments and move them out for a similar argument saying that like you, you.
Scott Frazier: Is that place still, still vacant?
Alissa Walker: I think they had to move people back in.
Scott Frazier: Okay. Okay. It was vacant for years.
Alissa Walker: It was the same thing. We have these not, not very far from each other. We had multiple projects that were empty because of the same, same lawyer working as hard as he can do, make sure people can not use the things that are being built in the city. So. They, I mean, it was so many lawsuits, it was like one lawsuit and then it was fine, they could start building again.
And then there was another lawsuit that went all the way to the California Supreme court and that one actually in, in various appeals and overturnings kept it from being built for. Six years. I think they started construction then stopped for six years.
Scott Frazier: Yeah. Between 2013 and 2019, I think that’s right.
Alissa Walker: So we had, you know, just, you know, at the, you know, we have a new council member, it becomes Mitch O’Farrell. We have, Eric Garcetti becomes mayor during that time. I have two children during this time. Like we all, like our lives changed dramatically. The whole neighborhood is full of like tall, mixed use projects that got approved through different, like there’s, you know, it just, it just comical at this point.
And, went to the California Supreme court. And finally, a judge said, this is ridiculous, finish the Target. And then it got done really fast once that really came through. Okay.
Hayes Davenport: And you now you’ve been inside. What does it smell like?
Alissa Walker: It smells like they have both the Christmas and Halloween stuff up at the same time, which I feel like is just our future now in retail, it will just stay up forever all year round, but it smells like Halloween candy, but then like also Christmas. So it’s, it’s quite, it
Hayes Davenport: The Halloween stuff, it’s possible that there were real skeletons in that building.
Scott Frazier: That building,
Hayes Davenport: And they’re just assuming that it’s, that it’s Halloween stuff.
Alissa Walker: It
Scott Frazier: That building was under construction, like, through two separate recessions, which I think is… for a Target!
Hayes Davenport: Many, I’ll bet there are many people that have been conceived in that building.
Alissa Walker: Well that too. I mean, going back to the concerns of the neighborhood, right? Like, I mean, it, it was trashed. Like the site was trashed, the sidewalk was closed. Like nobody seemed to care about this, the sidewalk and a major corridor where like people are getting off the bus and coming from the red line, a few blocks away.
And you had to cross the street three times if you needed to go over there. I mean, just maddening, like the kind of just again, like a city that just does not give a shit and is just like, all right, well, you know, and it’s, you can blame like, you know, the NIMBY battle or whatever, but we, we built this Target now that is-
Hayes Davenport: “We built this Target.”
Alissa Walker: “Husk!” “We built this Target.” It’s like a, it’s like a mega mix. We build a Target
Scott Frazier: “We built this Target by Home Depot.”
Alissa Walker: Okay we built a Target from 2008. And so now we have this very outdated structure that has two floors of parking, the most pointless parking garage ever and a third floor Target that has beautiful views of the Hollywood sign and Griffith observatory, while you pick out your vegetables and the well pointed market, but we’ve just built this trash piece of, you know, outdated infrastructure for our city.
So we actually should have stopped construction in maybe reconsidered while we were doing and maybe put some housing on top of it or something, you know,
Hayes Davenport: But don’t worry. There are also many more Targets.
Alissa Walker: There are. Now this also points to how outdated it is on the same day that this open we’re recording the Sunset. It it’s actually been soft open for a week. I didn’t tell you that, but I’m sorry that you missed out, but it opened for, for officially on Sunday. Five other Targets opened in Southern California on the same day, but they’re all those small Targets, like the ones that are City Targets, which make a lot more sense.
And I’ll have housing on top of them and have like other uses, you know, other little buildings. This does have like other businesses on the ground floor. eventually there’ll be like a place, a restaurant or something like that or whatever, but it’s just not, it’s not even as good as the Hollywood gateway Target where that actually has that little like piazza, you know, in the middle where you can like walk in and you feel like you’re maybe not at Target for a minute.
this is, it’s just like, I’m glad it’s done. I’m glad this, we can close this chapter of our lives, but we just built, we just spent all this fighting to basically build like 500 parking spots and it’s just ridiculous.
Hayes Davenport: What else is going on this week? There was some action with, the ongoing conflict between Black Lives Matter LA and District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, they sued Jackie Lacey and her husband. I believe over an incident where the we’ve covered at length, where her husband waved a gun at them the day before the March primary
Scott Frazier: Yeah, it was
Hayes Davenport: imagine what we’re looking forward to this week. but with a much higher stakes election, they sued over that. we also had a lot going on with the, the Sheriff’s department, some pictures going around, over sheriffs in West Hollywood, hanging out with Trump supporters, holding up a Trump 2020 flag, in posing for a picture with these Trump supporters.
They said that they didn’t have control over whether the supporters held up a Trump flag in the picture. But I guess you do have control over whether you take a picture with a Trump supporter, especially during a pandemic when you’re not supposed to be that close to anyone in the first place,
Alissa Walker: Do they also not have control over their Twitter feeds where they retweet Trump things daily. It’s all just a scam. It’s it’s just.
Scott Frazier: I mean it was, yeah. I mean, so we talked about long beach police department, literally flying a Trump flag. Not that long ago, in this case, They, the sheriffs were out doing the thing where they kind of casually just observed a MAGA rally in West Hollywood. This was an LGBTQ MAGA rally, in WeHo the response is very different than, you know, when we saw the Black Lives Matter protest.
And we have a couple of weeks ago, I think there were actually a series of them. and there were things like. Sheriffs slamming their shields into people and things like that. No real, photo ops. No, like, yeah, it w it wasn’t really the same sort of vibe. So, that video, which we can post a link to in the show notes is really funny of the deputies being like, “She asked us for a picture, we don’t control what she’s holding up in that picture.”
Hayes Davenport: The question for me is which picture will the deputies get in less trouble for the, or they’re holding up a Trump flag or they’re one where they are smashing their shield into an anti, into a left wing protestor? It could be tied at zero trouble for both, but that’s the competition for me at this point.
Also related to the sheriff this week after a number of County supervisors, called on him to resign a few weeks ago and were, I guess disappointed that he, the sheriff being away of a chose, not to resign in response to that, supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Cule have filed a motion exploring ways to just remove the sheriff entirely or mitigate the damage that he has caused.
Alissa Walker: Really great letter.
Hayes Davenport: And they can’t, so like, here’s my understanding, they can’t remove a sheriff. It’s not in their power to, to remove an elected official like that. They can remove all his money.
Scott Frazier: They could, yeah, you might say “defund.” They could, they could do that. That’s totally within their power.
Hayes Davenport: And he makes a lot. The sheriff, I think makes close to 400 grand a year. and that seems to be one way to check his power somewhat. Although not sure we would like what would happen,
Scott Frazier: You know, when you can, you can actually look at a person and, and tell when they’re doing something that they love so much, that they would do it for free that’s that is Villanueva with violatingconstitutional rights.
Hayes Davenport: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Look, let’s talk about money. Let’s talk about funding. It’s a story that now seems to come up every three or four weeks. the city of LA is totally financially insolvent, except the difference between each successive story is that the number of the deficit is much, much bigger. The city administrative officer Rich Llewellyn came out with a report saying that the city is $600 million behind.
That is approximately 10% of the city’s entire general fund they are short. They tried a, a number of deficit mitigation strategies, like offering buyouts to city employees. These strategies were spectacularly unsuccessful. I think they were hoping that the, the buyouts would raise, would, save them about $80 million and I think they ended up saving them the city, approximately $2 million. And even the $80 million would not have been close to enough to forestall what the city is now thinking.
Scott Frazier: Such a huge gap though. Like, and the, the, the amazing thing about this, this report is that, I mean, I, in a way you do sympathize with the CAO who’s been put in the position of trying to forecast what’s going to happen with budgetary revenues in a year where just everything is in flux.
You know, like even, what those revenues are going to be, what’s going to be open to provide taxable, taxable income is not known. So it, the forecasting is difficult, but still like saying we anticipated getting $80 million in savings for this, and we got 2. Like that, that’s, that’s just not even understanding the impact of the program that you’re putting forward, I feel like.
Hayes Davenport: “But let us keep managing this money. Just give, like, just give it to us to manage,” basically is what the city is like the, like the political angle on this, that Garcetti and other city officials are taking is basically the federal government needs to come bail us out. “We need a COVID relief package. We, we need this money or else we are gonna, our credit rating is going to be devastated. We’re going to have to cut services to like a really, really, horrifying degree.”
A couple of things I do want to point out the city was in the red before the pandemic because of irresponsible financial management by the people that are now crying poverty about this because of huge raises that they gave to the LAPD, which, is not even, beyond a few, city council members, something that, the city is even entertaining, negotiating a delay of. So that that cost is locked in apparently, and that amounts to, just the raises amounts to like $150 million or something, right, like right there on top,
Scott Frazier: Yeah.
Hayes Davenport: As far as the rest of the, the 600 million, I haven’t heard any revenue generation strategy. Something that Nithya Raman has been talking about that I think is a good idea as a, progressive real estate transfer tax, and Shane Phillips, who we all also know, wrote a report about this for UCLA a few weeks ago. San Francisco has a progressive real estate transfer tax where more expensive properties get a higher tax on their sale.
LA’s is low and flat. Like making a transfer tax more progressive, depending on how you implement it could raise 250 to 250 million to a billion dollars annually for the city budget.
I haven’t heard that come up, but seems like a relatively low impact and necessary way to like get some more money in the city coffers.
Scott Frazier: Well, the, the city, the, the CAO report says explicitly that they are they are not even, they’re not even contemplating new revenue sources. So yeah, like that seems like it’s off the table or city council has told them to assume that that won’t be coming, et cetera. Like you said, it’s fully, we need this money from, to come in from without, and otherwise we are doomed, basically.
The other really weird thing, I don’t know if you guys saw in this report is about the furlough days in particular, where I, I think we mentioned it at when the, when the budget actually got approved, that there was, originally. For all civilian, almost all civilian employees of the city of Los Angeles, that we’re going to be 26 furlough days.
Those are unpaid work days or a unpaid non-work days where you don’t work, but you also don’t get paid. And so it, it amounts to a pay cut for all of those civilian employees. That, that was then, reduced to 18 days, on the advice of, I think city council requested that the CAO come back and establish a lower number of furlough days.
Then they, they went and negotiated with the unions and lowered that again to 11 days. This was by the way, not like a long time ago. This was in between in September when they said they had a $200 to 400 million shortfall and this past week when they said that that was actually $400 to 600 million.
So they defer all the furlough days. They reduce them by another seven days. again, without even entertaining the idea of either clawing back some of the generous benefits, extended to police, especially sworn police officers, and, or any new revenue sources like the real estate transfer tax that you’re talking about.
Right. Without having done any of that, I’m not sure how the CAO could have thought that the picture would be anything but significantly worse based on the recommendations that they produced for city councils not three weeks ago.
Hayes Davenport: And I’ve, I’ve seen people talk about like the, the city has an emergency fund. we’ve talked about that on the show and people say, I’m like, well, like this is the time to dip into the emergency fund. First of all, they already have. It’s like half as big as it was at the beginning of the crisis. And second, if you eat away at your entire savings as a city, then your credit rating, plummets and money becomes more expensive. The city does borrow lot. So you end up in a much worse financial position. You end up paying a lot more than you would otherwise, if you don’t keep those savings around, like those really are for, it is a last resort.
It is for an actual emergency, like a huge earthquake or something like that. Like. We should absolutely be trying things like asking the police union to delay these raises until the city is in a better financial position or finding ways to generate revenue. Will Prop 15 have any effect on this? If it passes or it just like won’t be implemented fast enough? Like will
Alissa Walker: It’s far away. Yeah.
Hayes Davenport: Too far away? That, of course is on the ballot and would increase property taxes on commercial properties to make them proportionate to their assessed value rather tha, the deflated value, that they currently are under Prop 13. That will generate a huge amount of revenue for the state, but just not fast enough. Huh?
Alissa Walker: Yeah,
Scott Frazier: I know that that there’s like a grace period. Alissa, do you know what it is? It’s like three years.
Alissa Walker: I just looked it up. Yeah. It’s something like that. I mean, I think that’s the soonest we’d see anything in, you’re right too that a lot of that, I mean, some of it will be felt locally, but it does. It’s a lot of the state, schools is what it’s called, Schools and Communities. So it’s like schools, you know, it comes through the state.
But a lot of that funding. So, but yeah, I mean, Hey, at least they’re charging for parking tickets again. Right? Guys, we’re going to make a lot of money that way. Right?
Hayes Davenport: Appearances, just by what it looks like walking down the street, it seems like money is kind of, I don’t know if people are paying those tickets, but, but then they’ll make even more money eventually.
Scott Frazier: I feel like, Hayes, what you said, what you said about past financial mismanagement by the city is really important too, because the way that, we, the way that we talk about the, the rainy day fund as something that should not be completely exhausted, and one goes something that should only be used in dire financial circumstances.
Something that the CAO report points out is that, that hasn’t been the case because we’ve been running these deficits so that we can increase police, salaries, bonuses, and benefits. They have been dipping into it every year. They planned to dip into it this year, regardless of whether or not COVID had happened.
So like we are just using that as, as a stop gap because as a city, our, our officials can’t say no to more police, better pay for police, higher bonuses for police. They just can’t do it.
Hayes Davenport: And I haven’t heard a single proposal other than that, other than, delaying these raises. That will generate any money at all. except do you know, like these furloughs, but even the furloughs at this point, I think it’s kind of too late for that to even make that much event an impact. So it’ll just be cut.
I mean, the, like we’ll just like city services will essentially, and except for policing.
Scott Frazier: We have, I mean, so before we get to, before we get to, July, July of next year, the composition of the city council could change somewhat. There is, there is still, I think, possibility to, to push things like new taxes to pay for services. There, there is a potential for that.
Hayes Davenport: Cause let’s talk about like how, the budget is, is divided. We’re not talking about cuts to the,- The police salaries, which is the vast, vast majority of the LAPD, but just like 80% plus of the LAPD budget, which is itself more than half of our general fund. So if that’s off limits, then that leaves basically every other service to take the entire hit of these cuts.
And that’s everything ranging from tree trimming to like workforce development, to like, I mean, like so many other things that the city does for like safety, enhancement and, infrastructure like that is what’s on the chopping block. Right?
Scott Frazier: Yes. I mean, as, as long as we have, set aside as untouchable, the, those things like, payments and pensions for police and fire. Those are, those pensions are becoming even more expensive. That’s I think a given at this point. As the economic outlook worsens, then the city has to pay more into them.
So then yes, current day services, particularly outside of the much better protected public safety sector are the ones that are inevitably going to get reduced and drastically if we stay on the course that we’re currently on.
Hayes Davenport: The city is not the falling into austerity yet when it comes to spending money to destroy homeless people’s tents and property. They are entering a bunch of council members, seven, signed on to a motion already to quickly advance policy that will allow for sweeps adjacent to overpasses which, was, mandated by Judge Carter, the federal judge we’ve we’ve, we’ve talked about that.
Although, Ben Oreskes wrote an article this week about it, it’s unclear to what degree that even needs to be enforced because Judge Carter revoked the mandatory aspect of it. But overpasses and, Bridge housing, shelter, these like, city shelters, which we’ve talked about, various council members have been advocating for a long time to be allowed to sweep up the area around those shelters and kick out, people that are living within a, a pretty large radius of those spaces.
The shelters are full, especially now because they’ve had to reduce the number of beds in the COVID. The one closest to me on Riverside Drive and, in Los Feliz, is supposed to have a hundred beds, but it’s only, they’re only 50 and there right now. but the radius is the same. So for those 50 people, there’s probably, I don’t even know, 400 that are living in that area, like around the river and like another parts of Los Feliz that will all be removed forcibly if they don’t leave themselves.
And there is, is nowhere to go except to consolidate in, in whatever like limited spaces are still available, that are outside of those, the, the areas around shelters. But that’s, I think they’re rushing that that’s coming up this week, I think as soon as Wednesday, right?
Alissa Walker: I mean, just knowing what we know about, you know, we, we also saw some very high profile, illegal addictions that were being filmed by, activists this week. there’s people who are ending up on the street, constantly, to do this right now. I mean, I mean, what I know it’s, they’re using maybe the Judge Carter ruling as like a impetus for this or claiming that they have to do this, but it does, it doesn’t actually need to happen like this.
And the, the bridge housing scenario is also very bad. I mean, Matt Tinoco wrote a great story at LAist showing that only 25% of the people who were at these handful of bridge housing facilities got placed into permanent housing.
And a lot of people would just get kicked right back out onto the street. So of course they want to live nearby because they’ve spent a year or more in some cases in this neighborhood. So you’re going to want to be around where they were, especially when it doesn’t work for them to get into permanent housing. So we did see some great, actions being taken, at some of these council members homes. This, I think this morning, Sunday morning was the one I saw,
Scott Frazier: Sunday morning.
Alissa Walker: Yeah, just yelling at yelling at the council members to pack up their stuff. They had 15 minutes, they had to get out, you know, that it’s time for a sweep.
I thought that was just really, really well, executed by
Hayes Davenport: That was outside council member, Bob, Bob Blumenfield’s house and, district three in the Valley. What’s interesting about that to me, there was, Ben Oreskes wrote that story this week, about a specific overpass encampment that was being moved into this encampment to home project, which is working in different places.
There was one in Nury Martinez district in Van Nuys or that, or that. I forget where that came. It was, it was somewhere else, but, there’s and Mike Bonin’s district, I think they move 40 people. From an encampment into, I think, motels into like legitimate rooms. and they were doing that in Blumenfield’s district.
And I thought it was interesting because he gets like painted in this very, very positive way. And that’s where he, where people that live in this encampment talk about how they see Bob. Blumenfield a lot. He’s there. He talks to people that is not something that the majority, even close to the majority of council members do Mike Bonin is out there a lot.
Bob Blumenfield, I’m almost more impressed because I don’t see him like taking a lot of pictures of himself out there in these encampments, but he’s out there like getting to know people there that’s, you know, it may seem like performative and stuff, but that’s a big deal like that, that that’s important.
Scott Frazier: Yeah, I would agree with that. I mean, you need to, like, we need politicians who see unhoused people as their constituents. Right. And that’s one of the things we say frequently on here.
Hayes Davenport: But all the weirder and worse that he would sign on to, it’s not inconsistent with like his previous policies, but, that he would sign on to something like this that will result in so many people getting displaced, losing their stuff, because like these incumbents, aren’t going to just like, go, they’re not going to just pick up their stuff and leave. They’re going to get forcibly removed.
And they’re not going to be sent to there’s no space like opening up for people to go. There’s no like safe, safe, camping, lots or anything like that. They’ll just have to fend for themselves. and it is going to be very tragic to watch it’s going to happen all over the city at once, because in every one of these districts, there’s at least one encampment that they’re eyeing and saying like, that’s the one I want to get rid of right now.
And they’ll use this Judge Carter order as an excuse, even though they don’t actually have to enforce it like that anymore, but they’ll point to it and say like, yeah, well, but like what, look what you got to do this Coldwater one, this one on Gower. Everybody’s got to go. And it will be horrible.
Should we talk about West Hollywood politics just to make everything that’s going on in LA seem normal? West Hollywood is a whole mess. there was an article in wehoville.com, the news outlet, that came out on Saturday, saying what ,Scott?
Scott Frazier: So, the Wehoville article, which is a really, really in depth look at, look at local city politics, spanning across the border between West Hollywood and, in Los Angeles, particularly in the Hollywood area represented currently by councilmember, David Ryu, specifically about the issue of endorsements, how endorsements are made, and how these nonprofit entities in and around Los Angeles use their influence.
And in certain cases are accused of using, or accused of being used as vehicles for personal professional development by local political hopefuls. So the story centers around in particular on NOW, the National Organization of Women, which does, endorse in, in elections locally. They have endorsed John Erickson for West Hollywood city council, along with, two other candidates there.
West Hollywood, I believe has a situation where voters go and they vote for their top five people for, their top five people for the office and the top five vote getters get in. I’ll have to check my numbers there, but I think it’s five. But so, so, having endorsed three candidates, in that race and also having endorsed David Ryu, now members of the National Organization of Women have filed a complaint with the national and state chapters of the organization saying the endorsement process is not transparent, that it was used specifically to boost the careers of John Erickson and of David Ryu without giving other candidates actually an opportunity to proceed.
And also noting that both of these candidates have, have histories that are not necessarily aligned with the stated purpose of the organization, like the mission statement of the National Organization of Women to further, the, the political power of women in this country doesn’t seem like it is, I should say, it seems like it is at odds with endorsing David Rue, who has been charged with attempted rape, which is covered in this story, over either of the two women who ran against him in the primary, neither of whom, according to the complaint, were even given the opportunity to be interviewed for this endorsement. It went sort of by default to, to the male candidate in the race. There’s a lot of discussion about the friendships between, for example, David Ryu and a city council member, Lindsey Horvath of, of West Hollywood.
Hayes Davenport: Mayor now. It’s a rotating
Scott Frazier: Yeah. Mayor, mayor Horvath, who shares a former staff member of David Ryu’s, who ran one of her campaigns. There has been sort of coalescent interest among this group of Hollywood politicians, each of whom is politically ascendant, in controlling the way that this endorsement process runs according to according to this complaint.
And so the, the, I think one of the other. We talked a little bit about, when we were discussing props, the relationship between nonprofit organizations and the endorsement process. When we talked specifically about, the head of the California NAACP, apparently receiving large sums of money to have her an organization endorse, various props that are not necessarily, In the organization’s wheelhouse, let’s just say.
In this case, the accusation is that there is very close and, and possibly illegal contact between John Erickson, the candidate for West Hollywood city council and John Erickson, the person who was maybe running the social media accounts of the National Organization of Women.
Hayes Davenport: I think there’s very strong evidence to that effect. That was my favorite discovery in all this was, a tweet from the Hollywood NOW account that shows, it’s the, Hollywood NOW saying like, “congrats, like watching this great Zoom with our chapter president,” and that you could see a Gmail account in the window behind it, that where all the emails say like, “hi John,” like, the, “hope the campaign is going well.”
That is not very discreet. Yeah. And this is something, you know, I’m like helping with Nithya’s campaign, the Hollywood NOW endorsement and the Planned Parenthood endorsement are on every single one of David Ryu’s mailers. Neither one of those organizations considered either of the two women also running in the race, or if they did consider they did it privately, there was no endorsement process. Like every dozens and dozens of other organizations, like have you fill out a questionnaire and you do an interview and there’s at least like a nominal process that didn’t happen for either of these organizations.
And it has this effect of just solidifying power. Like even like the gender elements aside of it, like, it just makes it incredibly difficult to challengers for challengers to ever unseat an incumbent where it’s just like decided that they will not even be considered Sierra Club too, by the way, Sierra club, that’s policy I think, like they just will not endorse, non if like they automatically endorse Democratic incumbents without considering anything else. It’s, it’s tough. It’s just like, it just means that like, if it plays out as planned, then you are stuck with whoever is in office for 12 years. And then in all likelihood you are stuck with whoever they pick.
And so it creates this dynastic politics that would lead to something like uncontrolled homelessness and the $600 million deficit and, toxic air and all the other, things that were dealing with in Los Angeles right now. And we will find out how, powerful this system is, or is not in eight days, which will never arrive.
And we will exist in this week forever. So welcome to the rest of your, your, my, all of our existences, plenty of time to subscribe to the Patreon, listen to the They Live episode, which will be coming out on Friday. and we will be back next week for our final episode before we live in a Tuesday afternoon, evening, forever very soon. Bye.