Here is the most chilling aspect of the federal government’s ongoing probe of corruption at LA City Hall so far:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI say that real estate developer CP Employers Inc., formerly known as Carmel Partners Inc., paid $7,200 to get information on the private life of at least one person at the behest of indicted former City Councilmember Jose Huizar.
Huizar contended that the person was “causing problems” for his family, according to federal investigators. He was promoting a family member-his wife, Richelle Huizar-as his eventually replacement in elected office at the time.
The developer was seeking-and got-Huizar’s support for a major residential development.
The individual whose private life was targeted in the abuse of official power and ethical standards of business was not identified in court filings by federal officials.
Salute to Federal Employees
Anyone who’s at all familiar with this column knows that I don’t hesitate to critique the employees, procedures and performances of government at every level.
Allow me a moment to salute the employees of our federal government, the vast majority of whom held as the center of our democracy amid last week’s brazen assault by enemies within.
I don’t mean those elected officials who carried on with their duties in spite of the attack. Well done in that regard, but they each swear publicly to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Whatever the politicians did along those lines amounts to meeting the minimum requirements of their jobs-and they get a perk-filled life in the bargain.
This salute goes to the appointed officials and others who sign up to do the work of the federal government without the spotlight-the same people who have been pilloried by Donald Trump and many of his supporters as the “Deep State” over the past four years.
It strikes me that the Deep State was just deep enough on January 6.
It also strikes me that the level of service, care and protection the federal government provides We the People-from daily mail deliveries to courts, Medicare, military defense, etc.-has held largely steady through the past four years of chaos and degradation caused by the Trump Administration.
I will no doubt find reason to criticize some federal bureaucracy or bureaucrat or worker over some questionable policy or action soon enough.
Today I salute them as the center that held.
Last week’s attack put a target on the institution that is the keystone of our democracy.
Let our institutions-and not our politics-seek justice and mete out punishments.
There should be a rigorous and transparent review of the whole mess, starting with why the United States Capitol Police seemed surprised by a disaster that was weeks in the making in full public view.
I suggest an inquiry led by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with full powers of subpoena.
LAHSA Board Considers Change
Not sure if subpoena power will work its way into this picture, but … informed sources tell me that the board of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has hired an outside consultant to review its governance.
LAHSA is currently a joint-powers entity of the City of Los Angeles and County of Los Angeles.
The short take is that the LAHSA board has little authority over setting its priorities, operations or budget. Some observers see it as an organization that’s useful to local politicians for ribbon cuttings and funneling contracts to favored nonprofits-and also a handy place to assign blame for the obvious failures of local homelessness programs.
Count me among those observers, by the way.
Some new models of governance could include putting elected officials from throughout LA County on LAHSA’s board, which is now made up of volunteers. That change would approximate the makeup of the Metro board, which brings together elected officials from various cities to oversee the transportation agency.
I believe it’s time, in any case, for someone or some public body to put the power of subpoena to use in a thorough review of LAHSA.
How They Billed It …
Los Angeles Business Journal
January 4, 2021
“By most measures, Los Angeles, where hospitals are running out of space and morgues are at capacity, is not a model city for how to control a pandemic.
But there’s one thing L.A. irrefutably got right. It partnered with CORE, Sean Penn‘s emergency aid organization, and Curative Inc., a San Dimas-based startup, to offer free testing to the public at 10 city-run sites, including a drive-thru in Chavez Ravine.”
How It’s Going …
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
January 4, 2021
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting patients and health care providers of the risk of false results, particularly false negative results, with the Curative SARS-Cov-2 test. Risks to a patient of a false negative result include: delayed or lack of supportive treatment, lack of monitoring of infected individuals and their household or other close contacts for symptoms resulting in increased risk of spread of COVID-19 within the community, or other unintended adverse events.”
Memo to LABJ: Beware the combination of politics, celebrity and absolute terms such as “irrefutable.”
LA Times’ Double Talk
What to do when you have one story that covers the rising number of Covid-19 cases and another about the City of Los Angeles using the Curative test that’s been red-flagged by the FDA?
The LA Times simply ran the two stories 12 pages apart with no cross reference or attempt to shed light on their shared context in its issue of January 8.
Kudos to Claudia, KNX
Credit Claudia Peschiutta, veteran reporter for KNX/1070 AM, who is highly professional and properly skeptical in covering the LA County Department of Public Health‘s handling of Covid-19 data.
Kudos From SCV
This from Holly Schroeder, chief executive of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., in regard to the January 5 edition of SullivanSays, which called into question the handling of data on Covid-19 cases by the same public health department:
“Thank you for keeping tabs on LA County and their reporting. I and many others have made complaints and asked many questions about their info. It has been difficult to get consistent metrics relative to the established re-opening criteria, not to mention clarity on where outbreaks are coming from. It’s hard to take focused action when you don’t understand the data.
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I believe [government officials have] failed at all levels in how they have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Hypocrisy and vapidity’ you say-great words to describe a lack of leadership. We have had months to prepare for the vaccine rollout-knowing it was coming-and yet we still seem unprepared and disorganized. Even though health officials had been warning of a fall/winter/holiday surge for months, we didn’t seem prepared for the current situation. And now we have the spread in the homeless population that we have worried about since the beginning, yet we don’t seem at all prepared to respond.
Public health officials only seem to repeat their message to stay home, which clearly is not being heard. When something isn’t working, one must look to other solutions.
I remain frustrated that we have not pursued any engineering or technology approaches that could reduce the risk of spread. We do this in other domains to make our environment safer. Think of how we make cars, homes and buildings safer from accidents, fires and earthquakes.
We know poor ventilation is a problem, yet there are no recommendations of how to improve it. We know UV-C kills viruses, yet there are no recommendations on how, when, and where to employ it.
I can only imagine where we might be if we had tapped in to California’s business ingenuity from the start. We are home to great engineering and technology companies as well as great research and health systems. This could have been an opportunity to showcase California’s strength. If we’d put those brains towards figuring out more ways to reduce risk, we might have reduced the spread of COVID-19 and also helped protect our communities from any future virus.”
Kudos to UCI on Pharmacy Study
Plenty of concerns about the logistics of vaccine distribution amid the pandemic.
Kudos to University of California-Irvine, which offers valuable real-time context with a study on “pharmacy deserts” in LA County.
The school notes that the study by Cheryl Wisseh, an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice at UCI’s College of Health Sciences, focuses on pharmacies at a time when they “will be key to distributing COVID-19 vaccines.” It finds that the pharmacy deserts are in areas with large numbers of community members who are “most at risk of contracting the disease.”
The hope is to find ways to bring high-risk areas the pharmacy services that will be “key to fighting this disease and others in LA County.”
Wisseh’s study has been published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and can be viewed here.
Congratulations to former LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, who was as much a part of the renaissance of DTLA as anyone, and now is five years into the job of Chief of Police in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which was named the safest city in the nation by U.S. News & World Report last week.