Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BOARD Wants Settlement in 4-Year Old Cases

Last night, I attended the 1st 2009 "off-campus" (not at city hall at 10AM) meeting of the L.A. Animal Services Board of Commissioners. Attendance was DISMAL: the parties for 2 appeal hearings (who left after their gig), Phyllis Daugherty (never misses a meeting), Laura Beth Heisen (Chair of the Spay and Neuter Sub-Committee), Kim Carnochan(rescuer, volunteer and Stu supporter), Kathy Davis (AGM/Operations and relegated to a chair with the rest of us), Jim Bickart (Mayor's Office). THAT's IT! On a Monday evening. In the Valley! Has everyone given up? Don't, because progress+/- Read more...

is being made as BoardWatch will outline in the next post.

Lots of news-- both good and bad-- to report from the meeting, but I will start with my own selfish agenda, pun intended.

As many of you know, I have, for 3 years, urged the City of Los Angeles to come to an amicable settlement regarding my dogs, Maeve and Stu which would bring them both home alive and leave me to continue my life in peace. It seems that the Board is now willing to entertain just that and I welcome it and I'm grateful for their wisdom and compassion.

During Public Comments I asked the Board to take the matter of settlement up. I informed them that their own lawyer, Deputy City Attorney Todd Tak Shing Leung is waging an unholy war in Court on their behalf. Although everyone knows that Stu is not dangerous, even though that's the label Guerdon StuckeyBrakemeir (who?) slapped on him (rejecting the Hearing Examiner "not dangerous assessment") , along with a death sentence 4 years ago, Stu spent 2 years locked away at the "Annex", 4 months outdoors in the winter months at Tia's Villalobos Pitbull Rescue (no, he's not a pit bull), and then tossed back in the concrete jail at North Central for another 9 months in 2007, then finally moved to a happy place, thanks to the Board (Kathy Riordan,Marie Atake, Tariq Khero, Glenn Brown) who voted unanimously to accept the very generous offer of Bobby Dorafshar of New Leash on Life to house, feed and love Stu at the very posh K9s only boarding palace (see button at left).

Stu's case in now in the Court of Appeals, 2nd District , Division 4 Case no. B202071. You can go to the Court's website and see it's progress or lack thereof. The Court of Appeals reviews decisions by Superior Court Judge's. In this case, Judge David Yaffe (See (who?), at the under-the-table urging of Captain Helen Perched on a Throne in ‘Wonderland’) rushed through a 9 minute hearing on the life of a dog and slipped on some feeble caselaw offered up by City Attorney Leung. The very same case law that Judge Chalant said had no relevance in Maeve's case, hence the win for Maeve. The way it goes in Appellate Court is this:

  1. Appellant (me) files their opening brief (this was delayed for many months due to me having to replace my former attorney with myself--but not before I racked up over $10, 000 in fees.) This sets forth the case history and reasons why the lower court's judge screwed up. Mine was 46 pages of the 50 page limit.
  2. Mr. Leung was given 60 days to file his opposing brief which was due January 18, 2009. He didn't file it. This is called default. But because the law is fair, the clerk sends a notice saying that if the brief is not filed within 15 days, the case will be decided on my brief and the record alone. The City will be barred from appearing at the oral argument hearing of the case. So I wait.
  3. On the 15th day , at 3:05 PM (court closes at 4:30) the clerk posted the following entry: NO RESPONSE TO RULE 8.211 NOTICE. CASE PLACED IN READY FILE. This means the case is ready for the 3 justices and the presiding justice to examine and set a hearing date. I was encouraged.
  4. At 5:05 PM the clerk's notice was deleted and replace with RESPONDENT'S BRIEF ON APPEAL FILED. So, the City , at the very last moment, filed an 8 page, huge margins, double-spaced in 13 point type piece of crap brief which showed absolutely no effort yet took 79 days to make if from 200 N Main to 300 S Spring. That's 79 extra days that Stu and I had to wait with Stu away from home and me pining for his return, worried every day that he will be killed and tossed into a boiling vat ("rendering") with the rest of the carcasses of the 25, 000+ pets and companion animals who will be killed by Ed Boks and an uncaring Antonio Villaraigosa. this year. You can Google "rendering" but I suggest that you do not.
What did the brief say? Well the 8th page is just his signature, but prominently in there is this: "the attack was a vicious mauling." Problem is...there is nothing in the official record to back-up this lie. He forgets to mention that the Hearing Examiner and Preeminent Dog Behavior Expert Richard Polksy, PhD disagree and both believe Stu is NOT DANGEROUS.

In fact, the only folks who think Stu is dangerous are 1) the "victim"--- now $300, 000 richer from State Farm Insurance-- Tatiana Edwards a.k.a. Tati Edwards a.k.a. Tatiana Katryne (stripper name?), my one-time lover and employee, 2) Former Captain Karen Stepp (forced to quit due to "employee morale problems") who is now "stepping" on animals for Marcia Mayeda, 3) Guerdon Stuckey (fired by the Mayor and now gentrifying North Carolina as a bureaucrat) 4)Debbie Knaan, pulling down big money by not prosecuting animal cruelty cases for the County D.A and 5) Ed Boks (soon to be fired)...oh yeah 6) Todd TakShing Leung (pulling down nearly $200, 000 of your tax dollars fighting self-represented dog owners and LOSING).

So, as I am prone to do when one of my own is threatened, I fired off the following email:

To: Deputy City Attorney Todd Leung <Todd.Leung@lacity.org>
Cc: Ed Boks <Ed.Boks@lacity.org>, City Attorney Dov Lesel <Dov.Lesel@lacity.org>, Marie Atake, Bobby Dorafshar, Debbie Knaan <knaan@sbcglobal.net>, Assistant City Attorney Laurie Rittenberg <Laurie.Rittenberg@lacity.org.>
Subject: City's Brief on Appeal

Mr. Leung
I am in receipt of your 7-page brief on appeal. For the benefit of those copied on this message:
  • Your brief was due on January 18, 2009.
  • You had 60 days to prepare and file it, yet you did not.
  • Court rules allowed you an additional 15 days following notice by the Court that unless you submit a brief within 15 days, you will not be able to file it and you will not be able to appear at oral argument.
  • In total, including the 4 days it took for the court to send you notice that you were in danger of "default", you had 79 days to prepare and file this seven page brief which is basically a "pamphlet" comprised of "cherry-picking" and "scatter-gun" style tripe. It is unintelligible and a work of fiction.
  • Your time to file this fish-wrap expired at 4:30pm on Friday 2/6.
  • At 3PM the Court entered into it's docket that you had not filed a brief and that the case was "ready" to be submitted to the justices based solely on the record and my brief. There would be no oral argument permitted for the City.
  • Then at the last minute, on the 79th day, you trotted your little brief over to the Court.
It's really typical of your style, this little brief, and an insult to your profession. When faced with a losing proposition, you just churn out a few lies, irrelevant case law, and blatant exaggeration like pasta tossed at a wall. It's really no wonder that they assign you the crap cases.

You should be ashamed of yourself for prolonging the suffering of an innocent animal and his owner by nearly 3 months, just to vex me and carry out the City's, Lesel's, Knaan's and Boks's agenda to harass and persecute Stu and me at at every opportunity for any reason. I didn't think I could ever be more disgusted by the lot of you. I was wrong. Thrashed in Dept. 85, by a layman in Maeve's case-- heard by a real judge and not that confirmed whacko in Dept. 86--you re-directed your humiliation onto Stu.

This fiasco began with a two-bit, wanna-be "actress" cashing in on her ex-boyfriend for $300, 000 in blood money and an illiterate "hearing examiner" attempting to reinvent the Constitution. Next, we had nonassignable-to-any-real-duties Brakemeir corrupting the process by inserting her fat thumb in the pie, followed by an under-fire G.M. who rubber-stamped Brakemeir's dirty work. For dessert, the "actress" giving unsworn testimony to three hand-picked buffoons-- all with law degrees-- who flunked the due-process course. They were led into the abyss by another overpaid shameful City Attorney who "decided" that violations of due process do not constitute a violation of due process. Then you entered the center ring with your childish antics,whining, hyperbole and fictional distortions of fact.

It is crystal clear to the entire public and even your own co-workers what has happened here: A huge. bloated and powerful government entity running roughshod over the law and it's own citizens for the amusement of it's "employees." On my mother's grave, you will not get away with this and I will use every legal means to make you pay. All of you. If, by chance, the Court is stupid--and I do not believe they are--and your band of corrupt idiots succeeds in killing my friend Stu, you will be held accountable.

See you in about a month or so for your thrashing by the Court of Appeals. Then in about 2 more years, when we do this again ad infinitum. You folks are really disturbed; and you , Ms. Knaan, are the scum of the earth. So, Todd, do they let you play in Federal Court? We'll see.

People constantly speak of 'the government' doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men. -- H.L. Mencken

NOTICE: This email may be copied, forwarded, printed and otherwise reproduced only in its entirety, including full reproduction and full expansion of any attachments at their original size (in this case all 60 pages of the file attached hereto), with full email headers and unredacted email addresses of the addressees. Any other use is strictly prohibited.

Yeah...rough, but he REALLY pisses me off!

Back to the Board Meeting:

After I let the Board know how their own lawyer is fighting dirty on their behalf, Kathy Riordan expressed that she would like to see a settlement. Commissioner Tariq Khero concurred. Commissioner Archie Quincey said something to the effect of "this has gone on long enough." No, Ed boks wasn't there. Linda Barth said that a "closed session" could be scheduled to discuss a settlement. Commissioner Irene Ponce made no comments but she looked shocked at the situation. In her defense, she knows nothing about the cases (unless Ed has filled her in). Too bad the room was empty. I think I may have seen a "nod" from Jim Bickart, but I can't be sure.

Then, Kim Carnochan read this letter/email from Marie Atake:

From: Marie <>
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 2009 15:58:04 -0800
Conversation: City Attorney casts cruelty on an old dog!
Subject: City Attorney casts cruelty on an old dog!


In my letter to Mayor Villaraigosa a year and half ago (http://marie310.blogspot.com/2007/09/resigning-from-laas-commission_03.html), I wrote the following, and it was referring to Stu’s case:

“Recently, the Commission discovered its serious procedural problems with a past appeal. I was not involved with this particular appeal, however, I felt it was the Commission’s sworn duty to right its wrongs, and restore its integrity, when the process was violated, with unfairness and prejudice appearing high and harmful.

“Unfortunately I have learned that certain members of your administration, this department and the Commission are incapable of acknowledging errors, therein misleading the public. Such actions (or inactions) are resulting in the needless suffering and death of many animals, mistreatment of the public, and wasting of financial and human capital.”


As of today, Stu is still in boarding after three long years. I wonder why people in power find tormenting the poor dog to be acceptable. If Mr. Boks has a vengeful vendetta, that’s one thing, but it is so wrong to use an innocent animal as a leverage. It’s time that they separate the two issues, and deal with them like adults.

Those who have not been following the case may not understand the complexity, but Stu could have been out of his confinement by now. The judge in the lower Court regarding his other dog (where he prevailed on exactly the same issues of due process) said “anything can be settled” referring to the City settling these issues with him and avoiding costly litigation. He has made offers of settlement, and they refused.

Not only have those in power failed to resolve the matter, but also they have engaged in an ongoing drain on city resources needed to fight this battle for three years and still counting.

I wish these people would use their tenacity and passion to actually make the world a better place, instead of focusing on making the lives of one dog and one man miserable — I’m really astonished with the wasteful and negative behavior of Mr. Todd Leung along with others who perpetuate this inhumane condition for Stu. I wholeheartedly understand his guardian’s frustration.

If we are to believe the Mayor’s statements that the city has a budget crisis, shouldn’t we see the City Attorney’s resources used to find a solution to this expensive and inhumane due process problem, rather than wasted on continuing years of litigation over a now 10-year old dog!

This is 1) sheer animal cruelty and 2) a total waste of our tax-dollars.

- Marie

Brief History of Maeve's Case

Maeve's license was revoked in a case of mistaken (lies) identity in 2005. A neighbor of mine (and former co-alumnus from NYU, who I used to have to toss out of editing rooms because she refused to leave when it was time for other students' editing session--It was my work-study job at NYU Film School in the glorious 80's). The Board denied my appeal and I have spent the last 3 years in Court securing a Court order to set that decision aside. From September 2005 to March 2006 Maeve lanquished at the "Annex" beating her tail to a bloody pulp. Then I was able to spring her, but since she was banned from the City, I boarded her at Bouquet Canyon Kennels, in the Santa Claria area to the tune of about $5,000 until the kennel owner left her to burn to death in the Santa Clarita fire of 2007.
I yanked her out of there when Charlotte Bell of Southbay Doggie Day Care came to the rescue and took-in Maeve since then in Manhattan Beach for over a year with tender loving care and lots of love, fresh air and exercise. I am forever indebted to Charlotte and reccomend that you trust her and her fine staff with you loved one.

The ruling to set aside the Department's decision (because they violated LA Municipal Code, their own hearing procedures and the 14th Amendment) was made on October 9, 2008 and judgment was entered November 13, 2008.

Not surprisingly, Ed Boks , in his continuing quest to maintain his personal vendetta against me (hey, I'm the Sicilian guy!) ordered Hearing Examiner George Mossman to hold a "continuation" hearing for Maeve's following the Court's Order. Problem is that the Order said I'm entitled to a "new hearing" and there is no such thing in the LA Muni. Code as a "continuation" hearing in a case in which a FINAL decision was made on March 28, 2005. So, Mr. Mossman plans to hold a "continuation" hearing and finally subpoena the witnesses he denied me 4 years ago. I wonder if they are even around or if they remember ANYTHING! The Board seemed to think that such a hearing would be silly, but I'm just going by their expressions. I did ask them if all of them had been given a copy of the Court Order tossing their decision...they stared at me blankly. I do think that if they were not given the order that it would be reason for Contempt of Court against Ross Pool, Ed Boks and whomever else made that dumb decision. That means monetary SANCTIONS for the City and Todd Tak Shing Leung and possible JAIL TIME. Santions would go in my pocket, by the way. YOUR TAX DOLLARS.

So now, we wait for Ed Boks, Dov Lesel, Linda Barth and Debbie Knaan to decide if the Board gets what they want. To follow-up, I sent this email to Linda Barth <linda.barth@lacity.org> today:

Ms. Barth,

As you know, the Board (3 Commissioners: Khero, Quincey and Riordan) requested, during the February 9, 2009 Board Meeting, that the cases regarding Maeve and Stu be addressed in the near future. I will assume, then that any actions to schedule a hearing in any matter by Mr. Mossman are thereby suspended pending action by the Board. Please confirm that this is the case.

Also, please advise as to what you will be needing from me in order to effect such a meeting. If the Board will require actual settlement proposals, I am certainly willing to prepare those in time for any open or closed session. It would be my preference that the subject of a closed or open session (or the session itself) be placed on the very next agenda for a vote. While it is normally and rightfully, the Board which sets it's agendas, I am aware that Management often "contributes" to decisions regarding agenda items. As you must realize, time is of the essence as current and future litigation plans are moving forward. Likewise my own schedule needs to be taken into account. I will hold the next meeting date open in my schedule until I hear from you. If you will require a transcript from Judge Chalfant's Court of the proceeding in which the Judge made his statements re: settlement, I am sure Mr. Leung can procure that for you. I will be glad to provide the date on which that hearing(s) took place.

I look forward to your timely response.

P.S. As I stated during the Public Comments: Unfortunately, both of the appeal hearings held on Monday are invalid and must be re-heard for various reasons (the first appellant must be given a new administrative hearing BEFORE an appeal is heard per L.A.M.C.), but most notably because the Board's own Resolution re: Appeals is clear that :
  1. The Appeals Commissioner (Vice-President) or (acting) President shall chair the appeal hearing.
  2. The hearing shall be audio recorded.
  • Officially, what is the reason the Commissioner Riordan was excluded from the appeal and left waiting in the lobby for the entire two hearings?
  • Before your time, but at my appeal hearing, the District Supervisor was present (in the form of Capt. Brakemeir, unfortunately, who was not my District Supervisor). Why were there no appearances by the respective District Supervisors on Monday? Usually, they have at least some familiarity with the complaint(s) and charges.
  • Why don't the Commissioners know what they may and may not do, when it comes to their review? It seems strange that they have to ask you or the Board Secretary for guidances when they've been hearing appeals forever?
  • At my appeal hearing, there was no "management" present. Please refer me to whatever document, code or otherwise authorizes or necessitates the presence of a GM (whose decisions are at issue) or an AGM.

In one of your briefing points, you mentioned that shelter employees would be apprised of the law in some fashion. That's really a great idea, late or not. I would humbly suggest that all Commissioners receive some kind of refresher on things like their own resolutions, due process at the administrative level and the Los Angeles Municipal Code, Charter and Admin. Code. I know that the State's Office of Administrative Hearings has a training program for Administrative Law Judges which they offer to Cities and local governments. Maybe that would be a solution to prevent more unnecessary expense and trips to the Courthouse for both appellants and claimants. Please understand that I make these suggestions in all sincerity and only with the intention of saving others from what I've been though for the last 4 years.

P.P.S. Shock collars on dogs (or any other animal) are considered by responsible trainers to be inhumane (besides being ineffective). I hope this remedy will be removed from the Board's bag of "terms and conditions" as soon as possible.
Perhaps I might offer my time for some fundraising efforts for expert training for income-challenged appellants whose dogs will not stop barking. because they are left to live out of doors (neglect). Your department will soon be receiving letter #1 re: my neighbor at 1881 Morton Ave. who refuses to do anything about his dog's incessant barking (also neglect, no socialization and no exercise--I've never seen that poor Choc. Lab outside his yard) . No, I will not be the sole complainant and I do hope that just because a complaint comes from me, will not mean that it is handled any differently from anyone else's complaint.
People have asked what they can do.

Well, I would suggest writing, on paper preferably, or by email, to any of the people mentioned above and making your voice heard (calling is good too). You might also consider writing to your Councilperson, posting your views on Craigslist where Ed Boks will flag them off in his spare time. You might consider commenting here by clicking on "comments." Anything you do FOR my dog friends would be appreciated. You might consider showing up at the next Board meeting and making your opinion known.

Stay tuned. While I'm encouraged by this turn by the Board, I've been here before. We'll keep our paws crossed.

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