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tom girardi is back baby, LADWP things, and that AI garcetti portrait by shepard fairey cost how much?
Hello, welcome to The Debaser’s very important newsletter, tHe LoWeSt pOsT. I’m super pumped to hyperlink content for you. Today is Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. Donald Trump is still president. No hold on, Joseph R. Biden is president. And these days we’re really into going to war with the sky.
On Feb. 7, Orange County nursing home resident Tom Girardi made a rare appearance out in the wild for his arraignment on wire fraud charges. The fallen King’s procession to the Roybal federal court entrance in downtown LA was long and weirdly quiet, with the media pack seemingly at a loss for words while Girardi slowly inched his way inside. For once he wasn’t wearing a suit, he didn’t talk, and he looked different, his head looking like a shriveled up date with eyes that now look squished together. The guy either deserves an Oscar, or really is cooked. Girardi’s been a celebrity lawyer for most of the past 20 years, riding the Erin Brockovich/Housewives wave, so he probably hadn’t actually seen the inside of a courtroom since like, the Bush Administration. He pleaded not guilty via a lawyer, but said nothing during his arraignment. A judge ordered a competency exam to help determine if he will be able to stand trial in light of charges that he stole $15 million from clients. I was not there, but you can read my former colleague Meghann Cuniff’s dispatch from the arraignment. For further Girardi reading, here’s the LA Times on his LA Secret Service connections. And an oldie but goodie from me on Girardi’s influence over my former employer, the Los Angeles Daily Journal.
That mayoral portrait of Eric Garcetti by Shepard Fairy so Garcetti could believe he’ll be president one day cost us $20,000. Damn that’s a lot of money for an AI photo. Fairey most famously did the Obama ‘Hope’ poster, of course. I don’t know much about him, but someone on Twitter pointed out that Fairey’s beginnings making fun of Fascist/Authoritarian propaganda has had a depressing trajectory. He’s gone from making fun of propaganda posters to using them to seriously memorialize the boring middle. In doing so, Fairey has become the unofficial sketch artist for the Democratic Party establishment.
This just in: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s okay to listen to 80s Grateful Dead again, wow.
Remember when the DWP board of commissioners said it wanted to hire its own counsel with regard to LADWP because it was suddenly upset with how city lawyers handled everything? Me neither, but hey it happened. Last month, the office of new City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto signed off on a $1.5 million contract to hire white shoe firm Paul Hastings to represent the board of commissioners and LADWP regarding the Jones v. City of LA water billing case and the FBI’s investigation into it. The contract calls for up to $2.25 million to be paid. According to the contract, which doesn’t need city council approval:
The board has deemed the legal services for independent counsel to continue their investigations, litigations and advice, as it is imperative that LADWP be independently represented in all matters associated with the ongoing federal investigation. Paul Hastings has performed satisfactorily under the current agreement.
So we’re still paying for DWP in new ways. More on this later. Feldstein Soto has been the city attorney for barely two months, but plenty has happened to get a sense of her approach in the galaxy of cases captured by LADWP corruption. Will there be a thaw now that the new master doesn’t have as much skin in the game? Probably not.
Former LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz, whose last words to the public as councilman were literally “fuck you,” has been fined $2,500 by the Ethics Commission, based on a fundraising event held with former DWP commissioner Jill Banks Barad-Hopkins. Knock LA has the details.
And finally, a judge has again pushed back the sentencing date of former city attorney official Thomas Peters, who has pleaded guilty to authorizing a former private city lawyer to make a hush payment in order to keep LADWP litigation collusion under wraps. This is the third time the sentencing has been pushed back. Federal prosecutors filed the stipulation asking the judge to continue the hearing under seal. Is Peters gonna give someone up? What do prosecutors want from him? We’re not done yet.
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