The Press-Enterprise – LA City Hall scandals never go away

By The Editorial Board, PRESS-ENTERPRISE

There are new developments in some of the Los Angeles City Hall scandals, which continue to multiply like rabbits.

Last Wednesday, the City Council agreed to pay $1.8 million to an LAPD officer who sued the city alleging that he was sexually harassed by then-Mayor Eric Garcetti’s close adviser, Rick Jacobs.

The lawsuit by Officer Matthew Garza alleged that Jacobs had made crude sexual remarks and touched him inappropriately over a period of years when Garza was on Garcetti’s security detail. The lawsuit claimed that Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakeland, both witnessed the conduct, which they denied. Garcetti’s denial, contradicted by staffers who came forward to speak out, delayed for nearly two years and almost sank the former mayor’s appointment to be U.S. ambassador to India.

The City Council voted 13-0 to settle the case after City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto sent a memo in September advising that there was a “high likelihood of an adverse settlement and recovery of damages and attorney’s fees in excess of $5,000,000.”

Meanwhile, the name of the former city attorney, Mike Feuer, unexpectedly came up during the criminal sentencing of a former attorney for the city who was hired by Feuer as outside counsel. Paul Paradis pleaded guilty to a charge of accepting a $2.1 million kickback as part of a scheme to manipulate a class action lawsuit by LADWP customers over a disastrous new billing system that wildly overcharged people. Paradis represented the city, which owns the utility, and at the same time he represented the ratepayer who was the plaintiff in the class action lawsuit. A second attorney who was in on the deal paid the kickback to Paradis. What did then-City Attorney Feuer know, and when did he know it? Paradis said in court that Feuer had lied to the grand jury and to investigators. Feuer has denied wrongdoing.

Paradis cooperated extensively with federal prosecutors and with the State Bar. In June, journalist Justin Kloczko reported for the nonprofit organization Consumer Watchdog that the Bar was investigating a number of attorneys, including Feuer, for alleged misconduct in connection with the LADWP billing litigation. That shoe could still drop.

Feuer is now a candidate for Congress in the sprawling Pasadena-to-West-Hollywood 30th district, currently represented by U.S. Senate candidate Adam Schiff. This week, Feuer sent out a press release to announce that a poll of 800 likely voters found him leading a crowded field of candidates with 19% of the vote.

There may be some bumps in the road ahead.

Another politician on a bumpy road is City Council Member John Lee. Last week, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission moved forward with an investigation into allegations that Lee accepted and failed to report “multiple gifts from a businessperson and a developer, most of which exceeded the gift limit,” in 2016 and during a 2017 trip to Las Vegas with then Councilman Mitch Englander, for whom Lee was a staffer. Englander was convicted of obstructing a FBI investigation into that Las Vegas trip and related gifts. He went to prison.

Lee has said the Ethics Commission’s accusations are “misguided and based on conjecture instead of actual evidence.”

Too bad L.A. taxpayers can’t sell their city government to Hollywood for a crime drama. It could run for 10 years and we’d never need another tax increase.

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