Archive for March, 2013

Our Letter to the Editor of the Acorn

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Dear Mr. Loesing,

It was touching news that your recent opinion piece in the Acorn labeled our publication as “acerbic and anti-city.” Such bold statements. Let’s test your opinion with a review of reporting performance this past election:

• ListenCalabasas! reported David Shapiro’s misrepresentation on his application for City Council as not having a potential conflict of interest to report, when court records indicate that Mr. Shapiro was in fact the attorney of record for then Mayor Bozajian in Mr. Bozajian’s lawsuit against his employer, the County of Los Angeles. ListenCalabasas! posted online both Mr. Shapiro’s application and the lawsuit against Los Angeles County filed by Mr. Shapiro, whose name prominently appears on the 1st page.

The Acorn reported that Mr. Shapiro’s misrepresentation was a non-issue, and published a statement from Mr. Bozajian claiming that there was no conflict of interest. Were we to be surprised with this statement? After all, Mr. Bozajian was also covering for himself. In terms of reporting, Mr. Bozajian’s opinion does not change the fact of their bad conduct, nor does it excuse the Acorn for burying the improper actions of these two Council members. Notably, the Acorn did not provide any references for the public to review to allow its readers to form their own opinion.

• ListenCalabasas! dug deeper into the story, only to find that this wasn’t Mr. Shapiro’s first time misrepresenting himself in an application for a civic role. In 2001, he also misrepresented himself in his application for temporary judgeship, which got him into a host of trouble with the California Bar. He escaped by claiming his secretary incorrectly filled out the form, and that he didn’t review it as he was under duress. Mr. Bozajian went on record at the time to back up his friend. We think patterns of bad behavior are important for Calabasas voters to know. All of the court documents that disclose these actions were posted online by ListenCalabasas! so that readers could review on their own and form their own opinions.

The Acorn? Not one word.

• ListenCalabasas!, in January of this year, reported that Mr. Bozajian told the court that he had no money to hire an attorney for his case against the County of Los Angeles, and that Mr. Shapiro took the case on contingency. We posted a link to the court documents where these statements were recorded. Mr Bozajian told the Acorn that Mr. Shapiro was no longer on the case (we have yet to see a court document that acknowledges this), and that “nothing was done in exchange for the appointment.” Interestingly, the Acorn published Mr. Bozajian’s explanatory statement prior to his testimony in court, where he raised reasonable doubt. Mr. Bozajian has yet to explain the disparity between not having money to hire an attorney and what his terms were to retire Mr. Shapiro from a case which he originally accepted on the basis of contingency, all of which coincided with Mr. Bozajian’s nomination of Mr. Shapiro to the City Council. The lack of transparency of the professional relationship between these two members of the City Council is an issue we feel worthy of voters to be aware of.

The Acorn? You guessed it, not one word.

• We made numerous other contributions towards a more informed citizenry. It was ListenCalabasas! that reported it was indeed the City of Calabasas that made the decision to disqualify Liat Samouhi from the race. All that the County did was provide the City with voter registration data, leaving full discretion to the City. The Acorn made no investigation, and simply provided cover for the City by means of pointing blame to the County. It was ListenCalabasas! that reviewed recent City expenditures to uncover that $867,000 was spent on legal fees over the past two years, a significant portion of which can be attributed to litigation against seniors over alleged building code violations. It was ListenCalabasas! that reviewed 9 years of City of Calabasas financial statements to report an increase in City expenditures of over 300% since 2004. A complete and downloadable spreadsheet was provided to our readers so they could evaluate on their own. The Acorn again made no investigation, simply telling its readers that the increase in costs was for services expected of the City. Your publication gave absolutely no backup to indicate why it thinks the cost of City operations today are worth a 300% increase over the cost of City operations in 2004.

We also need to discuss your label that this publication is “anti-city.” Allow us to share our view. With apologies for our language: we are anti-bullshit. If that means “anti-city” to you, then that’s something we can agree on.

The time is long overdue for Calabasas government to be fully transparent, and not covered up by local press. The Acorn, Mr. Loesing, would have us believe we live in Disneyland. We have cronies in government who cover up for each other. The City spends money in ways that do not benefit the bulk of the City’s citizens and businesses. No city is perfect, but no city is beyond critique, either. If you don’t like what we say in our publication, then may we suggest that you do a better job with yours.

With best regards,

LC

All of the court documents referenced above can be reviewed at http://tinyurl.com/david-shapiro-calabasas. Please see the appropriate article for additional backup details.

Fred Gaines Demonstrates That Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

Monday, March 4th, 2013

We’ve seen (and reported on) some bizarre things in Calabasas politics. Here’s a new one for you. Calabasas households received one of two mailings today from a PAC (Political Action Committee) called Calabasas Leadership Committee, whose registered address is the law offices of Gaines & Stacy LLC, of which Calabasas Councilperson Fred Gaines is a partner. One mailer was received by Republican households, another by Democratic households. The mailer sent to the Republicans says “Stop the Democratic Party and Big Union take over of Calabasas City Hall.” A big statement coming from Democrat Fred Gaines. Someone should tell Mr. Gaines that the nasty union people around Calabasas are members of the Writers Guild and the Directors Guild, people that we’re rather fond of. The mailer goes on to say “Don’t Vote For Jody Thomas.” Which is odd, as Ms. Thomas is the only candidate that’s shown interest in cutting the City’s oversized budget. Perhaps someone should stop Mr. Gaines, who seems to have lost a screw along the way.

We received the email below today from the campaign manager for City Council candidate Jody Thomas. We think it’s worthy of posting verbatim.


From: Jody Thomas for City Council
Subject: Election Update- Please read before you vote
Date: March 4, 2013

Jody Thomas For City Council - VOTE ONLY FOR JODY

One thing the Thomas Campaign is extremely proud of is that we have always told the truth and leveled with the residents of Calabasas. The same can’t be said of our opponents.

Today, Calabasas Democrats and Republicans received two mailers, separately, from the “independent” PAC run by Fred Gaines.

In one mailer, sent to Democratic households, he recommends “Calabasas Democrats” vote for his cronies Mary Sue Maurer and appointee David J. Shapiro. Voters should be aware, the LA County Democratic Party endorsed only Jody Thomas in this election, mostly due to David J. Shapiro’s long history of violations and misconduct. Senator Pavley and the LA County Firefighters endorsed Jody as well.

Fred also sent out another mailer today, this one to Republican voters, attacking Jody for being a Democrat! Fred Gaines attacked Jody Thomas for being a member in good standing of his own party. The same party he told to vote for their fellow Democrats.

There is an expression for this: Fred Gaines is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Fred is telling Dems to vote for his chosen candidates and telling Republicans to fear the Democratic Party.

In the old days, Fred could get away with these political shenanigans, but with today’s technology, his hypocrisy can be exposed in real time so voters can know the truth.

When informed of these mailers, Jody Thomas said,

“I have always been transparent that I am a Democrat, but my message of good governance, smaller local government and transparency appeals to Republicans just as well as Democrats. This is a non partisan position and I will represent ALL residents. If you visit my website at www.JodyThomasforCouncil.com you will see that my ideas of restoring checks and balances is very appealing to my Republican friends and neighbors.”

When you vote tomorrow, please remember the integrity that Jody Thomas has shown on the campaign trail. Please remember these misleading mailers and the forces behind them.

Please remember, that if not for Jody, Calabasas residents would not have a choice in this election.

Sincerely,

Brian Ross Adams
Campaign Manager

[original email Paid for by Jody H. Thomas for City Council: ID# 1354055]


If you’re tired of cronies running the City, we suggest casting your vote for Calabasas City Council candidate Jody Thomas. Your ballot will say you can vote for up to three candidates, but consider voting for only one. It’s a perfectly legal way to stick the finger to the cronies. Jody supporters say Vote ONLY for JODY on March 5.

David Shapiro’s Past Revealed by California State Bar

Friday, March 1st, 2013

David Shapiro must have a lot on his mind. He forgot to check the box on his application for appointment to the City Council that says he had a “current obligation and responsibilities that could be construed as a conflict of interest.” At the time, Mr Shapiro was attorney for then Mayor James Bozajian. Both are now running for election to the City Council as part of an incumbent slate. Acting on his application, Mr. Bozajian nominated Mr. Shapiro in the Council’s ballot process for his appointment to City Council. We covered this memorable event in detail in an earlier article.

It seems Mr. Shapiro had a similar incident of having a lot on his mind in 2001 when filling out a Temporary Judge Application for the Temporary Judge Program of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. The application asked “As an attorney, have you ever been suspended, disbarred, or had your license suspended or revoked; or have you even been reprimanded, censored, or otherwise disciplined, or are any charges, formal or informal, presently pending against you?” His written response was “NO”, overlooking the fact that he was placed on probation for 2 years by the California State Bar 3 years prior, followed by the Bar’s administrative action of suspending his license to practice law a few months later for failing to pay his dues.

When it comes to Calabasas reality entertainment, we think Mr. Shapiro is doing a fantastic job at showing up the Kardashians.

For the inquisitive, Mr. Shapiro’s California Bar record is summarized online by the State Bar of California at http://members.calbar.ca.gov/fal/Member/Detail/118325.

Learning of Mr. Shapiro’s misadventures as a Temporary Judge, we took a deeper dive into his past, and find that the “overlooked” case brought against him the by California Bar in 1998 reads like an overwrought novel. The website summary barely gives a clue, citing the status as “Discipline, probation; no actual suspension.” But an examination of court documents reveals that Mr. Shapiro was charged with 56 violations of either the Bar’s Business and Professions Code or its Rules of Professional Conduct. In spite of his numerous errors brought forth by the Bar, the likable Mr. Shapiro escaped with only probation. The lengthy and detailed charges can be viewed online by clicking this link. Stunningly, the piece de resistance is that he forgot to pay his Bar dues a few months later, leading to a 6-month suspension from practicing law in 1998.

In 2004, the State Bar, not happy with Mr. Shapiro’s oversight on his 2001 judgeship application, charged him with “committing an act of moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption.” Mr. Shapiro’s plea was that his assistant filled out the form and he was too distracted to read it. Once again, the judge bought his story, and the likable Mr. Shapiro scored.

Calabasas voters: Does his story have a familiar ring to it?

But this is not the end of Mr. Shapiro’s tale with State Bar Court. In 2004, when his case went to trial, it was none other than Mr. Bozajian who stood up as a mitigating witness for Mr. Shapiro at his hearing. The court document listing Mr. Bozajian’s name as a mitigating witness can be viewed by clicking this link. Not only did Mr. Bozajian stand up for his friend in Bar Court, but he declared himself to the Court as “Deputy District Attorney and Mayor of Calabasas.”

It’s very touching when public officials use their elected positions to help their friends.

The full litany of court documents that pertain to Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Bozajian are now online courtesy of Google Drive, available to the public by clicking this link.

There is more to report about Mr. Shapiro’s oversights, however. The non-profit organization that he wears on his sleeve, Rock Life, turns out to have failed to file for non-profit status. An anonymous email was recently received (by this publication and presumably by others) pointing out the fact, following which the operators of Rock Life took quick and proper action to re-file their corporation as a non-profit. You’ll see a notice to this effect on their website. Mr. Shapiro, apparently, was too busy making promotional videos of himself with Mr. Rock to bother offering Mr. Rock proper legal advice. Had the well-meaning operators of Rock Life relied only on Mr. Shapiro, the IRS would have had something to say about it.

The more we learn about Mr. Shapiro and his friend, Mr. Bozajian, the less there is to like. Indeed, there is a lot to not like about each of the incumbents running for election. But there is only one candidate running against three incumbents, and there are three seats to be filled.

What to do? We have a suggestion: vote for only one candidate. Your ballot will tell you that you can vote for up to three candidates, but it’s perfectly legal to vote for only one. Your one vote will count against the others, and will help send a message to the City that we’ve had enough of this nonsense.

You knew this was coming: here’s the part where we show bias. We suggest you say “NO” to the cronies, and vote “YES” for Calabasas City Council candidate Jody Thomas. Your ballot will say you can vote for up to three, but we suggest you vote for only one candidate. It’s a clever and perfectly legal way to leverage your vote into a statement: Vote ONLY for JODY on March 5.