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UPCOMING EVENTS / ANNOUNCEMENTS
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My staff and I wish you and your families and loved ones the best of Thanksgiving Day holidays.
As we emerge from one of the most tumultuous political seasons in our nation’s history we once again have an opportunity to consider the many blessings we Angelenos enjoy. While the nation and the world enter a time laced with both hope and uncertainty, we can give thanks that the city and state that we live in both embrace the future with positivity and resolve. We have much, each and every day, to look forward to and much for which we can be incredibly grateful.
This year I am especially thankful for the continued energy and leadership of so many people and organizations throughout the 5th District. Whatever challenges we face, our neighborhoods are filled with people who are actively engaged in shaping the community and the city’s destiny. Your dedication and the guidance you provide me make a huge difference as we work together to make things better for everyone. I thank you for that and wish you a happy Thanksgiving!
Los Angeles City Council Approves Koretz Effort to Restrict Predatory Sales Practices at Big Banks
On November 22, 2016 the Los Angeles City Council directed the City’s Office of Finance to draft its banking services request for proposals in a way that will discourage unscrupulous practices at the U.S.’s largest banks and restrict the use of predatory sales goals among banks vying for city contracts. The resultant RFP will determine which banks may be eligible for potentially lucrative contracts regarding the city’s banking needs.
The Council unanimously adopted a report by the Budget and Finance Committee that directs the Office of Finance and the City Attorney to draft an amendment to the City’s Responsible Banking Investment Monitoring Ordinance (RBIMO).This amendment calls on the City to promote responsible consumer banking by any company doing business with the City of Los Angeles and adds whistleblower protections for frontline bank workers who report illegal practices to regulators. An added instruction by Councilmember Koretz addressed the troubling use of predatory sales goals which recently have come to light most notoriously in the case of Wells Fargo.
“For the past eight years, Los Angeles has contracted with Wells Fargo for our banking services – the same bank that paid a record $185 million fine for using abusive sales goals that swindled working families across our city and nationwide,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz. “It’s my hope and goal that the steps we’ve taken today will protect the financial health of our city and stop banks who receive large amounts of taxpayer dollars from ripping off Los Angeles residents.”
In September, banking regulators and Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced a settlement with Wells Fargo over its illegal sales practices. Soon after, California State Treasurer John Chiang suspended many of the state’s ties with the bank after bank workers and others exposed millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts.
The City of Los Angeles has now gone a step further to address the pervasive problem of predatory sales goals by ensuring that banks don’t bid on contracts if they engage in consumer-averse practices.
“Predatory sales goals exist for one reason: to make big banks loads of money,” said Mona Elizabeth Bly, who worked at Wells Fargo and is a member of the Committee for Better Banks. “Bank workers like me have to choose between making high-pressure quotas so we can afford to buy groceries or pushing unnecessary products onto our customers. We can’t stand idly by and wait for another Wells Fargo to happen. Los Angeles is taking an important step towards promoting consumer friendly and honorable banking practices.”
Over the past few years, bank workers across the country, organizing with the Committee for Better Banks, Communication Workers of America (CWA) and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), have put a spotlight on predatory incentive programs that force their workers to choose between consumers’ best interests and getting paid a living wage. In Los Angeles, Minneapolis and other cities, bank workers have delivered petitions to bank managers from tens of thousands of consumers and workers calling for an end to predatory sales goals.
This past summer, bank workers and consumer advocates in the Committee briefed members of Congress and representatives from the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau and the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on the aggressive sales goals that are forcing bank workers to push unnecessary products on their customers.
Los Angeles is just one of many cities where underpaid bank tellers and managers are operating under hostile work conditions and threats of losing their jobs if they don’t sell these problematic products. A June 2016 report by the National Employment Law Project analyzed interviews with dozens of frontline bank workers who detailed predatory practices at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and other major banks. The report found that consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau concerning retail banking increased 34 percent in the last year.
Veteran’s Day is a day to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to sacrifice for the common good. It is an opportunity to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who have heroically served in our country’s conflicts and defended the democratic values we cherish. In that spirit, the City Council hosted its annual Veteran’s Day Council presentation on Wednesday, November 9, to honor veterans from all 15 districts.
This year, Councilmember Koretz selected Larry Bogatz to represent the Fifth Council District. Larry Bogatz was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on February 11, 1938. As a kid, Larry said he always dreamed of going into the Navy. He said he wasn’t sure why, but that he always felt the calling. In 1960, while in college, he joined the Navy Reserve Officer Training Core. After graduation, he started active duty in the Navy. Larry served active duty from 1961 – 1962, and in the reserves from 1962-1966. Part of the time, he was involved in patrolling an area looking for Russian submarines in the Atlantic Ocean. His ship was called the USN CONY.
After leaving the Navy, Larry joined the CIA from 1966 – 1973. He did this for two years, and then received a fellowship to grad school. He attended USC where he earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration in 1975. After he graduated from USC in 1975, he then worked for the Immigration Service until 1980.
In 1980, Larry left the government and went into the private sector. He retired in 2000. A few years later, the calling of service struck again. Larry became CERT trained (Community Emergency Response Team) in 2006, and soon after began his journey of community activism helping neighborhoods get better prepared for emergencies. Larry did this from 2009-2016, until he moved to Colorado.
Larry Bogatz is a wonderful example of someone who not only served his country while in the service, but also continued that way of life when he came back to the homeland. With the creation of his (NTP) Neighborhood Team Program, Larry helped thousands of people get better prepared for emergencies and created over 10 neighborhood emergency teams in the Westside and Carthays. For more information on the Neighborhood Team Program, please visit: http://www.ntp-la.com/
CERT member Bob Abrahams, Councilmember Koretz, former LAFD CERT Commander and Captain Stacey Gerlich, LAFD Battalion 18 Volunteer Coordinator Larry Bogatz, and Former LAFD Captain Alicia Welch.
On the evening of Friday, November 12, something exciting and new called “Melrose Bellow: A Free Literary Festival” debuted.
Over the course of a few hours that night, at several sites along a few blocks of Melrose, a series of literary/reading/artistic events were held featuring storytellers, poets, a block carving woodshop short fiction writers, stand-up comedians, magicians and filmmakers, and reflecting the multicultural make up of Los Angeles with a diverse and eclectic mix of ages, races, and persuasions.
People came from the neighborhood and all across the city to enjoy one or more of these events, which were presented through the auspices of the Melrose Business Improvement District, the Office of Councilmember Koretz, and the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. The Festival Director was Conrad Romo, and many featured readers and organizations took part.
Councilmember Koretz thanks all who participated, including the businesses which graciously served as venues (including Village Idiot, Neveux Artisan Creamery, Spartina, Sal’s Restaurant, Love Baked Wings, G3 Stage, Debonair, Hutch Remodeling, Vinoteque, Dunkees, LA Eyeworks, and Radiant Ink Lab).
The City's Bureau of Street Services resurfaced the street on Burbank Boulevard, from Aldea Avenue to Zelzah Avenue. Councilmember Koretz thanks the crew of workers for their dedication and professionalism, and the public for its patience.
Carthay Circle Tree Planting
On Thursday, November 17, Councilmember Koretz and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps planted six trees on the first median island north of Fairfax Avenue, on San Vicente Blvd, in Carthay Circle. The Councilmember found resources through the Los Angeles Conservation Corps to help plant the six new trees that will also be watered for three years to ensure they have a good start.
'NO left turn' signs for Amestoy Estates
With help from LADOT and the community of Amestoy Estates, NO left turn signs have been placed where they will be of great help to that community. Amestoy Esates was being used as a major cut-through street to the 101 south bound on Magnolia Blvd. Many drivers were taking the local residential streets instead of getting on the freeway from Burbank and Balboa. Needless to say, this created stress on the local neighborhood, and so the new signs have been employed, thanks to the shared efforts of Councilmember Koretz, LADOT and the community. The NO left turn signs are for the hours of 6:30am-9:30am. The signs were placed at the following corners: Louise Ave and Killion Street, Louise Ave and Weddington Street, Louise Ave and Addison Street.
LADOT also added all way stop signs on the following: Louise Ave and Killion Street, and Louise Ave and Weddington Street.
Congratulations to the community and thanks to LADOT, council staff, and the community for their roles in getting this done.
Cheviot Hills HOA bi-annual meeting
On November 17, Councilmenber Koretz was honored to attend the Cheviot Hills Home Owners' Association General Membership meeting. He spoke to an audience of approximately 60 members about local and citywide issues, and gave special focus to the issues of public safety and homelessness. The Councilmember was joined by representatives of the LAPD West Division. He and his staff thank all those who help make the Cheviot Hills HOA such a vital organization.
Westwood Gardens Civic Association Monthly Board Meeting
Councilmember Koretz was pleased to be on hand for the November 16 Monthly Board Meeting of the Westwood Gardens Civic Association, He spoke about community issues and took questions. The Councilmember applauds the Association, its board and the entire membership for their dedication.
Westside Neighborhood Council
On Thursday, November 10, the Westside Community Council held its monthly board meeting, and to start off the meeting, Councilmember Koretz gave the oath of office to the new board in a swearing-in ceremony. The Councilmember and his staff congratulate these board members and thanks them for their leadership and service to the community.