The California Board For Professional Engineers Explicitly, Openly, Refuses To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Who Produce Crack-Headed Nonsensical Reports For BID Formation , With Venice Beach Being A Prime Recent Example, Even Though The Legislature Clearly Intended Some Oversight — This Is An Overt Abrogation Of Their Duty But At Least It Explains The Submoronic Lobotomized Quality Of The Damn Reports

NOTE: This post turned out to be a lot more complex than I’d originally planned, so here’s a TL;DR:

  1. New BIDs are required to submit a report written by a state-certified engineer explaining why their boundaries and assessments make sense.
  2. Ed Henning, the engineer for the Venice Beach BID, submitted this totally nonsensical report.
  3. One of the same Venice residents who is suing the BID filed a complaint against Henning with the California Board for Professional Engineers alleging that Henning made up a bunch of stuff and otherwise acted incompetently in the report’s preparation.
  4. The Board rejected this complaint with this letter, claiming that they do not consider the preparation of BID reports to be within their jurisdiction. There’s a transcription of this PDF at the very end of this post.
  5. This is yet another example of how no one in the government, state or local, is willing to regulate BIDs at all or hold them accountable for anything.

My recent post on the East Hollywood BID in relation to one of the purposes of the Management District Plan for BID operations, focusing in part on some of the esoteric technicalities of the Property and Business Improvement District Act as it did, reminded me of another topic touching on PBID technicalities I’ve been meaning to write on for a few months now but have not yet, until today, gotten around to dealing with.

One of the required elements of the process of forming a property based BID, imposed by the PBID Law at §36622(n), is:

… a detailed engineer’s report prepared by a registered professional engineer certified by the State of California supporting all assessments contemplated by the management district plan.

This subsection actually incorporates a requirement imposed on all special assessment districts1 by the California Constitution at Article XIIID(4)(b), which imposes the same requirement in slightly more general language, having as it does to apply to any kind of special assessment:

All assessments shall be supported by a detailed engineer’s report prepared by a registered professional engineer certified by the State of California.

Now, these engineers’ reports which go along with BID formation are particularly interesting documents. First they’re interesting because they’re so mind-numbingly boring. My feeling is that if people write stuff this tedious and impossible to read they’re almost certainly hiding something, which is already of intrinsic interest. Second, they’re interesting because of the sheer unexpected variety of the nonsensical bullshit straight-facedly included in them, about which I’ll have more to say at a later date.
Continue reading The California Board For Professional Engineers Explicitly, Openly, Refuses To Enforce Professional Standards Against Engineers Who Produce Crack-Headed Nonsensical Reports For BID Formation , With Venice Beach Being A Prime Recent Example, Even Though The Legislature Clearly Intended Some Oversight — This Is An Overt Abrogation Of Their Duty But At Least It Explains The Submoronic Lobotomized Quality Of The Damn Reports

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Street Vending Lawsuit Teetering On Brink Of Settlement: Check Cut By City And Plaintiffs Have Signed Release But Defendants Have Not Yet Signed — Carol Sobel Anticipates Dismissal Within Two Weeks

You can read up on the background in this 2015 LA times story and also in our multiple stories on the subject. Most of the paper filed in the case is available here.

About five weeks ago a pending settlement was announced in the monumental street vending case brought by brave local civil rights attorneys on behalf of a number of street vendors against the diabolical forces of the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District BID.

Well, nothing moves fast in Federal Court, so it’s no surprise that it’s taken this long to even get a hint of what’s happening behind the scenes. However, finally, yesterday afternoon plaintiffs’ attorney Carol Sobel filed a status report (transcription of this PDF after the break) with the court stating that things are moving along, that the City has cut a check for the settlement amount, presumably $150,000 as previously announced, and that the plaintiffs have signed the release. The defendants have not yet signed, but she anticipates that everything will be finished and the case will be dismissed within two weeks.2
Continue reading Street Vending Lawsuit Teetering On Brink Of Settlement: Check Cut By City And Plaintiffs Have Signed Release But Defendants Have Not Yet Signed — Carol Sobel Anticipates Dismissal Within Two Weeks

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East Hollywood BID Poised To Advocate For Cop-Sponsored Delusional Anti-Prop-47 Pro-Death-Penalty Propaganda Presentation At January 16 Board Meeting, Thereby Just About Stretching Their State-Law-Mandated Local-Activities-Only Restriction To The Freaking Limit And Beyond

One of the most neglected aspects of the Property and Business Improvement District Act, the fons et origo of the state’s grant of authority to establish, regulate, and control BIDs, is a limitation found in §36625(a)(6), which states:

The revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district or for any purpose other than the purposes specified in the resolution of intention, as modified by the city council at the hearing concerning establishment of the district.

This places two essential limitations on how BIDs are allowed to spend the money they collect from property owners.3 First, BIDs must only spend their money on stuff inside their districts, and second they must only spend it on activities specified in the resolution of intention to form the district. In the City of Los Angeles, at least, these activities are specified by incorporating the BID’s management district plan, which is filed with the City Council at some point prior to the BID’s formation, into the ordinance of intention.4

Now, if you follow this blog even half-heartedly, you’re well aware that this statute is completely flouted by BIDs in the City of Los Angeles. For instance, Blair Besten’s lobbying over Skid Row, which isn’t part of the Historic Core BID at all, not to mention Hurricane Kerry Morrison’s indefatigable lobbying everyone in the whole freaking universe over reforms to the Public Records Act.

And of course, all of them, every last delusional white supremacist BID in the whole freaking City of Los Angeles lobbying5 against Proposition 47, a particularly half-witted example of which can be found here. Which brings us to today’s subject, which is that squarmy little love child of Jeff Zarrinnam and David Miscavige known to the world as the East Hollywood BID.

It seems that at their upcoming meeting,6 at least according to the agenda, they’re poised to discuss the following item:

Presentation on the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018…………….Michael Ziegler, Public Safety Consultant, Assemblymember Jim Cooper

And turn the page for details and discussion!
Continue reading East Hollywood BID Poised To Advocate For Cop-Sponsored Delusional Anti-Prop-47 Pro-Death-Penalty Propaganda Presentation At January 16 Board Meeting, Thereby Just About Stretching Their State-Law-Mandated Local-Activities-Only Restriction To The Freaking Limit And Beyond

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Lunada Bay Boys Defendant Brant Blakeman Objects To Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver’s Recommendation That He Be Sanctioned Via The Sarcastic Use Of About A Zillion Scare Quotes — Meanwhile Judge Otero Issues Order Accepting Oliver’s Recommendations With Respect To Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee And Thereby Casts Much Doubt On The Likely Efficacy Of Blakeman’s Middle-School-Style Strategy

For background take a look at this excellent article from the Times on this lawsuit. Also see here to download all pleadings in this case. You can also read all my posts on the case.

So maybe you recall that in December, Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver filed an amended report and recommendation to the court regarding the plaintiffs’ motions for sanctions against Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee for their plausibly willful mishandling of evidence in the case. Yesterday Judge James Otero filed an order accepting Oliver’s recommendations. In particular, following Oliver’s recommendations precisely, Otero ruled:

… that Plaintiffs are permitted to depose Defendants Sang Lee, Charlie Ferrara, and Frank Ferrara regarding issues relevant to spoliation, with costs to be shared by Plaintiffs and the deposed Defendants. At trial, the parties will be permitted to present evidence and argument related to the unrecoverable text messages for Defendant Lee and the Ferrara Defendants and the unavailable cellular billing records for Charlie Ferrara.

This was not unexpected, but it’s interesting nevertheless. However, the plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions against these three clowns was not the only such motion concerning which Rozella Oliver has recommendations. There’s also, of course, her report on Brant Blakeman and his wildly antisocial handling of evidence in his possession. Well, on December 27, John Stobart, Blakeman’s lawyer, filed an opposition to Oliver’s recommendations, and this morning the plaintiffs responded to Blakeman’s objection. The two pleadings are available here:

The plaintiffs’ response was written by the agressively sane Samantha Wolff of Hanson Bridgett. And it’s definitely worth reading, but it’s, you know, competent, prudent, measured, and so on. Therefore there’s not much for me to comment on.

On the other hand, Brant Blakeman’s objection, written by John Stobart, is, as befits the rapiest Bay Boy, a surreal sludge pot of scare quotes, sophomoric sarcasm, and generalized cack-handedness, and, as such, is required reading!7

Selections after the break, and please, note that I didn’t add a single quotation mark. Not a single one. Footnotes also are as in the original,8 and read them if you want to see some of John Stobart’s most flamboyantly weird scare quotation.
Continue reading Lunada Bay Boys Defendant Brant Blakeman Objects To Magistrate Judge Rozella Oliver’s Recommendation That He Be Sanctioned Via The Sarcastic Use Of About A Zillion Scare Quotes — Meanwhile Judge Otero Issues Order Accepting Oliver’s Recommendations With Respect To Charlie and Frank Ferrara and Sang Lee And Thereby Casts Much Doubt On The Likely Efficacy Of Blakeman’s Middle-School-Style Strategy

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Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

Perhaps you recall that the infamous Venice Beach Business Improvement District has been nonoperational for an entire year after the second-time’s-a-charm reapproval by City Council, whose blindingly arrogant indifference to both law and decency necessitated this expensive and amateurish do-over.

Well, they’re operational now, friends! Yesterday morning the VBBID CEO, AKA President-For-Life Tara Devine, transmitted in interstate commerce9 an announcement of the BID’s first-ever meeting. Here are the documents involved:

The meeting is on Friday morning at 10 a.m. If you’re able and willing to attend and film the entire meeting, which is your absolute right under the Brown Act, please do so, as various prior commitments prevent me from attending. If you’d like some tips on how to film Brown Act meetings effectively, please get in touch!

Meanwhile, turn the page for a critical analysis of selections from these woefully deficient documents as well as some special bonus info on how and why President Tara Devine and her co-conspirators are so arrogantly outlaw.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

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Worst-Of-The-Bunch Ethics Commission Veep Serena Oberstein, Who’s Paid $87,500 Annually By Her 501(c)(3) Employer Vision To Learn, Both Of Whom Were Poised To Reap Benefit From Version Of Municipal Lobbying Ordinance Revision Pushed Hard By Serena Oberstein, Suspiciously Neglected To Mention This Fact In Any Of The Literally Zillions Of Public Forums Held On The Matter

It hasn’t even been two weeks since the Los Angeles Ethics Commission put our City’s Municipal Lobbying Ordinance in danger of being made meaningless, primarily at the instigation of worst-of-the-bunch Commission Veep Serena Oberstein, with respect to 501(c)(3) nonprofits, so it’s not surprising that all the ramifications of their misfeasance have not yet been completely understood. Along those lines, therefore, here’s another episode from the ethical Twilight Zone in which at least some members of the Commission seem to dwell in these latter days.

You see, Serena Oberstein is not just the City’s most corrupt Ethics Commissioner, what with her sub rosa agenda-pushing for her nonprofit buddies Shyaam Subramanian10 and Nancy Berlin, amongst others, not to mention her refusal to agendize a perfectly reasonable request that her Commission disclose their ex parte communications,11 she’s also the Chief Operating Officer of some Westside do-gooder outfit called Vision to Learn.

And while I had some inchoate notion that her involvement with 501(c)(3) nonprofits might explain at least some of her motivations in the recent fiasco, whereby mostly at Serena Oberstein’s instigation, the Commission ended up recommending to the Council that all 501(c)(3)s with gross annual revenues under $2 million be exempt from registration as lobbyists, I hadn’t taken the time to investigate. But recently it occurred to me to look at Vision to Learn’s12 Form 990s to see how the modifications pushed by Serena Oberstein would affect her employer.13 I published the last few years here on Archive.Org, or you can go directly to the PDFs here:

So take a look at the evidence yourself, or turn the page to see what I found!
Continue reading Worst-Of-The-Bunch Ethics Commission Veep Serena Oberstein, Who’s Paid $87,500 Annually By Her 501(c)(3) Employer Vision To Learn, Both Of Whom Were Poised To Reap Benefit From Version Of Municipal Lobbying Ordinance Revision Pushed Hard By Serena Oberstein, Suspiciously Neglected To Mention This Fact In Any Of The Literally Zillions Of Public Forums Held On The Matter

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How The East Hollywood BID, Drunk On White Privilitude And Zillionairity, Not Only Confessed Openly To Their Plans To Hold An Illegal Meeting But Their Boss Flunky, Jacob Jauregui, Even Argued With And Condescended To Me When I Was Kind Enough To Warn Him And His Damn Lawyer In Advance Rather Than Reporting Them To The Duly Constituted Authorites — And Then They Took My Good Advice And Cancelled Their Damn Meeting!

OK, I have a tiny little story for you about a tiny little BID, the East Hollywood BID, located in beautiful EHo, a toponym commonly used by no living human being ever for East Hollywood.

On December 20, 2017, at 4:26 p.m., East Hollywood BID Boss Flunky Jacob Jauregui14 sent out an email to the EHBID mailing list announcing a special meeting to be held by teleconference on Friday, December 22.15 I noticed that there was no physical location given in the announcement or on the agenda. However, the Brown Act explicitly forbids this. See §54953(b), which requires that if teleconferencing is used there must by physical locations which are open to the public at which they can participate in the meeting.

So for a while I thought I’d wait till they held the illegal meeting and then turn them in to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney. But then, moved perhaps by the true spirit of Christmas,16 I decided to let Jacob Jauregui know of his BID’s impending transgression and give them all a chance to do the right thing for once.
Continue reading How The East Hollywood BID, Drunk On White Privilitude And Zillionairity, Not Only Confessed Openly To Their Plans To Hold An Illegal Meeting But Their Boss Flunky, Jacob Jauregui, Even Argued With And Condescended To Me When I Was Kind Enough To Warn Him And His Damn Lawyer In Advance Rather Than Reporting Them To The Duly Constituted Authorites — And Then They Took My Good Advice And Cancelled Their Damn Meeting!

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Los Angeles Ethics Commissioners Fail To Understand Their Powers And Duties Under The City Charter And Thereby Inadvertently (??) Set The Stage For Exempting Nearly All 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Organizations In Los Angeles From The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance

It seems like forever now, although it’s only been two years, that the Los Angeles Ethics Commission has been discussing proposed changes to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance (MLO). At this point I just don’t have it in me to summarize the discussion any more, although you can find links to most of my posts on the subject in this post on the penultimate phase of the matter.

At the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday, which you can watch in its entirety right here (or here on Archive.Org if you prefer), there were only two matters left to settle. One was the issue of detailed reporting of contacts between lobbyists and City Officials. I hope to write on what happened with that later on. The other, and the subject of today’s post, had to do with exemptions from the MLO for 501(c)(3) nonprofits. You can watch the whole discussion beginning here. These organizations enjoy some exemptions now by virtue of LAMC §48.03(E,F). You can read the statute for yourself, but essentially it exempts 501(c)(3)s1 which have “… the purpose of representing the interests of indigent persons and whose primary purpose is to provide direct services to those persons…”

As they are wont to do, the staff, in the persons of Director of Policy Arman Tarzi and Mark Low, head of the lobbying program, provided the Commission with a detailed set of recommendations. There were four different options given that had to do with nonprofits, which you can read in the proposal. Of these, three were developed by staff and the fourth2 was provided by nonprofits and proposed to exempt all nonprofits, no matter what they do, which have gross annual receipts of under $2.5 Million.

Never content to leave well enough alone, these hyperorganized nonprofits presented the Commission with a so-called “Option 5,” which they circulated at the meeting. This option proposed to modify LAMC §48.03(E) to exempt from the MLO:

E. Any organization exempt from federal taxation pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that:
1. Provides assistance, such as food, clothing, shelter, child care, health, legal, vocational, relief, educational, and other similar assistance to disadvantaged people for free or at a significantly below-market rate; OR
2. Has gross receipts of less than $2.5 million.
This exemption also applies to the organization’s employees and board members while engaged in official duties. This exemption does not apply when an organization is seeking funding, property, or a permit from the City on its own behalf.

Continue reading Los Angeles Ethics Commissioners Fail To Understand Their Powers And Duties Under The City Charter And Thereby Inadvertently (??) Set The Stage For Exempting Nearly All 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Organizations In Los Angeles From The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance

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The Central City East Association Had To Fire 30% Of Its BID Security Officers After Failed Background Checks In 2016–2017! CCEA Security Überhoncho Greg Foster Confirms That Resumed Police Commission Oversight Of BID Patrol Officers Was Due To MK.Org Investigation!

On Monday morning I was honored to attend the 2017 annual meeting of the Central City East Association, run by the voodoo queen of Skid Row, Estela Lopez herself. Of course I recorded the whole thing,3 and you can watch it either on YouTube or else on Archive.Org, depending on your personal preference. I usually can’t make it to the CCEA’s meetings because of having to go to my damned job, but for whatever reason my schedule was open Monday morning, and how lucky that turned out to be!

You may recall that in 2016 I discovered that the City of Los Angeles had failed to enforce LAMC §52.34 against BID security for more than fifteen years and that due to my reporting the City resumed enforcement in 2017. But aside from one phone call from Police Commission officer Ernesto Vicencio, who was in charge of the reimplementation of the law, the City has refused to provide me with any information about the process.4 So how fascinating it was to hear Greg Foster, who’s CCEA’s chief of security,5 explicitly attribute the change to my work! As he said:

… the website, [unintelligible], MichaelKohlhaas.Org, began to generate documentation that this particular municipal code is not being adhered to by the City of Los Angeles, and it should be. For many many years this went on, in and out of regulation. A gentleman by the name of [Mike] began to get a bit of momentum and challenge the City in 2016 to have this reinstated.

You can listen to this segment here and of course there’s a transcription after the break. Now, LAMC §52.34 has two main effects. First, it establishes Police Commission oversight of BID security officers. Second, it requires all BID security officers to undergo annual background checks before they can be permitted to operate on public streets. The most stunning, and brand-new, piece of information to come from Greg Foster’s revelations, was this:

That day on June first, 2017, every public safety BID across the City had to go before the Police Commission and have every single public safety officer vetted and pass the background check. As you can imagine, that was challenging, not just to our particular BID but to every BID across the City. There was a drop of thirty percent of personnel staff for Allied’s [unintelligible].

That is to say, before the City reimplemented enforcement on June 1 of this year, 30% of CCEA’s security officers were unfit for duty according to the law. Remember THAT the next time you hear some damned BIDdies ranting and raving about how much they respect the damned law! BIDs love to go about the place crowing about how their damnable security patrols make the City’s streets safer, but it seems that before my work removed illegal, unqualified officers from our public streets, the BIDdies were actually making things more damned dangerous! OK, yay! And you’re welcome, City of Los Freaking Angeles, amirite fam?!
Continue reading The Central City East Association Had To Fire 30% Of Its BID Security Officers After Failed Background Checks In 2016–2017! CCEA Security Überhoncho Greg Foster Confirms That Resumed Police Commission Oversight Of BID Patrol Officers Was Due To MK.Org Investigation!

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Ethics Commission Veep Serena Oberstein Announces That She Is Very Excited To Have Found A Way To Evade The Public Records Act While Claiming That She’s Evading It “In The Spirit Of Transparency Which The Ethics Commission Represents.”

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission held its December meeting this morning, and I recorded the whole thing1 and you can watch it either on YouTube or else on Archive.Org. Of course the main event was the last two items to be discussed regarding proposed updates to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, and I’ll have something to say about that whole mishegaas later in the week I hope. And there was also an instance of silence speaking louder than words, as the Commission completely ignored my recent request that they consider adopting a disclosure rule for ex parte contacts between Commissioners and those who would influence them.

Such contacts, of course, are a serious problem with our Ethics Commissioners, not least Serena Oberstein, the lobbyists’ best friend, who was involved in a minor yet horrifying interlude at this morning’s meeting which is the subject of tonight’s rant. The issue was whether and how the Ethics Commission’s investigators should disclose to the targets of their investigations that the investigations have become inactive.

This came up at the October meeting, and you can watch the whole episode here if you’re interested. The short version is that the investigators presently do not inform investigative targets when they’ve stopped investigating due to confidentiality mandated by the City Charter. Commissioner Serena Oberstein is deeply concerned that all these targets are going to be unsettled and anxious by not knowing that they’re not being actively investigated and she wanted staff to issue closure letters.

Such letters turned out not to be legally or politically possible, but at today’s meeting Sergio Perez, Director of Investigations, presented this proposal, adopted unanimously by the Commission, which recommended that policy be changed to allow oral notice to those being investigated that their investigations had become inactive. This recommendation putatively avoids the confidentiality requirement by invoking LAAC §24.29(c)(2), which states that:
Continue reading Ethics Commission Veep Serena Oberstein Announces That She Is Very Excited To Have Found A Way To Evade The Public Records Act While Claiming That She’s Evading It “In The Spirit Of Transparency Which The Ethics Commission Represents.”

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Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles — Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down!