OK, where to start? Well, how about with the contract that the East Hollywood BID signed with the City of Los Angeles?1 Right there on pages two and three, in section 2.6(B), it says:
Corporation shall maintain an ongoing liaison relationship with the community. Corporation’s responsibilities encompass the following areas:
B. Newsletters. Corporation shall prepare a District newsletter to be produced on a quarterly basis, at a minimum, and shall distribute this newsletter to all assessed property owners in the District. Corporation may, at Corporation’s option, provide the newsletter by standard mail or electronic transmission. The newsletter will be designed to facilitate and maximize the exchange of information between Corporation, City, and the members ofthe District. Each issue of the newsletter shall be submitted in duplicate to the City Clerk for reference.
So this explains why BID Analyst and City Clerk staffer Eugene Van Cise wrote to Nicole Shahenian, executive director of the East Hollywood BID, one fine day in May 2016:
I have invoices for $387.30, $72,291.74 and 146,852.71. Miranda has rejected payment because of our records indicate that we have not received the following newsletters:
2012: All 4 quarters.
2013: All 4 quarters.
2014: 1st & 2nd quarters.
2015: All 4 quarters.
2016: 1st quarter.
If you have these available, you may email them to me.
Please contact me if you should have any questions.
Add it up, friend! That’s almost $220,000 that Miranda Paster was holding back from the BID because they had failed to perform a clause in their contract for four years straight. This is quite a contrast to what Holly Wolcott told me in March of that year to the effect that the City had no power to make BIDs comply with CPRA even though compliance with CPRA is also a requirement in their contract.
Friends, take a look at the exceedingly fascinating LAMC § 48.04(B). This lovely little slab of ethicalliciousness illegalizes any occasion when a lobbyist might:
Fraudulently deceive or attempt to deceive any City official with regard to any material fact pertinent to any pending or proposed municipal legislation.
And of course, you recall what a lobbyist is, it’s a technical term in this setting.1 Lobbyists are defined in LAMC §48.02 to be:
any individual who is compensated to spend 30 or more hours in any consecutive three-month period engaged in lobbying activities which include at least one direct communication with a City official or employee, conducted either personally or through agents, for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any person.
Perhaps you recall that yesterday’s scheduled hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion to have their lawsuit against the putative Lunada Bay Boys certified as a class action was cancelled by the Judge on the grounds that he would be able to rule without hearing oral arguments. Well, this morning his order denying class certification hit PACER. I can tell you right now that his reasoning with respect to the conclusion that this case cannot proceed as a class action is completely beyond my ability to interpret sensibly, so you’ll have to figure that part of it out yourself.
The introduction to the order strikes me as pretty skeptical of the plaintiffs’ claims generally, and even a little sarcastic. For instance, in what must be for the plaintiffs a particularly disconcerting example of judicial humor, Otero begins his summary of the facts with the following pun: “Riding the wave of the Point Break remake, Plaintiffs initiated this putative class action lawsuit…” It can’t be pleasant to read insinuations from the judge that one’s lawsuit was essentially a movie tie-in! There are excerpts after the break.
Tonight I had the pleasure of receiving from self-proclaimed active member of the revitalized Hollywood community1 Jeffrey Charles Briggs almost 200 emails between the East Hollywood Business Improvement District and various far-too-friendly folks at the City of Los Angeles. For now these are available here on Archive.Org. They’re PDFs, but they’re that super-PDF-format that one can make with genuine Adobe software that embeds attachments right in there with clickable links.2 I have only been able to give these a cursory look-over, but I can already see a few crucial items. I’ll be writing on these matters as soon as I possibly can, but if you want a preview of one of them take a look at this juicy little number.
I know we all have better things to do in our short lives than to voluntarily read a grant application written by a bunch of fedora-wearing Texan urbanists asking for boo-coo bucks to promote yet another weirdo theory about how BIDs are to cities as Jesus was to wedding-water. But it may, nevertheless, repay some attention, and I’m going to summarize and extract the interesting parts for your benefit. You’re welcome!
So it seems that in 2015 these fellows from Texas A&M got in touch with our old friend Ms. Miranda Paster and asked her for data and so forth for their grant application. Then they asked her to be a collaborator. You can get a copy of the whole darn stack of records I got from the City Clerk on Thursday. There are emails and a copy of the proposal itself in there.
And you can read the abstract here if you want to, and it’s transcribed after the break if you’re PDF averse, but the TL;DR is that they propose to prove that BIDs not only increase commercial property values but also residential property values.1 Interestingly, this topic of investigation turned out to be a big red flag for Holly Wolcott when it came to approving Miranda Paster’s participation. She approved Miranda Paster’s participation in 2015, but by 2016, when the professors were fixin’ to resubmit their grant,2 Miranda Paster declined to participate, citing unspecified “concerns.” See the full story after the break.
As Karl Marx so wisely pointed out once upon a time1 crime is a career like any other. One reason is that there’s a learning curve. It takes some experience to be able to make crime pay. And the same, it seems, is true for unregistered lobbyists like our perennial subject, shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine. I reported last week that I had turned Tara Devine in to the Ethics Commission based on exhaustive research that indicated that she had spent more than 30 compensated hours over three consecutive months in 2016 lobbying for the Venice Beach BID without having registered with the City.
Perhaps you recall that I recently put a bunch of transaction records from the South Park BID up on Archive.Org because they’re both intrinsically interesting and also exceedingly useful in estimating how much shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine gets paid to drop yet another BID on our fair City; about $80,000, if my chain of inference is correct. Well, just recently I received SPBID’s transaction log from July 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017, which adds another $17,635 to Tara Devine’s running total. This makes more than $95,000 that the South Park BIDdies have paid Tara Devine. It’s probably not all for their BID renewal, though. As I reported the other day, the two South Park BIDs1 are evidently merging into one big bad BID, and Tara Devine is shepherding them through the sausage factory City Clerk’s office, so probably that’s mostly what she’s being paid for at this point. I have more requests in that may help us sort out the details.