It seems that in 2001 the City Clerk decided to revise the standard contract governing the operation of Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles. This unleashed a fiery holocaust of whining from Downtown Center BID boss-lady Carol Schatz, hitherto-unknown-to-this-blog Toy District boss-lady Anne Wade, and, of course, our heroine, raison d’être incarnate of this very blog, and raison d’écrire of this very blog post, Kerry Morrison, then as now Hollywood Entertainment District boss-lady. This history was brought to light by a fascinating document obtained by our our faithful correspondent on his recent expedition to the City Archives. The document contains a proposed draft of the contract along with detailed comments from the above-mentioned terrible triumvirate of BID-boss-ladies. There are many, many bits worth reading,1 but today we’re commenting on just one:
The City Clerk shall:
H. Conduct program reviews of BID operations and investigate claims of irregularities by stakeholders.
Now, that seems reasonable, does it not? After all, these BIDs contract with the City to do stuff. If they don’t do the stuff, or if they do the wrong stuff, they’re in breach of their contract with the City, so surely the City ought to investigate reports of BID wrongdoing. But no, the BID bossies flipped-TFO about this one! For instance, the Toy District lady said:
This one is scary. Any one stakeholder could cause an expensive problem.
Note the blame-shifting, eh? The person complaining is causing the problem. Why not, O Toy District Lady of the past, not misbehave, not create reasons for people to complain? Of course, Kerry explains in detail what this lady only hints at:
This open-ended ability to investigate complaints to city clerk made by stakeholders is going to bring the entire system to its knees, if you leave the language like this. In every BID, there are some unhappy stakeholders — and they should work through due process with their neighbors on the board. I know something must’ve happened in Westwood that precipitated this — but I will give you the name of three people here in Hollywood who will call you CONSTANTLY if you keep this language the way it is.
One problem with Kerry’s argument here is that it’s far too broad. For instance, it could be used to shut down all law enforcement. Cops investigate every complaint of a crime that’s made to them2 In every City there are some unhappy citizens3 They should work through due process with their neighbors4 rather than using City resources by going to the police. The point is that the City created BIDs to do its BIDding. If they’re not doing it, if they’re wasting the tax money on which they subsist,5 and the City must investigate. If it costs too much to investigate, hire more investigators, or shut down the freaking BID if it’s that out of control. If investigating contract compliance is going to bring the system to its knees there’s a problem, it’s true, but the solution is not to stop investigating.
Also, we know that Kerry loves to tell people how they should deal with their dissatisfaction, and it seems that it’s always in some way that will minimize HER pain. Here she is telling unhappy property owners that if they’re unhappy they ought to discuss it with the board. She has in the past even told participants in this blog that they weren’t working within the democratic process6 and that they ought to stop mocking everyone on the HPOA and be content with writing anti-BID letters to strange BIDfellow Richard Bloom and his colleagues in the statehouse. What these suggestions have in common is not that they’re more effective, not that they’re more democratic, not that they’re more moral, but that they’re easier for Kerry Morrison. ‘Nuff said, amirite?
And not only that, but remember that in 2003 the hallowed Aaron Epstein rebelled against some bullshit bidding shenanigans with respect to a contract RFP. Well, as part of this, it seems that he sent some letters to his fellow property owners in the BID and came to the Board of directors about it as well. He also wrote to then-mayor James Hahn about the matter. Does this satisfy Kerry? Is this an example of “…work[ing] through due process with their neighbors on the board?” Does Kerry applaud Aaron’s civic engagement in writing to James Hahn? No, actually. Take a look at this page from the HPOA minutes of October 23, 2003 wherein it is revealed that Kerry consulted a lawyer to see if they could do something to stop Aaron Epstein:
Morrison reported that she had conferred with attorneys at Paul Hastings Janofsky in early October  to seek advice on the ongoing campaign by Aaron Epstein to send letters to property owners and/or city officials regarding questions and complaints about the BID security program, insurance liability issues, citizens arrests and related issues. As a result of the legal advice, and given that just a handful of property owners were moved to call the HEDPOA office as a result of Epstein’s letters, it was decided, after conferring with the President, to not take any official action in response to Mr. Epstein’s letter-writing campaign.
You see? She doesn’t want the Clerk to oversee her operations because stakeholders should get with their neighbors and talk talk talk about their difficulties, but if they talk too much, or talk too successfully, Kerry will spend THEIR OWN MONEY consulting with a lawyer on how to take action against them for writing to the fricking Mayor.
And “…as a result of the legal advice” they declined to take action? It’s hard to imagine any kind of competent lawyer, faced with clients asking about taking action against people for writing letters to the Mayor, telling them anything but “get the fuck out of my office, you civically illiterate imbecile.”7 And it was just the very next year, 2004, when then-Clerk J. Michael Carey told the L.A. Times that his office “did not have the staff or the inclination to manage the districts.” So I guess the whiners won the day, or the decade, for that matter, as there’s still no oversight, and Kerry Morrison still hires lawyers8 to see if they can sue their critics into oblivion.
- For instance, look at the universal horror evoked by the possibility that BIDs might have to abide by the Living Wage law or even, not kidding, the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Ideally, anyway.
- Crime victims, in this story.
- You know, their neighbors who beat them, robbed them, burglarized their houses, and so on.
- Friends, it’s tax money. Call it an “assessment” or whatever, but if it’s not voluntary, if its collection depends on the City’s threat of deadly force (this is not an exaggeration) against those who don’t pay, then it’s freaking taxes, OK?
- Whatever she imagines that to be.
- Bon mot shamelessly kiped from Popehat, the go-to internet source for first amendment idiocy rage rants!
- Michael Colantuono for one, to see about suing this blog into oblivion, as far as we can see from circumstantial evidence. Hasn’t happened yet, knock on wood.