On July 20, 2015, Steve Seyler sent Kerry Morrison an email containing a report on a homeless man whose initials are RB. Seyler stated that RB had not been seen by the BID Patrol for 18 months preceding July 15, 2015. Furthermore, there was an active court order forbidding RB from returning to the Hollywood Entertainment District, and thus the BID Patrol called the LAPD and had him arrested on that date. Four days later, on July 24, 2015, Kerry Morrison wrote to Seyler asking him to have the BID Patrol collect some information on RB because “[t]here is some effort underway to move RB towards a conservatorship.” Kerry doesn’t say whose effort it is, but she’s clearly involved in it and she certainly doesn’t say it’s not her making the effort.
Flash forward to September 2015. On the 15th of that month Seyler emailed Morrison and former LAPD Hollywood Station captain Peter Zarcone discussing RB’s conservatorship hearing, scheduled for September 16, 2015:
Kerry any ideas on who else I can call? We only get one shot at this so I don’t want to waste this chance.
According to a daily activity log filed on the 15th by BID Patrol officer Mike Coogle, he was asked by Steve Seyler to attend the hearing. According to Coogle’s log for the 16th he actually did attend the hearing, and RB was conserved. It’s worth reading his account of the hearing, which also appears after the break. And see how suspicious the timing is?
The BID Patrol has no contact with RB for 18 months prior to July 2015. They spot him and have him arrested on July 15, 2015. Five days later Seyler sends Morrison a report on RB. Four days after that Morrison says that they’re working on a conservatorship, and less than two months later he’s conserved, and certainly won’t be back to Hollywood any time soon. Kerry Morrison is famous for touting her boundless compassion for the homeless and collecting evidence for hearings and sending one’s employees to testify at those hearings is plausibly an expression of compassion. And I trust the court system enough to agree that since RB got conserved he probably ought to have been conserved. But that’s not plausibly why Morrison and Seyler got him conserved.
If RB was so desperately in need of being conserved, why didn’t Morrison track him down during the 18 months he was missing and work on getting him conserved then? Seyler’s report obviously didn’t contain any information which they didn’t have on hand in 2013, since they’d had no contact with him since then. Why, then, did they only start proceedings which would have the putatively incidental effect of keeping him out of Hollywood once he returned in July 2015, if it wasn’t because he had the audacity to return to Hollywood and to prevent him from returning in the future? There’s certainly the appearance of non-compassionate motives here, of self-interest, of disregard of RB’s human rights. And probably the reality as well.
This is yet another instance of why it’s so harmful1 to allow business improvement districts to be involved in making policy regarding homeless people, let alone to be enforcing it not just on the street but in the courts, in Council, and in the state legislature as well. BIDs don’t have anyone’s best interests at heart who’s not a property owner in their district. Ulterior motives have no place in the application of state power to individuals in the context of mental health laws, but with BIDs involved, there’s no way to keep out the ulterior motives.
From Mike Coogle’s description of RB’s conservatorship hearing:
I attended a court hearing involving the conservatorship of R—- B—-. I was accompanied by representatives from Housing Works, the Camp Team, multiple doctors and members of staff from LADMH as well as Los Angeles City Attorney Jackie Lawson. During the course of meeting all involved, the process of utilizing the court to grant the right of conservatorship was explained — although tedious, it evolves into a lengthy and cumulative process involving multiple agencies. After reviewing all the documentation presented to the court, the judge granted conservatorship to Housing Works.
Images are public records.