CD13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan’s Homeless Encampment Cleanup For Property Manager Bryan Kim Is Latest Entry In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

Council District 13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan.
Council District 13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan.
This evening I’m pleased to present the third installment in our ongoing LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we report various City employees to the Ethics Commission in an attempt to discover exactly what the most fascinating ordinance ever,1 LAMC 49.5.5(A), actually prohibits. It says:

City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.

Now, if you’ve been following the saga of Bryan Kim and Aram Taslagyan here on this blog,2 you’ll have noted these essential elements of the story:
Continue reading CD13 Field Deputy Aram Taslagyan’s Homeless Encampment Cleanup For Property Manager Bryan Kim Is Latest Entry In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

What To Press For After The Venice Beach BID Is Approved

palm_trees_at_venice_beachBecause it will be approved. We know that. But we also know that Mike Bonin might be susceptible to political pressure. He even thought about moving the hearing date, presumably in response to political pressure and cogent criticism. Maybe the same tactics can help improve what’s presently looking like it’ll be yet another version of the worst that this City’s BIDs in Hollywood and Downtown have to offer. So here are some things which might be attainable politically and which might help mitigate some of the worst excesses to which BIDs are prone.

First of all, maybe you remember the recent tumult over the Arts District BID. If not, there’s a1 version of the story here. In short, some property owners got a judge to dissolve the BID, there was a big fuss about getting a new BID formed, and in order to settle the controversy, José Huizar stepped in and brokered a compromise involving the composition of the Board of Directors. As the L.A. Business Journal put it:

City Councilman José Huizar, whose district includes the neighborhood, on Tuesday announced that the Arts District Community Council Los Angeles has agreed to drop its application to create a BID and support an application sponsored by a group called Arts District Los Angeles. The ADLA, in turn, agreed to give Community Council representatives at least four seats on an expanded 23-member board. In addition, the area’s homeowners association will get three additional seats on the board.

If Huizar can negotiate seats on the Arts District BID Board, Mike Bonin can certainly change the composition of the Board of Directors of the Venice Beach BID if he wants to.2 The composition of the Board is a political matter which can be influenced by political tactics. The Arts District dissenters got four seats out of 23, not enough to change things, although by no means an empty victory. A vote, four votes, is not nothing in such a closed-off political entity. Another moral is that the homeowners association got seats on the Board. That is, Huizar got people who live in the BID a voice on the Board. This is also not trivial.

But one of the City’s newest BIDs, the Central Avenue Historic District BID, suggests an even more promising goal, one which would go a long way toward making something not so bad out of the presently horrifying prospect of the VBBID.
Continue reading What To Press For After The Venice Beach BID Is Approved

New Documents: LASAN Encampment Investigation Reports, Lots of Emails About Venice Beach BID, BID Feasibility Reports, Save Valley Village Lawsuit

image_from_sanitation_reportAnnouncing lots of new documents!

Venice Beach BID Emails:

LA Sanitation Homeless Encampment Materials. Note the crappy quality of these things. That’s because, even though CPRA says both clearly and explicitly that if records are stored electronically they must be released in an electronic format, not only does LASAN refuse to do this, insisting on printing these low quality black and white copies from the electronic color originals, but they won’t even answer my emails about this, even though CPRA also compels them to answer. Ah, sigh, right?

BID Feasibility Reports. It seems that BID consultants are supposed to prepare these reports before the BID formation process starts. It also seems that this rule is not enforced. When I asked Miranda Paster for all of these, she sent me only these two: San Pedro and Pacoima. Perhaps these are all there are, in which case yet another rule is being broken.

And finally, turn the page for the City of LA’s answer to the Save Valley Village vote-fixing lawsuit!
Continue reading New Documents: LASAN Encampment Investigation Reports, Lots of Emails About Venice Beach BID, BID Feasibility Reports, Save Valley Village Lawsuit

Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
After a chaotic hearing on the Venice Beach BID in August,1 after Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles powerhouse attorney Shayla Myers pointed out that the process was legally flawed, and after City Attorney Mike Feuer accepted her argument and told the City Council that they’d better have a do-over, after all that, the rehearing on the abhorrent BID was scheduled to be approved considered in Council on November 8, 2016. This, of course, is also the day that Americans will be deciding the future of the world, which takes up a lot of time. Venice being Venice, there has been a lot of speculation about whether Bonin did this on purpose to make it difficult for detractors to testify. Venice also being Venice, there has been an organized effort to get Bonin to postpone the hearing.

Such protests usually fall on what seem like deaf ears, but in this case, an email that I obtained last night from the City Clerk’s office proves that, in September 2016, Mike Bonin was considering moving the hearing from the disputed date of November 8 to the presumably more acceptable dates of November 29 and 30. Read on for details.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

Street Vendors Reply To City of LA’s Motions To Strike And To Dismiss, Also Important Records From Department Of Sanitation, Including The City’s Standard Operating Procedure For Cleaning Up Homeless Encampments

The Fashion District, September 2016.
The Fashion District, September 2016.
Good evening, Friends! I haven’t had time to write much recently and I won’t have time for another day or two because the latest installment in the MK.Org LAMC 49.5.5 project is turning out to be more complex than I’d anticipated. I expect to have it done with by the end of this week. This is just a short interim post to announce some new records.

First, you may recall that a couple weeks ago the City of LA filed a couple of motions in the street vending lawsuit. These were:

Tonight the plaintiffs filed their responses to these motions:

And turn the page for some material from the Department of Sanitation relating to homeless encampment cleanups. Most importantly, there is the City-Attorney-approved Standard Operating Procedure manual for cleanups. This is stunning, essential information.
Continue reading Street Vendors Reply To City of LA’s Motions To Strike And To Dismiss, Also Important Records From Department Of Sanitation, Including The City’s Standard Operating Procedure For Cleaning Up Homeless Encampments

Update On Attempts To Use CPRA To Get LA Sanitation To Provide Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups

Los Angeles Public Works building at 1149 S. Broadway.
Los Angeles Public Works building at 1149 S. Broadway.
Last Summer it occurred to me that it should be possible to use the California Public Records Act to get advance notice of City of LA homeless encampment cleanup actions. After an inordinate amount of bitching and moaning on my part, three weeks ago they actually handed over a schedule one day in advance. Since then, though, the person who gave me that record has been removed from my case1 and the new person assigned to it, Veretta Everheart, Senior Management Analyst with the Department of Public Works, is as obstructionist as everyone else I’ve dealt with at LA Sanitation (although perfectly friendly and delightful to deal with). In other words, no new advance schedules have been forthcoming.

On a slightly hopeful note, though, Veretta Everheart did actually tell me explicitly that they weren’t going to give me advance schedules.2 The reason she gave is that they “are living documents” which are “not retained.”3 Although she doesn’t say so explicitly, this is evidently a nod in the direction of an exemption enumerated in CPRA at Section 6254(a), which states that it’s not required to release

Preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

Now, if this is actually what she’s claiming,4 it’s probably not going to fly. First of all, even if these calendars are in fact drafts, there’s a solid argument that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in withholding. In fact, there’s no discernable public interest in withholding these.5 Not only that, but all of these calendars, drafts and preliminary versions included, are, in fact, retained, making the applicability of this exemption even more implausible.
Continue reading Update On Attempts To Use CPRA To Get LA Sanitation To Provide Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups

Yet Another Possible Strategy For Forcing The City Of Los Angeles To Comply With CPRA Without Hiring A Lawyer: A Complaint With Internal Affairs Against The Officers In Charge Of The LAPD Discovery Section

Dominic Choi, commanding officer of LAPD's Risk Management Division, which includes the LAPD Discovery Section, which is ultimately responsible for handling CPRA requests.
Dominic Choi, commanding officer of LAPD’s Risk Management Division, which includes the LAPD Discovery Section, which is ultimately responsible for handling CPRA requests.
The City of Los Angeles is notorious for ignoring its duties under the California Public Records Act. Among City agencies, the LAPD is probably the worst at responding to requests in a timely, comprehensive manner. One of the worst aspects of CPRA is that filing a lawsuit1 is the only recourse if an agency refuses to comply. This is the strategy being pursued by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.2

So anyway, my own CPRA experiences with LAPD confirm this general impression. For instance, on February 10, 2015, I sent them this:

I’d like to request a list of all active stay-away orders for the Hollywood Entertainment District or maybe you could suggest documents I could request that would allow me to assemble such a list myself? I’m interested in how many there are and what crimes were committed by the people subject to them.

I won’t bother you with a detailed timeline of all my ignored follow-up inquiries and their occasional non-responsive answers to them, but in more than 20 months after my making this request they still had supplied no records in response.3

Well, as you may be aware, I’m presently working through a theory on whether Los Angeles Municipal Ethics laws, specifically LAMC 49.5.5(A), can be used to force the City to comply with CPRA without having to go to court. A description of this project can be found here. Now, LAMC 49.5.5(A) states:

City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.

And the general theory with respect to CPRA is that when a City employee willfully denies someone their rights under CPRA they may well be violating this law, since being denied rights is a disadvantage. You can see a a specific application of this theory here. This law does apply to the LAPD, but my feeling is that the LAPD problem with CPRA compliance is not amenable to an LAMC-49.5.5(A)-based strategy. Read on for details and a potential solution.
Continue reading Yet Another Possible Strategy For Forcing The City Of Los Angeles To Comply With CPRA Without Hiring A Lawyer: A Complaint With Internal Affairs Against The Officers In Charge Of The LAPD Discovery Section

Administrative Law Judge Samuel Reyes Finds That Jim Parker Violated LAMC 49.5.5(A) As Alleged By City Ethics Commission, Which Is A Good Sign For Our Ongoing Project

You can find a good summary of the background to this post by Jasmyne Cannick on her most excellent blog or by Kate Mather writing in the L.A. Times.

Maybe you remember that former LAPD Sergeant Jim Parker was charged by the City Ethics Commission with violating LAMC 49.5.5(A) based on his release of an audio tape proving that charges of racial profiling by actress Daniele Watts were fabricated. Well, today administrative law judge Samuel Reyes issued a proposed decision in the matter, where “proposed” seems to mean that the Ethics Commission has the power to reject it if they want to. He found Parker not guilty of some of the charges, but, importantly for our purposes, guilty of violating LAMC 49.5.5(A):

Respondent1 was in possession of the audiotape by virtue of his position as an LAPD sergeant. Since he released the recording to TMZ in violation of LAMC section 49.5.3, the disclosure constitutes “misuse” under LAMC section 49.5.5, subdivision (A). Respondent released the audiotape to defend himself and LAPD against allegations of racial profiling. The release created a private advantage for Respondent, as it protected his reputation against allegations of racism.

And maybe you recall our LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we are filing complaints against various City employees for what seem to us to be violations of this law, in an effort to, not only get them to stop their bad behavior, but to find ways for citizens to force City employees to do their duty by utilizing already-existing City agencies, laws, and processes rather than having to hire lawyers for everything. This is a good sign for our success, and there’s more detail on this after the break.
Continue reading Administrative Law Judge Samuel Reyes Finds That Jim Parker Violated LAMC 49.5.5(A) As Alleged By City Ethics Commission, Which Is A Good Sign For Our Ongoing Project

How The Racist Cancer Of The HPOA Signal Box Art Contest Rules Spread To The Ritzy Little Apartheid Stronghold of Larchmont Village, Forcing Me To Hire A Lawyer To Pry The Evidence Out Of Their Secretive Grasping Scofflaw Zillionaire Fingers

Artist Ann Bridges's original submission to the Larchmont Village BID's signal box art contest, showing a later-censored illegal fruit cart.
Larchmont Village BID signal box art contest winner Ann Bridges’s original submission, showing a later-censored illegal fruit cart.
Last Summer we broke the story of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance’s anti-Latino signal box art contests and of CD13 Councildude Mitch O’Farrell’s willing complicity in this disgraceful episode, along with his stubborn doubling-down through silence in the face of what1 seems like some pretty cogent criticism. The story has dropped off the blog, but not off our agenda. The last thing I discovered, but did not write about until now, was that the Google revealed2 that the kooky little backwater BID in Larchmont Village, that old-school Southern California Apartheid throwback3 ritz-o-rama neighborhood in South Central Hollywood,4 had also held a signal box art contest, and it had also included the very phrase made famous by its ethnic-cleansing big sisters to the North: “No cartoon images or graffiti work of any kind will be considered.”

Well, naturally, I was going to investigate this phenomenon, the point being to find ground zero of this pernicious nonsense,5 so on August 6, 2016, I fired off a CPRA request to Heather Duffy Boylston, whose email address is linked to in the BID’s contact form. Wait a while. Crickets. I spent the next couple months firing off more emails to various co-BIDspirators,6 making phone calls, leaving voicemails and messages, offering to stop by offices, whatevers, and still…just silence. I asked Miranda Paster to intervene. I asked Holly Wolcott to intervene. Nothing. So finally, even though I hate to spend the money, but who can sit around doing nothing7 while zillionaires flaunt their characteristic indifference to truth, justice, and the rule of law, I hired a lawyer to fire off a demand letter. That woke them up, and they sent me a whole bunch of nonsensical irritating junk about their signal box art contest. You can browse through it in the usual places:

And turn the page for the highlights of the contest itself. As always, it’s chock-full of unselfconscious zillionaire weirdness and such-like goodies.
Continue reading How The Racist Cancer Of The HPOA Signal Box Art Contest Rules Spread To The Ritzy Little Apartheid Stronghold of Larchmont Village, Forcing Me To Hire A Lawyer To Pry The Evidence Out Of Their Secretive Grasping Scofflaw Zillionaire Fingers

A Bunch Of Interesting New Documents: City Attorney, LA Times, And Sanitation Reports From Encampment Cleanups

This is just a quick announcement of some interesting new collections of records, with minimal commentary. First of all, there’s a collection of emails between City Attorney spokesman1 Rob Wilcox and various L.A. Times Reporters. You can get the whole batch here:

Also I have a full set of reports2 from the Bureau of Sanitation on the cleanups of three homeless encampments on March 22, 2016. It took almost three months for them to hand over this material, which won’t surprise anyone who’s been following my recent interactions with them. This is likewise available from:

I don’t presently have much to say about the sanitation reports. At this point I’m collecting as much material as possible in order to (a) figure out what kind of material is available so that I’ll be able to make focused, effective requests in the future, (b) learn what kinds of arguments they make against handing over records so that I can make focused, effective counterarguments against them, and (c) understand all the players in the HE3 game and the roles they’re playing. I hope to be able to synthesize all of this at some point, but meanwhile I want to make the records available because I know smarter people than I are also reading them.

But I do have this and that to say about the emails,4 and after the break you will find commentary and links to interesting individual instances.
Continue reading A Bunch Of Interesting New Documents: City Attorney, LA Times, And Sanitation Reports From Encampment Cleanups