Update On Using CPRA To Get Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups: In Theory It’s Working Fine, But In Practice Not So Much


Previous installments in this series:


LA Sanitation getting honored in City Hall in 2015.  Just one time maybe they could try cleaning up 200 N. Spring Street and catering a meal at a homeless encampment instead of the other way around.  We'd all be better off, friends.
LA Sanitation getting honored in City Hall in 2015. Just one time maybe they could try cleaning up 200 N. Spring Street and catering a meal at a homeless encampment instead of the other way around. We’d all be better off, friends.
This morning I have to report to you two developments in my ongoing project to use the California Public Records Act to get the City of Los Angeles to publicly release advance notice of its planned cleanups of homeless encampments. First of all, on October 31 I made yet another request for various kinds of records dated in the future. On November 8, Letitia Gonzalez sent me a number of items, which I’ll share with you below. You may recall that Letitia was responsible for my one success so far in this project, sending me notice on September 28 of a cleanup on September 29. However, this time, not so much. After the break there’s a list of what she sent, what I asked for, and what I think it means.1 There are also some emails from the Central City East Association (part of the material published on Thursday) showing that LA Sanitation does give advance notice of cleanups in some cases.
Continue reading Update On Using CPRA To Get Advance Notice Of Homeless Encampment Cleanups: In Theory It’s Working Fine, But In Practice Not So Much

Kerry Morrison’s Fallibility Exposed Publicly By Park La Brea News As Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition Move To Hollywood Salvation Army Is Finalized But She (Almost) Keeps Stiff Upper Lip. Mitch O’Farrell, On The Other Hand, Still Doesn’t Get This Whole “Free Country” Thing…

444px-salvation_army_world_war_i_posterAt least since February 2016, the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition has been publicly discussing a move away from its long-time ground zero at Sycamore and Romaine. Of course, Ms. Kerry Morrison does not like this one bit and, in her rage,1 in May, went off in a tizzy crying to Salvation Army Board member Hank Hilty, whose family owns the Northeast corner of Third and Fairfax,2 and to the Salvation Army Southern California chief-directorate-for-something-or-another in Long Beach, saying something like “Hey fellow zillionaires! We don’t like this so can you please put a stop to it?”

And just watch her little speech on the matter from May. See how her affect just screams competence, omnipotence, every-kind-of-cence-but-common-sense? Well, according to the Park La Brea News, the Food Coalition’s move is a done deal and they will start serving meals there on January 1st. So much for Kerry Morrison’s back-channel-zillionaire-solidarity methodology. But does she just admit that she’s been trying to stop this development for almost a year now and has failed utterly? Nope! She’s quoted right in the article, speaking as if from her metaphorical dais, that imaginary place of calm, controlled, power. Also sprach die Königin von Hollywood:

“[The GWHFC and Salvation Army] don’t perceive it will be much of a net increase of people coming to Hollywood, but we will have to see. I don’t necessarily buy that,” Morrison said. “The concern is not about the meal program, it’s what happens before and afterwards. When you are embarking on a project like this that is not self-contained, it is going to have implications for the surrounding neighborhood. We definitely will be watching. We will be tracking to see if there is any increase [in homeless people coming to Hollywood]. If we are 60 days into it and there is no impact, then we are golden.”

The tacit assumption here is that anyone cares whether or not she is “golden.” In fact, if anyone at all cared, she would have been able to stop the whole thing in January, when she first started tracking it, or in May, when she first started whining about it in public. But she couldn’t, so why would she be able to now? She’s putting up a good front, but she’s putting up a front.

And that’s not all! Note how she says that ” We definitely will be watching. We will be tracking to see if there is any increase [in homeless people coming to Hollywood].” Well, she’s talking about the BID Patrol watching, obviously, and that presents an interesting legal problem for her. Also, recall that CD13 Councildude and Darth Four-Eyes Mitch O’Farrell has been trying to get the Food Coalition shut down since about 20 minutes after he took office in 2013. He has something silly to say about the whole thing too. Read on, friends, for details!
Continue reading Kerry Morrison’s Fallibility Exposed Publicly By Park La Brea News As Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition Move To Hollywood Salvation Army Is Finalized But She (Almost) Keeps Stiff Upper Lip. Mitch O’Farrell, On The Other Hand, Still Doesn’t Get This Whole “Free Country” Thing…

Many New Documents: CCEA Emails, Venice Beach BID Emails, Carol Schatz Freakout, Chua v. City of LA

A rare photograph of MK.org secret headquarters and Fortress of Solitude, located in an undisclosed location in the heart of North Central Hollywood.
A rare photograph of MK.org secret headquarters and Fortress of Solitude, located in an undisclosed location in the heart of North Central Hollywood.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Today I have an unanalyzed document dump for you. There’s a lot of fabulous material here, and I’ll be writing about much of it over1 the next few days. For now, though, there’s just a bare inventory, which you can find directly after the break.
Continue reading Many New Documents: CCEA Emails, Venice Beach BID Emails, Carol Schatz Freakout, Chua v. City of LA

Donald Trump’s Election Inspires City of Los Angeles To Finally Move Forward With Long-Delayed Street Vending Legalization Despite BIDs’ Irrational Opposition. Street Vendors To Pay BIDs An Operations Fee. BIDs To Get Effective Veto Power Over Vending Within Their Boundaries.

Aren't you glad I didn't put a picture of freaking Donald Trump here?!  Not that Joe Buscaino is less ethically challenged, but at least his hair is prettier...
Aren’t you glad I didn’t put a picture of freaking Donald Trump here?! Not that Joe Buscaino is less ethically challenged, but at least his hair is prettier…
I know the headline sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The L.A. Times reported on it this morning, although their article, as is their wont, did not mention business improvement districts at all, and, at least briefly, I thought they were kidding. But this is the Los Angeles City Council we’re talking about, and they were not. Huizar and Price first made a motion to legalize street vending in November 2013, three years ago, and, over the last three years we have been subjected to an endless stream of hysterical, mendacious, probably illegal, lobbying by the BIDs and their ideological allies against the very idea. They even managed to get the Times itself to accept their misbegotten point of view as somehow legitimate. In response to this outpouring of unregistered lobbying behavior,1 the City Council essentially responded by ignoring the issue,2 as you can see from the council file, which has no official City action since October 2015, until yesterday, when Curren Price and Joe Buscaino slapped this little number on the table. It’s a letter, which does indeed refer, albeit obliquely, to Darth Cheeto himself:3

Despite the undeniable division and polarization that exists in our country right now, there is one common characteristic that is shared by Americans of every gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status and political party: our entrepreneurial spirit. We value the notion that everyone deserves the opportunity to start a small business, on a level playing field, with failure or success determined by our own talent, hard work, and perseverance. At an early age. we teach our children concepts like overhead, profit, and loss by encouraging them to sell Girl Scout Cookies, candy bars, and lemonade. Yet, if they sell any of those on a public sidewalk in Los Angeles, they are committing a crime of the same seriousness as drunk driving.

They go on to urge the Council to go ahead and legalize street vending because otherwise Trump has already won, and I can’t say that I disagree:

Recent talks about changes to our nation’s immigration policy, including threats to deport millions of undocumented immigrants – starting with those with criminal records – has created significant fear amongst our immigrant communities. Continuing to impose criminal misdemeanor penalties for vending disproportionately affects, and unfairly punishes, undocumented immigrants, and could potentially put them at risk for deportation.

Furthermore, Buscaino and Price claim that:

The core question the Council must answer is whether sidewalk vending poses a threat so grave to public health, safety, and welfare that it is worth continuing to expend limited police and prosecutorial resources enforcing a citywide ban.

Which is also reasonable, but read a little deeper in the letter and you can see the fingerprints of the BIDs all over the damned thing. And, as usual, their input makes a lie of the whole thing. The BIDs’ version, which is the version that will be passed, is going to require the same amount if not more of our “limited police and prosecutorial resources” to enforce.
Continue reading Donald Trump’s Election Inspires City of Los Angeles To Finally Move Forward With Long-Delayed Street Vending Legalization Despite BIDs’ Irrational Opposition. Street Vendors To Pay BIDs An Operations Fee. BIDs To Get Effective Veto Power Over Vending Within Their Boundaries.

Street Vending Lawsuit Trial Date Set For January 30, 2018, Fashion District BID Finally Sets Out Preliminary Position On Allegations

This kind of thing really has to stop soon.  This man was arrested and handcuffed in Hollywood and his ice cream set out to melt by the Andrews International BID Patrol, but the LAPD does the same and worse, as mostly likely does the Fashion District BID's rent-a-cops.
This kind of thing really has to stop soon. This man was arrested and handcuffed in Hollywood and his ice cream set out to melt by the Andrews International BID Patrol, but the LAPD does the same and worse, as mostly likely does the Fashion District BID’s rent-a-cops.

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.

A number of new documents have been filed in the National Lawyers’ Guild’s suit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District business improvement district for their disgraceful treatment of street vendors. Here’s a list, followed by my usual uninformed commentary:

  • Joint Rule 26(f) report — This is a surprisingly interesting document. It’s evidently required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(f), which regulates pretrial discovery agreements. For our purposes, though, it also seems to require that all the parties lay out their views of the case. This is especially interesting with respect to the Fashion District, which, even though it did answer the complaint, did so in a completely vacuous manner. There’s some substance here, and I discuss it after the break.
  • Court Order re: Scheduling Conference — Here Judge O’Connell cancels a settlement conference that was to be held Monday, orders that the parties complete the dispute resolution process by December 4, 2017, and file a joint report on it within 7 days of its conclusion.
  • Court Order re: Alternative Dispute Resolution — This order declares that the Alternative Dispute Resolution will be handled by the Magistrate Judge assigned to the case.
  • Order for Civil Jury Trial With relevant dates — This is an order for a trial, to take place on January 30, 2018, and other relevant dates.

Continue reading Street Vending Lawsuit Trial Date Set For January 30, 2018, Fashion District BID Finally Sets Out Preliminary Position On Allegations

Hollywood-Based Street Photographer Shawn Nee Filed Suit In July Against City of LA, Charlie Beck, Individual LAPD Officers, For Preventing Him From Freely Photographing Police

LAPD Officer Stuart Jaye blocking documentary photographer Shawn Nee from filming police activity on July 5, 2015.
LAPD Officer Stuart Jaye blocking documentary photographer Shawn Nee from filming police activity on July 5, 2015.
Shawn Nee is a documentary photographer who lives in Hollywood and films police around the City of Los Angeles. Here’s an excellent interview with him along with a selection of his work. I also recommend this short film about Nee’s work on Hollywood Boulevard on Halloween 2014.

His YouTube channel is filled with recordings of LAPD officers angry with him for photographing them. In particular, on July 5, 2015, LAPD Officer Stuart Jaye blocked his line of sight while he was taking still photos of police activity. Also, on November 10, 2015, LAPD Officer Pearson actually grabbed his phone while he was recording police activity. These two incidents form the basis of a suit filed by Nee on July 7, 2016. This episode is also worth watching even though it isn’t mentioned in the suit.

This seems like it’s going to be interesting, so I started a page for this suit in the menu structure, or you can access the material directly from local storage. There’s not much in there yet, but the initial complaint is well worth your time to read. There are some selections after the break as well as a description and some documentation of a tangential BID Patrol connection from 2008!
Continue reading Hollywood-Based Street Photographer Shawn Nee Filed Suit In July Against City of LA, Charlie Beck, Individual LAPD Officers, For Preventing Him From Freely Photographing Police

Judge Kronstadt Tentatively Inclined To Grant Class Certification In Chua V. City of LA But Has Some Concerns. National Lawyers Guild Responds With Supplemental Brief As Ordered. NLG Is Willing To Talk But City of LA Uninterested In Settling At This Time.

Carol Sobel,  plaintiffs' attorney in Chua v. City of Los Angeles
Carol Sobel, plaintiffs’ attorney in Chua v. City of Los Angeles
In July of this year the plaintiffs in Chua v. City of Los Angeles, based on LAPD misconduct during 2014 protests concerning Michael Brown, filed a motion for certification as a class action suit. The City of Los Angeles did not oppose the motion. But, of course, even if the parties to a suit agree, these things are still up to the Judge. A hearing on the motion was held on November 7, and Judge Kronstadt stated his “tentative views that [he] is inclined to grant in part Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification. However, evidently he still had some questions about his decision, because he instructed the plaintiffs to supplement their motion for class certification with some additional briefs, which were due and filed last Monday, the 14th of November. They are linked to directly below, and you can find some quotations and uninformed discussion after the break.

Interestingly, those minutes also note that the City isn’t presently interested in settling matters:

The Court confers with counsel regarding settlement. Plaintiffs are open to participating in a settlement conference now while defense counsel believes it is premature at this time.

Continue reading Judge Kronstadt Tentatively Inclined To Grant Class Certification In Chua V. City of LA But Has Some Concerns. National Lawyers Guild Responds With Supplemental Brief As Ordered. NLG Is Willing To Talk But City of LA Uninterested In Settling At This Time.

Kerry Morrison’s Ruinously Expensive Obsessions With Homeless Outreach And Guns Cause Severe Cutbacks In BID Patrol Service Even As Expenditures Go Up, Up, Up — HPOA/CHC Books Cooked In 2015 To Obscure This Trend — Time For An Intervention!

Kerry Morrison at the Central Hollywood Coalition board meeting on November 8, 2016.
Kerry Morrison at the Central Hollywood Coalition board meeting on November 8, 2016.
Watch and listen here1 to an interminable discussion at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Directors of the Central Hollywood Coalition2 about how to pay the increasing cost of the armed BID Patrol while, at the same time, maintaining or expanding dedicated “homeless outreach” services, also provided by Andrews International. In particular, staff is asking the board to approve a 5% increase in the A/I budget for next year to cover salary increases and so on.

Here are some numbers. A/I pays its BID Patrol officers $31.50 an hour.3 Almost certainly the BID is paying A/I significantly more than that. Also note that base pay for A/I unarmed officers is $13 per hour. In other words, armed officers cost about 2.5 times as much as unarmed officers. If A/I’s markup to the BID is a percentage of its HR costs then this ratio will hold constant regardless of what the BID is actually paying.4 Now, most BIDs in the City of Los Angeles do not have armed security. In fact, as far as I can tell, the two HPOA BIDs run by Kerry Morrison are the only BIDs that do.5 We have written before about Kerry Morrison’s disturbing and utterly disproportionate love of guns, and that’s probably enough to explain her insistence on armed security despite the high cost.6 And the cost is very high. According to the Sunset & Vine BID’s 2015 independent audit, the BID paid $805,608 for security out of total annual expenditures of $1,542,735.7

And what do they get for that? It’s explained in this exchange from last week‘s meeting.8 It’s essentially four dedicated officers per fourteen hour day, backed up by officers from the Hollywood Entertainment District, with slightly less on Sundays. Assuming 8 hour days, and not adjusting for Sundays, this is 11,648 hours per year.9 Dividing this into the 2015 security expenditure yields a rate of $69.16. The 2013 contract between A/I and the HPOA gives the markup rate as 82% for BID patrol officers and 55% for supervisors, so this is roughly consistent with a base hourly rate of $31.50.10
Continue reading Kerry Morrison’s Ruinously Expensive Obsessions With Homeless Outreach And Guns Cause Severe Cutbacks In BID Patrol Service Even As Expenditures Go Up, Up, Up — HPOA/CHC Books Cooked In 2015 To Obscure This Trend — Time For An Intervention!

The Suit Goes On: Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell Files (Moderately Sarcastic) Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Dismiss Street Vending Lawsuit

Federal Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell, in whose court the NLG's street vending case is being heard.
Federal Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell, in whose court the NLG’s street vending case is being heard.
This is just a quick note to memorialize the fact that, after the City of Los Angeles filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against it and the Fashion District BID brought by a number of downtown street vendors, tonight Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell filed a 16 page order denying everything, which of course means that the case will go on.1 The standard for denying a motion to dismiss is essentially that the plaintiff “…pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” The Judge found that they had, so the case will go on. Recall also that there was a hearing on the City’s motion scheduled for Monday, November 21. O’Connell canceled this hearing because “the Court deems this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument of counsel.” That’s gotta hurt.

Briefly, one of the arguments raised by the City of LA is that the vendors’ organization, the Unión Popular de Vendedores Ambulantes, lacks standing to sue.2 More on this and some quotated snark after the break.
Continue reading The Suit Goes On: Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell Files (Moderately Sarcastic) Order Denying City Of LA’s Motion To Dismiss Street Vending Lawsuit

City Ethics Commission Declines to File Civil Action Against Sokol and Lambert For Campaign Contributions

Sokol, Lambert, Bonin, others.
Sokol, Lambert, Bonin, others.
Perhaps you recall that Venice Beach BID proponents Carl Lambert and Mark Sokol famously made a lot of campaign contributions to various City politicians, many of whom were responsible for voting on the BID. It’s plausible that this violates LA City ethics laws, and my colleages and I filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission on the matter. The law gives the commission 40 days to decide if they will proceed. Yesterday, 38 days after the complaint was filed, the Ethics Commission announced that it did not intend to pursue a civil action. So that happened. You can read their email after the break, but it doesn’t, and this seems proper, say much.
Continue reading City Ethics Commission Declines to File Civil Action Against Sokol and Lambert For Campaign Contributions