Now Mike Bonin Is Tara Devine’s Ventriloquist’s Dummy: How The Shadowy BID Consultant Herself Answered A Bunch Of Questions That Yo! Venice Reporter Melanie Camp Sent To Mike Bonin And How Melanie Camp Subsequently Attributed The Answers To Mike Bonin

Tara Devine in City Council Chambers at the Venice Beach BID Hearing Take 2 on November 8, 2016.
Check out this interesting series of emails from August 2016. It begins when Yo! Venice reporter Melanie Camp writes to Mike Bonin’s communications director David Graham-Caso, stating:

Hi David,

I have several questions regarding the BID. The information you provided, coupled with the information/misinformation flying around raises a couple of issues that need clearing up.

I’m interested in Mike’s opinion, as well as your own, on any or all of these.

Less than 40 minutes later, David Graham-Caso forwarded the email1 to Debbie Dyner Harris along with a terse note that said:

Can you please send this to the BID consultant to get her help with the answers?

And a mere 13 minutes after that, Debbie Dyner Harris forwarded the email2 to Tara Devine, stating:

Hi Tara. Can you please respond to her? Thanks

David Graham-Caso, CD11 Director of Communications, is a really cute guy, but also a conduit for misattributed propaganda!

Further conversation ensued, but the upshot is that, the very next day, Tara Devine sent over a page of answers, not to Melanie Camp, but to David Graham-Caso and Debbie Dyner Harris to do with as they would do. And evidently what they did do was send the answers to Melanie Camp. And evidently what Melanie Camp did was attribute the answers to Mike Bonin in the article she published a few days later, entitled Venice BID Approved.3 She not only attributed them to Mike Bonin when they were written by Tara Devine,4 but she essentially copy/pasted them into her article. You can see some specifics after the break!

For instance, Tara Devine wrote:

State law says that public/government parcels are not exempt from assessments. Anyone assessed gets a vote, proportional to the size of the assessment.

And according to Melanie Camp:

“State law says that public/government parcels are not exempt from assessments, and since anyone who will be assessed gets a vote, the City is allowed to vote based on the total value of the property it owns within the BID boundaries,” says Bonin.

Tara Devine wrote:

The proposed BID includes all of the property eligible for assessment west of Abbott Kinney. Abbott Kinney has its own Merchants association which already performs some functions similar to a BID. … If you look at a map of the zoning in the area, you can see that the boundary lines include the commercially-zoned, industrially-zoned and government/public facilities-zoned parcels, and exclude the residentially-zoned. This is consistent with state and local law.

And according to Melanie Camp:

Bonin says that State laws prevent gerrymandering. “The Venice BID boundaries were determined based on the same rules as every other BID, which excludes any residentially-zoned land (but includes commercially-zoned, industrially-zoned and government/public facilities-zoned parcels). The BID proponents decided to include all of the property that is eligible for assessment west of Abbot Kinney (which already has a Merchant’s Association that functions similarly to a BID). This is consistent with state and local law.”

And there are plenty of other instances, as you can check for yourself.

Now, isn’t it interesting that the definition of “lobbying activities” in the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC 48.02 includes “seeking to influence the position of a third party on municipal legislation or an issue related to municipal legislation by any means, including but not limited to engaging in community, public or press relations activities.” And isn’t it interesting that if someone like, oh, I don’t know, Tara Devine, spends enough time getting paid to carry out lobbying activities, they are required by the law to register with the City Ethics Commission as a lobbyist? And isn’t it also interesting that if one puts the last name “Devine” into the lobbyist registration search engine at the Ethics Commission website for 2016 it shows that she was not registered?5 Well, if you do find all that interesting, stay tuned, friend!


Image of shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine is ©2016 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Image of slightly shady cutey-pie David Graham-Caso is a public record.

  1. From his phone, no less. These people are always on the job!
  2. Also from her phone. If you care, David Graham-Caso uses an iPhone and Debbie Dyner Harris has a Samsung. Or at least that’s what their signatures assert. I admit it’s just hearsay.
  3. And here is a PDF in case that link goes away.
  4. I’m not saying that Melanie Camp herself is responsible for this deception. It seems much more likely that David Graham-Caso sent Tara Devine’s work to Melanie Camp under Mike Bonin’s name. It’s unlikely that we will be able to find out the truth any time soon.
  5. I have no idea how to link into a search for lobbyists. Just put her name in and change the year to 2016 and you will see what I mean.
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