We’ve been discussing BID consultants a lot recently because of shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine and the fact that it looks so much like BID consultancy satisfies the LAMC’s definition of lobbying that it’s very likely that she broke the laws requiring registration, causing me, in the throes of a well-developed sense of civic duty, to report her transgressions to the Ethics Commission and then again to report some associated transgressions to Mike Feuer. What will come of these matters no one can now know, of course, but one aspect that troubled me slightly is the apparent novelty of the charges. That is, all the BID consultants I knew of at the time weren’t registered. This doesn’t mean they don’t have to register. After all, consider what happened with BID security and the Police Commission as a result of our reporting. But nevertheless, one never wants to be the first to make an argument if it’s possible to avoid it.
If I have learned anything about L.A. BIDs in my many years of deeply immersive anti-BID scholarship, it’s that they are run by a bunch of freaking short-sighted intellectually impaired amateurish morons, made mean and stupid by their wealth, who hire mean and stupid people to do their mean and stupid bidding and that the City government of Los Angeles, which thrives and grows fat on mean and short-sighted zillionaire stupidity, likes it this way.
Well, I don’t know how I missed it, but in January of this year, notre principale raison d’écrire, the famous Ms. Kerry Morrison, in response to this now also-famous L.A. Times editorial, penned a characteristically mendacious little missive to the local paper in support of anti-creep-crusading Councildude Mitch O’Farrell’s universally reviled initiative to ban adults in playgrounds in the City of Los Angeles.
Amazingly, every sentence in this letter is a lie. Here it is, see if you can spot them all. And after the break, I’ll deconstruct this peculiar little symptom of the acute Morrisonitis now endemic in what Ms. Kerry and her weirdo minions are pleased, for reasons known only to them, to refer to as “our little hamlet.”
To the editor: Constituents have contacted O’Farrell regarding the downward spiral of the only pocket park and playground in the heart of Hollywood. Families who live in our densely populated neighborhood used to enjoy the space. Now this tiny park has become a permanent encampment during the hours it is open.
Going there one day last week, I counted more than 20 people lying around the park. The grassy area was covered with sleeping bags and all the benches were taken. The adjacent playground was empty, despite being separated by a fence. This tiny park can no longer be used by families and organizations that could benefit from open space.
I applaud O’Farrell’s efforts to meet the needs of the neighborhood. This is what leaders do.
One of the essential items on the agenda of last Tuesday’s meeting of the City Ethics Commission was a wide-ranging set of proposals from Enforcement staff for revisions to the CEC’s enforcement regulations. These are the laws and policies which guide the enforcement process. The proposals were emailed to interested parties only a few days in advance of the meeting, evidently leaving everyone feeling kind of blindsided,1 especially because they appeared with a recommendation from staff that they be adopted right then.
So at the actual meeting, when the item came up for discussion, Commission President Jessica Levinson made fairly convincing noises to the effect that the matter should be postponed until April. More interestingly, though, she mentioned almost in passing that she’d received a number of written public comments asking the Commission to table the matter. Well, one of my favorite bits of the Brown Act, §54957.5(a), states unequivocally that:2
any … writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body, are disclosable public records under the California Public Records Act … and shall be made available upon request without delay.
OK, where to start? Well, how about with the contract that the East Hollywood BID signed with the City of Los Angeles?4 Right there on pages two and three, in section 2.6(B), it says:
Corporation shall maintain an ongoing liaison relationship with the community. Corporation’s responsibilities encompass the following areas:
B. Newsletters. Corporation shall prepare a District newsletter to be produced on a quarterly basis, at a minimum, and shall distribute this newsletter to all assessed property owners in the District. Corporation may, at Corporation’s option, provide the newsletter by standard mail or electronic transmission. The newsletter will be designed to facilitate and maximize the exchange of information between Corporation, City, and the members ofthe District. Each issue of the newsletter shall be submitted in duplicate to the City Clerk for reference.
So this explains why BID Analyst and City Clerk staffer Eugene Van Cise wrote to Nicole Shahenian, executive director of the East Hollywood BID, one fine day in May 2016:
I have invoices for $387.30, $72,291.74 and 146,852.71. Miranda has rejected payment because of our records indicate that we have not received the following newsletters:
2012: All 4 quarters.
2013: All 4 quarters.
2014: 1st & 2nd quarters.
2015: All 4 quarters.
2016: 1st quarter.
If you have these available, you may email them to me.
Please contact me if you should have any questions.
Add it up, friend! That’s almost $220,000 that Miranda Paster was holding back from the BID because they had failed to perform a clause in their contract for four years straight. This is quite a contrast to what Holly Wolcott told me in March of that year to the effect that the City had no power to make BIDs comply with CPRA even though compliance with CPRA is also a requirement in their contract.
Friends, take a look at the exceedingly fascinating LAMC § 48.04(B). This lovely little slab of ethicalliciousness illegalizes any occasion when a lobbyist might:
Fraudulently deceive or attempt to deceive any City official with regard to any material fact pertinent to any pending or proposed municipal legislation.
And of course, you recall what a lobbyist is, it’s a technical term in this setting.1 Lobbyists are defined in LAMC §48.02 to be:
any individual who is compensated to spend 30 or more hours in any consecutive three-month period engaged in lobbying activities which include at least one direct communication with a City official or employee, conducted either personally or through agents, for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any person.
Perhaps you recall that yesterday’s scheduled hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion to have their lawsuit against the putative Lunada Bay Boys certified as a class action was cancelled by the Judge on the grounds that he would be able to rule without hearing oral arguments. Well, this morning his order denying class certification hit PACER. I can tell you right now that his reasoning with respect to the conclusion that this case cannot proceed as a class action is completely beyond my ability to interpret sensibly, so you’ll have to figure that part of it out yourself.
The introduction to the order strikes me as pretty skeptical of the plaintiffs’ claims generally, and even a little sarcastic. For instance, in what must be for the plaintiffs a particularly disconcerting example of judicial humor, Otero begins his summary of the facts with the following pun: “Riding the wave of the Point Break remake, Plaintiffs initiated this putative class action lawsuit…” It can’t be pleasant to read insinuations from the judge that one’s lawsuit was essentially a movie tie-in! There are excerpts after the break.