The LA CAN & Catholic Worker Lawsuit Has Cost The Central City East Association At Least $115,000 In Legal Fees And Costs (And How It Took Me Two Months Of Hardcore CPRAfaction To Discover This Fact)

Around these parts we refer to the California Public Records Act as CPRA, pronounced SIP-rah. The methodologies and practicalities of using CPRA are known as CPRAfaction, pronounced SIP-rah-faction.

You may recall that in March, the Central City East Association settled the momentous lawsuit brought against it by the Los Angeles Community Action Network and LA Catholic Worker.1 This was mere months after beloved Los Angeles gadfly Eric Preven and the incomparable ACLU of Southern California won a momentous decision in the California Supreme Court, which ruled essentially that once a legal case was finished the legal privilege exemption to CPRA2 no longer applied. No coincidences around here! So I fired off an email to Estela Lopez as follows:

Good afternoon, Estela, and happy Palm Sunday.

And congratulations on settling that 2014 lawsuit, namely LACW et al. v. Downtown Industrial District BID et al. (2:14-cv-07344-PSG-AJW). I would like to look at copies of all bills from all lawyers who worked for the CCEA on this case.

For the sake of efficiency, and in case you’re not already aware aware of this, here’s a link to an LA Times story on the recent Supreme Court decision declaring that once a case is resolved the bills become public records:

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-court-legal-bills-20161229-story.html

As you can imagine, there was a lot of back-and-forth, with her mostly refusing to hand over the legal bills, until this afternoon, when she did hand them over. The full story of that, with bunches of emails and also a reasonable amount of CPRA nerdview, can be found after the break if you’re interested.

But here are the actual bills to CCEA from their lawyers, Hill, Farrer, & Burrill. I spent a little time adding up the totals and their total legal bills, costs and fees, seem to have come to $89,782.54 over the last three years. Add this to the $25,000 they agreed to pay the plaintiffs in the settlement agreement and their whole bill comes to $114,782.54. This is over slightly less than three years, and the BID’s annual budget is roughly $2,000,000, so it’s relatively not that much.

According to Estela Lopez in 2015 there are more than 2000 homeless human beings living in the CCEA’s territory. Thus this lawsuit cost them a little more than $57 per potential harassment victim. I’m sure this seems cheap at the price. Anyway, that’s the substantive information. Turn the page for the story of how I got my hands on it!
Continue reading The LA CAN & Catholic Worker Lawsuit Has Cost The Central City East Association At Least $115,000 In Legal Fees And Costs (And How It Took Me Two Months Of Hardcore CPRAfaction To Discover This Fact)

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Revealed: The Actual Technical Means By Which José Huizar, Who By The Way Is A Liar And A Deceptive Sneaky Little Creep, Destroyed The Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Effort, Quite Possibly At The Behest Of Michael Delijani, Whose Family Has Given José Huizar $25,000 Over The Years


When I first started working on this post, I meant it to be a typical humorous take on a comment that Grayce Liu made at the March 20 meeting of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, much like the nonsense I wrote the other day.

But in preparation for mocking the arrogant rich white supremacists who turned out at every meeting about the SRNC to bumble their whiny way through their idiotic decontextualized lies about “outreach” and “voter participation” and “united Downtown” and fucking “inadequate notification,” I listened to a recording of the March 22 meeting of the Rules and Elections Committee, which sickened me to the point that I lost any taste for making jokes about any of this.1 Huizar’s behavior is not funny, and I’m in no state of mind to make fun.2 He is a horrible person.3

In particular, here’s what I learned. Much of this information has been published before, but as far as I can tell, not all of it has:

  • Huizar decided to change the rules for the SRNC formation election to allow online voting. The change took place merely two weeks before voting began, even though he almost certainly had his mind made up weeks if not months earlier. If he had implemented the decision when he had made it at least there would have been time for the SRNC proponents to address this dispositive change in the rules.
  • He did this in the face of explicit testimony that online voting would disadvantage homeless people, who have extremely limited internet access. Even worse, he knew that the online voting system to be used by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment would preregister more than 1000 DLANC and HCNC voters from 2016, thereby overwhelming any online voters that the SRNC-FC might manage to register in two weeks and thus dooming any SRNC-FC online registration effort to irrelevance.
  • Huizar made this change unilaterally. It’s true that it was passed by the Rules and Elections Committee and then by the full Council, but if you listen to the recording.4 You will hear Huizar reading out his proposal and Herb Wesson pronouncing it adopted with neither discussion nor a vote.
  • Huizar ignored all the warnings he heard against allowing online voting with respect to the SRNC, but he took them all into account for other NC elections by stating explicitly that SRNC would be the only election to use online voting until further notice. This proves yet again that as far as the City of Los Angeles is concerned, rules do not apply to poor people. They’re not usually this overt about it, though.
  • Somehow Huizar allowed multiple polling locations distributed widely in both space and time. He did this in the face of Grayce Liu’s explicit statement that one polling place open for four hours is absolutely standard in NC elections. Again, Huizar unilaterally changed the rules for Skid Row.

Turn the page for the full, detailed story with links to and transcriptions of the audio of the meeting.
Continue reading Revealed: The Actual Technical Means By Which José Huizar, Who By The Way Is A Liar And A Deceptive Sneaky Little Creep, Destroyed The Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Effort, Quite Possibly At The Behest Of Michael Delijani, Whose Family Has Given José Huizar $25,000 Over The Years

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On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Gale Holland’s article in the Times for a more mainstream perspective.

Scott Gray of major Skid Row property owner Capital Foresight, likely behind-the-curtain string-puller for the covert anti-SRNC lobbying campaign, was famously quoted in the Downtown News in March 2017 with respect to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort to the effect that:

…the pending proposal to divide Downtown Los Angeles into separate geographic districts will have significant fiscal and far-reaching economic impact on the entire city

Anyone who attends to the shady world of Los Angeles real estate development can easily imagine in the abstract the kinds of things Scott Gray means, but there has hitherto been very little specific information about what he was talking about.

It turns out that in November 2016 Blair Besten’s megadeveloper bosses at the Historic Core BID had their heavy artillery aimed at Skid Row and had begun soliciting the usual array of sleazy under-table giveaways, such as tax abatements, relaxed zoning, and so on. It’s no surprise at all, then, that when the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s proposal was approved by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in January 2017 they flipped out to the astonishing degree that they did. As always, documentation and highly detailed description after the break.
Continue reading On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

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The Fascinating Story Of How It Took Three Months And A Demand Letter From An Attorney To Get Rena Leddy To Disclose That The Fashion District BID Is Paying Steve Gibson Of Urban Place Consulting $215 Per Hour For BID Renewal Consulting, Which Is Less Than Larry Kosmont Gets But More Than Ed Henning

Late last year it occurred to me that BID consultants, who help BIDs with the City processes necessary to establish or renew a BID, are essentially engaging in lobbying activity as defined in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02 and yet none of them1 seemed to be registered with the Ethics Commission as required by LAMC §48.07(A).

I then spent months piecing together over 100 pages of evidence to show that BID consultant Tara Devine had violated this law. Subsequently it occurred to me that the contracts that the consultants sign with BIDs would provide essential evidence that they’d been acting as lobbyists, so I determined to request these from many renewing BIDs. This led me to the discovery, thanks to the incomparable Laurie Hughes of the Gateway to LA BID, that GTLA’s BID consultant, Larry Kosmont, actually was registered as a lobbyist and had disclosed his BID consultancy as lobbying in his required reporting. The San Pedro BID is also up for renewal, and has recently released a fairly complete set of BID renewal records.

This brings us to the Fashion District. On February 21, 2017 I emailed Rena Leddy to request, among other material:

… all records associated with the renewal process, including but not limited to communications between the BID and the consultant and/or the engineer, contracts with and invoices from the consultant or the engineer, materials prepared by the consultant or the engineer for the renewal process, databases and mailing lists prepared or used by the consultant or the engineer, and also any communications between the consultant and the engineer that aren’t already responsive to the first part of this request.

The story of what happened after that stretched out over three months and generated many many megabytes of discussion. Read on for a (far too) detailed and exceedingly well-documented narrative recounting, complete with a happy, happy ending!
Continue reading The Fascinating Story Of How It Took Three Months And A Demand Letter From An Attorney To Get Rena Leddy To Disclose That The Fashion District BID Is Paying Steve Gibson Of Urban Place Consulting $215 Per Hour For BID Renewal Consulting, Which Is Less Than Larry Kosmont Gets But More Than Ed Henning

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Relatively Complete Set Of Records Pertaining To Ongoing San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID Renewal Process Reveals Hitherto Unknown Details About Costs, Hours, Contract Terms, Etc. Heralding Plausible Case Against Edward Henning For Failure To Register As A Lobbyist But Not, Unfortunately, Against The BID Because They’re Not Paying Him Enough

Last month I learned that the San Pedro BID was paying Edward Henning $20,000 to handle their BID renewal process. This discovery was independently interesting, but also important for my ongoing research project of learning everything possible about BID consultancy with the ultimate goal of shopping as many BID consultants to the City Ethics Commission as possible, mostly for violations of LAMC §48.07, which requires that “[a]n individual who qualifies as a lobbyist shall register with the City Ethics Commission within 10 days after the end of the calendar month in which the individual qualifies as a lobbyist.”

In this clause, someone “qualifies as a lobbyist” when they, according to LAMC §48.02 are “compensated to spend 30 or more hours in any consecutive three-month period engaged in lobbying activities.”1 Note that today I’m mostly skipping the argument that BID consultancy qualifies as lobbying activities, but you can read about it in excruciating detail here.

Part of the evidence that I obtained last month were these two invoices from Edward Henning to the SPHWBID. As you can see, they span the time period from March 2016 through December 12, 2016 and bill for a total of 75 hours. That’s roughly 7.5 hours per month if distributed evenly across the billing period. This is not enough evidence to show that Edward Henning was required to register. In fact, if he did work about 7.5 hours a month he would not have been so required.

It’s precisely that issue that today’s document release shines some light on. The other day, San Pedro BID executive directrix Lorena Parker was kind enough to send me over 100 emails to and from Edward Henning.2 At first I thought I’d be able to pick out 3 consecutive months in which Edward Henning was compensated for 30 hours by assuming that the number of emails in a month was proportional to the number of hours worked. This didn’t pan out for a number of reasons, not least because I don’t yet have emails between Edward Henning and the City of LA that weren’t CC-ed to Lorena Parker. I can tell from internal evidence that there are some of these,3 and I have a pending CPRA request for them, but they’re not yet in hand.

Read on for more detail on the unregistered lobbying case as well as a new theory that I thought at first might actually get the BID itself in some trouble rather than just the consultant. I don’t think it’ll work out in this particular case, but it has interesting implications for the future. Bad scene for the BIDdies and lulz4 all round for humanity!
Continue reading Relatively Complete Set Of Records Pertaining To Ongoing San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID Renewal Process Reveals Hitherto Unknown Details About Costs, Hours, Contract Terms, Etc. Heralding Plausible Case Against Edward Henning For Failure To Register As A Lobbyist But Not, Unfortunately, Against The BID Because They’re Not Paying Him Enough

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Order Filed This Morning Certifies Chua V. City Of Los Angeles, Federal Civil Rights Case Arising Out Of 2014 Michael Brown Protests, As A Class Action With Some Minor Exceptions

California-centralSee this article from the LA Times and our previous posts on the subject for the background to this post. All of the filings can be found here.

Last July the plaintiffs in this monumental federal civil rights suit against the City of Los Angeles for the reprehensible behavior of the LAPD in 2014 with respect to protests arising out of the Michael Brown killing filed a motion to have the suit certified as a class action. In November, Judge Kronstadt announced that he was pretty much inclined to certify it but that he wanted to see some supplemental briefs. So that happened, and this morning he filed filed a comprehensive order certifying the case as a class action with only a couple of minor1 exceptions. He also granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint in response to his order. Turn the page for links to a few other items that have been filed in the last few days.
Continue reading Order Filed This Morning Certifies Chua V. City Of Los Angeles, Federal Civil Rights Case Arising Out Of 2014 Michael Brown Protests, As A Class Action With Some Minor Exceptions

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Tales From The BONC-Side Part 1: In Which Scott Gray And Debbie Welsch Of Capital Foresight Reveal Themselves As Whiny Ignorant Little Liars And John Howland, Formerly Of The Central City Association, Reveals That He May Be Whiny, He May Be Ignorant, He May Be Little, But He’s Not A Liar, At Least Not When He Would Violate LAMC §48.04(B) By Lying

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Gale Holland’s article in the Times for a more balanced perspective.

As you may recall, I’ve been tracking the illegal lobbying carried out by and on behalf of various shady downtown zillionaires with the support and connivance of the staff of various downtown business improvement districts in opposition to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort. As part of their creepy conspiracy, the usual motley crew of zillionaires and zillionaire-identified-groupies showed up at the March 20, 2017 meeting of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (affectionately known as BONC) to speak what passes for their minds in zillionairelandia.

In the ordinary course of events, BONC posts audio of their meetings on the open internet, but, for whatever reason, when I took a look a few weeks ago, the March 20 meeting did not appear. After a few weeks worth of pleasant emails with various City employees, though, the audio has now been posted. I also published it on Archive.Org along with a copy of the minutes so you can follow along if you wish.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, some of it inspiring, most of it horrifying in that special spine-tingly manner that glimpses into the seething caucasian-hot liquid id-core of the local politics of resentment are wont to horrify. I plan to write occasionally on episodes from this meeting, as the mood strikes, and today’s story concerns comments by Scott Gray and Debbie Welsch of shadowy zillionaire real estate conspiracy Capital Foresight,1 and shadowy lobbyist-to-the-zillionaires, John Howland.2

The gist of the matter is this, though. Debbie Welsch and Scott Gray told lie after lie, some of them beyond surreal in their fundamental disconnect with reality. On the other hand, John Howland, who at the time of the meeting was employed as a registered lobbyist with CCA, mostly, although he is quite an evil fellow indeed, told the truth. This is arguably less due to his inherent honesty than it is to the fact that registered lobbyists are required to sign a form upon registration acknowledging that they are aware of LAMC §48.04(B), which states that:

No lobbyist or lobbying firm subject to the requirements of the Article shall…[f]raudulently deceive or attempt to deceive any City official with regard to any material fact pertinent to any pending or proposed municipal legislation.

Anyway, after the break you will find embedded audio and transcriptions of the comments of all three of these dimwits, along with as much detailed mockery as I was able to type before I had to run off to the loo to eat lunch backwards​.
Continue reading Tales From The BONC-Side Part 1: In Which Scott Gray And Debbie Welsch Of Capital Foresight Reveal Themselves As Whiny Ignorant Little Liars And John Howland, Formerly Of The Central City Association, Reveals That He May Be Whiny, He May Be Ignorant, He May Be Little, But He’s Not A Liar, At Least Not When He Would Violate LAMC §48.04(B) By Lying

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Historic Core BID Executive Directrix Blair Besten Seems OK With The Crimes Of Her Employers, E.g. HCBID Board Members Ruben “The Homicidal Slumlord” Islas And Michael “Asshole Buddy With Ultra-Corrupt Tax Assessor John Noguez” Delijani, Even While Claiming That “The increase in crime lowers the morale of the neighborhood”

The fact that, as I reported on Friday, Blair Besten, batty little fusspot queen of the Historic Core BID, along with her ne’er-do-well companions in corruption, Estela Lopez and Michael Delijani, were meeting as early as January 2017 with CD14 Councilswordsman José Huizar to oppose the Skid Row Neighborhood Council more or less overshadowed the parallel discovery that, at roughly the same time, Ms. Blair Besten was also setting up a meeting between Mr. José and Ruben Islas, one of her bosses from the HCBID Board of Directors.1

Now, Ruben “the homicidal slumlord” Islas is famous not just for whatever it is he does to be a zillionaire, but also for the fact that he and a bunch of his co-conspirators were arrested and charged with manslaughter and a host of other crimes in 2010 related to the fact that the slums they were then lording over were in such bad shape that three people died as a result. This incident followed the now-seen-to-be-cruelly-ironic series of criminal counts filed against Islas‘s firm for roughly similar misconduct by then-City-Attorney Rockard Delgadillo, lately working under the table as an anti-human lobbyist for a shadowy Downtown law firm.

And similarly, the other one of Ms. Blair Besten’s bosses whose name has come up a lot recently, that is to say furtive hereditary imperialist downtown zillionaire Michael Delijani, has also availed himself of Blair Besten’s probably-illegally-exercised2 skills at relationship building with CD14 repster3 José Huizar. Just see here for six pages of blathering between Blair Besten and various CD14 staffers about a meeting she’s trying to arrange between the CM and the Delijani.

Michael Delijani has also been involved in some exceedingly shady-if-as-yet-unindicted activities in relation to the deep corruption in the office of the LA County Assessor as personified by former assessor, now jailbird, John Noguez. The details are too involved to discuss here, but essentially Noguez reduced zillionaires’ property tax bills in exchange for campaign contributions, and a bunch of the deals were made at fundraising events for Noguez at Michael Delijani’s house. Delijani himself gave Noguez more than $20,000, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.

As far as I can see, Michael Delijani has never been convicted of a crime related to the bribery of Noguez. And it’s true that Ruben Islas’s manslaughter charges were dropped, and also, as part of a deal in which the corporation itself pleaded guilty, Delgadillo’s criminal charges were also dropped against the firm’s principals, including Ruben “the Alexandria Hotel assassin” Islas. So in some technical sense, these guys are not criminals. But in some strong but nontechnical sense they certainly are criminals, and Blair Besten is certainly a hypocrite when it comes to these zillionaire bad BID boys.
Continue reading Historic Core BID Executive Directrix Blair Besten Seems OK With The Crimes Of Her Employers, E.g. HCBID Board Members Ruben “The Homicidal Slumlord” Islas And Michael “Asshole Buddy With Ultra-Corrupt Tax Assessor John Noguez” Delijani, Even While Claiming That “The increase in crime lowers the morale of the neighborhood”

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Hollywood Studio District Is Latest In Unbroken Chain Of Neighborhood Councils To Explain To Mitch O’Farrell That His Kerry-Morrison-Behested Anti-Creepy-Men-In-Playgrounds Motion Is, To Put It In The Politest Possible Terms, So Full Of Shit Its Eyes Would Be Brown If It Had Eyes

BACKGROUND: Recall, if you will, that this L.A. Times editorial kicked off a somewhat misguided firestorm of opposition to Mitch O’Farrell’s recent Council motion 16-1456 seeking to develop a legal tool for banning adults without children from playgrounds in parks in the City of Los Angeles.

Just the other day, the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council became the fifth in a long line of illustrious NCs to place a statement of opposition to CD13 repster1 Mitch O’Farrell’s Kerry-Morrison-behested and universally reviled motion to outlaw grownups in parks2 into the Council File. Not one single neighborhood council has supported this malcriado nonsense, and here’s the honor roll of opposition, spread out over the last five months:

I just bet that when Councildude Mitch O’Farrell moved to the City of Angels from somewhere east of San Bernardino he never expected that one day he would try to do a simple favor for what passes for a community thought leader these days in Hollywood, that is to say Ms. Kerry Morrison,3 and end up not only not making her happy but being roundly and thoroughly mocked in the national press.

He’s clearly letting this ill-conceived motion die in committee, but it seems that, as long as the file’s still active, neighborhood councils are going to keep blowing it up with opposition statements. There’s a lesson to be learned here for Mr. Mitch and history shows that he’s learned it well. You can learn it too if you’ll only turn the page!
Continue reading Hollywood Studio District Is Latest In Unbroken Chain Of Neighborhood Councils To Explain To Mitch O’Farrell That His Kerry-Morrison-Behested Anti-Creepy-Men-In-Playgrounds Motion Is, To Put It In The Politest Possible Terms, So Full Of Shit Its Eyes Would Be Brown If It Had Eyes

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It Is Now Confirmed That The Subject Of Furtive Hereditary Imperialist Zillionaire Michael Delijani’s Meeting With José Huizar, Estela Lopez, and Batty Little Fusspot Queen of the Historic Core BID Blair Besten Was In Fact The Skid Row Neighborhood Council, And Although The Details Aren’t Yet Known, They Can’t Possibly Be Pretty, Can They?

It not only seems like just yesterday, but it was in fact just yesterday that I wrote about a meeting in January 2017 wherein Estela Lopez of the freaking Central City East Association, Blair Besten of the freaking Historic Core BID, and furtive hereditary imperialist zillionaire Michael Delijani all got together in a pile like puppies with ironically-styled-heartthrob Councilboy José Huizar of the good old 14th. At that time, I had no idea what the subject of the confabulation was, although I insinuated just a little teensy bit that it might have had something to do with the creepy-slash-shadowy-slash-illegal zillionaire total war against the formation of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council.

Well, this morning bright and early I hopped the good old 704 eastbound to the good old Red Line to good old Pershing Square Station and beat it on up to the HCBID where I was allowed, under the too-close-for-civility observation of a bunch of weirdo BIDdies and one DLANCkie old yank in his clanky old tank,1 to sit in the freaking dark on a freaking bench2 and look at a freaking bunch of emails. You’ll be hearing much, much more about this surreal episode in both the near and the distant futures,3 and the purpose of tonight’s episode is just to get before you one of the essential pieces of evidence that turned up in the partial yield.

It seems, in fact, as I thought yesterday but did not yet have the evidence to state explicitly, that the subject of the January 2017 meeting between Delijani, Besten, Lopez, and Huizar was in fact the formation of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. And given the positions taken by all the principals over the course of the next few months leading up to April’s disastrous election, you know it wasn’t a conversation in which the interests of the actual residents of Skid Row were treated with any respect at all. It’s not presently possible to say in detail what was discussed, but you can turn the page for an exhaustive look at the proof that it was all about Skid Row.
Continue reading It Is Now Confirmed That The Subject Of Furtive Hereditary Imperialist Zillionaire Michael Delijani’s Meeting With José Huizar, Estela Lopez, and Batty Little Fusspot Queen of the Historic Core BID Blair Besten Was In Fact The Skid Row Neighborhood Council, And Although The Details Aren’t Yet Known, They Can’t Possibly Be Pretty, Can They?

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