On Monday morning I was honored to attend the 2017 annual meeting of the Central City East Association, run by the voodoo queen of Skid Row, Estela Lopez herself. Of course I recorded the whole thing,1 and you can watch it either on YouTube or else on Archive.Org, depending on your personal preference. I usually can’t make it to the CCEA’s meetings because of having to go to my damned job, but for whatever reason my schedule was open Monday morning, and how lucky that turned out to be!
You may recall that in 2016 I discovered that the City of Los Angeles had failed to enforce LAMC §52.34 against BID security for more than fifteen years and that due to my reporting the City resumed enforcement in 2017. But aside from one phone call from Police Commission officer Ernesto Vicencio, who was in charge of the reimplementation of the law, the City has refused to provide me with any information about the process.2 So how fascinating it was to hear Greg Foster, who’s CCEA’s chief of security,3 explicitly attribute the change to my work! As he said:
… the website, [unintelligible], MichaelKohlhaas.Org, began to generate documentation that this particular municipal code is not being adhered to by the City of Los Angeles, and it should be. For many many years this went on, in and out of regulation. A gentleman by the name of [Mike] began to get a bit of momentum and challenge the City in 2016 to have this reinstated.
You can listen to this segment here and of course there’s a transcription after the break. Now, LAMC §52.34 has two main effects. First, it establishes Police Commission oversight of BID security officers. Second, it requires all BID security officers to undergo annual background checks before they can be permitted to operate on public streets. The most stunning, and brand-new, piece of information to come from Greg Foster’s revelations, was this:
That day on June first, 2017, every public safety BID across the City had to go before the Police Commission and have every single public safety officer vetted and pass the background check. As you can imagine, that was challenging, not just to our particular BID but to every BID across the City. There was a drop of thirty percent of personnel staff for Allied’s [unintelligible].
That is to say, before the City reimplemented enforcement on June 1 of this year, 30% of CCEA’s security officers were unfit for duty according to the law. Remember THAT the next time you hear some damned BIDdies ranting and raving about how much they respect the damned law! BIDs love to go about the place crowing about how their damnable security patrols make the City’s streets safer, but it seems that before my work removed illegal, unqualified officers from our public streets, the BIDdies were actually making things more damned dangerous! OK, yay! And you’re welcome, City of Los Freaking Angeles, amirite fam?!
Transcription of Greg Foster’s comments about MK.Org and LAMC §52.34:
As I said, I arrived in May of 2017. Less than three weeks later: implementation of LA Municipal Code 52.34. For those of you who are not familiar with Municipal Code 52.34, please allow me to make sense and explain. Fifty two point three four has been on the City books for quite some time, many years. And it was actually implemented in 2001 to cover and govern the public safety BIDs. After 2000, 2001 the City went away from this policy, meaning that public safety BID officers were in fact vendors. So they no longer served them under this particular municipal code. In turn, the website, [unintelligible], MichaelKohlhaas.Org, began to generate documentation that this particular municipal code is not being adhered to by the City of Los Angeles, and it should be. For many many years this went on, in and out of regulation. A gentleman by the name of [Mike] began to get a bit of momentum and challenge the City in 2016 to have this reinstated. In June of 2017, June first to be precise, this municipal code was active in full. That day on June first, 2017, every public safety BID across the City had to go before the Police Commission and have every single public safety officer vetted and pass the background check. As you can imagine, that was challenging, not just to our particular BID but to every BID across the City. There was a drop of thirty percent of personnel staff for Allied’s [unintelligible]. Anything could have kept you from passing that particular background. Anything from, say, unpaid MTA ticket to a traffic ticket. This particular municipal code was enacted and is now in force. I’m glad to say that every officer that I have on staff has passed their 2018 permit check, so we have no issues going forward.
Image of Estela Lopez dreaming of power is ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. It’s cobbled up out of this picture of Estela pressing the flesh with future federal district judge Andre Birotte and this picture of a gun.
- Except for a few seconds in the middle when Greg Foster, about whom you’re soon to read much, much more, turned off the lights and my phone, eager to please but not too socially intelligent, turned on some kind of spotlight, which I usually keep turned off in the camera app but for some reason it was turned on. The phone is brand new and I didn’t actually know how to turn off the light, which was either irritating everyone or soon to be. So I ended up having to turn off the camera briefly and also took a long shot of my own knee while I was messing with it. So you have that to look forward to! I had to leave it in the video since (a) you can still hear the guy talking even though the camera’s pointing at my knee, and also it turns out that people will pay opposition lawyers $265 an hour to quiz me under oath about whether I edit the videos I post, so it seems important to keep a complete record of what’s going on!
- Illegally so. I’m working on compelling them to provide the records but, as anyone who’s ever had to take a CPRA case to court knows, the process takes freaking forever.
- He actually works for their security vendor, Allied Universal Security, but his job duties consist solely of running the CCEA’s security force, so it seems like reasonable shorthand to describe him as their chief of security.