As you may recall, the Venice Beach Business Improvement District putatively began its existence on January 1, 2017. However, the BID did nothing whatsoever for most of its first year except cash its zillion dollar checks from the City. In late December 2017 the BID finally announced a public meeting both through a letter sent to property owners on December 22, 2017 (there’s a transcription of this PDF at the bottom of the post) and via an email sent to the BID’s MailChimp list on January 2, 2018.
Well, the meeting took place, although I was not able to attend. The indefatigable Margaret Molloy recorded some selections, though, and has published them on her YouTube Channel. I have not watched all of them yet, but I’ve watched some of them, and it’s not a pretty sight, friends. These Venice BIDdies are a bunch of bad, bad babies.
So here’s what I have for you tonight. After the break, along with the promised transcription of devious little chump Mark Sokol’s letter to property owners, there’s also a reproduction of Margaret’s directory of these clips along with direct links through to them. Also there’s a transcription and a little bit of accompanying discussion of this particular clip, in which President Tara Devine explains how and why she and her fellow bad BIDdies on the board egregiously violated the Brown Act in the months leading up to this January meeting. Read on!
OK, so as I said, below you’ll find a transcription of President Tara Devine’s remarks on how the BID chose security and clean-up vendors. There’s a lot going on in this statement and I don’t have time to go into the weeds with it, but I just want to discuss the really serious problem with Brown Act compliance that it illustrates.
First of all, in devious little chump Mark Sokol’s letter to property owners, sent out on December 22, 2017, he describes a little about what the board has been up to over the year when they didn’t hold any meetings:
In November and December, we interviewed vendors, discussed terms, checked references, refined our budget and much more.
It’s not clear from this description just exactly who the pronoun refers to, but the issue is clarified somewhat by an item found on the agenda of the January 5, 2018 meeting:
c. Recommendation from the selection committee to award contracts for
i. Ambassadorial-style “safe” services
ii. Maintenance and janitorial “clean” services
d. Recommendation from the selection committee to investigate additional options, including possible issuance of an RFP, for homeless outreach.
So the “we” in Sokol’s letter almost certainly refers to this hitherto unknown “selection committee.” Maybe now you see the serious problem? This January 5, 2018 meeting was the first public meeting of the BID. If there was a committee selecting amongst RFPs to recommend to the Board then they were deliberating on issues within the Board’s subject matter jurisdiction. Since they didn’t meet publicly, they violated the Brown Act’s prohibition against deliberating outside of a legally noticed public meeting. This, by the way, is found at §54952.2(b)(1), which states unequivocally that:
A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
The fact that there was a committee doing the meeting means the Board almost certainly can’t successfully argue that there wasn’t a Board majority present. First of all, the Brown Act at §54952(b) defines a committee to be a legislative body:
As used in this chapter, “legislative body” means … [a] commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decisionmaking or advisory, created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body. However, advisory committees, composed solely of the members of the legislative body that are less than a quorum of the legislative body are not legislative bodies, except that standing committees of a legislative body, irrespective of their composition, which have a continuing subject matter jurisdiction, or a meeting schedule fixed by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body are legislative bodies for purposes of this chapter.
I imagine that they might try to argue that this selection committee was an advisory committee that was not created by formal action, so is not subject to the Brown Act. This is unlikely, though, when we consider President Tara Devine’s remarks on the vendors they chose. There’s a full transcription of these remarks below, but for our purposes, it’s only important to note that throughout her speech she refers to the decision as already having been made, and having been made by an unspecified “we”:
- Both of the firms that we’re selecting have an office on the West Side, which is a plus for us.
- And I must say that Chrysalis really really impressed us and had just outstanding recommendations.
- Given the scale and scope of business improvement districts in Venice we felt that Allied had much stronger current infrastructure and reputation to be able to handle problems today
If the selection committee was just advisory, how is it that President Tara Devine presents their decisions as faits accomplis? Clearly the selection committee is doing the selecting, so it’s not reasonable for them to then try to hide behind some kind of charade of advisoryness. Anyway, there’ll be more on this quite soon, and we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, find all the promised transcripts and links below!
Transcription of President Tara Devine’s remarks on how they chose vendors:
Every single current and/or past vendor I could identify for each of these companies that was within … I focused primarily on L.A. City. I did call a few in other areas of Southern California, and occasionally outside the state, but I primarily focused on [unintelligible] And I would say that references across the board were highly, highly positive for Chrysalis, Allied, and Helper Venice 2000. StreetPlus, I would say, the assessment I got, and it was nearly unanimous, StreetPlus I think is an excellent company, but they are not west coast based. They expanded to the west coast starting maybe about six years ago, and I think what has happened with them is they had initially some very strong success, they’ve expanded rapidly and I think that they’re going through a period where they lack some of the support for that expansion. So we think that they might be an excellent vendor at another time, but at this time they appear to be having a bit of difficulty and struggling with some of their accounts. We were told they were very receptive, they were wonderful to work with in many ways, but there seems to be a bit of lack of resources to support some of the operations. Given the scale and scope of business improvement districts in Venice we felt that Allied had much stronger current infrastructure and reputation to be able to handle problems today [unintelligible] I would also add just a couple small notes. Chrysalis has a Santa Monica Office, which is wonderful for us. Many of the BID [unintelligible] entities have a much more heavy focus in Downtown. Both of the firms that we’re selecting have an office on the West Side, which is a plus for us. We have not [unintelligible] our onsite management, but we will have executive management at the two offices that are closer to us and more aware of our issues and accessible for meetings and things like that. Allied has also pledged to bring in a number of sort of top-performing specialists from other BIDs that they have, both in California and a couple outside of California who have particular expertise or recognition for operating the types of programs [unintelligible] et cetera and they’ve offered to bring that expertise in to us at no additional cost. And I must say that Chrysalis really really impressed us and had just outstanding recommendations. They are clearly firing on all cylinders. They operate I believe more than twenty BIDs in L.A. Every single one of their BIDs was almost entirely unilaterally positive about the work they’re doing. They employ second chance workers. People who have a variety of issues in their past, and they really support them. Their mission is to help these people get their lives back on track. They provide the training, and they provide tremendous offsite support for these people. There are a lot of things that other companies would do on our dime and our site, but they do offsite as part of their larger mission. Their staff tend to be very passionate about the work they’re doing, and very proud of the opportunity to start a new life. So we’re really impressed by that. Chrysalis is also incredibly prepared at every junction, from their proposal to their documents to their interviews they were highly together and I think we’ll talk a little bit more about Helper and what came out of some of our interviews with them on the next [unintelligible] so that’s what I have for now.
List of Margaret Molloy’s Video Clips:
MVI 8191- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
First meeting of the board of directors of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018. VBPOA is the “non profit” that was created to oversee the Venice Business Improvement District. No-one in the room seemed happy except the self-appointed board. The real question is were they surprised or bothered at the response of the community? If not, why not?
MVI 8194- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
VBPOA board Selection Process- Attorney Don Steyer
MVI 8195- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
MVI 8200- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
Tara Devine speaks on RFPs from service providers for Venice Beach Business Improvement District.
MVI 8203- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
MVI 8205- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
Marlene Okulick & Jim Robb
MVI 8206- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
MVI 8209- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
MVI_8212- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
VBPOA board member Steve Heumann speaks about local hiring & parking for VBID personnel.
MVI 8217- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
MVI 8220- First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
Venice Beach Property Owners Association board meeting, Jan 5, 2018. Agenda Item 4: Tara Devine: “The 2 things I am hearing very loudly are communication & no services so I’m going to start with those”
MVI 8223 First public meeting of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association on January 5, 2018.
Tara Devine Agenda Item 4: CEO’s report. “city property, as we say, is a defining factor in this BID……Tara Devine responds to the question about board inclusivity & diversity. …..“this board is not a volunteer-based, low-key, low-work board. This is a very high work, high energy, high investment, & high education board.” ….”residential properties are not prohibited from being in a business improvement district & in Venice in particular not all residential properties are used residentially.”
Agenda Item 4: CEO’s report. Tara Devine: “The city generally requires us to defend the exclusion of any contiguous properties that is zoned as its neighbor is. Our boundaries are determined by those factors.”
Agenda Item 4: CEO’s report.
Tara Devine; “I want you to know that the BID has no involvement in the bills that are sent to you……..
Transcription of Mark Sokol’s December 22, 2017 letter:
Venice Beach Property Owners Association
Venice Beach Business Improvement District
December 22, 2017
RE: Venice Beach Business Improvement District — Update
Dear Property Owner:
The BID continues to work towards the launch of the Venice Beach BID services in the first quarter of 2018. At the end of September, we released an RFP for clean and safe services, and received responses in late October. In November and December, we interviewed vendors, discussed terms, checked references, refined our budget and much more.
You are invited to attend the first Board of Directors Meeting of the Venice Beach BID:
Friday, January 5, 2018
10AM – 12:30PM
206 Main St.
Social Hall, Lower Level
Venice, CA 90291
The agenda will predominantly relate to the implementation of the Venice Beach BID clean and safe programs and related actions by the Board.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you would like to receive our board meeting agendas, please sign up for our e-mail list. All future meeting notices and agendas will be sent via this list (not via letter/mail.) Regular meeting agendas will be available at least 72 hours in advance. We still do not have email addresses for a majority of property owners. Subscribe with MailChimp (we do not share our list with others and you may unsubscribe yourself at any time): http://eepurl.com/cXTV3j
The meeting space is ADA accessible via its Main Street entrance; please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Does the BID need help?
Yes, the BID needs:
– Approx. 2,000 SF of permanent office/commercial/light industrial space for clean and safe crews, equipment and office personnel; some on-site parking is a plus. Please email us at email@example.com if you have any leads for us.
– Future board members – stay tuned in 2018 for opportunities to join the Board of Directors, or various committees the Board may establish.
8 Horizon Avenue
Venice Beach Property Owners Association
Venice Beach Business Improvement District
I want to be more informed. I have ideas or input I want to share. How can I get involved?
Come to our Board meeting, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your participation in improving our community. We wish you a joyous holiday season, and a happy and healthy 2018.
8 Horizon Avenue
Venice, CA 90291 email@example.com
213 – 332-5633
Image of President Tara Devine is ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. It’s a transformative modification of a screenshot from this lil slab of ickety-poop right here.