We’ve seen over and over and over again that for the life of them the business improvement districts of Los Angeles just cannot follow the damn Brown Act. There was that time in February when the South Park BID messed up their agenda and then revised it cause I said to, and then there was that other time when the South Parkies messed up their teleconferencing methodology and now they don’t even offer teleconferencing any more cause I pointed out their violation.
And then there was the Los Feliz Village BID episode where they illegally discussed tee shirts and got admonished by the DA, and the East Hollywood BID teleconferencing episode, and South Park again, checking IDs illegally, and Sunset-Vine checking IDs illegally, and the damn Central City East Association, which cannot even stick to their agenda, which is illegal.
And a favorite topic of conversation around the campfire here at MK Dot Org secret headquarters is why it is that the BIDs, who have all the money and all the lawyers that anyone who was inclined to follow the law might need to allow them to do so, nevertheless can’t get this simple thing right. Over and over and over again they violate the Brown Act. We don’t have any definitive answers for you,1 but maybe it’s comforting to know we’re talking about it?
And this very morning, friends, the Venice Beach BID became the latest to join this illustrious roster. Turn the page for the lurid details!
Here’s what happened. Late last night, shadowy BID consultant and CEO Tara Devine, using an alias, possibly because she’s ashamed of her role in the whole mishegoss,2 sent out this agenda right here, announcing a closed session at Wednesday’s upcoming meeting:
The Board shall recess to Closed Session, pursuant to Government Code §54956.9(d) to confer with its legal counsel relative to issues involving existing and/or potential litigation.
Here’s the problem with this description. The Brown Act at §54954.2(a)(1) states:
At least 72 hours before a regular meeting, the legislative body of the local agency, or its designee, shall post an agenda containing a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting, including items to be discussed in closed session. A brief general description of an item generally need not exceed 20 words.
And this description must be informative enough to allow members of the public to determine if they care to attend the meeting and/or comment publicly. Also, if they’re going to talk about existing litigation, they have to tell who the parties are, according to §54954.5(c), the approved agenda description is:
With respect to every item of business to be discussed in closed session pursuant to Section 54956.9:
CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL—EXISTING LITIGATION
(Paragraph (1) of subdivision (d) of Section 54956.9)
Name of case: (Specify by reference to claimant’s name, names of parties, case or claim numbers)
Case name unspecified: (Specify whether disclosure would jeopardize service of process or existing settlement negotiations)
So anyway, I sent the whole cannibal crew an email this morning at 7:46 a.m. explaining the problem:
To: Admin Istrator , Tara Devine <email@example.com>, Steve Heumann <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Mark Sokol
Subject: Re: VENICE BID BOARD OF DIRECTORS – MEETING NOTICE & AGENDA
Date: Sunday, June 10, 2018 7:46 AM
Good morning, Ms. Devine.
Thanks for the agendas. It turns out that your description of the closed session item is statutorily inadequate. First of all, “and/or” is not specific enough to allow members of the public to determine if they want to attend the meeting. If you have either existing or potential litigation but not both you’re required to state which. If you have both you’re required to say so. If you have existing litigation you’re required to state the parties per the Brown Act at section 54954.5(c).
Thanks in advance for remedying this serious matter.
There’s a twist here, too. See, the meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. They’re required by the Brown Act (at §54954.2(a)(1), quoted above) to announce agenda items 72 hours in advance. Thus before 10 a.m. this morning, that is. Well, imagine my surprise when at 9:57 a.m. this morning, with only three minutes to spare, Tara Devine sent around a revised agenda meeting every last one of my demands! Here’s the new description:
The Board shall recess to Closed Session, pursuant to Government Code § 54956.9(d) to confer with its legal counsel relative to issues involving existing litigation (Mike vs. Venice Beach Property Owners Association.)
I tell you, friends, I’m never going to get tired of this game! And as far as I can tell, the BIDs of Los Angeles are never going to be able to follow the Brown Act, so everyone wins! I mean, everyone but the people of the state of California, who are being denied adequate access to these BIDdies’ meetings. But I’m working on it, I swear!
Image of Mark “the Shark” Sokol is ©2018 by Mike “the Psych” Kohlhaas and contains about 3% of the original pixels of this old thing right here.
- But we do have a working theory, which is that they don’t believe (a) that all people are equal under the law and (b) they don’t believe in government by, for, and of the people. These two principles are enough, we think, to entail every single requirement of the Brown Act a priori. But if one doesn’t believe the principles, the requirements of the Brown Act will seem like a bunch of random meaningless rules. Of course, random meaningless rules are nearly impossible for human beings, let alone a bunch of damn BIDdies, to remember. If you want to give us a grant to hire a social scientist to test our theories, send it along! We called George Soros to ask but he’s been out of the office the last ninety six times in a row and we left eleventy seven voicemails but he must not have gotten them cause no answer. Still trying, though!
- Or probably not. The smart money is betting that, whether or not she is a full-on psychopath, and we’re not taking a position on that issue, she nevertheless is, on information and belief, seemingly incapable of actually feeling shame. In this scenario we would guess that she knows that some shame is expected of her and she’s feigning it. But really, who knows?