An Interesting Example From Wilshire Center Showing How Eric Garcetti Used The BID To Supply A Tame Businessperson To Speak For Herb Wesson’s Proposed K-Town Homeless Shelter — Revealing At Least One Of The Ways In Which The City Of Los Angeles Relies On BIDs To Manufacture An Appearance Of Community Support For Its Projects — Did I Mention The City Told The BID A Week Before They Told The News Media And Asked The BID To Keep Quiet About It?!

It’s been clear for a long time now that one of the uses that the City gets out of BIDs is to encourage them to lobby it, thus creating an appearance of community support for projects that the City intended to do all along. It’s easy to see the results of this process at any City Council meeting where a bunch of BIDdies line up to speak in favor of random proposal X that they don’t have any organic reason for caring about.

However, it’s not so easy to see the lead-up to the lobbying events. Obviously City officials are reluctant to release the evidence, and perhaps the BIDdies are as well.1 That’s why today’s documents are so very interesting! The emails I’m presenting are part of a larger release from the Wilshire Center BID, and you can get the original MBOX file or PDFs if you prefer here on Archive.Org.

The story is about the by-now famous homeless shelter proposed for Koreatown by CD10 repster Herb Wesson. The world found out about this project on May 2, 2018 at a joint press conference held by Wesson and Eric Garcetti, as Gale Holland explains in this characteristically excellent story in the Times.2

But amazingly, City staffers told the BID about the proposal on April 26, a full week before anyone else knew. BID board members were asked to keep quiet about it and also to propose a businessperson to speak at the May 2 press conference in support of the shelter. Real Estate zillionaire Mike Hakim volunteered himself to speak at BID director Mike Russell’s request but was, it seems, ignored by everyone, no doubt due to his shady, universally hated skyscraper project in Koreatown.

Instead, Mike Russell nominated Greenbridge Investments flunky Brenda Arianpour, a real estate zillionaire whom Russell misrepresented as a small business owner. After thorough vetting by Garcetti’s communications flacks, Arianpour was chosen to speak in favor of the project. Although not, of course, to speak in her own unscrutinized words. Garcetti’s flacks were sure to discuss “talking points” with her in advance.

The emails by which this was arranged are linked to and transcribed below.


Robert Park to Mike Russell and Jamie Hwang — 04/26/2018 04:48 PM

Subject: Small Biz owner – press conference
From: Robert Park <robert.park@lacity.org>
Date: 04/26/2018 04:48 PM
To: Wilshire Center <mike@wilshirecenter.com>, Jamie Hwang <jamie.hwang@lacity.org>
Hi Mike!

For the presser, we’d love to have a local small business owner to speak in support for the site. Jamie and I wanted to check w/ you and the BID to see if you have any members that would be a good candidate….

We’ll only have 5 speakers for the entire presser, so this will be a pretty big deal.

Plz let us know, and if you don’t, no worries at all!
– – –
Robert Park
Central Area Representative
Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
200 N. Spring St, LA, CA 90012
Desk: (213) 978-0430 | City Cell: (213) 709-6317

Note that Jamie Hwang is one of Herb Wesson’s field deputies, so the recipient list here is bringing together all three sides of this conversation.


Mike Russell to WCBID Board — 04/26/2018 05:46 PM

Subject: Re: Bridge Home Press Conference May 2nd – Request For WCBID Small
Biz Owner Speaker
From: Wilshire Center BID <info@wilshirecenter.com>
Date: 04/26/2018 05:46 PM
To: Paul Kim <paulkim@jamisonservices.com>, Debra Leathers <dleathers@swlaw.edu>, Mike Sarebanha <msarebanha@swelgroup.com>, Mike Hakim <mike@mikehakim.com>, Sam Hakim <srhakim@aol.com>, Niall Kelly <NKelly@hotelnormandiela.com>, Mike Sarrabana <msarebanha@swel.net>, Jimmy Han <jimmyhan1@me.com>, HMH <colonyholdings@gmail.com>, Dustin Storey <dustin@centurywestpartners.com>, Brenda Arianpour <Brenda@greenbridgecorp.com>, Michael Downes <mdownes@arccapitalpartners.com>, Mark Thaler <mthaler@swlaw.edu>
BCC: “N. Gaston” <ngaston711h@gmail.com>
Good Evening WCBID Board,
As you know, the Mayor’s highest priority for the City right now is to fight homelessness. Together w/ Council President Wesson, we are now bringing this fight to the Wilshire Center BID area.

Next Wednesday, the Mayor, Council President Herb Wesson and the WCBID will be holding a press conference to announce CD 10’s site for a bridge home (temporary shelter). CP Wesson has selected a LADOT parking lot located on 6th/Vermont. As construction for supportive housing will take several years, we need an immediate solution now to help our fellow Angelenos in the streets.

• Event: Press Conference for Bridge Home (Mayor Garcetti and Council President Wesson)
• Time: 8:00am
• Location: LADOT Parking Lot 691
• Address: 682 S. Vermont Ave, 90005

We would love to have one of our WCBID small business owner to speak in support for the site. I wanted to check with the Board to see if any of you would be interested or know someone who would be good. They only have 5 speakers for the entire presser, so this will be a pretty big deal. Please let me know ASAP. Please give me a call or text message on my cell to confirm your availability 213.321.6163.

P.S. This news isn’t public yet, so we are being very strategic and intentional about who we invite. If you could help keep a tight lid on this news, that will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,
Michael Russell
Executive Director
Wilshire Center Business Improvement District (WCBID)

See in particular Mike Russell’s statement that “[t]his news isn’t public yet” but they’re not keeping quiet about it like human beings might do under the circumstances. No, keeping quiet would be far too normal. Instead they “are being very strategic and intentional about who we invite.” Also, isn’t it interesting that there’s a BCC here?3


Mike Russell to Robert Park and Jamie Hwang — 04/26/2018 05:49 PM

Subject: Re: Small Biz owner – press conference
From: Wilshire Center BID <info@wilshirecenter.com>
Date: 04/26/2018 05:49 PM
To: Robert Park <robert.park@lacity.org>
CC: Jamie Hwang <jamie.hwang@lacity.org>
Hi Robert,

Thanks for the info. I’ll be there with our WCBID Bike Team (who know a large majority of the homeless members of our community). I have a few small business owners in mind, let me check their availability and get back to you tomorrow or Monday at the latest.

Thank you,
Michael Russell
Executive Director
Wilshire Center Business Improvement District (WCBID)


Mike Hakim to Mike Russell — 04/26/2018 07:09 PM

Subject: Re: Bridge Home Press Conference May 2nd – Request For WCBID Small
Biz Owner Speaker
From: Mike Hakim <MIKE@MIKEHAKIM.COM>
Date: 04/26/2018 07:09 PM
To: Wilshire Center BID <info@wilshirecenter.com>

I’m willing to speak

HMH
323.933.6100

Mike Hakim, of course, is a famous Beverly-Hills-dwelling zillionaire developer of universally despised skyscrapers in Koreatown. He’s not a small business person even in the feverish hallucinatory taxonomies used by Eric Garcetti and his kool-aid drinking staff. Everybody hates this guy. We won’t be hearing more from him in this story. Mike Russell just ignored this email as far as I can see.


Robert Park to Mike Russell and Jamie Hwang — 04/27/2018 10:52 AM

Subject: Re: Small Biz owner – press conference
From: Robert Park <robert.park@lacity.org>
Date: 04/27/2018 10:52 AM
To: Wilshire Center BID <info@wilshirecenter.com>
CC: Jamie Hwang <jamie.hwang@lacity.org>

Thanks so much Mike – and sorry for the time crunch. Trust me, we’re all on the same boat :)

If you don’t mind sharing, what are few of the names/business types that you’re thinking of targeting?

Thank you!
– – –
Robert Park
Central Area Representative
Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Robert Park has a job to do and he’s doing it!


Mike Russell to Robert Park and Jamie Hwang — Apr 27, 2018 11:27 AM

Hi Robert,
I spoke with Brenda Arianpour this morning and she is interested in speaking at the press conference on Wednesday. Brenda is small business owner. She owns a Poke restaurant and is also a food court manager for Platform 35 at Wilshire and Normandie. She is very aware of the homeless crisis and is in strong support of this new emergency housing project on Vermont.

Thank you,
Michael Russell
Wilshires Center Business Improvement Corporation (WCBIC)

So who is this Brenda Arianpour, small business owner and poke purveyor? Well, the Google doesn’t know from her entrepreneurial zest and so forth, but she is director of operations at Greenbridge investments. That is, if she’s not a zillionaire herself, she earns her living flunkying for zillionaires. According to her masters:

Her vast set of roles include: scouting new businesses through defined marketing strategies, cultivating Greenbridge’s investor relationships, maintaining close ties with new lenders and investors.

Not exactly an expected description of a small businesswoman, running a cute little poke outlet in K-Town, is it? But we’re through the looking glass now, friends. Oh, and note that her official bio states that she’s a native of Los Angeles. Even though, as you’ll see below, she went to Beverly Hills High. There’s something really wrong with this picture.


Robert Park to Mike Russell and Jamie Hwang — Apr 27, 2018 11:27 AM

Subject: Re: Small Biz owner – press conference
From: Robert Park <robert.park@lacity.org>
Date: 04/27/2018 11:27 AM
To: Wilshire Center <mike@wilshirecenter.com>
CC: Jamie Hwang <jamie.hwang@lacity.org>
That’s awesome news!!! Let me share with our Comms team to check their thoughts.
Thank you so much.
– – –
Robert Park
Central Area Representative
Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Trust but verify is Eric Garcetti’s motto, it seems. Of course he and his staff trust their good friend Mike Russell of the WCBID, and of course they value his suggestions, including pseudo-mom-n-pop poke dealer Brenda Arianpour, but nevertheless they gotta check her out with their “Comms team” to make sure she doesn’t have any skeletons or skyscrapers in her closet.


Robert Park to Mike Russell and Jamie Hwang — 04/30/2018 01:41 PM

Subject: Re: Small Biz owner – press conference
From: Robert Park <robert.park@lacity.org>
Date: 04/30/2018 01:41 PM
To: Wilshire Center <mike@wilshirecenter.com>
CC: Jamie Hwang <jamie.hwang@lacity.org>

Hi Mike – sorry for delay. Our teams just gave green light to have her.

Can you please connect her to me or provide best phone number? I’d like to connect her with our press team ASAP to discuss talking points.

Robert Park
Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Now that the flacks have greenlighted Brenda Arianpour, Robert Park has to step in “to discuss talking points.” It’s important to have community support for one’s projects, says Eric Garcetti, but not just any support. It’s important to be able to put words in the mouths of one’s community supporters.


Robert Park to Mike Russell and Jamie Hwang — 04/30/2018 03:01 PM

Subject: Re: Small Biz owner – press conference
From: Robert Park <robert.park@lacity.org>
Date: 04/30/2018 03:01 PM
To: Wilshire Center <mike@wilshirecenter.com>
CC: Jamie Hwang <jamie.hwang@lacity.org>

Hi mike just spoke with Brenda – she seems amazing.

Did you have any guests or board members that confirmed with you to attend as
well?

Thanks so much for your help!

Robert Park
Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Woot! Brenda Arianpour passed that test! And that’s pretty much the end of the story. Except that you might be curious, as I was, just what kind of effect on the discourse surrounding this homeless shelter this carefully vetted pseudocommunity member, pseudo-small-business-owner, Brenda Arianpour had, ultimately.

After all, the press conference, which was held on May 2, 2018, was covered by:

But amazingly, not one of these august news outlets so much as mentioned Brenda Arianpour. However, her presence did not go unnoticed by all! In fact, the Beverly Hills Weekly also reported the press conference! And our morally deformed friends out in Beverly Hills are known for many things, but compassion towards their poor suffering sisters and brothers is not one of them.

So, you might well ask, why was the Beverly Hills Weekly interested in what the City of Los Angeles is doing to address homelessness? Why don’t we just ship them off to concentration camps in the hinterlands of Victorville like sane people do? Good question! But it turns out that Brenda Arianpour graduated from Beverly Hills High in 2009! That’s the hook! You have to read this jive, cause it’s not believable from a description:

Beverly High Graduate Advocates for Housing the Homeless

Brenda Arianpour, a 2009 Beverly High graduate, spoke on May 2 at a press conference alongside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in support of his homeless housing initiative “A Bridge Home.”

For “A Bridge Home,” Garcetti designated $20 million to be divided among all 15 council districts to help fund new “Emergency Temporary Housing” the homeless.

A founding Board member of USC’s “Swipe Out Hunger,” Arianpour spoke on behalf of the Wilshire Center Business Improvement District (WCBID) about the importance of housing for Los Angeles’ growing homeless population.

In her speech, Arianpour supported the initiative, highlighting that it will provide the homeless with the necessary resources to “rebuild their lives.”

“The growing population of the homeless will only continue to rise unless we do something about it,” said Arianpour. “This is neither [an] easy task nor a fast fix, but [A Bridge Home’ is the start to some amazing progress.

And friends, that little piece of Pulitzer-worthy kaka was the sole discernible trace that all of the effort of Robert Park, Mike Russell, Eric Garcetti’s “Comms team,” and everyone else who labored tirelessly for over a week to get Brenda Arianpour to the podium at this press conference. Good thing she graduated from Beverly Hills High, ain’t it?!


Image of Eric Garcetti’s resting asshole face and Mike Hakim, jilted zillionaire, is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. It was stitched up out of this Mike Hakim and this Eric Garcetti’s RAF.

  1. The BIDdies by this point are reluctant to release anything if it’s going to me. Hence the recent spate of lawsuits, not nearly close to being at an end. Side note: I don’t know why these BIDs think it’s worth all that money to drive me to the courthouse with their illegal obstructionist antics. They’re ending up paying tens of thousands of dollars each and they still have to give me the damn records. Why they don’t just give them up as a first choice I ain’t never gone understand.
  2. If you’ve been awake at all for the last couple months you know that this proposed shelter is the focus of an incredible series of protests, which are well-covered by the Times, by CBS, and so on. As it happens, we here at MK.Org are in favor of the City building this shelter, but even more so we are in favor of the City making decisions publicly and transparently, and conspiring with business improvement districts is pretty much the antithesis of public transparency. We want the City to do the right thing, but even more importantly than that we want the City to do things the right way.
  3. I’m not sure who this Nicky Gaston is, but she pops up here and there in other WCBID emails I’ve seen. I don’t have enough info to Google successfully. If you know something drop me a line if you have the time.
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