Greater Leimert Park Village BID Sued In Order To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act — It’s Another One That Just Won’t Even Respond — How Freaking Hard Can It Be?

Take a look at this CPRA petition against the Greater Leimert Park Village BID. It is the latest in a fairly long series of complaints I’ve been forced to file not because the BID is illegally withholding records, not because they’re putting me off and putting me off, not because they’re implementing a lot of chuckleheaded Humistonian delay tactics, but just because they simply do not respond at all. You can read a transcription of selections from the petition after the break.

In short, though, this BID is of interest for two overarching reasons.1 First, and least, because it’s in the process of renewing, a process which is both fascinating and important. BID renewal has interesting intersections with the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance and other core political issues. Everything about it is important. By ignoring my CPRA requests the Leimert Park Village BID is obstructing our increased understanding of this essential process in the lives of our BIDs.

Second, and more importantly, as everyone knows, Leimert Park is presently undergoing lightspeed and brutal gentrification. This, in turn, is related to City Attorney Mike Feuer’s putative gang crackdown at Baldwin Village Apartments. It’s well known that the City uses these actions as a way to make neighborhoods feel safer for white residents and thereby encourages and supports gentrification.

Business improvement districts have been active agents for gentrification in Hollywood, Downtown, in Venice, and probably elsewhere. Thus the question of whether the Leimert Park Village BID is involved at all in this process is inherently interesting. Even the fact that they’re not involved, if true, would be of great public interest.

And yet, by refusing to respond at all to my queries, the BID is thwarting the public’s ability to understand these weighty matters. But of course, there’s nothing surprising here. This, it seems, is just one of the things that BIDdies in LA do. Stay tuned for further info and turn the page for transcribed selections from the petition.
Continue reading Greater Leimert Park Village BID Sued In Order To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act — It’s Another One That Just Won’t Even Respond — How Freaking Hard Can It Be?

Share

Will Salao Pleads Guilty To Bribery And Corruption Charges — His Plea Deal Was Evidently Signed In September 2018 And Filed Under Seal — It Is Still Under Seal — Evidently This Makes It Likely That He Snitched Out His Codefendant Scott Seo — Who Also Pled Guilty Today — And Whose Plea Deal Was Signed On November 20 — Not Under Seal — Photography Is Forbidden In Federal Court — But MK.Org’s Own Courtroom Artist Takes Care Of Business!

Will Salao, corrupt and discredited and federally indicted former ABC agent, this morning in federal court before judge John Kronstadt changed his plea to guilty as he was scheduled to do. During the procedure it came out that Salao’s plea agreement with the government was filed under seal on September 19, 2018. This is big news because the indictment, also under seal at first, wasn’t filed until September 21, 2018. It sure looks like the indictment must have been based on Salao’s cooperation, does it not?

This theory is consistent with the fact that Salao changed his plea to guilty directly after his coconspirator Scott Seo, who also pled guilty this morning, signed a plea agreement on November 20, 2018. This agreement is not under seal and you can get a copy here if you are interested. Even though Salao’s plea agreement is still sealed, some facts about it came out in the hearing. For instance, he will be ordered to pay no more than $23,400 in restitution. By contrast Seo agreed to pay approximately $88,400.
Continue reading Will Salao Pleads Guilty To Bribery And Corruption Charges — His Plea Deal Was Evidently Signed In September 2018 And Filed Under Seal — It Is Still Under Seal — Evidently This Makes It Likely That He Snitched Out His Codefendant Scott Seo — Who Also Pled Guilty Today — And Whose Plea Deal Was Signed On November 20 — Not Under Seal — Photography Is Forbidden In Federal Court — But MK.Org’s Own Courtroom Artist Takes Care Of Business!

Share

Mike Bonin Instructs City Planning And City Attorney To Study Possibility Of Using Zoning To Protect Local Independent Businesses In Venice With Goal Of Preserving Unique Neighborhood Character — Where Are Gil Cedillo With Highland Park And José Huizar With Boyle Heights In This Conversation? — There’s An Ungodly Amount Of Money At Stake In All Three Neighborhoods But Only In Venice Are Zillionaires Losing Their Community Character

UPDATE: This motion now has a council file number, which is CF 07-0629-S1. Note that this is a supplemental file and the original motion was by Bill Rosendahl (!) in 2007 to accomplish the same thing, but it died on the vine. The original file was CF 07-0629 and Rosendahl’s original motion is here.

Well, for God’s sake. Mike Bonin, councilcrumpet in charge of that formerly holiest of holy neighborhoods, the late lamented Venice, seems to have just noticed that independent businesses as opposed to chain stores can contribute a great deal to the character of the community. With that in mind he introduced this motion in Council this morning instructing the City Planning Department and the City Attorney to study the possibility of preventing chain stores from ruining everything even more than it’s already ruined by copying San Francisco’s anti-chain-store zoning laws.

And as much as I hate Mike Bonin, and as much as I don’t go to Venice any more because I’m not a freaking necrophiliac, I think these kind of laws are a good thing. The City of Los Angeles gives so much power to zillionaires and their BIDological sock puppets to shape the character of the neighborhoods they’ve colonized and almost no power at all to the residents. Super-restrictive zoning laws like the ones proposed here can take some of that power away from the property owners and shift it over to individual non-zillionaire residents who, after all, are the ones that made their neighborhoods desirable and so whose opinions really ought to be heeded.

So even though I’m sure that Mike Bonin’s motives are despicable, and even though I’m sure all his reasons are wrong, toxic, and repellent, nevertheless, even as a hundred monkeys with typewriters sometimes produce a coherent blog post,1 so it seems does Mike Bonin occasionally propose an at least superficially laudable motion. The big question though that this raises is where is Gil Cedillo? Where is José Huizar?2

Highland Park, mostly in CD1, and Boyle Heights in CD14, also two of the holiest holy neighborhoods of this grand and holy City, are being raped, killed, and eaten just as Venice was raped, killed, and eaten starting some thirty years ago. But it’s not too late to stop the damage there before it’s irreversible. Cedillo and Huizar have the opportunity to do what e.g. Ruth Galanter, on whose watch Venice started circling the drain down which it’s long since disappeared, was unwilling to do to save these irreplaceable neighborhoods with whose care they’ve been entrusted.

Why aren’t they right up there with Mike Bonin asking staff to study how to save Highland Park, how to save Boyle Heights? Why aren’t they seconding Bonin’s motion instead of Paul Freaking Krekorian? Rhetorical questions, of course. They’re not saving Highland Park or Boyle Heights because it’s worth too much money to destroy them. Because Bonin’s zillionaire Venice constituents will get what they want but the poor, the working class, residents of Highland Park and Boyle Heights have no money and therefore no leverage at all with their Councilmembers. In thirty years, no doubt, their successors will be proposing exactly this same kind of motion, too late to raise the reeking corpses. As usual there’s a transcription of the motion after the break.
Continue reading Mike Bonin Instructs City Planning And City Attorney To Study Possibility Of Using Zoning To Protect Local Independent Businesses In Venice With Goal Of Preserving Unique Neighborhood Character — Where Are Gil Cedillo With Highland Park And José Huizar With Boyle Heights In This Conversation? — There’s An Ungodly Amount Of Money At Stake In All Three Neighborhoods But Only In Venice Are Zillionaires Losing Their Community Character

Share

As Previously Reported — On May 15, 2018 Bill Cody, The World’s Oldest Field Deputy, Told Jesse Rosas And The Highland Park Business Improvement District That Gil Cedillo Had Hired Barrio Planners To Help Displaced Small Businesses — But Newly Obtained Emails Reveal That On May 20, 2018 Bill Cody Emailed Barrio Planners And Asked Them To Help The Businesses — Bill Cody, We Wouldn’t Want To Accuse You Of Having Lied On May 15, Friend — Probably It Seemed True While You Were Saying It — And Then You Kinda Made It Be True Later — So It’s Kinda OK I Guess

Anyone who’s paying attention to Los Angeles politics recently knows about the hipster apocalypse presently unfolding in Highland Park. I had occasion yesterday morning to walk south on Figueroa Street this morning from Avenue 61 to Avenue 501 and it’s basically like hipster Jim Crow, with businesses duplicated on every block and divided starkly along racial lines. A hipster tonsorial salon2 next to a Latino barber, hipster clothing next to work shoes or ropas segundas, hipster cold-press juice bars next to stands selling jugos naturales, and so on.

Weirdest of all is the situation with coffee places. Over and over and over again one sees a hipster coffee place full of tattooed young white people right next to a panaderia full of brown people. Both places serve coffee and baked goods and yet somehow there’s evidently no way that one place can satisfy both crowds. It makes absolutely no sense to me, probably not to any sane people.3 These coffee places, three or four to the block, are a stark and clear symbol of the holocaust that so-called legacy businesses along Figueroa Street are undergoing and which those along York Boulevard have already undergone baby gone.

And because hipster-serving establishments charge prices that are many times the prices the older businesses can sustain, they can afford rents high enough to drive the older places out of business. And the landlords are thrilled by this, of course, because they pocket the extra money with extra outlay of neither capital nor labor on their part. It’s a zillionaire’s wet dream.4 And it’s also not a mystery. It’s well-covered in the press. Rents go up and very soon after the vultures start feathering their nests.

And because it’s not a mystery, and because it’s a subject of deep import to many constituents in CD1, it’s entirely fitting and proper that residents would share their concern with their Council staffers and entirely fitting and proper that said Council staffers would respond. And we have already seen that something like this happened with the world’s oldest field deputy, Bill Cody, the crankiest and most bellicose flunky ever to rep Gil Cedillo or, for that matter, any other Councilmember in the entire damn history of Los Angeles.

At the May 15 meeting of the North Figueroa Association, which is the property owners’ association for the infamous Highland Park BID, he was questioned pretty intensely by Jesse Rosas about this very issue and responded in a rather mealy-mouthed fashion by claiming that his boss, Gil Cedillo, was taking care of it by hiring some kind of a firm, known as Barrio Planners, that presumably knows how to take care of such things:

And I’m always worried about that. Oh, one more thing. We have Barrio Planners, who’s been helping a lot of the local businesses to try to find placement for some of the ones who, um, … a couple of properties have changed situations and … I have been working with all those businesses, I [unintelligible] them together with Barrio Planners, they’ll work on that issue, we pay them to do that. So, we’re very, very concerned about that and we’ve been working tirelessly on that issue.

And since that day, more than five months ago at this point, my compatriots and I have been trying to figure out exactly what the heck Bill Freaking Cody was talking about. And because the CPRA mill grinds slowly we didn’t get much action for quite a while, but because the CPRA mill does grind, CD1 finally handed over some emails. You can read all of them here on Archive.Org, and turn the page for selections that reveal that despite the good game talked by Bill Cody, the Council District’s intervention via Barrio Planners on behalf of these threatened businesses seems to have been quite minimal and therefore the subject of wild overhyping by Bill Cody when e.g. he claims that they have “been working tirelessly on that issue.”
Continue reading As Previously Reported — On May 15, 2018 Bill Cody, The World’s Oldest Field Deputy, Told Jesse Rosas And The Highland Park Business Improvement District That Gil Cedillo Had Hired Barrio Planners To Help Displaced Small Businesses — But Newly Obtained Emails Reveal That On May 20, 2018 Bill Cody Emailed Barrio Planners And Asked Them To Help The Businesses — Bill Cody, We Wouldn’t Want To Accuse You Of Having Lied On May 15, Friend — Probably It Seemed True While You Were Saying It — And Then You Kinda Made It Be True Later — So It’s Kinda OK I Guess

Share

Palisades BID Brown Act Demand Letter Leads To Complete And Total Victory! — Elliot “Cabeza De Calabaza” Zorensky And His Merry Gang Of Freaks Out In Northwest Zillionaireville Issue An Unconditional Commitment To Stop Breaking The Damn Law!

Of course you remember my ongoing Brown Act enforcement project, whereby I use threats of imminent lawsuits to try to get our City’s various business improvement districts to just follow the damn law for once. And a few weeks ago I sent the Pacific Palisades BID a sternly-worded demand letter outlining an egregious violation of the Brown Act involving illegal meetings via email and insisting, per statute, that they unconditionally commit to never breaking that particular requirement of the law again.

Well, they got the letter, and then they had two closed sessions and an open session to figure out what to do about it. You can read the agendas here. No doubt they had to have so many discussions because Elliot Zorensky is the second ragiest rageball in all of BIDlandia1 and probably had to have his oversized head wrapped in pressure bandages to keep it from exploding during the discussions and a mummy-style noggin and an impending privilege-violation-induced aneurysm are not elements highly congenial to rational, reasoned, efficient discussion.

But whatever the circumstances, it seems that reason did in fact ultimately prevail, and, them not having any other reasonable option, they decided to send me the required letter. And thus it was that, after many a twixt-lip-slip involving USPS protocols for receiving certified mail, I did finally lay my hands on a copy of said letter. And it says all the stuff it’s supposed to say. In other words, it’s another great victory for the rule of law and a great defeat for those parochial weirdo zillionaires out in the Palisades.

There is nothing like a little cheerful gravedancing on a Friday afternoon, friends! I can recommend it highly! And not only that, but there’s a transcription of their letter of capitulation after the break so you can read it too. And if you want to do a little gravedancing of your own I can highly recommend this little number right here as the soundtrack!
Continue reading Palisades BID Brown Act Demand Letter Leads To Complete And Total Victory! — Elliot “Cabeza De Calabaza” Zorensky And His Merry Gang Of Freaks Out In Northwest Zillionaireville Issue An Unconditional Commitment To Stop Breaking The Damn Law!

Share

On Monday Serena Oberstein Quit Her Position As Ethics Commission President — Evidently To Run For Mitch Englander’s Council Seat — She Was A Corrupt And Horrible Commissioner And Would Doubtless Be A Corrupt And Horrible Councilmember — But At Least Some Supporters Of Her Likely Opponent Brad Smith Are A Zillion Times Worse — Repellent Misogynist Neanderthal Piggies Who Think She Shouldn’t Run Because She Has A Young Child — And Other Attack Vectors Too Gross To Put In A Headline — As Bad As She Is There Are Worse Things Out There

According to the incomparable Emily Alpert Reyes, worst-of-the-bunch Los Angeles City Ethics commissioner Serena Oberstein resigned her position on Monday, apparently to prepare a run for Mitch Englander’s to-be-vacated seat as Council District 12 repster. As an Ethics Commissioner Oberstein was so horrible, so corrupt, so willing to betray the interests of the City in favor of her own interests, the interests of her employer, and the interests of her weirdo buddies in the non-profit community, that I have no doubt she’ll fit right in on the Council, at least until the inevitable FBI raid.

And it looks like Brad Smith, who ran unsuccessfully against Mitch Englander in 2011 is going to run against her for the seat.1 And yesterday, evidently because of my incisive, revelatory, and critical reporting2 on Serena Oberstein’s corrupt and destructive habits, I was contacted by some guy calling himself Howard P. Cohen and claiming to be involved with Brad Smith’s campaign and asking for my help to defeat Serena Oberstein.

So I agreed to help cause Brad Smith was endorsed by Democrats last time he ran so that’s good, and she’s so bad. But then later in the day I was CCed on this email from Howard P. Cohen explaining exactly why he thinks Serena Oberstein should be defeated, which seems to boil down to the facts that first, she’s “a YOUNG JEWISH FEMALE,”3 and second, that she, as a woman, shouldn’t run for office, shouldn’t “prioritize POWER,” because she has a young child. In his estimation this makes her a bad mother and therefore unfit to serve on City Council. This is wrong on so many levels it’s really hard to express.

First, it doesn’t make her a bad mother to run for office or to seek power no matter what the age of her child. Second, what about her husband, who has the same kid she has and also has a high power high visibilty political job. Where’s the attack on him for being a bad father? Third, even if she were a bad mother who freaking cares? The only relevant question is whether she’s a good politician. I’m sure there have been plenty of bad mothers who were good politicians. God knows there’ve been plenty of bad fathers.

And there’s worse, which I don’t even want to soil my keyboard by discussing. The email is transcribed after the break, though. And now I can’t have anything to do with either of these people. Howard P. Cohen and anyone who associates with the guy politically are at least a zillion times worse than Serena Oberstein. She will be bad for the City of Los Angeles in the kind of mainstream sell-out way that our City’s mainstream politicians have been bad for us since Harry Chandler invented Los Angeles.

The office of Councilmember in Los Angeles was purposely designed by Chandler and his criminal cronies to encourage selling out to developers, so it’s not a surprise that the job attracts sell-outs. We can survive her like we’ve been surviving people like her for well over a century. But anyone who associates with people who think like Howard P. Cohen thinks will be bad for the City in deep, cosmic, existential ways.

A campaign opposing Serena Oberstein’s candidacy because she’s Jewish and a woman and a mother seeking power rather than because she’s a corrupt politician is intrinsically damaging and is unsupportable by sane people. That’s surely no reason to vote for Serena Oberstein, but it’s certainly a reason not to vote for Brad Smith. And as I said, turn the page for a transcription of the email.
Continue reading On Monday Serena Oberstein Quit Her Position As Ethics Commission President — Evidently To Run For Mitch Englander’s Council Seat — She Was A Corrupt And Horrible Commissioner And Would Doubtless Be A Corrupt And Horrible Councilmember — But At Least Some Supporters Of Her Likely Opponent Brad Smith Are A Zillion Times Worse — Repellent Misogynist Neanderthal Piggies Who Think She Shouldn’t Run Because She Has A Young Child — And Other Attack Vectors Too Gross To Put In A Headline — As Bad As She Is There Are Worse Things Out There

Share

Mitch O’Farrell Has A Private Gmail Account Through Which He Conducts City Business — And His Chief Of Staff, Jeanne Min, Refuses To Release All Emails From This Account — Insists That There Is More Public Interest In Withholding Them — But No One Actually Believes That — Probably Not Even Her

In the last few years a number of public officials have been criticized extensively1 for using privately controlled email accounts to conduct public business. Hillary Clinton was famously investigated by the FBI for this. And just yesterday it was revealed that Ivanka Trump has done the same thing. Thus we were fascinated to learn recently that CD13’s own Mitch O’Farrell also uses a privately owned Gmail account, mitchof13@gmail.com, to conduct City business and, doubtless, to evade scrutiny.

This was discovered recently by our friends at the Hollywood Sunshine Coalition, who passed us the material on which this post is based. And this revelation settles a big mystery. As you know, I personally have obtained many thousands of pages of emails from CD13 on any number of subjects, and there are never any at all from O’Farrell himself. Previously I had thought that either Dan Halden, who handled most of my requests, was purposely omitting emails from his boss or else that O’Farrell was communicating in ways that didn’t leave traces, like phone calls. Now it seems likely that he has been evading scrutiny by using this secret email address.

The HSC has been making public records act requests for emails from this account. There are two ways to approach this. The first, and so far the only successful, way is to find correspondents who are subject to the CPRA and ask them for emails involving O’Farrell’s secret email address. This led to request number 18-2976 on the City’s newish CPRA platform, which is called Nextrequest.2 For some reason the City has made the request page available for public view but not the records provided. They turned over 21 highly duplicative PDF pages of emails between O’Farrell and various officers and, interestingly, some members of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. You can read these 21 pages here. Apparently the HSC has other such requests pending.

But the HSC’s other strategy has turned to be much more interesting, even though it hasn’t gotten them any actual records yet. It’s based on last year’s absolutely monumental California Supreme Court opinion in City of San Jose v. Superior Court, which found that the emails and text messages of public officials are subject to the CPRA even if they are held in private accounts.

Based on this principle, on November 7 the HSC sent this CPRA request to CD13, asking for all emails held in the account from July 1, 2013 through the present.3 And yesterday, probably unsurprisingly, O’Farrell’s chief of staff, Jeanne Min, replied with the usual mush-mouthed nonsense, the TL;DR of which is “fuck you no records.” The HSC responded pretty scathingly, and then responded again for good measure. They’ve promised to keep me in the loop with respect to further developments. After the break you can find transcriptions of most of these emails along with some technical discussion of the CPRA issues implicated.

Meanwhile I’m told by those who ought to know that the HSC will not drop this request and that they are prepared to litigate if necessary. We’ll see what happens, I guess. Whatever happens, it’s clear that the public interest is very much against allowing Mitch O’Farrell to get away with maintaining this secret side channel for communicating with his favored few and with secreting emails away from public scrutiny and the City’s record retention policies.
Continue reading Mitch O’Farrell Has A Private Gmail Account Through Which He Conducts City Business — And His Chief Of Staff, Jeanne Min, Refuses To Release All Emails From This Account — Insists That There Is More Public Interest In Withholding Them — But No One Actually Believes That — Probably Not Even Her

Share

Pyschopathic Rageball George Yu Was Nowhere To Be Seen — Neither Was Anyone Else From The Damn BID — Chinatown BID Completely Skips Yesterday’s Court Hearing — What Are They Thinking? — These Things Don’t Just Go Away On Their Own — Don’t Grownups Know That?

So you might recall that in August Katherine McNenny and I were forced by the unhinged intransigence of psychopathic rageball George Yu of the Chinatown BID to file a writ petition asking that the court compel him and his thuggish little weirdo henchies in the BID to obey the freaking law and hand over the records we asked for. And then you might recall that in September he and his damnable minions failed to even answer the petition.

Well, yesterday was the trial setting conference, way up north in the Stanley Mosk courthouse, in good old Department 86.1 And the Chinatown BID didn’t change up its strategy at all. No one showed up. Neither George Yu nor minion nor henchie nor lawyer nor counselor nor advocate nor consigliere. Just nobody. And did the judge do anything to them? Punish them in any way for their continued failure to respond? Nope. He continued the hearing until December 26. If they don’t get in trouble, how are they ever gonna learn? I guess we’ll find out.2
Continue reading Pyschopathic Rageball George Yu Was Nowhere To Be Seen — Neither Was Anyone Else From The Damn BID — Chinatown BID Completely Skips Yesterday’s Court Hearing — What Are They Thinking? — These Things Don’t Just Go Away On Their Own — Don’t Grownups Know That?

Share

City Attorney Submits Proposed Street Vending Ordinance To Council — Mostly Kicks Can Down Road To 2020 By Instructing Rec and Parks And BSS To Write Regulations For Council Approval — But Does Include Hard-Coded Ban Of Vending At Venice Beach, Pueblo De Los Angeles, And Within 500 Feet Of Walk Of Fame, Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Bowl, Coliseum, Staples Center On Event Days

September 2018 — A taquera Oaxaqueña plies her trade on Vermont Avenue north of Slauson.
In September Jerry Brown signed into law Ricardo Lara’s monumental SB 946, basically invalidating all municipal bans on street vending in California. One week later the Los Angeles City Council instructed the City Attorney to draft a compliant ordinance. And yesterday the City Attorney’s drafts1 hit the Council File. You can read the drafts for yourself:

These also came with a report from the City Attorney.

The main difference between the drafts seems to be that in the first version the Bureau of Street Services will be responsible for licensing vendors and enforcement won’t start until 2020. In the second version the City will choose a private contractor to administer the program. There may be other differences that I didn’t notice.

In neither case is it possible to tell right now what legalized street vending will look like in Los Angeles. Both drafts require Recreation and Parks and the Bureau of Street Services to draw up detailed regulations for vending in parks and on the streets respectively, and what these will look like is almost completely undetermined by the language of the ordinances. Although, if the earlier-announced positions of Rec and Parks and of BSS are going to be implemented, we’re in for another long ugly fight which will probably include more lawsuits.

Despite the inchoate character of these drafts, though, it seems that there are some prohibitions which the City Attorney feels are too important to be left up to the vagaries of the administrative rule-making process. These are as listed in the headline, and as transcribed and discussed below after the break.
Continue reading City Attorney Submits Proposed Street Vending Ordinance To Council — Mostly Kicks Can Down Road To 2020 By Instructing Rec and Parks And BSS To Write Regulations For Council Approval — But Does Include Hard-Coded Ban Of Vending At Venice Beach, Pueblo De Los Angeles, And Within 500 Feet Of Walk Of Fame, Dodger Stadium, Hollywood Bowl, Coliseum, Staples Center On Event Days

Share