Category Archives: Business Improvement Districts

Please Join The Staff Of This Blog In A Moment Of Silence For Blair Besten, Who Was Forced Against Her Will To Follow A Law. Let’s Hope The Damage To Her Self Respect, Her Reputation, Her Emotional Stability, And Her Employability Is Not Permanent.

Maybe you’re familiar with §54954.1 of the Brown Act, which requires BIDs1 to notify anyone in advance of their meetings and send them agendas and other materials at the same time this material is distributed to the BID’s board.2 Another crucial bit is found at §54954.2(a)(1), which requires posting of agendas on BIDs’ websites.3

And it will be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog to discover that Blair Besten and her weirdo criminal conspiracy, the Historic Core BID, have consistently ignored these two requirements since time immemorial. Of course, no shock. Many members of the BID’s board of directors are criminals. Blair Besten herself breaks the law with relish and impunity.

So I asked Blair Besten in May to inform me of the BID’s meetings. She ignored me for the May meeting. I asked her yet again.4 She ignored me again. A little bird told me that they had a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, June 29, so I walked by the BID office yesterday, where they had partially complied with the law by posting an agenda in the window. Too much!
Continue reading Please Join The Staff Of This Blog In A Moment Of Silence For Blair Besten, Who Was Forced Against Her Will To Follow A Law. Let’s Hope The Damage To Her Self Respect, Her Reputation, Her Emotional Stability, And Her Employability Is Not Permanent.

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In August 2016 Lorena Parker Of The San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID Interceded With Joe Buscaino’s Staff To Try To Fix Pending Criminal Charges Against Property Owners, Probably Including BID Board President Eric Eisenberg, Stemming From Ongoing Unsanitary Dumpster Conditions, Which Seems Not Only Unethical, But Also Like An Illegal Use Of Assessment Funds

In July 2016, San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID executive directrix Lorena Parker contacted CD15 staffers Ryan Ferguson and Jacob Haik1 apparently in an attempt to have them fix pending citations and criminal charges against local property owners, possibly including BID board president Eric Eisenberg, stemming from sanitation violations involving dumpsters. You can read the details in this email chain (as always, there’s a transcription after the break).2 This episode quite possibly involves the dumpster next to the Cabrillo Hotel, the filthy state of which has been obsessively3 chronicled by Bruce Ecker at The Renaissance Dump website.

We here at MK.Org have discussed at length the much-violated requirement that business improvement districts only spend their money on activities that are approved by the City Council at the time the BIDs are established.4 These preapproved activities are enshrined in the so-called Management District Plan. The San Pedro BID’s MDP can be found here (Careful — huge PDF download). You can read it over and over again and you will find no mention whatsoever of paying Lorena Parker a salary so that she can try to get Joe Buscaino’s staff to try to make criminal charges go away.

And why would anyone think this is OK? Aside from the fact that having Lorena Parker act as a fixer isn’t listed in the MDP, there’s the simple fact that if people have criminal charges pending against them based on the unsanitary state of their dumpsters, they ought not to be seeking intercession to halt the proceedings. Instead, they ought to clean up their damn dumpsters. This is citizenship 101.5 And the elected officials of the City ought to be enforcing the City’s laws for the benefit of its citizens, rather than meeting with zillionaires in an attempt to subvert them.
Continue reading In August 2016 Lorena Parker Of The San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID Interceded With Joe Buscaino’s Staff To Try To Fix Pending Criminal Charges Against Property Owners, Probably Including BID Board President Eric Eisenberg, Stemming From Ongoing Unsanitary Dumpster Conditions, Which Seems Not Only Unethical, But Also Like An Illegal Use Of Assessment Funds

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First The San Pedro BID Hated The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Loved The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Lobbied The City On The Car Show’s Behalf. But To Keep The BID’s Love The Car Show Had To Agree To Typically Coded Typically Racist Cultural Conditions: No Hip Hop. No Rap Music.

Once upon a time in 2016 an organization called Hot Import Nights was going to host a car show in Downtown San Pedro. This would seem to be a natural fit, since San Pedro is nestled between such motorhead meccas as Torrance and Gardena and Carson and Long Beach, famed hot spots of both formal and informal Southern California car culture due not in small part to the feverish and innovative automotive, aerospace, and marine manufacturing activities centered in the subregion for more than a century at this point.

But if there’s a BID in the woodpile they’re going to have an opinion, either puritanical, stupid, or both, on any proposed activities within their jurisdiction, whether it’s any of their concern or not. And it’s well-known to those who know it well that Downtown San Pedro is cursed by being chronically subject to the tender mercies of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID. And thus it is no surprise that the BID weighed in on the car show. And it’s no surprise that they hated it. It’s exactly the kind of thing that knee-jerk puritanical real estate minions will hate.

But what is a surprise is that they changed their little minds and came to love it. They loved it so darn much that they signed an MOU with it and agreed to lobby the City on its behalf. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch and white supremacy will exact payment for any favors it bestows. In exchange for the BID’s aid and comfort, the car show had to agree not to play any rap music or hip hop at their event, and a bunch of other, as weird but possibly less racist, conditions as well.

This unreasoned, or at least publicly unreasoned, hatred for all things insufficiently caucasian, is for whatever reason, a signature element of BIDolatry in the City of Los Angeles. Over the years we’ve uncovered, e.g., the fact that the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance really, really hates Chicano-associated art genres as well as music that attracts dark-skinned patrons. The freaking HPOA even hates Peruvians if they seem like they’re getting too comfy in Hollywood.

These weird, crypto-racist attitudes are not just the province of our frenemies at the HPOA. They are evidently shared by BIDs all over the City. Thus it’s really no surprise to find that the San Pedro BIDdies are a bunch of cultural crypto-racists as well. But, as always, it’s still surprising, still disconcerting, to see the details figured plain as though upon a lighted screen. Turn the page for the story in detail with extensive documentation!
Continue reading First The San Pedro BID Hated The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Loved The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Lobbied The City On The Car Show’s Behalf. But To Keep The BID’s Love The Car Show Had To Agree To Typically Coded Typically Racist Cultural Conditions: No Hip Hop. No Rap Music.

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A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

The life-cycle of a request for documents under the California Public Records Act goes like this: A member of the public asks to see records held by some agency. The agency has ten days1 to respond with a determination which states whether the agency has any such records and, if so, when the agency will be ready to hand them over.2 In general agencies are required to produce all requested records.

However, CPRA lists certain classes of records which are exempt from production. Some of these so-called exemptions are weirdly specific, e.g. at §6253.5 we read:

…statewide, county, city, and district initiative, referendum, and recall petitions … and all memoranda prepared by the county elections officials in the examination of the petitions indicating which registered voters have signed particular petitions shall not be deemed to be public records…

One of the two most important sections of CPRA with respect to exemptions is found at §6254, which consists of innumerable sections, each listing an exemption or a broad class of exemptions. And as completely in favor of absolute government transparency as I am, it’s clear that at least some of these are absolutely justified. For instance, §6254(r) exempts:

Records of Native American graves, cemeteries, and sacred places and records of Native American places, features, and objects … maintained by, or in the possession of, the Native American Heritage Commission, another state agency, or a local agency.

And there are sections which exempt such things as reports on vulnerabilities to terrorism, library circulation records, certain financial data that people are required by law to submit, and so on. These are mostly noncontroversial. Others, however, are much less defensible, at least as applied.
Continue reading A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

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Hundreds Of Emails Between Melrose BID And The City Of LA Include (1) Definitive Proof That Executive Director Don Duckworth Violated The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance In 2013 But Unfortunately The Statute Of Limitations Has Effectively Run And (2) More Brown-Act-Violating Bylaws That No One At The Clerk’s Office, For Shame, Seems To Have Even Noticed

Donald Duckworth, who runs both the Westchester Town Center BID and the Melrose BID, is slow but, it seems, pretty steady about fulfilling my incessant CPRA requests. And thus, just yesterday I received from him four jumbo-sized mbox files just chock-full of gooey email goodness! This batch comprises 2016 emails between the City of LA and the Melrose BID, and can be found in various useful formats here on Archive.Org.

I will be writing about various items in this document dump soon enough,1 but today I just want to focus on a couple of interesting items, supplied to me as attachments to some of these emails and cleaned up a little for ease of reading.2 Here’s the short version, and you can find details and the usual ranting mockery after the break:

  • Melrose BID Formation Project Hourly Charge Breakdown — Don Duckworth not only runs the Melrose BID, he was also the consultant who oversaw its establishment, for which he seems to have been paid $80,000 by the City. This is a detailed breakdown of his hours and charges over the course of the project formation. If you’ve been following my ongoing project, aimed at turning in BID consultants for not registering as lobbyists,3 you’ll recognize how astonishing and how important this document is. Unfortunately Don Duckworth’s work on this project wound down in the Summer of 2013, which means that the four year statute of limitations for violations of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance has essentially run out. The document will be endlessly useful, though, in estimating time spent by consultants on their other projects.
  • Melrose Business Improvement Association bylaws — The Melrose Business Improvement Association is the property owners’ association that administers the Melrose BID. These are their bylaws. I discovered recently that the freaking Larchmont Village BID had bylaws that directly contradicted the Brown Act. Now it turns out that the Melrose BID has precisely the same problem. It’s possible that Larchmont Village changed their ways, but so far, anyway, there’s no reason to suspect that Melrose has done.

Continue reading Hundreds Of Emails Between Melrose BID And The City Of LA Include (1) Definitive Proof That Executive Director Don Duckworth Violated The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance In 2013 But Unfortunately The Statute Of Limitations Has Effectively Run And (2) More Brown-Act-Violating Bylaws That No One At The Clerk’s Office, For Shame, Seems To Have Even Noticed

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New Documents! East Hollywood BID Quarterly Reports, Media District BID Emails, Media District BID Materials About Andrews International Security Switcheroo Including Emails, Draft Contracts, Price Matrices, And So On!

Yesterday I received a bunch of new records from Hollywood BIDboy attorney Jeffrey Charles Briggs, acting on behalf of the East Hollywood BID and also the Media District BID. Some of the stuff had to do with the Media District’s early renewal, which I wrote about yesterday, and today I’m mostly just announcing the balance of the material, which is available from our Archive.Org collections. In particular, we have:

  • East Hollywood BID quarterly reports 2012-2016 — BIDs are required by their contracts with the City to submit quarterly reports with updates on how they’ve been spending their money.1 These are useful to have on hand for reference. There’s nothing in these that stands out right now, but I haven’t read them carefully yet nor even looked at all of them.
  • Media District emails with the City of LA — And also a few from the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance folks, although nothing substantial. Again, it’s essential to have this material on hand for reference. There doesn’t seem to be much of special interest here, although there’s a lot more evidence of Rita Moreno’s uncharacteristically activist style as a BID analyst with the Clerk’s office, which is abstractly a good thing, although certainly she’s not going to be an activist if it upsets the BIDs too much.
  • Media District emails about Andrews International Security contract — The Media District BID is in the process of hiring infamous private security monolith Andrews International as its security provider, to begin July 1. These are some emails about the process. The most interesting things here are the attachments, which include A/I’s standard contract as well as proposed pricing matrices and so on. Andrews International famously runs the infernal Hollywood BID Patrol for the even-more-infernal Hollwood Property Owners Alliance just North of the Media District, so everything about them is interesting. There is much more material to come regarding this matter, and I will write about it in detail as it comes in, but it’s essential enough that I thought I’d better publish what I had immediately.

So that’s the new stuff, all except for one little email which didn’t exactly fit into any of those categories. It appears to constitute attorney/client communications, and perhaps it was handed over in error. But legally handed over it was, so I’m publishing it, and you can see a copy and read all about it after the break!
Continue reading New Documents! East Hollywood BID Quarterly Reports, Media District BID Emails, Media District BID Materials About Andrews International Security Switcheroo Including Emails, Draft Contracts, Price Matrices, And So On!

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Newly Obtained Documents Reveal That The Hollywood Media District BID Is Paying Urban Place Consulting $1,550.35 More Than The Fashion District BID Is Paying For Renewal Services Because UPC Is Billing Assistants At 20% More! Jeff Briggs Supplies Unredacted UPC Labor Matrix Without Requiring A Freaking Demand Letter! Aaron Aulenta Isn’t As Much Of A “Tech Dinosaur” As Previously Claimed!

You may recall that as part of my long term project to turn as many BID consultants as possible in to the City Ethics Commission for unregistered lobbying, I’ve been trying to track down consulting contracts and other such evidence. I obtained a lot of excellent information from the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID and, after a prolonged struggle, chronicled in excessive detail here, I obtained an unredacted copy of Urban Place Consulting’s contract with the Fashion District BID.

In the course of that whole mishegoss I had to overcome FDBID executive directrix Rena Leddy’s ultimately untenable position that the so-called “labor matrix,” a chart which detailed how much time UPC meant to spend on each aspect of the BID renewal process and how much they were to be paid for it,1 was a trade secret. Among the many cogent arguments we used2 was the evident fact that labor costs couldn’t possibly be trade secrets because UPC would of necessity have to share them with prospective clients before a contract was signed. This was a purely logical argument, but now, thanks to a huge trove of records shared with me this evening by the Media District BID and relating to their renewal process, also being handled by UPC, I have definitive proof.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Documents Reveal That The Hollywood Media District BID Is Paying Urban Place Consulting $1,550.35 More Than The Fashion District BID Is Paying For Renewal Services Because UPC Is Billing Assistants At 20% More! Jeff Briggs Supplies Unredacted UPC Labor Matrix Without Requiring A Freaking Demand Letter! Aaron Aulenta Isn’t As Much Of A “Tech Dinosaur” As Previously Claimed!

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Why It’s Quite Likely That Blair Besten Broke A Number Of Laws By Lobbying The City Of Los Angeles Over Skid Row On Behalf Of The HCBID Board Of Directors In November 2016 And Arguably Even Committed A Misdemeanor

Blair Besten rocking the Pharcyde.
So a couple weeks ago I wrote about an episode in November 2016 when Blair Besten, executive directrix of the good old Historic Core BID, at the behest of her Board of Directors, lobbied the City of Los Angeles about incentives for Skid Row development which included a seemingly endless list of wet fever dreams like no taxes ever, no height limits, no required affordable housing, and so on. Well, then someone posted my post to the Facebook asking, among other things, if Blair Besten’s lobbying was even legal. The post unleashed a deluge of stranger-danger visits to our cozy and haimish little blog and the usual slew of idiotic comments by the usual slew of unselfaware idiot commentators over on the Facebook itself.

Well, Mom had a favorite saying about wrestling with a pig, and that goes doubletime for arguing with the Facebook commentariat. So we all just ignored the whole mishegoss until, as will sometimes happen, it occurred to me that one of the most ignorant offensive mansplainy clueless wrong-headed imaginary-internet-lawyerly comments of all would provide a perfect foil for a post that I had been meaning to write for a while now anyway, and that’s how we ended up right here and now, friends.

The dimwitted commenter asked1 the OP: “What specific actions of hers do you think are of questionable legality?” This is one of them Internet comments that’s supposed to make the reader say something like “Hmmm…. now that I read that incisive question I can see that I really am a foolish dupe after all and the only reason I even had an opinion is because no very smart fellow ever challenged me… OK, I retract every idea I have ever had!!

However, as it happens, there are a number of ways in which Blair Besten’s specific action of lobbying the City on behalf of her employers with respect to development conditions on Skid Row violated various laws. For better or for worse, the discussion is unavoidably technical, and you gotta turn the page if you wanna read it!
Continue reading Why It’s Quite Likely That Blair Besten Broke A Number Of Laws By Lobbying The City Of Los Angeles Over Skid Row On Behalf Of The HCBID Board Of Directors In November 2016 And Arguably Even Committed A Misdemeanor

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Why In The World Did City Employees Avak Sarafian And Huizar Staffer Kevin Ocubillo Attempt To Get The Historic Core BID An Illegitimate Waiver From Its Statutory And Contractual Obligation To Disclose The Profits It Made From Slavery?!

In 2003 the City of Los Angeles passed a Slavery Disclosure Ordinance,1 which, in short, requires most firms that contract with the City to disclose any profits they2 made from American slavery prior to 1865. The L.A. Times published a good contemporaneous summary of the issues, which is worth a read.

This measure was promoted by pro-reparations advocates as a (mostly) symbolic expression of the City’s opposition to slavery. It’s mostly symbolic in, first, that it only requires disclosure. In fact, the only actual tangible requirement of the law is that contractors complete a disclosure affadavit. No firms that profited from slavery are prevented from doing business with the City. Also, any number of types of firms are exempt from the law. An exhaustive list of exceptions can be found at §10.41.3.

Among these are, most crucially, financial institutions. Since banks, stockbrokers, and other such firms doing business in finance are likely either to have existed prior to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment or else to have acquired financial firms that were, and since every major business in the U.S. during slavery times made money from the stolen labor of slaves,3 this is no minor exception.

Another huge exception is that the law only applies to slavery in the United States before 1865.4 Of course, slavery in present-day Los Angeles is not only rampant, it’s not only tolerated, but is probably pretty acceptable, at least to elected City officials given the likely level of campaign contributions made by slavers. After all, it’s not poor people buying those slaves, and probably not politically uninvolved people, either. Just for instance, between them, modern-day slaveholders Ray and Ghada Irani have given more than $22,000 to various candidates.5 Given the obsessive contribution-seeking behavior of our Councilmembers, this is more than enough explanation for the narrow scope of the law.6

And finally, for whatever reason, §10.41.3(E) exempts 501(c)(3) corporations, and that brings us to this morning’s actual subject, which, believe it or not, is the Historic Core Business Improvement District.
Continue reading Why In The World Did City Employees Avak Sarafian And Huizar Staffer Kevin Ocubillo Attempt To Get The Historic Core BID An Illegitimate Waiver From Its Statutory And Contractual Obligation To Disclose The Profits It Made From Slavery?!

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New MK.Org Coffee Mug Honoring Leron Gubler And The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce For Being Extra Super Duper Law Abiding, Also Tons Of New Fashion District BID Emails

My recent post about the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its lobbying disclosure activity was so popular, or at least the picture that accompanied the post was so popular, that, effectively although not actually by popular demand, we here at MK.Org created yet another souvenir gift mug, an accessory with which you too can tell the world that you’re opposed to bad BIDness in Los Angeles and also is very handy for the drinking of coffee and other hot beverages! We here at MK.Org feel that this item has the potential to outsell our current bestselling item, the Blair Besten anti-CPRA award mug. Help us make that dream come true, friends!

Turn the page for link to newly obtained emails from the Fashion District.
Continue reading New MK.Org Coffee Mug Honoring Leron Gubler And The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce For Being Extra Super Duper Law Abiding, Also Tons Of New Fashion District BID Emails

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