Category Archives: Central City East Association

Remember That CPRA Request That Estela Lopez Made About The Skid Row Neighborhood Council In January 2017? — To The Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment About The Election? — Well Newly Obtained Information Shows That Less Than Ten Days After She Sent It She Complained To José Huizar Personally That They Hadn’t Responded — This From A Woman Who Can’t Comply With The CPRA To Save Her Life — Complaining To A Councilmember Who Also Can’t Comply With The CPRA — Or Federal Anti-Corruption Laws For That Matter

This is a new piece of an old story. You may recall that in January 2017, right after the Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision effort was certified by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, Skid Row’s own high priestess of Satan and associated evil deities, that is to say Estela Lopez, made a request under the public records act seeking various bits of information to toss into the wicked potion then, unbeknownst to the side of the angels, bubbling away in her reeking cauldron and with which she and her killer klown krew of slithy minions and halfwit henchies would later put the SRNC into a coma just like Snow Freaking White.1

That’s old news, of course,2 but still interesting. You can read Estela Lopez’s request right here and there’s a transcription of that PDF somewhere down the page in this old post. But what’s new this morning is this just-obtained email from Estela Lopez to CD14 repster José Huizar,3 in which, after a little obligatory sycophancy, she complains to José Huizar that DONE didn’t answer her request on time:

From: Estela Lopez <ELopez@centralcityeast.org>
To: josé huizar <jose.huizar@lacity.org>
Cc: Ari Simon <ari.simon@lacity.org>, Martin Schlageter <Martin.Schlageter@lacity.org>
Date: Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 5:13 PM

Dear Jose, thanks so much for today’s meeting. Below is the request I submitted to DONE on January 17. I have not received a reply. Today represents the 10-day deadline for at least an initial response to a CPRA request.

Have a good weekend. See you on Broadway!

Cordially,

Estela Lopez

I mean, really. The sheer platonically ideal chutzpah of this woman just boggles.4 She’s complaining to José Huizar that DONE didn’t answer her request within the legal deadline when (a) she herself is one of the City’s worst violaters of the CPRA,5 (b) José Huizar is also essentially incapable of complying with the CPRA,6 (c) most of us don’t have access to our councilmembers to encourage City departments to comply with the CPRA,7 and, worst of all, (d) DONE wasn’t actually in violation of the law at that point, so she really had nothing to complain about.

Not that this kind of clueless exploitation of privilege is anything surprising at this point, but it is what we write about here. Turn the page for a discussion of the technical aspects of the CPRA relating to Estela Lopez’s complaint!
Continue reading Remember That CPRA Request That Estela Lopez Made About The Skid Row Neighborhood Council In January 2017? — To The Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment About The Election? — Well Newly Obtained Information Shows That Less Than Ten Days After She Sent It She Complained To José Huizar Personally That They Hadn’t Responded — This From A Woman Who Can’t Comply With The CPRA To Save Her Life — Complaining To A Councilmember Who Also Can’t Comply With The CPRA — Or Federal Anti-Corruption Laws For That Matter

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Remember That Time In February When The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act By Voting On An Item That Wasn’t On The Agenda? — Well Now Their Lawyer Lied About It To The District Attorney — And Estela Lopez Retroactively Edited The Minutes From February — Which Is The Kind Of People The City Contracts With To Run Their BIDs — And That’s Why The District Attorney Isn’t Prosecuting Them

OK, in February of this year Estela Lopez introduced a motion at the Central City East Association Board meeting that wasn’t on the agenda. This is a violation of the Brown Act at §54954.2(a)(3), which states unequivocally that: “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.” Naturally I turned them in to the District Attorney immediately. And you might think that because the whole mishegoss was captured on actual video the DA might actually do something about it.

But you’d be wrong. It seems that the willingness of the CCEA’s lawyer to lie to the face of a deputy DA and Estela Lopez’s willingness to alter the minutes of the meeting months after the fact is enough to escape from any consequences of this violation. This kind of outcome is precisely why I found it necessary to start my own Brown Act enforcement program.

And because I have this new capability, of private Brown Act enforcement, on August 20, 2018, having heard nothing for six months, I sent an email to Alan Yochelson, who runs the DA’s Brown Act enforcement program, asking him what was up with my complaint and telling him that I would take action myself if the DA wasn’t going to do so.

On August 21, 2018 he emailed me back and said that he hadn’t decided yet but he would let me know in seven days, on August 28. Yochelson ended up talking to CCEA’s lawyer, who I think would have been Don Steier, but I don’t know for sure. The lawyer seems to have told Yochelson that he immediately pointed out the violation to the Board and they immediately revoked their illegal action.

Estela Lopez definitely edited the February minutes on August 23, which now confirm the lawyer’s version. The trouble with the story is that, as I said, I have the whole meeting on video and nothing like this happened at that meeting. In any case, these conversations between Yochelson and CCEA ended up with the DA’s office declining to take action, as explained in this determination letter, sent out on Monday.

Of course I still have the option to take action privately, and I’m in the process of evaluating that option. The section I’d use, §54960.2 allows nine months after the violation, which is November 22, 2018, to initiate the process. Watch this space for further developments, and turn the page for a more detailed narrative along with links to and transcriptions of all the evidence.
Continue reading Remember That Time In February When The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act By Voting On An Item That Wasn’t On The Agenda? — Well Now Their Lawyer Lied About It To The District Attorney — And Estela Lopez Retroactively Edited The Minutes From February — Which Is The Kind Of People The City Contracts With To Run Their BIDs — And That’s Why The District Attorney Isn’t Prosecuting Them

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How The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act Twice In One Meeting On Thursday Morning So I Reported Them To The Los Angeles County District Attorney


As you know, the Central City East Association held a meeting the other day.1 And a lot of interesting stuff went down. For instance, watch and listen here as Estela Lopez, the voodoo queen of Skid Row herself, explains to the Board that for some reason having to do with the much-discussed trash ordinance, they need to rewrite part of their contract with their street-cleaning contractor Chrysalis. There’s a transcription of the whole discussion after the break, but it’s easy to summarize what happens.

Estela Lopez is all like guys, we gotta redo the contract because reasons and then some random Board member is all like I have a motion because Roberts, and then Mark Shinbane, the Fabulous Freaking Fishmonger himself, is all like I second the motion and let’s vote. Unanimous? Done! The only problem? There’s not a word about it on the damn agenda. And this wasn’t the only instance of this kind of behavior at the meeting.

Just take a look here as freaking Bob Smiland, honcho supremo of Inner City Arts, quintessentially opposite-of-Silas-Lapham paint zillionaire, and unanimously acclaimed most galootish CCEA board member of all freaking time, responds to dictator-for-life Mark Shinbane’s rhetorical question about if there’s anything else before he adjourns the damn meeting by going off on a tangent so freaking tangential that his fellow totalitarian zillionaires were left in dropped-jaw silence as he rambled on about tourist brochures for Skid Row to be left in upscale hotel lobbies and god knows WTF else.2 And … you guessed it! Not a word about it on the damn agenda.

And what’s the problem with all this, you may well ask? Why can’t a few good old white supremacist buddies get together on a Thursday morning at ground zero of the homeless crisis in the United States of America and talk about any random crap that pops into their little zillionaire-addled heads? Well, as it happens, it is against the freaking law, that’s why!

Because business improvement districts have voluntarily chosen to benefit from coercively collected assessments, the State Legislature has passed Streets and Highways Code §36612, which makes all these BID boards of directors subject to the Brown Act. The good old Brown Act contains many treasures, and not least amongst these is good old §54954.2(a)(3), which states unequivocally that: “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.”

Mark Shinbane, of course, is famous for his criminal ways and he’s no stranger to violating the Brown Act, but this, to the best of my knowledge, is the first time he’s ever done it on camera. Turn the page for a little more evidence, transcriptions of the relevant bits, and, best of all, a copy of the report I sent to the LA County DA this morning turning these creepers in for their criminal ways.
Continue reading How The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act Twice In One Meeting On Thursday Morning So I Reported Them To The Los Angeles County District Attorney

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MK.Org World Exclusive News Flash!! LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos Announces That He Will Be Applying To Replace Charlie Beck As Chief Of The LAPD

I’m not a reporter, and I don’t seek out news, but once in a while, like the hog in the adage, I stumble across what seems to my amateur sensibilities to be an actual news story. And that’s exactly what happened this morning at the February Board meeting of the Central City East Association when LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos, in response to a characteristically sycophantic question from CCEA Executive Directrix Estela Lopez, announced that he will be applying to replace soon-to-be-retired Charlie Beck as chief of the LAPD.

I recorded the whole meeting,1 and you can watch the exchange between Estela Lopez and Robert Arcos starting here. You can read a transcription of the important parts after the break.2 And remember, you read it here first!
Continue reading MK.Org World Exclusive News Flash!! LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos Announces That He Will Be Applying To Replace Charlie Beck As Chief Of The LAPD

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The Central City East Association Had To Fire 30% Of Its BID Security Officers After Failed Background Checks In 2016–2017! CCEA Security Überhoncho Greg Foster Confirms That Resumed Police Commission Oversight Of BID Patrol Officers Was Due To MK.Org Investigation!

On Monday morning I was honored to attend the 2017 annual meeting of the Central City East Association, run by the voodoo queen of Skid Row, Estela Lopez herself. Of course I recorded the whole thing,1 and you can watch it either on YouTube or else on Archive.Org, depending on your personal preference. I usually can’t make it to the CCEA’s meetings because of having to go to my damned job, but for whatever reason my schedule was open Monday morning, and how lucky that turned out to be!

You may recall that in 2016 I discovered that the City of Los Angeles had failed to enforce LAMC §52.34 against BID security for more than fifteen years and that due to my reporting the City resumed enforcement in 2017. But aside from one phone call from Police Commission officer Ernesto Vicencio, who was in charge of the reimplementation of the law, the City has refused to provide me with any information about the process.2 So how fascinating it was to hear Greg Foster, who’s CCEA’s chief of security,3 explicitly attribute the change to my work! As he said:

… the website, [unintelligible], MichaelKohlhaas.Org, began to generate documentation that this particular municipal code is not being adhered to by the City of Los Angeles, and it should be. For many many years this went on, in and out of regulation. A gentleman by the name of [Mike] began to get a bit of momentum and challenge the City in 2016 to have this reinstated.

You can listen to this segment here and of course there’s a transcription after the break. Now, LAMC §52.34 has two main effects. First, it establishes Police Commission oversight of BID security officers. Second, it requires all BID security officers to undergo annual background checks before they can be permitted to operate on public streets. The most stunning, and brand-new, piece of information to come from Greg Foster’s revelations, was this:

That day on June first, 2017, every public safety BID across the City had to go before the Police Commission and have every single public safety officer vetted and pass the background check. As you can imagine, that was challenging, not just to our particular BID but to every BID across the City. There was a drop of thirty percent of personnel staff for Allied’s [unintelligible].

That is to say, before the City reimplemented enforcement on June 1 of this year, 30% of CCEA’s security officers were unfit for duty according to the law. Remember THAT the next time you hear some damned BIDdies ranting and raving about how much they respect the damned law! BIDs love to go about the place crowing about how their damnable security patrols make the City’s streets safer, but it seems that before my work removed illegal, unqualified officers from our public streets, the BIDdies were actually making things more damned dangerous! OK, yay! And you’re welcome, City of Los Freaking Angeles, amirite fam?!
Continue reading The Central City East Association Had To Fire 30% Of Its BID Security Officers After Failed Background Checks In 2016–2017! CCEA Security Überhoncho Greg Foster Confirms That Resumed Police Commission Oversight Of BID Patrol Officers Was Due To MK.Org Investigation!

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Estela Lopez’s Exclusion Of Andy Bales, Other Board Members, From Secret Email Discussion Of Skid Row Neighborhood Council Not Anomalous — Bales, Gardner, Kavoukjian Regularly Left Out Of Group Emails From Lopez To CCEA Board Members — What’s Lopez Hiding And Why Is She Hiding It?

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

Recently I reported that nine out of the twelve members of the Board of Directors of the Central City East Association egregiously violated the Brown Act during their weeks-long participation in the anti-Skid-Row-Neighborhood-Council conspiracy centered around the shadowy anonymous Delaware-incorporated entity United Downtown Los Angeles LLC. Well, I’ve been continuing to investigate this matter, not only with respect to the involvement of CCEA executive directrix and Skid Row voodoo queen Estela Lopez and the CCEA board of directors, but from many other angles as well.

As part of the investigation I’ve been seeking via the California Public Records Act various emails between CCEA’s board and staff. I’ve actually been asking for these for almost a year now. Estela Lopez has been consistently obstructionist, mostly claiming that all such emails are exempt due to the famously abused, mostly made up, so-called deliberative process exemption to the CPRA.1

This position is indefensible, of course, and there have been some demand letters exchanged between my lawyer and some attorneyesque dude known as Don Steier, who seems to be very buddy buddy with the CCEA conspiracy. The CCEA remains mostly uncooperative, although they did cough up about 50 pages of emails they’d formerly claimed were exempt.2 An even superficial perusal of the evidence will show conclusively that their original claim that this stuff was exempt is nonsense of the first water, and the material they released is mostly chaff.3

However, there is still some interesting information to be gleaned from this release. In particular, the fact that Estela Lopez was involved in extensive secret email discussions with 9 out of 12 CCEA directors, excluding Andy Bales, Richard Gardner, and Sylvia Kavoukjian, was in fact not an anomaly. It seems that she habitually sends emails to everyone but those three.4 I have no idea at this point why those three directors are excluded on a regular basis. Perhaps someone more up on Downtown politics will be able to figure it out. Anyway, turn the page for some examples, some discussion, and some mockery of Don Steier, the CCEA’s lawyerlike co-conspirator.5
Continue reading Estela Lopez’s Exclusion Of Andy Bales, Other Board Members, From Secret Email Discussion Of Skid Row Neighborhood Council Not Anomalous — Bales, Gardner, Kavoukjian Regularly Left Out Of Group Emails From Lopez To CCEA Board Members — What’s Lopez Hiding And Why Is She Hiding It?

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United Downtown Los Angeles Conspiracy: How Chris Loos, King Of The DTLA Fedora-Bro Robo-Hipsters, Got Invited Into The Top Secret United DTLA Email Conspiracy In April 2017, Just Two Days After His Stink-Tongued Lopez-Schatz-Parroting SRNC Hit Piece Appeared On His Post-Ethical Website Urbanize.LA

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

Some of you may know Chris Loos, web designer to zillionaires, or at least to their zombie marionette cheerleaders slash anti-homeless hit squad over at the Central City East Association. He and his asshole buddy Steve Sharp1 run this zillionaire-front post-ethical propaganda outlet known as Urbanize.LA which is mostly famous for having published a Loos-lipped slab of crapola-deluxe about the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. Skid Row Voodoo Queen Estela Lopez was so pleased with Loos’s work that she fired off an email to her co-conspirators on the very day of its publication drawing their attention to it.

And I’m sure Estela Lopez was impressed by the ease with which Loos pulled off the fairly accomplished feat of taking her propaganda talking points and spreading them out over various sources so as to make it appear that she was speaking with four independent voices. Subsequently she rewarded him by letting him join the top secret conspiracy against the SRNC. Oh, what fun the zillionaires have Downtown! How very incestuous are their frolics! Turn the page for the sordid details.
Continue reading United Downtown Los Angeles Conspiracy: How Chris Loos, King Of The DTLA Fedora-Bro Robo-Hipsters, Got Invited Into The Top Secret United DTLA Email Conspiracy In April 2017, Just Two Days After His Stink-Tongued Lopez-Schatz-Parroting SRNC Hit Piece Appeared On His Post-Ethical Website Urbanize.LA

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Estela Lopez Is Off The DLANC Board Of Directors!

As much as I’d like to be able to take credit for this stunning development, I think it’s probably unrelated to my work. Or at least it’s not provably related. Anyway, here’s what happened. Estela Lopez missed the DLANC board meetings in July, August, and September. According to the bylaws:1

Any Board Member who misses three (3) consecutive regularly scheduled DLANC Board meetings or four (4) total Board meetings during any twelve (12) month period will be automatically removed from the Board. Each DLANC Director’s absence shall be recorded in the DLANC’s meeting minutes or other manner of Board record keeping, and that, upon missing the specified number of Board meetings for removal, the President shall notify the Board Director, copy the Board, and announce at the next regular Board meeting that their seat has been declared vacant.

Of course, President-for-life Patti Berman is not a rule-follower, but for whatever reason she seems to be following this one. Check the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Board of Directors. Estela Lopez is not on the roster. Presumably PFL Patti will announce the vacancy tomorrow night as specified in item 1.

So that’s two down, four to go. Turn the page for links to the relevant sets of minutes.
Continue reading Estela Lopez Is Off The DLANC Board Of Directors!

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Why Does Shadowy Anonymous United Downtown Have The Same Phone Number As The Central City East Association?

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

I reported a couple days ago that Liner LLP, the lobbying firm hired by the shadowy anonymous entity known as United Downtown for the purpose of killing the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation, had finally disclosed their client via their Q2 report. I didn’t realize then that Liner had also filed an amended 2017 registration statement showing United Downtown as a client, which they had previously failed to do.

And there’s a crucial detail in these disclosures that I missed. I was alerted to this matter by a source who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. Take a look at the disclosure statement. In particular, the phone number that Liner gives for United Downtown is (213) 228-8484. Now take a look at Central City East’s contact info (and here’s a screenshot should it become necessary). Their phone number is (213) 228-8484 as well! This would go a long way towards explaining the outsized role played by Estela Lopez in this fiasco as early as January 2017.
Continue reading Why Does Shadowy Anonymous United Downtown Have The Same Phone Number As The Central City East Association?

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Today Judge Phillip Gutierrez Issued Final Order Dismissing LA Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association. Settlement With City Includes An LAPD Directive Applicable To ALL BIDs In The City Of Los Angeles Stating Explicitly, Among Other Crucial Things, That BID Security Has No More Authority Than Private People To Enforce The Law

A couple weeks ago the City Council approved a settlement with LA Catholic Worker, LA Community Action Network, and individual plaintiffs in the monumental case against the City and the Downtown Industrial District BID, which itself settled in March. This afternoon, Judge Phillip Gutierrez filed an order dismissing the case. Thus it’s all done except for the four years of judicial oversight to make sure that the defendants are adhering to the terms of the settlement.

The terms of the settlement with the CCEA are fairly strict, and I hadn’t seen a copy of the terms of the settlement with the City. But it turns out that on Wednesday the parties filed a a request for the case to be dismissed, which lays out the specifics. As I expected, the City agrees not to cooperate with the Downtown Industrial District security forces in confiscating property and they make some other important but not so surprising concessions.

To my mind, though, the most interesting part of what the City agreed to is this training bulletin, to be distributed to the LAPD’s central division. Although it’s a result of a suit arising from the City’s relationship with a specific BID, and although it’s only to be distributed in the one division, the wording applies to all BIDs in the City of Los Angeles. There’s a transcription after the break, but one crucial bit is this, which someone really should explain to the Hollywood BID Patrol:

BIDs are separate and distinct from the City. BID officers, employees, and representatives are not employees or agents of the City. Importantly, BID employees have no more authority than private citizens to enforce the law.

Amazingly, the bulletin also reminds police officers that they are required to treat reports of BID Patrol property confiscation as they do any other report of a theft. This settlement is a truly monumental accomplishment on the plaintiffs’ part, and our City is far, far better off for their work. They have a lot to be proud of here.
Continue reading Today Judge Phillip Gutierrez Issued Final Order Dismissing LA Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association. Settlement With City Includes An LAPD Directive Applicable To ALL BIDs In The City Of Los Angeles Stating Explicitly, Among Other Crucial Things, That BID Security Has No More Authority Than Private People To Enforce The Law

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