Category Archives: California State Government

The Checkered History Of Streets And Highways Code §36612 — How The California Court Of Appeals Made BIDs Cry By Holding That They Were Subject To The Brown Act And The Public Records Act — And How Bad BIDmother Jackie Goldberg Soothed Their Hurt Feelings By Passing A Law Stating That They Weren’t Public Officials — Is It Constitutional? — It Hasn’t Been Adjudicated So Who Knows?!

The only reason that this blog even exists is that business improvement districts in California are subject to the California Public Records Act. And the first part of the story of how this came to be is fairly well known. In 1998 Hollywood property owner Aaron Epstein wanted to attend meetings of the Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance1 and Kerry Morrison, who then as now would willingly brook no interference in her proprietary demesne, told him to go pound sand.

Instead of slapping the silica, though, Epstein filed suit against the BID, and the process culminated in the lovely holding, in Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District BID, that BIDs2 were subject to the Brown Act and the CPRA. This ushered anti-BID activists into a paradise from which we are unlikely to be expelled. Kerry Morrison didn’t take this outcome with any grace whatsoever and has been pissing and moaning about it from the outset all the way to the present day.

But that opinion isn’t the only authority that subjects BIDs to transparency laws. There is also the famous §36612 of the PBID Law of 1994, which states in no uncertain terms that BIDs are subject to both the Brown Act and the CPRA.3 It also states explicitly (and ominously) that BID board members and staff are not public officials. Obviously this section was added by the legislature after the Epstein ruling, but I never took the time to investigate the history.

Until now, that is. And what an obvious-after-the-fact surprise it was to find that the bill that added that section was written by none other than Jackie Goldberg, who as CD13 Councilmember during the formation of the Hollywood Entertainment District BID was known to have a great deal of blood on her hands already.4 But by March 2001, when Epstein was finally decided, Goldberg was in the Assembly, so naturally it was to her that the BIDdies, emotionally traumatized by the court’s decision,5 went running for comfort.

And in response to their pleas Goldberg introduced AB 1021 (2001) to coat the bitter pill of Epstein with some soothing syrup and to codify these changes in §36612 of the PBID law even while acknowledging that the legislature wasn’t going to be able to change the court’s holding 6 And I recently obtained a copy of the bill analysis prepared at the time for the Assembly’s Committee on Local Government to help them understand what they were voting for.7 Therein are laid out not only the provisions of the new law, but the complaints of the BIDdies, so the connection is perfectly clear.

The main concessions to the BIDdie agenda found in the code section are the explicit statement that BIDs are private corporations and that neither BID boards nor staff can be considered public officials for any reason. This last bit is tied in to the BIDs’ fear that board members might be subject to California’s political reform act and to Government Code §1090 and therefore to various ethics restrictions and financial disclosure requirements, although it’s not really clear to me that the language has that effect. I’m no kind of expert, though.

Another sop to the BIDdies provided here by Goldberg was the authorization of 10 year renewals. Previously BIDs could only renew for up to five years. In any case, turn the page for more detail, more non-expert discussion and, as always, a transcription of the document.
Continue reading The Checkered History Of Streets And Highways Code §36612 — How The California Court Of Appeals Made BIDs Cry By Holding That They Were Subject To The Brown Act And The Public Records Act — And How Bad BIDmother Jackie Goldberg Soothed Their Hurt Feelings By Passing A Law Stating That They Weren’t Public Officials — Is It Constitutional? — It Hasn’t Been Adjudicated So Who Knows?!

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Remember Those Underpass Homeless Encampments Outside The South Park BID Boundaries? — The BID Is Not Only Paying Staff To Photograph Them — Also They Are Paying Staff To Lobby Miguel Santiago’s Office To Get CalTrans And CHP To Clear Them Out — Why Is A Member Of The California State Assembly Ignoring The BID’s Lawless Behavior? — Probably For Money, Doncha Think? — Or Because — With The Recent Fall Of The House Of Huizar — Santiago Feels His Path To CD14 Is Wide Freaking Open

OK, remember how there are these underpasses with a bunch of homeless encampments in them that are not in the South Park BID but the BIDdies wanted to clean them up anyway except Ellen Riotto said they couldn’t cause it was against the law but then she sent her staffies out to gather photographic evidence of the encampments which is clearly also against the law? OK, this is another episode in that story!

And it’s worth taking a moment to review just why the BID can’t spend money on stuff going on outside its boundaries, never forgetting for a moment that dedicating staff time to a matter is spending money on it, which is to say the money paid the staff member. It’s all due to the Property and Business Improvement District Act at §36625(a)(6), which states unequivocally that:

The revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district or for any purpose other than the purposes specified in the resolution of intention

Oh, also, keep in mind that the problem, from the BID’s point of view, with these underpasses is that the City of LA seems not to be allowed to evict homeless people from under them, evidently because it’s state property under there. Thus Caltrans and the Highway Patrol somehow have to do it, and the BID just doesn’t have the influence with them that they do with the City, I guess, which apparently makes it a separate and ongoing problem for the BID.

So the other day I received a big pile of emails from the Parkies comprising correspondence between them and any email address at ca.gov or its subdomains. You can gaze lovingly upon the whole steaming heap of them here on Archive.Org. And amongst these are email after email after email between South Park BID staff and staffers in the office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, in whose district the BID situates, having to do with those damn underpasses.

That is to say there is plenty of evidence in there of repeated violations of §36625(a)(6). But who does one complain to about it? We’ve already seen that the Los Angeles City Clerk, which putatively oversees our BIDs, will take complaints about insufficient brutality towards the homeless, but not, it seems, about violations of the law by the BIDs themselves. And it’s disconcerting to say the least to see an actual Assemblymember conspiring to violate the laws which he and his colleagues have sworn to defend.1

Although I suppose it’s not surprising that Miguel Santiago would be involved in such a scheme, given his demonstrated proclivity for selling the best interests of the people of California down the river just cause some BIDs asked him to. As I’ve said many times, I wasn’t cynical at all before I started learning about BIDs, but the BIDdies have made me so. Turn the page, if you will, for as much of the chronology as I have, links to the emails, and a few select transcriptions.
Continue reading Remember Those Underpass Homeless Encampments Outside The South Park BID Boundaries? — The BID Is Not Only Paying Staff To Photograph Them — Also They Are Paying Staff To Lobby Miguel Santiago’s Office To Get CalTrans And CHP To Clear Them Out — Why Is A Member Of The California State Assembly Ignoring The BID’s Lawless Behavior? — Probably For Money, Doncha Think? — Or Because — With The Recent Fall Of The House Of Huizar — Santiago Feels His Path To CD14 Is Wide Freaking Open

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The Hollywood Forever Cemetery Violated Alcohol Laws Or Regulations For Years While Will Salao Was Running The LA Metro Office — And Then Gerry Sanchez Took Over In 2017 After Will Salao Was Arrested For Corruption And Tried To Restore Compliance — And Marisol Rodriguez From CD13 And Julie Nony From The LAPD Attacked Him And Snitched To Kevin DeLeon On Him — And Gerry Sanchez Just Caved Under Pressure — Said He Would “Eat Shit And Walk It Back” — Didn’t He Take An Oath To Uphold The Freaking Law??

NOTE: The records discussed in this post tell an interesting story. But the story of how I got my hands on these records is also interesting, and you can read it here.

If you’ve spent much time in Hollywood you’ve noticed the wildly popular movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. They’re sponsored by Cinespia and have been going on since 2002. These events have been the subject of sycophantic only-in-Los-Angeles style coverage in local news outlets since forever. E.g. in 2015 the L.A. Times explained:

As the smell of popcorn and weed wafted through the air, DJ Ana Calderon spun “Sweet Caroline” and smiling hipsters lined up to snap shots in a candy-festooned photo booth that had been designed by pop artist Alia Penner…

Or the L.A. Weekly:

There’s even a cute deejay girl spinning a pitch-perfect assortment of swinging 1960s classics while 4,000 moviegoers trickle their way into the “theater,” picnic baskets, blankets and beach chairs in tow.

“Want some, Dani?” asks the cool mom to my left, extending a plastic cup filled with red wine my way.

Bring your own weed! Bring your own wine! Cute deejay girl! Cool mom! Famous dead people! You can even buy drinks from the bar! What could be more pleasant on a beautiful summer’s night in Los Angeles?! Who could ask for anything more??!

Well, evidently the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control could ask for anything more. Remember Will Salao? Ultracorrupt former ABC district manager, indicted by the feds for bribery and abuse of authority and probably a federal snitch? It seems that for years Will Salao pointedly did not worry about any problems with the drunk movies at the cemetery.

But his 2017 replacement, putatively new broom and special agent in charge Gerry Sanchez, immediately noticed something funny about these events at the Cemetery that evidently had been just fine with bribe-accepting Will Salao. They were breaking the damn law by letting people bring booze in, or at least Gerry Sanchez thought they were breaking the law, or maybe it was a regulation. No one ever seems to have identified the specific law they were breaking. And he did what seems to be his job and told them that it was against the law for people to bring their own alcohol in to the movie screenings and they would have to stop.

And you can guess what happened next, right? The cemetery bitched and moaned and complained to their elected representatives and so forth but then the LAPD and the City government stepped up in favor of everyone following the damn law! We’ve seen how diligent they were in conspiring against nightclubs on Hollywood Blvd, for instance, with LAPD, CD13, and City Planning teaming up to get them all shut down on the basis of obsessively compiled lists of violations. So why wouldn’t they defend the law in this instance as well? You remember the law, don’t you? It’s that thing we’re all equal under.

Actually, nope. It seems that when you’ve got 4,000 palefaced happy hipsters swilling wine and smoking weed on the lawn things work very, very differently from situations with a different color scheme. In this case, rather than spending years trying to shut down the putative violators with every creepy cop trick known to the power elite, CD13’s Marisol Rodriguez, the LAPD’s Julie Nony, and Baydsar Thomasian of Kevin DeLeon’s office basically swarmed special agent in charge Gerry Sanchez and yelled at him until he gave up and decided to let the cemetery continue breaking the law. That is, if there even was a law broken.

And then, because the guy’s no hero, he spent the next few days whining about it to his superiors instead of honoring the oath he took to defend the law. Or instead of realizing that no law had been broken and owning up to that. Either way, the guy’s a loser, but then we already knew that. Turn the page, of course, for every last detailed piece of this no-heroes-involved story, told, as usual, by means of transcribed emails.
Continue reading The Hollywood Forever Cemetery Violated Alcohol Laws Or Regulations For Years While Will Salao Was Running The LA Metro Office — And Then Gerry Sanchez Took Over In 2017 After Will Salao Was Arrested For Corruption And Tried To Restore Compliance — And Marisol Rodriguez From CD13 And Julie Nony From The LAPD Attacked Him And Snitched To Kevin DeLeon On Him — And Gerry Sanchez Just Caved Under Pressure — Said He Would “Eat Shit And Walk It Back” — Didn’t He Take An Oath To Uphold The Freaking Law??

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