It’s a serious violation, too. The Brown Act at §54959 states that:
Each member of a legislative body who attends a meeting of that legislative body where action is taken in violation of any provision of this chapter, and where the member intends to deprive the public of information to which the member knows or has reason to know the public is entitled under this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
As far as I know, no one has ever been prosecuted under this clause, but if someone’s going to be first, I won’t be surprised if it turns out to be the infamously thuggish CCEA. And it’s a hard case to make that quality of life crimes, e.g. public drinking, are more harmful than this kind of covert conspiratorial shenanigans. One’s unaesthetic at worst. The other degrades the very fabric of our open society.
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.
With all the recent revelations about how Estela Lopez ran United Downtown LA’s finances and how she used her official dlanc.com email address to send out an anti-SRNC email blast and how she and a bunch of her asshole buddies on the DLANC board seem to have lied to President Patti about their involvement with this shadowy anonymous gang, with all that, as I said, it may be easy to forget that these co-conspirators aren’t just a bunch of slavering zillionaire cannibals, blithely using their razor-sharp fangs to crack the bones of their victims that they may joyously slurp up the marrow and then slaking their thirst with long noisy draughts of the steaming blood of their prey. They’re that and so much more!
They’re also, it turns out, a band of jovial jokesters, merrily bantering with one another while they stir their witches’ brew. It being a lazy Sunday afternoon, I thought I’d take some time out from the hard-hitting journalistic salvos my loyal audience craves and look at one of these humorous moments. After all, one doesn’t know one’s enemy until one knows what they find funny.
Here’s the story, then. Recall, if you will, that all these conspirators were vying with one another to set up pop-up polls in the days leading up to the SRNC formation election. Emails were flying both thick and fast about who had gotten a new poll, who had hauled all their tenants off to vote at a poll, and so on. Now comes Karen Christopherson, some kind of real estate drone with a shadowy company known as A.I. Management, which seems to be the boss of an office building at 420 E. 3rd Street in Little Tokyo.
On May 3, 2017 the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment sponsored a hearing on challenges to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation election. One of the main issues was, of course, the shadowy anonymous front corporation United Downtown LA and the names of the people behind it.
At that meeting, Patricia Berman, self-proclaimed President for Life of the DLANC board of directors, was moved to deny all knowledge of the matter and to affirm her overwhelming desire to find out who was behind it so she could get them kicked off the board. But don’t take my word for it! You can watch and listen to her, and here’s what she said:
If indeed one of our board members was involved with United DTLA I would love to find out about it, because I bet we could get them off the board really fast. However, I have no idea who these people are. I don’t know anyone on my board who does, and we certainly have asked around. We had nothing to do with this. I’m sorry it caused such a big stink. But the truth is it didn’t come from our listserve and it’s not something that came from us.
Jacob Douglas Van Horn is off the board for reasons that are probably unrelated to United Downtown LA, but the others remain. The most egregious case among these after Estela Lopez herself is Robert Newman, who was not only involved with United Downtown LA but was standing right behind Patti Berman when she made the statement.
She said she asked around, so either she didn’t ask him, which seems unlikely, or he lied to her when she asked him, or she lied when she said no one on her board knows who was behind the situation. None of these options look good for President Patti. However, she can go an awful long way towards washing away her sins by sticking to her promise and getting these five remaining miscreants “…off the board really fast.”
The biggest as-yet-unsolved mystery associated with the coordinated zombie zillionaire campaign against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation process earlier this year is the identity of the shadowy Delaware-incorporated anonymous front group United Downtown Los Angeles LLC and the sneaky furtive creepy crawly zillionaire and zillionaire-ophile natural person or persons lurking behind the corporate facade.
You may recall that the first anyone heard publicly from this bunch of dimwits was on March 17, 2017, when Rockard Delgadillo, former City Attorney of Los Angeles and employee of lobbying firm Liner LLP, wrote his infamous letter to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment demanding for various nonsensical reasons that they put a halt to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation process.
You may recall that one of the major issues raised in the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s appeal to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners over probably illegal, certainly immoral, shenanigans in the horrifically shady campaign against the SRNC was the question of whether DLANC had illegally opposed formation by sending out emails via its Mailchimp account. The turning point, though, was when the opposition convinced CD14 repster José Huizar to allow online voting at the last minute and to automatically register all people who’d voted in the last DLANC election.
The fact that Huizar decided to allow online voting meant that contact information for all the automatically registered voters suddenly became very valuable. I haven’t uncovered any new information on the Mailchimp front, but one of the emails from yesterday’s release of records from the Downtown Center BID reveals that on April 3, just three days before the hotly contested election, then-DLANC-Board-member Jacob Douglas van Horn,1 sent DLANC’s copy of the registered voter list to a rogues’ gallery of anti-SRNC conspirators. Here is the email and here’s what it says:
Attached is a spreadsheet with the list of pre-registered voters from the last election. All of these people have already been sent a login and pin by DONE. For many it is ending up in their spam email box. Please every take a few minutes to look over this list. If you know anyone on the list please follow up with them and make sure they have voted.
But consultants aren’t the only BID people who spend their time trying to influence municipal legislation.2 BID staff actually spend a huge amount of time on this as well, and they never ever register as lobbyists. Also, they have never, in the entire history of Los Angeles, ever been called to account for failing to register. In fact, they’ve fought vigorously against the very idea that their work is even subject to the MLO.3
The third meeting focused on nonprofit organizations that lobby the City. I wasn’t able to make it, but fortunately for all of us, it was recorded by Bobby Buck, a brave citizen journalist. He posted his recording on YouTube for all to watch and listen. The main issue under discussion here is which 501(c)(3) organizations will be exempt from the registration and disclosure requirements of the MLO. Currently the law at §48.03(E) presently exempts 501(c)(3)s from the requirements if they receive:
… funding from any federal, state or local government agency for the purpose of representing the interests of indigent persons and whose primary purpose is to provide direct services to those persons, if the individual or individuals represented by the organization before any City agency provide no payment to the organization for that representation.
The Ethics Commission staff is proposing1 that this be tightened up to exempt only:
501(c)(3) organizations that receive government funding and are created primarily to provide basic life assistance to disadvantaged clients at a rate that is significantly below market (and their employees engaged in the same activity).