Category Archives: City Clerk

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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Yet Another Example Of City Of LA Indifference To Illegal BID Shenanigans: City Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno Hands Out (Literal) Gold Stars To BIDs For Minimal Brown Act Compliance But Doesn’t Do Or Even Say Anything To BIDs Who Are Not Only In Violation Of The Law But Have Been Flouting It For Years On End

Yesterday evening, BID-lawyer-to-the-stars Jeffrey Charles Briggs passed along almost 200 emails between Media District BID executive director Lisa Schechter and various people at the City of Los Angeles. These are available en masse at Archive.Org. As always, there’s a lot of chaff in there and a few super-interesting things.1 Perhaps today’s story is an example of the latter.

It began on February 28, when Rita Moreno, newly of the Neighborhood and Business Improvement Division of the City Clerk’s office, the unit that’s meant to oversee the operations of BIDs and make sure that they follow the law and stuff, emailed a bunch of BIDdies to introduce herself and note that only a few of them had their meeting times posted on their websites. Of course, the Brown Act explicitly requires BIDs to notice their meetings on their websites,2 but that’s actually not why Rita was on about this. She was just trying to find out when they met so that she could attend. In fact, it’s not even clear that Rita Moreno knew about the Brown Act requirement.

However, the very next day, our old friend Lisa Schechter of the Hollywood Media District BID, who is not generally known for her law-abiding behavior but who has by now been educated by years of our intense scrutiny to the point where, I hope, she’s beginning to realize that it’s just easier to follow the law,3 wrote back to Rita Moreno, fishing for praise from this unlikely authority figure:

Dear Rita:

Just to reiterate, all of our meetings are posted in accordance with the Brown Act (Committee as well as Board) – Further you have been placed on our automatic distribution list which triggers and [sic] email directly to you for all of our meetings. If you should require any further information please do not hesitate to contact myself or our operations manager, Jim Omahen.

And, a couple hours later, Rita Moreno replied:

Yes…you got a star


And if you’re new to BID studies, you’re probably wondering why this puerile exchange is not just idiotic, sycophantic, and moronic, but also deeply offensive and discouraging to anyone who cares about the rule of law in Los Angeles. Well, read on!
Continue reading Yet Another Example Of City Of LA Indifference To Illegal BID Shenanigans: City Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno Hands Out (Literal) Gold Stars To BIDs For Minimal Brown Act Compliance But Doesn’t Do Or Even Say Anything To BIDs Who Are Not Only In Violation Of The Law But Have Been Flouting It For Years On End

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Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Regarding Nicole Shahenian’s Violation Of LAMC 48.04(B) In 2014

Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster about the fact that East Hollywood BID Director Nicole Shahenian appears to have violated LAMC 48.04(B) by stating that the EHBID’s 2015 Annual Planning Report had been prepared at a Board meeting on December 29, 2014, when in reality no such meeting took place. Also maybe look at the actual complaint I filed with the Ethics Commission.

The main points are that the Clerk ought to institute some kind of oversight to make sure that this nonsense stops happening. The Ethics Commission will rule on Nicole Shahenian’s violation of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, but that only applies because she was coincidentally registered as a lobbyist in 2014. Most BID directors are not registered lobbyists,1 but many of them apparently lie about the APR approval process. This could potentially create dire consequences due to the fact that, e.g., BIDs can actually be disestablished for such transgressions, whether or not the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance is involved. Anyway, as I said, here is the letter as a PDF, and turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Regarding Nicole Shahenian’s Violation Of LAMC 48.04(B) In 2014

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OK, Estela Lopez Doesn’t Like Paul Solomon And Yuval Bar-Zemer, We Get That. But (A) Are We In Freaking Junior High School? And (B) Why Is This Any Of Miranda Paster’s Freaking Business?? And (C) Why Is Miranda Paster Soliciting Defamatory Statements About Property Owners And Passing Them Around To Random BID Directors, E.G. Freaking Laurie Hughes??!

Friend, you gotta just click to enlarge because it’s only possible to minimize this issue so much and still have it make sense!
If I have learned anything about L.A. BIDs in my many years of deeply immersive anti-BID scholarship, it’s that they are run by a bunch of freaking short-sighted intellectually impaired amateurish morons, made mean and stupid by their wealth, who hire mean and stupid people to do their mean and stupid bidding and that the City government of Los Angeles, which thrives and grows fat on mean and short-sighted zillionaire stupidity, likes it this way.

And the story I’m here to tell you this morning certainly does not contradict that narrative, but it adds a surreal tinge of unprofessional immature junior-high-schoolistic tattle-tale-ing that I really haven’t seen before. In short, a guy named Paul Solomon bought some property in the Gateway to LA BID. Executive Directrix Laurie Hughes, thinking she recognized his name, asked Miranda Paster for the scoop on him. Miranda Paster emailed freaking Estela Lopez for more info. Estela Lopez, evidently still smarting from the whole Arts District debacle, which put her out of a job in 2013, flipped the fuck out, defamed Paul Solomon every which way, and Miranda Paster facilitated, solicited, and encouraged the whole mess. You can read the entire email chain here. And you can turn the page for an introduction to the cast and crew, a discussion of the issues, and, of course, a transcription of the salient bits of the PDF.
Continue reading OK, Estela Lopez Doesn’t Like Paul Solomon And Yuval Bar-Zemer, We Get That. But (A) Are We In Freaking Junior High School? And (B) Why Is This Any Of Miranda Paster’s Freaking Business?? And (C) Why Is Miranda Paster Soliciting Defamatory Statements About Property Owners And Passing Them Around To Random BID Directors, E.G. Freaking Laurie Hughes??!

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That Time In 2016 When Miranda Paster Forced The East Hollywood BID To Comply With Its Contract By Withholding $220,000 From Them Because They Hadn’t Sent In Their Quarterly Newsletters For Four Frickin’ Years. Nicole Shahenian: “Your Fault For Not Asking Sooner, Miranda!!!”

Nicole Shahenian explaining how just because you sign a contract doesn’t mean there oughta be consequences for not doing what it says, especially if you’re understaffed, whether or not the contract says you’re responsible for not being understaffed!!
OK, where to start? Well, how about with the contract that the East Hollywood BID signed with the City of Los Angeles?1 Right there on pages two and three, in section 2.6(B), it says:

Corporation shall maintain an ongoing liaison relationship with the community. Corporation’s responsibilities encompass the following areas:

B. Newsletters. Corporation shall prepare a District newsletter to be produced on a quarterly basis, at a minimum, and shall distribute this newsletter to all assessed property owners in the District. Corporation may, at Corporation’s option, provide the newsletter by standard mail or electronic transmission. The newsletter will be designed to facilitate and maximize the exchange of information between Corporation, City, and the members ofthe District. Each issue of the newsletter shall be submitted in duplicate to the City Clerk for reference.

So this explains why BID Analyst and City Clerk staffer Eugene Van Cise wrote to Nicole Shahenian, executive director of the East Hollywood BID, one fine day in May 2016:

Nicole,
I have invoices for $387.30, $72,291.74 and 146,852.71. Miranda has rejected payment because of our records indicate that we have not received the following newsletters:
2012: All 4 quarters.
2013: All 4 quarters.
2014: 1st & 2nd quarters.
2015: All 4 quarters.
2016: 1st quarter.
If you have these available, you may email them to me.
Please contact me if you should have any questions.

Add it up, friend! That’s almost $220,000 that Miranda Paster was holding back from the BID because they had failed to perform a clause in their contract for four years straight. This is quite a contrast to what Holly Wolcott told me in March of that year to the effect that the City had no power to make BIDs comply with CPRA even though compliance with CPRA is also a requirement in their contract.

Really, I’m beginning to think she was just lying to me because no one wants to comply with CPRA, but everyone wants freaking newsletters (?!) And why was Miranda Paster all of a sudden looking four years into the past for instances of noncompliance? Well, we will probably never know, but we can at least follow the rest of this story! Read on for a painfully detailed recounting (not to mention copies of the damned newsletters)!
Continue reading That Time In 2016 When Miranda Paster Forced The East Hollywood BID To Comply With Its Contract By Withholding $220,000 From Them Because They Hadn’t Sent In Their Quarterly Newsletters For Four Frickin’ Years. Nicole Shahenian: “Your Fault For Not Asking Sooner, Miranda!!!”

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Open Letter To Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster Concerning Tara Devine’s Misleading Everyone With Her Discredited “Zoning Not Use” Theory

Holly Wolcott in her bully pulpit, explaining it all to you!
Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster about Tara Devine misleading everyone with respect to the question of whether commercial properties were necessarily included in the Venice Beach BID. There’s a transcription after the break, as always, for the PDF averse.

This is a fairly serious matter, and actually illegal if it turns out to be the case that Tara Devine was required to register as a lobbyist last year, as I have alleged that she was. The point is that since the Clerk’s office is supposed to oversee BIDs, they ought to oversee BID consultants as well, and since both honesty and integrity are explicit criteria for qualifying as a BID consultant perhaps these two ought to look into whether Tara Devine is actually qualified. Turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster Concerning Tara Devine’s Misleading Everyone With Her Discredited “Zoning Not Use” Theory

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Pointy-Headed Longhaired Ivory-Tower-Dwelling Urbanists At Texas A&M Collaborated With Miranda Paster In 2015 On A Grant Proposal To Prove, Yet Again, That BIDs Are The Greatest Thing Ever And Holly Wolcott Had Doubts About Whether It Was A Good Idea Given The Hostile Political Climate

George Oliver Rogers, an exceedingly hip looking fedora-sporting professor of zillionaire-serving urbanist bullshit at Texas A&M and 2015 collaborator with Miranda Paster et alia on some densely-prosed lefty-fascistico-academic bosh-slash-nonsense that it’s barely worth your time to read. The dude himself, though, is cute. I’ll give him that!
I know we all have better things to do in our short lives than to voluntarily read a grant application written by a bunch of fedora-wearing Texan urbanists asking for boo-coo bucks to promote yet another weirdo theory about how BIDs are to cities as Jesus was to wedding-water. But it may, nevertheless, repay some attention, and I’m going to summarize and extract the interesting parts for your benefit. You’re welcome!

So it seems that in 2015 these fellows from Texas A&M got in touch with our old friend Ms. Miranda Paster and asked her for data and so forth for their grant application. Then they asked her to be a collaborator. You can get a copy of the whole darn stack of records I got from the City Clerk on Thursday. There are emails and a copy of the proposal itself in there.

And you can read the abstract here if you want to, and it’s transcribed after the break if you’re PDF averse, but the TL;DR is that they propose to prove that BIDs not only increase commercial property values but also residential property values.1 Interestingly, this topic of investigation turned out to be a big red flag for Holly Wolcott when it came to approving Miranda Paster’s participation. She approved Miranda Paster’s participation in 2015, but by 2016, when the professors were fixin’ to resubmit their grant,2 Miranda Paster declined to participate, citing unspecified “concerns.” See the full story after the break.

Also, Miranda Paster has hitherto been somewhat of a conundrum in the field of anti-BID studies. She exercises an inordinate amount of control over BID activities, she presents at pseudoscholarly pro-BID conferences, helps shape pro-BID messaging, and arranges for BIDs to lobby the City of Los Angeles, and yet we3 have been able to discover surprisingly little about her. Well, this latest document dump has changed that to some extent. As part of the application process, Miranda Paster submitted a brief professional biography. Again, find a transcription after the break.
Continue reading Pointy-Headed Longhaired Ivory-Tower-Dwelling Urbanists At Texas A&M Collaborated With Miranda Paster In 2015 On A Grant Proposal To Prove, Yet Again, That BIDs Are The Greatest Thing Ever And Holly Wolcott Had Doubts About Whether It Was A Good Idea Given The Hostile Political Climate

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So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!

Deputy Dan Halden thinking about breakfast with Kerry and the boys at the Brite Spot. If you don’t want to be depicted as a cartoon, stop acting like a cartoon. It’s that simple.
Good Lord, there’s too much to describe, but this is a rich, rich set of documents. I spent more than two hours at City Hall this morning scanning this nonsense, and here it is, in the rawest possible form. There are gems in that mine, friends, but until I have time, you’ll have to scratch them out your own self. For now they’re all up on our Archive.Org account. There’s stuff about the Venice Beach BID, and Carol Schatz‘s lil baby, the Downtown Center BID got audited in 2013, Daniel Halden and Kerry H. Morrison are up to their usual dimwitted antics, Miranda Paster collaborated on a grant with a bunch of longhair sociologists at TAMU, and the freaking Arts District freaking redux!! Here’s a list with links and brief descriptions:
Continue reading So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!

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CPRA Goes Meta: Holly Wolcott Refuses To Release Some Records But Ends Up Releasing Advice Email From Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas Authorizing Her Refusal

Holly Wolcott reimagined as a child of the 60s, chanting the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo of her people, which goes like this: “CPRA does not obligate me to answer questions. Only to provide records. CPRA does not obligate me to answer questions. Only to provide records.” HEY HOLLY!! CPRA also does not obligate you to not answer questions…
Perhaps you remember the long and winding narrative of how I spent almost half of last year trying to get the City Clerk’s office to cough up mailing addresses for the property owners in the Venice Beach BID, which they finally did do. There is a reasonable summary with links right here. Today I can reveal a little behind-the-scenes episode in that story.

A few weeks ago, in the middle of about a thousand pages of emails that the City Clerk’s office finally handed over, only about six months after I asked for them, I found this little gem of an email chain. Most of it is me hassling various Clerk staffies for the list of addresses, but right in the middle of it all, there’s an interlude between Holly Wolcott and Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas, who’s evidently some kind of CPRA specialist over there in City Hall East.1

The TL;DR is that she goes: “Mike, do I gotta give him the goods?” and Mike’s all: “Nah, Holly, you don’t gotta because reasons.” It’s also interesting that the reasons he gives her are specious, providing, among other things, yet another example of how the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 (which makes BIDs subject to CPRA) seems not to be understood so well over at City Hall. You will find some discussion after the break, along with quotes if you’re PDF-averse.
Continue reading CPRA Goes Meta: Holly Wolcott Refuses To Release Some Records But Ends Up Releasing Advice Email From Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas Authorizing Her Refusal

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Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Concerning The Question Of Whether BID Consultants Qualify As Lobbyists And What The Proper Course Of Action Might Be If They Do

A pseudo-artistic computer-modified image of Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott.
Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster concerning the question of whether BID consultants qualify as lobbyists for the purposes of complying with the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. My feeling, of course, is that they do qualify, they ought to register with the City, they should be punished for the fact that they have not done so, and the City staff who work with them without insisting that they register ought to be busted for aiding and abetting. But since evidently this has never occurred to anyone before, I thought it would be decent to give everyone involved a chance to assess their own risk in choosing a course of action. Hence this letter. There’s a transcription with live links after the break if you don’t want to deal with a PDF.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Concerning The Question Of Whether BID Consultants Qualify As Lobbyists And What The Proper Course Of Action Might Be If They Do

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