Category Archives: Public Records Act Pragmatics

Newly Published Emails From Westwood Village BID Reveal Lobbyists’ Interest In Westwood Neighborhood Council Subdivision Process — BID Zeck Dreck Andrew Thomas’s Clueless Ideas About Role Of BIDs In Civic Life — Michael Skiles Gets Cast As The Savior Of His People And Finds That, In His Opinion Anyway, The Role Really Suits Him! — Oh, P.S.! In His Crack-Headed Zealous Attempt To Obstruct My Free Inspection Of Records Andrew Thomas Ends Up Costing The BID $4.50 Per Page For Me To Obtain Copies For Free

I published a first batch of emails from the Westwood Village BID last month, and they’re available here on Archive.Org. As you’ll recall, Andrew Thomas, duly following the nonsensical instructions of the BID’s lawyer, the ballistical barrister of Burbank and anger-management poster child, that is to say Ms. Carol F. Humiston,1 insisted on printing out 90% of these emails, crossing out about one email address per page to justify his unsupportable foolishness, and then proposing to charge me $0.10 per page for copies of the paper.

Of course, they can’t prevent one from inspecting for free,2 and thus, because I now understand the issues involved in the whole Westwood Forward debacle far better as a result of reading the records I already obtained,3 and could therefore benefit greatly from additional review of this material, I zipped out to the Village yesterday morning to look through the goodies yet again!

And although in June, when we first began this quiet slow motion struggle, Andrew Thomas, in clear violation of the law, forbade me from photographing records, evidently Ms. Carol Humiston has cleared that up in his minionesque little mind, and so now, while he and his security guard are sitting there burning $125 per hour watching me inspect, I am able to copy the records for free.4

And that’s exactly what I did yesterday morning, and I came away with 44 pages of exceedingly interesting material, which you can peruse here on Archive.Org. It’s all good stuff, and I’ll be writing about all of it eventually, but today there are three especially interesting subjects to cover. They’re outlined in the headline, of course, and turn the page for the gory-glory details!
Continue reading Newly Published Emails From Westwood Village BID Reveal Lobbyists’ Interest In Westwood Neighborhood Council Subdivision Process — BID Zeck Dreck Andrew Thomas’s Clueless Ideas About Role Of BIDs In Civic Life — Michael Skiles Gets Cast As The Savior Of His People And Finds That, In His Opinion Anyway, The Role Really Suits Him! — Oh, P.S.! In His Crack-Headed Zealous Attempt To Obstruct My Free Inspection Of Records Andrew Thomas Ends Up Costing The BID $4.50 Per Page For Me To Obtain Copies For Free

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Judge Mary Strobel Rules That The Media District BID Must Pay $30,000 In Fees To My Attorney In My CPRA Case Against Them!! — Huge Fail For Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs And His Bizarro-World Argument That I Deserve To Lose Cause I Am So Mean To His BIDdie BFFs — Briggs’s Other BID Clients Ought To See That It Is Time To Choose Between Coughing Up The Records And Coughing Up The Benjamins!!

As I’m sure you’re aware I was forced in 2016 by the arrogant intransigence of the Hollywood Media District BID to file a writ petition against them asking that they be ordered to follow the damn law.1 The petition was granted in part on January 30, 2018 and the BIDdies had to hand over some emails to me. I wrote about those goodies here and here.

What happens then is exceedingly clear under the law. The CPRA §6259(d) states that: The court shall award court costs and reasonable attorney fees to the plaintiff should the plaintiff prevail in litigation filed pursuant to this section.

The “shall” means that a fee award is mandatory. The judge is not allowed not to award fees to the requester if the requester prevails. Of course, we have to consider what it means to prevail, but this has been settled by the courts in Belth v. Garamendi, which states: We further hold that the plaintiff has prevailed within the meaning of the statute when he or she files an action which results in defendant releasing a copy of a previously withheld document.

So the fact that the judge ordered the BID to give me those emails in February pretty much sealed their fate. Of course, they weren’t going down without a fight. My lawyer, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, asked them for $48,000 in fees. Briggs filed a response saying essentially that we shouldn’t get any fees but if we did it shouldn’t be nearly that much.

Flynn filed a simply brilliant rejoinder to that, and this very morning the judge rejected every last one of Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs’s arguments, including his incredibly, embarrassingly whiny oral argument, and handed down a ruling awarding $30,000 in fees to Flynn. Ironically, before the ruling, Flynn offered to settle for significantly less than that and was roundly rejected by Attorney Briggs. Turn the page for a transcription of the ruling and a little more commentary.
Continue reading Judge Mary Strobel Rules That The Media District BID Must Pay $30,000 In Fees To My Attorney In My CPRA Case Against Them!! — Huge Fail For Hollywood Superlawyer Jeffrey Charles Briggs And His Bizarro-World Argument That I Deserve To Lose Cause I Am So Mean To His BIDdie BFFs — Briggs’s Other BID Clients Ought To See That It Is Time To Choose Between Coughing Up The Records And Coughing Up The Benjamins!!

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How Andrew Thomas And Carol Humiston Conspired To Spend At Least A Thousand Dollars Of Other People’s Money All To Teach Me A Lesson About The Costs Of Exercising My Rights Under The Public Records Act — How’s It Working Out For Them? — Probably Not So Well In The Long Run

NOTE: This post is turning out to be way longer than I thought, so I figured I’d better link to the actual public records it’s based on up here at the top. New for your perusal and edification are three contracts between the Westwood Village BID and various persons, including Exec Direc Andrew Lloyd Thomas and the BID security provider. Read ’em and weep, friends.

While you all have been enjoying my recent reporting on the Westwood Village BIDdies and their conspiracy with a bunch of UCLA students who feel like the boring homeowners on the Westwood Neighborhood Council don’t approve of enough liquor licenses and happy hours in the Village and whatnot, there has actually been a whole other story seething below the surface, some aspects of which I am writing today to tell you about!

You see, this isn’t just about me, the California Public Records Act, and Andrew Thomas, but also about Andrew Thomas’s lawyer, Carol Humiston, the ballistic barrister of Burbank.1 Carol Humiston,2 who lawyers for a lot of BIDs, has this CPRA system which she evidently believes is going to learn me not to bother her clients any more.3 Well, aside from the fact that no one’s managed to learn me anything since about 1974, her fanaticism ends up needlessly costing her clients a ton of money.4
Continue reading How Andrew Thomas And Carol Humiston Conspired To Spend At Least A Thousand Dollars Of Other People’s Money All To Teach Me A Lesson About The Costs Of Exercising My Rights Under The Public Records Act — How’s It Working Out For Them? — Probably Not So Well In The Long Run

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Larchmont Village Trial Setting Conference Today Essentially Anticlimactic But With A Few Interesting Aspects — Judge Mary Strobel Grants Respondents 30 Days Extra To File Response

As I’m sure you recall, in April I was forced by their bizarro antisocial intransigence and utter failure to comply with the California Public Records Act to file a petition for writ of mandate against the kooky little backwater Larchmont Village BID in the heart of South Central Hollywood. They don’t seem to be interested in settling right now, and so this morning we all had to haul our tired bones out to the Stanley Mosk courthouse for the trial setting conference.1

It was the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros appearing for me and for the BID it was some dude who goes about the place passing himself off as J. Thomas Cairns, although I don’t know anyone who’s seen his ID. You may already know, but these conferences tend to be fairly routine, although sometimes something interesting happens, and a couple things happened here.
Continue reading Larchmont Village Trial Setting Conference Today Essentially Anticlimactic But With A Few Interesting Aspects — Judge Mary Strobel Grants Respondents 30 Days Extra To File Response

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The Education Of Ms. Ellen Salome Riotto, Episode 837 — Another Brown Act Violation At South Park — Not To Mention A Copy Of A Presentation By Sonder™ — The World’s Creepiest Hotel Company — Well Beloved, Of Course, Of South Park, The World’s Fourth Creepiest BID

It’s beginning to feel like all I do around here is educate the freaking South Park BIDdies about their legal obligations under the Brown Act. These are people who are so lawyered up in their daily lives that they don’t even tell their kids they love them except on advice of counsel but for whatever reason they cannot or will not get reliable guidance on how to follow a single one of California’s government transparency laws.1

There was this episode in February, this episode in April, this other episode in April, and now here we are in July with yet another hilarious tale of egregious flouting of statutory obligations on the part of the South Parkers.2 You may well recall that the South Parkies had a board meeting last Thursday, June 28, and that I attended and recorded it. And Ms. Joella Hopkins was a highlight, but not the only highlight.

There were also two presentations, one from AEG and another from yet another creepy-as-fuck hotel industry disrupter, known as Sonder, whose main advantage over Motel 6 seems to be that they have listening devices in their hotel rooms so that if guests play music too loud the company can turn it down remotely. What could possibly go wrong with that? You can watch Sonder’s spiel starting here, and AEG’s starting here.

Both of these presentations had associated slide shows, which the presenters seemed to think were somehow confidential. Sonder’s had some statement on it about how it was tip-top-secret, and the AEG presenters actually asked if there were any media representatives in the room. Watch and listen here as the AEG lady asks directly albeit fairly incoherently: “Can I just ask for process oriented are there any media in the room today?”

But as far as I’m concerned, and the law tends to agree with me, once people show a slideshow in a meeting covered by the Brown Act, that slideshow is public property. So naturally I sent Ellen S. an email asking for copies of the goods, and turn the page for transcriptions, commentary, and to learn what ensued!
Continue reading The Education Of Ms. Ellen Salome Riotto, Episode 837 — Another Brown Act Violation At South Park — Not To Mention A Copy Of A Presentation By Sonder™ — The World’s Creepiest Hotel Company — Well Beloved, Of Course, Of South Park, The World’s Fourth Creepiest BID

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One Outcome Of The Unholy Alliance Between North Westwood Neighborhood Council Subdivision Advocate Michael Skiles And Dresses-Like-A-Child-Molester Biddy-Boy Andrew Thomas Was That Skiles Changed The Bylaws To Give Zillionaires Even More Representation Just Cause Thomas Asked Him To — Which Might Be The Kind Of Thing That Andrew Thomas Wants To Cover Up Via His Myriad Surreal CPRA Violations — Although That Relies On Dubious Assumption That The Guy Feels Shame

Maybe you heard about the movement to subdivide the Westwood Neighborhood Council and form the North Westwood Neighborhood Council. This subdivision was led by UCLA students calling themselves Westwood Forward, with incipient philosopher Michael Skiles, whose academic specialty is, of all things, action theory, at the helm. The City held an election in May and the subdivision was approved.

However, unlike the heartrending pain created by the sinister schemings of zillionaires in Skid Row and environs last year, the local Westwood zillionaires were all eleventy jillion percent in favor of this particular subdivision. The reason seems to be a widely shared perception that students will be much more in favor of building more residential megaplexes and handing out more liquor licenses than the mostly über-füddy-düddy single family house dwellers on the regular Westwood NC have proved to be over the last few decades.1

Knowing all this, it occurred to me in March 2018 that the Westwood Village BID might be involved in this whole subdivision thing and, with that in mind, I fired off a CPRA request to them asking for the goodies. After many painful months of lawyers, recriminations, stupidity, frustration, and whatever,2 Andrew Thomas, the BID’s executive director, who, incidentally, dresses surprisingly like a child molester,3 finally coughed up some small percentage of the records to which I’m entitled.

Check out the whole collection here on Archive.Org. In particular, though, for tonight’s sermon, take a look at this little gem (of which there is a transcription after the break), which reveals Andrew Thomas as the puppet master pulling the strings that make Michael Skiles dance. And the tune he’s dancing to is, you’ll not be surprised to learn, all about more seats for zillionaires on the new neighborhood council’s board of directors. And Michael Skiles not only dances to the tune, but he dances like he likes dancing! He’ll go far in academia, friends.
Continue reading One Outcome Of The Unholy Alliance Between North Westwood Neighborhood Council Subdivision Advocate Michael Skiles And Dresses-Like-A-Child-Molester Biddy-Boy Andrew Thomas Was That Skiles Changed The Bylaws To Give Zillionaires Even More Representation Just Cause Thomas Asked Him To — Which Might Be The Kind Of Thing That Andrew Thomas Wants To Cover Up Via His Myriad Surreal CPRA Violations — Although That Relies On Dubious Assumption That The Guy Feels Shame

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Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

Remember Don Duckworth? Big bad BID boss of both the Melrose BID and the Westchester Town Center BID?? We haven’t heard from Mr. Duckworth here on the blog in a long old time even though he is quite an interesting character, what with his BID analyst switcheroos and his kooky Brown-Act-flouting bylaws and that whole Calabasas episode and so forth.

His absence from my literary life has not, however, been by choice.1 The fact is that circa last June the guy just decided to stop responding to my CPRA requests altogether. No records, no answers, no nothing from Don Duckworth. Hence no joyously mocking blog posts and so on. Well, friends, that’s about to change, and change big-time!

You see, my lawyer, the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, recently filed two petitions, one for each of Duckworth’s BIDs, to compel compliance with the CPRA. You can find them here on Archive.Org on pages which I will update if/when the cases generate more paper:

Melrose BID petition
Westchester Town Center BID petition

And turn the page for some excerpts from the Melrose petition! And a little more commentary!!
Continue reading Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

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Little Tokyo BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With California Public Records Act — And To Put An End To Their “secrecy, obstruction, and lawlessness”

This time not by me but by the intrepid Katherine McNenny. It’s the same old story, though. As you may remember, the Little Tokyo BID was chin-deep in the anti-SRNC conspiracy coordinated by the Voodoo queen of Skid Row herself, Ms. Estela Lopez. Thus it was natural for Katherine McNenny, one of the SRNC proponents, to try to discover more about the BID’s role using the California Public Records Act.

Ellen Endo, BID president and chief apologist, wasn’t having it, though. It took her almost a year to even respond, and even then she didn’t respond appropriately.1 Even worse than not responding, at no time did she produce any records. She still hasn’t. As we’ve all come to learn, most tragically, our esteemed legislature has left citizens in this position with no recourse but to file a petition in Superior Court, and that’s just what Katherine McNenny did!

Here’s a link to the petition itself, which is well worth reading for many reasons, not least of which is its stirring defense of the very weighty public interest in seeing fair play in the SRNC election process. Selections of this latest triumph by the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros are transcribed after the break, and you might keep an eye on this page on Archive.Org for future developments. If you don’t have time for all that deep dive jive, though, just read this one stunning paragraph:

In denying access to the requested records, the BID has obscured its role in a matter of public significance. The residents of Skid Row labored and organized to create a local governing body for the purpose of better coordinating with City government to meet the needs of some of Los Angeles’ most imperiled and dispossessed residents. The formation of the SRNC was opposed by United DTLA, a secretive organization employing a prominent-and no doubt expensive-lobbyist, which apparently enjoyed funding and in-kind support by Respondent and other Business Improvement Districts. Petitioner, after obtaining glimpses of Respondent’s involvement, lawfully requested records which, if disclosed, will throw into the full light of day the nature and scope of Respondent’s efforts to defeat Skid Row residents’ hopes for a neighborhood council of their own. When faced with this exposure, Respondent refused access and opted instead for secrecy, obstruction, and lawlessness. Respondent neglected every obligation imposed by the CPRA and refused to provide even a single record, in clear violation of the law.

Continue reading Little Tokyo BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With California Public Records Act — And To Put An End To Their “secrecy, obstruction, and lawlessness”

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In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

Regular readers of this blog are well aware that business improvement districts in California are subject to the California Public Records Act and to the Brown Act by virtue of the Property and Business Improvement District Law at §36612, which states explicitly that BIDS … shall comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act … at all times when matters within the subject matter of the district are heard, discussed, or deliberated, and with the California Public Records Act … for all records relating to activities of the district.1

Also, maybe you recall that the standard contract that BIDs sign with the City of Los Angeles contains2 a clause basically repeating this requirement. There’s a transcription of this section after the break. So in March 2016, faced with blatant disregard of the CPRA by the Downtown Center BID, I wrote to the City Clerk, Holly Wolcott, asking her to enforce the terms of the City’s contract with this obstructionist BID.

And on March 14, 2016, she wrote back to me, stating pretty clearly that she wasn’t going to make sure that BIDs complied with the Public Records Act. Again, there’s a transcription of her response after the break, but her main argument was that the City wasn’t obligated by the contract to consider whether a given BID was complying with the CPRA.

And I thought that was the end of it, but I just recently discovered that actually, it’s likely that the City took my argument much more seriously than anyone was letting on. So seriously, in fact, that in April 2016 the City Attorney completely rewrote the standard contract between BIDs and the City to eliminate all language about CPRA and the Brown Act!
Continue reading In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

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Larchmont Village BID Fails To Answer My CPRA Petition By Deadline — What Can It Mean?

As you may recall, I was recently forced to file a petition against the Larchmont Village BID because they just won’t respond to California Public Records Act requests at all. The pleadings are collected here on Archive.Org, although there’s presently not much there. The BID was served on April 4, and they had 30 days to respond. For reasons known only to them they actually failed to file any kind of answer whatsoever.

I guess in an ordinary suit their failure to respond would mean that I just win automatically, but it turns out that the California Code of Civil Procedure at §1088 doesn’t allow a writ of mandate to issue by default. Anyway, the BID did finally decide to discuss it, it seems, as they held a closed session last Thursday, May 24, 2018, and the petition was the only item on the agenda. More news as I have it, of course.
Continue reading Larchmont Village BID Fails To Answer My CPRA Petition By Deadline — What Can It Mean?

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