Category Archives: Street Vending

The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

The Wicked Witch of the Southeast corner of Wilshire and Hope giving instructions to her flying monkeys.
Recall that I’ve been tracking the hysterical, irrational opposition of LA’s business improvement districts to the ongoing process of legalizing (some aspects of) street vending in the City since the Spring of 2015. A truly astonishing level of bitching and moaning in 2015 stalled out the whole process for most of 2016 because, I believe, everyone was too freaking sick of the whining and the carefully orchestrated lying on any number of occasions and the City just needed a rest.
A man arrested, transported, and handcuffed to a bench by the Andrews International BID Patrol in Hollywood for selling umbrellas on the street. At least it appears that this horror show is over, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more loopholes and it’s not over at all.
Until the November election of Donald Trump and his subsequent threats to deport essentially anyone, U.S. citizen or not, who’d ever smiled while thinking of eating a taco spurred the Council into action on at least the small part (small but in no way insignificant) of the plan to decriminalize illegal street vending so that, no matter how much trouble the zillionaires might cause the heladeros, at least they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and subsequent deportation. That bit seemed urgent enough to pass Council outright, and even the anti-vending forces of the zillionaire elite seemed to realize that they were just going to be exposed as the nasty little mean creeps that they are if they fought back on this particular issue. However, the Council put off acting on an actual legalization framework until later.

But recall, as I reported in January, the instructions for the report-back were altered from the original, and quite sensible,1 request for

A process to create special vending districts to be initiated by Council, the Board of Public Works, or petition (with signatures from 20 percent of property owners or businesses in the proposed district), based on legitimate public health, safety and welfare concerns that are unique to specific neighborhoods with special circumstances.

to a request for language

Providing the City Council the ability to opt out of certain streets by Council action.

At that time I didn’t understand yet how this had all taken place, but now I’ve accumulated enough documentary evidence that it’s possible to sketch out a picture. The short version is that in December 2016, Suzanne Holley, at that time acting Executive Director2 of the Schatzian horror show known as the Central City Association of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the City Council telling them to make the change. This was distributed to the BIDs via the BID Consortium. They all told their pet Councilmembers to change it. It got changed, and all the BIDs rejoiced, some of them quite publicly. The consequences of this are going to be horrific, and whatever street vending framework gets put in place will be DOA. Details and evidence after the break.
Continue reading The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

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Sneaky Shit-Sneakers Sneakily Sneak Sneaky Shit Into Current Version Of Street Vending Legalization Process, Setting The Stage For Continued Persecution of Vendors in Business Improvement Districts

Yum, danger dogs!
So today the City Council moved forward with CF 13-1493, which, of course, is the famed street vending thing. For a good, objective,1 discussion of today’s developments, take a look at this article in today’s Times by the incomparable Emily Alpert Reyes.2 This is just a brief post to note the fact that the various anti-human opponents of legalized street vending won a major, seemingly unnoticed by anyone but me, victory via amendment in the current version of the motion.

Today’s motion doesn’t actually legalize street vending. What it does is direct the City Attorney, the Chief Legislative Analyst, and the City Administrative Officer to put together a proposed ordinance. This was to be based on this detailed set of recommendations from the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee report. This report was amended in Council today before being adopted, and at least two of the amended recommendations are quite sneaky, and, I predict, will undermine the future ordinance in quite underhanded ways that will please business improvement districts and other business interests who have been working tirelessly to keep street vending illegal for years now. See the details and some3 predictions after the break.
Continue reading Sneaky Shit-Sneakers Sneakily Sneak Sneaky Shit Into Current Version Of Street Vending Legalization Process, Setting The Stage For Continued Persecution of Vendors in Business Improvement Districts

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Donald Trump’s Election Inspires City of Los Angeles To Finally Move Forward With Long-Delayed Street Vending Legalization Despite BIDs’ Irrational Opposition. Street Vendors To Pay BIDs An Operations Fee. BIDs To Get Effective Veto Power Over Vending Within Their Boundaries.

Aren't you glad I didn't put a picture of freaking Donald Trump here?!  Not that Joe Buscaino is less ethically challenged, but at least his hair is prettier...
Aren’t you glad I didn’t put a picture of freaking Donald Trump here?! Not that Joe Buscaino is less ethically challenged, but at least his hair is prettier…
I know the headline sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The L.A. Times reported on it this morning, although their article, as is their wont, did not mention business improvement districts at all, and, at least briefly, I thought they were kidding. But this is the Los Angeles City Council we’re talking about, and they were not. Huizar and Price first made a motion to legalize street vending in November 2013, three years ago, and, over the last three years we have been subjected to an endless stream of hysterical, mendacious, probably illegal, lobbying by the BIDs and their ideological allies against the very idea. They even managed to get the Times itself to accept their misbegotten point of view as somehow legitimate. In response to this outpouring of unregistered lobbying behavior,1 the City Council essentially responded by ignoring the issue,2 as you can see from the council file, which has no official City action since October 2015, until yesterday, when Curren Price and Joe Buscaino slapped this little number on the table. It’s a letter, which does indeed refer, albeit obliquely, to Darth Cheeto himself:3

Despite the undeniable division and polarization that exists in our country right now, there is one common characteristic that is shared by Americans of every gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status and political party: our entrepreneurial spirit. We value the notion that everyone deserves the opportunity to start a small business, on a level playing field, with failure or success determined by our own talent, hard work, and perseverance. At an early age. we teach our children concepts like overhead, profit, and loss by encouraging them to sell Girl Scout Cookies, candy bars, and lemonade. Yet, if they sell any of those on a public sidewalk in Los Angeles, they are committing a crime of the same seriousness as drunk driving.

They go on to urge the Council to go ahead and legalize street vending because otherwise Trump has already won, and I can’t say that I disagree:

Recent talks about changes to our nation’s immigration policy, including threats to deport millions of undocumented immigrants – starting with those with criminal records – has created significant fear amongst our immigrant communities. Continuing to impose criminal misdemeanor penalties for vending disproportionately affects, and unfairly punishes, undocumented immigrants, and could potentially put them at risk for deportation.

Furthermore, Buscaino and Price claim that:

The core question the Council must answer is whether sidewalk vending poses a threat so grave to public health, safety, and welfare that it is worth continuing to expend limited police and prosecutorial resources enforcing a citywide ban.

Which is also reasonable, but read a little deeper in the letter and you can see the fingerprints of the BIDs all over the damned thing. And, as usual, their input makes a lie of the whole thing. The BIDs’ version, which is the version that will be passed, is going to require the same amount if not more of our “limited police and prosecutorial resources” to enforce.
Continue reading Donald Trump’s Election Inspires City of Los Angeles To Finally Move Forward With Long-Delayed Street Vending Legalization Despite BIDs’ Irrational Opposition. Street Vendors To Pay BIDs An Operations Fee. BIDs To Get Effective Veto Power Over Vending Within Their Boundaries.

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Stop LAPD Spying Meeting Yesterday and Fabulous Street-Fried Potatoes at MacArthur Park

Potatoes fried to order at the MacArthur Park Red Line station yesterday afternoon.  I don't even like French fries, and I could have eaten any number of orders of these.
Potatoes fried to order and drizzled with Mexican-flag-colored sauce at the MacArthur Park Red Line station yesterday afternoon. I don’t even like French fries, and I could have eaten any number of orders of these.
Last night I attended my first meeting of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. It was interesting, heartening, and full of people worth meeting. I will be going to future meetings, and you should too! But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. I’m here to tell you about the lovely order of papas fritas I bought from a woman who was cooking them right there in a pot of sizzling oil on the East side of Alvarado Street, tucked away in the South end of the Red Line plaza.
Continue reading Stop LAPD Spying Meeting Yesterday and Fabulous Street-Fried Potatoes at MacArthur Park

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Law-and-Order-Touting Anti-Street-Vending Central City Association Flack Marie Rumsey is a Hypocritical Defier of the Revolving Door Ordinance of the City of Los Angeles

Marie Rumsey in happier days back at CD13.
Marie Rumsey in happier days back at CD13.
When last we wrote of Marie Rumsey, late of CD13 but now moved on to greener pastures with the revoltingly Schatzian nightmare horror-show the Central City Association, she was introducing thuggish opposite-of-Alinsky Jessica Borek of the not-so-very-law-abiding-their-own-selves Rodriguez Strategies to the Board of Directors of the racketeer influenced criminal conspiracy known as the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.

Since that time we’ve learned a little bit about the government ethics laws of the City of Los Angeles, such as they are, and, amazingly, it turns out that Marie Rumsey is, was, and, for all we know, shall be violating them big-time. This, you will remember, is the woman who, in March 2015, went on and on and on and on about how there would be no way to enforce health codes and laws if street vending were to be legalized and how desperately bad that would be for everyone. Well, let us now enlighten you about the law Marie Rumsey was breaking even as she spoke those fateful words.
Continue reading Law-and-Order-Touting Anti-Street-Vending Central City Association Flack Marie Rumsey is a Hypocritical Defier of the Revolving Door Ordinance of the City of Los Angeles

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Inside the Anti-Street-Vending Campaign: Newly Revealed Emails Between Kerry Morrison, Carol Schatz, and PR Flack Laura Mecoy Shine Unwonted Light Into Power-Elite Media Manipulation Process

Laura Mecoy
PR flack Laura Mecoy of Manhattan Beach, who is currently earning her living telling tales about street vendors in the corridors of power.
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that, in March 2015, we broke the story that outlaw downtown ringleader Carol Schatz’s ongoing criminal conspiracy, popularly known as the Central City Association, had hired shadowy PR flacks Rodriguez Strategies to shill for this city’s white-power-elite-zillionaire-industrial complex in order to defeat Councilmen José Huizar’s and Curren Price’s surprisingly-for-LA-politicos sane proposals regarding street vending. Rodriguez Strategies deputed its minion, evil PR-thuggette Jessica Borek, to set up a bullshit astroturf group known as “The Coalition to Save Small Business,” and off they went to lie about everything at every public hearing possible on the subject.

Well, evidently Rodriguez Strategies wasn’t doing enough damage for the CCA’s taste, because at some point the opponents of legalized street vending in Los Angeles hired yet another PR firm, Mecoy Communications, run by former reporter Laura Mecoy, pictured above. Yesterday, we obtained a bunch of emails from Laura Mecoy to Kerry Morrison, Carol Schatz, and two business owners who oppose legalized street vending about a meeting Laura’s arranged with the LA Times editorial board. And Laura is worth whatever they’re paying her. Although the Times showed some independent thought in the resulting editorial, Laura got them to take Kerry Morrison’s and Carol Schatz’s delusory and insincere arguments as if they were something more than self-interested expediencies. They’re not. This is a fascinating but all-too-rare glimpse into the interplay between money, power, and media in Los Angeles.
Continue reading Inside the Anti-Street-Vending Campaign: Newly Revealed Emails Between Kerry Morrison, Carol Schatz, and PR Flack Laura Mecoy Shine Unwonted Light Into Power-Elite Media Manipulation Process

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John Tronson in Van Nuys: Money doesn’t talk, it swears1

John Tronson at the Joint Security Committee meeting on April 9, 2015, giving a performative demonstration via mouth-closure that he’s not, at the moment the picture was taken, lying.
The city of Los Angeles has been holding public hearings to gather input on possible frameworks for legalizing street vending. Yesterday we began discussing the June 11 meeting in Van Nuys by considering Kerry Morrison’s statement. Today we move on to John Tronson. You can listen to his statement here or after the break, where a transcription is also available. Audio of the entire meeting is available here. We’re just going to look at John’s statement one piece at a time.

Good evening. My name is John Tronson. I’m a member of the Hollywood Entertainment District, which is a property-owner based business improvement district in Hollywood.

All these people start off by saying something true. It’s meant to lull your suspicions. Don’t let it.

Some people think that because they pay taxes with their own money, the taxes they pay are still their own money after they’re paid. If they start taking this idea too seriously they’re likely to wake up one morning to find a bunch of people wearing this badge while knocking down their door with a battering ram.

We spend three and a half million dollars a year of our own money to clean the streets of Hollywood, to trim the trees, to provide additional public safety and paint out graffiti.

The way a property-based BID works is this: If the majority of the property owners in a district agree, the city adds an extra assessment to their property tax, keeps some part of the money raised for administrative overhead, and distributes the rest back to the BID to spend on specific kinds of services in the district. There are two important points to remember. First, a BID can be established over the objection of individual property owners. Only a majority need approve. Second, once a BID is established, the assessment is no longer voluntary. It is compulsory. Non-payment is punishable by the full range of state action2 up to and including violent confiscation of property. In other words, this assessment, once paid, is a tax. After all, income tax might be considered voluntary in this same sense. The Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution was put in place by elected representatives, so in a way, the people to be taxed consented to the taxation. But now that it’s in place, income tax is no longer voluntary, just as BID assessments are no longer voluntary. This is consistent with the standard definition:

Al Capone, yet another guy who confused "taxes" with "his own money" and had to have the distinction explained to him in a fairly forceful manner.
Al Capone, yet another guy who confused “taxes” with “his own money” and had to have the distinction explained to him in a fairly forceful manner.

Tax: A compulsory contribution to the support of government, levied on persons, property, income, commodities, transactions, etc., now at fixed rates, mostly proportional to the amount on which the contribution is levied.3

Now, everyone who pays taxes has, at one point or another, thought of that money as still their own. But really, it’s not. Try telling a cop not to give you a ticket because you pay their salary with your “own money.” Try telling a professor at UCLA they have to give your kid an A+ because it’s your “own money” that supports them. It’s a losing argument. Taxes, once paid, belong to the public, not to the people who paid them. BID assessments are taxes. BID assessments are public money. Now, as to John’s statement about what they do with that public money, it’s true as far as it goes. That’s not all they spend the money on, but they do spend it on that. We won’t argue. Onward!
Continue reading John Tronson in Van Nuys: Money doesn’t talk, it swears1

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Kerry Morrison in Van Nuys: Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison / Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden1

Tailgunner Kerry Morrison giving a performative demonstration of effective methods for keeping public meetings respectful, civil, and orderly.
As you probably know, the city of Los Angeles has been holding public hearings to gather input on possible frameworks for legalizing street vending. We’ve written before about the May 28 meeting in Boyle heights: once, twice, and thrice. Now, at last, we take up the June 11 meeting in Van Nuys. We’re starting things off with our old friend, Ms. Kerry Morrison. You can listen to her statement here or read a transcription after the break. We’ve also written about Kerry’s description of the meetings at the Joint Security Committee in July:

there were a series of four hearings that the chief administrative office staff held on the… the sidewalk vending ordinance. … It’s just this kind of amorphous set of hearings, which were completely dysfunctional, disrespectful, and almost, um, resembled a circus.

In the same meeting, Kerry explained that she wasn’t putting up with this, not for a second, and told everyone what she’d done about it:

So actually, Carol Schatz and I wrote a letter to Herb Wesson, the president of the city council after that meeting saying this is, this is really not being, you know, well-handled, there’s no security, it’s intimidating to people, there are people who did not want to testify. So the subsequent two hearings were, um, maybe a little bit more well-behaved.

As Ronald Reagan said in 1970, "If it takes a bloodbath to silence the demonstrators let's get it over with."   The lyrics are cruder than Kerry Morrison's,  but the tune's the same.1
As Ronald Reagan said in 1970, “If it takes a bloodbath to silence the demonstrators let’s get it over with.”
The lyrics are cruder than Kerry Morrison’s, but the tune’s the same.2

Well, we put our fearless correspondent on the case and he went out and got us a copy of this letter. As is usual with Kerry when she’s writing in this genre, outraged-with-veneer-of-politesse-and-diplomacy white supremacism, the letter manages to combine utterly competent, even stylish, syntax with semantics that wouldn’t have been out of place in a 1970-era Ronald Reagan psychotic fever dream about students running wild in the streets of Berkeley. Read on for details and more!
Continue reading Kerry Morrison in Van Nuys: Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison / Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden1

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The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 3: the Good Guys

Previous installments of this series appear here: Part 1 and Part 2

Placeholder caption
1990 picture of Cynthia Anderson-Barker, badass civil rights lawyer and board member of the badass civil rights organization the National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles. Their motto proclaims them to be “Dedicated to the Belief That Human Rights Are More Sacred Than Property Interests”
We originally planned to write a full post making fun of Nicole Shahenian’s speech at the May 28, 2015 meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall on the subject of legalized street vending in Los Angeles. On listening to it again, though, we realized that it’s nothing more than the same old nonsense, probably ghost-written by Kerry Morrison, and that writing on it would be a waste of time, space, and electricity. So today we’re concluding our reportage on the May 28 meeting with a brief discussion of the good guys, the white hats, the rays of sunshine, the breaths of fresh air, the actual humans in the room, the supporters of legalized street vending in lovely Los Angeles. In particular we hear from an actual street vendor who supports his family and from badass civil rights lawyer Cynthia Anderson-Barker, who explains why it’s essential to repeal LAMC 42.00(b) because, not only is it not being enforced equitably, it is not actually possible to enforce it equitably.
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling hot dogs on the streets of Hollywood.
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling hot dogs on the streets of Hollywood.

First up we have a man, whose name we didn’t catch on the audio, who’s one of the street vendors that Kerry Morrison recently mocked in public for claiming that he practices street vending in order to support his family. Listen here or read a transcription after the break. She has complained vociferously in the past and will no doubt complain vociferously in the future about the tone and incivility of those who oppose her iron will, never taking into account that her minions, who are paid to go to these meetings to speak words that, even if she didn’t actually write them, are certainly consistent with every public statement she’s ever made on the issue, are directly attacking people like this speaker, who are trying in the face of massive harassment to feed their families.

She and her minions rank this man’s life and well-being below the putative, delusionally construed rights of their employers not only to own property in Hollywood, to make untold amounts of money in exchange for very little productive labor, and not only that, but to have an extraordinarily immoral amount of control over the social conditions of life in places and neighborhoods where they don’t even live. In the face of this, Kerry Morrison has the audacity to complain about the audience being “uncivil” to her minions? Quel chutzpah, n’est ce pas? Anyway, in his speech, this man makes it clear that he knows that they’re his enemy. And he’s not wrong. They are his enemy. They are our enemies.

Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated for selling ice cream on the streets of Hollywood
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling ice cream on the streets of Hollywood

He says, plausibly directly in response to BID flacks Alyssa Van Breene and/or Devin Strecker:

By example, for myself, I make ninety dollars a day. And I support my family with that money. … Our life … is very different than yours. Our day is starting at 4 a.m., and we’ll finish at around 9 p.m. for just a few dollars, but it’s OK.

42.00(b)- LAMC- SALES OF GOODS W/OUT A LICENSE
Man arrested, shackled, and humiliated by BID Patrol for selling water on the streets of Hollywood

This is the kind of story Kerry Morrison dismisses as an example of speakers “being bused in” in order to all have “the same, the same, um, tune, like ‘I need to be able to sell on the street to support my family.'” We’re impressed in a theoretical way that she can live with herself thinking like that in the face of such testimony, although maybe we could live with ourselves too. Never having thought like that, how would we know? Does she think the guy’s lying? Making up stories to win the right to work 17 hours for 90 dollars? What is she thinking, if anything?
Continue reading The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 3: the Good Guys

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The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 2: Devin Strecker

Devin Strecker, Director of Communications and Social Media of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.
Devin Strecker, Director of Communications and Social Media of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.

If you’re keeping score at home, you’ll recall that earlier we wrote on the May 28, 2015, meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall about street vending, focusing on Hollywood Entertainment District BID board member Alyssa Van Breene’s comments. You will also recall HPOA Executive Directrix Kerry Morrison’s description of the proceedings:

there were a series of four hearings that the chief administrative office staff held on the… the sidewalk vending ordinance. … It’s just this kind of amorphous set of hearings, which were completely dysfunctional, disrespectful, and almost, um, resembled a circus.

Now listen, O citizens of Hollywood, to HPOA staffie Devin Strecker speaking before the same meeting:

Also sprach Devin Strecher:

There’s a transcription after the break if you care to read rather than to listen, and after the break’s where we’re going to separate the wheat from the chaff, which is a valid if cliched metaphor even if, as in this case, there’s no wheat atall.
Continue reading The True Facts About the May 28, 2015, Community Sidewalk Vending Meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall Revealed Here (With Audio) for All to Hear and Judge and Opinionate Upon! Part 2: Devin Strecker

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