The School on 103rd Street

The School on 103rd Street by Roland S. Jefferson is a fine political conspiracy novel as well as a stunning roman des riverains about early 1970s Los Angeles
The School on 103rd Street by Roland S. Jefferson is a fine political conspiracy novel as well as a stunning roman des riverains1 planted firmly in early 1970s Black Los Angeles
Today’s book is The School on 103rd Street, by Los Angeles author and psychiatrist Roland S. Jefferson. It seems reasonable to review it here for two reasons. First because it so vividly evokes the peculiar time and place of early 1970s Los Angeles, a spatiotemporal locality that’s dear to my heart and second because its subject matter, racial politics in Los Angeles (including a vast conspiracy the nature of which I can’t really reveal without spoiling the plot, which is something I’m not willing to do) aligns closely with the focus of this blog.

I’ll move on to the serious matters below, but first, check this description of protagonists Elwin Carter and Sable having an evening out in 1973:

The Cyrano building at 13578 Mindanao Way under construction in 1967.
They had dinner at Cyrano’s in Marina Del Rey and then went to the Name of the Game on Century Boulevard for some dancing. At midnight they went down to the Lighthouse to hear Gabor Zabo, and, on the way home, they dropped by Shelly’s Mann Hole and caught the last set by Gerald Wilson. Carter had taken the Ferrari, and, although Sable offered no resistance, she didn’t encourage him. From Shelly’s they headed down Highland toward Wilshire…3

Now, I don’t just read novels for Los Angeles geography porn, but I’m always happy to find it, especially when it has restaurants! Cyrano was a “fine dining” or “continental” sort of place, opened early on in Marina Del Rey. Given the character of the Marina in 1973, at the time Elwin and Sable had dinner there the joint was probably full of cocaine, swinging-in-the-worst-sense, disgusting 1970s facial hair, and gelatinous sleaze coating every surface.

Advertisement from the Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1969, announcing the grand opening of Cyrano.
Advertisement from the Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1969, announcing the grand opening of Cyrano.

The Name of the Game was a dance place in Inglewood at Century and Crenshaw. Here’s how the Los Angeles Sentinel described it on September 2, 1971:

It’s called The Name of The Game, and to many, many persons it’s the name of the place they find attractive and a lively cynosure for a truly good evening of pleasure. Located at 3000 W. Century boulevard, it has music by Dave Holden, and dancing space for frisky feet or those who just love to move and groove. There’s no cover charge, either. The Name of the Game also affords daily luncheon specials, and daily half-price cocktails. So what could be better for the jaded tastes than a visit to The Name of the Game?
4

Unfortunately I can’t find a picture of the place. Note also that there was a sensational killing there in 1973. I don’t have space to go into it, but it was well covered in the Sentinel, starting here.11

Next they head off to the Lighthouse, a famous and still-active jazz club in Hermosa Beach which I’d discuss more if I gave even a fraction of a shit about either jazz or Hermosa Beach. Finally, “on the way home,” they head to Shelley’s Manne Hole which, coincidentally, played an important role in my last recommendation, so I won’t belabor it here. However, these two live in Baldwin Hills, meaning that the Manne Hole, at 1608 N. Cahuenga Blvd., is in no sense but the sense that this night should never end on the way home from Hermosa Beach. Ah, youth!

Now, despite my breathless temporogeographical musings, this novel is much more than a travelogue. It’s an immensely important document about the state of racial politics in Los Angeles eight years after the Watts Rebellion, with more than a little relevance for the present day (as well as being a bitchin’ thriller). Read on for details!
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Yet Another Reason Kerry Morrison’s So Ooshly-Gooshly about the Commish, Bill Bratton

If only we were as clever as Randall Munroe we'd-a put something funny here...
Bill Bratton, AKA “the Commish,” seated with unindicted and evidently unhappy co-conspirator and co-author Zach Tumin in 2012, about 8 months before the world didn’t end that December
Long-time readers of this blog will be familiar with the HPOA’s crazed vendetta against street characters and, by extension, the very foundations of American government. If they could destroy the former by destroying the latter we have no doubt that they’d not only do it, they’d also destroy the latter just on the off chance it’d give the former a bad day. We’ve published evidence for this, but anyone who listens to any of their blather for any amount of time will hear their rage expressed in quite certain terms.
Imagine what would happen if lady street characters on Hollywood Boulevard started walking around naked like they do in Manhattan.  Heads wouldn't just roll, they'd explode.  What we need is a little free-the-nipple in Hollywood like they got at Venice Beach
Imagine what would happen if lady street characters on Hollywood Boulevard started walking around naked like they do in Manhattan. Heads wouldn’t just roll, they’d explode. What we need is a little free-the-nipple in Hollywood like they got at Venice Beach

And they don’t just conspire with LA locals like the city attorney, their conspiracies reach across the very continent to Manhattan, because that’s how bad street characters are, friends, they’re a transcontinental destructive force. Anyway, BID buddy Bill Bratton, affectionately known to Kerry Morrison and zillions of other fans as “the Commish,” is all in a lather over the desnudas of Times Square, who are evidently topless women in body paint (NSFW) who pose for tips with tourists. He’s frothing at the mouth. He was actually quoted in the frickin’ New York Times begging, nay, pleading for a chance to violate his oath of office:
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Why We Think it is Fitting to Compare BIDs to Nazis

An essential book for understanding what it felt like to be a Nazi before everyone hated the Nazis.  Click on image for detailed information.
An essential book for understanding what it felt like to be a Nazi before everyone hated the Nazis. Click on image for detailed information.
This blog has two essential purposes: first, to publish public records obtained from the three Hollywood area BIDs we cover and their collaborators and second, to needle employees and supporters of those BIDs. Neither educating nor convincing anyone of anything are huge priorities of ours, and even the public revelation of our two purposes cuts against the grain somewhat. However, it’s recently come to our attention that some of our readers who, so to speak, come upon our work innocently, not involved with the BIDs but just having a general interest in the political life of Los Angeles, may consider our constant comparisons of BIDs with Nazis to be glib, puerile, shallow, offensive, trivializing, and/or so on. Some of the objections expressed have come to seem, after much consideration, to have merit and to deserve a serious response.
The Olympic Games were held in Berlin in 1936, three years after the Nazis came to power.  Adolf Hitler, still seen by the world as a plausible member of the international community, led the opening ceremony.
The Olympic Games were held in Berlin in 1936, three years after the Nazis came to power (and, coincidentally, four years after they were held in Los Angeles for the first time). Adolf Hitler, still seen by the world as a plausible member of the international community, led the opening ceremony.

To understand our position, it’s essential to imagine what it felt like to inhabit the Third Reich as a non-Jew in the early 1930s, before Nazism was a universal symbol of pure and essential evil. Germany wasn’t yet an international outcast, and non-Jewish Germans, for the most part, didn’t feel like a nation of demons. In many ways they were not. Concentration camps, now considered primarily sites of genocide, were opened by the Nazis in March 1933 immediately after their accession to power. At first they were used for holding political prisoners and criminals and people were actually released from them on occasion. There’s also no particular reason to think that the Nazi government had any concrete plans to exterminate Jews from the earth when they took power in 1933.
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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!
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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!
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Off the Emery Wheel

off.the.emery.wheel.1The other day I got the urge to read a little more about Thurgood Marshall. The Los Angeles Public Library’s catalog led me to a book by badass civil rights lawyer Jack Greenberg (read it, it’s fabulous: Crusaders in the Courts, although it’s not the book I’m recommending). That led me to look for other books by Greenberg, and thus appeared before me a book called Off the Emery Wheel which, as you can see, was published in 1935 by an outfit in Hollywood called the Cloister Press. Clearly this was a different Jack Greenberg, but nevertheless I thought it’d be interesting to take a look.
off.the.emery.wheel.4
The LAPL’s only copy is noncirculating, and, while a trip to the big library downtown is always nice even though it’s not plausible anymore to combine it with a visit to Grand Central Market since the goddamned-hipster-douchebag apocalypse and its associated fourteen dollar “revisionings” of the Egg McMuffin and suchlike nonsense, I didn’t really have time. However, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the stacks at UCLA, working on a historical project which you’ll read about here at some point, I’m sure (and which is at least somewhat related to the Hollywood BIDs, unlike this piece) so I thought I’d check their catalog. Well, Lo! And behold, they own a copy, which I promptly ordered up out of storage.
off.the.emery.wheel.2
And what a pleasant little volume to hold this turned out to be!

Inscription in UCLA's copy of Off the Emery Wheel
Inscription in UCLA’s copy of Off the Emery Wheel
I mean, the poetry is abominable (which is why I’m not reproducing any here), but the book itself is an object of desire. And it’s inscribed by the author as well! And note the tidy little logo of the Cloister Press! A little more poking around and I was blessed to lay my hands on a promotional bookmark from the press, which shows that it was formerly located at 1608 Cahuenga Boulevard.
The Manne-Hole at 1608 Cahuenga Boulevard as it looked in its prime
I already knew about some of the storied history of this building, formerly home to Shelly Manne‘s Manne-hole, the subject of a sidewalk historical marker, but not that there’d been an artsy literary press in there.
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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.
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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 1: Alyssa Van Breene

The Boyle Hotel at 101 N. Boyle Avenue, appearing here because we don't have a picture of the Boyle Heights City Hall, which is about half a mile west on First Street from the corner of First and Boyle.
The Boyle Hotel at 101 N. Boyle Avenue, appearing here because we don’t have a picture of the Boyle Heights City Hall, which is about half a mile west on First Street from the corner of First and Boyle, that being the location of this building.
We recently wrote about Kerry Morrison’s description of the series of public meetings sponsored by the Chief Legislative Analyst of the city of Los Angeles regarding the framework for legalizing street vending that’s being studied by the City Council. Well, interestingly enough, it turns out that the Council’s Economic Development committee has a website set up devoted to the issue and found thereupon are audio recordings of three of the four meetings held to-date.1 Astute readers will no doubt recall Kerry’s description of these meetings:
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.
Wanna know what "frabjous" means?  You gotta ask Mr. Humpty Dumpty, or look it up in the Dictionary, for God's sake.
Wanna know what “frabjous” means? You gotta ask Mr. Humpty Dumpty, or look it up in the Dictionary, for God’s sake.

Well, frabjous day, friends! We have listened to the first of these, held at the Boyle Heights City Hall on May 28, 2015, and clipped out some representative bits for your audiosthetic pleasure and we’re sharing them with you here. First listen to HPOA Board Member Alyssa Van Breene (transcriptions after the break if, like us, you’d rather read than hear):

Listened up? Good! Let’s take this nonsense one lie at a time, shall we?
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Ever-Delusional BID’s Targeting of Homeless Alcohol Use, Impunitizing Scofflaw Liquor Dealers, Denial of Laws of Nature, Continues, with Complicity, Connivance of City Attorney’s Office, Apace

Pla-Boy Liquors at the corner of Yucca Street and Wilcox Avenue, as it appeared on July 30, 2015.
Pla-Boy Liquors at the corner of Yucca Street and Wilcox Avenue, as it appeared on July 30, 2015. On that date, 200 ml bottles of Crystal Palace vodka were on sale for $2.43, which is 22¢ cheaper than in 2014 according to Kerry Morrison.

Today’s post concerns a series of emails between Kerry Morrison and two Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutors in 2014. These are part of a larger set of emails which we published some time ago. The BID, of course, is paranoiacally hyperphobic about drinking in public by the homeless, even as they celebrate, revel in, and sing hosanna in the highest to the use, misuse, abuse, of alcohol, even in public, when done by the non-homeless population of Hollywood. That’s not news. What is news is the weirdly obsessive length that newly-appointed-in-2014 Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutor Jackie Lawson turned out to be willing to go to to accomodate Kerry Morrison’s paranoid hyperphobias. There’s a lot of background here, so please bear with us.
Andre Quintero, who preceded Jackie Lawson as the Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutor and is now, amongst other things, the mayor of El Monte.  Either he's not so prone to BID-bootlicking as his successor or he has the sense not to do it in writing.
Andre Quintero, who preceded Jackie Lawson as the Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutor and is now, amongst other things, the mayor of El Monte. Either he’s not so prone to BID-bootlicking and dereliction of duty as is his successor or else he has the sense not to do it in writing. He’s that’s-for-damn-sure not popular with his city council out there in the Far East, though.

The documented part of our story begins on January 28, 2014,1 with an email from Kerry Morrison to then-Hollywood-Neighborhood-Prosecutor Andre Quintero, inviting him to a BID-sponsored summit meeting the purported motive for which was “[t]o reduce the incidence of daytime public drunkenness in the Hollywood Entertainment Disctrict and Sunset & Vine BID.” In particular, Kerry calls Andre’s attention to item 4, asking that he “maybe … could be prepared to share some background on” “…laws governing alcohol sales and alcohol use.” Note well that there’s no word out of Andre regarding any of this. And the rest of the agenda is worth reading, but there’s nothing there, really, beyond the usual paranoid ravings about panhandlers and public inebriation with which we’re so familiar.

Things began to take an interesting turn in March, though. That’s when Kerry Morrison, unconstrained by any Institutional Review Board, by any ethical guidelines for the use of human subjects, by any standards, professional or amateur, by any method, scientific or humane, by any laws, human or divine, written or unwritten, criminal or civil, announced yet another experiment in the social-laboratory-for-the-criminalization-of-homelessness gestalt-slash-weltanschauung that the HPOA has overlain upon our beloved Hollywood in its 20 years of madcap malcriado misrule.2
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A collaborative denunciation of Business Improvement Districts in Los Angeles