We’ve written before about the HPOA’s crazed-and-at-the-mouth-foaming opposition to Councilmembers Huizar’s and Price’s proposed ordinance legalizing street vending in the city of Los Angeles. We’ve written about the HPOA’s scheme to send its agents to public meetings in the ill-concealed guise of concerned citizens opposing the ordinance. Today we report on Kerry Morrison’s recent discussion of her experience orchestrating that whole fiasco. We’ll analyze it line by line, and you can watch the whole thing here and/or read a transcription after the break.
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.
We’ve written before about the cataclysmic flood of white privilege rage rants unleashed by Fabio Conti’s cri de coeur for the BID Patrol to stop coddling the homeless and start, we don’t know, killing them or whatever it takes to get them out of Hollywood, and the present post concerns yet another boulder in that avalanche of angst. We’re going to comment on the unnamed white privilege rage ranter’s rant (you can see the fellow’s picture somewhere in the vicinity of this sentence) one line at a time. You can read his whole speech after the break and watch it here if you’re so inclined.
…our effort to clean up the neighborhood is kinda like salmon swimming upstream.
No. First of all, salmon swimming upstream are beautiful, delicious, and nutritious. You people in the BID are none of these things. Second, you’re not trying to “clean up the neighborhood,” you’re trying to ethnically cleanse the neighborhood. One is at least plausibly laudable. The other is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Also, your metaphor is deeply flawed. Salmon like swimming upstream. It’s what they’re born to do. It’s the crowning glory of their lives. They surely, if they could speak, wouldn’t be whining about it.
You know, we have the state and the city working against us by allowing people to sleep on the sidewalk, you know, all night long, because it’s the humane thing to do.
At the July 9, 2015 Joint Security Committee meeting, BID Board member Fabio Conti, after Andrews International Security head BIDdie-boy Steve Seyler told a what-passes-for-heartwarming story about shipping some homeless lady out of state on a bus, flipped the fuck out about heavily armed and dangerous homeless people on the streets of Hollywood and how A/I ought to stop with the rapport-building, bus-ticket-buying, and donut/sandwich handing-out and start arresting all of them right now. Says Fabio: STOP BEING SO NICE TO THE HOMELESS!!! The “the purple guys” downtown “…keep the area pretty clean…” of homeless human garbage. The Hollywood BID Patrol must do the same!
Under ordinary circumstances a faux pas like Fabio’s would probably be politely overlooked but these are no ordinary times, it seems. Instead it triggered an avalanche of white-privilege-rage-ranting that derailed the meeting for what seemed like an eternity and was actually over 30 minutes of this approximately 70 minute long meeting. The asylum was so being-run-by-the-inmates that Hollywood Entertainment District BID Board President Monica Yamada, not habitually the most aware person in the room, had to shut it down. But not before the display of an unbearable montage/barrage of peel-the-face-off shots that had most of the attendees showing their true colors in a remarkably nauseating performative contradiction of Jesus’s usually on-target admonition about the truth. Mostly the truth will make you free but sometimes it just makes you sick.
For instance, usually, of course, at these meetings and in other venues, Steve rattles on about how cuddlesy-warmsy-fuzzly-wuzzly his officers are but everyone there knows that that’s just the velvet glove over the iron fucking fist and that he’s just spreading the goodwill-ambassador bullshit for the delectation and over-the-eyes-wool-pulling of the public. This much is obvious to anyone with a fraction of the sense that God gave a good God-damned goose. In this instance, though, under relentless pressure from Fabio, whose position is that “we’re to a point where, you know, we cannot be kind,” Steve was forced to admit his homeless-people-on-the-sidewalk policy out loud, in public, on camera:
“…we’re gonna start out with a nice approach, hey, please, time to get up, businesses are open, you gotta get off the sidewalk, we’re here to help you, you know, blah blah blah blah, please, please, pretty please, and then, you know, ultimately we’re going to put the cuffs on you…”
Steve’s not usually so open about the fact that all the donuts, all the sandwiches, all the heartwarming coziness, it’s all just a formality. “…ultimately we’re going to put the cuffs on you…”
The only people in the room who talked and didn’t seem insane1 were two LAPD liaison officers (whose names, unfortunately, we didn’t catch), who patiently explained to everyone that “…the sky’s not falling…” However, as long-time readers of this blog are well aware, there is very little in this world that can get the attention of a white person who’s hell-bent on confusing comfort with safety. The LAPD guys were completely ignored. Sanity will not prevail, not in this room at this time.
Well, here is a bunch of emails, which we obtained from the Los Angeles City Attorney using the California Public Records Act, between BID employees Smilin’ Joe Mariani and Kerry Morrison and various people that work for the City of Los Angeles. We join the story when Joe writes to Gary Benjamin, who is eyeglass-fashionista Councilguy Mitch O’Farrell’s something-or-another for what-passes-for-planning-at-200-Spring-Street. It seems the boys met up in early September 2014 at an HPOA “Streetscape2 Committee” meeting, giving Joe a pretext to renew the big ask:
Great seeing you today at the Streetscape Committee meeting. As I mentioned, if you can please follow up with GSD3 and ask when our lease will be ready for the Cherokee space we would appreciate it [sic]. According to our vendor we are supposed to be off the Selma parking lot by the end of September, so the sooner we can move in the better.
So the BID needs some space and they’re going to lease it from the city. So far, so good. After all, they’re a public agency created by the city to do the city’s work. On September 9, 2014, Gary responds, saying he’ll check into it. On September 23, 2014, Gary announces that there’s a little problem. Says Gary:
I have some bad news regarding the prospect of getting the lease in a timely manner. I checked in with the General Services Department (GSD) a couple weeks back and they said they were still not authorized to issue the lease, despite the approved Council motion.4 This seemed ridiculous to us, as the language of the motion came from Rene Sagles5 and he assured us the motion would be sufficient. GSD staffers were aware of the motion as it moved through the ITGS6 Committee, and yet they raised no red flags. In the last week, I’ve been in further communication with GSD, the City Attorney’s office and Rene Sagles. Apparently, DOT have not been following City standards regarding lease of space for some time now. Recently the City Attorney took note of this issue and has forced them to undergo a more rigorous public solicitation RFP process. Your lease process has dragged on for so long because of a lack of communication between DOT and GSD and a general uncertainty among the bureaus about how to proceed.
I now have Melody McCormick of GSD working with DOT and the City Attorney to draft a new “sole source” motion that will explain why the normal RFP process was not followed and why the HPOA should get this lease. They have told me they can have the motion ready by the end of the week. We will work to waive it from ITGS committee and get it approved at Council next week ideally. Then the City Attorney will need to draft the lease. It will still be another month, at the earliest, until the lease will be issued. I’m really sorry about all this confusion and for losing time pushing forward a motion that was insufficient.
On the front page of the Summer 2015 issue of the HPOA newsletter, our heroine and perennial source of subject matter, Kerry Morrison, has an article cynically entitled Discouraging News About Homelessness Surprises No One. Her subject is the 2015 homeless count results, released last month and showing that homelessness in Los Angeles County has increased by 12% over 2013, the year of the last count. In her piece, Kerry gives a number of delusional speculations on why this might have happened: more crazy people, good weather in LA, Prop 47 (srsly), people who, following the example of Jesus Christ, give money to panhandlers, the FREAKING ACLU?!!3
I am pleased to announce the availability of a highly random selection of emails from 2014 between the Media District BID and their security provider, Universal Protection Service. The emails, which don’t seem to be organized either chronologically or topically, can be found in three PDFs here, and also through the menus in the navigation bar above (leading to here). Right now not much of this material seems that interesting, although it does reveal the previously-only-suspected fact that the HMD BID spends actual money having UPS spy on the Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition. On the other hand, I just finished reading Barry Siegel’s fine book Claim of privilege : a mysterious plane crash, a landmark Supreme Court case and the rise of state secrets, in which government lawyers patiently spend half a century explaining, lying when they must, to various courts that even routine, superficially innocuous-seeming facts can actually be top-seekrit (even if they’ve already been published to the world) because knowledgeable people can piece them into a “mosaic” which reveals EVERYTHING!!! I’m not at that point yet with these emails but when I get there you all will be the first to know.
The release of the HPOA’s quarterly newsletter is always an interesting time here at MK.org secret headquarters. On the one hand we’re always aghast at the latest stupidity, cupidity, mental rigidity, and white privilegidity on display. On the other hand, we always end up with a bunch of topics about which to write. The Summer 2015 issue is no exception.
Before an ordinance is drafted, the CLA [Chief Legislative Analyst] staff presided over a series of public hearings to gain input from the community. Staff representing both BIDs, along with board members, attended each of these hearings and expressed the concerns of the business community. However, members of the business community were outnumbered easily 10:1 at these hearings.
Hollywood board member Alyssa Van Breene and staffer Devin Strecker attended the first meeting on May 28 in Boyle Heights. When they tried to share their concerns the audience booed. Though there were no boos or hissing at the second hearing on June 11 in Van Nuys, the audience was unruly and disrespectful to those testifying against the ordinance or speaking on behalf of small business.
I’ll run through the premises and argument after the break, but a crucial conclusion that Graeber reaches here, and one whose relevance will be immediately obvious to sane readers of this blog, is that
…violence is so often the preferred weapon of the stupid. One might even call it the trump card of the stupid, since (and this is surely one of the tragedies of human existence) it is the one form of stupidity to which it is most difficult to come up with an intelligent response.
What are all those green-shirted thugs on bikes up to over in the Hollywood Media District? Well, if you ask their overlords, their “activities are designed to respond to needs that in some areas are based primarily on perception, and in other areas based on the reality of crime and intimidating street populations.”
Stories of the rich and powerful abusing intellectual property laws to stifle free expression, shut down criticism of their terroristic conspiracies against humanity, lock away little old ladies because their grandkids misuse bittorrent, wantonly slaughter cute lil bunnies, and so on, are as common in the tech press as dandelions on the expansive and suspiciously green lawns of Hancock Park before the gardeners show up on Thursday morning.