Tag Archives: Aaron Epstein

In 1995 The City Attorney And The Fair Political Practices Commission Both Agreed That BIDs Were Government Agencies And Their Board Members Were Public Officials Subject To The Brown Act And The CPRA — So When Aaron Epstein Sued The City And The Hollywood BID In 1999 Why Did The City Take Kerry Morrison’s Side Even Though They Already Knew Epstein Was Right? — Probably Yet Another Case Of Yielding To Her Every Damn Whim No Matter How Dire The Consequences — Ironically The Same Lawyer, Patricia Tubert, Argued Both Contradictory Sides Of The Dispute

I’ve written many times about the monumental case Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District BID and will, I have no doubt, write about it many more times to come. The issue in 1998 was that Hollywood property owner Aaron Epstein thought that he ought to be able to attend BID meetings whereas executive director Kerry Morrison, then at the very dawn of her BIDdological career but as characteristically secretive as ever, refused to let him in to watch his money being spent.

He sued in 1999, claiming that the BID1 was required to comply with the Brown Act by virtue of §54952(c)(1)(A), which makes an entity of the following type subject to its transparency requirements:

A board, commission, committee, or other multimember body that governs a private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity that … [i]s created by the elected legislative body in order to exercise authority that may lawfully be delegated by the elected governing body to a private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity.

The case yielded a monumental opinion from the Court of Appeal, dripping with sarcasm and barely disguised contempt for the weak arguments of the defendants. It’s worth reading in its entirety, or take a look here for selections. But for our purposes here it’s enough to know that both the BID, driven by Ms. Kerry Morrison and her absolute disgust at the possibility of public oversight of her publicly funded activities, and the City of Los Angeles in the person of then-deputy-City-Attorney Patricia Tubert, argued vehemently that the BID was not in any way subject to the Brown Act.

So what a surprise it was, the other day, to obtain a copy of this 1995 report from the Los Angeles City Attorney, authored by none other than Patricia Tubert, which explicitly stated that in the opinion of the City Attorney BIDs were in fact subject to the Brown Act, exactly as the Court of Appeal ruled in 2001 over the City’s objections. And attached to this report was a 1994 opinion issued by the Fair Political Practices Commission in response to an explicit request from none other than the Los Angeles City Attorney which reached precisely the same conclusion.

And not only that but both agencies agreed that BID board members are in fact public officials with respect to these laws and also subject to state prohibitions on conflicts of interest.2 So it’s really a mystery now why in 1998 when Aaron Epstein wanted to attend BID meetings the City of Los Angeles didn’t just tell Kerry Morrison and her infernal board of directors that they had to let him in. Why they spent three long and undoubtedly expensive years defending a position that they already knew to be wrong.

At this late date and because the attorney client privilege between the City and the City Attorney is doubtlessly implicated, we are probably never going to know for sure why they made the obviously wrong decision to defend an indefensible position. But if they were thinking about Kerry Morrison and her weirdo schemes back then like they are now, and why wouldn’t they have been, they wouldn’t have needed any more of a reason beyond Kerry Morrison’s request. Shameful. And harmful. But not a surprise. Turn the page for selected transcriptions.
Continue reading In 1995 The City Attorney And The Fair Political Practices Commission Both Agreed That BIDs Were Government Agencies And Their Board Members Were Public Officials Subject To The Brown Act And The CPRA — So When Aaron Epstein Sued The City And The Hollywood BID In 1999 Why Did The City Take Kerry Morrison’s Side Even Though They Already Knew Epstein Was Right? — Probably Yet Another Case Of Yielding To Her Every Damn Whim No Matter How Dire The Consequences — Ironically The Same Lawyer, Patricia Tubert, Argued Both Contradictory Sides Of The Dispute

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In 2013 Kerry Morrison Told The City Council That Without City Oversight Of BID Compliance With The Public Records Act “It Is Very Possible That One Of The BID Boards Would Be Sued, Which Would Also Involve The City” — This Despite Decades Of Kerry Morrison’s Refusing To Have Her BID Be Overseen In Any Way — Protesting Any Proposed Oversight Schemes — And Repeatedly Violating The Brown Act And CPRA In Flamboyantly Intentional Ways

It seems that in 2013 the City was considering transferring BID management functions away from the City Clerk to some to-be-created Office of Imaginary Money-Shuffling Practices or suchlike nonsense. Obviously it didn’t happen, but nevertheless we’re still as lucky as can be to have recently discovered a copy of a letter written by Ms. Kerry Morrison, chock-full of her characteristically narcissistic stylings, in support of keeping BIDditude with the Clerk.

Her unwritten point is that the Clerk’s BID unit is already firmly under the thumb of the BIDs,1 and any change would be detrimental to the BIDs, therefore no change should be made, whatever the needs of the City, and these she really does not deign to consider, might be. Her written points are more prosaic, and except for one of these the interest mainly lies in counting her weirdly nonconscious invocation of cliches.2

Her sole interesting point, and it’s interesting mostly for the way it highlights her absolute indifference towards the truth, has to do with one of our favorite topics on this blog, which is the intersection of BIDdology with the Brown Act and the Public Records Act:

Because of litigation that our BID was involved in at the turn of the century, the boards that manage BIDs are now subject to the Public Records Act and the Brown Act. The City Clerk’s staff helps to ensure compliance. Absent this oversight, it is very possible that one of the BID boards would be sued, which would also involve the city of LA.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time to dissect the unselfconsciously sprinkled self-satisfied hermeneutics of this lil cupcake of a prose poem, However, let’s move past the break and consider some of the inaccuracies and omissions. And, of course, there’s also a transcription of the whole damn letter.
Continue reading In 2013 Kerry Morrison Told The City Council That Without City Oversight Of BID Compliance With The Public Records Act “It Is Very Possible That One Of The BID Boards Would Be Sued, Which Would Also Involve The City” — This Despite Decades Of Kerry Morrison’s Refusing To Have Her BID Be Overseen In Any Way — Protesting Any Proposed Oversight Schemes — And Repeatedly Violating The Brown Act And CPRA In Flamboyantly Intentional Ways

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Pacific Palisades BID In 2016 — Newly Obtained Emails Reveal The Most Egregious Violation Of The Brown Act I Have Ever Seen In The Wild — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale — Who Sadly Is Highly Unlikely To Be Prosecuted For Her Criminal Ways — Conducted An Actual Vote On An Actual Motion By Email — Not One Single Board Member Objected — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run So They’re Not Going To Jail — But Obviously They’re Still Going To Hell — Cause There Ain’t No Statute That Can Limit The Freaking Wrath Of God!

I know some of you out there have been remembering such classics as the story of the angry scary fat black homeless male man or the story of the gang members escaping the seething urban hellscape of Santa Freaking Monica and thereby wondering just why it is that it’s been since March freaking 2017 since I last posted any full frontal mockery of the halfwits-by-the-sea out in Northwest Zillionaireville. I’m speaking of course of the Pacific Palisades Business Improvement District, Mike Freaking Bonin’s platonic ideal of a good BID.

And it’s certainly no coincidence that my last few posts about these coastal dimwits had to do with Laurie Freaking Sale’s weirdo Humistonian CPRA aggression. For instance there was the incident of Ms. Laurie Sale’s being too busy to follow the law, a theory which doesn’t work so well for non-zillionaires.1 Then there was the case of board member Rick Freaking Lemmo explaining how they were going to spend 3% of their annual assessments on lawyers to keep records out of my hands.

Well, it turns out that that’s not working out so well,2 because earlier this week I took a trek all the way out to the damn Palisades on public transit3 to finally inspect some records after fifteen tooth-pullingly painful months trying to talk some sense into Ms. Laurie Sale and then a few more months of my lawyer trying to talk some sense into the world’s angriest CPRA attorney, Ms. Carol F. Humiston.4

And good lord, friends! The craziness in these records is beyond fever pitch! It’s beyond Ebola pitch! Can’t easily be measured by disease slash pitch comparisons is how crazy it is! For various technical reasons it’s going to take a long time to prep this steaming pile o’ puckey for publication, so I’ll be dribbling it out a bit at a time. Today’s installment consists of 44 pages of emails amongst the BID Board, which can be found here on Archive.Org.

And amongst the millionish sharp little shards of crazy to be found here is the single most egregious violation of the Brown Act that I’ve ever known to be committed by a BID.5 In January 2016 BID zeck dreck Laurie Sale6 emailed her board with a motion to approve a contract and one by one they all voted yes by reply-all. This is beyond bad, beyond obvious. Turn the page for a discussion of the section that this violates, of what can be done about it now,7 and transcriptions of and links to all the evidence.
Continue reading Pacific Palisades BID In 2016 — Newly Obtained Emails Reveal The Most Egregious Violation Of The Brown Act I Have Ever Seen In The Wild — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale — Who Sadly Is Highly Unlikely To Be Prosecuted For Her Criminal Ways — Conducted An Actual Vote On An Actual Motion By Email — Not One Single Board Member Objected — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run So They’re Not Going To Jail — But Obviously They’re Still Going To Hell — Cause There Ain’t No Statute That Can Limit The Freaking Wrath Of God!

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BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

A business improvement district (BID) in Los Angeles1 is a geographical area in which the owners of commercial property are assessed an additional fee for various services that aren’t provided by the City. These fees are collected either by the City of L.A. via direct billing2 or, more usually, by the County of Los Angeles as an add-on to property tax bills.

The state law authorizing BIDs requires each BID to be administered by a property owners’ association (POA).3 In the normal course of things these organizations are conjured up by the City at the time the BID is established, although sometimes previously existing nonprofits will end up as a POA. One example of this is the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which serves as POA for the East Hollywood BID, although it predates its existence.

The law requires these POAs to be nonprofits, although it doesn’t specify what kind of nonprofit they should be. For various reasons, at least in Los Angeles, they are usually 501(c)(6) organizations. Because the City is handing over what’s essentially tax money to these POAs,4 they have a great deal of control over their activities and what they spend their money on.
Continue reading BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

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Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Seems To Get Paid About $80,000 For Establishing A BID, Which I Managed To Discover Despite The Fact That She’s So Darned Secretive

Shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine looks fate’s oncoming train straight in the eye.
There’s an unresolved problem in the application of the California Public Records Act to business improvement districts. The thing is that the Property Owners’ Associations which administer the BIDs are, in part, subject to CPRA because §36612 of the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 makes them so, stating that:

“Owners’ association” means a private nonprofit entity that is under contract with a city to administer or implement improvements, maintenance, and activities specified in the management district plan. … an owners’ association shall comply with the California Public Records Act … for all records relating to activities of the district.

The problem is that the Owners’ Association doesn’t seem to be required to comply with CPRA until it actually is under contract with the City. This, if accurate, means that the activities of the POA before the BID is approved are largely opaque to scrutiny. And this has been a severe problem in the case of the Venice Beach BID, where a number of people, not just me, have had the experience of CD11 staff,1 City Clerk staff, and even freaking Holly Wolcott herself, falsely denying that the City is involved in the BID formation process at all and telling members of the public that they should therefore seek information from shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine. Tara Devine, of course, ignores all requests for information from anyone who seems to be even a little skeptical about the benefits of BIDs.

None of this is the final word on the matter. The only reason that the legislature even made BIDs subject to CPRA is that Aaron Epstein, a brave and determined property owner, sued the living shit out of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance2 in the 1990s and the Courts determined, in a stunningly righteous decision, that BIDs were subject to both CPRA and the Brown Act. It’s quite possible, perhaps even probable, that if the courts were asked whether or not POAs were subject to CPRA before the contract was signed, they would find that they were. However, that’s not a struggle in which I presently have the resources to engage, so alternative methods of information collection are required.

Fortunately,3 Tara Devine is not a one-BID woman. See, in 2015 the South Park BID was up for renewal.4 The process of BID renewal is essentially the same as the process for BID establishment, with the huge difference that it’s carried out by a POA that’s already under contract with the City, and is thus subject to CPRA. And thus was it possible to gather surprisingly much information about how Tara Devine conducts her dangerous business!5
Continue reading Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Seems To Get Paid About $80,000 For Establishing A BID, Which I Managed To Discover Despite The Fact That She’s So Darned Secretive

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2014 VBBID Emails Reveal, Among Other Things, That Bonin Staffer Debbie Dyner Harris Was On Venice Beach BID Steering Committee Since 2014 Despite Consistent Denials of City Involvement In Formation Process

Mike Bonin aide and Fairy godmother Debbie Dyner Harris posing with what will be left of her darling Venice Beach BID after the clock strikes the appointed hour.
Mike Bonin aide and Fairy godmother Debbie Dyner Harris posing with what will be left of her darling Venice Beach BID after the clock strikes the appointed hour.
Here are eleven pages of emails from 2014 released to me yesterday by Miranda Paster of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office.1 These provide a unique2 window into the process by which BIDs are created in the City of Los Angeles. It’s clear from these emails that, despite the fact that everyone in the City government denies it, the BID formation process is encouraged, facilitated, and inextricably interwoven with City action at every stage. Of course, this confirms precisely what the California Court of Appeal found in its landmark decision in Epstein v. HPOA: that “by giving the BID the legal breath of life, the City breathe[s] life into the POA as well.”3

In any case, here are many, many interesting facts newly revealed by these emails:
Continue reading 2014 VBBID Emails Reveal, Among Other Things, That Bonin Staffer Debbie Dyner Harris Was On Venice Beach BID Steering Committee Since 2014 Despite Consistent Denials of City Involvement In Formation Process

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Business Improvement Districts As A Force For White Supremacy in Twenty-First Century Los Angeles

This is the most obvious and least dangerous form in which white supremacy expresses itself.
This is the most obvious and least dangerous form in which white supremacy expresses itself.
My colleagues and I spill a lot of metaphorical ink referring to business improvement districts and their Boards of Directors as white supremacists, and we certainly stand by that position. However, it’s recently come to my attention that not everyone in our audience is familiar with the literal meaning of the phrase. Evidently it strikes some people as a generic, semantically empty insult, or else they’re confused by the fact that the phrase refers to at least two fairly distinct ideologies. Thus I thought it would be useful to explain in detail why BIDs are in a very literal sense white supremacist organizations.

First let’s get the definitions straight. As always, our friends at Wikipedia give us a good starting place. Their article on white supremacy tells us that the phrase has two principal meanings. The salient one for our purposes is that white supremacy is:

…a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical and/or industrial domination by white people

It’s crucial to note that there’s nothing inherently racist about this kind of white supremacy.1 Now, the history of the racial segregation of real estate in Los Angeles is well-known, and Hollywood was at the forefront of it from the early years of the last century. What’s not so well understood is how racially segregated the commercial real estate market was. In fact2 it was certainly more segregated than residential real estate, since white people owned much of the commercial real estate even in areas of the City where nonwhites were allowed to own houses.3
Continue reading Business Improvement Districts As A Force For White Supremacy in Twenty-First Century Los Angeles

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How to Call Someone an Asshole in Kerrymorrisonese

Kerry Morrison on Vine Street.
Ms. Kerry Morrison on Vine Street.
One of the pleasures, one of the pains, of intensively researching the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance is that I have to read hundreds upon hundreds of pages of HPOA Exec. Direc. Ms. Kerry Morrison’s smug, privileged prose. It’s painful not just due to her smugness, but to her tacit insistence that she’s an expert on homelessness and everything else, her hypocritical alternation between whining about government and soliciting special favors from the government, her advocacy of arresting homeless people over and over and over again for breaking even the most inconsequential of laws while she herself masterminds ongoing criminal conspiracies, and so on.

The pleasure comes from the same source that mastery of any complex esoteric field of knowledge brings pleasure. From intense close reading and rereading of the complete works of Ms. Kerry Morrison, I’ve not only realized that she speaks a separate, unique language (which we affectionately refer to as Kerrymorrisonese),1 in which the syntax and the vocabulary are identical to Standard American English, but the semantics is wildly divergent, but I’ve begun to master this idiolect and I’m here to share my knowledge with you. Tonight’s post is meant to be the first installment of a translation rubric. A phrasebook, if you will. I hope it will be useful to you, intrepid student of the fascinating subject that is Ms. Kerry Morrison!
Continue reading How to Call Someone an Asshole in Kerrymorrisonese

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Mark Ryavec’s Venice-Based Gang of Aggressively Moronic Subliterate Meatheads Threatens City of LA with Lawsuit over Conversion of Westminster Senior Center to Homeless Storage Facility

Westminster Senior Center, located at 1234 Pacific Avenue in the heart of the late lamented Venice, now raped, killed, and eaten by the likes of Mark Ryavec and all those smarmy little techbros of both sexes.
Westminster Senior Center, located at 1234 Pacific Avenue in the heart of the late lamented Venice, now raped, killed, and eaten by the likes of Mark Ryavec and all those smarmy little techbros of both sexes.
This is a little off our beat, but we’ll tie it in before the end. As you may or may not be aware, Councilfolk Bonin and Harris-Dawson have been running amok-inna-good-way out west of here, just planning to build all manner of golden goodies for the homeless population of what, forty years ago, was the best part of Los Angeles, which is to say, Venice. There’s the affordable housing project in the City parking lot, there’s the storage facility in Westminster Park, and we don’t know what-all else. Well, just tonight, in the Council file of the latter item, this little slab of Ryaveckian lunacy just hit the internets. Read it and weep for civilization, fellow Angelenos. This Ryavec fellow would be a funny guy if he weren’t a slavering psychopath.1
Continue reading Mark Ryavec’s Venice-Based Gang of Aggressively Moronic Subliterate Meatheads Threatens City of LA with Lawsuit over Conversion of Westminster Senior Center to Homeless Storage Facility

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