Tag Archives: Aaron Epstein

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

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

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

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

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

A Trip to City Archives Yields Fascinating Historical Material Including 2003 HPOA Stakeholder Rebellion Over Shady and Neurotic Behavior by Tronson and Morrison During Security Provider Bidding Process

The view from Ramirez Street.  The entrance to the Archives is by the loading dock in the mid-right area of the image.
The view from Ramirez Street. The entrance to the Archives is by the loading dock in the mid-right area of the image.
A recent trip to the lovely City Archives on Ramirez Street, my absolute favorite of all city agencies,1 yielded up a bunch of really interesting stuff from 2001–2003. So much so that I started a new page for it. It took me three hours to look through two boxes of BID records (out of more than 400), so I’m sure there will be much more of this stuff to come. There’s a list of some highlights after the break, but check it!

In 2003 the BID’s expiring security contract with Burke Security, the predecessor of Andrews International, was put out for bids. Aaron Epstein, yes, the same one whose nuclear bomb of a lawsuit established the subjection of BIDs to both the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, thereby making this blog possible, and a large group of his fellow Hollywood BID stakeholders2 sent a letter to then-mayor James Hahn complaining that they:

believe[d] that the District’s board of directors and executive director have not conducted a fully open and competitive process to ensure that property owners receive the finest security service for the lowest competitive price (the current two year contract exceeds $2 million). Moreover, we believe that the board and executive director have failed to be objective in the process and have allowed the contractor, Burke Security, to function in ways that do not provide the maximum benefits to the property owners and merchants.

Even in 2003 the BIDs had captured the regulatory function of the City Clerk's office to the point where they were warning Kerry Morrison that people were scrutinizing her sketchy behavior rather than using the power of the purse to make her be not so shady.  The fox wasn't guarding the henhouse--the lunatics were (and are) running the asylum.
Even in 2003 the BIDs had captured the regulatory function of the City Clerk’s office to the point where they were warning Kerry Morrison that people were scrutinizing her sketchy behavior rather than using the power of the purse to make her be not so shady. The fox wasn’t guarding the henhouse–the lunatics were (and are) running the asylum.

If you read the letter you’ll see that they’re talking about practices that are still retained by the current BID Patrol: custodial arrests rather than observe-and-report, unseeming over-coziness with the staff of the HPOA, and so on.3 The copy I obtained came with a couple of handwritten notes4 from a Clerk’s office employee suggesting that they warn Kerry Morrison that people were watching so she should follow the rules. This, obviously, is not the kind of behavior one would expect from a regulatory agency. Why didn’t they tell Kerry Morrison to follow the rules because the law required her to?
Continue reading A Trip to City Archives Yields Fascinating Historical Material Including 2003 HPOA Stakeholder Rebellion Over Shady and Neurotic Behavior by Tronson and Morrison During Security Provider Bidding Process

February 5, 2003: The Very First Known Public Records Act Ever Received by the HPOA and Kerry Morrison was Already Offended

Kerry Morrison on February 18, 2016, the 13th anniversary of her receipt of an offensive letter from a lawyer regarding the very first known CPRA request to the HPOA.
Kerry Morrison on February 18, 2016, the 13th anniversary of her receipt of an “offensive” letter from a lawyer regarding the very first known CPRA request to the HPOA.
Electronic versions of the HPOA Board of Directors minutes from 1996 through 2006 haven’t been retained by the HPOA, so while waiting on physical copies1 to publish here, I’m taking advantage of good old section 6253(a) of CPRA,2 which tells us that:

Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided.

Consequently, last Thursday I went over to HPOA secret headquarters on Hollywood Boulevard to read through this material, something I plan to make a regular habit of doing.
Justice Walter Croskey wrote the landmark 2001 opinion in Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District BID.
Justice Walter Croskey wrote the landmark 2001 opinion in Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District BID.
And there is much fascinating material there, not least of which is the complete unfolding in real time of Aaron Epstein’s epic lawsuit against the HPOA. This ended, of course, in a landmark 2001 decision by the Second District of the California Court of Appeal making BIDs subject to both the Brown Act and CPRA. That story is woven through years and years worth of minutes, so it must wait for the copies to arrive. However, I was able to photograph3 a description of the very first CPRA request known to have been received by the HPOA (on February 5, 2003).

Read on for what it said:
Continue reading February 5, 2003: The Very First Known Public Records Act Ever Received by the HPOA and Kerry Morrison was Already Offended

Federal Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Shows Up BIDs for the Mewling and Puking Liars they Are

The brave, the stalwart, the wise federal judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, kicking ass and taking names.
The brave, the stalwart, the wise federal judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, kicking ass and taking names.
Note that formerly Ukrainian first amendment maven and all-round mensch Eugene Volokh has already explained this better than we’re ever going to, so you may want to hop over to there for background. TL;DR is that the city of Inglewood sued Inglewood resident Joseph Teixeira in federal court, claiming that Teixeira’s reuse of their city-produced videos of city council meetings to create weaponized mockery of, among others, Inglewood mayor James Butts violated their copyright in said videos.

Well, Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (that’s federalese for “Los Angeles”) not only dismissed Inglewood’s case, he terminated it with extreme prejudice. You can read the order here if you wish, and it’s smoking hot. The salient bit for this blog is, according to Volokh, that:

The court held that, under California law (see, e.g., County of Santa Clara v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. 2009)), cities can’t claim copyright in public records. And while the city claims that this provision is trumped by federal copyright law, the court rejected that argument — federal law treats local governments as political subdivisions of the state, and a state has the power to control what its subdivisions do (including which federal rights they claim).

Now, I can hear you all murmuring and wondering out there in internetlandia, saying “sure, Kohlhaas, we hear you, but what does this got to do with the BIDs??!” Well, friends, we’re glad you asked!
Continue reading Federal Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Shows Up BIDs for the Mewling and Puking Liars they Are

Piratical Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Flies False Flag for BID’s Brain-Dead Bar-Busting Brouhaha

Peter Zarcone strikes a thoughtful pose at the April 9, 2015 meeting of the Joint Security Committee
Peter Zarcone strikes a thoughtful pose at the April 9, 2015 meeting of the Joint Security Committee
LAPD Hollywood Division Captain Peter Zarcone, who seems like a pretty decent guy even if he does look a little “like he had been disinterred for the express purpose of making people uneasy,”1 turned out to be the voice of what passes for ethical standards at the Joint Security Meeting on April 9, 2015. Here’s the story.

The JSC was, as usual, blethering on about how nightclubs are ruining everything and had pretty much agreed that the problem was lack of enforcement of the terms of liquor licenses. The issue is that type 47 licenses, which require a bona fide food service establishment, are being used as type 48 licenses, which do not require food to be served. See here for a description of the various types of California liquor licenses allowed.

John Tronson at the Joint Security Committee meeting on April 9, 2015, complaining about some guy whose name we didn't catch who gets too damned many liquor licenses and thereby ruins EVERYTHING in Hollywood
John Tronson at the Joint Security Committee meeting on April 9, 2015, complaining about some guy whose name we didn’t catch who gets too damned many liquor licenses and thereby ruins EVERYTHING in Hollywood

The JSC agrees that there are just too many liquor licenses. In fact, listen here as John Tronson accuses one of his fellow zillionaires, possibly Argentinian impresario-about-town Adolfo Suaya of “What’s on Third,” possibly someone whose name we didn’t catch, of mucking everything up by getting “6 liquor licenses for every building he owns” (transcript after the break).

So Fabio Conti has the solution! The BID should go to liquor license hearings and… do what? Maybe tell the ABC that liquor licenses attract too many poor, dark-skinned people to Hollywood?!
Continue reading Piratical Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Flies False Flag for BID’s Brain-Dead Bar-Busting Brouhaha