Tag Archives: Blair Besten

Apparently The City Attorney Of Los Angeles Has Opined That Business Improvement Districts Can’t Spend Money On Things That Aren’t In Their Management District Plans Unless The Plans Are Amended — At Least That’s What Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Said In 2012 And Why Would She Lie About That?

When business improvement districts in California are created, it’s required by the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 at §36622 to file a so-called management district plan (MDP) with the City. This is meant to describe exactly what the BID is going to spend its money on, and it’s incorporated into the City’s Ordinance of Establishment, by which means the BID is created. It must be approved by the City Council, and the City has the power to revise it at will. The law makes it pretty clear that BIDs are actually forbidden from spending money on activities that aren’t in the MDP, although this facet of the law is generally ignored by the City.

And I’m presently working on a project that requires a close reading of invoices submitted by Tara Devine1 to the South Park BID over the years, which I obtained last month as the fruit of a CPRA request.2 Although 2012 is outside the timeline I’m working on, I was fascinated to note that Tara Devine seems to have been engaged by the South Park BID to actually write that year’s annual planning report3 for them. One of the things that she billed for in the course of performing her contract to do so Tara Devine billed for was a conversation with accounting firm RBZ, since merged with Armanino, and the subject of that conversation was wholly new to me:
Continue reading Apparently The City Attorney Of Los Angeles Has Opined That Business Improvement Districts Can’t Spend Money On Things That Aren’t In Their Management District Plans Unless The Plans Are Amended — At Least That’s What Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Said In 2012 And Why Would She Lie About That?

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Remember That Cost Matrix That Rena Leddy And Urban Place Consulting Claimed In March 2017 Was A Trade Secret And Even Hired A Lawyer To Prevent Its Release Under CPRA? Well, Rena Leddy Herself Released It Into The Public Domain In October 2016. The Proper Response Is (a) WTF?! (b) Is Paying Lawyers To Fight Already-Lost Battles An Acceptable Use Of The BID’s Money? (c) All Of The Above

A couple days ago I published a collection of Rena Leddy’s reports to the Board of Directors of the Fashion District BID. This is turning out to be an incredibly rich source of information, revealing, e.g., that a marketing consultant hired by the BID thinks, among other deeply stupid thoughts, that lobster rolls confuse Latinos. And today I have another gem, but, for good or for ill, this one’s more technical although no less interesting.

Perhaps you recall that Urban Place Consulting is working for the Fashion District coordinating the BID’s pending renewal with the City. I obtained UPC’s contract with the BID from Rena Leddy via the California Public Records Act, but she claimed that the chart showing the actual hourly rates of UPC bossboy Steve Gibson and his assorted flunkies was exempt from release because it was a trade secret. Then we spent three months arguing about it and everybody got lawyered up and eventually she gave in and sent me an unredacted copy of the contract showing how much money all the UPC folks were getting paid.

Well, it turns out it was all for nothing. You see, in October 2016, UPC submitted a proposal to the BID for the consulting job. Here is a copy (transcription after the break, as always). And Rena Leddy included this proposal in the November 2016 Board Packet. And the proposal contained an unredacted copy of the cost matrix. To see why this action of Rena Leddy’s obviated our entire subsequent dispute about whether or not the cost matrix was exempt, turn the page, friend!
Continue reading Remember That Cost Matrix That Rena Leddy And Urban Place Consulting Claimed In March 2017 Was A Trade Secret And Even Hired A Lawyer To Prevent Its Release Under CPRA? Well, Rena Leddy Herself Released It Into The Public Domain In October 2016. The Proper Response Is (a) WTF?! (b) Is Paying Lawyers To Fight Already-Lost Battles An Acceptable Use Of The BID’s Money? (c) All Of The Above

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The Temptations Of The Gangsta Life Were Too Strong: Blair Besten’s Brief Attempt To Live As A Productive, Law-Abiding Citizen Lasts Less Than 24 Hours Before She Embarked On Another Crime Spree

Just yesterday we asked you, our loyal audience, to join with us in a sympathetic moment of silence for Blair Besten, executive directrix of the Historic Core BID, who was forced by circumstances to quit her outlaw ways and follow the law for just once in her professional life.

Well, I’m sorry to have to report that she’s back to living la vida loca on the mean streets of DTLA, unsurprisingly I suppose, as white collar crimes have such a very high recidivism rate. Blair Besten’s attempt at walking the strait and narrow path lasted about 6 minutes short of 24 hours, at which point she busted out in yet another crime spree. Here’s the background: This afternoon, a few of your loyal staff members rode the good old Red Line to Pershing Square to attend the June meeting of the Historic Core BID’s Board of Directors. We filmed the whole thing, if you’re interested.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the BID’s marketing specialist, Paola Flores, who invited us to sign in on the sign-in sheet. We declined, as we always do, and noted that the sheet was in violation of the Brown Act. This was the first (and least important) of three violations, the technical details of which along with the usual slew of goodies you shall find after the break.
Continue reading The Temptations Of The Gangsta Life Were Too Strong: Blair Besten’s Brief Attempt To Live As A Productive, Law-Abiding Citizen Lasts Less Than 24 Hours Before She Embarked On Another Crime Spree

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Please Join The Staff Of This Blog In A Moment Of Silence For Blair Besten, Who Was Forced Against Her Will To Follow A Law. Let’s Hope The Damage To Her Self Respect, Her Reputation, Her Emotional Stability, And Her Employability Is Not Permanent.

Maybe you’re familiar with §54954.1 of the Brown Act, which requires BIDs1 to notify anyone in advance of their meetings and send them agendas and other materials at the same time this material is distributed to the BID’s board.2 Another crucial bit is found at §54954.2(a)(1), which requires posting of agendas on BIDs’ websites.3

And it will be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog to discover that Blair Besten and her weirdo criminal conspiracy, the Historic Core BID, have consistently ignored these two requirements since time immemorial. Of course, no shock. Many members of the BID’s board of directors are criminals. Blair Besten herself breaks the law with relish and impunity.

So I asked Blair Besten in May to inform me of the BID’s meetings. She ignored me for the May meeting. I asked her yet again.4 She ignored me again. A little bird told me that they had a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, June 29, so I walked by the BID office yesterday, where they had partially complied with the law by posting an agenda in the window. Too much!
Continue reading Please Join The Staff Of This Blog In A Moment Of Silence For Blair Besten, Who Was Forced Against Her Will To Follow A Law. Let’s Hope The Damage To Her Self Respect, Her Reputation, Her Emotional Stability, And Her Employability Is Not Permanent.

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Why It’s Quite Likely That Blair Besten Broke A Number Of Laws By Lobbying The City Of Los Angeles Over Skid Row On Behalf Of The HCBID Board Of Directors In November 2016 And Arguably Even Committed A Misdemeanor

Blair Besten rocking the Pharcyde.
So a couple weeks ago I wrote about an episode in November 2016 when Blair Besten, executive directrix of the good old Historic Core BID, at the behest of her Board of Directors, lobbied the City of Los Angeles about incentives for Skid Row development which included a seemingly endless list of wet fever dreams like no taxes ever, no height limits, no required affordable housing, and so on. Well, then someone posted my post to the Facebook asking, among other things, if Blair Besten’s lobbying was even legal. The post unleashed a deluge of stranger-danger visits to our cozy and haimish little blog and the usual slew of idiotic comments by the usual slew of unselfaware idiot commentators over on the Facebook itself.

Well, Mom had a favorite saying about wrestling with a pig, and that goes doubletime for arguing with the Facebook commentariat. So we all just ignored the whole mishegoss until, as will sometimes happen, it occurred to me that one of the most ignorant offensive mansplainy clueless wrong-headed imaginary-internet-lawyerly comments of all would provide a perfect foil for a post that I had been meaning to write for a while now anyway, and that’s how we ended up right here and now, friends.

The dimwitted commenter asked1 the OP: “What specific actions of hers do you think are of questionable legality?” This is one of them Internet comments that’s supposed to make the reader say something like “Hmmm…. now that I read that incisive question I can see that I really am a foolish dupe after all and the only reason I even had an opinion is because no very smart fellow ever challenged me… OK, I retract every idea I have ever had!!

However, as it happens, there are a number of ways in which Blair Besten’s specific action of lobbying the City on behalf of her employers with respect to development conditions on Skid Row violated various laws. For better or for worse, the discussion is unavoidably technical, and you gotta turn the page if you wanna read it!
Continue reading Why It’s Quite Likely That Blair Besten Broke A Number Of Laws By Lobbying The City Of Los Angeles Over Skid Row On Behalf Of The HCBID Board Of Directors In November 2016 And Arguably Even Committed A Misdemeanor

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Why In The World Did City Employees Avak Sarafian And Huizar Staffer Kevin Ocubillo Attempt To Get The Historic Core BID An Illegitimate Waiver From Its Statutory And Contractual Obligation To Disclose The Profits It Made From Slavery?!

In 2003 the City of Los Angeles passed a Slavery Disclosure Ordinance,1 which, in short, requires most firms that contract with the City to disclose any profits they2 made from American slavery prior to 1865. The L.A. Times published a good contemporaneous summary of the issues, which is worth a read.

This measure was promoted by pro-reparations advocates as a (mostly) symbolic expression of the City’s opposition to slavery. It’s mostly symbolic in, first, that it only requires disclosure. In fact, the only actual tangible requirement of the law is that contractors complete a disclosure affadavit. No firms that profited from slavery are prevented from doing business with the City. Also, any number of types of firms are exempt from the law. An exhaustive list of exceptions can be found at §10.41.3.

Among these are, most crucially, financial institutions. Since banks, stockbrokers, and other such firms doing business in finance are likely either to have existed prior to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment or else to have acquired financial firms that were, and since every major business in the U.S. during slavery times made money from the stolen labor of slaves,3 this is no minor exception.

Another huge exception is that the law only applies to slavery in the United States before 1865.4 Of course, slavery in present-day Los Angeles is not only rampant, it’s not only tolerated, but is probably pretty acceptable, at least to elected City officials given the likely level of campaign contributions made by slavers. After all, it’s not poor people buying those slaves, and probably not politically uninvolved people, either. Just for instance, between them, modern-day slaveholders Ray and Ghada Irani have given more than $22,000 to various candidates.5 Given the obsessive contribution-seeking behavior of our Councilmembers, this is more than enough explanation for the narrow scope of the law.6

And finally, for whatever reason, §10.41.3(E) exempts 501(c)(3) corporations, and that brings us to this morning’s actual subject, which, believe it or not, is the Historic Core Business Improvement District.
Continue reading Why In The World Did City Employees Avak Sarafian And Huizar Staffer Kevin Ocubillo Attempt To Get The Historic Core BID An Illegitimate Waiver From Its Statutory And Contractual Obligation To Disclose The Profits It Made From Slavery?!

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New MK.Org Coffee Mug Honoring Leron Gubler And The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce For Being Extra Super Duper Law Abiding, Also Tons Of New Fashion District BID Emails

My recent post about the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its lobbying disclosure activity was so popular, or at least the picture that accompanied the post was so popular, that, effectively although not actually by popular demand, we here at MK.Org created yet another souvenir gift mug, an accessory with which you too can tell the world that you’re opposed to bad BIDness in Los Angeles and also is very handy for the drinking of coffee and other hot beverages! We here at MK.Org feel that this item has the potential to outsell our current bestselling item, the Blair Besten anti-CPRA award mug. Help us make that dream come true, friends!

Turn the page for link to newly obtained emails from the Fashion District.
Continue reading New MK.Org Coffee Mug Honoring Leron Gubler And The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce For Being Extra Super Duper Law Abiding, Also Tons Of New Fashion District BID Emails

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Revealed: The Actual Technical Means By Which José Huizar, Who By The Way Is A Liar And A Deceptive Sneaky Little Creep, Destroyed The Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Effort, Quite Possibly At The Behest Of Michael Delijani, Whose Family Has Given José Huizar $25,000 Over The Years


When I first started working on this post, I meant it to be a typical humorous take on a comment that Grayce Liu made at the March 20 meeting of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, much like the nonsense I wrote the other day.

But in preparation for mocking the arrogant rich white supremacists who turned out at every meeting about the SRNC to bumble their whiny way through their idiotic decontextualized lies about “outreach” and “voter participation” and “united Downtown” and fucking “inadequate notification,” I listened to a recording of the March 22 meeting of the Rules and Elections Committee, which sickened me to the point that I lost any taste for making jokes about any of this.1 Huizar’s behavior is not funny, and I’m in no state of mind to make fun.2 He is a horrible person.3

In particular, here’s what I learned. Much of this information has been published before, but as far as I can tell, not all of it has:

  • Huizar decided to change the rules for the SRNC formation election to allow online voting. The change took place merely two weeks before voting began, even though he almost certainly had his mind made up weeks if not months earlier. If he had implemented the decision when he had made it at least there would have been time for the SRNC proponents to address this dispositive change in the rules.
  • He did this in the face of explicit testimony that online voting would disadvantage homeless people, who have extremely limited internet access. Even worse, he knew that the online voting system to be used by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment would preregister more than 1000 DLANC and HCNC voters from 2016, thereby overwhelming any online voters that the SRNC-FC might manage to register in two weeks and thus dooming any SRNC-FC online registration effort to irrelevance.
  • Huizar made this change unilaterally. It’s true that it was passed by the Rules and Elections Committee and then by the full Council, but if you listen to the recording.4 You will hear Huizar reading out his proposal and Herb Wesson pronouncing it adopted with neither discussion nor a vote.
  • Huizar ignored all the warnings he heard against allowing online voting with respect to the SRNC, but he took them all into account for other NC elections by stating explicitly that SRNC would be the only election to use online voting until further notice. This proves yet again that as far as the City of Los Angeles is concerned, rules do not apply to poor people. They’re not usually this overt about it, though.
  • Somehow Huizar allowed multiple polling locations distributed widely in both space and time. He did this in the face of Grayce Liu’s explicit statement that one polling place open for four hours is absolutely standard in NC elections. Again, Huizar unilaterally changed the rules for Skid Row.

Turn the page for the full, detailed story with links to and transcriptions of the audio of the meeting.
Continue reading Revealed: The Actual Technical Means By Which José Huizar, Who By The Way Is A Liar And A Deceptive Sneaky Little Creep, Destroyed The Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Effort, Quite Possibly At The Behest Of Michael Delijani, Whose Family Has Given José Huizar $25,000 Over The Years

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On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Gale Holland’s article in the Times for a more mainstream perspective.

Scott Gray of major Skid Row property owner Capital Foresight, likely behind-the-curtain string-puller for the covert anti-SRNC lobbying campaign, was famously quoted in the Downtown News in March 2017 with respect to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort to the effect that:

…the pending proposal to divide Downtown Los Angeles into separate geographic districts will have significant fiscal and far-reaching economic impact on the entire city

Anyone who attends to the shady world of Los Angeles real estate development can easily imagine in the abstract the kinds of things Scott Gray means, but there has hitherto been very little specific information about what he was talking about.

It turns out that in November 2016 Blair Besten’s megadeveloper bosses at the Historic Core BID had their heavy artillery aimed at Skid Row and had begun soliciting the usual array of sleazy under-table giveaways, such as tax abatements, relaxed zoning, and so on. It’s no surprise at all, then, that when the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s proposal was approved by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in January 2017 they flipped out to the astonishing degree that they did. As always, documentation and highly detailed description after the break.
Continue reading On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

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Tales From The BONC-Side Part 1: In Which Scott Gray And Debbie Welsch Of Capital Foresight Reveal Themselves As Whiny Ignorant Little Liars And John Howland, Formerly Of The Central City Association, Reveals That He May Be Whiny, He May Be Ignorant, He May Be Little, But He’s Not A Liar, At Least Not When He Would Violate LAMC §48.04(B) By Lying

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Gale Holland’s article in the Times for a more balanced perspective.

As you may recall, I’ve been tracking the illegal lobbying carried out by and on behalf of various shady downtown zillionaires with the support and connivance of the staff of various downtown business improvement districts in opposition to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort. As part of their creepy conspiracy, the usual motley crew of zillionaires and zillionaire-identified-groupies showed up at the March 20, 2017 meeting of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (affectionately known as BONC) to speak what passes for their minds in zillionairelandia.

In the ordinary course of events, BONC posts audio of their meetings on the open internet, but, for whatever reason, when I took a look a few weeks ago, the March 20 meeting did not appear. After a few weeks worth of pleasant emails with various City employees, though, the audio has now been posted. I also published it on Archive.Org along with a copy of the minutes so you can follow along if you wish.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, some of it inspiring, most of it horrifying in that special spine-tingly manner that glimpses into the seething caucasian-hot liquid id-core of the local politics of resentment are wont to horrify. I plan to write occasionally on episodes from this meeting, as the mood strikes, and today’s story concerns comments by Scott Gray and Debbie Welsch of shadowy zillionaire real estate conspiracy Capital Foresight,1 and shadowy lobbyist-to-the-zillionaires, John Howland.2

The gist of the matter is this, though. Debbie Welsch and Scott Gray told lie after lie, some of them beyond surreal in their fundamental disconnect with reality. On the other hand, John Howland, who at the time of the meeting was employed as a registered lobbyist with CCA, mostly, although he is quite an evil fellow indeed, told the truth. This is arguably less due to his inherent honesty than it is to the fact that registered lobbyists are required to sign a form upon registration acknowledging that they are aware of LAMC §48.04(B), which states that:

No lobbyist or lobbying firm subject to the requirements of the Article shall…[f]raudulently deceive or attempt to deceive any City official with regard to any material fact pertinent to any pending or proposed municipal legislation.

Anyway, after the break you will find embedded audio and transcriptions of the comments of all three of these dimwits, along with as much detailed mockery as I was able to type before I had to run off to the loo to eat lunch backwards​.
Continue reading Tales From The BONC-Side Part 1: In Which Scott Gray And Debbie Welsch Of Capital Foresight Reveal Themselves As Whiny Ignorant Little Liars And John Howland, Formerly Of The Central City Association, Reveals That He May Be Whiny, He May Be Ignorant, He May Be Little, But He’s Not A Liar, At Least Not When He Would Violate LAMC §48.04(B) By Lying

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