Tag Archives: Blair Besten

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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Historic Core BID Executive Directrix Blair Besten Seems OK With The Crimes Of Her Employers, E.g. HCBID Board Members Ruben “The Homicidal Slumlord” Islas And Michael “Asshole Buddy With Ultra-Corrupt Tax Assessor John Noguez” Delijani, Even While Claiming That “The increase in crime lowers the morale of the neighborhood”

The fact that, as I reported on Friday, Blair Besten, batty little fusspot queen of the Historic Core BID, along with her ne’er-do-well companions in corruption, Estela Lopez and Michael Delijani, were meeting as early as January 2017 with CD14 Councilswordsman José Huizar to oppose the Skid Row Neighborhood Council more or less overshadowed the parallel discovery that, at roughly the same time, Ms. Blair Besten was also setting up a meeting between Mr. José and Ruben Islas, one of her bosses from the HCBID Board of Directors.1

Now, Ruben “the homicidal slumlord” Islas is famous not just for whatever it is he does to be a zillionaire, but also for the fact that he and a bunch of his co-conspirators were arrested and charged with manslaughter and a host of other crimes in 2010 related to the fact that the slums they were then lording over were in such bad shape that three people died as a result. This incident followed the now-seen-to-be-cruelly-ironic series of criminal counts filed against Islas‘s firm for roughly similar misconduct by then-City-Attorney Rockard Delgadillo, lately working under the table as an anti-human lobbyist for a shadowy Downtown law firm.

And similarly, the other one of Ms. Blair Besten’s bosses whose name has come up a lot recently, that is to say furtive hereditary imperialist downtown zillionaire Michael Delijani, has also availed himself of Blair Besten’s probably-illegally-exercised2 skills at relationship building with CD14 repster3 José Huizar. Just see here for six pages of blathering between Blair Besten and various CD14 staffers about a meeting she’s trying to arrange between the CM and the Delijani.

Michael Delijani has also been involved in some exceedingly shady-if-as-yet-unindicted activities in relation to the deep corruption in the office of the LA County Assessor as personified by former assessor, now jailbird, John Noguez. The details are too involved to discuss here, but essentially Noguez reduced zillionaires’ property tax bills in exchange for campaign contributions, and a bunch of the deals were made at fundraising events for Noguez at Michael Delijani’s house. Delijani himself gave Noguez more than $20,000, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.

As far as I can see, Michael Delijani has never been convicted of a crime related to the bribery of Noguez. And it’s true that Ruben Islas’s manslaughter charges were dropped, and also, as part of a deal in which the corporation itself pleaded guilty, Delgadillo’s criminal charges were also dropped against the firm’s principals, including Ruben “the Alexandria Hotel assassin” Islas. So in some technical sense, these guys are not criminals. But in some strong but nontechnical sense they certainly are criminals, and Blair Besten is certainly a hypocrite when it comes to these zillionaire bad BID boys.
Continue reading Historic Core BID Executive Directrix Blair Besten Seems OK With The Crimes Of Her Employers, E.g. HCBID Board Members Ruben “The Homicidal Slumlord” Islas And Michael “Asshole Buddy With Ultra-Corrupt Tax Assessor John Noguez” Delijani, Even While Claiming That “The increase in crime lowers the morale of the neighborhood”

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It Is Now Confirmed That The Subject Of Furtive Hereditary Imperialist Zillionaire Michael Delijani’s Meeting With José Huizar, Estela Lopez, and Batty Little Fusspot Queen of the Historic Core BID Blair Besten Was In Fact The Skid Row Neighborhood Council, And Although The Details Aren’t Yet Known, They Can’t Possibly Be Pretty, Can They?

It not only seems like just yesterday, but it was in fact just yesterday that I wrote about a meeting in January 2017 wherein Estela Lopez of the freaking Central City East Association, Blair Besten of the freaking Historic Core BID, and furtive hereditary imperialist zillionaire Michael Delijani all got together in a pile like puppies with ironically-styled-heartthrob Councilboy José Huizar of the good old 14th. At that time, I had no idea what the subject of the confabulation was, although I insinuated just a little teensy bit that it might have had something to do with the creepy-slash-shadowy-slash-illegal zillionaire total war against the formation of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council.

Well, this morning bright and early I hopped the good old 704 eastbound to the good old Red Line to good old Pershing Square Station and beat it on up to the HCBID where I was allowed, under the too-close-for-civility observation of a bunch of weirdo BIDdies and one DLANCkie old yank in his clanky old tank,1 to sit in the freaking dark on a freaking bench2 and look at a freaking bunch of emails. You’ll be hearing much, much more about this surreal episode in both the near and the distant futures,3 and the purpose of tonight’s episode is just to get before you one of the essential pieces of evidence that turned up in the partial yield.

It seems, in fact, as I thought yesterday but did not yet have the evidence to state explicitly, that the subject of the January 2017 meeting between Delijani, Besten, Lopez, and Huizar was in fact the formation of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. And given the positions taken by all the principals over the course of the next few months leading up to April’s disastrous election, you know it wasn’t a conversation in which the interests of the actual residents of Skid Row were treated with any respect at all. It’s not presently possible to say in detail what was discussed, but you can turn the page for an exhaustive look at the proof that it was all about Skid Row.
Continue reading It Is Now Confirmed That The Subject Of Furtive Hereditary Imperialist Zillionaire Michael Delijani’s Meeting With José Huizar, Estela Lopez, and Batty Little Fusspot Queen of the Historic Core BID Blair Besten Was In Fact The Skid Row Neighborhood Council, And Although The Details Aren’t Yet Known, They Can’t Possibly Be Pretty, Can They?

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Why Did Estela Lopez, Blair Besten, and Michael Delijani Meet With José Huizar Just A Few Days After Estela Lopez’s Infamous CPRA Request To Grayce Liu Asking For Records About The Skid Row Neighborhood Council?

Perhaps you recall that on January 17, 2017, very soon after the friendly neighborhood zillionaires realized that Skid Row was trying to get its own neighborhood council and resolved to crush it by any means necessary, Ms. Estela Lopez, the famously Wicked Queen of Crocker Street, made herself a merry little CPRA request to Grayce Liu, she of the famed Department of Neighborhood Empowerment of the City of Los Angeles, asking for all manner of records to do with the Skid Row NC Formation Committee’s efforts. Well, what she was up to there is anyone’s guess, although the smart money is on yet another shenaniganistic anti-SRNC operation carried out at the behest of the zillionaire elite of whom she is so very willing a flunky.

But, perhaps as interestingly, it seems that by one day later, January 18, 2017, she, her counterpart from the Historic Core BID with the slightly less sinister smile, that is to say the famously batty little fusspot Blair Besten, and presumptively lunatic zillionaire developer, DLANCker, HCBID Board member, and shadowy heir to a DTLA real estate empire, Michael Delijani himself, right after that CPRA request went out, had arranged for a meeting with that well-known gentleman from sole to crown, clean favored and imperially slim, quietly arrayed, admirably schooled in every grace, the real power in Downtown Los Angeles, that is to say, Mr. José Huizar himself. Note that Patti Berman was NOT invited!

What they spoke of we will probably never know, and, untrue to form, I haven’t even any insinuations.1 What I have is this email chain and an unadorned, unedited, uncommented-upon transcription of it after the break. You, dear reader, are to make of it what you will.
Continue reading Why Did Estela Lopez, Blair Besten, and Michael Delijani Meet With José Huizar Just A Few Days After Estela Lopez’s Infamous CPRA Request To Grayce Liu Asking For Records About The Skid Row Neighborhood Council?

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More than 200 MB Of New Hand-Scanned Documents From Figueroa Corridor BID and North Hollywood BID, Heavily Redacted For No Discernable Reason, But Interesting Nevertheless!

For the last few months I’ve been posting a lot of records from:

But I haven’t discussed the fact that these releases weren’t complete. In each case, Aaron Aulenta of Urban Place Consulting, who seems to be in charge of both of these BIDs, claimed numerous exemptions to the Public Record Act and told me that there was a bunch of material that he was printing out and redacting by hand on the basis of these exemptions.

Well, for various reasons I wasn’t able to get over to the offices of the FCBID to look at this stuff until Tuesday. Aaron Aulenta was kind enough to let me scan it instead of paying the usual outrageous copying fees that BIDdies habitually claim to be allowed to collect, and, after some minimal processing, I’m pleased to announce that it’s now available on Archive.Org. There’s some pretty interesting stuff in there, but it turns out that in this case the most interesting stuff is what’s not in there.

That is to say, the most interesting aspect of this release is what Aaron Aulenta thought that he was justified in redacting. Perhaps you recall that the California Public Records Act only allows for material to be redacted or withheld if one or more of the explicit enumerated exemptions to be found in the statute applies. There’s one exception to this principle, to be found in the infamous §6255(a), which states:

The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.

As you can imagine, BIDdies1 freaking love this last bit. It’s the most abused section of the law, with BIDdies, stoned out of their minds on white privilege and steeped in their delusional2 theory that laws are written and enforced for no better reason than to preserve and augment their power and wealth, claiming randomly that pretty much any piece of information they feel might embarrass them or their lackeys is exempt under this so-called public interest exemption.

For your future reference, there are at least two dispositive signs that this clause is being misused. First, they will refuse to state what public interest they feel is clearly being served by their withholding of the information. You’ll note that the law requires them to make this judgment on the particular facts of the case, which do not, can not, include a vague wave of the hand towards a claim of “I don’t heart that.”

Second, they will state semantically empty summary phrases which purport to refer to actual exemptions but, in fact, do not. Aaron Aulenta’s favorite of these seems to be “the benefit does not outweigh the burden.” It’s not exactly clear what the hell he’s thinking when he says this, and getting my hands on all these redacted documents has made it less rather than more clear, as you will see from the specific examples to be found after the break.
Continue reading More than 200 MB Of New Hand-Scanned Documents From Figueroa Corridor BID and North Hollywood BID, Heavily Redacted For No Discernable Reason, But Interesting Nevertheless!

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