Tag Archives: Blair Besten

Yet Another Example Of City Of LA Indifference To Illegal BID Shenanigans: City Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno Hands Out (Literal) Gold Stars To BIDs For Minimal Brown Act Compliance But Doesn’t Do Or Even Say Anything To BIDs Who Are Not Only In Violation Of The Law But Have Been Flouting It For Years On End

Yesterday evening, BID-lawyer-to-the-stars Jeffrey Charles Briggs passed along almost 200 emails between Media District BID executive director Lisa Schechter and various people at the City of Los Angeles. These are available en masse at Archive.Org. As always, there’s a lot of chaff in there and a few super-interesting things.1 Perhaps today’s story is an example of the latter.

It began on February 28, when Rita Moreno, newly of the Neighborhood and Business Improvement Division of the City Clerk’s office, the unit that’s meant to oversee the operations of BIDs and make sure that they follow the law and stuff, emailed a bunch of BIDdies to introduce herself and note that only a few of them had their meeting times posted on their websites. Of course, the Brown Act explicitly requires BIDs to notice their meetings on their websites,2 but that’s actually not why Rita was on about this. She was just trying to find out when they met so that she could attend. In fact, it’s not even clear that Rita Moreno knew about the Brown Act requirement.

However, the very next day, our old friend Lisa Schechter of the Hollywood Media District BID, who is not generally known for her law-abiding behavior but who has by now been educated by years of our intense scrutiny to the point where, I hope, she’s beginning to realize that it’s just easier to follow the law,3 wrote back to Rita Moreno, fishing for praise from this unlikely authority figure:

Dear Rita:

Just to reiterate, all of our meetings are posted in accordance with the Brown Act (Committee as well as Board) – Further you have been placed on our automatic distribution list which triggers and [sic] email directly to you for all of our meetings. If you should require any further information please do not hesitate to contact myself or our operations manager, Jim Omahen.

And, a couple hours later, Rita Moreno replied:

Yes…you got a star


And if you’re new to BID studies, you’re probably wondering why this puerile exchange is not just idiotic, sycophantic, and moronic, but also deeply offensive and discouraging to anyone who cares about the rule of law in Los Angeles. Well, read on!
Continue reading Yet Another Example Of City Of LA Indifference To Illegal BID Shenanigans: City Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno Hands Out (Literal) Gold Stars To BIDs For Minimal Brown Act Compliance But Doesn’t Do Or Even Say Anything To BIDs Who Are Not Only In Violation Of The Law But Have Been Flouting It For Years On End

Kosmont Invoices For Gateway To LA BID Reveal How Much Time It Takes To Get A BID Renewed, And It Doesn’t Look Good For BID Consultants, Like Tara Devine, Like Urban Place Consulting, That Are Not Registered As Lobbyists With The City

Larry Kosmont handled the Gateway to LA BID’s 2014-5 renewal and was, very properly, registered as a lobbyist while doing so.
You may recall that the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance requires qualified lobbyists to register with the City Ethics Commission and also disclose a bunch of interesting information about their clients and their income. Also, the process of establishing or renewing a BID is fairly complex, and most property owners’ associations1 hire a consultant to guide them through the process. These consultants are regulated and recommended by the City Clerk’s office.

The process of getting a BID established or renewed, it turns out, looks an awful lot like the definition of lobbying activity to be found at LAMC §48.02, which is essentially preparing information and discussing it with City officials as part of influencing the passage of municipal legislation. The law requires anyone who’s paid for thirty or more hours of this over three consecutive months to register as a lobbyist, and it’s generally extremely hard to prove that someone’s met this criterion. You may, e.g., recall that earlier this year, in order to make a reasonably convincing case that Venice Beach BID consultant Tara Devine had passed this threshold, I spent months piecing together more than a hundred pages of evidence regarding her BID consultancy work.

But recently it’s occurred to me that these consultants have contracts with the BIDs they service, and that at least in the case of BID renewals, the contracts will be accessible via the Public Records Act.2 The contracts will contain some information about how much time the consultants spend on the project, and thus should be useful as evidence in reporting consultants to the Ethics Commission for lobbying without a license.

The project started to produce results at the end of February, when the incomparable Laurie Hughes of the Gateway to LA BID supplied me with her BID’s contracts with Larry Kosmont, who was handling the renewal process.3 Well, late last week, Laurie Hughes gave me an absolutely essential set of documents, consisting of detailed monthly invoices from Kosmont to the BID during the 15+ month renewal process. These are fascinating,4 containing as they do detailed inventories of every individual task involved in the renewal process broken down into fifteen minute billing increments. Turn the page for more descriptions, discussion, and speculations.
Continue reading Kosmont Invoices For Gateway To LA BID Reveal How Much Time It Takes To Get A BID Renewed, And It Doesn’t Look Good For BID Consultants, Like Tara Devine, Like Urban Place Consulting, That Are Not Registered As Lobbyists With The City

We Applaud Randall Tampa’s (Weirdly) Professional Reaction To Ongoing Police Commission Registration Of BID Patrol Officers — He Thinks It’s A Good Thing For All The Right Reasons! (And 500+ More Emails From The Fashion District BID Courtesy Of Also-Highly-Professional Exec Direc Rena Masten Leddy!)

Here’s a brief summary of the background: Late last year, on the basis of my complaint to the Police Commission, the City of LA resumed enforcement of LAMC 52.34 against BID security forces.1 Since then I’ve been tracking the progress of this massive project via various CPRA requests. In November 2016 the Police Commission informed all BIDs of the registration requirement. In December 2017 the Police Commission told the BIDs to quit whining and comply with the law.

Meanwhile, the latest piece of evidence in the ongoing saga of the registration of BID Patrols with the Police Commission comes from a huge release of emails by the Fashion District BID2 These span the time from July 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017 and are mostly between BID staff and the City of Los Angeles.3

There is an awful lot to write about here, but today I just want to highlight this interesting December 2016 email from FDBID operations director Randall Tampa to Eugene Shin, who’s the Police Commission investigator who’s handling the registration project. Randall Tampa sees the bigger picture here. It’s not a loss for BIDs who want to be free of any kind of oversight by the City, but a win for higher quality governance for everyone in Los Angeles:

I totally agree and support the police commission (and you) in your efforts to assure that only qualified personnel are patrolling the streets of Los Angeles.

In his email, Randall Tampa explicitly relates this opinion to his own experience as a police officer, proving yet again that people with experience in matters usually are much saner and have much more robust insights into how to regulate them. Most of the BIDs in our fair City are run by a bunch of cop-loving wannabes4 who are essentially see City governance as some kind of bizarre role-playing game, like Zillionaires versus Homeless, or whatever, rather than as an arena where wisdom and experience are far more essential than zillionaire-itude.

True, the Fashion District BID is presently having the stuffing sued out of it in federal court for its malfeasance and illegal conspiracies with the LAPD, and rightly so. They will lose this suit if there’s justice in the world, and be forced to pay endless amounts of money, but while they’re losing that suit, while they’re criminally conspiring with the cops, at least they’re putting up a professional front. At least they’re not a fricking embarrassment to themselves and others. (Turn the page for a complete transcription of Randall Tampa’s email and some musings on the nature of evil and frontery.)
Continue reading We Applaud Randall Tampa’s (Weirdly) Professional Reaction To Ongoing Police Commission Registration Of BID Patrol Officers — He Thinks It’s A Good Thing For All The Right Reasons! (And 500+ More Emails From The Fashion District BID Courtesy Of Also-Highly-Professional Exec Direc Rena Masten Leddy!)

Don Duckworth, Executive Director Of The Westchester BID, Doesn’t Like Negative Obstacle-Creating Problem-Looking-For City Clerk BID Analyst Rick Scott One Little Bit, Asks Miranda Paster To Replace Him With Far More Congenial Bicycling BID Buddy Eugene Van Cise To Benefit Everybody’s Life (And That’s Just One Of 300+ Emails Now Available!)

Just yesterday, Mr. Don Duckworth of the Westchester Town Center BID sent me a big steaming heap of emails, comprising the BID’s correspondence with the City of Los Angeles for 2016.1 I am here to tell you, there is a ton of good stuff in there! This is very, very exciting! I will be writing about items from this release for a good while to come, and the City Ethics Commission is going to be hearing about a whole lot of it as well! But this evening, in addition to this general announcement that the material is available, I want to share a gossipy little item from January 2016, which has its locus classicus right here in this email from Don Duckworth to Miranda Paster.

It seems that WTCBID Boss Man Duckworth wasn’t too happy with BID Analyst Rick Scott, felt that he “approaches me and our work in administering the Westchester Town Center BID in a very negative manner.” In fact, sez Le Duckworth, “[i]t’s as if he’s looking for problems or obstacles to create that interfere with a constructive work flow.” Not only that, but, according to the Donald, “[h]e doesn’t approach our work with recommended solutions for mutual gain or a sense of team work.”

And what’s Don Duckworth’s recommended solution to this negativity and problem-slash-obstacle-seeking behaviour? Why, “[i]f it is possible to request a BID Analyst transfer to Eugene, I would like to do so.” Of course, “Eugene” is Eugene Van Cise, famous in these parts for having ridden his bike around the Gateway to LA BID inspecting their litter. No wonder Don Duckworth likes him better than Rick Scott who, as far as we know, does not do two-wheeled litter inspections of his BIDs. So turn the page for some speculation on why Donald Duckworth is so down on Rick Scott, for a transcription of the email if you’re PDF-aversive, and for a link to Miranda Paster’s reply!
Continue reading Don Duckworth, Executive Director Of The Westchester BID, Doesn’t Like Negative Obstacle-Creating Problem-Looking-For City Clerk BID Analyst Rick Scott One Little Bit, Asks Miranda Paster To Replace Him With Far More Congenial Bicycling BID Buddy Eugene Van Cise To Benefit Everybody’s Life (And That’s Just One Of 300+ Emails Now Available!)

300-Ish Pages of Estela Lopez’s Emails From The Last Few Months, Including Discussions Of Homelessness, Skid Row NC, Why The Freaking LAPD Doesn’t Bust More Protest Marches Like BIDs Want Them To, Operation Clean Streets, The California Public Records Act, And So On And On And On…

I just recently received a few hundred pages of emails from Estela Lopez, voodoo queen of the Central City East Association, and they are available on Archive.Org and also directly from static storage. Most of it is the unmitigatedly tedious bullshit with which these BIDdies fill their lives and their inboxes, but, as usual, there are a few interesting items. I already wrote the other day about Estela Lopez’s aggressive foray into CPRAlandia, and here are a few other items that are worth looking at individually:

And turn the page for two more examples, and to learn why, which I bet you didn’t even know that they were doing, the LAPD was praying for rain in January!
Continue reading 300-Ish Pages of Estela Lopez’s Emails From The Last Few Months, Including Discussions Of Homelessness, Skid Row NC, Why The Freaking LAPD Doesn’t Bust More Protest Marches Like BIDs Want Them To, Operation Clean Streets, The California Public Records Act, And So On And On And On…

Skid Row Neighborhood Council Tentatively Rejected In Face Of DTLA Neighborhood Council Shenaniganistic Opposition. High-Powered Lobbyist, Criminal Conspirator, And Smoke-Filled Room Denizen Estela Lopez Apparently Uses Or Will Use California Public Records Act To Subvert Democratic Outcome

General Jeff Page in front of the Skid Row City Limits Mural.
According to the incomparable Gale Holland, writing in the L.A. Times, the initial balloting shows that the Skid Row Neighborhood Council has been defeated by a slim 62 vote margin. The NC election was the subject of extensive and disgusting opposition on Facebook and elsewhere.1 The fix was in, though, as the City Council voted a few weeks ago to allow online voting in this NC election only, according to Gale Holland. In a striking performative demonstration of the digital divide, the traditional paper ballots were 183 to 19 in favor of the SRNC, whereas online ballots were 807 to 581 against.
Screenshot of moronic facebook rants against the Skid Row NC accusing, among other stupidity, the LA Community Action Network of being part of a criminal conspiracy.

The NC proponents also suspect that the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council misused city funds to campaign against the election.2 Anyway, evidently a challenge is planned based on these considerations. The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, overseer of the City’s neighborhood councils, is notorious for the number, length, and vituperativity of its appeals, so this process promises to be, at least, interesting.

And the other side is gearing up for policy-wonk-based battles as well. It seems that Estela Lopez herself, voodoo queen of the ongoing criminal conspiracy known as the Central City East Association, made a CPRA request to Grayce Liu of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in January on the subject of the SRNC, evidently to gather materials for the witch’s brew of revanchist zillionaire subversionism that’s presently bubbling, boiling, toiling, and troubling in her hellish cauldron out there on Crocker Street. Turn the page for a transcription and some discussion.
Continue reading Skid Row Neighborhood Council Tentatively Rejected In Face Of DTLA Neighborhood Council Shenaniganistic Opposition. High-Powered Lobbyist, Criminal Conspirator, And Smoke-Filled Room Denizen Estela Lopez Apparently Uses Or Will Use California Public Records Act To Subvert Democratic Outcome

Announcing MichaelKohlhaas.Org Souvenir Coffee Cups!! Commemorating Significant Episodes In The History Of Bad BIDditude And Featuring Your Favorite Bad BIDdies!! Colorful Yet Functional Designs!!

In response to years of ongoing public outcry and fervent pleading, we have finally set up a MichaelKohlhaas.Org store at CafePress. Right now, there are only three products, but they are doozies, friends! If you’re viewing the desktop version of this blog, you can also get to our store through the “Merch” menu up on the top bar, and otherwise go to this dedicated page. We here at the blog are all extremely excited about this new project. The three coffee mugs are pictured here, and also I’m going to describe and link to each of them separately.

First of all we have the Besten Show Award Prize Mug. The executive directrix of the Historic Core BID, third weirdest of the minor downtown BIDs, Blair Besten, is famous for her passive-aggressive, active-aggressive, rageball-acting-out antics in the face of what everyone in the universe except, for some reason her, understands are perfectly normal CPRA requests. Take a look at the actual email which clinched the award for her! Here, after I asked her a few simple questions about a pending request, one that’s been pending for two months now: (a) was there any news on it, (b) had she finished collecting the responsive material into one place, and (c) how much data in bytes was responsive? She answered with, in pertinent part, the following queries:

  • Please clarify what you mean by “collecting” and what you mean by “data?”
  • Please define what you mean by “in one place.”
  • Not clear on how many “bytes.” ?
  • What do you mean by news?


It’s been going on like that with her for months. Back and forth, pulling teeth, no results yet. None even on the horizon. So she wins the first Besten Show Award, although she will have to buy her own darn mug if she wants one or get someone to buy it for her. Note that Blair Besten was famously appointed to the Citizens’ Prop HHH oversight committee and they are meeting tomorrow, March 17, at 1 p.m. Get your mug and bring it to the meeting to show Blair how you feel! And turn the page to read about our other two offerings.
Continue reading Announcing MichaelKohlhaas.Org Souvenir Coffee Cups!! Commemorating Significant Episodes In The History Of Bad BIDditude And Featuring Your Favorite Bad BIDdies!! Colorful Yet Functional Designs!!

In Which I Use The Palisades BID As A Test-Case For A New Tactic In The Neverending Quest To Find Some Way To Force Business Improvement Districts To Comply With The California Public Records Act Without Having To File Yet Another Freaking Writ Petition

Laurie Sale is a sympathetic character, no doubt, but if we start letting our personal feelings towards people stand in the way of enforcing the law then anarchy will follow as surely as the night follows the day, so we’re not gonna do that! Plus even sympathetic characters, if they’re lawless, can still pose to be dangerous!
Here’s the short version of this post: Laurie Sale of the Palisades BID has been telling me for months that she is too busy to work on my CPRA requests. Yesterday she turns out to be too busy to send copies of emails in a reasonable format. She continues to be too busy to provide an estimated date of production even though CPRA requires it. She keeps telling me she only works half-time. BIDs sign a contract with the City which requires them to maintain staffing adequate for the completion of required work in a timely manner. CPRA compliance is required work. Being too busy to do it is not doing it in a timely manner. Too busy for CPRA, BIDs?? Breach of freaking contract!!

And here is a quick recap of how we got to this place. About 80% of the staff of this website grew up in Venice, so we all got really interested in the Venice Beach BID. Unfortunately, CD11 staffie Chad Molnar took offense at the use I made of the fruits of a couple CPRA requests and stopped complying with the law altogether, forcing me to turn him in to the City Ethics Commission. That’s going to take forever to resolve, though.

Thus thwarted in my attempts to learn about the inner workings of Mike Bonin’s weirdo little empire directly, I have turned to requesting materials of all the BIDs in his district, which are Westchester Town Center, Brentwood Village, Gateway to LA, and last, but never ever least, the Pacific Palisades BID,1 which was explicitly called out by Mike Bonin himself on the floor of the Council Chambers as one of the good BIDs. I have received some material from these halfwits-by-the-sea, which provided raw material for our most popular post in the month of January, but mostly their executive directrix, Laurie Sale, keeps telling me that she’s too damned busy to send stuff in a timely manner.

And finally, yesterday, she condescended to transmit a bunch of emails to me by forwarding them, with her own typed annotations prepended. I had asked for them in native format,2 and providing them in native format is required by CPRA.3 It’s important to get emails this way because it preserves the integrity of the headers and also it ensures that attachments arrive in precisely their native formats as well.4 I habitually request emails in native formats and most BIDs have figured out how to comply with this requirement. So I told Laurie Sale that her forwarded emails weren’t acceptable and could she please figure out how to send them in the right format. I can tell from her headers that she uses Outlook, so I sent her a link to Microsoft Support which explains how to export emails to a PST file. It’s not hard.

But she was having none of it. She fired back this cranky little number, stating:
Continue reading In Which I Use The Palisades BID As A Test-Case For A New Tactic In The Neverending Quest To Find Some Way To Force Business Improvement Districts To Comply With The California Public Records Act Without Having To File Yet Another Freaking Writ Petition

BID Consulting Engineer Ed Henning Seems To Earn $9,000 For A BID Renewal/Establishment. Also A Bunch Of Board Minutes From The Historic Core Reveal … Nothing! But We Have ‘Em Anyway!

Blair Besten of the Historic Core BID — a colorful character, to be sure, but somewhat repetitive…
Earlier this week, not-so-shadowy BID consultant Susan Levi, who among other things serves as the Executive Director of the South Los Angeles Industrial Tract BID, sent me a copy of the SLAIT BID’s transactions by vendor from January 2013. The most interesting item, or at least the item I’m presently most interested in right now, appears on page 3, under “Edward Henning & Associates.” Edward Henning, of course, is a consulting engineer and seems to have made something of a career of preparing the engineering reports which are mandated by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 at §36622(n) for BID establishments.1 A little arithmetic reveals that the SLAIT BID paid Henning $9,000 for their 2015 renewal. This is roughly 10% of the approximately $80,000 which the consultant seems to earn. There’s no moral to this story, at least not yet. It’s merely the latest datapoint I’ve collected in my attempt to understand the finances of BID establishment and renewal.

Also recently I received a bunch of minutes from the Board meetings of the Historic Core BID, and you can turn the page for a link and some brief comments.
Continue reading BID Consulting Engineer Ed Henning Seems To Earn $9,000 For A BID Renewal/Establishment. Also A Bunch Of Board Minutes From The Historic Core Reveal … Nothing! But We Have ‘Em Anyway!

A Recent Contribution By Blair Besten To The Downtown Homelessness Discourse Briefly Reviewed Along With A Less Brief Discussion Of Why The Review Is So Brief

A recently discovered Roy Lichtenstein portrait of Blair Besten, Executive Directrix of the Historic Core BID and newly confirmed member of some nonsensical City Council sinecure funded by the homeless-industrial complex. It’s not discussed in this post, but one of Blair Besten’s favorite reasons for ignoring the statutory requirements of CPRA is that she’s just too freaking busy to deal with it.
When I set out to write this blog, I never imagined that the actual mechanics of the California Public Records Act would become such a big topic. However, it has indeed turned out that way, and for a number of reasons. Mostly it’s because I got really interested in the way the law works as well as in the benefits it provides. It turns out, also, that a lot of people read this blog because they’re interested in CPRA as a thing-in-itself. And finally, it turns out that my victims the objects of my attention, both BIDs and City, have become a whole lot more stubborn about handing over the goods, which leaves me to fill what might otherwise be holes in my publishing schedule due to sporadic document-production gaps by discussing their stubbornness.1
Blair Besten seems to have had some trouble understanding the law…

Anyway, somehow or another I learned of a workshop that BID-buddy Blair Besten‘s BID, the Historic Core BID, once co-sponsored with a bunch of LAPD and County DMH flunkies about craziness amongst the homeless downtown.2 So I asked Blair Besten to send me the goodies, and some time later, she sent me this set of 16 pages of emails. It turns out to mostly not be that interesting, although Blair Besten’s idea of what ought to be redacted is pretty cracked. For instance, you can see in the image that she redacted some guy’s whole name and then didn’t redact his first name in the very next paragraph. Is her hiding the fact that some guy named Andrew emailed her so much in the public interest that it’s obviously exempt? If so, why didn’t she cross out the very next instance of it?

And, as you can see, for whatever reason, Blair Besten has made a dedicated pseudonymous email address for responding to CPRA requests. It’s publicrecords@historiccore.bid, and she and her flunky Paola Flores use it interchangeably.3 This turn to pseudonymity seems to be a common instinct amongst those feeling hassled by their duties under CPRA. South Park has done it, the HPOA has done it, CD4 did it, and even the City of Los Angeles has flirted with the idea. It’s important for the sake of maximizing interhuman communicativity to identify one’s correspondents and converse with them under their actual names. Fortunately for the sake of meeting this goal, CPRA actually forbids anonymity under some circumstances. Take a look at §6253(d), which states in pertinent part:4
Continue reading A Recent Contribution By Blair Besten To The Downtown Homelessness Discourse Briefly Reviewed Along With A Less Brief Discussion Of Why The Review Is So Brief