Tag Archives: Brown Act

South Central Hollywood Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Officially Known As Larchmont Village BID Appears To Give Up Outlaw Ways, Start Announcing Meetings And Change Their Illegal Bylaws, Perhaps In Response To Yesterday’s Scathing MK.Org Post About Them And Rita Moreno!

But DAMN, it feels good to be a gangsta!
Well, I have been chronicling my troubles with the so-called Larchmont Village BID for at least six months now, starting with their stubborn recalcitrance in releasing records having to do with their accursed signal box art contest, to, more recently, my six month long battle to get a copy of their bylaws out of them, to my eight month struggle to get them to notify me of their damnable meetings as required by the Brown Act at §54954.1, to their appearance in a reprehensible series of emails between City employee Rita Moreno, a BID analyst with the City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement District Division, nominally tasked with overseeing BIDs but, in actuality, engaged in enabling their misbehavior and lawlessness.

The thing about those emails was that, along with a bunch of other criminal BIDs, the Larchmont Village BID didn’t post its agendas on its website, even though the Brown Act at §54954.2(a)(1) requires it to do so. And Rita Moreno, rather than telling the lawless BIDs that they were breaking the freaking law, handed out gold stars to the ones who were following it.

Well, that’s where the situation stood until 4:48 p.m. this evening, when I received an email from some entity calling itself office@larchmontvillagebid.com. Attached to this anomalous little missive was the agenda for a BID meeting on Wednesday, May 2. Thus, for whatever reason, just one day after my scathing post calling out the City for not enforcing its laws, its contracts, against these serial South Central Hollywood outlaws, they change their ways. How’s that for activist journalism?! Anyway, there’s tons of interesting stuff to say about this situation that’s a lot more nerdish than that, and you can turn the page if you’re interested.
Continue reading South Central Hollywood Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Officially Known As Larchmont Village BID Appears To Give Up Outlaw Ways, Start Announcing Meetings And Change Their Illegal Bylaws, Perhaps In Response To Yesterday’s Scathing MK.Org Post About Them And Rita Moreno!

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

Saturday Morning Document Dump! Skid Row Neighborhood Council Conspiracy, Beaucoup De Bylaws, Form 990s Galore, Emails, Emails, Emails, And More, More, More! Larchmont Village, Fashion District, Figueroa Corridor, North Hollywood!

So much new material to announce!

  • Emails from Fashion District BID about Skid Row Neighborhood Council — This is clearly the most important item I have to announce today so I’m putting it first. If you’re interested at all in how the Downtown zillionaire elite crushed the SRNC formation effort you’ll want to read this stuff. There is what appears to be new evidence about the identities of the people behind the infamous United Downtown LA front group that hired Rocky Delgadillo to write a demand letter to City Council over the SRNC, although there’s still no smoking gun. I will be writing more about this material, but it may take a few days, and I wanted to get it before you as quickly as possible.
  • Figueroa Corridor BID emails — Between the BID and the City of LA, also USC, also Securitas. Various time ranges.
  • North Hollywood BID emails — City of LA and their security provider. Various date ranges.
  • Figueroa Corridor BID tax forms — From 2013 through 2015. It’s interesting to learn here that the Figueroa Corridor BID has been “IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY, WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY, AND DOCUMENT RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION POLICY.” at least since 2013, with no sign of actually producing anything. Ah, sigh.
  • North Hollywood BID tax forms — From 2013 through 2015. It’s interesting to learn here that this BID and the Figueroa Corridor BID, both of which are administered by our old friends at Urban Place Consulting, turns in copypasta from the FCBID on their tax forms. Just for instance, they too have been “IN THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY, WHISTLEBLOWER POLICY, AND DOCUMENT RETENTION AND DESTRUCTION POLICY.” at least since 2013, with no sign of actually producing anything.

And turn the page for beaucoup de bylaws and some interesting preliminary material on the privatization of public space in the San Fernando Valley. Most interestingly, there is a very rare appearance of some new material from the outlaw stronghold known to the world as the Larchmont Village BID!
Continue reading Saturday Morning Document Dump! Skid Row Neighborhood Council Conspiracy, Beaucoup De Bylaws, Form 990s Galore, Emails, Emails, Emails, And More, More, More! Larchmont Village, Fashion District, Figueroa Corridor, North Hollywood!

How Ethics Commission President Jessica Levinson Postponed Discussion Of Revisions To Enforcement Regulations Until April 2017 Mostly At The Behest Of Lobbying Firms And Why She Was Absolutely Right To Do So

Ethics Commission President Jessica Levinson, with whose actions we do not always agree but with whose reasoning we always do, which matters a great deal more.
One of the essential items on the agenda of last Tuesday’s meeting of the City Ethics Commission was a wide-ranging set of proposals from Enforcement staff for revisions to the CEC’s enforcement regulations. These are the laws and policies which guide the enforcement process. The proposals were emailed to interested parties only a few days in advance of the meeting, evidently leaving everyone feeling kind of blindsided,1 especially because they appeared with a recommendation from staff that they be adopted right then.

So at the actual meeting, when the item came up for discussion, Commission President Jessica Levinson made fairly convincing noises to the effect that the matter should be postponed until April. More interestingly, though, she mentioned almost in passing that she’d received a number of written public comments asking the Commission to table the matter. Well, one of my favorite bits of the Brown Act, §54957.5(a), states unequivocally that:2

any … writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body, are disclosable public records under the California Public Records Act … and shall be made available upon request without delay.

As one might expect, the Ethics Commission is absolutely the best of all City agencies at following this law. They keep a big plastic box at the back of the room during meetings which contains every possible piece of paper necessary for compliance. So as soon as President Levinson3 mentioned that there were written comments, and as soon as it became clear that all the Commissioners had copies, I zipped back to look in the box. How disappointing to find nothing of the sort in there! But the story has a happy ending, never fear, and turn the page to learn the details.
Continue reading How Ethics Commission President Jessica Levinson Postponed Discussion Of Revisions To Enforcement Regulations Until April 2017 Mostly At The Behest Of Lobbying Firms And Why She Was Absolutely Right To Do So

Save Valley Village Vote-Trading Lawsuit Against LA City Council Dismissed With Prejudice Despite (Or Perhaps Because Of) Entirely Truthful Yet Delightfully Unhinged Pleading Filed By The Good Guys

Morning in Valley Village in 2007.
In September, local activist group Save Valley Village filed suit against the City of Los Angeles and the City Council alleging in their petition that

The Councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council operate according to an agreement, i.e. The Vote Trading Pact, not to Vote No on any Council Project in another council district and said agreement by its very terms requires reciprocality, also called mutuality, whereby the agreement not to Vote No by one Councilmember is given in exchange for the other Councilmember’s not to vote No on a Council Project in his/her council district.

In October the City filed a demurrer,1 and then in the last couple weeks there have been a number of documents filed, leading up to the Court’s dismissing the case with prejudice.2 It’s a pity in one sense, because this is precisely one of the ways in which the City Council is corrupt. It ought to be against the law, and if the Court is correct in its ruling that there presently are no laws which it’s against, then such a law needs to be written. That it should be written is self evident. How to write it, how to enact it, these are not such easy questions to answer. Turn the page for links to all the recent filings, including the judge’s detailed ruling on why he dismissed the case as well as excerpts from the tragically, beautifully loony and also fairly convincing petitioners’ memorandum in opposition to demurrer.3
Continue reading Save Valley Village Vote-Trading Lawsuit Against LA City Council Dismissed With Prejudice Despite (Or Perhaps Because Of) Entirely Truthful Yet Delightfully Unhinged Pleading Filed By The Good Guys

California Government Code Section 1222 Is A New (To Us) Governmental Integrity Law Of Which Chad Molnar’s CPRA Shenanigans Constitute A Violation, Making Him Not Only Unethical But An Actual Criminal And Potentially Even Subject To Citizen’s Arrest!!

Chad Molnar in June 2016, just smiling away because it hasn't yet occurred to him that he is going to jail.
Chad Molnar in June 2016, just smiling away because it hasn’t yet occurred to him that he is going to jail.
Perhaps you’ve been following along with our LAMC 49.5.5(A) project, in which we turn various City officials and employees in to the LA City Ethics Commission for violating that most lovely government accountability ordinance, LAMC 49.5.5(A) by misusing their positions in various ways. Well, just recently, via the fine folks at the Coalition to Preserve L.A., I learned of a possibly even more funner law, which may allow City employees not only to get fined by the CEC for violating CPRA, but actually locked up for it! Ladies and gentlemen, loyal MK.Org readers, may I present to you the stunning law known to the world as California Government Code Section 1222, which states in full:

Every wilful omission to perform any duty enjoined by law upon any public officer, or person holding any public trust or employment, where no special provision is made for the punishment of such delinquency, is punishable as a misdemeanor.

The potential here is astounding. You see, there is “no special provision…made for the punishment of” a failure to comply with CPRA. This is in contrast to, e.g., the Brown Act, which does contain a clause making certain kinds of violations misdemeanors.1 However, the duty to comply with CPRA is “enjoined by law upon” public officers. For instance, the California Constitution at Article I, section 3(b) states pretty unequivocally that:

In order to ensure public access to the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies, as specified in paragraph (1), each local agency is hereby required to comply with the California Public Records Act …

Now, this law requires2 that the failure to act be wilful. But, of course, that’s where we have Chad Molnar dead to rights. If you didn’t read the whole story, you can at least read the smoking gun, in which Chad Molnar actually states explicitly that he’s not going to comply with CPRA and that he doesn’t think he has to comply. And note that this is not just him not complying with some vague part of the law, proof of violation of which would require a fact-finder, but him not complying with objectively clear, explicitly mandated, response deadlines. He just flat-out says he’s not going to respond as required. It’s hard to imagine a more wilful violation than that.

So anyway, as soon as possible, I hope this weekend, I’m going to write up a complaint and figure out what to do with it. Perhaps I’ll try the neighborhood prosecutor in Venice. They do handle misdemeanors, after all. This probably won’t work so well, and then I’ll send it to Jackie Lacey’s Public Integrity Division. I’ll keep you up-to-date. And if you’re still interested, turn the page for even more wildly uninformed speculation.3
Continue reading California Government Code Section 1222 Is A New (To Us) Governmental Integrity Law Of Which Chad Molnar’s CPRA Shenanigans Constitute A Violation, Making Him Not Only Unethical But An Actual Criminal And Potentially Even Subject To Citizen’s Arrest!!

How to Evade the Brown Act: The City Council is Having a Closed Session on Friday, September 30, to Discuss the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative Because Mike Feuer Wants to Sue Somebody Over It. Yeah, Right.

For a chamber of horrors, City Hall sure has beautiful interiors.
For a chamber of horrors, City Hall sure has beautiful interiors.
I mostly have refrained from writing about the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative because it’s too far off our beat.1 However, the Brown Act is very close to our core subject matter. So imagine my surprise on discovering Council File 16-1054, in which Council is holding a closed session to discuss the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative under section 54956.9(d)(4) of the Brown Act, which states that a closed session can be held when:

Based on existing facts and circumstances, the legislative body of the local agency has decided to initiate or is deciding whether to initiate litigation.

This clause has the dubious distinction of being the only reason for closing a session which is effectively uncheckable. All other reasons either require an existing lawsuit, which must be named in the agenda, or some kind of personnel action or other concrete action which must be reported publicly at the end of the closed session. For the “initiation of litigation” exception, though, there’s no way at all to check if they’re not just making it up. Even if they never sue anyone, they can always say that they were considering it and decided not to sue. If a local agency is willing to lie, and the Los Angeles City Council surely is, this is the clause to use to hold unauthorized closed sessions. Which is certainly what they’re doing here. I mean, who are they going to sue because the NII qualified for the ballot? So what secrets are they going to discuss this Friday? How they’re going to fund their 2017 campaigns if they can’t approve more mega-zillionaire mixed use monstrosities?
Continue reading How to Evade the Brown Act: The City Council is Having a Closed Session on Friday, September 30, to Discuss the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative Because Mike Feuer Wants to Sue Somebody Over It. Yeah, Right.

Save Valley Village Files Suit In Superior Court Against City of Los Angeles Alleging Corruption Via Vote Trading At City Council

Valley Village speaks truth to power.
Valley Village speaks truth to power.
Last Thursday, September 8, a group called Save Valley Village filed a petition with the LA County Superior Court (hat tip to Scott Zwartz at Zwartz Talk for breaking the story) alleging that the members of the Los Angeles City Council are violating not only their oaths of office, but a State law, when they pay one another “deference” by never voting against anything that any of them propose within their districts.

The whole thing is worth reading and will be totally convincing to anyone who has ever watched our Council in action. The fact that there is some covert agreement among the Councilmembers is transparently clear. Here’s how SVV’s complaint describes it:

The Councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council operate according to an agreement, i.e. The Vote Trading Pact, not to Vote No on any Council Project in another council district and said agreement by its very terms requires reciprocality, also called mutuality, whereby the agreement not to Vote No by one Councilmember is given in exchange for the other Councilmember’s not to vote No on a Council Project in his/her council district. Some have described the Vote Trading Pact as an agreement to Vote Yes for all Council Projects, and it has been described as taking the format of, “If you scratch my back on my Council Projects, I will scratch your back on your Council Projects.” Others refer to the agreement as one of deferring or respecting the decision of the Councilmember in whose district the Council Project is located. All the phrases describe the same Vote Trading Pact.

Councilmember David Ryu has described the Vote Trading Pact as one of “respect” for other Councilmember’s Council Projects and in return he expects the same “respect” for his Council Projects.

“For someone to come in at the tail end and to disagree with my recommendation after meetings with the community on dozens of occasions and with other city departments and after I have involved stakeholders,” doesn’t make sense, he said. “I might make a decision…and my colleagues respect it. Even if they might disagree with my decision, they abide by it because they were not there during those community meetings.” Los Feliz Ledger September 1, 2016

Continue reading Save Valley Village Files Suit In Superior Court Against City of Los Angeles Alleging Corruption Via Vote Trading At City Council

That Time in 2005 When The City of Los Angeles Briefly Investigated BID Financial Shenanigans And Contract Violations Instead Of Pretending They’re Powerless In The Face Of Them Like They Do Now

Former Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick (right).
Former Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick (right).
Here’s the situation these days. BIDs have a standard contract that they sign with the City of Los Angeles. It has a lot of requirements in it, and BIDs routinely ignore all of them but a few, known as the “reporting requirements.” I’m skipping the details, but they’re mandated to report various things to the City, and if they don’t then Rick Scott or another one of Miranda Paster’s minions in the Neighborhood & Business Improvement District Division (N&BID) of the Clerk’s office will fire off a threatening email like this one telling the negligent BIDdies to cough up the report or they don’t get paid. On the other hand, there are plenty of clauses in that contract, e.g. the ones on record retention and on abiding by the Public Records Act or the Brown Act, that BIDs not only violate with impunity, but which the City Clerk’s office in the persons of Miranda Paster and Holly Wolcott actually just refuses to enforce. I’ll be writing about that more in the future. Tonight I’m just looking at how it came to pass that N&BID staff even enforce any parts of that contract.
Continue reading That Time in 2005 When The City of Los Angeles Briefly Investigated BID Financial Shenanigans And Contract Violations Instead Of Pretending They’re Powerless In The Face Of Them Like They Do Now

Unconfirmed But Highly Plausible Report that Venice Beach BID is Repealed and Process Must Start From Scratch!!

How does Holly Wolcott know in advance how the City Council is going to vote?  Inquiring minds wanna know.
How does Holly Wolcott know in advance how the City Council is going to vote? Inquiring minds wanna know.

NOTE: This is apparently true, and Yo! Venice has the story along with a statement from Mike Bonin.

According to a Facebook post by Abbott Kinney,

BREAKING NEWS Re: the proposed Venice BID – Because the City shut off public comment, they gotta START THE WHOLE PROCESS OVER. Via City Clerk Holly Wolcott:

“The Ordinance of Establishment was adopted in Council last week. However, in light of concerns relative to the public hearing and to ensure all speakers are heard, we plan to repeal this ordinance and start the process over. This will mean a new Ordinance of Intention and a public hearing approximately 45 days from when the new ballots and packages are mailed. I do not have an actual date at this time.”1

This report is consistent with LAFLA’s objections to the process, and if true, is a major victory for anti-BID forces. Although I don’t know for sure I would bet it’s unprecedented in the history of BIDs in Los Angeles. The moral is decidedly NOT that the City made a sporadic mistake in this particular BID formation process. The moral is in fact that the City makes mistakes, breaks the law, cuts corners, all the freaking time, but generally no one is watching so their errors have no consequences. The moral is that if people watch closely they will find fatal errors in all of the City’s shenanigans.

The same is true for BIDs. They can barely open their mouths without saying something racist, they can barely run a meeting or email a Council member without breaking the law.2 They’re not used to scrutiny, and even their reactions to scrutiny just end up sinking them deeper into their morass. So the real moral is: SCRUTINIZE!

And, if you didn’t spot it, if this quote is accurate, then Holly Wolcott actually admitted that something illegal is going on over at City Hall. Turn the page for details.
Continue reading Unconfirmed But Highly Plausible Report that Venice Beach BID is Repealed and Process Must Start From Scratch!!