Tag Archives: Brown Act

Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

Remember Don Duckworth? Big bad BID boss of both the Melrose BID and the Westchester Town Center BID?? We haven’t heard from Mr. Duckworth here on the blog in a long old time even though he is quite an interesting character, what with his BID analyst switcheroos and his kooky Brown-Act-flouting bylaws and that whole Calabasas episode and so forth.

His absence from my literary life has not, however, been by choice.1 The fact is that circa last June the guy just decided to stop responding to my CPRA requests altogether. No records, no answers, no nothing from Don Duckworth. Hence no joyously mocking blog posts and so on. Well, friends, that’s about to change, and change big-time!

You see, my lawyer, the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, recently filed two petitions, one for each of Duckworth’s BIDs, to compel compliance with the CPRA. You can find them here on Archive.Org on pages which I will update if/when the cases generate more paper:

Melrose BID petition
Westchester Town Center BID petition

And turn the page for some excerpts from the Melrose petition! And a little more commentary!!
Continue reading Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

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I Don’t Need To Read BIDs The Riot Act — I Just Read ‘Em The Brown Act — Cause They Sure Ain’t Reading It For Themselves — This Week It’s The Venice Beach BID Revising Everything At The Last Minute Just Cause I Told ‘Em To!

We’ve seen over and over and over again that for the life of them the business improvement districts of Los Angeles just cannot follow the damn Brown Act. There was that time in February when the South Park BID messed up their agenda and then revised it cause I said to, and then there was that other time when the South Parkies messed up their teleconferencing methodology and now they don’t even offer teleconferencing any more cause I pointed out their violation.

And then there was the Los Feliz Village BID episode where they illegally discussed tee shirts and got admonished by the DA, and the East Hollywood BID teleconferencing episode, and South Park again, checking IDs illegally, and Sunset-Vine checking IDs illegally, and the damn Central City East Association, which cannot even stick to their agenda, which is illegal.

And a favorite topic of conversation around the campfire here at MK Dot Org secret headquarters is why it is that the BIDs, who have all the money and all the lawyers that anyone who was inclined to follow the law might need to allow them to do so, nevertheless can’t get this simple thing right. Over and over and over again they violate the Brown Act. We don’t have any definitive answers for you,1 but maybe it’s comforting to know we’re talking about it?

And this very morning, friends, the Venice Beach BID became the latest to join this illustrious roster. Turn the page for the lurid details!
Continue reading I Don’t Need To Read BIDs The Riot Act — I Just Read ‘Em The Brown Act — Cause They Sure Ain’t Reading It For Themselves — This Week It’s The Venice Beach BID Revising Everything At The Last Minute Just Cause I Told ‘Em To!

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Yesterday At The Arts District — Just A Perfectly Ordinary Average BID Board Meeting — Fear, Rumor, And Other Mongerings — Zillionaires Joking About How To Wheedle More Valuable Concessions Out Of The City — And The Familiar But Nevertheless Still Astonishing Hatred Of Transparency

Yesterday I paid my first visit to the Arts District BID board of directors. You can find the video here on YouTube and here on Archive.Org. Now, this BID is a fascinating and unique BIDdological case study due to its 2011 dissolution and entirely anomalous re-establishment in 2012, which involved creepy unethical subterfuge by City BID boss Miranda Paster and underhanded interventions by the whole weirdo panoply of the Downtown zillionaire power elite including, but never ever limited to, the zillion dollar woman herself.

But none of that rich and textured1 history was on display yesterday. No cracking of the bones of the homeless to greedily suck their marrow, no complaining about the skin color of the neighborhood’s non-zillionaires, no comparing groups of non-white people to caged animals. In short, none of the spectacularly white supremacist fireworks which sometimes burst forth to dazzle and bemuse sane onlookers.2

As I said, it was a quite ordinary BID meeting. But as ordinary as it was, it nevertheless displayed a wide variety of low-key instances of the usual BIDdie tropes. We had zillionaires laughing about how the City is not only able but willing to overturn any given development restriction on request. We had zillionaire anxiety about my filming, this time manifesting in a board member quietly confronting me on camera and then checking with the Arts District’s twittery little twerp of an Executive Director, Miguel Vargas.3

We had zillionaires casually going off-agenda, poised to violate the Brown Act, be pulled back from the brink by an alert colleague. We had, as I said, the usual zillionaire jive. And it’s nevertheless fascinating. Turn the page to links and brief transcriptions of a few moments that I found worth noting.
Continue reading Yesterday At The Arts District — Just A Perfectly Ordinary Average BID Board Meeting — Fear, Rumor, And Other Mongerings — Zillionaires Joking About How To Wheedle More Valuable Concessions Out Of The City — And The Familiar But Nevertheless Still Astonishing Hatred Of Transparency

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In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

Regular readers of this blog are well aware that business improvement districts in California are subject to the California Public Records Act and to the Brown Act by virtue of the Property and Business Improvement District Law at §36612, which states explicitly that BIDS … shall comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act … at all times when matters within the subject matter of the district are heard, discussed, or deliberated, and with the California Public Records Act … for all records relating to activities of the district.1

Also, maybe you recall that the standard contract that BIDs sign with the City of Los Angeles contains2 a clause basically repeating this requirement. There’s a transcription of this section after the break. So in March 2016, faced with blatant disregard of the CPRA by the Downtown Center BID, I wrote to the City Clerk, Holly Wolcott, asking her to enforce the terms of the City’s contract with this obstructionist BID.

And on March 14, 2016, she wrote back to me, stating pretty clearly that she wasn’t going to make sure that BIDs complied with the Public Records Act. Again, there’s a transcription of her response after the break, but her main argument was that the City wasn’t obligated by the contract to consider whether a given BID was complying with the CPRA.

And I thought that was the end of it, but I just recently discovered that actually, it’s likely that the City took my argument much more seriously than anyone was letting on. So seriously, in fact, that in April 2016 the City Attorney completely rewrote the standard contract between BIDs and the City to eliminate all language about CPRA and the Brown Act!
Continue reading In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

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How I Videotaped Yesterday’s North Figueroa Association Board Meeting And Got Screamed At By Functionally Illiterate CD1 Field Deputy Bill Freaking Cody — Who, By The Way, Is So Dumb He Thinks White Supremacists Have To Be White — And Board Members Started Undressing To Prove They Were “People Of Color”! — Oh, And Hipster Restaurateur Icon James Bygrave Quit The Board

So yeah, the headline pretty much says it all. I filmed yesterday’s meeting of the North Figueroa Association and got yelled at by a toadie.1 You can watch the video:

They didn’t make quorum, so the meeting was short. The third most interesting part was the report by the world’s oldest field deputy, the toadlike toadie Mr. Bill Freaking Cody, which you can watch beginning here. In particular, Bill Cody notes that CD1 will be holding “an overall design meeting for Highland Park, probably the first week of August.” He lists the groups that will be invited and, big surprise, none of the local arts activism groups are included.

The second most interesting occurrence was Board President Tom Wilson’s announcement that James Bygrave, hipster restaurateur and member of the Highland Park BID’s super-exclusive Facebook stalking committee, is resigning from the Board. Bye James!

And like one of our idols,2we have saved the best for last!” Turn the page for all the news concerning el gran mamón Bill Cody’s rage-rant about how unlike all other BIDs in Los Angeles the members of the Highland Park BID Board of Directors are largely people of color which, it seems, was a response to a recent post of mine that he either didn’t read carefully or wasn’t capable of understanding.3 Read on, friends!
Continue reading How I Videotaped Yesterday’s North Figueroa Association Board Meeting And Got Screamed At By Functionally Illiterate CD1 Field Deputy Bill Freaking Cody — Who, By The Way, Is So Dumb He Thinks White Supremacists Have To Be White — And Board Members Started Undressing To Prove They Were “People Of Color”! — Oh, And Hipster Restaurateur Icon James Bygrave Quit The Board

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At Eager Prompting Of Scofflaw Board Member, Brand New South Park BID Homeless Outreach Coordinator Angela De Los Santos Admits On Camera To Violations Of State Law Regarding Where BID Activities Can Take Place

You may recall that I regularly write about the South Park BID and the seemingly endless parade of their wanton violations of the Brown Act. It seems like every meeting brings another violation and the last meeting involved at least two distinct violations. Thus it will come as a welcome change of pace, I am sure, to learn that this post is about the South Park BID violating the law, to be sure, since that’s pretty much what they do over there, but at least it’s not about them violating the Brown Act!

The law in question here is the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, which states at §36625(a)(6) that “[t]he revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district…” And yet, at the April 26, 2018 meeting of the South Park BID, funding activities outside the BID is precisely what was discussed. But I’m getting ahead of my story!

See, what happened is that on April 9, 2018 the South Park BID hired a homeless outreach coordinator, Angela De Los Santos, who was introduced to the BID on the 26th by executive Directrix Ellen Salome Riotto. Angela De Los Santos passed out a handout (which stated that there were only 18 homeless people in the South Park BID), talked about her duties for a while, and then took questions from the Board.

One of the questions was about “the underpasses just outside the South Park BID borders,” and that’s where things got interesting! You can watch the exchange here, although parts of it are hard to hear. Turn the page for transcriptions, discussions, and some more documentary evidence.
Continue reading At Eager Prompting Of Scofflaw Board Member, Brand New South Park BID Homeless Outreach Coordinator Angela De Los Santos Admits On Camera To Violations Of State Law Regarding Where BID Activities Can Take Place

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How I Finally Had To Report The South Park BID To The District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act Even Though Board Member, Working Class Hero, And Self-Proclaimed Schmuck Paul Keller, The Finest Legal Mind Of His Generation, Screamed At Me In The Lobby That They Didn’t Actually Violate It

As you know well if you follow this blog, the South Park BID is severely challenged when it comes to Brown Act compliance. First, in February, they had deficient agenda descriptions, although they fixed that in response to my advice. Then last week they had a deficient teleconferencing option, which again they fixed in response to my advice. However, yesterday’s board meeting was held in a building where signing in as a condition of entry was mandatory. This is a clear violation of the Brown Act at §54953.3, which states unequivocally that:

A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance.

Based on a previous visit to the building I suspected that they might require visitors to sign in, so I recorded the whole scene. I also determined to offer them a chance to avoid the violation by discussing it with the BIDdies if signing in was in fact required, which it was. The security guard didn’t have the BID’s phone number, so that was out.1

Anyway, while I was talking about it with the guard, South Park BID board member and self-proclaimed schmuck Paul Keller, the finest legal mind of his generation, came in and yelled at me for pressing the issue. His theory is that the law wasn’t violated because a signature was required to enter the building rather than the BID meeting. Maybe he wasn’t aware that his executive director, Ellen Salome Riotto,2 relies implicitly on my legal advice, with respect to the Brown Act anyway.

Far be it from me to say why he thinks this, him being the finest legal mind and all. Perhaps he’s basing it on the popular zillionaire legal maxim that any law that inconveniences even a single zillionaire must be unconstitutional. This is true, of course, at least 99\frac{44}{100}\% of the time, but not this particular time. On the other hand his rant suggests that the sign-in requirement wasn’t just another oversight, but actually constitutes BID policy.

Whatever was going on, I feel like they’ve had enough chances to mend their ways and have shown no interest in doing so. Hence I filed a complaint against them with the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Turn the page for a transcription, and stay tuned for details!
Continue reading How I Finally Had To Report The South Park BID To The District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act Even Though Board Member, Working Class Hero, And Self-Proclaimed Schmuck Paul Keller, The Finest Legal Mind Of His Generation, Screamed At Me In The Lobby That They Didn’t Actually Violate It

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Even Funnier The Second Time Around! Ellen Riotto And/Or Manic Minion Katie Kiefer Of The South Park BID Continue To Follow Open-Sourced Wiki-Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At Your Favorite Blog Evers!!

It seems like forever ago by now, but maybe you recall that in February the South Parkers sent around an agenda announcing a closed session that was so freaking out of compliance with the Brown Act that I could not, despite mom’s best advice, keep my mouth shut. Thus I emailed the Parkies and hilarity and agenda revisions ensued!

Well, these Southies have another meeting coming up this very Thursday, and imagine my joy when I received a copy of the agenda! And imagine my horror when I noticed the bit about teleconferencing! Here’s what it said:

CONFERENCE DIAL-IN :
If you cannot join the meeting physically but wish to join via phone, meeting dial-in details:
Conference number: 857 – 216-3930
Conference PIN: 45426

Please notify Katie Kiefer. Director of Operations, at least 48-hours in advance if you will be dialing in. Contact her via email, Katie@SouthPark.LA, or by phone, (213) 663-1120.

We’ve been through this crapola before with the East Hollywood BID. The plain fact is that the Brown Act forbids teleconferencing unless it’s happening from a teleconference location where members of the public can go to participate. You can read all about it in §54953(b). It’s just not OK to assume that all members of the public who wish to participate have phones.

Also, the Brown Act at §54953.3 forbids local agencies1 to require members of the public to identify themselves as a condition of attending the meeting. This made me pretty sure that the BID’s requiring would-be teleconferencers to register their names with Ellen Riotto’s manic minion Katie Kiefer was another violation.

So anyway, usually I would just wait around for the BIDdies to actually break the damn law and then turn them in to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney like I did with the Los Felizites and more recently with the Central City East Association. But it was so entertaining the last time I warned them and they actually took my advice that I thought I’d give that another try.

So I sent them an email saying essentially hey friends you’re about to break the law again! And what do you know? A couple hours later they sent me an email2 saying essentially hey friend, you’re right! We’ll change everything! And then a couple-few days later, that is, this morning, they sent out a revised agenda stating definitively that:

NOTE: Teleconferencing into this meeting will not be enabled.

So woo-freaking-hoo, amirite?! Turn the page for transcriptions of the emails.
Continue reading Even Funnier The Second Time Around! Ellen Riotto And/Or Manic Minion Katie Kiefer Of The South Park BID Continue To Follow Open-Sourced Wiki-Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At Your Favorite Blog Evers!!

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Larchmont Village BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

It’s been two-ish years now since I sent my first CPRA request to the kooky little South Central Hollywood gang of white supremacist law-flouting gangster thugs known to the world as the Larchmont Village Business Improvement District.

That first time they ignored me and they ignored me and they ignored me until finally I had to hire a lawyer and pry the goodies out of their creepy grasping fingers by main force. But, as we know, the thug life is a powerful draw, and gangsters get hooked on lawbreaking like a drug. Despite being given every chance by society to reform their outlaw ways, these hardcore BIDdies sadly persisted in their chosen life of crime.

As you may recall, they’ve never managed to comply with the damn Brown Act, despite occasional signals that either they were going to start complying or maybe that the City of Los Angeles was going to force them to comply. And after that one time in 2016 they’ve never managed to comply with the CPRA again. I sent them a few requests in May 2017 which they ignored and ignored and ignored.

And so, as before, I hired a lawyer. And the lawyer filed this petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court. And served the petition on Tom Kneafsey earlier this week. And served a letter to Cap’n Tom along with the petition. I wish there was some way to get these BIDdies to follow the law other than by filing petitions against them but the State Legislature, in its inscrutable wisdom, has made this the only remedy. Sad but true. Stay tuned for more information and turn the page for some excerpts from the petition.
Continue reading Larchmont Village BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

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Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!


So it turns out that a major scandal involving a business improvement district has been brewing up in Burbank since September 2016. The short version of the story is that a Burbank BID violated the Brown Act and may have violated State laws forbidding the use of public funds in political campaigns. A local activist, David Spell, turned them in to the LA County DA and the Fair Political Practices Commission.1

In December 2016 the Burbank City Attorney published a fascinating report on the episode,2 which may shine a great deal of light on the legal status of BID assessments as public funds. Furthermore, Spell called for the Burbank City Council to hold a disestablishment hearing as required by Streets and Highways Code §36670(a)(1).3

If this money does turn out to be public, a lot of really interesting consequences would ensue, which is another part of what makes this episode so important. As always when BIDs and the law intersect, the details are unavoidably technical, which is no doubt why the L.A. Times skips over them and also why I’m hiding them below the fold!
Continue reading Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!

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