Tag Archives: California Constitution

Venice Residents File Suit Against City of L.A. Over Venice Beach BID!! Arguments Underlying Petition Will Have Broad Progressive Implications If Successful

There’s no place on earth like Venice, so why shouldn’t the destruction of BIDs in California begin in Venice?
A couple weeks ago, a group of brave and determined residents of Venice filed a writ petition against the City of Los Angeles and the Venice Beach BID asking the court to set aside the ordinance that created it, to force the City to redraw the BID’s boundaries in accordance with the law, and, most interestingly, to order the City to contest the assessments levied against City-owned properties in the BID. You can read a copy of the initial petition:

  • Here — direct download
  • Or here — on the new dedicated page, also available through the menu structure above.
  • Or here — directly from static storage; see the titles better!

They argue that their residential properties will get no special benefits from the BID, which violates the California Constitution. They argue that many of the proposed activities of the BID, specifically the security program, are inherently incapable of providing special benefits. And most interestingly from the point of view of general anti-BID theory, they argue that the City has a duty to its citizens to scrutinize the BID plan to be sure that City-owned parcels included in the BID actually benefit from being in the BID, and that by rubber-stamping the BID proposal, the City has abdicated this duty. If this argument succeeds it will shake the very foundations of BIDs in Los Angeles, which rely to various extents on the automatic yes votes provided by City-owned property. This automatic approval, by the way, was set up in 19981 via Council File 96-1972 which, in pertinent part, includes a directive to:

REQUIRE the City Clerk to sign off on Proposition 218 ballots and support petitions for property-based BIDs, unless the Council directs otherwise.

Anyway, this is an exciting and welcome development, and all of us here at MK.Org thank the plaintiffs and their lawyers for filing this petition. There are a few excerpts that caught my eye along with my usual uninformed and amateur commentaries after the break if you’re interested.
Continue reading Venice Residents File Suit Against City of L.A. Over Venice Beach BID!! Arguments Underlying Petition Will Have Broad Progressive Implications If Successful

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!!

Chad Molnar’s Explicit Refusal To Comply With The California Public Records Act Provides Raw Material For The Latest Installment In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project

Chad Molnar is Mike Bonin's campaign treasurer and also does odd jobs of some sort around the Council District offices.
Chad Molnar is Mike Bonin’s campaign treasurer and also does odd jobs of some sort around the Council District offices.
A couple of days ago I announced MK.Org’s latest project, which aims to experimentally determine the scope of the extraordinary LAMC 49.5.5(A), which states, rather succinctly, that:

City officials, agency employees, appointees awaiting confirmation by the City Council, and candidates for elected City office shall not misuse or attempt to misuse their positions or prospective positions to create or attempt to create a private advantage or disadvantage, financial or otherwise, for any person.

Anyway, today’s episode involves the California Public Records Act and Mike Bonin’s Chief of Staff, Chad Molnar. Since August, I’ve been making CPRA requests of CD11. At first they more or less complied with the law, but after the chaos at the first Council hearing in August and the subsequent humiliation caused by the City’s having to redo the whole BID approval process, they completely stopped complying.

In fact, they not only stopped complying, but when I wrote to them asking them if they were going to comply, Chad Molnar wrote back with one of the most extraordinarily confused responses I’ve ever received to a CPRA status request. He not only agreed that they hadn’t complied, but he said explicitly that they weren’t going to comply, and that he believed that they did not have to comply because to comply would make their constituents suffer, and he didn’t think that the intent of CPRA was to make their constituents suffer. I’m not kidding, that’s what he said. Read it yourself, and turn the page for more of my amateurish legal theories, and another complaint!
Continue reading Chad Molnar’s Explicit Refusal To Comply With The California Public Records Act Provides Raw Material For The Latest Installment In Our LAMC 49.5.5(A) Project