Tag Archives: Central City Association

City Council Approves Update To Ethics Laws Which, Among Other Changes, Imposes At Long Last A Duty On City Officials And Employees To Report Violations To The Ethics Commission Within Ten Days — A Law Like This Will Cut Down On Apparent Collusion By City Officials Or At Least Provide Another Fruitful Channel For Reporting Them

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission is charged not only with enforcing ethics laws and regulations but also with reviewing and revising them periodically. Because the City Council is subject to these laws it wouldn’t make much sense for them to be able to alter them at will. The temptation to exempt themselves and their creepy zillionaire buddies would ultimately be too much for their corrupt vestigial little senses of morality to bear and we’d end up without any ethics laws at all.

Thus the process, as described in the City Charter at §703(a), requires the Ethics Commission to propose the changes and gives the City Council the authority only to disapprove but not to modify them.1 This strikes me as a quite clever way to balance the competing interests involved:

The commission may adopt, amend and rescind rules and regulations, subject to Council approval without modification, to carry out the purposes and provisions of the Charter and ordinances of the City relating to campaign finance, conflicts of interest, lobbying, and governmental ethics and to govern procedures of the commission.2

So at its meeting in February, the Ethics Commission approved a bunch of revised enforcement regulations. You can read the original proposal. This was duly sent up to the City Council, where it was placed in Council File 14-0049-S1. Well, on Thursday, after the Mayor’s concurrence was received, the Council finalized the matter and the new regulations are approved and will take effect on August 14.3

There were bunches of changes, mostly technical in nature, and beyond my capacity to evaluate. But the one that really excites me is that the new ordinance requires City departments and appointees to report violations of the Ethics laws or the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance within ten days. This is a huge development! Read on for details and for a number of horrific instances in which the lack of a mandate to report created absolutely nauseating scenarios involving law-flouting lobbyists and City officials.
Continue reading City Council Approves Update To Ethics Laws Which, Among Other Changes, Imposes At Long Last A Duty On City Officials And Employees To Report Violations To The Ethics Commission Within Ten Days — A Law Like This Will Cut Down On Apparent Collusion By City Officials Or At Least Provide Another Fruitful Channel For Reporting Them

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The Central City Association Seems To Have Failed To Amend Its Lobbying Entity Registration Form In A Timely Manner And John Howland Didn’t Disclose The Fact That He Lobbied The Board Of Neighborhood Commissioners Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council. So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission About It

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

A few days ago I wrote a post about the fact that the Central City Association was involved in the lobbying effort against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council and briefly noted a few violations of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance I’d noticed with respect to CCA’s disclosure of this fact. Today I completed and submitted a report on this matter to the City Ethics Commission. Here’s a copy:

There are two main issues: First, the MLO requires lobbying firms1 to (a) register every year, (b) disclose the issues they’re lobbying for on their registration forms, and (c) amend their registrations within 10 days of a change in the information. The CCA began lobbying against the SRNC no later than March 20, 2017, when John Howland appeared before the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners and spoke on the issue. Thus they should have amended their registration form no later than March 30. But they did not do so until April 28.
Continue reading The Central City Association Seems To Have Failed To Amend Its Lobbying Entity Registration Form In A Timely Manner And John Howland Didn’t Disclose The Fact That He Lobbied The Board Of Neighborhood Commissioners Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council. So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission About It

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Liner LLP And United DTLA Weren’t The Only Zillionaires Gunning For The Skid Row Neighborhood Council: On April 28, 2017, The Central City Association Amended Its Lobbyist Registration With The City Ethics Commission To Disclose Its Work Against The SRNC

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

We’ve done a lot of reporting on lobbying efforts against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort, but until today it has focused entirely on Liner LLP, its ethics-free-zone-for-hire-in-human-form Rockard Delgadillo, and the probably illegal campaign they waged against the SRNC on behalf of their shadowy anonymous client United DTLA.

This morning, however, I discovered that that infamous Schatzian horror show, the Central City Association of Los Angeles, was also involved in the lobbying effort against the SRNC. It’s not possible from the evidence to tell when they entered the fray, but amended registration forms filed with the City Ethics Commission prove that it was no later than April 28, 2017.1 Here’s the documentary evidence, and you’ll find more detailed descriptions along with some discussion after the break:

Continue reading Liner LLP And United DTLA Weren’t The Only Zillionaires Gunning For The Skid Row Neighborhood Council: On April 28, 2017, The Central City Association Amended Its Lobbyist Registration With The City Ethics Commission To Disclose Its Work Against The SRNC

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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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The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

The Wicked Witch of the Southeast corner of Wilshire and Hope giving instructions to her flying monkeys.
Recall that I’ve been tracking the hysterical, irrational opposition of LA’s business improvement districts to the ongoing process of legalizing (some aspects of) street vending in the City since the Spring of 2015. A truly astonishing level of bitching and moaning in 2015 stalled out the whole process for most of 2016 because, I believe, everyone was too freaking sick of the whining and the carefully orchestrated lying on any number of occasions and the City just needed a rest.
A man arrested, transported, and handcuffed to a bench by the Andrews International BID Patrol in Hollywood for selling umbrellas on the street. At least it appears that this horror show is over, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more loopholes and it’s not over at all.
Until the November election of Donald Trump and his subsequent threats to deport essentially anyone, U.S. citizen or not, who’d ever smiled while thinking of eating a taco spurred the Council into action on at least the small part (small but in no way insignificant) of the plan to decriminalize illegal street vending so that, no matter how much trouble the zillionaires might cause the heladeros, at least they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and subsequent deportation. That bit seemed urgent enough to pass Council outright, and even the anti-vending forces of the zillionaire elite seemed to realize that they were just going to be exposed as the nasty little mean creeps that they are if they fought back on this particular issue. However, the Council put off acting on an actual legalization framework until later.

But recall, as I reported in January, the instructions for the report-back were altered from the original, and quite sensible,1 request for

A process to create special vending districts to be initiated by Council, the Board of Public Works, or petition (with signatures from 20 percent of property owners or businesses in the proposed district), based on legitimate public health, safety and welfare concerns that are unique to specific neighborhoods with special circumstances.

to a request for language

Providing the City Council the ability to opt out of certain streets by Council action.

At that time I didn’t understand yet how this had all taken place, but now I’ve accumulated enough documentary evidence that it’s possible to sketch out a picture. The short version is that in December 2016, Suzanne Holley, at that time acting Executive Director2 of the Schatzian horror show known as the Central City Association of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the City Council telling them to make the change. This was distributed to the BIDs via the BID Consortium. They all told their pet Councilmembers to change it. It got changed, and all the BIDs rejoiced, some of them quite publicly. The consequences of this are going to be horrific, and whatever street vending framework gets put in place will be DOA. Details and evidence after the break.
Continue reading The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

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Sneaky Shit-Sneakers Sneakily Sneak Sneaky Shit Into Current Version Of Street Vending Legalization Process, Setting The Stage For Continued Persecution of Vendors in Business Improvement Districts

Yum, danger dogs!
So today the City Council moved forward with CF 13-1493, which, of course, is the famed street vending thing. For a good, objective,1 discussion of today’s developments, take a look at this article in today’s Times by the incomparable Emily Alpert Reyes.2 This is just a brief post to note the fact that the various anti-human opponents of legalized street vending won a major, seemingly unnoticed by anyone but me, victory via amendment in the current version of the motion.

Today’s motion doesn’t actually legalize street vending. What it does is direct the City Attorney, the Chief Legislative Analyst, and the City Administrative Officer to put together a proposed ordinance. This was to be based on this detailed set of recommendations from the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee report. This report was amended in Council today before being adopted, and at least two of the amended recommendations are quite sneaky, and, I predict, will undermine the future ordinance in quite underhanded ways that will please business improvement districts and other business interests who have been working tirelessly to keep street vending illegal for years now. See the details and some3 predictions after the break.
Continue reading Sneaky Shit-Sneakers Sneakily Sneak Sneaky Shit Into Current Version Of Street Vending Legalization Process, Setting The Stage For Continued Persecution of Vendors in Business Improvement Districts

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Open Letter to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission on the proposed stipulation in Case No. 2016-13, In the Matter of Marie Rumsey

Herb Wesson being way, way, way too friendly with Marie Rumsey on November 17, 2015.
Herb Wesson being way, way, way too friendly with Marie Rumsey on November 17, 2015.
I reported on Friday that the City Ethics Commission is slated to consider the case of Marie Rumsey, formerly of CD13 but now working as a lobbyist for the Central City Association, and her repeated violations of the City’s revolving door ordinance, found at LAMC 49.5.13(C)(1). As I noted then, she admitted guilt and excused herself in a particularly implausible way, according to the CEC’s report:

Rumsey received inaccurate legal advice from CCA’s former legal counsel and mistakenly believed that she could attempt to influence any City agency except Councilmember O’Farrell’s office.

Well, I’ve been thinking and thinking about it, and it occurred to me that, since Rumsey spoke before the Council a number of times, it ought to be possible to track down evidence that she had actually attempted to influence Darth Four-Eyes1 himself. So the first piece of evidence I found was this speaker card from the City Council meeting of November 17, 2015. Marie Rumsey signed up to speak on CF 14-1656-S1.2 Next, I had to track down the item on the Council video of that meeting. Well, I did track it down, and here is a link right to her comment. Not only does she address the Council in violation of the law, not only does Mitch O’Farrell end up voting yes on the matter before the Council after she asked him to in violation of the law, but Herb Wesson, who really ought to know better, welcomes her before she violates the law by saying “Ms. Ramsey, [sic] welcome home, good to see you.”

Well, that’s too much. Not only was it against the law for Marie Rumsey to be speaking in front of the Council, not only does it make a mockery of her explanation that her lawyer told her she was only forbidden from trying to influence Mitch O’Farrell’s office,3 but it shows Herb Wesson to be an even bigger idiot than previously suspected. Thus I resolved to write to the Ethics Commission urging them to reject their staff’s proposed stipulation, carry out further investigations, charge Marie Rumsey with ALL of her violations of the revolving door ordinance, and to consider whether Wesson and/or O’Farrell were in violation of LAMC 49.5.16(A)(1)(c), which prohibits aiding and abetting violations of the rest of the Government Ethics Ordinance. So I spent this evening writing this letter to the CEC and submitting it as a public comment for Tuesday’s meeting.4 You can also read it after the break if you’re on mobile or for some other reason prefer not to deal with a PDF.
Continue reading Open Letter to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission on the proposed stipulation in Case No. 2016-13, In the Matter of Marie Rumsey

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Carol Schatz: “I will always be the Queen of Downtown. Make no mistake about that!”

Carol Schatz being crowned queen of Downtown by the LA County Board of Supervisors in October 2016.
Carol Schatz being crowned queen of Downtown by the LA County Board of Supervisors in October 2016.
We still have not had time to read through the vast dump of Fashion District BID emails that I recently published on the Archive, but we’re working on it. This morning, though, while reading through the endless bitching and moaning, I happened to notice this little gem from January 2016. It’s an email about her impending retirement as president and CEO of the nightmare horror show Central City Association, in which she states:
Here's another famous queen who vowed never to relinquish her title, depicted in the act of having it forcibly explained to her that it's not always possible not to relinquish such things.
Here’s another famous queen who vowed never to relinquish her title, depicted in the act of having it forcibly explained to her that it’s not always possible not to relinquish such things.


Lastly, while there will be some changes in my responsibilities, there is one title I will never relinquish: I will always be the Queen of Downtown. Make no mistake about that!

Of course, everybody else already reported on this like a year ago, but then, no one1 reads this blog for up-to-the-minute reporting! Anyway, the queen is dead, Long Live the Queen!
Continue reading Carol Schatz: “I will always be the Queen of Downtown. Make no mistake about that!”

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Probably On Basis Of Our Complaint, Scofflaw Lobbyist Marie Rumsey Has Been Nailed By Ethics Commission For Violating Post-Employment Restrictions, Provides Pathetically Implausible Excuse, Enforcement Staff Recommends She Be Let Off With Wrist Slap

Marie Rumsey in happier days at CD13 before she got hired on at the Central City Association and turned to a life of crime, infamy, and outlawry.
Marie Rumsey in happier days at CD13 before she got hired on at the Central City Association and turned to a life of crime, infamy, and outlawry.
My colleagues and I reported in January 2016 that former Mitch O’Farrell aide Marie Rumsey appeared to be in violation of Los Angeles Municipal Code §49.5.13.C.1. A few weeks later I submitted a report on the matter to the City Ethics Commission. Well, last night the CEC published its agenda for the December 6 meeting and, lo! A stipulation in the matter of Marie Rumsey is Item 5!

I submitted evidence of three violations, although there were clearly many others. They tagged her for two of them. She admitted that she’d broken the law, but gave as an exceedingly lame excuse that… well, let the CEC tell it:

Rumsey received inaccurate legal advice from CCA’s former legal counsel and mistakenly believed that she could attempt to influence any City agency except Councilmember O’Farrell’s office.

Because of this and because of her cooperation, CEC staff is recommending leniency:

The maximum administrative penalty for a violation of the City’s post-employment laws is the greater of $5,000 or three times the amount of compensation that was improperly received. Los Angeles City Charter § 706(c)(3). In this case, the two counts against Rumsey result in a maximum penalty of $14,250. We recommend a penalty of $7,125, which is equal to 50 percent of the maximum in this case. We believe the recommended penalty is appropriate, because it takes into consideration the serious nature of the violations while also encouraging cooperation with Ethics Commission investigations and the early resolution of violations.

These offers of 50% of the fine seem to be standard for people who cooperate with the CEC. And the $7,125 isn’t pocket change, even if the CCA ends up paying it for her.1 In this case, though, I think such a low offer is a mistake, not least because on analysis her excuse turns out to be unsupportable. For details on this, and some other interesting matters regarding this case, read on!
Continue reading Probably On Basis Of Our Complaint, Scofflaw Lobbyist Marie Rumsey Has Been Nailed By Ethics Commission For Violating Post-Employment Restrictions, Provides Pathetically Implausible Excuse, Enforcement Staff Recommends She Be Let Off With Wrist Slap

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Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors.
Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, consultant to the Central Avenue Historic BID, speaks at the November 2, 2016 meeting of the Board of Directors. I apologize for the crappy image quality. I didn’t plan to film.
After I spent some time looking into the Central Avenue Historic BID in the context of potential political goals for the post-approval Venice Beach BID, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about this newborn BID.1 The meetings are held at CD9’s district office at 4301 S. Central,2 so on a very pleasant evening last Thursday, I took the 210 out of Hollywood to MLK and Crenshaw, where I boarded the 705 to Central and Vernon from whence a couple blocks North on Central to watch the Board of Directors conduct their business.3 The meeting was scheduled to start at 5:30, but that evidently included some preliminaries, because when I got there at about 10 to 64 they hadn’t started yet.

Anyway, take a look at the agenda. You can see that they’re talking about the kind of things that one would expect BIDs to talk about from, e.g., reading the Wikipedia page on BIDs,5 like branding and marketing, cleaning the streets, having Halloween events, and so on. And watch this short clip of the meeting.6 That’s Sherri Franklin of the Urban Design Center, the BID consultant, who also seems to be functioning as executive director, talking about some kind of partnership the BID’s working on with Hollywood Community Housing Corporation involving affordable housing at the corner of Central and Jefferson.7

Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
Allan Muhammad, security director for the Central Avenue Historic District BID.
And then you can watch here as BID security director Allan Muhammad introduces his employees, and then they proceed to hand out sample Halloween bags to everyone in the room. They didn’t once discuss custodial arrests, handcuffs, social engineering, mass relocations, self-aggrandizing 5150 holds, or any of the other hard-edged tactics of which the City’s older and ever so much more dangerous BIDs are so enamored. And even though I only got 15 minutes on tape of the 90 minutes I was there8 they didn’t really have anything objectionable to say even during the parts of the meeting I didn’t record. They talked about parking, they talked about their phone bills, they talked about how it was hard for the BID to patronize local businesses because they mostly only accepted cash.9

Could this be what a BID looks like as BIDs were intended to look? Well, the very question is based on a false assumption. And there were foreshadowings of bad news to come. And on the way home, and for the last few days, it’s got me thinking about what BIDs were meant to be,10how BIDs11 evolve under selective pressure, and how it’s probably inevitable that this BID is going to end up like the worst of the Downtown BIDs, the worst of the Hollywood BIDs. The short version is that BIDs probably started out as helpful tools, but as a wise woman once said, “every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.” So turn the page if you’re still interested…
Continue reading Central Avenue Historic BID May Provide Insight Into The Process By Which BIDs Evolved From Whatever They Were Originally Conceived To Be Into Weaponized Shock Troops Of The Zillionaire Real-Estate Power Elite

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