Tag Archives: City Council

Jose Huizar, David Ryu, and Paul Koretz Introduce Motion In Council Ordering City Clerk To Report Back On How To Hire Everyone Counts To Run Online Voting Pilot In Ten Neighborhood Council Elections In 2019

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.

This is the very shortest of notes to announce that on Thursday esteemed councilcreeps Huizar, Ryu, and Koretz introduced a motion in Council ordering the City Clerk to report back in 60 days about the feasibility of hiring discredited election software vendor Everyone Counts to run an online voting pilot program in 2019 to be used in ten neighborhood council elections. The associated council file is CF 1022-S3.

Of course you will recall how the morally bankrupt Jose Huizar forced through a last-minute ordinance allowing online voting to be used in last year’s Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision election for the sole purpose of stealing the election. This is famously now the subject of a monumental lawsuit.

Since then responsibility for administering NC elections has been removed from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and given to the Clerk’s office. The Clerk, famously, has way higher standards for election security than DONE, so it’s disconcerting to see City Council ordering them to continue to deal with the shady and discredited Everyone Counts. Anyway, turn the page for the complete text of the motion. This one definitely bears watching.
Continue reading Jose Huizar, David Ryu, and Paul Koretz Introduce Motion In Council Ordering City Clerk To Report Back On How To Hire Everyone Counts To Run Online Voting Pilot In Ten Neighborhood Council Elections In 2019

Share

The Venice Beach BID Annual Planning Report Provides An Opportunity For Mike Bonin To Unilaterally Remove Properties From The BID Or Reduce Their Assessments To Zero — This Could Happen This Month If Mike Bonin Will Do It!— No Zoning Change Required Even!— Maybe Some Constituent Pressure Will Convince Bonin To Use This Power?


Business improvement districts in California are required by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 at §36650 to submit an annual planning report to the City every year. The reports must subsequently be approved by the City Council.

One function of these reports is to explain how the BID will spend its money in the coming year, but they have another important purpose. According to the statute:

The report may propose changes, including, but not limited to, the boundaries of the property and business improvement district or any benefit zones within the district, the basis and method of levying the assessments, and any changes in the classification of property, including any categories of business, if a classification is used.

In other words BIDs are allowed to remove properties entirely or reduce their assessments, presumably all the way to zero if they so choose, merely by stating that they’ll do so in their annual planning report.

Now, the Venice Beach BID approved their APR at their April 13, 2018 meeting and submitted it to the City on April 30. They didn’t propose any changes in boundaries or assessment methods. But it turns out that, according to the law, they don’t have the final say. The statute says at §36650(c) that:

The city council may approve the report as filed by the owners’ association or may modify any particular contained in the report and approve it as modified.

So that means that not only can the BID use the APR to remove properties or to reduce their assessments even down to zero, but the City Council can do that also, even without the BID’s approval. And the way things work in the City of Los Angeles, that means that Mike Bonin himself can make the changes. There’s no way his colleagues are going to oppose him on a matter that affects only his district. Read on to see how this might actually lead to properties being removed from the BID this year!
Continue reading The Venice Beach BID Annual Planning Report Provides An Opportunity For Mike Bonin To Unilaterally Remove Properties From The BID Or Reduce Their Assessments To Zero — This Could Happen This Month If Mike Bonin Will Do It!— No Zoning Change Required Even!— Maybe Some Constituent Pressure Will Convince Bonin To Use This Power?

Share

Echo Park BID Formation Process Rolls On, With Economic Development Committee Just Yesterday, At Behest Of CD13 Rep Mitch O’Freaking Farrell, Recommending Allocation Of God Only Knows How Much Money To Civitas To Complete The Establishment Process

It’s been almost two years now since our esteemed City Council breathed new life into the inchoate Echo Park BID in May 2016 in response to a letter from the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce, who is apparently the BID proponent group for this mishegas. Well, that infusion of cash into its zombie veins apparently wasn’t enough to send it lurching off into what passes for the civic life of this fair but wounded City of ours.

Thus, evidently, CD13 rep Mitch O’Freaking Farrell found it necessary a few weeks ago to move in Council that the BID formation contract with Civitas Advisors, who’s acting as the BID consultant,1 be extended.2 Yesterday, the Economic Development Committee approved3 Mitchie’s motion and sent a report to the full Council for their sadly inevitable approval.

The original Echo Park BID formation materials are collected in CF 10-0154 and for all this contract extension voodoo they started a supplemental, which is at CF 10-0154-S1. Turn the page for a transcription of O’Farrell’s motion from February 27 as well as of an interesting selection from the Committee’s report which sheds some light on where things stand.

Continue reading Echo Park BID Formation Process Rolls On, With Economic Development Committee Just Yesterday, At Behest Of CD13 Rep Mitch O’Freaking Farrell, Recommending Allocation Of God Only Knows How Much Money To Civitas To Complete The Establishment Process

Share

Herb Wesson Introduces Motion In Council This Morning Decrying Donald Trump’s Use Of The Digital Divide To Disenfranchise “Low-Income And Immigrant Communities” While Never Even Mentioning How He And His Demonic Cronies Used Online Voting Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council To Do The Same Freaking Thing

UPDATE JANUARY 31, 2018: This morning the motion that’s the subject of this post was assigned to Council File CF 18-0002-S8 if you want to track it.

A few days ago, Herb Wesson and his brain-dead gang-of-fifteen cronies at 200 N Spring Street introduced a motion to outlaw civil rights violations in Los Angeles, all without mentioning their dark and bloody work disenfranchising the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort in opposition to everyone’s civil rights. One of the main techniques they used in this nightmarish project was online voting, introduced at the last minute in the face of explicit testimony that electronic politics disenfranchises people who can’t afford computers.

Well, not that anyone who’s paying attention expects consistency out of the Fifteen Lords and Ladies of our City, but when their hypocrisy reaches a certain feverishly hysterical pitch I find there’s nothing for it but to speak up. You see, evidently the Census Bureau in 2020 is going to use online response forms for the first time ever.

And for some reason, the badness of this, the fact of the digital divide and the role it might play in helping the government to erase the presence of the poor, the immigrant, is not lost on our City Council president, Herb Wesson, in this case. That’s why, it appears, that he and Gil Cedillo introduced a motion this morning (transcription after the break) positioning the City to oppose the Census Bureau’s intention to use this new electronic form to ask respondents about citizenship. In particular, saith Herb Wesson:

WHEREAS , the 2020 Census is the first Census that will be performed primarily electronically, which creates additional barriers for low-income and immigrant communities …

So it’s on the record now. Herb Wesson and Gil Cedillo are opposed to using online political forms because they tend to oppress low-income and immigrant communities. Unless, of course, it’s necessary to oppress low-income and immigrant communities at the behest of local zillionaires and campaign donors. Then they’re all for it. Turn the page for the complete text of the motion.
Continue reading Herb Wesson Introduces Motion In Council This Morning Decrying Donald Trump’s Use Of The Digital Divide To Disenfranchise “Low-Income And Immigrant Communities” While Never Even Mentioning How He And His Demonic Cronies Used Online Voting Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council To Do The Same Freaking Thing

Share

Los Angeles Ethics Commissioners Fail To Understand Their Powers And Duties Under The City Charter And Thereby Inadvertently (??) Set The Stage For Exempting Nearly All 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Organizations In Los Angeles From The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance

It seems like forever now, although it’s only been two years, that the Los Angeles Ethics Commission has been discussing proposed changes to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance (MLO). At this point I just don’t have it in me to summarize the discussion any more, although you can find links to most of my posts on the subject in this post on the penultimate phase of the matter.

At the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday, which you can watch in its entirety right here (or here on Archive.Org if you prefer), there were only two matters left to settle. One was the issue of detailed reporting of contacts between lobbyists and City Officials. I hope to write on what happened with that later on. The other, and the subject of today’s post, had to do with exemptions from the MLO for 501(c)(3) nonprofits. You can watch the whole discussion beginning here. These organizations enjoy some exemptions now by virtue of LAMC §48.03(E,F). You can read the statute for yourself, but essentially it exempts 501(c)(3)s1 which have “… the purpose of representing the interests of indigent persons and whose primary purpose is to provide direct services to those persons…”

As they are wont to do, the staff, in the persons of Director of Policy Arman Tarzi and Mark Low, head of the lobbying program, provided the Commission with a detailed set of recommendations. There were four different options given that had to do with nonprofits, which you can read in the proposal. Of these, three were developed by staff and the fourth2 was provided by nonprofits and proposed to exempt all nonprofits, no matter what they do, which have gross annual receipts of under $2.5 Million.

Never content to leave well enough alone, these hyperorganized nonprofits presented the Commission with a so-called “Option 5,” which they circulated at the meeting. This option proposed to modify LAMC §48.03(E) to exempt from the MLO:

E. Any organization exempt from federal taxation pursuant to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that:
1. Provides assistance, such as food, clothing, shelter, child care, health, legal, vocational, relief, educational, and other similar assistance to disadvantaged people for free or at a significantly below-market rate; OR
2. Has gross receipts of less than $2.5 million.
This exemption also applies to the organization’s employees and board members while engaged in official duties. This exemption does not apply when an organization is seeking funding, property, or a permit from the City on its own behalf.

Continue reading Los Angeles Ethics Commissioners Fail To Understand Their Powers And Duties Under The City Charter And Thereby Inadvertently (??) Set The Stage For Exempting Nearly All 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Organizations In Los Angeles From The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance

Share

Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment Recommends That Online Voting In Future Neighborhood Council Elections Be Optional

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.

Yesterday the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment submitted a report on online voting in neighborhood council elections to the Los Angeles City Council’s Health, Education, and Neighborhood Councils Committee.1 Here’s a link to the report, but be careful as it’s a massive PDF. After the great injustice and great pain caused by José Huizar and DONE by imposing online voting on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council effort one might think that DONE would have displayed some consciousness of the damage they’d created.

But that didn’t happen. In an unfortunately characteristic display of block-headed indifference to both morality and reality, the sole lesson DONE seems to have learned is that online voting increases voter participation:

The potential of online voting and voter registration to engage more stakeholders in Neighborhood Council elections was clear in the 2016 pilot as noted in the January 17, 2017 report and confirmed in the subdivision election for Skid Row Neighborhood Council this year where 1,388 votes were cast online out of a total of 1,592.

It’s disgusting indeed that they don’t even mention the fact that online voting increases participation among non-homeless people while actively decreasing it among the homeless, even though they are well aware of this fact. And their recommendation to the City Council, which will almost surely be adopted verbatim? It’s that online voting should not be imposed on any other neighborhood councils but that they be allowed to opt into it if they so choose:

[DONE recommends that Council i]nstruct the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and Office of the City Clerk to make online voting an option available for the Neighborhood Councils whose online voting platforms are already built out …

Additionally, they recommend that neighborhood council terms be extended in order to match the new Los Angeles city election schedule. Turn the page for a transcription of the summary of the report
Continue reading Department Of Neighborhood Empowerment Recommends That Online Voting In Future Neighborhood Council Elections Be Optional

Share

United Downtown LA Paid Liner LLP More Than $45,000 To Lobby Against Skid Row Neighborhood Council In Q2 2017. Payments From First Quarter Are Still Undisclosed

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.

You may recall that shady downtown municipal lobbying firm Liner LLP was hired by the even shadier anonymous Delaware incorporated United Downtown LA to lobby against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and that I turned them in to the City Ethics Commission for failing to amend their disclosure forms to disclose United Downtown as a client as required by LAMC §48.07.

Well, yesterday was the filing deadline for Second Quarter disclosures, and Liner filed theirs on time. It’s required by law for lobbying firms like Liner to disclose their clients and also how much money they got paid by each client. This time they actually did list United DTLA1 and it turns out that they were paid a stunning total of $45,010.40 to lobby against the SRNC. And this is just for Q2.2 It’s likely, or at least possible, that when the Ethics Commission gets around to investigating my complaint they’ll find that Liner was paid even more in Q1.

Oh, and check out the address that they put on the form for United Downtown. That’s Liner’s address. Full-service anonymization going on. That this much money was spent to stop a neighborhood council suggests that the NC system is really badly broken somehow.
Continue reading United Downtown LA Paid Liner LLP More Than $45,000 To Lobby Against Skid Row Neighborhood Council In Q2 2017. Payments From First Quarter Are Still Undisclosed

Share

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

Share

City Of Los Angeles Poised To Pay Half A Million Dollars To The Legal Aid Foundation Of Los Angeles To Settle Los Angeles Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association

As I reported last week, the City Council was scheduled today to go into closed session to consider a settlement of the monumental lawsuit brought by Los Angeles Catholic Worker and the LA Community Action Network against the Central City East Association and the City.

Well, today they met and approved a motion which authorizes the City Attorney to pay $495,000 out of the City’s Police Liability Fund to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles as part of the settlement. Given the extensive behavioral restrictions on BID security and ongoing oversight by the court agreed to by the CCEA in its settlement, it seems likely that the money will turn out to be only part of the City’s settlement deal. The details of the rest will surely be hitting PACER soon enough, and you’ll read about them here first!

This is a huge win for LAFLA and its brave and talented attorneys: Fernando Gaytan, Shayla Myers, Paul Hoffman, and Catherine Sweetser. Cheers all round! And, although Carol Sobel didn’t work on this particular case, the outcome continues to confirm Mike Bonin’s prescient 2016 remark that if the City didn’t clean up its act with respect to the property of homeless people, “We may as well open up the keys to reserve funds to Carol Sobel”

Turn the page for a full transcription of the motion if you’re interested.
Continue reading City Of Los Angeles Poised To Pay Half A Million Dollars To The Legal Aid Foundation Of Los Angeles To Settle Los Angeles Catholic Worker v. City Of LA, Central City East Association

Share

LA Catholic Worker et al. V. City of LA, CCEA Settlement Terms To Go Before Full Council In Closed Session On June 14

The momentous 2014 lawsuit by LA Catholic Worker and the LA Community Action Network against the Central City East Association and the City of Los Angeles has been in the settlement process for more than six months now.1 The Central City East Association settled what seems like ages ago. The City of Los Angeles claimed in December that settlement terms had been reached, and then nothing happened for months.
Continue reading LA Catholic Worker et al. V. City of LA, CCEA Settlement Terms To Go Before Full Council In Closed Session On June 14

Share