Tag Archives: Controller

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.
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Los Angeles BIDs To Be Audited by the City Every Three Years According to City Clerk’s April 2016 RFQ, Published At Direction of Council. Also City to Spend $250,000 Promoting BIDs and Training BID People.

Holly Wolcott, Clerk of the City of Los Angeles
Holly Wolcott, Clerk of the City of Los Angeles
One of the advantages that zillionaires have over humans with respect to City politics is that they can hire innumerable minions to keep up with the firehose of crap spewed forth by City Hall, certainly in an effort to keep the minion-deprived majority too busy to address everything. Which is my half-serious, half-silly1 excuse for only having noticed this evening the two matters addressed in this post.

First we have Council File 14-0903, in which Holly Wolcott asked for and received an “amount not to exceed $100,000 …for a period of two years with two one-year extensions to assist with the creation and implementation and coordination of a Public Information Campaign” having to do with how fricking great BIDs are for the City of L.A. Additionally they’re getting “an amount not to exceed $150,000 … for a period of two years with two one-year extensions to assist with the creation and implementation of a capacity building and leadership training series relative to business improvement districts and create public/private partnerships with other nonprofit organizations..” None of this seems like very much money given (a) the amount of truth they’re going to have to overcome in order to achieve the first goal and (b) the amount of sheer incompetence and bloody-mindedness to achieve the second. Brace yourself for the incoming propaganda!

Second, and much more interesting, we have this Request for Qualifications, issued by the Clerk in April 2016 asking for people to submit proposals to audit BIDs. There must be a council file associated with this item, but I can’t locate it. Here’s some background. First of all, the standard contract that BIDs sign with the City allows the City to audit BIDs at will.2 This is rarely done. In fact, as far as I can tell, it has only happened twice, both times in 2005, when then-Controller Laura Chick audited both the Central City East Association and also the Westwood Village BID. The details of those audits are worth reading, although I’m not going to write about them tonight.3 However, Controller Chick made some observations then that are still relevant today:
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Open Letter to City Council Asking For Postponement of Venice Beach BID And A Moratorium On New BID Formation


Honorable Los Angeles City Councilmembers,

I’m writing to urge you to postpone consideration of the proposed Venice Beach business improvement district and to think about placing a moratorium on the formation of new BIDs until we as a City can have a much-needed, long-delayed conversation about their proper role. A major problem is that as they’re now constituted, there is no way for anyone not on their Boards of Directors to have any influence over property-based BIDs in Los Angeles. They have effectively isolated themselves from every one of the City’s means of contractor oversight. People who live in or near BIDs are directly impacted by their activities in many ways but have no effective means of influencing them. Since the property owners associations that administer the BIDs are mostly controlled by self-perpetuating Boards there aren’t even effective ways for the property owners in BIDs to influence their policies. Property-based BIDs also covertly and perhaps inadvertently perpetuate racist policies from the past in unexpected ways.
Continue reading Open Letter to City Council Asking For Postponement of Venice Beach BID And A Moratorium On New BID Formation

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