Tag Archives: David Ryu

Open Letter To The Los Angeles Ethics Commission Asking Them To Consider Adopting A Policy On Disclosure Of Ex Parte Communications

I reported last week that Serena Oberstein, Vice President of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, had engaged in undisclosed ex parte communications with a couple of (unregistered) lobbyists regarding a proposal to revise the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. Of course, at present, there’s no requirement for any City commissioners, except Harbor Commissioners, to disclose such communication.

However, the example of the Board of Harbor Commissioners shows that it is possible for City commissions to adopt more stringent requirements than the rest of City government is subject to. Given the role of the Ethics Commission in defending the public interest in transparency and disclosure, it seems like a natural candidate for such a policy.

Hence, as promised, I’ve written a letter to the Commission asking them to put an item on the agenda for December 19 asking the staff to draft a policy proposal for such a requirement. Here’s a copy of the letter, and you can read a transcription after the break. If you’re moved to write about this yourself, you can, as far as I know, send communications to the Commission at ethics.commission@lacity.org.
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Ethics Commissioner Serena Oberstein’s Undisclosed Ex Parte Communication With Lobbyists Shyaam Subramanian and Nancy Berlin In Hallway Fifteen Minutes Before Ethics Commission Meeting Casts Some Doubt On Everyone’s Commitment To Transparency

Shyaam Subramanian and Nancy Berlin talking to Ethics Commissioner Serena Z. Oberstein in the hallway before Tuesday’s Ethics Commission meeting. She thanked them for giving her language, presumably to do with the MLO, and actually took notes on it in her phone. Click to enlarge.

In August the Ethics Commission continued the multiyear discussion about revising the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. The next stage in the process was three interested persons’ meetings held in September, and then on to more discussion at yesterday’s Ethics Commission meeting. The meeting was essentially interminable,1 and I recorded the whole lobbying discussion. You can watch it either on Archive.Org or on YouTube:

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV •.

Ethics Commissioner Serena Z. Oberstein taking notes on “language” provided to her by lobbyists Shyaam Subramanian and Nancy Berlin. Click to enlarge.

I hope to write about the outcome of the discussion as soon as possible, although things are ultra-busy here at MK.Org secret headquarters. The short version is that the Commission accepted most of what staff recommended with a few changes and two items to be discussed even more at the December meeting. In any case, it turns out that the most interesting part of the meeting, and I don’t think this is so uncommon in City Hall, took place in the hallway fifteen minutes before the call to order.

There, I was lucky enough to witness lobbyists2 Shyaam Subramanian of Bolder Advocacy and Nancy Berlin of CalNonprofits engaged in an intense conversation with Ethics Commissioner Serena Z. Oberstein about proposed revisions to the MLO involving nonprofit corporations, whose interests both of them are compensated to represent to the City. At one point she even thanked them for giving her “language,” presumably having to do with their preferred outcome in the upcoming meeting, and went so far as to take notes on it in her phone!
Continue reading Ethics Commissioner Serena Oberstein’s Undisclosed Ex Parte Communication With Lobbyists Shyaam Subramanian and Nancy Berlin In Hallway Fifteen Minutes Before Ethics Commission Meeting Casts Some Doubt On Everyone’s Commitment To Transparency

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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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New Documents: January 2017 Emails Between East Hollywood BID and City of LA, Also Gateway To LA BID By-Vendor Reports

Just a brief note to announce a couple more sets of documents:

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Almost 200 Emails Between the City Of LA And the East Hollywood BID. Also, Lunada Bay Boys Hearing Tomorrow And Also Ethics Commission Meeting!

Dwarf bottlebrush plant from some plans that the East Hollywood BID exchanged with a bunch of lackeys at the City of LA in preparation for planting them along Vermont Avenue, most likely to thwart the homeless in some manner.
Tonight I had the pleasure of receiving from self-proclaimed active member of the revitalized Hollywood community1 Jeffrey Charles Briggs almost 200 emails between the East Hollywood Business Improvement District and various far-too-friendly folks at the City of Los Angeles. For now these are available here on Archive.Org. They’re PDFs, but they’re that super-PDF-format that one can make with genuine Adobe software that embeds attachments right in there with clickable links.2 I have only been able to give these a cursory look-over, but I can already see a few crucial items. I’ll be writing on these matters as soon as I possibly can, but if you want a preview of one of them take a look at this juicy little number.

And tomorrow is a huge day at the Civic Center. In the morning there is a hearing in the Lunada Bay Boys case, featuring Palos Verdes Peninsula zillionaire surf-localism-thuggery at its most flamboyantly weird. In the afternoon there is an essential meeting of the Ethics Commission. Turn the page for times, locations, and brief descriptions. Perhaps I’ll see you there!
Continue reading Almost 200 Emails Between the City Of LA And the East Hollywood BID. Also, Lunada Bay Boys Hearing Tomorrow And Also Ethics Commission Meeting!

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Cracks Show In LA City Council Unanimity (At Least On Staff Level) As David Ryu’s Director Of Policy, Nicholas Greif, Comes Out Publicly Against Mitch O’Farrell’s Moronic Playground Motion

Nicholas Greif evidently agrees with his fellow Palms NC Board members that Mitch O’Farrell’s anti-playground motion is evil, evil, evil… which may be embarrassing for Nicholas Greif’s boss, David Ryu, who will have to vote for the motion if it ever comes up before Council…which it almost certainly will not at this point.
BACKGROUND: Recall, if you will, that this L.A. Times editorial kicked off a somewhat misguided firestorm of opposition to Mitch O’Farrell’s recent Council motion 16-1456 seeking to develop a legal tool for banning adults without children from playgrounds in parks in the City of Los Angeles.

So just tonight the Palms Neighborhood Council filed yet another Community Impact Statement opposing Mitch O’Farrell’s Kerry-Morrison-behested anti-playground motion. And like the Eagle Rock NC and the Lincoln Heights NC and the Los Feliz NC before them, they’ve made a well-reasoned and articulate argument:

This measure would penalize lawful park users and would result in discriminatory enforcement. Such a ban improperly assumes that adult park users in a children’s playground area are there solely for nefarious purposes and seeks to ban lawful conduct. Simply being present in a park and enjoying the surroundings is not illegal. There are already criminal laws on the books to address any improper conduct in these areas.

Again, as with all of the others with the minor exception of Los Feliz,1 this statement was adopted unanimously, leaving Mitch continuing to flounder around in the pool of shit into which he impulsively flung himself just because Kerry Morrison said it would please her to watch him jump. And there is one thing about the Palms Neighborhood Council which makes tonight’s Community Impact Statement marginally more impactful than the others. You see, Mr. Nicholas Greif is not only the chair of the Palms NC Executive Board and therefore part of the unanimous majority that approved the CIS, but he is also David Ryu’s director of Policy and Legislation.
Continue reading Cracks Show In LA City Council Unanimity (At Least On Staff Level) As David Ryu’s Director Of Policy, Nicholas Greif, Comes Out Publicly Against Mitch O’Farrell’s Moronic Playground Motion

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Minutes and Agendas From Wilshire Center BID 2015-2016, In Which We Learn, e.g., That The LAPD Is Attempting To Mitigate Homelessness Amongst Mentally Ill Criminals By Being “Nurturing” and “Helping Out By Giving Socks”

A beautiful office building at 3701 Wilshire Boulevard which, I think, is in the Wilshire Center BID.
A super-short note to announce the availability of two years worth of minutes and agendas from the Wilshire Center BID Board of Directors. These are available both via Archive.Org and also in local static storage. These are interesting for the usual reasons, e.g. understanding connections between BIDs and City agencies, what BIDs are up to with respect to public policy, and so forth. And, as usual, there’s also some weirdness to mock, although, sadly, nothing even approaching the real-estate-agents-on-acid weirdness of the Pacific Palisades BID. For instance, in the October 2015 minutes we read:

The question of why homelessness is worsening was discussed. Early release of criminals, mental illness, and service resistant individuals are some of the major reasons. By using a nurturing approach, more of the homeless may be helped. Getting to know individuals, helping out by giving socks, asking if they would like help, are some of the ways the LAPD is breaking through.

The principle of charity leads me to assume that these are the kind of socks one wears on one’s feet rather than the kind one might expect the LAPD to be handing out to the homeless if one were to consider their long, long history of violence.

By July 2016 we have learned that the BID is working with its Council Offices, but they don’t know how to spell David Ryu’s name and they seem to think Herb Wesson’s name is Justin:1

The BID will continue to work closely with the LAPD and the Council Offices, CD4 (Councilman David Ru) and CD10 (Justin Wesson) to help mitigate problems in our area.

Finally, if you’re interested in extreme CPRA geekery, turn the page for a brief discussion of how the WCBID violated the law by exporting these minutes from Microsoft Word as PDFs, sending me only the PDFs, and then refusing2 to send me the Word documents.
Continue reading Minutes and Agendas From Wilshire Center BID 2015-2016, In Which We Learn, e.g., That The LAPD Is Attempting To Mitigate Homelessness Amongst Mentally Ill Criminals By Being “Nurturing” and “Helping Out By Giving Socks”

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What Does The City Of Los Angeles Consider “A Significant Number Of Protests” Against BID Formation Or Renewal? A Tragic Lesson From A Failed 2016 Attempt To Disestablish The Los Feliz Village BID

Looking south along Vermont Avenue from Russell Avenue in 1974 (with a good old triangular RTD sign in the foreground!). The trees are bigger now, but otherwise is Los Feliz Village really better off 43 years later?
Long-time readers of this blog will recall that the locus classicus of operational BID policies in the City of Los Angeles is to be found in Council File 96-1972, which is too old to have actual documents online, but I scanned and published a number of them last year.1 Therein may be found the City’s BID Policy and Implementation Guidelines, which are meant to provide an L.A.-specific implementation of the Property and Business Improvement Law of 1994.

Chapter 2 of that law describes the process for establishment and renewal of a BID,2 and it’s remarkable how tentative, how conditional the process is. It’s well-known by this point that in order for a BID to be formed it’s necessary that property owners representing more than 50% of the assessed value be in favor.3 It’s necessary, but it by no means sufficient. Section 36625(a) very clearly leaves the question of formation up to the Council:

If the city council, following the public hearing, decides to establish a proposed property and business improvement district, the city council shall adopt a resolution of formation…

The only mandatory requirement with respect to BID establishment in the whole Chapter is found in Section 36623(b), which says that if owners holding 50% or more of the assessed value are opposed to the BID, not only can it not be formed, but no further attempts can be made to form it for a year.

And the discretionary nature of the process is reflected in the City’s BID Policy and Implementation Guidelines as well. Therein it states:4

The City Council can proceed with the BID if the protest is less than 50%. However, BID proponents are cautioned that they should not expect a favorable vote from the City Council with a significant number of protests.

From the context it’s clear that the policy means that there is some threshold of protest less than 50% with respect to which the Council will not establish the proposed BID even though the Property and BID Act would allow them to do so.

Thus the question arises as to what this threshold is. Well, it turns out that an episode early last year involving the Los Feliz Village BID sheds some light on this question.5 The short answer is that business owners6 representing 16.95% of the assessed value protested, an unprecedented number,7 and yet City Council renewed the BID unanimously. Turn the page for a detailed recounting of the tragic details!
Continue reading What Does The City Of Los Angeles Consider “A Significant Number Of Protests” Against BID Formation Or Renewal? A Tragic Lesson From A Failed 2016 Attempt To Disestablish The Los Feliz Village BID

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New Documents: More Emails Between Tara Devine and the L.A. City Clerk’s Office, More Emails Between LAPD Captain Peter Zarcone and the HPOA, A Bunch of CPRA Requests to L.A. Sanitation

What’s so funny, Captain? Peter Zarcone smiling with his eyes at a HPOA Joint Security Committee meeting in April 2015.
I spent about three hours yesterday in City Hall and at the LAPD Discovery office scanning stuff. There are thousands of pages of stuff here, some of it quite important. It will take a long time to go through it and write about the highlights, so I thought I’d put it up on the Archive in (very, very) raw form immediately. Here’s what we have today:

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Marisa Tomei Implores City Council To Grant Historic-Cultural Status To Lytton Savings Building, 8150 Sunset Subject Of Not One, Not Two, But Three (So Far!) Lawsuits Against The City of Los Angeles (Plus A Special Bonus Lawsuit Against West Hollywood!)

Marisa Tomei: “Please honor this building and its architect, Kurt Meyer, with a Historic Cultural Monument designation.”
I reported briefly last week on the whole to-do about the City’s wanton approval of a Frank Gehry megaplex at 8150 Sunset and, more recently, on the extremely weird fact that the Council’s PLUM1 Committee forwarded proposed historic-cultural designation of the Lytton Savings building on to the full Council without a recommendation, even though CD4 Councilmember David Ryu explicitly favors the designation. This is just a brief update with links to more documents.

First, Marisa Tomei2 wrote a stirring letter to the City Council urging them to preserve the building. Don’t forget, the hearing is tomorrow! There’s an excerpt after the break, as always, if you’re PDF-averse. Also, the Coalition to Preserve LA recently reported that Fix the City had sued LA over 8150 Sunset. It turns out that there were two other suits filed at about the same time, making a total of three suits so far over this one project. The City Council is going into closed session tomorrow to discuss all three of them. Turn the page for links to the petitions (and Tomei’s letter).
Continue reading Marisa Tomei Implores City Council To Grant Historic-Cultural Status To Lytton Savings Building, 8150 Sunset Subject Of Not One, Not Two, But Three (So Far!) Lawsuits Against The City of Los Angeles (Plus A Special Bonus Lawsuit Against West Hollywood!)

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