And now, in a move that adds further layers of weirdo insanity to the whole situation, the motion has been scheduled for consideration this very Monday, August 13, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. at the meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee in City Hall Room 1010. Here’s the agenda. This kind of fast-tracking is virtually unheard of with the City Council. On this schedule it’s extremely unlikely that neighborhood councils, who are of course the most concerned with and knowledgeable about the issue, will have time to meet and file community impact statements. What are Huizar and his creepy co-conspirators trying to hide?
Finally, though, they didn’t manage to sneak it past everyone. Stalwart Los Angeles activist and heroine Laura Velkei, neighborhood councilor and guiding genius behind the essential Department of Neighborhood Empowerment watchdog group DONEwatch, wrote the Council a blistering letter opposing this abortion of a motion.
The Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance, which runs the major Hollywood BID, has a long and troubled relationship with the City of Los Angeles and tree regulations. For instance, remember when that billboard company illegally cut down all those trees in Silver Lake in 2016 and the whole City flipped out even to the extent of revenge vandalism? This crisis somehow catapulted Mitch O’Farrell and David Ryu into a rare moment of sanity and they initiated CF 15-0467-S4, in which they asked for report-backs from the City Attorney and the Bureau of Street Services on how to prevent future rogue tree removals.
And of course, the City’s favorite way to sneak around and do anything covertly is to palm it off onto the damn BIDs.2 Thus it was no surprise to discover a newly released email conversation between Marisol Rodriguez and Dan Halden of Mitch O’Farrell’s staff and Kerry Morrison and Rich Sarian of the HPOA which shows that the BID is in fact involved in secret tree destruction in Hollywood with the advice and consent of CD13.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.