Tag Archives: Debbie Dyner Harris

Pacific Palisades BID Poised To Spend Almost 3% Of 2017 Assessments Fighting My CPRA Requests. Is This Really The Best Use Of Property Owner’s Money?? Also, Rick Lemmo’s Vow To Thwart Me By Proceeding “According To The Strictest Rules Of Law” May Reveal Hitherto Unsuspected Paradox In CPRA!!

Another Rick in the wall, part 97: Rick Lemmo, who is Rick Caruso’s senior VP for some kind of nonsensical crap, explains the zillionaire’s view of law-abiding high finance.
For a brief moment this morning, I was worried that it’s a bad thing that my coverage of the Pacific Palisades BID, initiated mainly because of a confluence of my interest in CD11 and the fact that the criminal intransigence of Mike Bonin’s staff has made it essentially impossible for me to get records directly from them, is tending fairly unexpectedly towards the navel-gaze, self-reference, point-is-to-understand-the-world, nerdview rather than towards the outward-looking, the-point-is-to-change-it focus which is somewhat of an ideal around here. That anxiety took me about 35 seconds to get over, so we’re going meta again this morning sans apologia.1

In any case, whatever her manifold faults as a CPRA client may be, Laurie Sale, executive directrix of the Palisades BID, is at least a reliable source of minutes and agendas. You may recall that she was previously kind enough to send me the PPBID’s 2016 minutes and agendas, and this weekend she sent me the 2017 minutes and agendas through February. There’s some interesting stuff in there, primarily about street vending, which I will write on quite soon. The minutes also suggest that CD11 field deputy Sharon Shapiro2 is an actual member of the PPBID’s Board of Directors. I’ll be looking into this, not least because it’s reminiscent of Debbie Dyner Harris’s ill-fated attempt to nab a voting seat for CD11 on the Board of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association, which was slapped down ignominiously by City Attorney Mike Feuer as a conflict of interest.

But never mind that for now. The text for today’s sermon is this little slab of nonsense, found in the BID’s minutes for February 1, 2017:

BID received requests for public records – copies of meeting minutes, agenda, emails back and forth within the City, etc. from a gentleman who is requesting this from many BIDs. Elliot made a motion to retain attorney not to exceed $4,000. Rick seconded, all approved, motion carried. In the event that this person wants copies made, then we need to request payment. Rick motioned: “we don’t want to make it difficult for him, but to rather provide him every access to public records according to the strictest rules of law so that it doesn’t provide any financial detriment to the property owners of our business improvement district.” Susan seconded. Unanimously approved, motion carries.

Continue reading Pacific Palisades BID Poised To Spend Almost 3% Of 2017 Assessments Fighting My CPRA Requests. Is This Really The Best Use Of Property Owner’s Money?? Also, Rick Lemmo’s Vow To Thwart Me By Proceeding “According To The Strictest Rules Of Law” May Reveal Hitherto Unsuspected Paradox In CPRA!!

So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!

Deputy Dan Halden thinking about breakfast with Kerry and the boys at the Brite Spot. If you don’t want to be depicted as a cartoon, stop acting like a cartoon. It’s that simple.
Good Lord, there’s too much to describe, but this is a rich, rich set of documents. I spent more than two hours at City Hall this morning scanning this nonsense, and here it is, in the rawest possible form. There are gems in that mine, friends, but until I have time, you’ll have to scratch them out your own self. For now they’re all up on our Archive.Org account. There’s stuff about the Venice Beach BID, and Carol Schatz‘s lil baby, the Downtown Center BID got audited in 2013, Daniel Halden and Kerry H. Morrison are up to their usual dimwitted antics, Miranda Paster collaborated on a grant with a bunch of longhair sociologists at TAMU, and the freaking Arts District freaking redux!! Here’s a list with links and brief descriptions:
Continue reading So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!

Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Seems To Get Paid About $80,000 For Establishing A BID, Which I Managed To Discover Despite The Fact That She’s So Darned Secretive

Shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine looks fate’s oncoming train straight in the eye.
There’s an unresolved problem in the application of the California Public Records Act to business improvement districts. The thing is that the Property Owners’ Associations which administer the BIDs are, in part, subject to CPRA because §36612 of the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 makes them so, stating that:

“Owners’ association” means a private nonprofit entity that is under contract with a city to administer or implement improvements, maintenance, and activities specified in the management district plan. … an owners’ association shall comply with the California Public Records Act … for all records relating to activities of the district.

The problem is that the Owners’ Association doesn’t seem to be required to comply with CPRA until it actually is under contract with the City. This, if accurate, means that the activities of the POA before the BID is approved are largely opaque to scrutiny. And this has been a severe problem in the case of the Venice Beach BID, where a number of people, not just me, have had the experience of CD11 staff,1 City Clerk staff, and even freaking Holly Wolcott herself, falsely denying that the City is involved in the BID formation process at all and telling members of the public that they should therefore seek information from shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine. Tara Devine, of course, ignores all requests for information from anyone who seems to be even a little skeptical about the benefits of BIDs.

None of this is the final word on the matter. The only reason that the legislature even made BIDs subject to CPRA is that Aaron Epstein, a brave and determined property owner, sued the living shit out of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance2 in the 1990s and the Courts determined, in a stunningly righteous decision, that BIDs were subject to both CPRA and the Brown Act. It’s quite possible, perhaps even probable, that if the courts were asked whether or not POAs were subject to CPRA before the contract was signed, they would find that they were. However, that’s not a struggle in which I presently have the resources to engage, so alternative methods of information collection are required.

Fortunately,3 Tara Devine is not a one-BID woman. See, in 2015 the South Park BID was up for renewal.4 The process of BID renewal is essentially the same as the process for BID establishment, with the huge difference that it’s carried out by a POA that’s already under contract with the City, and is thus subject to CPRA. And thus was it possible to gather surprisingly much information about how Tara Devine conducts her dangerous business!5
Continue reading Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Seems To Get Paid About $80,000 For Establishing A BID, Which I Managed To Discover Despite The Fact That She’s So Darned Secretive

Now Mike Bonin Is Tara Devine’s Ventriloquist’s Dummy: How The Shadowy BID Consultant Herself Answered A Bunch Of Questions That Yo! Venice Reporter Melanie Camp Sent To Mike Bonin And How Melanie Camp Subsequently Attributed The Answers To Mike Bonin

Tara Devine in City Council Chambers at the Venice Beach BID Hearing Take 2 on November 8, 2016.
Check out this interesting series of emails from August 2016. It begins when Yo! Venice reporter Melanie Camp writes to Mike Bonin’s communications director David Graham-Caso, stating:

Hi David,

I have several questions regarding the BID. The information you provided, coupled with the information/misinformation flying around raises a couple of issues that need clearing up.

I’m interested in Mike’s opinion, as well as your own, on any or all of these.

Less than 40 minutes later, David Graham-Caso forwarded the email1 to Debbie Dyner Harris along with a terse note that said:

Can you please send this to the BID consultant to get her help with the answers?

And a mere 13 minutes after that, Debbie Dyner Harris forwarded the email2 to Tara Devine, stating:

Hi Tara. Can you please respond to her? Thanks

David Graham-Caso, CD11 Director of Communications, is a really cute guy, but also a conduit for misattributed propaganda!

Further conversation ensued, but the upshot is that, the very next day, Tara Devine sent over a page of answers, not to Melanie Camp, but to David Graham-Caso and Debbie Dyner Harris to do with as they would do. And evidently what they did do was send the answers to Melanie Camp. And evidently what Melanie Camp did was attribute the answers to Mike Bonin in the article she published a few days later, entitled Venice BID Approved.3 She not only attributed them to Mike Bonin when they were written by Tara Devine,4 but she essentially copy/pasted them into her article. You can see some specifics after the break!
Continue reading Now Mike Bonin Is Tara Devine’s Ventriloquist’s Dummy: How The Shadowy BID Consultant Herself Answered A Bunch Of Questions That Yo! Venice Reporter Melanie Camp Sent To Mike Bonin And How Melanie Camp Subsequently Attributed The Answers To Mike Bonin

In 2015 Bonin Aide Debbie Dyner Harris Sought To Leverage “Extremely Unusual” Outsized City Assessment For Venice Beach BID Into Voting Seat On Board Of Directors But City Attorney Said No! Freaking! Way! Conflict! Of! Freaking! Interest!

Debbie Dyner Harris, uncaptioned.
I’ve written before on how the City of Los Angeles arranges for itself to be lobbied by BIDs for various reasons. Now it appears that even this usual arrangement wasn’t enough for Mike Bonin and Debbie Dyner Harris at CD11 with respect to the Venice Beach BID. In particular, during the formation process, in December 2015, Dyner Harris emailed Miranda Paster asking if she could have a voting seat on the BID Board of Directors:

Hi Miranda, how are you? I hope all is well. I am checking on something we had discussed a while ago, but I can’t find in my notes. I wanted to confirm whether or not the City, as 1/3 paying member of the BID,1 is allowed to be a voting member on the BID board.

Miranda Paster replied a few days later, stating:

We opt out of sitting on the Board because it may appear to be a conflict of interest. We can sign the petition for a BID and we cast a ballot for the Prop 218 balloting. However, we do not sit on the boards and vote.

Debbie Dyner Harris doesn’t like this at all. She evidently really wants to be on this board!2
Continue reading In 2015 Bonin Aide Debbie Dyner Harris Sought To Leverage “Extremely Unusual” Outsized City Assessment For Venice Beach BID Into Voting Seat On Board Of Directors But City Attorney Said No! Freaking! Way! Conflict! Of! Freaking! Interest!

Many New Documents: CCEA Emails, Venice Beach BID Emails, Carol Schatz Freakout, Chua v. City of LA

A rare photograph of MK.org secret headquarters and Fortress of Solitude, located in an undisclosed location in the heart of North Central Hollywood.
A rare photograph of MK.org secret headquarters and Fortress of Solitude, located in an undisclosed location in the heart of North Central Hollywood.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Today I have an unanalyzed document dump for you. There’s a lot of fabulous material here, and I’ll be writing about much of it over1 the next few days. For now, though, there’s just a bare inventory, which you can find directly after the break.
Continue reading Many New Documents: CCEA Emails, Venice Beach BID Emails, Carol Schatz Freakout, Chua v. City of LA

Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
After a chaotic hearing on the Venice Beach BID in August,1 after Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles powerhouse attorney Shayla Myers pointed out that the process was legally flawed, and after City Attorney Mike Feuer accepted her argument and told the City Council that they’d better have a do-over, after all that, the rehearing on the abhorrent BID was scheduled to be approved considered in Council on November 8, 2016. This, of course, is also the day that Americans will be deciding the future of the world, which takes up a lot of time. Venice being Venice, there has been a lot of speculation about whether Bonin did this on purpose to make it difficult for detractors to testify. Venice also being Venice, there has been an organized effort to get Bonin to postpone the hearing.

Such protests usually fall on what seem like deaf ears, but in this case, an email that I obtained last night from the City Clerk’s office proves that, in September 2016, Mike Bonin was considering moving the hearing from the disputed date of November 8 to the presumably more acceptable dates of November 29 and 30. Read on for details.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

2014 VBBID Emails Reveal, Among Other Things, That Bonin Staffer Debbie Dyner Harris Was On Venice Beach BID Steering Committee Since 2014 Despite Consistent Denials of City Involvement In Formation Process

Mike Bonin aide and Fairy godmother Debbie Dyner Harris posing with what will be left of her darling Venice Beach BID after the clock strikes the appointed hour.
Mike Bonin aide and Fairy godmother Debbie Dyner Harris posing with what will be left of her darling Venice Beach BID after the clock strikes the appointed hour.
Here are eleven pages of emails from 2014 released to me yesterday by Miranda Paster of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office.1 These provide a unique2 window into the process by which BIDs are created in the City of Los Angeles. It’s clear from these emails that, despite the fact that everyone in the City government denies it, the BID formation process is encouraged, facilitated, and inextricably interwoven with City action at every stage. Of course, this confirms precisely what the California Court of Appeal found in its landmark decision in Epstein v. HPOA: that “by giving the BID the legal breath of life, the City breathe[s] life into the POA as well.”3

In any case, here are many, many interesting facts newly revealed by these emails:
Continue reading 2014 VBBID Emails Reveal, Among Other Things, That Bonin Staffer Debbie Dyner Harris Was On Venice Beach BID Steering Committee Since 2014 Despite Consistent Denials of City Involvement In Formation Process

Steve Heumann, Carl Lambert, and Mark Sokol Finally Revealed By Debbie Dyner Harris to Constitute Venice Beach Property Owners Association Board Of Directors; Sokol’s Five Figure Campaign Contributions To Nine Of Fourteen Sitting Council Members Raise Ethical, Criminal Issues

Mike Bonin 2013 Campaign ad showing candidate with high-roller campaign contributors Mark Sokol and Carl Lambert.
Mike Bonin 2013 Campaign ad showing candidate with high-roller campaign contributors Mark Sokol and Carl Lambert.
I reported a couple of weeks ago that as late as two months ago, Mike Bonin aide Debbie Dyner Harris had refused to tell Becky Dennison of Venice Community Housing the names of the three members of the Board of Directors of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association. Dyner Harris even sent an email to shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine asking for permission to share the names, which Devine evidently didn’t give, because Dyner Harris didn’t give up the names. Well, I’ve been asking CD11 for the names as well, and after a long three weeks, for whatever reason, Debbie Dyner Harris emailed me this morning and told me that the Board of Directors presently consists of Steve Heumann, Carl Lambert, and Mark Sokol.

Steve Heumann was not a surprise, as his name appears as agent for service of process on the POA’s registration with the State.1 But the other two are of great interest indeed. I recently wrote about how Carl Lambert’s campaign contributions to Mike Bonin and Eric Garcetti probably violated City campaign finance laws, but that argument wouldn’t fly if he weren’t on the Board. Since he is, I’ll be reporting him to the City Ethics Commission in the next few days.

But Mark Sokol’s case is even more fascinating. Recall that the POA has been meeting with the City about the BID at least since September 2014. Well, take a look at all of Sokol’s contributions since then. They add up to $10,750. The output of the City’s database lists each contribution separately, but here are the totals:
Continue reading Steve Heumann, Carl Lambert, and Mark Sokol Finally Revealed By Debbie Dyner Harris to Constitute Venice Beach Property Owners Association Board Of Directors; Sokol’s Five Figure Campaign Contributions To Nine Of Fourteen Sitting Council Members Raise Ethical, Criminal Issues

Why Carl Lambert’s Contributions To The Re-Election Campaigns Of Mike Bonin And Eric Garcetti Were Probably Illegal and Should Be Refunded Immediately

Mike Bonin on August 23, 2016, earning his salary, which should be sufficient.
Mike Bonin on August 23, 2016, earning his salary, which should be sufficient.
As I reported the other day, Venice Beach BID proponent and shady illegal hotelier Carl Lambert donated $1400 to Eric Garcetti and $700 to Mike Bonin in 2015. Here is an argument that they ought to give that money back to Lambert immediately.

Not just because it’s the right thing to do. We’re all grownups here, and that’s not so much why things get done. But because it’s probably illegal for them to have accepted the money, or at least for Lambert to have contributed it. To explain why this is the case I have to talk about the campaign finance laws of the City of Los Angeles, which can make anybody’s poor head spin. So forgive me, but perhaps you’ll find it worth the trouble. The whole law is at LAMC Article 9.7, but it’s not necessary to read the whole thing.1 The section we are interested in today is LAMC 49.7.35, which covers Bidder Contribution and Fundraising Restrictions. This muni code section2 implements Section 470 of the City Charter, which covers Limitations on Campaign Contributions in City Elections.3 At Charter Section 470(a) we find this noble statement of the purpose of the whole thing:

The purpose of this section is to encourage a broader participation in the political process and to avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption in city decision making, and protect the integrity of the City’s procurement and contract processes by placing limits on the amount any person may contribute or otherwise cause to be available to candidates for election to the offices of Mayor, City Attorney, Controller and City Council and promote accountability to the public by requiring disclosure of campaign activities and imposing other campaign restrictions.

Now, it is a fundamental principle in the American legal system that actions can only be illegal if there is an explicit statutory statement that they are illegal. Otherwise they’re legal. So while this statement of purpose has some force, mostly as a guide to interpreting the salient laws, it doesn’t in itself make anything illegal. Obviously Carl Lambert’s contributions to Garcetti and Bonin create the appearance of corruption in city decision making, but if that were sufficient to trigger a criminal prosecution then pretty much every donor to every incumbent candidate would have to be locked up.4 Thus we have to look to the parts of the law that implement this statement of purpose.

The Charter Section that we are interested in here is 470(c)(12)(B), which states in pertinent part5 that:

The following persons shall not make a campaign contribution to the Mayor, the City Attorney, the Controller, a City Council member, a candidate for any of those elected City offices, or a City committee controlled by a person who holds or seeks any of those elected City offices … A person who bids on or submits a proposal or other response to a contract solicitation that has an anticipated value of at least $100,000 and requires approval by the elected City office that is held or sought by the person to whom the contribution would be given…

Let’s run through the elements of the law here to see why it’s highly plausible that it forbids Carl Lambert from making contributions to either Eric Garcetti or Mike Bonin:
Continue reading Why Carl Lambert’s Contributions To The Re-Election Campaigns Of Mike Bonin And Eric Garcetti Were Probably Illegal and Should Be Refunded Immediately