Tag Archives: Ellen Salome Riotto

The South Park BID Solicited — Or Extorted — Donations Totalling $80,000 From Developers To Pay For Some Studies They Wanted Done — In Return The BID Sent Staffers To City Council Committee Meetings To Give Public Comment In Favor Of The Developers’ Projects — Using Talking Points Supplied By The Developers — Money Well Spent For The Developers I’m Guessing Since Councilmembers Probably Won’t Approve Projects BIDs Oppose — This Is One Way In Which The Illusion Of Community Buy-In Is Created And Maintained In Los Angeles — One Of The Developers Involved Was Lightstone Group — Whose Lobbyists Are Also Being Investigated In Relation To José Huizar — Because Of Course They Are

Here’s the short version. In 2017 the South Park BID wanted to lobby Metro concerning some transportation issues. To do this they needed some reports prepared by professionals who were going to charge them around $80,000. For whatever reason they didn’t want to pay out of the BID budget, so they hit up local developers for $5,000 contributions. In exchange the BID supported the developers’ various projects before City Council committees and commissions using talking points prepped by the developers to inform their public comments.

First, let’s talk about the two issues the BID was, and is, lobbying for. One is to establish an enhanced infrastructure financing district (EIFD)1 to fund transit improvements in the BID, in particular moving Pico Station underground.2 The BID’s “one pager”3 on the benefits to be gained from the EIFD can be read by clicking here and their presentation on “undergrounding” Pico Station is available here. The other issue has to do with improving connections between various presently disconnected-by-public-transit points Downtown. The BID’s presentation on that can be read here.

And of course before one goes a-lobbying one needs reports! Written by experts! And experts don’t come cheap, but they will provide proposals with estimates of the costs, and here are the two the BID obtained:

And based on these estimates, the South Park BID determined that it needed $80,000 to begin the report-making process. And for whatever reason, they also determined that they were only going to pay $5,000 themselves. The rest, saith the BID, they were going to raise from developers and maybe some other BIDs Downtown. And the story of this whole mess, told, as usual, in excruciating detail via transcriptions of emails, can be found after the break!
Continue reading The South Park BID Solicited — Or Extorted — Donations Totalling $80,000 From Developers To Pay For Some Studies They Wanted Done — In Return The BID Sent Staffers To City Council Committee Meetings To Give Public Comment In Favor Of The Developers’ Projects — Using Talking Points Supplied By The Developers — Money Well Spent For The Developers I’m Guessing Since Councilmembers Probably Won’t Approve Projects BIDs Oppose — This Is One Way In Which The Illusion Of Community Buy-In Is Created And Maintained In Los Angeles — One Of The Developers Involved Was Lightstone Group — Whose Lobbyists Are Also Being Investigated In Relation To José Huizar — Because Of Course They Are

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Remember Those Underpass Homeless Encampments Outside The South Park BID Boundaries? — The BID Is Not Only Paying Staff To Photograph Them — Also They Are Paying Staff To Lobby Miguel Santiago’s Office To Get CalTrans And CHP To Clear Them Out — Why Is A Member Of The California State Assembly Ignoring The BID’s Lawless Behavior? — Probably For Money, Doncha Think? — Or Because — With The Recent Fall Of The House Of Huizar — Santiago Feels His Path To CD14 Is Wide Freaking Open

OK, remember how there are these underpasses with a bunch of homeless encampments in them that are not in the South Park BID but the BIDdies wanted to clean them up anyway except Ellen Riotto said they couldn’t cause it was against the law but then she sent her staffies out to gather photographic evidence of the encampments which is clearly also against the law? OK, this is another episode in that story!

And it’s worth taking a moment to review just why the BID can’t spend money on stuff going on outside its boundaries, never forgetting for a moment that dedicating staff time to a matter is spending money on it, which is to say the money paid the staff member. It’s all due to the Property and Business Improvement District Act at §36625(a)(6), which states unequivocally that:

The revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district or for any purpose other than the purposes specified in the resolution of intention

Oh, also, keep in mind that the problem, from the BID’s point of view, with these underpasses is that the City of LA seems not to be allowed to evict homeless people from under them, evidently because it’s state property under there. Thus Caltrans and the Highway Patrol somehow have to do it, and the BID just doesn’t have the influence with them that they do with the City, I guess, which apparently makes it a separate and ongoing problem for the BID.

So the other day I received a big pile of emails from the Parkies comprising correspondence between them and any email address at ca.gov or its subdomains. You can gaze lovingly upon the whole steaming heap of them here on Archive.Org. And amongst these are email after email after email between South Park BID staff and staffers in the office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, in whose district the BID situates, having to do with those damn underpasses.

That is to say there is plenty of evidence in there of repeated violations of §36625(a)(6). But who does one complain to about it? We’ve already seen that the Los Angeles City Clerk, which putatively oversees our BIDs, will take complaints about insufficient brutality towards the homeless, but not, it seems, about violations of the law by the BIDs themselves. And it’s disconcerting to say the least to see an actual Assemblymember conspiring to violate the laws which he and his colleagues have sworn to defend.1

Although I suppose it’s not surprising that Miguel Santiago would be involved in such a scheme, given his demonstrated proclivity for selling the best interests of the people of California down the river just cause some BIDs asked him to. As I’ve said many times, I wasn’t cynical at all before I started learning about BIDs, but the BIDdies have made me so. Turn the page, if you will, for as much of the chronology as I have, links to the emails, and a few select transcriptions.
Continue reading Remember Those Underpass Homeless Encampments Outside The South Park BID Boundaries? — The BID Is Not Only Paying Staff To Photograph Them — Also They Are Paying Staff To Lobby Miguel Santiago’s Office To Get CalTrans And CHP To Clear Them Out — Why Is A Member Of The California State Assembly Ignoring The BID’s Lawless Behavior? — Probably For Money, Doncha Think? — Or Because — With The Recent Fall Of The House Of Huizar — Santiago Feels His Path To CD14 Is Wide Freaking Open

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Latest And Most Ambitious Episode In Our Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets South Park BID For Three Violations — Requiring Sign-In To Attend Meeting — Voting By Email — And Most Egregious Of All — Maintaining A Standing Committee Which Meets Only In Secret — Never Posts Agendas — Never Announces Meetings To Public — Votes By Email Regularly — This Is About The Worst Ongoing Brown Act Violation I Have Ever Seen Among BIDs!

For a few months now I’ve been running a project aimed at getting the BIDs of Los Angeles to comply with the Brown Act. This certainly ought to be the job of the City of Los Angeles, but they have completely abdicated all responsibility, so it seems to be more or less just up to me. The system relies on §54960.2 of the Brown Act, which allows any interested party, such as me, to allege that a BID1 violated the Brown Act and demand that they cease and desist from violating it in the future.

The BID then has the choice of issuing an unconditional commitment not to repeat the alleged violations2 within 30 days of the letter or else face a lawsuit. I’ve done four of these since August, the first three resulting in complete and utter capitulation by the BIDs involved, and the fourth I just sent out yesterday morning to the South Park BID. Here’s a list of the old ones:

Now, the South Park BID has had its problems in the past complying with the Brown Act, but on the other hand, Ellen Salome Riotto has been relatively willing to learn from her mistakes. Usually I just drop her a line and she fixes the problem.3 However, I recently learned of two new violations which are far, far too serious to be left to the kind of informal mole whackery in which I’ve so far been willing to engage. These are the subject of this demand letter which I sent yesterday morning to the BID.

The letter alleges violations of three sections of the Brown Act. The first is that they required me to sign in to a meeting in April. I’ve written about this incident before and they seem to have stopped doing it, but it’s worth including here to get them to formally commit not to doing it any more. The second violation is that in November the BID Board actually voted on an item via email at the instigation of Ellen Salome Riotto. This is so freaking illegal, so freaking contrary to the very essence of the Brown Act, that I’m utterly astonished that it happened. And yet it does seem to be a genuine error rather than malfeasance.

The sad irony is that Ellen Salome Riotto explicitly arranged this illegal vote in order to avoid violating the Brown Act’s mandates about teleconferencing. And that she seemed to think that it would be OK because it was justified by the BID’s bylaws, as if state law could be nullified by some two-bit corporation unilaterally announcing that they weren’t subject to it. The whole situation would be tragic if these careless, ignorant people weren’t granted so much public trust.

And the final violation is just stunning in its scope and its audacity. The Brown Act clearly states that committees must also follow open meeting requirements.4 The South Park BID, however, has an executive committee which doesn’t post agendas, meets in secret, and discusses, deliberates, and takes action via email, by phone, and at their secret meetings. It’d be easier to list the parts of the Brown Act that this doesn’t violate!

Secret actions by a public agency like the BID are untenable. This is how democracy dies, so I can’t allow it to continue. And in this case Ellen Salome Riotto has ignored my questions about the violations. Hence the necessity of the demand letter. Turn the page for transcriptions, links to the evidence and code sections, and maybe even some more of my moralistic ranting!
Continue reading Latest And Most Ambitious Episode In Our Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets South Park BID For Three Violations — Requiring Sign-In To Attend Meeting — Voting By Email — And Most Egregious Of All — Maintaining A Standing Committee Which Meets Only In Secret — Never Posts Agendas — Never Announces Meetings To Public — Votes By Email Regularly — This Is About The Worst Ongoing Brown Act Violation I Have Ever Seen Among BIDs!

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South Park BID Zeck Dreck Warns Her BIDdie Board Members That All Their Emails Are Gonna End Up On This Blog — Nothing To Be Alarmed About Says Ellen Salome Riotto — Just Be Thoughtful About What You Put In Writing — Wait. What? — Why Should They Be Thoughtful If They’re Not A Buncha Damn Criminals? — Oh Yeah — They Are A Buncha Damn Criminals

As you know, I’ve been getting massive luscious piles of emails from the South Park BID lately because Zeck Dreck Ellen Salome Riotto, unlike her bloodstained cynical antisocial prostrating-herself-before-the-stinking-hooves-of-satan predecessor, places some importance on actually following the law.1 And a lot of the stuff I’m getting is really serious. Implicates matters of the deepest public interest and so on.2

But it’s not all serious, friends. You know what all work and no play does to Jack, right? Just think what it’s gonna do to us. A fate worse than a fate worse than death! And so follow me as we indulge ourselves in a little pure entertainment!3 Tonight’s post is the merest of mere trifles, a bagatelle, a cipher, a nothing, a frothy confection of emptiness, and so on. But it’s funny, so here we are. And it’s one of those funny things that really doesn’t need any explanation. Explanation would just kill the delicate flavor. It’d be gilding the lily, throwing perfume on the violet, adding another hue unto the rainbow, and so freaking on.

Thus, friends, just read this email, wherein Ellen Salome Riotto tells her board that all their emails are going to end up on the open internet courtesy of yours truly but that there’s nothing to worry about as long as they are thoughtful about what they write. Or, she failed to say, as long as they just stop engaging in activities that force them to be thoughtful about what they write for fear of it ending up on this blog. And there’s a transcription of the whole damn thing right after the break!
Continue reading South Park BID Zeck Dreck Warns Her BIDdie Board Members That All Their Emails Are Gonna End Up On This Blog — Nothing To Be Alarmed About Says Ellen Salome Riotto — Just Be Thoughtful About What You Put In Writing — Wait. What? — Why Should They Be Thoughtful If They’re Not A Buncha Damn Criminals? — Oh Yeah — They Are A Buncha Damn Criminals

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This Is To Confirm That The Studio City BID Did In Fact Hire Vicki Nussbaum As New Zeck Dreck — And She’s Leaving Her Job At The Sherman Oaks BID — And Refusing To Complete Tasks Assigned To Her By Board President Leslie Elkans — Cause Why Not She’s Already Gone — Her Excuse Is That She’s Too Busy Reading About The Brown Act — Ironically The Studio City BID Violated The Brown Act When Hiring Her — Wonder If She Got That From Her Reading?

You remember last month we were still trying to figure out if the damn Studio City BID had hired erstwhile Sherman Oaks BIDdie-boss Vicki Freaking Nussbaum to replace outgoing zeck dreck Dr. John Walker Ph.D. and it pretty much looked like they had cause of some cryptic-ish emails between Vicki Nussbaum and SCBID Board dominus Tony Freaking Richman but at the same time it was kinda hard to be sure?

Well, last week, on Monday, November 5,1 the good old Studio City BID held a damn board meeting,2 and right there on the agenda, right there under item 3 was this little gem right here: “President’s Comments and introduction of new Executive Director: Vicki Nussbaum.” So out we rode,3 northwest bound on a dizzying sequence of buses and trains, to watch the meeting. And of course we filmed it for you. And of course you can watch it here on YouTube or else here on Archive.Org.4

And here you can watch Tony Richman introducing her, and here you can watch her own introductory remarks. And it’s all pretty tedious, and certainly not worth transcribing. But there’s a context, and the context makes it interesting. You see, first of all, Vicki Nussbaum is not just joining the Studio City BID, she is also leaving the Village at Sherman Oaks BID.

And you know how it is when you’re leaving a job. Your boss can email you and be all hey friend do this little task that you’re being paid to do and you can email back and be all like sorry friend I have my feet up on the desk and I’m on the clock drinking horchata and reading random websites about lemurs and what are you going to do about it, fire me? And it seems that that’s just what’s going on in this case with Vicki Nussbaum and the VSOBID President Leslie Elkans!

You see, on September 21, 2018, Vicki Nussbaum emailed SCBID President Tony Richman to ask did she get the new job and Tony Richman told her yep friend you did get it. Read that exchange here. And by October 3, 2018 she and Tony Richman were negotiating her start date. Read that email here. So by October 14, 2018, when Leslie Elkans sent this little email to Vicki Nussbaum, making a simple request, it really seems that Vicki Nussbaum was not having any of it, in her response being all like no I will not do it, I’m at home reading up on the damn Brown Act thx bye.

And turn the page for, as always, transcriptions of the emails, analysis, and some really melodramatic irony!
Continue reading This Is To Confirm That The Studio City BID Did In Fact Hire Vicki Nussbaum As New Zeck Dreck — And She’s Leaving Her Job At The Sherman Oaks BID — And Refusing To Complete Tasks Assigned To Her By Board President Leslie Elkans — Cause Why Not She’s Already Gone — Her Excuse Is That She’s Too Busy Reading About The Brown Act — Ironically The Studio City BID Violated The Brown Act When Hiring Her — Wonder If She Got That From Her Reading?

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South Park BID Employment Policy Forbids Its Staff From Revealing Their Salaries — These People Are Being Paid With Public Funds — So It’s Not Only Not Desirable To Keep Their Salaries Secret — It’s Actually Not Possible — Therefore We Are Going To Reveal Them All To You In This Post! — Every Last Freaking South Parkie Salary! — With Bonuses! — The Teaser Is That Josh Kreger — Who Is Director Of Quasi-Legal Real Estate Crapola Or Some Such Nonsense — Gets More Than $100,000 Per Year — You’d Think With That Kinda Money He Could Afford A Damn Razor!

Tonight I am presenting a new BIDdological source document for your analytical pleasure. It is the 2018 Employee Manual of the South Park Stakeholders Group which, as you may well know, is the designated property owners’ association for the South Park BID. Anyway, take a look. It’s full of the usual inconsequential nonsense for the most part, but still, this little bit caught my eye:

SALARY CONFIDENTIALITY

It is customary to maintain confidentiality regarding salary and compensation. Because so many different factors have been taken into consideration in determining your salary, it would be difficult to accurately compare your salary with those of fellow employees. Salary discussions and salary review questions should be limited to your supervisor, the Executive Director or President.

But this kind of thing is just silly when it comes to agencies, like the BID, that are subject to the Public Records Act. Obviously paying people creates records and obviously those records are public so obviously the salaries of people employed by agencies subject to the CPRA cannot be kept secret. This is why a website like Transparent California can exist.

Of course, Transparent California sets out to learn the salaries of public employees in California. On the other hand, our goal is to learn everything possible about the City’s BIDs. Sometimes we ask for salary information specifically, but other times it just turns up. You will, of course, remember the monumental release of SPBID Board member Bob Buente’s emails. Well right in there, unasked-for and just waiting to be discovered, was this little gem of an email conversation between Ellen Salome Riotto and the various members of the BID’s executive committee.1

The subject is Staff bonuses and the purpose is for the executive committee to approve them for December 2017. The BID seems to give each staffie 5% of their annual salary as a bonus and so, in order to have an informed discussion of the bonuses it’s necessary for the committee and Ellen Salome Riotto to discuss their salaries. And that’s how we know what they are, regardless of the SALARY CONFIDENTIALITY clause in the Employee Handbook. You know you wanna know what they are! Just turn the page and all will be revealed!
Continue reading South Park BID Employment Policy Forbids Its Staff From Revealing Their Salaries — These People Are Being Paid With Public Funds — So It’s Not Only Not Desirable To Keep Their Salaries Secret — It’s Actually Not Possible — Therefore We Are Going To Reveal Them All To You In This Post! — Every Last Freaking South Parkie Salary! — With Bonuses! — The Teaser Is That Josh Kreger — Who Is Director Of Quasi-Legal Real Estate Crapola Or Some Such Nonsense — Gets More Than $100,000 Per Year — You’d Think With That Kinda Money He Could Afford A Damn Razor!

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What Passes For Wit Among Zillionaires — South Park BID Board Members Paul Keller And Bob Buente Mockingly Refer To Downtown Homeless Encampments As “Bombay” And “Calcutta” — Super-Genius Paul Keller Proposes Illegally Using BID Staff Outside BID Borders To Clean Encampments — Has To Be Talked Down Off That Particular Ledge By BID Zeck Dreck Ellen Salome Riotto Who — Despite Her Devotion To Her Satanic DTLA Masters — At Least Has Some Goddamn Sense — Also Riotto Reveals Hitherto Unknown Illegal Downtown BID Anti-Homeless Intelligence Gathering Conspiracy

Last Thursday morning off I went to the concrete canyons of Downtown Los Angeles to sit through yet another interminable gathering of the Board of Directors of the South Park BID and, just for you, dear reader, I have posted video of the whole damn thing both here on YouTube and here on Archive.org. And it was mostly more of the same old bad BIDness, but without a quorum, so no action was taken.

There were a few interesting episodes though, and I’ll be writing about one or more of them soon enough, but the text for today’s sermon is this little hissy fit, pitched by none other than the finest legal mind of his generation, that is to say self-proclaimed schmuck Paul Keller, accompanied by the narcissistic back-up harmony vocal stylings of the BID’s own Uncle Fester,1 which is to say Bob Freaking Buente. There is, of course, a transcription of the whole damn thing after the break, and juicy quotes interspersed throughout the article here.

Paul Keller wants to talk about … underpasses. The ones he drives under when he gets off the freeway in the morning. They’re filled with homeless people. Paul Keller doesn’t like this. Bob Buente reminds him that in zillionairese underpasses are referred to as “Bombay” and/or “Calcutta.”2 What he really seems to hate about them is that (a) they are offensive to his finely honed zillionaire aesthetics and (b) he can’t ignore them because there’s a traffic signal there: “But unfortunately the light causes you to be in Bombay if it’s red.” The problem evidently is that CalTrans has jurisdiction over underpasses so the usual zillionaire methods of getting shit done, like e.g. giving José Huizar another 700 bucks, aren’t effective.

Turn the page to learn what the other problem is, how Ellen Salome Riotto schooled Paul Keller a little bit but he just won’t listen and wants her to break the law anyway, and the big reveal! All the Downtown BIDs are compiling anti-homeless intelligence which they’re evidently going to pass on to Miguel Santiago, possibly in anticipation of his becoming CD14 repster in 2020 because José Huizar’s rapey incontinence has effectively torpedoed the political ambitions of the other Huizar, his hand-picked successor, that is, of course, Richelle.
Continue reading What Passes For Wit Among Zillionaires — South Park BID Board Members Paul Keller And Bob Buente Mockingly Refer To Downtown Homeless Encampments As “Bombay” And “Calcutta” — Super-Genius Paul Keller Proposes Illegally Using BID Staff Outside BID Borders To Clean Encampments — Has To Be Talked Down Off That Particular Ledge By BID Zeck Dreck Ellen Salome Riotto Who — Despite Her Devotion To Her Satanic DTLA Masters — At Least Has Some Goddamn Sense — Also Riotto Reveals Hitherto Unknown Illegal Downtown BID Anti-Homeless Intelligence Gathering Conspiracy

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The South Park BID Failed To Even Negotiate Let Alone Execute A Contract With Tara Devine For Handling Their 2017 Renewal — They Didn’t Even Realize There Was No Contract Until My CPRA Request Called Their Attention To It — At Which Point Bob Buente Suggested Fraudulently Executing A Back-Dated Contract — But Worried This Would Haunt The Board If “we’re deposed because Tara does something nefarious” — Ellen Riotto — Who Has More Common Sense Than The Average Zeck Dreck — Advised Against It

So in 2017, back when I was trying to understand Tara Devine’s BID consultancy work for the South Park BID, I sent the Parkies a CPRA request for her contract.1 At the time, twisted little minion Katie Kiefer, who quit the BID earlier this year and is now working for shockingly rapey CD14 repster José Huizar, kept telling me that the BID didn’t have any records responsive to my request. I found this impossible to believe, that putatively competent zillionaire business types would hire someone to do a job for which they’d be paid in the high five figures and not have a written contract explaining what they were expected to do.

It didn’t seem plausible2 so I assumed Katie Kiefer was playing word games with me, which was exactly the kind of crapola she was pulling at the time, all under the baleful influence of Carol Humiston, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, along with the rest of her 2017 Parkie buddies. You can read the whole correspondence here on Archive.Org if you’re interested.3 But now, thanks to the recent release of Bob Buente’s emails, a hyper-Aladdinesque trove of wonders provided to me by the ever-helpful Ellen Salome Riotto, current zeck dreck of the Parkers, the truth has come out and can now be explained!

I made my original request for Tara Devine’s contract on July 12, 2017. On July 13, 2017 the Parkies, hiding as usual behind their sinister masks, told me that there was no contract. And here’s where things get interesting! The next day, on July 14, 2017, Ellen Riotto emailed her executive committee and asked them if there even was a contract:

From: Ellen Riotto <ellen@southpark.la>
To: Robin Bieker <robin@biekerco.com>, “Sjordan@legends.net” <Sjordan@legends.net>, “daniel@jadeent.com” <daniel@jadeent.com>, “bbuente@1010dev.org” <bbuente@1010dev.org>, “JLall@ccala.org” <JLall@ccala.org>
Subject: Devine Strategies Contract approval

All,

Per the CA Public Records Act, we’ve been asked to disclose our contract with Tara. The only record we have on file is her proposal, attached. We do not have a final signed contract. We looked through meeting mins to see if we could track down a board vote to approve the proposal, but were unsuccessful. Do you recall if this decision was made by the executive committee?

Thanks

Ellen

The attached proposal she mentions in the email is available here. Also note that if she were following the law she would have asked these BIDdies if they had the records before she told me that they did not, but there’s not much to be done about that. And with that simple request, things really went off the rails!
Continue reading The South Park BID Failed To Even Negotiate Let Alone Execute A Contract With Tara Devine For Handling Their 2017 Renewal — They Didn’t Even Realize There Was No Contract Until My CPRA Request Called Their Attention To It — At Which Point Bob Buente Suggested Fraudulently Executing A Back-Dated Contract — But Worried This Would Haunt The Board If “we’re deposed because Tara does something nefarious” — Ellen Riotto — Who Has More Common Sense Than The Average Zeck Dreck — Advised Against It

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