Tag Archives: Fashion District BID

United Downtown Los Angeles LLC Seems To Have Been Controlled If Not Created By Estela Lopez

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

The biggest as-yet-unsolved mystery associated with the coordinated zombie zillionaire campaign against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation process earlier this year is the identity of the shadowy Delaware-incorporated anonymous front group United Downtown Los Angeles LLC and the sneaky furtive creepy crawly zillionaire and zillionaire-ophile natural person or persons lurking behind the corporate facade.

You may recall that the first anyone heard publicly from this bunch of dimwits was on March 17, 2017, when Rockard Delgadillo, former City Attorney of Los Angeles and employee of lobbying firm Liner LLP, wrote his infamous letter to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment demanding for various nonsensical reasons that they put a halt to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation process.

The next milestone was a meeting between Estela Lopez of the Central City East Association, Rena Leddy of the Fashion District BID, and Rockard Delgadillo. This took place at 11 a.m. on March 20 and was actually organized by Estela Lopez, who scheduled the meeting on March 18. Less than an hour after this meeting ended, Rena Leddy was emailing her property owners with the gospel of the birth of United Downtown Los Angeles.

Finally, in July I learned that United Downtown LA has the same phone number as the Central City East Association. This is all reasonably strong but not conclusive evidence in favor of the proposition that Estela Lopez was in control of United Downtown, if not its actual founder. And that brings our story to the present day.
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How I Reported Fashion District BID Executive Director Rena Leddy To The Ethics Commission For (a) Failing To Register As A Lobbyist And (b) Failing To Recuse From A DLANC Vote For Conflict Of Interest

As you may already know quite well, in the City of Los Angeles, people are required by the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance to register with the Ethics Commission if they’re compensated for 30 hours of lobbying activity over three consecutive months.1 This year I’ve been working on reporting BID consultants to the Ethics Commission for failure to comply. So far I’ve filed two complaints, both against Tara Devine, one for her work on the Venice Beach BID and another for her work on the South Park BID.

But consultants aren’t the only BID people who spend their time trying to influence municipal legislation.2 BID staff actually spend a huge amount of time on this as well, and they never ever register as lobbyists. Also, they have never, in the entire history of Los Angeles, ever been called to account for failing to register. In fact, they’ve fought vigorously against the very idea that their work is even subject to the MLO.3

Consequently I’ve been working on expanding my unregistered lobbyist reporting project to BID staff as well. I kicked off the modern era of this project4 today by filing a complaint against Rena Leddy, executive directrix of the Fashion District BID, for failing to register and also for violating conflict of interest laws. You can read the whole complaint if you wish, and there’s a detailed discussion after the break.5
Continue reading How I Reported Fashion District BID Executive Director Rena Leddy To The Ethics Commission For (a) Failing To Register As A Lobbyist And (b) Failing To Recuse From A DLANC Vote For Conflict Of Interest

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Tentative Settlement Reached In Street Vending Lawsuit Against Fashion District BID And City Of Los Angeles

You can read up on the background in this 2015 LA times story and also in our multiple stories on the subject. Most of the paper filed in the case is available here.

The monumental lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles and the Fashion District BID for their abominable treatment of street vendors was set for trial in January. However, papers filed with the court yesterday announce that the plaintiffs have reached a settlement with the City and as soon as it’s approved, a process which can take many months for it to work its way through Committees and Council, they will drop the case against both the City and the BID. Hence they asked Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell to put the calendar on hold until the settlement is approved.

Today Virginia Phillips, Chief Judge of the local federal district, issued an order vacating the schedule in anticipation of this settlement. You can read the joint notice of pending settlement that inspired the order, and, as always, there’s a transcript of both documents after the break.
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How Kerry Freaking Morrison And A Bunch Of Other Bad BIDdies Helped Gut AB-1479, An Essential Improvement To The California Public Records Act, And It Seems, If You Believe Them (Although Why Would You, Really?), To Be All My Freaking Fault For Being So Freaking Mean To Them On The Freaking Internet And Being “Intent On Bringing [Their Freaking] Organization To Its [Freaking] Demise”!

In February 2017, California State Assemblymember Rob Bonta of Oakland introduced AB-1479, which would have amended the California Public Records Act to allow judges to assess civil penalties of between $1,000 and $5,000 to punish flagrant CPRA violations. The bill sailed through the Assembly and almost made it through the Senate until a shitstorm of opposition, including from many Los Angeles BIDs, some of whom cited this blog as part of their parade of horribles, hired high-powered lobbyists Gonzalez, Hunter, Quintana, & Cruz and thereby sank the most important part of the bill, leaving only a tragic and fairly useless husk.

According to a staffer of Bonta’s who is in charge of this bill it’s essentially irredeemable this term, but they’re going to try again next year. Also, she was kind enough to send me a huge selection of letters received, pro and con, including a bunch from many of our Los Angeles BID friends. If we can’t beat them, well, at least we can publish their ravings and then mock them, right? The whole collection is available on Archive.Org. You should definitely read through it if you’re interested. The support letters are fabulous, but I don’t have time to discuss them here.

And turn the page for a more comprehensive description of exactly what happened, of how the BIDs, as usual, missed the whole point, and an exceedingly, painstakingly, obsessively, mockingly detailed analysis of this characteristically delusional, narcissistic, crackle-pated nonsense from our own Ms. Kerry Morrison.1
Continue reading How Kerry Freaking Morrison And A Bunch Of Other Bad BIDdies Helped Gut AB-1479, An Essential Improvement To The California Public Records Act, And It Seems, If You Believe Them (Although Why Would You, Really?), To Be All My Freaking Fault For Being So Freaking Mean To Them On The Freaking Internet And Being “Intent On Bringing [Their Freaking] Organization To Its [Freaking] Demise”!

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President Tara Devine Begged Fashion District To Hire Her For BID Consulting At $72,000 But They Hired UPC At $55,000 Instead Even Though Estela Lopez Really Loves President Devine And Steve Heumann Had “Front Row Seat” To President Devine’s Work In “Impossible” Venice — President Devine Admits Against Interest That Purpose Of BID Consulting Is To “Effectuate Approval” Of Municipal Legislation

As you may recall, I’ve been studying the relationships between BIDs and the consultants they hire to guide them through the process of establishing or renewing their BIDs. As part of this work I discovered, e.g., that the Fashion District BID is paying $55,000 to FDBID Executive Directrix Rena Leddy’s former employer Urban Place Consulting for renewal services. But before the Board hired UPC they, acting as the fiscally responsible grownups they are, for whatever reason, presumed to be, solicited proposals from the City’s various BID consultants.

And, although it’s probably not such a surprise given how few BID consultants there are in this City, it turns out that famously shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine submitted a proposal! She didn’t get the job, though, possibly because her bid was almost $20,000 higher than UPC’s. And there are many things to be learned from this document, not least of which is the fact that Tara Devine, utilizing the grammatical voice known technically as “unhinged third person,” refers to herself throughout as “President Tara Devine.”1

The most important information in the document, though, has to do with the scope of services, which contains crucial information for my ongoing project of turning BID consultants in to the Ethics Commission for failing to register as lobbyists. One necessary element of the registration requirement, found in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance,2 is that a lobbyist be employed “…for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any person.”3

BID renewal requires the City Council to pass two distinct ordinances,4 and this fact is a key element of my my general argument that BID consulting is lobbying. But how much more effective than me arguing for this position to just have President Tara Devine admit herself, in her own words, that when a BID hires her as a consultant they are hiring her to get some legislation passed. Given this admission against interest, she’ll have a hard time arguing that she’s not a lobbyist:

Coordination with City Clerk, HCED Chair, Council President, and Council District 14 to effectuate scheduling and approval of:
o Ordinance of Intention
o Ordinance of Establishment
o Prop 218 Ballot Issuance

Anyway, the whole document is well worth your time to read, although most of it’s merely mockable rather than substantial. Turn the page for transcriptions of some selections, including a bunch of risible testimonials from President Tara Devine’s cronies in BIDlandia and their comments, as filtered through her considerable third-person ego, about her work in Venice and elsewhere.
Continue reading President Tara Devine Begged Fashion District To Hire Her For BID Consulting At $72,000 But They Hired UPC At $55,000 Instead Even Though Estela Lopez Really Loves President Devine And Steve Heumann Had “Front Row Seat” To President Devine’s Work In “Impossible” Venice — President Devine Admits Against Interest That Purpose Of BID Consulting Is To “Effectuate Approval” Of Municipal Legislation

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How I Reported Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine To The City Ethics Commission For Failing To Register As A Lobbyist Based On Her Work For The South Park BID In 2017

So you may recall that I’ve been working on establishing the fact that BID consulting constitutes lobbying as defined in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. I kicked off this project in February with shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine, whom I reported to the Ethics Commission for working as a lobbyist but failing to register as a lobbyist. Meanwhile, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, here is a reasonable introduction to the concepts of both BID consultancy and why it’s almost certainly the kind of thing for which registration with the Ethics Commission is required.

My theory gained some credibility with the discovery that some BID consultants in Los Angeles do register as lobbyists. Since February I’ve been collecting evidence against Ed Henning for his work with the San Pedro BID and also against Urban Place Consulting for their work on Fashion District BID renewal and also Media District BID renewal.

And, of course, against Tara Devine for her ongoing work with the South Park BID. Finally, a few weeks ago I completed a generic argument1 that BID consultancy constitutes lobbying. And this morning I’m pleased to announce that, despite the twisted CPRA-defying machinations of South Park BID director of operations2 Katie Kiefer and her less-than-competent lawyers,3 I have submitted yet another complaint to the Ethics Commission against Tara Devine, this time for her BID consulting for South Park. You can read the whole complaint here.

And turn the page for a technical discussion of an interesting issue which came up while I was putting this complaint together. Note that I discussed this same issue the other day, so if you read that post, you might want to just skip the rest of this one.
Continue reading How I Reported Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine To The City Ethics Commission For Failing To Register As A Lobbyist Based On Her Work For The South Park BID In 2017

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110 New Emails Between The City of LA And The East Hollywood BID Reveal Essentially Nothing About Anything, As Do The BID’s Bylaws — Also A Bunch Of Advertising Slash Branding Bullshit From The Fashion District Is Easy To Mock But Not So Informative After All

Ah, friends, just another desultory announcement of yet another batch of public records obtained from our friends at the BIDs, the meaning of none of which is yet clear, but we don’t let that worry us here in MK-dot-Org-landia. Everything happens for a reason, as they say, and I’m sure all this junk is no exception and some day it will prove to comprise crucially important pieces in puzzles whose very existence is as yet undiscerned. But for now I’m just announcing its existence, and do with it what you will. Anyway, here’s what I got:

  • Emails between the East Hollywood BID and the City of LA — March 2017 through July 2017. There are 110 emails here, attachments are attached to the emails, it’s amazing how empty of content this batch is. About 84% of them consist of Nicole Shahenian trying to get people to use her new email at ehbid.org. I don’t know for sure but I’d bet money that she made this switch because of my CPRA requests. Also, Aram Taslagyan’s replacement as CD13 East Hollywood field deputy introduces himself herein, but I already forgot his name.

And turn the page for the rest of the junk and more random commentary!
Continue reading 110 New Emails Between The City of LA And The East Hollywood BID Reveal Essentially Nothing About Anything, As Do The BID’s Bylaws — Also A Bunch Of Advertising Slash Branding Bullshit From The Fashion District Is Easy To Mock But Not So Informative After All

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In Which I Present A General Argument That BID Consultancy Is Lobbying Activity In Order To Simplify And Regularize The Process Of Reporting BID Consultants To The Ethics Commission For Failure To Register

It’s a long term project of mine to turn in as many BID consultants as possible to the City Ethics Commission for failing to register as lobbyists. So far, though, I’ve only managed to report Tara Devine for her work on the Venice Beach BID because the work is so involved. Such a report has two essential components:

  1. An argument that BID consultancy satisfies the definition of lobbying activity found in the the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02.
  2. An argument that a specific BID consultant was paid for sufficiently many hours over sufficiently few months to trigger the registration requirement found in the MLO at LAMC §48.07(A).

It occurred to me recently that the first argument will be the same for all BID consultants, and that therefore it would be possible to streamline the reporting process by writing it up in a generic format that would apply to any given BID consultant. So that’s what I did, and you can read the result here. I will be using this to make a number of complaints against BID consultants in the near future, which I will report on here.

Meanwhile, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can find explanations of everything after the break, along with a fairly detailed summary of the argument that BID consultancy qualifies as lobbying under the MLO.
Continue reading In Which I Present A General Argument That BID Consultancy Is Lobbying Activity In Order To Simplify And Regularize The Process Of Reporting BID Consultants To The Ethics Commission For Failure To Register

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Annals Of Gentrification Porn — Bad: The Fashion District Closed Off A Street Downtown To Have A Freaking Dinner Party — Worse: They Hired Professionals To Make A Short Pornographic Video Of It — Worst Of All: This Evidently Seems Normal To Them (?)

Just when you think it can’t get any weirder out there in BIDlandia, well … it does! You may recall last month’s revelation that the Fashion District BID paid some Berkeleyites almost $20,000 to study Santee Alley and report that, inter alia, Latinos are confused by lobster rolls. Well, in a similar yet far stranger vein, just the other day, the incomparable Rena Leddy1 sent me a video, paid for and produced by the BID, of a dinner party they had in the street last October.

The whole thing is not only deeply disturbing, it’s also embedded below the break for your edification if not your enjoyment.2 I put it below to calm the autoplay, which I can’t figure out how to eliminate. If you want to download it it’s available at Archive.Org as well.

And really, after you watch it, if you have any freaking idea at all why putatively mature adults would think it was a good idea to make a video like this, please let me know. It’s not just pornographic, it’s transparently so. I suppose it’s OK to be a self-satisfied narcissistic idiot, but why in the world does anyone want to announce to the world that they’re a self-satisfied narcissistic idiot? Seriously, this is why the Fashion District needs to get the homeless out of Downtown? So they can hold more zillionaire black masses like this one? Never gonna understand…
Continue reading Annals Of Gentrification Porn — Bad: The Fashion District Closed Off A Street Downtown To Have A Freaking Dinner Party — Worse: They Hired Professionals To Make A Short Pornographic Video Of It — Worst Of All: This Evidently Seems Normal To Them (?)

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Fashion District BID Bylaws From 2003 Anticipate Los Angeles City Attorney Advising BID On Their Brown Act Obligations, Suggesting That Holly Wolcott’s Stance Against Requiring BIDs To Follow The Law Is A Recent Development

I’ve been collecting copies of bylaws from the property owners’ associations that run BIDs for a while now, and some interesting stuff has turned up. Most egregiously we have the cases of Brown Act violations actually written into the bylaws of the Larchmont Village BID and essentially the same problem with the Melrose Avenue BID. Well, the other day, Rena Leddy, executive directrix of the Fashion District BID, was kind enough to send me a copy of her BID’s bylaws, last amended in 2003, and very interesting they are, indeed!

For one thing, these bylaws reveal that, unlike every other BID that I know of, the property owners in the Fashion District elect their Board of Directors by direct weighted vote.1 Most BIDs seem to be run by self-perpetuating boards, in which the directors choose their successors without any input from anyone else. This is interesting, and may save the FDBID from the kind of stagnation and undue staff influence that one finds in so many of our local BIDs.2

Most interesting, though, are the two places in these bylaws where it appears that the BID didn’t know whether or not their rules would violate the Brown Act, so they wrote language stating that the rules only applied pending determinations of their legality by the City Attorney of Los Angeles. This contradicts the stance currently taken by City Clerk Holly Wolcott, who insists that BIDs are beyond the City’s power to control due to their status as private corporations. She refuses even to tell BIDs to perform explicit requirements of their contract. How strange, then, to see evidence that in 2003 the City Attorney of Los Angeles was making decisions about whether or not the Fashion District BID’s bylaws were Brown-Act-compliant.
Continue reading Fashion District BID Bylaws From 2003 Anticipate Los Angeles City Attorney Advising BID On Their Brown Act Obligations, Suggesting That Holly Wolcott’s Stance Against Requiring BIDs To Follow The Law Is A Recent Development

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