Tag Archives: Government Code 54952

Donald “El Duckie” Duckworth — Pirate King Of The Melrose Avenue BID — Takes Himself And His BIDdie Buddies Out To Lunch On The BID’s Dime All The Freaking Time — And Probably Violates The Brown Act While He’s Doing It — Think I’m Exaggerating? — Try $133 For A Committee Meeting At Off Vine — A Restaurant That Is Not In The Melrose BID — So It’s Illegal For The BID To Meet There — And Why The Hell Don’t They Buy Their Own Lunch?!

It’s been a damn month now since last I wrote about BIDological freak show specimen Donald R. Duckworth, the pirate king1 of the Melrose Avenue Business Improvement District. But it’s El Duckie’s own damn fault that he’s not getting the publicity he craves from MK.Org.

For whatever reason, the baleful influence of Carol Humiston, his own mulishly porcine intransigence, something as-yet-unguessed-at, he is chronically unable to comply with the tender mandates of the California Public Records Act. And I can’t very well mock him without public records, the very fuel and the flavor of MK.Org-style mockery.2

But recently I managed to lay hands on an interesting set of goodies, which are all of El Duckie’s requests for reimbursement from Melrose BID coffers for the last few years.3 I originally asked for these because last summer the property owners of Melrose were in open and fiery rebellion against the Duckworthian regime and one of the underlying causes was Duckworth’s irrepressible profligacy.

If you don’t want to or can’t read the PDF, there’s an html conversion at the end of this post.4 And it reveals that Duckworth and his BIDdie buddies, most especially the notorious Weintraub gang, Deny and Sylvia, are indeed basically flinging the property owners’ assessments to the winds like rain.5

Just for instance, on January 19, 2018 the BID bought Duckworth, the Weintraubs, and a couple other BIDdies lunch to the tune of $122.09. Sure, that’s not over the top for lunch for five, but why is the BID buying lunch in the first place? I have to go to work meetings all the damn time and no one buys me lunch. But I, for my part, have to ask an accountant for permission. Donald R. Duckwalk just has to ask Deny Weintraub, and Deny Weintraub is right there at the trough with him.

Or see on November 29, 2017 when The Duckster put in for $75.07 for a “work session” with Kim Sudhalter. Kim Sudhalter is the BID’s social media flunkie, so she already gets paid for the work she does. As does Donald R. Duckandcover. So what was the 75 bucks for? More food for the work session? The usual arrangement, Duckfellow, is to pay for your own food when you’re working.

And there are plenty of these instances, where Duckworth, the Weintraubs, and sometimes an unindicted co-conspirator or two, will go out to lunch at some ritzy place and charge it off to the BID. But the most egregious of these are the ones that are labeled as committee meetings. Because, as we know, the BID is bound by the Brown Act, and the Brown Act has very strict rules about where and how committee meetings can be held. And it’s likely that these violate them.

In particular, on September 1, 2017 Duckworth, the Weintraubs, and Kim Sudhalter spent $133.89 on lunch at a committee meeting at Off Vine, a super-ritz joint near the southeast corner of Vine and Sunset. This is highly problematic, friends, and turn the page to see why!
Continue reading Donald “El Duckie” Duckworth — Pirate King Of The Melrose Avenue BID — Takes Himself And His BIDdie Buddies Out To Lunch On The BID’s Dime All The Freaking Time — And Probably Violates The Brown Act While He’s Doing It — Think I’m Exaggerating? — Try $133 For A Committee Meeting At Off Vine — A Restaurant That Is Not In The Melrose BID — So It’s Illegal For The BID To Meet There — And Why The Hell Don’t They Buy Their Own Lunch?!

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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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In 1995 The City Attorney And The Fair Political Practices Commission Both Agreed That BIDs Were Government Agencies And Their Board Members Were Public Officials Subject To The Brown Act And The CPRA — So When Aaron Epstein Sued The City And The Hollywood BID In 1999 Why Did The City Take Kerry Morrison’s Side Even Though They Already Knew Epstein Was Right? — Probably Yet Another Case Of Yielding To Her Every Damn Whim No Matter How Dire The Consequences — Ironically The Same Lawyer, Patricia Tubert, Argued Both Contradictory Sides Of The Dispute

I’ve written many times about the monumental case Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District BID and will, I have no doubt, write about it many more times to come. The issue in 1998 was that Hollywood property owner Aaron Epstein thought that he ought to be able to attend BID meetings whereas executive director Kerry Morrison, then at the very dawn of her BIDdological career but as characteristically secretive as ever, refused to let him in to watch his money being spent.

He sued in 1999, claiming that the BID1 was required to comply with the Brown Act by virtue of §54952(c)(1)(A), which makes an entity of the following type subject to its transparency requirements:

A board, commission, committee, or other multimember body that governs a private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity that … [i]s created by the elected legislative body in order to exercise authority that may lawfully be delegated by the elected governing body to a private corporation, limited liability company, or other entity.

The case yielded a monumental opinion from the Court of Appeal, dripping with sarcasm and barely disguised contempt for the weak arguments of the defendants. It’s worth reading in its entirety, or take a look here for selections. But for our purposes here it’s enough to know that both the BID, driven by Ms. Kerry Morrison and her absolute disgust at the possibility of public oversight of her publicly funded activities, and the City of Los Angeles in the person of then-deputy-City-Attorney Patricia Tubert, argued vehemently that the BID was not in any way subject to the Brown Act.

So what a surprise it was, the other day, to obtain a copy of this 1995 report from the Los Angeles City Attorney, authored by none other than Patricia Tubert, which explicitly stated that in the opinion of the City Attorney BIDs were in fact subject to the Brown Act, exactly as the Court of Appeal ruled in 2001 over the City’s objections. And attached to this report was a 1994 opinion issued by the Fair Political Practices Commission in response to an explicit request from none other than the Los Angeles City Attorney which reached precisely the same conclusion.

And not only that but both agencies agreed that BID board members are in fact public officials with respect to these laws and also subject to state prohibitions on conflicts of interest.2 So it’s really a mystery now why in 1998 when Aaron Epstein wanted to attend BID meetings the City of Los Angeles didn’t just tell Kerry Morrison and her infernal board of directors that they had to let him in. Why they spent three long and undoubtedly expensive years defending a position that they already knew to be wrong.

At this late date and because the attorney client privilege between the City and the City Attorney is doubtlessly implicated, we are probably never going to know for sure why they made the obviously wrong decision to defend an indefensible position. But if they were thinking about Kerry Morrison and her weirdo schemes back then like they are now, and why wouldn’t they have been, they wouldn’t have needed any more of a reason beyond Kerry Morrison’s request. Shameful. And harmful. But not a surprise. Turn the page for selected transcriptions.
Continue reading In 1995 The City Attorney And The Fair Political Practices Commission Both Agreed That BIDs Were Government Agencies And Their Board Members Were Public Officials Subject To The Brown Act And The CPRA — So When Aaron Epstein Sued The City And The Hollywood BID In 1999 Why Did The City Take Kerry Morrison’s Side Even Though They Already Knew Epstein Was Right? — Probably Yet Another Case Of Yielding To Her Every Damn Whim No Matter How Dire The Consequences — Ironically The Same Lawyer, Patricia Tubert, Argued Both Contradictory Sides Of The Dispute

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North Figueroa Association Establishes Two Putatively Ad Hoc Committees In Transparent Attempt To Evade Public Scrutiny — It’s Not Clear That Their Brown Act Loophole Theory Is Correct — And They Violated The Brown Act While Forming The Committees — Misty Iwatsu Explains BID Renewal Process To A Bunch Of Ignorant Board Members — Gina Alza Flips The Freakin’ Frick Out When She Learns Misty Iwatsu Won’t Do All The Work — Screams That She Has A Damn Job Already And So Do All The Other Board Members — Take That, Misty!

Oh, for God’s sake! Yesterday the freaking North Figueroa Association called a special meeting.1 As always, I zooped out there on the good old 81 and videotaped the whole damn thing, and you can watch it here on YouTube or here on Archive.Org as you prefer. Here’s the agenda that Misty Iwatsu distributed. There are only two items of business on there, which are:

a. Highland Park BID- Committee formed
b. Personnel- Employee Contract renewal- Committee formed

What’s going on here, it’s pretty clear, is that the NFA can’t stand the scrutiny they’ve been under lately, what with ongoing activism related to their illegal destruction of public art, their über-creepazoidal Facebook stalking of people, their weirdo symbiotic relationship with Cedillo staffer Bill Cody, the world’s oldest field deputy, who, e.g., “handles” the BID’s enemies list, their slavering white supremacy and unconvincing denial thereof, their unprovoked attacks on street vendors, and so on.

And so, instead of reforming their outlaw ways like sane people would do, they’ve taken to canceling their regular meetings in a pathetic attempt to avoid mockery. But they do still have to get some business done, like e.g. Misty Iwatsu’s contract seems to be expiring or already gone, and they have to handle the damn BID renewal.2 Hence, like so many BIDs around the City who can’t stand the heat but won’t get out of the damn kitchen, they’ve decided to cower behind a putative loophole in the Brown Act,3

And not only that, but these BIDdies are so astoundingly clownish that in this ten minute meeting they managed not only to violate the Brown Act about one and a half times,4 but also board member Gina Alza had a weird tantrum about how Misty Iwatsu ought to do all the outreach work for their BID renewal because the board members actually have jobs unlike, I guess, Misty Iwatsu? Anyway, turn the page for the details, both sordid and tedious, which is just how BIDology rolls, innit?
Continue reading North Figueroa Association Establishes Two Putatively Ad Hoc Committees In Transparent Attempt To Evade Public Scrutiny — It’s Not Clear That Their Brown Act Loophole Theory Is Correct — And They Violated The Brown Act While Forming The Committees — Misty Iwatsu Explains BID Renewal Process To A Bunch Of Ignorant Board Members — Gina Alza Flips The Freakin’ Frick Out When She Learns Misty Iwatsu Won’t Do All The Work — Screams That She Has A Damn Job Already And So Do All The Other Board Members — Take That, Misty!

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Video Clips Of January 5, 2018 Meeting Of Venice Beach BID Board Available — In Conjunction With December Letter To Property Owners These Clips Suggest That They’re Egregiously Violating The Brown Act — President Tara Devine Is Even More Horrifically Offensive, Irritating, Mendacious, And Reprehensible Than Hitherto Suspected

As you may recall, the Venice Beach Business Improvement District putatively began its existence on January 1, 2017. However, the BID did nothing whatsoever for most of its first year except cash its zillion dollar checks from the City. In late December 2017 the BID finally announced a public meeting both through a letter sent to property owners on December 22, 2017 (there’s a transcription of this PDF at the bottom of the post) and via an email sent to the BID’s MailChimp list on January 2, 2018.

Well, the meeting took place, although I was not able to attend. The indefatigable Margaret Molloy recorded some selections, though, and has published them on her YouTube Channel. I have not watched all of them yet, but I’ve watched some of them, and it’s not a pretty sight, friends. These Venice BIDdies are a bunch of bad, bad babies.

So here’s what I have for you tonight. After the break, along with the promised transcription of devious little chump Mark Sokol’s letter to property owners, there’s also a reproduction of Margaret’s directory of these clips along with direct links through to them. Also there’s a transcription and a little bit of accompanying discussion of this particular clip, in which President Tara Devine explains how and why she and her fellow bad BIDdies on the board egregiously violated the Brown Act in the months leading up to this January meeting. Read on!
Continue reading Video Clips Of January 5, 2018 Meeting Of Venice Beach BID Board Available — In Conjunction With December Letter To Property Owners These Clips Suggest That They’re Egregiously Violating The Brown Act — President Tara Devine Is Even More Horrifically Offensive, Irritating, Mendacious, And Reprehensible Than Hitherto Suspected

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