Tag Archives: Government Code 54953.3

Studio City BID Issues Dishonest And Combative But Mostly (Although Not Entirely) Submissive Response To My Brown Act Demand Letter — BID President Tony Richman Signs His Name To A Bunch Of Ill-Tempered Truculent Lies Probably Written By Ill-Tempered Truculent BID Lawyer Carol Humiston — Does That Make Tony Richman An Ill-Tempered Truculent Liar Also? — Maybe — But Also Maybe Just A Patsy

A few weeks ago I sent the Studio City BID a Brown Act demand letter insisting that they stop breaking the law in four specific ways. According to the Brown Act at §54960.2 the BID can avoid litigation by responding to such a demand with an unconditional commitment to refrain from violating the specific statutory sections in the future. And on Monday, October 15, the SCBID Board met and decided to do just that.

And amazingly enough, the next day, this letter showed up in my inbox! So they weren’t just blowing smoke, it seems. The BID hired Bradley & Gmelich to represent them, which definitely means Carol Freaking Humiston, the world’s angriest Brown Act attorney, almost certainly wrote the letter. And it is written in her inimitable style,1 which essentially consists of variations on the following narrative in six acts:

  1. You’re wrong about what the law says.
  2. Because you’re stupid.
  3. Nothing in the law requires us to do what you demand.
  4. You thought it did because you’re wrong and stupid.
  5. So shut up.
  6. We’re complying with your demand.

The four issues I raised in the letter were first that IDs were required to attend the Board meeting, second that the Board didn’t adequately describe the subject of its closed session, third that the Board didn’t reconvene in open session after the closed session, and fourth that a majority of the Board members had at one time discussed a matter via email instead of in public.

The BID’s response letter was overflowing with a lot of sound and fury2 and belligerent bluster but essentially contained adequate unconditional commitments never ever to do three out of the four. The third item, though, on reconvening in open session, for some reason they declined to commit not to violate. With respect to that, well, I’m studying my options and stay tuned for updates.

For more details about the contents of the letter, the usual amateur analysis, and a modicum of mockery, turn the damn page!
Continue reading Studio City BID Issues Dishonest And Combative But Mostly (Although Not Entirely) Submissive Response To My Brown Act Demand Letter — BID President Tony Richman Signs His Name To A Bunch Of Ill-Tempered Truculent Lies Probably Written By Ill-Tempered Truculent BID Lawyer Carol Humiston — Does That Make Tony Richman An Ill-Tempered Truculent Liar Also? — Maybe — But Also Maybe Just A Patsy

Share

Studio City BID Holds Special Board Meeting — Capitulates To Demand Letter — Votes 7 to 1 To Issue Unconditional Commitment To Stop Violating The Freaking Brown Act — Hires Bradley & Freaking Gmelich At $400 Per Hour To Advise And Write Response For Them — Ben Besley Reads The Motion Like A Robot — Michael Sitkin Then Proceeds To Violate The Brown Act In A Whole New Way — Watch For New Demand Letter Coming Soonish!

Ah, the Studio City Business Improvement District! As you may recall, a few weeks ago I sent them a demand letter insisting that they stop violating the damn Brown Act by requiring ID to get into their meetings, by not describing their closed session business adequately, by failing to reconvene in open session after a closed session, and by discussing issues by email outside of an open meeting. You can read the actual letter here if you are so inclined.

This project is based on the Brown Act at §54960.2, which allows the BID to avoid litigation by issuing an unconditional commitment never again to violate the particular sections of the law in contention.1 One of the interesting aspects of this section is that it requires the BID to approve the sending of the letter in an open session of a publicly noticed meeting,2 and that’s just what the BID did yesterday! You can watch a video of the whole meeting, all eleven minutes of it, here on YouTube or if you prefer here on Archive.Org.

I don’t have an actual letter from the BID in hand yet, so I’m going to refrain from commenting on or speculating about what it’s going to contain. You can watch Ben Besley make the motion here and he goes on to describe what the letter will be about. Also watch Mike Sitkin ask for clarification and then watch as Dr. John Walker Ph.D. explains everything exactly wrong!

This bit is worth transcribing, and you can find not only that, but a bunch of other interesting stuff after the break! Not least is the episode where after the Board votes to commit to not violating the Brown Act in those specific ways in the future, they go ahead and violate it in a whole new way! Gonna send them another letter quite soon! After I have this one in the bag, that is.
Continue reading Studio City BID Holds Special Board Meeting — Capitulates To Demand Letter — Votes 7 to 1 To Issue Unconditional Commitment To Stop Violating The Freaking Brown Act — Hires Bradley & Freaking Gmelich At $400 Per Hour To Advise And Write Response For Them — Ben Besley Reads The Motion Like A Robot — Michael Sitkin Then Proceeds To Violate The Brown Act In A Whole New Way — Watch For New Demand Letter Coming Soonish!

Share

Latest Episode In The Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets Studio City BID For Three Violations — Most Importantly They Require An ID And Permission From The BID To Attend Meetings — Also They Totally Screwed Up Closed Session Requirements — And Also They Deliberate Via Email Just Like The Byzantine BIDdies — So I Fired Off Another Demand Letter — Now We Wait Thirty Days To See If They Capitulate!

Last week I attended my first meeting of the Studio City BID‘s board of directors, and what a fiasco, friends! Aggressively clueless board member Matthew Dunn walking out because I was filming him and so on. But I put off telling you about the most interesting parts! Which is why I’ve gathered you all here this morning! You see, the BID violated the Brown Act in two very serious ways at the meeting.

First of all, the BID holds its meetings inside CBS Studio Center,1 It not only requires an ID to get in there and the registration of one’s name and an image of one’s driver’s license, but also convincing a hostile security guard who thinks BID meetings aren’t open to the public and some other problems. All together these are, of course, violations of the Brown Act at §54953.3, which states unequivocally that:

A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance.

We’ve seen exactly this kind of thing with BIDs around the City, who hold their meetings in so-called secure buildings, where IDs are required by the property owners rather than the BID itself. E.g. in October 2014, the very same month I founded this blog, Kerry Morrison and her Central Hollywood Coalition were guilty of this. More recently, in April I reported the South Park BID to the LA County DA for violating this exact provision. The universal excuse seems to be that it’s legal for the property owner to require ID, just not the BID.

Of course, the plain language of the statute shows that that argument is entirely fallacious. The law doesn’t say anything about who’s not allowed to require ID, so therefore no one is allowed to require ID. And because, as you know, I haven’t gotten much if any satisfaction from the LA County DA on Brown Act violations, I have decided to take matters into my own hands and use the provisions in the law which allow private citizens to enforce it.

I kicked off this project last month with a demand to the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID which was entirely successful, at least so far, in that the BID caved entirely and unconditionally agreed never ever ever to violate the law again. And the Studio City ID and name registration requirement is a perfect test case for the enforcement of §54953.3. Thus did I fire off this demand letter to BID secretary Gilbert Stayner yesterday afternoon, making Studio City the honored second participant in my private Brown Act enforcement project. They have thirty days to capitulate, and if they don’t, we’re off to Superior Court!2

And Brown Act violations are like cockroaches in the usual cliched sense, and this case is no exception to that rule. The BID also seriously messed up its closed session, which of course I added to the demand, and there was a little problem in May 2018 involving them deliberating via email, which I also added. The first of these is highly technical and the second is fairly repetitious, so I put all the details after the damn break!
Continue reading Latest Episode In The Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets Studio City BID For Three Violations — Most Importantly They Require An ID And Permission From The BID To Attend Meetings — Also They Totally Screwed Up Closed Session Requirements — And Also They Deliberate Via Email Just Like The Byzantine BIDdies — So I Fired Off Another Demand Letter — Now We Wait Thirty Days To See If They Capitulate!

Share

Kicking Off Our New Brown Act Enforcement Project With A Demand Letter To The Byzantine Latino Quarter BID Insisting That Their Advisory Board Of Directors Stop Discussing Public Business In Secret Via Email — With A Writ Petition To Follow If They Won’t Unconditionally Commit To Following The Damn Law In The Future

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that one of our constant themes has been the exposure of an unrelenting series of violations of the Brown Act by the various BIDs of Los Angeles. I started the blog in October 2014 and that very month caught the Sunset Vine BID and its dear leader, Ms. Kerry Morrison, requiring IDs in order to attend meetings, which is a violation of §54953.3.

Since then it’s just been one damn thing after another, what with the South Park BIDdies refusing to share documents considered by their board at a meeting, or requiring meeting attendees to sign in, or their teleconferencing fiasco, or the Venice Beach BID’s deficient agenda descriptions, or the Central City East Association‘s discussing and voting on matters that were not agendized, or the East Hollywood BID‘s teleconferencing violations, and those aren’t even the worst of the bunch.

One of the most important prohibitions imposed by the Brown Act is found at §54952.2(b), which states that “[a] majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”

In the past we have seen shameless, egregious violations of this section, e.g. the Pacific Palisades BID in 2016, or also by the Central City East Association as part of their relentlessly immoral, illegal campaign against the formation of a Skid Row Neighborhood Council, and by the Los Feliz Village BID, whose violation of §54952.2(b) was bad enough that it actually earned them a written rebuke from the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

That last outcome has been an anomaly, though. Despite my having filed multiple reports against BIDs for serious violations of the Brown Act, the District Attorney has, to date, ignored all of them but the Los Feliz one.1 But the legislature, oh wise and omniscient!, has determined that Brown Act enforcement is too important to be left only up to the whims of County District Attorneys. They’ve also allowed for private citizens to enforce the law as well!

So this time, when I discovered dispositive evidence that the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID had violated §54952.2(b) of the Brown Act on at least two occasions earlier this year by discussing BID business in private via email I decided that I would take matters into my own hands rather than relying on the County DA to handle the violation. And the violations are really extreme and also somewhat lurid. One involves BID board member and Greek Orthodox priest Father John Bakas arguing against homeless shelters on the grounds that homeless people are dangerous and incorrigible, e.g.

Of course, it took some time and effort to study the law, get professional advice, and generally prepare an infrastructure for the private prosecution of such violations. Now that it’s all set up, it’s not just good for this one violation, but will work for all future violations that come to my attention. Thus it is with a great deal of pride that I announce an ongoing project to force the BIDs of Los Angeles to stop violating the Brown Act by prosecuting them myself if necessary! Turn the page for the legal theories involved and the specific details of the BLQBID’s violations!
Continue reading Kicking Off Our New Brown Act Enforcement Project With A Demand Letter To The Byzantine Latino Quarter BID Insisting That Their Advisory Board Of Directors Stop Discussing Public Business In Secret Via Email — With A Writ Petition To Follow If They Won’t Unconditionally Commit To Following The Damn Law In The Future

Share

How I Recorded Today’s Chinatown BID Meeting — And Got Screamed At By Criminal Ringleader And Big Poopy-Pants Whiny-Baby George Freaking Yu Cause I Wouldn’t Submit To His Weirdo Thuggish Demands — Then He Had His Weirdo Thuggish Security Guard Ban Me From The Far East Plaza Even Though I Didn’t Do Anything — Except Refuse To Bow To His Weirdo Thuggish Demands, That Is

Well, it’s always interesting to visit a new BID for the first time, and today’s journey out to Chinatown was certainly no exception. The BID meets in the Far East Plaza upstairs1 so up I went. They tried to get me to sign in, but I just ignored them because that’s illegal, innit?2 I did record the meeting, and you can watch the whole thing if you want here on YouTube and also here on Archive.Org if Google gives you the willies.3

There was a lot to write about at that meeting, but the most interesting thing4 was the fact that George Yu, just like that lady from the Arts District last month, decided he was going to confront me about recording his meeting, so he came over, just like she did, and stuck his face right in the camera, just like she did, and proceeded to embarrass himself in his anger and his shame, just like she did. Watch the whole frickin’ episode right here.

Now, a lot of other interesting stuff happened at this meeting, but I’m going to have to put off writing about it, because the very most interesting thing that happened today happened right after the meeting. As you’re probably aware, Howlin’ Rays does not actually define the the Far East Plaza, which also has some nice restaurants that are NOT overrun by zombie hipster hordes. And since the BID meeting was right at lunch time I thought I’d eat a banh mi and some pho before hopping the good old 45 southbound back to reality.

But after I ordered and before most of my food came,5 a security guard came busting into the restaurant and told me that the Far East Plaza was private property and that the owner didn’t want me there any more and that I would have to leave. Did I mention I recorded him too? Watch it here on YouTube or here on Archive.Org.6

I’ve been through a lot of crazy stuff when exercising my constitutional right to film BIDs,7 but this is right up there with the very craziest, which was the time I got screamed at for being possessed because I filmed meetings. Also, while George Yu’s argument makes some kind of sense theoretically, there are aspects to the situation that make it plausible that he can’t actually ban me from the property without some kind of reason. Turn the page for my amateur speculations on the matter!
Continue reading How I Recorded Today’s Chinatown BID Meeting — And Got Screamed At By Criminal Ringleader And Big Poopy-Pants Whiny-Baby George Freaking Yu Cause I Wouldn’t Submit To His Weirdo Thuggish Demands — Then He Had His Weirdo Thuggish Security Guard Ban Me From The Far East Plaza Even Though I Didn’t Do Anything — Except Refuse To Bow To His Weirdo Thuggish Demands, That Is

Share

Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

There seem to be two distinct ways that BIDs get started in Los Angeles. One is that a bunch of property owners want to start one, they talk to their council rep or the City Clerk, hire a consultant, and go through the process we’ve all come to know and love. But it seems that sometimes the City takes the initiative, they hire their own consultant, and as part of their duties, the consultant puts together a proponent group.

That seems to be what’s going on with the infamous Echo Park BID, and it’s also the way that the Hollywood Route 66 BID is being formed.1 Both of these establishments are being handled by OG2 BID consultancy Civitas Advisors. And as you may recall, a good citizen of Los Angeles recently supplied me with a massive set of emails between Civitas and the City Clerk‘s office.3

And buried amongst the interminable babbling about God-knows-what-all4 I uncovered a couple of really interesting gems. First, there is the contract between the City and Civitas for establishing the Hollywood Route 66 BID, and second there is a feasibility study for the BID prepared by Civitas in February 2018.5 Both of them have a lot to tell us about how BIDs get started and function in Los Angeles! Turn the page for excerpts and discussion.
Continue reading Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

Share

How I Finally Had To Report The South Park BID To The District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act Even Though Board Member, Working Class Hero, And Self-Proclaimed Schmuck Paul Keller, The Finest Legal Mind Of His Generation, Screamed At Me In The Lobby That They Didn’t Actually Violate It

As you know well if you follow this blog, the South Park BID is severely challenged when it comes to Brown Act compliance. First, in February, they had deficient agenda descriptions, although they fixed that in response to my advice. Then last week they had a deficient teleconferencing option, which again they fixed in response to my advice. However, yesterday’s board meeting was held in a building where signing in as a condition of entry was mandatory. This is a clear violation of the Brown Act at §54953.3, which states unequivocally that:

A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance.

Based on a previous visit to the building I suspected that they might require visitors to sign in, so I recorded the whole scene. I also determined to offer them a chance to avoid the violation by discussing it with the BIDdies if signing in was in fact required, which it was. The security guard didn’t have the BID’s phone number, so that was out.1

Anyway, while I was talking about it with the guard, South Park BID board member and self-proclaimed schmuck Paul Keller, the finest legal mind of his generation, came in and yelled at me for pressing the issue. His theory is that the law wasn’t violated because a signature was required to enter the building rather than the BID meeting. Maybe he wasn’t aware that his executive director, Ellen Salome Riotto,2 relies implicitly on my legal advice, with respect to the Brown Act anyway.

Far be it from me to say why he thinks this, him being the finest legal mind and all. Perhaps he’s basing it on the popular zillionaire legal maxim that any law that inconveniences even a single zillionaire must be unconstitutional. This is true, of course, at least 99\frac{44}{100}\% of the time, but not this particular time. On the other hand his rant suggests that the sign-in requirement wasn’t just another oversight, but actually constitutes BID policy.

Whatever was going on, I feel like they’ve had enough chances to mend their ways and have shown no interest in doing so. Hence I filed a complaint against them with the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Turn the page for a transcription, and stay tuned for details!
Continue reading How I Finally Had To Report The South Park BID To The District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act Even Though Board Member, Working Class Hero, And Self-Proclaimed Schmuck Paul Keller, The Finest Legal Mind Of His Generation, Screamed At Me In The Lobby That They Didn’t Actually Violate It

Share

Even Funnier The Second Time Around! Ellen Riotto And/Or Manic Minion Katie Kiefer Of The South Park BID Continue To Follow Open-Sourced Wiki-Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At Your Favorite Blog Evers!!

It seems like forever ago by now, but maybe you recall that in February the South Parkers sent around an agenda announcing a closed session that was so freaking out of compliance with the Brown Act that I could not, despite mom’s best advice, keep my mouth shut. Thus I emailed the Parkies and hilarity and agenda revisions ensued!

Well, these Southies have another meeting coming up this very Thursday, and imagine my joy when I received a copy of the agenda! And imagine my horror when I noticed the bit about teleconferencing! Here’s what it said:

CONFERENCE DIAL-IN :
If you cannot join the meeting physically but wish to join via phone, meeting dial-in details:
Conference number: 857 – 216-3930
Conference PIN: 45426

Please notify Katie Kiefer. Director of Operations, at least 48-hours in advance if you will be dialing in. Contact her via email, Katie@SouthPark.LA, or by phone, (213) 663-1120.

We’ve been through this crapola before with the East Hollywood BID. The plain fact is that the Brown Act forbids teleconferencing unless it’s happening from a teleconference location where members of the public can go to participate. You can read all about it in §54953(b). It’s just not OK to assume that all members of the public who wish to participate have phones.

Also, the Brown Act at §54953.3 forbids local agencies1 to require members of the public to identify themselves as a condition of attending the meeting. This made me pretty sure that the BID’s requiring would-be teleconferencers to register their names with Ellen Riotto’s manic minion Katie Kiefer was another violation.

So anyway, usually I would just wait around for the BIDdies to actually break the damn law and then turn them in to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney like I did with the Los Felizites and more recently with the Central City East Association. But it was so entertaining the last time I warned them and they actually took my advice that I thought I’d give that another try.

So I sent them an email saying essentially hey friends you’re about to break the law again! And what do you know? A couple hours later they sent me an email2 saying essentially hey friend, you’re right! We’ll change everything! And then a couple-few days later, that is, this morning, they sent out a revised agenda stating definitively that:

NOTE: Teleconferencing into this meeting will not be enabled.

So woo-freaking-hoo, amirite?! Turn the page for transcriptions of the emails.
Continue reading Even Funnier The Second Time Around! Ellen Riotto And/Or Manic Minion Katie Kiefer Of The South Park BID Continue To Follow Open-Sourced Wiki-Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At Your Favorite Blog Evers!!

Share

The Temptations Of The Gangsta Life Were Too Strong: Blair Besten’s Brief Attempt To Live As A Productive, Law-Abiding Citizen Lasts Less Than 24 Hours Before She Embarked On Another Crime Spree

Just yesterday we asked you, our loyal audience, to join with us in a sympathetic moment of silence for Blair Besten, executive directrix of the Historic Core BID, who was forced by circumstances to quit her outlaw ways and follow the law for just once in her professional life.

Well, I’m sorry to have to report that she’s back to living la vida loca on the mean streets of DTLA, unsurprisingly I suppose, as white collar crimes have such a very high recidivism rate. Blair Besten’s attempt at walking the strait and narrow path lasted about 6 minutes short of 24 hours, at which point she busted out in yet another crime spree. Here’s the background: This afternoon, a few of your loyal staff members rode the good old Red Line to Pershing Square to attend the June meeting of the Historic Core BID’s Board of Directors. We filmed the whole thing, if you’re interested.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the BID’s marketing specialist, Paola Flores, who invited us to sign in on the sign-in sheet. We declined, as we always do, and noted that the sheet was in violation of the Brown Act. This was the first (and least important) of three violations, the technical details of which along with the usual slew of goodies you shall find after the break.
Continue reading The Temptations Of The Gangsta Life Were Too Strong: Blair Besten’s Brief Attempt To Live As A Productive, Law-Abiding Citizen Lasts Less Than 24 Hours Before She Embarked On Another Crime Spree

Share

Photo ID required to attend Sunset-Vine BID meeting, hear about tree vandalism

As mentioned briefly below, I attended and filmed a meeting of the Sunset-Vine BID on Tuesday, October 14, 2014. It was held in the Pickford Center of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Vine Street. I was required by the Academy’s security guard to produce my driver’s license and to allow him to record my name and DL number in order to gain entrance to the meeting. As long-time readers of this blog know, the Brown Act states that:
Continue reading Photo ID required to attend Sunset-Vine BID meeting, hear about tree vandalism

Share