Tag Archives: Government Code 54954.2

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

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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!

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The Downtown Center BID Is The Latest In A Long Line Of BIDs To Change Up A Brown-Act-Deficient Agenda In Response To My Freely Offered Amateur Criticism — Someday, Lord, And It Won’t Be Long, All These Damn BIDs In Los Angeles Are Just Gonna Follow The Damn Law Right From The Start — In My Dreams, Anyway

It’s quite a common occurrence around here for some random BID to send out yet another completely freaking illegal agenda or violate some other major requirement of the Brown Act and then, because I can’t send demand letters to all of them, I just drop them a friendly note and they, because you can’t argue with the truth, just go ahead and fix the damn agenda.

This is a useful pastime for all concerned. The BIDs get a free and easy lesson in how to follow the damn law,1 I get to write a blog post on the episode,2 and you, the faithful reader, get to hear about yet another technical violation of the Brown Act, which is really edumacational and why else is anyone even reading this damn blog if not to be edumacated? So like for instance the South Park BID does this on a regular basis, and the Venice BID has had an episode as well.

Oh, and I know I said above that you can’t argue with the truth, but actually the baddest BIDdies of them all of the moment, that unhinged flashmob of sick chuckleheads3 known to all students of BIDology as the Studio City BID, famous for having board members whose consciences are so guilty that they will not allow themselve to appear on camera, can in fact argue with the truth.4 This is why, after they refused to consider my friendly admonition that they were really blowing it with respect to the Brown Act, I had to send them a demand letter.5

But those Studio City-zens are the exception rather than the rule. Which brings us to today’s episode.6 It seems that on Monday, October 1, 2017, I received this agenda for a meeting of the Downtown Center BID’s executive committee, scheduled for yesterday morning. Thereon appeared this item:

IV. CLOSED SESSION
a. Personnel Matters, California Government Code §54957(b)(1) (ACTION) WOLK

And, you know, this is better than some attempts at describing closed sessions I’ve seen. At least they cited an actual code section as justification for closing it, which is more than many BIDdies will do. But it’s still not good enough, not nearly. These BIDdies gotta learn that a basic principal of the Brown Act is that what they say in a closed session might get to be a secret but what they’re doing in there rarely does. Read on for the gory details and what happened next!
Continue reading The Downtown Center BID Is The Latest In A Long Line Of BIDs To Change Up A Brown-Act-Deficient Agenda In Response To My Freely Offered Amateur Criticism — Someday, Lord, And It Won’t Be Long, All These Damn BIDs In Los Angeles Are Just Gonna Follow The Damn Law Right From The Start — In My Dreams, Anyway

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Crusading Palisades Journalist Sue Pascoe To Palisades BID In 2016: You’re Violating The Damn Brown Act By Posting Your Agendas Where Disabled People Can’t Freaking See Them — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale To Rick Scott: “I Feel Like [Following The Law] Is Just Silly” And Plus This Lady Is Really Mean! — Rick Scott To Laurie Sale: We’re Not Your Damn Lawyers So Figure Out Your Own Damn Problems

Someone recently obtained a bunch of emails from 2016 between Laurie Sale of the Pacific Freaking Palisades BID and Rick Scott of the City Clerk’s office who is, it seems, the BID’s analyst.1 The goodies were passed to me and I uploaded the whole batch of them to Archive dot Org for your edification and titillation, and click here to browse through ’em!

And as you know, the Palisades BID, besides being generally creepy and rather floridly delusional, has proved itself unable to comply even minimally with California’s twin government transparency ordinances, the California Public Records Act and the Brown Act. I’ve written a little about their struggles with CPRA compliance2 and a little more about their struggles with Brown Act compliance, like see this episode and this especially nutty and horrific episode.

So with all of that in mind it was pleasant but not really a surprise to find this little gem of an email exchange in today’s yield. It all began when Sue Pascoe, editor of the famously floofball advertiser known as the Palisades News, emailed Laurie Sale, now retired zeck dreck of the BID, telling her that it was a violation of the Brown Act’s agenda posting requirements to post the agenda in a place that was not handicapped accessible.

Rather than asking a lawyer as anyone with any sense and some assets to protect might do, Laurie Sale emailed Rick Scott of the City Clerk’s office asking him for advice and basically saying that Sue Pascoe was a big meanie and why should the BID have to follow the damn law anyway? Then Rick Scott wrote back and told Laurie Sale that he wasn’t a lawyer and couldn’t give advice. What else did she expect? Turn the page, as always, for transcriptions of everything!
Continue reading Crusading Palisades Journalist Sue Pascoe To Palisades BID In 2016: You’re Violating The Damn Brown Act By Posting Your Agendas Where Disabled People Can’t Freaking See Them — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale To Rick Scott: “I Feel Like [Following The Law] Is Just Silly” And Plus This Lady Is Really Mean! — Rick Scott To Laurie Sale: We’re Not Your Damn Lawyers So Figure Out Your Own Damn Problems

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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!

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Remember That Time In February When The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act By Voting On An Item That Wasn’t On The Agenda? — Well Now Their Lawyer Lied About It To The District Attorney — And Estela Lopez Retroactively Edited The Minutes From February — Which Is The Kind Of People The City Contracts With To Run Their BIDs — And That’s Why The District Attorney Isn’t Prosecuting Them

OK, in February of this year Estela Lopez introduced a motion at the Central City East Association Board meeting that wasn’t on the agenda. This is a violation of the Brown Act at §54954.2(a)(3), which states unequivocally that: “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.” Naturally I turned them in to the District Attorney immediately. And you might think that because the whole mishegoss was captured on actual video the DA might actually do something about it.

But you’d be wrong. It seems that the willingness of the CCEA’s lawyer to lie to the face of a deputy DA and Estela Lopez’s willingness to alter the minutes of the meeting months after the fact is enough to escape from any consequences of this violation. This kind of outcome is precisely why I found it necessary to start my own Brown Act enforcement program.

And because I have this new capability, of private Brown Act enforcement, on August 20, 2018, having heard nothing for six months, I sent an email to Alan Yochelson, who runs the DA’s Brown Act enforcement program, asking him what was up with my complaint and telling him that I would take action myself if the DA wasn’t going to do so.

On August 21, 2018 he emailed me back and said that he hadn’t decided yet but he would let me know in seven days, on August 28. Yochelson ended up talking to CCEA’s lawyer, who I think would have been Don Steier, but I don’t know for sure. The lawyer seems to have told Yochelson that he immediately pointed out the violation to the Board and they immediately revoked their illegal action.

Estela Lopez definitely edited the February minutes on August 23, which now confirm the lawyer’s version. The trouble with the story is that, as I said, I have the whole meeting on video and nothing like this happened at that meeting. In any case, these conversations between Yochelson and CCEA ended up with the DA’s office declining to take action, as explained in this determination letter, sent out on Monday.

Of course I still have the option to take action privately, and I’m in the process of evaluating that option. The section I’d use, §54960.2 allows nine months after the violation, which is November 22, 2018, to initiate the process. Watch this space for further developments, and turn the page for a more detailed narrative along with links to and transcriptions of all the evidence.
Continue reading Remember That Time In February When The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act By Voting On An Item That Wasn’t On The Agenda? — Well Now Their Lawyer Lied About It To The District Attorney — And Estela Lopez Retroactively Edited The Minutes From February — Which Is The Kind Of People The City Contracts With To Run Their BIDs — And That’s Why The District Attorney Isn’t Prosecuting Them

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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

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I Don’t Need To Read BIDs The Riot Act — I Just Read ‘Em The Brown Act — Cause They Sure Ain’t Reading It For Themselves — This Week It’s The Venice Beach BID Revising Everything At The Last Minute Just Cause I Told ‘Em To!

We’ve seen over and over and over again that for the life of them the business improvement districts of Los Angeles just cannot follow the damn Brown Act. There was that time in February when the South Park BID messed up their agenda and then revised it cause I said to, and then there was that other time when the South Parkies messed up their teleconferencing methodology and now they don’t even offer teleconferencing any more cause I pointed out their violation.

And then there was the Los Feliz Village BID episode where they illegally discussed tee shirts and got admonished by the DA, and the East Hollywood BID teleconferencing episode, and South Park again, checking IDs illegally, and Sunset-Vine checking IDs illegally, and the damn Central City East Association, which cannot even stick to their agenda, which is illegal.

And a favorite topic of conversation around the campfire here at MK Dot Org secret headquarters is why it is that the BIDs, who have all the money and all the lawyers that anyone who was inclined to follow the law might need to allow them to do so, nevertheless can’t get this simple thing right. Over and over and over again they violate the Brown Act. We don’t have any definitive answers for you,1 but maybe it’s comforting to know we’re talking about it?

And this very morning, friends, the Venice Beach BID became the latest to join this illustrious roster. Turn the page for the lurid details!
Continue reading I Don’t Need To Read BIDs The Riot Act — I Just Read ‘Em The Brown Act — Cause They Sure Ain’t Reading It For Themselves — This Week It’s The Venice Beach BID Revising Everything At The Last Minute Just Cause I Told ‘Em To!

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Yesterday At The Arts District — Just A Perfectly Ordinary Average BID Board Meeting — Fear, Rumor, And Other Mongerings — Zillionaires Joking About How To Wheedle More Valuable Concessions Out Of The City — And The Familiar But Nevertheless Still Astonishing Hatred Of Transparency

Yesterday I paid my first visit to the Arts District BID board of directors. You can find the video here on YouTube and here on Archive.Org. Now, this BID is a fascinating and unique BIDdological case study due to its 2011 dissolution and entirely anomalous re-establishment in 2012, which involved creepy unethical subterfuge by City BID boss Miranda Paster and underhanded interventions by the whole weirdo panoply of the Downtown zillionaire power elite including, but never ever limited to, the zillion dollar woman herself.

But none of that rich and textured1 history was on display yesterday. No cracking of the bones of the homeless to greedily suck their marrow, no complaining about the skin color of the neighborhood’s non-zillionaires, no comparing groups of non-white people to caged animals. In short, none of the spectacularly white supremacist fireworks which sometimes burst forth to dazzle and bemuse sane onlookers.2

As I said, it was a quite ordinary BID meeting. But as ordinary as it was, it nevertheless displayed a wide variety of low-key instances of the usual BIDdie tropes. We had zillionaires laughing about how the City is not only able but willing to overturn any given development restriction on request. We had zillionaire anxiety about my filming, this time manifesting in a board member quietly confronting me on camera and then checking with the Arts District’s twittery little twerp of an Executive Director, Miguel Vargas.3

We had zillionaires casually going off-agenda, poised to violate the Brown Act, be pulled back from the brink by an alert colleague. We had, as I said, the usual zillionaire jive. And it’s nevertheless fascinating. Turn the page to links and brief transcriptions of a few moments that I found worth noting.
Continue reading Yesterday At The Arts District — Just A Perfectly Ordinary Average BID Board Meeting — Fear, Rumor, And Other Mongerings — Zillionaires Joking About How To Wheedle More Valuable Concessions Out Of The City — And The Familiar But Nevertheless Still Astonishing Hatred Of Transparency

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Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!


So it turns out that a major scandal involving a business improvement district has been brewing up in Burbank since September 2016. The short version of the story is that a Burbank BID violated the Brown Act and may have violated State laws forbidding the use of public funds in political campaigns. A local activist, David Spell, turned them in to the LA County DA and the Fair Political Practices Commission.1

In December 2016 the Burbank City Attorney published a fascinating report on the episode,2 which may shine a great deal of light on the legal status of BID assessments as public funds. Furthermore, Spell called for the Burbank City Council to hold a disestablishment hearing as required by Streets and Highways Code §36670(a)(1).3

If this money does turn out to be public, a lot of really interesting consequences would ensue, which is another part of what makes this episode so important. As always when BIDs and the law intersect, the details are unavoidably technical, which is no doubt why the L.A. Times skips over them and also why I’m hiding them below the fold!
Continue reading Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!

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