I don’t usually report on local politics unless there’s some kind of connection to business improvement districts, but the incomparable David Zahniser’s article in this morning’s Times announcing that the CD1 election appears more strongly than ever to be heading to a runoff was much too much for me to let pass uncommented. In particular, this little piece of characteristically Zahniserian deadpannitude must be quoted and quoted over again:
The campaign between Cedillo and Bray-Ali has been tense at times. On election night, Cedillo said his lead showed that voters were rejecting his rival’s “trendy, hippy, hipster proposal and agenda.”
On Friday, Cedillo said he regrets making those remarks. “I should not have referred to his campaign … as a hipster campaign or candidacy,” he said.
I know the headline sounds like a joke, but it’s not. The L.A. Times reported on it this morning, although their article, as is their wont, did not mention business improvement districts at all, and, at least briefly, I thought they were kidding. But this is the Los Angeles City Council we’re talking about, and they were not. Huizar and Price first made a motion to legalize street vending in November 2013, three years ago, and, over the last three years we have been subjected to an endless stream of hysterical, mendacious, probably illegal, lobbying by the BIDs and their ideological allies against the very idea. They even managed to get the Times itself to accept their misbegotten point of view as somehow legitimate. In response to this outpouring of unregistered lobbying behavior,1 the City Council essentially responded by ignoring the issue,2 as you can see from the council file, which has no official City action since October 2015, until yesterday, when Curren Price and Joe Buscaino slapped this little number on the table. It’s a letter, which does indeed refer, albeit obliquely, to Darth Cheeto himself:3
Despite the undeniable division and polarization that exists in our country right now, there is one common characteristic that is shared by Americans of every gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status and political party: our entrepreneurial spirit. We value the notion that everyone deserves the opportunity to start a small business, on a level playing field, with failure or success determined by our own talent, hard work, and perseverance. At an early age. we teach our children concepts like overhead, profit, and loss by encouraging them to sell Girl Scout Cookies, candy bars, and lemonade. Yet, if they sell any of those on a public sidewalk in Los Angeles, they are committing a crime of the same seriousness as drunk driving.
They go on to urge the Council to go ahead and legalize street vending because otherwise Trump has already won, and I can’t say that I disagree:
Recent talks about changes to our nation’s immigration policy, including threats to deport millions of undocumented immigrants – starting with those with criminal records – has created significant fear amongst our immigrant communities. Continuing to impose criminal misdemeanor penalties for vending disproportionately affects, and unfairly punishes, undocumented immigrants, and could potentially put them at risk for deportation.
Furthermore, Buscaino and Price claim that:
The core question the Council must answer is whether sidewalk vending poses a threat so grave to public health, safety, and welfare that it is worth continuing to expend limited police and prosecutorial resources enforcing a citywide ban.
Last night a few of us MK.org staffies were blessed to attend something called a house concert at someone’s home in Van Nuys. This is, as you might guess, a concert in someone’s house. The audience donates money to get in and the money all goes to the musicians. There was food at the break for free, but with donations accepted. We found out about this by chance, and soon discovered that it’s not a one-off thing or even just some local eccentricity, but part of a full-blown fricking nationwide movement! Also, these people in Van Nuys have been doing this about once a week for, we believe, more than twenty years. We’re going to be vague about the details because the whole thing is certainly illegal and we don’t want to be the ones to tip off the heat, but nevertheless it’s all operating suprisingly openly.
Here’s the deal. Some people we met at a show in Silver Lake1 the other day told us that this thing was happening and where to find contact info on the web. We looked it up, emailed the contact, phoned the contact, were told the address, took the Red Line to North Hollywood and the Orange Line to Van Nuys and then walked over to an actual normal house on a normal street in the Valley. You can see from the images what we found there, and the music was fabulous, and we met a bunch of very interesting people. I mean, we’re as opposed in theory to vicious criminal conspiracies as the next folks, but this one had really positive results! We’re as in favor in theory of governments of laws rather than of men as the next folks, but damn it, this whole thing was just too wonderful to seriously be illegal. And what does this have to do with the BIDs? Why, we’re glad you asked! Turn the page to find out. Continue reading Music, Freedom, Sharing, Love, Humanity: All Flourish Unhindered by Creepy Zillionaire Social Engineers in Not-So-Rare BID-Free Zone in the Valley; Contradictions Regarding Street Vending Heightened Beyond Sane Believability→