Tag Archives: Holly Wolcott

The Deep State In Los Angeles — How Dennis Zine Wanted To Take $30,000 Out Of His Salary In 2013 And Give It To The LAPD’s Mounted Platoon — To Buy A Tractor, Of All Things — Possibly For Anti-Terrorism Purposes — Or Maybe Just For Moving Horseshit From One Place To Another — But Holly Wolcott — At That Time Executive Officer In The Clerk’s Office — Did Some Weird Back-Channel Voodoo On The Council File — Put It Into “Continuation Pergatory [sic] Never To Be Agendized Again” — Which Certainly Raises A Question As To Who’s In Charge Over At 200 N. Spring Street

I recently obtained a huge batch of emails between former City Clerk June Lagmay and present City Clerk Holly Wolcott back when she had Shannon Hoppes’s job as Executive Officer. I haven’t managed to prep them all for publication yet, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. See e.g. this recent post about lawsuits against the Downtown Center BID and how the City propped them up for five years by refunding a half million dollars in assessments to an angry plaintiff.

Today’s topic, also based on selections from this material, is a vignette about an attempt by former Councilmember Dennis Zine to donate $30,000 from his salary to the LAPD’s Mounted Platoon to buy a replacement tractor, maybe to move horseshit around?1 The Council File is 13-0064-S4, and you can read the LAPD’s report on the donation as well. On February 11, 2013 Holly Wolcott emailed Karen Kalfayan, possibly with the office of the Chief Legislative Analyst,2 to ask if the money was coming out of Zine’s salary as Councilmember.3

Subsequently Lagmay emailed Wolcott to alert her that the item would be heard in committee on February 22. After the meeting Lagmay emailed Wolcott under the subject line “interesting” to tell her that the item was continued to an unspecified future date, and then Wolcott replied, taking credit for the whole thing: “Yes, that was due entirely to my intervention…….since I couldn’t keep it off the agenda that is what we all decided to do with it. … It will die in continuation pergatory, [sic] never to be agendized again hell now. [sic] Lagmay’s reply expresses pure admiration: “You one powerful woman.” And who is “we all” in Wolcott’s narrative? Some anti-tractor cabal? Isn’t the Committee in charge? Very weird.

That’s the story! And I don’t know if it’s good or bad for Dennis Zine to give a tractor to the LAPD. It’s probably bad, because what good are the cops gonna get up to with heavy equipment?4 But good or bad, ideally the City is run by elected officials exercising their lawful powers lawfully granted to them by the people rather than by appointed functionaries using scheduling jujitsu to kill off properly introduced motions by leaving them to “die in continuation pergatory, [sic] never to be agendized again hell now. [sic] And turn the page for transcriptions of everything!
Continue reading The Deep State In Los Angeles — How Dennis Zine Wanted To Take $30,000 Out Of His Salary In 2013 And Give It To The LAPD’s Mounted Platoon — To Buy A Tractor, Of All Things — Possibly For Anti-Terrorism Purposes — Or Maybe Just For Moving Horseshit From One Place To Another — But Holly Wolcott — At That Time Executive Officer In The Clerk’s Office — Did Some Weird Back-Channel Voodoo On The Council File — Put It Into “Continuation Pergatory [sic] Never To Be Agendized Again” — Which Certainly Raises A Question As To Who’s In Charge Over At 200 N. Spring Street

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Once Again The City Of Los Angeles Was Pushed To The Very Brink Of The Precipice Of Batshit Insanity By Business Improvement Districts And Their Unhinged Obsession With Controlling Every Aspect Of Public Life In Los Angeles — And Unexpectedly Stepped Back And Just Said “No” — Is Holly Wolcott Going To Lose Her Job Over This?

As you’re no doubt aware, the City of Los Angeles has been trying for years to put together a proposed ordinance legalizing street vending.1 The problem, of course, is that business improvement districts and other zillionaire-associated pressure groups hate street vending with a passion that is so incomprehensible, so devoid of rationality, that no one can appease them. No matter what concessions the City gives them they want more. The absolutely unhinged nature of their psychotic demands are exemplified, e.g., in this tragic tale from the Westchester Town Center BID.

In March of this year the Central City Association distilled all these lunatic demands into a concise three page document. They include, among many other things, the ability to exclude street vendors from any part of the City for no reason, the ability to confiscate their carts if they look at the BID patrol crosseyed, the ability for property owners to veto their presence for no reason, and the requirement that street vendors pay extra money to business improvement districts for the privilege of operating within their boundaries.

Now, the City Council, usually willing to do whatever BIDdies ask them to do, has had to be somewhat more circumspect when it comes to street vending because of the intense public scrutiny. The state-level Democratic Party, e.g., has taken up general legalization as a social and economic justice issue, leading to the overwhelming passage of Ricardo Lara’s SB-946 a couple weeks ago.2 But more circumspect or not, they still have to give the BIDdies some respect or they’ll cut off their access to that rich source of campaign contributions.

This is probably why the Economic Development Committee asked the City Clerk to report back on how to make street vendors who operate within BIDs pay extra fees that would go to the BIDs as, I don’t know, like protection money or something. These report-backs typically reflect the deep psychosis of this City’s zillionaires, who really seem to think that their thoughts and feelings are objectively important rather than being only contextually important, with the context, of course, being campaign contributions.3

So what a surprise it was to learn that Holly Wolcott has filed a gem of a report, which calmly and decisively explains to the City Council that actually any such fee scheme would be illegal. What?! Wolcott explicitly suggests that if street vendors in BIDs create extra costs for the BIDs the BIDs can budget money to pay for them but they cannot legally force the vendors to pay.

Holly Wolcott, pretty famously, recently flipped out over the fact that the Venice Beach BID collected far more than a million dollars for 2017 and then didn’t actually do anything at all. She schemed successfully to force the BID to refund the unspent money, and, in the midst of a great deal of personal tension between the BIDdies and the Clerk’s office, the money was in fact refunded. Perhaps this uncharacteristically non-BID-agreeing-with report-back is more of the same? I’m not sure, but it sure is welcome. Turn the page for a transcription of Holly Wolcott’s peculiarly sensible report!
Continue reading Once Again The City Of Los Angeles Was Pushed To The Very Brink Of The Precipice Of Batshit Insanity By Business Improvement Districts And Their Unhinged Obsession With Controlling Every Aspect Of Public Life In Los Angeles — And Unexpectedly Stepped Back And Just Said “No” — Is Holly Wolcott Going To Lose Her Job Over This?

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On March 14, 2017 Grayce Liu Was Already Working Out Details Of Online Voting For The SRNC Subdivision Election With Everyone Counts Two Weeks Before City Council Even Approved The Plan — Obviously We Already Knew Representative Democracy In Los Angeles Is Highly Stylized Semantically Empty Performance Art Rather Than A Deliberative Or Even A Political Process — But Usually It’s Not Thrown So Boldly In Our Faces

I recently received almost three hundred pages of emails from 2017 between Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott and Department of Neighborhood Empowerment boss lady Grayce Liu. These are available here on Archive.Org. There’s a lot of quite interesting material there, most of it far off my beat, but there’s this one item in particular which is quite relevant.

It’s a March 14, 2017 email from Grayce Liu to Bill Kuncz of Everyone Counts informing him, among other things, of the fact that the City of Los Angeles would be using online voting for the April 6, 2017 Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision election. She told him “… that we would be able to move forward with using the online voting and voter registration platform for our subdivision election in a few weeks.”

The main problem with this, of course, is that the question of allowing online voting didn’t even come before the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners until March 20, 2017. It didn’t come before City Council’s Rules and Elections Committee until March 22, 2017, and it wasn’t finally approved by City Council until March 28, 2017.

You may well remember that at that March 22, 2017 meeting José Huizar announced his decision to allow online voting by reading a pre-written statement, showing conclusively that he’d made up his mind even before hearing public comment. This email shows that he’d made up his mind at least eight days before the meeting even took place.

To be sure, there’s nothing illegal about this behavior. There’s possibly nothing even immoral about it. But in the culture of the Los Angeles City Council, where no one votes against their colleagues’ desires for intra-district issues, it makes it even more glaringly clear that our local representative democracy is not functioning at all. A couple of zillionaires went to see Huizar in January 2017 and convinced him to destroy the SNRC and that’s all it took.

The decision was essentially finalized at that point with no public input, no deliberation, and no chance that wiser heads on the City Council would prevail. There are no wiser heads.1 No one even had the decency to tell Grayce Liu to wait for the formalism of City Council approval before acting on Huizar’s unilateral decision. Sadly, it’s business as usual. Turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading On March 14, 2017 Grayce Liu Was Already Working Out Details Of Online Voting For The SRNC Subdivision Election With Everyone Counts Two Weeks Before City Council Even Approved The Plan — Obviously We Already Knew Representative Democracy In Los Angeles Is Highly Stylized Semantically Empty Performance Art Rather Than A Deliberative Or Even A Political Process — But Usually It’s Not Thrown So Boldly In Our Faces

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In 2013 Kerry Morrison Told The City Council That Without City Oversight Of BID Compliance With The Public Records Act “It Is Very Possible That One Of The BID Boards Would Be Sued, Which Would Also Involve The City” — This Despite Decades Of Kerry Morrison’s Refusing To Have Her BID Be Overseen In Any Way — Protesting Any Proposed Oversight Schemes — And Repeatedly Violating The Brown Act And CPRA In Flamboyantly Intentional Ways

It seems that in 2013 the City was considering transferring BID management functions away from the City Clerk to some to-be-created Office of Imaginary Money-Shuffling Practices or suchlike nonsense. Obviously it didn’t happen, but nevertheless we’re still as lucky as can be to have recently discovered a copy of a letter written by Ms. Kerry Morrison, chock-full of her characteristically narcissistic stylings, in support of keeping BIDditude with the Clerk.

Her unwritten point is that the Clerk’s BID unit is already firmly under the thumb of the BIDs,1 and any change would be detrimental to the BIDs, therefore no change should be made, whatever the needs of the City, and these she really does not deign to consider, might be. Her written points are more prosaic, and except for one of these the interest mainly lies in counting her weirdly nonconscious invocation of cliches.2

Her sole interesting point, and it’s interesting mostly for the way it highlights her absolute indifference towards the truth, has to do with one of our favorite topics on this blog, which is the intersection of BIDdology with the Brown Act and the Public Records Act:

Because of litigation that our BID was involved in at the turn of the century, the boards that manage BIDs are now subject to the Public Records Act and the Brown Act. The City Clerk’s staff helps to ensure compliance. Absent this oversight, it is very possible that one of the BID boards would be sued, which would also involve the city of LA.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time to dissect the unselfconsciously sprinkled self-satisfied hermeneutics of this lil cupcake of a prose poem, However, let’s move past the break and consider some of the inaccuracies and omissions. And, of course, there’s also a transcription of the whole damn letter.
Continue reading In 2013 Kerry Morrison Told The City Council That Without City Oversight Of BID Compliance With The Public Records Act “It Is Very Possible That One Of The BID Boards Would Be Sued, Which Would Also Involve The City” — This Despite Decades Of Kerry Morrison’s Refusing To Have Her BID Be Overseen In Any Way — Protesting Any Proposed Oversight Schemes — And Repeatedly Violating The Brown Act And CPRA In Flamboyantly Intentional Ways

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Last Friday, May 18, Devine And Heumann Got Called On The Carpet At City Hall To Get Yelled At By Wolcott, Hoppes, Moreno, Bazley, And Possibly Molnar! — We Have A Copy Of The Refund Affadavit Letter Being Sent To VBBID Property Owners! — As Of This Wednesday, May 23, Tara Devine Still Hadn’t Submitted The Freaking Annual Planning Report — Moreno Coming At Her All Salty! — And Rightly So!

A bunch of new documents for you this morning, friends! You can look through the whole pile of them here on Archive.Org, and read on for some selected gems!

First of all, recall that the Venice Beach BID is being required by the City to refund most of the money collected from property owners in 2017 because they were too damn arrogant and/or incompetent to actually do anything other than pay themselves salaries with the almost two million dollars the City handed over to them.1

You can read this copy of the letter to property owners along with instructions for filling out the necessary affadavit. This was scheduled to be sent out on May 11. What’s more interesting, though, is this email exchange from May 8 between Tara Devine and Rita Moreno about when this letter was to be sent. First Rita Moreno emailed Tara Devine at 3:20 p.m. and said:

Hi Tara,

For your information, attached is the notice and instructions that will be mailed out on Friday. Also included will be the actual Affidavit and the return envelope.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Rita

A mere seven minutes later2 the shadowy one fired off this intemperate reply:

Thank you. To clarify, we want to sit down before anything is mailed . It is important that we understand the entire process.

I’m working now to schedule something as early as possible next week. (Monday is launch, so it can’t be Monday.)

Amazingly, Tara Devine does not seem to understand that she’s not in charge of this situation. She and her BIDdies out in Venice have messed up far, far beyond what’s acceptable to the City, and it takes an awful lot to get to that point. She does not have the leverage to set terms. Which is essentially what Rita Moreno said to her in reply.

Turn the page to read that reply as well as the story of Tara Devine and Steve Heumann’s May 18 meeting at City Hall with a bunch of angry City officials and the story of how as of this Wednesday, May 23, Tara Devine still hasn’t gotten that damn annual planning report in!
Continue reading Last Friday, May 18, Devine And Heumann Got Called On The Carpet At City Hall To Get Yelled At By Wolcott, Hoppes, Moreno, Bazley, And Possibly Molnar! — We Have A Copy Of The Refund Affadavit Letter Being Sent To VBBID Property Owners! — As Of This Wednesday, May 23, Tara Devine Still Hadn’t Submitted The Freaking Annual Planning Report — Moreno Coming At Her All Salty! — And Rightly So!

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Mike Bonin Told Taylor Bazley To Ask Rita Moreno If It Was Possible To Remove “A Specific Affordable Housing Development From The BID” — Rita Moreno Wrongly Told Him It Was Not Possible And Cited Tara Freaking Devine In Support Of Her Incorrect Theory — Yet Again The City Of Los Angeles Cedes Its Lawful Authority To BIDdies For Nefarious Reasons Of Its Own

Remember at the end of the hearing at which the City Council established the Venice Beach BID in November 2016 CD11 repster Mike Bonin told the audience that he was going to help get residential-use properties out of the BID. Listen to him here, and here’s what he said:

And I would just say one final thing to those who talked about the fact that they have properties that are zoned commercial but are used as residential. As I said when I met with
[unintelligible] recently, I am happy to help those folks get their properties rezoned as residential properties.

Bonin reneged on that promise, and since then he’s been parroting Tara Devine’s mendacious theory that there’s no way for commercially zoned properties to be removed from a BID even though the PBID law very clearly states otherwise.1 It empowers the City Council to lower assessments and/or to remove properties from a BID for any reason or no reason at all.2

Mike Bonin is so committed at this point to hewing to Tara Devine’s bizarre interpretation of the law that he even lets her respond to press inquiries on the matter using his name. And the City Clerk, Ms. Holly Wolcott, is also all-in on this theory, even though it’s provably wrong, wrong, wrong. So presumably her staff in the Clerk’s office are also true believers.

Thus it was not much of a surprise to learn from this January 2018 email exchange between CD11 Venice field deputy Taylor Bazley and City Clerk BID honcho Rita Moreno that Bonin was still obsessed with finding legal support, no matter how shaky and wrong it might be, for never ever removing any property from the BID ever.3

The short version is that Taylor Bazley wrote to Rita Moreno and was all can we remove a particular affordable housing project from the BID?! And Rita Moreno, who is evidently not even worried about getting popped for the unlawful practice of law, was all no way Taylor!! Properties can’t be removed from the BID for any reason whatsoever until the end of the BID!!

And to support her position she quoted a bunch of wrong-headed contradictory nonsense from Tara Devine! Anyway, there’s a transcription of the email thread and some commentary after the break, so read on, friends!!
Continue reading Mike Bonin Told Taylor Bazley To Ask Rita Moreno If It Was Possible To Remove “A Specific Affordable Housing Development From The BID” — Rita Moreno Wrongly Told Him It Was Not Possible And Cited Tara Freaking Devine In Support Of Her Incorrect Theory — Yet Again The City Of Los Angeles Cedes Its Lawful Authority To BIDdies For Nefarious Reasons Of Its Own

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The Venice Beach BID Annual Planning Report Provides An Opportunity For Mike Bonin To Unilaterally Remove Properties From The BID Or Reduce Their Assessments To Zero — This Could Happen This Month If Mike Bonin Will Do It!— No Zoning Change Required Even!— Maybe Some Constituent Pressure Will Convince Bonin To Use This Power?


Business improvement districts in California are required by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 at §36650 to submit an annual planning report to the City every year. The reports must subsequently be approved by the City Council.

One function of these reports is to explain how the BID will spend its money in the coming year, but they have another important purpose. According to the statute:

The report may propose changes, including, but not limited to, the boundaries of the property and business improvement district or any benefit zones within the district, the basis and method of levying the assessments, and any changes in the classification of property, including any categories of business, if a classification is used.

In other words BIDs are allowed to remove properties entirely or reduce their assessments, presumably all the way to zero if they so choose, merely by stating that they’ll do so in their annual planning report.

Now, the Venice Beach BID approved their APR at their April 13, 2018 meeting and submitted it to the City on April 30. They didn’t propose any changes in boundaries or assessment methods. But it turns out that, according to the law, they don’t have the final say. The statute says at §36650(c) that:

The city council may approve the report as filed by the owners’ association or may modify any particular contained in the report and approve it as modified.

So that means that not only can the BID use the APR to remove properties or to reduce their assessments even down to zero, but the City Council can do that also, even without the BID’s approval. And the way things work in the City of Los Angeles, that means that Mike Bonin himself can make the changes. There’s no way his colleagues are going to oppose him on a matter that affects only his district. Read on to see how this might actually lead to properties being removed from the BID this year!
Continue reading The Venice Beach BID Annual Planning Report Provides An Opportunity For Mike Bonin To Unilaterally Remove Properties From The BID Or Reduce Their Assessments To Zero — This Could Happen This Month If Mike Bonin Will Do It!— No Zoning Change Required Even!— Maybe Some Constituent Pressure Will Convince Bonin To Use This Power?

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Beachslapped!! — Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott Wrote To Mark Sokol And Tara Devine On April 18, 2018 Stating That More Than $1.3 Million Of The Venice Beach BID’s Unused 2017 Assessments Will Be Refunded To Property Owners Starting In July 2018 — A Monumental Development Considering The City’s Extreme Reluctance To Get Involved With Overseeing BIDs At All

At their March 9, 2018 meeting the Venice Beach BID Board of Directors discussed refunding some or all of the $1.8 million collected from property owners in 2017, most of which is unspent because the BIDdies took so long to get moving. You can read the minutes here, and there’s a transcription of the salient item after the break.

It appears from the minutes that the BID only agreed to inquire of the City whether a refund was possible. However, when City Clerk Holly Wolcott responded to the BID’s inquiry in an April 18, 2018 letter, she wrote as if the refund was a done deal. And since her office controls the money, it seems that it is a done deal. Wolcott says that refunds will issue beginning in July 2018.

This strikes me as yet another vote of no confidence in the beleaguered Venice Beach BID as run by Mark Sokol, Tara Devine, and the rest of their horrow-show crew. Although it’s well-known that under Wolcott the City of Los Angeles has essentially been completely unwilling to police BID activity in any way, she seems to be coming around to the idea that there’s something really, really wrong in Venice. There are transcriptions of everything after the break.
Continue reading Beachslapped!! — Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott Wrote To Mark Sokol And Tara Devine On April 18, 2018 Stating That More Than $1.3 Million Of The Venice Beach BID’s Unused 2017 Assessments Will Be Refunded To Property Owners Starting In July 2018 — A Monumental Development Considering The City’s Extreme Reluctance To Get Involved With Overseeing BIDs At All

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City Clerk Holly Wolcott’s New-Found Willingness To Enforce BID Contracts Revealed As The City Of Los Angeles Put The Venice Beach BID On Blast For Contract Violations In March 2018 — Wolcott Threatened A Disestablishment Hearing If Missing Material Weren’t Submitted By Deadline — Tara Devine Was All Not My Fault, Everybody’s Fault But Mine — BID Analyst Rita Moreno Was All Shut It, Tara, Obviously You’re A Liar — On April 30, 2018 Tara Devine Claimed That All The City’s Demands Were Met — Maybe So, Tara, But You’re Still A Liar!

Well, friends, if you’ve been following the saga of the Venice Beach BID for what seems like forever but has only been at least in the most recent iteration about two years, you’ll know all about how BID ED Tara Freaking Devine is not only overpaid as a BID consultant but she’s a liar and a damned liar and a lawbreaker and a damned lawbreaker and it took her and her white supremacist board of directors freaking forever to get their BID up and running.

Now, this kind of behavior on the part of a BID is bad enough, but from the City’s point of view the only really bad part is that the BID started 18 months ago and they’ve been collecting money from the property owners and they’re not spending it on the activities they’re meant to spend it on. Oh yes, and BIDs are also required to submit quarterly reports to the City and, this last by the actual state law regulating BIDs, an annual planning report to the City as well.1

And you surely won’t be surprised to learn that by March 19 of this year the damn BID hadn’t done any of that stuff at all. But what is surprising is that the City of Los Angeles decided to actually enforce their contract and the law. In furtherance of this worthy goal City Clerk Holly Wolcott sent VBBID boss honcho Mark Sokol a zinger of a letter stating that the BID was out of compliance and they had better get their act together quickly or else the City was going to hold a hearing to disestablish the BID per the PBID law at §36670.

Maybe this marks the start of a new policy, where the City of LA will actually encourage or maybe even force BIDs to follow the damn law. They’ve been absolutely unwilling to do this when it comes to CPRA compliance, but more recently have shown some teeth e.g. with respect to the contractual requirement to publish newsletters. Anyway, whatever’s going on there’s a transcription of Wolcott’s letter after the break and, as an extra special bonus, some discussion of some astonishingly whiny emails by Tara Devine about the noncompliance letter.
Continue reading City Clerk Holly Wolcott’s New-Found Willingness To Enforce BID Contracts Revealed As The City Of Los Angeles Put The Venice Beach BID On Blast For Contract Violations In March 2018 — Wolcott Threatened A Disestablishment Hearing If Missing Material Weren’t Submitted By Deadline — Tara Devine Was All Not My Fault, Everybody’s Fault But Mine — BID Analyst Rita Moreno Was All Shut It, Tara, Obviously You’re A Liar — On April 30, 2018 Tara Devine Claimed That All The City’s Demands Were Met — Maybe So, Tara, But You’re Still A Liar!

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BID Consultant John Lambeth Of Civitas Advisors Is Working On Forming The Echo Park BID For The City Of Los Angeles — And The Route 66 BID For That Matter — No One’s Paying Him For Route 66 And The City Won’t Act Promptly Re Echo Park — What’s A Putatively Ethical Consultant To Do? — Refuse To Sign The Damn Contract Until The City Gets Its Act Together!

Good God, could the neverending saga of the inchoate Echo Park BID get even weirder? Since you ask, the answer, of course, is obviously yes. You may recall that very recently Councilbaby Mitch O’Farrell moved that the City give BID consultants Civitas Advisors another heaping beaucoup de bigly bucks to let them continue working on the extraordinarily multiyear process of creating the Echo Park BID.

The City memorialized this effort in Council File 10-0154-S1, created on February 27, 2018 to contain the above-mentioned motion. On April 13, 2018 the full council adopted the motion which, for reasons I won’t even think about pretending to understand, doesn’t seem to require Mayoral concurrence to take effect. So they got the money, they got the BID consultant, what’s the damn problem?

Well, this newly obtained April 17, 2018 email from head Civitas Honcho John Lambeth to Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott about the progress of the also-pending Route 66 BID1 sheds some light on problems with the BID formation process in Echo Park.2 As always, there’s a transcription and commentary after the break.3
Continue reading BID Consultant John Lambeth Of Civitas Advisors Is Working On Forming The Echo Park BID For The City Of Los Angeles — And The Route 66 BID For That Matter — No One’s Paying Him For Route 66 And The City Won’t Act Promptly Re Echo Park — What’s A Putatively Ethical Consultant To Do? — Refuse To Sign The Damn Contract Until The City Gets Its Act Together!

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