Tag Archives: Holly Wolcott

Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Regarding Nicole Shahenian’s Violation Of LAMC 48.04(B) In 2014

Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster about the fact that East Hollywood BID Director Nicole Shahenian appears to have violated LAMC 48.04(B) by stating that the EHBID’s 2015 Annual Planning Report had been prepared at a Board meeting on December 29, 2014, when in reality no such meeting took place. Also maybe look at the actual complaint I filed with the Ethics Commission.

The main points are that the Clerk ought to institute some kind of oversight to make sure that this nonsense stops happening. The Ethics Commission will rule on Nicole Shahenian’s violation of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, but that only applies because she was coincidentally registered as a lobbyist in 2014. Most BID directors are not registered lobbyists,1 but many of them apparently lie about the APR approval process. This could potentially create dire consequences due to the fact that, e.g., BIDs can actually be disestablished for such transgressions, whether or not the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance is involved. Anyway, as I said, here is the letter as a PDF, and turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Regarding Nicole Shahenian’s Violation Of LAMC 48.04(B) In 2014

Eugene Van Cise Of The Los Angeles City Clerk’s Office Rode Around The Gateway To LA BID On His Bike In July 2016 As Part Of What He Referred To As A “BID Inspection” And Then Complained To Executive Director Laurie Hughes About Litter On 96th Street, Which Raises An Interesting Question About The Clerk’s (Lack Of) BID Oversight

Be careful to faithfully execute your duties, City of LA BIDs! Eugene Van Cise is riding around in your BID inspecting your litter!!
One of the emails in massive dump recently supplied by the Gateway to LA BID Executive Director Laurie Hughes was to her from City BID Analyst Eugene Van Cise. You can read it here for yourself,1 and the full text is available after the break, as always.

The short and long of it is, though, that in July 2016, Eugene Van Cise rode his bike around the Gateway to LA BID as part of what he called “a BID inspection” and then told Laurie Hughes that there was litter on the south side of 96th Street.2 He didn’t actually tell her to get the litter cleaned up, which seems kind of passive-aggressive on the part of Eugene Van Cise, but I suppose that that his the subtext. Now, this is the first time in my many years of intensive BIDological studies that I’ve heard of “BID inspections.” I don’t know if they’re new or have just been under my radar till now. Of course I welcome any kind of oversight of BIDs by the Clerk’s office, and there have been sporadic examples before now, but they’re weirdly inconsistent. Turn the page for details and discussion!
Continue reading Eugene Van Cise Of The Los Angeles City Clerk’s Office Rode Around The Gateway To LA BID On His Bike In July 2016 As Part Of What He Referred To As A “BID Inspection” And Then Complained To Executive Director Laurie Hughes About Litter On 96th Street, Which Raises An Interesting Question About The Clerk’s (Lack Of) BID Oversight

It Appears That East Hollywood BID Director Nicole Shahenian Lied To Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott About The Circumstances Of The Preparation Of The EHBID’s 2015 Annual Planning Report And, As Shahenian Was A Registered Lobbyist At The Time, Thereby Violated LAMC 48.04(B)

Nicole Shahenian, you got some splainin’ to do!
The background to this post is unavoidably technical and lengthy. If you’re already familiar with the Annual Planning Report process for BIDs as mandated by Streets and Highways Code §36650, you may want to skip directly to the report I submitted to the City Ethics Commission this morning.

One requirement that the Property and Business Improvement District Law places on BIDs, found at §36650, is the submission of annual planning reports (“APRs”) to the City Council:

The owners’ association shall cause to be prepared a report for each fiscal year, except the first year, for which assessments are to be levied and collected to pay the costs of the improvements, maintenance, and activities described in the report. … The report shall be filed with the clerk … 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.

And it seems that the BID isn’t allowed to spend money on stuff that’s not discussed in the APR, so it’s not a trivial matter.

The way this piece of code plays out in Los Angeles is that, first, a BID director submits the APR to the Clerk along with a formulaic cover letter. For instance, here is the one submitted by Nicole Shahenian on December 30, 2014 to accompany the East Hollywood BID’s APR for 2015. This is essentially the same letter submitted by all BIDs:

Dear Ms. Wolcott:
As required by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, California Streets and Highways Code Section 36650, the Board of Directors of the East Hollywood Business Improvement District has caused this East Hollywood Business Improvement District Annual Planning Report to be prepared at its meeting of December 29, 2014.

And don’t forget that state law requires the City Council to adopt the report either with or without modifications. In Los Angeles this part of the process is initiated by the Clerk sending another form letter to City Council, recommending that they adopt the BID’s APR. It’s my impression that the Clerk doesn’t recommend modifications to the report at this stage. These seem to be handled by Miranda Paster before the APR is submitted to Council, as in this example involving the Media District BID. Anyway, take a look at Holly Wolcott’s January 14, 2015 recommendation to City Council with respect to the East Hollywood BID’s APR. Like every such document, this states:

The attached Annual Planning Report, which was approved by the District’s Board at their meeting on December 29, 2014, complies with the requirements of the State Law and reports that programs will continue, as outlined in the Management District Plan adopted by the District property owners.

And it goes on from there to recommend:

That the City Council:

  1. FIND that the attached Annual Planning Report for the East Hollywood Property Business Improvement District’s 2015 fiscal year complies with the requirements of the State Law.
  2. ADOPT the attached Annual Planning Report for the East Hollywood Property Business Improvement District’s 2015 fiscal year, pursuant to the State Law.


But there are a number of problems with this story. First, it appears that the East Hollywood BID Board of Directors did not actually meet on December 29, 2014. In fact, it appears that they did not meet at all in December 2014. Of course, it’s notoriously difficult to prove a negative, but I’m going to give it a go.
Continue reading It Appears That East Hollywood BID Director Nicole Shahenian Lied To Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott About The Circumstances Of The Preparation Of The EHBID’s 2015 Annual Planning Report And, As Shahenian Was A Registered Lobbyist At The Time, Thereby Violated LAMC 48.04(B)

The Story Of How The Central City East Association Evidently Violated City Ethics Laws Restricting Campaign Contributions, Gave Illegally To Mitch O’Farrell and Marqueece Harris-Dawson In 2015, Lied About It On Their Tax Form, And I Turned Them In To The IRS And The Ethics Commission

CCEA: The truth may be out there but it’s not out there on our tax forms.
This story begins with the fact that the Central City East Association, which runs the infamous Downtown Industrial District BID, contributed $700 each to two City Council candidate campaigns in 2015. The money was given to Mitch O’Farrell of CD13 and Marqueece Harris-Dawson of CD8. You can see the record at the City Ethics Commission and also if it’s more convenient, here is a PDF of the same information.

This turns out to be a huge problem for a number of unrelated reasons. First and most simply, the CCEA is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization. Unlike the more famous 501(c)(3) organizations, 501(c)(6) groups are allowed to engage in lobbying, but it’s unclear whether they’re allowed to support candidates for office.1 However, irrespective of any restrictions on donations, there are very clear reporting requirements.

Take a look at the CCEA’s 2015 tax form. In particular, take a look at question 3 of part IV, found on page 3 of the form. It asks unambiguously:

Did the organization engage in direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office?

And, as you can see in the image that appears somewhere near this paragraph, the CCEA unambiguously stated that they did not. It’s hard to imagine a less ambiguous form of direct political campaign activities than giving actual money, amirite? Hence I turned them in to the IRS and also to the Franchise Tax Board for this lacuna. Stay tuned in case anything happens!

And it turns out that there are some more subtle, but potentially equally serious, problems with these two donations involving various municipal laws. Turn the page for the highly sordid but highly technical details!2
Continue reading The Story Of How The Central City East Association Evidently Violated City Ethics Laws Restricting Campaign Contributions, Gave Illegally To Mitch O’Farrell and Marqueece Harris-Dawson In 2015, Lied About It On Their Tax Form, And I Turned Them In To The IRS And The Ethics Commission

In Which I Use The Palisades BID As A Test-Case For A New Tactic In The Neverending Quest To Find Some Way To Force Business Improvement Districts To Comply With The California Public Records Act Without Having To File Yet Another Freaking Writ Petition

Laurie Sale is a sympathetic character, no doubt, but if we start letting our personal feelings towards people stand in the way of enforcing the law then anarchy will follow as surely as the night follows the day, so we’re not gonna do that! Plus even sympathetic characters, if they’re lawless, can still pose to be dangerous!
Here’s the short version of this post: Laurie Sale of the Palisades BID has been telling me for months that she is too busy to work on my CPRA requests. Yesterday she turns out to be too busy to send copies of emails in a reasonable format. She continues to be too busy to provide an estimated date of production even though CPRA requires it. She keeps telling me she only works half-time. BIDs sign a contract with the City which requires them to maintain staffing adequate for the completion of required work in a timely manner. CPRA compliance is required work. Being too busy to do it is not doing it in a timely manner. Too busy for CPRA, BIDs?? Breach of freaking contract!!

And here is a quick recap of how we got to this place. About 80% of the staff of this website grew up in Venice, so we all got really interested in the Venice Beach BID. Unfortunately, CD11 staffie Chad Molnar took offense at the use I made of the fruits of a couple CPRA requests and stopped complying with the law altogether, forcing me to turn him in to the City Ethics Commission. That’s going to take forever to resolve, though.

Thus thwarted in my attempts to learn about the inner workings of Mike Bonin’s weirdo little empire directly, I have turned to requesting materials of all the BIDs in his district, which are Westchester Town Center, Brentwood Village, Gateway to LA, and last, but never ever least, the Pacific Palisades BID,1 which was explicitly called out by Mike Bonin himself on the floor of the Council Chambers as one of the good BIDs. I have received some material from these halfwits-by-the-sea, which provided raw material for our most popular post in the month of January, but mostly their executive directrix, Laurie Sale, keeps telling me that she’s too damned busy to send stuff in a timely manner.

And finally, yesterday, she condescended to transmit a bunch of emails to me by forwarding them, with her own typed annotations prepended. I had asked for them in native format,2 and providing them in native format is required by CPRA.3 It’s important to get emails this way because it preserves the integrity of the headers and also it ensures that attachments arrive in precisely their native formats as well.4 I habitually request emails in native formats and most BIDs have figured out how to comply with this requirement. So I told Laurie Sale that her forwarded emails weren’t acceptable and could she please figure out how to send them in the right format. I can tell from her headers that she uses Outlook, so I sent her a link to Microsoft Support which explains how to export emails to a PST file. It’s not hard.

But she was having none of it. She fired back this cranky little number, stating:
Continue reading In Which I Use The Palisades BID As A Test-Case For A New Tactic In The Neverending Quest To Find Some Way To Force Business Improvement Districts To Comply With The California Public Records Act Without Having To File Yet Another Freaking Writ Petition

That Time In 2016 When Miranda Paster Forced The East Hollywood BID To Comply With Its Contract By Withholding $220,000 From Them Because They Hadn’t Sent In Their Quarterly Newsletters For Four Frickin’ Years. Nicole Shahenian: “Your Fault For Not Asking Sooner, Miranda!!!”

Nicole Shahenian explaining how just because you sign a contract doesn’t mean there oughta be consequences for not doing what it says, especially if you’re understaffed, whether or not the contract says you’re responsible for not being understaffed!!
OK, where to start? Well, how about with the contract that the East Hollywood BID signed with the City of Los Angeles?1 Right there on pages two and three, in section 2.6(B), it says:

Corporation shall maintain an ongoing liaison relationship with the community. Corporation’s responsibilities encompass the following areas:

B. Newsletters. Corporation shall prepare a District newsletter to be produced on a quarterly basis, at a minimum, and shall distribute this newsletter to all assessed property owners in the District. Corporation may, at Corporation’s option, provide the newsletter by standard mail or electronic transmission. The newsletter will be designed to facilitate and maximize the exchange of information between Corporation, City, and the members ofthe District. Each issue of the newsletter shall be submitted in duplicate to the City Clerk for reference.

So this explains why BID Analyst and City Clerk staffer Eugene Van Cise wrote to Nicole Shahenian, executive director of the East Hollywood BID, one fine day in May 2016:

Nicole,
I have invoices for $387.30, $72,291.74 and 146,852.71. Miranda has rejected payment because of our records indicate that we have not received the following newsletters:
2012: All 4 quarters.
2013: All 4 quarters.
2014: 1st & 2nd quarters.
2015: All 4 quarters.
2016: 1st quarter.
If you have these available, you may email them to me.
Please contact me if you should have any questions.

Add it up, friend! That’s almost $220,000 that Miranda Paster was holding back from the BID because they had failed to perform a clause in their contract for four years straight. This is quite a contrast to what Holly Wolcott told me in March of that year to the effect that the City had no power to make BIDs comply with CPRA even though compliance with CPRA is also a requirement in their contract.

Really, I’m beginning to think she was just lying to me because no one wants to comply with CPRA, but everyone wants freaking newsletters (?!) And why was Miranda Paster all of a sudden looking four years into the past for instances of noncompliance? Well, we will probably never know, but we can at least follow the rest of this story! Read on for a painfully detailed recounting (not to mention copies of the damned newsletters)!
Continue reading That Time In 2016 When Miranda Paster Forced The East Hollywood BID To Comply With Its Contract By Withholding $220,000 From Them Because They Hadn’t Sent In Their Quarterly Newsletters For Four Frickin’ Years. Nicole Shahenian: “Your Fault For Not Asking Sooner, Miranda!!!”

Open Letter To Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster Concerning Tara Devine’s Misleading Everyone With Her Discredited “Zoning Not Use” Theory

Holly Wolcott in her bully pulpit, explaining it all to you!
Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster about Tara Devine misleading everyone with respect to the question of whether commercial properties were necessarily included in the Venice Beach BID. There’s a transcription after the break, as always, for the PDF averse.

This is a fairly serious matter, and actually illegal if it turns out to be the case that Tara Devine was required to register as a lobbyist last year, as I have alleged that she was. The point is that since the Clerk’s office is supposed to oversee BIDs, they ought to oversee BID consultants as well, and since both honesty and integrity are explicit criteria for qualifying as a BID consultant perhaps these two ought to look into whether Tara Devine is actually qualified. Turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster Concerning Tara Devine’s Misleading Everyone With Her Discredited “Zoning Not Use” Theory

New Documents: Los Feliz Village BID Mailing List, Larchmont Village BID Tax Returns, Wilshire Center BID Tax Returns, Transactions, Bylaws

Los Feliz used to be a normal place, and maybe someday it will be again!
Just a quick note to announce a bunch of new materials. Most importantly, the Los Feliz Village BID, in the person of BID boss Rafik Ghazarian, sent me an Excel spreadsheet with mailing addresses for everyone in the BID. Given the months-long, dentaloextractivist-level dramatics created by the City of Los Angeles in the persons of asylum-running lunatics Miranda Paster and Holly Wolcott over e.g. the Venice Beach BID mailing list and the SLAIT BID mailing list,1 this is a surprising and welcome development. It’s especially laudable given that the Los Feliz Village BID has been the target of at least one significant attempt to destroy it, and, given that it’s a merchant-based BID, and thus required to renew each year, will certainly be so yet again.

I also have tax returns from the creepy little apartheid stronghold in South Central Hollywood known to the world as the Larchmont Village BID, as well as a bunch of assorted jive-ass nonsense from Mr. Mike out in Wilshire Center. Turn the page for links and descriptions.
Continue reading New Documents: Los Feliz Village BID Mailing List, Larchmont Village BID Tax Returns, Wilshire Center BID Tax Returns, Transactions, Bylaws

Pointy-Headed Longhaired Ivory-Tower-Dwelling Urbanists At Texas A&M Collaborated With Miranda Paster In 2015 On A Grant Proposal To Prove, Yet Again, That BIDs Are The Greatest Thing Ever And Holly Wolcott Had Doubts About Whether It Was A Good Idea Given The Hostile Political Climate

George Oliver Rogers, an exceedingly hip looking fedora-sporting professor of zillionaire-serving urbanist bullshit at Texas A&M and 2015 collaborator with Miranda Paster et alia on some densely-prosed lefty-fascistico-academic bosh-slash-nonsense that it’s barely worth your time to read. The dude himself, though, is cute. I’ll give him that!
I know we all have better things to do in our short lives than to voluntarily read a grant application written by a bunch of fedora-wearing Texan urbanists asking for boo-coo bucks to promote yet another weirdo theory about how BIDs are to cities as Jesus was to wedding-water. But it may, nevertheless, repay some attention, and I’m going to summarize and extract the interesting parts for your benefit. You’re welcome!

So it seems that in 2015 these fellows from Texas A&M got in touch with our old friend Ms. Miranda Paster and asked her for data and so forth for their grant application. Then they asked her to be a collaborator. You can get a copy of the whole darn stack of records I got from the City Clerk on Thursday. There are emails and a copy of the proposal itself in there.

And you can read the abstract here if you want to, and it’s transcribed after the break if you’re PDF averse, but the TL;DR is that they propose to prove that BIDs not only increase commercial property values but also residential property values.1 Interestingly, this topic of investigation turned out to be a big red flag for Holly Wolcott when it came to approving Miranda Paster’s participation. She approved Miranda Paster’s participation in 2015, but by 2016, when the professors were fixin’ to resubmit their grant,2 Miranda Paster declined to participate, citing unspecified “concerns.” See the full story after the break.

Also, Miranda Paster has hitherto been somewhat of a conundrum in the field of anti-BID studies. She exercises an inordinate amount of control over BID activities, she presents at pseudoscholarly pro-BID conferences, helps shape pro-BID messaging, and arranges for BIDs to lobby the City of Los Angeles, and yet we3 have been able to discover surprisingly little about her. Well, this latest document dump has changed that to some extent. As part of the application process, Miranda Paster submitted a brief professional biography. Again, find a transcription after the break.
Continue reading Pointy-Headed Longhaired Ivory-Tower-Dwelling Urbanists At Texas A&M Collaborated With Miranda Paster In 2015 On A Grant Proposal To Prove, Yet Again, That BIDs Are The Greatest Thing Ever And Holly Wolcott Had Doubts About Whether It Was A Good Idea Given The Hostile Political Climate

So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!

Deputy Dan Halden thinking about breakfast with Kerry and the boys at the Brite Spot. If you don’t want to be depicted as a cartoon, stop acting like a cartoon. It’s that simple.
Good Lord, there’s too much to describe, but this is a rich, rich set of documents. I spent more than two hours at City Hall this morning scanning this nonsense, and here it is, in the rawest possible form. There are gems in that mine, friends, but until I have time, you’ll have to scratch them out your own self. For now they’re all up on our Archive.Org account. There’s stuff about the Venice Beach BID, and Carol Schatz‘s lil baby, the Downtown Center BID got audited in 2013, Daniel Halden and Kerry H. Morrison are up to their usual dimwitted antics, Miranda Paster collaborated on a grant with a bunch of longhair sociologists at TAMU, and the freaking Arts District freaking redux!! Here’s a list with links and brief descriptions:
Continue reading So Many New Documents! CD13 and HPOA Emails, Arts District BID Shenanigans, Miranda Paster In The Ivory Tower, Carol Schatz’s Pet Baby BID Gets Audited, Venice Beach BID And The State Of California!!