In short, the story started with private security guards at a Rick Caruso hypermall in Glendale flipping out because someone was taking pictures and not shopping, escalated to an attempt to get the Glendale PD to stop the guy and identify him, and ended up in Hollywood with then Hollywood Station Boss Commander Peter Zarcone reading through legally distributed pamphlets, deciding that they were acceptably critical of bad Islamist stuff, and subsequently reporting the distributors, law-abiding Muslims from the Islamic Institute of Orange County, to the LAPD’s Major Crimes Division.
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.
This summer, thinking about the important role that LACAN’s pictures and video of LA Sanitation’s aggressive clean-ups of homeless encampments downtown have played in e.g. Mitchell v. Los Angeles, it occurred to me that it ought to be possible to get advance notice of encampment cleaning actions from the City via the California Public Records Act. Well, like everything involving CPRA, it turned out to be far more complicated than one might expect in advance.
Amazingly, Sanitation did supply me with materials. It was just the part about getting them in advance of the clean ups that was difficult. On August 5 I asked for the first time. On August 17 they asked for an extension. On September 13, after a certain amount of wheedling on my part, they sent me material for July and August, and a few days later, partial material for September. Still nothing in advance, though:
The text for this morning’s sermon, brothers and sisters, is from the Gospel of Thomas:1
Listen! A sower went out to sow. He filled his hand and cast the seed. Some fell on the road; the birds came and ate the seed. Others fell on the rock, sprouted, and dried up. And others fell on the thorns, which choked them and insects ate them. And others fell on the fertile ground of freaking Tony Hoover, founder of freaking Red Line Tours, and multiplied a freaking zillionfold into a veritable magic freaking beanstalk of crazy.
Well, the disciples of Jesus also didn’t get what he was talking about, so I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about having to fill in some backstory.
See, last week, according to the Beverly Press, Councilmoppet Mitch O’Farrell announced that he and now-retired-from-his-position-as-clean-government-poster-boy-but-still-active-as-Councilmember-more’s-the-freaking-pity David Ryu of CD4 had introduced a motion in Council to put an end to what they claim to see as the desperate, wanton, willful, and ongoing destruction of what passes for the quality of life of people who actually live in Hollywood by tour bus operators on the Boulevard, mostly between Orange and Vine. It’s something about how they try to hand you flyers and ask you where you’re from even though you are obviously from Los Angeles.2
Well, if you’ve been paying attention to this blog at all, you will immediately suspect that (a) neither Mitch O’Farrell nor David Ryu give the first flying fuck about tour buses on Hollywood Boulevard and (b) they are channeling the concerns of that master covert lobbyist and famously blue-nosed Mrs. Grundy whose nom de Hollywood is Ms. Kerry Morrison.3 Kerry Morrison is, as is her wont, concerned about what she calls “civility on the public right of way” and the rest of us call “killing off or at least arresting everyone who scares her or doesn’t have a lot of money.”
I have not yet had time to track down records pertaining to the current incarnation of Kerry Morrison’s obsession with tour buses.4 But the story in the paper reminded me that I had a bunch of unprocessed material from the City Attorney from 2012 on this very subject. So I put that all together and put it up on the Archive (as well as locally if you prefer), where you can read it at will. It concerns a so-called “Tour Bus Working Group,” put together by Kerry Morrison and including the usual representatives of the City and the Hollywood zillionaire elite.
Recall that in April 2015 the two HPOA BIDs, the LAPD, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce revealed an ongoing conspiracy to shut down minority-serving entertainment venues in Hollywood. Their favored technique for doing this is hyperenforcement of Conditional Use Permits (CUPs). These documents contain numerous restrictions on the operations of bars, restaurants, and so on. Violating these conditions while operating is actually a crime, and owners and employees of venues can be arrested for doing so. This actually happens, e.g. in the shameful case of the Rusty Mullet. Keep that in mind. The LAPD can physically arrest restaurant employees for violations of the CUP. It can also shut the venue down immediately if the CUP is being violated.
Now, in November 2015, eight months after the BID and Zarcone began targeting nightclubs and bars that they didn’t like,1 the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance sponsored a music festival centered around Cahuenga Boulevard between Hollywood and Selma, notably the most caucasian micro-neighborhood in Hollywood-nightlife-land. Thus, on September 9, 2015, Kerry Morrison wrote to LAPD and CD13:
This festival is intended to present a neighborhood “night-life” experience in Hollywood. We are trying to change the image of Hollywood by celebrating the authentic music and artistic options that are here. As such, the BID is “curating” over four days/nights dozens of different musical experiences, acts, pop-up art shows, comedy, etc — and inviting the public in to experience Hollywood as a walkable neighborhood. … The activity is largely going to be centered around Selma and Cahuenga — very little will happen on Hollywood Blvd.
Maybe you remember our semi-recent post about the July 28 meeting of the Joint Security Committee, in which some genius of a Sheriff’s deputy poured forth a never-ending stream of genius-level similes, including a comparison of sidewalk vendors at MacArthur Park with “too many animals in one cage.” Well, with all the furor over Hollywood nightclub totalitarianism, we’ve been too busy to get back to that video until this morning. Take a look here as our friends on the committee and some random cop discuss the Rusty Mullet. As always, a complete transcription may be found at the end of this post, but here is essentially what was discussed in this metaphorically smoke-filled back room.
A couple weeks ago we wrote about a Zoning Administrator hearing being held for the purpose of revoking the Rusty Mullet’s conditional use permit. Well, the hearing was held on July 28, 2016. As far as we know a determination has not yet been made, but we recently obtained more than five hours of audio from the hearing. You can listen to part I and also part II here. It’s not easy to get through the whole damned thing, which is why you’re lucky to have us! We’ve listened to the whole thing and made clips of some interesting bits. Note that as long as we were haunting City Hall to get this material we also obtained audio from the CUP revocation hearings for the Cosmo Nightclub and the Cashmere, and you can find both of those on this Archive.org page.
Now, long-time readers of this blog will recall that in March 2015 we broke the story that Fabio Conti, Carol Massie, Kerry Morrison, Marty Shelton, and pretty much everyone on the Board of Directors of the Sunset & Vine BID except for Chase Gordon are a bunch of racists who want to shut down every bar on Hollywood Boulevard because they don’t like the skin color of the patrons. So imagine our pleasure at learning that Mike Ayaz, the Rusty Mullet’s lawyer, actually showed our video at the hearing! This was part of the evidence for his position, with which we concur, that the restaurant appears on a hit list of bars being targeted for racist reasons by the BID, the LAPD, and the City Government. You can hear the whole clip here, where he refers to Fabio’s speech as “disturbing video which I would like to play of a quasi-governmental agency that basically…I think I’ll let the video speak for itself.” And speak for itself it does:
Be sure to catch the audience reaction at the end. It doesn’t make anyone sane happy to hear Fabio Conti channeling Marty Shelton claiming that “the Lindsey Lohans of the world are not hanging out at the Rusty Mullet” with the regulars, who are “decidedly minority, brown and black, and my guess, from a lower economic strata.” These dimwits on the BID are clearly going to regret the day they neglected to listen to their one and only sane Board Member, Chase Gordon, who responded to this bullshit in March 2015 by saying that he didn’t “think that we should be, especially public-facing, going out with the distinction of ‘we don’t want lower economic statuses coming and visiting Hollywood.” Anyway, who can say what will happen, but we here at MK.org are inordinately proud on this beautiful Sunday morning that the citizen journalism of our intrepid correspondent is paying off in this big way. This story is a sleeper, but when it finally makes the papers, it’s going to be huge.
Listen, this isn’t a joke. First get a copy of the hearing notice in the matter of the Rusty Mullet, being held at the Zoning Commission tomorrow morning. Then read the LAPD summary:
Los Angeles Police Department arrest report and crime analysis documentation of: multiple violations of Conditional Use Permit conditions including, failure to have an operable electronic age verification device, failure to implement a Designated Driver Program, failure to post mandated hours of operation, excess number of seats, allowance of amplified music to extend beyond the premises, allowance of live amplified music, allowance of dancing, allowance of loitering, and allowance of patrons to queue in line outside the premises; as well as, murder, rapes, aggravated assaults, assault with a deadly weapon, batteries, physical altercations, kidnapping, possession of a weapon, narcotic drug violations, grand theft auto, robberies, burglary, thefts, service of an obviously intoxicated person, failure of security guard to possess valid security guard license, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, vandalism, and violation of State of California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control required operating conditions.
This would be unbelievable if the whole thing weren’t captured on video. On November 23, 2015, at least four BID Patrol security guards (Mike Coogle, along with Wissman, Tizano, and Cox) confronted a man who was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the Metro Red Line station at Hollywood and Vine. They talked to him for almost four minutes, during which time he didn’t answer their questions and mostly ignored them. At 3:55 in the video one officer says to another “you want him?” The other says yes, so they grab him and push him over.
Soon all four of them are piled on top of him and trying to put handcuffs on him. Coogle claimed that the man kicked him during this episode, and ultimately they didn’t even arrest him for violating LAMC 41.18(d). Instead they arrested him for battery for kicking Coogle. When LAPD officers Adams (#34837) and Galicia (#41404) showed up and accepted the man into custody with the approval of their supervisor, LAPD Sgt. Chuck Slater. You can read the full story in the arrest report, although it doesn’t answer the main question I have about this incident: How did the LAPD decide to arrest Jones for battery rather than the BID Patrol officers?