Tag Archives: International Downtown Association

How The City Of Los Angeles Arranges For Itself To Be Lobbied By BIDs Even Though The City Attorney Requires Most City Contractors To Be Explicitly Forbidden From Lobbying The City By Means Of A Contract Clause

Kerry Morrison not thinking of herself as a lobbyist, even though she does lobby and the City of Los Angeles encourages her to lobby.
Kerry Morrison not thinking of herself as a lobbyist, even though she does lobby and the City of Los Angeles encourages her to lobby.
Issues surrounding business improvement districts and the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance have been fraught with controversy at least since 2009, when the Los Angeles Ethics Commission submitted a comprehensive report to City Council proposing a series of reforms to the law.

One minor part of their proposal would have clarified without altering the application of these laws to business improvement districts which then, as now, are almost certainly required to register as lobbyists, even though none of them do nor have they ever. This minor clause in a major reform proposal kicked off a whirlwind of mouth-slavvery craziness on the part of the BIDs, which ended with Eric Garcetti effectively killing the CEC’s proposal in 2010 for no good reason other than that Kerry Morrison giggled at him in a committee meeting.1

So it was with a great deal of interest that I read in this Power Point thing from 2012 that, according to Miranda Paster, who is in charge of the division of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office which oversees BIDs, that she considers part of her duties under the heading of “Optimal Government/Taxpayer BID oversight” to be to “encourage BIDs to lobby council members.”2
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Miranda Paster, Subverter Of Arts District BID Alternatives: Some Of What $3000 Bought The BIDs of Los Angeles Over The Years And How She Got Temporarily “Bumped” Due To Allegations Of Conflict Of Interest

I can't find any usable pictures of Miranda Paster, so here's another picture of Holly Wolcott!
I can’t find any usable pictures of Miranda Paster, so here’s another picture of Holly Wolcott!
Miranda Paster is the director of the LA City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement Division (NABID), which administers the City’s BID program. Her job description (updated in February 2014) includes among her duties presenting at the conferences of the International Downtown Association:1 …deliver formal presentations, including analyses and recommendations, to the City Council and its Committees and International Downtown Association Conferences…

The story begins in 2011,2 when BIDs gave Miranda Paster $3000 to attend the IDA’s 2011 annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Take a look at this collection of emails and records of payments from 2011. These show that less than two weeks before the conference started, Paster was scrambling to get the money together to attend, but that she already had a commitment from the BIDs to pay $3000 (a log of the actual payments is included there). It seems that in 2011, Paster’s attendance at this conference was a new thing for her, as the financing was arranged in such a hurry. I’m guessing that at this point presenting at this conference was not yet part of Paster’s official duties. It’s a rare bureaucracy indeed which will not pay its employees’ expenses to carry out their duties. So the BIDs paid, buying at least a sense of obligation.

Unfortunately, IDA records of the 2011 conference don’t seem to show what Paster did there, but by the 2012 conference, held in Minneapolis, she was a panelist. This is interesting in itself. The panel, moderated by Rena Leddy, now of the Fashion District BID but then of Progressive Urban Management Associates, or PUMA,3 was entitled How Cities Encourage BIDs: Trends and Challenges.4 Here is a copy of a Power Point summary of the session, which is astonishing in its own right.5

Now, you may not be familiar with the story of the destruction and resurrection of the Arts District BID. It began in 2011 when Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City development initiated a campaign against the BID based on the theory that BID assessments used for marketing campaigns didn’t benefit assessed property owners in any way allowed under state law.6 A court case ensued, and in May 2013 Superior Court judge Robert O’Brien ordered the BID to dissolve.
Continue reading Miranda Paster, Subverter Of Arts District BID Alternatives: Some Of What $3000 Bought The BIDs of Los Angeles Over The Years And How She Got Temporarily “Bumped” Due To Allegations Of Conflict Of Interest

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Property Owner and Unwilling Media District BID Member Toni Werk Wonders Where Her $12,000 Went. We Have the Answer!

Media District BID property owner Toni Werk's parcel at 6065 Melrose Avenue. She's paid over $12,000 into the BID for this piece of land. Where has it all gone? (Image via Google Street View).
On October 7, 2014, Hollywood Media District BID property owner Toni Werk wrote to Jim Omahen, HMD operations director, about her parcel at 6065 Melrose Avenue. The gist of her complaint is this:

For the more than $12,000 that I have contributed to the BID, I, or my tenant, have not received one word of promotion in your newsletter. During business hours, my tenant says he has seen your bike patrol only a few times. And during after hours, there is no one staying on our property to phone your Security Patrol if there is an issue. As I originally did not want to participate in the bid [
sic], and I voted no against it again, I have been forced to pay a tax that has not been any benefit to me or my tenant.

Indefatigably feckless dudebro Steven Whiddon running over that long list of MBA jargon in his mind, because it WILL be on the test!
Indefatigably feckless dudebro Steven Whiddon running over that long list of MBA jargon in his mind, because it WILL be on the test!

Jim, rightfully, forwarded this complaint on to his boss, the jolly but rather knuckle-headed Steven Whiddon, who replied, in characteristically evasive1 fashion, replied:

I am happy to report that Captain John Iragoyan [
sic] and myself [sic] completed a site visit of your property 6065 Melrose Avenue. We spoke with your leasee, [sic] Tom Pena about the issues you stated in the email below. We made sure he understands we are here to serve and has all of our contact information. He understands that he can contact us at any time to assist with the issues below. …

Thank you again for reaching out to us.2

Notice how Steven doesn’t mention the money at all. Read on to see just where DID that $12,000 go…
Continue reading Property Owner and Unwilling Media District BID Member Toni Werk Wonders Where Her $12,000 Went. We Have the Answer!

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