You can read a transcription after the break, but the upshot is that, as the DA received my complaint 91 days after the incident, they were barred by the Brown Act, which requires action within 90 days, from doing anything about it. However, Alan Yochelson, who handles Brown Act matters for the DA, saw fit to advise Jeffrey Charles Briggs to tell his client, the LFVBID, that such discussions as were had outside of duly noticed public meetings by the BIDdies, were against the fricking law.
You may recall that a couple weeks ago I published a big stack of emails from the famed Los Feliz Village BID. Amongst these were this little gem of an email chain, wherein the entire Board of Directors of the LFVBID, over the course of about two weeks in May 2017, discuss some nonsense relating to something called Urban Air Market. The facts themselves are as tedious as can be but, as I noted previously, the Brown Act at §54952.2(b)(1) explicitly forbids this kind of thing:
A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
Ah, friends, just another desultory announcement of yet another batch of public records obtained from our friends at the BIDs, the meaning of none of which is yet clear, but we don’t let that worry us here in MK-dot-Org-landia. Everything happens for a reason, as they say, and I’m sure all this junk is no exception and some day it will prove to comprise crucially important pieces in puzzles whose very existence is as yet undiscerned. But for now I’m just announcing its existence, and do with it what you will. Anyway, here’s what I got:
Emails between the East Hollywood BID and the City of LA — March 2017 through July 2017. There are 110 emails here, attachments are attached to the emails, it’s amazing how empty of content this batch is. About 84% of them consist of Nicole Shahenian trying to get people to use her new email at ehbid.org. I don’t know for sure but I’d bet money that she made this switch because of my CPRA requests. Also, Aram Taslagyan’s replacement as CD13 East Hollywood field deputy introduces himself herein, but I already forgot his name.
East Hollywood BID quarterly reports 2012-2016 — BIDs are required by their contracts with the City to submit quarterly reports with updates on how they’ve been spending their money.1 These are useful to have on hand for reference. There’s nothing in these that stands out right now, but I haven’t read them carefully yet nor even looked at all of them.
Media District emails with the City of LA — And also a few from the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance folks, although nothing substantial. Again, it’s essential to have this material on hand for reference. There doesn’t seem to be much of special interest here, although there’s a lot more evidence of Rita Moreno’s uncharacteristically activist style as a BID analyst with the Clerk’s office, which is abstractly a good thing, although certainly she’s not going to be an activist if it upsets the BIDs too much.
Media District emails about Andrews International Security contract — The Media District BID is in the process of hiring infamous private security monolith Andrews International as its security provider, to begin July 1. These are some emails about the process. The most interesting things here are the attachments, which include A/I’s standard contract as well as proposed pricing matrices and so on. Andrews International famously runs the infernal Hollywood BID Patrol for the even-more-infernal Hollwood Property Owners Alliance just North of the Media District, so everything about them is interesting. There is much more material to come regarding this matter, and I will write about it in detail as it comes in, but it’s essential enough that I thought I’d better publish what I had immediately.
Yesterday evening, BID-lawyer-to-the-stars Jeffrey Charles Briggs passed along almost 200 emails between Media District BID executive director Lisa Schechter and various people at the City of Los Angeles. These are available en masse at Archive.Org. As always, there’s a lot of chaff in there and a few super-interesting things.1 Perhaps today’s story is an example of the latter.
It began on February 28, when Rita Moreno, newly of the Neighborhood and Business Improvement Division of the City Clerk’s office, the unit that’s meant to oversee the operations of BIDs and make sure that they follow the law and stuff, emailed a bunch of BIDdies to introduce herself and note that only a few of them had their meeting times posted on their websites. Of course, the Brown Act explicitly requires BIDs to notice their meetings on their websites,2 but that’s actually not why Rita was on about this. She was just trying to find out when they met so that she could attend. In fact, it’s not even clear that Rita Moreno knew about the Brown Act requirement.
However, the very next day, our old friend Lisa Schechter of the Hollywood Media District BID, who is not generally known for her law-abiding behavior but who has by now been educated by years of our intense scrutiny to the point where, I hope, she’s beginning to realize that it’s just easier to follow the law,3wrote back to Rita Moreno, fishing for praise from this unlikely authority figure:
Just to reiterate, all of our meetings are posted in accordance with the Brown Act (Committee as well as Board) – Further you have been placed on our automatic distribution list which triggers and [sic] email directly to you for all of our meetings. If you should require any further information please do not hesitate to contact myself or our operations manager, Jim Omahen.
For a brief moment this morning, I was worried that it’s a bad thing that my coverage of the Pacific Palisades BID, initiated mainly because of a confluence of my interest in CD11 and the fact that the criminal intransigence of Mike Bonin’s staff has made it essentially impossible for me to get records directly from them, is tending fairly unexpectedly towards the navel-gaze, self-reference, point-is-to-understand-the-world, nerdview rather than towards the outward-looking, the-point-is-to-change-it focus which is somewhat of an ideal around here. That anxiety took me about 35 seconds to get over, so we’re going meta again this morning sans apologia.1
In any case, whatever her manifold faults as a CPRA client may be, Laurie Sale, executive directrix of the Palisades BID, is at least a reliable source of minutes and agendas. You may recall that she was previously kind enough to send me the PPBID’s 2016 minutes and agendas, and this weekend she sent me the 2017 minutes and agendas through February. There’s some interesting stuff in there, primarily about street vending, which I will write on quite soon. The minutes also suggest that CD11 field deputy Sharon Shapiro2 is an actual member of the PPBID’s Board of Directors. I’ll be looking into this, not least because it’s reminiscent of Debbie Dyner Harris’s ill-fated attempt to nab a voting seat for CD11 on the Board of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association, which was slapped down ignominiously by City Attorney Mike Feuer as a conflict of interest.
But never mind that for now. The text for today’s sermon is this little slab of nonsense, found in the BID’s minutes for February 1, 2017:
BID received requests for public records – copies of meeting minutes, agenda, emails back and forth within the City, etc. from a gentleman who is requesting this from many BIDs. Elliot made a motion to retain attorney not to exceed $4,000. Rick seconded, all approved, motion carried. In the event that this person wants copies made, then we need to request payment. Rick motioned: “we don’t want to make it difficult for him, but to rather provide him every access to public records according to the strictest rules of law so that it doesn’t provide any financial detriment to the property owners of our business improvement district.” Susan seconded. Unanimously approved, motion carries.
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:
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.
ADOPT the attached Annual Planning Report for the East Hollywood Property Business Improvement District’s 2015 fiscal year, pursuant to the State Law.