Tag Archives: José Huizar

Annals Of Utter Abject Mind-Numbing Shamelessness — Morrie Goldman Wants To Know If Gil Cedillo Will Be At PLUM Next Week — Cause He Needs Him For A Quorum — Cause Englander Is Gonna Be Out — Debby Kim Has Nothing More To Say Beyond “He Will Be There :)” — Yes, The Smiley Face Is Part Of The Quote — Even The Damn Rats Are Embarrassed At This Point

Background first. There’s Morrie Goldman. Lobbyist who runs Urban Solutions LLC, a lobbying firm. Famously caught up in the slow motion putrefaction of what was, at one time, known as Jose Huizar’s political career. Well-known friend of Gil Cedillo, at least as the word is understood at 200 N. Spring Street. Favor asker. Supplicant. Then there’s Gil Cedillo. Career politician. Wielder of vast power. Mover. Shaker. Favor granter. Supplicatee.

Or, you know, that’s how I always thought things worked in City Hall. The Councilmembers were in charge and the lobbyists asked them for goodies on behalf of clients and paid them off for their cooperation. But I recently obtained a steaming heap of emails between CD1 staffers and various lobbyists, and amongst them was this email conversation from 2015 between Morrie Goldman and Cedillo chief of staff Debby Kim1 which forces a quantum-level re-envisioning of that narrative, featuring Morrie Goldman as Keyser Soze and Cedillo with nothing more than some kind of walk-on role in his own career.

The whole exchange is just four emails long. Only the first two really matter. A week before the meeting, Goldman emails Kim to ask if Cedillo will be at PLUM on June 23, 2015. He says “We have an item coming to PLUM that day and need him for a quorum. Englander is out.” Kim’s reply? “He will be there :)” So yeah, in case you hadn’t realized, lobbyists don’t only tell Councilmembers how to vote and then deliver payola in return. They also call roll in advance and make sure the reps show up when they’re needed to vote. It’s unexpected and creepy at the same time.

And conceivably it’s also a Brown Act violation, since at that time the entire PLUM committee consisted of Jose Huizar, Cedillo, and Englander. Communications through intermediaries between a majority of the members, which would be two of them, constitutes an illegal serial meeting.2 So Goldman insinuating to Cedillo’s staff that Englander would have voted in favor is probably not OK. The statute of limitations is long gone, though.

And of course, the question of what issue Goldman needed Cedillo present to vote on is an essential one. I don’t yet know for sure, but here’s the PLUM agenda from June 23, 2015. The only matter on there of any consequence is CF 15-0721, which has to do with a CEQA appeal against the AMPAS project on Wilshire, which is likely to be the vote Goldman was worried about. Oh, one more thing! Notice how Goldman doesn’t even have to ask how Cedillo’s voting? That’s all been settled already.

And that’s the sordid little story of who’s calling the shots in the relationships between lobbyists and their pet councilmembers. Turn the page for a transcription of the emails themselves, so ordinary and yet so shocking.
Continue reading Annals Of Utter Abject Mind-Numbing Shamelessness — Morrie Goldman Wants To Know If Gil Cedillo Will Be At PLUM Next Week — Cause He Needs Him For A Quorum — Cause Englander Is Gonna Be Out — Debby Kim Has Nothing More To Say Beyond “He Will Be There :)” — Yes, The Smiley Face Is Part Of The Quote — Even The Damn Rats Are Embarrassed At This Point

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Gil Cedillo, Morrie Goldman, George Yu — CD1’s Unholy Trinity — Cedillo Met With Corrupt Huizar-Linked Lobbyist Goldman 25 Times Since Taking Office In July 2013 — George Yu Of The Chinatown BID Is A Client Of Goldman’s — They Eat Lunch With Cedillo And Hate On Street Vendors — Same Old Story At 200 N Spring Street — And Bonus Sleaze! — Morrie Goldman Brings Lightstone To Meet With Cedillo About A Giant Hotel Project Not Even In His District! — Cause Why Should Huizar Get All The Dirty Money?! — But There Are Things Too Sleazy Even For Cedillo! — Read On To Find Out What!

Morrie Goldman is a former Council staffer who now runs a lobbying firm called Urban Solutions. Of course lately he’s much-discussed because of his person-of-interest flavored links to José Huizar. And it turns out that Goldman hasn’t just been spending quality time with Huizar, but that he’s a regular dining companion of Gil Cedillo as well.

I recently obtained a whole slew of calendars from some of Cedillo’s staffies and, importantly, Cedillo himself. Take a look at what I have so far and especially see Cedillo’s appointment calendar from 2013 through 2018. The PDF is searchable, and just for kicks, search it for “Morrie.” You’ll see 25 hits, all for meetings with Morrie Goldman, at the finest restaurants, with clients, for drinks, and so on. This, of course, is evidence. It’ s just not yet clear what it’s evidence of.

Some of the clients are listed, e.g. Clear Channel is in there a lot, probably because everyone who’s not a politician hates them. United American Properties, which was, maybe still is, developing property in Westlake, also makes an appearance. But many of the listings don’t identify the issues to be discussed, some don’t even identify the clients whose issues Goldman is to lobby Cedillo on. Which is why calendars are always just a starting point. Emails are what’s needed!1

And not only did I manage to obtain these calendars, but I also got this fabulous spool of emails, mostly between Debbie Kim and Morrie Goldman, with special guest appearances by Goldman’s fellow Huizar-scandal-person-of-interest Art Gastelum!2 And there’s all kind of action in those emails, believe me! And some of the action involves an old friend of this blog, everybody’s favorite psychopathic rageball, Mr. George Yu of the Chinatown BID! Apparently the BID, or to be precise the property owners association, is Goldman’s client.3

And Goldman goes with Yu to meet Cedillo and eat lunch and talk about things like street vending, which all BIDdies hate, but which Yu hates more than the average BIDdie, cause, in addition to rage, Yu is just that much more than average filled with hate. From the evidence I have Goldman and Yu met with Cedillo three times since 2015 over street vending (one, two, and three). And what did Cedillo have to say about it to the BIDdies, especially given that he’s on the record as supporting legal street vending in Los Angeles? Well, I don’t know.4

And the emails also show that on January 29, 2016 Goldman sought a meeting for representatives from Lightstone with Cedillo. Lightstone is, of course, famous for its Fig + Pico project, right smack in the middle of Huizar’s CD14. This is the project for which the City agreed to more than $100 million in tax rebates. And why was Goldman so eager to introduce his clients to Cedillo when they were building in CD14?

Well, Goldman says in the emails that it’s because “they are actively looking at other sites” but I’m willing to bet some money that it had more to do with the fact that at that time Cedillo was on the Economic Development Committee, which voted to move the project forward on February 9, 2016, less than two weeks after Goldman started arranging the meeting.5

And finally there’s this snazzy little number from 2017, wherein Morrie Goldman invites Gil Cedillo to take part in a press conference that his client Clear Channel, the most criminally inclined billboard company in the history of billboard companies, is putting together to celebrate National Missing Children’s Day.6 But Cedillo staffers Fredy Ceja and Arturo Chavez, even though they agree that missing children are a good cause and so on, don’t think “the perception” is good for their boss. Turn the page to read a transcription of that one!
Continue reading Gil Cedillo, Morrie Goldman, George Yu — CD1’s Unholy Trinity — Cedillo Met With Corrupt Huizar-Linked Lobbyist Goldman 25 Times Since Taking Office In July 2013 — George Yu Of The Chinatown BID Is A Client Of Goldman’s — They Eat Lunch With Cedillo And Hate On Street Vendors — Same Old Story At 200 N Spring Street — And Bonus Sleaze! — Morrie Goldman Brings Lightstone To Meet With Cedillo About A Giant Hotel Project Not Even In His District! — Cause Why Should Huizar Get All The Dirty Money?! — But There Are Things Too Sleazy Even For Cedillo! — Read On To Find Out What!

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Not Only Did CD1 Senior Planning Deputy Gerald Gubatan Organize Little Tokyo Business Interests To Attend Council Meetings And Give Public Comment In Favor Of Parker Center Demolition But He Also Told Them They Ought To Place An Op-Ed In The Times As Part Of The Campaign — Of Course As A Member Of Gil Cedillo’s Senior Staff He Could Write An Op-Ed Himself — Or For That Matter Cedillo Could Write One — He’s Done It Before — But That Wouldn’t Contribute To The Illusion Of Community Buy-In — Hints Of The Connection Between Gubatan And Little Tokyo — A Preschool Couldn’t Pass Fire Inspection — Gubatan Helped Fix It

I recently wrote about the process whereby in 2017 José Huizar’s staff arranged for an ersatz show of community buy-in with respect to the demolition of Parker Center in what the putative buyers-in at least saw as a quid pro quo deal. And for reasons that remain unclear Gerald Gubatan, who is Gil Cedillo’s senior planning deputy, also participated in the ginning-up-of-support process, advising the astroturfers in embarrassingly painstaking detail on the ways and means of astroturfing.

Some newly obtained emails between Gubatan and various people in the Little Tokyo business community show that his advice extended further than previously known, to the point where he was suggesting that they write an op-ed for the L.A. Times pushing Cedillo’s view of Parker Center demolition and that they coordinate its appearance with Council hearings on the matter.

Certainly Gubatan or even Cedillo could write their own op-eds for the L.A. Times. A search in Proquest’s LA Times database shows that Cedillo’s published nine over the years.1 But of course, that wouldn’t have had the desired effect, not least because it would require Cedillo to reveal that he’d already made up his mind before the vote. It certainly wouldn’t have created and maintained the illusion of community buy-in on the creation of which CD1 was working so hard. Thus, if op-eds were to be written, it was imperative to find authors apparently independent of Cedillo’s office.

As this February 2017 email conversation shows, Gubatan chose his friends in Little Tokyo, Dean Matsubayashi of the Little Tokyo Service Center and Joanne Kumamoto of the Little Tokyo Business Improvement District to hit up for an op-ed. And Gubatan didn’t just tell them to write an op-ed, he told them that “ideally [it should] be timed with the City Council vote.”

Here’s that entire email. After the break find transcriptions of the rest of the conversation, along with more emails about an interesting 2016 episode involving the Little Tokyo Service Center a preschool that couldn’t get a fire permit and how Gerald Gubatan interceded with the Fire Department on behalf of the LTSC.

Gerald Gubatan <gerald.gubatan@lacity.org> Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 3:47 PM

To: Dean Matsubayashi <DMatsubayashi@ltsc.org>, Joanne Kumamoto <jkumamoto@aol.com>

Dean, Joanne,

When one Googles “Parker Center,” the narratives which appear are mainly by the LA Times, JD Waldie, the LA Conservancy.

One does not find the perspectives articulated at the recent PLUM Committee hearing.

If there is a good, knowledgeable and articulate writer who has the time and energy to author such a perspective and forward the LA Times for publication, ideally to be timed with the City Council vote, I believe the narrative could fill an informational gap in the larger civic engagement.

Just a thought,

Gerald

Gerald G. Gubatan
Senior Planning Deputy
Office of Council Member Gilbert Cedillo
Council District 1
City Hall, Room 460
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213.473.7001
gerald.gubatan@lacity.org
http://cd1.lacity.org/

Continue reading Not Only Did CD1 Senior Planning Deputy Gerald Gubatan Organize Little Tokyo Business Interests To Attend Council Meetings And Give Public Comment In Favor Of Parker Center Demolition But He Also Told Them They Ought To Place An Op-Ed In The Times As Part Of The Campaign — Of Course As A Member Of Gil Cedillo’s Senior Staff He Could Write An Op-Ed Himself — Or For That Matter Cedillo Could Write One — He’s Done It Before — But That Wouldn’t Contribute To The Illusion Of Community Buy-In — Hints Of The Connection Between Gubatan And Little Tokyo — A Preschool Couldn’t Pass Fire Inspection — Gubatan Helped Fix It

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The Los Angeles City Council Violated The Brown Act Prior To Its Hearing On Designation Of Parker Center As A Historic-Cultural Monument — Huizar Staff Evidently Polled All Other Council Offices To Learn How They Would Vote — Which Constitutes An Illegal Serial Meeting According To The California Attorney General And The Court Of Appeals — If Little Tokyo Bigwig Kristin Fukushima Is To Be Believed, Anyway — And Why Would She Lie?

In his 2017 rush to destroy Parker Center, not only did José Huizar direct his staff to organize a series of phony performances of public support at various hearings as part of a twisted quid pro quo deal with various Little Tokyo luminaries, but on February 13, 2017 or thereabouts his office also violated California’s open meeting law, the Brown Act, by polling all the other Council offices on how they intended to vote the next day on the designation of the building as a historic-cultural monument.

The evidence is right here in this email conversation between Kristin Fukushima, Little Tokyo anti-Parker-Center coconspirator, and Gerald Gubatan, who is Gil Cedillo’s planning director:1

On Mon, Feb 13, 2017 at 2:03 PM, Kristin Fukushima <kristin@littletokyola.org> wrote:

Hi everyone,

Gerald, just letting you know – I spoke with CD 14 this morning, and apparently they checked in with all the offices and have confirmed that they are expecting everyone on City Council tomorrow to vote in approval of PLUM’s recommendation against HCM nomination for Parker Center. To be safe, a handful of us will still be there tomorrow, but good news nonetheless!

Thanks!

If she’s telling the truth about CD14 checking in with all the offices, and why would she not be, then the City Council violated the Brown Act by holding a meeting that the public had no access to. It’s not surprising, of course. We’ve seen significant circumstantial evidence that such violations happen regularly, but man, has it been hard to claw that proof out of the City.2

This kind of lawless behavior in no way seems uncharacteristic of Huizar. It wouldn’t have seemed so even before his enormous capacity for lawlessness and illicitry was made even more manifest than anyone could have expected.3 Sadly, there’s nothing at all to be done about it at this point. The Brown Act has very short built-in time limitations for taking action, and this is far past all of them.

By the way, it may not seem obvious that a staff member from one Council office contacting all the other offices and asking how they’re planning to vote on an agenda item constitutes a meeting, but it’s clear under the law that it does. For all the wonky details, laid out in full wonky splendor, turn the page. You know you wanna!
Continue reading The Los Angeles City Council Violated The Brown Act Prior To Its Hearing On Designation Of Parker Center As A Historic-Cultural Monument — Huizar Staff Evidently Polled All Other Council Offices To Learn How They Would Vote — Which Constitutes An Illegal Serial Meeting According To The California Attorney General And The Court Of Appeals — If Little Tokyo Bigwig Kristin Fukushima Is To Be Believed, Anyway — And Why Would She Lie?

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How José Huizar Was Desperate In 2017 — Gil Cedillo Too — For Anyone — Anyone At All — To Support Demolishing Parker Center Cause Everyone — Like Everyone! — Wanted To Preserve It — So Huizar Flunkies Megan Teramoto And Ari Simon — Who Used A Secret Email Address By The Way — And Cedillo Flunky Gerald Gubatan — Ginned Up Support From A Bunch Of Little Tokyo Business And Property Owners — Coached Them In How To Comment — And The Little Tokyo-Ites Did It To Gain Huizar’s Support For Their Favored Projects — And That Is How Community Buy-In Is Bought And Sold At 200 N. Spring Street


To get some context for the events discussed herein, take a look at this excellent preservation-minded timeline.

In late 2016 the erstwhile LAPD headquarters known as Parker Center was yet again threatened with demolition.1 CD14 repster José Huizar made some pretty noises about preserving it, but really, there’s no money in that for anyone, and by January of 2017, when a crucial series of hearings began, he had thrown the full weight of his councilmanic power behind the wrecking ball.

And even though the decision on Parker Center was strictly up to the City Council, which can unilaterally override every City commission or board, and that means that the decision was strictly up to Huizar alone,2 for whatever reason Huizar apparently was reluctant to tear the building down based on nothing more than his raw desire and power to do so.

It’s hard to say why this was the case. Possibly because the Cultural Heritage Commission had taken the fairly unprecedented step of recommending Historic-Cultural Monument status on their own motion, or maybe because the mostly reliably subservient Los Angeles Times had editorialized against demolition, or possibly because phone calls to his office were disproportionately in favor of not tearing the damn building down.

In fact, according to Kristin Fukushima of the Little Tokyo Community Council quoting an unnamed Huizar staffer, CD14 had “gotten like 20 calls this am telling us to preserve it and none to demo it. Also extremely expecting like 40 ppl tomorrow to show up supporting preservation.” In a city with a functioning representative democracy we might at this point expect Huizar to change his position given that no one seemed to support him.3 But this is Los Angeles, friends, which is why instead of changing his position he did what Councilmembers always do when faced with this dilemma.

That is, he ordered his staff to go out and gin up some supporters to come give favorable comment at some meetings in favor of his already-determined position. Comments from the public in favor of whatever a given CM has already decided to do are pearls of great price at 200 N. Spring Street, the preferred medium of exchange, the Fort Knox gold that backs the currency in which political capital is measured.4 Such comments, along with letters to council files, and similar things, are collectively known as community buy-in. A Los Angeles City Councilmember can generally do whatever they want to do, but with community buy-in they can do it with impunity.5

So Huizar’s aides set out to buy some buy-in. They hit up people from business improvement districts and like-minded nonprofits, e.g. the Little Tokyo BID, the Downtown Center BID, the Little Tokyo Service Center, and the Little Tokyo Community Council. And these paid commenters6 showed up in force and did what they were expected to do. And I’ve obtained dozens of emails showing the coordination,7 the use of Gmail addresses by at least one Huizar staffer, the unexplained participation of Gil Cedillo’s planning deputy Gerald Gubatan, and the expected quid pro quo in the form of Huizar’s anticipated support for various Little-Tokyo-centric pet projects. Turn the page for links to and transcriptions of selections from these emails, arranged into an epistolary narrative!
Continue reading How José Huizar Was Desperate In 2017 — Gil Cedillo Too — For Anyone — Anyone At All — To Support Demolishing Parker Center Cause Everyone — Like Everyone! — Wanted To Preserve It — So Huizar Flunkies Megan Teramoto And Ari Simon — Who Used A Secret Email Address By The Way — And Cedillo Flunky Gerald Gubatan — Ginned Up Support From A Bunch Of Little Tokyo Business And Property Owners — Coached Them In How To Comment — And The Little Tokyo-Ites Did It To Gain Huizar’s Support For Their Favored Projects — And That Is How Community Buy-In Is Bought And Sold At 200 N. Spring Street

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José Huizar Files Totally Formulaic Response To Medina Complaint — Also Challenges Assigned Judge Barbara Meiers — Affirming That She Is So Biased That He “cannot, or believes that he cannot, have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before” Her! — What’s Up With That?!

Unaccountably-not-yet-resigned City Councilmember José Huizar has two lawsuits pending against him, filed by former employees. Both of them most plausibly allege at least 31 flavors of harassment, outlawry, and workplace insanity against him. One was filed by Mayra Alvarez, his former scheduler, and you can read about it here. The other, filed a week later by Pauline Medina, is discussed here.

And last week Huizar filed his response to Medina’s complaint, and I got a copy of it yesterday (and added it to my growing collection of pleadings here on Archive.Org). And it’s not that interesting. These first answers to complaints rarely are. It’s basically just a list of reasons why Huizar denies everything. In fact, the most interesting thing about it is that it’s essentially cribbed from his answer to Alvarez, filed the week before it. I suppose if he’s going to make a habit of inducing these kind of lawsuits, he might as well save money by developing a generic response form.

But that wasn’t the only thing filed last week. Huizar also filed this peremptory challenge to Judge Barbara Meiers. The California Code of Civil Procedure at §170.6(a) allows any litigant to file such a challenge to one judge per case by affirming that the judge is biased against the party. It’s not required to present evidence for this.

I’m not sure what it is that Huizar has against Meier, and there’s not much on the Internet that tends to enlighten. Meier’s reviews on the Robing Room are pretty uniformly abysmal, but that’s true for most judges, it seems, so we’re probably never going to know the facts. Turn the page to read the actual code section!
Continue reading José Huizar Files Totally Formulaic Response To Medina Complaint — Also Challenges Assigned Judge Barbara Meiers — Affirming That She Is So Biased That He “cannot, or believes that he cannot, have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before” Her! — What’s Up With That?!

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José Huizar And City Of Los Angeles File Answers To Mayra Alvarez’s Complaint — Get Your Copies Here! — Also We Have A Copy Of Pauline Medina’s Complaint Against José Huizar — With Even More Stupid José Tricks!

On October 22, 2018, Mayra Alvarez, a former CD14 staffer, filed suit against her old boss José Huizar and the City Of Los Angeles, alleging that he created a bizarre, hostile, sexually threatening, and retaliatory work environment. The Times had a good article about it at the time and I published a copy of Alvarez’s complaint as well. And on December 20, 2018 Huizar and the City of Los Angeles both filed their replies to Alvarez’s petition. I finally managed to lay my hands on copies and you can get them here:

And I mean, don’t hesitate to read them, but the sad fact is that all of these petition answers are routine. Basically they all say (a) we didn’t do it but (b) if we did do it no harm was done and (c) if harm was done we’re legally not responsible but (d) if we are responsible the plaintiff brought it all on herself so we don’t owe money. It’s very ritualistic.

But tonight’s other news is not at all ritualistic. In the blinding light generated by Alvarez’s petition it’s easy to forget that she was not the only plaintiff who filed a complaint against Huizar in October. Again, David Zahniser at the Times had an excellent story on the matter, and again I have a copy of the complaint for you. This petition contains many of the same themes as Alvarez’s, but at least some very different factual allegations. Huizar again comes off as a domineering sexual aggressor as well as a petulant, vengeful, possessive, and borderline violent boss. Also newly revealed is the claim that Medina was first hired by Huizar in 2008 because she is the mother of his nephew.

Some of Medina’s allegations are familiar from Alvarez’s complaint, e.g. tension created by Huizar’s multiple affairs with his staffers, his demands for personal services, fundraising improprieties related to Bishop Salesian High, and so on. Indeed, some of the language is copied verbatim between the complaints. However, some of the allegations are quite different. Medina alleges, for instance, that Huizar routinely spent City money on family parties and other events unrelated to City business, which we didn’t see in Alvarez’s complaint.

Also, it seems that prior to August 2017 Huizar’s staffers were allowed to work from home at will, or even skip work without charging the time to vacation or sick leave. She says, though, that at that time Huizar, through his chief of staff Paul Habib, changed the policy to allow him to track the location of his current mistress.1 In particular Habib told Alvarez to quiz the staff on their intended whereabouts every morning and then send him an email telling him where they were going to be.

She also claims that through this new tracking duty and for other reasons she was forced into complicity with Huizar’s mistress’s lies to Habib about her attendance at work and that ultimately Huizar and Habib retaliated against her for complaining about these and similar matters. And, as always, turn the page for selections.
Continue reading José Huizar And City Of Los Angeles File Answers To Mayra Alvarez’s Complaint — Get Your Copies Here! — Also We Have A Copy Of Pauline Medina’s Complaint Against José Huizar — With Even More Stupid José Tricks!

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Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

A couple days ago, based on a huge release of emails, I wrote about collusion between the LAPD, LA Sanitation, and property owner Miguel Nelson, which facilitated his installation of the hostile anti-homeless landscaping project known as “North Sea” in Skid Row. It’s axiomatic, of course, that something as controversial and on such a broad scale could never ever in a million years be approved in Los Angeles without the support of the Councilmember in whose district the project situates,in this case that is José Huizar, disgraced CD14 repster.

And yet it seems that no evidence has yet been adduced to support this notion, at least not until now! But it turns out that as part of its investigation into Nelson’s anti-homeless planters, KCRW got copies of all the permits from the City, which I uploaded to Archive.Org for the sake of stable access, and you can get a copy right here. It’s a huge file, more than 400 pages, and as part of the permitting process for such projects it’s required to obtain letters of support from various City departments, among them the Council Office.

So right in there, among the proofs of insurance and detailed diagrams and so on, is an email from erstwhile Huizar staffer Ari Simon to Bureau of Engineering staff supporting the project:

On Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 2:29 PM, Ari Simon <ari.simon@lacity.org> wrote:

Hi Shay,

Wanted to let you know that at this time, Council District 14 is in support of moving forward with an application for R-permits to do beautification work around the area of 4th / Towne as requested by Miguel Nelson.

As the project moves forward, we ask that BOE adhere to the requests made by BSS, asking that a full plan of what exactly will be planted where is included, that any areas of planting are contained by concrete, and that plans comply with BOE’s determination of a clear and generally straight path of pedestrian travel.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Warmly,

Ari

Continue reading Emails Reveal Breadth Of Support Among City Agencies For Miguel Nelson’s Hostile Landscape Architecture In Skid Row — North Sea — Most Crucially CD14 Supported It — LADOT — Even Department Of Cultural Affairs — However Urban Forestry / Bureau Of Street Services Refused To Support But Also — Sadly — Refused To Oppose

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The South Park BID Solicited — Or Extorted — Donations Totalling $80,000 From Developers To Pay For Some Studies They Wanted Done — In Return The BID Sent Staffers To City Council Committee Meetings To Give Public Comment In Favor Of The Developers’ Projects — Using Talking Points Supplied By The Developers — Money Well Spent For The Developers I’m Guessing Since Councilmembers Probably Won’t Approve Projects BIDs Oppose — This Is One Way In Which The Illusion Of Community Buy-In Is Created And Maintained In Los Angeles — One Of The Developers Involved Was Lightstone Group — Whose Lobbyists Are Also Being Investigated In Relation To José Huizar — Because Of Course They Are

Here’s the short version. In 2017 the South Park BID wanted to lobby Metro concerning some transportation issues. To do this they needed some reports prepared by professionals who were going to charge them around $80,000. For whatever reason they didn’t want to pay out of the BID budget, so they hit up local developers for $5,000 contributions. In exchange the BID supported the developers’ various projects before City Council committees and commissions using talking points prepped by the developers to inform their public comments.

First, let’s talk about the two issues the BID was, and is, lobbying for. One is to establish an enhanced infrastructure financing district (EIFD)1 to fund transit improvements in the BID, in particular moving Pico Station underground.2 The BID’s “one pager”3 on the benefits to be gained from the EIFD can be read by clicking here and their presentation on “undergrounding” Pico Station is available here. The other issue has to do with improving connections between various presently disconnected-by-public-transit points Downtown. The BID’s presentation on that can be read here.

And of course before one goes a-lobbying one needs reports! Written by experts! And experts don’t come cheap, but they will provide proposals with estimates of the costs, and here are the two the BID obtained:

And based on these estimates, the South Park BID determined that it needed $80,000 to begin the report-making process. And for whatever reason, they also determined that they were only going to pay $5,000 themselves. The rest, saith the BID, they were going to raise from developers and maybe some other BIDs Downtown. And the story of this whole mess, told, as usual, in excruciating detail via transcriptions of emails, can be found after the break!
Continue reading The South Park BID Solicited — Or Extorted — Donations Totalling $80,000 From Developers To Pay For Some Studies They Wanted Done — In Return The BID Sent Staffers To City Council Committee Meetings To Give Public Comment In Favor Of The Developers’ Projects — Using Talking Points Supplied By The Developers — Money Well Spent For The Developers I’m Guessing Since Councilmembers Probably Won’t Approve Projects BIDs Oppose — This Is One Way In Which The Illusion Of Community Buy-In Is Created And Maintained In Los Angeles — One Of The Developers Involved Was Lightstone Group — Whose Lobbyists Are Also Being Investigated In Relation To José Huizar — Because Of Course They Are

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Mike Bonin Instructs City Planning And City Attorney To Study Possibility Of Using Zoning To Protect Local Independent Businesses In Venice With Goal Of Preserving Unique Neighborhood Character — Where Are Gil Cedillo With Highland Park And José Huizar With Boyle Heights In This Conversation? — There’s An Ungodly Amount Of Money At Stake In All Three Neighborhoods But Only In Venice Are Zillionaires Losing Their Community Character

UPDATE: This motion now has a council file number, which is CF 07-0629-S1. Note that this is a supplemental file and the original motion was by Bill Rosendahl (!) in 2007 to accomplish the same thing, but it died on the vine. The original file was CF 07-0629 and Rosendahl’s original motion is here.

Well, for God’s sake. Mike Bonin, councilcrumpet in charge of that formerly holiest of holy neighborhoods, the late lamented Venice, seems to have just noticed that independent businesses as opposed to chain stores can contribute a great deal to the character of the community. With that in mind he introduced this motion in Council this morning instructing the City Planning Department and the City Attorney to study the possibility of preventing chain stores from ruining everything even more than it’s already ruined by copying San Francisco’s anti-chain-store zoning laws.

And as much as I hate Mike Bonin, and as much as I don’t go to Venice any more because I’m not a freaking necrophiliac, I think these kind of laws are a good thing. The City of Los Angeles gives so much power to zillionaires and their BIDological sock puppets to shape the character of the neighborhoods they’ve colonized and almost no power at all to the residents. Super-restrictive zoning laws like the ones proposed here can take some of that power away from the property owners and shift it over to individual non-zillionaire residents who, after all, are the ones that made their neighborhoods desirable and so whose opinions really ought to be heeded.

So even though I’m sure that Mike Bonin’s motives are despicable, and even though I’m sure all his reasons are wrong, toxic, and repellent, nevertheless, even as a hundred monkeys with typewriters sometimes produce a coherent blog post,1 so it seems does Mike Bonin occasionally propose an at least superficially laudable motion. The big question though that this raises is where is Gil Cedillo? Where is José Huizar?2

Highland Park, mostly in CD1, and Boyle Heights in CD14, also two of the holiest holy neighborhoods of this grand and holy City, are being raped, killed, and eaten just as Venice was raped, killed, and eaten starting some thirty years ago. But it’s not too late to stop the damage there before it’s irreversible. Cedillo and Huizar have the opportunity to do what e.g. Ruth Galanter, on whose watch Venice started circling the drain down which it’s long since disappeared, was unwilling to do to save these irreplaceable neighborhoods with whose care they’ve been entrusted.

Why aren’t they right up there with Mike Bonin asking staff to study how to save Highland Park, how to save Boyle Heights? Why aren’t they seconding Bonin’s motion instead of Paul Freaking Krekorian? Rhetorical questions, of course. They’re not saving Highland Park or Boyle Heights because it’s worth too much money to destroy them. Because Bonin’s zillionaire Venice constituents will get what they want but the poor, the working class, residents of Highland Park and Boyle Heights have no money and therefore no leverage at all with their Councilmembers. In thirty years, no doubt, their successors will be proposing exactly this same kind of motion, too late to raise the reeking corpses. As usual there’s a transcription of the motion after the break.
Continue reading Mike Bonin Instructs City Planning And City Attorney To Study Possibility Of Using Zoning To Protect Local Independent Businesses In Venice With Goal Of Preserving Unique Neighborhood Character — Where Are Gil Cedillo With Highland Park And José Huizar With Boyle Heights In This Conversation? — There’s An Ungodly Amount Of Money At Stake In All Three Neighborhoods But Only In Venice Are Zillionaires Losing Their Community Character

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