Tag Archives: Katie Kiefer

Massive Document Dump Concerning Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine — What Has She Been Up To Since Destroying Venice Beach And How She Is Probably In Way More Trouble Than Anyone Thought With Respect To Not Having Registered As A Lobbyist

Yesterday I took a little trip South on Flower Street to the dark horse Death Star of downtown, the South Park BID, to look over some public records that they’ve been holding out on since January 2017 and only coughed up because my lawyer can beat up their lawyer.1 I found a hot mess of, among many, many problems, bizarrely damaged emails printed to PDF in random order with unintelligible OCR, missing attachments, purposely scrambled pages, and misnamed and poorly divided files. It’s going to take quite a while to put this nonsense into any kind of useful state,2 but I know a lot of my readers are wondering what’s up with shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine,3 so I thought I’d get the information concerning her up as fast as possible, even though it’s not yet in an ideal format.

That’s the big news, and you can turn the page if you’re in the mood for more detail and discussion. Note, though, that I’ll be posting about this material again once I get it revised into a more useful form.
Continue reading Massive Document Dump Concerning Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine — What Has She Been Up To Since Destroying Venice Beach And How She Is Probably In Way More Trouble Than Anyone Thought With Respect To Not Having Registered As A Lobbyist

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A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

The life-cycle of a request for documents under the California Public Records Act goes like this: A member of the public asks to see records held by some agency. The agency has ten days1 to respond with a determination which states whether the agency has any such records and, if so, when the agency will be ready to hand them over.2 In general agencies are required to produce all requested records.

However, CPRA lists certain classes of records which are exempt from production. Some of these so-called exemptions are weirdly specific, e.g. at §6253.5 we read:

…statewide, county, city, and district initiative, referendum, and recall petitions … and all memoranda prepared by the county elections officials in the examination of the petitions indicating which registered voters have signed particular petitions shall not be deemed to be public records…

One of the two most important sections of CPRA with respect to exemptions is found at §6254, which consists of innumerable sections, each listing an exemption or a broad class of exemptions. And as completely in favor of absolute government transparency as I am, it’s clear that at least some of these are absolutely justified. For instance, §6254(r) exempts:

Records of Native American graves, cemeteries, and sacred places and records of Native American places, features, and objects … maintained by, or in the possession of, the Native American Heritage Commission, another state agency, or a local agency.

And there are sections which exempt such things as reports on vulnerabilities to terrorism, library circulation records, certain financial data that people are required by law to submit, and so on. These are mostly noncontroversial. Others, however, are much less defensible, at least as applied.
Continue reading A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

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The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce Amended Its Lobbying Registration Form in April 2017 And The Only Change Was The Date They Qualified — More Interesting, Though, Is The Fact That They Consider Their Pro-Establishment Advocacy For Jeff Zarrinnam’s Inchoate Hollywood-Western And Route 66 BIDs To Be Lobbying Activity

It’s well-known that the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance requires lobbyists of all stripes to register with the City Ethics Commission. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is no exception to the rule.1 They are also required to amend their registration forms if there are any material changes in the information provided.2

And as you know if you follow this blog, I find everything to do with lobbyists in Los Angeles fascinating, and thus I haunt the Ethics Commission’s lobbying pages, poring over the alphabetical lists of individual lobbyists and of lobbyist firms and employers to see if anything’s changed or if something is newly interesting.

And lo! Last night I noticed that our old friends, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, had amended their registration form on April 28. Here are the two forms:

Well, I stared and stared and stared at those two forms just trying to figure out what had changed. Eventually I noticed that the original form had January 31, 2017 as the date they’d qualified as a lobbying entity3 whereas the amended version had January 1, 2017 as the day of qualifying.

One of the Hollywood Chamber’s registration forms superimposed on the other with 38% opacity so that it’s clear that the only difference is in the qualifying date. Click to enlarge, of course.

There’s a lot of information on the forms, though, and I didn’t feel confident that the difference I’d noticed was in fact the only difference. I wasn’t sure what do to until this morning, when it occurred to me that if I put both pages into the GIMP, superimposed one on top of the other, and then faded the opacity up and down I’d be able to notice what changed.4 And it turns out that in fact, it’s correct that the only change was the date of the Hollywood Chamber’s qualifying as a lobbyist.

Which leads irresistibly to the question of why Leron Gubler and/or Nicole Shahenian, who are the Hollywood Chamber’s two registered lobbyists, felt the need to make this tiny change. Read on for speculations and some other chit-chat about the fact that Leron Gubler lists the establishment of the Hollywood Western and the Route 66 BIDs as issues the Chamber is lobbying for this year.
Continue reading The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce Amended Its Lobbying Registration Form in April 2017 And The Only Change Was The Date They Qualified — More Interesting, Though, Is The Fact That They Consider Their Pro-Establishment Advocacy For Jeff Zarrinnam’s Inchoate Hollywood-Western And Route 66 BIDs To Be Lobbying Activity

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The Fascinating Story Of How It Took Three Months And A Demand Letter From An Attorney To Get Rena Leddy To Disclose That The Fashion District BID Is Paying Steve Gibson Of Urban Place Consulting $215 Per Hour For BID Renewal Consulting, Which Is Less Than Larry Kosmont Gets But More Than Ed Henning

Late last year it occurred to me that BID consultants, who help BIDs with the City processes necessary to establish or renew a BID, are essentially engaging in lobbying activity as defined in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02 and yet none of them1 seemed to be registered with the Ethics Commission as required by LAMC §48.07(A).

I then spent months piecing together over 100 pages of evidence to show that BID consultant Tara Devine had violated this law. Subsequently it occurred to me that the contracts that the consultants sign with BIDs would provide essential evidence that they’d been acting as lobbyists, so I determined to request these from many renewing BIDs. This led me to the discovery, thanks to the incomparable Laurie Hughes of the Gateway to LA BID, that GTLA’s BID consultant, Larry Kosmont, actually was registered as a lobbyist and had disclosed his BID consultancy as lobbying in his required reporting. The San Pedro BID is also up for renewal, and has recently released a fairly complete set of BID renewal records.

This brings us to the Fashion District. On February 21, 2017 I emailed Rena Leddy to request, among other material:

… all records associated with the renewal process, including but not limited to communications between the BID and the consultant and/or the engineer, contracts with and invoices from the consultant or the engineer, materials prepared by the consultant or the engineer for the renewal process, databases and mailing lists prepared or used by the consultant or the engineer, and also any communications between the consultant and the engineer that aren’t already responsive to the first part of this request.

The story of what happened after that stretched out over three months and generated many many megabytes of discussion. Read on for a (far too) detailed and exceedingly well-documented narrative recounting, complete with a happy, happy ending!
Continue reading The Fascinating Story Of How It Took Three Months And A Demand Letter From An Attorney To Get Rena Leddy To Disclose That The Fashion District BID Is Paying Steve Gibson Of Urban Place Consulting $215 Per Hour For BID Renewal Consulting, Which Is Less Than Larry Kosmont Gets But More Than Ed Henning

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Kosmont Invoices For Gateway To LA BID Reveal How Much Time It Takes To Get A BID Renewed, And It Doesn’t Look Good For BID Consultants, Like Tara Devine, Like Urban Place Consulting, That Are Not Registered As Lobbyists With The City

Larry Kosmont handled the Gateway to LA BID’s 2014-5 renewal and was, very properly, registered as a lobbyist while doing so.
You may recall that the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance requires qualified lobbyists to register with the City Ethics Commission and also disclose a bunch of interesting information about their clients and their income. Also, the process of establishing or renewing a BID is fairly complex, and most property owners’ associations1 hire a consultant to guide them through the process. These consultants are regulated and recommended by the City Clerk’s office.

The process of getting a BID established or renewed, it turns out, looks an awful lot like the definition of lobbying activity to be found at LAMC §48.02, which is essentially preparing information and discussing it with City officials as part of influencing the passage of municipal legislation. The law requires anyone who’s paid for thirty or more hours of this over three consecutive months to register as a lobbyist, and it’s generally extremely hard to prove that someone’s met this criterion. You may, e.g., recall that earlier this year, in order to make a reasonably convincing case that Venice Beach BID consultant Tara Devine had passed this threshold, I spent months piecing together more than a hundred pages of evidence regarding her BID consultancy work.

But recently it’s occurred to me that these consultants have contracts with the BIDs they service, and that at least in the case of BID renewals, the contracts will be accessible via the Public Records Act.2 The contracts will contain some information about how much time the consultants spend on the project, and thus should be useful as evidence in reporting consultants to the Ethics Commission for lobbying without a license.

The project started to produce results at the end of February, when the incomparable Laurie Hughes of the Gateway to LA BID supplied me with her BID’s contracts with Larry Kosmont, who was handling the renewal process.3 Well, late last week, Laurie Hughes gave me an absolutely essential set of documents, consisting of detailed monthly invoices from Kosmont to the BID during the 15+ month renewal process. These are fascinating,4 containing as they do detailed inventories of every individual task involved in the renewal process broken down into fifteen minute billing increments. Turn the page for more descriptions, discussion, and speculations.
Continue reading Kosmont Invoices For Gateway To LA BID Reveal How Much Time It Takes To Get A BID Renewed, And It Doesn’t Look Good For BID Consultants, Like Tara Devine, Like Urban Place Consulting, That Are Not Registered As Lobbyists With The City

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Unidentified Business Improvement District Seeks Free CPRA Advice From First Amendment Coalition, Does Not Get Answer They Are Looking For

The First Amendment Coalition is, in their own words,

… an award-winning, nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation in civic affairs.

and their mission includes the fairly forthright statement that

The Coalition is committed to the principle that government is accountable to the people, and strives through education, public advocacy, litigation, and other efforts to prevent unnecessary government secrecy and to resist censorship of all kinds.

For instance, in furtherance of this mission, the FAC is presently suing the City of Los Angeles over Tom LaBonge’s immoral and idiotic destruction of records from his time as Councilmember. They were also a friend of the court in the recent momentous California Supreme Court decision making the personal email accounts of public officials open to CPRA for material that relates to the public’s business. This is not an organization that anyone sane would expect to be sympathetic to the whiny, entitled, and clueless complaints of a business improvement district that has been asked to comply with its legal obligations under the California Public Records Act, amirite?

One of the most useful services that the FAC provides is called Asked & Answered. People can send in questions about CPRA and the Brown Act and the FAC’s attorneys from Bryan Cave will answer them publicly and for free if they might interest a wider audience. These questions are usually from people frustrated by inane, self-serving, and illegal government obstructionism in the face of CPRA requests. So imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, this little gem of a question appeared:

Q: As a Business Improvement District, we are an agency of our local gov’t and subject to PRAs. I have submitted countless reports, minutes/agendas, financials and even a record of one full year of emails. Now I have been asked to submit the email database I have developed for communicating with my business members.

I am not comfortable giving this database to the public. While I have no problem disclosing my email correspondence, I do not feel right giving my email database to someone who can then send mass emails to these businesses.

Do I have to submit the database if requested through the CPRA?

Well, given the FAC’s general orientation towards CPRA, you can probably imagine the answer, and you can also read it, with some commentary and the usual uninformed speculation, after the break.
Continue reading Unidentified Business Improvement District Seeks Free CPRA Advice From First Amendment Coalition, Does Not Get Answer They Are Looking For

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New Documents: Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Earns Another $17,000 From South Park, Contractual Relations Between Carol “The Queen Of Downtown” Schatz’s Pet BID And Homeless Outreachers PATH

Carol “The Queen of Downtown” Schatz
Perhaps you recall that I recently put a bunch of transaction records from the South Park BID up on Archive.Org because they’re both intrinsically interesting and also exceedingly useful in estimating how much shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine gets paid to drop yet another BID on our fair City; about $80,000, if my chain of inference is correct. Well, just recently I received SPBID’s transaction log from July 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017, which adds another $17,635 to Tara Devine’s running total. This makes more than $95,000 that the South Park BIDdies have paid Tara Devine. It’s probably not all for their BID renewal, though. As I reported the other day, the two South Park BIDs1 are evidently merging into one big bad BID, and Tara Devine is shepherding them through the sausage factory City Clerk’s office, so probably that’s mostly what she’s being paid for at this point. I have more requests in that may help us sort out the details.

And additionally I finally prepared and uploaded a bunch of documents concerning the relationship between the Downtown Center BID and PATH2, which is a private group that contracts with a lot of BIDs and even Council Districts to provide something they call “outreach” to homeless people. Turn the page for links to a few specific items with some brief commentary.
Continue reading New Documents: Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Earns Another $17,000 From South Park, Contractual Relations Between Carol “The Queen Of Downtown” Schatz’s Pet BID And Homeless Outreachers PATH

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