Tag Archives: Lobbying

Liner LLP And United DTLA Weren’t The Only Zillionaires Gunning For The Skid Row Neighborhood Council: On April 28, 2017, The Central City Association Amended Its Lobbyist Registration With The City Ethics Commission To Disclose Its Work Against The SRNC

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

We’ve done a lot of reporting on lobbying efforts against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort, but until today it has focused entirely on Liner LLP, its ethics-free-zone-for-hire-in-human-form Rockard Delgadillo, and the probably illegal campaign they waged against the SRNC on behalf of their shadowy anonymous client United DTLA.

This morning, however, I discovered that that infamous Schatzian horror show, the Central City Association of Los Angeles, was also involved in the lobbying effort against the SRNC. It’s not possible from the evidence to tell when they entered the fray, but amended registration forms filed with the City Ethics Commission prove that it was no later than April 28, 2017.1 Here’s the documentary evidence, and you’ll find more detailed descriptions along with some discussion after the break:

Continue reading Liner LLP And United DTLA Weren’t The Only Zillionaires Gunning For The Skid Row Neighborhood Council: On April 28, 2017, The Central City Association Amended Its Lobbyist Registration With The City Ethics Commission To Disclose Its Work Against The SRNC

Share

On March 20, 2017 Fashion District BID Exec Direc Rena Leddy and CCEA Exec Direc Estela Lopez Had A Conference Call With Unregistered-As-A-Lobbyist Liner LLP Partner Rockard Delgadillo To Discuss The Skid Row Neighborhood Council

The first part of the quote in Rockard Delgadillo’s mouth is from 2006 when he was hypocritically suing Rockstar Games, makers of Grand Theft Auto, for some Easter egg porn. Now he’s producing and starring in zillionaire porn. Just goes to show… The text in the box is from a poem by Charles Bukowski.
Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Jason McGahan’s article in the Weekly and Gale Holland’s article in the Times for more mainstream perspectives.

You will certainly, if you’ve been following the issue, recall the fact that the zillionaire-sponsored effort to subvert by any means necessary the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort was in full bloom by early 2017. And the Downtown BIDs were deeply involved in the whole mishegoss. In January, Blair “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no Brown Act compliance” Besten of the Historic Core BID, Estela Lopez of the Downtown Industrial District, and furtive hereditary downtown zillionaire Michael Delijani were meeting with their sorry little Councilboy, encouraging him to ignore both law and decency in his effort to stop the SRNC.

By March, as we’ve seen, the zillionaires had formed an anonymous Delaware LLC known as United DTLA and hired walking morality-free-zone and former Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard Delgadillo to lobby the City against the SRNC. March 20, 2017 was a milestone day in the campaign. On this day, Fashion District BID executive directrix Rena Leddy began sending out emails to the property owners in her district to rally them against the SRNC. She sent this one out at 11:44 a.m.. At 12:24 p.m. she sent this one out, complete with a copy of Rockard Delgadillo’s infamous letter to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which is the locus classicus of the arguments which ultimately prevailed over the SRNC.

Rena Leddy’s calendar entries for March 20, 2017, showing 11 a.m. conference call with Estela Lopez and Rockard Delgadillo. Click to enlarge.

And today, thanks to the fruits of a Public Records Act request for the 2017 appointment calendars of everyone in the Fashion District BID,1 I’m able to extend our knowledge of the events of that fateful day back 45 more minutes to 11 a.m. Take a look at Rena Leddy’s appointments for March 20, 2017. See that at 11 a.m. she had a conference call with Rockard Delgadillo and Estela Lopez for a “Skid Row Neighborhood Council update.” And, as we’ve seen, right after this, Rena Leddy commenced to rallying her troops against the SRNC.
Continue reading On March 20, 2017 Fashion District BID Exec Direc Rena Leddy and CCEA Exec Direc Estela Lopez Had A Conference Call With Unregistered-As-A-Lobbyist Liner LLP Partner Rockard Delgadillo To Discuss The Skid Row Neighborhood Council

Share

How Ethics Commission President Jessica Levinson Postponed Discussion Of Revisions To Enforcement Regulations Until April 2017 Mostly At The Behest Of Lobbying Firms And Why She Was Absolutely Right To Do So

Ethics Commission President Jessica Levinson, with whose actions we do not always agree but with whose reasoning we always do, which matters a great deal more.
One of the essential items on the agenda of last Tuesday’s meeting of the City Ethics Commission was a wide-ranging set of proposals from Enforcement staff for revisions to the CEC’s enforcement regulations. These are the laws and policies which guide the enforcement process. The proposals were emailed to interested parties only a few days in advance of the meeting, evidently leaving everyone feeling kind of blindsided,1 especially because they appeared with a recommendation from staff that they be adopted right then.

So at the actual meeting, when the item came up for discussion, Commission President Jessica Levinson made fairly convincing noises to the effect that the matter should be postponed until April. More interestingly, though, she mentioned almost in passing that she’d received a number of written public comments asking the Commission to table the matter. Well, one of my favorite bits of the Brown Act, §54957.5(a), states unequivocally that:2

any … writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body, are disclosable public records under the California Public Records Act … and shall be made available upon request without delay.

As one might expect, the Ethics Commission is absolutely the best of all City agencies at following this law. They keep a big plastic box at the back of the room during meetings which contains every possible piece of paper necessary for compliance. So as soon as President Levinson3 mentioned that there were written comments, and as soon as it became clear that all the Commissioners had copies, I zipped back to look in the box. How disappointing to find nothing of the sort in there! But the story has a happy ending, never fear, and turn the page to learn the details.
Continue reading How Ethics Commission President Jessica Levinson Postponed Discussion Of Revisions To Enforcement Regulations Until April 2017 Mostly At The Behest Of Lobbying Firms And Why She Was Absolutely Right To Do So

Share

How I Reported Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine To The City Ethics Commission For Failing To Register As A Lobbyist Based On Her Work For The Venice Beach Property Owners Association

Tara Devine at the Venice Beach BID hearing on August 23, 2016, a day on which she engaged in at least 2.5 hours of lobbying activity.
The TL;DR is that I believe that in the course of her consultancy with the Venice Beach BID, Tara Devine qualified as a lobbyist within the meaning of the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, was therefore required to register with the Ethics Commission, and failed to do so, putting her in violation of the law. If you know what all those terms mean, you may want to go straight to the complaint (Warning: 23MB PDF). For a detailed explanation of the background, though, read on!

The key is found in Section 48.07, which states that “An individual who qualifies as a lobbyist shall register with the City Ethics Commission within 10 days after the end of the calendar month in which the individual qualifies as a lobbyist.” After all, anyone can search the Ethics Commission’s database and see that Tara Devine has never registered as a lobbyist. So the question is whether Tara Devine is “An individual who qualifies as a lobbyist.” This turns out to be a fairly complicated thing to determine.

The first place to start when interpreting any law is with the definitions. In the case of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance (henceforth “MLO”) they are found at LAMC §48.02. In particular, we will find that the word “lobbyist”:

means any individual who is compensated to spend 30 or more hours in any consecutive three-month period engaged in lobbying activities which include at least one direct communication with a City official or employee, conducted either personally or through agents, for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any person.

And in order to see whether this applies to Tara Devine, we need to understand the following terms:

  • Lobbying activities
  • Municipal legislation
  • Attempting to influence


And once we understand what those three phrases mean, we have to show that Tara Devine was paid for 30 or more hours lobbying on behalf of someone else. The details, as always, are after the break!
Continue reading How I Reported Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine To The City Ethics Commission For Failing To Register As A Lobbyist Based On Her Work For The Venice Beach Property Owners Association

Share

Now Mike Bonin Is Tara Devine’s Ventriloquist’s Dummy: How The Shadowy BID Consultant Herself Answered A Bunch Of Questions That Yo! Venice Reporter Melanie Camp Sent To Mike Bonin And How Melanie Camp Subsequently Attributed The Answers To Mike Bonin

Tara Devine in City Council Chambers at the Venice Beach BID Hearing Take 2 on November 8, 2016.
Check out this interesting series of emails from August 2016. It begins when Yo! Venice reporter Melanie Camp writes to Mike Bonin’s communications director David Graham-Caso, stating:

Hi David,

I have several questions regarding the BID. The information you provided, coupled with the information/misinformation flying around raises a couple of issues that need clearing up.

I’m interested in Mike’s opinion, as well as your own, on any or all of these.

Less than 40 minutes later, David Graham-Caso forwarded the email1 to Debbie Dyner Harris along with a terse note that said:

Can you please send this to the BID consultant to get her help with the answers?

And a mere 13 minutes after that, Debbie Dyner Harris forwarded the email2 to Tara Devine, stating:

Hi Tara. Can you please respond to her? Thanks

David Graham-Caso, CD11 Director of Communications, is a really cute guy, but also a conduit for misattributed propaganda!

Further conversation ensued, but the upshot is that, the very next day, Tara Devine sent over a page of answers, not to Melanie Camp, but to David Graham-Caso and Debbie Dyner Harris to do with as they would do. And evidently what they did do was send the answers to Melanie Camp. And evidently what Melanie Camp did was attribute the answers to Mike Bonin in the article she published a few days later, entitled Venice BID Approved.3 She not only attributed them to Mike Bonin when they were written by Tara Devine,4 but she essentially copy/pasted them into her article. You can see some specifics after the break!
Continue reading Now Mike Bonin Is Tara Devine’s Ventriloquist’s Dummy: How The Shadowy BID Consultant Herself Answered A Bunch Of Questions That Yo! Venice Reporter Melanie Camp Sent To Mike Bonin And How Melanie Camp Subsequently Attributed The Answers To Mike Bonin

Share

Some Money Is Even Too Dirty For Mike: A Look At One Of Bonin’s Recent Returned Campaign Contributions And Subsequent Trip Down A Lobbyist-Money Rabbit Hole

Mike Bonin making kissy-face with Eric Garcetti in 2013 just before laying waste to the canals like Godzilla laying waste to Tokyo.
The L.A. City Ethics Commission website is a marvelous repository of fascinating minutiae. It more than repays the kind of obsessive poring-over in which we here at MK.Org specialize. Today’s subject is the quarterly reports that every qualified candidate has to submit detailing their expenditures. You can find all of Mike Bonin’s here.1 In particular, take a look at his 3rd quarter report for 2016. On Schedule E, the list of expenditures, note that some items are labeled “Returned contributions.” No reasons are given for the returns, but at least in some cases it’s possible to track down at least some elements of the story via the Google.

For instance, consider the case of Shannon Murphy Castellani. She gave Mike Bonin $700 on June 14, 2016. Exactly four weeks later, on July 12, 2016, she registered with the Ethics Commission as a lobbyist.2 Now, section 470(c)(11) of the City Charter forbids candidates from accepting campaign contributions from registered lobbyists. It’s vague on the timing, and I don’t see that it actually explicitly prohibits someone from donating money and then registering as a lobbyist the very next day, but on the other hand, does Mike Bonin want to argue that case in public? Obviously not, so the best thing to do is to return the contribution. Just as obviously, the $700 itself isn’t so important. These people are all zillionaires, after all. It’s the good will that the $700 creates, and that lingers on after the money is returned.
Continue reading Some Money Is Even Too Dirty For Mike: A Look At One Of Bonin’s Recent Returned Campaign Contributions And Subsequent Trip Down A Lobbyist-Money Rabbit Hole

Share

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
Continue reading 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

Share

Probably On Basis Of Our Complaint, Scofflaw Lobbyist Marie Rumsey Has Been Nailed By Ethics Commission For Violating Post-Employment Restrictions, Provides Pathetically Implausible Excuse, Enforcement Staff Recommends She Be Let Off With Wrist Slap

Marie Rumsey in happier days at CD13 before she got hired on at the Central City Association and turned to a life of crime, infamy, and outlawry.
Marie Rumsey in happier days at CD13 before she got hired on at the Central City Association and turned to a life of crime, infamy, and outlawry.
My colleagues and I reported in January 2016 that former Mitch O’Farrell aide Marie Rumsey appeared to be in violation of Los Angeles Municipal Code §49.5.13.C.1. A few weeks later I submitted a report on the matter to the City Ethics Commission. Well, last night the CEC published its agenda for the December 6 meeting and, lo! A stipulation in the matter of Marie Rumsey is Item 5!

I submitted evidence of three violations, although there were clearly many others. They tagged her for two of them. She admitted that she’d broken the law, but gave as an exceedingly lame excuse that… well, let the CEC tell it:

Rumsey received inaccurate legal advice from CCA’s former legal counsel and mistakenly believed that she could attempt to influence any City agency except Councilmember O’Farrell’s office.

Because of this and because of her cooperation, CEC staff is recommending leniency:

The maximum administrative penalty for a violation of the City’s post-employment laws is the greater of $5,000 or three times the amount of compensation that was improperly received. Los Angeles City Charter § 706(c)(3). In this case, the two counts against Rumsey result in a maximum penalty of $14,250. We recommend a penalty of $7,125, which is equal to 50 percent of the maximum in this case. We believe the recommended penalty is appropriate, because it takes into consideration the serious nature of the violations while also encouraging cooperation with Ethics Commission investigations and the early resolution of violations.

These offers of 50% of the fine seem to be standard for people who cooperate with the CEC. And the $7,125 isn’t pocket change, even if the CCA ends up paying it for her.1 In this case, though, I think such a low offer is a mistake, not least because on analysis her excuse turns out to be unsupportable. For details on this, and some other interesting matters regarding this case, read on!
Continue reading Probably On Basis Of Our Complaint, Scofflaw Lobbyist Marie Rumsey Has Been Nailed By Ethics Commission For Violating Post-Employment Restrictions, Provides Pathetically Implausible Excuse, Enforcement Staff Recommends She Be Let Off With Wrist Slap

Share

City Ethics Commission Prepares to Revamp Lobbying Laws; Proposal Builds, Improves on Version Torpedoed in 2010 by Unholy Threesome Consisting of Kerry Morrison, Carol Schatz, and Eric Garcetti

Jessica Levinson, president of the City Ethics Commission, star Lawprof at Loyola, and righteous local media darling.
Jessica Levinson, president of the City Ethics Commission, star Lawprof at Loyola, and righteous local media darling.
If you’ve read the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance of the City of Los Angeles, you will have noted that it’s a bitch to enforce. It defines a lobbyist to be someone who is compensated to influence City action on behalf of a third party for 30 or more hours in any consecutive three months, and then requires lobbyists so-defined to register with the City. Imagine trying to use CPRA and other methods available to the public to pin that beef on some BID employee… I can tell you it’s not an easy task.

You may recall that between 2008 and 2010 the CEC tried to get this unwieldy definition changed to one whose details I won’t go into here, but which would have been far easier to enforce. For whatever reason, Carol Schatz, Kerry Morrison, and a few less luminous lights of the BID world including the perennially mockable Downtown Russell Brown decided for reasons known only to them and their therapists that this was going to destroy the very foundations of Los Angeles. As is their wont, they proceeded to get really fussy and scratch at their own faces till mom made them put their mittens on soon Eric Garcetti, at that time chair of the Rules and Elections Committee, smothered the whole baby in its bed for no discernible reason other than to please his darling BID-babes Kerry and Carol.

Eric Garcetti to Kerry Morrison in 2010: "You don't want to have to register as a lobbyist?  Whatever baby wants, baby gets."  Except, of course, baby still has to register, it's just next to impossible to prove it.
Eric Garcetti to Kerry Morrison in 2010: “You don’t want to have to register as a lobbyist? Whatever baby wants, baby gets.” Except, of course, baby still has to register, it’s just next to impossible to prove it.

So now the staff of the CEC, whose Executive Director is the same Heather Holt who got tarred, feathered, and mocked by Garcetti over this very same issue in 2010, has prepared a new proposed revision of the definition of lobbyist. The Commissioners will be discussing it at their upcoming meeting on August 9, 2016. The new proposal owes some debts to the last proposal, but its central point is quite different. It’s a change to a compensation-based rather than a time-based definition, which is fairly standard around the rest of the country:

We recommend returning to a compensation-based definition and that “lobbyist” be defined as an individual who is entitled to receive $2,000 or more in a calendar year for attempting to influence a City matter on behalf of another person. The attempt to influence would include a direct communication with a City official or employee, and compensation could be either monetary or non-monetary.

Continue reading City Ethics Commission Prepares to Revamp Lobbying Laws; Proposal Builds, Improves on Version Torpedoed in 2010 by Unholy Threesome Consisting of Kerry Morrison, Carol Schatz, and Eric Garcetti

Share

HPOA to Oppose O’Farrell/Ryu Motion on Tree-Trimming. Kerry Morrison: This is Overkill. John Tronson: I’m Having a Fundraiser for Mitch; I will Talk to Him. Mark Echevarria: What the Fuck is a Tree Surgeon?! Hurr Hurr Hurr

The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance supports laws that prioritize the view on the right over the view on the left.
The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance supports laws that prioritize the view on the right over the view on the left.
Maybe you remember in January when Outfront Media illegally, immorally, and with reckless disregard, vandalized a bunch of trees in Silver Lake. Well, that’s smack in the heartland of Mitch O’Farrell world, so the CM and his compatriot David Ryu introduced a motion directing the Bureau of Street Services to figure out how to prevent this kind of horror in the future (the full council file CF 15-0467-S4 is here). It’s a little off-topic, but nevertheless interesting, to note that Outfront is a client of megalobbyist Veronica Perez, at whom Silver Lake residents directed a lot of justified rage on Facebook and elsewhere about this issue in March.

Well, in April, BSS came back with a list of proposed amendments to the City tree-trimming ordinance, and they mean to put some teeth into it, and as we know, our old friends the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance just hate to have to follow any laws at all since, they think, laws are what criminals break and we’re not criminals.

HPOA staffies Kerry Morrison and Matthew Severson, who propound the views of their masters with a level of passion that only the paid flunkies of zillionaires seem to be able to muster, frame it as a matter of more misdirected and incompetent government regulation. Real-estate zillionaire, BFF of Kerry Morrison, and revealed plagiarist John Tronson is gonna talk to Mitch about it at the fundraiser next week. Mark Echevarria, boss of Los Angeles spiritual/cultural nexus Musso & Frank, proves that you don’t have to be a genius to run a holy site by chuckling over the fact that he’s never heard of tree surgeons. It’s just yet another display of ignorance, privilege, and conspiracy to bribe public officials; business as usual at the HPOA. You can watch the whole thing here, see a complete transcription after the break, and turn the page for line-by-line commentary.
Continue reading HPOA to Oppose O’Farrell/Ryu Motion on Tree-Trimming. Kerry Morrison: This is Overkill. John Tronson: I’m Having a Fundraiser for Mitch; I will Talk to Him. Mark Echevarria: What the Fuck is a Tree Surgeon?! Hurr Hurr Hurr

Share