Tag Archives: Los Angeles Ethics Commission

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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Complaint Filed This Morning With City Ethics Commission About Liner Law’s Failure To Disclose So-Called United DTLA As Client. Also Matthew Nichols Appears To Have Lobbied Before Incorporation Of United DTLA, Possibly Requiring Disclosure Of Actual Human Clients As Well

Last weekend I outlined what seem to be serious violations of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance by registered lobbying firm Liner Law and its sleazeballs-for-hire Rockard J. Delgadillo and his creepy little sadly-not-imaginary playmate, Mr. Matthew T. Nichols in the course of the zillionaire downtown real estate cabal’s cowardly moronic greedheaded campaign against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council. Well, this morning I finished up an actual complaint on this matter and filed it with the Ethics Commission, and it is available on Archive.Org for your reading pleasure!

If you read my earlier article most of this material will be familiar to you, but there’s at least one major new thing, which only occurred to me yesterday. Recall that according to Delgadillo and Nichols, the client who was paying them to oppose the Skid Row Neighborhood Council was a shady anonymous Delaware-incorporated LLC known as United DTLA. According to Delaware state records, United DTLA was incorporated on March 3, 2017.

Matthew Nichols monitoring a City meeting on SRNC formation on February 15, 2017, almost three weeks before United DTLA was even incorporated. This is potentially huge! Click to enlarge.
This means that if and when Liner, Matthew Nichols, and Rockard Delgadillo file their required client disclosures for lobbying that they carried out after March 3, they’re going to disclose nothing more than United DTLA, that shady anonymous Delaware corporation. However, that shady anonymous Delaware corporation did not exist on February 15, 2017, on which day Matthew T. Nichols attended a Town Hall meeting about the Skid Row Neighborhood Council sponsored by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. And according to the definition of “lobbying activity” found in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02, the following is included:

… attending or monitoring City meetings, hearings or other events.

So if Matthew Nichols was carrying out compensated lobbying activities on February 15 but his putative client wasn’t even conjured into existence until March 3, he’s going to have to disclose someone other than United DTLA. And what’s the chance that this other client will be anonymous? Very low, I’m guessing, since if the zillionaires already had an anonymous entity through which to hire lobbyists, why would they go and invent a new one a few weeks later? I suppose we’ll find out, although don’t hold breath, friends. The Ethics Commission moves slowly, but it certainly does move.

And another newly uncovered bit of information is that both Delgadillo and Nichols not only attended the March 22, 2017 meeting of City Council’s Rules and Elections Committee, but they both spoke. Although Nichols didn’t say much. His entire speech is quoted in the cartoon that decorates the beginning of this post. As a special bonus for reading this far, turn the page for images of the speaker cards filled out by these two dimwits and also actual audio recordings of their comments!
Continue reading Complaint Filed This Morning With City Ethics Commission About Liner Law’s Failure To Disclose So-Called United DTLA As Client. Also Matthew Nichols Appears To Have Lobbied Before Incorporation Of United DTLA, Possibly Requiring Disclosure Of Actual Human Clients As Well

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Lobbying Firm Liner LLP And Lobbyist Matthew Nichols Seem To Have Violated The LA Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance While Working Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council On Behalf Of Shady Delaware-Incorporated Anonymous Shell Corporation United DTLA And It Appears At Least Plausible That Rocky Delgadillo Did Also

The Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, known to the cognoscenti as the MLO and found at Article 8 of the LAMC,1 regulates professional paid lobbyists in the City of Los Angeles.2 It also regulates so-called lobbying firms, which are companies that employ lobbyists to lobby on behalf of paying clients.3

One requirement that the MLO puts on lobbying firms and lobbyists is registration with the City.4 In particular, it is required5 that:

A lobbyist or lobbying firm shall register each client on whose behalf or from which the lobbyist or lobbying firm receives or becomes entitled to receive $250 or more in a calendar quarter for engaging in lobbying activities related to attempting to influence municipal legislation.

Note also that you might rightly wonder if the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation process counts as “municipal legislation.” It does, but the reason’s a little technical.6 Also, note that Liner LLP is a lobbying firm and they filed the required registration form for 2017, listing all their clients. And, although Rocky Delgadillo is employed by Liner, he’s not registered as a lobbyist himself. However, when he wrote his famous letter to DONE advocating against the SRNC he wrote as a Liner employee.

It’s almost certain that Liner received the negligible sum of $250 from their client, United DTLA, for their services. According to the MLO,7 then, Liner is required to disclose “The client’s name, business or residence address, and business or residence telephone number” as well as “The item or items of municipal legislation for which the firm was retained to represent the client.” But look again at Liner’s registration form. There is nothing there about their client, United DTLA.

Naturally, though, it’s possible that lobbying firms might add clients after they file their annual registrations. In this case they registered on January 1, 2017, but certainly didn’t start representing United DTLA until around February and quite possibly not until March. The law has a procedure for this kind of thing:8

Lobbyists and lobbying firms shall file amendments to their registration statements within 10 days of any change in information required to be set forth on the registration statement.

Take yet another look at Liner’s registration form. You can see that it was amended on April 27, which is long after Liner’s representation of United DTLA began, but there is no mention of this client. This is the first likely violation of the MLO arising from Liner’s anti-SRNC work.
Continue reading Lobbying Firm Liner LLP And Lobbyist Matthew Nichols Seem To Have Violated The LA Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance While Working Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council On Behalf Of Shady Delaware-Incorporated Anonymous Shell Corporation United DTLA And It Appears At Least Plausible That Rocky Delgadillo Did Also

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The San Pedro BID Is Paying BID Consultant Edward Henning Only $20,000 To Handle Their Impending Renewal. This Is 64% Less Than The Fashion District Will Pay Urban Place Consulting And 75% Less Than The South Park BID Will Pay Tara Devine. Why The Huge Variation In Compensation For A Job Whose Elements Are Delineated By The City?

You may recall that Edward Henning is an engineer who works with a number of BID consultants on BID establishment and renewal, writing the engineer’s reports required by Streets and Highways Code §36622(n). I’ve previously reported, e.g., that he seems to get paid about $9,000 for writing these things.1 Well, TIL that Ed Henning is also a BID consultant his own self!

The story begins with Lorena Parker, executive director of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID, sending me the contract that Ed Henning and her BID signed for consulting services, along with some ancillary information:

These materials are also available on the Archive, which is useful because of OCR and so forth. And that’s today’s goodies. Turn the page for discussion!
Continue reading The San Pedro BID Is Paying BID Consultant Edward Henning Only $20,000 To Handle Their Impending Renewal. This Is 64% Less Than The Fashion District Will Pay Urban Place Consulting And 75% Less Than The South Park BID Will Pay Tara Devine. Why The Huge Variation In Compensation For A Job Whose Elements Are Delineated By The City?

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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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News Flash: General Jeff And Katherine McNenny Blow The Lid Off Of DLANC’s Shameful Covert Campaign Against Skid Row Neighborhood Council!

Recall that just last week the proposed Skid Row Neighborhood Council was narrowly defeated in a hotly contested, deeply controversial election. I reported at the time that CCEA voodoo queen Estela Lopez seemed to be deeply involved in some as-yet-unclear way in the anti-SRNC campaign. This is bad and creepy, but probably not illegal, as lobbying the City seems to be in the job description of business improvement districts.

Well, just tonight it’s come to my attention that General Jeff and Katherine McNenny have discovered that Patti Berman, chief boss-lady of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, or anyway someone with access to DLANC computer accounts, evidently used City resources to campaign against the SRNC. You can watch them here explaining the proof. It boils down to the fact that DLANC used their Mailchimp account to send out email blasts, which incorporated the City logo, urging people to vote against SRNC. This is bad and creepy and probably illegal. General Jeff promises in the video to use it to challenge the outcome of the election.

Not only that, but an anonymous group calling itself “United Downtown LA” hired former City attorney Rocky Delgadillo to write to the City Council urging them to adopt online voting for the SRNC election even though it has not been used in most other NC certification elections. Online voting, of course, is what did in the SRNC, as the paper ballots were overwhelmingly in favor of formation. You can read the whole Council file here and Delgadillo’s letter in particular here. Well, you can also see in the video that General Jeff and Katherine McNenny have made that DLANC was using the name “Unite DTLA” to carry on their covert campaign. Whether these are the same shadowy anonymous entity remains to be seen, of course.
Continue reading News Flash: General Jeff And Katherine McNenny Blow The Lid Off Of DLANC’s Shameful Covert Campaign Against Skid Row Neighborhood Council!

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New Documents: Lisa Trifiletti and Omar Pulido Emails, Wilshire Center BID And East Hollywood BID Emails To/From City Of LA From February 2017

This is just a short note to announce three new sets of documents for your entertainment, your edification, and, if you’re interested, a little puzzle for you to solve.

First we have a couple of monthly sets of emails between BIDs and the City of Los Angeles. This turns out to be a useful request for keeping finger on pulse, often leading to unexpected discoveries, so I make it every month of all my favorite BIDs.1 Perhaps there are some lurking here:

And turn the page for the most interesting item of all for today!
Continue reading New Documents: Lisa Trifiletti and Omar Pulido Emails, Wilshire Center BID And East Hollywood BID Emails To/From City Of LA From February 2017

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Urban Place Consulting Set To Earn $55,712.20 For Dealing With The 2017/2018 Fashion District BID Renewal Process According To Contract, Which May Also Shed Light On The Intersection Between BID Consultancy And L.A.’s Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance

The Fashion District BID in Downtown Los Angeles is set to expire at the end of 2018. This means that they’ll be collecting petitions roughly in the first quarter of 2018 and going to City Council approximately in the Summer of 2018. The process is complicated for property-based BIDs and usually requires a consultant, and the consultant has to start early. The Fashion District is using Urban Place Consulting.1 Work began on the process in January 2017.

Thanks to the competence, kindness, and evident commitment to transparency of the Fashion District BID’s executive director, Rena Masten Leddy,2 we have copies of (at least most of) the FDBID’s contract with UPC3 as well as the first three months worth of invoices. You can get these:

Crucially, the contract reveals that the Fashion District will pay UPC more than $55,000 over the course of the two year process. The contract is supposed to include a schedule of hourly rates and the invoices are supposed to include an hourly breakdown, but, at least so far, they do not.

Apart from the general interest created by the essential role that BID renewal plays in the life cycle of BIDs, this kind of data is also crucial to my ongoing study of the intersection between the BID renewal process in Los Angeles and the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. Turn the page for a brief discussion of those issues as well as a brief outline of the renewal process itself.
Continue reading Urban Place Consulting Set To Earn $55,712.20 For Dealing With The 2017/2018 Fashion District BID Renewal Process According To Contract, Which May Also Shed Light On The Intersection Between BID Consultancy And L.A.’s Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance

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The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

The Wicked Witch of the Southeast corner of Wilshire and Hope giving instructions to her flying monkeys.
Recall that I’ve been tracking the hysterical, irrational opposition of LA’s business improvement districts to the ongoing process of legalizing (some aspects of) street vending in the City since the Spring of 2015. A truly astonishing level of bitching and moaning in 2015 stalled out the whole process for most of 2016 because, I believe, everyone was too freaking sick of the whining and the carefully orchestrated lying on any number of occasions and the City just needed a rest.
A man arrested, transported, and handcuffed to a bench by the Andrews International BID Patrol in Hollywood for selling umbrellas on the street. At least it appears that this horror show is over, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more loopholes and it’s not over at all.
Until the November election of Donald Trump and his subsequent threats to deport essentially anyone, U.S. citizen or not, who’d ever smiled while thinking of eating a taco spurred the Council into action on at least the small part (small but in no way insignificant) of the plan to decriminalize illegal street vending so that, no matter how much trouble the zillionaires might cause the heladeros, at least they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and subsequent deportation. That bit seemed urgent enough to pass Council outright, and even the anti-vending forces of the zillionaire elite seemed to realize that they were just going to be exposed as the nasty little mean creeps that they are if they fought back on this particular issue. However, the Council put off acting on an actual legalization framework until later.

But recall, as I reported in January, the instructions for the report-back were altered from the original, and quite sensible,1 request for

A process to create special vending districts to be initiated by Council, the Board of Public Works, or petition (with signatures from 20 percent of property owners or businesses in the proposed district), based on legitimate public health, safety and welfare concerns that are unique to specific neighborhoods with special circumstances.

to a request for language

Providing the City Council the ability to opt out of certain streets by Council action.

At that time I didn’t understand yet how this had all taken place, but now I’ve accumulated enough documentary evidence that it’s possible to sketch out a picture. The short version is that in December 2016, Suzanne Holley, at that time acting Executive Director2 of the Schatzian horror show known as the Central City Association of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the City Council telling them to make the change. This was distributed to the BIDs via the BID Consortium. They all told their pet Councilmembers to change it. It got changed, and all the BIDs rejoiced, some of them quite publicly. The consequences of this are going to be horrific, and whatever street vending framework gets put in place will be DOA. Details and evidence after the break.
Continue reading The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

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Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Regarding Nicole Shahenian’s Violation Of LAMC 48.04(B) In 2014

Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster about the fact that East Hollywood BID Director Nicole Shahenian appears to have violated LAMC 48.04(B) by stating that the EHBID’s 2015 Annual Planning Report had been prepared at a Board meeting on December 29, 2014, when in reality no such meeting took place. Also maybe look at the actual complaint I filed with the Ethics Commission.

The main points are that the Clerk ought to institute some kind of oversight to make sure that this nonsense stops happening. The Ethics Commission will rule on Nicole Shahenian’s violation of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, but that only applies because she was coincidentally registered as a lobbyist in 2014. Most BID directors are not registered lobbyists,1 but many of them apparently lie about the APR approval process. This could potentially create dire consequences due to the fact that, e.g., BIDs can actually be disestablished for such transgressions, whether or not the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance is involved. Anyway, as I said, here is the letter as a PDF, and turn the page for a transcription.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Regarding Nicole Shahenian’s Violation Of LAMC 48.04(B) In 2014

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