Tag Archives: Los Angeles Ethics Commission

In Which I Present A General Argument That BID Consultancy Is Lobbying Activity In Order To Simplify And Regularize The Process Of Reporting BID Consultants To The Ethics Commission For Failure To Register

It’s a long term project of mine to turn in as many BID consultants as possible to the City Ethics Commission for failing to register as lobbyists. So far, though, I’ve only managed to report Tara Devine for her work on the Venice Beach BID because the work is so involved. Such a report has two essential components:

  1. An argument that BID consultancy satisfies the definition of lobbying activity found in the the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02.
  2. An argument that a specific BID consultant was paid for sufficiently many hours over sufficiently few months to trigger the registration requirement found in the MLO at LAMC §48.07(A).

It occurred to me recently that the first argument will be the same for all BID consultants, and that therefore it would be possible to streamline the reporting process by writing it up in a generic format that would apply to any given BID consultant. So that’s what I did, and you can read the result here. I will be using this to make a number of complaints against BID consultants in the near future, which I will report on here.

Meanwhile, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can find explanations of everything after the break, along with a fairly detailed summary of the argument that BID consultancy qualifies as lobbying under the MLO.
Continue reading In Which I Present A General Argument That BID Consultancy Is Lobbying Activity In Order To Simplify And Regularize The Process Of Reporting BID Consultants To The Ethics Commission For Failure To Register

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Why Does Shadowy Anonymous United Downtown Have The Same Phone Number As The Central City East Association?

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.

I reported a couple days ago that Liner LLP, the lobbying firm hired by the shadowy anonymous entity known as United Downtown for the purpose of killing the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation, had finally disclosed their client via their Q2 report. I didn’t realize then that Liner had also filed an amended 2017 registration statement showing United Downtown as a client, which they had previously failed to do.

And there’s a crucial detail in these disclosures that I missed. I was alerted to this matter by a source who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. Take a look at the disclosure statement. In particular, the phone number that Liner gives for United Downtown is (213) 228-8484. Now take a look at Central City East’s contact info (and here’s a screenshot should it become necessary). Their phone number is (213) 228-8484 as well! This would go a long way towards explaining the outsized role played by Estela Lopez in this fiasco as early as January 2017.
Continue reading Why Does Shadowy Anonymous United Downtown Have The Same Phone Number As The Central City East Association?

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Ethics Commission Releases List Of Far-Reaching, Much-Needed, Proposed Updates To Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, To Be Discussed Further At August 15 Meeting

On Friday the City Ethics Commission released a list of proposed updates to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. This is scheduled for discussion at the Commission’s upcoming August 15 meeting. These are extraordinarily far-reaching and much welcome proposals, and you’ll find a list with commentary after the break. Just for instance, though, they’re proposing to alter the definition of a lobbyist to make it easier to decide when they’re required to register, to require disclosure of specific City employees lobbied, to require disclosure of positions taken on lobbied issues, and so on.

First though, let me just outline the slightly unusual procedure by which government ethics laws are changed in the City of Los Angeles. Unlike most laws, which are proposed, amended, and passed or defeated by the City Council, ethics laws are proposed by the Ethics Commission. Once the Commission finalizes its proposal, it’s sent to the City Council, which has the right to adopt the proposal or reject the proposal, but they are specifically forbidden from altering the proposal.

Of course, something like this complex procedure is necessary, because it wouldn’t be safe to allow the City Council, the main agency reined in by ethics laws, to rewrite them on their own initiative. They’d very soon be meaningless. However, it seems to make the laws extraordinarily difficult to change in substantive ways. For instance, the Ethics Commission sent up a set of proposals fairly similar to the current set in 2010.

At that time Eric Garcetti was chair of the Rules and Elections committee, where the proposal went first. At the behest of Kerry Morrison, Estela Lopez, and a bunch of other BID staffers, in the midst of a stomach-turning display of flirtatious trivialization, he let the proposal die in committee without even a second hearing. You can read all about this disgraceful episode and even listen to audio of the giggly horribleness of it all. There’s every chance that something very similar will happen this time around. But maybe not, who can say.
Continue reading Ethics Commission Releases List Of Far-Reaching, Much-Needed, Proposed Updates To Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, To Be Discussed Further At August 15 Meeting

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United Downtown LA Paid Liner LLP More Than $45,000 To Lobby Against Skid Row Neighborhood Council In Q2 2017. Payments From First Quarter Are Still Undisclosed

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 may recall that shady downtown municipal lobbying firm Liner LLP was hired by the even shadier anonymous Delaware incorporated United Downtown LA to lobby against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and that I turned them in to the City Ethics Commission for failing to amend their disclosure forms to disclose United Downtown as a client as required by LAMC §48.07.

Well, yesterday was the filing deadline for Second Quarter disclosures, and Liner filed theirs on time. It’s required by law for lobbying firms like Liner to disclose their clients and also how much money they got paid by each client. This time they actually did list United DTLA1 and it turns out that they were paid a stunning total of $45,010.40 to lobby against the SRNC. And this is just for Q2.2 It’s likely, or at least possible, that when the Ethics Commission gets around to investigating my complaint they’ll find that Liner was paid even more in Q1.

Oh, and check out the address that they put on the form for United Downtown. That’s Liner’s address. Full-service anonymization going on. That this much money was spent to stop a neighborhood council suggests that the NC system is really badly broken somehow.
Continue reading United Downtown LA Paid Liner LLP More Than $45,000 To Lobby Against Skid Row Neighborhood Council In Q2 2017. Payments From First Quarter Are Still Undisclosed

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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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Two New Coffee Mugs! Neo-Hipsters And Santee Alley! Also Ethics Laws Update! Be The First In Your Facebook Friends Group To Have One!!

Well, yesterday’s post on Santee Alley, neo-hipsters, Latinos, and lobster rolls has turned out to be one of our most popular items of 2017, so I thought I’d better make a coffee mug out of it.

And while I had the old coffee mug making machine fired up I thought I would also make another one commemorating the recent revision of the LA Ethics laws to include a duty to report. This mug features a stirring selection from LAMC §48.01:

1. City government functions to serve the needs of all citizens.
2. The citizens of the City of Los Angeles have a right to know the identity of interests which attempt to influence decisions of City government, as well as the means employed by those interests.
4. Complete public disclosure of the full range of activities by and financing of lobbyists and those who employ their services is essential to the maintenance of citizen confidence in the integrity of local government.

Turn the page for links to the full resolution image files used to make the mugs.
Continue reading Two New Coffee Mugs! Neo-Hipsters And Santee Alley! Also Ethics Laws Update! Be The First In Your Facebook Friends Group To Have One!!

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City Council Approves Update To Ethics Laws Which, Among Other Changes, Imposes At Long Last A Duty On City Officials And Employees To Report Violations To The Ethics Commission Within Ten Days — A Law Like This Will Cut Down On Apparent Collusion By City Officials Or At Least Provide Another Fruitful Channel For Reporting Them

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission is charged not only with enforcing ethics laws and regulations but also with reviewing and revising them periodically. Because the City Council is subject to these laws it wouldn’t make much sense for them to be able to alter them at will. The temptation to exempt themselves and their creepy zillionaire buddies would ultimately be too much for their corrupt vestigial little senses of morality to bear and we’d end up without any ethics laws at all.

Thus the process, as described in the City Charter at §703(a), requires the Ethics Commission to propose the changes and gives the City Council the authority only to disapprove but not to modify them.1 This strikes me as a quite clever way to balance the competing interests involved:

The commission may adopt, amend and rescind rules and regulations, subject to Council approval without modification, to carry out the purposes and provisions of the Charter and ordinances of the City relating to campaign finance, conflicts of interest, lobbying, and governmental ethics and to govern procedures of the commission.2

So at its meeting in February, the Ethics Commission approved a bunch of revised enforcement regulations. You can read the original proposal. This was duly sent up to the City Council, where it was placed in Council File 14-0049-S1. Well, on Thursday, after the Mayor’s concurrence was received, the Council finalized the matter and the new regulations are approved and will take effect on August 14.3

There were bunches of changes, mostly technical in nature, and beyond my capacity to evaluate. But the one that really excites me is that the new ordinance requires City departments and appointees to report violations of the Ethics laws or the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance within ten days. This is a huge development! Read on for details and for a number of horrific instances in which the lack of a mandate to report created absolutely nauseating scenarios involving law-flouting lobbyists and City officials.
Continue reading City Council Approves Update To Ethics Laws Which, Among Other Changes, Imposes At Long Last A Duty On City Officials And Employees To Report Violations To The Ethics Commission Within Ten Days — A Law Like This Will Cut Down On Apparent Collusion By City Officials Or At Least Provide Another Fruitful Channel For Reporting Them

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The Central City Association Seems To Have Failed To Amend Its Lobbying Entity Registration Form In A Timely Manner And John Howland Didn’t Disclose The Fact That He Lobbied The Board Of Neighborhood Commissioners Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council. So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission About It

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.

A few days ago I wrote a post about the fact that the Central City Association was involved in the lobbying effort against the Skid Row Neighborhood Council and briefly noted a few violations of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance I’d noticed with respect to CCA’s disclosure of this fact. Today I completed and submitted a report on this matter to the City Ethics Commission. Here’s a copy:

There are two main issues: First, the MLO requires lobbying firms1 to (a) register every year, (b) disclose the issues they’re lobbying for on their registration forms, and (c) amend their registrations within 10 days of a change in the information. The CCA began lobbying against the SRNC no later than March 20, 2017, when John Howland appeared before the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners and spoke on the issue. Thus they should have amended their registration form no later than March 30. But they did not do so until April 28.
Continue reading The Central City Association Seems To Have Failed To Amend Its Lobbying Entity Registration Form In A Timely Manner And John Howland Didn’t Disclose The Fact That He Lobbied The Board Of Neighborhood Commissioners Against The Skid Row Neighborhood Council. So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission About It

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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

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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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