Tag Archives: Melrose BID

What Is Donald Duckworth Spending The Melrose BID’s Money On Besides $6,000 A Month On His Own Damn Self? — Believe It Or Not He Seems To Spend Almost $10,000 Per Month On Public Relations And Paying Freelance Bloggers To Write What Passes As Content For What Passes As The BID’s Blog

Turn over a rock and don’t be surprised that crawlie lil creatures wiggle out, friends! As you probably recall, BIDdological freak show specimen Donald Duckworth in his guise as zeck dreck of the Melrose Avenue BID, stopped responding to my requests for public records early last year. So I lawyered up and filed a petition and now not only, I will deign to predict, is his BID gonna be on the hook for beaucoup de bucks but he actually started handing over goodies! One of these provides the text of today’s sermon, which is this list of transactions of the MBID from 2013 through this June organized by payee.

And lord, there’s a lot of weird stuff in there. For instance, note that in April and July 2017 Duckworth paid Hollywood Superlawyer and world famous Jeffrey Charles Briggs $1,000, presumably to ask his advice about the CPRA requests he had stopped responding to. Maybe Jeffrey Charles advised him to ignore me? Expensive advice, Mr. Superlawyer! Or maybe El Duckworth ignored his lawyer’s advice? Expensive mistake, Mr. Duckworth!1

And of course there’s a lot of normal stuff in there, like their security guard and their clean-up crew, and so on. But what really stands out is the money the BID is spending on social media content and blogging and public relations. Not only is the amount of money astonishing, many thousands of dollars per month, but the idiotic nonsense the BID is paying for is even more astonishing.

This cannot possibly be what all these property owners think they’re paying extra property tax for, which is no doubt related to why they’re fomenting revolution lately. It makes no sense at all. It’s much more likely that Donald Duckworth, having cut himself a piece of cake to the tune of $6,000 per month to run the damn BID part time has to blow the rest of the money on something to justify his existence and he doesn’t care what it is because it’s not his money. Turn the page for examples and payments. Sheesh!
Continue reading What Is Donald Duckworth Spending The Melrose BID’s Money On Besides $6,000 A Month On His Own Damn Self? — Believe It Or Not He Seems To Spend Almost $10,000 Per Month On Public Relations And Paying Freelance Bloggers To Write What Passes As Content For What Passes As The BID’s Blog

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Open Rebellion In The Melrose BID! Duckworth On The Defensive!! Refuses To Give Board Email Addresses To Property Owners!!! Even Though He Already Gave Them To Me!!!! And Don’t Forget He And He Alone Got The Damn BID Sued!!!!! And For This They Are Paying Him $72,000 Per Year To Work 20 Hours Per Week???!?

Sadly, for he is one of the most satirogenic figures in all of BIDlandia, we have not heard much from pirate king Donald Duckworth around these parts lately except, of course, for the fact that he, complacently steeped in his outlaw ways, forced me to file a pair of writ petitions against two of his baby BIDs because he, complacently steeped in his unhinged arrogance, flat-out and unaccountably refuses to comply with his statutory obligations under the California Public Records Act1 even though, if the past is prologue,2 it’s very likely to cost his BIDs a lot of damn money that they can probably ill afford to waste.

But regardless of Cap’n Donald’s law-flouting noncompliance it is occasionally possible to obtain records, or at least emails, involving him by the simple expedient of getting them from the other side of the correspondence.3 And recently a friend of this blog got a small pile of emails between Mr. Don Duckworth and Los Angeles City Clerk staff, and you can read the whole set here on Archive.Org.4 And there’s pretty much interesting stuff in there, but tonight I’m focusing on just three items.

June 9, 2018 email from Don Duckworth to Laura Aflalo about record inspection — Melrose property owners Laura Aflalo and Richard Jebejian want to come inspect records. Don Duckworth says sure you can but why would you want to, isn’t it a waste of your time?

June 9, 2018 emails between Duckworth and Aflalo about her questions about BID operation — Like why do the BID bylaws violate the Brown Act? And why can’t she have the Board members’ email addresses? And why won’t Don Duckworth just answer the damn questions?!

June 9, 2018 Duckworth to Aflalo with a detailed breakdown of how he spends the BID’s money — It’s detailed and evasive at the same time, a Duckworthian superpower, evidently.

And turn the page for some commentary, some mockery, and some highly selected transcriptions of at least the first two items. The third is going to have to wait till another time because it’s getting late around here!
Continue reading Open Rebellion In The Melrose BID! Duckworth On The Defensive!! Refuses To Give Board Email Addresses To Property Owners!!! Even Though He Already Gave Them To Me!!!! And Don’t Forget He And He Alone Got The Damn BID Sued!!!!! And For This They Are Paying Him $72,000 Per Year To Work 20 Hours Per Week???!?

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Has The Los Angeles Unified School District Turned Against BIDs? — At Its May 8, 2018 The School Board Voted Against A Staff Recommendation To Support Seven Renewals — On The Grounds That The Money Would Be Better Used For — Gasp!! — Educating Students

It’s well-known that the City of Los Angeles always votes its property in favor of BID formation. In fact, an ordinance passed in 1996 directs the Clerk to vote yes on both petitions and ballots unless the City Council specifically directs otherwise. And to my knowledge, the same has been true of the Los Angeles Unified School District. There have been signs, albeit not dispositive, of some LAUSD discontent with the policy, e.g. the probably intentional voiding of all petitions, but no open rebellion that I’m aware of.

And BIDs are evidently used to taking LAUSD petitions and ballots for granted. For instance, the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID is currently in the process of renewing.1 And I just received a huge release of emails about the renewal from BLQBID director Moises Gomez, which you can look at here on Archive.Org. It’s clear from the discussion that Don Duckworth and Moises Gomez were counting the LAUSD petitions as already-hatched chickens2 but, amazingly, it was not to be.

In April 2018 LAUSD staff prepared a report recommending that the Board sign petitions approving seven BIDs in Los Angeles. But at its May 8, 2018 meeting, the LAUSD Board voted down the staff proposal, and, according to staffer Yekaterina Boyajian, writing in an email to Moises Gomez on May 21, this is how it went down:

The proposal for the District to sign these petitions in support of the BIDs was not approved. The Board expressed the desire to support the BID petitions, and staff spoke to the positive relationships schools have with existing BIDs, but the Board felt that they could not justify supporting the expenditure of public education funds for purposes other than education in a time when the District is facing historic budget deficits.

It wasn’t just the BLQ BID that got its hopes dashed, either. The other BIDs whose petitions were rejected were the Arts District, the Fashion District, the Hollywood Entertainment District, the Hollywood Media District, the Lincoln Heights Benefit District, and the Melrose BID. Quite a distinguished list, eh?

And turn the page for a detailed explanation of the BLQ BID’s evolving thinking about these LAUSD petitions between February and May 2018, along with the usual links to and transcriptions of any number of really interesting emails!
Continue reading Has The Los Angeles Unified School District Turned Against BIDs? — At Its May 8, 2018 The School Board Voted Against A Staff Recommendation To Support Seven Renewals — On The Grounds That The Money Would Be Better Used For — Gasp!! — Educating Students

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Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

Remember Don Duckworth? Big bad BID boss of both the Melrose BID and the Westchester Town Center BID?? We haven’t heard from Mr. Duckworth here on the blog in a long old time even though he is quite an interesting character, what with his BID analyst switcheroos and his kooky Brown-Act-flouting bylaws and that whole Calabasas episode and so forth.

His absence from my literary life has not, however, been by choice.1 The fact is that circa last June the guy just decided to stop responding to my CPRA requests altogether. No records, no answers, no nothing from Don Duckworth. Hence no joyously mocking blog posts and so on. Well, friends, that’s about to change, and change big-time!

You see, my lawyer, the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, recently filed two petitions, one for each of Duckworth’s BIDs, to compel compliance with the CPRA. You can find them here on Archive.Org on pages which I will update if/when the cases generate more paper:

Melrose BID petition
Westchester Town Center BID petition

And turn the page for some excerpts from the Melrose petition! And a little more commentary!!
Continue reading Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

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Fashion District BID Bylaws From 2003 Anticipate Los Angeles City Attorney Advising BID On Their Brown Act Obligations, Suggesting That Holly Wolcott’s Stance Against Requiring BIDs To Follow The Law Is A Recent Development

I’ve been collecting copies of bylaws from the property owners’ associations that run BIDs for a while now, and some interesting stuff has turned up. Most egregiously we have the cases of Brown Act violations actually written into the bylaws of the Larchmont Village BID and essentially the same problem with the Melrose Avenue BID. Well, the other day, Rena Leddy, executive directrix of the Fashion District BID, was kind enough to send me a copy of her BID’s bylaws, last amended in 2003, and very interesting they are, indeed!

For one thing, these bylaws reveal that, unlike every other BID that I know of, the property owners in the Fashion District elect their Board of Directors by direct weighted vote.1 Most BIDs seem to be run by self-perpetuating boards, in which the directors choose their successors without any input from anyone else. This is interesting, and may save the FDBID from the kind of stagnation and undue staff influence that one finds in so many of our local BIDs.2

Most interesting, though, are the two places in these bylaws where it appears that the BID didn’t know whether or not their rules would violate the Brown Act, so they wrote language stating that the rules only applied pending determinations of their legality by the City Attorney of Los Angeles. This contradicts the stance currently taken by City Clerk Holly Wolcott, who insists that BIDs are beyond the City’s power to control due to their status as private corporations. She refuses even to tell BIDs to perform explicit requirements of their contract. How strange, then, to see evidence that in 2003 the City Attorney of Los Angeles was making decisions about whether or not the Fashion District BID’s bylaws were Brown-Act-compliant.
Continue reading Fashion District BID Bylaws From 2003 Anticipate Los Angeles City Attorney Advising BID On Their Brown Act Obligations, Suggesting That Holly Wolcott’s Stance Against Requiring BIDs To Follow The Law Is A Recent Development

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Hundreds Of Emails Between Melrose BID And The City Of LA Include (1) Definitive Proof That Executive Director Don Duckworth Violated The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance In 2013 But Unfortunately The Statute Of Limitations Has Effectively Run And (2) More Brown-Act-Violating Bylaws That No One At The Clerk’s Office, For Shame, Seems To Have Even Noticed

Donald Duckworth, who runs both the Westchester Town Center BID and the Melrose BID, is slow but, it seems, pretty steady about fulfilling my incessant CPRA requests. And thus, just yesterday I received from him four jumbo-sized mbox files just chock-full of gooey email goodness! This batch comprises 2016 emails between the City of LA and the Melrose BID, and can be found in various useful formats here on Archive.Org.

I will be writing about various items in this document dump soon enough,1 but today I just want to focus on a couple of interesting items, supplied to me as attachments to some of these emails and cleaned up a little for ease of reading.2 Here’s the short version, and you can find details and the usual ranting mockery after the break:

  • Melrose BID Formation Project Hourly Charge Breakdown — Don Duckworth not only runs the Melrose BID, he was also the consultant who oversaw its establishment, for which he seems to have been paid $80,000 by the City. This is a detailed breakdown of his hours and charges over the course of the project formation. If you’ve been following my ongoing project, aimed at turning in BID consultants for not registering as lobbyists,3 you’ll recognize how astonishing and how important this document is. Unfortunately Don Duckworth’s work on this project wound down in the Summer of 2013, which means that the four year statute of limitations for violations of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance has essentially run out. The document will be endlessly useful, though, in estimating time spent by consultants on their other projects.
  • Melrose Business Improvement Association bylaws — The Melrose Business Improvement Association is the property owners’ association that administers the Melrose BID. These are their bylaws. I discovered recently that the freaking Larchmont Village BID had bylaws that directly contradicted the Brown Act. Now it turns out that the Melrose BID has precisely the same problem. It’s possible that Larchmont Village changed their ways, but so far, anyway, there’s no reason to suspect that Melrose has done.

Continue reading Hundreds Of Emails Between Melrose BID And The City Of LA Include (1) Definitive Proof That Executive Director Don Duckworth Violated The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance In 2013 But Unfortunately The Statute Of Limitations Has Effectively Run And (2) More Brown-Act-Violating Bylaws That No One At The Clerk’s Office, For Shame, Seems To Have Even Noticed

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Yet Another Example Of City Of LA Indifference To Illegal BID Shenanigans: City Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno Hands Out (Literal) Gold Stars To BIDs For Minimal Brown Act Compliance But Doesn’t Do Or Even Say Anything To BIDs Who Are Not Only In Violation Of The Law But Have Been Flouting It For Years On End

Yesterday evening, BID-lawyer-to-the-stars Jeffrey Charles Briggs passed along almost 200 emails between Media District BID executive director Lisa Schechter and various people at the City of Los Angeles. These are available en masse at Archive.Org. As always, there’s a lot of chaff in there and a few super-interesting things.1 Perhaps today’s story is an example of the latter.

It began on February 28, when Rita Moreno, newly of the Neighborhood and Business Improvement Division of the City Clerk’s office, the unit that’s meant to oversee the operations of BIDs and make sure that they follow the law and stuff, emailed a bunch of BIDdies to introduce herself and note that only a few of them had their meeting times posted on their websites. Of course, the Brown Act explicitly requires BIDs to notice their meetings on their websites,2 but that’s actually not why Rita was on about this. She was just trying to find out when they met so that she could attend. In fact, it’s not even clear that Rita Moreno knew about the Brown Act requirement.

However, the very next day, our old friend Lisa Schechter of the Hollywood Media District BID, who is not generally known for her law-abiding behavior but who has by now been educated by years of our intense scrutiny to the point where, I hope, she’s beginning to realize that it’s just easier to follow the law,3 wrote back to Rita Moreno, fishing for praise from this unlikely authority figure:

Dear Rita:

Just to reiterate, all of our meetings are posted in accordance with the Brown Act (Committee as well as Board) – Further you have been placed on our automatic distribution list which triggers and [sic] email directly to you for all of our meetings. If you should require any further information please do not hesitate to contact myself or our operations manager, Jim Omahen.

And, a couple hours later, Rita Moreno replied:

Yes…you got a star


And if you’re new to BID studies, you’re probably wondering why this puerile exchange is not just idiotic, sycophantic, and moronic, but also deeply offensive and discouraging to anyone who cares about the rule of law in Los Angeles. Well, read on!
Continue reading Yet Another Example Of City Of LA Indifference To Illegal BID Shenanigans: City Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno Hands Out (Literal) Gold Stars To BIDs For Minimal Brown Act Compliance But Doesn’t Do Or Even Say Anything To BIDs Who Are Not Only In Violation Of The Law But Have Been Flouting It For Years On End

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