Tag Archives: Mike Dundas

CPRA Goes Meta: Holly Wolcott Refuses To Release Some Records But Ends Up Releasing Advice Email From Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas Authorizing Her Refusal

Holly Wolcott reimagined as a child of the 60s, chanting the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo of her people, which goes like this: “CPRA does not obligate me to answer questions. Only to provide records. CPRA does not obligate me to answer questions. Only to provide records.” HEY HOLLY!! CPRA also does not obligate you to not answer questions…
Perhaps you remember the long and winding narrative of how I spent almost half of last year trying to get the City Clerk’s office to cough up mailing addresses for the property owners in the Venice Beach BID, which they finally did do. There is a reasonable summary with links right here. Today I can reveal a little behind-the-scenes episode in that story.

A few weeks ago, in the middle of about a thousand pages of emails that the City Clerk’s office finally handed over, only about six months after I asked for them, I found this little gem of an email chain. Most of it is me hassling various Clerk staffies for the list of addresses, but right in the middle of it all, there’s an interlude between Holly Wolcott and Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas, who’s evidently some kind of CPRA specialist over there in City Hall East.1

The TL;DR is that she goes: “Mike, do I gotta give him the goods?” and Mike’s all: “Nah, Holly, you don’t gotta because reasons.” It’s also interesting that the reasons he gives her are specious, providing, among other things, yet another example of how the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 (which makes BIDs subject to CPRA) seems not to be understood so well over at City Hall. You will find some discussion after the break, along with quotes if you’re PDF-averse.
Continue reading CPRA Goes Meta: Holly Wolcott Refuses To Release Some Records But Ends Up Releasing Advice Email From Deputy City Attorney Mike Dundas Authorizing Her Refusal

Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Concerning The Question Of Whether BID Consultants Qualify As Lobbyists And What The Proper Course Of Action Might Be If They Do

A pseudo-artistic computer-modified image of Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott.
Here’s a letter I sent this morning to Holly Wolcott and Miranda Paster concerning the question of whether BID consultants qualify as lobbyists for the purposes of complying with the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. My feeling, of course, is that they do qualify, they ought to register with the City, they should be punished for the fact that they have not done so, and the City staff who work with them without insisting that they register ought to be busted for aiding and abetting. But since evidently this has never occurred to anyone before, I thought it would be decent to give everyone involved a chance to assess their own risk in choosing a course of action. Hence this letter. There’s a transcription with live links after the break if you don’t want to deal with a PDF.
Continue reading Open Letter To Holly Wolcott And Miranda Paster Concerning The Question Of Whether BID Consultants Qualify As Lobbyists And What The Proper Course Of Action Might Be If They Do

A Bunch Of Interesting New Documents: City Attorney, LA Times, And Sanitation Reports From Encampment Cleanups

This is just a quick announcement of some interesting new collections of records, with minimal commentary. First of all, there’s a collection of emails between City Attorney spokesman1 Rob Wilcox and various L.A. Times Reporters. You can get the whole batch here:

Also I have a full set of reports2 from the Bureau of Sanitation on the cleanups of three homeless encampments on March 22, 2016. It took almost three months for them to hand over this material, which won’t surprise anyone who’s been following my recent interactions with them. This is likewise available from:

I don’t presently have much to say about the sanitation reports. At this point I’m collecting as much material as possible in order to (a) figure out what kind of material is available so that I’ll be able to make focused, effective requests in the future, (b) learn what kinds of arguments they make against handing over records so that I can make focused, effective counterarguments against them, and (c) understand all the players in the HE3 game and the roles they’re playing. I hope to be able to synthesize all of this at some point, but meanwhile I want to make the records available because I know smarter people than I are also reading them.

But I do have this and that to say about the emails,4 and after the break you will find commentary and links to interesting individual instances.
Continue reading A Bunch Of Interesting New Documents: City Attorney, LA Times, And Sanitation Reports From Encampment Cleanups

Miranda Paster, Subverter Of Arts District BID Alternatives: Some Of What $3000 Bought The BIDs of Los Angeles Over The Years And How She Got Temporarily “Bumped” Due To Allegations Of Conflict Of Interest

I can't find any usable pictures of Miranda Paster, so here's another picture of Holly Wolcott!
I can’t find any usable pictures of Miranda Paster, so here’s another picture of Holly Wolcott!
Miranda Paster is the director of the LA City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement Division (NABID), which administers the City’s BID program. Her job description (updated in February 2014) includes among her duties presenting at the conferences of the International Downtown Association:1 …deliver formal presentations, including analyses and recommendations, to the City Council and its Committees and International Downtown Association Conferences…

The story begins in 2011,2 when BIDs gave Miranda Paster $3000 to attend the IDA’s 2011 annual conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Take a look at this collection of emails and records of payments from 2011. These show that less than two weeks before the conference started, Paster was scrambling to get the money together to attend, but that she already had a commitment from the BIDs to pay $3000 (a log of the actual payments is included there). It seems that in 2011, Paster’s attendance at this conference was a new thing for her, as the financing was arranged in such a hurry. I’m guessing that at this point presenting at this conference was not yet part of Paster’s official duties. It’s a rare bureaucracy indeed which will not pay its employees’ expenses to carry out their duties. So the BIDs paid, buying at least a sense of obligation.

Unfortunately, IDA records of the 2011 conference don’t seem to show what Paster did there, but by the 2012 conference, held in Minneapolis, she was a panelist. This is interesting in itself. The panel, moderated by Rena Leddy, now of the Fashion District BID but then of Progressive Urban Management Associates, or PUMA,3 was entitled How Cities Encourage BIDs: Trends and Challenges.4 Here is a copy of a Power Point summary of the session, which is astonishing in its own right.5

Now, you may not be familiar with the story of the destruction and resurrection of the Arts District BID. It began in 2011 when Yuval Bar-Zemer of Linear City development initiated a campaign against the BID based on the theory that BID assessments used for marketing campaigns didn’t benefit assessed property owners in any way allowed under state law.6 A court case ensued, and in May 2013 Superior Court judge Robert O’Brien ordered the BID to dissolve.
Continue reading Miranda Paster, Subverter Of Arts District BID Alternatives: Some Of What $3000 Bought The BIDs of Los Angeles Over The Years And How She Got Temporarily “Bumped” Due To Allegations Of Conflict Of Interest

Venice Beach BID Proponents Carl Lambert and Andy Layman Are Being Sued by City of LA For AirBnB Shenanigans, We Have Copies of The Complaints!

WWJMD?
WWJMD?
It’s well-known that two of the major proponents behind the nascent Venice Beach BID, Carl Lambert and Andy Layman, are being sued by the City of Los Angeles for illegal AirBnB activities. You can see the pro-BID petitions submitted by these two dimwits here: Lambert 1Lambert 2Layman 1. By the way, if you haven’t seen them yet, the full set of pro-BID petitions is also available.

Anyway, I wasn’t able to find copies of the complaints online, and the Superior Court charges one dollar per page for PDFs, which is not within our budgetary constraints. But fortunately, the ever-helpful Mike Dundas came charging over the metaphorical hill like the metaphorical cavalry this morning and sent me copies, which I’m now making available to you:

Note that Feuer’s office filed two other complaints against illegal AirBnBers, but as they’re not BID-related, I’m not discussing them here. However, I did publish all of them on the Archive. These make interesting reading, chock-full of accusatory goodness, and are worth your time. You can read them yourself, and there are some excerpts after the break.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID Proponents Carl Lambert and Andy Layman Are Being Sued by City of LA For AirBnB Shenanigans, We Have Copies of The Complaints!

Update on the Question of Why BID Security Patrols Aren’t Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission

Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.
Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.
I have some new information about, although not an answer to, the question, which I wrote about last week, of why BID security patrols aren’t registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission even though LAMC 52.34 would seem to require registration. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, you should read that post first for background.

First of all, I exchanged a number of emails with William Jones, a senior management analyst with the LAPD permit processing section. He directed me to Officer Vicencio in the Police Commission’s Enforcement section. Vicencio was on vacation last week, but I finally got a chance to speak to him on the phone. He told me that BID Patrols were exempt from the LAMC 52.34 requirement because state law exempted them. He did not know what section of state law exempted them. He also told me that “about fifteen years ago” the City Attorney issued an opinion stating that BID Patrols were not subject to the registration requirement. He said that any private security firm that was under contract to the City or had an MOU with the City was not required to register.
Continue reading Update on the Question of Why BID Security Patrols Aren’t Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission

LAMC 41.47.1: This Seemingly Unknown Municipal Bathroom Law Could Change the Whole Public Urination Discussion in Los Angeles, but it has Never Been Used

These signs are hanging all over the City of Los Angeles, and it turns out that they're completely unenforceable.
These signs are hanging all over the City of Los Angeles, and it turns out that they’re completely unenforceable.

Arrests for public urination/defecation are a fundamental tool in the war against homeless people in Los Angeles, as well as being a major part of the BID Patrol’s work in Hollywood. In 2015, for instance, the BID’s data shows that about 8%1 of the arrests that Andrews International made across the two HPOA BIDs2 were for public urination/defecation, which is a violation of LAMC 41.47.2.

When the City Council passed LAMC 41.47.2 in 2003, they were roundly (and rightly) criticized by advocates for the rights of homeless people, who pointed out that it was inhumane to criminalize an activity that is necessary to sustain life without providing a practical alternative. My colleagues have written before about how Councilmembers responded to this by promising informally that it wouldn’t be enforced if there were no nearby public restrooms and by promising to install more public restrooms around the City. However, they failed to amend the actual statute, which has led to widespread abuse.3 And 13 years later there aren’t significantly more public restrooms.

However, there is another part of the public urination law, LAMC 41.47.1, which is never even mentioned in discussions of the issue, and yet it is not only relevant, but radically, transformatively relevant. It was adopted by the Council in 1988 and says:

If restroom facilities are made available for the public, clients, or employees, no person owning, controlling, or having charge of such accommodation or facility shall prohibit or prevent the use of such restroom facilities by a person with a physical handicap, regardless of whether that person is a customer, client, employee, or paid entrant to the accommodation or facility. Employee restrooms need not be made available if there are other restroom facilities available on the premises unless employee restroom facilities have been constructed or altered to accommodate the physically handicapped and such facilities are not available elsewhere on the premises.

This has the potential to change the entire conversation about public restrooms, public urination, and homelessness in Los Angeles.
Continue reading LAMC 41.47.1: This Seemingly Unknown Municipal Bathroom Law Could Change the Whole Public Urination Discussion in Los Angeles, but it has Never Been Used

Why Aren’t BID Security Patrols Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission?

Any badge, insignia, patch or uniform used or worn by any employee, officer, member or associate of a private patrol service, while on duty for said patrol service, shall be in compliance with State law.  Any such badge, insignia, patch or uniform shall not be of such a design as to be mistaken for an official badge, insignia or uniform worn by a law enforcement officer of the City of Los Angeles or any other law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the City. LAMC 52.34(d)(1)
Any badge, insignia, patch or uniform used or worn by any employee, officer, member or associate of a private patrol service, while on duty for said patrol service, shall be in compliance with State law. Any such badge, insignia, patch or uniform shall not be of such a design as to be mistaken for an official badge, insignia or uniform worn by a law enforcement officer of the City of Los Angeles or any other law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the City. LAMC 52.34(d)(1)
Recently I was reading the Los Angeles Municipal Code1 and came across LAMC 52.34, which discusses “private patrol services” and their employees, “street patrol officers.” The gist of it seems to be2 that private patrol service operators must register with the Police Commission, and also prove that their employees’ uniforms and badges don’t look too much like real police uniforms and badges. They’re also required to have a complaint process and submit lists of employees and some other things too.

Well, as you can see from the photo above, and from innumerable other photos and videos I’ve obtained from the Hollywood BID Patrol, there is a real problem with BID Patrol officers looking like LAPD. Their uniforms are the same color, their badges are the same shape and color, and so on. Also, they’re famous for not having a complaint process, or at least not one that anyone can discover easily. The Andrews International BID Patrol isn’t the only one with this problem, either. The Media District‘s security vendor, Universal Protection Service, doesn’t seem to have one either. In fact, it was UPS Captain John Irigoyen‘s refusal to accept a complaint about two of his officers that inspired the establishment of this blog. The A/I BID Patrol is as guilty of this lapse as anyone.

Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.
Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.

The fact that private patrol operators were required to file actual documents with a city agency means that copies would be available! So I fired off some public records requests to Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the Police Commission. He answered right away and told me they’d get right on it. What a relief to discover that Police Commission CPRA requests don’t have to go through the LAPD Discovery Section, which is so notoriously slow to respond that the City of LA has had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in court-imposed fines due to their tardiness. Mr. Tefank handed me off to an officer in the permits section, and he told me that none of the three BID security contractors I asked about; Andrews International, Universal Protection, and Streetplus3 were registered. How could this be, I wondered, given what seems like the plain language of the statute? The story turns out to be immensely complicated, and with lots of new documents.
Continue reading Why Aren’t BID Security Patrols Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission?

That Time in 2012 When Kerry Morrison’s OCD Street Character Rage Incited Rabid, Frothing-at-Mouth Angry White Property Owning “Bull[ies]” to Attack Jane Ellison Usher and Tamar Galatzan with “Repeated Kicks to the Head”

Kerry Morrison in 2012 explaining to Jane Ellison Usher why it's so important to get rid of street characters in Hollywood.
Kerry Morrison in 2012 explaining to Jane Ellison Usher why it’s so important to get rid of street characters in Hollywood.
Last month we broke the story of Kerry Morrison’s insistence that street characters on Hollywood Blvd. must be outlawed to curb terrorism while carving out a performative exception for the Ku Klux Klan’s Hancock Park operations. One of the incidents described there was a terse summary from HPOA Board minutes about how some meeting was tense because the City Attorney’s office had “…dropped the ball…” and they walked out of the meeting (due to shame or something).
Jane Ellison Usher in May 2009, three years before the HPOA's receiving repeated kicks to the head from Kerry Morrison and bullying friends
Jane Ellison Usher in May 2009, three years before receiving “repeated kicks to the head” from Kerry Morrison and “bully[ing]” friends.

Well, we recognize a whitewashing when presented with one, so we directed our faithful correspondent to investigate further, and, with the assistance of ever-helpful Mike Dundas of the City Attorney’s office, he came up with this little gem right here, which is an email from Special Assistant City Attorney Jane Ellison Usher1 to Kerry Morrison, Joe Mariani, and Leron Gubler, taking them to task for allowing their psychotic crazed white property owner constituents to berate Ms. Usher and her colleague Tamar Galatzan2 over a perceived, albeit delusionally so, inaction with respect to the TERRORISM street character problem at Hollywood and Highland. Ms. Usher’s description is far, far more plausible than that of the anonymous minutes-taker quoted above and far, far less flattering to the crazed HPOA-ites than is their own description. In particular:
Continue reading That Time in 2012 When Kerry Morrison’s OCD Street Character Rage Incited Rabid, Frothing-at-Mouth Angry White Property Owning “Bull[ies]” to Attack Jane Ellison Usher and Tamar Galatzan with “Repeated Kicks to the Head”

Since 2004, More than 19% of all Violations of Penal Code 653b(a) Brought to the City Attorney for Prosecution from the Entire Freaking City of Los Angeles Originated at Selma Park

A sunny cold November day in Selma Park with grownups sans children, just sitting around enjoying the goddamned park like God and the Recreation and Parks Commission intended them to do.
A sunny cold November day in Selma Park with grownups sans children, just sitting around enjoying the goddamned park like God and the Recreation and Parks Commission intended them to do.
Please, friends, forgive the wonkish headline, and read on to understand why it’s so important. If you haven’t been following the tragic saga of Selma Park, catch up here in the archives. The TL;DR is that the HPOA illegally proclaimed adults in Selma Park without children in tow to be in violation of California Penal Code 653b(a) and then proceeded arrest a bunch of people on these trumped-up charges. Every last one of the people arrested at that park for that crime whose cases were sent to the city attorney for prosecution had their prosecutions rejected. While we can’t (at the moment) prove that all 46 people arrested for violating that law at that park since 2008 were arrested by the Andrews International BID Patrol under the auspices of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, we can, as of now, prove something else that’s quite suggestive indeed. Right here, you can download a spreadsheet containing all PC653b(a) cases brought to the City Attorney’s office in the entire city of Los Angeles for as far back as electronic records are searchable. There’s one in there dated 2004, so perhaps that’s how far back they go.
Continue reading Since 2004, More than 19% of all Violations of Penal Code 653b(a) Brought to the City Attorney for Prosecution from the Entire Freaking City of Los Angeles Originated at Selma Park