Tag Archives: Miranda Paster

Don Duckworth, Executive Director Of The Westchester BID, Doesn’t Like Negative Obstacle-Creating Problem-Looking-For City Clerk BID Analyst Rick Scott One Little Bit, Asks Miranda Paster To Replace Him With Far More Congenial Bicycling BID Buddy Eugene Van Cise To Benefit Everybody’s Life (And That’s Just One Of 300+ Emails Now Available!)

Just yesterday, Mr. Don Duckworth of the Westchester Town Center BID sent me a big steaming heap of emails, comprising the BID’s correspondence with the City of Los Angeles for 2016.1 I am here to tell you, there is a ton of good stuff in there! This is very, very exciting! I will be writing about items from this release for a good while to come, and the City Ethics Commission is going to be hearing about a whole lot of it as well! But this evening, in addition to this general announcement that the material is available, I want to share a gossipy little item from January 2016, which has its locus classicus right here in this email from Don Duckworth to Miranda Paster.

It seems that WTCBID Boss Man Duckworth wasn’t too happy with BID Analyst Rick Scott, felt that he “approaches me and our work in administering the Westchester Town Center BID in a very negative manner.” In fact, sez Le Duckworth, “[i]t’s as if he’s looking for problems or obstacles to create that interfere with a constructive work flow.” Not only that, but, according to the Donald, “[h]e doesn’t approach our work with recommended solutions for mutual gain or a sense of team work.”

And what’s Don Duckworth’s recommended solution to this negativity and problem-slash-obstacle-seeking behaviour? Why, “[i]f it is possible to request a BID Analyst transfer to Eugene, I would like to do so.” Of course, “Eugene” is Eugene Van Cise, famous in these parts for having ridden his bike around the Gateway to LA BID inspecting their litter. No wonder Don Duckworth likes him better than Rick Scott who, as far as we know, does not do two-wheeled litter inspections of his BIDs. So turn the page for some speculation on why Donald Duckworth is so down on Rick Scott, for a transcription of the email if you’re PDF-aversive, and for a link to Miranda Paster’s reply!
Continue reading Don Duckworth, Executive Director Of The Westchester BID, Doesn’t Like Negative Obstacle-Creating Problem-Looking-For City Clerk BID Analyst Rick Scott One Little Bit, Asks Miranda Paster To Replace Him With Far More Congenial Bicycling BID Buddy Eugene Van Cise To Benefit Everybody’s Life (And That’s Just One Of 300+ Emails Now Available!)

300-Ish Pages of Estela Lopez’s Emails From The Last Few Months, Including Discussions Of Homelessness, Skid Row NC, Why The Freaking LAPD Doesn’t Bust More Protest Marches Like BIDs Want Them To, Operation Clean Streets, The California Public Records Act, And So On And On And On…

I just recently received a few hundred pages of emails from Estela Lopez, voodoo queen of the Central City East Association, and they are available on Archive.Org and also directly from static storage. Most of it is the unmitigatedly tedious bullshit with which these BIDdies fill their lives and their inboxes, but, as usual, there are a few interesting items. I already wrote the other day about Estela Lopez’s aggressive foray into CPRAlandia, and here are a few other items that are worth looking at individually:

And turn the page for two more examples, and to learn why, which I bet you didn’t even know that they were doing, the LAPD was praying for rain in January!
Continue reading 300-Ish Pages of Estela Lopez’s Emails From The Last Few Months, Including Discussions Of Homelessness, Skid Row NC, Why The Freaking LAPD Doesn’t Bust More Protest Marches Like BIDs Want Them To, Operation Clean Streets, The California Public Records Act, And So On And On And On…

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

Eugene Van Cise Of The Los Angeles City Clerk’s Office Rode Around The Gateway To LA BID On His Bike In July 2016 As Part Of What He Referred To As A “BID Inspection” And Then Complained To Executive Director Laurie Hughes About Litter On 96th Street, Which Raises An Interesting Question About The Clerk’s (Lack Of) BID Oversight

Be careful to faithfully execute your duties, City of LA BIDs! Eugene Van Cise is riding around in your BID inspecting your litter!!
One of the emails in massive dump recently supplied by the Gateway to LA BID Executive Director Laurie Hughes was to her from City BID Analyst Eugene Van Cise. You can read it here for yourself,1 and the full text is available after the break, as always.

The short and long of it is, though, that in July 2016, Eugene Van Cise rode his bike around the Gateway to LA BID as part of what he called “a BID inspection” and then told Laurie Hughes that there was litter on the south side of 96th Street.2 He didn’t actually tell her to get the litter cleaned up, which seems kind of passive-aggressive on the part of Eugene Van Cise, but I suppose that that his the subtext. Now, this is the first time in my many years of intensive BIDological studies that I’ve heard of “BID inspections.” I don’t know if they’re new or have just been under my radar till now. Of course I welcome any kind of oversight of BIDs by the Clerk’s office, and there have been sporadic examples before now, but they’re weirdly inconsistent. Turn the page for details and discussion!
Continue reading Eugene Van Cise Of The Los Angeles City Clerk’s Office Rode Around The Gateway To LA BID On His Bike In July 2016 As Part Of What He Referred To As A “BID Inspection” And Then Complained To Executive Director Laurie Hughes About Litter On 96th Street, Which Raises An Interesting Question About The Clerk’s (Lack Of) BID Oversight

It Appears That East Hollywood BID Director Nicole Shahenian Lied To Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott About The Circumstances Of The Preparation Of The EHBID’s 2015 Annual Planning Report And, As Shahenian Was A Registered Lobbyist At The Time, Thereby Violated LAMC 48.04(B)

Nicole Shahenian, you got some splainin’ to do!
The background to this post is unavoidably technical and lengthy. If you’re already familiar with the Annual Planning Report process for BIDs as mandated by Streets and Highways Code §36650, you may want to skip directly to the report I submitted to the City Ethics Commission this morning.

One requirement that the Property and Business Improvement District Law places on BIDs, found at §36650, is the submission of annual planning reports (“APRs”) to the City Council:

The owners’ association shall cause to be prepared a report for each fiscal year, except the first year, for which assessments are to be levied and collected to pay the costs of the improvements, maintenance, and activities described in the report. … The report shall be filed with the clerk … The city council may approve the report as filed by the owners’ association or may modify any particular contained in the report and approve it as modified.

And it seems that the BID isn’t allowed to spend money on stuff that’s not discussed in the APR, so it’s not a trivial matter.

The way this piece of code plays out in Los Angeles is that, first, a BID director submits the APR to the Clerk along with a formulaic cover letter. For instance, here is the one submitted by Nicole Shahenian on December 30, 2014 to accompany the East Hollywood BID’s APR for 2015. This is essentially the same letter submitted by all BIDs:

Dear Ms. Wolcott:
As required by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, California Streets and Highways Code Section 36650, the Board of Directors of the East Hollywood Business Improvement District has caused this East Hollywood Business Improvement District Annual Planning Report to be prepared at its meeting of December 29, 2014.

And don’t forget that state law requires the City Council to adopt the report either with or without modifications. In Los Angeles this part of the process is initiated by the Clerk sending another form letter to City Council, recommending that they adopt the BID’s APR. It’s my impression that the Clerk doesn’t recommend modifications to the report at this stage. These seem to be handled by Miranda Paster before the APR is submitted to Council, as in this example involving the Media District BID. Anyway, take a look at Holly Wolcott’s January 14, 2015 recommendation to City Council with respect to the East Hollywood BID’s APR. Like every such document, this states:

The attached Annual Planning Report, which was approved by the District’s Board at their meeting on December 29, 2014, complies with the requirements of the State Law and reports that programs will continue, as outlined in the Management District Plan adopted by the District property owners.

And it goes on from there to recommend:

That the City Council:

  1. FIND that the attached Annual Planning Report for the East Hollywood Property Business Improvement District’s 2015 fiscal year complies with the requirements of the State Law.
  2. ADOPT the attached Annual Planning Report for the East Hollywood Property Business Improvement District’s 2015 fiscal year, pursuant to the State Law.


But there are a number of problems with this story. First, it appears that the East Hollywood BID Board of Directors did not actually meet on December 29, 2014. In fact, it appears that they did not meet at all in December 2014. Of course, it’s notoriously difficult to prove a negative, but I’m going to give it a go.
Continue reading It Appears That East Hollywood BID Director Nicole Shahenian Lied To Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott About The Circumstances Of The Preparation Of The EHBID’s 2015 Annual Planning Report And, As Shahenian Was A Registered Lobbyist At The Time, Thereby Violated LAMC 48.04(B)

Tons of New Documents: Gateway To LA BID Emails And Minutes, Also South Los Angeles Industrial Tract Minutes

This is just a brief note to announce the publication of a bunch of stuff from the Gateway to LA BID out by the Airport. Its executive director, Laurie Hughes, is a pleasure to work with. She’s calm, professional, has read the law, and abides by it. She and Mr. Mike Russell of the Wilshire Center are absolutely the two best BIDdies to work with when it comes to CPRA. There are also some minutes from the SLAIT BID. But enough fuzzies, and on to the goodies!

First, from the South Los Angeles Industrial Tract, we have Board meeting minutes from 2007 through Feb. 2016. I have a request out for the more recent ones, and look for them here soon.1 Much more importantly, as I mentioned above, Ms. Laurie Hughes has just recently provided me with a ton of emails and Board minutes, and you can find links and descriptions after the break.
Continue reading Tons of New Documents: Gateway To LA BID Emails And Minutes, Also South Los Angeles Industrial Tract Minutes

The Story Of How The Central City East Association Evidently Violated City Ethics Laws Restricting Campaign Contributions, Gave Illegally To Mitch O’Farrell and Marqueece Harris-Dawson In 2015, Lied About It On Their Tax Form, And I Turned Them In To The IRS And The Ethics Commission

CCEA: The truth may be out there but it’s not out there on our tax forms.
This story begins with the fact that the Central City East Association, which runs the infamous Downtown Industrial District BID, contributed $700 each to two City Council candidate campaigns in 2015. The money was given to Mitch O’Farrell of CD13 and Marqueece Harris-Dawson of CD8. You can see the record at the City Ethics Commission and also if it’s more convenient, here is a PDF of the same information.

This turns out to be a huge problem for a number of unrelated reasons. First and most simply, the CCEA is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization. Unlike the more famous 501(c)(3) organizations, 501(c)(6) groups are allowed to engage in lobbying, but it’s unclear whether they’re allowed to support candidates for office.1 However, irrespective of any restrictions on donations, there are very clear reporting requirements.

Take a look at the CCEA’s 2015 tax form. In particular, take a look at question 3 of part IV, found on page 3 of the form. It asks unambiguously:

Did the organization engage in direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office?

And, as you can see in the image that appears somewhere near this paragraph, the CCEA unambiguously stated that they did not. It’s hard to imagine a less ambiguous form of direct political campaign activities than giving actual money, amirite? Hence I turned them in to the IRS and also to the Franchise Tax Board for this lacuna. Stay tuned in case anything happens!

And it turns out that there are some more subtle, but potentially equally serious, problems with these two donations involving various municipal laws. Turn the page for the highly sordid but highly technical details!2
Continue reading The Story Of How The Central City East Association Evidently Violated City Ethics Laws Restricting Campaign Contributions, Gave Illegally To Mitch O’Farrell and Marqueece Harris-Dawson In 2015, Lied About It On Their Tax Form, And I Turned Them In To The IRS And The Ethics Commission

In Which I Use The Palisades BID As A Test-Case For A New Tactic In The Neverending Quest To Find Some Way To Force Business Improvement Districts To Comply With The California Public Records Act Without Having To File Yet Another Freaking Writ Petition

Laurie Sale is a sympathetic character, no doubt, but if we start letting our personal feelings towards people stand in the way of enforcing the law then anarchy will follow as surely as the night follows the day, so we’re not gonna do that! Plus even sympathetic characters, if they’re lawless, can still pose to be dangerous!
Here’s the short version of this post: Laurie Sale of the Palisades BID has been telling me for months that she is too busy to work on my CPRA requests. Yesterday she turns out to be too busy to send copies of emails in a reasonable format. She continues to be too busy to provide an estimated date of production even though CPRA requires it. She keeps telling me she only works half-time. BIDs sign a contract with the City which requires them to maintain staffing adequate for the completion of required work in a timely manner. CPRA compliance is required work. Being too busy to do it is not doing it in a timely manner. Too busy for CPRA, BIDs?? Breach of freaking contract!!

And here is a quick recap of how we got to this place. About 80% of the staff of this website grew up in Venice, so we all got really interested in the Venice Beach BID. Unfortunately, CD11 staffie Chad Molnar took offense at the use I made of the fruits of a couple CPRA requests and stopped complying with the law altogether, forcing me to turn him in to the City Ethics Commission. That’s going to take forever to resolve, though.

Thus thwarted in my attempts to learn about the inner workings of Mike Bonin’s weirdo little empire directly, I have turned to requesting materials of all the BIDs in his district, which are Westchester Town Center, Brentwood Village, Gateway to LA, and last, but never ever least, the Pacific Palisades BID,1 which was explicitly called out by Mike Bonin himself on the floor of the Council Chambers as one of the good BIDs. I have received some material from these halfwits-by-the-sea, which provided raw material for our most popular post in the month of January, but mostly their executive directrix, Laurie Sale, keeps telling me that she’s too damned busy to send stuff in a timely manner.

And finally, yesterday, she condescended to transmit a bunch of emails to me by forwarding them, with her own typed annotations prepended. I had asked for them in native format,2 and providing them in native format is required by CPRA.3 It’s important to get emails this way because it preserves the integrity of the headers and also it ensures that attachments arrive in precisely their native formats as well.4 I habitually request emails in native formats and most BIDs have figured out how to comply with this requirement. So I told Laurie Sale that her forwarded emails weren’t acceptable and could she please figure out how to send them in the right format. I can tell from her headers that she uses Outlook, so I sent her a link to Microsoft Support which explains how to export emails to a PST file. It’s not hard.

But she was having none of it. She fired back this cranky little number, stating:
Continue reading In Which I Use The Palisades BID As A Test-Case For A New Tactic In The Neverending Quest To Find Some Way To Force Business Improvement Districts To Comply With The California Public Records Act Without Having To File Yet Another Freaking Writ Petition

Documents, Documents, Documents! Emails From Wilshire Center And The Media District, Brentwood Village BID Meeting Minutes, East Hollywood BID By-Vendor Transactions

Mister Mike from Wilshire Center wins the semi-annual MK.Org Transparency in BIDitude Prize for handing over more than 250MB of emails in mbox format via filesharing! We love you, the people of Los Angeles love you, Mr. Mike!!
Just a quick note to link to huge piles of records I’ve received over the last few days. These include:

And you can turn the page for some comments on each of these sets of goodies.
Continue reading Documents, Documents, Documents! Emails From Wilshire Center And The Media District, Brentwood Village BID Meeting Minutes, East Hollywood BID By-Vendor Transactions

OK, Estela Lopez Doesn’t Like Paul Solomon And Yuval Bar-Zemer, We Get That. But (A) Are We In Freaking Junior High School? And (B) Why Is This Any Of Miranda Paster’s Freaking Business?? And (C) Why Is Miranda Paster Soliciting Defamatory Statements About Property Owners And Passing Them Around To Random BID Directors, E.G. Freaking Laurie Hughes??!

Friend, you gotta just click to enlarge because it’s only possible to minimize this issue so much and still have it make sense!
If I have learned anything about L.A. BIDs in my many years of deeply immersive anti-BID scholarship, it’s that they are run by a bunch of freaking short-sighted intellectually impaired amateurish morons, made mean and stupid by their wealth, who hire mean and stupid people to do their mean and stupid bidding and that the City government of Los Angeles, which thrives and grows fat on mean and short-sighted zillionaire stupidity, likes it this way.

And the story I’m here to tell you this morning certainly does not contradict that narrative, but it adds a surreal tinge of unprofessional immature junior-high-schoolistic tattle-tale-ing that I really haven’t seen before. In short, a guy named Paul Solomon bought some property in the Gateway to LA BID. Executive Directrix Laurie Hughes, thinking she recognized his name, asked Miranda Paster for the scoop on him. Miranda Paster emailed freaking Estela Lopez for more info. Estela Lopez, evidently still smarting from the whole Arts District debacle, which put her out of a job in 2013, flipped the fuck out, defamed Paul Solomon every which way, and Miranda Paster facilitated, solicited, and encouraged the whole mess. You can read the entire email chain here. And you can turn the page for an introduction to the cast and crew, a discussion of the issues, and, of course, a transcription of the salient bits of the PDF.
Continue reading OK, Estela Lopez Doesn’t Like Paul Solomon And Yuval Bar-Zemer, We Get That. But (A) Are We In Freaking Junior High School? And (B) Why Is This Any Of Miranda Paster’s Freaking Business?? And (C) Why Is Miranda Paster Soliciting Defamatory Statements About Property Owners And Passing Them Around To Random BID Directors, E.G. Freaking Laurie Hughes??!