In November 2016 the voters of Los Angeles approved Measure HHH, which provided a huge amount of funding for housing homeless people. The measure also created a Citizens’ Oversight Committee, putatively for the purpose of making sure the money was well-spent. Subsequently, Eric Garcetti appointed Hollywood BIDdie and famous mayoral pookie-pie Kerry Morrison and some other people to the Committee and the City Council appointed Downtown BIDdie and famous José Huizar pookie-pie Blair Besten to the Committee.
These appointments meant that 2 of 7 committee members work for business improvement districts,1 which was bad enough in itself given that one of the main purposes of BIDs is to banish the homeless from their districts and to basically waste public money in the form of their assessments while doing that. But on Wednesday matters got immeasurably worse.
What happened is that Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Mitchell Englander introduced a motion proposing to expand the remit of the CoC to include making
comprehensive recommendations to the Homelessness and Poverty Committee regarding changes to the permanent supportive housing process and funding structure to enable a more expedited delivery of homeless housing.
That is, the Committee is now charged with weakening the funding process and the permitting and building approval process for projects that will help house the homeless. This sounds superficially like a good thing, but there’s at least one huge problem with it. Blair Besten’s employers, Kerry Morrison’s employers, are huge commercial property owners and developers and weakened processes are their bread and butter. They know exactly how to turn weakened processes into strengthened profit margins.
Today and yesterday a few things happened with respect to this process. Today the parties filed a status report with the court announcing that the settlement process was on track but they needed until December 30 to work out the details. This was closely followed by an order from Judge André Birotte extending the time as requested.
More interestingly, though, yesterday the City Council went into closed session to discuss the terms of the settlement.1 They passed this motion authorizing the expenditure of $150,000 to fund the settlement, at least some of which is going, with good cause, straight to Carol Sobel. Interestingly, and the reason’s not clear, Mitch Englander voted against the motion.
So everyone made their comments, and they weren’t all that different from the first time, although Mike Bonin managed not to lose his shit and compare the BID opposition to Trump supporters.1 But nevertheless, there were a few surprising moments. Recall that the first hearing was invalidated because third-smartest-guy-in-the-room Herb Wesson cut off public comment too early. So this time, Mitch Englander, who is Council president pro tem,2 after all the speaker cards had been called, announced to the world at large:3
I wanna be extra careful on this one given the problems with the last public hearing. Is there anybody here who filled out a card or tried to speak or [unintelligible] has not been heard yet?
And then the other one, Wesson or Englander, seeing that sanest of habitual gadflies, Eric Preven, indicating that he would like to speak, announced:
Ah, Mr. Preven, you actually spoke to the Council already for your maximum of three minutes per the Council rules.
And Preven said no. And everyone in the room wondered whether they were really going to take the risk of messing everything up for a second time just to prevent Eric Preven from speaking for one more minute after we’d all been there almost an hour already. Well, the Deputy City Attorney told the two prezzes to CTFO, and they folded, for Christ’s sake, and let Eric Preven speak.
Did you even know that the members of our esteemed City Council all send one another and various other people gifts in the putative holiday season? Well they do, and evidently it’s just another thing that the pretty people do when they’re all drinking, thinking that they got it made.1
The City Ethics Commission requires City officials to keep track of these presents, and so, in response to a CPRA request, I received these records from Chad Molnar the other day, despite his claim that fulfilling my more substantial requests would make CD11 constituents suffer. Perhaps he sent these items along because they aren’t likely to make the constituents, who thrive in darkness and secrecy and evidently include outlaw BID proponents Mark Sokol and Carl Lambert, suffer too much, because they have very little content. However, what they do have is fairly amusing. You can get them: