Tag Archives: Municipal Lobbying Ordinance

In Defense Of A Change To A Compensation-Based Threshold For Lobbying Registration In Los Angeles

I wrote yesterday about a troubling meeting of the Ethics Commission concerning revisions to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. The proposals are still very much in flux, and timely public comments are not only essential for swaying the wavering commissioners in the right direction, but the commissioners, no matter their other flaws, do seem to read them, so they’re likely to be effective if submitted over the next couple of months.1

I had planned to write a letter to the Commission about all the issues together and publish it here as well, but the more I think about it the more I have to say. Thus I thought it would be much easier for everyone if I wrote about one issue at a time and then edited the posts down into a single letter to the Commission. Also, maybe you’ll find some of my ideas useful in framing your own letters, which should be sent to ethics.policy@lacity.org.

This post, then, is the first installment of that project, and the subject is the proposed change from a time-based registration requirement to a compensation-based requirement. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re surely not alone. Turn the page for an introduction to the issue and arguments in favor of making the change.
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In A Disgraceful Display Of Regulatory Capture, Ethics Commissioners (Except For Andrea Ordin) Drink Lobbyist Kool-Aid With Respect To Lobbying Ordinance Revision, Direct Staff To Acknowledge Even More Bullshit Pissing And Moaning From Lobbyists, And Gleefully Betray Their Duties To The People Of Los Angeles

A couple weeks ago I wrote about proposed changes to the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, which were on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Ethics Commission. The proposed revisions would essentially require more detailed, much quicker disclosure of lobbyists’ projects and clarify precisely who is required to register. Well, the meeting happened. First there was a ton of public comment from lobbyists, all of it the familiar bitching and moaning that the power elite of Los Angeles will typically spew forth when they feel that their power is threatened in any way.

Next there was a series of embarrassing PDAs between Commissioners and lobbyists about how wrong it is to burden the “regulated community”1 with any oversight at all and how, despite all evidence to the contrary, lobbyists actually want to follow the laws. The Commissioners, that is, apart from Andrea Ordin who, alone among her colleagues, seems to remember why we have a lobbying ordinance in this City, basically took the position that if the lobbyists in attendance were upset by the proposed revisions then there was something wrong with the proposals.

Subsequently, the Commissioners asked Director of Policy Arman Tarzi a series of questions displaying their embarrassing ignorance of how lobbying actually works in this City, and finally Commission President Jessica Levinson directed the staff to solicit even more input from lobbyists on how they want to be regulated. This despite the fact that the revision process has already been going on for a year and a freaking half already. Anyway, I taped the whole 90 minutes of discussion, and you can watch it here:

  • Part one — About an hour’s worth of mostly mendacious public comment from lobbyists followed by the beginning of the interrogation of the long-suffering, saintly, heroic Arman Tarzi by Commissioners who, mostly, don’t even seem to have read the material they’re deliberating on, or not to have comprehended it if they did read it.
  • Part two — Ethics Commissioners falling over themselves to state how great lobbyists are and quizzing the staff about matters that, as commissioners, they ought already to understand.

If you’re wondering how important this issue is, just think back to the recent episode of the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort. There we saw massive illegal lobbying efforts directed at successfully employed to convince Jose Huizar to subvert the subdivision election on behalf of anonymous clients who paid more than $45,000 for this service and whose identities, despite the requirements of the MLO, are still unknown to the public. It’s quite plausible that a more timely disclosure of this information would have changed the outcome of the election.

And turn the page for a detailed discussion of the some problems with the proposed revisions that the Commissioners purported to find. As you consider the Commissioners’ cataclysmic failure to regulate lobbying in Los Angeles, keep in mind that it’s people like the residents of Skid Row that they’re failing to protect.
Continue reading In A Disgraceful Display Of Regulatory Capture, Ethics Commissioners (Except For Andrea Ordin) Drink Lobbyist Kool-Aid With Respect To Lobbying Ordinance Revision, Direct Staff To Acknowledge Even More Bullshit Pissing And Moaning From Lobbyists, And Gleefully Betray Their Duties To The People Of Los Angeles

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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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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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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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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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On March 20, 2017 Fashion District BID Exec Direc Rena Leddy and CCEA Exec Direc Estela Lopez Had A Conference Call With Unregistered-As-A-Lobbyist Liner LLP Partner Rockard Delgadillo To Discuss The Skid Row Neighborhood Council

The first part of the quote in Rockard Delgadillo’s mouth is from 2006 when he was hypocritically suing Rockstar Games, makers of Grand Theft Auto, for some Easter egg porn. Now he’s producing and starring in zillionaire porn. Just goes to show… The text in the box is from a poem by Charles Bukowski.
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 will certainly, if you’ve been following the issue, recall the fact that the zillionaire-sponsored effort to subvert by any means necessary the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort was in full bloom by early 2017. And the Downtown BIDs were deeply involved in the whole mishegoss. In January, Blair “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no Brown Act compliance” Besten of the Historic Core BID, Estela Lopez of the Downtown Industrial District, and furtive hereditary downtown zillionaire Michael Delijani were meeting with their sorry little Councilboy, encouraging him to ignore both law and decency in his effort to stop the SRNC.

By March, as we’ve seen, the zillionaires had formed an anonymous Delaware LLC known as United DTLA and hired walking morality-free-zone and former Los Angeles City Attorney Rockard Delgadillo to lobby the City against the SRNC. March 20, 2017 was a milestone day in the campaign. On this day, Fashion District BID executive directrix Rena Leddy began sending out emails to the property owners in her district to rally them against the SRNC. She sent this one out at 11:44 a.m.. At 12:24 p.m. she sent this one out, complete with a copy of Rockard Delgadillo’s infamous letter to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which is the locus classicus of the arguments which ultimately prevailed over the SRNC.

Rena Leddy’s calendar entries for March 20, 2017, showing 11 a.m. conference call with Estela Lopez and Rockard Delgadillo. Click to enlarge.

And today, thanks to the fruits of a Public Records Act request for the 2017 appointment calendars of everyone in the Fashion District BID,1 I’m able to extend our knowledge of the events of that fateful day back 45 more minutes to 11 a.m. Take a look at Rena Leddy’s appointments for March 20, 2017. See that at 11 a.m. she had a conference call with Rockard Delgadillo and Estela Lopez for a “Skid Row Neighborhood Council update.” And, as we’ve seen, right after this, Rena Leddy commenced to rallying her troops against the SRNC.
Continue reading On March 20, 2017 Fashion District BID Exec Direc Rena Leddy and CCEA Exec Direc Estela Lopez Had A Conference Call With Unregistered-As-A-Lobbyist Liner LLP Partner Rockard Delgadillo To Discuss The Skid Row Neighborhood Council

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First The San Pedro BID Hated The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Loved The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Lobbied The City On The Car Show’s Behalf. But To Keep The BID’s Love The Car Show Had To Agree To Typically Coded Typically Racist Cultural Conditions: No Hip Hop. No Rap Music.

Once upon a time in 2016 an organization called Hot Import Nights was going to host a car show in Downtown San Pedro. This would seem to be a natural fit, since San Pedro is nestled between such motorhead meccas as Torrance and Gardena and Carson and Long Beach, famed hot spots of both formal and informal Southern California car culture due not in small part to the feverish and innovative automotive, aerospace, and marine manufacturing activities centered in the subregion for more than a century at this point.

But if there’s a BID in the woodpile they’re going to have an opinion, either puritanical, stupid, or both, on any proposed activities within their jurisdiction, whether it’s any of their concern or not. And it’s well-known to those who know it well that Downtown San Pedro is cursed by being chronically subject to the tender mercies of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID. And thus it is no surprise that the BID weighed in on the car show. And it’s no surprise that they hated it. It’s exactly the kind of thing that knee-jerk puritanical real estate minions will hate.

But what is a surprise is that they changed their little minds and came to love it. They loved it so darn much that they signed an MOU with it and agreed to lobby the City on its behalf. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch and white supremacy will exact payment for any favors it bestows. In exchange for the BID’s aid and comfort, the car show had to agree not to play any rap music or hip hop at their event, and a bunch of other, as weird but possibly less racist, conditions as well.

This unreasoned, or at least publicly unreasoned, hatred for all things insufficiently caucasian, is for whatever reason, a signature element of BIDolatry in the City of Los Angeles. Over the years we’ve uncovered, e.g., the fact that the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance really, really hates Chicano-associated art genres as well as music that attracts dark-skinned patrons. The freaking HPOA even hates Peruvians if they seem like they’re getting too comfy in Hollywood.

These weird, crypto-racist attitudes are not just the province of our frenemies at the HPOA. They are evidently shared by BIDs all over the City. Thus it’s really no surprise to find that the San Pedro BIDdies are a bunch of cultural crypto-racists as well. But, as always, it’s still surprising, still disconcerting, to see the details figured plain as though upon a lighted screen. Turn the page for the story in detail with extensive documentation!
Continue reading First The San Pedro BID Hated The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Loved The Car Show. Then The San Pedro BID Lobbied The City On The Car Show’s Behalf. But To Keep The BID’s Love The Car Show Had To Agree To Typically Coded Typically Racist Cultural Conditions: No Hip Hop. No Rap Music.

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A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

The life-cycle of a request for documents under the California Public Records Act goes like this: A member of the public asks to see records held by some agency. The agency has ten days1 to respond with a determination which states whether the agency has any such records and, if so, when the agency will be ready to hand them over.2 In general agencies are required to produce all requested records.

However, CPRA lists certain classes of records which are exempt from production. Some of these so-called exemptions are weirdly specific, e.g. at §6253.5 we read:

…statewide, county, city, and district initiative, referendum, and recall petitions … and all memoranda prepared by the county elections officials in the examination of the petitions indicating which registered voters have signed particular petitions shall not be deemed to be public records…

One of the two most important sections of CPRA with respect to exemptions is found at §6254, which consists of innumerable sections, each listing an exemption or a broad class of exemptions. And as completely in favor of absolute government transparency as I am, it’s clear that at least some of these are absolutely justified. For instance, §6254(r) exempts:

Records of Native American graves, cemeteries, and sacred places and records of Native American places, features, and objects … maintained by, or in the possession of, the Native American Heritage Commission, another state agency, or a local agency.

And there are sections which exempt such things as reports on vulnerabilities to terrorism, library circulation records, certain financial data that people are required by law to submit, and so on. These are mostly noncontroversial. Others, however, are much less defensible, at least as applied.
Continue reading A Potential Solution To A Perennial Problem At The Nexus Of Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts, The Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, And A Few Widely Abused Exemptions To The California Public Records Act

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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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