Tag Archives: Neighborhood & Business Improvement District Section

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!)

Urban Place Consulting Set To Earn $55,712.20 For Dealing With The 2017/2018 Fashion District BID Renewal Process According To Contract, Which May Also Shed Light On The Intersection Between BID Consultancy And L.A.’s Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance

The Fashion District BID in Downtown Los Angeles is set to expire at the end of 2018. This means that they’ll be collecting petitions roughly in the first quarter of 2018 and going to City Council approximately in the Summer of 2018. The process is complicated for property-based BIDs and usually requires a consultant, and the consultant has to start early. The Fashion District is using Urban Place Consulting.1 Work began on the process in January 2017.

Thanks to the competence, kindness, and evident commitment to transparency of the Fashion District BID’s executive director, Rena Masten Leddy,2 we have copies of (at least most of) the FDBID’s contract with UPC3 as well as the first three months worth of invoices. You can get these:

Crucially, the contract reveals that the Fashion District will pay UPC more than $55,000 over the course of the two year process. The contract is supposed to include a schedule of hourly rates and the invoices are supposed to include an hourly breakdown, but, at least so far, they do not.

Apart from the general interest created by the essential role that BID renewal plays in the life cycle of BIDs, this kind of data is also crucial to my ongoing study of the intersection between the BID renewal process in Los Angeles and the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance. Turn the page for a brief discussion of those issues as well as a brief outline of the renewal process itself.
Continue reading Urban Place Consulting Set To Earn $55,712.20 For Dealing With The 2017/2018 Fashion District BID Renewal Process According To Contract, Which May Also Shed Light On The Intersection Between BID Consultancy And L.A.’s Muncipal Lobbying Ordinance

Miranda Paster Whitewashed Homelessness Out Of The Hollywood Media District BID’s 2017 Annual Planning Report, Thereby Unilaterally Altering The BID’s Proposed Activities And Yet Again Putting The Lie To Holly Wolcott’s Often-Used But Thoroughly Discredited Excuse That The City Of LA Has No Control Over BIDs

Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott interpreting the Property and Business Improvement Law of 1994.
One of the many interesting documents contained in the yield of a recent CPRA request to the Hollywood Media District BID is their 2017 Annual Planning Report, the final revised version of which was filed by executive director Lisa Schechter with the City Clerk’s office on December 14, 2016.1 The annual submission of these reports is required by §36650 of the California Streets and Highways Code, part of the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, which regulates the establishment and governance of BIDs in California.

One of the purposes of these reports is to keep the City updated on what the BID plans to do during the new year. In particular, at §36650(b)(2) the law states:

The report shall be filed with the clerk and shall refer to the property and business improvement district by name, specify the fiscal year to which the report applies, and, with respect to that fiscal year, shall contain all of the following information: … The improvements, maintenance, and activities to be provided for that fiscal year.

So for instance, the Media District’s plan explains what they’re going to do about cleaning and security, which are two of the core functions of BIDs. Here’s part of their statement on cleaning:

Other expenditures anticipated include tree trimming, purchase of additional trash receptacle, and other similar projects to beautify the District in accordance with the approved Management District Plan.

And part of their statement on security:

Safe Committee meetings address a full range of issues: loitering, public urination, drinking in public, prostitution, vandalism, graffiti, and quality of life issues.

Continue reading Miranda Paster Whitewashed Homelessness Out Of The Hollywood Media District BID’s 2017 Annual Planning Report, Thereby Unilaterally Altering The BID’s Proposed Activities And Yet Again Putting The Lie To Holly Wolcott’s Often-Used But Thoroughly Discredited Excuse That The City Of LA Has No Control Over BIDs

How The City Of Los Angeles Arranges For Itself To Be Lobbied By BIDs Even Though The City Attorney Requires Most City Contractors To Be Explicitly Forbidden From Lobbying The City By Means Of A Contract Clause

Kerry Morrison not thinking of herself as a lobbyist, even though she does lobby and the City of Los Angeles encourages her to lobby.
Kerry Morrison not thinking of herself as a lobbyist, even though she does lobby and the City of Los Angeles encourages her to lobby.
Issues surrounding business improvement districts and the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance have been fraught with controversy at least since 2009, when the Los Angeles Ethics Commission submitted a comprehensive report to City Council proposing a series of reforms to the law.

One minor part of their proposal would have clarified without altering the application of these laws to business improvement districts which then, as now, are almost certainly required to register as lobbyists, even though none of them do nor have they ever. This minor clause in a major reform proposal kicked off a whirlwind of mouth-slavvery craziness on the part of the BIDs, which ended with Eric Garcetti effectively killing the CEC’s proposal in 2010 for no good reason other than that Kerry Morrison giggled at him in a committee meeting.1

So it was with a great deal of interest that I read in this Power Point thing from 2012 that, according to Miranda Paster, who is in charge of the division of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office which oversees BIDs, that she considers part of her duties under the heading of “Optimal Government/Taxpayer BID oversight” to be to “encourage BIDs to lobby council members.”2
Continue reading How The City Of Los Angeles Arranges For Itself To Be Lobbied By BIDs Even Though The City Attorney Requires Most City Contractors To Be Explicitly Forbidden From Lobbying The City By Means Of A Contract Clause

Why Carl Lambert’s Contributions To The Re-Election Campaigns Of Mike Bonin And Eric Garcetti Were Probably Illegal and Should Be Refunded Immediately

Mike Bonin on August 23, 2016, earning his salary, which should be sufficient.
Mike Bonin on August 23, 2016, earning his salary, which should be sufficient.
As I reported the other day, Venice Beach BID proponent and shady illegal hotelier Carl Lambert donated $1400 to Eric Garcetti and $700 to Mike Bonin in 2015. Here is an argument that they ought to give that money back to Lambert immediately.

Not just because it’s the right thing to do. We’re all grownups here, and that’s not so much why things get done. But because it’s probably illegal for them to have accepted the money, or at least for Lambert to have contributed it. To explain why this is the case I have to talk about the campaign finance laws of the City of Los Angeles, which can make anybody’s poor head spin. So forgive me, but perhaps you’ll find it worth the trouble. The whole law is at LAMC Article 9.7, but it’s not necessary to read the whole thing.1 The section we are interested in today is LAMC 49.7.35, which covers Bidder Contribution and Fundraising Restrictions. This muni code section2 implements Section 470 of the City Charter, which covers Limitations on Campaign Contributions in City Elections.3 At Charter Section 470(a) we find this noble statement of the purpose of the whole thing:

The purpose of this section is to encourage a broader participation in the political process and to avoid corruption or the appearance of corruption in city decision making, and protect the integrity of the City’s procurement and contract processes by placing limits on the amount any person may contribute or otherwise cause to be available to candidates for election to the offices of Mayor, City Attorney, Controller and City Council and promote accountability to the public by requiring disclosure of campaign activities and imposing other campaign restrictions.

Now, it is a fundamental principle in the American legal system that actions can only be illegal if there is an explicit statutory statement that they are illegal. Otherwise they’re legal. So while this statement of purpose has some force, mostly as a guide to interpreting the salient laws, it doesn’t in itself make anything illegal. Obviously Carl Lambert’s contributions to Garcetti and Bonin create the appearance of corruption in city decision making, but if that were sufficient to trigger a criminal prosecution then pretty much every donor to every incumbent candidate would have to be locked up.4 Thus we have to look to the parts of the law that implement this statement of purpose.

The Charter Section that we are interested in here is 470(c)(12)(B), which states in pertinent part5 that:

The following persons shall not make a campaign contribution to the Mayor, the City Attorney, the Controller, a City Council member, a candidate for any of those elected City offices, or a City committee controlled by a person who holds or seeks any of those elected City offices … A person who bids on or submits a proposal or other response to a contract solicitation that has an anticipated value of at least $100,000 and requires approval by the elected City office that is held or sought by the person to whom the contribution would be given…

Let’s run through the elements of the law here to see why it’s highly plausible that it forbids Carl Lambert from making contributions to either Eric Garcetti or Mike Bonin:
Continue reading Why Carl Lambert’s Contributions To The Re-Election Campaigns Of Mike Bonin And Eric Garcetti Were Probably Illegal and Should Be Refunded Immediately

That Time in 2005 When The City of Los Angeles Briefly Investigated BID Financial Shenanigans And Contract Violations Instead Of Pretending They’re Powerless In The Face Of Them Like They Do Now

Former Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick (right).
Former Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick (right).
Here’s the situation these days. BIDs have a standard contract that they sign with the City of Los Angeles. It has a lot of requirements in it, and BIDs routinely ignore all of them but a few, known as the “reporting requirements.” I’m skipping the details, but they’re mandated to report various things to the City, and if they don’t then Rick Scott or another one of Miranda Paster’s minions in the Neighborhood & Business Improvement District Division (N&BID) of the Clerk’s office will fire off a threatening email like this one telling the negligent BIDdies to cough up the report or they don’t get paid. On the other hand, there are plenty of clauses in that contract, e.g. the ones on record retention and on abiding by the Public Records Act or the Brown Act, that BIDs not only violate with impunity, but which the City Clerk’s office in the persons of Miranda Paster and Holly Wolcott actually just refuses to enforce. I’ll be writing about that more in the future. Tonight I’m just looking at how it came to pass that N&BID staff even enforce any parts of that contract.
Continue reading That Time in 2005 When The City of Los Angeles Briefly Investigated BID Financial Shenanigans And Contract Violations Instead Of Pretending They’re Powerless In The Face Of Them Like They Do Now

Now Available: Miranda Paster’s Weekly Reports to Holly Wolcott on the Activities of the Neighborhood And Business Improvement District Section of the City Clerk’s Office

city_clerk_logoI’m pleased to announce the availability of 30 months of weekly reports from Miranda Paster in her capacity as head of the Neighborhood & Business Improvement District Section of the Los Angeles City Clerk to City Clerk Holly Wolcott. These are available through this page in the menu structure or directly from here. Finally, they are available at Archive.Org. They are full of fascinating information.

In particular, they show that as early as the week of September 30, 2014 the Clerk’s staff was meeting with Venice Beach BID Proponents. The Clerk’s staff also met with VBBID proponents on August 17, 2015 If you look at the weeks surrounding that date you’ll see that they were meeting with Tara Devine on a weekly basis even that early, not to mention the fact that they met with CD11 staff on January 13, 2015 about the BID and Mike Bonin himself in February of 2015. I’ve requested records relating to that meeting from everyone in sight, but don’t have super high hopes anything more will turn up. This rounds out the story of this set of handwritten notes by someone at CD11 of that very meeting. And there is a lot more stuff in these reports, some of it quite shocking.
Continue reading Now Available: Miranda Paster’s Weekly Reports to Holly Wolcott on the Activities of the Neighborhood And Business Improvement District Section of the City Clerk’s Office