Occasionally people in my position find that actual factual matters are weirder than we could have even imagined. It’s hard to make fun of people whose publicly revealed antics are not only stranger than fiction but stranger even than satire. The great Mark Russell used to call this kind of material “rip and read.”1
So yesterday, courtesy of the ever-courtly but but not always ever lawful Nicole Shahenian, EHBID ED, all the materials for this afternoon’s East Hollywood BID meeting arrived via email. And there to my wondering eyes did appear the following greasy little slabs of marketitation:2
EHBID Strategy Report Final — Result of a lot of brainstorming and so forth, prepared for the BID by Counterintuity, who, I hope, have substantial qualifications beyond the fact that they seem to come from Burbank.
You may recall that late last year, on the basis of my complaint to the Police Commission, the City of LA resumed enforcement of LAMC 52.34 against BID security forces.1 Since then it’s been possible to track the progress of this massive project via various CPRA requests. So in November 2016 the Police Commission informed all BIDs of the registration requirement and, at the same time, told them that their BID patrollies would be subject to arrest if they didn’t submit. In December 2017 the Police Commission told the BIDs to quit whining about it because the law is the law.
Bylaws of the Palisades BID — Given how damned much trouble it is to coax thing one out of the PPBID and given that they’re evidently willing to spend thousands of dollars fighting my requests rather than just complying with them, it’s always a pleasant surprise to get anything at all out of these people. Of course, these are really the bylaws of the property owners’ association which administers the Palisades BID. Unlike seemingly every other BID in Los Angeles, these people named their POA the same thing as their BID, which makes the confusion even more complete than it usually is. This is probably because something else was already called the Pacific Palisades Property Owners Association.
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:
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.
ADOPT the attached Annual Planning Report for the East Hollywood Property Business Improvement District’s 2015 fiscal year, pursuant to the State Law.
OK, where to start? Well, how about with the contract that the East Hollywood BID signed with the City of Los Angeles?1 Right there on pages two and three, in section 2.6(B), it says:
Corporation shall maintain an ongoing liaison relationship with the community. Corporation’s responsibilities encompass the following areas:
B. Newsletters. Corporation shall prepare a District newsletter to be produced on a quarterly basis, at a minimum, and shall distribute this newsletter to all assessed property owners in the District. Corporation may, at Corporation’s option, provide the newsletter by standard mail or electronic transmission. The newsletter will be designed to facilitate and maximize the exchange of information between Corporation, City, and the members ofthe District. Each issue of the newsletter shall be submitted in duplicate to the City Clerk for reference.
So this explains why BID Analyst and City Clerk staffer Eugene Van Cise wrote to Nicole Shahenian, executive director of the East Hollywood BID, one fine day in May 2016:
I have invoices for $387.30, $72,291.74 and 146,852.71. Miranda has rejected payment because of our records indicate that we have not received the following newsletters:
2012: All 4 quarters.
2013: All 4 quarters.
2014: 1st & 2nd quarters.
2015: All 4 quarters.
2016: 1st quarter.
If you have these available, you may email them to me.
Please contact me if you should have any questions.
Add it up, friend! That’s almost $220,000 that Miranda Paster was holding back from the BID because they had failed to perform a clause in their contract for four years straight. This is quite a contrast to what Holly Wolcott told me in March of that year to the effect that the City had no power to make BIDs comply with CPRA even though compliance with CPRA is also a requirement in their contract.
Previous installments of this series appear here: Part 1 and Part 2
We originally planned to write a full post making fun of Nicole Shahenian’s speech at the May 28, 2015 meeting at Boyle Heights City Hall on the subject of legalized street vending in Los Angeles. On listening to it again, though, we realized that it’s nothing more than the same old nonsense, probably ghost-written by Kerry Morrison, and that writing on it would be a waste of time, space, and electricity. So today we’re concluding our reportage on the May 28 meeting with a brief discussion of the good guys, the white hats, the rays of sunshine, the breaths of fresh air, the actual humans in the room, the supporters of legalized street vending in lovely Los Angeles. In particular we hear from an actual street vendor who supports his family and from badass civil rights lawyer Cynthia Anderson-Barker, who explains why it’s essential to repeal LAMC 42.00(b) because, not only is it not being enforced equitably, it is not actually possible to enforce it equitably.
First up we have a man, whose name we didn’t catch on the audio, who’s one of the street vendors that Kerry Morrison recently mocked in public for claiming that he practices street vending in order to support his family. Listen here or read a transcription after the break. She has complained vociferously in the past and will no doubt complain vociferously in the future about the tone and incivility of those who oppose her iron will, never taking into account that her minions, who are paid to go to these meetings to speak words that, even if she didn’t actually write them, are certainly consistent with every public statement she’s ever made on the issue, are directly attacking people like this speaker, who are trying in the face of massive harassment to feed their families.
She and her minions rank this man’s life and well-being below the putative, delusionally construed rights of their employers not only to own property in Hollywood, to make untold amounts of money in exchange for very little productive labor, and not only that, but to have an extraordinarily immoral amount of control over the social conditions of life in places and neighborhoods where they don’t even live. In the face of this, Kerry Morrison has the audacity to complain about the audience being “uncivil” to her minions? Quel chutzpah, n’est ce pas? Anyway, in his speech, this man makes it clear that he knows that they’re his enemy. And he’s not wrong. They are his enemy. They are our enemies.
By example, for myself, I make ninety dollars a day. And I support my family with that money. … Our life … is very different than yours. Our day is starting at 4 a.m., and we’ll finish at around 9 p.m. for just a few dollars, but it’s OK.
We recently wrote about Kerry Morrison’s description of the series of public meetings sponsored by the Chief Legislative Analyst of the city of Los Angeles regarding the framework for legalizing street vending that’s being studied by the City Council. Well, interestingly enough, it turns out that the Council’s Economic Development committee has a website set up devoted to the issue and found thereupon are audio recordings of three of the four meetings held to-date.1 Astute readers will no doubt recall Kerry’s description of these meetings: there were a series of four hearings that the chief administrative office staff held on the… the sidewalk vending ordinance. … It’s just this kind of amorphous set of hearings, which were completely dysfunctional, disrespectful, and almost, um, resembled a circus.
Well, frabjous day, friends! We have listened to the first of these, held at the Boyle Heights City Hall on May 28, 2015, and clipped out some representative bits for your audiosthetic pleasure and we’re sharing them with you here. First listen to HPOA Board Member Alyssa Van Breene (transcriptions after the break if, like us, you’d rather read than hear):