Tag Archives: Pacific Palisades BID

Yet Another Egregious Violation Of The Brown Act By The Pacific Palisades BID In 2016 — If This Is Mike Bonin’s Idea Of A Good BID What In The World Would A Bad One Look Like — As Before Not One Board Member Objected To Illegal Votes By Email, Telephone — As Before Legal Action Is Time-Barred So Yet Again The Palisades BID Escapes Consequences Of Their Actions

A couple weeks ago I published some evidence of mind-blowingly egregious Brown Act violations by the Pacific Palisades BID, which, what with Zeck Dreck (ret.) Laurie Sale’s twisted lurching obstructionism and Board Member and Caruso minion Rick Lemmo’s willingness to break the bank just to thwart my inquiries, has turned out, under the acrimonious influence of the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, which is to say Carol F. Humiston, to be one of this City’s most difficult BIDs from which to obtain records in an orderly, prompt, lawful manner.

Nevertheless, persistence has paid off, and I did, eventually, this summer, obtain a big stack of goodies from these evil henchies up in Northwest zillionaireville and, as I said before, I’m gradually prepping this sizzlin’ hot mess of a production for publication. The text for today’s sermon is a series of emails from April 2016 showing yet another egregious1 Brown Act violation on the part of these littoral lunkheads. Here’s what went down. Laurie Sale2 emailed her damn Board on April 20, 2016, and this is what she had to say for herself:

From: Palisades BID <laurie@palisadesbid.org>

Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 11:26 AM

To: ‘Asvina Narain’; ‘Benjamin Gold’; ‘DeeDee West’; Don Scott; Elliot Zorensky; ‘Joyce Brunelle’; ‘Laurie Sale’; Lee Ford; ‘Lynn Borland’; Rick Lemmo; Shaun Malek; Susan
Carroll

Cc: ‘Sharon Shapiro’

Subject: SPECIAL MEETING OF PALISADES BID BOARD

Attachments: Agenda Special Meeting April 28, 2016.docx

Dear Board Members,

Elliot and I spoke about setting up a SPECIAL BID meeting for next Wed., the 27th at 8:30. We’d like to have a resolution (ACTION ITEM) about formally supporting the Caruso Project. As you know, there is still some local opposition, but all of the other community organizations have given their support, and we’d like to know your thoughts on the matter. There is a planning committee meeting on Thurs. the 28 th We’d like the Caruso folks to know where we stand, and so, have decided to call this meeting, prior to the planning meeting.

The agenda is attached, and, as you will see, it’s simply a one topic special meeting. We’d really appreciate your attendance if possible.

I know it is last minute, but if you CANNOT attend, would you please email me with your written support or opposition to having the BID officially support the project. You may also call in to the meeting, at 8:30, and become part of the discussion, if you wish. Here is the number for the conference call:

Dial-in Number: ■■■■■■■■■
Access Code: ■■■■■■■■■

Also, at 8:00 on Wed., the folks from Spectrum, who are doing the power washing, will be there, so we can take photos for the press, and well be able to witness the completion of our first BID project.

Please rsvp to me

Thanks,

Laurie

No doubt you’ve spotted some problems here, and there are others that become clear only on reading the responses. Turn the page for links to emails, transcriptions, and discussions of all the juicy illegal details!
Continue reading Yet Another Egregious Violation Of The Brown Act By The Pacific Palisades BID In 2016 — If This Is Mike Bonin’s Idea Of A Good BID What In The World Would A Bad One Look Like — As Before Not One Board Member Objected To Illegal Votes By Email, Telephone — As Before Legal Action Is Time-Barred So Yet Again The Palisades BID Escapes Consequences Of Their Actions

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Kicking Off Our New Brown Act Enforcement Project With A Demand Letter To The Byzantine Latino Quarter BID Insisting That Their Advisory Board Of Directors Stop Discussing Public Business In Secret Via Email — With A Writ Petition To Follow If They Won’t Unconditionally Commit To Following The Damn Law In The Future

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that one of our constant themes has been the exposure of an unrelenting series of violations of the Brown Act by the various BIDs of Los Angeles. I started the blog in October 2014 and that very month caught the Sunset Vine BID and its dear leader, Ms. Kerry Morrison, requiring IDs in order to attend meetings, which is a violation of §54953.3.

Since then it’s just been one damn thing after another, what with the South Park BIDdies refusing to share documents considered by their board at a meeting, or requiring meeting attendees to sign in, or their teleconferencing fiasco, or the Venice Beach BID’s deficient agenda descriptions, or the Central City East Association‘s discussing and voting on matters that were not agendized, or the East Hollywood BID‘s teleconferencing violations, and those aren’t even the worst of the bunch.

One of the most important prohibitions imposed by the Brown Act is found at §54952.2(b), which states that “[a] majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”

In the past we have seen shameless, egregious violations of this section, e.g. the Pacific Palisades BID in 2016, or also by the Central City East Association as part of their relentlessly immoral, illegal campaign against the formation of a Skid Row Neighborhood Council, and by the Los Feliz Village BID, whose violation of §54952.2(b) was bad enough that it actually earned them a written rebuke from the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

That last outcome has been an anomaly, though. Despite my having filed multiple reports against BIDs for serious violations of the Brown Act, the District Attorney has, to date, ignored all of them but the Los Feliz one.1 But the legislature, oh wise and omniscient!, has determined that Brown Act enforcement is too important to be left only up to the whims of County District Attorneys. They’ve also allowed for private citizens to enforce the law as well!

So this time, when I discovered dispositive evidence that the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID had violated §54952.2(b) of the Brown Act on at least two occasions earlier this year by discussing BID business in private via email I decided that I would take matters into my own hands rather than relying on the County DA to handle the violation. And the violations are really extreme and also somewhat lurid. One involves BID board member and Greek Orthodox priest Father John Bakas arguing against homeless shelters on the grounds that homeless people are dangerous and incorrigible, e.g.

Of course, it took some time and effort to study the law, get professional advice, and generally prepare an infrastructure for the private prosecution of such violations. Now that it’s all set up, it’s not just good for this one violation, but will work for all future violations that come to my attention. Thus it is with a great deal of pride that I announce an ongoing project to force the BIDs of Los Angeles to stop violating the Brown Act by prosecuting them myself if necessary! Turn the page for the legal theories involved and the specific details of the BLQBID’s violations!
Continue reading Kicking Off Our New Brown Act Enforcement Project With A Demand Letter To The Byzantine Latino Quarter BID Insisting That Their Advisory Board Of Directors Stop Discussing Public Business In Secret Via Email — With A Writ Petition To Follow If They Won’t Unconditionally Commit To Following The Damn Law In The Future

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Pacific Palisades BID In 2016 — Newly Obtained Emails Reveal The Most Egregious Violation Of The Brown Act I Have Ever Seen In The Wild — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale — Who Sadly Is Highly Unlikely To Be Prosecuted For Her Criminal Ways — Conducted An Actual Vote On An Actual Motion By Email — Not One Single Board Member Objected — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run So They’re Not Going To Jail — But Obviously They’re Still Going To Hell — Cause There Ain’t No Statute That Can Limit The Freaking Wrath Of God!

I know some of you out there have been remembering such classics as the story of the angry scary fat black homeless male man or the story of the gang members escaping the seething urban hellscape of Santa Freaking Monica and thereby wondering just why it is that it’s been since March freaking 2017 since I last posted any full frontal mockery of the halfwits-by-the-sea out in Northwest Zillionaireville. I’m speaking of course of the Pacific Palisades Business Improvement District, Mike Freaking Bonin’s platonic ideal of a good BID.

And it’s certainly no coincidence that my last few posts about these coastal dimwits had to do with Laurie Freaking Sale’s weirdo Humistonian CPRA aggression. For instance there was the incident of Ms. Laurie Sale’s being too busy to follow the law, a theory which doesn’t work so well for non-zillionaires.1 Then there was the case of board member Rick Freaking Lemmo explaining how they were going to spend 3% of their annual assessments on lawyers to keep records out of my hands.

Well, it turns out that that’s not working out so well,2 because earlier this week I took a trek all the way out to the damn Palisades on public transit3 to finally inspect some records after fifteen tooth-pullingly painful months trying to talk some sense into Ms. Laurie Sale and then a few more months of my lawyer trying to talk some sense into the world’s angriest CPRA attorney, Ms. Carol F. Humiston.4

And good lord, friends! The craziness in these records is beyond fever pitch! It’s beyond Ebola pitch! Can’t easily be measured by disease slash pitch comparisons is how crazy it is! For various technical reasons it’s going to take a long time to prep this steaming pile o’ puckey for publication, so I’ll be dribbling it out a bit at a time. Today’s installment consists of 44 pages of emails amongst the BID Board, which can be found here on Archive.Org.

And amongst the millionish sharp little shards of crazy to be found here is the single most egregious violation of the Brown Act that I’ve ever known to be committed by a BID.5 In January 2016 BID zeck dreck Laurie Sale6 emailed her board with a motion to approve a contract and one by one they all voted yes by reply-all. This is beyond bad, beyond obvious. Turn the page for a discussion of the section that this violates, of what can be done about it now,7 and transcriptions of and links to all the evidence.
Continue reading Pacific Palisades BID In 2016 — Newly Obtained Emails Reveal The Most Egregious Violation Of The Brown Act I Have Ever Seen In The Wild — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale — Who Sadly Is Highly Unlikely To Be Prosecuted For Her Criminal Ways — Conducted An Actual Vote On An Actual Motion By Email — Not One Single Board Member Objected — The Statute Of Limitations Has Run So They’re Not Going To Jail — But Obviously They’re Still Going To Hell — Cause There Ain’t No Statute That Can Limit The Freaking Wrath Of God!

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Newly Obtained Documents Reveal That The Hollywood Media District BID Is Paying Urban Place Consulting $1,550.35 More Than The Fashion District BID Is Paying For Renewal Services Because UPC Is Billing Assistants At 20% More! Jeff Briggs Supplies Unredacted UPC Labor Matrix Without Requiring A Freaking Demand Letter! Aaron Aulenta Isn’t As Much Of A “Tech Dinosaur” As Previously Claimed!

You may recall that as part of my long term project to turn as many BID consultants as possible in to the City Ethics Commission for unregistered lobbying, I’ve been trying to track down consulting contracts and other such evidence. I obtained a lot of excellent information from the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID and, after a prolonged struggle, chronicled in excessive detail here, I obtained an unredacted copy of Urban Place Consulting’s contract with the Fashion District BID.

In the course of that whole mishegoss I had to overcome FDBID executive directrix Rena Leddy’s ultimately untenable position that the so-called “labor matrix,” a chart which detailed how much time UPC meant to spend on each aspect of the BID renewal process and how much they were to be paid for it,1 was a trade secret. Among the many cogent arguments we used2 was the evident fact that labor costs couldn’t possibly be trade secrets because UPC would of necessity have to share them with prospective clients before a contract was signed. This was a purely logical argument, but now, thanks to a huge trove of records shared with me this evening by the Media District BID and relating to their renewal process, also being handled by UPC, I have definitive proof.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Documents Reveal That The Hollywood Media District BID Is Paying Urban Place Consulting $1,550.35 More Than The Fashion District BID Is Paying For Renewal Services Because UPC Is Billing Assistants At 20% More! Jeff Briggs Supplies Unredacted UPC Labor Matrix Without Requiring A Freaking Demand Letter! Aaron Aulenta Isn’t As Much Of A “Tech Dinosaur” As Previously Claimed!

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The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce Amended Its Lobbying Registration Form in April 2017 And The Only Change Was The Date They Qualified — More Interesting, Though, Is The Fact That They Consider Their Pro-Establishment Advocacy For Jeff Zarrinnam’s Inchoate Hollywood-Western And Route 66 BIDs To Be Lobbying Activity

It’s well-known that the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance requires lobbyists of all stripes to register with the City Ethics Commission. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is no exception to the rule.1 They are also required to amend their registration forms if there are any material changes in the information provided.2

And as you know if you follow this blog, I find everything to do with lobbyists in Los Angeles fascinating, and thus I haunt the Ethics Commission’s lobbying pages, poring over the alphabetical lists of individual lobbyists and of lobbyist firms and employers to see if anything’s changed or if something is newly interesting.

And lo! Last night I noticed that our old friends, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, had amended their registration form on April 28. Here are the two forms:

Well, I stared and stared and stared at those two forms just trying to figure out what had changed. Eventually I noticed that the original form had January 31, 2017 as the date they’d qualified as a lobbying entity3 whereas the amended version had January 1, 2017 as the day of qualifying.

One of the Hollywood Chamber’s registration forms superimposed on the other with 38% opacity so that it’s clear that the only difference is in the qualifying date. Click to enlarge, of course.

There’s a lot of information on the forms, though, and I didn’t feel confident that the difference I’d noticed was in fact the only difference. I wasn’t sure what do to until this morning, when it occurred to me that if I put both pages into the GIMP, superimposed one on top of the other, and then faded the opacity up and down I’d be able to notice what changed.4 And it turns out that in fact, it’s correct that the only change was the date of the Hollywood Chamber’s qualifying as a lobbyist.

Which leads irresistibly to the question of why Leron Gubler and/or Nicole Shahenian, who are the Hollywood Chamber’s two registered lobbyists, felt the need to make this tiny change. Read on for speculations and some other chit-chat about the fact that Leron Gubler lists the establishment of the Hollywood Western and the Route 66 BIDs as issues the Chamber is lobbying for this year.
Continue reading The Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce Amended Its Lobbying Registration Form in April 2017 And The Only Change Was The Date They Qualified — More Interesting, Though, Is The Fact That They Consider Their Pro-Establishment Advocacy For Jeff Zarrinnam’s Inchoate Hollywood-Western And Route 66 BIDs To Be Lobbying Activity

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BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

A business improvement district (BID) in Los Angeles1 is a geographical area in which the owners of commercial property are assessed an additional fee for various services that aren’t provided by the City. These fees are collected either by the City of L.A. via direct billing2 or, more usually, by the County of Los Angeles as an add-on to property tax bills.

The state law authorizing BIDs requires each BID to be administered by a property owners’ association (POA).3 In the normal course of things these organizations are conjured up by the City at the time the BID is established, although sometimes previously existing nonprofits will end up as a POA. One example of this is the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which serves as POA for the East Hollywood BID, although it predates its existence.

The law requires these POAs to be nonprofits, although it doesn’t specify what kind of nonprofit they should be. For various reasons, at least in Los Angeles, they are usually 501(c)(6) organizations. Because the City is handing over what’s essentially tax money to these POAs,4 they have a great deal of control over their activities and what they spend their money on.
Continue reading BIDs Benefit Immensely From Coercive Collection Of Mandatory Assessments And Complain Incessantly About Being Subject To The California Public Records Act. They Can’t Have One Without The Other, Yet Both Are Voluntary, So Why Don’t They Grow Up And Quit Whining About The Consequences Of Their Choices?

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Urban Place Consulting Charged Palisades BID 62% Less For Establishment Than They Are Charging Fashion District For Renewal, $21K vs. $55K. The Resulting Linear Model Suggests That Each Additional Parcel Adds Around $18 To The Price Of BID Consultancy, But Comparison With San Pedro Casts Some Doubt On Accuracy

This chain of emails from December 2015 reveals that the Pacific Palisades Business Improvement District paid Urban Place Consulting $21,000 for guiding the establishment process and an additional $4,000 to the consulting engineer.1 This is yet another piece of the BID consultancy puzzle that I’ve been trying to decipher since it became clear that almost certainly BID consulting qualified as lobbying under the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance and that almost all of the qualified consultants were breaking the law by not being registered with the City Ethics Commission like, e.g., Tara Devine.2

And this small piece of evidence is especially valuable given the fact that by now it’s essentially impossible to coax records out of the Palisades BID. They’ve even hired a lawyer specifically to thwart my requests, as if the bred-in-the-bone intransigence3 of PPBID ED Laurie Sale, which presumably they’ve already paid for, weren’t enough in itself.

In particular, because we already knew that Urban Place was charging the Fashion District $55,000 for renewal consulting and because it’s the first time we’ve known the rates that a single consultant is charging two different BIDs, it’s possible for the first time to attempt to model UPC’s fee structure. The gory details are available after the break, but the upshot it’s possible to estimate that UPC’s baseline fee for establishing/renewing an ideal BID with zero parcels in it is about $19,583 and that each additional parcel adds a little more than $18 to the cost of establishing/renewing the BID.
Continue reading Urban Place Consulting Charged Palisades BID 62% Less For Establishment Than They Are Charging Fashion District For Renewal, $21K vs. $55K. The Resulting Linear Model Suggests That Each Additional Parcel Adds Around $18 To The Price Of BID Consultancy, But Comparison With San Pedro Casts Some Doubt On Accuracy

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Kosmont Invoices For Gateway To LA BID Reveal How Much Time It Takes To Get A BID Renewed, And It Doesn’t Look Good For BID Consultants, Like Tara Devine, Like Urban Place Consulting, That Are Not Registered As Lobbyists With The City

Larry Kosmont handled the Gateway to LA BID’s 2014-5 renewal and was, very properly, registered as a lobbyist while doing so.
You may recall that the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance requires qualified lobbyists to register with the City Ethics Commission and also disclose a bunch of interesting information about their clients and their income. Also, the process of establishing or renewing a BID is fairly complex, and most property owners’ associations1 hire a consultant to guide them through the process. These consultants are regulated and recommended by the City Clerk’s office.

The process of getting a BID established or renewed, it turns out, looks an awful lot like the definition of lobbying activity to be found at LAMC §48.02, which is essentially preparing information and discussing it with City officials as part of influencing the passage of municipal legislation. The law requires anyone who’s paid for thirty or more hours of this over three consecutive months to register as a lobbyist, and it’s generally extremely hard to prove that someone’s met this criterion. You may, e.g., recall that earlier this year, in order to make a reasonably convincing case that Venice Beach BID consultant Tara Devine had passed this threshold, I spent months piecing together more than a hundred pages of evidence regarding her BID consultancy work.

But recently it’s occurred to me that these consultants have contracts with the BIDs they service, and that at least in the case of BID renewals, the contracts will be accessible via the Public Records Act.2 The contracts will contain some information about how much time the consultants spend on the project, and thus should be useful as evidence in reporting consultants to the Ethics Commission for lobbying without a license.

The project started to produce results at the end of February, when the incomparable Laurie Hughes of the Gateway to LA BID supplied me with her BID’s contracts with Larry Kosmont, who was handling the renewal process.3 Well, late last week, Laurie Hughes gave me an absolutely essential set of documents, consisting of detailed monthly invoices from Kosmont to the BID during the 15+ month renewal process. These are fascinating,4 containing as they do detailed inventories of every individual task involved in the renewal process broken down into fifteen minute billing increments. Turn the page for more descriptions, discussion, and speculations.
Continue reading Kosmont Invoices For Gateway To LA BID Reveal How Much Time It Takes To Get A BID Renewed, And It Doesn’t Look Good For BID Consultants, Like Tara Devine, Like Urban Place Consulting, That Are Not Registered As Lobbyists With The City

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The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

The Wicked Witch of the Southeast corner of Wilshire and Hope giving instructions to her flying monkeys.
Recall that I’ve been tracking the hysterical, irrational opposition of LA’s business improvement districts to the ongoing process of legalizing (some aspects of) street vending in the City since the Spring of 2015. A truly astonishing level of bitching and moaning in 2015 stalled out the whole process for most of 2016 because, I believe, everyone was too freaking sick of the whining and the carefully orchestrated lying on any number of occasions and the City just needed a rest.
A man arrested, transported, and handcuffed to a bench by the Andrews International BID Patrol in Hollywood for selling umbrellas on the street. At least it appears that this horror show is over, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there are even more loopholes and it’s not over at all.
Until the November election of Donald Trump and his subsequent threats to deport essentially anyone, U.S. citizen or not, who’d ever smiled while thinking of eating a taco spurred the Council into action on at least the small part (small but in no way insignificant) of the plan to decriminalize illegal street vending so that, no matter how much trouble the zillionaires might cause the heladeros, at least they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and subsequent deportation. That bit seemed urgent enough to pass Council outright, and even the anti-vending forces of the zillionaire elite seemed to realize that they were just going to be exposed as the nasty little mean creeps that they are if they fought back on this particular issue. However, the Council put off acting on an actual legalization framework until later.

But recall, as I reported in January, the instructions for the report-back were altered from the original, and quite sensible,1 request for

A process to create special vending districts to be initiated by Council, the Board of Public Works, or petition (with signatures from 20 percent of property owners or businesses in the proposed district), based on legitimate public health, safety and welfare concerns that are unique to specific neighborhoods with special circumstances.

to a request for language

Providing the City Council the ability to opt out of certain streets by Council action.

At that time I didn’t understand yet how this had all taken place, but now I’ve accumulated enough documentary evidence that it’s possible to sketch out a picture. The short version is that in December 2016, Suzanne Holley, at that time acting Executive Director2 of the Schatzian horror show known as the Central City Association of Los Angeles, wrote a letter to the City Council telling them to make the change. This was distributed to the BIDs via the BID Consortium. They all told their pet Councilmembers to change it. It got changed, and all the BIDs rejoiced, some of them quite publicly. The consequences of this are going to be horrific, and whatever street vending framework gets put in place will be DOA. Details and evidence after the break.
Continue reading The Actual Mechanism By Which Suzanne Holley And The Central City Association Strangled The Incipient Street Vending Ordinance In Its Cradle By Sneaking In Unilateral Councilmember Opt-Out On Behalf Of BIDs, The Role In This Debacle Played By Criminal Conspirators Jessica Borek and Matt Rodriguez, And How The Council Messaged It To BIDs

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New Documents: Palisades BID Bylaws, Gateway To LA BID Homeless Outreach Collaboration With Heirs Of Sister Aimee In Venice, And Beaucoup De Minutes From North Hollywood, Figueroa Corridor, and East Hollywood

So much new stuff! Here’s the list, friends:

And turn the page for minutes, minutes, minutes, and more minutes. Hours worth of minutes!
Continue reading New Documents: Palisades BID Bylaws, Gateway To LA BID Homeless Outreach Collaboration With Heirs Of Sister Aimee In Venice, And Beaucoup De Minutes From North Hollywood, Figueroa Corridor, and East Hollywood

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