I reported a few weeks ago on how Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Board member Dan Curnow violated the Brown Act in April 2017 along with his late, unlamented colleague, moral dumpster fire, and wannabe vigilante, Jacob Douglas Van Horn. Jacob Douglas VH, of course, famously resigned from DLANC under a cloud some time ago and, by doing so, perhaps placed himself beyond the suffering of consequences for his evil ways.1 Dan Curnow, as far as anyone around here knows, though, has not (yet) resigned from DLANC and so is eligible to be complained about in every possible venue.
According to an extremely useful guide prepared by then-City-Attorney Rockard Delgadillo, in the context of the Brown Act a majority means a majority of a quorum. That is, the minimum number of members that can actually act on a motion. The DLANC has a 24 member board, and a quorum is 13. Hence these six members using email “…to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of…” DLANC is not a violation; a violation would require seven members to have been in on the discussion.
As much as I’d like to be able to take credit for this stunning development, I think it’s probably unrelated to my work. Or at least it’s not provably related. Anyway, here’s what happened. Estela Lopez missed the DLANC board meetings in July, August, and September. According to the bylaws:1
Any Board Member who misses three (3) consecutive regularly scheduled DLANC Board meetings or four (4) total Board meetings during any twelve (12) month period will be automatically removed from the Board. Each DLANC Director’s absence shall be recorded in the DLANC’s meeting minutes or other manner of Board record keeping, and that, upon missing the specified number of Board meetings for removal, the President shall notify the Board Director, copy the Board, and announce at the next regular Board meeting that their seat has been declared vacant.
Of course, President-for-life Patti Berman is not a rule-follower, but for whatever reason she seems to be following this one. Check the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Board of Directors. Estela Lopez is not on the roster. Presumably PFL Patti will announce the vacancy tomorrow night as specified in item 1.
With all the recent revelations about how Estela Lopez ran United Downtown LA’s finances and how she used her official dlanc.com email address to send out an anti-SRNC email blast and how she and a bunch of her asshole buddies on the DLANC board seem to have lied to President Patti about their involvement with this shadowy anonymous gang, with all that, as I said, it may be easy to forget that these co-conspirators aren’t just a bunch of slavering zillionaire cannibals, blithely using their razor-sharp fangs to crack the bones of their victims that they may joyously slurp up the marrow and then slaking their thirst with long noisy draughts of the steaming blood of their prey. They’re that and so much more!
They’re also, it turns out, a band of jovial jokesters, merrily bantering with one another while they stir their witches’ brew. It being a lazy Sunday afternoon, I thought I’d take some time out from the hard-hitting journalistic salvos my loyal audience craves and look at one of these humorous moments. After all, one doesn’t know one’s enemy until one knows what they find funny.
Here’s the story, then. Recall, if you will, that all these conspirators were vying with one another to set up pop-up polls in the days leading up to the SRNC formation election. Emails were flying both thick and fast about who had gotten a new poll, who had hauled all their tenants off to vote at a poll, and so on. Now comes Karen Christopherson, some kind of real estate drone with a shadowy company known as A.I. Management, which seems to be the boss of an office building at 420 E. 3rd Street in Little Tokyo.
On May 3, 2017 the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment sponsored a hearing on challenges to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation election. One of the main issues was, of course, the shadowy anonymous front corporation United Downtown LA and the names of the people behind it.
At that meeting, Patricia Berman, self-proclaimed President for Life of the DLANC board of directors, was moved to deny all knowledge of the matter and to affirm her overwhelming desire to find out who was behind it so she could get them kicked off the board. But don’t take my word for it! You can watch and listen to her, and here’s what she said:
If indeed one of our board members was involved with United DTLA I would love to find out about it, because I bet we could get them off the board really fast. However, I have no idea who these people are. I don’t know anyone on my board who does, and we certainly have asked around. We had nothing to do with this. I’m sorry it caused such a big stink. But the truth is it didn’t come from our listserve and it’s not something that came from us.
Jacob Douglas Van Horn is off the board for reasons that are probably unrelated to United Downtown LA, but the others remain. The most egregious case among these after Estela Lopez herself is Robert Newman, who was not only involved with United Downtown LA but was standing right behind Patti Berman when she made the statement.
She said she asked around, so either she didn’t ask him, which seems unlikely, or he lied to her when she asked him, or she lied when she said no one on her board knows who was behind the situation. None of these options look good for President Patti. However, she can go an awful long way towards washing away her sins by sticking to her promise and getting these five remaining miscreants “…off the board really fast.”
You may recall that one of the major issues raised in the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s appeal to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners over probably illegal, certainly immoral, shenanigans in the horrifically shady campaign against the SRNC was the question of whether DLANC had illegally opposed formation by sending out emails via its Mailchimp account. The turning point, though, was when the opposition convinced CD14 repster José Huizar to allow online voting at the last minute and to automatically register all people who’d voted in the last DLANC election.
The fact that Huizar decided to allow online voting meant that contact information for all the automatically registered voters suddenly became very valuable. I haven’t uncovered any new information on the Mailchimp front, but one of the emails from yesterday’s release of records from the Downtown Center BID reveals that on April 3, just three days before the hotly contested election, then-DLANC-Board-member Jacob Douglas van Horn,1 sent DLANC’s copy of the registered voter list to a rogues’ gallery of anti-SRNC conspirators. Here is the email and here’s what it says:
Attached is a spreadsheet with the list of pre-registered voters from the last election. All of these people have already been sent a login and pin by DONE. For many it is ending up in their spam email box. Please every take a few minutes to look over this list. If you know anyone on the list please follow up with them and make sure they have voted.
Perhaps you recall that on January 17, 2017, very soon after the friendly neighborhood zillionaires realized that Skid Row was trying to get its own neighborhood council and resolved to crush it by any means necessary, Ms. Estela Lopez, the famously Wicked Queen of Crocker Street, made herself a merry little CPRA request to Grayce Liu, she of the famed Department of Neighborhood Empowerment of the City of Los Angeles, asking for all manner of records to do with the Skid Row NC Formation Committee’s efforts. Well, what she was up to there is anyone’s guess, although the smart money is on yet another shenaniganistic anti-SRNC operation carried out at the behest of the zillionaire elite of whom she is so very willing a flunky.
But, perhaps as interestingly, it seems that by one day later, January 18, 2017, she, her counterpart from the Historic Core BID with the slightly less sinister smile, that is to say the famously batty little fusspot Blair Besten, and presumptively lunatic zillionaire developer, DLANCker, HCBID Board member, and shadowy heir to a DTLA real estate empire, Michael Delijani himself, right after that CPRA request went out, had arranged for a meeting with that well-known gentleman from sole to crown, clean favored and imperially slim, quietly arrayed, admirably schooled in every grace, the real power in Downtown Los Angeles, that is to say, Mr. José Huizar himself. Note that Patti Berman was NOT invited!
Last night a panel consisting of three neighborhood council presidents from around the City heard General Jeff’s appeal of the election that defeated the Skid Row Neighborhood Council separation from DLANC last month. You can read the whole appeal here, including DONE boss Grayce Liu’s recommendations to the panel. The gist of it is that someone sent around an email that looked like it came from DLANC urging people to vote against the SRNC. If this had been a candidate for a neighborhood council office this evidence would have been enough to incur sanctions from the City based on the rules in the official election manual.
As it was, though, the panel unambiguously recommended that DONE either hold another election without the exceedingly contentious online voting that was unaccountably allowed in this election.1 Note that you can also read a less impressionistic version of this story than mine by Gale Holland, writing in this morning’s Times.
The meeting was well-attended and the level of interest and excitement was high. Unfortunately I had to leave after only three hours, long before anything was decided, but what I did see was well worth the trip. Most exciting was the public comments, which, at least while I was there, were all but one in favor of Skid Row. They were insightful, heartfelt, moving, convincing, enough to restore understandably flagging faiths in democracy. The one guy who was against the new NC was…well, his comments are summarized in the image that appears at the start of this post. It may seem like a joke, but it was not.