Tag Archives: Public Integrity Division

Remember That Time In February When The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act By Voting On An Item That Wasn’t On The Agenda? — Well Now Their Lawyer Lied About It To The District Attorney — And Estela Lopez Retroactively Edited The Minutes From February — Which Is The Kind Of People The City Contracts With To Run Their BIDs — And That’s Why The District Attorney Isn’t Prosecuting Them

OK, in February of this year Estela Lopez introduced a motion at the Central City East Association Board meeting that wasn’t on the agenda. This is a violation of the Brown Act at §54954.2(a)(3), which states unequivocally that: “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.” Naturally I turned them in to the District Attorney immediately. And you might think that because the whole mishegoss was captured on actual video the DA might actually do something about it.

But you’d be wrong. It seems that the willingness of the CCEA’s lawyer to lie to the face of a deputy DA and Estela Lopez’s willingness to alter the minutes of the meeting months after the fact is enough to escape from any consequences of this violation. This kind of outcome is precisely why I found it necessary to start my own Brown Act enforcement program.

And because I have this new capability, of private Brown Act enforcement, on August 20, 2018, having heard nothing for six months, I sent an email to Alan Yochelson, who runs the DA’s Brown Act enforcement program, asking him what was up with my complaint and telling him that I would take action myself if the DA wasn’t going to do so.

On August 21, 2018 he emailed me back and said that he hadn’t decided yet but he would let me know in seven days, on August 28. Yochelson ended up talking to CCEA’s lawyer, who I think would have been Don Steier, but I don’t know for sure. The lawyer seems to have told Yochelson that he immediately pointed out the violation to the Board and they immediately revoked their illegal action.

Estela Lopez definitely edited the February minutes on August 23, which now confirm the lawyer’s version. The trouble with the story is that, as I said, I have the whole meeting on video and nothing like this happened at that meeting. In any case, these conversations between Yochelson and CCEA ended up with the DA’s office declining to take action, as explained in this determination letter, sent out on Monday.

Of course I still have the option to take action privately, and I’m in the process of evaluating that option. The section I’d use, §54960.2 allows nine months after the violation, which is November 22, 2018, to initiate the process. Watch this space for further developments, and turn the page for a more detailed narrative along with links to and transcriptions of all the evidence.
Continue reading Remember That Time In February When The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act By Voting On An Item That Wasn’t On The Agenda? — Well Now Their Lawyer Lied About It To The District Attorney — And Estela Lopez Retroactively Edited The Minutes From February — Which Is The Kind Of People The City Contracts With To Run Their BIDs — And That’s Why The District Attorney Isn’t Prosecuting Them

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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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How I Finally Had To Report The South Park BID To The District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act Even Though Board Member, Working Class Hero, And Self-Proclaimed Schmuck Paul Keller, The Finest Legal Mind Of His Generation, Screamed At Me In The Lobby That They Didn’t Actually Violate It

As you know well if you follow this blog, the South Park BID is severely challenged when it comes to Brown Act compliance. First, in February, they had deficient agenda descriptions, although they fixed that in response to my advice. Then last week they had a deficient teleconferencing option, which again they fixed in response to my advice. However, yesterday’s board meeting was held in a building where signing in as a condition of entry was mandatory. This is a clear violation of the Brown Act at §54953.3, which states unequivocally that:

A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance.

Based on a previous visit to the building I suspected that they might require visitors to sign in, so I recorded the whole scene. I also determined to offer them a chance to avoid the violation by discussing it with the BIDdies if signing in was in fact required, which it was. The security guard didn’t have the BID’s phone number, so that was out.1

Anyway, while I was talking about it with the guard, South Park BID board member and self-proclaimed schmuck Paul Keller, the finest legal mind of his generation, came in and yelled at me for pressing the issue. His theory is that the law wasn’t violated because a signature was required to enter the building rather than the BID meeting. Maybe he wasn’t aware that his executive director, Ellen Salome Riotto,2 relies implicitly on my legal advice, with respect to the Brown Act anyway.

Far be it from me to say why he thinks this, him being the finest legal mind and all. Perhaps he’s basing it on the popular zillionaire legal maxim that any law that inconveniences even a single zillionaire must be unconstitutional. This is true, of course, at least 99\frac{44}{100}\% of the time, but not this particular time. On the other hand his rant suggests that the sign-in requirement wasn’t just another oversight, but actually constitutes BID policy.

Whatever was going on, I feel like they’ve had enough chances to mend their ways and have shown no interest in doing so. Hence I filed a complaint against them with the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Turn the page for a transcription, and stay tuned for details!
Continue reading How I Finally Had To Report The South Park BID To The District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act Even Though Board Member, Working Class Hero, And Self-Proclaimed Schmuck Paul Keller, The Finest Legal Mind Of His Generation, Screamed At Me In The Lobby That They Didn’t Actually Violate It

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Even Funnier The Second Time Around! Ellen Riotto And/Or Manic Minion Katie Kiefer Of The South Park BID Continue To Follow Open-Sourced Wiki-Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At Your Favorite Blog Evers!!

It seems like forever ago by now, but maybe you recall that in February the South Parkers sent around an agenda announcing a closed session that was so freaking out of compliance with the Brown Act that I could not, despite mom’s best advice, keep my mouth shut. Thus I emailed the Parkies and hilarity and agenda revisions ensued!

Well, these Southies have another meeting coming up this very Thursday, and imagine my joy when I received a copy of the agenda! And imagine my horror when I noticed the bit about teleconferencing! Here’s what it said:

CONFERENCE DIAL-IN :
If you cannot join the meeting physically but wish to join via phone, meeting dial-in details:
Conference number: 857 – 216-3930
Conference PIN: 45426

Please notify Katie Kiefer. Director of Operations, at least 48-hours in advance if you will be dialing in. Contact her via email, Katie@SouthPark.LA, or by phone, (213) 663-1120.

We’ve been through this crapola before with the East Hollywood BID. The plain fact is that the Brown Act forbids teleconferencing unless it’s happening from a teleconference location where members of the public can go to participate. You can read all about it in §54953(b). It’s just not OK to assume that all members of the public who wish to participate have phones.

Also, the Brown Act at §54953.3 forbids local agencies1 to require members of the public to identify themselves as a condition of attending the meeting. This made me pretty sure that the BID’s requiring would-be teleconferencers to register their names with Ellen Riotto’s manic minion Katie Kiefer was another violation.

So anyway, usually I would just wait around for the BIDdies to actually break the damn law and then turn them in to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney like I did with the Los Felizites and more recently with the Central City East Association. But it was so entertaining the last time I warned them and they actually took my advice that I thought I’d give that another try.

So I sent them an email saying essentially hey friends you’re about to break the law again! And what do you know? A couple hours later they sent me an email2 saying essentially hey friend, you’re right! We’ll change everything! And then a couple-few days later, that is, this morning, they sent out a revised agenda stating definitively that:

NOTE: Teleconferencing into this meeting will not be enabled.

So woo-freaking-hoo, amirite?! Turn the page for transcriptions of the emails.
Continue reading Even Funnier The Second Time Around! Ellen Riotto And/Or Manic Minion Katie Kiefer Of The South Park BID Continue To Follow Open-Sourced Wiki-Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At Your Favorite Blog Evers!!

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Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!


So it turns out that a major scandal involving a business improvement district has been brewing up in Burbank since September 2016. The short version of the story is that a Burbank BID violated the Brown Act and may have violated State laws forbidding the use of public funds in political campaigns. A local activist, David Spell, turned them in to the LA County DA and the Fair Political Practices Commission.1

In December 2016 the Burbank City Attorney published a fascinating report on the episode,2 which may shine a great deal of light on the legal status of BID assessments as public funds. Furthermore, Spell called for the Burbank City Council to hold a disestablishment hearing as required by Streets and Highways Code §36670(a)(1).3

If this money does turn out to be public, a lot of really interesting consequences would ensue, which is another part of what makes this episode so important. As always when BIDs and the law intersect, the details are unavoidably technical, which is no doubt why the L.A. Times skips over them and also why I’m hiding them below the fold!
Continue reading Burbank BID Violated Brown Act In 2016 By Voting To Donate $50,000 To A Political Campaign Without Having Agendized The Matter — Local Activist David Spell Calls For Disestablishment — Burbank City Attorney Forced To Address The Question Of Whether BID Assessments Are Public Funds — Answers With A Resounding “Maybe”!

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How The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act Twice In One Meeting On Thursday Morning So I Reported Them To The Los Angeles County District Attorney


As you know, the Central City East Association held a meeting the other day.1 And a lot of interesting stuff went down. For instance, watch and listen here as Estela Lopez, the voodoo queen of Skid Row herself, explains to the Board that for some reason having to do with the much-discussed trash ordinance, they need to rewrite part of their contract with their street-cleaning contractor Chrysalis. There’s a transcription of the whole discussion after the break, but it’s easy to summarize what happens.

Estela Lopez is all like guys, we gotta redo the contract because reasons and then some random Board member is all like I have a motion because Roberts, and then Mark Shinbane, the Fabulous Freaking Fishmonger himself, is all like I second the motion and let’s vote. Unanimous? Done! The only problem? There’s not a word about it on the damn agenda. And this wasn’t the only instance of this kind of behavior at the meeting.

Just take a look here as freaking Bob Smiland, honcho supremo of Inner City Arts, quintessentially opposite-of-Silas-Lapham paint zillionaire, and unanimously acclaimed most galootish CCEA board member of all freaking time, responds to dictator-for-life Mark Shinbane’s rhetorical question about if there’s anything else before he adjourns the damn meeting by going off on a tangent so freaking tangential that his fellow totalitarian zillionaires were left in dropped-jaw silence as he rambled on about tourist brochures for Skid Row to be left in upscale hotel lobbies and god knows WTF else.2 And … you guessed it! Not a word about it on the damn agenda.

And what’s the problem with all this, you may well ask? Why can’t a few good old white supremacist buddies get together on a Thursday morning at ground zero of the homeless crisis in the United States of America and talk about any random crap that pops into their little zillionaire-addled heads? Well, as it happens, it is against the freaking law, that’s why!

Because business improvement districts have voluntarily chosen to benefit from coercively collected assessments, the State Legislature has passed Streets and Highways Code §36612, which makes all these BID boards of directors subject to the Brown Act. The good old Brown Act contains many treasures, and not least amongst these is good old §54954.2(a)(3), which states unequivocally that: “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.”

Mark Shinbane, of course, is famous for his criminal ways and he’s no stranger to violating the Brown Act, but this, to the best of my knowledge, is the first time he’s ever done it on camera. Turn the page for a little more evidence, transcriptions of the relevant bits, and, best of all, a copy of the report I sent to the LA County DA this morning turning these creepers in for their criminal ways.
Continue reading How The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act Twice In One Meeting On Thursday Morning So I Reported Them To The Los Angeles County District Attorney

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Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

Perhaps you recall that the infamous Venice Beach Business Improvement District has been nonoperational for an entire year after the second-time’s-a-charm reapproval by City Council, whose blindingly arrogant indifference to both law and decency necessitated this expensive and amateurish do-over.

Well, they’re operational now, friends! Yesterday morning the VBBID CEO, AKA President-For-Life Tara Devine, transmitted in interstate commerce1 an announcement of the BID’s first-ever meeting. Here are the documents involved:

The meeting is on Friday morning at 10 a.m. If you’re able and willing to attend and film the entire meeting, which is your absolute right under the Brown Act, please do so, as various prior commitments prevent me from attending. If you’d like some tips on how to film Brown Act meetings effectively, please get in touch!

Meanwhile, turn the page for a critical analysis of selections from these woefully deficient documents as well as some special bonus info on how and why President Tara Devine and her co-conspirators are so arrogantly outlaw.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID To Hold First Public Meeting On Friday, January 5, Inaugurating Both A Quantum Freaking Leap And A Sea Freaking Change In The Illegal Freaking Bullshitization Of Venice — Please Attend And Tell These Shameless, Already-Being-Sued, Law-Flouting Creeps What You Think Of Their Nonsense — Also, If You’re Able To Film The Meeting, Please Do So!

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How I Reported DLANC’s Douchebaggiest Development Diva, Lover-Of-Non-White-Women, And DTLA Dustbowl Refugee Josh Albrektson To The Los Angeles County District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act With Evidence Provided By His Own Confession Against Interest Published, For Peak Derp, On Freaking Facebook

Anyone who follows this blog regularly knows that we’re raking in big bucks from George Soros and similar sources to support our merciless over-coal raking and to-the-duly-constituted-authorities reporting of the propertied classes of Los Angeles and their eager brown-tongued lap-minions like, e.g., the six members of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council who participated in a sub rosa, barely legal conspiracy to do in the recent Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort.

One of the many targets at which we direct this firehose of Sorosbux is the Facebook, where Internet amateurs and malcontents will gather to vent their collective spleens in the comfy company of their moronic six-fingered peers. In particular, we have a dedicated, Soros-funded, intern1 doing absolutely nothing all day but sifting through opposition Facebookery. And mostly it’s predictably dumb and sadly inconsequential, this material. The political equivalent, if you will, of kitten memes. Occasionally, however, a gem pops up in the feed, and when it does, well, we will write about it!

So you can well imagine our glee over here at MK.Org secret headquarters when this little slab of puckey was brought to our attention.2 The author is DLANC board member and erstwhile DTLA resident3 Joshua Albrektson, writing about his actions after receiving the grievance against DLANC board member Dan Curnow that I filed a few weeks ago:

This is his latest article. He sent a grievance to DLANC that was literally about 40 pages about Dan Curnow being on a e-mail chain of people opposing the Skid Row NC. In order to file a grievance, you have to be a stakeholder of the place. He attached a page stating he is a stakeholder because he investigates the BIDS. I told everybody that he lives in Hollywood and works in Whittier and doesn’t own property here. I don’t think anybody even read his grievance.

So what would you do if you read something like this? Well, what I did is to turn the guy in to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney for violating the Brown Act. Turn the page for details!
Continue reading How I Reported DLANC’s Douchebaggiest Development Diva, Lover-Of-Non-White-Women, And DTLA Dustbowl Refugee Josh Albrektson To The Los Angeles County District Attorney For Violating The Brown Act With Evidence Provided By His Own Confession Against Interest Published, For Peak Derp, On Freaking Facebook

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How I Reported DLANC Board Member Dan Curnow To The LA County DA For Violating The Brown Act And Also Filed A Grievance Against Him For Violating DLANC Bylaws

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.

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.

First of all, then, I sent this complaint about him to the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney, which is charged with enforcing Brown Act compliance in L.A. There’s not a whole lot of information in there which wasn’t in my original story, but maybe you’ll find it worth reading. The bigger news, though, is that I also filed a grievance with DLANC against Dan Curnow for violating the Brown Act. This is a new direction for me, and there’s a detailed discussion of the issues after the break.
Continue reading How I Reported DLANC Board Member Dan Curnow To The LA County DA For Violating The Brown Act And Also Filed A Grievance Against Him For Violating DLANC Bylaws

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United DTLA Conspiracy: How DLANC Board Members Dan Curnow And Jacob Douglas Van Horn Violated The Brown Act In March 2017

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.

A few days ago I published a story on how the massive release of emails from the Downtown Center BID revealed massive, egregious Brown Act violations by the Central City East Association Board of Directors. The issue is that the Brown Act explicitly1 forbids a majority of a Board from using “…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.”

There were also six members of the DLANC Board in on the conspiracy:

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.

However, the Brown Act also applies to standing committees of bodies which are subject to its requirements. In particular, consider DLANC’s Livability Committee. That this is a standing committee is stated explicitly in DLANC’s bylaws2 Also, in March 2017 the members of the Livability Committee were none other than Dan Curnow, Jacob Douglas Van Horn, and Jacki Breger. For instance, take a look at the minutes from March 16, 2017.
Continue reading United DTLA Conspiracy: How DLANC Board Members Dan Curnow And Jacob Douglas Van Horn Violated The Brown Act In March 2017

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