Tag Archives: Skid Row

In May 2017 Pete White, Represented By Carol Sobel, Filed Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, And Officer Kenny For Arresting Him While He Was Filming Cops V. Homeless In 2016

Pete White being arrested while filming the LAPD on June 14, 2016.
In May 2017 Pete White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, represented by Carol Sobel, filed suit in federal district court against the City of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, and some cop named Officer Kenny. The basis of the complaint is that Kenny ordered Pete White’s 2016 arrest while he was lawfully filming LAPD interactions with homeless people on Skid Row. Pete White claims, and it seems right to me, that he was arrested in retaliation for his activism on behalf of homeless residents of Skid Row.

For some reason, this suit does not seem to have been reported on in the real news media, and I’m interested, so I’ll be at least collecting the pleadings here. You can find them:

Or, if you prefer, here is a copy of the initial complaint, which is the only item of consequence that’s presently available. There are selections after the break.
Continue reading In May 2017 Pete White, Represented By Carol Sobel, Filed Suit Against The City Of Los Angeles, Charlie Beck, And Officer Kenny For Arresting Him While He Was Filming Cops V. Homeless In 2016

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On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Gale Holland’s article in the Times for a more mainstream perspective.

Scott Gray of major Skid Row property owner Capital Foresight, likely behind-the-curtain string-puller for the covert anti-SRNC lobbying campaign, was famously quoted in the Downtown News in March 2017 with respect to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort to the effect that:

…the pending proposal to divide Downtown Los Angeles into separate geographic districts will have significant fiscal and far-reaching economic impact on the entire city

Anyone who attends to the shady world of Los Angeles real estate development can easily imagine in the abstract the kinds of things Scott Gray means, but there has hitherto been very little specific information about what he was talking about.

It turns out that in November 2016 Blair Besten’s megadeveloper bosses at the Historic Core BID had their heavy artillery aimed at Skid Row and had begun soliciting the usual array of sleazy under-table giveaways, such as tax abatements, relaxed zoning, and so on. It’s no surprise at all, then, that when the Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation Committee’s proposal was approved by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in January 2017 they flipped out to the astonishing degree that they did. As always, documentation and highly detailed description after the break.
Continue reading On November 21, 2016 Blair Besten Told The City Of Los Angeles That Her Zillionaire Developer Bosses Were Ready To Gentrify And Build Out Skid Row And Listed The Kinds Of Zillion Dollar Handouts, Tax Breaks, And Zoning Giveaways They Wanted. Seven Weeks Later She Was Lobbying José Huizar In Opposition To Skid Row Neighborhood Council Formation. This Is Not A Coincidence

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Tales From The BONC-Side Part 1: In Which Scott Gray And Debbie Welsch Of Capital Foresight Reveal Themselves As Whiny Ignorant Little Liars And John Howland, Formerly Of The Central City Association, Reveals That He May Be Whiny, He May Be Ignorant, He May Be Little, But He’s Not A Liar, At Least Not When He Would Violate LAMC §48.04(B) By Lying

Background: You can read my previous stories on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort and also see Gale Holland’s article in the Times for a more balanced perspective.

As you may recall, I’ve been tracking the illegal lobbying carried out by and on behalf of various shady downtown zillionaires with the support and connivance of the staff of various downtown business improvement districts in opposition to the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation effort. As part of their creepy conspiracy, the usual motley crew of zillionaires and zillionaire-identified-groupies showed up at the March 20, 2017 meeting of the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (affectionately known as BONC) to speak what passes for their minds in zillionairelandia.

In the ordinary course of events, BONC posts audio of their meetings on the open internet, but, for whatever reason, when I took a look a few weeks ago, the March 20 meeting did not appear. After a few weeks worth of pleasant emails with various City employees, though, the audio has now been posted. I also published it on Archive.Org along with a copy of the minutes so you can follow along if you wish.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, some of it inspiring, most of it horrifying in that special spine-tingly manner that glimpses into the seething caucasian-hot liquid id-core of the local politics of resentment are wont to horrify. I plan to write occasionally on episodes from this meeting, as the mood strikes, and today’s story concerns comments by Scott Gray and Debbie Welsch of shadowy zillionaire real estate conspiracy Capital Foresight,1 and shadowy lobbyist-to-the-zillionaires, John Howland.2

The gist of the matter is this, though. Debbie Welsch and Scott Gray told lie after lie, some of them beyond surreal in their fundamental disconnect with reality. On the other hand, John Howland, who at the time of the meeting was employed as a registered lobbyist with CCA, mostly, although he is quite an evil fellow indeed, told the truth. This is arguably less due to his inherent honesty than it is to the fact that registered lobbyists are required to sign a form upon registration acknowledging that they are aware of LAMC §48.04(B), which states that:

No lobbyist or lobbying firm subject to the requirements of the Article shall…[f]raudulently deceive or attempt to deceive any City official with regard to any material fact pertinent to any pending or proposed municipal legislation.

Anyway, after the break you will find embedded audio and transcriptions of the comments of all three of these dimwits, along with as much detailed mockery as I was able to type before I had to run off to the loo to eat lunch backwards​.
Continue reading Tales From The BONC-Side Part 1: In Which Scott Gray And Debbie Welsch Of Capital Foresight Reveal Themselves As Whiny Ignorant Little Liars And John Howland, Formerly Of The Central City Association, Reveals That He May Be Whiny, He May Be Ignorant, He May Be Little, But He’s Not A Liar, At Least Not When He Would Violate LAMC §48.04(B) By Lying

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300-Ish Pages of Estela Lopez’s Emails From The Last Few Months, Including Discussions Of Homelessness, Skid Row NC, Why The Freaking LAPD Doesn’t Bust More Protest Marches Like BIDs Want Them To, Operation Clean Streets, The California Public Records Act, And So On And On And On…

I just recently received a few hundred pages of emails from Estela Lopez, voodoo queen of the Central City East Association, and they are available on Archive.Org and also directly from static storage. Most of it is the unmitigatedly tedious bullshit with which these BIDdies fill their lives and their inboxes, but, as usual, there are a few interesting items. I already wrote the other day about Estela Lopez’s aggressive foray into CPRAlandia, and here are a few other items that are worth looking at individually:

And turn the page for two more examples, and to learn why, which I bet you didn’t even know that they were doing, the LAPD was praying for rain in January!
Continue reading 300-Ish Pages of Estela Lopez’s Emails From The Last Few Months, Including Discussions Of Homelessness, Skid Row NC, Why The Freaking LAPD Doesn’t Bust More Protest Marches Like BIDs Want Them To, Operation Clean Streets, The California Public Records Act, And So On And On And On…

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Skid Row Neighborhood Council Tentatively Rejected In Face Of DTLA Neighborhood Council Shenaniganistic Opposition. High-Powered Lobbyist, Criminal Conspirator, And Smoke-Filled Room Denizen Estela Lopez Apparently Uses Or Will Use California Public Records Act To Subvert Democratic Outcome

General Jeff Page in front of the Skid Row City Limits Mural.
According to the incomparable Gale Holland, writing in the L.A. Times, the initial balloting shows that the Skid Row Neighborhood Council has been defeated by a slim 62 vote margin. The NC election was the subject of extensive and disgusting opposition on Facebook and elsewhere.1 The fix was in, though, as the City Council voted a few weeks ago to allow online voting in this NC election only, according to Gale Holland. In a striking performative demonstration of the digital divide, the traditional paper ballots were 183 to 19 in favor of the SRNC, whereas online ballots were 807 to 581 against.
Screenshot of moronic facebook rants against the Skid Row NC accusing, among other stupidity, the LA Community Action Network of being part of a criminal conspiracy.

The NC proponents also suspect that the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council misused city funds to campaign against the election.2 Anyway, evidently a challenge is planned based on these considerations. The Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, overseer of the City’s neighborhood councils, is notorious for the number, length, and vituperativity of its appeals, so this process promises to be, at least, interesting.

And the other side is gearing up for policy-wonk-based battles as well. It seems that Estela Lopez herself, voodoo queen of the ongoing criminal conspiracy known as the Central City East Association, made a CPRA request to Grayce Liu of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment in January on the subject of the SRNC, evidently to gather materials for the witch’s brew of revanchist zillionaire subversionism that’s presently bubbling, boiling, toiling, and troubling in her hellish cauldron out there on Crocker Street. Turn the page for a transcription and some discussion.
Continue reading Skid Row Neighborhood Council Tentatively Rejected In Face Of DTLA Neighborhood Council Shenaniganistic Opposition. High-Powered Lobbyist, Criminal Conspirator, And Smoke-Filled Room Denizen Estela Lopez Apparently Uses Or Will Use California Public Records Act To Subvert Democratic Outcome

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Historic Core BID Executive Directrix Blair Besten Nominated For Measure HHH Citizens’ Oversight Committee, Opposed By Skid Row Organizers, Service Providers, and Sane People Everywhere

Blair Besten, Executive Directrix of the Historic Core BID, all decked out in her patented EZ-clutch pearl necklace.
L.A. voters recently approved Measure HHH, which will fund homeless services via the sale of $1.2 billion in bonds. Last December the City Council approved the creation of a citizens’ oversight committee to monitor the expenditure of this vast sum of money. That committee consists of seven people, three appointed by the Council and four appointed by the Mayor. The Mayor doesn’t seem to have nominated anyone yet, but last Friday the Council, in CF 16-1060-S1, nominated their three. The only weirdo in the bunch is Blair Besten, executive directrix of the Historic Core BID downtown.

Of course, anyone who follows the bad BIDness propagated by our City’s business improvement districts knows this is a bad, bad idea for any number of reasons. It was therefore heartening to see, tonight, explicit opposition to Blair Besten’s appointment coming from a coalition of Skid Row organizations and service providers. Their eloquent and well-argued letter hit the Council file mere moments ago. You can read the whole thing after the break if you don’t like PDFs. Now, I have to say that I agree with their reasoning, and from the point of view of sound public policy, I completely agree that her appointment is a terrible idea. However, for for purely selfish reasons I kind of hope she makes it on, because the potential for chaos is high. Note that this is up for a vote TOMORROW.
Continue reading Historic Core BID Executive Directrix Blair Besten Nominated For Measure HHH Citizens’ Oversight Committee, Opposed By Skid Row Organizers, Service Providers, and Sane People Everywhere

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Venice Beach BID Hearing Roundup: Bonin Jettisons Deference, Implicatively Slams Hollywood, Downtown BIDs: “There’ve Been Good BIDs And There’ve Been Bad BIDs” And Hollywood? And Downtown? Not Good BIDs. Wesson/Englander Totalitarian Style Almost Causes Third Do-Over

A battle-weary Mike Bonin graciously acknowledges his ultimate victory this afternoon at the Venice Beach BID hearing.
A battle-weary Mike Bonin graciously acknowledges his ultimate victory this afternoon at the Venice Beach BID hearing.
Quick summary: Venice Beach BID hearing in August was messed up due to habitual arrogance of City Council. Heroic civil rights lawyer calls bullshit. City Attorney sees potential liability for City and advises a do-over. A bunch of other shenanigans, too many to name-check at this point, ensue. This morning the do-over hearing was held. You can watch it here on YouTube.

So everyone made their comments, and they weren’t all that different from the first time, although Mike Bonin managed not to lose his shit and compare the BID opposition to Trump supporters.1 But nevertheless, there were a few surprising moments. Recall that the first hearing was invalidated because third-smartest-guy-in-the-room Herb Wesson cut off public comment too early. So this time, Mitch Englander, who is Council president pro tem,2 after all the speaker cards had been called, announced to the world at large:3

Mitch Englander on the dais getting whispered advice from a deputy city attorney.  What does it say about our City that almost 15% of our Councilmembers are named Mitch?  Nothing good, friends, nothing good.
Mitch Englander on the dais getting whispered advice from a deputy city attorney. What does it say about our City that almost 15% of our Councilmembers are named Mitch? Nothing good, friends, nothing good.


I wanna be extra careful on this one given the problems with the last public hearing. Is there anybody here who filled out a card or tried to speak or
[unintelligible] has not been heard yet?

And then the other one, Wesson or Englander, seeing that sanest of habitual gadflies, Eric Preven, indicating that he would like to speak, announced:

Ah, Mr. Preven, you actually spoke to the Council already for your maximum of three minutes per the Council rules.

And Preven said no. And everyone in the room wondered whether they were really going to take the risk of messing everything up for a second time just to prevent Eric Preven from speaking for one more minute after we’d all been there almost an hour already. Well, the Deputy City Attorney told the two prezzes to CTFO, and they folded, for Christ’s sake, and let Eric Preven speak.

But far more interesting than that was Bonin’s victory speech.4 In particular, maybe since he was feeling a little conciliatory, he said:
Continue reading Venice Beach BID Hearing Roundup: Bonin Jettisons Deference, Implicatively Slams Hollywood, Downtown BIDs: “There’ve Been Good BIDs And There’ve Been Bad BIDs” And Hollywood? And Downtown? Not Good BIDs. Wesson/Englander Totalitarian Style Almost Causes Third Do-Over

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City of Los Angeles to Pay Almost a Million Dollars, Half to Carol Sobel, in Lavan Case and also Pete White and Hamid Khan v. City of LA

Carol Sobel (on right) is making a good living forcing the City of Los Angeles to pay for its nasty addiction to tormenting the homeless.  Have they hit bottom yet?  It doesn't look like it.
Carol Sobel (on right) is making a good living forcing the City of Los Angeles to pay for its nasty addiction to tormenting the homeless. Have they hit bottom yet? It doesn’t look like it.
According to an excellent article in yesterday’s Times by the incomparable Emily Alpert Reyes, the City Council agreed to pay out $947,000 in settlements in two cases brought by civil rights lawyer Carol Sobel. The article didn’t have much detail on either the cases or where the money was going, so I thought I’d fill some of it in here.

The first case is Lavan v. City of Los Angeles. I reported last December that this case seemed to be nearing settlement, and there was more news on this in March. Well, yesterday the Council approved Motion 16-0397, which authorizes the payment of $322,000 to Carol Sobel in legal fees and $500,000 for other purposes which aren’t clear from the motion. Nothing has hit PACER yet, so I don’t know how to get the rest of the story, but you’ll see it here as soon as I get some. You may want to subscribe to the Council file to keep up to date.

The second case is really interesting, and I haven’t written on it before. Evidently, in 2005 the Central City East Association began sponsoring tours of Skid Row for “…public officials, law enforcement, members of the judiciary, students, academics, local business owners, social service providers, and the media” so they can “…see for themselves and learn about the challenges, not through a windshield, but from the experience of walking through [Skid Row] and interacting with social service representatives, police, residents and business owners.”1 (Here is the 9th Circuit opinion on which this summary is based).
Continue reading City of Los Angeles to Pay Almost a Million Dollars, Half to Carol Sobel, in Lavan Case and also Pete White and Hamid Khan v. City of LA

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City of Los Angeles asks Judge Otero to Clarify Last Month’s Preliminary Injunction Against Full Enforcement of LAMC 56.11

California-central(See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post).

Recall that last month Judge Otero issued a preliminary injunction forbidding the City of Los Angeles from confiscating the property of homeless people in and/or around Skid Row without following required due process. Today the City filed a motion asking Otero to clarify what he meant. They also filed a proposed order for the Judge’s signature which, I imagine, is mostly of value here as it shows what the City wishes the injunction means.

Additionally the city filed a map of Skid Row, a copy of LAMC 56.11, and a declaration of Scott Marcus, the assistant chief of the Civil Litigation Branch of the City Attorney’s office. Marcus’s main point seems to be that he met with Carol Sobel for four hours in the company of Magistrate Judge Carla Woerhle and they couldn’t come to a common understanding about what the order meant.
Continue reading City of Los Angeles asks Judge Otero to Clarify Last Month’s Preliminary Injunction Against Full Enforcement of LAMC 56.11

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Plaintiffs File Opposition to City of LA’s Motion to Dismiss, Alleging Blatant Violations of Local Court Rules in Addition to All-Around Wrongness

California-central(See Gale Holland’s excellent story in the Times on Mitchell v. LA as well as our other stories on the subject for the background to this post).

On April 5, 2016 the City of Los Angeles, defendant in Mitchell v. Los Angeles, the latest homeless-rights lawsuit to come off the line at Carol Sobel‘s magic workshop, filed a motion to dismiss, staking their position on the seemingly (even to me, who knows little to nothing about the legal issues at stake) very thin grounds that they had the right to destroy whatever they wanted to because they passed a law saying that they did.1

Today the plaintiffs filed a response to the City’s motion which was supported by a declaration of Carol Sobel and a bunch of exhibits. This stuff is pretty much too technical for me to even discuss, but, as always, I got the pleadings from PACER so I want to make them available here for you. However, I suppose that if the court has already found that the plaintiffs’ arguments are likely to succeed on their merits and issued an injunction, it’s not too very likely that he’s going to grant a motion to dismiss. Like I said, though, I have no idea what I’m talking about.2
Continue reading Plaintiffs File Opposition to City of LA’s Motion to Dismiss, Alleging Blatant Violations of Local Court Rules in Addition to All-Around Wrongness

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