Tag Archives: South Park BID

That Time In 2018 When Wallis Locke Told Ellen Riotto How The South Park BID Could Just Ignore The Brown Act By Putting Some Magic Words On The Agenda — Cause The Foothill Municipal Water District Did It — So Anyone Could Do It — Even The South Park BID — But Then Ellen Riotto — Being Uncharacteristically Prudent — Asked Carol Humiston If It Was OK — And Carol Humiston Was All Like No Freaking Way That Is Crazy! — Except She Said It Nicer Cause After All They Are Paying Her A Lot Of Damn Money!

It’s basically very easy for public government agencies such as business improvement districts to comply with the Brown Act. All they have to do is not be sneaky and stop trying to hide what they’re doing from the public. But of course, that concept is actually impossible for BIDdies to understand, so they’re perennially surprised by what the law requires of them. The general zillionaire rule of statutory interpretation, which is to assume that laws do in fact say whatever rich white people imagine that they ought to say, is accurate 99.99% of the time, but it fails with the Brown Act for some reason.1

Which is why about this time last year we were spending a lot of blog time educating Ellen Riotto, executive directrix of the South Park BID, about the duties required of her organization by the Brown Act. She’d schedule a closed session but wouldn’t explain what the Board was going to talk about during it and I’d be like no, can’t do that, and she’d be like OK thank you for pointing that out! And then she’d be all like board members are going to phone into the meeting from random unannounced locations around the globe and I’d be like no, can’t do that, and she’d be like OK thank you for pointing that out!

And now, thanks to some emails kindly supplied to me in response to a request for public records by the South Park BIDdies, I can reveal for the first time that there was at least one other instance in early 2018 when Ellen Riotto completely misunderstood the Brown Act and was on the verge of implementing yet another completely illegal policy. Wallis Locke sent an email to Ellen Riotto and was all like I know a guy named Dan and he’s involved with the Foothill Municipal Water District and they have some kind of voodoo on their agendas that basically lets them talk about whatever they want to without having to announce it publicly in advance!

And Ellen Riotto was all like I wanna get me some of that! The voodoo, by the way, has to do with the fact that the Brown Act at §54954.2(b) allows public government agencies like BIDs to make last minute additions to their agendas if there is an actual emergency. However, in this case, maybe because my constant scrutiny made her a little more circumspect, she decided to ask the BID’s attorney Ms. Carol Humiston if her theory was a good one.

And Ms. Humiston, despite the fact that she’s famous for counseling her clients to violate the law at every opportunity in contravention of the enforceable expectations of both God and the California State Bar, was all like WHOA! Emergencies mean like earthquakes, fires, and so on! Not some booshwah that you just made up! You can’t freaking do that and you would be crazy even to try so step back from the ledge! And Ellen Riotto was like darn it! But step back from the ledge she did, leaving nothing but this email conversation, a transcription of which you can find after the break!
Continue reading That Time In 2018 When Wallis Locke Told Ellen Riotto How The South Park BID Could Just Ignore The Brown Act By Putting Some Magic Words On The Agenda — Cause The Foothill Municipal Water District Did It — So Anyone Could Do It — Even The South Park BID — But Then Ellen Riotto — Being Uncharacteristically Prudent — Asked Carol Humiston If It Was OK — And Carol Humiston Was All Like No Freaking Way That Is Crazy! — Except She Said It Nicer Cause After All They Are Paying Her A Lot Of Damn Money!

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South Park BID Communications Director Wallis Locke Was About To Be Fired For Poor Job Performance At The End Of 2017 — Then BID Exec Direc Ellen Riotto Had A Talk With Her — “Improve Or It Is Over!” Spake Ellen Riotto — By April 2018 — Much To Riotto’s Surprise — Locke Had “Stepped Up Her Game” — By December 2018 Riotto Thought Locke’s Work Was As Valuable — If Not More Valuable — Than Planning Director Josh Kreger’s — So She Reduced Kreger’s 2018 Bonus By $750 And Gave It To Locke Instead! — But Kreger Still Makes 43% More Than Locke Annually — How Is That Fair, Ellen Riotto?!

I’ve written before about the South Park BID’s weirdo insistence that its staff members keep their salaries secret even though it’s essentially impossible to do this for publicly funded government agencies like business improvement districts. This information is just all a matter of public record, so we know, e.g., that South Park BID real estate director Josh Kreger makes $100,000 per year, communications director Wallace Locke makes $70,000, operations director Lulu Woldemariam makes $65,000 per year, and executive director Ellen Salome Riotto makes $131,250.

And they also get bonuses! I don’t know what kind of job you have, but I’ve never had a job where they just gave bonuses to everyone. It’s some kind of white collar elite psychodrama that would probably ruin everyone’s time at the Christmas party if they knew what their colleagues were getting. But it turns out that bonuses are all public record too! I am, therefore, pleased to be able to reveal what all these South Park BIDdies got all bonused up with for 2018!

But first there is a crucial backstory! Having to do with BID communications boss Wallis Locke! Who started with the BID in November 2016. And couldn’t be bothered to even show up for work on time! Or respond to emails on time! Or make her freaking green carpet deadlines, whatever the freaking heck those are! You can read all about it right here!

But then her kindly but stern boss lady Ellen Salome Riotto had a little talk with her in December 2017! And she told her to listen up! And fly right! And other cliches like that! Or there wasn’t gonna be a next time! She “made it clear that this would be the very last of this type of conversation, and if her work ethic and attitude is not consistently improved, it’s over.” And it seems that by April 2018 Riotto’s shock treatment had worked! Ellen Riotto told the Board in an email that “she stepped up her game in ways that I frankly didn’t think she was capable of.”

Which brings us up to December 2018, when Ellen Riotto sent an email to BIDdie Warbucks Bob Buente discussing year-end bonuses for the staff. Which evidently, not that I would know, are supposed to be 5% of salary. So that, based on the numbers above, Kreger should have gotten $5,000 and Locke $3,500. But, says Riotto to Buente:

WL’s salary is still lower than where I’d like her to be, based on the competitive landscape in the industry and her specific contributions to the BID. Her bonus should be calculated on her current salary, not on gross annual earnings. That would put her at $3,500. However, Wallis’ contributions are equal in value (if not more valuable) than Josh’s, so my recommendation is to sum their 5%s ($3,500 for WL, $5,000 for Josh = $8,500) and split ($4,250).

And that’s what they did. Oh, ouch! That’s gotta hurt Josh Kreger, wouldn’t you think? His bonus is reduced by 15% and that money passed to Locke, who earns 30% less than him, but his boss thinks her contributions are “equal in value (if not more valuable) than” his. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

If he has any self-respect he’ll quit the damn job after reading about what his boss thinks of him. Stay tuned! And turn the page for a complete transcription of every last detail of Ellen Salome Riotto’s December 2017 email about what a crappy job Wallis Locke had been doing!
Continue reading South Park BID Communications Director Wallis Locke Was About To Be Fired For Poor Job Performance At The End Of 2017 — Then BID Exec Direc Ellen Riotto Had A Talk With Her — “Improve Or It Is Over!” Spake Ellen Riotto — By April 2018 — Much To Riotto’s Surprise — Locke Had “Stepped Up Her Game” — By December 2018 Riotto Thought Locke’s Work Was As Valuable — If Not More Valuable — Than Planning Director Josh Kreger’s — So She Reduced Kreger’s 2018 Bonus By $750 And Gave It To Locke Instead! — But Kreger Still Makes 43% More Than Locke Annually — How Is That Fair, Ellen Riotto?!

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The FBI Searched José Huizar’s Personal Email Account — And I Asked The South Park BID Board Of Directors For Their Emails To/From That Very Account — And BID Directrix Ellen Salome Riotto Told The Board Members To Talk To Their Lawyers Before Handing Over Responsive Records — Because That’s Exactly How Innocent People Behave

Back in January of this year PACER wizard Seamus Hughes, in a stunning application of the inscrutable sorcery which he alone has mastered, discovered that in February 2017 the FBI had searched one of José Huizar’s personal email accounts, josehuizar@sbcglobal.net, and seized more than 1,400 records. And I immediately thought of my dear friends at the South Park BID, where they’re building all those really really really tall buildings of the very sort that basically require a criminal conspiracy to get built at all.

And so I fired off a little CPRA request to the BIDdies asking them for, amongst other things, their communications with that email account of Huizar’s. And it turned out that none of them would admit to having any, which, of course, is not surprising given the fact that the BID’s lawyer, Carol Ann Humiston, basically advised the Boardies that there would be no consequence to them for lying. But nevertheless the request was not without results, just not direct results.

For, you see, in response to a whole different request, the BID sent over a little slap in the face, which is to say this email from BID Executive Director Ellen Salome Riotto advising the BID Boardies on responding to the earlier request. Basically she told them that because the FBI is investigating their buddy Huizar they should talk to their damn lawyers before sending over any records, which to this legal amateur looks a whole freaking heck of a damn lot like consciousness of guilt. But she can speak for herself better than I could speak for her:
Continue reading The FBI Searched José Huizar’s Personal Email Account — And I Asked The South Park BID Board Of Directors For Their Emails To/From That Very Account — And BID Directrix Ellen Salome Riotto Told The Board Members To Talk To Their Lawyers Before Handing Over Responsive Records — Because That’s Exactly How Innocent People Behave

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Carol Humiston — The World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Counseled The South Park BID To Thwart My CPRA Requests By Violating The Law — And It Is Against The Rules Of The California State Bar For An Attorney To Counsel A Client To Violate The Law — Which Is Why I Filed A Complaint Against Her Yesterday — And Maybe She’ll Get Disbarred — Which Would Be Pretty Appropriate In The Circumstances — Ironically I Only Have Evidence Of This Because The SPBID Was Honest Enough To Release It To Me In Response To A CPRA Request — But As Honest As That Might Be — Doesn’t Make Up For The Fact That SPBID Executive Directrix Ellen Riotto Enthusiastically Adopted Humiston’s Illegal Advice!

Carol Humiston, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, advises a bunch of L.A. business improvement districts on how to thwart my CPRA requests. She even held a seminar about me last summer for random BIDs that weren’t even her client to teach them her angry CPRA-thwarting methods. And, you know, I don’t like her methods, and I don’t like her clients, and I don’t like her. But I do like the fact that all people, even Satan-worshipping BIDdies who see violence against homeless people as a sacrament and guns as a masturbation aid, have a right to advice from counsel on how to further their goals within the bounds imposed by the law.

That last clause is essential, though. We do not want lawyers running around telling people that they ought to break the law and then using their special lawyerly powers to show them how to break it more effectively. In return for the powers granted to lawyers by society, they’re required to follow some minimal set of rules. And one of those rules is Rule 1.2.1, which states unequivocally that:

A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal, fraudulent, or a violation of any law, rule, or ruling of a tribunal.

But some emails, ironically obtained from the South Park BID in response to a CPRA request, prove that that’s precisely what Carol Humiston has done. She explicitly counseled the South Park BIDdies to engage in conduct that she knew was a violation of the CPRA. And that, friends, is why, just yesterday afternoon, I filed this complaint against her with the California State Bar. You can read the painful details after the break, both of her advice and the sections of the CPRA she advised the South Park BID to violate, including copies of the actual emails in which she gave the advice.
Continue reading Carol Humiston — The World’s Angriest CPRA Lawyer — Counseled The South Park BID To Thwart My CPRA Requests By Violating The Law — And It Is Against The Rules Of The California State Bar For An Attorney To Counsel A Client To Violate The Law — Which Is Why I Filed A Complaint Against Her Yesterday — And Maybe She’ll Get Disbarred — Which Would Be Pretty Appropriate In The Circumstances — Ironically I Only Have Evidence Of This Because The SPBID Was Honest Enough To Release It To Me In Response To A CPRA Request — But As Honest As That Might Be — Doesn’t Make Up For The Fact That SPBID Executive Directrix Ellen Riotto Enthusiastically Adopted Humiston’s Illegal Advice!

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How Ellen Riotto And Wallis Locke Of The South Park BID Conspired With Michael Shilstone Of The Central City Association, Kevin James Of The Board Of Public Works, Lee Zeidman Of Staples Center, And A Bunch Of AEG Worldwide Stooges — Including Shelby Russell — To Encourage People To Call LAPD On Vendors And Hang Up Anti-Vending Signs Around LA Live — With A Generous Special Bonus Helping Of My Steaming Hot Amateur Theories On Why The Damn Signs Are Illegitimate And Will Ultimately Be Mostly Removed If Not Completely

The other day LA Taco tweeted out this picture of a no-vending sign near Staples Center and a lot of people were angry and confused. This is the story of how and why1 those signs appeared recently. The story begins with Ricardo Lara‘s monumental Sanity in Street Vending Bill, passed by the California Legislature last year over the strident objections of zillionaires and their BIDdie minions all over the state. The law essentially legalized street vending everywhere, while leaving some really minimal regulatory powers to cities.

One of the regulatory powers that the law allows is the establishment of no-vending zones. But these can’t be established on a mere whim, or just because people hate vendors. Rather any such restriction must be “directly related to objective health, safety, or welfare concerns.”2 But the City of Los Angeles never met a loophole that it couldn’t stretch into a six lane freeway at the behest of the local zillionaires, and our esteemed Councilmembers jumped all over this one.

They went into an embarrassing frenzy of zillionaire-pleasuring and directed the City Attorney to figure out how to establish no-vending zones everywhere any BID or anyone else with enough influence asked them to. The list ended up including the Hollywood Bowl, the Venice Boardwalk, most of Hollywood Blvd, and, of interest to us today, the area around Staples Center.

Lara’s bill took effect on January 1, 2019, so prior to that, in preparation for what they saw as the impending Vendorgeddon, zillionaires all over the City began preparing for vigorously psychotic enforcement of these last few no-vending zones they’d managed to preserve, at least for now. As I said, today we’re focusing on Staples Center, but I’m sure the same kind of thing is happening in all the putative no-vending zones.

I’ve managed to uncover two distinct phases of the process so far. In early January 2019, Ellen Riotto of the South Park Business Improvement District, in which Staples Center situates, notified businesses in the no-vending zone and encouraged them to call LAPD on vendors. A little later, around January 20, 2019, Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center and member of the board of directors of the South Park BID, used his considerable political power, focused by his flunky Riotto, to harangue City staff about the need for superexponentially increased anti-vending enforcement along with no-vending signs.

He also threatened to hire private security to enforce anti-vending laws on public streets if the City didn’t start enforcing the law itself. And all this focused power ultimately had its effect with the placement of the signs, as we have seen. I don’t presently know if enforcement was in fact stepped up, but I am continuing to look into the matter. Turn the page for a detailed account along with links to and transcriptions of selections from the relevant emails.
Continue reading How Ellen Riotto And Wallis Locke Of The South Park BID Conspired With Michael Shilstone Of The Central City Association, Kevin James Of The Board Of Public Works, Lee Zeidman Of Staples Center, And A Bunch Of AEG Worldwide Stooges — Including Shelby Russell — To Encourage People To Call LAPD On Vendors And Hang Up Anti-Vending Signs Around LA Live — With A Generous Special Bonus Helping Of My Steaming Hot Amateur Theories On Why The Damn Signs Are Illegitimate And Will Ultimately Be Mostly Removed If Not Completely

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South Park BID Brown Act Demand Letter Leads To Complete, Total, Abject, Sniveling, Obsequious Concession To Every Last One Of My Demands! — Will They Be Able To Pull It Off? — I Doubt It — But Benefit Of The Doubt Is The Order Of Today — Not Of Every Day, Though

Today’s episode in our ongoing Brown Act Enforcement Project, which you can read all about right here on this page entitled Our Work is the abject and total capitulation of the South Park BID to every last one of the demands made in the letter I sent them on December 14, 2018. This is a not-unexpected move, since doing so obviates the chance of an expensive lawsuit which they’d be sure to lose and possibly would have to pay my litigation costs as well as their own.

Like so many of our local BIDdies they were advised in the process by the world’s angriest BID attorney, Carol Freaking Humiston of Bradley & Freaking Gmelich. And really, more than advised as she clearly wrote the letter of capitulation that Board Chair Robin Freaking Bieker sent out to me over his own signature yesterday. It’s got every known Humistonian trope on parade, e.g. “You don’t know what you’re talking about and whatever it is you’re totally wrong but nevertheless we’ll do what you demand but not for any reason.”1

And unlike the previous Brown Act transgressions I’ve spotted and skooshed out with these demand letters, there is a really complex violation here. The SPBID has maintained a secret committee, the Executive Committee, that meets in private and votes by email. The BID has agreed not to do this any more, but my impression from their emails is that it’s really essential to the way they function. It’ll be interesting to see how they get along with out it.

Although it’s as if not more likely that they’ll keep breaking that particular bit of the law and try to cover it up by claiming that all relevant emails are exempt from production, quite likely due to the nebulous and mostly made up deliberative process privilege. Well, we’ll certainly see what happens. Meanwhile, turn the page for a transcription of the articles of surrender.
Continue reading South Park BID Brown Act Demand Letter Leads To Complete, Total, Abject, Sniveling, Obsequious Concession To Every Last One Of My Demands! — Will They Be Able To Pull It Off? — I Doubt It — But Benefit Of The Doubt Is The Order Of Today — Not Of Every Day, Though

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The South Park BID Solicited — Or Extorted — Donations Totalling $80,000 From Developers To Pay For Some Studies They Wanted Done — In Return The BID Sent Staffers To City Council Committee Meetings To Give Public Comment In Favor Of The Developers’ Projects — Using Talking Points Supplied By The Developers — Money Well Spent For The Developers I’m Guessing Since Councilmembers Probably Won’t Approve Projects BIDs Oppose — This Is One Way In Which The Illusion Of Community Buy-In Is Created And Maintained In Los Angeles — One Of The Developers Involved Was Lightstone Group — Whose Lobbyists Are Also Being Investigated In Relation To José Huizar — Because Of Course They Are

Here’s the short version. In 2017 the South Park BID wanted to lobby Metro concerning some transportation issues. To do this they needed some reports prepared by professionals who were going to charge them around $80,000. For whatever reason they didn’t want to pay out of the BID budget, so they hit up local developers for $5,000 contributions. In exchange the BID supported the developers’ various projects before City Council committees and commissions using talking points prepped by the developers to inform their public comments.

First, let’s talk about the two issues the BID was, and is, lobbying for. One is to establish an enhanced infrastructure financing district (EIFD)1 to fund transit improvements in the BID, in particular moving Pico Station underground.2 The BID’s “one pager”3 on the benefits to be gained from the EIFD can be read by clicking here and their presentation on “undergrounding” Pico Station is available here. The other issue has to do with improving connections between various presently disconnected-by-public-transit points Downtown. The BID’s presentation on that can be read here.

And of course before one goes a-lobbying one needs reports! Written by experts! And experts don’t come cheap, but they will provide proposals with estimates of the costs, and here are the two the BID obtained:

And based on these estimates, the South Park BID determined that it needed $80,000 to begin the report-making process. And for whatever reason, they also determined that they were only going to pay $5,000 themselves. The rest, saith the BID, they were going to raise from developers and maybe some other BIDs Downtown. And the story of this whole mess, told, as usual, in excruciating detail via transcriptions of emails, can be found after the break!
Continue reading The South Park BID Solicited — Or Extorted — Donations Totalling $80,000 From Developers To Pay For Some Studies They Wanted Done — In Return The BID Sent Staffers To City Council Committee Meetings To Give Public Comment In Favor Of The Developers’ Projects — Using Talking Points Supplied By The Developers — Money Well Spent For The Developers I’m Guessing Since Councilmembers Probably Won’t Approve Projects BIDs Oppose — This Is One Way In Which The Illusion Of Community Buy-In Is Created And Maintained In Los Angeles — One Of The Developers Involved Was Lightstone Group — Whose Lobbyists Are Also Being Investigated In Relation To José Huizar — Because Of Course They Are

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Remember Those Underpass Homeless Encampments Outside The South Park BID Boundaries? — The BID Is Not Only Paying Staff To Photograph Them — Also They Are Paying Staff To Lobby Miguel Santiago’s Office To Get CalTrans And CHP To Clear Them Out — Why Is A Member Of The California State Assembly Ignoring The BID’s Lawless Behavior? — Probably For Money, Doncha Think? — Or Because — With The Recent Fall Of The House Of Huizar — Santiago Feels His Path To CD14 Is Wide Freaking Open

OK, remember how there are these underpasses with a bunch of homeless encampments in them that are not in the South Park BID but the BIDdies wanted to clean them up anyway except Ellen Riotto said they couldn’t cause it was against the law but then she sent her staffies out to gather photographic evidence of the encampments which is clearly also against the law? OK, this is another episode in that story!

And it’s worth taking a moment to review just why the BID can’t spend money on stuff going on outside its boundaries, never forgetting for a moment that dedicating staff time to a matter is spending money on it, which is to say the money paid the staff member. It’s all due to the Property and Business Improvement District Act at §36625(a)(6), which states unequivocally that:

The revenue from the levy of assessments within a district shall not be used to provide improvements, maintenance, or activities outside the district or for any purpose other than the purposes specified in the resolution of intention

Oh, also, keep in mind that the problem, from the BID’s point of view, with these underpasses is that the City of LA seems not to be allowed to evict homeless people from under them, evidently because it’s state property under there. Thus Caltrans and the Highway Patrol somehow have to do it, and the BID just doesn’t have the influence with them that they do with the City, I guess, which apparently makes it a separate and ongoing problem for the BID.

So the other day I received a big pile of emails from the Parkies comprising correspondence between them and any email address at ca.gov or its subdomains. You can gaze lovingly upon the whole steaming heap of them here on Archive.Org. And amongst these are email after email after email between South Park BID staff and staffers in the office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, in whose district the BID situates, having to do with those damn underpasses.

That is to say there is plenty of evidence in there of repeated violations of §36625(a)(6). But who does one complain to about it? We’ve already seen that the Los Angeles City Clerk, which putatively oversees our BIDs, will take complaints about insufficient brutality towards the homeless, but not, it seems, about violations of the law by the BIDs themselves. And it’s disconcerting to say the least to see an actual Assemblymember conspiring to violate the laws which he and his colleagues have sworn to defend.1

Although I suppose it’s not surprising that Miguel Santiago would be involved in such a scheme, given his demonstrated proclivity for selling the best interests of the people of California down the river just cause some BIDs asked him to. As I’ve said many times, I wasn’t cynical at all before I started learning about BIDs, but the BIDdies have made me so. Turn the page, if you will, for as much of the chronology as I have, links to the emails, and a few select transcriptions.
Continue reading Remember Those Underpass Homeless Encampments Outside The South Park BID Boundaries? — The BID Is Not Only Paying Staff To Photograph Them — Also They Are Paying Staff To Lobby Miguel Santiago’s Office To Get CalTrans And CHP To Clear Them Out — Why Is A Member Of The California State Assembly Ignoring The BID’s Lawless Behavior? — Probably For Money, Doncha Think? — Or Because — With The Recent Fall Of The House Of Huizar — Santiago Feels His Path To CD14 Is Wide Freaking Open

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Latest And Most Ambitious Episode In Our Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets South Park BID For Three Violations — Requiring Sign-In To Attend Meeting — Voting By Email — And Most Egregious Of All — Maintaining A Standing Committee Which Meets Only In Secret — Never Posts Agendas — Never Announces Meetings To Public — Votes By Email Regularly — This Is About The Worst Ongoing Brown Act Violation I Have Ever Seen Among BIDs!

For a few months now I’ve been running a project aimed at getting the BIDs of Los Angeles to comply with the Brown Act. This certainly ought to be the job of the City of Los Angeles, but they have completely abdicated all responsibility, so it seems to be more or less just up to me. The system relies on §54960.2 of the Brown Act, which allows any interested party, such as me, to allege that a BID1 violated the Brown Act and demand that they cease and desist from violating it in the future.

The BID then has the choice of issuing an unconditional commitment not to repeat the alleged violations2 within 30 days of the letter or else face a lawsuit. I’ve done four of these since August, the first three resulting in complete and utter capitulation by the BIDs involved, and the fourth I just sent out yesterday morning to the South Park BID. Here’s a list of the old ones:

Now, the South Park BID has had its problems in the past complying with the Brown Act, but on the other hand, Ellen Salome Riotto has been relatively willing to learn from her mistakes. Usually I just drop her a line and she fixes the problem.3 However, I recently learned of two new violations which are far, far too serious to be left to the kind of informal mole whackery in which I’ve so far been willing to engage. These are the subject of this demand letter which I sent yesterday morning to the BID.

The letter alleges violations of three sections of the Brown Act. The first is that they required me to sign in to a meeting in April. I’ve written about this incident before and they seem to have stopped doing it, but it’s worth including here to get them to formally commit not to doing it any more. The second violation is that in November the BID Board actually voted on an item via email at the instigation of Ellen Salome Riotto. This is so freaking illegal, so freaking contrary to the very essence of the Brown Act, that I’m utterly astonished that it happened. And yet it does seem to be a genuine error rather than malfeasance.

The sad irony is that Ellen Salome Riotto explicitly arranged this illegal vote in order to avoid violating the Brown Act’s mandates about teleconferencing. And that she seemed to think that it would be OK because it was justified by the BID’s bylaws, as if state law could be nullified by some two-bit corporation unilaterally announcing that they weren’t subject to it. The whole situation would be tragic if these careless, ignorant people weren’t granted so much public trust.

And the final violation is just stunning in its scope and its audacity. The Brown Act clearly states that committees must also follow open meeting requirements.4 The South Park BID, however, has an executive committee which doesn’t post agendas, meets in secret, and discusses, deliberates, and takes action via email, by phone, and at their secret meetings. It’d be easier to list the parts of the Brown Act that this doesn’t violate!

Secret actions by a public agency like the BID are untenable. This is how democracy dies, so I can’t allow it to continue. And in this case Ellen Salome Riotto has ignored my questions about the violations. Hence the necessity of the demand letter. Turn the page for transcriptions, links to the evidence and code sections, and maybe even some more of my moralistic ranting!
Continue reading Latest And Most Ambitious Episode In Our Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets South Park BID For Three Violations — Requiring Sign-In To Attend Meeting — Voting By Email — And Most Egregious Of All — Maintaining A Standing Committee Which Meets Only In Secret — Never Posts Agendas — Never Announces Meetings To Public — Votes By Email Regularly — This Is About The Worst Ongoing Brown Act Violation I Have Ever Seen Among BIDs!

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