Tag Archives: Streets and Highways Code 36612

Exceedingly Strong Trial Brief Filed In My CPRA Suit Against The Fashion District BID — The BID’s Reply Is Due In 30 Days — Trial Set For June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM — Department 86 — Stanley Mosk Courthouse

It’s been a while since I wrote about the lawsuit that I was forced to file in August 2018 by the unhinged intransigence of the Fashion District BID, pursued by them in line with the unhinged intransigence of their soon-to-be-disbarred attorney, the world’s angriest CPRA lawyer, Ms. Carol Ann Humiston, in order to enforce my rights to read their damn emails. But time rolls on and the trial, scheduled for June 26, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in Department 86 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, is rapidly approaching.

Thus did my attorneys, Abenicio Cisneros and Karl Olson, file the trial brief with the court on Friday. The arguments are overwhelmingly powerful, and you can read substantial excerpts after the break. If I were the Fashion District after reading this I’d be ready to settle up and settle up quick. But they’re clearly on some kind of a mission with an axe to grind and a point to prove and I certainly don’t expect them to start acting sensible at this point. After all, it’s not their own money they’re squandering on Ms. Humiston’s exorbitant fees.1

As I said, you can read the specifics in the excerpts below, but there are two main general issues at stake. First is the fact that the BID relies heavily on the so-called catch-all exemption to the CPRA, found at section 6255(a), which allows agencies to withhold records when they can show “that on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.” The key thing here is that they have to make a showing of public interest in withholding the record.

This is hard enough to do in general, and the BID hasn’t even made an attempt, but our argument is that in the City of Los Angeles such a showing is even more difficult to pull off because (a) the BID is deeply involved in attempts to influence municipal legislation and (b) the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.01 establishes an extraordinarily high public interest in disclosure of information about attempts to influence:

The citizens of the City of Los Angeles have a right to know the identity of interests which attempt to influence decisions of City government, as well as the means employed by those interests.

Complete public disclosure of the full range of activities by and financing of lobbyists and those who employ their services is essential to the maintenance of citizen confidence in the integrity of local government.

The argument is essentially that the BID can’t even show that there’s any significant public interest in withholding the records they withheld, but given that the subject of these records concerns the means they employ to attempt to influence municipal decisions, they really especially can’t meet this extra-high local bar.

The other main argument is against some nonsense that the BID just made up in their reply to my petition. Many of the emails they refused to turn over are in the possession of their board members Linda Becker and Mark Chatoff. They wouldn’t even search for these because it’s Carol Humiston’s opinion that board members aren’t subject to the CPRA.

You can read the technical details below, but basically our argument is that the law that makes BIDs subject to the CPRA, which is Streets and Highways Code §36612, explicitly makes the owners’ associations subject. It makes no sense as a matter of law and as of a matter of common sense that a corporation could be subject to the CPRA while its board members were not subject. A corporation only does anything through the actions of the people who run it. And that’s the quick and dirty summary. As I keep saying, read on for the excerpts!
Continue reading Exceedingly Strong Trial Brief Filed In My CPRA Suit Against The Fashion District BID — The BID’s Reply Is Due In 30 Days — Trial Set For June 26, 2019 At 9:30 AM — Department 86 — Stanley Mosk Courthouse

Share

The Checkered History Of Streets And Highways Code §36612 — How The California Court Of Appeals Made BIDs Cry By Holding That They Were Subject To The Brown Act And The Public Records Act — And How Bad BIDmother Jackie Goldberg Soothed Their Hurt Feelings By Passing A Law Stating That They Weren’t Public Officials — Is It Constitutional? — It Hasn’t Been Adjudicated So Who Knows?!

The only reason that this blog even exists is that business improvement districts in California are subject to the California Public Records Act. And the first part of the story of how this came to be is fairly well known. In 1998 Hollywood property owner Aaron Epstein wanted to attend meetings of the Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance1 and Kerry Morrison, who then as now would willingly brook no interference in her proprietary demesne, told him to go pound sand.

Instead of slapping the silica, though, Epstein filed suit against the BID, and the process culminated in the lovely holding, in Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District BID, that BIDs2 were subject to the Brown Act and the CPRA. This ushered anti-BID activists into a paradise from which we are unlikely to be expelled. Kerry Morrison didn’t take this outcome with any grace whatsoever and has been pissing and moaning about it from the outset all the way to the present day.

But that opinion isn’t the only authority that subjects BIDs to transparency laws. There is also the famous §36612 of the PBID Law of 1994, which states in no uncertain terms that BIDs are subject to both the Brown Act and the CPRA.3 It also states explicitly (and ominously) that BID board members and staff are not public officials. Obviously this section was added by the legislature after the Epstein ruling, but I never took the time to investigate the history.

Until now, that is. And what an obvious-after-the-fact surprise it was to find that the bill that added that section was written by none other than Jackie Goldberg, who as CD13 Councilmember during the formation of the Hollywood Entertainment District BID was known to have a great deal of blood on her hands already.4 But by March 2001, when Epstein was finally decided, Goldberg was in the Assembly, so naturally it was to her that the BIDdies, emotionally traumatized by the court’s decision,5 went running for comfort.

And in response to their pleas Goldberg introduced AB 1021 (2001) to coat the bitter pill of Epstein with some soothing syrup and to codify these changes in §36612 of the PBID law even while acknowledging that the legislature wasn’t going to be able to change the court’s holding 6 And I recently obtained a copy of the bill analysis prepared at the time for the Assembly’s Committee on Local Government to help them understand what they were voting for.7 Therein are laid out not only the provisions of the new law, but the complaints of the BIDdies, so the connection is perfectly clear.

The main concessions to the BIDdie agenda found in the code section are the explicit statement that BIDs are private corporations and that neither BID boards nor staff can be considered public officials for any reason. This last bit is tied in to the BIDs’ fear that board members might be subject to California’s political reform act and to Government Code §1090 and therefore to various ethics restrictions and financial disclosure requirements, although it’s not really clear to me that the language has that effect. I’m no kind of expert, though.

Another sop to the BIDdies provided here by Goldberg was the authorization of 10 year renewals. Previously BIDs could only renew for up to five years. In any case, turn the page for more detail, more non-expert discussion and, as always, a transcription of the document.
Continue reading The Checkered History Of Streets And Highways Code §36612 — How The California Court Of Appeals Made BIDs Cry By Holding That They Were Subject To The Brown Act And The Public Records Act — And How Bad BIDmother Jackie Goldberg Soothed Their Hurt Feelings By Passing A Law Stating That They Weren’t Public Officials — Is It Constitutional? — It Hasn’t Been Adjudicated So Who Knows?!

Share

Latest Episode In The Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets Studio City BID For Three Violations — Most Importantly They Require An ID And Permission From The BID To Attend Meetings — Also They Totally Screwed Up Closed Session Requirements — And Also They Deliberate Via Email Just Like The Byzantine BIDdies — So I Fired Off Another Demand Letter — Now We Wait Thirty Days To See If They Capitulate!

Last week I attended my first meeting of the Studio City BID‘s board of directors, and what a fiasco, friends! Aggressively clueless board member Matthew Dunn walking out because I was filming him and so on. But I put off telling you about the most interesting parts! Which is why I’ve gathered you all here this morning! You see, the BID violated the Brown Act in two very serious ways at the meeting.

First of all, the BID holds its meetings inside CBS Studio Center,1 It not only requires an ID to get in there and the registration of one’s name and an image of one’s driver’s license, but also convincing a hostile security guard who thinks BID meetings aren’t open to the public and some other problems. All together these are, of course, violations 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.

We’ve seen exactly this kind of thing with BIDs around the City, who hold their meetings in so-called secure buildings, where IDs are required by the property owners rather than the BID itself. E.g. in October 2014, the very same month I founded this blog, Kerry Morrison and her Central Hollywood Coalition were guilty of this. More recently, in April I reported the South Park BID to the LA County DA for violating this exact provision. The universal excuse seems to be that it’s legal for the property owner to require ID, just not the BID.

Of course, the plain language of the statute shows that that argument is entirely fallacious. The law doesn’t say anything about who’s not allowed to require ID, so therefore no one is allowed to require ID. And because, as you know, I haven’t gotten much if any satisfaction from the LA County DA on Brown Act violations, I have decided to take matters into my own hands and use the provisions in the law which allow private citizens to enforce it.

I kicked off this project last month with a demand to the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID which was entirely successful, at least so far, in that the BID caved entirely and unconditionally agreed never ever ever to violate the law again. And the Studio City ID and name registration requirement is a perfect test case for the enforcement of §54953.3. Thus did I fire off this demand letter to BID secretary Gilbert Stayner yesterday afternoon, making Studio City the honored second participant in my private Brown Act enforcement project. They have thirty days to capitulate, and if they don’t, we’re off to Superior Court!2

And Brown Act violations are like cockroaches in the usual cliched sense, and this case is no exception to that rule. The BID also seriously messed up its closed session, which of course I added to the demand, and there was a little problem in May 2018 involving them deliberating via email, which I also added. The first of these is highly technical and the second is fairly repetitious, so I put all the details after the damn break!
Continue reading Latest Episode In The Brown Act Enforcement Project Targets Studio City BID For Three Violations — Most Importantly They Require An ID And Permission From The BID To Attend Meetings — Also They Totally Screwed Up Closed Session Requirements — And Also They Deliberate Via Email Just Like The Byzantine BIDdies — So I Fired Off Another Demand Letter — Now We Wait Thirty Days To See If They Capitulate!

Share

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!

Share

Open Rebellion In The Melrose BID! Duckworth On The Defensive!! Refuses To Give Board Email Addresses To Property Owners!!! Even Though He Already Gave Them To Me!!!! And Don’t Forget He And He Alone Got The Damn BID Sued!!!!! And For This They Are Paying Him $72,000 Per Year To Work 20 Hours Per Week???!?

Sadly, for he is one of the most satirogenic figures in all of BIDlandia, we have not heard much from pirate king Donald Duckworth around these parts lately except, of course, for the fact that he, complacently steeped in his outlaw ways, forced me to file a pair of writ petitions against two of his baby BIDs because he, complacently steeped in his unhinged arrogance, flat-out and unaccountably refuses to comply with his statutory obligations under the California Public Records Act1 even though, if the past is prologue,2 it’s very likely to cost his BIDs a lot of damn money that they can probably ill afford to waste.

But regardless of Cap’n Donald’s law-flouting noncompliance it is occasionally possible to obtain records, or at least emails, involving him by the simple expedient of getting them from the other side of the correspondence.3 And recently a friend of this blog got a small pile of emails between Mr. Don Duckworth and Los Angeles City Clerk staff, and you can read the whole set here on Archive.Org.4 And there’s pretty much interesting stuff in there, but tonight I’m focusing on just three items.

June 9, 2018 email from Don Duckworth to Laura Aflalo about record inspection — Melrose property owners Laura Aflalo and Richard Jebejian want to come inspect records. Don Duckworth says sure you can but why would you want to, isn’t it a waste of your time?

June 9, 2018 emails between Duckworth and Aflalo about her questions about BID operation — Like why do the BID bylaws violate the Brown Act? And why can’t she have the Board members’ email addresses? And why won’t Don Duckworth just answer the damn questions?!

June 9, 2018 Duckworth to Aflalo with a detailed breakdown of how he spends the BID’s money — It’s detailed and evasive at the same time, a Duckworthian superpower, evidently.

And turn the page for some commentary, some mockery, and some highly selected transcriptions of at least the first two items. The third is going to have to wait till another time because it’s getting late around here!
Continue reading Open Rebellion In The Melrose BID! Duckworth On The Defensive!! Refuses To Give Board Email Addresses To Property Owners!!! Even Though He Already Gave Them To Me!!!! And Don’t Forget He And He Alone Got The Damn BID Sued!!!!! And For This They Are Paying Him $72,000 Per Year To Work 20 Hours Per Week???!?

Share

Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

Remember Don Duckworth? Big bad BID boss of both the Melrose BID and the Westchester Town Center BID?? We haven’t heard from Mr. Duckworth here on the blog in a long old time even though he is quite an interesting character, what with his BID analyst switcheroos and his kooky Brown-Act-flouting bylaws and that whole Calabasas episode and so forth.

His absence from my literary life has not, however, been by choice.1 The fact is that circa last June the guy just decided to stop responding to my CPRA requests altogether. No records, no answers, no nothing from Don Duckworth. Hence no joyously mocking blog posts and so on. Well, friends, that’s about to change, and change big-time!

You see, my lawyer, the incomparable Anna von Herrmann, recently filed two petitions, one for each of Duckworth’s BIDs, to compel compliance with the CPRA. You can find them here on Archive.Org on pages which I will update if/when the cases generate more paper:

Melrose BID petition
Westchester Town Center BID petition

And turn the page for some excerpts from the Melrose petition! And a little more commentary!!
Continue reading Two-Fer Tuesday: Westchester Town Center BID And Melrose BID Both Sued To Enforce Compliance With The California Public Records Act

Share

Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

There seem to be two distinct ways that BIDs get started in Los Angeles. One is that a bunch of property owners want to start one, they talk to their council rep or the City Clerk, hire a consultant, and go through the process we’ve all come to know and love. But it seems that sometimes the City takes the initiative, they hire their own consultant, and as part of their duties, the consultant puts together a proponent group.

That seems to be what’s going on with the infamous Echo Park BID, and it’s also the way that the Hollywood Route 66 BID is being formed.1 Both of these establishments are being handled by OG2 BID consultancy Civitas Advisors. And as you may recall, a good citizen of Los Angeles recently supplied me with a massive set of emails between Civitas and the City Clerk‘s office.3

And buried amongst the interminable babbling about God-knows-what-all4 I uncovered a couple of really interesting gems. First, there is the contract between the City and Civitas for establishing the Hollywood Route 66 BID, and second there is a feasibility study for the BID prepared by Civitas in February 2018.5 Both of them have a lot to tell us about how BIDs get started and function in Los Angeles! Turn the page for excerpts and discussion.
Continue reading Two Very Interesting Records For Release — The Contract Between The City Of Los Angeles And Civitas Advisors For Establishment Of The Hollywood Route 66 BID — Shedding Light On Intersection Between BID Consulting And Lobbying — Also On Exactly What Role The Engineer Plays In Establishment Process — And February 2018 Feasibility Report Produced By Civitas

Share

In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

Regular readers of this blog are well aware that business improvement districts in California are subject to the California Public Records Act and to the Brown Act by virtue of the Property and Business Improvement District Law at §36612, which states explicitly that BIDS … shall comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act … at all times when matters within the subject matter of the district are heard, discussed, or deliberated, and with the California Public Records Act … for all records relating to activities of the district.1

Also, maybe you recall that the standard contract that BIDs sign with the City of Los Angeles contains2 a clause basically repeating this requirement. There’s a transcription of this section after the break. So in March 2016, faced with blatant disregard of the CPRA by the Downtown Center BID, I wrote to the City Clerk, Holly Wolcott, asking her to enforce the terms of the City’s contract with this obstructionist BID.

And on March 14, 2016, she wrote back to me, stating pretty clearly that she wasn’t going to make sure that BIDs complied with the Public Records Act. Again, there’s a transcription of her response after the break, but her main argument was that the City wasn’t obligated by the contract to consider whether a given BID was complying with the CPRA.

And I thought that was the end of it, but I just recently discovered that actually, it’s likely that the City took my argument much more seriously than anyone was letting on. So seriously, in fact, that in April 2016 the City Attorney completely rewrote the standard contract between BIDs and the City to eliminate all language about CPRA and the Brown Act!
Continue reading In 2016 The City Of Los Angeles Revised Its Standard BID Administration Contract To Remove Language About Complying With CPRA And The Brown Act — Which Is Yet Another Example Of The City Refusing To Hold BIDs Responsible For Complying With Any Laws Whatsoever — It’s Not Clear What Effect This Will Have On Anything — They Certainly Did It In Response To My Activities, Though, For What That’s Worth

Share

Venice Beach BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act

Yeah, perhaps you recall that in February 2017 I sent a public records act request to the newborn Venice Beach BID and executive directrix Tara Devine has been conscientiously ignoring it ever since. And so I hired a lawyer. And the lawyer filed this petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court. And served the petition on the BID yesterday.

Of course, this is the same course of action that the Larchmont Village BID recently thrust upon me. I wish there was some way to get these BIDdies to follow the law other than by filing petitions against them but the State Legislature, in its inscrutable wisdom, has made this the only remedy. Sad but true. Stay tuned for more information and turn the page for some excerpts from the petition.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID Sued To Enforce Compliance With The Public Records Act

Share

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

Share