Tag Archives: Studio City BID

In December 2016 Carol Schatz Arranged For Lobbyist Laura Mecoy To Ghostwrite Anti Street Vending Talking Points For Studio City Neighborhood Council Representative Barry Johnson, Who Was Appearing Before The Public Works Committee To Give A CIS — Although Potentially Illegally — Demonstrating Infiltration Of Neighborhood Councils By The Zillionaire Power Elite And Their Lobbyists And Minions To A Hitherto Unsuspected Degree

At least since 2015 a vast coalition of business improvement districts along with the Schatzian nightmare horror show known as the Central City Association have been fighting, clawing, hissing, and paying lots and lots and lots of money to counter any inclination our pusillanimous City Council might have towards creating even minimal legal space for street vendors to ply their life-affirming trade in the City of Los Angeles.

As part of this conspiracy, and even though the CCA essentially does nothing but lobby the City of Los Angeles, the BIDdies and their minions and allies hired a bunch of outside lobbyists to help fight their weirdo battle. One of these ringers was Laura Mecoy, who hooked them up with the LA Times editorial board and then had some trouble getting paid by the BIDdies for her work.

And all of a sudden, here’s Laura Mecoy again! Very recently I received a copy of this fascinating email chain, and here’s what it reveals!1 It seems that on December 8, 2016, Rita Villa of the Studio City Neighborhood Council got in touch with Carol Schatz about an upcoming hearing of a Council committee at which street vending would be discussed.2 They were evidently trying to coordinate on who was going to attend the meeting to make sure the fascist viewpoint was heard.

Villa mentioned that our old friend Mr. John Walker of the Studio City BID couldn’t make it, and some other names about were bandied. Eventually Rita Villa arranged for Barry Johnson to attend, and Carol Schatz asked lobbyists Laura Mecoy and Fred Muir to write some talking points for Barry Johnson, which Laura Mecoy cheerfully did!

And there’s nothing at all interesting in the talking points.3 It’s the same old “one-size-does-not-fit-all we-respectfully-request-opt-in-please” jive-ass crapola that we’re used to out of these people. The interest in this episode is entirely in the effort that Carol Schatz and her hired lobbyists are putting into shaping the narrative coming out of the mouth of someone who’s putatively speaking for a neighborhood council.
Continue reading In December 2016 Carol Schatz Arranged For Lobbyist Laura Mecoy To Ghostwrite Anti Street Vending Talking Points For Studio City Neighborhood Council Representative Barry Johnson, Who Was Appearing Before The Public Works Committee To Give A CIS — Although Potentially Illegally — Demonstrating Infiltration Of Neighborhood Councils By The Zillionaire Power Elite And Their Lobbyists And Minions To A Hitherto Unsuspected Degree

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President & CEO Tara Huckabee Devine Quoted A Renewal Consulting Price Of $49,000 To The Studio City BID — John Walker Complained — She Lowered It To $36,000, Proving That Her Original BID Was Based On Nothing At All — So Why Didn’t South Park Or Venice Get A Price Break? — Accounting Is Easy When You’re Playing With Other People’s Money — And Why Would None Of Her References Return John Walker’s Phone Calls? — Nothing Good To Say Don’t Say Anything, Perhaps?

I reported a couple days ago on interactions between Studio City BID Executive Boss Dude John Walker and thoroughly disgraced BID consultant and former engineer Ed Henning concerning the BID’s impending renewal, for which Ed Henning is the BID consultant. Well, it turns out that before hiring Ed Henning, John Walker conversed with and ultimately solicited a proposal from everyone’s favorite shadowy BID consultant, the inimitable Ms. President & CEO Tara Huckabee Devine!

And of course, these conversations took place via email! And of course I asked John Walker for copies! And of course he handed them right over!1 And of course I published them all over on Archive.Org for your edification and enjoyment! So basically, here’s what happened.

After some introductory chit-chat, President & CEO Tara Devine sent John Walker a proposal for renewal services, quoting a price of $49,000 max. John Walker was all like this is too damn much money! And in response President Tara Devine sent another proposal, and now the price was only $36,000. How is it possible to have an actual proposal for services where the price can be dropped by more than 26% just because a client complained?

If the bid could be slashed to that extent, it must have been a piece of blue sky to begin with, which means it was more than likely to have been a piece of blue sky after the price drop. That this is so is strongly suggested by the fact that Ed Henning is willing to handle the renewal for no more than $18,900, which is right around half of what Tara Devine wanted.

Of course, the real questions that Tara Devine’s jumping bean figures suggests are first, why did the South Park BID pay her around $80,000 for their renewal, and second, how freaking much money did the Venice Beach Property Owners’s Association pay her to establish their Satanic BID-by-the-sea?

“Why” questions like the first are notoriously hard to answer, but I’m going to bet that, despite President Tara Devine’s pig-headed turned-up-to-eleven intransigence with respect to public records, the second is going to be revealed soon enough.2 Anyway, turn the page for links to the emails, some transcriptions, and the usual good humored bad attitude!
Continue reading President & CEO Tara Huckabee Devine Quoted A Renewal Consulting Price Of $49,000 To The Studio City BID — John Walker Complained — She Lowered It To $36,000, Proving That Her Original BID Was Based On Nothing At All — So Why Didn’t South Park Or Venice Get A Price Break? — Accounting Is Easy When You’re Playing With Other People’s Money — And Why Would None Of Her References Return John Walker’s Phone Calls? — Nothing Good To Say Don’t Say Anything, Perhaps?

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Emails Between Studio City BID Director John Walker And Disgraced BID Consultant Slash Civil Engineer Ed Henning Shed Some Newish Light On The BID Renewal Process — E.G. Lawsuits Against BIDs Have Greatly Complicated Matters But Ed Henning Is “In constant touch with the attorneys defending the City BIDs” — The Agreement Between Henning And The BID Sheds A Lot Of Light On The Still-Unresolved Question Of Whether BID Consultancy Is Lobbying

As I mentioned the other day, I recently received a huge set of emails from the Studio City BID.1 This is an interesting time to be looking at their correspondence, because the SCBID is set to renew in January 2020, so the process is just now getting started. And although I haven’t had time yet to prep the whole multiGB release for publication, I did get this set of emails between John Walker and Ed Henning ready, along with all the attachments.

Ed Henning, you may recall, is a civil engineer and popular BID consultant. He recently handled the San Pedro BID‘s renewal. He did the engineering report for the South Los Angeles Industrial Tract BID in 2015, the South Park BID in 2017, and, most famously, for the Venice Beach BID establishment in 2016. His work on that last project was so shoddy that it led to a Venice resident filing a complaint against Ed Henning with the California Board for Professional Engineers.2

And, as it turns out, he is also handling the entire renewal for the SCBID, at an estimated total cost of no more than $18,900.3 And although John Walker’s email conversation with Ed Henning was only tangentially responsive to my CPRA request,4 I got a really good set of records.

The emails contain discussions of Ed Henning’s fees, of the various tasks to be completed in the renewal process, of the wisdom of the SCBID’s adding more territory to their BID, of how various lawsuits against BIDs in Los Angeles have complicated the renewal process and of how Ed Henning is being coached by the defense attorneys in those cases on how to modify his Management District Plans and Engineer’s Reports to withstand challenges, and so on.

This is invaluable information for students of the BID consulting process. Turn the page for links, transcriptions, and discussion!
Continue reading Emails Between Studio City BID Director John Walker And Disgraced BID Consultant Slash Civil Engineer Ed Henning Shed Some Newish Light On The BID Renewal Process — E.G. Lawsuits Against BIDs Have Greatly Complicated Matters But Ed Henning Is “In constant touch with the attorneys defending the City BIDs” — The Agreement Between Henning And The BID Sheds A Lot Of Light On The Still-Unresolved Question Of Whether BID Consultancy Is Lobbying

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John Walker Of The Studio City BID Asked Rita Moreno Of The Clerk’s Office For Advice On A CPRA Request I Made And She Gave Him A Detailed, Thoughtful, Largely Correct Response Despite The Fact That Doing So Directly Contradicts Her Boss, The Mendacious Ms. Holly Wolcott, Who Has Asserted Time And Again That “the Clerk’s office [does not] have the authority to control/direct the records management practices of … BIDs”

In the great and good1 City of Los Angeles, business improvement districts are overseen by the City Clerk‘s office. They have a whole subsection of their website about BIDs; how to form one, what they are, and so on. And not only that, but as part of their oversight process, each BID signs a contract with the City Clerk’s office. These are all about the same as one another, and if you want to look at one, here’s a link to the Studio City BID’s contract.2

And, like every one of these contracts between the City and its BIDs, this one contains, in Section 16.3, the following fairly unequivocal requirement: “… Corporation and the Board of Directors are also subject to and must comply with the California Public Records Act.” Finally, buried deep down in this website, they have published a stunning little item called the Service Operations Summary, which purports to explain the City’s role in relation to its BIDs.

In particular, in Section 5, this document claims that:3 “THE [CLERK’S] OFFICE PROVIDES CONTINUOUS CONTRACT COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE. Staff monitors the use of revenue in order to ensure that assessments paid by district members are used appropriately and in accordance with contractual, budgetary, statutory and City regulations and procedures.”

Now, it’s a tragic aspect of the CPRA that the only remedy for noncompliance that the legislature has seen fit to provide is a lawsuit. However, it seems at least plausible from the foregoing that if a BID is not complying with the CPRA, it’s the duty of the office of the Clerk to ensure that they do comply with it. Acting on this theory, and hoping to avoid a bunch of damn lawsuits,4 once upon a time in 2016 I tried to get Ms. Holly Wolcott to mediate between me and uppity non-CPRA-compliant BIDs.

But she, almost certainly acting on the advice of rogue deputy city attorney Michael Joseph Dundas, denied that the City had any power whatsoever to compel BIDs to comply with the law, despite what the above-quoted Service Operations Summary claimed. Despite the fact that the City has a contract with each BID and the contract requires CPRA compliance. And she didn’t just deny it, she denied it vehemently:, stating in an email to me5 that:“…the Clerk’s office [does not] have the authority to control/direct the records management practices of the various BIDs which are entities wholly separate from the City.”

Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I sent a CPRA request to the Studio City BID, asking for a bunch of stuff. When the material showed up yesterday, I found an exchange between John Walker and Rita Moreno, a City Clerk staffer in charge of many aspects of BIDs, discussing my request. Basically he was all like do we have to do it because expensive and time-consuming. And she was all like … well, turn the page to read all the emails and see exactly what she was all like, but suffice it to say she was all like DIRECTING him to do it because of the law. That is, she was doing precisely what her boss, the famous Ms. Holly Wolcott, said that the City would never do and didn’t even have the power to do.
Continue reading John Walker Of The Studio City BID Asked Rita Moreno Of The Clerk’s Office For Advice On A CPRA Request I Made And She Gave Him A Detailed, Thoughtful, Largely Correct Response Despite The Fact That Doing So Directly Contradicts Her Boss, The Mendacious Ms. Holly Wolcott, Who Has Asserted Time And Again That “the Clerk’s office [does not] have the authority to control/direct the records management practices of … BIDs”

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More Than Two Months After Its Business Improvement District Came Into Being, The Venice Beach Property Owners’ Association Has Not Yet Signed An Administration Contract With The City Of Los Angeles, But A Comparison With Other Recent BID Establishments Suggests That This May Not Mean Much

Carl Lambert, officer of the Venice Beach Property Owners Association, as he might have appeared on the cover of the late lamented Berkeley Barb which, given the parallel tragedies which have befallen both Berkeley and Venice, is kind of appropriate in a way sorta kinda..
Well, since the first of the year, I have been obsessively checking the contract search tab of the City Clerk’s Council File Management System for any sign of an agreement between the City and the Venice Beach Property Owners Association, as that criminal conspiracy between Carl Lambert and his unindicted co-conspirators Mark Sokol and Steve Heumann is known to the world, for the administration of the Venice Beach BID. The CFMS1 is an essential tool, but its built-in search engine is freaking horrible, and it seems even horribler2 when searching contracts. So the fact that no contract popped up day after day after day didn’t exactly fill me with confidence in the theory that no such contract existed.

But today, after two freaking months with no sign of it, I finally emailed the ever-helpful3 Shannon Hoppes to ask if there was a contract or not. She answered quickly and told me that there was not yet any such thing. Well, hope springs and so on. Into my head sprang joyous visions of Carl Lambert and his infernal BID-buddies Mark Sokol and Steve Heumann being so overwhelmed with the furor and pushback called into being by their infernal BID that they took their BID-ball and went home. They are being sued, their shadowy BID consultant, the Divine Ms. Tara Devine, has as shaky a grasp on the law and also on the truth and also on basic human decency as her freaking clients, and maybe the pressure was all just too much for them, mused I.

But it also occurred to me that maybe it didn’t mean anything, and it was just runna-the-mill incompetence and sloth. So I decided to check out other recent BID establishments and compare. What I found proves that, while there has been a longer than average delay between the establishment of the VBBID and the signing of the contract, it’s not an outlier, nor is it the longest such lag time among property-based BIDs established in the last few years. Thus while this at-least-two-month delay between the BID establishment may yet turn out to be a sign of good things to come with respect to this BID, for now it’s not possible to draw any conclusions at all about it. Turn the page for the technical details.
Continue reading More Than Two Months After Its Business Improvement District Came Into Being, The Venice Beach Property Owners’ Association Has Not Yet Signed An Administration Contract With The City Of Los Angeles, But A Comparison With Other Recent BID Establishments Suggests That This May Not Mean Much

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