Tag Archives: Wallis Locke

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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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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South Park BID Employment Policy Forbids Its Staff From Revealing Their Salaries — These People Are Being Paid With Public Funds — So It’s Not Only Not Desirable To Keep Their Salaries Secret — It’s Actually Not Possible — Therefore We Are Going To Reveal Them All To You In This Post! — Every Last Freaking South Parkie Salary! — With Bonuses! — The Teaser Is That Josh Kreger — Who Is Director Of Quasi-Legal Real Estate Crapola Or Some Such Nonsense — Gets More Than $100,000 Per Year — You’d Think With That Kinda Money He Could Afford A Damn Razor!

Tonight I am presenting a new BIDdological source document for your analytical pleasure. It is the 2018 Employee Manual of the South Park Stakeholders Group which, as you may well know, is the designated property owners’ association for the South Park BID. Anyway, take a look. It’s full of the usual inconsequential nonsense for the most part, but still, this little bit caught my eye:

SALARY CONFIDENTIALITY

It is customary to maintain confidentiality regarding salary and compensation. Because so many different factors have been taken into consideration in determining your salary, it would be difficult to accurately compare your salary with those of fellow employees. Salary discussions and salary review questions should be limited to your supervisor, the Executive Director or President.

But this kind of thing is just silly when it comes to agencies, like the BID, that are subject to the Public Records Act. Obviously paying people creates records and obviously those records are public so obviously the salaries of people employed by agencies subject to the CPRA cannot be kept secret. This is why a website like Transparent California can exist.

Of course, Transparent California sets out to learn the salaries of public employees in California. On the other hand, our goal is to learn everything possible about the City’s BIDs. Sometimes we ask for salary information specifically, but other times it just turns up. You will, of course, remember the monumental release of SPBID Board member Bob Buente’s emails. Well right in there, unasked-for and just waiting to be discovered, was this little gem of an email conversation between Ellen Salome Riotto and the various members of the BID’s executive committee.1

The subject is Staff bonuses and the purpose is for the executive committee to approve them for December 2017. The BID seems to give each staffie 5% of their annual salary as a bonus and so, in order to have an informed discussion of the bonuses it’s necessary for the committee and Ellen Salome Riotto to discuss their salaries. And that’s how we know what they are, regardless of the SALARY CONFIDENTIALITY clause in the Employee Handbook. You know you wanna know what they are! Just turn the page and all will be revealed!
Continue reading South Park BID Employment Policy Forbids Its Staff From Revealing Their Salaries — These People Are Being Paid With Public Funds — So It’s Not Only Not Desirable To Keep Their Salaries Secret — It’s Actually Not Possible — Therefore We Are Going To Reveal Them All To You In This Post! — Every Last Freaking South Parkie Salary! — With Bonuses! — The Teaser Is That Josh Kreger — Who Is Director Of Quasi-Legal Real Estate Crapola Or Some Such Nonsense — Gets More Than $100,000 Per Year — You’d Think With That Kinda Money He Could Afford A Damn Razor!

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