Well, the other day I got a whole new set of emails from Mr. Mike Russell,2 which you can read all of right here on the Archive. And amongst these were some that told the rest of the story. It seems that after Mike Hakim volunteered, while Mike Russell and Eric Garcetti’s communications staff were busy fluffing Brenda Arianpour for her big day, no one bothered to tell Mike Hakim that his contributions were unwanted.
The record doesn’t show that Mike Hakim responded, but day of he regained some of his highly compromised personal dignity and said he couldn’t make it because traffic. And that, friends, is the whole tragedy laid out for your sympathy. Don’t ever think those zillionaire developers from Beverly Hills have it easy. Their lives are harder than yours in ways you can’t even imagine until you’ve earned or inherited your first zillion.
But the most amazing, unexpected part of Cairo Rodriguez’s appeal is that it came with a letter of support attached, just waiting for the blanks to be filled in. See here for the original DOCX file, and here for a PDF, and there’s a transcription after the break. This is so peculiar, isn’t it? Obviously Herb Wesson’s not trying to convince himself to vote for the shelter, and he doesn’t have to convince his colleagues, because they’ll vote for anything he supports in his own district, so what’s the point of these letters? So strange.
It’s been clear for a long time now that one of the uses that the City gets out of BIDs is to encourage them to lobby it, thus creating an appearance of community support for projects that the City intended to do all along. It’s easy to see the results of this process at any City Council meeting where a bunch of BIDdies line up to speak in favor of random proposal X that they don’t have any organic reason for caring about.
However, it’s not so easy to see the lead-up to the lobbying events. Obviously City officials are reluctant to release the evidence, and perhaps the BIDdies are as well.1 That’s why today’s documents are so very interesting! The emails I’m presenting are part of a larger release from the Wilshire Center BID, and you can get the original MBOX file or PDFs if you prefer here on Archive.Org.
The story is about the by-now famous homeless shelter proposed for Koreatown by CD10 repster Herb Wesson. The world found out about this project on May 2, 2018 at a joint press conference held by Wesson and Eric Garcetti, as Gale Holland explains in this characteristically excellent story in the Times.2
But amazingly, City staffers told the BID about the proposal on April 26, a full week before anyone else knew. BID board members were asked to keep quiet about it and also to propose a businessperson to speak at the May 2 press conference in support of the shelter. Real Estate zillionaire Mike Hakim volunteered himself to speak at BID director Mike Russell’s request but was, it seems, ignored by everyone, no doubt due to his shady, universally hated skyscraper project in Koreatown.
Instead, Mike Russell nominated Greenbridge Investments flunky Brenda Arianpour, a real estate zillionaire whom Russell misrepresented as a small business owner. After thorough vetting by Garcetti’s communications flacks, Arianpour was chosen to speak in favor of the project. Although not, of course, to speak in her own unscrutinized words. Garcetti’s flacks were sure to discuss “talking points” with her in advance.
But every case I know of has involved the local Council District. This isn’t just my imagination, either. It’s reflected in these BID formation guidelines, published by the Los Angeles City Clerk‘s BID office, which state unequivocally that the BID formation process begins when: An individual, or a group of individuals (“proponent group”), or a Councilmember, desires to investigate the possibility of establishing a BID in a given area.
This is just a short note to announce three new sets of documents for your entertainment, your edification, and, if you’re interested, a little puzzle for you to solve.
First we have a couple of monthly sets of emails between BIDs and the City of Los Angeles. This turns out to be a useful request for keeping finger on pulse, often leading to unexpected discoveries, so I make it every month of all my favorite BIDs.1 Perhaps there are some lurking here:
A super-short note to announce the availability of two years worth of minutes and agendas from the Wilshire Center BID Board of Directors. These are available both via Archive.Org and also in local static storage. These are interesting for the usual reasons, e.g. understanding connections between BIDs and City agencies, what BIDs are up to with respect to public policy, and so forth. And, as usual, there’s also some weirdness to mock, although, sadly, nothing even approaching the real-estate-agents-on-acid weirdness of the Pacific Palisades BID. For instance, in the October 2015 minutes we read:
The question of why homelessness is worsening was discussed. Early release of criminals, mental illness, and service resistant individuals are some of the major reasons. By using a nurturing approach, more of the homeless may be helped. Getting to know individuals, helping out by giving socks, asking if they would like help, are some of the ways the LAPD is breaking through.
The principle of charity leads me to assume that these are the kind of socks one wears on one’s feet rather than the kind one might expect the LAPD to be handing out to the homeless if one were to consider their long, long history of violence.
By July 2016 we have learned that the BID is working with its Council Offices, but they don’t know how to spell David Ryu’s name and they seem to think Herb Wesson’s name is Justin:1
The BID will continue to work closely with the LAPD and the Council Offices, CD4 (Councilman David Ru) and CD10 (Justin Wesson) to help mitigate problems in our area.
You may recall that last month I raised the question of where the City Clerk gets the authority to vote all of the City’s property in favor of establishing BIDs. That the Clerk does this is undisputed. It’s so reliable that BID proponents are famous for gerrymandering in as much City property as possible to improve their chances of hitting the 50.1% approval needed to start the BID formation process.
Well, of course, I filed a CPRA request on the matter and Miranda Paster, however conflicted her interests may be when it comes to her darling baby BIDs, is by far one of the most reliable and honest City officials with whom I deal with respect to public records, yesterday pointed me to the now twenty year old Council File 96-1972. This file is too old to have documents online1 but there are some summary notes on what went on. In particular, the ordinance passed includes an instruction2 to:
REQUIRE the City Clerk to sign off on Proposition 2183 ballots and support petitions for property-based BIDs, unless the Council directs otherwise.