Tag Archives: Wilshire Center BID

Mike Hakim, Zillionaire Carpetbagging Developer From Beverly Hills, Tried To Sell His Soul To Eric Garcetti But — Most Unkindest Cut Of All! — No Matter How He Begged And Pleaded Eric Garcetti Wasn’t Buying Cause Brenda Arianpour’s Soul Was Way Cuter — Too Bad So Sad Mike Hakim!

I wrote last month about an interesting incident in which Eric Garcetti asked Mike Russell of the Wilshire Center BID to arrange for a tame zillionaire1 to speak at the joint Garcetti/Wesson press conference announcing the star-crossed Koreatown homeless shelter which was, at that time, being proposed by Wesson. Mike Hakim, Beverly Hills zillionaire and proponent of a universally reviled K-Town skyscraper, volunteered but Mike Russell and Eric Garcetti went with Beverly Hills zillionairette Brenda Arianpour instead.

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.

Finally, days later, like the little sad clown he tries so hard not to be, he emailed Mike Russell reminding him that he was willing to speak. Mike Russell, never one to waste an opportunity, told Mike Hakim that Eric Garcetti liked Brenda Arianpour better, even though mostly Mike Russell chose her, and then had the nerve to tell Mike Hakim that the Mayor still wanted him to show up and act like he supported the whole thing.

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.

Turn the page, as always, for transcriptions of everything.
Continue reading Mike Hakim, Zillionaire Carpetbagging Developer From Beverly Hills, Tried To Sell His Soul To Eric Garcetti But — Most Unkindest Cut Of All! — No Matter How He Begged And Pleaded Eric Garcetti Wasn’t Buying Cause Brenda Arianpour’s Soul Was Way Cuter — Too Bad So Sad Mike Hakim!

Share

How Herb Wesson Arranged For His Constituents To Pack A Council File With Phony Astroturf Letters Supporting His K-Town Homeless Shelter — And The Letters Were Written By Herb Wesson’s Assistant Chief Deputy Andrew Westall

One of the important topics we study here is the function of business improvement districts as lobbyists, not least as tools that the City uses to lobby itself in order to create the illusion of popular support for its initiatives. We recently saw an excellent example of this trope when Eric Garcetti used the Wilshire Center BID to supply a speaker putatively from the community to support his and Herb Wesson’s proposed Koreatown homeless shelter.

And it seems that Eric Garcetti was not the only LA Politician engaged in astroturfing support for this project. Just yesterday I obtained a huge trove of emails from the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID along Pico Blvd. The most interesting item in there1 is a May 15, 2018 email from Herb Wesson’s field deputy Cairo Rodriguez to Moises Gomez, BLQ BID director, asking him to submit a letter supporting the shelter.

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.

According to the metadata this faked-up letter of support was written by Andrew Westall, one of Herb Wesson’s senior staff members. And a glimpse at Council File 18-0392 shows that a lot of copies of this astroturf letter were in fact submitted by a lot of different organizations on letterhead, with signatures.2 There are links to samples after the break.
Continue reading How Herb Wesson Arranged For His Constituents To Pack A Council File With Phony Astroturf Letters Supporting His K-Town Homeless Shelter — And The Letters Were Written By Herb Wesson’s Assistant Chief Deputy Andrew Westall

Share

An Interesting Example From Wilshire Center Showing How Eric Garcetti Used The BID To Supply A Tame Businessperson To Speak For Herb Wesson’s Proposed K-Town Homeless Shelter — Revealing At Least One Of The Ways In Which The City Of Los Angeles Relies On BIDs To Manufacture An Appearance Of Community Support For Its Projects — Did I Mention The City Told The BID A Week Before They Told The News Media And Asked The BID To Keep Quiet About It?!

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.

The emails by which this was arranged are linked to and transcribed below.
Continue reading An Interesting Example From Wilshire Center Showing How Eric Garcetti Used The BID To Supply A Tame Businessperson To Speak For Herb Wesson’s Proposed K-Town Homeless Shelter — Revealing At Least One Of The Ways In Which The City Of Los Angeles Relies On BIDs To Manufacture An Appearance Of Community Support For Its Projects — Did I Mention The City Told The BID A Week Before They Told The News Media And Asked The BID To Keep Quiet About It?!

Share

First Known Instance Of Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Involvement In BID Formation Revealed By Emails Between Rampart Neighborhood Prosecutor Andrew Said And Wilshire Center Director Mike Russell About How To Get A BID In Westlake

It’s well known in the anti-BID community that the City of Los Angeles is fully committed to the completely false story that a BIDs is formed by a spontaneous upswelling of property owners, uninfluenced by the City and completely outside of the City’s power to direct. Of course, as I said, this is a lie, and there’s plenty of evidence that it is a lie. State law not only gives the City the absolute right to determine everything BIDs do with their money but the City is not shy about exercising this right when necessary.

And there are plenty of concrete proofs that it’s actually the City of Los Angeles that creates BIDs. From then-CD13-rep Jackie Goldberg’s tireless efforts to form a BID in Hollywood in the mid 1990s to Eric Garcetti’s and Mitch O’Farrell’s almost decade-long quest to put together a BID in Echo Park to CD9 repster Curren Price’s strongarmed extortion of a South LA car dealership to get seed money for a BID along MLK Blvd. to CD11 rep Mike Bonin’s mendacious little flunky Debbie Dyner Harris’s multi-year involvement with the Venice Beach BID formation effort, the City is the motivating force, I’d venture, for every damn BID we have now and are gonna have in the future.

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.

Consequently, what a surprise it was to find a set of emails between Andrew Said, who is neighborhood prosecutor for the Rampart Division, and Mike Russell, director of the Wilshire Center BID, which feature Andrew Said asking for Mr. Mike’s advice on how to start a BID in Westlake. The emails, which are part of a larger set I received yesterday,1 are available here on Archive.Org. Turn the page for transcriptions and some more discussion of what this might mean.
Continue reading First Known Instance Of Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Involvement In BID Formation Revealed By Emails Between Rampart Neighborhood Prosecutor Andrew Said And Wilshire Center Director Mike Russell About How To Get A BID In Westlake

Share

New Documents: Lisa Trifiletti and Omar Pulido Emails, Wilshire Center BID And East Hollywood BID Emails To/From City Of LA From February 2017

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:

And turn the page for the most interesting item of all for today!
Continue reading New Documents: Lisa Trifiletti and Omar Pulido Emails, Wilshire Center BID And East Hollywood BID Emails To/From City Of LA From February 2017

Share

New Documents! Emails Between The City Of LA And Wilshire Center BID, Figueroa Corridor BID, and North Hollywood BID, Also East Hollywood BID Emails Concerning The BID Consortium, And Also BID Consortium Agendas From 2016

So much stuff to announce this morning! Here’s a brief list with links, and there’s a more detailed list after the break.

Continue reading New Documents! Emails Between The City Of LA And Wilshire Center BID, Figueroa Corridor BID, and North Hollywood BID, Also East Hollywood BID Emails Concerning The BID Consortium, And Also BID Consortium Agendas From 2016

Share

Documents, Documents, Documents! Emails From Wilshire Center And The Media District, Brentwood Village BID Meeting Minutes, East Hollywood BID By-Vendor Transactions

Mister Mike from Wilshire Center wins the semi-annual MK.Org Transparency in BIDitude Prize for handing over more than 250MB of emails in mbox format via filesharing! We love you, the people of Los Angeles love you, Mr. Mike!!
Just a quick note to link to huge piles of records I’ve received over the last few days. These include:

And you can turn the page for some comments on each of these sets of goodies.
Continue reading Documents, Documents, Documents! Emails From Wilshire Center And The Media District, Brentwood Village BID Meeting Minutes, East Hollywood BID By-Vendor Transactions

Share

New Documents: Los Feliz Village BID Mailing List, Larchmont Village BID Tax Returns, Wilshire Center BID Tax Returns, Transactions, Bylaws

Los Feliz used to be a normal place, and maybe someday it will be again!
Just a quick note to announce a bunch of new materials. Most importantly, the Los Feliz Village BID, in the person of BID boss Rafik Ghazarian, sent me an Excel spreadsheet with mailing addresses for everyone in the BID. Given the months-long, dentaloextractivist-level dramatics created by the City of Los Angeles in the persons of asylum-running lunatics Miranda Paster and Holly Wolcott over e.g. the Venice Beach BID mailing list and the SLAIT BID mailing list,1 this is a surprising and welcome development. It’s especially laudable given that the Los Feliz Village BID has been the target of at least one significant attempt to destroy it, and, given that it’s a merchant-based BID, and thus required to renew each year, will certainly be so yet again.

I also have tax returns from the creepy little apartheid stronghold in South Central Hollywood known to the world as the Larchmont Village BID, as well as a bunch of assorted jive-ass nonsense from Mr. Mike out in Wilshire Center. Turn the page for links and descriptions.
Continue reading New Documents: Los Feliz Village BID Mailing List, Larchmont Village BID Tax Returns, Wilshire Center BID Tax Returns, Transactions, Bylaws

Share

Minutes and Agendas From Wilshire Center BID 2015-2016, In Which We Learn, e.g., That The LAPD Is Attempting To Mitigate Homelessness Amongst Mentally Ill Criminals By Being “Nurturing” and “Helping Out By Giving Socks”

A beautiful office building at 3701 Wilshire Boulevard which, I think, is in the Wilshire Center BID.
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.

Finally, if you’re interested in extreme CPRA geekery, turn the page for a brief discussion of how the WCBID violated the law by exporting these minutes from Microsoft Word as PDFs, sending me only the PDFs, and then refusing2 to send me the Word documents.
Continue reading Minutes and Agendas From Wilshire Center BID 2015-2016, In Which We Learn, e.g., That The LAPD Is Attempting To Mitigate Homelessness Amongst Mentally Ill Criminals By Being “Nurturing” and “Helping Out By Giving Socks”

Share

Revealed: Why The City Always Votes Yes on BID Formation. Also Some Speculation On The Shady Reasons Why The City Prefers Property-Based BIDs Over Merchant-Based BIDs Despite The Fact That They Instantiate Peak White Supremacy

Holly Wolcott explaining why she votes.
Holly Wolcott explaining why she votes.
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.

So I was right. There had to be a law, and there is a law. It’s pleasant to speculate on the possibility of exploiting this to add some democratic sauce to the BID formation process. For instance, as I’ve suggested before, it would be much more fair to let residents of the BID area vote on BID formation and apportion the City’s ballots proportionally to the wishes of the residents. This wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be far, far more fair that what’s done now. Of course given the degree to which our Council worships BIDs, and given the wildly disproportionate influence that BIDs have on City policy, this is not likely to happen except through the courts. As I said, though, it’s nice to think about.
Continue reading Revealed: Why The City Always Votes Yes on BID Formation. Also Some Speculation On The Shady Reasons Why The City Prefers Property-Based BIDs Over Merchant-Based BIDs Despite The Fact That They Instantiate Peak White Supremacy

Share