there were a series of four hearings that the chief administrative office staff held on the… the sidewalk vending ordinance. … It’s just this kind of amorphous set of hearings, which were completely dysfunctional, disrespectful, and almost, um, resembled a circus.
Now listen, O citizens of Hollywood, to HPOA staffie Devin Strecker speaking before the same meeting:
Today’s post concerns a series of emails between Kerry Morrison and two Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutors in 2014. These are part of a larger set of emails which we published some time ago. The BID, of course, is paranoiacally hyperphobic about drinking in public by the homeless, even as they celebrate, revel in, and sing hosanna in the highest to the use, misuse, abuse, of alcohol, even in public, when done by the non-homeless population of Hollywood. That’s not news. What is news is the weirdly obsessive length that newly-appointed-in-2014 Hollywood Neighborhood Prosecutor Jackie Lawson turned out to be willing to go to to accomodate Kerry Morrison’s paranoid hyperphobias. There’s a lot of background here, so please bear with us.
The documented part of our story begins on January 28, 2014,1 with an email from Kerry Morrison to then-Hollywood-Neighborhood-Prosecutor Andre Quintero, inviting him to a BID-sponsored summit meeting the purported motive for which was “[t]o reduce the incidence of daytime public drunkenness in the Hollywood Entertainment Disctrict and Sunset & Vine BID.” In particular, Kerry calls Andre’s attention to item 4, asking that he “maybe … could be prepared to share some background on” “…laws governing alcohol sales and alcohol use.” Note well that there’s no word out of Andre regarding any of this. And the rest of the agenda is worth reading, but there’s nothing there, really, beyond the usual paranoid ravings about panhandlers and public inebriation with which we’re so familiar.
Today I’m pleased to announce the availability of a bunch more documents, some of them really interesting, and none of them of the sort we’ve usually featured here. First of all we are adding the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to our list of scrutinizees, albeit in a fairly desultory manner. Documents we obtain will be available from the usual menus above, and here is a link to that page. We kick things off with a couple years worth of form 700s from the Commissioners and the Executive Director. For almost certainly nefarious reasons, the city of Los Angeles, unlike other more enlightened cities in California, does not require BID board members or high-level employees to file financial disclosures (although this may be changing soon, fingers crossed!), so obtaining these forms was the only way to get any insight into Kerry Morrison’s finances insofar as they relate to her work for the HPOA. And now, like Jesus Christ hisself, we have saved the best for last, so the good stuff is after the break! Continue reading Lots of Documents, and Not of the Usual Sort!→
Watch here for the final bit of a Hollywood BID Patrol operation on Ivar Avenue on June 30, 2015. There are about 12 of them milling around on the sidewalk after, evidently, having kicked out a bunch of homeless people, most probably on the basis of suspected violations of disgraceful LAMC 41.18(d). Of course, if you know the spot you’ll know that there are homeless people there essentially all the time, only very rarely getting kicked out by the BID Patrol.
So what horrific incident was it that required the presence of about a dozen of Hollywood’s finest1 on a pleasant Tuesday afternoon on Ivar Avenue? Murder, rape, homeless encampment, street-preaching? The amazing thing is that no one there seemed to know for sure except, we assume given that the principle of charity requires us to assume that the BID Patrol both has reasons for its actions and at the same time knows what those reasons are, the officers themselves.
One witness, though, spent the time and the effort to share his theory on the BID Patrol’s motivation with our correspondent. This is what David Graeber calls “interpretative labor,” an activity which, as Graeber has it, “much of the everyday business of social life” comprises, an activity in which people with guns, made stupid by their own potential for state-sanctioned violence, do not typically engage, as they clearly do not in this case:2
Thank you for filming, cause they only pulled up when I started talking about God and Jesus. I was just talking about God and Jesus and taking the Illuminati down, and every day they don’t never bother nobody, and let them sit here, right? Well, all of a sudden today I came and started talking about God and Jesus and taking down the Illuminati, cause I’m in the middle of a documentary, all of a sudden they get a hundred calls a day. God bless us all, the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name.
We’ve written before about the HPOA’s crazed-and-at-the-mouth-foaming opposition to Councilmembers Huizar’s and Price’s proposed ordinance legalizing street vending in the city of Los Angeles. We’ve written about the HPOA’s scheme to send its agents to public meetings in the ill-concealed guise of concerned citizens opposing the ordinance. Today we report on Kerry Morrison’s recent discussion of her experience orchestrating that whole fiasco. We’ll analyze it line by line, and you can watch the whole thing here and/or read a transcription after the break.
We’ve written before about the cataclysmic flood of white privilege rage rants unleashed by Fabio Conti’s cri de coeur for the BID Patrol to stop coddling the homeless and start, we don’t know, killing them or whatever it takes to get them out of Hollywood, and the present post concerns yet another boulder in that avalanche of angst. We’re going to comment on the unnamed white privilege rage ranter’s rant (you can see the fellow’s picture somewhere in the vicinity of this sentence) one line at a time. You can read his whole speech after the break and watch it here if you’re so inclined.
…our effort to clean up the neighborhood is kinda like salmon swimming upstream.
No. First of all, salmon swimming upstream are beautiful, delicious, and nutritious. You people in the BID are none of these things. Second, you’re not trying to “clean up the neighborhood,” you’re trying to ethnically cleanse the neighborhood. One is at least plausibly laudable. The other is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Also, your metaphor is deeply flawed. Salmon like swimming upstream. It’s what they’re born to do. It’s the crowning glory of their lives. They surely, if they could speak, wouldn’t be whining about it.
You know, we have the state and the city working against us by allowing people to sleep on the sidewalk, you know, all night long, because it’s the humane thing to do.
At the July 9, 2015 Joint Security Committee meeting, BID Board member Fabio Conti, after Andrews International Security head BIDdie-boy Steve Seyler told a what-passes-for-heartwarming story about shipping some homeless lady out of state on a bus, flipped the fuck out about heavily armed and dangerous homeless people on the streets of Hollywood and how A/I ought to stop with the rapport-building, bus-ticket-buying, and donut/sandwich handing-out and start arresting all of them right now. Says Fabio: STOP BEING SO NICE TO THE HOMELESS!!! The “the purple guys” downtown “…keep the area pretty clean…” of homeless human garbage. The Hollywood BID Patrol must do the same!
Under ordinary circumstances a faux pas like Fabio’s would probably be politely overlooked but these are no ordinary times, it seems. Instead it triggered an avalanche of white-privilege-rage-ranting that derailed the meeting for what seemed like an eternity and was actually over 30 minutes of this approximately 70 minute long meeting. The asylum was so being-run-by-the-inmates that Hollywood Entertainment District BID Board President Monica Yamada, not habitually the most aware person in the room, had to shut it down. But not before the display of an unbearable montage/barrage of peel-the-face-off shots that had most of the attendees showing their true colors in a remarkably nauseating performative contradiction of Jesus’s usually on-target admonition about the truth. Mostly the truth will make you free but sometimes it just makes you sick.
For instance, usually, of course, at these meetings and in other venues, Steve rattles on about how cuddlesy-warmsy-fuzzly-wuzzly his officers are but everyone there knows that that’s just the velvet glove over the iron fucking fist and that he’s just spreading the goodwill-ambassador bullshit for the delectation and over-the-eyes-wool-pulling of the public. This much is obvious to anyone with a fraction of the sense that God gave a good God-damned goose. In this instance, though, under relentless pressure from Fabio, whose position is that “we’re to a point where, you know, we cannot be kind,” Steve was forced to admit his homeless-people-on-the-sidewalk policy out loud, in public, on camera:
“…we’re gonna start out with a nice approach, hey, please, time to get up, businesses are open, you gotta get off the sidewalk, we’re here to help you, you know, blah blah blah blah, please, please, pretty please, and then, you know, ultimately we’re going to put the cuffs on you…”
Steve’s not usually so open about the fact that all the donuts, all the sandwiches, all the heartwarming coziness, it’s all just a formality. “…ultimately we’re going to put the cuffs on you…”
The only people in the room who talked and didn’t seem insane1 were two LAPD liaison officers (whose names, unfortunately, we didn’t catch), who patiently explained to everyone that “…the sky’s not falling…” However, as long-time readers of this blog are well aware, there is very little in this world that can get the attention of a white person who’s hell-bent on confusing comfort with safety. The LAPD guys were completely ignored. Sanity will not prevail, not in this room at this time.
Well, here is a bunch of emails, which we obtained from the Los Angeles City Attorney using the California Public Records Act, between BID employees Smilin’ Joe Mariani and Kerry Morrison and various people that work for the City of Los Angeles. We join the story when Joe writes to Gary Benjamin, who is eyeglass-fashionista Councilguy Mitch O’Farrell’s something-or-another for what-passes-for-planning-at-200-Spring-Street. It seems the boys met up in early September 2014 at an HPOA “Streetscape2 Committee” meeting, giving Joe a pretext to renew the big ask:
Great seeing you today at the Streetscape Committee meeting. As I mentioned, if you can please follow up with GSD3 and ask when our lease will be ready for the Cherokee space we would appreciate it [sic]. According to our vendor we are supposed to be off the Selma parking lot by the end of September, so the sooner we can move in the better.
So the BID needs some space and they’re going to lease it from the city. So far, so good. After all, they’re a public agency created by the city to do the city’s work. On September 9, 2014, Gary responds, saying he’ll check into it. On September 23, 2014, Gary announces that there’s a little problem. Says Gary:
I have some bad news regarding the prospect of getting the lease in a timely manner. I checked in with the General Services Department (GSD) a couple weeks back and they said they were still not authorized to issue the lease, despite the approved Council motion.4 This seemed ridiculous to us, as the language of the motion came from Rene Sagles5 and he assured us the motion would be sufficient. GSD staffers were aware of the motion as it moved through the ITGS6 Committee, and yet they raised no red flags. In the last week, I’ve been in further communication with GSD, the City Attorney’s office and Rene Sagles. Apparently, DOT have not been following City standards regarding lease of space for some time now. Recently the City Attorney took note of this issue and has forced them to undergo a more rigorous public solicitation RFP process. Your lease process has dragged on for so long because of a lack of communication between DOT and GSD and a general uncertainty among the bureaus about how to proceed.
I now have Melody McCormick of GSD working with DOT and the City Attorney to draft a new “sole source” motion that will explain why the normal RFP process was not followed and why the HPOA should get this lease. They have told me they can have the motion ready by the end of the week. We will work to waive it from ITGS committee and get it approved at Council next week ideally. Then the City Attorney will need to draft the lease. It will still be another month, at the earliest, until the lease will be issued. I’m really sorry about all this confusion and for losing time pushing forward a motion that was insufficient.
On the front page of the Summer 2015 issue of the HPOA newsletter, our heroine and perennial source of subject matter, Kerry Morrison, has an article cynically entitled Discouraging News About Homelessness Surprises No One. Her subject is the 2015 homeless count results, released last month and showing that homelessness in Los Angeles County has increased by 12% over 2013, the year of the last count. In her piece, Kerry gives a number of delusional speculations on why this might have happened: more crazy people, good weather in LA, Prop 47 (srsly), people who, following the example of Jesus Christ, give money to panhandlers, the FREAKING ACLU?!!3