Scenes From The Cosmo Club’s Appeal Of The Revocation Of Its Conditional Use Permit At The PLUM Committee Part 1: Marqueece Harris-Dawson Is An American Hero, MK.Org Video Of Racist Sunset-Vine BID Rant Played In City Hall

Marqueece Harris-Dawson is an American hero.
Marqueece Harris-Dawson is an American hero.
Yesterday the Planning and Land Use Management Committee heard the Cosmo Club’s appeal of the Zoning Administrator’s revocation of their conditional use permit. See the whole thing here, with a very short second part here. Also, the Council file is here. This is the second in the ongoing series of Hollywood clubs that cater to minorities being targeted for elimination by Kerry Morrison, the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance, the LAPD, and CD13 rep Mitch O’Farrell. The racist nature of this anti-nightclub campaign is revealing itself to the public, as dirty secrets will do, so this hearing drew some protesters who stated clearly, articulately, just exactly what is going on in Hollywood. Also, although L.A. Times reporting on this issue to date has been sporadic and radically incomplete, I spotted the incomparable Emily Alpert-Reyes exchanging contact information with Cosmo Club attorney Mike Ayaz after the hearing, so maybe something interesting is forthcoming.

There are links to a number of highlights at the end of this post, but the hearing was particularly rich, and I’m going to have to cover it in increments, starting at the end. If you’re not familiar with the situation, you can read up about it here and also here.1 But here is the short version of how we got to this point: Kerry Morrison, her BIDs, and Peter Zarcone decided to destroy a bunch of nightclubs in Hollywood. Mitch O’Farrell told City Planning to get on it. They did, and the City Council will vote in favor of Mitch no matter how bogus the evidence is because they also want to exercise unilateral control over every aspect of everything in their districts, which they can only do with the connivance of their colleagues. Marqueece Harris-Dawson didn’t play along at yesterday’s hearing, which, although he was merely doing his job as a Councilmember, is very brave, since if he does it too often the zillionaire elite will certainly take away his seat in 2019.

In any case, after interminable testimony by Zoning Administrator Aleta James which listed every traffic ticket and open container violation within 100 yards of the business as is evidently the practice in these cases, after LAPD Hollywood Division Captain Cory Palka shilling for real estate developers, after greasy little liar and LAPD Hollywood undercover vice cop Benjamin Thompson told his greasy little lies, after many cogent comments by actual human beings opposing the City’s raw destructive power, after Sean Rafael from the Cosmo played OUR VIDEO from 2015, after all that, a small miracle occurred. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson of CD8 questioned the Zoning Administrator extremely closely, ultimately a round of applause from the audience, who were amazed to witness that rarest of phenomena in Los Angeles: truth spoken from behind a desk in a Council hearing. Read on for details.

First Harris-Dawson questioned Aleta James about why the City went straight for revocation:

I’m just curious, this is an area I have experience with. I’ve never seen a situation where a business owner…I’ve actually been a part of bringing cases where not only were there shootings, there were actual murders. Does the business owner on the first go-round get a full revocation recommendation? Usually they get “more security, more lights, more cameras, more…less hours” as a recommendation.

And this is certainly a reasonable question. After all, the City is about to use its overwhelming power to destroy a legal business operation. They are going to obliterate it completely. How can they not have tried something less drastic first? This must be the standard thing to do. Aleta James, who seems to be brevity-challenged, blathers on for a while about how unrepentant the Cosmo has been. You can read the unenlightening details below.

MHD: Would you say it’s typical for you [unintelligible] to choose to come out with a recommendation for revocation at sort of the first hearing?

And Aleta James can’t answer directly, but instead relies on a circular argument about how they couldn’t impose additional conditions since the Cosmo was already violating the existing conditions:

AJ: I would say it’s typical. I would say again it depends on the evidence and the location and what the violations actually are. But this case, there really aren’t any viable options. A plan approval would not have been appropriate. They were not abiding by existing conditions that were already in place.

And Harris-Dawson points out the flaw in this reasoning:

MHD: Right, right, but most businesses that you…that get hearings are violating some part of the conditions that they had.

Then, in the best part of the whole thing, he questions her closely about why the LAPD was spending time documenting super-trivial violations of the CUP, like the one that states that the club can’t advertise DJs on flyers:2

I looked through the police reports that you provided to us, and frankly, there were a lot of police reports which I didn’t even know the police department would do. The police are giving citations because [unintelligible] flyers, which is definitely a violation of their parole for sure, I just didn’t know you could get a police officer to do that kind of documentation…

At this point the audience broke out in applause. It’s kind of sad that this is enough to thrill an audience, but if you follow the City Council at all you will know why it is. And that wasn’t all:

MHD: In that stack of police reports I counted at least six times where actual LAPD officers on our City dime used time to document that a business had flyers. Which again, clear violation of their conditions, but typically, and I’ll just say it outright. In my part of town we can’t get police officers to do, to spend their time on that…

Stunning! And he voted against it. How rarely any Councilmember votes against anything. Each Councilmember wants free reign in his district, to be able to approve variances, approve buildings, destroy businesses (or create them), create preferential parking districts, hand out discretionary funds, in short, to be able to unilaterally control all patronage. But in order to have this power, each has to grant it to his colleagues. Thus we have the entirely corrupt situation we’re in today, where everything is decided unanimously because if anyone votes against someone else’s project, their project will get voted against.3

In any case, this corrupt system is what transforms puritanical Kerry Morrison’s whisper in Mitch O’Farrell’s ear that she wants hip-hop clubs out of Hollywood into a massive mobilization of LAPD Vice squad officers and innumerable other City officials spending more than a year on a ritualistic documentation of trivialities, lies, and delusions until a business is destroyed by City fiat. Marqueece Harris-Dawson is an American hero for speaking the truth about what was happening before him and for voting against it.

Here are links to some highlights, and a full transcription of the part discussed in this post follows:

Transcription:

Marqueece Harris-Dawson: The documentation is very thorough and seems to have covered a long period of time. I’m just curious, this is an area I have experience with. I’ve never seen a situation where a business owner…I’ve actually been a part of bringing cases where not only were there shootings, there were actual murders. Does the business owner on the first go-round get a full revocation recommendation? Usually they get “more security, more lights, more cameras, more…less hours” as a recommendation. I’m just curious about the length of time and the sort of ending up at this, what people refer to as
[unintelligible] shot?

Aleta James: Well, at this point it’s discretionary, and if a business operation warrants…what we do first of all we have a public hearing for an imposition of conditions or a possible revocation of use. So we open it up and we review the evidence and the information that’s before us and then if it warrants going to a full revocation [unintelligible] that can weigh on the evidence. Now [unintelligible] there were conditions that existed on the property in the 2013 case. However, and the Zoning Administrator does have the authority to go back and open that case up and [unintelligible] plan approval again and possible revocation action. But in this case the evidence is overwhelming, as you can see. The documentation and the resources that have been pulled towards this location, where we wanted to open this up for a possible revocation, which we could have [unintelligible] the 2013 case as a plan approval. In this case the plan approval and imposition of conditions would have placed conditions on the operation for a period of…a short period of six months, nine months, twelve months, or two years. But in this case, because of the information that’s before us, of serious crimes that occurred on the property and the multiple violations of the existing conditions…

MHD: I’m sorry, when you say “serious crimes,” can you say specifically what you mean?

AJ: I don’t have the records before me. If you have the police reports, I think there was, there were multiple assaults on the property that occurred between the timeframe as stated on there. There was a stabbing, there was fights, those were the type of criminal activities, you would have to refer to LAPD for more details on that. It’s in the report. But that coupled with the violations of the 2013 CUP, the multiple violations, and ongoing violations, and lack of correction of these violations it was determined that we had enough evidence and documentation to hold a possible nuisance [unintelligible] revocation case.

MHD: Would you say it’s typical for you [unintelligible] to choose to come out with a recommendation for revocation at sort of the first hearing?

AJ: I would say it’s typical. I would say again it depends on the evidence and the location and what the violations actually are. But this case, there really aren’t any viable options. A plan approval would not have been appropriate. They were not abiding by existing conditions that were already in place.

MHD: Right, right, but most businesses that you…that get hearings are violating some part of the conditions that they had. [unintelligible] Just as an example, you say no conditions were viable, could you have said you have to close at midnight? Could you have said you have to have five security guards instead of one? Could you have said you have to have a camera system that LAPD could tap into at all times? These are the typical kinds of conditions that I hear in cases that are, frankly, worse than this in terms of the severity of crime. I’m just trying to try and get the…and I looked through the police reports that you provided to us, and frankly, there were a lot of police reports which I didn’t even know the police department would do. The police are giving citations because [unintelligible] flyers, which is definitely a violation of their parole for sure, I just didn’t know you could get a police officer to do that kind of documentation…

Audience: [vigorous applause]

MHD: In that stack of police reports I counted at least six times where actual LAPD officers on our City dime used time to document that a business had flyers. Which again, clear violation of their conditions, but typically, and I’ll just say it outright. In my part of town we can’t get police officers to do, to spend their time on that… so I’m just curious about, was there a [unintelligible] camera system, more security, more lighting, changed hours, was there anything other than “you’ve gotta be out of business”?

AJ: Well, in this case, again, looking at the evidence that I had before me, and the frequency of the violations of conditions, it was my determination at that time that because of the violent crimes that have occurred, the sexual assault, the…um…

Audience: Yes or no.

AJ: …the fights and things that were going on on the property and in the area and on the adjacent properties, it was my decision that additional conditions would not bring about the results that were necessary.

MHD: Thank you.

AJ: Thank you.


Image of American hero Marqueece Harris-Dawson is a crop of this freely licensed image obtained via Wikimedia.

  1. Although those two posts are about Rusty Mullet, they might as well be about the Cosmo, because the City’s evidence is just copy/pasta from some script they have for destroying bars and restaurants they don’t like.
  2. It’s not clear what this condition is supposed to accomplish, but it seems to be common in these kinds of situations.
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