2014 VBBID Emails Reveal, Among Other Things, That Bonin Staffer Debbie Dyner Harris Was On Venice Beach BID Steering Committee Since 2014 Despite Consistent Denials of City Involvement In Formation Process

Mike Bonin aide and Fairy godmother Debbie Dyner Harris posing with what will be left of her darling Venice Beach BID after the clock strikes the appointed hour.
Mike Bonin aide and Fairy godmother Debbie Dyner Harris posing with what will be left of her darling Venice Beach BID after the clock strikes the appointed hour.
Here are eleven pages of emails from 2014 released to me yesterday by Miranda Paster of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office.1 These provide a unique2 window into the process by which BIDs are created in the City of Los Angeles. It’s clear from these emails that, despite the fact that everyone in the City government denies it, the BID formation process is encouraged, facilitated, and inextricably interwoven with City action at every stage. Of course, this confirms precisely what the California Court of Appeal found in its landmark decision in Epstein v. HPOA: that “by giving the BID the legal breath of life, the City breathe[s] life into the POA as well.”3

In any case, here are many, many interesting facts newly revealed by these emails:

  • On June 9, 2014, Mike Bonin hosted a meeting with property owners “to discuss creating a BID.” This would seem to contradict or at least to cast some serious doubt on Laura McLennan’s direct, explicit statement to me that the BID formation process was initiated by the property owners.4
  • By June 12, 2014, Carl Lambert claimed5 to have “received petitions from about 70-80% of the owners on the Boardwalk” in favor of the BID. He and other proponents seem to have met with Debbie Dyner Harris the next day, Friday, June 13, 2014, to “discuss funding,” presumably for hiring a BID consultant to move the process forward.
  • Don Duckworth6 was the first consultant that the City arranged for to assist Lambert, Sokol, Heumann, and their zillionaire cronies in the BID formation process. By late June 2014 for some reason Duckworth had stopped answering emails from Lambert, who then hit up Miranda Paster for names of other consultants. This is evidently a service that Paster provides.7
  • By September 30, 2014 shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine8 had joined the effort. She had scheduled a meeting between BID proponents, Miranda Paster, and Debbie Dyner Harris for October 1, 2014 to discuss issues on an enumerated list that she sent around by email.
  • Finally, on October 2, 2014, Tara Devine thanked everyone for their participation in that meeting and told Debbie Dyner Harris: Debbie — we will keep you in the loop. I neglected to mention that the property owners would like you to participate as a nonvoting member of the Steering Committee, so we will include you in all our meeting emails as well. They really appreciate all your insight and involvement with this process. This last bit is particularly rich given everyone’s consistent, insistent denials of CD11 (and City government in general) involvement in this process. However, it bodes exceedingly well for pending CPRA requests I have with CD11!
  1. This is part of the yield from an extensive request I made about six weeks ago. If past results are any indication of future performance we can expect responsive emails to be trickling in until early next year.
  2. At least in my experience.
  3. It is worth reading the whole passage from which this excerpt is taken. It’s quite an inspiration for the anti-BID movement: The fact that local property owners who wanted City to create a BID were involved in the structuring of  the BID, and structuring of the POA to run the BID, does not mean that City did not “play a role in bringing” the POA “into existence.”   A BID cannot be created by private individuals.   Private individuals do not have the power to authorize tax assessments, or to create tax liens.   Thus, a public entity must be involved in the creation of any BID, no matter how, when, or by whom the idea and future structuring of the BID-to-be was initiated and pursued.   Here, as already noted, the POA was formed for the purpose of administering the BID. Thus, by giving the BID the necessary legal standing as a BID, and by providing that the BID would, in fact, be administered by a POA yet to be formed, City clearly was involved in bringing into existence the POA. An operative BID was the raison d’être for the POA;  by giving the BID the legal breath of life, the City breathed life into the POA as well. (Epstein v. HPOA). It’s interesting that Kerry Morrison, who attended the arguments at the Court of Appeals, told me back when she was still speaking to me that the justices who heard the case “didn’t get what we were about at all.” It seems to me that her real problem was that they got it all too well.
  4. :Me: “can you tell me who initiated the BID formation process?” Laura McLennan: “As for initiating the BID formation, that would be the property owners.”
  5. Although really, does anyone believe that guy’s unverified word about anything at this point?
  6. Duckworth is a major player in the City’s BID scene. I don’t have time to write on the details now, but check out this Google search to see the extent of his involvement. Like Estela Lopez and Susan Levi (another major LA BID figure about whom I’ve had too little time to write) Duckworth seems to move back and forth between consulting on BID formation and actually running BIDs.
  7. The most recent list I’ve been able to obtain via CPRA is this one from 2010. Note that Duckworth is on it.
  8. AKA Teresa Devine, because in the shadowy world inhabited by the troglodytic tribe of BID consultants, pseudonyms de BID are evidently acceptable.

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