The Temptations Of The Gangsta Life Were Too Strong: Blair Besten’s Brief Attempt To Live As A Productive, Law-Abiding Citizen Lasts Less Than 24 Hours Before She Embarked On Another Crime Spree

Just yesterday we asked you, our loyal audience, to join with us in a sympathetic moment of silence for Blair Besten, executive directrix of the Historic Core BID, who was forced by circumstances to quit her outlaw ways and follow the law for just once in her professional life.

Well, I’m sorry to have to report that she’s back to living la vida loca on the mean streets of DTLA, unsurprisingly I suppose, as white collar crimes have such a very high recidivism rate. Blair Besten’s attempt at walking the strait and narrow path lasted about 6 minutes short of 24 hours, at which point she busted out in yet another crime spree. Here’s the background: This afternoon, a few of your loyal staff members rode the good old Red Line to Pershing Square to attend the June meeting of the Historic Core BID’s Board of Directors. We filmed the whole thing, if you’re interested.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the BID’s marketing specialist, Paola Flores, who invited us to sign in on the sign-in sheet. We declined, as we always do, and noted that the sheet was in violation of the Brown Act. This was the first (and least important) of three violations, the technical details of which along with the usual slew of goodies you shall find after the break.

You see, the Brown Act at §54953.3 states unequivocally that:

If an attendance list, register, questionnaire, or other similar document is posted at or near the entrance to the room where the meeting is to be held, or is circulated to the persons present during the meeting, it shall state clearly that the signing, registering, or completion of the document is voluntary, and that all persons may attend the meeting regardless of whether a person signs, registers, or completes the document.

There was no such statement on this sign-in sheet. This is illegal, but it’s probably not that illegal. Not so, however, with the other violations.

Next, take a look at the meeting’s agenda. You’ll notice that the only opportunity for public comment is at item 9, directly before adjournment. You’ll also notice that item 4 is an action item, and the Board did take action on it. In fact, you can watch them put forth a motion, get a second, and vote on the motion. There was no opportunity for public comment before this item was called.

Now consider the Brown Act at §54954.3(a), which states:

Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item

That is, if they’re going to vote on something, they have to allow public comment before they vote on it. Not at the end of the meeting, after they’ve already voted. This is a quite serious violation. I am under the impression that the usual penalty imposed is that they have to redo the item. I’m not sure, but perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to find out at some point.

And finally, the most upsetting violation occurred at the end of the meeting. The Board members had big thick packets handed around to them. At the end of the meeting I asked Paola Flores if I could look at one. She asked Blair Besten, who actually just told me no. She and/or Paola told me I could file a public records request for it if I wanted to see it. This, friends, is very bad. Compare the wise words of the Brown Act at §54957.5(a)(c), which states in part:

(a) …agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body … shall be made available on request without delay. … (c) Writings that are public records under subdivision (a) and that are distributed during a public meeting shall be made available at the meeting if prepared by the local agency…

It’s unreal that a BID, funded by public tax money, ostensibly overseen by the City,1 can make such egregious errors. I haven’t seen such amateurish nonsense since October 2014 in Hollywood. So naturally, I fired off an email to Blair Besten, CC-ed to Rita Moreno for good luck, and we’ll see what happens. I hope to complain elsewhere by Monday, and you’ll read about it here first!

Text of the email:

Dear Ms. Besten,

I would like to call your attention to three serious violations of the Brown Act that took place at today’s HCBID Board Meeting.

First, your sign-in sheet did not state that signing it was voluntary. An explicit statement of this fact is required by Government Code Section 54953.3, which states that:

A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a legislative body of a local agency, to register his or her name, to provide other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance.

If an attendance list, register, questionnaire, or other similar document is posted at or near the entrance to the room where the meeting is to be held, or is circulated to the persons present during the meeting, it shall state clearly that the signing, registering, or completion of the document is voluntary, and that all persons may attend the meeting regardless of whether a person signs, registers, or completes the document.

Second, the agenda for the meeting allowed for public comment only at the end of the meeting. This is a violation of Government Code Section 54954.3(a), which states in pertinent part that:

Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item.

As you are aware, members of the public were provided absolutely no opportunity to address the Board on their motion to write a letter supporting the 433 Main Street project either before or during their consideration of this item.

Finally, your explicit refusal to let me look at the Board packet at the meeting is a violation of Government Code section 54957.5(a)(c), which state in pertinent part that:

(a) …agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body … shall be made available on request without delay. … (c) Writings that are public records under subdivision (a) and that are distributed during a public meeting shall be made available at the meeting if prepared by the local agency…

I hope that you will take measures to make sure that none of these violations occur in the future.

Also, please don’t neglect to notify me of your upcoming Executive Committee meeting at the time you notify the members of the committee.

Thanks for your attention to these important matters.

Mike


Image of Blair Besten started out here and the modified version is ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.Org.

  1. Which, admittedly, has its own problems complying with the Brown Act, but they’re not so blatantly stupid as these violations usually.
Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.