As you may recall, I’ve been studying the relationships between BIDs and the consultants they hire to guide them through the process of establishing or renewing their BIDs. As part of this work I discovered, e.g., that the Fashion District BID is paying $55,000 to FDBID Executive Directrix Rena Leddy’s former employer Urban Place Consulting for renewal services. But before the Board hired UPC they, acting as the fiscally responsible grownups they are, for whatever reason, presumed to be, solicited proposals from the City’s various BID consultants.
And, although it’s probably not such a surprise given how few BID consultants there are in this City, it turns out that famously shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine submitted a proposal! She didn’t get the job, though, possibly because her bid was almost $20,000 higher than UPC’s. And there are many things to be learned from this document, not least of which is the fact that Tara Devine, utilizing the grammatical voice known technically as “unhinged third person,” refers to herself throughout as “President Tara Devine.”1
The most important information in the document, though, has to do with the scope of services, which contains crucial information for my ongoing project of turning BID consultants in to the Ethics Commission for failing to register as lobbyists. One necessary element of the registration requirement, found in the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance,2 is that a lobbyist be employed “…for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any person.”3
BID renewal requires the City Council to pass two distinct ordinances,4 and this fact is a key element of my my general argument that BID consulting is lobbying. But how much more effective than me arguing for this position to just have President Tara Devine admit herself, in her own words, that when a BID hires her as a consultant they are hiring her to get some legislation passed. Given this admission against interest, she’ll have a hard time arguing that she’s not a lobbyist:
Coordination with City Clerk, HCED Chair, Council President, and Council District 14 to effectuate scheduling and approval of:
o Ordinance of Intention
o Ordinance of Establishment
o Prop 218 Ballot Issuance
Anyway, the whole document is well worth your time to read, although most of it’s merely mockable rather than substantial. Turn the page for transcriptions of some selections, including a bunch of risible testimonials from President Tara Devine’s cronies in BIDlandia and their comments, as filtered through her considerable third-person ego, about her work in Venice and elsewhere.
All work contained in this proposal shall be performed by, or under the supervision of President Tara Devine. Any work performed by any employee or subcontractor shall be reviewed and approved by the President. Ms. Devine shall serve as the primary Client liasion and shall give any public presentation requested by the Client.
Ms. Devine‘s decade of experience with the City of Los Angeles, combined with nine years’ experience in the private sector, makes her uniquely qualified to help private sector clients successfully understand and negotiate the public sector, and to help translate private sector needs to the public sector. Her public sector experience includes 10 years of service to three Los Angeles city elected officials in various economic development and planning capacities. Her private sector experience ranges from corporate experience to small business ownership to non-profit experience, and includes the management of three Los Angeles BIDs in a 100-block area. During this time, she was instrumental in the successful formation of a new BID, the successful renewal of another, and even the difficult, but correct, decision to not to renew the third.
Ms. Devine understands all aspects of how BIDs operate, including why they succeed or fail and how they can improve and thrive. She is a member of the International Downtown Association (IDA). She has been an active participant in LA BID Consortium meetings and has supported many advocacy efforts on behalf of LA BIDs, including several successful projects for the LA BID Consortium.
As the founder and president of Devine Strategies, Ms. Devine focuses on developing successful long-term client relationships, even when consulting projects may be short-term. She specializes in entitlements, community and political outreach, and business improvement district consulting. Current and former clients include government agencies, multiple national retailers, property owners, business groups, business improvement districts and international consulting firms. Business Improvement District consulting, including formation, renewal and management consulting, is a particular and growing focus of the firm.
Ms. Devine is exceedingly proud to have lived in Los Angeles since 1994 and have worked in Los Angeles since 1997. She loves the history and diversity of LA and remains passionate about its future. Devine Strategies is a six year-old, Los Angeles-based, woman-owned, small business enterprise. The firm carries general liability insurance and maintains a current City of Los Angeles business license.
A list of our most relevant current and former client references follows.
Steve Heumann, Venice Boardwalk Association (VBA) & Sidewalk Enterprises
Steve Heumann is the President of the Venice Boardwalk Association and CEO of Sidewalk Enterprises. Steve, together with Mark Sokol, has headed the Steering Committee for the Venice Beach BID formation effort (currently underway.) He has had a “front row seat” for the exceptionally difficult formation in Venice, where we have managed everything, including outreach and media. (Achieving anything in Venice is very nearly impossible.) Steve has also served as the administrative and fiscal lead for the formation and will be the Treasurer for the newly formed property owners’ association.
Estela Lopez, Central City East Association (CCEA)
Estela is the Executive Director of the Central City East Association, which administers the Downtown Industrial BID. CCEA is a former employer and a periodic consulting client. We most recently helped them with the renewal of the Downtown Industrial BID (2013-2014) and various public policy issues (2011-2014.) We have worked on more projects together than either of us could recall, and she has known President Tara Devine for nearly fifteen years.
Jessica Lall, South Park and South Park II BIDs
Jessica and Devine Strategies are currently working together on the joint renewal of South Park and South Park II for 2017. We have worked together since January 2013. We assisted South Park with its last renewal in 2012 (prior to her hiring.) Since her tenure began, we successfully established the new South Park II BID, which began services in 2016 and is timed to expire at the same time as South Park (to facilitate their joint renewal as one BID in 2018.) Jessica is the current Executive Director of the South Park and South Park II BIDs, and the immediate past President of the LA BID Consortium, a peer group that meets monthly for BID staff and board members to share information and best practices.
Mark Sokol, Hotel Erwin & Larry’s Restaurant
Mark Sokol is the owner of Hotel Erwin and Larry’s Restaurant in Venice Beach. Mark, together with Steve Heumann, has headed the Steering Committee for the Venice Beach BID formation effort (currently underway.) As someone who was wholly new to the process of BID formation, he can provide perspective on Devine Strategies’ ability to communicate effectively with property owners and make BID formation accessible and understandable to those who are wholly unfamiliar with how BIDs work.
- In honor of this fact we here at the blog have determined to stop using the epithet “shadowy BID consultant,” which we have heretofore used in reference to President Tara Devine. From now on we will, if we remember, refer to President Tara Devine as “President Tara Devine” rather than as “shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine.”
- At §48.02 for the definition of lobbyist and the definition of municipal legislation and at §48.07(A) for the registration requirement itself.
- MLO at LAMC §48.02.
- Known as the ordinance of intention and the ordinance of formation.