As you know, the Central City East Association held a meeting the other day.1 And a lot of interesting stuff went down. For instance, watch and listen here as Estela Lopez, the voodoo queen of Skid Row herself, explains to the Board that for some reason having to do with the much-discussed trash ordinance, they need to rewrite part of their contract with their street-cleaning contractor Chrysalis. There’s a transcription of the whole discussion after the break, but it’s easy to summarize what happens.
Estela Lopez is all like guys, we gotta redo the contract because reasons and then some random Board member is all like I have a motion because Roberts, and then Mark Shinbane, the Fabulous Freaking Fishmonger himself, is all like I second the motion and let’s vote. Unanimous? Done! The only problem? There’s not a word about it on the damn agenda. And this wasn’t the only instance of this kind of behavior at the meeting.
Just take a look here as freaking Bob Smiland, honcho supremo of Inner City Arts, quintessentially opposite-of-Silas-Lapham paint zillionaire, and unanimously acclaimed most galootish CCEA board member of all freaking time, responds to dictator-for-life Mark Shinbane’s rhetorical question about if there’s anything else before he adjourns the damn meeting by going off on a tangent so freaking tangential that his fellow totalitarian zillionaires were left in dropped-jaw silence as he rambled on about tourist brochures for Skid Row to be left in upscale hotel lobbies and god knows WTF else.2 And … you guessed it! Not a word about it on the damn agenda.
And what’s the problem with all this, you may well ask? Why can’t a few good old white supremacist buddies get together on a Thursday morning at ground zero of the homeless crisis in the United States of America and talk about any random crap that pops into their little zillionaire-addled heads? Well, as it happens, it is against the freaking law, that’s why!
Because business improvement districts have voluntarily chosen to benefit from coercively collected assessments, the State Legislature has passed Streets and Highways Code §36612, which makes all these BID boards of directors subject to the Brown Act. The good old Brown Act contains many treasures, and not least amongst these is good old §54954.2(a)(3), which states unequivocally that: “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.”
Mark Shinbane, of course, is famous for his criminal ways and he’s no stranger to violating the Brown Act, but this, to the best of my knowledge, is the first time he’s ever done it on camera. Turn the page for a little more evidence, transcriptions of the relevant bits, and, best of all, a copy of the report I sent to the LA County DA this morning turning these creepers in for their criminal ways.
Now, Estela Lopez first sent me a copy of the damn agenda on February 20 at 10:47 a.m.3 Anyway, it occurred to me after Thursday’s meeting that maybe Estela Lopez had prepared a supplemental agenda and called the relevant part of the meeting special in accordance with §54956, which only requires 24 hours notice. As we’ve seen recently, this kind of thing gets done all the time when a local agency needs to add additional items to its agendas after the 72 hours is used up.
I didn’t think that had happened, but I thought I’d better ask before I go, you know, accusing all and sundry of breaking the damn law right out on the open internet. Consequentially, on Thursday afternoon, at 1:05 p.m., I fired off an email asking Estela Lopez if she’d sent out any other agendas:
To: Estela Lopez <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Agenda
Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018 1:05 PM
Thank you, Estela.
Was this the only agenda distributed for the DID meeting today?
I didn’t actually expect her to answer, because she’s a wily opponent and so forth, but, as it turns out, she did. Less than two hours later, at 2:54 p.m., she sent me a reply email confirming performatively that she had not sent any additional agendas by sending me another copy of the one I already had:
From: Estela Lopez <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Agenda
Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018 2:54 PM
Your email didn’t have an attachment, but I just resent you the two agendas for today’s meeting. One was for the BID meeting, the other for CCEA.
So that excuse is closed off to these habitual criminals. Anyway, as we all know by now the City of Los Angeles is not going to do anything about violations like this. At best they don’t care and at worst they’re protecting big donors from the consequences of their actions.
Whatever’s going on with the City of Los Angeles, the County has an office specifically for dealing with shenanigans of this ilk. It is, as you probably know well by now, the Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Anyway, this morning I filed this complaint against the CCEA with them. What will come of it? Hard to say. Mostly they ignore me, but sometimes they will admonish, sternly even! That’s probably the worst that will happen here, but it’s not nothing. Stay tuned for news as it happens, friends!
Transcription of first violation involving Chrysalis contract:
Estela Lopez: Now, the question to you is, in order for Chrysalis to take this over we would have to do a modification to their contract so that this now becomes a part of their charge. So we need to increase their contract amount accordingly to be able to get paid for this. So I simply wanted to put that out as a recommendation from staff that needs to be agreed…
Unidentified Board Member: I’ll make a motion.
UBM: I’ll make a motion that we contract with Chrysalis for trash pickup and coordinate that with the stopping our … stopping NASA [unintelligible]
Mark Shinbane: Second.
EL: Howard, OK?
Mark Shinbane: All in favor?
The Chorus: Aye.
MS: All opposed? OK.
Transcription of whatever the hell Bob Smiland was talking about:
Mark Shinbane: Alright, anything else?
Bob Smiland: [unintelligible] … might have done this before my time but [unintelligible] … Central City Association, and they had some lovely, lovely brochures promoting the City and themselves. And I happened to read through one of them very carefully and they had individual pages also promoting Little Tokyo, the Arts District, the Flower District, everything but us. Sort of interesting, they omitted … [unintelligible] … right in the middle! … [unintelligible] … pictures of … [unintelligible] … We are the donut hole. But we have so much goodness here. We all focus on our challenges, but might we want to someday do something to market the value, the legacy, of so many of you in the room … to remind the City of the quality of the businesses, the people …
Estela Lopez: And the non-profits …
Bob Smiland: We don’t toot our own horns very often … we might have some political benefit, other reasons …
Mark Shinbane: Yeah, we’d actually done a study at one point, survey the amount of businesses and employees we have in the area. It was several thousand people, believe it or not, … [unintelligible] … And, I want to say, over two million dollars to businesses. So it’s significant.
Image of Mark Shinbane and his damn fishes is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. It’s made up outta this fish and this Mark Shinbane. Note that to the best of my knowledge, Mark Shinbane has never owned an emotional support tuna. It’s still an open question as to whether he even has emotions to support.
- Video available here on YouTube and here on Archive.Org.
- Transcription, as always, after the break.
- That in itself is a violation of the Brown Act. I’m signed up with her to receive copies of agendas in accordance with the Brown Act at §54954.1, which states unambiguously that:
Any person may request that a copy of the agenda, or a copy of all the documents constituting the agenda packet, of any meeting of a legislative body be mailed to that person. … Upon receipt of the written request, the legislative body or its designee shall cause the requested materials to be mailed at the time the agenda is posted pursuant to Section 54954.2 and 54956 or upon distribution to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body, whichever occurs first.
Obviously she didn’t first send this agenda to her Board of Directors fewer than 48 hours before the meeting. It’s a little too messy and inconsequential of an issue to contest is my feeling, although, as always, it’s possible, maybe even likely, that professional knowledge end experience will trump my amateurish speculations.