Well, yesterday I was blessed1 to attend a meeting of the good old Fashion District BID, and you might even have noticed that I uploaded video2 and wrote a long and hilarious3 post about it. But these meetings are so rich in a weirdly Freudian way that there’s a neverending fount of subjects bubbling up from each and every one, and yesterday’s was no exception.
For instance, watch and listen here as unexpectedly professional Director of Operations Randall Tampa informs the BIDdies whose minion he is about an elderly disheveled white arsonist loose in the district.4 At one point, it seems, the arsonist lit a dumpster fire and BID security were the first on the scene. I’ll let Randall Tampa take it from here:
And in one case [the fire location] was a twenty yard rollup that was under a building. And our safety team smelled it, got there, saw it. And they wheeled the trash bin out. And they actually burned their hands. But the fire department got there, put it out, told them to put mustard on their hands. I guess that’s the new cure for minor burns.
And turn the page for some discussion, another episode from the meeting, and a complete transcription of Randall Tampa’s remarks.
First, don’t forget that the Fashion District BID is a property-based BID. That is, the members of the Board of Directors are property owners. They own the actual buildings.5 Imagine you’re one of them. You’ve just been told a story about how some of your employees, earning within a rounding error of minimum wage, have just burned their own hands in an effort to save one of your buildings from being burned down. What’s your reaction?
Well, if you guessed that you’d laugh hysterically and start making jokes about what variety of zillionaire-approved mustard they used to treat their burns, you’d be pretty much correct. You can watch them laughing it up right here. Don’t miss aggro-munchkin Linda Becker making the joke about ten seconds after everyone else already laughed at it.
I’m pretty sure, given the breathy moans, trembly gasps, and shuddering little oooohs and aaaaahs these BIDdies will emit, not to mention the embarrassingly intense O-faces they make, whenever an actual police is saying anything to them,6 that if these had been cops in this story rather than glorified security guards in yellow shirts they’d be nominating them for Congressional Medals of Honor instead of laughing about what kind of damn mustard they put on their burned hands.7
And now on to a more substantive matter. If you watched the whole of Randall Tampa’s report, you’ll have learned that the cops couldn’t arrest this alleged arsonist because none of the witnesses would admit that they’d seen him actually start a fire. And because he was only burning trash, a witness was required:
… because it’s trash it’s an arson but it’s not a burning of a building or a structure or personal property, it’s trash. So it falls into that misdemeanor category so it requires a witness that actually sees this thing occur …
Randall Tampa identified the problem, which is that: “… people become intimidated by the fact that if I say, yes, this is the guy that started the fire I’m gonna be in court for months.” And his solution is for the assembled zillionaires to “… reassure your tenants that they probably wouldn’t be going to court on this … It won’t be like that at all. It very rarely is like that.”
The point he’s making, and it’s essential to remember this whenever the homeless and the police are being discussed, is that nobody actually cares if the guy gets convicted or not. No one even cares if he goes to court. The point is to create conditions under which the police can arrest him. Of course they’ll let him go immediately, but even that doesn’t matter.
If he doesn’t come back they win, and if he does come back, and witnesses have been encouraged to testify, the cops can arrest him again. At some point they’ll get a stayaway order, which as far as I can tell8 is mostly based on the number of arrests in a given defined area. In any case, obviously Randall Tampa isn’t going to say this out loud, but it’s really the most plausible explanation for the point he’s making.
Of course, this is a popular but nevertheless reprehensible misuse of the law and the arrest power granted to police for the purpose of enforcing it. Cops aren’t given the power to take people forcibly into custody just for the purpose of making zillionaires happy, although you sure wouldn’t know that from watching the LAPD.
In some sense the BIDdies aren’t to blame for this abuse, because they’re not forcing the LAPD to abuse its powers by using arrests as punishment, they’re just asking them to do so. But, you know, if they weren’t asking, the LAPD wouldn’t be doing. In that sense, they certainly are to blame.
Anyway, that’s all on this jive for the moment. More pressing stories are lined up five deep, just waiting to be told! Probably I’m gonna knock out another quickie even tonight! So back in a jiff, friends, with more of what you crave!
Transcription of Randall Tampa’s remarks about the arsonist:
Randall Tampa: Well, I’ll tell you what’s going on right now. Since the beginning of the year we’ve had an individual lighting fires in the South end of the district. On Tuesday we had our operations committee meeting and just before the meeting this individual had started three fires. One at Eleventh and Maple and then he kind of went up to Santee. We were a half-step behind him. And we had tenants and merchants telling us and describing this guy to us and we finally caught up to him. We didn’t see him lighting a fire, unfortunately, because when the police got there they needed one of the tenants to say they actually saw this guy. He’s an older white guy, disheveled, so probably a transient, and he had a pocket full of lighters. And that was just three fires from one day, but I’d say in the last couple weeks we’ve probably had close to two dozen. And we’ve been real fortunate, because most of the fires have been in our trash receptacles or trash on the street. And in one case it was a twenty yard rollup that was under a building. And our safety team smelled it, got there, saw it. And they wheeled the trash bin out. And they actually burned their hands. [nervous giggling] But the fire department got there, put it out, told them to put mustard on their hands. I guess that’s the new cure for minor burns. But … [general talking and laughter among board members, including aggressively splenetic crackpot Linda Becker] But what I wanted to say was … [More giggling and joke-cracking amongst board members, now including shave-needing chunkhead thuggy-boy Mark Chatoff]
Unidentified Board Member: Dijon [Har-de-freaking-har-har-har]
RT: Yeah, there you go. It’s a French fire.
Linda Becker: It depends what kind, yeah!
RT: But reassure your tenants that they probably wouldn’t be going to court on this. I think people become intimidated by the fact that if I say, yes, this is the guy that started the fire I’m gonna be in court for months. It won’t be like that at all. It very rarely is like that. But it would have taken one of maybe four or five of the people that actually saw this guy light the fires to [unintelligible] him. Now, since Tuesday we had four more fires, all in that same area. And we’re playing this game with this guy. We haven’t seen him start these … he’s pretty sneaky, but we’re looking for him, we’re hoping to catch him in the act. Or around the fire as it starts so we can … [unintelligible] ourselves be the witness to it, and then have the police department do something. But their hands, on these type of matters are, because it’s trash it’s an arson but it’s not a burning of a building or a structure or personal property, it’s trash. So it falls into that misdemeanor category so it requires a witness that actually sees this thing occur, so …
Laurie Sale: How many did we have last year? [unintelligible]
Image of Linda Becker wishing she could kill people with beams from her eyes is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org.
- Sarcasm. Really, really sarcasm!
- Both to YouTube and to Archive.Org.
- What’s the point of even having a blog if you can’t pat yourself shamelessly on the back in it? This is not a rhetorical question. Answer in the comments.
- There is a transcription of the whole thing after the break.
- Or they work for people who own the buildings, but the point I’m making still follows.
- Other than something unimaginably horrible, like “have you been drinking tonight, sir/ma’am?”
- It’s just more evidence that BIDdies get a sexy feeling from contemplating the fact that cops can and will kill on their behalf, but their security guards generally can’t kill anyone, at least not if they want to get away with it.
- Partially based on my research in Hollywood, although the evidence even there is thin because of the absolute intransigence with respect to CPRA of both the Hollywood BIDs and the LAPD. I have this item, which isn’t much, but really, the way it works is that the BID asks the City Attorney to get a stayaway order and then they do. I also have this dump of as-yet-uninterpretable stayaway orders issued for the HPOA by neighborhood prosecutor Jackie Lawson.