North Figueroa Association Establishes Two Putatively Ad Hoc Committees In Transparent Attempt To Evade Public Scrutiny — It’s Not Clear That Their Brown Act Loophole Theory Is Correct — And They Violated The Brown Act While Forming The Committees — Misty Iwatsu Explains BID Renewal Process To A Bunch Of Ignorant Board Members — Gina Alza Flips The Freakin’ Frick Out When She Learns Misty Iwatsu Won’t Do All The Work — Screams That She Has A Damn Job Already And So Do All The Other Board Members — Take That, Misty!

Oh, for God’s sake! Yesterday the freaking North Figueroa Association called a special meeting.1 As always, I zooped out there on the good old 81 and videotaped the whole damn thing, and you can watch it here on YouTube or here on Archive.Org as you prefer. Here’s the agenda that Misty Iwatsu distributed. There are only two items of business on there, which are:

a. Highland Park BID- Committee formed
b. Personnel- Employee Contract renewal- Committee formed

What’s going on here, it’s pretty clear, is that the NFA can’t stand the scrutiny they’ve been under lately, what with ongoing activism related to their illegal destruction of public art, their über-creepazoidal Facebook stalking of people, their weirdo symbiotic relationship with Cedillo staffer Bill Cody, the world’s oldest field deputy, who, e.g., “handles” the BID’s enemies list, their slavering white supremacy and unconvincing denial thereof, their unprovoked attacks on street vendors, and so on.

And so, instead of reforming their outlaw ways like sane people would do, they’ve taken to canceling their regular meetings in a pathetic attempt to avoid mockery. But they do still have to get some business done, like e.g. Misty Iwatsu’s contract seems to be expiring or already gone, and they have to handle the damn BID renewal.2 Hence, like so many BIDs around the City who can’t stand the heat but won’t get out of the damn kitchen, they’ve decided to cower behind a putative loophole in the Brown Act,3

And not only that, but these BIDdies are so astoundingly clownish that in this ten minute meeting they managed not only to violate the Brown Act about one and a half times,4 but also board member Gina Alza had a weird tantrum about how Misty Iwatsu ought to do all the outreach work for their BID renewal because the board members actually have jobs unlike, I guess, Misty Iwatsu? Anyway, turn the page for the details, both sordid and tedious, which is just how BIDology rolls, innit?

So as you’re probably aware, the Brown Act forces various kinds of governmental bodies to make their decisions in public. They have to give advance notice of their meetings, they have to stick to their agendas, they have to allow public comment and make the documents they hand around public. The technical term for a governmental body that’s subject to these rules is a “legislative body.” There is at least one glaring loophole in the law, though. The relevant section of the Brown Act is §54952(b), which excludes certain kind of committees from these transparency rules:

A commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency, whether permanent or temporary, decisionmaking or advisory, created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body. However, advisory committees, composed solely of the members of the legislative body that are less than a quorum of the legislative body are not legislative bodies, except that standing committees of a legislative body, irrespective of their composition, which have a continuing subject matter jurisdiction, or a meeting schedule fixed by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body are legislative bodies for purposes of this chapter.

The first problematic bit is blue in the quote above. Ad hoc committees are usually subject, but if they have only BID board members on them and fewer than a majority, which seems to be but is not certainly less than seven in the case of the NFA, they’re not subject to the Brown Act. But, strangely, even the loophole has a loophole. It’s red in the quote above. If the BID board fixes the meeting schedule of these putatively ad hoc, putatively advisory committees, then all of a sudden they become subject to the Brown Act.

So it’s really good evidence in favor of my theory that Board President Tom Wilson5 went out of his way to say, and you can watch and listen here, that “these committees are ad hoc. They meet when they need to meet.” Why is he going to say that unless some lawyer told him that they couldn’t have secret meetings unless that were the case? Anyway, the story’s not over yet, and it’s quite possible that the NFA has badly understood some details about this clause of the law. I am gathering more information, so stay tuned.

The next fascinating bit was when Misty Iwatsu grabbed the mic6 and began explaining to her lords and mistresses what the renewal7 process involves. So clueless are the BIDdies that Tom Wilson, who’s the big bad BID boss, says that the work of the renewal committee culminates in the vote. This is wrong, of course, and Misty Iwatsu, who regardless of her failings does seem mostly to grok the PBID law, corrects him. She reminds him that first come the petitions, then come the ballots. And because Misty’s gonna be Misty, she spent some time expanding on the petition stage:

So everybody’s that’s involved in the renewal, or actually all the property owners are gonna need to, once we get the management district plan written and submitted and the engineer’s report submitted and we’re gonna go out to petition and that’s when all of you guys contact all the property owners, because you’re the ones that are going to be able to get them passed, not whoever you hire…

And this is where Gina Alza, the North Figueroa Association’s very own Morticia Addams, interrupted her.8 It’s hard to hear her for whatever reason, but her little hissy fit starts here. Her rage spirals up, up, up, as Misty Iwatsu, who seems tragically used to this kind of abuse, tries to explain, and Tom Wilson, who actually is as clueless as he seems, mansplainingly placates wildly. She reaches a kind of feverish plateau, gesturing wildly around the room, telling Misty Iwatsu that “I think you have to do your job” and finally exclaiming in her anger and her pain, pointing to her fellow board members, “We WORK! Nobody pays me!” Each unhappy BID is unhappy in its own way, as they say.

And finally, as a reward for making it this far, let me just call your attention yet again to the agenda that Misty Iwatsu sent around yesterday morning. In fact, it’s worth reproducing the whole entire thing, so take a look:

Special Meeting Agenda
I. Call to Order: 10 am
a. Highland Park BID- Committee formed
b. Personnel- Employee Contract renewal- Committee formed

II. Adjournment- Meeting: September 18, 2018 at 10:00 a.m., Future Studio, 5558 N. Figueroa St.

Of course you’ll note what’s missing right away. There’s no agendized public comment period. And in fact you can watch the whole meeting all the way through and you’ll see that, despite the fact that there were at least three members of the public present, they never solicited public comment. Interestingly, though, it turns out that per the Brown Act a public comment section is not a property of the meeting itself, but is in fact a property of the agenda. See §54954.3(b), which states in pertinent part that:

Every notice for a special meeting shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body concerning any item that has been described in the notice for the meeting before or during consideration of that item.

This, by the way, strikes me as quite a clever bit of lawmaking. After all, many meetings are not recorded and therefore there’s going to be no way to determine afterwards if public comment was allowed or not. By requiring the agenda itself to include the public comment period the ambiguity is erased. And this situation is not ambiguous at all. There’s no public comment period on the agenda, so the BID broke the damn law. You’ll hear more about this soon enough!

Image of Gina Alza is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and is mooshed up, down, and all around from this lil Gina Alza here.

  1. You’ll recall that per the Brown Act at §54956(a) only 24 hours notice is required to publicize the agenda if a meeting’s called special: “The call and notice shall be posted at least 24 hours prior to the special meeting in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public.”
  2. It’s not strictly a renewal for ultra-technical reasons that I’m loath to go into in detail. The HPBID was established in 2009 under a local Los Angeles code section called the Alpha BID law, rather than the more normal state PBID law. Although the LAMC section that allows this alternative means of BID formation is still live, the City refuses to allow any new such BIDs to be formed. This is for reasons I don’t fully understand yet. So since the HPBID is reforming under a new legal regimen it doesn’t count as a renewal, but is rather a new establishment.
  3. Explained in great detail after the break.
  4. The half a time is at the end of the video, but I don’t have time, space, or inclination to describe it in this post. There’s something really interesting going on there, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. I will do some research and get back to you.
  5. Who by the way is a shameless liar and creepy little packet of damp and smarmy ick.
  6. The figurative mic, friends. Get with the program.
  7. Except as mentioned above for highly technical reasons it’s not exactly a renewal.
  8. There’s a lot of unresolved hostility on this board against Misty Iwatsu, which is probably why she’s perennially on the job market.

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