I know some of you out there have been remembering such classics as the story of the angry scary fat black homeless male man or the story of the gang members escaping the seething urban hellscape of Santa Freaking Monica and thereby wondering just why it is that it’s been since March freaking 2017 since I last posted any full frontal mockery of the halfwits-by-the-sea out in Northwest Zillionaireville. I’m speaking of course of the Pacific Palisades Business Improvement District, Mike Freaking Bonin’s platonic ideal of a good BID.
And it’s certainly no coincidence that my last few posts about these coastal dimwits had to do with Laurie Freaking Sale’s weirdo Humistonian CPRA aggression. For instance there was the incident of Ms. Laurie Sale’s being too busy to follow the law, a theory which doesn’t work so well for non-zillionaires.1 Then there was the case of board member Rick Freaking Lemmo explaining how they were going to spend 3% of their annual assessments on lawyers to keep records out of my hands.
Well, it turns out that that’s not working out so well,2 because earlier this week I took a trek all the way out to the damn Palisades on public transit3 to finally inspect some records after fifteen tooth-pullingly painful months trying to talk some sense into Ms. Laurie Sale and then a few more months of my lawyer trying to talk some sense into the world’s angriest CPRA attorney, Ms. Carol F. Humiston.4
And good lord, friends! The craziness in these records is beyond fever pitch! It’s beyond Ebola pitch! Can’t easily be measured by disease slash pitch comparisons is how crazy it is! For various technical reasons it’s going to take a long time to prep this steaming pile o’ puckey for publication, so I’ll be dribbling it out a bit at a time. Today’s installment consists of 44 pages of emails amongst the BID Board, which can be found here on Archive.Org.
And amongst the millionish sharp little shards of crazy to be found here is the single most egregious violation of the Brown Act that I’ve ever known to be committed by a BID.5 In January 2016 BID zeck dreck Laurie Sale6 emailed her board with a motion to approve a contract and one by one they all voted yes by reply-all. This is beyond bad, beyond obvious. Turn the page for a discussion of the section that this violates, of what can be done about it now,7 and transcriptions of and links to all the evidence.
✰ The Law ✰
The Brown Act is California’s open meeting law. It basically provides that all agencies, which includes BIDs,8 that wield public power must do so in public. As the law so eloquently states at §54950:
In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.
Anyone who’s read and understood §54950 will have no trouble following the law, because every other detailed requirement of the law flows clearly from that one principle: government agencies, including BIDs, can’t do stuff in secret. For instance, the Brown Act at §54952.2(b) can’t possibly come as a surprise:
A majority of the members of a legislative body shall not, outside a meeting authorized by this chapter, use a series of communications of any kind, directly or through intermediaries, to discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item of business that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.
✰ The Sad, Sad Facts ✰
🙫 January 6, 2016 Laurie Sale to PPBID Board
From Palisades BID
Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 10:18 AM
To: ‘Benjamin Gold’; ‘Dee Dee West ‘; Elliot Zorensky; ‘Joyce Brunelle’; ‘Laurie Sale’;
Lee Ford; ‘Lynn Borland’; Peter Scolney; Rick Lemmo; Shaun Malek; Susan Carroll
Subject: We forgot something
I think we need to approve the Chrysalis contract. If everyone approves, I think Elliot can sign. Please RESPOND ALL
Pacific Palisades Business Improvement District
🙫 January 6, 2016 Lee Ford to Laurie Sale and Board
Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: We forgot something
Lee Ford votes for the approval of the Chrysalis contract.
And there’s no need to transcribe the rest of them, but here are the sad, sad links:
🙫 January 6, 2016 Lynn Borland’s vote
🙫 January 6, 2016 Peter Scolney’s vote
🙫 January 6, 2016 Rick Lemmo’s vote
🙫 January 9, 2016 Susan Carroll’s vote
🙫 January 10, 2016 Joyce Brunelle’s vote
🙫 January 10, 2016 Lynn Borland’s second vote
🙫 January 11, 2016 Deedee West’s vote
🙫 January 11, 2016 Shaun Malek’s vote
✰ The Consequences ✰
There are going to be no consequences for this violation of the law and betrayal of the public trust of the people of the great state of California. The Brown Act contains four remedies against those who violate it. The greatest of these is found at §54959, which states:
Each member of a legislative body who attends a meeting of that legislative body where action is taken in violation of any provision of this chapter, and where the member intends to deprive the public of information to which the member knows or has reason to know the public is entitled under this chapter, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
And as much as I despise these halfwitted BIDdies, I must admit that it is exceedingly unlikely that any of them knew what they were doing when they held this illegal meeting.9 In this case not only is ignorance of the law a defense, but stupidity enhances its efficacy. Leave it to zillionaires to find a law like that to violate! So no one’s getting arrested, no one’s going to jail. The other remedies are civil in nature. Next we have § 54960, which allows anyone to file a petition:
for the purpose of stopping or preventing violations or threatened violations of this chapter by members of the legislative body of a local agency or to determine the applicability of this chapter to ongoing actions or threatened future actions of the legislative body…
My understanding is that it’s not possible to use this to address past actions without meeting some other criteria discussed below, so this is out. Next we have §54960.1, which authorizes the filing of a petition to address past violations for the purpose of nullifying the action taken. Under this section action must be taken within 30 days of the violation.
Similarly, §54960.2 allows a petition for the purpose of addressing a past violation, but in order to invoke this section a demand letter must be sent to the agency within nine months of the violation giving them a chance to promise never to violate that part of the law again. So, sadly, nothing can be done to these arrogant BIDdies and their wanton violations of the laws of humanity and the Lord.
But in my experience, like wild beasts of prey who’ve gotten a taste for human blood,10 once zillionaires have gotten a taste for the outlaw life they never lose it. We can expect more violations to come to light, and, although the BID has hitherto obstructed timely access to its records to such an egregious extent that all violations uncovered via CPRA will be time-barred, that’s not always going to be the case. It’s hard to train zillionaires to obey the law, even harder than getting a camel through the eye of a damn needle, but I believe it can be done. Stay tuned for details!
Image of Elliot Zorensky is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and is floofed around from this lil Zorensky here, going to market or not can’t tell cause not enough facts.
- Try it some time. E.g. “Sorry I was drinking beer in the park, officer. I was too busy to go to the damn bar.” Or “Sorry I’m living on the sidewalk, officer. I was too busy to transform the entire oppressive array of social, economic, and political systems which put me here.”
- I mean, you might be thinking that if their objective to to obstruct my access to the records, and it does seem to at least include that goal, then maybe it is working out well for them since it took me well over a damn year to get access to these records. But the only sensible way to construe their goal, even assuming that it includes obstructing access to the records, has also to include doing so without creating liability. That, of course, is where they’re failing, because despite the fact that they’re no doubt paying Carol Humiston zillions of dollars to advise them, they’ve basically just decided to adhere to and defend the totally wrong, totally crackpotted theories of Ms. Laurie Sale with respect to these records, especially her totally wrong, totally crackpotted exemption claims, which can’t possibly have been made in accordance with the advice of a competent lawyer. Without going into much detail right now I can tell you definitely that this choice has created a great deal of liability for them. I will never ever ever understand why it seems worthwhile to these people to violate the law now and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege later. It really must be because they do not actually believe the law applies to them. And as I’m fond of saying, mostly they’re right, the law does not apply to them. Mostly the law is a stick for them to beat homeless until they leave the Palisades. But in some rare cases the law does apply. The CPRA is one of them. As you’ll see below, the Brown Act is another one.
- If you’re wondering it is 204 to the Expo line to the Santa Monica Bus Lines number 9, which follows what seems to be an incomprehensibly contorted route from Downtown Santa Freaking Monica to the Palisades. Incomprehensible, that is, until you realize that the only reason this bus line exists is to deliver maids to Zillionaireville. Then it makes perfect sense.
- F, of course, for Freaking. Both these women are walking illustrations of the eternally wise observation that you can’t talk sense into people whose salaries depend on their failing to have sense talked into them.
- And they did it right out in the open and just handed over the evidence to me. If this is the kind of thing they hand over unredacted imagine what high crimes and misdemeanors are lurking amongst the exemption claims!
- Now retired, I see I forgot to mention above. Her retirement is putatively one of the myriad reasons it took so damn long to get a look at these records.
- Nothing. Statute of Freaking Limitations.
- BIDdies will tell you and tell you and tell you again that they are private corporations and blah blah blah etc. That argument may be convincing in theory, but in practice they’re public agencies. They’re made subject to the Brown Act by Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District and subsequently by the Property and Business Improvement District Law at §36612.
- It’s still a meeting even though it was held via email, at least I think it is. Maybe it’s not as clear as I thought. Anyway, it’s not important because the point is that this section doesn’t apply.
- But I repeat myself!