Remember In 2017 When Tara Devine Was The South Park BID’s Renewal Consultant? — For A While It Seemed That The Petition Drive Was Lagging And That The BID Would Have To Go To Manual Billing For Year One — BID Treasurer Bob Buente Blamed Tara Devine For This — Publicly Proclaimed Himself To Be “Not A Tara Fan” — And Also Congratulated Himself Cause He Didn’t Yell At Her On The Phone! — And When Tara Failed Ellen Salome Riotto Stepped In! — Saved The Damn Day! — And Was Rewarded Just Like A Real Life Fairy Tale!

Remember when Jessica Lall left the South Park BID after Carol Schatz’s hand popped up out of out of that lake and handed Jessica Lall control over that weaponized slice of zillionaire mob-rule known as the Central City Association? And Ellen Salome Riotto came up out of nowhere like Dick Whittington and his damn cat to assume the holy mantle of interim South Park BID Zeck Dreck?1

And around that time, for whatever reason, twisted little Parkie minion Katie Kiefer was the boss of South Park BID’s CPRA efforts. And the power went to her head, or she had not yet realized that Carol Freaking Humiston was working through her own weirdo anger issues rather than giving prudent advice to her clients, or something. And in those dark days the South Parkies were a very model for CPRA-obstructionist BIDdies.

But, you know, I keep trying, because they have important information out there in the Park. And I am pleased to announce that those dark days are past! Now, under the enlightened regime of Ellen Salome Riotto, now promoted to most expressly non-interim Zeck Dreck, the records are pouring in! And there are no nonsensical copypasta exemption claims of the aggressively psychotic sort Katie Kiefer was so very damn fond of! And the first batch is prepped and available! It’s about 800 emails from the hidden vaults of BID Board treasurer Bob Buente! And you can see all of them right here on Archive.Org!

And friend, there are a million good stories in there. Some of them are monumentally important, but those will have to wait till later. In this episode I want to share with you an objectively trivial but subjectively delicious little slice of gossip about shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine and her ultimately dissatisfied BID renewal clients over at South Park2 and how her failure led to Ellen Salome Riotto’s promotion.

And now I yammered on for so long that you’ll have to turn the page just to find out what is the subject of the damn post. One of the pitfalls, one of the pleasures, of writing without an editor to boss me about!

Last year the South Park BID renewed. And Tara Devine was the consultant, a job for which she seems to earn about $80,000. And you might recall how the first stage in the renewal process is getting 50% plus one property owners to sign petitions asking the City to establish the BID.

And for a while in February 2017 it was looking like the Parkers weren’t going to make the deadline, and that does something wonky to the billing for the BID’s first year by taking it out of the hands of the County and placing it in the hands of the City Clerk. This is evidently bad for the BIDdies and thus to be avoided by the consultant. Well, this much was known already even before this treasure trove of Bob-Buentean emails came into our possession.

Flash forward, though, to May 2017, and feast your hungry eyes on this email conversation between smilin’ Bob Buente, South Park BID treasurer, Ellen Salome Riotto, and a few random other Board members.3 It starts out with Bob Buente recounting a phone conversation he had with La Devine about the petition issue:

From: Robert Buente <>
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 12:58 PM
To: Ellen Riotto <>, “Shelby Jordan <>” Daniel Taban <>, “‘'” <>
Subject: BID Renewal–call from Tara

Hi Everyone:

So Tara just got back to me, a day late, but I was nice! I asked her if we had a “chance” to get 51% of the petitions signed and submitted to the City Clerk in time to make auto billing. She was insistent that there was “No Way!”

I’m not a Tara fan and I do believe a lot of the blame for not getting the petitions out in time to make auto billing rests with her. That said I would encourage us to be realistic and not break our necks in an attempt to get petitions out, and back, in an unrealistic amount of time. We need Council approval of the renewal by 12.31.17. We then would go on manual billing and yes we may have to dip into our credit line. But we have that line and we’ve never used it.

Wish I had better news.


Robert Buente
1010 Development Corporation
1001 South Hope Street
First Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90015 <>

Oh Man! On blast!! Tara Devine got back to him! But a day late! But he was nice! But he asked her can’t you even do your job, Tara Devine?! And she was all like No Way!! And Bob Buente’s not a Tara fan! Bob Buente, get for real! At this point who freaking is? Not anyone reading this blog, and evidently that includes you!

Then up spake Ellen Salome Riotto! And she’s the Pollyanna of the piece to be sure but then she was still all 100% interim at that point so she’d kinda have to be.4 And here’s what she had to say to the gang:

From: Ellen Riotto [] Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 2:07 PM
To: Robert Buente <>; “Shelby Jordan <>” Daniel Taban <>, “‘'” <>
Subject: Re: BID Renewal–call from Tara

Thanks Bob.

I understand that that’s Tara’s stance. However, as long as Miranda tells me it’s possible, I would like to at least try to avoid manual billing. From what everyone is telling me, it’s a nightmare. I owe it to the team to push as hard as we can for the next 2 weeks to reach 51%. It would be FANTASTIC is Tara could prioritize our account over the next 2 days, just so we can get to the petition assembly benchmark. Beyond that, I don’t think we need her to hustle with us.

I’m not overestimating our chances of reaching 51% by the 22nd. I know it’s nearly impossible. That said, it’s only 2 weeks. Seems worth it to me.

Oh double man! Ellen Salome Riotto doesn’t even think they even need Tara Devine to help them here. She thinks she can do it all by herself with the help of her bestest friends on the board!! And maybe she can!! Maybe she’s the Little Engine That Could instead of Pollyanna? Some kind of kid’s book, though. And Bob Buente? Well, color him impressed:5
From: Robert Buente <>
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 2:17 PM
To: Ellen Riotto <>, “Shelby Jordan <>” Daniel Taban <>, “‘'” <>
Subject: RE: BID Renewal–call from Tara


It never hurts to try! I like your attitude.

Let the Ex Board know what they can do and we’ll make it happen…or at least try damn hard to make it happen.


Robert Buente
1010 Development Corporation
1001 South Hope Street
First Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Oh MAN!! He’s really inspired by her plucky confidence! It’s just like all those movies! He’s going to make things happen for her! Or at least try damn hard to make things happen for her!! He can’t let her down! Her youthful enthusiasm reminds him of himself when he was young!! And now she’s energized by his confidence! And here’s what she had to say about that:

From: Ellen Riotto [] Sent: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 2:20 PM
To: Robert Buente <>; “Shelby Jordan <>” Daniel Taban <>, “‘'” <>
Subject: Re: BID Renewal–call from Tara
Thank you!

Please have a look at the spreadsheet I sent out yesterday – also attached here – and put your name next to those property owners you can reach out to personally. We’ll coordinate with you to make sure they receive their petitions by email so we can expedite the turnaround. We’re also planning to do a lot of hand delivery/pickups over the next several days.

Notice that there are only 37 property owners (many of which are overlaps) that make up the bulk of our assessments – these are in green. I think this is doable.

And this’ll teach you to be cynical, to laugh at plucky confidence, that hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show attitude, that won’t stop can’t stop drive and ambition, and so on. Get out of here, you cynics, slinking around with your pessimism, your big city cosmopolitan airs. She actually pulled it off! With style! It’s the BIDdie equivalent of a walk-off home run! Tara Devine, hang your damn head in shame! Just read this May 31, 2018 email from Ellen Salome Riotto to the full Board! And here’s a little excerpt:

Dear Board Members,

I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend. I know our team was thankful for the extra day off after an intense two-week sprint. Thank you all for the support and encouragement. We absolutely would not have reached our goal without your hustle. (By the way, no BID has ever hit 51% in 2 weeks. Not that it’s a competition or anything… :))

Note the emoticon! She’s really bringing these geezers into the modern era, isn’t she? And maybe she’s not Pollyanna, maybe she’s not the Little Engine that Could. Maybe she’s freaking Cinderella! Cause her fairy godfather Bob Buente wants to shower her with rewards for saving the BID from the clutches of evil stepmother Tara Freaking Devine! Just look at this email he sent right after she sent that one!6
From: Robert Buente
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 3:48 PM
To: Ellen Riotto; Robin Bieker; Shelby Jordan; Martha Saucedo; Daniel Taban; Terri Toennies; Nusbaum, Nate – CHMC; Richard Wu; James Pugh; Channing Henry; Paul Keller; Mark Wareham; Faye Washington; Ann Hickambottom; Terry Rubinroit
Subject: RE: BID Update

Speaking only for myself I think it is time for the “interim” title to go away! Ellen, what you did getting the renewal signatures is spectacular. The BID is in great shape and you have hired, retained, and managed a highly efficient and cohesive team.



And Robin Bieker, the silent king of the hill, the president of the BID board, well, he agrees, of course. But he has some anxiety about technicalities, so he doesn’t like the fact that Bob Buente just told Ellen Riotto and the whole board that he thinks she ought to be promoted without any formal action being taken. And it is certainly unprofessional, not to mention probably illegal:

From: Robin Bieker <>
To: ‘Robert Buente’ <>
Cc: ‘Shelby Jordan’ <>, ‘Daniel Taban’ <>

Subject: RE: BID Update


I wholeheartedly agree, but is there a process that we must go through before flipping the thought to the entire Board? Should each Exec Committee call the board members on their list and we make the announcement at the dinner this coming Monday or wait for the Board meeting at the end of the month. Thoughts?


And Robin Bieker is right. There are procedures that must be gone through first.7 But Ellen Salome Riotto saved the BID and now she must have prizes! Fooey on your damn formalities, Robin Bieker! And who says fairy tales aren’t real? Who says there’s no pot of gold at the end of the damn rainbow?

Not Ellen Riotto, that’s for damn sure! Because of course she did get promoted! And this was despite Robin Bieker’s old fogeyism! And you can read some of the juicy details in this here other email conversation, but I’m about done transcribing, at least for now, and I will be writing a whole nother post on this part later, so consider this a teaser for it!

Image of smilin’ Bob Buente just smilin’, man … it’s ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org, man. And, hey man! If you wanna see the mill grist just all like click here and stuff.

  1. Oh man, do I have some stories to tell you about that transition! You’re gonna have to wait, though, cause priorities, priorities!
  2. Of course I’m being rhetorical when I say this story is objectively trivial. Actually it’s really important, carries some weight, is imbued with public interest, and so on. It has to do with the competence (low) of a contractor (Tara Devine) hired by public agencies (BIDs) to perform specialized work (renewal, establishment, management) for which she is actually recommended to its BIDs by the City of Los Angeles. The fact that she makes serious errors for which her clients attribute the blame to her is vastly important. At what stage does the City step in and take her off their recommended list? Well, not yet, evidently, but at some point. We’re tracking it for you and just being silly about the triviality of it, although certainly not about the gossippiferocity of it, there being no inherent contradiction between gossip and serious matters of high public interest. Things can be both and this is one.
  3. They’re not actually random, their identities are super-important. You’ll be hearing ever so much more about this gang of outlaw Parkie Board members soon enough, bless their hearts.
  4. And anyway, we’re not throwing shade at Pollyanna. We love Pollyanna at this blog. Pollyanna is our patron freaking saint around here. I mean, the book is essentially unreadable, but the just be glad game is one of the major spiritual advances of the Twentieth Century.
  5. A kind of pale plum color, I believe.
  6. And he sent it to the entire board, so it’s probably a Brown Act violation, but action is time-barred, so who’s counting? Certainly not me. She’s a winner! Can’t we just be happy for her?!
  7. But Robin Bieker’s suggestion, that Executive Committee members call around among the board members and establish a consensus, well, that’s exactly the wrong way to go. This kind of decision has to be made at an open and noticed meeting.

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