OK, elections are coming up for the Venice Neighborhood Council.1 And you can read this excellent guide to the candidates and the issues at the excellent Free Venice Beachhead. And of course you know our old friend, the creepy little Venice zillionaire himself, George Francisco, who is long-time Vice President of the VNC.
He’s famously also president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, as well as the supergenius who once got the LAPD to relocate a homeless man who happened to be in the way of some nonsensical “high-impact event” he was planning on the site of the guy’s tent.And his opponent in the already-highly-charged election is Venice Pride head Grant Turck. And there are some debates coming up and stuff, but Turck isn’t holding fire, not holding at all.
This afternoon, May 17, 2019, Turck filed this complaint against George Francisco with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. He alleges very credibly a number of extremely serious violations of various governmental ethics ordinances. What’s more amazing is that he has copies of what really appear to be Francisco’s text messages and emails implicating himself in what look like some really deeply shady shenanigans.
Even if nothing comes of this matter, and who can say what will happen when the Ethics Commission is involved, it ought to make the debates interesting and, maybe, just maybe, it’ll be enough to get the creepy little zillionaire tossed out of the temple2 if not into the slammer. Read on for a transcription of Turck’s work and images of the amazing text messages and emails.
Transcription of Grant Turck’s letter to the LA City Ethics Commission:3
May 17, 2019
VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL
Los Angeles City Ethics Commission
200 N. Spring Street
City Hall, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Re: Complaint Regarding Alleged Criminal Briber} 7 and Alleged Violations of Los Angeles’ GEO by The VNC Vice President George Francisco
Dear Mr. Louthian:
The purpose of this letter is to request that you immediately investigate the following alleged violations of the State’s Penal Code and the City’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance (GEO) by the sitting Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Vice President George Francisco. In order to ensure transparency, accuracy of information, and a fair election on June 2, 2019, an investigation of these allegations must be commenced at once.
The Ethics Commission is charged with the impartial and effective administration, implementation, and enforcement of the City’s governmental ethics laws. Charter §§ 702, 706. The GEO (Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) §§ 49.5.1 et. seq.) was enacted to accomplish a number of purposes, including ensuring that the City’s processes promote fairness and equity for all and helping to restore public trust in governmental and electoral institutions. LAMC §§ 49.5.1(C)(2), (7),
A. SUMMARY OF LAWS ALLEGEDLY VIOLATED
Three of the laws designed to foster the GEO’s goals are at issue here. The first prohibits City officials from misusing or attempting to misuse their City positions or authority to create a private advantage or disadvantage of any kind for any person. LAMC § 49.5.5(A).
The second prohibits a City official from soliciting a gift from a restricted source and a person who is a restricted source to a City official from offering or making a gift that exceeds the applicable gift limit to that City official. LAMC § 49.5.8(C)(1), (2). A restricted source includes “[a] person who is or in the prior 12 months was a party to proceeding involving a license, permit, or other entitlement for use that was pending…before a board, commission, committee, or other similar body of which the official is a voting member.” LAMC § 49.5.2(J)(2)(d).
The third prohibits a member of a City board who is required to file statements of economic interests pursuant to the Political Reform Act from receiving compensation to communicate, either personally or through an agent, with a City official for the purpose of attempting to influence action on a City matter on behalf of a person other than an agency. LAMC § 49.5.13(A).
The VNC is a City agency which, along with its board members, falls within the jurisdiction of the Ethics Commission. The GEO defines an agency as any “City…board, commission or entity required to adopt a conflict of interest code subject to City Council approval.” LAMC § 49.5.2(A). The VNC is required to adopt a conflict of interest code and has done so. It is, therefore, an agency. As a board member of a City agency, the VNC vice president is subject to all restrictions and prohibitions imposed upon agency employees by the GEO. Accordingly, if the VNC vice president violated provisions of that ordinance then the VNC vice president is subject to enforcement action and may be held liable by the Ethics Commission for those violations.
Furthermore, the allegations contained herein may violate California Penal Code § 68, subdivision (a), which prohibits every executive officer of the State of California, a county or city therein, or a political subdivision thereof, from asking, receiving, or agreeing to receive, any bribe, upon any agreement or understanding that his vote, opinion, or action upon any matter then pending shall be influenced thereby.
B. SUMMARY OF ALLEGED FACTS
On May 25, 2017, 506 East Westminster Avenue (ZA-2014-4139-CDP, AA-2014-4137-PMLA-SL) (Case) came before the VNC LUPC for review by an applicant identified as FMB Development (FMB). 1 The VNC LUPC put forth a motion to recommend The VNC board (VNC Board) recommend approval of the Case if FMB provided a Mello letter. 1 The motion was approved by VNC LUPC.
On June 20, 2017, the VNC Board voted and passed a motion to recommend approval of the Case as presented if FMB provided a Mello letter and if the dedication entailed widening a street with similar tree to be replaced of species and size in the parkway. 2 Mr. Francisco abstained from voting on the motion.
On July 18, 2017, the VNC Board voted and passed a motion to recommend approval of the Case if FMB provided a Mellow letter. Mr. Francisco abstained from voting on the motion. Thereafter a Los Angeles Department of City Planning public hearing was held on the Case at Los Angeles City Hall on August 9, 2017, an appeal of the Case was filed on March 19, 2018, and a West Los Angeles (WLA) Area Planning Commission public hearing on the Case was scheduled for June 6, 2018.
On May 29, 2018, Mr. Francisco allegedly sent an associate named Brian Wilson the following text messages:
“I just got a lock on another 5k from my developer friend… Wed June 6 5pm, we need 10 people interns to come and say they are from Venice and support the project, deny the appeal… We need to show to get the dough”
“Also, what is our performer line up again?”
On May 29, 2018, Mr. Wilson allegedly sent Mr. Francisco the following text message in response to the text messages allegedly sent by Mr. Francisco earlier the same day:
“Love it I’ll bring 10 people. Here’s the lineup: Phantogram Jack Beats Julian Banks Bad Royale FKi 1st Vincent MYRNE Griffin Stoller Juyen Sebulba Master of the People”
In May 2018, Mr. Francisco and Mr. Wilson were allegedly working together to plan and produce a community event called FlowerFest in the Venice Neighborhood on June 9, 2018. On June 5, 2018, the day before the WLA Area Planning Commission public hearing on the Case, Mr. Francisco allegedly sent Mr. Wilson an email 6 that reads in part:
“Also, finalized the 5k from my developer friend we are going to speak for Wed night…We are actually getting somewhat close to pulling this off without being crushed – right now the shortfall is 23k”
On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, the WLA Area Planning Commission conducted the public hearing on the Case. 7 Among those who allegedly attended the June 6, 2018 public hearing, allegedly completed speaker cards in support of denying the appeal of the Case, and allegedly spoke before the commission in support of denying the appeal of the Case were Mr. Francisco and Mr. Wilson. 8 Mr. Francisco allegedly said the following at the public hearing:
“Good evening, George Francisco, 202 Horizon Avenue, I’m here officially as the president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce to support the project, um, I’m also the vice president of the Venice Neighborhood Council and if you would like I will recount our neighborhood council vote for you, um, in support of the project to represent that. Uh, but more than that I’m here because this is an amenity to the block. It’s an amenity to the community. It adds housing in a very difficult environment to actually create housing. Um, it fits, its attractive, um, but we’re not here for any of those reasons. We’re here simply to provide a social setting for a group of people who want to file appeals. And every time I’m here, Commissioner Margulies, I’m shocked at how you act.”
Mr. Wilson allegedly said the following at the public hearing:
“Uh, Brian Wilson, 330 Venice Way, uh, I support the proposal. I’m against the appeal.”
According to the minutes from the WLA Area Planning Commission’s June 6, 2018 public hearing, Commissioner Newhouse moved for motions separately on Item Nos. 5 and 6, Commissioner Yellin seconded on both motions, and President Margulies voted against both proposed motions. 11 Thus “[i]nasmuch as the Appeal Board failed to act, the appeal shall be deemed denied and the decision from which the appeal was taken shall be deemed affirmed.”
GRANT R. TURCK
cc: The Honorable Mike Feuer, City Attorney
The Honorable Mike Bonin, Councilmember, District 11
The Honorable Jackie Lacey, District Attorney, Los Angeles County
Carmen Hawkins, Deputy City Attorney
Image of creepy little Venice zillionaire George Francisco is, as usual, ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. And don’t forget to cast your eyes upon this creepy little Venice zillionaire over there!
- Probably for neighborhood councils all over the City but who, I wonder, really cares?
- I mean, what passes for the temple in Venice these days, as desecrated, defiled, and deconsecrated as it’s been these last forty years or so.
- I have omitted the footnotes in this transcription due to formatting problems. The claims are all supported in the original.