In September 2018 — After The Release Of That Damning UC Berkeley Law Report On Nefarious BID Activity — Suzanne Holley Of The Nefariously Active Downtown Center BID Got In Touch With Assemblymember Miguel Santiago’s Office — And Was All Like Obviously This Report Is Wrong — And Biased — And Stupid — And Puerile — And Delusional — But Nevertheless We Are Worried That Some Unhinged Legislator May Try To Enact Legislation Based On It — Therefore Can Your Boss Commit To Helping Us Avoid This Fate — And The Staff Of Miguel Santiago — Who Never Met A Zillionaire Whose Interests He Wouldn’t Bootlickingly Pander To — Was All Like “Sure BIDdies! We Will Protect You From Any Potential Legislation!”

Perhaps you recall that in 2018 a group of dedicated and accomplished students at the UC Berkeley Law School’s Policy Advocacy Clinic released a blockbuster report on the criminalization of homelessness by business improvement districts in California, a copy of which can be obtained here. You should definitely read this. It’s one of the indispensable texts of contemporary radical BIDdology.

One of the report’s major points is that it is probably illegal under existing state law for BIDs, which are publicly funded entities, to use those public funds for lobbying for anti-homeless legislation. And, the report goes on to say, if it’s not illegal now it certainly ought to be, so they call for legislation to regulate BIDs with respect to advocacy.

As you might expect from a report from an institution at the level of UC Berkeley, the arguments are powerful, convincing, and intensely well-supported by extensive evidence1 and if our local BIDdies had or have any brains at all, or at least any of that sentience-independent primordial reptilian survival sense on which rich dumb mean people rely so heavily, the irrefutable arguments in this report would have, ought to have, made them extremely nervous.

Of course BIDs, like the zillionaires they serve, don’t look to arguments and their refutation to protect their survival, preferring instead to guard themselves with the weaponized raw political power that they’ve gathered around themselves like armor. And that this is an accurate picture is revealed by some recently obtained emails2 between Suzanne Holley of the Downtown Center BID and the staff of Downtown Los Angeles Assemblymember Miguel Santiago.

The BIDdies were worried that legislators might actually take the report’s recommendations seriously and start trying to rein them in with laws, so they wrote to Santiago asking for protection from any potential legislation inspired by the report, even though none had yet been introduced. But irrespective of that Santiago, long-time asshole buddy of our Downtown BIDS3 or at least his staff, was all over that. Yes, they said, yes, yes, yes, BIDdies! We will save you from any future legislation!

Here’s Suzanne Holley’s September 18, 2018 email introducing the problem:

From: “Suzanne Holley” <sholley@downtownla.com>
To: “MarK.Gonzalez@asm.ca.gov” <MarK.Gonzalez@asm.ca.gov>
Subject: UC Berkeley Report on Business Improvement Districts
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2018 21:29:06 -0700

Mark,

Attached is a report done by law students at UC Berkeley on BIDs that was released today (The release and link to the report online is provided here: https://www.law.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/BIDs-Report-Press-Release-2018.09.17.pdf; following is a link to today’s LA Times article on the report: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-uc-berkeley-bid-report-20180917-story.html.)

The report asserts that state BID practices regarding advocacy and safety are illegal and that state laws should be amended to eliminate our ability to advocate or provide safety services. While my BID colleagues and I believe this report to be extremely biased and without merit, we do believe it is feasible that a legislator may propose a bill based on these recommendations. Should that occur, we are asking for the Assemblymember’s leadership in opposing such legislation.

A number of BID representatives and I would very much appreciate the opportunity to discuss this further with the Assemblymember.

Thank you so much.

Suzanne Holley
EVP & Chief Operating Officer

And, even though Holley sent this cry for help at 9:30 pm on a Tuesday night, Mark Gonzalez didn’t let it linger in his inbox. He read it on his phone and responded just two minutes later. This, I daresay, is a level of service from the member’s staff that is beyond the ability of most if not all of us to receive:

From: “Gonzalez, Mark” <Mark.Gonzalez@asm.ca.gov>
To: “Suzanne Holley” <sholley@downtownla.com>
Subject: Re: UC Berkeley Report on Business Improvement Districts
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2018 21:31:41 -0700

Perfect! Looping in our leg team on this item for follow up! Thx!

Sent from my iPhone

And there things rested until the end of October 2018 when Santiago’s legislative director, Jaspreet Johl, sent Holley an email confirming the member’s willingness to carry water for the BIDdies should the need arise:

From: “Johl, Jaspreet” <Jaspreet.Johl@asm.ca.gov>
To: “Suzanne Holley” <sholley@downtownla.com>
Subject: RE: UC Berkeley Report on Business Improvement Districts
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2018 15:32:20 -0700

Hello Suzanne,

My name is Jaspreet Johl and I am Assemblymember Miguel Santiago’s legislative director. I would love to chat with you in regard to the report you highlighted below and how Miguel can be helpful should legislation be introduced in 2019.

Thank you and look forward to talking with you.

Best,

Jaspreet Johl

Jaspreet Johl
Legislative Director
Assembly Member Miguel Santiago
(916) 319-2053 MAIN
(916) 319-2153 FAX
jaspreet.johl@asm.ca.gov

And Suzanne Holley was all for this, as she said in her fairly immediate response:

From: “Suzanne Holley” <sholley@downtownla.com>
To: “Johl, Jaspreet” <Jaspreet.Johl@asm.ca.gov>
Subject: RE: UC Berkeley Report on Business Improvement Districts
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2018 16:25:49 -0700
CC: “Nick Griffin” <ngriffin@downtownla.com>

Good to hear from you Jaspreet!

We would really appreciate connecting with you. When would be a good time?

Thank you!

Suzanne Holley
President & CEO

And that’s where the records I’ve managed to obtain so far come to an end. It’s pretty darn ironic that the first response of these BIDdies to the perceived threat of a report calling for limitations on their ability to use public funds to lobby for legislation and policy is to use public funds to lobby for legislation and policy to protect themselves from such limitations. It lends a certain kind of performative legitimacy to the report, doesn’t it?

This episode also reveals, in case further revelation was somehow necessary, the utter opportunistic bankruptcy of Miguel Santiago’s activities. One would hope that our legislators would, in deciding their positions on legislation, actually wait until the legislation was proposed. For Santiago to agree that he will oppose any legislation arising from the report is cynical and contrary to desirable although certainly not to acceptable practices. Meanwhile, perhaps we’ll actually be able to get some legislation introduced for Santiago to oppose!


Image of Miguel Santiago is ©2019 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and you all might wanna take-a lil peek at this one.

  1. Some of which, I’m proud to say, came from this blog’s collection.
  2. Part of a much larger set, still being prepped for release.
  3. As you may recall from that shameful episode in 2017 wherein he scuttled much-needed reforms of the Public Records Act in order to enhance the under-rock-crawling abilities of his BIDdie patrons.
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