For a little while it looked like George Yu had messed up the Chinatown BID renewal process and that there would be no BID for 2021. But Yu and Gil Cedillo, acting through his flunky Hugo Ortiz, maneuvering behind the scenes and off the record, managed to get the process back on track somehow and ballots have been issued announcing a hearing on September 29, 2020 to solemnize the renewal and allow the BID to continue operations in 2021.
There are two essential things for activists to understand about this part of the process. First, anti-BID property owners MUST vote no and return their ballots. The BID will be established unless received votes against outweigh received votes in favor. Unreturned ballots essentially count as yes votes.
The second thing is that BID renewal hearings are not regulated by the Brown Act. Instead they’re covered by Government Code §53753 The main difference is that, as Los Angeles activists know all too well, the Brown Act allows City Council to limit the total time for public comment but §53753(d) specifically forbids such a limitation:
At the time, date, and place stated in the notice mailed pursuant to subdivision (b), the agency shall conduct a public hearing upon the proposed assessment. At the public hearing, the agency shall consider all objections or protests, if any, to the proposed assessment. At the public hearing, any person shall be permitted to present written or oral testimony. The public hearing may be continued from time to time.
The City messed this up in 2016 when the Venice BID was being established. Herb Wesson, then president of the Council, cut off public comment and thus didn’t allow everyone to talk, as if it were an ordinary Brown Act hearing. The incomparable Shayla Myers of LAFLA wrote a demand letter to the City explaining the problem, and the City repealed the ordinance establishing the Venice BID and had to redo the entire process.
In any case, on September 29, when the Council is hearing objections or protests to the renewal of the Chinatown BID, they will have to hear all of them, every last one. Everybody gets to convey their feelings about the BID and about why it is a terrible idea to keep funding and empowering George Yu. And if there’s not time for everyone to talk on September 29, well, as the law says, “[t]he public hearing may be continued from time to time.” Here are a few things that might be worth mentioning, but there is so much more:
Continue reading Chinatown BID Renewal Hearing Scheduled For September 29 At 10 AM — BID Renewal Hearings Are Regulated By Government Code §53753 Rather Than The Brown Act — The Main Difference Is That The City Is Not Allowed To Limit The Time For Public Comment At Such Hearings — The Law Explicitly Mandates That All Objections Must Be Heard — The City Ignored This In 2016 — And Thereby Messed Up The Venice Beach BID Establishment — It Is Also Essential For Anti-BID Property Owners To Return Ballots Opposing The BID — Because Of Quirks In The Law Unreturned Ballots Essentially Count As Yes Votes
This is a quick update on a technical but highly consequential issue regarding City of Los Angeles property included in business improvement districts. The state law is very clear that BID assessments apply equally to public property, which means that the City of LA gets to vote on BID formation and renewal. Furthermore, in 1996, when the modern era of California BIDs began, the City Council told the City Clerk to always vote yes unless specifically directed otherwise.
Which of course led BID proponents to include as much City property as possible within their boundaries since it made establishment very significantly easier given the guaranteed favorable votes from the City. This strategy reached a hitherto unseen level of absurdity in 2016 with the Venice Beach BID establishment process, in which City property constituted 25.05% of the assessed value and the non-City property owners who signed pro-BID petitions for only 27.26%. The BID would never have been established without the automatic yes from the City.
This already absurd outcome was surpassed in 2017 with the renewal of the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID. The proponents in that case included huge tracts of essentially empty parcels belonging to the Port of Los Angeles. They brought the City’s proportion of assessed value to 37.24%, which left only 26.04% non-City property owners in favor of the BID. The case of the San Pedro BID seems not to have been widely noticed at the time, but of course the outcry over the Venice Beach BID was monumental, and the City’s role in ensuring its existence was discussed at great length.
It hadn’t been clear exactly what was going on, but something regarding the voting of City property changed over at the City Clerk’s office after the San Pedro BID fiasco. I first heard about it in 2018 in relation to the Byzantine Latino Quarter BID when Donald Duckworth, BIDdological freak show specimen and BID establishment consultant, told his clients that the City of Los Angeles would no longer vote its petitions in favor of formation until 50% of the private property owners had already voted in favor.
As we’ve seen above, this would be a major change. If this policy had been in place in 2016 neither the Venice Beach BID nor the San Pedro Historic Waterfront BID would exist. But Duckworth is a liar and a fabulist and exceedingly unreliable, so while his testimony did in fact convince me that something was happening, it’s not really safe to assume that he’s telling his clients the full story or even accurately relating part of it.
Continue reading Here’s Actual Proof That Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott Is Refusing To Sign BID Establishment Petitions For LA City Property Until Half The Other Property Owners In The Proposed District Have Signed — This Is Not Exactly A Policy But Her “Preference” — According To Clerk Staff Anyway — Also See The Extraordinary Petulance Of Gil Cedillo’s Weirdo Flunky Jose Rodriguez When He Learns About It — And Turns Around And Covertly Threatens Clerk Staffer Rick Scott For Bearing The Bad News
Well, in case you missed it, in February 2017 I sent a request to the Venice Beach BID for various public records, and they ignored me and ignored me and ignored me, and finally I hired a lawyer, the incomparable Abenicio Cisneros, and in April 2018 he filed a suit against them seeking to enforce compliance with the damn law.
And now, finally, the case is done with the signing of this settlement agreement. Notably, the BID handed over the records and paid Cisneros $21,435 for his work on the case. This payoff is one hundred percent wasted money that the BID could have saved had they only complied with the law in the first place. But they did not. And I have another request in to them, so we’ll see if they learned their lesson. Meanwhile, behold a partial transcription of the agreement:
Continue reading My Public Records Act Suit Against The Venice Beach BID Is Finally Over — They Handed Over The Records And Paid My Lawyer $21,000 — A Purely Avoidable Waste Of Money — But What Do They Care? — Not Their Damn Money
I recently obtained a small collection of emails between Venice beat cops Kristan Delatori, Peggy Thusing, and the recently self-destructed Nicole Alberca and those fan favorite BIDdies Mark Sokol and Carl Lambert. You can peruse the whole set here on Archive dot Org, and in today’s post I’ll discuss a few high/low-lights!
OK, remember the Venice Neighborhood Council election in 2016? The outcome was widely interpreted by sane people as being yet another death blow administered to the longtime rotting corpse of Venice. And now, thanks to this June 2016 day-after email from Carl Lambert to undisclosed recipients including Nicole Alberca we learn that Lambert divides the winners up into friendlies and not-friendlies.
And we learn who the friendlies are! And that there is a supermajority of them! And we also learn that Carl Lambert sends late-night texts to Nicole Alberca! And they make her smile! All these Venice zillionaires and their pet cops are really far too cozy for our safety and comfort, I think.
Oh yes, of course you want to know the names! Well, the friendlies are: George Francisco, Melissa Diner, Matt Kline, Evan White, Matt Royce, Matt Shaw, Robert Thibodeau, Will Hawkins, John Reed, Steve Livigni, Sunny Bak, Cayley Lambur, Jim Murez, Michelle Meepos, and Laurie Burns. And the not friendly? They are Ira Koslow, Hugh Harrison, Ilana Marosi, Erin Darling, Colleen Saro, and Gina Maslow. Got it? And turn the page for more, more, more!
Continue reading A Random Selection Of Emails Between Carl Lambert Or Mark Sokol And Various Cops Reveal Some Interesting Stuff About Venice — Lambert Divides Venice Neighborhood Council Members Into “Friendlies” And Otherwise — Sokol Arranged A Hotel Room For Officer Peggy Thusing In 2013 — The Venice BID Formation Process — Which Lambert Declared Began “Renaissance Of Venice” — Was Bankrolled By Brian Dror — Lambert Raised Money For Slavering Psychopath Mark Ryavec By Telling Homeless Horror Stories
Here’s a quick summary of the background. BID formations are required by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 to be supported by a report prepared by a licensed engineer. Putatively licensed engineer Ed Henning wrote the report for the ill-born Venice Beach BID. The California Board for Professional Engineers regulates the engineering profession and can investigate allegations of incompetence or negligence. Ed Henning’s report for the Venice Beach BID is awful, negligent, and incompetent. The fact that this nightmare of a BID was established on the basis of this horror show of a report is another sprinkling of salt on the writhing slug into which the money-driven fucked-upification of Venice has transformed my heart.
A complaint was made against Henning by a citizen of Venice but was rejected by the Board without being read because they claimed that writing BID reports didn’t constitute the practice of engineering. After a great deal of discussion with BPELSG executive officer Ric Moore, he agreed that in the future his office would not dismiss such complaints unread and therefore I took the time to submit a complaint against Henning to the Board. You can get a copy of the complaint itself here on Archive.Org.
Well, that was in August 2018 and I heard nothing and I heard nothing and I heard nothing and a couple of times I sent polite little emails to Mr. Ric Moore just asking him could he confirm that he’d received the complaint and so forth and I heard nothing and nothing and nothing. Until this afternoon, which is when I received an email from our old friend Ms. Tiffany Criswell.
And Ms. Tiffany Criswell’s email informed me that not only had they received the complaint but that it had been given a code number and, most interesting of all, that the “complaint has been referred to an independent Expert Consultant for review.” Ms. Criswell was also careful to state that it’s essentially going to take forever to review and I shouldn’t hold my breath and so on. But damn! It feels like quite an accomplishment even to get this far. After the break you can read a full transcription of this email from Tiffany Criswell.
Continue reading The Board For Professional Engineers Finally Acknowledged Receipt Of My Complaint Against Incompetent BID Engineer Ed Henning — Only Four Months After I Submitted It — They Hired The Complaint Out To An Independent Expert For Review — Cause Obviously It’s Too Hot A Potato For Them To Handle In-House!
The story of Tara Devine and the Venice Beach BID has been told repeatedly and in great detail starting in 2016 when the ultimately successful push to establish this most-despised of Los Angeles BIDs was revived. But the pre-2016 history remains obscure, not least due to zeck dreck Devine’s obstreperous obstructionism with respect to providing public records.
Of course, everything about this BID is interesting, so what a pleasant surprise it was to find in a recent release of goodies by BIDdological freak show specimen Donald Duckworth a series of emails from 2014 showing that when Mike Bonin first kicked off the Venice Beach BID formation process his staffie Debbie Dyner Harris turned to El Duckworth to hook up with criminal conspirator and founding BIDfather Carl Freaking Lambert to get the job done. Internal evidence strongly suggests that this was the beginning of the modern VBBID formation process. Strangely, Estela Lopez, the wickedest woman on Skid Row, was also slated to be involved.
The story begins on June 5, 2014 when Debbie Dyner Harris emailed El Duckworth with a little proposition:
Hi Don. I hope all is well. The Councilmember is hosting several property owners and business owners along Ocean Front Walk in Venice at a meeting this Monday, June 9, to discuss creating a BID. He was wondering if you’d be able to attend, to help answer any questions on the creation and operation of a BID, and providing your insight. We will be joined by Miranda Paster of the City Clerk’s office, as well as the founding director and the current president of Central City East’s BID.
I am sorry for the late notice, we’ve been trying to develop our agenda. It will be held this Monday, June 9, at 9:45am in our Westchester community room. I hope you can make it!
And turn the page for the rest of the story, along with links to and transcriptions of the evidence!
Continue reading Donald Duckworth Was The Very First BID Consultant Involved With Venice Beach BID Formation — In June 2014 Debbie Dyner Harris Introduced El Duckie To Carl Lambert — Meetings Were Held — Duckworth Drafted Petitions And Gave Advice — Then El Duckie Seems To Have Stopped Returning Carl Lambert’s Emails —Then Nothing Until Tara Devine Took Over — Reason For That Not Yet Clear
As you no doubt recall, in April 2017 I was forced by the weirdo intransigence of Ms. Tara Devine to file a writ petition against the Venice Beach BID because they could not, would not, comply with the damn public records act for essentially years on end. And in June Tara Devine started handing over records, with more handed over in July. She’s evidently producing a batch a month even though she promised more, because just the other day I got a set of 284 emails between her and the City of Los Angeles, and I published them as usual on Archive.Org for your edification and pleasure.
And there is a lot of good stuff in this set, but first a little more background. You will, of course, recall that the Venice Beach BID, despite being funded by the City starting in January 2017, didn’t even have a Board meeting until January 2018 and didn’t begin providing services until many months after that. This series of egregious failures led to a great deal of tension between the BIDdies and the City. So much so that in May 2018 the BIDdies got called on the carpet at City Hall and were also forced, much against their will, to refund all the money they’d collected for 2017.
And it seems that, obviously at least in hindsight, these serious consequences in 2018 arose from a great deal of tension between the City and the BID in 2017. The text for today’s sermon is a series of emails from October of that year between Tara Devine and Rita Moreno of the City Clerk which demonstrates exactly that.
It all started when Rita Moreno asked Tara Devine why the BID didn’t even have a working phone, which was forcing the City to field the outpouring of complaints from property owners who had paid a ton of money but were receiving nothing for it. Tara Devine, as is her angry and unprofessional little wont, flipped out on Rita Moreno, and the whole vitriolic exchange with links and transcriptions is right after the break!
Continue reading Tara Devine Accuses Rita Moreno Of Harboring Prejudice Against The Venice Beach BID And Of Badmouthing Her And Her Damn BID To Property Owners — And Of Being Too Dumb To Understand BIDs And Of Not Being Able To Read — Rita Moreno Accuses Tara Devine Of Badmouthing The City To Property Owners — Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?! — Oh, And More On Tara Devine’s September 26, 2017 Surgery, The Swiss Army Knife Of Excuses For Nonperformance Of Contractual And Statutory Obligations
Here’s a quick summary of the background. BID formations are required by the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994 to be supported by a report prepared by a licensed engineer. Engineer Ed Henning wrote the report for the ill-born Venice Beach BID. The California Board for Professional Engineers regulates the engineering profession and can investigate allegations of incompetence or negligence. Ed Henning wrote the engineer’s report for the Venice Beach BID and did an awful, negligent, incompetent job of it.
A complaint was made against Henning but was rejected by the Board without being read because they claimed that writing BID reports didn’t constitute the practice of engineering. After a great deal of discussion with BPELSG executive officer Ric Moore, he agreed that in the future his office would not dismiss such complaints unread.
Well, given this assurance it seemed worthwhile to me to spend time writing another complaint against Henning, whose work is universally acknowledged to be ultra-shabby, And that’s just what I did! You can grab a copy of the whole thing right here on Archive.Org, and turn the page for selections and little bit of discussion!
Continue reading How I Reported BID Engineer Ed Henning To The California Board For Professional Engineers For Incompetence, Negligence, Self-Plagiarism, And All-Round Not Doing His Damn Job
So in April 2018 I had to file a petition against the Venice Beach BID seeking to enforce compliance with the California Public Records Act because they’re so damn obstructionist that they had, at that time, been ignoring my requests for 14 months. Well, a few weeks after my lawyer filed the petition, Tara Devine started producing records and recently I received another set, this consisting of 45 emails between Devine and various parties on the subject of the BID’s search for a security provider. The whole set is available here on Archive.Org.
Unfortunately, there’s very little of specific interest here, although not nothing, and the interest is most certainly not nothing. Most importantly, there’s yet more circumstantial evidence that the VBBID engaged in systematic and egregious violations of the Brown Act during 2017. On a more personal level, but still interesting for the insight they yield into the weirdo mindset of BID executive director Tara Devine, there are records here demonstrating the radically different modes of address she uses depending on which email account she’s using to communicate.
For instance, she addresses Becky Dennison as “Becky” when sending from her email@example.com or her firstname.lastname@example.org accounts, but when sending anonymously from email@example.com she calls her “Ms. Dennison.” Note that this phenomenon may or may not be related to the semantic oddities of Kerrymorrisonese.
It’s also interesting that the ultimately successful bidder for the BID’s security contract, Allied Universal, hired Los Angeles superlobbyists Cerrell to influence the BID’s choicemaking process. Unfortunately the emails contain just enough information to show that this happened while remaining silent on why it happened or how it played out in the selection process. Hopefully further research will shed light on these issues.
And turn the page for links to and transcriptions of specific emails!
Continue reading Minuscule Release Of Emails From Venice Beach BID Nevertheless Reveals Likely Brown Act Violations Along With Interesting Operational Details — Tara Devine Adopts Radically Different Personae Depending On Which Email Address She’s Sending From — Ultimately Successful Security Vendor Allied Universal Employed Powerhouse Lobbying Firm Cerrell To Help Win VBBID Contract — Possibly It Didn’t Help Them Win The Contract But Not Enough Evidence To Say For Sure (Yet!)
Yesterday was the second Friday of the month, so I hauled myself out West on the 733 to listen to the Venice Beach BIDdies babble on about whatever it is they’re talking about out there on Main Street, just inches from the Southern border of the City of Santa Monica. And naturally I videotaped the whole thing, and you can watch it here on YouTube or here on Archive dot Org as you prefer.
As always there was a lot of interesting stuff going on, and I’ll have at least one more post for you about it, but today’s topic is the security report by BID Patrol boss Azucena Vela of Allied Universal security. Here’s how it all went down. First, famous-in-Venice member of the Neighborhood Council Colleen Saro spoke during the newly attenuated public comment period. You can watch her here. She had a lot to say, but the salient bit was her comment on the BID Patrollies riding their damn bikes on the Boardwalk:
Your security guys first of all shouldn’t be on a bike on the boardwalk on a bike because that’s illegal so it’s kind of difficult for them to enforce if they’re breaking the law…
And if you know anything about Venice you know that, first, bikes on the Boardwalk are a big problem. People who ride them there are your basic antisocial psychopaths who are so fixated on their own convenience that they don’t care at all about running over children, old people, wheelchair riders and other human beings who can’t dodge quick enough. Also, second, it is actually against the law to ride a bike on the Boardwalk. It says so explicitly at LAMC §56.15(2):
No person shall ride, operate or use a bicycle or unicycle on Ocean Front Walk between Marine Street and Via Marina within the City of Los Angeles, except that bicycle or unicycle riding shall be permitted along the bicycle path adjacent to Ocean Front Walk between Marine Street and Washington Boulevard.
Continue reading Venice Beach BID Security Director Azucena Vela Declares That BID Patrol Must Violate Law In Order To Enforce It — Laws Are For The Homeless, Not For The BID Patrol — According To Her The BID Patrol Need Not Follow The Laws Of The City Of Los Angeles As Long As They Are Wearing Their Silly T-Shirts — Will Continue To Ride Their Bikes On The Boardwalk Even Though It Is Completely And Unquestionably Illegal