On October 7, 2014, Hollywood Media District BID property owner Toni Werk wrote to Jim Omahen, HMD operations director, about her parcel at 6065 Melrose Avenue. The gist of her complaint is this:
For the more than $12,000 that I have contributed to the BID, I, or my tenant, have not received one word of promotion in your newsletter. During business hours, my tenant says he has seen your bike patrol only a few times. And during after hours, there is no one staying on our property to phone your Security Patrol if there is an issue. As I originally did not want to participate in the bid [sic], and I voted no against it again, I have been forced to pay a tax that has not been any benefit to me or my tenant.
Jim, rightfully, forwarded this complaint on to his boss, the jolly but rather knuckle-headed Steven Whiddon, who replied, in characteristically evasive1 fashion, replied:
I am happy to report that Captain John Iragoyan [sic] and myself [sic] completed a site visit of your property 6065 Melrose Avenue. We spoke with your leasee, [sic] Tom Pena about the issues you stated in the email below. We made sure he understands we are here to serve and has all of our contact information. He understands that he can contact us at any time to assist with the issues below. …
Thank you again for reaching out to us.2
Notice how Steven doesn’t mention the money at all. Read on to see just where DID that $12,000 go…
We’ve already written about the fact that Steven, Apple fanboy ’til death, got the Media District Board to allow him an outrageous $7,000 for Apple computers he doesn’t seem to know how to use effectively. Where else is Toni Werk’s money going?
Well, Steven, recently appointed Executive Director of the BID, seems to have taken a notion that he needs to be informed about the instruments of municipal power in Los Angeles. Hence, on October 29, 2014, soon after taking the reins at the BID, Steven emailed Devin Strecker, formerly with the Media District, now working the bright-lights-big-city beat of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance to the north, and queried him thusly:
Devin, I am subscribing to a few sources to better inform me of issues relevant to BID’s. [sic] So far I have subscribed to the LA Business Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and am looking into the International Downtown Association. Do you have any recommendations?
The LA Business Journal costs $129.95 per annum and no doubt the rest are comparable. That’s about $500 more right there. And now the grand finale!
Look and listen here to the Media District BID Board meeting on March 26, 2015. The BID hired u-BID-quitous intellectual property attorney Jeffrey Charles Briggs under a retainer arrangement at $500 per month purely to respond to public records act requests. That’s $6,000 per annum to fulfil one of duties the performance of which the BID is obligated to by contract with the city of Los Angeles. One would think that such an organization, run by putatively competent zillionaires, would be able to handle such routine matters in-house, but actually, it seems, they cannot, so they gotta pay Jeffrey Charles Briggs half of Toni Werk’s $12,000 to handle it for them.
It’s not their money they’re spending, so naturally one of the zillionaires has to joke about how cheap it is. For instance, Joseph Varet, evidently quite pleased with his droll-in-his-own-mind sense of humor, asks “does he do for-profit work?” But the guy at the lower left of the screen can’t quite believe this is necessary, and rightly so.3 “You have that many requests that require a lawyer?!” Well, we can speak with some authority to the fact that they do have that many requests. How many of them require a lawyer? By our count, precisely none.
If you’re keeping track at home, that’s $7,000 on a bunch of overpriced computer junk, $500 (estimated) on a bunch of magazines that are available for free at the library, and $6,000 on a lawyer to do stuff that’s required of the BID with their contract with the city but which they evidently don’t possess the competence to handle. A total of $13,500. But if you’ve got Toni Werk’s hard earned money to toss around, what’s the difference?
- It’s actually hard to tell if Steven Whiddon is characteristically evasive or just generally clueless. Evasiveness requires intent to evade, and it’s not easy to be sure that this guy is forming intent or just honestly not understanding grown-up language.
- For an entertaining takedown of this bullshit business newspeak cliche “reach out to” we turn to the essential MBA Jargon Watch, which gives the following definition: To call or email. For this one, we can blame those old AT&T ads that encouraged folks to “reach out and touch someone.” Obviously, you can’t actually reach out and TOUCH anyone due to your company’s stringent sexual-harrassent policy. But you can “reach out” (but, again, no touching) to a co-worker for information, support, or to start one of those crucial conversations. But keep any interaction to a phone call or email just to be on the safe side.
- We think that guy is David Bass, from the Producers’ Center, famous for his abortive lawsuit against the GWHFC. When even such a Darth-Vader-esque figure is surprised by your need for a lawyer, you ought to at least think about reconsidering, eh what?
Embedded Google Street View image appears in accordance with Google’s TOS. Image of Steven Whiddon is a public record.