Series of Emails between City of LA and HPOA Regarding Sweetheart Lease Deal Illustrates Incestuously Corrupt, Whiningly Entitled, and Marginally Literate Nature of Day-to-Day Business-as-Usual in the BID

Joe Mariani, all smiling and everything...  beautiful!
Joe Mariani, right up front, smilin’, man…ahh, beautiful!
Well, here is a bunch of emails, which we obtained from the Los Angeles City Attorney using the California Public Records Act, between BID employees Smilin’ Joe Mariani and Kerry Morrison and various people that work for the City of Los Angeles. We join the story when Joe writes to Gary Benjamin, who is eyeglass-fashionista Councilguy Mitch O’Farrell’s something-or-another for what-passes-for-planning-at-200-Spring-Street. It seems the boys met up in early September 2014 at an HPOA “Streetscape2 Committee” meeting, giving Joe a pretext to renew the big ask:
CD13 employee Gary Benjamin, who "enjoys...good urbanism."
CD13 employee Gary Benjamin, who “enjoys…good urbanism.”


Great seeing you today at the Streetscape Committee meeting. As I mentioned, if you can please follow up with GSD3 and ask when our lease will be ready for the Cherokee space we would appreciate it
[sic]. According to our vendor we are supposed to be off the Selma parking lot by the end of September, so the sooner we can move in the better.

So the BID needs some space and they’re going to lease it from the city. So far, so good. After all, they’re a public agency created by the city to do the city’s work. On September 9, 2014, Gary responds, saying he’ll check into it. On September 23, 2014, Gary announces that there’s a little problem. Says Gary:

Joe,

I have some bad news regarding the prospect of getting the lease in a timely manner. I checked in with the General Services Department (GSD) a couple weeks back and they said they were still not authorized to issue the lease, despite the approved Council motion.4 This seemed ridiculous to us, as the language of the motion came from Rene Sagles5 and he assured us the motion would be sufficient. GSD staffers were aware of the motion as it moved through the ITGS6 Committee, and yet they raised no red flags. In the last week, I’ve been in further communication with GSD, the City Attorney’s office and Rene Sagles. Apparently, DOT have not been following City standards regarding lease of space for some time now. Recently the City Attorney took note of this issue and has forced them to undergo a more rigorous public solicitation RFP process. Your lease process has dragged on for so long because of a lack of communication between DOT and GSD and a general uncertainty among the bureaus about how to proceed.

I now have Melody McCormick of GSD working with DOT and the City Attorney to draft a new “sole source” motion that will explain why the normal RFP process was not followed and why the HPOA should get this lease. They have told me they can have the motion ready by the end of the week. We will work to waive it from ITGS committee and get it approved at Council next week ideally. Then the City Attorney will need to draft the lease. It will still be another month, at the earliest, until the lease will be issued. I’m really sorry about all this confusion and for losing time pushing forward a motion that was insufficient.

So the HPOA’s trying to lease some property from the City. A Council motion to allow and expedite this was written by a senior analyst in the LA Department of Transportation and passed by the Council. This wasn’t sufficient because of a City Attorney crackdown on bad leasing practices in the DOT. So CD13 is going to get another Council motion ready, waive the normal committee process, and so on. Everyone’s bending over backwards for the HPOA here, and Gary even adopts an apologetic and conciliatory tone. What more does the HPOA want? Quite a lot, it turns out.

There’s a little more blather from Smilin’ Joe, which you can read your own self if you want to, but the main thing is that he copies in the big gun, Kerry Morrison, who steps into the ring swinging:7

Kerry Morrison looking characteristically thoughtful...but what's she thinking in there?  It's not pretty...
Kerry Morrison looking characteristically thoughtful…but what’s she thinking in there? It’s not pretty…


Hi Gary, thank you for all your efforts. This is beginning to feel a bit like a Sysyphean
[sic] struggle, no?

Here is my concern; [sic] with all the good intentions to [sic] get things expedited, the last thing we need for [sic] the one-month city attorney timeframe to morph into two or three. Lord knows we have had experience working on contracts with the city attorney. I wonder if you think it might be worth my effort to make a special appeal to Mike Feuer8 to ask for a true expedited process so we can get this resolved?

This certainly will be a case study (worthy of Harvard Business Review) of city systems that make it difficult to do business with LA, and result in lost revenues. Maybe talk with the Councilmember, and see what additional pressure we can apply.

Not sure if we can get an extension, but we can try.

Kerry

Sent using OWA for iPad

Mike Feuer, the city attorney of Los Angeles.  Evidently he tried to crack down on fraud, waste, and shenanigans in the LA Department of Transportation, and had the HPOA bitch, moan, whine, and try to sic Mitch O'Farrell on him for his trouble.  What came of it, only time will tell.
Mike Feuer, the city attorney of Los Angeles. Evidently he tried to crack down on fraud, waste, and shenanigans in the LA Department of Transportation, and had the HPOA bitch, moan, whine, and try to sic Mitch O’Farrell on him for his trouble. What came of it, only time will tell.

What can we learn from this, other than the fact that Kerry doesn’t know how to spell “Sisyphean,” doesn’t understand the function of the semicolon, occasionally omits verbs where most people would find them essential, and doesn’t all the time use pronouns precisely like a native speaker of English? Well, we can learn that she thinks it’s part of CD13’s staff to counsel her personally on the most efficient way to deal with city government (“I wonder if you think it might be worth my time…”). We can learn that she thinks that the BID is a business instead of an actual agency of the city, in fact she thinks she’s doing business with the city rather than being a minor city agency trying to get something from a major city agency. She thinks that the city attorney’s efforts to prevent fraud and waste in the leasing of the city’s considerable real estate holdings (remember, that’s what’s holding up the lease) are “…systems that make it difficult to do business with LA, and result in lost revenues.”. She thinks that this pedestrian incident is worthy of being written about in the freaking Harvard Business Review, fuhkrissakeses!
Friedrich Nietzsche, looking as sick of this shit as he evidently feels.  You can read the footnotes to see the relevance, such as it is.
Friedrich Nietzsche, looking as sick of this shit as he evidently feels. You can read the footnotes to see the relevance, such as it is.

Since fraud and waste also result in lost revenues, almost certainly to a greater extent than prophylactic precautions against them do, we can only surmise that what’s upsetting Kerry here is that the lost revenues are staying in the city treasury rather than being flung prodigally into the eagerly upraised hands of whoever it is that LADOT was improperly leasing stuff to before Mike Feuer intervened. She is actually upset that LADOT is no longer able to “not … [follow] City standards regarding lease of space…” and that “the City Attorney took note of this issue and has forced them to undergo a more rigorous public solicitation RFP process.” Like all businesspeeps and businesspeep-wannabes, Kerry Morrison is in favor of fraud and waste in government as long as her organization garners the fruits.
Sub-miniature-dwarf-planet Pluto, looking blurred and bedraggled like it's been rode hard and put up wet... not at all the focus around which the sun spins.
Sub-miniature-dwarf-planet Pluto, looking blurred and bedraggled like it’s been rode hard and put up wet… not at all the focus around which the sun spins.

Finally we can learn that Kerry knows deep in her heart that the whole purpose of the city government of Los Angeles, one of the most important cities, not just in the world, but in all of human history to date, is nothing more than to slavishly aid her and her capitalistic real-estate mogul puppet-masters in actualizing their every weirdo whim. That’s the magnitude of her disproportionate estimation of the HPOA’s objective9 value relative to the entire freaking government of the entire freaking CITY OF LOS ANGELES! The HPOA is like the celestial body known as Pluto, recently downgraded from planet-tude to minor sub-dwarf-miniature-planet-tude. Sure, in some technical sense the sun orbits Pluto, but that’s not how anyone sane sees things.

Next up: Marie Rumsey, who used to work for CD13 but now, via that good old city government revolving door, where Councilmember staff rotate out of public life into highly-compensated positions with the agencies they were previously putatively involved in regulating, works for the creepy-as-hell Central City Association, gets brought into play by Gary Benjamin. She tells him to tell Kerry to “reach out” to the City Attorney.

Kerry dutifully emails Hollywood Neighborhood prosecutor Jackie Lawson (by now it’s October 3, 2014. Even for those with the grease the wheels of city government grind slowly):

Jackie, need
[sic] your advice, [sic] re [sic] the inner-workings [sic] of the city attorney’s office.

[blah-de-fookin-blah-blah-blah]

My concern is that I’ve heard it could take more than a month (if not months} for this to get through city attorney drafting, review, approval, etc. We simply do not have this kind of time. I’m wondering who on the CA staff works on these types of leases, and if we could make an appeal to move this to the top of the pile given our impending eviction from the parking lot on Selma.

Let me know your thoughts.

Kerry

Well, for God’s sake. Why do we even have neighborhood prosecutors again? Oh yeah, according to Mike Feuer, the boss of the neighborhood prosecutors, they’re for

fighting the most corrosive crimes for communities: drug sales, prostitution, illegal dumping, graffiti, and street racing. Operating under the “brokens windows” theory, Neighborhood Prosecutors aim to identify, prioritize, and address these criminal problems before they grow into more serious offenses that can lead to urban decay in our communities. City prosecutors understand that the ability to respond to neighborhood complaints and address criminal problems proactively is critical to improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

This is laudable in theory, we spose, although it mostly plays out as dangerous fascism on the actual city streets, but really, why does Kerry Morrison of the HPOA think that Jackie Lawson’s job is to help her figure out how to subvert the properly constituted leasing process of the city of Los Angeles as instituted by Jackie Lawson’s boss, Mike Feuer? Why would anyone think that?? Kinda to her credit, Jackie’s response is noncommittal:

Hi Kerry,

I don’t know of [sic] hand but I’ll ask around and get back to you as soon as possible probably next week.

It certainly would have been more comforting had Jackie told Kerry to buzz off cause her job is fighting crime in Hollywood rather than facilitating it by helping the HPOA evade legally mandated city procedures and that Mike Feuer is her boss, not the freaking HPOA, but perhaps what she did say means that in businesspeepspeak, because that’s the last mention of the whole thing in the emails we have. Anyway, we’re sorry that as revelatory as this saga might be about the width, breadth, and depth of Kerry Morrison’s delusions, the story has a sad ending.

It took Jackie and/or whomever else only 12 days, until October 15, 2014, to get a revised motion before the council. The motion calls for a lease to HPOA without a competitive bidding process at a per-square-foot rate of about 25% below market value and was, naturally, adopted unanimously. Yay LA! And why isn’t Kerry or anyone complaining about the lost revenues to the city due to the below-market sweetheart lease deal obtained without a legitimate bidding process? Fill in the details your own self. After all, we have to leave something up to our reader to ponder… our 7th grade English teacher, Mr. Sullivan, said so.

  1. Sure, sure… they think they’re not a public agency, but they actually are. Suck it, businesspeeps!
  2. “Streetscape” is an irritating word that these businesspeeps in urbanite’s clothing throw around like confetti. It’s like “road diet” and “mobility” and “I’m a moron” and so on.
  3. The Department of General Services, a city agency that’s involved in either doling out or withholding goodies from sucklers at the public tit. Or, as they put it in their mission statement, from the linked-to page: Provide City leadership in managing facilities, equipment, supplies, maintenance, and other support services to elected officials and City departments and residents in a safe, reliable, and efficient manner. “A commitment to quality service by quality people” (Quotation marks in original)
  4. We dropped into the middle of this story and don’t know exactly what’s up with this “Council motion.” One can surmise the general details, though, and we have requests pending for CD13’s side of this mishegas. Stay tuned!
  5. According to this phone directory, Rene Sagles is a senior management analyst II with LADOT.
  6. The Innovation, Technology and General Services Council committee.
  7. Yeah, we know we’re mixing metaphors. We do that because we LIKE IT!
  8. Mike Feuer is the LA City Attorney. You oughtta know this by now.
  9. OK, OK. We don’t actually believe in the concept of objective value. We’ve read our Nietzsche and you should too. We’re just pretending here for rhetorical effect, OK?

Image of Joe Mariani is claimed to be ©2015, presumably by HPOA, at the bottom of the page on which it appears, but we’re not sure if it’s possible for a public agency, the HPOA,1 to assert copyright in the public records, such as this photograph, which they produce. In any case, whether ’tis or no, they certainly can’t do it to stifle public discussion, so as a backup we’re asserting a claim of fair use of this public record, the photograph of smilin’ Joe Mariani. We snaffled Gary Benjamin’s picture from the CD13 website and we’re sure that that’s a public record and we can just use it, copyright or no. But, like, as we keep saying, fair use and stuff, eh? Image of Kerry Morrison looking characteristically thoughtful is ©2015 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Image of Mike Feuer looking quite dapper at an outside lectern came to us via Wikimedia and purports to have been released under the CC BY-SA 2.0. Image of Friedrich Nietzsche was made by Hans Olde, is in the public domain and came to us via Wikimedia. Image of Pluto is in the public domain, having been made by NASA, and we got it from Wikimedia as usual.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *