The Paranoid Prophecies of Downtown Russell Brown, July 2010 Edition

Downtown Russell Brown stumping for Jose Huizar.
Downtown Russell Brown stumping for Jose Huizar.
Our fateful faithful correspondent recently completed a magnanimously opalesque tour de farce of historicalisticism concerning a wildly successful 2010 plot by a bunch of bitchy BIDsies along with then-councildude Eric Garcetti, le petit ami chéri de toutes les dames mignonnes des BIDs, to ruthlessly destroy a perfectly reasonable proposal from the City Ethics Commission to make it easier to figure out who’s supposed to register as a lobbyist. Well, as part of his research he ended up transcribing not just the nonsense spewed by best-BIDdie-buddies Garcetti and Morrison, but a bunch of other tangential nonsense as well. Some of it’s fascinating in its own right, and we’re planning to write about it from time to time, starting this evening with a pluperfect portion of paranoia from Downtown L.A.’s own pallidly prophetic Russ Brown himself!

Historically-minded observers of the Downtown Los Angeles politico-sociologico-ethnomethodologico-cultural scene will remember Mr. Brown as the erstwhile boss-boy of the Historic Downtown BID, ignominiously forced out of his BIDship by the Board for reasons that surely aren’t being stated, and then ignominiously reinstalled two weeks later when Jose Huizar pitched a fit for reasons that surely also aren’t being stated and then… well, you get the idea. These days he’s doing something with neighborhood councils and remains the subject of artful advocacy blog Step Down Russ Brown which, though currently dormant, may any day rise, like Lazarus, from its pallet to scourge yet again the corridors and crannies of Downtown zillionaire-dom. Enough of that, though. Turn the page for the quotes!

Listen here (and Russ Brown comes on at about 55:00). A complete transcription may be found at the end of this post.

Russ Brown: Russ Brown. I’m president of, I’m executive director of the Historic Downtown BID, which is Broadway, Spring, and Main, but I’m also president of Downtown LA Neighborhood Council.
We always like to let them start off with something true because it seems fair and balanced, and usually they don’t lie about their names.

The sole purpose of the BIDs are to be a partner with the City to provide services. I would argue that if the City had its act together and was doing what it was supposed to be doing there would be zero need for the BIDs.
Now begins the zillionaire dog-whistling. “…if the City had its act together…” is coded zillionaire-speak for any number of theories about the inefficiencies of government, so-called laissez faire whatever, and so on. One wants to grab these people by the collar and, while shaking them, ask repeatedly why if they hate government so much are they running freaking government-created, government-controlled, government-funded organizations? Their only answer, and we are not making this up, is to cite a state law which says that BIDs are private, non-governmental institutions. Get it?! They’re not part of the government because the freaking government passed a law saying that they’re not. And how did the government manage to settle THAT question definitively when they (we’re told) can’t even keep the freaking trees trimmed? Another deep mystery.

The City of Los Angeles looks on while business improvement districts provide city services, all the while muttering about how the City just doesn't know how to paint fences, nosiree!
The City of Los Angeles looks on while business improvement districts provide city services, all the while muttering about how the City just doesn’t know how to paint fences, nosiree!

Our budget is almost 85% clean and safe programs, tree-trimming, sidewalk maintenance, working with the LAPD, doing all of the things that the City is incapable of doing. That’s a hundred percent of the property owners themselves paying to deliver City services that the City is not able to do.
These BIDdies love to go on about how they trim the trees when the City can’t. To us this sounds like the claim that Tom Sawyer can’t get fences painted.

And it’s a misnomer [sic], it’s a very grave misnomer, to say that the BIDs only represent businesses. We are paid for by the building owners, but every small business, every resident, every people [sic] in our district, we work with. On Main Street we have SRO housing, we have Skid Row housing, we have LACAN, we have [???], we have all of the homeless advocates that we also work with, and work closely with.
We’re not even going to make fun of DTRB for not knowing what “misnomer” means. That would be cheap, all too cheap. But just note here how, according to Russ Brown, everybody loves Russ Brown. Not just the zillionaires, but the poor people who look up to the zillionaires as if they were freaking Richard Cory (and we know how that ended), they also love Russ Brown and Russ Brown’s BID. Just keep that in mind, ok?

If you want to make an exemption, she made an exemption for a 501(c)(3) that worked with indigent groups, I would say the City of LA, at this point, is one of the worst indigent groups with a four hundred million dollar deficit, that the BIDs are basically the life-line for the neighborhoods to keep it going.
The BIDs are all that keep the City going! This is so delusional. On the other hand, it gives us even more respect for the cleverness of the City than ever before.

The other part of this is if we don’t accurately list every single contract [sic] there are a lot of people waiting, just waiting, to check your schedule, and your schedule, and his schedule, and my schedule, and start doing a game of gotcha. And, it will take, the original proposal was that anybody had standing to come after any unlisted contact. So how do I go to City Council and see somebody in the elevator, and see them in the lobby, and have meetings when you have eighteen different things going on [time buzzer goes off] and there’s no difference between a thirty minute meeting and a thirty second conversation in the hallway. Thank you.

And this is why we decided to write this post in the first place. You see what Russ Brown of Downtown is really worried about? If the City revamps its Municipal Lobbying Ordinance so that, unlike now, it’s actually possible to prove that someone’s acting as a lobbyist, there are a lot of people lurking around, just waiting to leap out and take Russ Brown to court for being an unregistered lobbyist, or, as he so self-servingly puts it, “…doing a game of gotcha,” just because he talked to “…somebody in the elevator…” But Russ, you just told us how everyone loves you!! Who are these gotcha-game lurkers just waiting to pin an unregistered lobbyist beef on your well-beloved backside?

We’d like to get in touch with them, trade some gotcha-game tactics. But that’s probably not going to happen. As you may recall, the BIDs torpedoed this proposal, leaving them still subject to the Lobbying Ordinance, but only with the much-harder-to-prove 30 hour standard rather than the clean-and-clear five contact standard. And if you read this far and are still wondering where the prophecy is, well, it’s in the fact that 30 hours is much harder to prove, but it is in no way unprovable. We are in the process of putting together a performative demonstration of the possibility of this kind of gotcha-gamery, and hope to lay it on you in increments over the next few months. That’s right, this flibberty-flabberty-Russ-Brown-jib-jabbery is just our way of advertising some coming attractions.

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPTION:

EG: Russ Brown. After that is Estela Lopez.
Russ Brown: Russ Brown. I’m president of, I’m executive director of the Historic Downtown BID, which is Broadway, Spring, and Main, but I’m also president of Downtown LA Neighborhood Council. I would actually argue that the work we do through the BID is significantly even more transparent than what we have through the neighborhood council. The sole purpose of the BIDs are to be a partner with the City to provide services. I would argue that if the City had its act together and was doing what it was supposed to be doing there would be zero need for the BIDs. Our budget is almost 85% clean and safe programs, tree-trimming, sidewalk maintenance, working with the LAPD, doing all of the things that the City is incapable of doing. That’s a hundred percent of the property owners themselves paying to deliver City services that the City is not able to do. And it’s a misnomer
[sic], it’s a very grave misnomer, to say that the BIDs only represent businesses. We are paid for by the building owners, but every small business, every resident, every people [sic] in our district, we work with. On Main Street we have SRO housing, we have Skid Row housing, we have LACAN, we have [???], we have all of the homeless advocates that we also work with, and work closely with. So today, my five allotments, of contacts with the City, would have been used up. Bicycle racks. Pedestrian. Sidewalk repair. Tree-trimming. Homeless issues. Parks issues. That was just this morning, so we’re already maxed out for the whole month. Tell me how any of those issues was a direct penny into any individual’s pockets other than advocating for the whole neighborhood. This regulation was supposed to be balanced, not impose a burden, be enforceable, and not be onerous. I don’t see that in any of this. If you want to make an exemption, she made an exemption for a 501(c)(3) that worked with indigent groups, I would say the City of LA, at this point, is one of the worst indigent groups with a four hundred million dollar deficit, that the BIDs are basically the life-line for the neighborhoods to keep it going. So, all of our meetings, again, are contract, are part of our contract, it’s Brown Act, we go through all of that. The other part of this is if we don’t accurately list every single contract [sic] there are a lot of people waiting, just waiting, to check your schedule, and your schedule, and his schedule, and my schedule, and start doing a game of gotcha. And, it will take, the original proposal was that anybody had standing to come after any unlisted contact. So how do I go to City Council and see somebody in the elevator, and see them in the lobby, and have meetings when you have eighteen different things going on [time buzzer goes off] and there’s no difference between a thirty minute meeting and a thirty second conversation in the hallway. Thank you.


Image of Russ Brown at a gaily Huizar-bedecked lectern is deep-linked-to, so y’all can sort out the rights your own selves!

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