A Trip to City Archives Yields Fascinating Historical Material Including 2003 HPOA Stakeholder Rebellion Over Shady and Neurotic Behavior by Tronson and Morrison During Security Provider Bidding Process

The view from Ramirez Street.  The entrance to the Archives is by the loading dock in the mid-right area of the image.
The view from Ramirez Street. The entrance to the Archives is by the loading dock in the mid-right area of the image.
A recent trip to the lovely City Archives on Ramirez Street, my absolute favorite of all city agencies,1 yielded up a bunch of really interesting stuff from 2001–2003. So much so that I started a new page for it. It took me three hours to look through two boxes of BID records (out of more than 400), so I’m sure there will be much more of this stuff to come. There’s a list of some highlights after the break, but check it!

In 2003 the BID’s expiring security contract with Burke Security, the predecessor of Andrews International, was put out for bids. Aaron Epstein, yes, the same one whose nuclear bomb of a lawsuit established the subjection of BIDs to both the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, thereby making this blog possible, and a large group of his fellow Hollywood BID stakeholders2 sent a letter to then-mayor James Hahn complaining that they:

believe[d] that the District’s board of directors and executive director have not conducted a fully open and competitive process to ensure that property owners receive the finest security service for the lowest competitive price (the current two year contract exceeds $2 million). Moreover, we believe that the board and executive director have failed to be objective in the process and have allowed the contractor, Burke Security, to function in ways that do not provide the maximum benefits to the property owners and merchants.

Even in 2003 the BIDs had captured the regulatory function of the City Clerk's office to the point where they were warning Kerry Morrison that people were scrutinizing her sketchy behavior rather than using the power of the purse to make her be not so shady.  The fox wasn't guarding the henhouse--the lunatics were (and are) running the asylum.
Even in 2003 the BIDs had captured the regulatory function of the City Clerk’s office to the point where they were warning Kerry Morrison that people were scrutinizing her sketchy behavior rather than using the power of the purse to make her be not so shady. The fox wasn’t guarding the henhouse–the lunatics were (and are) running the asylum.

If you read the letter you’ll see that they’re talking about practices that are still retained by the current BID Patrol: custodial arrests rather than observe-and-report, unseeming over-coziness with the staff of the HPOA, and so on.3 The copy I obtained came with a couple of handwritten notes4 from a Clerk’s office employee suggesting that they warn Kerry Morrison that people were watching so she should follow the rules. This, obviously, is not the kind of behavior one would expect from a regulatory agency. Why didn’t they tell Kerry Morrison to follow the rules because the law required her to?

This was followed up by a demand letter from a lawyer representing an unsuccessful bidder alleging improprieties in the bidding process and a letter from the City Attorney to the BID telling them to straighten the fuck up. They don’t seem to have done so, as Burke won the contract. It’s really interesting to see how the same issues arise again and again in the life of the BID.

Definitely look at the new page with all of this material and more. Here are some highlights:

  • February 2000 report on BIDs by Pete White of LA Community Action Network, faxed to the Clerk’s office by the Central City Association and hand-annotated by an employee of the Clerk, probably Karen Kalfayan. Someone more familiar than I with the issues of that time may be able to learn much from these markings, they can be quite informative, but these are beyond my current understanding.
  • 2001 Comments on a draft revision of the City’s contract with BIDs by Carol Schatz, as whining and entitled as ever, and Kerry Morrison, as vehement, self-righteous, and entitled as ever. This material includes a copy of the contract marked up by Kerry herself as well as a crazed and entitled email from Kerry to Karen Kalfayan specifically arguing that the Clerk should not be allowed to investigate complaints against BIDs. I hope to write on this stuff later, but here it is now.


Image of Archives is ©2016 MichaelKohlhaas.org.

  1. Even if it is a sub-unit of one of my least favorite of all city agencies, the Clerk; although it’s characteristic of the all-or-nothing quality of the Clerk. E.g. the council file tracking system is fantastic but the way the Clerk runs the BIDs is disgusting. There’s nothing at all just average about the Clerk.
  2. Kerry Morrison uses the word “stakeholders” in the context of her BID to refer to people who pay assessments. This usage is clearly both wrong and dangerous, but nevertheless I’m hewing to it here for some reason.
  3. I don’t (yet) have the evidence to prove it, but it seems likely that this September 2003 letter was related to the 2003 CPRA request for Burke Security’s contract that put Kerry Morrison all in a tizzy when it came in.
  4. Yet another reason why I love the Archives: all the post-its and other handwritten ephemera are retained intact.
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