The fact that, as I reported on Friday, Blair Besten, batty little fusspot queen of the Historic Core BID, along with her ne’er-do-well companions in corruption, Estela Lopez and Michael Delijani, were meeting as early as January 2017 with CD14 Councilswordsman José Huizar to oppose the Skid Row Neighborhood Council more or less overshadowed the parallel discovery that, at roughly the same time, Ms. Blair Besten was also setting up a meeting between Mr. José and Ruben Islas, one of her bosses from the HCBID Board of Directors.1
Now, Ruben “the homicidal slumlord” Islas is famous not just for whatever it is he does to be a zillionaire, but also for the fact that he and a bunch of his co-conspirators were arrested and charged with manslaughter and a host of other crimes in 2010 related to the fact that the slums they were then lording over were in such bad shape that three people died as a result. This incident followed the now-seen-to-be-cruelly-ironic series of criminal counts filed against Islas‘s firm for roughly similar misconduct by then-City-Attorney Rockard Delgadillo, lately working under the table as an anti-human lobbyist for a shadowy Downtown law firm.
And similarly, the other one of Ms. Blair Besten’s bosses whose name has come up a lot recently, that is to say furtive hereditary imperialist downtown zillionaire Michael Delijani, has also availed himself of Blair Besten’s probably-illegally-exercised2 skills at relationship building with CD14 repster3 José Huizar. Just see here for six pages of blathering between Blair Besten and various CD14 staffers about a meeting she’s trying to arrange between the CM and the Delijani.
Michael Delijani has also been involved in some exceedingly shady-if-as-yet-unindicted activities in relation to the deep corruption in the office of the LA County Assessor as personified by former assessor, now jailbird, John Noguez. The details are too involved to discuss here, but essentially Noguez reduced zillionaires’ property tax bills in exchange for campaign contributions, and a bunch of the deals were made at fundraising events for Noguez at Michael Delijani’s house. Delijani himself gave Noguez more than $20,000, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.
As far as I can see, Michael Delijani has never been convicted of a crime related to the bribery of Noguez. And it’s true that Ruben Islas’s manslaughter charges were dropped, and also, as part of a deal in which the corporation itself pleaded guilty, Delgadillo’s criminal charges were also dropped against the firm’s principals, including Ruben “the Alexandria Hotel assassin” Islas. So in some technical sense, these guys are not criminals. But in some strong but nontechnical sense they certainly are criminals, and Blair Besten is certainly a hypocrite when it comes to these zillionaire bad BID boys.
You see, Blair Besten is famous for feeding quotes to newspapers4 about what she refers to as crime downtown. And none of the people she’s talking about have been convicted either. Many of them also haven’t been arrested. Many of those who were arrested had their charges dropped or were even acquitted in front of a jury. When Blair Besten talks about crime to newspapers, she’s talking about unadjudicated events judged only by their descriptions. So in that same technical sense, all these crimes she’s talking about are not crimes, and the people who did them are not criminals. It’s therefore totally reasonable, by the Blair-Besten-rule, to call the actions of Ruben Islas and Michael Delijani crimes. And to call those who commit them criminals. And therefore to judge them and their effects on Downtown Los Angeles by Blair Besten’s own standards:
“The increase in crime lowers the morale of the neighborhood,” Besten said. “When you open the paper and see that there have been so many crimes, people pay attention.”
Besten and the rest of the Historic Core Business Improvement District have worked in tandem with the LAPD to increase patrols in the area and identify hot spots for crime and quality of life issues.
But more importantly than any program to specifically clamp down on crime, Besten and many business owners have adopted an upbeat attitude about the problems facing the area.
“This is a very cohesive community and people feel like they are a part of something bigger living and working down here,” Besten said. “That is a big part of keeping people happy about the neighborhood despite its challenges.”
Well, Blair Besten, perhaps you’ll listen to some good advice from a smart fellow who also, coincidentally, knew something about homelessness and how people ought to treat one another. And maybe you’ll consider doing something about the criminals on your own Board of Directors before you continue flouncing about the place spewing your characteristically transparent hypocrisy about, e.g., panhandlers5 and drug addicts.6 It’s easy to make amends. Next time the Downtown News wants a juicy quote from you about hot spots or freaking upticks, just take a break one time from picking on a bunch of powerless homeless people and give the reporter the goods on that criminal conspiracy that employs you.
Image of Ruben Islas started out here and ended up where you see it. And not only do you see it, you may well be interested to know that it’s now ©2017 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. Deal wiff it, fwiends!!
- Ruben Islas was also her boss when she worked for his zillionaire putatively affordable housing development firm Amerland, which I discovered from this article about how José H. forced the HCBID Board to hire her rather than their first choice for ED. This is totally within his rights as tinpot dictator of CD14, of course, and I say that without (much) sarcasm. The details are too far afield for me to go into here, although I hope to do so at some point, but you can read up on the relevant legal background in this post about the powers that the City has with respect to its BIDs.
- As part of her paid employment, Blair Besten regularly engages in lobbying activities as defined in the Los Angeles Municipal Lobbying Ordinance at LAMC §48.02. The only question is does she do it for an average of 10 hours a month. If she does, and I’m on the verge of proving it, so stay tuned, she’s in violation of the registration requirement, found at LAMC §48.07 and will thus be subject to sanctions by the Ethics Commission.
- This seems actually to be a word, or at least the verb “to rep” is a word, and it means “to represent a Los Angeles City Council district.” Clearly one who reps is a repster.
- While we’re on the subject of Blair Besten’s potential flouting of the Municipal Lobbying Ordinance, it’s interesting to note that giving quotes to newspapers as part of one’s job if it’s part of an attempt to influence municipal legislation, actually also counts as lobbying activity. So, e.g., when Blair Besten gave quote to the Downtown News, which consequently splorched out this egregious bullshit from 2014, wherefrom the following bit of mendacious foof-raw is pulled, she was engaging in lobbying activity, all without being registered, which, as I’ve mentioned, is quite possibly a crime in itself, Ms. Blair: While she says she understands the argument that vendors are just trying to earn a living, Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Downtown Los Angeles Business Improvement District, said that they can create problems in a neighborhood. Sidewalk blockages caused by vendors can force pedestrians to walk in a street filled with cars, Besten said. She added that people have been burned by hot griddles on mobile food carts. Unscrupulous vendors also leave behind piles of trash, she said. She recalled an incident in which a vendor dumped his hot dog water into an alley by the Flower Street Lofts, attracting a clan of hungry rats. “We had to call our team to go clean that mess up,” Besten said. “It’s not fair for the businesses who are paying us for clean-and-safe crews to have to deal with these street vendors.”
- The fallout is spreading beyond where the homeless base themselves. Some homeless people venture into the Historic Core during the day and take up panhandling. “We’re seeing an uptick in aggressive panhandling and incidents involving unstable people walking into stores and creating tense interactions with customers and employees,” said Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Core Business Improvement District. Pro-tip: Anyone who uses the word “uptick” when they’re bitching about putative crime is a cop-groupie-wannabe-poser-liar. I’m not sure why that is, but it is indeed.
- Blair Besten, executive director of the Historic Core Business Improvement District, said she regularly sees blatant drug dealing on the sidewalk, when it used to be more discreet. “People want to give addiction some kind of leniency, but with it comes crime to feed the addiction,” Besten said. “That’s when the community gets involved, because it affects the entire community.”