Perhaps you recall that the infamous Venice Beach Business Improvement District has been nonoperational for an entire year after the second-time’s-a-charm reapproval by City Council, whose blindingly arrogant indifference to both law and decency necessitated this expensive and amateurish do-over.
Well, they’re operational now, friends! Yesterday morning the VBBID CEO, AKA President-For-Life Tara Devine, transmitted in interstate commerce1 an announcement of the BID’s first-ever meeting. Here are the documents involved:
- January 2, 2018 email from Tara Devine — Announcing the meeting and attaching the agendas
- 2017.01.05 VENICE BEACH BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT.pdf — Agenda for the BID part of the meeting — Wrong date is in original … Wake up, President Devine!
- 2017.01.05 VENICE BEACH PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION.pdf — Agenda for another part of the meeting
The meeting is on Friday morning at 10 a.m. If you’re able and willing to attend and film the entire meeting, which is your absolute right under the Brown Act, please do so, as various prior commitments prevent me from attending. If you’d like some tips on how to film Brown Act meetings effectively, please get in touch!
Meanwhile, turn the page for a critical analysis of selections from these woefully deficient documents as well as some special bonus info on how and why President Tara Devine and her co-conspirators are so arrogantly outlaw.
We’re just going to take this one item at a time. First, note that the so-called 2017.01.05 VENICE BEACH BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT.pdf has this as its header:
VENICE BEACH BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Whereas the other agenda circulated has this:
VENICE BEACH PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
One of the most widely ignored distinctions in BIDology is the difference between a business improvement district (BID) and the property owners’ association (POA) contracted with the City to administer it. A business improvement district is a geographical area in which the City collects special assessments.2 On the other hand, according to §36612 of the PBID Law: ‘“Owners’ association” means a private nonprofit entity that is under contract with a city to administer or implement improvements, maintenance, and activities…’
That is to say that the BID is the physical geographical area in which the assessed property is located. The POA is the corporation that decides how to spend that money. So when the VBBID3 claims that the board of directors of the BID is meeting, they’re not making any kind of sense at all. Only a corporation can have a board, not some land near the beach. It’s the POA that’s meeting here as well as in the second meeting where it’s explicitly acknowledged.
By the way, they copped this bullshit distinction from their partners in crime over at the Central City East Association, which is the only other POA/BID I’m aware of that enforces this baseless distinction.4 Both the CCEA and the VBBID do this to isolate their closed session from the rest of the meeting. They probably think they’re exploiting some putatively clever loophole, but the chances are really good that they’re wrong.
Now take a look at item 3c on the first agenda:
c. Recommendation from the selection committee to award contracts for
i. Ambassadorial-style “safe” services
ii. Maintenance and janitorial “clean” services
This strongly suggests that the BID has been holding unnoticed, unannounced, nonpublic meetings of something called “the selection committee.” This covert committee seems to have decided on who to award the security and cleaning contracts to, and yet did not hold Brown-Act compliant meetings.
Ordinarily the next move would be to make a public records request for records pertaining to the selection committee and use those to make a complaint to the L.A. County D.A.’s public integrity unit like I did recently with the Los Feliz Village BID. However, as that same report taught me, the D.A. won’t take on cases older than 90 days. I’ve seen many an example in my time of BIDs ignoring the requirements of the CPRA, and delaying the production of records, which is a clear violation, is one of their favorite tactics.
Most of the BIDs in L.A. delay, but no one has managed to change pure blockheaded obstructionism into more of a fine art than President Tara Devine. That’s why, instead of closing this post with a simple call to action and announcement that I’m going to get the damn records and see that the thugs are prosecuted,5 I’m going to end it with a selection of emails between yours truly and President Tara Devine on the subject of a CPRA request, just to illustrate how these folks are running their criminal fiefdom by the sea.
First of all, you can get all the emails here on the Archive. And here are transcriptions:
◉ February 17, 2017 original request — This is my original request, the email that started it all!
Good afternoon, Venice Beach BID.
I’d like to take a look at the following listed records. For emails, I need to see these in their native format, which means one of .eml, .msg, .mbox, or .pst. I will also need to see all attachments to emails in their own native formats. If you supply the emails in the above-listed formats the attachments are included automatically.
1. All communications, including but not limited to email, between anyone at the VBBID and anyone at the City of Los Angeles, including but not limited to the Clerk’s office, CD11, and the LAPD.
2. All communications, including but not limited to email, between anyone at the VBBID and anyone at Devine Strategies, including subcontractors, e.g. Ed Henning and any others about whom I don’t know.
3. All intra-board communications that relate to the business of the BID.
4. All records relating to the VBBID’s choice of a security provider. As I don’t know whether or not you all have chosen one, I can’t be too specific. If you have not I’d like to see all communications, RFPs, proposals, and so on. If you have, I’d like to see all that same stuff plus contracts, training materials, MOUs, etc.
Thanks in advance for your help and cooperation,
◉ March 8, 2017 status request — No response from the BID, friends. Regular readers of this blog are no doubt aware that the CPRA §6253(c) requires the BID to respond within 10 days by stating whether they have records and when and if they’ll be handing them over.6 Thus it’s good practice to send an occasional status request after the ten days are up.
Good morning, VBBID.
Is there any news on this request?
◉ March 21, 2017 status request — Still no response. Sent another status request.
Good afternoon, VBBID.
Can you please respond to this? A reply was due on February 27.
◉ October 14, 2017 status request — Still no answer. At this point it’s clear that they’re not answering without being asked by a lawyer. This is a popular tactic amongst BIDs because, even though it violates the CPRA, according to lawyers with whom I’ve discussed the issue, because of some technicalities in the law, it’s not enough in itself to get a judge to intervene unless it gets really egregious.7 Around October it started getting really egregious, hence another status request.
Good morning, Venice Beach BID.
I’m wondering what has become of the appended request. I sent it eight months ago. The law requires you to have responded by February 27, 2017, but you have failed to respond at all.
I see that I neglected to include a starting date for your search. I need to see all such records from January 1, 2016 through whenever you run the searches.
Thanks for your help and cooperation,
◉ October 20, 2017 President Tara Devine’s first response — What was she doing for the six days between my email and her response? I’d bet good money that she was discussing what to do with the VBBID board members in explicit contravention of the Brown Act.8
Dear Mr. Kohlhaas:
Thank you for your CPRA request.
We are reviewing our records to determine any records responsive to your request.
◉ November 3, 2017 President Tara Devine’s putative status report — Well, naturally I didn’t reply to President Tara Devine’s October 20 email, because WTH, amirite? However, evidently time had cured her muteness, and on November 3, unsolicited, I received this little slab of fragrant9 nonsense:
Dear Mr. Kohlhaas:
Thank you for your interest in our records. For future correspondence, please update your records/make note of our BID email addresses as shown above.
We seek to provide these records at our earliest opportunity. At a minimum, we will provide an update by Thanksgiving.
◉ November 3, 2017 Me to President Tara Devine asking her to comply with the law — Well, that was too much. It’s really astounding how emboldened these BIDdies have been by the fact that Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott asserts that as far as she’s concerned, BIDs can violate the law as much as they want to and she’s not going to enforce either the law or their contracts with the City. Holly Wolcott has a lot to answer for. It’s a sad thing that the City Charter of Los Angeles makes the Clerk an appointed position, so she has no incentive to please anyone but her masters at 200 N. Spring Street.
Hi Ms. Devine.
The law requires you to set a date by which you will provide the records rather than a date by which you will provide an “update.”
It also requires you to make records available promptly, which you have failed to do.
◉ November 22, 2017 unsolicited status report from President Tara Devine — No answer to the substantive email I sent, just this nonsense:
We continue to work on your request and expect to provide at least partial records in December. We will continue to provide a regular update until we have completed the request.
◉ January 2, 2018 unsolicited status report from President Tara Devine — Oh, for God’s sake, right? Anyway, this is the latest, but I’m sure not the last, installment. Stay tuned, friends!
I had unexpected surgeries in both Sept and Dec and will have continuing rehabilitation in Jan. This has limited my ability to work on many items (including your request) and delayed our overall efforts. We are continuing to work on your request and will keep you apprised.
Happy New Year!
Image of Tara “Teresa” Devine is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org and was painstakingly mogrifactionated outta this lil item here.
- Just getting ducks in a row for the inevitable federal indictment, that’s all.
- This isn’t stated explicitly in the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994, which authorizes BIDs as we know them today. However, it’s clear that that’s what’s meant. See §36614.5, which states that ‘“Property and business improvement district,” or “district,” means a property and business improvement district established pursuant to this part.’ and then §36614.7, which states that ‘“Property-based district” means any district in which a city levies a property-based assessment.’ The point is that the word “district” means “BID” according to the first, and a “district” is a place where stuff happens according to the second.
- Note how I’m eliding the distinction here, as is customary.
- Evidently President Tara Devine and Estela Lopez, Voodoo Queen of Skid Row and boss-honchette of the CCEA, are total besties, so it’s not unlikely at all that they’re swapping sneaky-AF ideas back and forth.
- Which I’m still going to work on, but given President Tara Devine’s thuggish proclivities it’s going to be less smooth sailing than usual. Of course it’ll end up worse for her and her infernal BID in the end, it’s just that the end will be a longer time coming.
- “Each agency, upon a request for a copy of records, shall, within 10 days from receipt of the request, determine whether the request, in whole or in part, seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and the reasons therefor.”
- This flaw in CPRA would evidently have been fixed by Rob Bonta’s proposed revisions to the law, recently shot down by Kerry Morrison and a bunch of her satan-worshipping BIDolotrous colleagues. No wonder they were so opposed.
- Like the CCEA, I believe these Venice BIDdies are going to turn out to be constitutionally incapable of complying with their legal duty to make decisions in public. At some point they’ll have learned that it’s cheaper for them to comply with CPRA, and then they’ll be ripe for ongoing Brown Act challenges. It doesn’t even matter that I’m announcing the strategy here. They’re too arrogant to follow the law even if they’re trying to. I believe this strategy will be operational by July 2019. You read it here first!
- And not in a good way, either.