Tara Devine Accuses Rita Moreno Of Harboring Prejudice Against The Venice Beach BID And Of Badmouthing Her And Her Damn BID To Property Owners — And Of Being Too Dumb To Understand BIDs And Of Not Being Able To Read — Rita Moreno Accuses Tara Devine Of Badmouthing The City To Property Owners — Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?! — Oh, And More On Tara Devine’s September 26, 2017 Surgery, The Swiss Army Knife Of Excuses For Nonperformance Of Contractual And Statutory Obligations

As you no doubt recall, in April 2017 I was forced by the weirdo intransigence of Ms. Tara Devine to file a writ petition against the Venice Beach BID because they could not, would not, comply with the damn public records act for essentially years on end. And in June Tara Devine started handing over records, with more handed over in July. She’s evidently producing a batch a month even though she promised more, because just the other day I got a set of 284 emails between her and the City of Los Angeles, and I published them as usual on Archive.Org for your edification and pleasure.1

And there is a lot of good stuff in this set, but first a little more background. You will, of course, recall that the Venice Beach BID, despite being funded by the City starting in January 2017, didn’t even have a Board meeting until January 2018 and didn’t begin providing services until many months after that. This series of egregious failures led to a great deal of tension between the BIDdies and the City. So much so that in May 2018 the BIDdies got called on the carpet at City Hall and were also forced, much against their will, to refund all the money they’d collected for 2017.

And it seems that, obviously at least in hindsight, these serious consequences in 2018 arose from a great deal of tension between the City and the BID in 2017. The text for today’s sermon is a series of emails from October of that year between Tara Devine and Rita Moreno of the City Clerk which demonstrates exactly that.

It all started when Rita Moreno asked Tara Devine why the BID didn’t even have a working phone, which was forcing the City to field the outpouring of complaints from property owners who had paid a ton of money but were receiving nothing for it. Tara Devine, as is her angry and unprofessional little wont, flipped out on Rita Moreno, and the whole vitriolic exchange with links and transcriptions is right after the break!


October 3, 2017 2:33 p.m. Rita Moreno to Tara Devine

Subject: Fwd: Venice Beach contact number
From: Rita Moreno <rita.moreno@lacity.org>
Date: 10/03/2017 02:33 PM
To: Tara Devine <tara@venicebeachbid.com>, Tara Devine <tara@devinestrategies.com>
CC: Jose Flores <jose.flores@lacity.org>

Hi Tara,

Do you know why the phone number is not working? The BID is required to have an accurate and working number that is listed on bills and to provide it to the City. It should also be listed on your website, letterhead and any other BID sources for information.

Please let me know.

Thanks.

Rita


And it turns out that it wasn’t just me that Tara Devine was ignoring throughout 2017, she was also ignoring the City of Los Angeles. This seems like a particularly unwise strategy since they not only have infinitely much money and infinitely many lawyers on staff, but they actually by law and by contract control all of the BID’s revenue. Why make them mad by ignoring them? But that’s just what Tara Devine did, so eight days later Rita Moreno asked her again, this time upping the ante by CCing Miranda Paster and Rosemary Hinkson, high mucketies of the Clerk’s BID unit.


October 11, 2017 4:06 p.m. Rita Moreno to Tara Devine

Subject: Re: Venice Beach contact number
From: Rita Moreno <rita.moreno@lacity.org>
Date: 10/11/2017 04:06 PM
To: Tara Devine <tara@venicebeachbid.com>, Tara Devine <tara@devinestrategies.com>
CC: Jose Flores <jose.flores@lacity.org>, Miranda Paster <miranda.paster@lacity.org>, Rosemary Hinkson <rosemary.hinkson@lacity.org>

Hi Tara,

I just left a message for you about the non-working number for the Venice Beach BID. There is no way for stakeholders to reach the BID as you also don’t have a website with basic BID info.

the phone number in question is (213) 788-7469.
the website we were given is: www.venicebeachbid.com

Please get back to me asap.

Thanks.

Rita


And evidently this was enough to get Tara Devine to answer, which she did the very next morning.


October 12, 2017 9:34 a.m. Tara Devine to Rita Moreno

Subject: Re: Venice Beach contact number
From: Tara Devine <tara@venicebeachbid.com>
Date: 10/12/2017 09:34 AM
To: Rita Moreno <Rita.Moreno@lacity.org>
CC: Rosemary Hinkson <rosemary.hinkson@lacity.org>, Tara Devine <tara@devine-strategies.com>, Miranda Paster <miranda.paster@lacity.org>, Jose Flores <jose.flores@lacity.org>

Rita:

My apologies for the delay responding. I recently had surgery, and the result is that I have only been able to handle absolute emergencies.

Due to a change in the physical location of the prior BID phone, we had to establish a new number for the BID. We recently prepared and sent a mailing (postcard) to all property owners with the new number:
213-332-5633.

Furthermore, we also established a Mailchimp mailing list for the BID. Property owners can sign up at: http://eepurl.com/cXTV3j

This signup link was included in both our last mailing (August) and the one we just completed (October.)

Please let me know if there are any forms I need to complete to update our phone number with the City of LA. Thanks!


Note Tara Devine’s claim that her surgery prevented her from doing anything that wasn’t an absolute emergency. Coincidentally from an independent source I happen to know a little bit about this surgery, which she also used as a reason for failing to respond to my CPRA requests for nearly a year and a half. Check out this September 26, 2017 email from Tara Devine to John Walker of the Studio City BID.

Here rather than making excuses for her failure to perform she’s trying to get John Walker to hire her as the BID’s renewal consultant, and the different context yields a radically different assessment of the effect of the surgery on her abilities: “John, my apologies for the delay. I am having a fairly simple surgery today (that I didn’t expect until about a week ago) and should be home tomorrow with a fairly easy recovery.”

Now, honesty and integrity are famously required for anyone to be certified by the City as a BID consultant, so where does this two-facery leave TD on that score? Not certifiable,2 I’m thinking, but then, it’s not my call. Anyway, back to Rita Moreno, who is not so easily put off by this malarkey.


October 12, 2017 2:10 p.m. Rita Moreno to Tara Devine

Subject: Re: Venice Beach contact number
From: Rita Moreno <rita.moreno@lacity.org>
Date: 10/12/2017 02:10 PM
To: Tara Devine <tara@venicebeachbid.com>
CC: Rosemary Hinkson <rosemary.hinkson@lacity.org>, Tara Devine <tara@devine-strategies.com>, Miranda Paster <miranda.paster@lacity.org>, Jose Flores <jose.flores@lacity.org>

Does the BID have a website? How can folks access BID information?


And now the knives are beginning to come out. By reiterating her question about the phone number Rita Moreno has, at least in the eyes of La Devine, also called TD’s abilities into question. This, as you’ll see, requires a strengthy counteroffensive involving a terse summary of all the stuff the BID is actually doing that’s obviously much more important than a damn phone number.3


October 12, 2017 5:36 p.m. Tara Devine to Rita Moreno

Subject: Re: Venice Beach contact number
From: Tara Devine <tara@devine-strategies.com>
Date: 10/12/2017 05:36 PM
To: Rita Moreno <rita.moreno@lacity.org>
CC: Rosemary Hinkson <rosemary.hinkson@lacity.org>, Tara Devine <tara@venicebeachbid.com>, Miranda Paster <miranda.paster@lacity.org>, Jose Flores <jose.flores@lacity.org>

We have registered a domain name, but we do not yet have a website and may not for a few months (www.venicebeachbid.com + venicebeachbid.org, which redirects to .com)

At the moment, the Board priorities are launching the clean and safe program and seeking/securing a lease for office space and related TIs/equipment so that we can begin those services, which correspond to the majority of stakeholder requests/contacts, as well as 73% of our budget (as opposed to 7% for the budget category that includes our marketing/website.) There are also numerous adminstrative [sic] functions we are focused on that are necessary to facilitate the start of clean and safe services.


But Rita Moreno recognizes a liar when she sees one, and she will not be put off by this aggression, barely veiled at this point.4 Also, here for the first time we’re hearing that Rita Moreno has been getting a lot of complaints from Venice property owners about how they’re being charged for nonexistent services and no one answers the damn phone. Also, for the first time I’m aware of, Rita Moreno reminds Tara Devine that they did sign a contract and hints that they are violating it. A pretty rough message of which to be the recipient, all in all.


October 13, 2017 12:20 p.m. Rita Moreno to Tara Devine

Subject: Re: Venice Beach contact number
From: Rita Moreno <rita.moreno@lacity.org>
Date: 10/13/2017 12:20 PM
To: Tara Devine <tara@devine-strategies.com>
CC: Rosemary Hinkson <rosemary.hinkson@lacity.org>, Tara Devine <tara@venicebeachbid.com>, Miranda Paster <miranda.paster@lacity.org>

Tara,

Venice Beach BID stakeholders have not been able to reach the BID, so our admin staff and I are fielding calls with people asking why they can’t reach the BID and are paying for non-existent services. We are now providing the new number, but the second question is one the BID needs to answer.

Please note that the BID is required to maintain a working number, and to provide it to your stakeholders and the City (without us having to ask for it).

I’m glad that the BID is moving on implementing the services. I presume meetings are taking place to make these decisions so please let me know where and when they are happening so that I can attend. This information also needs to be provided to the stakeholders and the general public.

As for the amount allocated, the budget percentages were decided by the formation members and, presumably, based on an understanding of the costs associated with the operation of a BID. The BID is required to provide information on its activities and actions. I know you are doing your best, but the property owner’s association agreed to the terms of the contract.

Thank you for your time.

Rita


This is too much for the brittle ego and fragile, barely maintained temper of Ms. Tara Devine. It took her three days to answer, and when she did she has come completely unhinged. She accuses Rita Moreno of being an incompetent amateur, of being unable to understand the complexities of BID work, and of not being able to read.

Oh, and of course she has to be sure to point out to Rita Moreno that she, Tara Devine, is actually the victim, because the property owners have been so very very very very mean to her. Worst of all, TD accuses Rita Moreno of slandering her and the BID to angry property owners and of having something against the Venice Beach BID. She actually threatens to have those property owners “come forward” if necessary.

The only reason anyone around the blog here can think of for having witnesses come forward is if there’s some kind of proceeding or official accusation, so this is a serious threat that La Devine is making. And for what? She’s the one who violated the BID’s contract for over a year and probably is mostly responsible for the whole refund fiasco. Anyway, I’m sorry for the length, but this is essential reading.


October 16, 2017 4:05 p.m. Tara Devine to Rita Moreno

Subject: Re: Venice Beach contact number
From: Tara Devine <tara@venicebeachbid.com>
Date: 10/16/2017 04:05 PM
To: Rita Moreno <Rita.Moreno@lacity.org>
CC: Miranda Paster <miranda.paster@lacity.org>, Tara Devine <tara@devinestrategies.com>, Rosemary Hinkson <rosemary.hinkson@lacity.org>

Rita:

Our first board meeting will likely occur in late Nov/early Dec and I expect the agenda will focus heavily on the clean and safe program and any related matters. I’ll provide you with the meeting notice when scheduled. In the meantime, we have sent two mailings to all our owners in the past 60 days. Each included an update, but I myself have fielded recent calls/emails from owners who acknowledged receiving them but clearly didn’t read them (frustrating to both of us, no doubt.) We’re really trying to encourage owners to sign up for our Mailchimp list so we can switch from “snail mail” to email updates asap. Currently, too few owners have registered for us to communicate effectively that way. Please feel free to send the mailing list link to anyone you speak with: http://eepurl.com/cXTV3j

I don’t know if you’ve worked with a new BID before, but it is not possible to have all systems up and running immediately. (For example, a website is not usually up and running at this stage…some BIDs don’t even have one, although we hope to have a basic/initial one up in the first half of 2018.) If you look back at my prior email, I funished [sic] our domain name as an FYI, but also said it is not operational yet. Perhaps you misread my email?

Our near-term priority remains the launch of the clean and safe program that represents 73% of the budget. There are dozens of sub-tasks necessary to achieve that, and many of them are invisible to you and to stakeholders (for example, just one of a series of accounting tasks is developing a chart of accounts for expense allocations.) We are very focused on setting up strong, quality internal systems and protocols; that takes additional time and effort on the front end but pays many dividends over time. Another example is that leasing in Venice is highly challenging due to a tight and expensive real estate market; I have already devoted at least 40 hours to identifying and evaluating potential spaces and we are continuing our search. The outwardly invisible tasks are many, and yet important.

I know we have some stakeholders who are very persistent and some of them are not always polite or reasonable. I have been cursed or screamed at by several, and nearly assaulted by one. I am sorry you have to deal with them, too. I regrettably cannot change that. Some of that may persist regardless of what either of us do. Some of them call with the same/largely similar comment or question even when it has been asked and answered. I know this can be challenging. I hope it will lessen with the launch of the clean and safe services.

If you have questions about the work we are doing, I’d be happy to discuss that. The only calls or inquiries I’ve received from you since we received our first assessment revenue in August both related to the phone #, which was actually already resolved…but we were still in the midst of preparing the mailing to owners (the mailing was briefly delayed due to my unexpected surgery and a few difficult days afterwards.)

I haven’t addressed this previously, but unfortunately I think I need to now. The tenor of your email (and some other past communication) really suggests to me that you have some type of antipathy toward our BID. I do not know the cause of it. But I have heard from Venice property owners (some recent, some dating back to the time of our formation) that you have made negative editorial comments to them about the BID’s performance and/or leadership. I don’t know why you would do that, but I’d appreciate it if you were direct with me about specific concerns instead of undermining the BID’s credibility with its stakeholders. I’d really appreciate being given the opportunity to explain what we are doing, rather than contend with your perception of what we are doing (or not doing?) I understand that you are new to this, and I don’t expect you to understand all the details of our work. I DO expect you to ask questions rather than badmouth the BID or its leadership.

If it continues, I will ask those owners to come forward.

I also want to note that I do appreciate that you have always been responsive to us and helpful in moving things forward in the City processes despite the above. I have not often had to follow up with you, and I truly appreciate that. I would like to have an amicable and productive working relationship. Please be direct with me about any concerns or expectations you have. I have a pretty full plate of setup tasks, but I will carve out time as necessary to help you be more aware of what we are doing. Perhaps that will help you respond to the aforementioned calls. I know it’s difficult. I feel fantastic when I can spend an hour in productive conversation with an owner — but it’s also challenging because I cannot do that all the time — that’s an hour I didn’t spend on the RFP, or something else that gets our services started. It is a balancing act to allocate time to all functions, including stakeholder communication. I know I try; I also know I may not always succeed by all others’ measures.

Warmest regards,
Tara


And the next day Rita Moreno struck back a little, accusing Tara Devine of publicly blaming the City for the BID’s failures and so on. But of course that’s just woofing, because Rita Moreno can’t file complaints against Tara Devine but Tara Devine can certainly file complaints against Rita Moreno. Rita Moreno essentially backed down in the face of Tara Devine’s bullying, and after that they made nice, or as nice as can be under the circumstances. These emails are worth reading, but we’ve gone on long enough here, so I’ll just close with links to the rest of the conversation.

October 17, 2017 10:50 a.m. Rita Moreno to Tara Devine
October 17, 2017 7:43 p.m. Tara Devine to Rita Moreno
October 18, 2017 9:23 a.m. Rita Moreno to Tara Devine
October 18, 2017 12:59 p.m. Tara Devine to Rita Moreno
October 18, 2017 1:03 p.m. Rita Moreno to Tara Devine
October 19, 2017 10:03 a.m. Tara Devine to Rita Moreno


Image of Tara Devine and whatshisname is ©2018 MichaelKohlhaas.Org. It’s a screenshot from something or a damn nother.

  1. These came to me as an MBOX file, which, in TD’s favor, is the absolute gold standard of email production. I didn’t upload the MBOX itself to the Archive, but just exported the emails as PDFs and extracted all the attachments. I will make the MBOX available to you if you can and would use it. Drop me a line at mike at michael kohlhaas dot org and we’ll do a dropbox.
  2. But also, obviously, certifiable.
  3. Of course, when I say that stuff the BID is actually doing I mean, as does Tara Devine, the stuff the BID’s not actually doing but which they have not yet been openly accused of not doing. These are the same thing in Taradevinelandia.
  4. Note that she finally removed poor Jose Flores from the CC list here, if you’ve been following that minor subdrama embedded in these emails.
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