Tag Archives: Los Angeles City Clerk

Already Heavily Rent Burdened Los Angeles Tenants Struggle To Make Payments — While City Council Whines About Its Own Impotence — Refuses To Implement Meaningful Relief — Creates An Inadequate — Overly Complex — Litigation Inducing — Contemptuous — Half-Assed — Relief Program — That’s So Underfunded The Money Will Be Distributed By Lottery — Of All Damn Things — But When It Comes To Commercial Property Owners — Whose Properties Are Located In Business Improvement Districts — Who Therefore Owe Tax Payments To The City — The Situation Is Quite Different — Apparently Without Any Difficulty — Without Any Whining Or Idiotic Reports From Idiotic Deputy City Attorney David Michaelson — The City Is Allowing Them To Pay Late Without Penalty — Without Proving Anything — Without Litigation — Because They Love Zillionaires More Than They Love You And Me — And Because They’re Not Ashamed Of Their Own Hypocrisy

It’s well-known that the economic destruction wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic is putting already severely rent-burdened tenants at even greater risk of eviction and homelessness. Activists have been pleading with Los Angeles City officials for months now to find ways to mitigate this looming crisis while the officials spend their time whining about how they don’t have the power to solve the problem.

The very few measures the City has actually implemented are overly complex, slanted towards landlord interests, half-assed, and very likely to require court intervention as part of the process.1 Not only are the City’s putative solutions entirely insufficient to meet the looming need, but the City only allocated $100 million to the program, which is so inadequate an amount that the City is going to distribute it by lottery.

Our present situation highlights about as clearly as can be the complete contempt, or at least clueless indifference, with which City officials approach the needs of non-zillionaire angelenos. And it’s not just residential tenants that are economically endangered by the pandemic. It’s also been hell on retail businesses, who are also having possibly insurmountable problems covering the rent.

In turn this threatens the income of their zillionaire commercial-property-owning landlords, who are therefore worried about their ability to cover their own expenses, including mortgages and property taxes. But the City government of Los Angeles is neither contemptuous not cluelessly indifferent towards the interests of zillionaires, of course, and their lack of contempt is demonstrated clearly by their attitude toward business improvement district (“BID”) assessments in the City.

The City of Los Angeles has more than forty BIDs. These operations are funded by assessments paid by commercial property owners in the districts. The assessments are not voluntary. They appear on the owners’ county property tax bills and are subject to the same kinds of draconian collection measures used to enforce payment of any tax. But unlike ordinary property taxes, which are paid to and collectable by the County of Los Angeles, these BID assessments belong to the City.

Which I suppose gives City officials some power over how and when they’re collected, or at least that’s the only way I can make sense of a statement made by Dr. Kris Larson, executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners’ Alliance at their recent board meeting. Larson told his board that “while property owners are technically still on the hook to pay their assessments the City is not penalizing those that are late collected.”
Continue reading Already Heavily Rent Burdened Los Angeles Tenants Struggle To Make Payments — While City Council Whines About Its Own Impotence — Refuses To Implement Meaningful Relief — Creates An Inadequate — Overly Complex — Litigation Inducing — Contemptuous — Half-Assed — Relief Program — That’s So Underfunded The Money Will Be Distributed By Lottery — Of All Damn Things — But When It Comes To Commercial Property Owners — Whose Properties Are Located In Business Improvement Districts — Who Therefore Owe Tax Payments To The City — The Situation Is Quite Different — Apparently Without Any Difficulty — Without Any Whining Or Idiotic Reports From Idiotic Deputy City Attorney David Michaelson — The City Is Allowing Them To Pay Late Without Penalty — Without Proving Anything — Without Litigation — Because They Love Zillionaires More Than They Love You And Me — And Because They’re Not Ashamed Of Their Own Hypocrisy

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The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

Spend some time hanging around business improvement districts and you’ll certainly hear a bunch of entitled zillionaires whining, bragging, or lying about how they voluntarily agree to spend their own damn money to provide services that the City of Los Angeles is too incompetent, too broke, or too both of these to provide. They just love explaining this to everyone. And the City of Los Angeles is also thrilled with that narrative. This City-produced BID FAQ explains it quite clearly:

[A] majority of business owners of commercial property owners in a given area decide to acquire special benefits and to pay for those benefits themselves.

The story serves everyone’s interests. The BIDdies get to imagine themselves as heroes of putative private sector efficiency and the City gets a bunch of useful idiots to carry out policies that would be incredibly illegal if the City did them directly. Everybody wins but the citizens of Los Angeles. The part you don’t hear too much about, though, the part that none of them really like to discuss, is that when property owned by the City or by other public agencies is included in a BID then the City or the other public agency is also subject to these assessments.

This is specifically authorized by the Property and Business Improvement District Law under which BIDs are established in California.1 This means that when the City Council approves a business improvement district it’s often also approving an ongoing annual payment to the BIDdies. Which, by the way, can be substantial. Over the last few days I looked at various public records involved in BID formation in LA and learned that the City of Los Angeles is on the hook for annual payments to BIDs of at least $2,278,604.2

If LAUSD, Metro, and the County are included the total is $3,710,281 and property owned by the State of California brings the total amount of public money paid annually to LA BIDs to $4,203,276.3 These days, with the City of Los Angeles furloughing employees and moaning about the price of hotel rooms to protect unhoused residents from the ongoing pandemic, there are much, much better uses that that money could be put to.4
Continue reading The City Of Los Angeles Shells Out More Than $2.2M Per Year To Business Improvement Districts — Add In Other Local Public Money — Like LAUSD — And Metro — And LA County — The Total Is More Than $3.7M Per Year To The BIDdies — Not Sure How Many People That Could Put In How Many Hotel Rooms For How Many Nights — But It’s A Lot — Not Sure How Many City Employee Furloughs That Money Could Prevent — But It’s A Lot More Than Zero Of Them — Remember That When They Tell You They Can’t Afford Something — They’re Choosing Not To Afford It

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The Deep State In Los Angeles — How Dennis Zine Wanted To Take $30,000 Out Of His Salary In 2013 And Give It To The LAPD’s Mounted Platoon — To Buy A Tractor, Of All Things — Possibly For Anti-Terrorism Purposes — Or Maybe Just For Moving Horseshit From One Place To Another — But Holly Wolcott — At That Time Executive Officer In The Clerk’s Office — Did Some Weird Back-Channel Voodoo On The Council File — Put It Into “Continuation Pergatory [sic] Never To Be Agendized Again” — Which Certainly Raises A Question As To Who’s In Charge Over At 200 N. Spring Street

I recently obtained a huge batch of emails between former City Clerk June Lagmay and present City Clerk Holly Wolcott back when she had Shannon Hoppes’s job as Executive Officer. I haven’t managed to prep them all for publication yet, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. See e.g. this recent post about lawsuits against the Downtown Center BID and how the City propped them up for five years by refunding a half million dollars in assessments to an angry plaintiff.

Today’s topic, also based on selections from this material, is a vignette about an attempt by former Councilmember Dennis Zine to donate $30,000 from his salary to the LAPD’s Mounted Platoon to buy a replacement tractor, maybe to move horseshit around?1 The Council File is 13-0064-S4, and you can read the LAPD’s report on the donation as well. On February 11, 2013 Holly Wolcott emailed Karen Kalfayan, possibly with the office of the Chief Legislative Analyst,2 to ask if the money was coming out of Zine’s salary as Councilmember.3

Subsequently Lagmay emailed Wolcott to alert her that the item would be heard in committee on February 22. After the meeting Lagmay emailed Wolcott under the subject line “interesting” to tell her that the item was continued to an unspecified future date, and then Wolcott replied, taking credit for the whole thing: “Yes, that was due entirely to my intervention…….since I couldn’t keep it off the agenda that is what we all decided to do with it. … It will die in continuation pergatory, [sic] never to be agendized again hell now. [sic] Lagmay’s reply expresses pure admiration: “You one powerful woman.” And who is “we all” in Wolcott’s narrative? Some anti-tractor cabal? Isn’t the Committee in charge? Very weird.

That’s the story! And I don’t know if it’s good or bad for Dennis Zine to give a tractor to the LAPD. It’s probably bad, because what good are the cops gonna get up to with heavy equipment?4 But good or bad, ideally the City is run by elected officials exercising their lawful powers lawfully granted to them by the people rather than by appointed functionaries using scheduling jujitsu to kill off properly introduced motions by leaving them to “die in continuation pergatory, [sic] never to be agendized again hell now. [sic] And turn the page for transcriptions of everything!
Continue reading The Deep State In Los Angeles — How Dennis Zine Wanted To Take $30,000 Out Of His Salary In 2013 And Give It To The LAPD’s Mounted Platoon — To Buy A Tractor, Of All Things — Possibly For Anti-Terrorism Purposes — Or Maybe Just For Moving Horseshit From One Place To Another — But Holly Wolcott — At That Time Executive Officer In The Clerk’s Office — Did Some Weird Back-Channel Voodoo On The Council File — Put It Into “Continuation Pergatory [sic] Never To Be Agendized Again” — Which Certainly Raises A Question As To Who’s In Charge Over At 200 N. Spring Street

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CIM Group BID Project Coordinator Catherine Randall Met With Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno In December 2018 To Discuss West Adams BID — At Recommendation Of BIDological Freak Show Specimen Don Duckworth — Who Has A Lot To Answer For In This Life

This is just a short post to update you on newly obtained information about the impending West Adams Business Improvement District. For a decent recap of the situation read my last post on the subject over here. The BID consultant is Marco Li Mandri of New City America, but according to some emails that I obtained this evening, Donald Duckworth was also talking to Catherine Randall of CIM Group, who seems to be heading up the BID establishment project in support of her employer’s growing investment in West Adams real estate.

Duckworth, of course, is famous in these parts for the surreal level of cruelty and slapstick incompetence with he manages to imbue the ordinary everyday BID facism to which every BIDologist is accustomed. They’re against street vending, he forces local business owners to denounce themselves for supporting street vending. They obstruct my access to their documents in violation of the California Public Records Act. His violations are so flagrant that I had to sue him twice on the same day. They illegally lobby City officials. He…well, he also illegally lobbies City officials. They’re a bunch of white supremacists. He lives in Arcadia, California, a city with a population of 57,000 which includes fewer than 700 African-Americans.

He’s quite a piece of work, is our Mr. Duckworth, and the thought of him having anything whatsoever to do with West Adams, even the thought of him walking the very streets, let alone being involved with such a powerfully satanic tool of cultural mutation as a West Adams BID will be, is nauseating indeed. Even the very emails that are the nominal subject of this post, well, I mean, they pale in comparison, but they’re pretty pale to begin with other than the revelation about El Duckie.1 You can read transcriptions after the break.
Continue reading CIM Group BID Project Coordinator Catherine Randall Met With Clerk BID Analyst Rita Moreno In December 2018 To Discuss West Adams BID — At Recommendation Of BIDological Freak Show Specimen Don Duckworth — Who Has A Lot To Answer For In This Life

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A Detailed Analysis Of The Cash Flowing In And Out Of Mitch O’Farrell’s Public Benefits Slush Fund — Developers Pay Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For The Privilege Of Building Out-Of-Code Projects — O’Farrell Spends The Money On Projects That Please His Political Supporters — It Seems Unlikely That There’s Any Net Benefit To Anyone But Zillionaires — This Is No Way To Run A City

A developer wants to build a building that’s taller than the local zoning allows, or has less parking than required. Maybe there are pesky historical structures on the proposed site or the new building will attract enough additional traffic to gridlock the streets around it. There are any number of reasons why a given building might not be allowed. It’ll still get built, though.

The developer will just have to pay hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to the appropriate councilmember to get it approved. And these payments are inextricably integrated into our City’s building approval process. One might even suspect, and not without reason, that the ultimate purpose of zoning codes in Los Angeles is to induce developers to pay for exceptions to them.

And it’s not bribery, at least not the illegal kind. The CM doesn’t get to pocket the money. Instead it goes into one of the dozens of City trust funds set up specifically for receiving such monies. Just for instance, Mitch O’Farrell, CD13 repster, has one called the “Council District 13 Public Benefits Trust Fund.” It’s authorized by the Los Angeles Administrative Code at §5.414 ” for the receipt, retention and disbursement of gifts, contributions and bequests for the support of police and community activities within Council District 13.”

The fees are imposed on developers by the City Council at the behest of the relevant CM. To see an example of how this works take a look at CF 07-1379, wherein some developers sought permission to build another mixed-use monstrosity in Hollywood, this one at 1540 N. Vine Street.1 The developers got what they came for, which was Ordinance Number 178,836, authorizing construction. And in there, buried among other conditions, will be found paragraphs 26 and 27, stating how much money they’re going to give to Mitch O’Farrell in exchange for their zoning changes:
Continue reading A Detailed Analysis Of The Cash Flowing In And Out Of Mitch O’Farrell’s Public Benefits Slush Fund — Developers Pay Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars For The Privilege Of Building Out-Of-Code Projects — O’Farrell Spends The Money On Projects That Please His Political Supporters — It Seems Unlikely That There’s Any Net Benefit To Anyone But Zillionaires — This Is No Way To Run A City

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West Adams BID Is In The Pipeline — Management District Plan May Be Submitted To City As Early As January — Backed By Thuggish Outlaw Real Estate Trump-Buddies CIM Group — Who Are Developing At Least Three Properties In The Area — Clearly BID Will Support, Enhance Gentrification — Pressure For Which Is Created By Culver City Adjacency And Tech Boom

West Adams is famous for many things, its signature Victorian architecture, having been the legendary home of many famous African-Americans in the 20th Century, center of black gay culture in Los Angeles, and so much besides. But none of that really matters in these latter days. Ultimately the fate of West Adams will be determined solely by the fact that it’s really close to Culver City but the rent is a lot lower at the very moment when Tech Bro World, having been priced out of Venice, is expanding in that very direction.

Which is why, in case you missed it, the thuggish Trump-buddy real estate zillionaires who call themselves CIM Group have been buying properties all over the neigborhood, developing live/work multi-use monstrosities and and hotels and God knows what-all. CIM Group is famous for its outlaw behavior, what with illegally chasing tenants out of rent-stabilized buildings, and illegally AirBnBing buildings that don’t have occupancy permits, and violating the terms of their building permits, and other such shenanigans.1

And CIM Group is also famous for its support of business improvement districts in neighborhoods where it’s parking its considerable capital. Just for one instance, there’s perennial Hollywood Entertainment District BID Boardie Monica Yamada, vice president for incomprehensible nonsense at CIM. And earlier this month I first learned that BID consultants New City America2 were working on setting up a BID in West Adams and, more recently, that CIM Group seems to be the main proponent.

In particular, CIM groupies Catherine Randall and Geffen Kuba3 seem to be walking point. These facts, and not much more, come from some recently obtained emails relating to the BID formation process. First see this conversation between Marco Li Mandri and Wesson staffer Kimani Black. There’s also this short note from Shirley Zawadski to the City Clerk letting them know that the formation process is underway.

According to Li Mandri the plan is to have the engineer’s report and the management district plan in to the Clerk’s office by the middle of January. I don’t know if they have gone to petitions yet. The BID is expected to raise $370,000 in its first year of operation. Turn the page for links to and transcriptions of the emails on which the story is based.
Continue reading West Adams BID Is In The Pipeline — Management District Plan May Be Submitted To City As Early As January — Backed By Thuggish Outlaw Real Estate Trump-Buddies CIM Group — Who Are Developing At Least Three Properties In The Area — Clearly BID Will Support, Enhance Gentrification — Pressure For Which Is Created By Culver City Adjacency And Tech Boom

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Some Guy Complains To Clerk’s Office About “Deteriorating Conditions” In The Wilshire Center BID — Rick Scott Informs Jose Flores That It’s The BID’s Job To Handle Angries — But Admits That The City Will Intervene “To Try To Resolve” If The BID Doesn’t Deal With It — But The City Won’t Intervene When BIDs Violate CPRA — Or The Brown Act — So What Rick Scott Means Is The City Will Mostly Intervene If BIDs Don’t Persecute Homeless Enough — Also Around 200 Other Emails From Wilshire Center!

It’s been a while since I’ve asked for records from the Wilshire Center BID, in fact we haven’t heard from them since the whole sad clown Mike Hakim episode last summer. But just the other day I got about 200 new emails from the always cooperative Mr. Mike Russell, their doughty zeck dreck, and as always you can peruse them at your leisure and pleasure here on Archive.Org. And there are no blockbusters in there, but you might enjoy looking through the usual rattle and hum of the daily BIDness.

However, there is one really interesting, at least from a technical BIDological point of view, item, and that is this October 2, 2018 email from Rick Scott of the City Clerk’s BID division to Jose Flores, his subordinate, CCed to Mr. Mike Russell and, in a particularly cruel touch of bureaucratic passive aggression, every last one of Jose Flores’s supervisors. It seems that some internet random known as nezabudka1937@gmail.com fired off an angry little missive to the Clerk’s BID division at Clerk.NBID@lacity.org complaining about homelessness and urban decay in K-Town (of course there’s a transcription of everything after the break).

Jose Flores, who’s apparently tasked with sifting through the chaff,1 forwarded it to Rick Scott, and Rick Scott was all like, Jose! Send it to Mr. Mike Russell next time! Why? Here’s where things get strange. Thus all-caps-icalized Rick Scott:

With ANY stakeholder issue the BID is always the first entity they should contact. If their issue isn’t resolved after a reasonable time we will contact the BID to try to resolve it. The BIDs don’t work for us. They are paid to address stakeholders’ concerns.

Wow. Just wow. First of all, the angry email was from an unidentified internet random. It’s big if true that Rick Scott’s correct that BIDs are paid to address the concerns of internet randoms as long as he calls them stakeholders. But I’m pretty sure it’s not true.2 BIDs are paid to address the concerns of their boards of directors, not even the concerns of the people who pay their assessments. And it gets worse. Lots worse.
Continue reading Some Guy Complains To Clerk’s Office About “Deteriorating Conditions” In The Wilshire Center BID — Rick Scott Informs Jose Flores That It’s The BID’s Job To Handle Angries — But Admits That The City Will Intervene “To Try To Resolve” If The BID Doesn’t Deal With It — But The City Won’t Intervene When BIDs Violate CPRA — Or The Brown Act — So What Rick Scott Means Is The City Will Mostly Intervene If BIDs Don’t Persecute Homeless Enough — Also Around 200 Other Emails From Wilshire Center!

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Crusading Palisades Journalist Sue Pascoe To Palisades BID In 2016: You’re Violating The Damn Brown Act By Posting Your Agendas Where Disabled People Can’t Freaking See Them — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale To Rick Scott: “I Feel Like [Following The Law] Is Just Silly” And Plus This Lady Is Really Mean! — Rick Scott To Laurie Sale: We’re Not Your Damn Lawyers So Figure Out Your Own Damn Problems

Someone recently obtained a bunch of emails from 2016 between Laurie Sale of the Pacific Freaking Palisades BID and Rick Scott of the City Clerk’s office who is, it seems, the BID’s analyst.1 The goodies were passed to me and I uploaded the whole batch of them to Archive dot Org for your edification and titillation, and click here to browse through ’em!

And as you know, the Palisades BID, besides being generally creepy and rather floridly delusional, has proved itself unable to comply even minimally with California’s twin government transparency ordinances, the California Public Records Act and the Brown Act. I’ve written a little about their struggles with CPRA compliance2 and a little more about their struggles with Brown Act compliance, like see this episode and this especially nutty and horrific episode.

So with all of that in mind it was pleasant but not really a surprise to find this little gem of an email exchange in today’s yield. It all began when Sue Pascoe, editor of the famously floofball advertiser known as the Palisades News, emailed Laurie Sale, now retired zeck dreck of the BID, telling her that it was a violation of the Brown Act’s agenda posting requirements to post the agenda in a place that was not handicapped accessible.

Rather than asking a lawyer as anyone with any sense and some assets to protect might do, Laurie Sale emailed Rick Scott of the City Clerk’s office asking him for advice and basically saying that Sue Pascoe was a big meanie and why should the BID have to follow the damn law anyway? Then Rick Scott wrote back and told Laurie Sale that he wasn’t a lawyer and couldn’t give advice. What else did she expect? Turn the page, as always, for transcriptions of everything!
Continue reading Crusading Palisades Journalist Sue Pascoe To Palisades BID In 2016: You’re Violating The Damn Brown Act By Posting Your Agendas Where Disabled People Can’t Freaking See Them — Zeck Dreck Laurie Sale To Rick Scott: “I Feel Like [Following The Law] Is Just Silly” And Plus This Lady Is Really Mean! — Rick Scott To Laurie Sale: We’re Not Your Damn Lawyers So Figure Out Your Own Damn Problems

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Once Again The City Of Los Angeles Was Pushed To The Very Brink Of The Precipice Of Batshit Insanity By Business Improvement Districts And Their Unhinged Obsession With Controlling Every Aspect Of Public Life In Los Angeles — And Unexpectedly Stepped Back And Just Said “No” — Is Holly Wolcott Going To Lose Her Job Over This?

As you’re no doubt aware, the City of Los Angeles has been trying for years to put together a proposed ordinance legalizing street vending.1 The problem, of course, is that business improvement districts and other zillionaire-associated pressure groups hate street vending with a passion that is so incomprehensible, so devoid of rationality, that no one can appease them. No matter what concessions the City gives them they want more. The absolutely unhinged nature of their psychotic demands are exemplified, e.g., in this tragic tale from the Westchester Town Center BID.

In March of this year the Central City Association distilled all these lunatic demands into a concise three page document. They include, among many other things, the ability to exclude street vendors from any part of the City for no reason, the ability to confiscate their carts if they look at the BID patrol crosseyed, the ability for property owners to veto their presence for no reason, and the requirement that street vendors pay extra money to business improvement districts for the privilege of operating within their boundaries.

Now, the City Council, usually willing to do whatever BIDdies ask them to do, has had to be somewhat more circumspect when it comes to street vending because of the intense public scrutiny. The state-level Democratic Party, e.g., has taken up general legalization as a social and economic justice issue, leading to the overwhelming passage of Ricardo Lara’s SB-946 a couple weeks ago.2 But more circumspect or not, they still have to give the BIDdies some respect or they’ll cut off their access to that rich source of campaign contributions.

This is probably why the Economic Development Committee asked the City Clerk to report back on how to make street vendors who operate within BIDs pay extra fees that would go to the BIDs as, I don’t know, like protection money or something. These report-backs typically reflect the deep psychosis of this City’s zillionaires, who really seem to think that their thoughts and feelings are objectively important rather than being only contextually important, with the context, of course, being campaign contributions.3

So what a surprise it was to learn that Holly Wolcott has filed a gem of a report, which calmly and decisively explains to the City Council that actually any such fee scheme would be illegal. What?! Wolcott explicitly suggests that if street vendors in BIDs create extra costs for the BIDs the BIDs can budget money to pay for them but they cannot legally force the vendors to pay.

Holly Wolcott, pretty famously, recently flipped out over the fact that the Venice Beach BID collected far more than a million dollars for 2017 and then didn’t actually do anything at all. She schemed successfully to force the BID to refund the unspent money, and, in the midst of a great deal of personal tension between the BIDdies and the Clerk’s office, the money was in fact refunded. Perhaps this uncharacteristically non-BID-agreeing-with report-back is more of the same? I’m not sure, but it sure is welcome. Turn the page for a transcription of Holly Wolcott’s peculiarly sensible report!
Continue reading Once Again The City Of Los Angeles Was Pushed To The Very Brink Of The Precipice Of Batshit Insanity By Business Improvement Districts And Their Unhinged Obsession With Controlling Every Aspect Of Public Life In Los Angeles — And Unexpectedly Stepped Back And Just Said “No” — Is Holly Wolcott Going To Lose Her Job Over This?

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