Occasionally people in my position find that actual factual matters are weirder than we could have even imagined. It’s hard to make fun of people whose publicly revealed antics are not only stranger than fiction but stranger even than satire. The great Mark Russell used to call this kind of material “rip and read.”1
So yesterday, courtesy of the ever-courtly but but not always ever lawful Nicole Shahenian, EHBID ED, all the materials for this afternoon’s East Hollywood BID meeting arrived via email. And there to my wondering eyes did appear the following greasy little slabs of marketitation:2
EHBID Strategy Report Final — Result of a lot of brainstorming and so forth, prepared for the BID by Counterintuity, who, I hope, have substantial qualifications beyond the fact that they seem to come from Burbank.
This summer, thinking about the important role that LACAN’s pictures and video of LA Sanitation’s aggressive clean-ups of homeless encampments downtown have played in e.g. Mitchell v. Los Angeles, it occurred to me that it ought to be possible to get advance notice of encampment cleaning actions from the City via the California Public Records Act. Well, like everything involving CPRA, it turned out to be far more complicated than one might expect in advance.
Amazingly, Sanitation did supply me with materials. It was just the part about getting them in advance of the clean ups that was difficult. On August 5 I asked for the first time. On August 17 they asked for an extension. On September 13, after a certain amount of wheedling on my part, they sent me material for July and August, and a few days later, partial material for September. Still nothing in advance, though:
While poking around BID Patrol arrest reports recently obtained from the HPOA by our faithful correspondent, we noticed a weird, repetitive quirk in the ones relating to LAMC 41.47.2, which forbids public urination. The arresting security guards uniformly either ask their victim if he or she knew of the existence of public restrooms close by or else they note in their report that there were public restrooms close by. Now, whenever one finds this kind of textual consistency in police reports it’s possible to be sure of two things. First, there’s some element of the crime that they’re trying to make sure is definitely established. Second, that they’re probably lying. In this case, it was hard to see what element might be related to the proximity of public restrooms. The law doesn’t mention them, and is not subtle in the least:
No person shall urinate or defecate in or upon any public street, sidewalk, alley, plaza, beach, park, public building or other publicly maintained facility or place, or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view, except when using a urinal, toilet or commode located in a restroom, or when using a portable or temporary toilet or other facility designed for the sanitary disposal of human waste and which is enclosed from public view.
But a little googling revealed the explanation, among other interesting things. First, public urination wasn’t against the law in the city of Los Angeles until 2003. We’re guessing that there was no pressing need to make it so because vagrancy laws could be used against public urinators as desired until they were definitively destroyed in 1983.1 So maybe outlawing public urination wasn’t as urgent as, e.g., squashing drinking beer in the park (which was outlawed in LA only in 1983) and also, the LA Times suggested that previously public urinators were charged with littering, but that the City Attorney decided that that was bogus. In any case, the Council file on the matter shows, surprisingly, that it took more than four years to get the prohibition passed into law. There doesn’t seem to have been any public discussion of the matter before it passed, either, although it may be just that the online materials from that long ago are fragmentary.
Second, the LA Times article quoted the objections of members of the Los Angeles Community Action Network and other homeless advocates to a law which criminalized essential bodily functions of the homeless, and in response, after the law was passed, according to the Times, “Council members pledged that people would be prosecuted only in cases when there is a public toilet nearby that they failed to use.” So this is why, no doubt, the BID Patrol feels that it has to note the locations of nearby “public” restrooms in its arrest reports. Their weirdo interpretation of the meaning of “public” also shows why it’s necessary to put things like the “public restrooms available” pledge in the law itself. Actually, once the law is passed, it doesn’t matter what Councilmembers say they meant it to mean, it only matters what it says. This is how the rule of law works in a free society. Also, isn’t it very suspicious but unfortunately not surprising that they put the fuzzy-wuzzy warmsy-hugsy interpretation of the law in the paper but not in the statute books?
And that’s not the worst thing about this nonsense. Even if the City Council intended the law to be enforced this way, even if the freaking Mayor ordered the LAPD only to enforce the law this way, none of that would reign in the BID Patrol. They are essentially beyond the control of public policy and beholden only to the written letter of the law.2 As we’ve discussed before, according to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith, if a citizen’s arrest is made, the LAPD must accept custody of the arrestee even if the arrest was made contrary to public policy.
Remember back in March 2015 when we reported on the weirdly racist meanderings of Hollywood Chamber of Commerce flunky Marty Shelton as filtered through the unrepressed id of jittery little psychopath and Hollywood McDonald’s queen Carol Massie, who, in a surprising-even-for-her outburst at a meeting of the Sunset-Vine BID Board blamed Hollywood nightclub owners for ruining everything because they run “…these businesses who don’t really care about anything except that they make a profit.”??
At that time, we responded, quite reasonably even if we do say so ourselves, to the effect that:
Carol, here’s a newsflash: your company destroys rainforests, destroys the health of the world’s people, exploits its employees, destroys everything, because it doesn’t “really care about anything except that [it] make[s] a profit.” That’s what McDonald’s does.
Marty Shelton, Board Chairman of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, wants to turn Hollywood into a sundown town. According to Marty, nightclub patrons who are “decidedly minority, brown and black, and my guess, from a lower economic strata,” are “not appealing at all” and you won’t find that a wealthy apartment dweller “from Sunset and Vine was at Janes House hanging with the homies.”
Here’s the backstory: Last weekend a bunch of people from the Sunset-Vine BID and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce took what they call a “midnight walk” around Hollywood Boulevard. They wander around the Boulevard from midnight until 3 a.m. so they can see how the other half lives in Hollywood. And they don’t like what they see. They don’t like it one bit.
At the March 17th meeting of the Sunset-Vine BID board of directors, Fabiolus Cucina owner Fabio Conti read aloud from an email that Marty sent to the participants describing his reaction. You can watch the relevant segment here, and there’s a transcription after the break. It’s worth reading or hearing the whole thing, because our poor journalistic tools can’t begin to do justice to the offensive craziness to be found therein.
Marty, here’s a newsflash: the city of Los Angeles is “decidedly minority, mostly brown and black.” That’s the way it is here, and the fact that it’s like that in Hollywood at night is a GOOD thing. The fact that it’s NOT like that in Hollywood during the day is the problem. We know it’s too much to ask of the BID, the Chamber, and their minions that they solve this problem, but it’s not too much to ask that they refrain from making it worse by pushing their apartheid policies on our lovely city. If “brown and black” people don’t “mesh with the new high-income residents coming in along with ofc tenants” then let those tenants live somewhere else, like, I don’t know, Minneapolis. Our city is “decidedly minority” and we LIKE it.
After Fabio read aloud this abhorrent piece of racist posturing, jittery little psychopath and owner of multiple Hollywood-area McDonald’s franchises Carol Massie weighed in with another weirdly delusional take on the subject:
Thus spake Carol Massie: You know, one of the problems, I think, and this is from going to security meetings. I think that the patrons do have a lot of money. And they, that’s why they cater to them, and that’s why some of the nightclubs [unintelligible] these kind of people, because they do have that kind of money, and they pay a lot of money for the drink…for, for, for getting into the building. It’s not so much the drinks cause they do other things instead, because after hours it’s mayhem. But whatever they look like, they have money from somewhere and they’re bringing it to these businesses who don’t really care about anything except that they make a profit.
Carol, here’s a newsflash: your company destroys rainforests, destroys the health of the world’s people, exploits its employees, destroys everything, because it doesn’t “really care about anything except that [it] make[s] a profit.” That’s what McDonald’s does. And “these kind of people”?! And “they do other things instead”?!? And “money from somewhere”?!?! “MAYHEM”???!!?!!