Tag Archives: Government Code 54954.1

Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

As you may well remember, earlier this year Senator Bob Wieckowski introduced the small but essential SB931. The Brown Act already requires public agencies to mail copies of agendas to members of the public on request.1At §54954.1 This bill would require them to email them if asked to.

It’s very strange but sadly true that there are plenty of little backwater agencies, mostly business improvement districts and charter schools, who are so intent on obstruction that they will refuse to email agendas even though it’s free, even though they already email agendas to people they approve of. They will insist that the law only requires them to mail agendas.

And don’t get me started on how they send them via certified mail so that if people miss the first delivery it’s essentially too late to find out what the meeting is about. And if it’s a special meeting? Or if someone’s unhoused and doesn’t have reliable mail service? Forget it. So like I said, this is a minor problem, something these agencies ought to be doing anyway but some of them just won’t and Wieckowski’s bill will fix it.

As far as I know there’s no organized opposition. I mean, what are they going to say? That they enjoy exploiting this unfortunate loophole to mess with people? But there’s a lot of support! I already wrote about the letter sent by our friends at the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition. The California News Publishers Association sent a nice little letter. And just the other day I learned that Oakland Privacy, a group I hadn’t heard of before this, wrote a really extraordinary, really dynamic letter in support.

You can read the entire thing below, but they raise a really important point that no other support letter has brought out in such detail. That’s the fact that if members of the public want to monitor the agendas of many local agencies to see if they want to comment on specific items, essentially their only practical choice right now is to check the agencies’ websites regularly.

For people or groups that monitor tens or hundreds of agencies this is not only time-consuming but also unreliable. Requiring notifications by email would solve this problem. Anyway, as I said, read on for the full letter, and if you have a moment, why not drop Wieckowski a line or call him in support yourself?
Continue reading Oakland Privacy Wrote A Really Nice — And Really Powerful — Letter Of Support For Bob Wieckowski’s Minor But Essential SB931 — Which Would Require Local Agencies To Email Copies Of Their Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Read It Right Here! — And Think About Writing Your Own!

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The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

It’s so darn bandied-about that it’s become easy to forget that Abraham Lincoln’s perfect description of the American form of government,1 or at least its to-be-constantly-striven-for ideal form, as “of the people, by the people, for the people” has a great deal of meaning packed into it. In particular, if government is to be of and for the people then the people have to have access to the spaces in which its work is done and advance notice of when it’s happening.

And governments being what they are2 they would often prefer to keep people out of the process entirely by making their decisions and doing their work in secret. To prevent this, to preserve Lincoln’s ideal, we need laws to protect our access. In California such access is protected by the Brown Act.

One of the rights protected by the Brown Act is the right to have notice of the time, place, and subject matter of upcoming meetings. This protection comes in two forms. First, §54594.2 requires agendas to be posted in public and on the web 72 hours before a meeting.3 But of course, this is only sufficient if you remember to check the posting location or the website. If you don’t or can’t do that you’re out of luck.
Continue reading The Brown Act Already Requires Local Agencies To Mail Agendas To Members Of The Public On Request — Senator Bob Wieckowski’s SB931 Would Amend The Law To Require Them To Send Via Email If Asked — Which You’d Think They Would Want To Do Anyway Because It’s Cheaper — And Easier — And More Efficient — But They’d Rather Obstruct — And Delay — And Create Friction — So This Law Is — Sadly — Necessary — And The Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition Is Supporting It!

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How The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act Twice In One Meeting On Thursday Morning So I Reported Them To The Los Angeles County District Attorney


As you know, the Central City East Association held a meeting the other day.1 And a lot of interesting stuff went down. For instance, watch and listen here as Estela Lopez, the voodoo queen of Skid Row herself, explains to the Board that for some reason having to do with the much-discussed trash ordinance, they need to rewrite part of their contract with their street-cleaning contractor Chrysalis. There’s a transcription of the whole discussion after the break, but it’s easy to summarize what happens.

Estela Lopez is all like guys, we gotta redo the contract because reasons and then some random Board member is all like I have a motion because Roberts, and then Mark Shinbane, the Fabulous Freaking Fishmonger himself, is all like I second the motion and let’s vote. Unanimous? Done! The only problem? There’s not a word about it on the damn agenda. And this wasn’t the only instance of this kind of behavior at the meeting.

Just take a look here as freaking Bob Smiland, honcho supremo of Inner City Arts, quintessentially opposite-of-Silas-Lapham paint zillionaire, and unanimously acclaimed most galootish CCEA board member of all freaking time, responds to dictator-for-life Mark Shinbane’s rhetorical question about if there’s anything else before he adjourns the damn meeting by going off on a tangent so freaking tangential that his fellow totalitarian zillionaires were left in dropped-jaw silence as he rambled on about tourist brochures for Skid Row to be left in upscale hotel lobbies and god knows WTF else.2 And … you guessed it! Not a word about it on the damn agenda.

And what’s the problem with all this, you may well ask? Why can’t a few good old white supremacist buddies get together on a Thursday morning at ground zero of the homeless crisis in the United States of America and talk about any random crap that pops into their little zillionaire-addled heads? Well, as it happens, it is against the freaking law, that’s why!

Because business improvement districts have voluntarily chosen to benefit from coercively collected assessments, the State Legislature has passed Streets and Highways Code §36612, which makes all these BID boards of directors subject to the Brown Act. The good old Brown Act contains many treasures, and not least amongst these is good old §54954.2(a)(3), which states unequivocally that: “No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda.”

Mark Shinbane, of course, is famous for his criminal ways and he’s no stranger to violating the Brown Act, but this, to the best of my knowledge, is the first time he’s ever done it on camera. Turn the page for a little more evidence, transcriptions of the relevant bits, and, best of all, a copy of the report I sent to the LA County DA this morning turning these creepers in for their criminal ways.
Continue reading How The Central City East Association Violated The Brown Act Twice In One Meeting On Thursday Morning So I Reported Them To The Los Angeles County District Attorney

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Ahahahaha And LOL!!! Ellen Riotto Of The South Park BID Is Now Taking Sensitive Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At This Blog!!!

The Brown Act contains many wonderful treasures, but one of the wonderfullest is to be found at §54954.1, which states unambiguously that:

Any person may request that a copy of the agenda, or a copy of all the documents constituting the agenda packet, of any meeting of a legislative body be mailed to that person. … Upon receipt of the written request, the legislative body or its designee shall cause the requested materials to be mailed at the time the agenda is posted pursuant to Section 54954.2 and 54956 or upon distribution to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body, whichever occurs first.

I ask many of my BID friends to send me these notifications and their agenda packets. It really seems to piss most of them off.1 I don’t feel bad for asking BIDs to comply with the law, though. After all, it’s voluntary on their part and they’re making an awful damn lot of money out of it.

So anyway, our friends at the South Park BID are reasonably cooperative about complying with the law. They invited me to sign up for their public mailing list, which I did. It’s an open question as to whether this is compliance, since the law requires notifications to be sent at the time that the board receives them, but this presently seems too minor to quibble over. On the other hand they spout an awful lot of spam through that account, and clearly I shouldn’t be required to sort through the junk just to be able to receive notifications that they’re legally mandated to send. Again, though, this is an argument for another day.

However, it turns out that the South Park BID does distribute packets to its board of directors in advance of the meetings and also that those are not available via the public mailing list. I only found out about this recently, so I wrote to the BID boss ladies and asked them to send them goodies my way!

After some nonsense with them interrogating me mercilessly about which email address I wanted the board packets sent to,2 we got all the details ironed out. And after that, my friends, it must follow, as the night the day, that I ended up sending Ellen Riotto some of my sage legal advice and, amazingly, she ended up taking it!3 Read on for the details and a bunch of emails!
Continue reading Ahahahaha And LOL!!! Ellen Riotto Of The South Park BID Is Now Taking Sensitive Legal Advice From Internet Randoms At This Blog!!!

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Please Join The Staff Of This Blog In A Moment Of Silence For Blair Besten, Who Was Forced Against Her Will To Follow A Law. Let’s Hope The Damage To Her Self Respect, Her Reputation, Her Emotional Stability, And Her Employability Is Not Permanent.

Maybe you’re familiar with §54954.1 of the Brown Act, which requires BIDs1 to notify anyone in advance of their meetings and send them agendas and other materials at the same time this material is distributed to the BID’s board.2 Another crucial bit is found at §54954.2(a)(1), which requires posting of agendas on BIDs’ websites.3

And it will be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog to discover that Blair Besten and her weirdo criminal conspiracy, the Historic Core BID, have consistently ignored these two requirements since time immemorial. Of course, no shock. Many members of the BID’s board of directors are criminals. Blair Besten herself breaks the law with relish and impunity.

So I asked Blair Besten in May to inform me of the BID’s meetings. She ignored me for the May meeting. I asked her yet again.4 She ignored me again. A little bird told me that they had a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, June 29, so I walked by the BID office yesterday, where they had partially complied with the law by posting an agenda in the window. Too much!
Continue reading Please Join The Staff Of This Blog In A Moment Of Silence For Blair Besten, Who Was Forced Against Her Will To Follow A Law. Let’s Hope The Damage To Her Self Respect, Her Reputation, Her Emotional Stability, And Her Employability Is Not Permanent.

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South Central Hollywood Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Officially Known As Larchmont Village BID Appears To Give Up Outlaw Ways, Start Announcing Meetings And Change Their Illegal Bylaws, Perhaps In Response To Yesterday’s Scathing MK.Org Post About Them And Rita Moreno!

But DAMN, it feels good to be a gangsta!
Well, I have been chronicling my troubles with the so-called Larchmont Village BID for at least six months now, starting with their stubborn recalcitrance in releasing records having to do with their accursed signal box art contest, to, more recently, my six month long battle to get a copy of their bylaws out of them, to my eight month struggle to get them to notify me of their damnable meetings as required by the Brown Act at §54954.1, to their appearance in a reprehensible series of emails between City employee Rita Moreno, a BID analyst with the City Clerk’s Neighborhood and Business Improvement District Division, nominally tasked with overseeing BIDs but, in actuality, engaged in enabling their misbehavior and lawlessness.

The thing about those emails was that, along with a bunch of other criminal BIDs, the Larchmont Village BID didn’t post its agendas on its website, even though the Brown Act at §54954.2(a)(1) requires it to do so. And Rita Moreno, rather than telling the lawless BIDs that they were breaking the freaking law, handed out gold stars to the ones who were following it.

Well, that’s where the situation stood until 4:48 p.m. this evening, when I received an email from some entity calling itself office@larchmontvillagebid.com. Attached to this anomalous little missive was the agenda for a BID meeting on Tuesday, May 2. Thus, for whatever reason, just one day after my scathing post calling out the City for not enforcing its laws, its contracts, against these serial South Central Hollywood outlaws, they change their ways. How’s that for activist journalism?! Anyway, there’s tons of interesting stuff to say about this situation that’s a lot more nerdish than that, and you can turn the page if you’re interested.
Continue reading South Central Hollywood Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Officially Known As Larchmont Village BID Appears To Give Up Outlaw Ways, Start Announcing Meetings And Change Their Illegal Bylaws, Perhaps In Response To Yesterday’s Scathing MK.Org Post About Them And Rita Moreno!

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