The California Public Records Act gives every person access to official writings because, as the law itself tells us,1“the Legislature … finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.” And this isn’t just some random preamble to some random law. It is among the fundamental human rights enumerated in the California Constitution itself,2 which states that:
“The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny.”
Among the other fundamental rights enumerated in this same article are freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, the right to civilian control of the military, the prohibition of slavery, equal protection, habeas corpus, and so on.3 This right of access to public records, measured both intrinsically and by comparison with the company it keeps, is hugely important. Fundamental.
If you follow BIDs in Los Angeles you will know that the process for creating a new one is so fraught with weirdo technicalities that when a Councilmember wants to form one in their district, not only do they have to get together a bullshit astroturf front group made up of major campaign contributors, but they also have to hire a consultant to guide the BAFG through the labyrinth. Of course, this is anything but an adversarial process, and success is pre-ordained. However, if the requirements imposed by the State of California are not adhered to somewhat scrupulously, the new BID will be vulnerable to challenges by non-mainstream anti-BID malcontents.1 Thus the City has an interest in making sure that these consultants are competent.2
We reported here about 10 days ago that BID bossette and self-proclaimed prayer warrior Kerry Morrison is a zealous advocate of blasting classical music at night to repel homeless sidewalk sleepers, even to the point of intervening with property managers whose tenants complain that they also can’t sleep. And that little item turned out to be one of our most popular posts for the month of May, so we thought we’d follow up on it tonight. Recently a friend of this blog drew our attention to Kerry Morrison’s staff bio from the HPOA “about” page. And we can learn a lot from this little item, friends. For instance, note that Kerry Morrison “…eschews1 loud music in restaurants.”
On September 28, 2010 Media District BID safety patrol officers handcuffed a man because he was drinking in public and wandering around in traffic. This triggered an extensive investigation by Universal Protection Service, the company which manages security for the BID. You can read all 13 pages of it here. The level of concern on the part of the investigator, Daryl Whitt, is remarkable:
Here is the recap of my interviews with the officers involved with the detainment/arrest on 9-28-10.
There are still some gaps in their stories that I have been unable to close. The main issue as I see it is that CPL Garcia reacted in the wrong manner. He should have never advised the officer to place handcuffs on the subject as there was no threat towards any officer.
In the last two weeks, two cataclysmic changes in the the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority‘s mission have made it, in not just our opinion but in the opinion of any sane observer, impossible for Kerry Morrison to ethically continue to serve as both a LAHSA Commissioner and the executive directrix of the HPOA. Since as of a few years ago she was earning $192,794 per annum1 from the HPOA we’re guessing it’s not that job she’s gonna quit. What happened is this: both the Los Angeles City Council and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are poised to ask LAHSA to (a) decide where across the city to locate service centers for the homeless and (b) to stop breaking up homeless encampments.
Today I’m pleased to announce the availability of a bunch more documents, some of them really interesting, and none of them of the sort we’ve usually featured here. First of all we are adding the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to our list of scrutinizees, albeit in a fairly desultory manner. Documents we obtain will be available from the usual menus above, and here is a link to that page. We kick things off with a couple years worth of form 700s from the Commissioners and the Executive Director. For almost certainly nefarious reasons, the city of Los Angeles, unlike other more enlightened cities in California, does not require BID board members or high-level employees to file financial disclosures (although this may be changing soon, fingers crossed!), so obtaining these forms was the only way to get any insight into Kerry Morrison’s finances insofar as they relate to her work for the HPOA. And now, like Jesus Christ hisself, we have saved the best for last, so the good stuff is after the break! Continue reading Lots of Documents, and Not of the Usual Sort!→
Watch here for the final bit of a Hollywood BID Patrol operation on Ivar Avenue on June 30, 2015. There are about 12 of them milling around on the sidewalk after, evidently, having kicked out a bunch of homeless people, most probably on the basis of suspected violations of disgraceful LAMC 41.18(d). Of course, if you know the spot you’ll know that there are homeless people there essentially all the time, only very rarely getting kicked out by the BID Patrol.
So what horrific incident was it that required the presence of about a dozen of Hollywood’s finest1 on a pleasant Tuesday afternoon on Ivar Avenue? Murder, rape, homeless encampment, street-preaching? The amazing thing is that no one there seemed to know for sure except, we assume given that the principle of charity requires us to assume that the BID Patrol both has reasons for its actions and at the same time knows what those reasons are, the officers themselves.
One witness, though, spent the time and the effort to share his theory on the BID Patrol’s motivation with our correspondent. This is what David Graeber calls “interpretative labor,” an activity which, as Graeber has it, “much of the everyday business of social life” comprises, an activity in which people with guns, made stupid by their own potential for state-sanctioned violence, do not typically engage, as they clearly do not in this case:2
Thank you for filming, cause they only pulled up when I started talking about God and Jesus. I was just talking about God and Jesus and taking the Illuminati down, and every day they don’t never bother nobody, and let them sit here, right? Well, all of a sudden today I came and started talking about God and Jesus and taking down the Illuminati, cause I’m in the middle of a documentary, all of a sudden they get a hundred calls a day. God bless us all, the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name.
At the July 9, 2015 Joint Security Committee meeting, BID Board member Fabio Conti, after Andrews International Security head BIDdie-boy Steve Seyler told a what-passes-for-heartwarming story about shipping some homeless lady out of state on a bus, flipped the fuck out about heavily armed and dangerous homeless people on the streets of Hollywood and how A/I ought to stop with the rapport-building, bus-ticket-buying, and donut/sandwich handing-out and start arresting all of them right now. Says Fabio: STOP BEING SO NICE TO THE HOMELESS!!! The “the purple guys” downtown “…keep the area pretty clean…” of homeless human garbage. The Hollywood BID Patrol must do the same!
Under ordinary circumstances a faux pas like Fabio’s would probably be politely overlooked but these are no ordinary times, it seems. Instead it triggered an avalanche of white-privilege-rage-ranting that derailed the meeting for what seemed like an eternity and was actually over 30 minutes of this approximately 70 minute long meeting. The asylum was so being-run-by-the-inmates that Hollywood Entertainment District BID Board President Monica Yamada, not habitually the most aware person in the room, had to shut it down. But not before the display of an unbearable montage/barrage of peel-the-face-off shots that had most of the attendees showing their true colors in a remarkably nauseating performative contradiction of Jesus’s usually on-target admonition about the truth. Mostly the truth will make you free but sometimes it just makes you sick.
For instance, usually, of course, at these meetings and in other venues, Steve rattles on about how cuddlesy-warmsy-fuzzly-wuzzly his officers are but everyone there knows that that’s just the velvet glove over the iron fucking fist and that he’s just spreading the goodwill-ambassador bullshit for the delectation and over-the-eyes-wool-pulling of the public. This much is obvious to anyone with a fraction of the sense that God gave a good God-damned goose. In this instance, though, under relentless pressure from Fabio, whose position is that “we’re to a point where, you know, we cannot be kind,” Steve was forced to admit his homeless-people-on-the-sidewalk policy out loud, in public, on camera:
“…we’re gonna start out with a nice approach, hey, please, time to get up, businesses are open, you gotta get off the sidewalk, we’re here to help you, you know, blah blah blah blah, please, please, pretty please, and then, you know, ultimately we’re going to put the cuffs on you…”
Steve’s not usually so open about the fact that all the donuts, all the sandwiches, all the heartwarming coziness, it’s all just a formality. “…ultimately we’re going to put the cuffs on you…”
The only people in the room who talked and didn’t seem insane1 were two LAPD liaison officers (whose names, unfortunately, we didn’t catch), who patiently explained to everyone that “…the sky’s not falling…” However, as long-time readers of this blog are well aware, there is very little in this world that can get the attention of a white person who’s hell-bent on confusing comfort with safety. The LAPD guys were completely ignored. Sanity will not prevail, not in this room at this time.