Tag Archives: Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
Mike Bonin, shown here with the Jesus-halo sidelighting he evidently prefers.
After a chaotic hearing on the Venice Beach BID in August,1 after Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles powerhouse attorney Shayla Myers pointed out that the process was legally flawed, and after City Attorney Mike Feuer accepted her argument and told the City Council that they’d better have a do-over, after all that, the rehearing on the abhorrent BID was scheduled to be approved considered in Council on November 8, 2016. This, of course, is also the day that Americans will be deciding the future of the world, which takes up a lot of time. Venice being Venice, there has been a lot of speculation about whether Bonin did this on purpose to make it difficult for detractors to testify. Venice also being Venice, there has been an organized effort to get Bonin to postpone the hearing.

Such protests usually fall on what seem like deaf ears, but in this case, an email that I obtained last night from the City Clerk’s office proves that, in September 2016, Mike Bonin was considering moving the hearing from the disputed date of November 8 to the presumably more acceptable dates of November 29 and 30. Read on for details.
Continue reading Newly Obtained Email Proves That Mike Bonin Considered Moving Venice Beach BID Hearing To November 29 From Disputed Date of November 8

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Ordinance to Repeal Venice Beach BID Ordinance Hits Council File Tonight Along With City Attorney Report Confirming That Threat of LAFLA Lawsuit Caused City’s Retreat and Impending Do-Over

Don't let the sun set on joy in Venice.
Don’t let the sun set on joy in Venice.
Although it was widely reported last week that the scathing letter sent by LAFLA to the City of Los Angeles, which pointed out that the chaotic August 23 hearing held to solemnize the impending Venice Beach BID was fatally flawed, had played its appointed role as BID-destroyer, official confirmation was pretty much lacking. That is if you don’t, and I don’t, count Mike Bonin’s mealy-mouthed statement to that slithy den of lickspittle Ryaveckian six-fingered putanginamo morons known to the world as Yo! Venice. At least Venice, of all neighborhoods of Los Angeles, isn’t walking the BID-plank like a sheep.1 Anyway, tonight two documents hit the Venice Beach BID Council File which together confirm the whole thing officially for the first time.

There is a report from the City Attorney on the matter along with a draft ordinance repealing the original ordinance of intention and serving as a new ordinance of intention. The first document is by far the most interesting of the two, confirming as it does the role of the LAFLA letter. It also makes it clear that it wasn’t just the fact that LAFLA was right that convinced the City to retreat, but the fact that LAFLA was going to sue them. Thus the stick is mightier than the carrot, or whatever. You can read a selection after the break if you prefer that to clicking on the PDF:
Continue reading Ordinance to Repeal Venice Beach BID Ordinance Hits Council File Tonight Along With City Attorney Report Confirming That Threat of LAFLA Lawsuit Caused City’s Retreat and Impending Do-Over

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Why Is Getting A Mailing List For The Property Owners In The Venice Beach BID Out Of The City So Absolutely Maddeningly Impossible? We Do, However, Now Have A List Of Property Owners Without Contact Information A Fraud Perpetrated On The Public By The City Clerk

Somehow this is all Holly Wolcott's fault.
Somehow this is all Holly Wolcott’s fault.

The list itself is here. The story of the list follows.

Edited to add: The list that Miranda Paster sent me isn’t even the list I asked for, as discussed in the story below. It’s an edited version of the publicly available ballot tabulation sheet. It is unbelievable that these people are so unwilling to release what are obviously public records and that their unwillingness is so clearly in the service of their political agenda. On the other hand, the fact that they so vigorously defend their secrecy makes it seem even more likely that they’re concealing serious and exploitable weaknesses.

Three weeks ago I wrote about how neither the City Clerk nor CD11 was willing to hand over a list of the property owners in the proposed Venice Beach BID with contract information. CD11 told me to ask the Clerk and the Clerk told me to ask Tara Devine and Tara Devine ignored me (and continues to ignore me). The Clerk’s rationale was that they didn’t have anything to do with mailing out the petitions, so that the Public Records Act didn’t apply to the mailing list.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the act, you may not be aware that (at section 6252(e)) public records are defined fairly expansively to be any “writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency.” So I made the argument to the Clerk’s office that since they were orchestrating the process, the mailing list was being used by them even if they didn’t own it or retain it themselves. No dice on that, though.

So imagine my pleasure and surprise to discover on August 14 that, upon perusing Government Code section 53753 for the zillionth time (this is the same law used to such marvelous effect ten days later by the incomparable Shayla Myers of LAFLA to derail the whole BID process) that the freaking City Clerk’s office is required to notice the property owners by mail:
Continue reading Why Is Getting A Mailing List For The Property Owners In The Venice Beach BID Out Of The City So Absolutely Maddeningly Impossible? We Do, However, Now Have A List Of Property Owners Without Contact Information A Fraud Perpetrated On The Public By The City Clerk

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Unconfirmed But Highly Plausible Report that Venice Beach BID is Repealed and Process Must Start From Scratch!!

How does Holly Wolcott know in advance how the City Council is going to vote?  Inquiring minds wanna know.
How does Holly Wolcott know in advance how the City Council is going to vote? Inquiring minds wanna know.

NOTE: This is apparently true, and Yo! Venice has the story along with a statement from Mike Bonin.

According to a Facebook post by Abbott Kinney,

BREAKING NEWS Re: the proposed Venice BID – Because the City shut off public comment, they gotta START THE WHOLE PROCESS OVER. Via City Clerk Holly Wolcott:

“The Ordinance of Establishment was adopted in Council last week. However, in light of concerns relative to the public hearing and to ensure all speakers are heard, we plan to repeal this ordinance and start the process over. This will mean a new Ordinance of Intention and a public hearing approximately 45 days from when the new ballots and packages are mailed. I do not have an actual date at this time.”1

This report is consistent with LAFLA’s objections to the process, and if true, is a major victory for anti-BID forces. Although I don’t know for sure I would bet it’s unprecedented in the history of BIDs in Los Angeles. The moral is decidedly NOT that the City made a sporadic mistake in this particular BID formation process. The moral is in fact that the City makes mistakes, breaks the law, cuts corners, all the freaking time, but generally no one is watching so their errors have no consequences. The moral is that if people watch closely they will find fatal errors in all of the City’s shenanigans.

The same is true for BIDs. They can barely open their mouths without saying something racist, they can barely run a meeting or email a Council member without breaking the law.2 They’re not used to scrutiny, and even their reactions to scrutiny just end up sinking them deeper into their morass. So the real moral is: SCRUTINIZE!

And, if you didn’t spot it, if this quote is accurate, then Holly Wolcott actually admitted that something illegal is going on over at City Hall. Turn the page for details.
Continue reading Unconfirmed But Highly Plausible Report that Venice Beach BID is Repealed and Process Must Start From Scratch!!

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Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Slithers Out From Her Habitual Under-The-Rock Lair And Spews Toxic Lies About Venice Beach BID Before Los Angeles City Council

Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine seeping toxic waste from every pore at the August 23, 2016 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council.
Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine seeping toxic waste from every pore at the August 23, 2016 meeting of the Los Angeles City Council.
Shadowy BID consultant Tara Devine, of shadowy BID consultantcy Devine Associates, slithered up out of the depths in which she habitually dwells to make a rare public appearance before the Los Angeles City Council on August 23, 2016, pleading for the Councilmembers to give life to the stitched-up-out-of-corpse-parts monster known as the Venice Beach BID which she’s been nurturing in her subterranean lair for many months now.

Even though the victory of her cause was a foregone conclusion, the dramaturgical conventions of the ritual ceremony that’s habitually performed in the John Ferraro Council Chambers in place of genuine democratic debate require that she pretend to be making reasoned arguments. She could as easily have recited the alphabet, assuming she is able to recite the alphabet, without affecting the success of her cause, but instead she chose to make checkable statements, all of which, as it happens, were lies. You can watch her whole little song-and-dance here and, as always, there’s a complete transcription after the break.
Continue reading Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Slithers Out From Her Habitual Under-The-Rock Lair And Spews Toxic Lies About Venice Beach BID Before Los Angeles City Council

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LAFLA Questions Legality of Venice Beach BID Approval Process in Letter to Mike Feuer, Holly Wolcott. Ballot Tabulation Published By City, Demonstrating Anti-Democratic Nature of BID Process. CD11 and Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Play Favorites With Information Access

LEGAL-AID-FOUNDATION-OF-LOS-ANGELES1Today two interesting items hit the Venice Beach BID Council File. First there is a letter from LAFLA Attorney Shayla Myers demonstrating that the City did not follow the strictly mandated procedure for hearings prior to establishing an assessment district. The issue is that Council President Herb Wesson cut off public comment without allowing everyone present to be heard. This is completely acceptable under the Brown Act, which regulates general public meetings in California. In the cases covered by that law, agencies can put reasonable limits on public comment. However, the hearings that must be held before BIDs can be established are described in the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994, which at section 36623 requires that the “notice and protest and hearing procedure shall comply with Section 53753 of the Government Code.” This section requires…well, I’m going to let Myers explain:
Continue reading LAFLA Questions Legality of Venice Beach BID Approval Process in Letter to Mike Feuer, Holly Wolcott. Ballot Tabulation Published By City, Demonstrating Anti-Democratic Nature of BID Process. CD11 and Shadowy BID Consultant Tara Devine Play Favorites With Information Access

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City Ordered to Pay Plaintiffs’ Attorneys $38,818.49 in Fees and to Comply with Discovery; Additional Hearing Set for April 5, 2016

California-centralOn Monday, March 21, 2016, there was a hearing on the plaintiffs’ application to have the City of Los Angeles held in contempt for its failure to comply with discovery orders in the ongoing lawsuit against the City and the CCEA over the illegal confiscation of the property of homeless people. Recall that the plaintiffs asked the Judge to award them more than $40,000 in fees and to declare that the City was at fault as a punitive measure.

Well, the order resulting from that hearing just hit PACER, and the plaintiffs got some but not all of what they asked for. In particular, they were awarded $38,818.49 in fees. Judgement on the rest of the plaintiffs’ requests was deferred. There will be another hearing on April 5, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. in in Courtroom 690 of the Roybal Building, presumably after which the rest of the matters will be decided. According to the order, by 48 hours in advance of the hearing,

The City is directed to complete its production, serve supplemental responses to the requests for production, respond in writing to the questions asked in plaintiffs’ March 15, 2016 letter from Myers to Whitaker, serve a complete and detailed privilege log, file and serve a report describing the status of its compliance with this and other court orders, and pay the sanctions awarded by this order…

And there are more selections after the break.
Continue reading City Ordered to Pay Plaintiffs’ Attorneys $38,818.49 in Fees and to Comply with Discovery; Additional Hearing Set for April 5, 2016

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Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed Yesterday Against City of Los Angeles is Assigned to District Court Judge S. James Otero

The lawsuit filed against the City of Los Angeles by four homeless residents, LA Catholic Worker, and LA CAN, has been assigned to James Otero.
The lawsuit filed against the City of Los Angeles by four homeless residents, LA Catholic Worker, and LA CAN, has been assigned to James Otero.
The federal civil rights lawsuit filed yesterday by four homeless residents of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Catholic Worker, and the LA Community Action Network, was assigned today to District Court Judge S. James Otero (I have the order here). In 2013 Judge Otero decided the big lawsuit against the misuse of VA property in Westwood, thus enraging a bunch of ritzy Brentwood people who think their dogs are more important than not only the lives of veterans but than the property rights of Los Angeles founding mother Arcadia Bandini Stearns de Baker, who donated the property to the VA explicitly for the sake of veterans. Anyway, he did the right thing there, and perhaps he will here too, although the gossip around the MK.org water cooler is leaning towards a motion to switch the case over to Judge Gutierrez, probably based on a “substantial amount of factual overlap” or some such thing. We shall see, I suppose.
Continue reading Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed Yesterday Against City of Los Angeles is Assigned to District Court Judge S. James Otero

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Federal Lawsuit Filed Today by LA Community Action Network, LA Catholic Worker, Four Homeless Plaintiffs, Against City of LA and Three Named LAPD Officers Over Property Confiscations, Wrongful Arrests, Endangerment of Life

California-centralA lawsuit filed today in Federal Court on behalf of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, LA Catholic Worker, and four homeless plaintiffs charges the City of Los Angeles along with LAPD officers Andrew Mathes, Sgt. Hamer, and Sgt. Richter1 of endangering the lives of the plaintiffs by wrongfully arresting them and by wrongfully confiscating and destroying their property, including medicine, blankets, tents, and other items necessary to the support of life. The plaintiffs’ attorneys are Carol Sobel and associates, Fernando Gaytan and Shayla Myers of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Paul Hoffman and Catherine Sweetser. The inimitable Gale Holland has an excellent write-up in the Times but, as usual, it doesn’t include a link to the actual court filings, which is where I can help. The suit isn’t particularly on our BID-beat, but I’m going to get all the filings anyway, so I might as well make them available here. There are some excerpts after the break.
Continue reading Federal Lawsuit Filed Today by LA Community Action Network, LA Catholic Worker, Four Homeless Plaintiffs, Against City of LA and Three Named LAPD Officers Over Property Confiscations, Wrongful Arrests, Endangerment of Life

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Fascinating Marginalia on CHC Copy of LAFLA Letter to Los Angeles City Council Regarding LAHSA Misrepresentations in 2015 Application for Federal Homeless Money Reveal Unspoken BID Assumptions

LEGAL-AID-FOUNDATION-OF-LOS-ANGELES1On January 25, 2016, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles sent a scathingly forthright letter to the LA City Council arguing that the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, on whose commission Kerry Morrison serves, falsely stated in its 2015 Continuum of Care application for more than $110 million in federal funding for homeless programs that the City of LA was going to stop criminalizing homelessness by amending its abhorrent, unconstitutional LAMC 56.11 to eliminate criminal penalties for the storage of personal property on sidewalks. This copy was distributed by HPOA Executive Director Kerry Morrison to the Central Hollywood Coalition Board of Directors at their February 9, 2016 meeting. It has annotations inscribed by an unknown hand (probably Kerry Morrison’s). They are fascinating, and we discuss them below.

If you’ve been following the amendments to the ordinance as originally adopted (most importantly here and also here) LAFLA’s allegations will come as no surprise to you. The City of Los Angeles, it seems, is completely unwilling to stop arresting homeless people, even if it puts hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding at risk.

Now, we’re not as sure as LAFLA is that LAHSA actually lied. Here’s what HUD asked (see p.10 of the application for context):

Select the specific strategies implemented by the CoC to ensure that homelessness is not criminalized in the CoC’s geographic area. Select all that apply. For “Other,” you must provide a description…

Here’s how LAHSA responded:

on Nov 17, 2015, the LA City Council amended the ordinance
[LAMC 56.11] to remove sanctions and criminal penalties, reducing sanctions further than the initial municipal code.

And here’s what LAFLA said with respect to this:

…the implication was that any amendment would remove all criminal penalties and sanctions. The amendments as proposed by the City Attorney do [no] such thing.

So LAFLA reads an implicit “all” before the word “sanctions,” which would make LAHSA’s statement false on its face. However, it’s also possible to read an implicit “some” before the word “sanctions,” which would make the statement true, but deeply deceptive since “all” is a more natural assumption regarding the tacit quantifier. Either way LAHSA not only looks bad, but is putting the money, not to mention their credibility, at risk. After all, if the feds think you’ve lied to them, they are exceedingly unlikely to be convinced by your slippery, clever, alternate reading of what you said.

Also, isn’t it interesting that putative changes in LAMC 56.11 were the only example LAHSA gave of the City’s steps towards decriminalizing homelessness. They didn’t touch the also abhorrent LAMC 41.18(d), which forbids sitting on the sidewalk in the absence of a parade. They didn’t even mention it, which is also deceptive. This is the BIDs’ favorite anti-homeless law, and it’s enforced in an openly selective manner against homeless people. At some point HUD is going to notice this, and, as we have predicted before and predict again now, this will be the rock that the BIDs’ ship founders on. The City won’t be able to do without the money, the BIDs won’t be able to do without the law, but the City will be able to do without the BIDs in their present form.

Read on for a discussion of the anonymous marginalia found on our copy of this letter.
Continue reading Fascinating Marginalia on CHC Copy of LAFLA Letter to Los Angeles City Council Regarding LAHSA Misrepresentations in 2015 Application for Federal Homeless Money Reveal Unspoken BID Assumptions

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