Well, here is a bunch of emails, which we obtained from the Los Angeles City Attorney using the California Public Records Act, between BID employees Smilin’ Joe Mariani and Kerry Morrison and various people that work for the City of Los Angeles. We join the story when Joe writes to Gary Benjamin, who is eyeglass-fashionista Councilguy Mitch O’Farrell’s something-or-another for what-passes-for-planning-at-200-Spring-Street. It seems the boys met up in early September 2014 at an HPOA “Streetscape2 Committee” meeting, giving Joe a pretext to renew the big ask:
Great seeing you today at the Streetscape Committee meeting. As I mentioned, if you can please follow up with GSD3 and ask when our lease will be ready for the Cherokee space we would appreciate it [sic]. According to our vendor we are supposed to be off the Selma parking lot by the end of September, so the sooner we can move in the better.
So the BID needs some space and they’re going to lease it from the city. So far, so good. After all, they’re a public agency created by the city to do the city’s work. On September 9, 2014, Gary responds, saying he’ll check into it. On September 23, 2014, Gary announces that there’s a little problem. Says Gary:
I have some bad news regarding the prospect of getting the lease in a timely manner. I checked in with the General Services Department (GSD) a couple weeks back and they said they were still not authorized to issue the lease, despite the approved Council motion.4 This seemed ridiculous to us, as the language of the motion came from Rene Sagles5 and he assured us the motion would be sufficient. GSD staffers were aware of the motion as it moved through the ITGS6 Committee, and yet they raised no red flags. In the last week, I’ve been in further communication with GSD, the City Attorney’s office and Rene Sagles. Apparently, DOT have not been following City standards regarding lease of space for some time now. Recently the City Attorney took note of this issue and has forced them to undergo a more rigorous public solicitation RFP process. Your lease process has dragged on for so long because of a lack of communication between DOT and GSD and a general uncertainty among the bureaus about how to proceed.
I now have Melody McCormick of GSD working with DOT and the City Attorney to draft a new “sole source” motion that will explain why the normal RFP process was not followed and why the HPOA should get this lease. They have told me they can have the motion ready by the end of the week. We will work to waive it from ITGS committee and get it approved at Council next week ideally. Then the City Attorney will need to draft the lease. It will still be another month, at the earliest, until the lease will be issued. I’m really sorry about all this confusion and for losing time pushing forward a motion that was insufficient.
So the HPOA’s trying to lease some property from the City. A Council motion to allow and expedite this was written by a senior analyst in the LA Department of Transportation and passed by the Council. This wasn’t sufficient because of a City Attorney crackdown on bad leasing practices in the DOT. So CD13 is going to get another Council motion ready, waive the normal committee process, and so on. Everyone’s bending over backwards for the HPOA here, and Gary even adopts an apologetic and conciliatory tone. What more does the HPOA want? Quite a lot, it turns out.
Continue reading Series of Emails between City of LA and HPOA Regarding Sweetheart Lease Deal Illustrates Incestuously Corrupt, Whiningly Entitled, and Marginally Literate Nature of Day-to-Day Business-as-Usual in the BID