The above PDF file is copy of a letter sent to DLANC board members on March 7 about proven complaints regarding improper actions surrounding the special election held on February 11, 2013.

Specifically, DONE found that DLANC’s full board did not approve unprecedented changes to the special election, that DLANC did not hold its election in a clear and transparent manner, and that changes were made to qualifications to run for Business interest seats.

Further, DONE criticized the Executive Committee, led by Patti Berman and Russell Brown, for improperly holding private meetings to discuss election matters which should have been discussed and decided by the entire Neighborhood Council. And it observed that the special election itself was held in an inaccessible space with no signage or clear wheelchair access.

Of the three complaints filed with DONE about the special election, one explicitly names Russell Brown, who recently returned to the DLANC’s board after stepping down in April 2010, for providing incorrect information about who is permitted to run for a Business interest seat, and refusing to accept valid documentation of right to vote.

The upshot is that DLANC is now under supervision by the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, and the results of the special election have been voided. A new election will be held. Barry Stone, Neighborhood Empowerment Advocate, has been assigned to supervise DLANC, with the assistance of Jay Handal, a volunteer member of the Councils for Councils Program.


The Downtown News reports that Russell Brown has been replaced as Executive Director of the Historic Downtown Business Improvement District by Roberto Saldaña, former in-house counsel for Broadway property owner Joseph Hellen. This vote follows soon after the formation of a city Task Force to deal with crowd control and public safety at the Downtown Art Walk. It was Mr. Brown’s interference in the management of the Art Walk non-profit which led us to create this blog.

UPDATE 9/30/11: Under pressure from Councilman Huizar, who refuses to meet with the new Executive Director Roberto Saldaña, the BID has reversed its vote to replace Russell Brown “to protect the panel from any lawsuits.”

UPDATE 10/20/11: The Los Angeles Times reports “Huizar’s office accused of blackballing appointment… What followed, critics assert, was an unusually public and petty use of City Hall power to punish an adversary’s ally.” Note that is reported that “Jessica Wethington McLean, who runs a Huizar initiative to improve downtown’s Broadway business corridor, told board members that they were in danger of being investigated by Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.” Note the similarity to the baseless legal threats made by former BID Executive Director Russell Brown against the Art Walk volunteers.

Important links for new visitors seeking a quick introduction:

• What Russell Brown did to prevent the Art Walk non-profit from functioning, and how he smeared the reputations of the non-profit’s volunteers with false claims of incompetence (summer/fall 2009).

• Russell Brown’s 3:40AM emailed threat to sue the Art Walk volunteers who filed an ethics complaint against him for abusing his position in the Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council (January 2010).

• Video of Russell Brown’s DLANC ethics hearing, during which he admits to sabotaging the Art Walk non-profit (March 2010).

In light of the many visitors coming through search engines, comments will be allowed on this post.

Russell Brown Pushed Out of BID, Downtown News 9/15/11

Tonight, the City of L.A. is permitting the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) to hold its first meeting since the disputed June 25 election. Few have bemoaned the troubled organization’s absence from community affairs over the summer.  But with this meeting comes the overdue turning of the spade upon the corrupt and unethical Executive Committee, which for too long has been the personal fiefdom of the landlords’ hired man Russell Brown and his sidekick Brady Westwater.

Earlier this year, Russell Brown stepped down from any further “service” to the community following a series of embarrassing revelations and news stories shining a light upon the huge ethical gaps that have made DLANC irrelevant at best, and a blight on the community at its worst. Brady Westwater, too, declined to run again.

Garment and Citizen DLANC Ethics Gap headline - February 2010

The revelations about Russell Brown’s underhanded abuse of power emerged as the truth came out regarding his months-long campaign to sabotage the Art Walk non-profit and smear the characters of the unpaid community volunteers who were working full-time to transform the Art Walk from a private enterprise to a California Public Benefit Corporation, which it is today. After the volunteers resigned rather than face any further abuse from Russell Brown and his associates, they spoke up about the attacks that they had suffered.

But none of this would have ever come to the light if one particular community member had not taken it upon himself to put those volunteers in a position where they could experience first-hand the outrageous behavior which for DLANC President Russell Brown was simply business as usual. That community member was gallery owner Bert Green, who hand-picked Richard Schave as the person to whom he would hand over control of the Downtown Art Walk in mid 2009.

Although Bert Green would almost immediately begin collaborating with Russell Brown on the sabotage of Art Walk and attacks on the volunteer management of the non-profit — evidence of which can be found in Russell Brown’s own words from the videotape of his DLANC grievance hearing for ethical violations — the fact remains that if Bert Green hadn’t sought out an ethical, community-minded person and handed the reigns of Art Walk to him, it is unlikely that Russell Brown’s poor behavior would have come to light, as it did, in late 2009. The many new faces on DLANC’s incoming board come out of the growing awareness that new blood was needed to power a broken system.

And while the community must remain ever vigilant — particularly about longtime Executive Committee member Patti Berman, who personally censors the Newdowntown Yahoo group, and failed to place any notice of Russell Brown’s grievance hearing on the DLANC mailing list or community calendar — things could be, and have been, worse. It is up to the Downtown community to attend meetings, stand up and speak out, document the organization’s discussions and votes, and hold DLANC accountable. As outgoing board member Ashley Zarella Hand recently warned “DLANC… has… no real system for getting information out, sharing past successes (and failures), or retaining any form of organizational memory – beyond its leaders.” Those leaders chose to whitewash a history of grievances filed against them over the past five years, grievances which were echoed in the complaints filed against Russell Brown in 2009.

And so we recognize Bert Green for his somewhat unexpected service. As DLANC swears in new blood and has the opportunity to make a fresh start, endeavoring to meet the highest ideals of the Neighborhood Council system, we note that none of this would have been possible without Bert Green. Thank you, Bert Green, for all you have done to clean up a dirty political machine, and make Downtown Los Angeles a better place to live, work and play.

Success! The Downtown News reports that Russell Brown will not seek re-election to DLANC. Thank you to everyone who watched the videos, shared the links, signed the petition and talked to their friends and neighbors about what went wrong when Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council board members sought to sabotage the workings of a non-profit. And thank you, Russell Brown, for doing the classy thing and not seeking re-election. You didn’t step down, but you’ve done the next best thing.

MAIN PETITION LINK – http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/stepdownrussbrown

Dear DLANC board members,

On March 17, my husband Richard Schave and I faced your President, Russell Brown, in a grievance hearing regarding my complaint that he behaved unethically in smearing our volunteer work for the Art Walk non-profit. You may not be aware that this hearing took place, as in a further violation of the ethics section of your bylaws, Patti Berman didn’t post the hearing on the DLANC calendar, nor was it circulated via email to stakeholders.

Tomorrow night at your board meeting, the grievance committee will present to you their determination that nothing should be done to censure Russell Brown for unethical behavior. This is based on the decision made on the day of the hearing to throw out the most serious charges against him, and a troubling misinterpretation of the ethics section of your bylaws. Although this is not included in the final report prepared by the grievance committee, Chair Gunnar Hand made a point of ending the hearing by stating his opinion that ethical behavior is not required by DLANC board members, but merely suggested.

As a community member whose full-time volunteer efforts were smeared over many months by Russell Brown on behalf of DLANC, and who ultimately had to resign from the Art Walk board due to his dishonest and constant attacks on my professionalism, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Hand’s interpretation. At the link below you will also find another dissenting view from attorney Maurice Kane.


Please take the time to watch this ten-minute video before tomorrow’s board meeting, so you will have the opportunity to see your President confessing to conspiring to interfere with free speech at DLANC meetings as well as explaining how he decided, without consulting any of you, that DLANC would not support the Art Walk’s transition to non-profit.

Russell Brown’s behavior is harming DLANC and reflecting on each one of you. Please think carefully before offering your tacit support of his unethical behavior when you meet to consider this matter tomorrow night.

best regards,
Kim Cooper, founding Treasurer/Curator of the Downtown LA Art Walk non-profit,
who resigned in November due to Russell Brown’s harassment

MAIN PETITION LINK – http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/stepdownrussbrown

Here is a link to the annotated video featuring highlights of Russell Brown’s March 17 grievance hearing for ethical violations. It is recommended viewing for anyone curious about how this misguided individual damaged the Downtown Art Walk non-profit and harassed and smeared its volunteer staff, all under the pretense of serving the Downtown community.

On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, DLANC’s board will consider the recommendations of the Grievance Committee that Russell Brown’s behavior is not something that DLANC chooses to police. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting and fill out a speaker card if they believe ethics are not optional, but required by Neighborhood Council members, or if they have anything else to add to the dialogue.

For more info, visit stepdownrussbrown.wordpress.com
On March 17, 2010, the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council held a Grievance Hearing to address complaints of ethical violations by Russell Brown, DLANC’s President, surrounding the Downtown LA Art Walk non-profit. The hearing was not posted on DLANC’s calendar, nor was it included in their community email announcements — a violation of the ethics clause of DLANC’s bylaws. Such posting is the responsibility of VP of Communication and Outreach Patti Berman, “at the direction” of President Russell Brown.

This randomly selected Grievance Committee was formed in response to complaints that prior to February 2010, Russell Brown would have been permitted to sit on the committee that investigated ethics complaints against his own behavior.

In this annotated video of the secret March 17 grievance hearing, you will see Russell Brown personally admit that he used text messaging during the December 2009 DLANC meeting to summon an accomplice to dissuade community members from speaking out about his behavior regarding Art Walk. He also admits that he and Bert Green agreed in June 2009 not to sign over the intellectual property of the Art Walk to the newly forming non-profit, and that Russell Brown determined that the galleries, DLANC and HDBID (Russell’s employers) would not support the new non-profit. You will also see footage of the unpaid corporate sponsorship placement of Cadillac cars and SUVs at the November 2009 Art Walk, which Russell Brown arranged privately, against the wishes and without the knowledge of the non-profit’s Director Richard Schave.

Gunnar Hand, Chair of DLANC’s Grievance Committee stated at the end of the March 17 hearing that while DLANC’s bylaws call for Russell Brown to “endeavor” to behave ethically, that was a suggestion and not a requirement, and so the Committee would not vote on if they disapproved of his behavior or if he should be censured.

As community members whose full-time volunteer efforts to better the Art Walk were smeared over many months by this individual who represents himself as speaking for the community, and who ultimately had to resign from the Art Walk board due to his dishonest and constant attacks on our professionalism, we respectfully disagree with Mr. Hand’s interpretation. Also, see below for another dissenting view from attorney Maurice Kane.

Ethics are not voluntary, and Downtown LA deserves better than Russell Brown. For more information on this situation or a link to sign the petition calling for Russell Brown to resign from DLANC, please visit – stepdownrussbrown.wordpress.com

-Richard Schave & Kim Cooper, founding Director and Curator/Treasurer of the Downtown LA Art Walk non-profit

Attorney Maurice Kane offers the following interpretation of DLANC’s ethics clause:

This language in Bylaw, Article XII: “The DLANC, its Directors, and all Stakeholders will endeavor to conduct Council business in a professional and respectful manner. The DLANC is committed to developing a system whereby pertinent information transmitted through the City’s Early Notification System will be disseminated or made available in a timely manner to every Stakeholder. The Council, its Directors, and all Stakeholders will refrain from violating Board rules and shall abide by the Plan and all City, County, State, and federal laws that apply” must be read in its fullest context to mean that the persons covered are obligated to proceed in “a professional and respectful manner” and such persons are further directed to adhere to Board rules and the other sources of authority listed, i.e., the Plan and all City, County, State, and federal laws that apply”

Its actually a broad and binding ethical mandate and not a narrow, circumscribed, restricted, do-what-you-can guideline as they would prefer.

Also, from an etymological standpoint, “endeavor” includes “duty” and strenuous effort and when one juxtaposes that word to the remainder of the Ethics Bylaw, its clear that the DLANC, its Directors, and all Stakeholders have to do the utmost to obey the Board rules, the Plan and laws (County, state, federal)

The terms “professional” and “respectful” have meaningful, substantive content that have to be followed in a good faith manner, especially when you consider the State of California’s Ralph Brown Act, parliamentary procedure such as Robert’s Rules of Order, etc

Main Entry: 1en·deav·or
Pronunciation: \in-ˈde-vər\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): en·deav·ored; en·deav·or·ing \-v(ə-)riŋ\
Etymology: Middle English endeveren to exert oneself, from en- + dever duty — more at devoir

Early 15c., lit. “in duty,” from phrase put (oneself) in dever “make it one’s duty” (a partial translation of O.Fr. mettre en deveir “put in duty”), from O.Fr. dever “duty,” from L. debere “to owe” (see debt). One’s endeavors meaning one’s “utmost effort” is from late 15c.

1350–1400; ME endeveren, from the phrase putten in devoir to make an effort, assume responsibility; cf. AF se mettre en deveir.

transitive verb 1 archaic : to strive to achieve or reach
2 : to attempt (as the fulfillment of an obligation) by exertion of effort intransitive verb : to work with set purpose

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