Mayor Villaraigosa Owes Venice an Apology for Jim Bickhart’s Actions

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There is a discussion going on over in the Venice Patch comments section about Mayoral aid Jim Bickhart (aka “SnakePliskin”) posting on the Yo! Venice! forums.

If most of the Patch commenters (many of whom appear to be friends and supporters of Bickhart) are to be believed, Bickhart was posting on Yo! Venice! in jest, or as David Ewing writes, “as a ‘satirical persona,’ which is a voice used to mock the point of view it pretends to be expressing”.

Jim Bickhart

Or, was Bickhart posting anonymously and “hiding behind a pseudonym to take potshots, spew provocations and mischaracterize those against whom they hold grudges.” (This quote is also from David Ewing, but in his original usage he was commenting on anonymous internet posters in general, not his alleged friend Bickhart.)

Lets examine Jim Bickhart’s history of posting on this website. He did so a total of six times.

1. In response to an article by Dennis Romero of the LA Weekly that was re-posted on this website called “Will Villaraigosa Veto RV Parking Limits In Venice?”, Jim Bickhart, posting under the name “SnakePliskin”, chimed in at 7:51 am on September 8th:

Who cares? Villa-la-grossa is just as big a coward as Rosendahl. Maybe the Stakeholders are right – if these folks won’t leave, we should get someone to come around with a semi, load the homeless scum into it like stinking sardines and drive them out to the Mojave. Dump ’em there in the dead of night blindfolded and drive away. Period. End of story.

The article Jim Bickhart was commenting on was about Mark Ryavec (the president of the Venice Stakeholders Association) publicly wanting to know if Mayor Villaraigosa (Bickhart’s boss) would be vetoing the implementing ordinance for OVO’s and whether or not Bill Rosendahl had secured the mayor’s promise to get the RV limits going.

Despite the fact that the context of Bickhart’s comment was in a thread about Mark Ryavec (the head of The Venice Stakeholders Association), the Bickhart supporters over at Patch put forth that this is actually not a reference to the Venice Stakeholders Association, but just “stakeholders in general”.

The Bickhart supporters say that the posts must be looked at in context, yet they refuse to actually practice what they preach.

The immediate responses to Bickhart’s comment from other readers were:

“I have never heard the Venice Stakeholders suggest this as a solution.” and Marta’s “Yes, Mr. Snake, please stop foisting your masochistic fantasies on Venetians who are trying to find a sane way to solve problems around here.”

“SnakePliskin” aka Jim Bickhart, when told by others on the site that the Venice Stakeholders Association had never put forth such an assertion, did not feel it necessary to point out that he was making his post about “stakeholders in general”, nor “in jest”.

Was “SnakePliskin” aka Jim Bickhart calling his superiors the equivalent of “spineless pussies” to try and influence their opinions and actions before they had to make a final decision on OVO’s? Or did Bickhart just think it was a real “knee slapper” to anonymously call his boss and Bill Rosendahl the equivalent of “spineless pussies” on the internet?

Moving on ….

2. Jim Bickhart took it upon himself to malign the “other” most vocal person/ group that is critical of him, his friends, political cronies and fellow idealogues that share similar Social Service driven political plans for Venice, the “Venice Watchdawg”.

In a thread about an RV that had burned in the Chase Bank parking lot on Lincoln that “Venice Watchdawg” had not yet posted in, “SnakePliskin” aka Jim Bickhart posted:

We done good, didn’t we Dawg?

This post, when taken in context, was written at the same time that Peggy Lee Kennedy and The Venice Beachhead were putting forth that this fire was arson and that it was somehow related to Yo! Venice! and other groups that were “pro” parking restrictions in Venice, despite the fact that both the RV owner and the LAFD said that the fire started within the RV.

Was Jim Bickhart referencing some other “Dawg” besides the “Venice WatchDawg” when posting “we done good” in the comments section about an RV buring to the ground? You tell me what the implication is in Bickhart’s post. Humor? Defamation by implication, with the pretense that Jim Bickhart aka “SnakePliskin” was part of the Venice Watchdawg “group”? That somehow the “Venice WatchDawg” had something to do with an RV burning in Venice? What else could be meant by “We done good, didn’t we Dawg?”. There is no humor in the post whatsoever, the words stand on their own as far as the given intent.

So far, in two of the six posts that “SnakePliskin” aka Jim Bickhart posted on this website, it appears that his intention was to individually defame the two most vocal critics (Ryavec and “The Venice WatchDawg“) of Bickhart and friends Social Service Industry driven politics in Venice.

Moving on …

3. In the same thread that was about an RV catching fire in the Chase Bank parking lot, Jim Bickhart aka “SnakePliskin” posted that if there was an RV in front of his house when he got home, he would “light it on fire”.

I fail to see any humor in posting such remarks, especially in an emotionally and politically charged environment that is “on edge” over RV Dweller issues in Venice. It appears that what Bickhart was doing was akin to yelling “fire” in a crowded room, or more seriously, a call to terrorism against a specific group of people, the RV dwellers of Venice. Try saying you were just “joking” to the TSA after they arrest you for saying you would “blow up a plane” … you won’t just get five days suspension from your job at the Mayor’s office.

Moving on …

4. In a thread titled “My moment with the Mayor’s rep was mocked“, Jim Bickhart aka “SnakePliskin” posted:

Next time one of those wussies heckles you, just pop ’em one.  No .  They protect scum, they should be treated like scum.  It doesn’t matter if they make money sucking on the goverment tit or if there Wolfgang frigging *#!%$!.  Time is running short.

Contextually, the people that Jim Bickhart was promoting the random punching of are Karen Wolfe and Sue Kaplan. Depending on your interpretation of the thread, Bickhart’s calls for violence may also include VNC President Linda Lucks (his friend) and other Venice Action members (which he is rumored to be a member of).

I find it highly unlikely that Wolfe, Kaplan, Lucks and the other people that Bickhart was encouraging residents to physically assault would see any “satire and parody” in what Bickhart wrote. Bickhart is the only poster in the 35k comment history of this website that has apparently encouraged physical violence against Neighborhood Council members.

Once again, Jim Bickhart posted six times on this website. In two of his posts, he maligned political adversaries, and in two of his posts he called for physical attacks on people within the Venice community.

5. In Bickhart’s fifth post he accused this site of censorship for blocking his swear words.

Oh I see Yo is a bunch of censorship wussies too.

6. In his last and final post, Bickhart (in response to my stating that I believed the posts were his), still posting as “SnakePliskin” and never admitting nor owning up to the fact that it was in fact Jim Bickhart, an employee of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, that had posted such hate filled rants and calls to violence against community leaders and residents of Venice claimed:

My aim was to use satire and parody – think Jonathan Swift, though clearly I am no Jonathan Swift – in the Yo!Venice blog’s “forum” section to encourage people to at least reflect upon their attitudes and the atmosphere being created.

The fact remains that Jim Bickhart’s posts here on Yo! Venice as “SnakePliskin” were only made public thanks to a Public Records Act request filed by the Venice Stakeholders Association.

Mayor Villaraigosa still has Jim Bickhart working in his office. That, without any shadow of a doubt, is a JOKE.

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