Whistleblower hotline: (213) 785-6098

Monday, January 31, 2005

Venetian Intrigue?

VeniceActivists in Venice are claiming the discovery of an alleged conspiracy against the Venice Neighborhood Council of near Watergate proportions. Read their latest press release below:

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Suzanne Thompson, 310-664-1142; Jim Smith, 310-399-8685

Leaders of the Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council (GRVNC) have learned, through the release of public records, that several Los Angeles city departments were secretly monitoring their activities. Ultimately, members of a working group within the city government succeeded in overturning the neighborhood council’s election and rendering the GRVNC unable to function.

“Venice has gone rouge...” declared a Dept. of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) staff member while asking the League of Women Voters not to assist in the GRVNC election (Exhibit A). A Human Relations Commission member warned against allowing neighborhood councils too much latitude: “Expecting the NC’s to develop their own procedures, or to develop a city-wide procedure is too risky...” (Exhibit F2)

The documents, obtained through a public records request by Venice resident John Davis in December, reveal that DONE convinced the GRVNC Board to submit a challenge of its June 2004 election to an arbitrator that DONE knew was biased against the council. In addition, one email (Exhibit G) is from a DONE official to the arbitrator, suggesting to him how he should frame his decision. GRVNC was offered no such access to the arbitrator.

Davis requested the public records after he and eight other elected GRVNC Board members were put out of office in November. Davis said he was surprised by the number of people and city departments that had been involved in monitoring GRVNC: “Even the Mayor’s office and the local city council office (CD11) appear on the email list discussing what to do to the certified neighborhood council. Why they never contacted GRVNC is still a mystery,”

Other community leaders displaced by the arbitrator’s decision, which was held by DONE for a week before being released on Nov. 16, include: DeDe McCrary, Bridget Graham, Emily Winters, Dr. Alice Stek, Zoe Garaway, Deborah Krall, Michael McGuffin and Dennis Hathaway. DONE, acting on its own, also refused to recognize four additional Board appointees – Francisco Letelier, Inge Mueller, Kristen Weirick and Don Geagan. By eliminating the four, who had been functioning for several months, DONE rendered the Board unable to achieve a quorum.

The documents also show that the arbitrator, Gary de la Rosa of the Human Relations Commission (HRC), was deeply involved in GRVNC affairs even before the June election. He and others apparently believed allegations by anti-GRVNC activists in Venice that the Board was fostering an atmosphere of racism against whites. There was no attempt by DONE or any other city officials to contact any officers of the GRVNC about the allegations. GRVNC was unaware that it was the topic of discussion and derision by the city officials, whose email list included LAPD officers; deputy city attorneys; an aide to Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski; and a Venice resident, Rick Feibusch, a resident who was hostile to the GRVNC; in addition to DONE and HRC.

The neighborhood council is prohibited from functioning officially due to the arbitration, but GRVNC officers are calling for the arbitrator’s decision to be thrown out because of bias, and are appealing to the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (BONC) about the interference of the DONE staff which are under its jurisdiction.

In the past year, the GRVNC Board had taken strong positions against Playa Vista and LAX expansion; joined with artists in opposing a new Ocean Front Walk ordinance promoted by the city; and advocated for 24-hour restrooms on the beach that could be used by the homeless and others.

Documents referenced above are posted at: www.freevenice.org/Public_Records.pdf


Anonymous Anonymous said:

Grass Roots Venice NC has one of the worst reputations in the city amongst other councils. They are radical, whiners and are very volatile and threatening when they show up at citywide meetings to speak. They are extremely negative and no one likes them because of their arrogant attitude. They do not represent the people on the Westside. They are about themselves and trying to get into the limelight with issues. I'm glad they're having a hard time. They give Neighborhood Councils a bad name.

January 31, 2005 10:11 AM  

Blogger Mayor Sam said:

To the poster above -

You have to pardon me. I see you are posting about the Venice Neighborhood Council. From your description, for a second I though you were discussing the LA City Council.

January 31, 2005 10:35 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Good one Mayor Sam.

January 31, 2005 10:50 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


January 31, 2005 11:03 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The two are hardly different. The City Council wastes taxpayer dollars and so does the Venice NC. As I recall hearing, they spent thousands of dollars (out of their $50K) to throw a party.

January 31, 2005 11:47 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Just like Homeland Security did!

January 31, 2005 12:30 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

DONE has this extremely uneven reputation around the city -- strongarming one neighborhood council (according to reports), while letting others run rampant and go for years without ever holding elections and passively observing as others overstep their bounds and bully smaller councils (see the "Recall Villaraigosa" blog-thred). All the while, DONE chants the mantra "we can't interfere with the internal operations of NCs" even if/while they self-destruct. What the department seems to paint as "balance" and self-control now comes across more like civic bipolarity modulated by some warped misinterpretation of political correctness.

January 31, 2005 2:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So . . . you don't like DONE?

January 31, 2005 3:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

That was English, trust me!

Don't like or dislike -- just want them to get a clue what "empowerment" really means. It's not synonymous with "enable" (or "codependent" for that matter -- like their track record suggests). But then, if they ever did truly empower neighborhoods, they'd be out of work, wouldn't they? Greg Nelson is the Dr. Spock of "baby" NCs -- let them learn by self-destructing, then maybe they'll know better (if they survive), or others will see them fail and avoid the landmines themselves. Tons of "suggestions" but no rules that can't be turned on their heads if it suits one of the department's weekly (rotating mandates). Field workers half the age of the average activist they "advise," with one-tenth the real urban experience of their advisees. Lots of templates, but no real blueprint for what an NC can and can't do for itself -- UNTIL one steps over a line no one bothered to tell them was there.

January 31, 2005 5:09 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You are so wrong. DONE is not a babysitter. These are suppose to be grown adults. There are some really good NC's who participate and work well with the city. The ones who are destructive, Van Nuys, Lincoln Heights, Grass Root Venice, etc. have more egos than one table can hold. Go to meetings with their own agenda, can give a shit less what their community things and all they want to do is grandstand. No one can work with people like that rules or not. They stand out like sore thumbs at the Congress and get the bad press.

February 02, 2005 10:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What a load of crap. The idiots at GRVNC have destroyed any civic involvment in neighborhood councils for Venice. They're quite proud they've managed to take over LA City's lowest form of government. Which is all they'll ever do since nobody else will have them.

All they do is talk, talk, talk to hear the sound of their own voice and cry like babies when nobody listens to them. It's no conspiracy theory that the city hates them. It's a fact.

February 17, 2005 9:42 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home