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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Grand Poobah and the Bean Counter

Spotted at LA Observed: One of the neighborhood councils in Northridge designated its chairman "the grand poobah" and the treasurer "bean counter." Seems the city is not amused, since they also don't get anyone to their meetings. From the Daily News:

The city Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, escalating its dispute with one of the first groups it approved, is proposing to decertify the Old Northridge Community Council over how its board was elected.

The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners is scheduled to take up a staff recommendation to decertify the community council at its Sept. 6 meeting.

"We tried to work with them but were not able to resolve this," said Greg Nelson, general manager of the department. "We had problems with how they conducted their elections and their lack of outreach to residents."

Old Northridge Community Council officials said they will fight to remain part of the city's neighborhood council system.

"Rules do not make a neighborhood council,' said Jay Christensen, a professor of business communications at California State University, Northridge, who serves as the council's treasurer.

In electing a board, the group termed the chairman "the grand poobah" and the treasurer "the bean counter."

"Yes, we had some fun with some of the names, but that should be beside the point," Christensen said.


Nelson said there are two other neighborhood councils in the Northridge area, both of which were formed by people who felt excluded by the Old Northridge Community Council.

Councilman Greig Smith, who represents the area, is aware of the controversy and asked the city agency to try to come up with a compromise.

"The issue is the people want to get involved and we support that," said Mitch Englander, chief deputy to Smith. "We've asked (the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment) to put aside their differences and work with them to figure out a process to keep this group active."



Anonymous Anonymous said:

I hate that the neighborhood councils are getting funding. It's another layer of silliness that gets in the way of doing business.

More accountability? Hardly. The members that sit on those boards can do so only because they have way too much time on their hands. My interests, a working woman, homeowner, commuter, and taxpayer are not represented by these local cliques.

Does formality matter? Of course. That's why we refer to our elected officials with their titles. Should it be regulated to do so? Probably not. But where is the conventional wisdom? If I wear a clown suit to work, I wouldn't be taken as seriously as when I wear more professional attire. The same applies to titles.

I like the idea of neighborhood councils... A place where neighbors can get together to discuss the pros and cons of a given situation. And I would support the councils if the money were strictly utilized for this purpose.

Sigh, I can't help but wish that the neighborhood councils (in their current form) would just go away.

August 30, 2005 9:29 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

There's Mr. Quotable again. The CM knows about it but can't actually comment - he leaves that up to his Chief Commenter I mean Deputy.

August 30, 2005 9:46 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So this is a story according to the Daily News? Interesting...

August 30, 2005 10:50 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

9:46 - Who gives a rats ass? It has little pertinence to the story (or lack thereof)

August 30, 2005 11:14 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why shouldn't neighborhood councils be creative with name titles for their officers? Some companies have named their accounting departments the bean counting department.

August 30, 2005 12:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


In government?

You must be joking!

August 30, 2005 12:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Neighborhood councils should spend more time getting "creative" with their outreach, and not with their titles, etc.

Most of these groups only try and contact stakeholders when its time for election -- which falls on dead ears. Many who do make periodic contact fall into the archaic communication methodologies used by L.A. City bureacracy, or, nearly as bad... the "come help us do the work, we need more volunteers" whining that turns even other do-gooders off.

When was the LAST time anyone saw an NC promoting the good things they're spending that $50K on to the local media, to show people it's a worthwhile organization? I never have, and the one near me does do some good thing with its money. SO TELL PEOPLE!

You KNOW if your elected CM was spending money in that community he/she would have media all over it, pumping themselves to the hilt in advance of their next election cycle.

You want outreach? Flash some "advantage" to the newbies! And I don't mean "The XYZ Neighborhood Council will hold it regularly schedule meeting at 7 p.m., at the blah blah libarary, blah lah will be discussed, blah, blah, blah is also on the agenda." (SNORE!)

Would you read that drivel if you were new in town!?

August 30, 2005 12:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I blame Greg Nelsen for the fuck-up NC's.

The Mayor should fired the biggest ass in the city.

August 30, 2005 12:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

That's as good a guess as any! Name someone who's been a career inside bureaucrat for 40 years (?) to make something new and novel work for the city -- what else can you expect.

August 30, 2005 12:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Little do you all know. Some NC's have done some great things in their communities with the money. Harbor area bought their LAPD officers some off road vehicles bikes to help get to the hard to reach areas to combat crime. We all know LAPD doesn't have money for anything. Other NC's have sent youth to football camps, summer camp, West LA bought as radar detetor for their traffic cops cause they had to keep borrowing one. Others have helped their parks and schools in their areas etc.

August 30, 2005 1:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To 12:40 and 12:52,

From the perspective of someone who worked on getting two NC's up and going...there is no guess work involved...Greg Nelson should shoulder 90% of the blame for our disfunctional NC system. The number one criteria in setting up an NC is and was getting it going ASAP. He and his staff take sides on various issues such as bylaws which usually end up pitting one part of the community against another. he result is years of having to rebuild trust both with the city and between community members. Thank Greg. NOT!!

Mr. Mayor...fire this guy ASAP. Please.

August 30, 2005 1:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

1:14 p.m.

You missed the point -- it was not "HAVE they done good things," (the poster at 12:32 said as much), but rather, who the hell KNOWS about what they've done (and why don't they make tooting their own horn a priority in order to attract more people and more stakeholders into the process?)

A skeptic might think that some, anyway, are afraid of losing power and the thus the ability to be the ones who decide WHERE the money is spent, if others become involved.

I attended a PR/outreach session at one of the congresses.

It was pathetic.

August 30, 2005 1:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Who gives a shit about this story! I came to this blog to read something worthwhile, but instead I'm exposed to nonsense.

August 30, 2005 2:22 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

To each his own, Mr. Nelson -- scroll past, unless that's too tough!

August 30, 2005 2:46 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Good 'ol Northridge Community Council. It may not be a big deal to most, but any group seeking legitimacy in the community should think twice about calling their leader "the grand poobah."

No wonder this council had problems early on.

August 30, 2005 3:02 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Where is the ever-loving hot list?

August 30, 2005 4:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Cuz' CHIEF FAKER's "not so hot" around here, anymore.

He's been X-posed!

August 30, 2005 4:43 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I wish the glassel park nc would just go away . Tony scudulari who is chair of the land use committee has just been discovered to use racist remarks against Italian Americans and has outed a gay married man for his own political gain. And this is a person who has been trusted to be a responsible citizen. L.A times ran a story on the idiot ,who was to be on the El Pueblo commision.
This guy has too much time on his hands and we cant allow him to represent the city of los angeles .

August 30, 2005 8:02 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Who the hell are you to say anything about being anonymous when you guys are anonymous? I'd be careful if i was you. You have left some clues yourself. Good luck in the future endeavors

August 30, 2005 8:03 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


Can you find me the last time smith spoke for himself????

What is with ENGLANDER in EVERY QUOTE???

August 31, 2005 3:19 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:


August 31, 2005 3:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Greg Nelson is the BEST thing to happen to neighborhood councils. New people to the system would not know that.

Mr. Mayor - PLEASE DO NOT fire Greg Nelson.

Only disenfranchised groups would say that.

He practically invented NC's and he's been pushing the concept since before the 99 charter vote.

I don't know anybody who doesn't think Greg Nelson is the guy for the job.

You think they should bring Rosalyn Stewart back?? Aaaccckk!

Or maybe someone who hates neighborhood councils?

As for anonymous 9:29 AM:
You need to be involved in a real neighborhood council. Yours must not be working well at all or else you simply don't know what they are supposed to do for you. Especially if you think board members have too much time on their hands. They can't have any time because the naysayers like yourself just whine and refuse to help them.

September 01, 2005 12:01 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mr. Mayor please fire Greg ass ASAP.

September 01, 2005 7:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Greg Nelson has nothing to do with the Community people who take advantage of the NC system.
The Ideas of the NC being a group to help accomplish things in the community that the City just cannot get to is great.
What happened is former Mayor Hahn was so busy putting them on the map, they did not control the monsters they ended up creating.
The rules were left vauge to help form these groups.
Big mistake because you have some peole who are milking the system and using it to their own personal advantage.
Some NC, like Coastal NC in San Pedro have a "Mafia" mentality going on..........
If you do not agree with the board members, you will be harrassed and attacked by the Board members in a way that is just unappropriate.
This kind of behavior should not be tollerated.
In Coastal's Election, outreach was only done to those who the newly elected board members wanted to show up, for the rest of the community if you even knew of the election,the obstacles to get to the election were so great that people could not find the election location.
Tricker and deception was used to control and munipulate the outcome of the election.
People who signed a challenge to the election were harrassed by new board members and a City Councils office employee.
Other CRIMES in use of money are going on.
$14,000 a year is used to pay one employee who works an average of 10 or 15 hours a month.THis is only one example of the abuse of this money, there are many.
Laura Chick need to pay attention
and stop the abuse of the sending of our tax money. NOW!
I agree with the previous poster on this site.
Until some control is put in affect on rules to spending this money. NC should not be abusing hard earned tax payer money in a time when the City could use that money for way better uses.
How about taking this money and using it for our local schools...
There may be a few NC who actuall help the community they represent, but from first hand experience, most are a JOKE!
Mayor Antonio needs to get control of the NC process and bring it to what the Hahns promised us they WOULD BE!
A tool to help the community, right now most are used for personal gains or wannna be future politicians!

September 01, 2005 7:48 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

You are wrong and obviously do not belong to a neighborhood council or you would know more about how hard it is to spend the money. There is nobody collecting money for 10-15 hours of work unless they are paying PDQ, the employment agency that the city forces us to use.

It's hard to even get new business cards, much less spending money frivously. You report as though neighborhood councils have free flowing money as opposed to a credit card where everything is determined by a list of "alloweds" and "not alloweds".

You are talking out your ass.

What's the matter? You couldn't get elected in your own little neighborhood council and you're holding a grudge?

September 01, 2005 2:37 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

September 01, 2005 2:37 PM

If it is that hard to spend the money, why not give it back to a City with budget problems?

What kind of Secretary services could a Neighborhood Council need that cost $14,000 a year, your budget is $50,000 a year.
Hmmm..... is the money for improving the community or to pay salaries of employees.
Neighborhood Councils are a group of volunteers?
Can't you get a volunteer Secretry?

September 01, 2005 11:09 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

That's what we thought Mr.Epperhart

September 04, 2005 8:40 AM  

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