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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

22 L.A. Neighborhood Councils Form a New Congress

From the LA Times:
Aspiring to be much more than pothole police, 22 neighborhood councils throughout Los Angeles have voted to create a congress of the panels that will give them more clout by allowing them to collectively weigh in on citywide issues.

The decision ushers in a new era in the evolution of the city's system of 86 advisory neighborhood councils, providing individual panels an opportunity to exercise more influence by speaking with a united voice, said Leonard Shaffer, chairman of a working group on the congress.
Heads up City Hall. With every step they take, they are going to get harder and harder to ignore...

39 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said:

There are 80+ NCs... so what!

December 20, 2005 10:06 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Better point would be that these groups can't even agree enough within their neighborhoods to get anything of consequence done. How the heck are they going to get 20, 40, 60, 80 councils citywide to agree on anything enough to stand up to city council of mayor?

There's already an "alliance" of NCs.

It's only a matter of time before they start getting pissed off with each other regional or cultural issues, or both, and then there will be a "confederation" of NCs, and a "Valley Consortium"`of NCs and six other mini-congresses, all pulling city government in different directions.

Total waste of time.

Concentrate on your own issues at home, get more community members involved (participation sucks most places), and then maybe they'll start having some clout.

50 board members who get 500 to 5000 votes each from their neighbors locally will have a lot more muscle with their own CMs than a gathering of 5000 board members from all over the city who got elected at home with an average of 50 to 100 votes, trying to affect the whole city council.

The city council and mayor aren't brilliant, but they can count.

December 20, 2005 10:15 AM  

Blogger joseph mailander said:

I concur!

December 20, 2005 11:21 AM  

Blogger Jim Alger said:

10:15 am Anon, How quickly you forget the DWP rate hike battle.

Because of 40 Neighborhood Councils who stood together the 18% hike was stopped dead in its tracks, the DWP entered into an MOU with the Neighborhood Council System, and the DWP now has to undergo financial reviews prior to any additional rate hike(which has significantly delayed the new one they are asking for now).

Will there be disputes? Sure but there are disputes on all levels of government constantly.

The sand is shifting in Los Angles politics and there are some who aren't changing with the times, as they term out the NC folks will rise up through the newly created vacuum and return the keys to City Hall to their rightful owners... the people.

The beacon of self governing shines so bright that the people naturally gravitate towards it, not because of government but rather in spite of it.

December 20, 2005 11:24 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

There are councilmen like Grieg Smith who openly say they love Neighborhood Councils but don't send a single thought past them. He has cut out every NC in CD 12 and every other group for that matter so that he can screw us all on Sunshine Canyon.

Sure there are the meetings he puts together but when it comes to anything meaningful he ignores them because as he said NC's were "Never Designed" for this.

What you are seeing is the groups ARE coming together, which is how you form a Congress in the first place.

They are coming together BECAUSE of CM's like Mr Smith, and they WILL get power to circumvent their non-responsive councilman by uniting.

December 20, 2005 11:34 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Smith got shafted by Janice Hahn at the last vote after he jumped on the "blame the ex-mayor" bandwagon over Sunshine. She voted to stop the contract and Smiths' stealth back door moves to have the council vote against him failed. Smith campaigned saying and I quote "I am the only candidate with a plan to close the Sunshine Canyon Landifll once and for all".

He then sat on his ass for two whole years and did nothing.

Now he is gearing up the votes to screw his constituents again and thinks he has 2 extra votes to do it.

I wonder what his Neighborhood Councils think of him?

December 20, 2005 12:05 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Don't forget the war over Wal-Mart. He went after the Neighborhood Council and threatened to sue two of their officers so I think we know what he thinks of Neighborhood Councils.

Glad I am not in his district.

December 20, 2005 12:20 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I thought the whole point of neighborhood councils was to provide a voice to neighborhood and community issues - not compete with City Commissions and Boards.

December 20, 2005 12:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The neighborhood council system is a huge threat to democracy in this city and needs to be contained. Instead, the mayor's office appears willing to indulge them. What do you need to get elected? Way too much time on your hands (read: you have an independent source of income and don't have to work) and a couple dozen friends who will walk down the street and vote for you. Barely anyone votes in these elections and the people who run are the kinds of people who could never get elected to other offices (and many have tried). What scares me most about these groups is that they are made up of so many homeowners in a city of renters and so many self-employed folks in a city of people who don't have such luxuries of time. In non-Anglo neighborhoods they do not generally reflect the ethnic make-up of those neighborhoods. People are always issuing stats about how representative various staffs are, commissions are, etc., someone should look into this issue with the neighborhood councils. How many own homes, own businesses, etc., vs. are renters and work minimum wage jobs. How many are truly representative, demographically, of their neighborhoods?

December 20, 2005 12:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Alger (such demagogic rhetoric; you must be running for something):

DWP?

What have NCs done for the city SINCE then???

Is this what L.A. taxpayers pay out more than $4 million in city funds annually for, most of which is still used by NCs for "admin" costs?

Isn't that just robbing Peter (the DWP) to pay Paul (the NCs themselves), to some extent.

To say nothing of the many added millions it has cost to run DONE and BONC for the past 4-5 years.

At the very least, cutting off the DWP rate increase was NOT a total net gain.

If that's the most stellar result of having NCs citywide, then the cost to taxpayers to save that 18 percent has been something like $12-$15 million, so far.

AND that assumes the the same result couldn't have come from (say) 40 or so existing homeowner's associations, which cost the city nothing, making the same stink.

December 20, 2005 1:26 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

11:34

Grieg Smith has every right to blow off NCs considering what they represent in constituency.

Let me see, I'm CM Jane Jones, and I got 10 thousands votes or so to do this job in the last district election in a competitive election.

And here's a group of 25 board members from local NCs that got maybe 200 votes each (many of which ran unchallenged), telling me I should do it their way, and ignore my own best intuitions.

Hmmmm, my 10,000 votes of confidence vs. your 200 each (maybe 1,000 for the whole board election).

Who has the real confidence of the community?

December 20, 2005 1:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

12:39

This: "In non-Anglo neighborhoods they do not generally reflect the ethnic make-up of those neighborhoods."

Is true in many (but not all) Latino-majority areas, but not in African American communities, where the boards are much more representative.

December 20, 2005 1:37 PM  

Anonymous William Mulholland said:

The problem is that the NCs are 80 groups with 80 different sets of rules and 80 different missions. As a result of a lack of structure and in some cases, guidance, they are all over the place politically and organizationally. Silver Lake, Northridge, Sherman Oaks and MidCityWest are some of the stronger ones, but others like Lincoln Heights, Venice and West Hills are a big ole mess.

If you want the water to flow in a particular way, you've got to build a viaduct to push it there. That's what I always said.

December 20, 2005 2:23 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Boyle Heights NC is the largest citywide with 51 reps and one of the best run. You go to LA32 or Venice that is a complete joke with board members more concerned with egos and politics then what's best for the community. It all stems from the top. This year Boyle Heights who is known to have more gangs citywide had their 1st Multi-Cultural parade that was a success. Community members, residents, organizatons applauded them because it was a positive event for the entire community. Children and families got a chance to actually see something besides the negative in their neighborhood.
I say the NC's should unite against agenda items on council that are a joke and get passed. They have the power they just have to learn to use it.

December 20, 2005 3:38 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Antonio hates Neighborhood Councils just ask any of the Eastside area ones how many times in 2 yrs he attended. I know of one big one that HE didn't attend in 2 yrs. He's a hypocrite and will use them when it suits them but thinks like Parks that they have too much power. Silverlake is a good one with Jason Lyon being proactive and a doer. He's moved on some important issues and knows how to organize. Alger was another until he got sidetracked with his campaign.

December 20, 2005 3:58 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Oh no Nellie Parra the wife of crook and sleazy staff aide to Huizar Alvin Parra got confirmed today. This was an Antonio payback for Alvin doing Jose's dirty work.

December 20, 2005 4:07 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I'm for whatever it takes to get this city away from the current occupiers. AV didn't get as many votes as the dogcatcher.

December 20, 2005 4:31 PM  

Blogger Jim Alger said:

While I will not get into the ridiculous discussion as to whether the self-governing that will eventually come out of the Neighborhood Council system is a good thing or not, I will not stand by and allow those who refuse to identify themselves denigrate the people who choose to dedicate much of their time to improving this City.

First of all, Neighborhood Councils are NOT a threat to democracy, they ARE democracy at its core which is why so many have jumped to attack them. These politician staffers and special interest groups fear the people having a voice louder than their own.

Second of all, the DWP rate hike has saved over $100 Million and counting every day that no new hike is enacted. Homeowners groups existed then and now and not once in the history of this city have they succeeded in preventing a DWP rate action. What COULD they have done is only speculation, they CHOSE not to do it.

Thirdly, if you feel that your NC doesn’t represent you then GET INVOLVED. The fact that less than 20% of eligible voters elected our Mayor doesn’t lessen his legitimacy. The same carries for the NC’s. In fact since you decry turnout so much one could argue YOU have a better chance of getting YOUR view heard given the lack of a contest. To compare NC elections with City Council elections is to compare Chess to Skydiving. Many NC elections ACTUALLY HAVE A HIGHER turnout, per precinct, then the City Wide elections. These NC’s represent considerably smaller districts, don’t get the free media coverage for election day, and don’t have millions dollars of special interest money being spent to sway voters for or against a candidate so there is no comparison.

Neighborhood Councils are here because the system as it was wasn’t working. Even today we see Council Members ignoring public comment, putting the public behind the resolution to honor their secretary who managed to successfully keep her job for more than 2 weeks, and basically ignore the will of the people whenever they damn well please. That is why NC’s are here. To represent the under-represented.

I understand it is easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize. But ya know, the decisions are made by those who show up. Neighborhood Councilmembers made the decision not to simply complain, but to actively find solutions without compensation and for that we should all be gratefull.

December 20, 2005 4:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Damn Jim, I haven't seen you write lake that in some time. Nice to have you back! :)

December 20, 2005 4:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Its always those who whine and complain that don't actually get involved and do nothing. Its easy to sit back and critize but to actually go to a couple of NC meetings in your area and participate in the process is harder. The people I know who are on the NC boards are people who have full time jobs and families but yet dedicate time for the sake of their communities. So to all you haters get a life or shut the hell up.

December 20, 2005 4:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Jim, very well put. It seems that a nerve has been hit in Mr Smiths office but there isn't much unusual about that. Perhaps he will try and sue you for what someone else said again?

Your point is a good one. Many like to complain but few offer solutions.

December 20, 2005 4:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Neighborhood Councils were designed by the City Council to fail.

People like Jim Alger, Jason Lyons and Len Schaffer have forced the Neighborhood Councils through the glass ceiling and that scares the hell out of the status quo.

The proposed congress will be very powerfull over time. It is a good thing for the city, and the people who live here.

December 20, 2005 5:12 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

Well , well , I agree with a lot of what is being said from both sides of this debate.

ON the one hand we have neighborhood council leaders who are elected by less than 10 and the highest number I know of on our governing board downtown is cloe to 200.

How do you claim that any of these board members have any sort of mandate. That is one reason Greig Smith is having an easy time running them over in his district. They have no credibility.

We have a council president who is homeless , yet will not admit it, and he does anything and everything to help the big business developers to push out the low income residents of Downtown without proper relocation. He makes a motion every chance he gets to promote himself as the liason between the city and the Neighborhood Councils in their congress formation. On the issue of the Los Angeles Theater Center he has called the board members of the LAtino theter company liars and racists.

If you guys actually think that a neighborhood congress is about the people you are highly mistaken , it is about usurping the power of the people they are supposed to be helping.

We have another election this year Downtown and our neighborhood council has upset their constituents so much , we have people talking about promoting the elections with thier own IE's

Our neighborhood council executive committee likes to threaten that only the neighbhorhood council can disseminate innforamtion.

I think that is about to change this year.

Remember, all you have to do to run as an Artist in the Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood COuncil as an artist is have a MOCA Card. ANy takers out there.

I look forward to any takers out there.

I myself will be posting at my website and on my blog how to get elected Downtown and what it takes to get elected Dwontown.

I also will be creating my own flyers to inform the stake holders of Downtown of the Election this year.

You can find much info at www.http://www.dlanc.com

December 20, 2005 5:26 PM  

Blogger Andrew L. said:

Washington DC has Neighborhood Councils that have been around for 30 years, but they just do Parks and Recreation Programming. They also have Adivsory Neighborhood Councils that do zoning recommendations to the DC Zoning Board. But in each case, they have clear authority to do what they do.

As Mulholland pointed out above, unless these groups are given some structure and direction (and with it, some real authority aside from spending $75,000) Anonymous was right, they are set up to fail.

This "let a thousand flowers bloom" can only take the city so far. If we are committed to NCs they need to be treated like any other government entity with duties, powers and responsibilities.

December 20, 2005 5:26 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Alger... did you ACTUALLY just try and make a "legitimacy" comparison between Villaraigosa's 20 percent registered vote for mayor (nearly 40 percent between he and Hahn), and the MEASLY ONE percent OR LESS that most NC elections turn out?

Damn, you are a politician. There are people sitting on NC boards in this city that received LESS than a dozen votes, out of a possible 20-30 thousand in their area.

DO the math. Average size NC is 35-40,000 residents (that's not even the total "stakeholders" which can include non-resident local workers and landowners, and beyond, depending on their bylaws).

Even illegals immigrants can vote, which could add thousands more. Some NCs allow CHILDREN to vote (anyone who can read the ballot and make their own marks unassisted, according to the elections administrator).

And yet some entire boards have been elected with fewer than 100 votes AMONG the whole lot or possible "stakeholders" -- and even with these exceptions.

Meanwhile, dozens of NC boards, equipped with THOUSANDS of taxpayer dollars they could use for outreach, had far LESS voters turn up for their SECOND elections than their first year's.

One neighborhood council starting its third year had NO CANDIDATES for nearly HALF the open slots... INCLUDING the NC president's position.

In another, more than one-third of the voters were pre-teen participants in a local soccer club. A mother walks in with four young kids in tow, all under the age of 12 and asks for five ballots, AND GETS THEM.

(Guess who got the most votes -- yup, the soccer league organizer... who neither LIVED, WORKED, or OWNED PROPERTY within the NC boundaries at the time).

That's your "legitimacy?" PLEASE!


Don't let the "anonymity" throw you... all this is true, and can be verified through DONE, etc., no matter who provides the information.

Deal with the facts, not the faces.

December 20, 2005 5:26 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

One thing I have learned about the NC's is that the people on these governing boards do not realize , that being on an elected entity , created by a charter of the city , is that they are responsible , and can be held very responsible for thier behavior.

ALthough Greig SMith may not see them as credible , the people on these governing bodies need to realize they are held to the same standards as the City COuncil And MAyor , etc , etc.

When Rocky Delgadillo is gone , who will be there to defend the NEighborhood councils unconditionallyy?

I have a mind to sue my NC over an Issue right now. BUt so far I have refrained.

December 20, 2005 5:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Anon 5:26 Put your bold print away, it's annoying.

Who created the NC system? The LA city council.

Who made it happen? The VOTERS OF LOS ANGELES WHO APPROVED THE CHARTER.

If you want to complain about turnout then help increase turnout.

If you want to complain about illegals voting then work to change the system.

If all you want to do is complain, get a life and get out of the way of people like Alger who bust their ass within the bounds they are restricted to, to change the system.

December 20, 2005 5:55 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Anon 523,
You missed Algers point.

NC'S Dont have millions of dollars but have earned their keep in one move alone... he is right about that.

As for the rest of what he was saying I think he meant to say "Lead follow or get out the F*!@K out of the way. (which has been repeated severaltimes in several ways by several people)

December 20, 2005 5:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

How supportive actually is AV to the NCs?

December 20, 2005 6:26 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

5:55 and 5:59

Who said I'm not doing any of those things you so arrogantly suggest?

Don't presume that because I critize here, that I'm not trying to correct.

And don't presume (dead mayors) that because your hero, Alger is "busting his ass" that he's doing any good either.

It's far more deadly to continue in a process where few care and evenfewer take part, defensively crying "we're doing the best we can... YOU should help" than to suggest a major change in the process that's failing to represent.

I have no interest in helping you push a stalled, inoperable vehicle to next fueling station, just so we can say "we arrived."

It's just as easy to get worn out slogging in the WRONG direction, as it is to try and correct the navigation. But only the latter fixes things.

And, it's the people who blindly follow, and criticize those who DARE to criticize faulty systems that have gone wrong, that make bad government the norm.

December 20, 2005 6:28 PM  

Blogger dgarzila said:

People have askd you many times to stop with the bold print. I many times pass over it , mainly because it is called yelling.

So it might be best to stop the yelling.

December 20, 2005 6:58 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

There are alot of neighborhood councils who have done great things in their communities that would have never been done with their council member. I think all NC's should unite and organize and since city council members don't think its a priority to find the money to hire more cops the NC's should show their power and pressure them to do so. Its our city and we are so far behind 5 other cities having fewer cops. Alger is right about the DWP rate hike. NC's stopped it. NC's also were a force when the alarm policy came up. NC's should always be on board with these type of issues.

December 20, 2005 7:56 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

So whatever happened to James Acevedo??

Is he supporting Padilla or what???


- rival city contractor

December 20, 2005 11:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The same five people, always whining that they matter to each other.

This is why nothing will change re: NCs.

December 21, 2005 12:14 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

6:45 and 9:46

You are still, hopelessly silly bad guessers and more concerned about attacking (and unmasking) an anonymous poster than dealing with the content of the message.

6:45 is particulary stupid, making the same attempt to "out" an anon every day, since if you KNEW anything about NCs and their history, you would know that it was JOHN EDWARDS that created the bylaws in Cypress Park that made some of the ridiculous exceptions to the voting requirements that 5:26 was complaining about in bold, in order to pack that NC's board and become its original president (e.g., children voting, non-residents holding board positions). If 5:26 was JOHN EDWARDS, he would complaining about HIMSELF!

Plus, HERE, we spell in NEIGHBORHOOD, moron!

December 21, 2005 12:25 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This constant guessing about who the anons are is 10 times as annoying and pointless as the boldface type. What's the use of trying to shoot the messenger when there is never going to be any way to tell if your guesses "hit" unless they suddenly decide to unmask themselves. Why would they?

Like "outing" the blog owners here did some good?

How about his, for the anon who keeps guessing. Tell us who you are, so will have some way of knowing that you have enough "inside" information to unmask someone?

Or just stop, and let the comments speak for themselves.

December 21, 2005 12:48 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Dickheads! Mayor Hahn started the NC concept.

December 21, 2005 5:25 AM  

Blogger Archie Bunker said:

Yes and No

Riordan started it in the 1999 Charter, but Hahn advanced it by funding them to balance out the Homeowners association NIMBY's shouting over actual city residents who don't own homes but live in an Apartment.

NC's aren't bad, some of them if the Councilmembers are smart become your allies rather than your enemies. The key element is COMMUNICATION

December 21, 2005 10:08 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

"Communication"

Which goes back to the points made by 10:45 a.m., yesterday, AB!

The points that pissed off the pseudo-pols here who want to create yet ANOTHER layer of government, called an "NC Congress" between the people and City Hall, under the guise of "organizing" yet ANOTHER layer (the NCs, themselves).

December 21, 2005 12:11 PM  

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