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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Betty Pleasant to Mayor Sam: "Kiss My Ass!"

(photos courtesy of Michael N. Cohen)

Yesterday many prominent City activists came together at the NCAS - The Neighborhood Council Action Summit, held at Los Angeles City College. Some of the prominent participants included Len Shaffer, Jane Usher, Paul Hatfield, Bill Robertson, Bill Christopher, Stephen Box, Dr. Alex Thompson, Noel Weiss, Nick Patsouras, Jack Humphreville, Michael Cohen, Doug Epperhart, Betty Pleasant, David Bell, Robert Greene, Tezozomoc, and Ron Kaye.

Several pressing problems and issues were discussed : the Half Off Initiative, Ratepayers Advocate, Cyclists Bill of Rights, Sidewalk Repair Backlog, City Budget Reform and Marijuana Shops.

I stepped to the microphone myself to declare my opposition to the Half Off Inintiative which seeks to cut in half the salaries of all City Council Members and executive offices for the City. I told the crowd that changing the salaries won't change anything. I told them that it is the destructive Socialist policies voted on by these Council Members which are the real problem. I pointed out this new "anti-graffiti" ordinance - which may end up costing homeowners tens of millions of dollars. I explained that even if the Council gave themselves a raise to $300,000 per year - It would only take $4.5 million in City funds to pay their salaries out of a budget of $7 billion.

However, my view was not popular, and the proposal was approved by a 32-20 vote. Neighborhood Council Members and activists will now go back to their communities and propose that others work hard to take away the freedom of Council Members to earn a salary that was approved by voters years ago.

In a City filled with freedom-hating liberals, freedom is often the big loser.

After being defeated in my efforts I stepped outside to a food table the organizers of this event had put together. Nice spread they had there...bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, bottles of water, soft drinks...etc. I was surprised to see Betty Pleasant - the Facilitator of the previous subject -grabbing some food right next to me. I introduced myself and chatted with her as we picked out food items. I told her that she had been facing some accusations on this blog from Michael Higby. "Who?", she asked, getting a little annoyed.

As I went into describing Higby's Mayor Sam blog writing and his accusations that Pleasants newspaper "The Wave" had become a pure pay-to-play racket...she seemed to be suddenly more familiar with the issue.

"Tell him he can kiss my ass!", she said, forcefully.

I was a bit stunned at this response from a woman who is supposedly highly respected in her community. Recalling Higby's storyline, I decided to provoke her a little bit by mentioning Bernard Parks and seeing how she would react. I told her how I thought Bernard Parks had admirably served as Chief of Police. She didn't care for that.

"Bernard Parks was worthless as Chief of Police, and he got his ass fired!" she countered. "He is hated in the black community...hated!", she added. I chose to disagree with her, pointing out how Parks had been elected to City Council and had even run for County Board of Supervisors. This is where Betty Pleasant felt she held her trump card.

"Yeah, that's right! And Mark Ridley-Thomas whupped that ass!" she said. "He whupped that ass!", she repeated, slower the second time. I admitted that Parks had been soundly defeated. We had finished picking out food items and were about to return to the meeting. I asked her if she wanted to change her mind or her message for Michael Higby. She repeated her original statement.

"You tell him he can kiss my ass!", she said - quite loudly. A few people nearby us kind of flinched, but then went back to their affairs. Strangely enough, she never said anything about Higby's charges that the Wave was paid to support Ridley-Thomas.

I went back into the meeting and had several other interesting conversations. Mary Benson, who finished in fourth place in the recent special election for CD 2 told me she is probably going to run again two years from now. She said she had no plan to endorse either of the two current candidates for the CD 2 Council seat. Mary also said she is looking into some disturbing accusations regarding "dirty tricks" by one of the other campaigns. I can't share the details yet, because the facts are not yet confirmed...but I'll let everyone know more in the future. The allegations are explosive, if true.

I also enjoyed conversations with Cary Iaccino from the Reseda Neighborhood Council, Doug Epperhart from Coastal San Pedro NC, and David Ubersax from Greater Griffith Park NC. I gained a lot of valuable information from these conversations. The other things I learned at the NCAS yesterday....??

Betty Pleasant likes Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Betty Pleasant doesn't like Bernard Parks.
Michael Higby?
Betty doesn't care for him too much, either.


Anonymous Anonymous said:

B. Pleasant is a thug. Yes, pay to play is her favorite hobby. I wrote last week she is a vulgar, mean, rude ignoramus , self proclaimed journalist, the worst kind.
Her comment last Saturday reaffirms my opinion. Chip on her shoulder........

October 04, 2009 3:09 PM  

Blogger Rita Of Sunland/Wally Wharton said:

Hmmm.... I guess they call her "Pleasant" cuz she AIN'T.

October 04, 2009 3:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Phil why do you think that the food they provided is relevant to the readers of this blog?

Just curious. Shed some light please?

October 04, 2009 3:56 PM  

Anonymous Charile Baker said:

To me, Betty Pleasant is a breath of fresh air who is independent and not predicable.

Yes she has taken strong a position against Bernard Parks, but first read her reasons why in her column "Soul Vine" in Wave Publications (just google her name)

She also gave a nice review to departing US Attorney Thomas O'Brien who was appointed by Bush. Betty's main emphasis was in how O'Neil enforced Civil Rights issues. But O'Brien also was investigating the current LA Mayor.

In any case, Betty doesn't follow the liberal or conservative crowd.

October 04, 2009 4:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This is all you need to known about Greg Nelson's little "faux" congress in the wilderness on Saturday, the anti-DONE meeting in advance of DONE's anti-NC gathering next weeked, from Phil's post:

the proposal was approved by a 32-20 vote.

A few dozen wannabe's -- many of them not even elected neighborhood councils board members holding their own "mock" senate to suggest they speak in any way for the city's stakeholders.

There are something like 1500 NC leaders, and this is the best the contrarians can muster?

Pfaww! It's nearly as laughable as the whiney "Los Angeles Neighborhod Councils Coalition" that still pretends to represent 40 NCs, when less than a dozen even both to send reps formally anymore.

Fortunately, the City -- electeds and NCs -- take neither of these non-represenative contrarian groups seriously.

October 04, 2009 6:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

That Betty is a class act!

October 04, 2009 6:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Does Betty style her Betty?

October 04, 2009 6:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Following on to 3:56 p.m. . .

What color were the chairs and tablecloths, Jennerjahn?

Did they serve coffee, as well. Decaf, or just regular?

Where did you park in the parking lot?

This report is lacking some serious details I require in order to determine if I missed anything of value.

October 04, 2009 6:44 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Someone needs to let Nelson know his old job has been filled -- 2-3 times since his so-called "resignation."

October 04, 2009 6:46 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

Many of us who serve on Neighborhood Councils work and don't have the time for all these extra "meetings" and "trainings." As it is we have just enough time for the NC meeting and maybe one of our committees. Most folks aren't able to show up somewhere across town at 8 in the morning on a Saturday. We have other things we have to do. If the retired folks want to go fine.

October 04, 2009 7:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Higby is right, but it's just damn annoying when Phil describes the spread.

October 04, 2009 7:49 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

6:46PM. If the City had more public servants like Nelson, we would be much better off. You probably like the present City Hall crowd that`s driving us into bankruptcy. What are YOU contributing to the city besides blogging and bitching?

October 04, 2009 8:48 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

I think Phil talking about the trappings of the event adds to the color.

Anyway Betty is sure one piece of work!

October 04, 2009 10:14 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

8:48 p.m.

Greg Nelson designed-in the failed framework that created the major dysfunctions in the NC system in L.A. He set neighbors against each other, and tore communities apart, without any idea how to calm them.

Then, once he was bounced from the job, he set himself up as the prime critic of the people trying to right the toppled building he designed.

Exactly how is THAT "public service."

Just because he's (conveniently) lately "anti" L.A. City government, don't forget that he was the chief apologist for it when he was collecting a 6-figure salary from these came council leaders. That he praised Mayor Tony and applauded the same "city hall crowd" you're now bitching about -- when he was their "boy."

Look up "sour grapes" or "hypocrite" in Websters, and they both say "see Greg Nelson."

October 04, 2009 10:58 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

C'mon 6:46, you must be kidding. Nelson is a washed up city hack. He got his job with DONE through the pleasure of one mayor and lost it through the pleasure of another and has been agitating ever since.
Point to one thing this loser has accomplished. He's created a career out of his sour grapes and complaining. Just like others of his ilk such as Ron Kaye and their stupid 50% cut in City Council salaries. So what's that supposed to accomplish? Another gimmick employed by those who are playing on the emotions of people, instead of providing real ideas for solutions. And what a dud the NCAS was. An underwhelming turnout and underwhelming vision. Too bad they also elected to play to the emotions and not the real issues. Grade: F-

October 04, 2009 11:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I don't know Betty but since I agree with her about Parks so much, I like to think of her as spunky and open-minded. If she really can't be swayed to the left or to the right when it comes to the activists, that is even better. I find myself in that same position often.

Greg Nelson is a great visionary. I agree with the person who said that. He has been an incredible force in this city. When people write shit about him, it's because they don't want him out there "babbling" about giving people the power. Those who don't like Greg don't care if they're excellent, brilliant community members who serve on NC's, or whether they're under-dressed and uninformed community members. They just lump them all into one group and try to ignore them.

I agree that some of the action summit's topics were too off the wall, but I admire what they're trying to do and I don't think that all GM's or CM's discount those groups like you say.

October 05, 2009 12:08 AM  

Anonymous Paul Hatfield said:

I reluctantly voted for the 50% off salary. I would gladly pay 100% if the council members did even a satifactory job.
I see this measure as a means of delivering a message to the public, many of whom have no idea what the difference is between the Council, the State Assembly and the Board of Supervisors. Will it pass? Probably not. Will it raise awareness as to the lack of value we receive for our money? Yes.

It's a hell of a way to get attention, but nothing but shock treatment seems to work in this city.

Nice chatting with you yesterday, Phil.

October 05, 2009 1:15 AM  

Blogger Phil Jennerjahn said:

Paul Hatfield,

Nice chatting with you also.

I'm sure we'll see each other at a few CD 2 events in the next few months.

Sorry, but I missed your presentation about Budget Reform. It's probably THE most important subject in the City right now.

I left the meeting after two hours because I had other commitments that day.

October 05, 2009 8:43 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

WTF and OMG!!#^&^(*(*** Leave it to the clowncil staffers to start attacking and posting negative comments about a person who actually got up off his ass and did something. This just shows how much council and their flakies are worried about NC's having their own meetings and getting publicity for it. Your sorry asses haven't done shit for your community or spoken out against the corruption in city hall but you have the damn nerve to attack people who care and are trying to make a difference. Go figure!! You whine and complain like girls.

October 05, 2009 9:20 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

BTW At least Greg Nelson can get that many people on a Saturday to have a dialogue and learn a few things. Most council members meetings can't even get 15 people in the same room. No one goes to any of their events but Greg was successful on Saturday. The negative postings must be making people inside city hall nervous. Especially because 1/2 cut to their salaries got publicity

October 05, 2009 9:22 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The City Council Pay Cut proposal is why most of the reputable NCs have nothing to do with the Congress.

If you want more responsive government, try doubling the number of city council people so that it becomes harder to buy the influence of only a few people and the council people could be more accountable because they are not representing 100,000+ people!

Cutting pay just chases any competent people who might be interested out and leaves governing to the rich and the retirees.

October 05, 2009 11:02 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Greg Nelson's "vision" is that he wants his old cushy, overpriced job back, and can't figure out what to do with himself until someone that likes him becomes mayor again.

He's not well-respected enough to run for office himself -- if he was he would have years ago. If he tried, all the nasty crap he stirred up as the head of DONE would surface -- and he's worthless on anyone else's staff.

So he simply become another "gadflea" that a couple dozen naive types in the city see as our next anti-Council or anti-Mayor "messiah." There are a dozen of these around, all just clogging up the real public debate.

GREG, the NC system has NOTHING to do with creating mini-congri of unelected, and unrepresentative retirees and half-wits out on disability.

Go work for AARP as a recuiter. That suits your "mission" better.

The declining numbers following you to these ad naseum, ad hoc "summits" -- a few dozen less each time -- tell the WHOLE story.

October 05, 2009 11:25 AM  

Anonymous Greg Nelson said:

I would like to personally thank all those who attended the Action Summit, and to all those who are taking time to provide comments here.

The event was an experiment to see if it is possible to get past the point where NC members meet, talk, or get talked at, and then go home.

The organizers put together the Summit at the last minute when it was clear that City Hall was simply going to do the same old thing at its Congress of Neighborhoods next Saturday.

The Summit organizers wanted to test a variety of issues, and most importantly, finish each discussion with an attempt to create an action plan which with to follow through.

I was impressed by the variety of people present. I think we pretty much had the political spectrum covered. And there were no food fights, and no public money was used.

Everything that was voted on will now be put into an online survey so those, like Michael, who couldn't attend, can have their voices heard. It's part of a growing national effort to increase public participation by combining face-to-face meetings with the Internet.

October 05, 2009 11:32 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Greg Nelson's "push" to make the Internet the next big "public forum" betrays his biases and predisposition.

The Internet is still an elitist medium. No one who posts here will understand that, but it is true and will be for generations, still.

Any "online" polling, etc. is skewed to reaching ONLY certain classes of people in our city. It makes the lead-up and outcome of such predetermined, more so than any other outreach media ever used by our city.

His preoccupation with making DONE concentrate efforts on its Website, while ignoring ways to reach larger groups of people betrays that same elitist bent that favors the well-educated, wealthy, young, and yes. . . "certain" races.

Face it. The DIGITAL DIVIDE is as real as grandfathered-in "literacy tests" that were used for decades to keep certain people from voting, especially in the south.

Now you know.

His own DONE departmental staff refused to mail agendas for commission meetings to active stakeholders who were not online savvy or had no access. "Sorry, it has to be by e-mail", they said.

There might as well have been a sign in the "empowerment" window saying - ". . .if not online, you need not apply."

What could be more short-sighted and "anti" grass roots empowerment? (Unless your "grass" happens to be well manicured, by your immigrant gardener).

October 05, 2009 2:31 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

I agree we have to be cognizant of the digital divide but its getting better.

That being said 8:00 am on a Saturday is WAY too early to show up to a meeting. I know the AARP members like to meet first at Dennys at 5am but that doesn't work for me.

Start the meeting at 3:00 pm or later followed by margaritas and I'm there.

October 05, 2009 4:36 PM  

Anonymous Greg Nelson said:


What I suggested is that we make a better effort to combine face-to-face meetings with online meetings.

In countries where democracy is an emerging concept, it has been the Internet that has allowed an explosion of participation by the masses. In Brazil, for instance, democracy advocates point to the Internet for the ability to reach tremendous numbers of people involved, despite the fact that many people live in urban shanty towns and in poor rural areas.

The fact that is that is a much more difficult for people to participate in their only option is to attend meetings, especially if they are transit dependent, have family care concerns, work multiple jobs, are disabled, are not comfortable with public speaking, or not proficient in English.

The idea is not to look at any single method of solicting public opinion as THE way, but to employ a combination so there is something for everyone.

October 05, 2009 6:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

We ain't in Brazil, Greg.

Get your head out of the textbooks and take a look at the REAL Los Angeles. Not the one that would come to visit you at City meetings, but the real people.

You haven't a clue.

By the way, what part of "you're fired" did you not understand? For once, Mayor AV did us a service.

October 05, 2009 11:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The point being that forcing people to attend meetings, especially during the middle of workdays, as the only means to participate is elitist because it eliminates anyone who works or can't get to the meeting.

If the goal is to give more people ways to participate in government, you can't continue with the status quo.

October 06, 2009 9:03 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I disagree with the notion that Greg Nelson has switched his position and once was in favor of the "City Hall" crowd.

In November 2005, I was involved in a certification of an NC in Hollywood. I can tell you that when DONE told us to make bylaw amendments on the spot before getting the Commissioners approval, DONE GM Greg Nelson advised and encouraged us not to since it would defeat any independence of the forming NC. They (BONC) would in essence write our bylaws on the fly. Why not just call it their NC at that point.

October 06, 2009 6:43 PM  

Blogger Michael Higby said:

These neighborhood councils sure spend a lot on food!

May 07, 2013 2:49 PM  

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