(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.
Betty doesn't care for him too much, either.