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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Neighborhood Council Priorities

Tonight at my Neighborhood Council board meeting, I may be asked to vote to approve the spending of NC money to purchase security cameras at the request of CM Greuel.

Security cameras can be a great thing - potentially scaring off taggers, gangs, vandals, other assorted criminals. Sometimes they catch someone in the act which can lead to law enforcement eventually catching a suspect in a crime.

These cameras cost several thousand dollars and would be mounted (generally) on private property. The question is who should pay for these cameras - the Council, the City or the private property owners?

Some would argue that its a good investment for the Council because it helps the community and earns the NC brownie points with stakeholders.

Others would argue its a city expense that should come from the general fund, a higher priority than many other city expenditures. And the case can be made since the cameras benefit the property owners involved the most, they should pay for them.

My view is that it is not a proper NC expense. NC's funding is for them to build capacity to have clout with City Hall. Our particular NC usually gets little stakeholder (except when some particular issue rattles the NIMBYs and CAVEs awake) and hardly any elected official participation (except when they want us to do something for them). Others have the seats packed and the electeds and/or their staffers are always there.

This NC needs to worry more about planting butts in seats and not planting flowers. Beautification projects, security projects, buying freeze dried steaks for disasters, etc. may get us some notice but it will be fleeting. The money could be better spent on marketing, consultants, part time staff person, etc. - anything that gets the stakeholders to show up and participate so the electeds will soon follow.

A very good example of this is that a major billion dollar development in our community was never brought to our Council. A very similar project in a neighboring community is being vetted left and right by the Council and the electeds there (the same electeds who serve us by the way).

This Council needs to buy some clout. In the meantime, let the property owners buy thier own damn cameras.



Anonymous Anonymous said:

You are missing the point. The City does not have the money to pay for cameras. The decision is not whether the city should or shouldn't - it can't.

Your only decision is whether you want to augment the security of your stakeholders.

November 14, 2007 10:31 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Greuel's staffers are usually very good about attending NC meetings. If you feel slighted, why not call her field office, and invite them to come? Even better, ask them to address some issue important to your NC. Making sure the staffer is there helps with turnout, and turnout keeps the CM engaged. The NC is only as good as the people willing to be involved.

November 14, 2007 10:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I have my own privately-installed cameras around my property. They have led to the arrest of a car thief, the cessation of illegal dumping by a local business, and the public embarrassment of inconsiderate dog owners, which led to a poop-free parkway.

I could never see any entity as bureaucratic and inefficient as city government taking responsibility for operating them. It takes a dedicated paranoid like myself to use them to their potential. Otherwise, they are just decoration.

If the City installs them, who operates them? It requires a fairly-computer savvy person to use them for their intended purpose. Otherwise, you should just put up fake cameras.

November 14, 2007 10:55 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mayor Sam the pathetic issue is the city has the money but they choose to spend it on things like million dollar exhibits, studies, gang prevention programs that don't work. Hollywood area has had tremendous success putting cameras in high crime areas. Cameras around cities is the way of the future. Sadly, though city council should be paying for the cameras and stop wasting millions in paybacks of special event waivers to corporations. If they were smart and we all know they are not, they would get private businesses to donate the money.

November 14, 2007 11:27 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

In my area the HOA is paying for the security cameras; the NC area is too big to put them up everywhere.

My NC area is HUGE and very wealthy, but no one shows up at meetings. The board is some 25 people who enjoy each other's company and bashing the CM. His Deputy and the Mayor's are always there so it must be awkward.

Other than grip a lot, this NC isn't much use.

It's worse than useless in some way. My area is supposedly being represented by a horrible woman and two other old ladies she recruited, but no one voted for her/them, even knows who they are. I only do because of a previous issue I'd worked on and she showed up -- a real three-dollar bill and battle- axe who badmouthed and turned off a major hollywood director who was going to lend his name to our cause but wouldn't do things just as she wanted. She and the NC have been the same to our CM.

So enough of using the NC to achieve power and defy your CM, Sam. These people should do what they can to make a practical difference. If it's planting flowers or trees, holdings meetings about fire and police safety, good.
If your NC area is small enough to put up cameras fairly all around, good. Only problem with that would be if some people put them where they live because they're on the Board and no one else knows about it.

The notion that an NC really represents community is usually flawed. Besides cases like this, there are the weirdos who take over so no normal people want to show up. Elections are a joke because they're voted on only by the same few who show up. In my NC the same Board members rotate seats.

November 14, 2007 11:36 AM  

Blogger Mayor Sam said:

1031 is a real idiot. Must work for the city. If the city can afford dog food settlements and give event waivers to the Academy Awards and other money making enterprises, they can afford cameras.

10:49, fair enough. Wendy's staff is relatively represented. Though the guy they send who is a really nice guy is a part timer and I think he still shows up because he cares. Rare, I know. But can't we get a full time person to handle things?

10:55 is absolutely right. Look at Sherman Oaks who paid what $20,000 for one camera? Who is going to maintain that? And was it Garcetti's district where the cameras were stolen after they were paid for but before they were installed? Who is going to maintain the cameras and when the next budget cut comes, will they just sit there and break?

1127, ditto.

1136, its just sad, I agree.

1031 is still an idiot. What a spinner.

November 14, 2007 12:08 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Doesn't the bafoon city council members have huge discretionary funds to use for this type of stuff? Someone should do a little inspector gadget work and find out what do the idiots on council use that money for. I hear its their slush fund and payback money to all the kiss asses.

November 14, 2007 12:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Doesn't each city councilmember have $250,000 in discretionary funds? Where does Gruel spend her money? Neighborhood councils aren't the City Council's piggy bank. Gruel wants to nbe City Controller. At least she can say she is cheap.

November 14, 2007 1:48 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

12:48 has taken to Zuma's spelling of buffoon, although I think he uses the variation, "baffoonery." Zuma, if you want to represent parents vis a vis LAUSD, teaching them misspellings is not the best start, most of the ones complaining loudest about the Mayor's handling of his cluster and pouring millions into their schools are illiterate anyway.

As for the camera business: each council district is enormous, with many NCs and HOA's in each district each with their different needs and demographics. Some are quiet R1, others next to busy commercial areas. It would take hundreds of cameras to cover the distict even minimally. If you have an area with a few main arteries leading to it, fine, but most are too open.

The council funds I see used seem to go toward repairs and improvements in public areas; they don't have as much money as people assume.

November 14, 2007 2:07 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Why is it that Huizar on city council agendas is always transferring $50,000 from something called the CLARKS fund. What is that and where is this money going? I think this year alone he's transferred about 9 times from that fund.

November 14, 2007 2:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Since Huizar does nothing but preside grandly over parades and festivals every two weeks, from El Grito, Dia de los Muertos, two this weekend alone, that's my guess.

Wall Street Journal has an article touting his finally "restoring" Broadway to its former grandeur.

What former grandeur? Ask anyone and it's been a slum for over 30 years, never like its name suggests. Shows what New Yorkers know, they think that just because of it's name it's like NEw York's Broadway. The Mexicans who shop there, say forget it, invest city money somewhere else, that place is a low-rent mess and a money hole.

November 14, 2007 2:52 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What I find even more disgusting that Neighborhood Councils still exist in this city. We are faced with a 10% "phone/emergency" tax, $40.00 increase tax on our property tax for "gang prevention" programs, and the city is going to cut the valley a cut in their the electricity bill because they have to run their air conditioning 24/7. Give me a break. I know a way to add more money in the general fund and not have to raise any taxes. GET RID OF NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCILS AND DONE!!!

November 14, 2007 3:33 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Mayor Sam:

The City rounds off numbers greater than the cost of a security camera. The City just simply doesn't want to spend money on them. NC's could demand that the priorities be switched.

About that project in your area, what do you mean that it was never brought to your NC? All your NC had to do was to demand that it be discussed and you'd be in the middle of the battle. You can't just sit around and expect that people are going to run every project by you. You have to create a reason for them to come to you, or you have to go out and grab what you want.

November 14, 2007 5:45 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

The cameras should come out of the LAPD budget, since they are to be installed as a crime prevention measure.

For a Clowncil member to try to force the NC to use their limited resources is absurd, especially considering the Clowncil offices have slush funds that they can use, plus have General Services install them.

Unless DONE is given their own community slush fund for projects such as this to be voted on by the DONE commission, the NC's should ask a more level headed (?) Clowncil member to introduce a measure that this be included in the LAPD buget, or allocate funds to DONE for a camera pilot program. Too sordid to believe, you'd think Growl would look to other avenues for funding.

November 15, 2007 9:43 AM  

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