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LOS ANGELES Monday, May 25th 2015 2:10

ONE MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

  • WHO WE ARE-Women did it again. The annual Memorial Day tradition of placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers was begun by women in the South after the Civil War. Who knew? Who now remembers that it was originally Decoration Day? Or that it is a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought for a better future. Memorial Day is a great deal…
  • 453 Days Later...

    Tom Rubin
    OFFENSIVE BUT PROTECTED SPEECH-Welcome news this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. By a vote of 11 to 1, the court overturned its injunction against the controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" that it had ordered off YouTube back in February 2014. Here's the background. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (photo below) was…
  • What LA Educators Should Learn From Bell Gardens High School’s Shocking Turnaround

    Jay Mathews
    VOICES FROM THE SQUARE-Bell Gardens High School in east Los Angeles County was a sorry mess when science teacher Liz Lowe arrived in 1989. It was overflowing with trailer classrooms and graffiti. More than 3,000 students crowded into school buildings surrounding a concrete quadrangle with patches of grass and some trees. Expectations were low. Not…
  • The Clean Sweep Election Finally Happened

    Bob Gelfand
    GELFAND’S WORLD- A few years ago, a group calling itself Clean Sweep argued that the voters of Los Angeles should defeat all the incumbents and replace them with fresh blood. On Tuesday, the results came close. There are two distinct lessons, one of which is quite ominous for elected officials. This election demonstrated the end of voter patience…
  • What Did Tuesday’s LAUSD Election Results Prove?

    Paul Hatfield
    PERSPECTIVE-Did the LAUSD election results signal a change for charter schools? Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe. You can make a decent case that Ref Rodriguez’s victory in District 5 points to strong support for charters. It was a battle between two well-funded candidates with diametrically opposed views on the issue. The effectiveness and fairness of…
  • (Train)ing Ourselves to Confront Modern Mass Transit

    Ken Alpern
    GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his first job will be to pass Measure R-2. Measure R-2 (perhaps…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




Memorial Day 2015- Freedom Isn’t Free

J. Cole raps on the Letterman show: “Be Free’

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

111 Great (and Almost Great) Ideas for Neighborhood Councils in 2013

THE CITY - If you don’t want to read this column, and instead skip to the list of 111 ideas that neighborhood councils could adopt in order to change city government, click here and get to work.
 
I have bored myself to death with all that I’ve written about the unlimited potential that neighborhood councils have to swing a big stick and fundamentally change city government, from changing its rules and laws to electing its leaders.
Neighborhood councils weren’t created to duplicate the work of homeowner associations, chambers of commerce, or the City Council.  
 
Their purpose is to form the foundation of, and nurture a system of participatory democracy.  That means that the neighborhood councils need to take themselves beyond local issues and occasionally reacting to an objectionable proposal from city hall.  
 
It is perhaps with foolish optimism that I begin 2013 with an accumulation of as many of the ideas as I can remember that I’ve previously recommended to neighborhood councils.
 
The opportunity for massive numbers of people to participate in civic discussions must replace the small cabals that pretend to speak for the public but rarely make any attempt to reach past their own beliefs and crusades.   
 
President Obama won re-election by assembling an army of volunteers and a motley crew of the brightest computer geeks in the country to successfully target those who were most likely to vote for him, and ensure that they voted.  
 
Neighborhood councils may never be able to raise much money as well-heeled special interests in support of their favorite candidates and measures, but they can organize their own volunteer army to tip votes in the City Council or on the ballot in their favor.  Each council did it during the process of getting certified. 
 
When building a movement it’s always best to begin with goals that have universal support, as opposed to issues that are guaranteed to divide the members.   
 
The list attempts to provide some suggestions.  If only one person is able to get one of the ideas adopted it will be a significant victory for grass-roots democracy.
 
Many of the items are guided by the belief that the City Council can do much to improve the way it does its business … the public’s business.  
 
Those ideas begin with neighborhood councils insisting that the City Council adopt as an operating principle the same goal that the new City Charter gave to the neighborhood councils: to promote public participation in government.
 
It was alarming to see the Council President cut off former Mayor Richard Riordan’s attempt to answer a question the president asked him about pension reform by telling Riordan, "I get the last word here." 
 
If that’s the way a former mayor is treated, what chance does anyone else have of being heard?
 
The City Council’s goal appears to be to meet only the bare minimum legal requirements for openness and transparency.  It can do better, but it likely won’t even have the discussion unless there is public pressure.  And that’s what neighborhood councils are expected to do.
 
It’s difficult for anyone to hold City Council members accountable when their attendance records are so well hidden.
 
And it’s nearly impossible for a person to present an idea or complaint to the City Council without taking time off work or away from their family, travel to City Hall, pay for parking, wait hours to be heard, talk for two minutes, and too often have none of the members paying attention.
 
For solutions to these and other problems with city government, click here. 
 
(Greg Nelson is a former general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, was instrumental in the creation of the LA Neighborhood Council System, served as chief of staff for former LA City Councilman Joel Wachs …  and occasionally writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at gregn213@cox.net)
-cw
 
 
 
 
CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 104
Pub: Dec 28, 2012 
 
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