CITYWATCH - LA City Councilmember … and Education and Neighborhoods Committee chair … Paul Krekorian offered up a gaggle of neighborhood council reforms this week, the result, he told Rick Orlov, “of an unprecedented study to try to deal with the most common complaints we heard about.”
The Krekorian press release notes that a year and a half of research went into the four proposed reform motions that promise to:
1) Improve training for NC board members;
2) Reform the NC funding program;
3) Restructure the managerial responsibilities at the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment;
4) Streamline the NC grievance process.
(Click here to read the motions in detail.)
After 10 years, Krekorian has concluded that the neighborhood council movement is at a crossroads. He explains:
“Initially, the focus of neighborhood councils was simply to create a system that empowered communities. What followed was an astonishing and inspiring movement in which 93 neighborhood councils sprouted in nearly every corner of Los Angeles, built by dedicated residents who simply wanted a voice in City Hall and wanted more for their neighborhoods.”
Councilman, let me rewind that. Let’s see, initially councils were intended to just simply empower communities … but now, ten years and a bunch of research later, councils are intended to simply provide residents with a voice at City Hall.
Frankly, Councilman, one would hope the rest of study’s results are easier to get a handle on.
Krekorian’s presser goes on … “I introduced this package of reforms to help chart the course, but not drive the bus … (and to) be a starting point in our ongoing conversation to help shape local democracy.”
Sounds like a major redo. But these motions are not. Want major reshaping? How about motions to “help chart the course” for the Charter mandates of inclusion, diversity, holding City Hall accountable and the promotion of civic engagement?
But that’s a column for another day.
Here’s how some other’s reacted to the ‘reforms’.
Al Abrams told Orlov in the Daily News that the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners “has placed these issues on the agenda for discussion many times over the last two years and received much public comment.”
Abrams also said that the “proposals offered by Krekorian could involve increased costs to the city.”
NC activist and political blogger Paul Hatfield sent off a note to the Councilman:
“I am very disappointed with these motions. They empower DONE more than the NCs. Quite frankly, they have little to offer the NCs.
“The funding program reforms do not even include the possibility of small imprest checking accounts to cover small transactions where the purchasing card is not accepted. NCs will have to submit demand warrants for relatively small transactions. Demand warrants are costly to process; DONE could better utilize its resources in other areas.
“It compels NCs to use DONE's budget templates. I support using templates if they are designed well and allow a certain degree of flexibility in account structure to facilitate the unique needs of each council. That is not the case today.
“Additional training and conflict resolution are fine, but why do they require a motion? These are management issues. If DONE cannot figure out to deliver these basic services, then there is a need to replace the GM. You can pass all of the motions you want, but without competent leadership they amount to nothing.
“These motions are nothing more than tweaks to the existing convoluted process.”
Krekorian’s reform package was just released. It’s early. It’s an issue … as always with NCs … with many sides. And they will all weigh in. Pros and cons … and in between. It’s just the way it is when you’re “shaping local democracy.”
(Ken Draper is the editor of CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected]) -cw
Tags: neighborhood councils, reform, Krekorian
Vol 9 Issue 48
Pub: June 17, 2011