Sat, Dec

New City Council Committee Appointments: Have Neighborhood Councils Been Downgraded?

JUST ASKING - Many of us involved in Neighborhood Council (NC) activities recognize the importance of our link to the City Council through its Education and Neighborhoods Committee.  We have asked and been forced to wait for news of this year’s E&N Chair and members.

Today, the FY2011-2012 Committee assignments were made public.  (Review them here.)

I would like to make a series of observations about these assignments before stating the obvious conclusions regarding the E&N Committee.

Some organizations try to spread the workload out among their members. Somewhere in the last 10 years, I got the impression that the Council had 15 members and 15 committees with a chairman and 2 members on each committee.  Assuming that all Committees are “equal,” we would have a perfect sharing of responsibilities and power.  That is obviously not the case.  Some committees have 4-5 members and one has only two.  Often committee members are late in arriving or leave early.  Committee functions, including decision making, continue and do not seem to require a quorum.

This City Council, being a political organization, seems more intent on assigning according to “tradition,” political interests and, sometimes, ability.  Ms. Perry as E&E Chair, Mr. Zine as Audits&GE Chair and Mr. Parks as B&F Chair, attest to that, respectively.

Committee assignments are often requested at the start of the year, especially by new members.  They are usually made by the Chairman or President.  Therefore, I will assume that Eric Garcetti as President of the Council gathered the wishes of his colleagues but has ultimate responsibility for these assignments.  Some members seem to be saddled with more than their share of Chairmanships, some with blessedly few.

And now to the final observations:  

We lack a City Council Member for the 15th CD area.  We also lack an Education and Neighborhoods Committee.

Last year, the E&N worked hard and created four important motions related to NC activities.  Does leaving the E&N mean that City Council is not interested in the NCs or, at best, would like to minimize their connection?  

What we apparently have is yet another unvetted (unwanted?) merger of neighborhood council
activities into the new Art, Parks and Neighborhoods Committee.  In the new configuration we retain Mr. Krekorian and now will seek Mr. Reyes’ and Mr. Wesson’s attention and support.

OK … every year a new set of challenges.  Can the NCs make prettier pictures by forming an association with the Arts or make more hay with the Parks?  

Can the NCs deliver their messages to the City Council regularly and effectively as one-third of a Council Committee?  Well … we were one-half of the Education & Neighborhoods Committee up to now.  Where will the Education interests go?

Thank  you … next speaker.

(Dan Wiseman is a long-time neighborhood council activist and Secretary of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates Committee.) –cw

Tags: neighborhood councils, city council, Los Angeles, Education and Neighborhoods Committee, Paul Krekorian, City Council Committee Assignments

Vol 9 Issue 68
Pub: Aug 26, 2011