Wed, Aug

Questions that Keep Me Awake at Night

JUST ASKING - I have always been impressed by the breadth of knowledge and wisdom among neighborhood council members.

There are so many bright ones within the system that it makes sense to allow neighborhood council members oversee themselves.  

So it is without hesitation that I ask CityWatch readers to answer a wide variety of questions that have been keeping me awake at night.


Is there any reason why neighborhood councils don’t put a full court press on the City Council to get them to publish their attendance records on the Internet?  Showing up for work is one of the very things the public asks its representatives to do.  

At a minimum, Channel 35 could be directed to begin cablecasting each City Council session at 10 a.m., its starting time, so the public could tune in just to see who is habitually tardy.

Interacting with the Public

Some city elected officials have websites that include “blogs.”  The shortcoming is that the blogs are used only as a one-way tool designed to push out “mom and apple pie” news releases.

It’s not reasonable to require someone to take time off work or from their family to march down to City Hall in the middle of a workday to speak for two minutes and be ignored.  It’s the 21st century and incredibly easy to allow people to ask questions from their computer.  What’s missing is not the technology, but the willingness of elected officials to answer the tough questions and be held accountable.

Isn’t this an issue around which all neighborhood councils can rally?

City Council Members as Landlords

Councilman Jose Huizar ordered the LA-32 Neighborhood Council from the city facility he also occupies.  

Shouldn’t a new system be adopted so any council member doesn’t have the power to determine which organizations are allowed to be fellow tenants in city buildings?

The City Charter requires the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment to help neighborhood councils find office space.  Laws that followed required the city to provide office space to the councils.  Those discussions produced a hope by City Hall officials that in order to save public money, city facilities would be used whenever possible.

Nevertheless, the space occupied by LA-32 is being turned over to a non-profit organization of the council member’s choosing.

Football Stadiums and Jobs

In a January Los Angeles Times guest editorial (link) I pointed out that every independent study on the building of football stadiums found that developers regularly overstate their projects’ economic benefits.  

That has been the rule during discussions of AEG’s proposed downtown football stadium.  

There would be just as many construction jobs created whether a new stadium is built downtown or in the City of Industry, so that’s a wash.

The guestimates of the number of permanent jobs have fluctuated so wildly as to make them meaningless.  I think the number has ballooned to 6,000 now.  

At a community meeting in Mar Vista, AEG’s CEO said that the stadium itself would hire about 1,000 people.  But he never explained how many of those would be minimum wage or part-time jobs.

That means that the wildly optimistic projections must assume that other businesses, such as widely-mentioned three or four hotels, will crop up after the stadium project is approved.

Isn’t it a stretch to believe that the presence of a football stadium will be the deciding factor whether or not private developers will pour billions into new hotels?  Those who will go to the 15 or so annual events at the football stadium won’t stay in hotels.  

(Greg Nelson participated in the birth and development of the LA Neighborhood Council system and served as the General Manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. He also served as Chief of Staff for former City Councilman Joel Wachs. Nelson now provides news and issues analysis to CityWatch. He can be reached at:   [email protected] .) –cw

Tags: City Council attendance, attendance, landlords, City Council landlords, football stadiums, jobs, Jose Huizar, LA-32 Neighborhood Council, City Charter, DONE, Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, City Hall, Los Angeles, neighborhood councils

Vol 9 Issue 73
Pub: Sept 13, 2011