NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS-It’s nearly publishing time. The Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates (NCBA) have approved a motion to go to press with the 2020 White Paper.
According to Article 2, Sec.1 of NCBA 2013 Bylaws, the purpose of the NCBA is to present to the Mayor, City Council, Neighborhood Councils, and stakeholders the concerns and interests of the communities of the City of Los Angeles (“City”) about the use of City funds and revenue collection, City budget and budget allocations, efficiency of City government, City finances and financial obligations, and other concerns as it relates to the financial matters of the City.
NCBA is authorized to act under the Los Angeles City Charter (the “Charter”) Section 909 which provides that “each Neighborhood Council may present to the Mayor and Council an annual list of priorities for the City budget.” (Article 2, Sec. 3, NCBA 2013 Bylaws.)
At the BA’s February 2 meeting at City Hall, the Office of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), Budget Advocates gathered around the table for a snapshot (photo above). The white paper contains the work highlights of their cumulative effort since July 1, 2019. Budget Advocates are board members of neighborhood councils citywide. In a couple of weeks, the White Paper should be ready for distribution to LA City Officials and Neighborhood Councils.
According to Wikipedia, a white paper is an authoritative report that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s viewpoint on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision.
July and August of 2019 were busy months for the Budget Advocates. They attended trainings on the City Budget provided by the City Administrator’s Office including a brief presented by the NC Budget Advocates’ Vice-Chair of Development on the LA City government structure and procedural protocols. This was followed by an intense study period of the City Budget Books.
After that, during the months of October and November, 36 Budget Advocates organized in small teams interviewed 29 City Departments’ high management and assistants for a couple of hours. They conferred, dialogued, and corroborated about their fiscal findings and their understandings of relevant topics exclusive to the departments. Inclusively, they shared the concerns of neighborhood councils and stakeholders, providing recommendations. Immediately after, they wrote their reports for the White Paper.
Budget Advocate Jack Humphreville, who is well versed on City Finances, meticulously wrote the introduction of the White Paper. In his argument, Mr. Humphreville outlines the City’s Structural Budget Deficit, and how to resolve it by providing recommendations to cure the malady.
In the vast 497 square miles of the City, Angelenos often pose questions about City services that float up into the air and get no answers. The recurring question many Angelenos have is: What did the City do with all the Proposition HHH Funds? People don’t see any of the housing that is supposed to be built for the homeless.
The answer to this question may partly be found in the LA Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) Report starting on page 86 of the “Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates 2020 White Paper.” Many more questions about City Department services are also answered in the Reports in great detail.
The Budget Advocates invite you to have an open mind and read our official White Paper for a great educational and learning experience about city services. A copy will be posted soon on the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates website.
(Connie Acosta is a NC Budget Advocate and a member of the Los Angeles Press Club.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.