DONE WATCH--On a timeline of world history, Democracy itself is but a blip that lights up (and burns out) every now and then. Greece, Rome, Liberia ... Weimar Germany, all democracies--some spanning centuries-- that looked good on paper but ultimately fell apart. Given that, our neighborhood council system is essentially an experiment within an experiment, a trial run that for fifteen years, thousands of volunteers have put their time and energies into "empowering" their communities.
EASTSIDER-For those of you who have gone to a Neighborhood Council meeting, it’s obvious that they are usually long and boring! Most of the reason for this is the Brown Act, as interpreted by DONE and their secret owner, the Los Angeles City Attorney, and it’s been an exercise in blocking and controlling the NCs without regard to the rule of law. It doesn’t have to be that way.
EASTSIDER-Three recently reported events by my fellow CityWatch contributors, convinced me to take a look at the further neutering of the Neighborhood Councils, which never had much power in the first place. The three events were (1) the suppression of due process in denying Skid Row a fair election, (2) the use of “exhaustive efforts” by DONE to take over the San Pedro Neighborhood Council, and (3) Jay Handal’s report on BONC excluding regular stakeholders from being able to participate in some NC Committees.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Now that two neighborhood councils have been subjected to the new sub-division policy, let's review the outcomes and the flaws in the system:
GELFAND’S WORLD-Last Spring, the city of Los Angeles created a new neighborhood council in the pocket sized area known as Hermon. As numerous people pointed out at the time, the Hermon Neighborhood Council has a resident population of less than 4,000, making it 25 times smaller in population than some neighborhood councils. The problem is that under the city rules, every neighborhood council receives an equal stipend from the city. At the moment, that amounts to $42,000 per year for each of the 97 councils.