CD2 Policy

A free flow of democratic expression

Live Blogging the Neighborhood Council Town Hall

12:34 We’re just about ready to wrap up for the day. Don’t forget that you can always go on to our website, cd2.lacity.org and this site for more information and to keep the conversation going. Thanks to those who followed along and to the great input we received online!

12:08 Groups are shifting now and this is a good opportunity to tell you that each session, which is moderated by our staff, includes a note taker who is jotting down each item of discussion. This week, we will synthesize this info and put it up on this blog, allowing you to not only read these ideas, but rate them as well. Stay tuned and, if you have not done so already, you can sign up to receive updates via email by clicking on the button to the right.

12:03 Others say an “elections task force” should be formed to find out exactly what the issues are. “This will take time,” resident says, while another says there needs to be “outside independent reviews” of NCs to ensure that outreach is actually being completed and that everyone knows local NC elections are being held.

11:59 We are moving on to the election functions of neighborhood councils, the final stop on our mini-tour of breakout sessions. This one is led by Nate Jones and Heather O’Connor, who each work in our Sunland-Tujunga office. Some are frustrated by the job of DONE in administering elections, saying that NCs should operate their own elections, not the department.

11:49 Pat asks: What should the core mission of DONE be? Lydia Grant, from Sunland-Tujunga, says, DONE should post a list of all meetings online. Another NC member says, they should teach us how to be community organizers, train us and then “get out of the way.” Others say DONE should change their name to something that better reflects neighborhood councils. “When I hear DONE,” one says, “I think, are we finished?”

11:42 Pat kicks off the session asking what support functions does DONE provide? One says, when I started working in the NCs, I had no idea who/what DONE was. Another says “they tell me what we can’t do,” while another praises DONE’s efforts to reach out. “I have to tell you,” she says, “I saw very little people there where all these things were discussed.” That said, says another, their communication can be better.

Staff member Pat Davenport leads a session about DONE support functions.

11:36 Groups are now shifting and so will we. Next on our stop is a session led by staff members Pat Davenport and Geoff Yazzetta on DONE support functions. In this group, we have NC members from Baldwin Hills, Studio City, Encino, Venice, Watts, Sherman Oaks, etc.

11:22 Nelson says that if they redo the website, DONE should include NC input, upload files of old NC transcripts, upload videos and make it more user-friendly. Another says that, re: training requirements, community organizing leadership training would be important for NC members. And if DONE can’t do it, she said, they should get someone else who can, such as unions. Another says the conduct of meetings is an issue and that there is some confusion about parliamentary procedures and the Brown Act.

11:17 We’re moving on to training requirements, led by staff members Jackie Keene and Daniel Lopez. This is another robust discussion of about a dozen NC members, including Greg Nelson, a former leader of DONE. Jackie asks, “How can we make training sessions better?” One says, make DONE’s website more user friendly. “We can’t find the training [manuals]…and the wording and linking are not consistent or easy to navigate.”

11:15 Some funding issues, this group says, include hindrances from the City Controller’s office as they try to clamp down on rogue NCs and the department that oversees NCs., called the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, which has been decimated by staff shortages and budget cuts. Still, one says, it’s not that theyre understaffed, it’s that they “don’t know what they’re doing.” Not so, says another. They’re doing their best in a bad situation.

Staff member Damian Carroll leads a focus group about NC funding programs.

11:10 The first question Damian asks is: “Does your funding program work?” Answers range from “It’s been a disaster” to “It works.” What about yours? But, when asked if the city hinder their funding process, everyone in this group says there are too many complications.

11:05 We are going to cover parts of each breakout session, starting with the funding program for NCs. Damian Carroll, our district director and Mshak Ghazarian, a field representative overseeing Van Nuys, North Hollywood, etc., are leading this session.

10:57 Participants will soon begin breaking out into individual groups to talk about, as we mentioned, NC funding, NC elections, training requirements for NC members and support functions within the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. To those in the audience, Krekorian says: “This is not the time when any view is subject to being criticized. We are all here to learn from each other.”

Councilmember Krekorian, speaking to the town hall participants.

10:52 Krekorian: “Now more than ever…this is the time when we have to reach out and lean more heavily on the leaders of our neighborhoods, not frustrate them…we need to take advantage of the eyes and ears of our community…yes we know the city is facing fiscal challenges, but the one place we don’t want to cut back is the very program that provides energy, vitality and encourages participation in 92 different neighborhoods around this city…but we all know the status quo is not sustainable.”

10:49 Weare’s suggestions? Grants for NCs and holding participatory forums such as these to hash out concerns/issues/solutions on a regular basis, which he says “empower NCs.” He also recommends improving the structure of NC meetings, including allowing individual NC members to set up their own sub committees without them getting voted down to improve the “positive cycle of participation.” He wraps up to applause an CM Krekorian is back up at the podium.

10:46 Other NCs problems, he says, are outreach and lack of administrative resources, citing the fact that Portland gives $10 for ever $1 L.A. spends on NCs. Interesting fact. Also, he says, NC meetings are set up too much like City Council meetings, including the fact that NCs tend to rule themselves by the traditional rules government often adheres, such as speaker cards, etc.

10:42 Weare says NCs “play a critical role in reducing the really egregious forms of corruption,” citing the troubles in Bell and Vernon, small cities that lacked oversight. Still, he says, people don’t recognize NCs as a legitimate form of local empowerment. Why is that? NCs have not gotten political support from the upper echelons in City Hall. “NCs have gotten a lukewarm response from mayoral administrations,” he says. “You really need to ask yourself, how can we help the mayor.”

10:40 Weare says “there’s plenty of improvements to be made in the NC system…though at best they are a mixed success…the question was, [when they started 10 years ago] if you build it will they come? And the answer has been a resounding Yes…I’ve seen lot’s of real success stories out there.”

10:39 Krekorian now introducing Professor Weare, who has been studying the NC movment for “about as long as they’ve been in existence,” Krekorian says.

10:37 Krekorian, chairman of the city’s Neighborhoods and Elections Committee, tells the crowd that this forum allows residents a greater chance to voice their opinion than committees do. Later, he says, they will get a chance to expound on how neighborhood councils can move forward.

10:34 Councilmember takes to the podium in the beautiful Founder’s Room of USC’s Galen Center. He welcome the crowd: “Im glad you could all come up here to participate in this continuing dialogue about local empowerment.” Note: neighborhood councils from across Los Angeles – from Sunland-Tujunga to South L.A. – are present.

10:10 Good morning from the campus of USC. It’s sunny and 61 degrees outside – a great day to talk about the future of grassroots democracy in Los Angeles. Soon, we will begin live-blogging the town hall, which will include remarks from our host, Councilmember Paul Krekorian, USC Professor Chris Weare, the deputy director of the Civic Engagement Initiative and Research Associate Professor within the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development and other special guests.

Then, the participants gathered here will break out into four sessions to talk about neighborhood council funding, elections, training requirements and support functions within the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. If you could not make it out here today, please feel free to join the conversation online. We will begin shortly…

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October 24, 2010 - Posted by | live-blogging, Neighborhood councils

10 Comments »

  1. I liked Professor Weare’s idea of NC grants that stakeholders and NCs can apply for, challenging them to fund the best projects and outreach ideas in their neighborhood.

    Comment by Eli | October 24, 2010 | Reply

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eli Lipmen and Paul Krekorian, JeremyOberstein. JeremyOberstein said: This morning, Ill be live-blogging @PaulKrekorian's #NCTownHall. Can't make it out? Follow online: http://t.co/oJ30cvk #Democracy [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Live Blogging the Neighborhood Council Town Hall « CD2 Policy -- Topsy.com | October 24, 2010 | Reply

  3. We have now posted a link to this live blog on the Neighborhood Council Town Hall on our website: http://www.palmsla.org.

    Comment by Eli | October 24, 2010 | Reply

  4. The nice thing about what Councilman Krekorian is doing by these forums across the City is to be able to unite the City under the core social value of the need for competent, creative, thoughtful, and imaginative self-governance.

    Looking forward to the follow-up by way of important implementing legislation.

    Did Professor Weare speak about Section 908 of the Charter which allows the City Council to appoint N/C’s to hold Citywide hearings on key issues and advise the City Council on the outcome?

    Looking forward as well to the City Council following the true spirit and intent of the Charter Section 911 by appropriating two years in advance the dollars needed by each of the N/C’s to operate.

    Noel Weiss

    Comment by Noel Weiss | October 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Noel,
      Professor Weare did not speak specifically about Section 908, but I’m sure he’ll be glad to discuss…

      Comment by Jeremy Oberstein | October 24, 2010 | Reply

  5. Thank you for the live blog, especially for those of us unable to join you today. A lot of us in CD2 appreciate the councilmember’s encouragement of the community being involved in a “free flow of policy discussions”. When created the NCs may have been a token gesture to appease disconcerted citizens. Having seen the NC system develop to what it is today is a clear signal that City Hall should solicit the help of NCs and work with the communities rather than against. Angelinos deserve to be part of the process.

    Comment by Karen Zimmerman | October 24, 2010 | Reply

  6. What will be happening with all these ideas? Who will be in charge of implementing them?

    Comment by Eli | October 24, 2010 | Reply

    • Hey Eli,
      As we just mentioned, we’ll be putting these ideas online this week and allow folks to rate them. Implementation will be in the hands of DONE, as we, as a City Council office, cannot put these things into play. That said, we will work closely with the department to ensure that best practices are implemented going forward.

      Comment by Jeremy Oberstein | October 24, 2010 | Reply

  7. [...] Recently, Councilmember Krekorian held a neighborhood council town hall where a discussion on elections was a main focus. For more information on that, please click here. [...]

    Pingback by Neighborhood Council Election Report « CD2 Policy | October 25, 2010 | Reply

  8. Rebuilding Trust in Our Government (R)
    One of Americas statesmen stated “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” His presidency ushered in an era of disdain for government and a widespread cynicism that government could be effective in addressing our challenges.
    Today, as we confront a crisis that has shaken confidence in our financial system and economy, we have an opportunity to restore public trust and confidence in the legitimate role of government. Indeed, to effectively tackle our economic challenges and to implement the reforms we need in our healthcare, education, energy, and environmental policies, our government will need to garner strong public support.
    However, rebuilding public trust will not happen in the face of a pervasive perception that government is not transparent and accountable, cronyism is rampant, and public officials are more interested in helping themselves than in serving the public good.
    Taking strong, swift, and decisive action to address abuses and begin to rebuild public trust should be the first priority for our city, state and federal government in the new legislative session.
    Create a Task Force on Public Integrity with a mission to develop a comprehensive proposal for ethics and lobbying reform in our city and state. Which addresses reforms in three areas: (1) strengthening enforcement of ethics, campaign finance, and lobbying laws; (2) strengthening civil and criminal penalties for abuses; and (3) improving awareness and education for public officials.
    Reinforce honesty, integrity and transparency by government officials as the core requirement to be and stay in office, any violations of these core tenets will cause the removal of the public official and the loss of “all benefits” retroactive. I think we should consider putting public official on a base salary plus commission based on performance.
    While the many of our elected officials and government employees are honest, dedicated public servants, the actions of a few create a dark cloud over all.
    Taking strong, swift, and decisive action to address these abuses and begin to rebuild public trust should be the first priority for our city, state and federal government in the new legislative session.
    “The benchmark of a civilized society is the quality of its justice”
    Compiled by: YJ Draiman

    PS

    We need honest government with integrity.
    “Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion”

    Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for.
    As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.

    Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job.

    Action speaks louder than words.

    Every age needs men who will redeem the time by living with a vision of the things that are to be.

    Freedom is not an ideal; it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than the freedom to stagnate.

    Action speaks louder than words.

    An Independent is someone who wants to take the politics out of politics, a person with principles.

    “The benchmark of a civilized society is the quality of its justice”

    Comment by YJ Draiman for council | January 19, 2011 | Reply


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