Friday, February 19, 2010

NCs Finding a Seat at the Table

CityWatch, Feb 19, 2010
Vol 8 Issue 14

The journey has been long and it has often been tedious and fatiguing, but it has paid off.

When the CAO's recommendations for the neighborhood council system came up two weeks ago, the BudgetLA community turned out in great numbers and went to work, fighting in the Budget and Finance Committee and in the City Council and again at the E & N Committee. Committee Chair Paul Krekorian championed the NC cause and took the proposed cuts off the City Council agenda and out to Committee, demActive Imageonstrating that a strong relationship with an NC Champion was worth its weight in public comment.

The council sessions have been rugged, the people who have worked the phones, sent the emails, spoken in public comment, shared their victories, offered their commitment and stood their ground have made a difference and that is what the neighborhood council system is all about.

As of yesterday, City Council instructions for actions on items involving neighborhood councils include the directive "in consultation with the neighborhood councils" demonstrating a huge shift in the relationship of the public with the City Council.

The City Council is still weighing options on NC elections, NC funding, Rollover funds, Bankcards, Expenditures and the structure and staffing levels for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. Departments including the City Clerk's office, the City Controller's office, the CAO, the CLA, the City Attorney, DONE, BONC and CDD are all working on reports for the future.

Meanwhile, the BudgetLA community has a plan. It's a beginning, a place to start, but it's not a report, it's not a survey, it's a plan.

Plans are rare these days, especially ambitious plans that come with the commitment of the public.

This plan for the future of the Neighborhood Council System will be presented to the Mayor's office on Friday, February 19. If you care about the role of neighborhood councils in the future of Los Angeles, this is the meeting to attend.

There is a lot of ground to cover, from NC elections and NC funding to the core priorities of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we put all of our energy into being part of the solution as we take on the city's budget crisis and as we work together to position neighborhood councils as an asset in the journey to make Los Angeles a Great City.

Deputy Mayor Larry Frank hosts BudgetLA
Friday, February 19, 2010
3:00 pm
Mayor's Press Room
3rd Floor
200 Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

As for the NC agenda items that were in City Council over the last two weeks, Krekorian's recommendations were all passed unanimously, with an amendment to the rollover fund motion, giving neighborhood councils the opportunity to claim all money encumbered through January 29, 2010.

1) Committee recommends a) that the city report back to the committee within two weeks of the feasibility of a non profit taking over NC funding, b) making BONC the managing commission and moving DONE staff under them. “We have to move forward and study this,” Krekorian says. “We need to move. We are in a crisis.” Report back in two weeks.

2) Krekorian said "It’s clear to me this is a broken accounting system. This is a system that requires reform. Sweeping these funds into the reserve would not allow NCs what they need to meet their commitments. We need to move the funds into the unappropriated balance account, subject to certain claims. We also need a better verification process." Report back in two weeks.

3) Committee recommends that the NCs submit monthly accounting reports of bank cards to maintain the current procedure and improve transparency. Also moves that cash withdrawals from NCs be eliminated and that DONE report back, within two weeks, how that will get done. Report back in one week.

4) Committee recommends that DONE report back in 60 days.

5) Krekorian recommends total REJECTION of 50% cut in NC funding the CAO had recommended citing partnership with NCs as basis on which to move forward, calling that the “sweet spot in this issue.”

Krekorian vows to continue the discussion with the city and NCs for better, more efficient and transparent ways to move forward.

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at

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