CityWatch, July 3, 2012
Vol 10 Issue 53
RETHINKING LA - Jim Newton, Editor at Large of the LA Times, contends
that Neighborhood Councils “have yet to prove either as revolutionary as
their backers hoped or as obstructionist as their opponents feared.”
Newton’s editorial offers his perspective as a journalist who
covered the Charter Reform Commission during the days when Neighborhood
Councils were in equal parts - City Hall threat and grassroots
Since those days of promise, Neighborhood Councils have struggled for
their identity, for their survival, and for their relevance.
Hall and the media seem to have a common approach to judging the
success of Neighborhood Councils, one that has existed since the
beginning and is based on the impact of their advisory role.
focus on the original purpose of Neighborhood Councils has interfered
with an appraisal of Neighborhood Councils based on an unintended
outcome, one with greater ramifications and potential impact than the
Charter Commission anticipated or predicted.
elections are scheduled for March 5, 2013 and the field is flush with
Neighborhood Council veterans, people who cut their political teeth
fighting in the local trenches.
Cary Brazeman of Mid City West
Community Council and Ron Galperin of Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood
Council are vying for the City Controller’s office, both armed with
experience they picked up as local advocates fighting to engage their
community and hold government accountable.
Neighborhood Council has fielded two candidates for City Council with
William Morrison running for CD1 and Manuel Aldana Jr. running for CD9.
West Valley’s Council District 3 is well represented by candidates that
mastered the City Hall ropes in their roles as Neighborhood Council
Presidents. Cary Iaccino, Chairman of the Reseda Neighborhood Council,
and Joyce Pearson, former President of the Woodland Hills Warner Center
Neighborhood Council, both reached a point where they claim that the
only option was to run for office.
Council District 13, Mayoral
Candidate Eric Garcetti’s home for the last 12 years, is a hotbed of
Neighborhood Council candidates, running in the most crowded field of
the eight City Council seats up for election.
President of Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, Scott
Crawford of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, Rueben Martinez of the
Atwater Village Neighborhood Council, and Sam Kbyshyan of the East
Hollywood Neighborhood Council are all running in a clear demonstration
that the Neighborhood Councils have gone beyond the original mandate.
gravitas to the CD13 race is performance of Alexander Cruz De Ocampo of
Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council who was the first to raise
$50,000 and the appearance of BongHwan “BH” Kim, General Manager of the
Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, in the race.
Councils may still struggle with the Brown Act, with agendas, and with
Community Impact Statements, but perhaps that floundering activity has
had a refining impact on the participants, honing the rough edges and
preparing them for City Hall and the opportunity to put their local
sensitivities to work on larger issues that median strip cleanups and
City Hall insiders have long learned that
courting Neighborhood Councils is essential to moving forward and now
that election season is underway, it’s hard not to find Assembly,
Senate, Mayoral and Council candidates on the Neighborhood Council
trail, swearing their allegiance to local leadership and promising
eternal connectivity and access.
The crowded Mayoral race
includes perennial candidate YJ Draiman of the Northridge East
Neighborhood Council and Kevin James who spent years partnering with
Neighborhood Councils on issues such as Measure B and Budget LA and
giving them a voice on his radio show.
As the critics ponder the
future of Neighborhood Councils and contemplate their relevance, the
fact that they have given birth to so many candidates for municipal
office that bears witness to their true potential and capacity for
shaping the dialogue and bringing the neighborhoods to City Hall.