Region C Neighborhood Council elections are this Thursday, May 27th. See my earlier post.
When I first became engaged with the formation of NCVV back in 2004, my vision was a grassroots citizen organization working in concert with our City Council Members to improve the quality of life for the neighborhood.
I was so naive.
Valley Village is split between two Council Districts: 2 and 5. Having two elected officials representing our little community would appear to have been an advantage because it doubled our exposure. Think again.
Jack Weiss, the former occupant of the CD5 seat, never paid so much as a courtesy visit. Well, Jack won’t be visiting any neighborhood councils now.
Wendy Greuel, the CD2 member, appeared a couple of times, but only when she wanted to use the meetings to suit her agenda.
I vividly recall when NCVV put Measure S (phone tax) on the agenda for a discussion and motion. Within a day after the agenda was distributed, we received a request from Greuel to attend the meeting.
Excellent, I thought. We can have a real discussion about the tax with an elected official. What better way to exercise grassroots democracy?
Wendy was added to the agenda in order before the Measure S matter.
We anxiously anticipated listening to her opine on the controversial measure – a disingenuously worded proposition giving it the appearance of being a tax cut when it was really a replacement for the current tax.
Instead, Wendy gave a rambling, long-winded, presentation on her ideas for transportation improvements. In addition to draining the enthusiasm from the room, it cut deeply into the meeting’s available time. We had to race through the measure S presentation during which I did question Wendy about the tax. I received the “thousand-yard stare.” It was evident she was not prepared to discuss the matter despite her support for the measure. Nevertheless, NCVV did pass a motion in opposition to the tax. We never received an acknowledgement from her about our decision.
I heard similar comments about Greuel from Sunland-Tujunga, particularly concerning her avoidance of the Home Depot project in that community.
Whatever vision I had about NCs working as a team with a Council Member evaporated.
Until Measure B was defeated, in no small part because of united opposition from neighborhood councils, the City Council did its best to ignore us. Occasionally, a bone would be tossed our way, but that was it.
Neighborhood Councils are on the cusp of taking their game to the next level, but the city is doing everything possible to impede us. The City Clerk’s Office, which was tasked with running this year’s NC elections, has reneged on its commitment to provide outreach despite benefitting from a $5,000 allotment from each neighborhood council budget.
Lack of support from the City Clerk was evident in the low voter turnout for Zones A and B. To the credit of the individual NCs in those zones, they organized campaigns to raise awareness of the elections, but it was too little, too late. It’s pretty difficult for volunteers to get back on their feet when the rug has been pulled out from under them.
No one on the City Council or the Mayor’s office has paid lip service to the Clerk’s office failure to deliver on its promise. I’m not surprised.
Do you want a responsive city government? If so, you need to reach for it. No one is going to hand it to you. Vote for people who will listen to you and take your fight to the city. Even then, there is no guarantee of success, but issues will be forced to the surface for all to see. Transparency is a victory in itself if it leads to the defeat of certain officials in the next general elections.